They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture above is worth a million. The Red Sox were swept by the Cleveland Indians Thursday afternoon after a 1-0 loss. This team is amazing in the sense that they have been finding a way to make each loss worse than the one before. After Wednesday night's loss, I talked about how that was the most frustrating loss so far. Well, they've done it again. This time, they spoiled a brilliant outing from Jon Lester by not being able to give him any semblance of run support against Indians starter Fausto Carmona. The first time through the rotation, none of the starters were able to last more than five innings. On Thursday, ace Jon Lester was able to give the team exactly what they needed, a dominant performance. Lester pitched his way through 7 shut out innings, allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 9. He did this on 109 pitches, 66 of which were strikes. The Red Sox, however, were not able to get anything going at the plate. Carmona was able to pitch for 7 shutout innings of his own, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks and striking out 4. The game was tied at zero when the Red Sox handed the ball to Daniel Bard for his second appearance of 2011 in the bottom of the 8th inning. He led off the inning with a walk to Adam Everett. Anytime an inning starts with a walk of Adam Everett, you know bad things are bound to happen. After a steal and a bunt, Asdrubal Cabrera was able to knock in the game's lone run on a perfectly executed squeeze play. In the 9th, the Red Sox started off the inning with two groundouts from Gonzalez and Youkilis. After walking, David Ortiz was pinch run for by Darnell McDonald. JD Drew then smacked one back at the pitcher, which ricocheted to third baseman Everett. This should have kept the game going, as Drew made it to first easily. However, McDonald made a bonehead base-running blunder and overran second on the play, and was thrown out to end the game. Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2011 Boston Red Sox.
Other News and Notes
- After all this talk of the bottom of the lineup, the Red Sox actually got the most production out of the bottom third of their lineup. This was highlighted by SS Marco Scutaro, who went 2-2 out of the 9 spot. As a whole, the bottom third of Drew, Saltalamacchia and Scutaro went 3-9. Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, along with Drew and Scutaro, were the only players to record hits for the Sox. This is ironic, because in yesterday's news and notes, I was critical of Ellsbury and the bottom 3rd.
- The problem with the Red Sox today was the big-money portion of the lineup. Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Crawford, and Ortiz combined to go 0-18 with 3 walks. These are all guys who we expect to lead the offense throughout the year, so having them go 0-for is unacceptable. In the top of the 6th, the game was tied at 0 and it was clear that it would only take one or two runs to win this game. The Red Sox had Crawford, Pedroia and Gonzalez due up for the inning. It was a 1-2-3 inning. If the Red Sox want to win games, they can't have innings like this,
- Someone else I am going to call out is Daniel Bard. Bard has made three appearances this year, and has taken the loss in two of them. In Texas, he came in to a 5-5 game and promptly gave up four runs to put the game out of reach. On Thursday, he came into a 0-0 game and had the task of preserving Lester's shutout. He, of course, gave up the game's lone run and took the loss. This team needs Bard to be a sure thing in the 8th inning. He needs to preserve ties and hold leads. If he can't do this, it could be a long year for the Sox.
- One final note: Matt Albers has been placed on the 15-Day DL with a sore lat muscle. The Red Sox recalled Alfredo Aceves to take his place. Hopefully he is the spark this team needs.
The Red Sox will continue their elusive quest for win #1 in their home-opener at Fenway on Friday afternoon. The matchup will pit John Lackey against Phil Hughes at 2:05 PM ET.