The Boston Red Sox 2010 season died on Friday, August 20 with a sold-out Fenway Park in attendance. The Red Sox had been battling a systemic illness brought on by poor play and mounting injuries to key players.
The Red Sox, a team that has been close to contention for most of the season, placed 6 players on the All-Star Team, could not overcome season ending injuries to Kevin Youkilis, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury, and an injury that saw Dustin Pedroia miss nearly 50 games. Pedroia, who returned to the DL Friday, will likely not return until sometime in September, and could be done for the season. No major league team can hope to compete against the Yankees and (now) Rays while battling the injuries the Sox have contended with all season. The Red Sox had been within 4 games of the Wild card leading Tampa Bay Rays as recently as last week. However, following a 16-2 drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays it became evident to all in attendance that the Red Sox season (already on life support) would be unable to sustain itself.
The first signs that last night was the end came when Jon Lester, arguably the Red Sox ace, gave up 5 runs in the first inning. Prior to last night, Lester had given up 4 runs in the 1st inning in his 24 other starts combined. The night got progressively worse, as the Blue Jays pounded 3 3-run home runs and scored in every inning except the 4th and the 9th. To add injury to insult, the Red Sox saw two more players go down during the early portion of the game. Mike Lowell sustained an injury in after colliding with John McDonald, and Scott Atchison (who had pitched well in relief of the ineffective Lester) left the game after taking a line drive off his leg.
In a season where the philosophy was, “win with pitching and defense”, the offense has, surprisingly, carried the Sox for most of the season. With Josh Beckett and Lackey both ineffective for long stretches and Daisuke Matsuzaka inconsistent at best, the Sox have relied on good outings by Clay Buchholz and Lester to carry them. Unfortunately, last night Lester did not deliver. His lack of command (51 pitches, only 26 for strikes) doomed the lefty and dealt the death-blow to the Sox season.
Despite the gloom of last night’s game and the season, there have been several bright spots and reason to hope for the future. The Sox have gotten contributions from several players in their farm system. Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish and recently promoted, Yamaico Navarro (who got a hit in his MLB debut last night) come to mind. If the Sox can make some offseason additions (Hello Jayson Werth!), the team should bounce back and compete next season.
Survived by the 35,000+ fans in attendance each night at Fenway Park, and the millions of members of Red Sox Nation, the 2010 Red Sox season will go down as a lost season. With this season dead, a familiar refrain could be heard as I exited Fenway Park, “Wait ‘Til Next Year.”
Check out some more pictures from the game on my flikr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/therallycap/