This one hurt. The Red Sox-- winners of three in a row -- were surging. They were playing the Houston Astros. They were facing a pitcher with a 2-7 record.
As the game unfolded, the eventual loss became harder to stomach. They would get eleven hits through six innings off said Houston Astros 2-7 pitcher. The Astros would get two runs on a home run which ticked off the outstretched glove of 5'8" right fielder Mookie Betts. The Red Sox would get seven solid innings (season-high nine strikeouts) from Jake Peavy. The Red Sox 6-7-8-9-1 hitters would go 10-for-21. The Red Sox would have the tying and lead runs on in the 9th inning with one out and Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz due up.
That's just the way this season has gone for the Boston Red Sox. It's been a season of missed opportunities. Their failure to cash in on Saturday may have been the final straw.
I've been holding firm these last few weeks saying that the season is not over. The Red Sox still had a shot in the AL East. I've been ridiculed for my position. This loss might be the one that makes me lock up the bandwagon as I am the last one to step off. The first-place Orioles had already lost today. When you are almost ten games out of first place, these things start to matter.
This game was on Dustin Pedroia and manager John Farrell. The eventual game-winning run scored for the Astros in the 8th inning when Pedroia missed by an inch of keeping his heel on second base as he outstretched for a flip by shortstop Brock Holt. But I don't blame him for that. He made a heck of a play bare-handing the throw, and almost (almost) kept his foot on the bag. It's just too bad that he wasn't an inch taller. And if Betts was an inch taller on the Jason Castro home run... if.
I do blame Pedroia for grounding into a double play with runners on first and second in the ninth inning to end the game. I know it's unfair to blame a hitter for not producing in one specific at-bat. But I hold Pedroia and Ortiz to a higher standard. They are supposed to be the "stars" on a team which has no stars. But here we are in mid-July and Pedroia has only four home runs and 36 RBI. Betts and Holt set the table for the big guns. This was Pedroia's chance at redemption. Again, he failed. He failed so bad that he didn't even give Ortiz a chance to hit.
John Farrell takes blame for leaving Peavy in too long. Towards the end of the seventh inning, as Peavy approached 100 pitches, it was obvious Peavy was tiring. The Red Sox were lucky to get out of the seventh inning tied when -- with a runner on second -- Mike Napoli made a stellar play on a hard hit ball down the first base line.
Farrell allowed Peavy to go out for the eighth inning and major league baseball hit leader Jose Altuve promptly doubled. Relievers Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa couldn't prevent Altuve from scoring.
The loss drops the Red Sox record to 42-52. They remain 9.5 games back of the Orioles with one game left before the All-Star break. It is evident the Red Sox need to add a right-handed power bat during the break if they still hold out any hope of saving the season. They can't afford to wait until the trade deadline at the end of the month. It may already be too late.