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Monday, July 7, 2014

Red Sox Fall a Season-High 10 Games Under .500, Drop Into AL East Basement

Like a car crash or late night porn on HBO, I have to admit that I can't help but intently watch the Red Sox even when their season becomes more and more over by the day. This afternoon, Boston (39-49 overall, 21-24 home) lost 7-6 to Baltimore (48-40 overall, 25-19 away) in 12 innings (5 hours and 5 minutes!) at Fenway Park. The Orioles clinched the series and went up nine games on the Red Sox who also find themselves in last place in the AL East after Tampa Bay won at Detroit.

How can the defending World Series champs that didn't lose anyone of real importance besides Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (and that's stretching it) get this bad seemingly overnight? The easiest explanation is that Boston's offense is terrible which is totally true. There are rare occasions like this though where they score enough runs but the pitching stinks. It sounds simple but they can never get those two facets going at the same time. Plus their defense is spotty and baserunning could be described as incredibly poor.

The O's built a 6-1 lead in the seventh inning before the Sox battled back to tie it in the home half of the frame. After four scoreless innings, J.J. Hardy (2 for 4, run, walk, 3 RBIs) knocked in David Lough-who had tripled-with the winning run. Brad Brach (4-0) cruised through three innings of relief to earn the win and closer Zach Britton worked around a single and struck out two for his 14th save of the season.

It's easy to dump on him since he's close to being washed up and had many clunkers this season but lately, Jake Peavy (6 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts) has been the victim of virtually no help from his teammates. On a good team, he could have some value particularly in the JV NL so look for him to get traded before the deadline (July 31).

Orioles youngster Kevin Gausman (5.1 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts) is still very raw but with his stuff, he has the potential to be a top of the line starter which is what Baltimore still lacks. The O's led 2-0 after an error on Xander Bogaerts (2 for 5, run, RBI) in the fourth and sacrifice fly by Caleb Joseph in the sixth inning.

David Ortiz (4 for 5 with double, walk, 2 RBIs) cut it to 2-1 with an RBI single in the sixth. Baltimore put up four runs in the seventh as Nelson Cruz (3 for 6, 2 runs, double) had an RBI single, Hardy's single scored two and Ryan Flaherty's (2 for 4, walk) RBI single made it 6-1 Orioles. All-Star Adam Jones was 2 for 5 with a run and walk in the win for Baltimore.

Surprisingly enough, David Ross' solo homer (his 5th of the season) got the rally started for Boston then Bogaerts, Daniel Nava, Ortiz and Napoli kept the line moving with RBI singles of their own. Dustin Pedroia can't get extra base hits anymore but his batting average is rapidly climbing (3 for 6) with all those singles. Jackie Bradley Jr. (2 for 4 with run, walk) might have put together his best game of the season as he made a spectacular diving catch at the wall then also threw out Manny Machado at home on another play (he would have been credited with a second assist if Ross could have held onto a throw).

Losses like this are brutal for many reasons, foremost on the list is that Boston burned six relievers so you know a few of them won't be available tomorrow namely Koji Uehara (2 scoreless innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout). Boston has two more series, seven games in total (4 at Fenway, 3 in Houston) before the All-Star break officially starts a week from tomorrow.

The White Sox (42-47, 4th in AL Central) visit with Clay Buchholz (3-4) facing rookie Scott Carroll (2-5) tomorrow night (7:10, NESN), Brandon Workman (1-2) gets John Danks (7-6) on Tuesday (7:10), most likely Rubby De La Rosa will be recalled to take on Chris Sale (8-1) Wednesday (7:10, NESN) then Jon Lester (9-7) meets Jose Quintana (5-7) on Thursday afternoon (4:05, NESN). Chicago is similarly blah but at least you can see Sale (who is up for the final AL All-Star spot) and slugger Jose Abreu who is tied for MLB lead with 27 home runs.

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