Used to be, the Red Sox didn't have to work this hard for a smile here, even in moments of high anxiety. The locals were often happy to accommodate.
It was here that former Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, trying to close out a game but struggling with his control, was startled on the mound by a man wearing only a Minnesota Vikings cap who bolted onto the field and made naked cartwheels a demonstration sport. By the time Lowe stopped laughing, he was able to relocate the strike zone and the victory was secured.
There has been no shortage of weirdness here the last two nights, but none of it has been designed to bring relief to the Sox. Last night, the Sox lost their fourth game in a row, 3-2. It was their sixth loss in seven games and third straight this week to the Athletics, who have now beaten the Sox seven straight times in McAfee Coliseum.
"Everything's just changed, the intensity, all kinds of stuff, it's not there," said a weary-looking David Ortiz of a jet-lagged Sox offense that has scored just two runs in the last 18 innings.
Is the energy missing? "I don't know. We don't have the intensity we normally have," he said. "That's my view. We have a lot of guys trying, trying, trying, but not getting it done. Hopefully, we'll come out here [this afternoon] and win."
The intensity is missing, and so are the hits. Coco Crisp is 0 for 7 here, 4 for his last 29 overall. Julio Lugo is 1 for 10 here, 3 for his last 22. Dustin Pedroia, whose 14-game hitting streak came to an end Tuesday, is 1 for 10. Mike Lowell is 1 for 9.
J.D. Drew, meanwhile, remains anchored to the bench after being lifted for a pinch hitter Monday night, a damning indictment of his flimsy start. Drew, batting .159 in his last 33 games, sat for the second straight game against a lefthander until drawing a walk as a pinch hitter with two outs in the ninth against Santiago Ca silla last night, his deployment in that role a marker of how desperate the Sox were for a hit.
The Sox, who had not lost more than two in a row until arriving here after a red-eye flight Sunday, will try to salvage the final game of this four-game set this afternoon behind Curt Schilling, who will try to accomplish what Tim Wakefield last night could not do despite his best efforts.
Tuesday night, the Sox lost to former spare part Lenny DiNardo, who became the first opposing pitcher in at least 50 years to craft this bizarre pitching line at their expense: six innings, six walks, no whiffs, no runs.