For a while, it was hard to remember Boston's situation a week ago: The Red Sox couldn't string together two hits, couldn't hit with runners in scoring position, couldn't hit with two outs.
To some extent, those fears were allayed during Boston's 3-1 stretch over the weekend. Then, Tuesday night's bullpen collapse called up a whole new set of fears in the Nation.
Which version of the Sox will show up in Game 3 of this series? The untouchable pitching staff and the clockwork bats, or the inexplicably ineffective bullpen and the anemic offense? Or some other unthinkable combination?
When and Where
7:10 p.m., July 29, 2009
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Red Sox (58-41, 2nd in AL East)
Athletics (42-57, 4th in AL West)
Discounting Tuesday night's anomaly, the Red Sox have been great at home this season. The A's have been bad on the road. The stage is set for a Boston victory, except for the fact that the Sox are running into Brett Anderson at the wrong time. Still, the recent lineup shuffles — Jacoby Ellsbury hitting leadoff, Adam LaRoche and Mike Lowell essentially platooning — have paid off big for Terry Francona's offense. They'll try to get the ball rolling again on Wednesday.
|Adam Kennedy, 3B||Jacoby Ellsbury, CF|
|Orlando Cabrera, SS||Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||Kevin Youkilis, 3B|
|Jack Cust, DH||Jason Bay, LF|
|Ryan Sweeney, RF||Mike Lowell, DH|
|Tommy Everidge, 1B||Rocco Baldelli, RF|
|Mark Ellis, 2B||Adam LaRoche, 1B|
|Rajai Davis, CF||Jason Variek, C|
|Eric Patterson, LF||Jed Lowrie, SS|
Brad Penny (7-4, 4.71 ERA) vs. Brett Anderson (5-8, 4.32 ERA)
The wonder boy of Boston's rotation returns to the mound in search of his eighth win of the year. (Aren't you glad he's still around in light of the Dice-K madness that seized the Nation on Tuesday?) Last time out against Toronto, Penny allowed just one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings, which gave him his seventh win, passing last year's total of six. Lately, his numbers at Fenway have been intimidating. Over his last five starts at home, he has a 1.59 ERA. He has a 5-1 record and owns a 4.02 ERA in 10 total starts at the Fens.
Anderson had a 23-inning scoreless streak going until he ran into the Yankees last Friday, when he went 6 2/3 innings and allowed four runs. Over his last four starts, he's 1-1, but he's only allowed runs in one of those contests and has racked up 25 strikeouts. Red Sox fans may remember Anderson from July 6, when he faced Boston and threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout.
Boston owns the best home record in the majors at 34-16 (percentage points better than the Yankees' 35-17 mark) and has won eight of its last 11 at the Fens.
As of Tuesday night, Boston's 196 extra-base hits at home landed it in a three-way tie with New York and Texas for the league lead.
In seven games at Fenway before Tuesday's contest, Boston's pitchers tallied 67 strikeouts and just 13 walks.
Boston has won 10 of its last 13 series.
Josh Beckett earned his 12th win of the season on Monday night, matching his 2008 total.
Tuesday's ninth-inning disaster marked the first time in his career that Jonathan Papelbon blew a lead of three runs or more.
Boston's 14 hits on Monday night was the most they accumulated since racking up 16 on June 30 at Baltimore.
As of Tuesday, the Sox were batting .300 on their current seven-game homestand.
Before Tuesday night's tilt, the A's were 16 games under .500 for the first time since August of 1998.
Oakland is 18-26 when committing one or more errors.
The A's are 2-40 when scoring less than four runs.
Entering Tuesday night, Adam Kennedy ranked fourth in the AL in batting with runners in scoring position (.371) and he was ninth in the league in batting against righties (.323).
The A's placed Daric Barton on the disabled list on Tuesday, the 14th time they have placed a player on the DL this year.
Oakland is in the midst of a span where it will play 28 consecutive games (July 16 to August 12). So far, the club is 5-8.
Black and Blue
Jeff Bailey is on the 15-day DL with a high ankle sprain and could return in early August.
All-Star pitcher Tim Wakefield is on the 15-day DL with a lower-back strain.
Daisuke Matsuzaka remains on the 15-day DL with weakness in his right shoulder. He is expected to continue his rehab in Florida and expressed discontent with Boston's rehabilitation plans for him.
First baseman Barton was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesady with a strained hamstring.
First baseman Jason Giambi is on the 15-day DL and out indefinitely with a strained quad.
Right-handed pitcher Justin Duchscherer is on the 60-day DL after elbow surgery, but could return in early August.
"When I was driving in [to the game on Tuesday], I had my window down and I was relaxing. It was 'Hey, Jim Rice. Hall of Famer. How you doing?'"
–Jim Rice, to Boston.com, before having his No. 14 retired at Fenway Park on Tuesday
Red Sox eat crow, with a side of Rice.
Boston sends Mark Kotsay to Chicago in exchange for Brian Anderson.
Terry Francona is unhappy about Dice-K's critical comments.
Bob Geren was ejected against the Red Sox.
A's send Sean Gallagher to the Padres.
Oakland sends Barton to the DL.
The Rays hit CC Sabathia and the Yankees hard.
Chicago's Mark Buehrle sets a record with 45 straight batters retired.
The Mets ride Mike Pelfrey to a fourth consecutive win.
Boston fans were feeling pretty good about their bullpen — and their pitching staff, in general — but Tuesday's collapse proves that the pitching is beatable, and everyone knows Boston's bats are capable of falling asleep. Wednesday's rematch against Anderson could be just what the Sox need to see where they stand as they head into the final days before the trade deadline.
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