Red Sox manager Terry Francona was let down by his bullpen on Monday night as Manny Delcarmen and Daniel Bard turned what looked like a sure Boston victory over the Kansas City Royals into a soggy 12-9 Sox loss.
Tim Wakefield started the game despite struggling with lower back inflammation so severe that he is unable to walk without a limp. He left the game after five innings with a 9-5 lead.
The sixth inning proved disastrous as both Delcarmen and Bard were ineffective, and the Royals posted six runs.
Wakefield, the Red Sox? elder statesman, shouldered the blame for the loss, claiming that he "gave the game away." But Francona refused to fault the veteran knuckleballer. Instead, he indicated that Delcarmen's struggles forced him to go to Bard earlier than he would have liked and that both pitchers had difficulty on the rain-soaked night.
The Red Sox hitters, for their part, looked good — particularly Victor Martinez, who extended his hitting streak to 20 games, and Jason Bay, who had three RBIs on the night. Bay spoke admiringly of Wakefield's performance, aware of the pain the pitcher is playing through, and claimed the team tried its hardest to get a win for him.
After jumping out to an early 6-0 lead against former Red Sox lefty Lenny DiNardo, the game looked to be well in hand before the bullpen gave it away.
Francona won't panic, however, as the Red Sox still lead the Texas Rangers by seven games in the wild-card race. And the Yankees' loss to the Angels on Monday means the Sox didn't lose any ground in the division, either.
Nevertheless, Delcarmen's performance — he's currently sporting an atrocious 21.60 ERA in September — is worrisome and could be a concern come playoff time.