ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - It was Kids' Day at Tropicana Field Sunday.
Those 14-and-under got a set of nifty David Price and Astro Dog tags. There was a dance party in center field after the game with D.J. Kitty. And the Red Sox were sent to bed without their supper after losing their 10th straight game and closing out a disastrous weekend at what once was considered the original Fenway South.
Escobar drilled a two-run double that would eventually prove decisive. At the time, it put Tampa Bay up 8-3 and, for all practical purposes, iced what would be Boston's 10th straight loss and extend the longest Red Sox losing streak since 1994.
My Father's Red Sox are alive and well in 2014. They will play the Braves on Memorial Day afternoon in Atlanta. Inconsistency. Angst. Frustration. Blown leads. Clutch losses. Runners left on base. More runners left on base. Good starting pitching when they can't hit. Bad starting pitching when they do.
This team has it all but the "25 cabs." Give them time. It's not even June.
Seth MacFarlane's new movie is called "A Million Ways to Die in the West." At their current pace, the Red Sox will generate 49 losses solely against the American League East.
Escobar set off Sunday's tough-guy contest after he took third on the next pitch following his two-run double. He foolishly let the players in the Red Sox dugout hear about it.
That was enough for Gomes, who had entered the game for Jackie Bradley Jr. as a pinch-hitter and tied it at 3-3 in the top of the seventh.
The irony is rich that the Red Sox displayed "defensive indifference" when Escobar took third base but got all upset when he reminded them that after took third base.
At various times throughout the weekend, the Red Sox were guilty of defensive, offensive, strategic and operational indifference. From this journo-fan's perspective, the highlights of the weekend were: a photo op with Mr. D.J. Kitty himself; a dance with a faux-Disney princess who was greeting patrons at the ballpark entrance Sunday; and the opportunity to meet El Tiante himself at the Hitters Hall of Fame Museum inside the Trop.
Sean Rodriguez and Gomes would be tossed after the benches and bullpens emptied an the on-field group hug/scuffle ensued.
Boys will be boys, especially on Kids' Day.
"There were some words exchanged," Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game, according to The Associated Press. "We're down five in the seventh, so it's somewhat a gray area when you shut down the running game." Farrell added that Boston's free-fall/losing-streak/cliff-dive may have also "boiled over a little bit."
Brilliant insight from the skipper who hasn't seen his team win a game since May 14.
For some reason, the Red Sox didn't get riled up on Friday night after scoring zero runs in nine innings against what was at the time the last-place team in the American League East. That game, and the entire weekend series, was keynoted by the late/on-the-DL Mike Napoli, who offered his own preview trailer for the series by taking a called third strike with two runners on and two outs in the first inning.
A frustrating preview of coming distractions.
John Lackey elicited sympathy and demonstrated grit and baseballs Friday as his seven-shutout-inning effort was wasted due to offensive indifference and defensive ineptitude.
Meanwhile, Josh Beckett stayed upright, chicken-and-beer-free and engaged long enough to toss a no-hitter against the Phillies Sunday.
It's as if 2011 and 2012 never happened. Of course, they did. The organ transplant that included Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto being shipped to the Dodgers for some unheralded minor-leaguers and $262 million in contractual salary relief paved the road to 2013's Duck Boat parade. The Red Sox have either won three World Series Cups in the past 10 years or the past 96 years, depending on how you prefer your math.
It's hard to remember the Red Sox actually got two World Series titles out of Beckett, considering the important role he played on the 2007 team. He went 20-7 for the Red Sox that year, was named ALCS MVP and won Game 1 of the World Series against the Rockies.
Anything done that proves to be a definable reason for one of those every-3.3 or 32-year championship celebrations is worth the downside.
That downside could be the Nomar Garciaparra trade. It could be watching Jake Peavy, who was acquired last season to consume innings down the stretch while Clay Buchholz nursed his soft shoulder back to health, wither inning-by-inning Saturday.
Or it could be receiving a text message alert about Beckett closing out his no-hitter about 90 seconds after Rodriguez pounded a three-run homer off Craig "Proof That Anyone With An Ivy League Degree Can Get a Job" Breslow into the left-field stands earlier in that explosive seventh inning.
S-Rod's blast gave the Rays a 6-3 lead and triggered cowbell delirium.
All weekend, it was "More Cowbell" at the Trop. Saturday, the Red Sox seized a 5-0 lead in the first inning but Peavy seemingly forgot how to pitch with a comfort zone. Less than 20 hours after the Red Sox could not score a run, Boston scored five runs before the Rays recorded three outs. But Peavy provided about as effective as his Duck Boat racing Jimmie Johnson at Daytona.
In Saturday's 6-5 loss, Boston would go from the second to the 13th inning without getting to second base. Just like my prom. By the time Andrew Miller threw it all away in the 15th inning, the sparse crowd left at Tropicana Field had missed every early-bird special this side of Tallahassee.
Throughout the weekend, Boston's defense showed incompetence not seen since the worst days of Edgar Renteria. The Red Sox got into the Kids' Day spirit Sunday as Dustin Pedroia took the field clean-shaven. Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and the baby-faced Brock Holt gave three-fourths of the Red Sox infield a juvenile appearance that seemed to mirror the left-side's Little League-caliber of play.
The numbers are gruesome no matter where you look. In 33 innings against the Rays this weekend, Boston scored in only four of them. The Red Sox left eight men on base in the first five innings Friday night, five coming during Napoli's two at-bats in that span. The Red Sox were 4-for-23 with runners in scoring position during this latest sweep. While the Red Sox and their Sabermetric apologists were counting pitches on Friday [Chris Archer: 119 in 6 innings] and Saturday [David Price: 115 in 8 innings], the Rays were counting strikeouts. The Red Sox would fan 35 times in these 3.7 games.
During Boston's 10-game skein, the Red Sox have been outscored 52-24. David Ortiz, who returned to work-time as a DH Sunday and went 0 for 4, is hitting .118 and has no RBIs during the Great Fall of 2014.
Thank goodness the Red Sox locked him down through 2017 and age 40-something.
On this Memorial Day, the Red Sox sit at the nadir of the John Farrell Era. At 20-29, Boston will have to go 70-43 [.619] just to reach the magical 90-win plateau.
The, ahem, brawl that occurred on the field Sunday makes for a nice distraction as the Red Sox surfaced from the depths [maybe all 10 feet] of Tampa Bay.
What really is that Boston now has a firm hold on last place. It's mired eight games behind first-place Toronto. Getting "dissed" by Yunel Escobar means nothing after checking the A.L. standings. Neither does Beckett's no-hitter. Boston's problems can't all be founded in the departures Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The players who are here actually bear some responsibility for this season's malaise.
The once-bearded Worst-to-Firsters won the World Series and a total of 108 games in 2013. The Red Sox are nine games under .500 in 2014 and haven't even played 50 games yet.
Clean-shaven faces like Pedroia's may not be enough. Maybe it's time each member of the Red Sox dons a crew cut and gets a full body wax.
Anything to help. It's time these guys stop kidding around.
The OBF Column is written by award-winning journalist, Bay State native and Boston.Com columnist Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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