By Matt Straub
Every season, good or bad, has defining moments. The 2013 season which saw the Red Sox win the World Series will forever be remembered for David Ortiz’s grand slam against Detroit which saw Torii Hunter go flying over the short wall in right. The awful 2012 season will bring to mind “Nice inning Will” and Dustin Pedroia’s dressing down of Bobby Valentine.
The 2014 Red Sox season was summed up Thursday night. Down a run in the 9th, the Red Sox had runners on the corners with no outs in Pittsburgh. At worst, they were going to tie the game. Then Will Middlebrooks hits a ground ball down the third base line. Somehow Jemile Weeks, on third at the time, managed to get hit by the ball in fair territory. For some unkown reason, he went back to third along the inside of the line, failing to use the outside “safe zone” mowed into the grass. If he gets hit there, he’s on third, Boston has at worst runners on the corners and one out, and the inning goes on. Instead, he gets hit in fair territory, is called out, and the inning quickly goes downhill from there. Boston doesn’t score and another game is lost.
Weeks, playing mostly as a pinch runner, has been bad at pinch running, making more bad plays on the bases than anyone should, never mind someone whose job it is to run. His failures sum up a lost season in Boston.
This weekend the Red Sox don’t even get to ruin someone’s season. The Baltimore Orioles are already in the playoffs, having won the AL East earlier in the week. Sure they want to try and catch the Angels for the top seed in the playoffs, but don’t expect them to be terribly motivated for this one. The Red Sox will be trying to use young players and continue to build for the future.
Yes, it’s spring training in September.
Now that I have you all excited for this big three-game set, let’s break it down.
Red Sox (66-87, eliminated)
at Orioles (92-60, AL East champs)
Friday, 7:05 p.m.
Allen Webster (4-3, 6.02) vs. Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.57)
Saturday: 7:05 p.m.
Rubby De La Rosa (4-7, 4.31) vs. Chris Tillman (12-5, 3.29)
Sunday, 1:35 p.m.
Joe Kelly (2-2, 4.21) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (9-8, 3.28)
Playoff Picture: Baltimore is two back of the Angels for the best record in the AL and home field throughout the playoffs. The Red Sox are another day closer to losing the title of defending champions.
Momentum: Boston just got swept. Baltimore recently captured their first AL East title since 1997.
Who’s Hot: Daniel Nava is the only Red Sox who hit .300 over the last seven days. Steve Pearce has been a Godsend for the Orioles and was again this week, while Nelson Cruz looks ready for the playoffs to start.
Who’s Not: For Boston, everyone not named Daniel Nava, particularly the putrid Will Middlebrooks, who even had a base hit ruin a rally Thursday night. The Bottom of Boston’s order is horrible, and the middle isn’t doing enough to make up for it. Allen Webster, tonight’s pitcher, stinks. Adam Jones hit just .240 for Baltimore in the last week, but I’m not even sure how many regulars will play in this series.
Looking Ahead: An off day, then it’s back to Fenway to face the hated Rays, who even the Yankees want to fight these days.