Wednesday, December 11, 2013
BOSTON - There has never been a better time for the Red Sox to be on the West Coast.
WHO: Red Sox (Lester 8-11) at Seattle Mariners (Beavan 9-8)
WHEN: 10:10 p.m.
The Sox waited until this past week to play their worst baseball of the worst season in the last 15 years.
Luckily, with 10 p.m. starts most nights, it was easy for people to turn the games off and get a good night's sleep.
The Sox have lost the first seven games of the trip, getting swept in Anaheim and Oakland and losing their series opener Monday in Seattle. They're now 12 games under .500 at 62-74, their lowest winning percentage since July 1997.
Are you ready for some football?
How bad are things on the West Coast? Over the first seven games of the trip the Sox have been outscored 58-16. They're hitting .223 as a team, and their ERA is 9.00. Red Sox starting pitchers have made it out of the fourth inning in just three of the seven games.
The Sox almost single-handedly rejuvenated the Angels' playoff hopes and helped Oakland move to the top of the AL wild-card race.
The only good news is that Boston's collapse has happened too late at night for many fans to watch. And, with the Red Sox giving up first-inning runs in five of the six California games, folks back in New England didn't have to wait too long to make the decision to turn off the TV and go to bed.
We all knew the Sox were planning for next year when they traded four veteran players to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 25. We just didn't know what's left of this year would turn ugly so quickly. Boston has scored two or fewer runs in six straight games.
Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Will Middlebrooks are not walking through the clubhouse door anytime soon. One has been traded away, and the other two are injured.
Bobby Valentine had Scott Podsednik batting third on Saturday night, the first time the outfielder hit in that spot in more than 900 career games.
Struggling on the field is one thing. Starting to unravel in the clubhouse and dugout is another.
On Saturday night, Alfredo Aceves and Dustin Pedroia had heated words in the dugout during a 7-1 loss in Oakland. Valentine and his coaches gathered around the two players to keep things under control.
Order prevailed, but Aceves gave his manager a dismissive wave of the hand as the crowd dispersed. It was a reminder that there is still plenty of dissension in the Sox camp, and that the blockbuster trade did not entirely clear that up.
Monday, the Sox were met in Seattle by principal owner John Henry and General Manager Ben Cherington.
Rumors were flying that management arrived to fire Valentine. Ownership denied it all, but you have to wonder if the manager is going to make it through the season.
The housecleaning has begun for the Red Sox, but it is clearly not finished. Unfortunately, neither is the season. There are still four weeks to go, and this team is limping toward the finish line.
Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.