Red Sox Learn Valuable Lessons in Long Series With Rangers Is it too early to panic?

It seems like Red Sox Nation has been asking itself that question since Day 2 of this young season, when Boston lost its first of three straight games to New York and Kansas City. In the first couple of weeks of the season, it was easy to attribute the Red Sox' dormant offense to shaking out the kinks, or getting in the groove of things, or learning to click with new teammates and a new lineup.

Now, though, when things haven't really improved all that much, we return to square one: Is it too early to panic?

This week's series against the Rangers provided a bit of short-lived comfort. Coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rays and desperately trying to break out of a five-game skid, the Red Sox — led by the city's newest cult hero, Triple-A call-up Darnell McDonald — overcame deficits of 5-1 and 6-2 en route to a 7-6 walk-off win.

The very next night, after Boston took a 7-4 lead into the seventh inning, Josh Beckett gave up a game-tying, three-run homer. Kevin Youkilis delivered redemption in the bottom of the 11th with another walk-off double.

The magic didn't last through Thursday night, though. Clay Buchholz was nearly unhittable until disaster struck in his seventh inning, and the Red Sox walked away deflated with a 3-0 loss on their backs.

Walk-offs are nice, yes — but it would also be nice to be able to get through the final couple of innings of a game without needing an inhaler.

After Thursday's loss, Buchholz said that all it will take is one series for this team to figure things out. If this wasn't that series, let's hope it comes soon. In the meantime, Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia put the Red Sox' struggles in perspective, and in other news, Rasheed Wallace clarifies Boston's strategy in the first round of the playoffs, and Chad Ochocinco takes a break from Dancing With the Stars to become reacquainted with Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire.

"Walk-offs are exciting, but I think you'd rather have a 7-2 game where everything’s solid."
–Red Sox DH Mike Lowell, after Thursday’' 3-0 shutout loss to Texas

"When you don't show up, you're going to get beat. Doesn't matter if it's the Rays or [expletive] Brookline High."
–Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, on, after being swept by Tampa Bay

"It sucks that we lost, but I guess you're gonna win some and you're gonna lose some. And that guy they had throwing was pretty good."
–Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, after getting outpitched by Texas’ C.J. Wilson, who earned his first-ever win as a starter

"Play defense, man. I mean, I ain't no [expletive] slouch. Defense. Try to stop them from scoring. Stand between them and the basket. I know how to play defense, man. I've been doing this for a long time."
–Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace, on how to stop the Heat in the absence of Kevin Garnett, who was suspended for Game 2

"I am waching the movie BROTHERS in my hotel and this shh is good, she thought her husband died but now he back,he's not the same now.”
–Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, via Twitter, on the movie Brothers

"When I start talking too much medical, I can probably mess up, but I think I've given you the general gist of it.”
–Red Sox manager Terry Francona, on Jacoby Ellsbury’s four fractured ribs

"I don't want to get into too much name-calling, but you have to be an absolute idiot."
–Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, to The Associated Press, on the two voters who left defensive player of the year Dwight Howard off their ballots

"What, that Cleveland really sucks?"
–Bulls forward Joakim Noah, to the AP, when asked whether his dislike for Cleveland motivates him in the Bulls’ series against the Cavaliers

"I am going to buy some cows."
–Boston Marathon winner Robert Cheruiyot, to the AP, when asked what he will do with his prize money. Cheruiyot won $150,000 plus a $25,000 bonus for setting a course record.

"If you're trying to be the big elephant — the guy who gets to sit wherever — you've got to be confident."
–Boston Marathon fourth-place finisher Ryan Hall, to the AP