The Red Sox are in such dire straits offensively, I’m pining for the offensive slump the team was in that precipitated the Victor Martinez trade.
Across two games, Boston’s come up with just eight measly hits, only two of them extra-base hits (and not of the four-bagger variety).
The pitching side of things holds more promise. While the team has lost by five and four runs, they’ve been exactly five and four runs — not exactly something to point a finger at against the offense that is the Angels.
Putting aside for the moment whether Terry Francona messed up on such decisions as leaving Josh Beckett in too long, where do the Sox go from here?
The obvious answer: Back to Fenway, their friendly confines. Back to a 56-25 home record. Back to a .862 home OPS (1st in baseball — overall is .806.) Back to a 4.07 team ERA (4.35 overall). Back to their beds, their friends and family, back to the familar.
Is that going to be enough to advance to the ALDS?
At this point, what Boston fans should feel confident about is the very thing that doesn’t matter: the past. The Red Sox have come back from large deficits before. We’ve felt like crap like this many times before — it’s only recently that Sox fans have been able to go from crap to happiness. Can Sox fans bank on another revitalization?
I hate Scott Kazmir at Fenway. He scares the bejesus out of me, and he’s been stupendous since becoming an Angel. He is totally unfazed by Fenway Park and loves shutting Boston down in big situations. It’s going to be a tough, near impossible task for Boston to get past Kazmir into the Angels bullpen — the one weakness that Boston hasn’t been able to exploit — and expect Clay Buchholz to show up to pitch.
There are many concerns surrounding Buchholz, namely: (1) What’s up with his two previous starts? Bump in the road in meaningless games or something more? (2) How’s the pressure going to affect Buchholz? This is a kid with a world of talent who seems to have trouble putting it together when it matters.
The one saving grace that makes me feel sort of okay about this game is that it starts at 12:07 — 9:07 Pacific. Yeah, the Angels are going to have an off-day of rest. It’s still going to throw a bit of a crimp in their plans.
If the Sox bats wake up and somehow get to Game 4, we’re going to be seeing Jon Lester on three days’ rest going against (probably) Joe Saunders. This is a matchup I like. Lester pitched well enough to win Thursday, while Saunders struggles on the road. The odds are in their favor.
Should the Sox somehow, mercifully, extend their season past Monday, they get to fly back to Los Angeles and worry about a John Lackey/Josh Beckett matchup that has to favor L.A. But I’d rather see a Game 5 favoring L.A. than not, to say the least.
Do the Red Sox have a chance?
Of course. Their offense can turn on a dime. This is a team who seems to need a ‘spark’ to get them going in the postseason. They’ve looked flat and listless before, then looked like they can’t be beat. Their offense can turn on a dime, and the pitching is good enough to win. The Sox may have their backs to the wall, but the series isn’t over until… well, it’s over.
We’ve seen too many comebacks and too many last-gasp wins for us to write the team off, no matter how unkind history is to teams with 0-2 or 0-3 deficits.