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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Are we looking at 2006 all over again?

As the Red Sox lost 6-4 to the Rays last night at Tropicana Field, moving their record there to 2-13 since the start of last season, you had to wonder, is Boston (62-44) about to have an epic collapse?

That might seem like a stretch for a team that is in control of the AL wild card and 18 games over .500 but anyone that has watched closely realizes that this is a very flawed squad.

Nobody outside of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester has stepped up; Tim Wakefield might return at the end of next week and Dice-K possibly in September (not holding my breath on that). Clay Buchholz, Brad Penny and John Smoltz are each almost automatic losses.

Penny (7-6) went six innings last night but gave up five runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Tampa Bay (60-48) starter David Price (5-4) looked like the stud from last fall's playoffs. He went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and no walks.

Victor Martinez was a great addition but he can only do so much for a lineup that just doesn't have the juice it had in the first half of the season. Martinez was the only player from either team to have two hits, a double and a homer.

Jason Bay crushed a homer to left in the second to give the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead.

The Rays answered with Carlos Pena's two-run homer in the third and birthday boy Carl Crawford's (28) two-run blast in the third.

Martinez's solo shot in the sixth cut it to 4-2 but Penny gave up his third long ball of the night as bum Pat Burrell went deep for a 5-2 Tampa Bay advantage.

Every time the Sox scored, Tampa quickly responded. Jed Lowrie's groundout in the seventh made it 5-3 in the seventh but Jason Bartlett hit a solo homer off Manny Delcarmen.

Kevin Youkilis produced the last run with an RBI groundout in the eighth but Rays closer J.P. Howell struck out two in the ninth for his 12th save of the season.

The Sox travel to Yankee Stadium, the four-game series starts tonight and it should be a great barometer for where this team is going. New York has been the best team in baseball for months now, a far cry from their 0-8 early-season record against Boston.

New York is 2.5 games up on Boston and the Red Sox are just three games ahead of Tampa Bay. The Yankees are obviously going to win at least one game this series but the Red Sox need at least a split to show they're doing more than treading water.

John Smoltz pitches against Joba tonight, a complete mismatch if I've ever seen one. I think Boston's relievers are warming up as we speak.

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