We are three weeks into season and the Red Sox are off to their worst start in years. They are 8-11 on the season and are bottom dwellers of the American League East.
This 10-game home stand was a roller coaster of ups and downs. Things went from bad to worse real fast.
Last Saturday I went to Fenway Park to watch Friday night’s suspended rain game against the Tampa Bay Rays. It picked up in the bottom of the ninth. It was a tie game and David Ortiz had his chance to get his hero card back with one swing. He came close, launching a foul ball that came inches from Pesky Pole. Unfortunately he finished the at bat with a grounder to first. The Sox had their chance in the bottom of the 11th with bases loaded and NO outs. Ortiz had ANOTHER chance to win back Boston’s heart, but a slow grounder to first, resulted in out number one. Then Adrian Belte grounded into a double play, ending the inning!!! No outs, bases loaded and nothing!!! That is unacceptable. Since that moment, the Red Sox have gone into a downward spiral.
Boston fans were hopeful for a Patriots Day victory but the Ray’s bats were too much. Tampa Bay went on to sweep the Sox in the 4 game series. This was the Red Sox fifth straight loss. They extended their hitless streak with runners in scoring position to 0 for 32.
The Sox hoped to move on from that dreadful series when the Texas Rangers came to town. They managed to take 2 out of 3 from the Rangers and started the series off with a bang. Tuesday they called up Darnell MacDonald when Jacoby Ellsbury was put on the DL. Who is Darnell McDonald? Well, it didn’t take long for Red Sox Nation to fall in love with him. It might have been just what the doctor ordered for this “down in the slumps” team. The Sox were down 6-4 in the bottom of the 8th. Jason Varitek led off with a double and Darnell McDonald stepped to the plate in a pinch hit appearance. He launched a 2-run shot over the monster to tie the game, becoming the first player to homer in his first Sox at bat since Orlando Cabrera Aug. 1, 2004 . Welcome to Boston Darnell! It was the first exciting moment Fenway Park has had all year. Only he wasn’t done. Bottom of the 9th, with bases loaded, 2 outs and a tie game, Darnell McDonald launched another shot to left field off the monster to win the game! Evidently, the Sox needed some fresh blood to step in to give them a boost.
Here is a NESN interview with McDonald.
McDonald is 31 years old and was taken in the first round of the 1997 draft by the Orioles. He has played in only 68 major league games with the Orioles, Twins, and Reds prior to last week, with 1,328 minor league games. He had just two big league home runs in his 13 year career so last Tuesday was a magical moment for him. Since last week he has logged in 5 games, is batting .400 and is off to a great start. He even hit another home run in his 2nd game on Wednesday. I think Darnell gave the Sox the spark they needed to get their bats going. Since then the Sox have won 4 out of their last 6. Granted, 2 of those wins were against the worst team in baseball (Orioles) but then again, the Red Sox aren’t too far away from them in that category.
Last Tuesday’s game also marked a defining moment when Francona made a bold statement by pinch hitting Mike Lowell for David Ortiz. Some say, this was a long time coming. Either way, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. We knew it was a matter of time but it certainly hit Ortiz hard. Especially when he was benched for Wednesday and Thursday’s games on top of it. Ortiz was back in the lineup Friday and evidently that wake-up call was just what he needed. I was fortunate enough to be at the game Friday to witness David Ortiz’ first home run of the year. Let’s not forget it took him 34 games to hit his first home run last year (May 20) so I guess things could be worse. In case you’re looking for someone else to complain about, take a look at JD Drew’s stats. They’re both hitting a buck fifty. Ortiz is slowly coming around but his frustration is overflowing. I think Francona is doing the right thing by platooning Lowell and Ortiz based on the pitching match ups. It was nice to see Ortiz attempt to bunt Pedroia home today. I have been seeing a bit more “small ball” and I like it. If they give them the line, take it! And with Ortiz, the line is always there.
The Sox took 2 out of 3 from the Orioles this weekend. They dropped the last game in extra innings. Tim Wakefield left the game with a 4-1 lead and ready to become the 4th pitcher in American League history to record a win in 16 consecutive seasons with the same team. Okajima relieved Wakefield in the top of the 7th and didn’t help the cause. He couldn’t hold the runner on third and gave up a 2 run shot tying up the game 4-4. The top of the 10th the O’s scored 3. The Sox put up a fight in the bottom of the 10th, scoring 2, but left two on to end the game, losing 7-6. This might be the last time we see Wakefield for a while. It sounds like he is on his way to the bullpen now that Dice K is back in action. Something tells me that he’ll be back sooner than expected. I am sure Dice K will be re-injured soon enough. I predict Dice K to have less than 15 starts this year.
The Sox are back on the road this week with a 3 game series in Toronto and then a much needed day off. Then it’s off to Baltimore to hopefully move up in the standings by the end of the weekend.
About the Author
Written by "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek
I was born a sports fan. Playing soccer, basketball and softball in high school, then moving on to play Div. II softball at Keene State on partial scholarship. In 2003, our team was inducted into the Keene State Hall of Fame. GO OWLS! I am a die hard Red Sox, Patriots and UNC Tar Heel hoop fan. Most of my friends call me Baseball Brenda because when it comes to ranking my priorities in life, the Red Sox always are first on the list. I average about 40 games a year and I have attended every home playoff game since moving back to MA in 2005. I am super competitive and excel at anything you can win at :) Horseshoes, ping pong, darts, pool, cornhole, and bowling. Always love a good challenge. I play a lot of golf in the summer and a lot of fantasy sports. I am always looking to meet local Sox fans so look me up on Facebook.