This was the tipping point. The Red Sox were ready to cough up first place. They were finally going to validate the naysayers. They were going to lose for the seventh time in nine games. They were going to lose a fourth straight game for the first time all season. They were going to fall two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the loss column.
It was teed up. The reeling Red Sox were counting on hard-luck John Lackey, the man who never gets any run support, the man who hadn’t won a game in more than a month. The hitless-wonder locals (anybody remember the last home run by a Boston batter?) were facing Hiroki Kuroda, the 38-year-old Japanese ace who’d allowed only five runs in his previous seven starts, a stretch of 48 innings that produced four wins, two no-decisions, and a single loss.