Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 118: Uh Oh. Red Sox Fall Out of First Place.

This was the day I had been dreading. On May 26th, the Red Sox were tied for first in the AL East with the Yankees and they had held that top position for two solid months—and at times, also owned the best record in baseball. But last night, it happened. They fell out of first place. But I knew it couldn't last forever. And maybe it's good to be the under dog. Maybe it's good to be the one breathing down the neck of first place. There's still a lot of ball to be played.

After losing two of three to the Tampa Bay Rays this week, they went into Baltimore just a half game up on the pack. Last night, Tampa crushed the Yankees, the O's shut out the Sox and now the Rays have the slim half game lead. On June 28th the Rays were seven games back but have since that date have lost a stingy three games. The Sox, posting just an 11-9 record so far this month, have watched their lead over the Rays slowly dwindle and now vanish.

The Rays' surge coupled with the Red Sox having a few guys struggling at the plate since the All-Star break, is not helping the situation. Dustin Pedroia is batting just .111, Jose Iglesias just .125 and Daniel Nava just .167 since the break, and these are three guys that have been on fire for most of the season. I really, really hope Pedroia doesn't have a case of I-got-a-big-contract-so-now-I-can-suck-and-still-get-paid. I have faith the little guy will snap out of it soon.

The offensive troubles often translate into pitching woes. Starters can give up three, four  or even five runs and, when the lineup is hot, that's been good enough for a win. But they've got some slumping bats so the offense isn't scoring as many runs and now those "good enough" starts are turning into losses. And it doesn't help that John Lackey's performance last night was a little lackluster—he gave up five earned runs and allowed three home runs. Blah.

Sometimes I think the All-Star break is a total rally killer. Sure, these guys deserve a few days off in the middle of the season, but it must be hard to carry the magic over to the next half. Where did the magic go??!

They have to win tonight. It's my birthday!

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