And just like that, the Rays are realistically within reach of the wild card slot in the American League East now only 1 1/2 games back.
Jon Lester didn't get out of the third inning, giving up 8 runs on 55 pitches against the hated Yankees. It's the worst performance of his career when the team needed him the most. I had to laugh at someone trying to silver lining the situation by saying Lester'd be good to go on three days rest if they need him for the season finale.
Heh, what a joke. They should just sit him now, because this season is over. The Sox play a day-night doubleheader against the Yanks, starting Tim Wakefield in the day game and John Lackey in the night game. There's a possibility the Yankees will score about 40 runs in those two games with the way Wake and Lackey are pitching of late.
It'll be tough to watch the Sox stumble out of the playoffs like this as well as having to listen to the bandwagon-jumping, fair-weather Rays fans in my office rubbing the collapse in my face. These would be the same fans who were groaning at the beginning of September about how impossible it is for a small market team to play against big spenders like the Yanks and Sox. Of course now they'll be thumping their chests and strutting around like roosters bragging on the little guys they had given up on only a couple of weeks ago.
I hate spineless hypocrites.
That said, the Sox got some work ahead of them for next year. Beckett and Lester are okay and I'm hoping Bucholtz will be back and effective. After that though, the rotation's a mystery. Wake hasn't been the same since a knee tweak earlier this year. Lackey's a total bust and Bedard is still a question mark without enough starts to judge his health. There's talk of putting Aceves into the rotation which might work. And this kid Andrews has some possibilities. Dice-K might be done after shoulder/elbow surgery.
I think this team is going to have to drop some coin on a legitimate pitcher at some point. Someone who isn't a retread or rehab project. The Yankees are just going to keep throwing money at a title and the Rays have a very impressive rotation of young arms locked up contractually. If they can get some consistant hitting, they'll be legitimate contenders for the division title for a few years to come.
There was noise earlier this year that Theo Epstein was eyeing another GM position. If he leaves now, the Sox will go in the dumper. This could be a real pivotal offseason for my favorite team.