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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where did it all go wrong?

I can't say I saw this one coming. The Boston Red Sox are completely falling apart and in any given game, either their pitching or hitting is terrible. They can't put both parts together in the same contest anymore. Or so it seems.

Once again, they lost to the Oakland A's, 8-6 last night at Fenway as the Yankees won their series in Tampa.

Brad Penny (7-5) gave up five runs in the first inning and though the Sox (58-42) made a decent comeback attempt, it fell short.

Adam Kennedy hit the first pitch of the game over the Monster as the A's (43-57) took a 1-0 lead. It got much worse as a run came home on Ryan Sweeney's groundout then Rajai Davis had a three-run double.

Mike Lowell (2 hits, 5 RBIs), one of Boston's only hot hitters, cut the Oakland lead to two when he hit a three-run bomb in the first.

Penny settled down for a couple innings but he later gave up a solo homer to Kurt Suzuki (2 runs, 2 hits) in the fifth. He threw 100 pitches in five plus innings, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

Justin Masterson relieved Penny and gave up a two-run double to Eric Patterson in the sixth that put the game out of reach (8-3 Oakland).

The rotation which was one of the Red Sox's biggest strengths has now become woefully imbalanced. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are aces but Penny, John Smoltz and Clay Buchholz are pretty useless. Dice-K is fighting with the Sox over training methods and Tim Wakefield is on the DL. Ugh.

Boston chipped away with single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Dustin Pedroia's (2 hits, RBI) groundout drove in Jacoby Ellsbury (3 runs, 2 hits, steal). Mike Lowell's sacrifice fly scored Jason Bay and finally, Lowell got an RBI single off A's closer Andrew Bailey.

For the second time in a month, A's starter Brett Anderson (6-8) won at Fenway. This outing wasn't nearly as dominant but it was still a win. He went six innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits with four walks and eight strikeouts.

Despite allowing a run on three hits, Bailey struck out two and recorded his 13th save.

I don't believe in must-win games in July but this afternoon's series finale is mighty close to that for the Red Sox. It's Gio Gonzalez vs. Jon Lester and Boston needs to win to gain some semblance of momentum. Losing three of four to the A's at home would be a real bad sign.

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