No word was too silly, no description too much of an exaggeration to explain what happened at Fenway Park on Saturday.
The 4-10 Red Sox have lost in many ways this season, but nothing was quite as bad as this one.
A day after the Yankees did that thing the Yankees always do and spoiled Fenway Park's 100th birthday celebration, the Red Sox were getting their revenge. They put runs up in the first, the second, the third; Felix Doubront came out and pitched like a master. Men bought for $20 million a season and more were going down on strikeouts from a minimum-salary starter, and spirits were high.
But after the question was posed this week whether anything could be worse than an 18-3 loss to the Rangers, or a 1-0 loss to the Rays, the answer Saturday was yes. Yes, this would be worse — to think the Red Sox were back on track and had it won, only to see it all disappear at the Green Monster, one home run or wall-pounding double at a time.
Bobby Valentine was at the mound plenty Saturday, escorting pitchers in and out of the game. The crowd was booing, the players shell-shocked. The only drama left was what Valentine would say. He's blamed himself before; he's said the players would get it together. The question was what he could say after a game like this.
"I think we've hit bottom," Valentine said. "That's what I told them after the game. You have to sometimes hit bottom. If this isn't bottom, then we'll find some new ends to the earth, I guess."
It was a true assessment. The honesty that reflected a painful day. Although Valentine did point out the good parts of the game, he didn't cover up or excuse away the bad parts. This is no slow start or one bad decision. This is definitely the bottom.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, the bottom can be a good place.
Lost in all the groaning over the mess this season has been so far, is the memory that the Red Sox do their best when they're at the bottom. Kick them a little, and they'll respond. Tell them they're bums, and they'll go out and win a championship.
No one wants to hear the platitudes about how the only direction left is up, but Saturday's loss is pretty close to literally as bad as it could statistically or emotionally get. And, judging by the mood of the players — several of whom left with a "no comment" or a few choice words — this one has the power to go deep into their bones.
You don't have mitts to the face without games like these.
This one was as bad as all of the clever adjectives used to describe it, but that means the only place to go is up. And the Red Sox are a team that knows how to get there.
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