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Tough one to take for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 6, 2010 12:23 AM

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21fdbcd549bad30bcf0e6a70670068d8.jpgThe clubhouse cleared out quickly tonight. Dispiriting losses tend to do that.

But Jonathan Papelbon hung around, sitting alone with a beer and staring off into the distance. The Red Sox took a 5-1 lead thanks to the greatest night Eric Patterson may ever have and the closer never got a chance to get in the game.

With 11 players on the disabled list, the idea is to tread water until the All-Star break and wait for the cavalry to come. There will be some ugly days like what happened on Sunday against the Orioles. Those are easy to live with. A game like tonight is not.

It starts and ends with Daisuke Matsuzaka. He has started 11 games this season. Here is his line in the first inning:

11 IP, 16 H, 15 ER, 16 BB, 11 K

That speaks to not being prepared. It's inexcusable to put 32 runners on base in 11 innings to start games. Matsuzaka is a veteran pitcher, a guy who was supposed to be an ace when the Sox invested eight figures in him. How can that happen?

Then came two mental mistakes. With a runner on third in the fifth inning, Kevin Cash called for a slider and Matsuzaka threw a cutter that nearly chewed a hole in Cash's wrist. The passed ball gave the Rays a run.

Then in the sixth inning, Matsuzaka fielded a bunt with runners at first and second. The play was to go to first, as he had been instructed. But as his catcher and third baseman yelled at him to go to first, Matsuzaka looked at third, then froze. That loaded the bases.

Asked whether he knew he was supposed to first, Matsuzaka said he didn't want to discuss it.

He then got ahead of No. 9 hitter John Jaso 0-2 only to run the count full and hang a slider that was knocked into center for a two-run single.

Matsuzaka has allowed 17 hits and 12 walks in 16 innings since coming off the DL. He's back in the unreliable column.

A few other observations and notes:

* If you wonder how little Terry Francona trusts middle relief, that he allowed Matsuzaka to give away a four-run lead before finally going to Dustin Richardson in the sixth inning tells you all you need to know. He may as well have held up a "Theo, I need a reliever" sign.

* Matt Garza threw eight shutout innings against the Sox on April 18. He has faced them three times since and allowed 13 runs on 18 hits and nine walks over 15 innings. Nice work, Dave Magadan.

* Hideki Okajima (bad back) was unavailable today but should be tomorrow. When approached by two Boston reporters, he refused to entertain any questions.

* Jeremy Hermida will take BP on the field on Tuesday after taking a full BP in the cage today. He hopes to start a rehab assignment right after the break. Hermida has been busting his tail to get back.

* Jed Lowrie was 1 for 2 with two walks tonight for Lowell in Aberdeen, Md. His rehab can last up to 20 days.

* Kevin Youkilis has five triples, his most ever for one season. Everybody who had Youk being third in the AL in triples on July 5, raise your hands.

* How great is Carl Crawford? His night included a spectacular catch, three hits and going first to third on a single. I'd pay him whatever he wants. I know a few of the Rays from having covered them with other teams and they say Crawford is a great teammate, too.

I wonder is Papelbon is still in that chair with his beer? Wouldn't surprise me if he was. Tonight was that bad.

Now the Sox turn their lonely eyes to Felix Doubront.

Back at it tomorrow. Thanks for reading and come back for more.

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