Until Lester and Beckett can provide consistent, quality back-to-back starts the rest of 2012 is irrelevant. #RedSox— Obnoxious Boston Fan (@realOBF) July 22, 2012
Re-posting my own tweets is self-serving, pedantic and smug. (And some folks thought my Carl Crawford column was obnoxious.) But sometimes you don't even need 140 characters to make the point. Similar sentiments were expressed Friday and Saturday. Too much Rocket Science has been injected into the "What ails the Red Sox this season?" debate. Sacré Bleu Jays! The 48-48 Red Sox surged into last place with a weekend sweep by Toronto just in time to hit the road to Texas and New York. When they give out the "Remy Award" for 2012's Final Turning Point - this weekend's series could be the hands-down winner.
This season, the Red Sox are 13-23 in games started by Lester and Beckett. That means they are 35-25 in games not started by Lester and Beckett. Not spectacular, but more than good enough for that almighty second-wildcard. The Red Sox are 6-13 when Lester takes the ball and have not won a game he started since June 27. Wins and losses do matter. Don't believe otherwise. Speaking of Twitter, here's another telling stat via @PeteAbe: "Red Sox starters have a 5.70 ERA at Fenway in their last 67 games." When they talk about "Fenway 100" - It may be number of home runs allowed at home by Beckett and Lester in 2012.
It was a bad weekend for lefties all the way around. Phil Mickelson swung and missed the cut at the British Open and the Blue Jays couldn't swing and miss against Lester. He gave up a career high 11 runs to Toronto Sunday - starting with the first pitch of the game to Brett Lawrie and has allowed 21 earned runs over 12.1 innings in his past three starts. The Blue Jays scored five times in the first and hit four home runs before Lester exited in the fifth. Sunday's game was 15-7 ticket back into the cellar. It would not have mattered if the Red Sox had David Ortiz, Carl Crawford, Bryce Harper, Batman, Catwoman and Bane in the lineup. Speaking of "Catwoman" - Anne Hathaway now joins Margot Kidder (Lois Lane - old-school Superman I & II) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow - The Avengers) on the very short list of "Female Leads in Superhero Flicks Who Did Not Ruin The Movie."
Gotham needed a superhero for its salvation. The Red Sox might have a shot with mere mortals at the front end of the rotation. Seems like a month ago when the Red Sox took three of four from the Chicago Youksox, capping it all with Cody Ross' walkoff three-run shot, this third HR in two nights. He got a blue Gatorade bath, the mob-greeting at the plate and addressed the adoring Fenway crowd. All Ross needed was the cape. Second-place wildcard fever gripped the Hub.
Sunday, Ross was simple and subdued: "Losing three straight to these guys. It stings."
Refreshingly, Lester took full responsibility for his lack of performance Sunday ("I'm not a big fan of sucking.") and this season. He was also clean-shaven after the game, having ditched his idiotic Beckett-like goatee. A lone symbol of hope amid the train-wreckage of a pitching line that read: 4+IP, 9H, 11ER, 4HR, 5BB and 2K.
"It's embarrassing. I've let my team down a lot this year," he said in remarks via NESN. "It's hard for me to walk around this clubhouse and look guys in the eye. I'm not pitching well. I'm not doing my job. Guys scored seven runs today. We should win this game..."
No argument there.
Lester made it clear he was not going to make any major changes, either off the field or in his pre-game preparations. "I'm not worried about my confidence or my mechanics. It sounds stupid, but I have to get back to basics, getting the ball down and changing speeds, everything would be different."
He also played the "I'm a dad first" card.
Aren't we all?
When it comes to his pitching woes, Lester's support system begins and ends with his teammates and coaches. "As soon as I walk out the door. I'm a dad. I'm a husband. I can't worry about my performance here," Lester said.
Who said Beckett wasn't contagious? Thank about that the next time your boss sends you 10 e-mails on your next day off because he can't find the Thompson report on his computer. Of course, Lester is making only $7.26 million this season. Chump change on Yawkey Way. No wonder he doesn't want to take his work home.
