Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hot Bummer Night

Not a fun Friday night at Fenway, as the Sox were humiliated by the punch-and-judy Oakland Athletics by the final tally of 15-3. Josh Beckett got racked, the bats went silent, and the bullpen - particulary Javier Lopez and Julian Tavarez - blew more things up than the Israeli military. Things got so bad that even Carl Everett's illegitimate son -- Milton Bradley, shown above throwing one of his many tantrums -- put together a 4-hit night.

Are you concerned about Beckett? I am. He's been nothing but shaky and inconsistent over the past couple of months. We keep seeing this stat about batters absolutely killing him on the first two pitches, which are undoubtedly fastballs down the middle. Dennis Eckersley last night opined that because Beckett's not getting his curveball over, it lets batters lay back and wait for the heater. Whatever the problem is, a mid-season adjustment is in high order. No Beckett, no postseason. Pretty simple.

The bats? Either it was just an off night, or it was another example of their struggles against tough lefties, this time Barry Zito. They'll bounce back today against Danny Haren, who they've had some success against.

As for the "relief," we know we've got the right arms when we have a lead -- some order of Timlin, Delcarmen, Hansen and Papelbon has instilled confidence. When we don't have the lead and we're trying to keep a game close, however, it's an entirely different story. Lopez and Tavarez last night allowed a 7-2 game to get completely out of hand, giving up a combined 7 hits and 8 runs in two innings. I don't think Papi can hit a 13-run homer, though I guess we shouldn't make fast assumptions when it comes to the AL MVP. Theo and crew will no doubt be looking for middle relievers at the trading deadline - the question is are there any good ones out there?

One last note before we move on from this debacle. One night after Mark Loretta made a crucial error, Alex Gonzalez made one last night to allow an inning to continue. Watch out tonight, Mike Lowell. Someone's sticking pins in their Red Sox voodoo doll, maybe somewhere a couple hundred miles to the south? Making matters worse, the Yankees pulled out a dramatic 6-5 victory against the White Sox last night, so the lead is now a razor-thin 1- 1/2 games.

Sox try to regroup tonight behind Curt Schilling, who last time we saw, had to leave a game in Chicago after taking a hard liner off his elbow. No word on how he's doing, but he's still scheduled to make the start - and you know how Curt loves being the stopper. Haren goes for the A's.

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