The Red Sox don’t need our contempt. They need our commiseration.
It can’t be any more fun to play these games than it is to watch them. If there were any mercy — actual mercy, not the homespun Ned Martin kind — then the Sox would be able to fast forward through the remainder of their schedule the same way you speed past the commercials on a show you have DVR’d.
They can’t skip ahead to the end, so the march to October oblivion continues. Thirty-eight more games to go in a season that was over before it began and feels over now, even though it’s technically not. Ticking one more game off the schedule was the only victory the Red Sox achieved Wednesday night at Fenway Park, as they dropped a 7-3 decision to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of Southern California.
The Angels came to town as a team that had lost four straight and seven of nine. Now, they’ve won two in a row. The Sox have proven to be like a pair of crutches, able to prop up anyone.
The moribund Sox are now six games below .500 for the first time since May 11. Their record at “friendly” Fenway Park is 29-36.
Wednesday night was a particularly disheartening and enervating evening at the living museum in the Fens. With ostensible ace Clay Buchholz on the mound opposing Angels ace and Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver, there was hope for an enjoyable display of well-pitched baseball. Buchholz had allowed just eight earned runs in his previous six starts.
He was tagged for seven Wednesday night. That’s the way it’s been for the Sox this year, just when there is reason for hope it’s crushed faster than political opposition to Vladimir Putin.
The Dead Sox started the evening eight games back in the chase for the second wild card, a quest that is becoming more quixotic by the day. In honor of Carl Yastrzemski, who celebrated his 73d birthday on Wednesday, I guess you could call the Sox’ playoff aspirations an impossible dream.
Buchholz’s 100th career appearance was not one that will go in his career scrapbook, unfortunately, more like the scrap heap.
It was 7-2 after the Angels bounced Buchholz during a three-run sixth. What had shaped up as a potential pitchers’ duel with Weaver turned into another disappointing dud from a Red Sox starter.
It was a microcosm of the Red Sox’ season: expectations unmet, explanations lacking.
“I think I made a couple of bad pitches, and they hit them. I’m not really disappointed in anything,” said Buchholz, who tied career highs by allowing 12 hits and seven earned runs.
The Angels’ bats were percussion instruments worthy of a Bruce Springsteen concert, as there was a lot of banging, thumping, and bass (as well as bases) for Los Angeles.
Buchholz left with one out in the sixth and runners on first and second. After Junichi Tazawa surrendered a two-out, two-run single to right to Torii Hunter, Buchholz’s line was complete — 5⅓ innings, 12 hits, 7 earned runs.
The Red Sox’ bats, meanwhile, remained in stasis. They generated 10 hits, but also left 10 men on base.
Few players were around in a funereal clubhouse afterward.
“I think we potentially are trying to do too much,” said left fielder Scott Podsednik, who went 3 for 5. “Each guy is trying to be that guy to get things going. It’s counterproductive right now.”
Trailing, 4-0, the Sox showed some life with two outs in the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled sharply to right and then Ryan Lavarnway launched an RBI double high off the Wall.
Lavarnway came home on Mike Aviles’s vertiginous fly to left field, which eluded a leaping Vernon Wells and scraped the Wall.
Down 7-2, the Sox tacked on a run in the eighth thanks to the indefatigable Dustin Pedroia, who legged out an infield single and then never stopped running on a Cody Ross ball down the right-field line that Hunter almost made a Tom Brunansky-style catch on.
But in the ninth, when Adrian Gonzalez flied to left with runners on first and second, Boston was sent to defeat for the 10th time in 14 games.
“It’s tough. Nobody comes here every day wanting to lose or thinking we’re going to lose. It’s just been happening that way,” said Buchholz. “To have a team that everybody knows can be really, really good with the players that run out there every day it makes that a little bit tougher also. We just got to find a way these last couple of weeks.”
It’s too bad that Bud Selig can’t find a way to put the Sox out of their misery by giving them a pass on the rest of the season. It would be in the best interests of baseball.
After the game, manager Bobby Valentine was asked how frustrating the season has been with 38 games to go. “Thirty-eight or 40?” he asked.
Trust me Bobby, you want fewer games of this, not more.
It would be one thing if the Sox had a wunderkind player like Angels phenom Mike Trout to look forward to over the final 38 games of the season, but they don’t. They were robbed of anything even remotely approximating that when Will Middlebrooks fractured his wrist.
There really is nothing to look forward to for the Sox, except the end of the season.
It can’t get here fast enough.