Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

The greatest manager in Red Sox history? Not Thursday night…

Posted by Bill Koch on July 23, 2010

Terry Francona

Thursday wasn’t rock bottom if you’re a Boston Red Sox fan. It was worse.

What we saw from Safeco Field in Seattle was the end of Boston’s season. There’s no way that this Red Sox team is going to be able to overtake the New York Yankees or the Tampa Bay Rays when it tries to take certain victory and turn it into disgraceful defeat, but that’s exactly what happened in a stomach-churning 8-6 win against the hopeless Mariners in 13 innings.

Boston blew a 6-1 lead in the ninth inning, squandering a rare quality start by John Lackey, thanks to a combination of factors that included a bullpen meltdown, more bad defense and yet more suspect decisions made by This Manager. Granted, the Red Sox have been battered by injuries and shouldn’t be expected to make the postseason with Bill Hall and Daniel Nava playing every day. We here at Ramble On don’t believe in excuses, but we’ll acknowledge that losing so much talent is difficult to overcome.

With that said, This Manager isn’t helping matters very much. This is the first time in his Red Sox career that he hasn’t had vastly superior talent in his dugout compared to his opponents, and his weaknesses are being exposed for all to see. Nearly losing three out of four to scrubs like Oakland and Seattle is inexcusable. There were three instances in the ninth inning alone on Thursday where he didn’t put Boston in the best position to finish off the game, his sole purpose on the Red Sox bench. For those who believe that This Manager is in fact God among us, consider these while pounding down the minimum of two coffees that will be necessary today.

— Where was the hook for Manny Delcarmen? He was allowed to remain in the game and pitch to two more hitters after allowing a single by Chone Figgins and a two-run homer by Franklin Gutierrez to open the ninth inning and make it 6-3. Jonathan Papelbon was already warming in the bullpen – send Kevin Cash out to stall, take your sweet time making the pitching change and then go send Delcarmen to the showers with nobody on base and a clean slate for a closer who, despite his struggles, had converted 34 of his last 37 opportunities. Instead, Papelbon inherited a mess when he was summoned with two on and nobody out.

— Why wasn’t Kevin Youkilis guarding the line with a three-run lead? Singles at that point can’t hurt you too badly, but allowing Casey Kotchman to hook a double into right field with one out proved to be damaging. Kotchman’s grounder inside the bag at first made it 6-4 and put the tying run into scoring position. Youkilis was at least two steps to the right of his normal position at first. It flies in the face of 100 years of traditional baseball defensive alignment. This Manager played in the big leagues and so did his father. He should know better than to make such a fundamental mistake.

— Did This Manager forget he had Jed Lowrie available? All the guy did was go 47 games at one point during his Red Sox career without making an error at shortstop, one of the most demanding defensive positions on the field. Surely he could have done a better job manning second base in the late innings than Hall, an outfielder who has been forced into the utility role this season due to Boston’s many injuries. Lowrie likely wouldn’t have failed to turn what would have been a game-ending double play, and he almost certainly wouldn’t have thrown the ball away like Hall did to allow the tying run to score in the ninth. Lowrie pinch hit for Cash in the 11th, inserted into the game two innings too late to save Boston from absolutely torching its own bullpen with Josh Beckett due to make his return tonight. Think anybody will have anything left in the tank when he makes like Clay Buchholz did on Wednesday and turns in an 80-pitch, four-inning stinker? I’m sure This Manager, genius that he is, has a plan for such a situation. If it’s anything like his bumbling on Thursday, I’ll be covering my eyes in fear when he puts it into action.


2 Responses to “The greatest manager in Red Sox history? Not Thursday night…”

  1. Steve G. said

    1) Lowrie has only played 27 games in the minors at second, so I don’t necessarily think he’s a defensive improvement at the position.

    2) Papelbon was cold, and they have a five-run lead to start the inning, so I don’t think he stayed with Delcarmen for too long.

    3) The Sox have now won two straight, and get Lester vs. David Pauley tonight. So, I think they could quickly back into the race anyway.

  2. […] make it 4-1. That was the same line that was again left unguarded by Kevin Youkilis, a mistake that we here at Ramble On pointed out from Thursday night’s game, but we digress. The fact that Lester is being allowed to rot on the mound for that many pitches on […]

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