(Update at 12:10 p.m. Monday -- more evidence of the Beckett Contagion. So much for getting swept by the Blue Jays:)
Feels good to be in Texas!— Will Middlebrooks (@middlebrooks) July 23, 2012
Beckett will make $17 million in 2012. He'd still be a bust at one-tenth the price. Dice-K. Lackey. Crawford. Gonzo. It's not the money, it's the mediocirty.
Whatever momentum the Red Sox might have had off that spectacular win Thursday was crushed by Beckett's four-runs-in-the-first-two-innings outing the next night.
In case you forgot - the Texas Fluff Guy yielded five runs -- four earned -- and seven hits in his latest disappointing, lackluster, apathetic, fried-chicken fueled outing. When a pitcher should be at his absolute best and facing hitters for the first time, Beckett and
Lester are at their worst. Beckett has a 10.69 ERA in the first inning this season. But don't change anything, fellas. Dustin Pedroia, again, showed his leadership potential with his in-game pep talk on Lester Sunday. Not sure if it helped, though.
Jason Varitek's emotional and heart-felt appreciation ceremony on Saturday kept the weekend from being a complete waste of satellite dish usage. The smile on his face while he was hugging his three daughters on the field blew through my wide-screen. The recriminations after 2011 were forgotten. The video of Tek b-slapping A-Rod, was not forgotten even though it wasn't shown at Varitek's request. (Not sure how the shot of Aaron Boone's home run slipped in there.) The Bronson Arroyo message was a nice touch. And A-Rod issued the following statement: "Did anyone ever find my purse?"
There were a few other highlights of the weekend. Including this tweet:
So a guy just got naked in the bleachers. Old Fenway is temporarily back. #tedsox— Tom Fratamico (@ElGuaposGhost) July 22, 2012
Perhaps Beckett should stay home on his off nights. Does the return of "Old Fenway" mean we have to use a trough? (@ElGuaposGhost later tweeted that the offending nude party in Section 41 managed to convince security not to eject him.)
We also learned the Red Sox have some interesting items for bid coming up in their "Picnic In the Park" auction. The prize for spending the most money: You get not to spend a day with Beckett. The Red Sox could also auction off the remainder of Beckett's and John Lackey's contract. Opening bid: A can of Bud Light.
Never one to disappoint, Jenny Dell rapelled 16 stories down the side of the Hyatt Regency to raise money for charity.
Red Sox fans everywhere wanted to follow the Baconator off the roof -- but without the rope.
Larry Lucchino says Ben Cherington is "empowered" to make any deal he wants. The Braves are interest in Lester? Good. While we're at it - how about Beckett for Tom House - straight up. Of course, Ben could not even hire his own manager, but now we're supposed to believe he can trade anyone or everyone. John Henry's real varsity Reds - Liverpool FC - come to Fenway this week. The scrubinies are headed to Arlington and the Bronx - facing the two best teams in the American League. The Red Sox remain leaderless and vision-less. It's not "baseball ops" vs. "marketing" as much as it is "clue" vs. "clueless." And if Carmine and Ben can't come up with a decent deal which returns value and jettisons either Lester or Beckett - then wait and try again in the off season. The fan base may be treated as if it's collectively 10-years-old, but it's old and wise enough to know that the current pitching staff performing at current levels means no baseball worth watching in September, never mind October, this year or next.
The second-wildcard is a mirage. Sure, there's always hope. And the 2011 Red Sox, Braves, Rays and Phillies all demonstrated that nothing is settled until the numbers say so. Ross will tell you to "keep the faith" - like he did Sunday. He was on the 2010 world champion Giants, who trailed San Diego by 6 1/2 games on Aug. 25 before the Padres lost 10 straight. In 2012, there are six teams ahead of Boston for the two wildcard spots. And when you're in 7th place for anything and the teams ahead of you are going to be playing each other down the stretch - making up even the smallest amount of ground is going to be as hard as trying to figure out what team would be foolish enough to take on Beckett, his attitude and whatever would be left of his contract. Sounds like another topic for the kids on "Red Sox Small Talk."
The Red Sox have their timing down this season, if not much else. Pitchers and catchers reported to Fenway South just two weeks after the Super Bowl loss to the New York F. Giants and began the healing process of New England's sporting soul. Hope sprang eternal.
The Patriots open training camp Thursday.
And the Olympic flame gets lit Friday.
Just in time.
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