With yesterday's 13-9 drubbing of the Jankees, Boston moves to 8 1/2 games ahead in the AL East. John Lackey finally got some run support and apparently didn't have the slightest idea what to do with it, having his worst outing in months giving up 7 earned runs in 5 innings. But a win is a win over the Evil Empire, so I'll take it :-)
The Red Sox have scored a ridiculous 54 runs in their last four games (which includes a 20-4 beat down of the Tigers), whilst crushing 17 home runs during their romp. If it was anyone but the Yankees, I'd feel sorry that after scoring a gaudy 25 runs in three games they'd be 0-3. But hey, tough sh*t, you know?
Also of note, that Tampa Bay Times example of a weak bullpen, Koji Uehara, has the longest scoreless streak in the Majors -- 27 innings and has 18 saves in 21 opportunites along with a 1.12 ERA and .59 WHIP. If that's a weakness, I'm sure lots of teams wish they were so burdened.
Down here, it's lots of sad faces on the Rays. Mired in a gut-wrenching slump losing 11 of their last 14 games, there are signs of cracks emerging in the supposedly casual loosey-goosey clubhouse.
Manager Joe Maddon actually called out a player for "bad baseball" as Sean Rodriguez got picked off second base during a 6-4 loss to the Mariners. I think the papers crabbing about Wil Myers missing on a dive to catch a line drive is uncalled for, but they are slamming him for it. Madden has also stopped the conga line of f*ckery in the clubhouse as no more mariachi bands, no wild animals wandering around, no more silliness to keep things lite -- saying it's time to stop all the distractions and just play baseball.
Of course, the distractions were Maddon's idea in the first place, but whatever. His comments about the guys being too focused and trying too hard even brought a response from Evan Longoria who publicly wondered how you can be trying too hard saying "I'd rather be trying hard than not trying at all."
So with hopes of a division crown almost mathematically impossible and the surging Indians and Orioles only a game behind in the Wild Card standings, what is Maddon's focus? "...you want to win your division -- that's still our goal."
Really?! I'm no brain scientist, and I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I think making sure you don't get swept out of the Wild Card might be a more immediate focus for the team. Just sayin'. I mean, even were the Sox getting swept by the Yankees right now, the Rays would still be 4 1/2 games out of first and also completely out of the Wild Card. So we have Maddon furiously twerking (typo, and it stays) his line-up to get favorable pitching match-ups with the Sox when they come into town this week.
The Rays aren't going to sweep Boston. Their best hope is to take two out of three and I don't see that happening either, but it is realistic at least. But then what? They're still 7 1/2 games out of first! All this line-up angst to gain one game in the standings? This is one of the reasons I've railed long and loud about this absurd trumped up rivalry. If these guys spent more time focused on just playing to win and not putting all their attention on one team in the division, they might be better off in the long run.