Red Sox Need to Capitalize on Matchups With Inferior Teams Down the Stretch

Red Sox Need to Capitalize on Matchups With Inferior Teams Down the Stretch Persistent rain and an injury to a player who was never even scheduled to appear in the series caused the three games between the Red Sox and Mariners take on a wildly different look than anything we had imagined.

But there was plenty to learn from the set, which precedes a trip to Tampa Bay for a monstrous three-game series with the Rays. Here are a few items to note as we bid adieu to Fenway Park.

Missed Opportunity
Sure, Boston won all three series on the homestand, but there were opportunities against three inferior teams to get a sweep somewhere along the way. By failing to do so and finishing the stretch 6-3 the Red Sox were able to gain only a half-game on both Tampa Bay and New York.

At some point, and it may come this weekend in Florida, Boston will have to make a dent in its deficit. Otherwise the stretch run will become a bit more desparate. The Sox have just 15 home games remaining on the schedule. Twelve are against teams with winning records.

Dice OK?
The club will now wait and see if its latest injury is anything serious. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was scheduled to start Friday in Tampa Bay, suffered a strained lower back while throwing in the outfield Wednesday at Fenway Park.

Matsuzaka will be scratched from his start. Jon Lester, originally slated to go Wednesday, was bumped to fill the void and Tim Wakefield suffered the loss in place of Lester.

The team will see how Matsuzaka feels Thursday but has yet to plan any specific tests or scans.

Johnny Be Bad
The Johnny Damon drama played out over the first two games of the series. When he made it official and said he would not be coming to Boston, there were two emotions.

While several players said they would have welcomed Damon with open arms and at least one, Jason Varitek, said he reached out to his former teammate in an effort to lure him, there was a sense that moving on without him would be best.

This is a team that has survived on improvements made in-house, and it will continue to circle the wagons without an imported star. As Varitek himself said: "This has been who we are, and it’s been who we are all year and we’re in the right place."

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