Despite drawing 12 walks and taking a five-run lead into the late innings behind a dominant Jon Lester, the Sox somehow coughed up what looked to be a sure win, dropping a 7-6 decision to the Tigers in 12 innings.
The setback dropped Boston to seven games out in the loss column in the American League East. But that is just one of several ugly numbers resulting from this debacle.
For starters, look at the starting pitchers. Through five innings, Lester had allowed only one run on one little hit. Tigers southpaw Dontrelle Willis, on the other hand, was done just one out into the fourth, having giving up four runs on four hits and seven walks.
The mismatch on the mound enabled the Sox to take a 6-1 lead into the sixth, and when Lester started the frame with a strikeout it looked as if his cake walk would continue. But in a heartbeat Detroit struck for three runs and then got two more off Hideki Okajima in the eighth, magnifying the wasted opportunities throughout the contest for Boston.
Only two of the 12 Red Sox batters who drew walks ended up scoring. The club left 13 men on base and hit into two double plays. And the winning run came in for Detroit on — you guessed it — a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded to light-hitting Ramon Santiago.
Boston is now 19-18. While it has still won eight of its last 12, the losses during the stretch, and all season for that matter, seem to keep coming in painful fashion.
The Sox are now 1-6 in extra inning games. They are 1-4 in their last five one-run games. And there have been complete throwaways such as the back-to-back embarrassing losses to the New York Yankees last weekend.
But Saturday’s setback may go down as the most damaging. Even after it blew the five-run lead, Boston had a runner on third in the 10th and got the first two on in the 11th, but did nothing with the opportunities. It also wasted 2 1/3 scoreless innings for closer Jonathan Papelbon, who, after throwing 26 pitches, may be unavailable after a quick turnaround for Sunday’s matinee.
And the nauseating loss, which took four hours, 35 minutes, came on a day which saw the three teams ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East win clean, crisp affairs devoid of blown chances. That’s not going to help Boston climb the ladder anytime soon.
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