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Monday, September 6, 2010

Goodnight Red Sox, see you next spring

Going away on vacation for a week to the Cape allowed me to fully withdraw from the 2010 Boston Red Sox (even though I still paid attention to their games) and admit that this season is over, on to the next one (with apologies to Swiss Beatz).

I faithfully kept up with this ill-fated team from the beginning but from the start (even before all the injuries), you had the feeling that this edition couldn't go anywhere based on their shortcomings and the fact that they play with two of the best teams in baseball in their division (New York and Tampa Bay).

Most will remember this Red Sox season for the injuries but mostly it was about the failure of GM Theo Epstein and the owners to spend money on the right players or make the right moves befitting of such a big market, high spending team.

Their bullpen was a joke all season and that never really changed. They threw money at John Lackey and Mike Cameron and predictably both have been busts based on performance and getting injured respectively.

In a season full of bad losses, yesterday might have taken the cake. The Red Sox (76-51) took a 5-3 lead into the ninth and it looked like they might avoid the sweep at Fenway Park by the White Sox (76-60).

Not so fast my friend. After entering in the eighth, Jonathan Papelbon blew his seventh save of the year and threw a career-high (out of the bullpen) 48 pitches as Chicago won 7-5.

Josh Beckett (6.1 innings, 3 runs, 1 earned, 9 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts) was better than Mark Buehrle (7 innings, 4 earned runs, 10 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts) but Chicago's superior bullpen was the difference. Other than the fact that they're in the inferior AL Central, the White Sox are still alive thanks to a solid bullpen, Boston's biggest flaw.

Alexi Ramirez put Chicago up 1-0 in the second with an RBI single. David Ortiz made it 2-1 in the third with a two-run double.

In the seventh, two Chicago runners scored on Daniel Bard's throwing error. That appeared meaningless in the bottom of the seventh when Victor Martinez blasted a two-run homer over the Monster. Bill Hall added an RBI groundout in the eighth.

However, Carlos Quentin's (3 hits, 2 RBIs) two-out, two-strike bloop double cut it to 5-4 in the ninth and Ramon Castro's RBI single tied it at five. After Papelbon was pulled, PawSox bum Robert Manuel came on and walked two White Sox with the bases loaded. Thanks for playing, season's over.

Darnell McDonald and Adrian Beltre both had three hits in the loss. They've been two of the only brightspots this whole season.

Telling ourselves that the Red Sox had any chance to make the playoffs the last few weeks (months really) has been avoiding the obvious. With college football underway and the NFL kicking off for real on Thursday, now is a fitting time to bid adieu to the Red Sox.

Sure I'll still follow them for this last pitiful month but barring a crazy win-streak or choke job by the Yankees or Rays (both unlikely), the Red Sox will be done in less than a month. It's the first time since 2006 that they'll miss the playoffs.

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