Let there be no doubt: This was truly a maddening defeat. The Red Sox suffered a succession of near misses in a 4-3 defeat to the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on Monday night that left them just one victory (or one Yankees loss) short of the playoffs.
It was a night where everything was thisclose.
Given the nature of the defeat, we will have ample coverage of the missed opportunities in Tuesday's print and online editions. In the interim, here is a look at a couple of the things that went right for the Sox in a game that should ultimately mean nothing to them.
- The bullpen actually outpitched Josh Beckett. Relievers Javier Lopez, Justin Masterson and Hideki Okajima combined for three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and a walk while striking out three. Masterson got a key double play ball in the seventh and Okajima pitched a perfect ninth, striking out a pair.
- David Ortiz continued to pound away at opposing pitchers, going 2-for-4 with a double and homer, the latter his fifth in seven games. This is another good sign for the playoffs. Ortiz has homered in four of the last seven games in which he has played. In two of the games when he failed to homer, the opposing starters were A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay.
One final thing: There is a good chance the American League East effectively will be decided today. Tampa's win last night gave the Rays a 2½-game lead in the division (three in the loss column) with six days remaining in the regular season. Tampa plays a doubleheader at Baltimore today/tonight. For the Sox to have a realistic shot at the division, they need to beat Cliff Lee tonight and hope the Rays get swept, which would trim the margin to a game. If anything else happens, Boston's division title hopes will take a major blow.
Of course, with Beckett facing Zach Jackson last night, a Sox win looked like a forgone conclusion.
As Yogi Berra would say, it ain't over 'til it's over.
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