Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sox Continue Post-Allstar Slide

Word filtered through the ballpark about an hour before last night's game. Casey Kotchman, who had been in the lineup batting second for the Angels, was scratched. He was headed to Atlanta, with one of the biggest bats on the block (Mark Teixeira) heading to southern California.

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The Angels, the class of the American League and owners of a seven-game winning streak over the Red Sox, had just gotten much better.

They already have the pitching, made abundantly clear last night as John Lackey took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, broken up by Dustin Pedroia's one-out single to left. Still, it was a decisive 6-2 victory for the Angels.

And the Red Sox are not happy. Not happy about their performance last night. Not happy about their performance of late.

"It seems like we're not playing good baseball," Pedroia said. "I think it's time to start doing that. It's not like anybody in our division's going to lose consecutive games. Everyone's playing good. It seems like we're not.

"It's a lack of doing anything. Nobody brought any energy. Nobody did anything. They killed us. It felt like we weren't even in the game."

That could partly be attributed to Lackey, who gave up virtually nothing to the Red Sox for 8 1/3 innings before Pedroia turned on a low slider and rifled it by shortstop Maicer Izturis into left field, then Kevin Youkilis followed with a two-run home run to left. Though the Yankees fell to the Orioles, 7-6, last night, the Rays defeated the Blue Jays, 3-0. The Red Sox are 4-7 since the All-Star break and are two games behind the Rays in the AL East. Not exactly the surge the Sox were anticipating with the return of David Ortiz (0 for 4) and Clay Buchholz, now 0-3 in four starts since his recall from Pawtucket.

"We can't keep going into the third game of the series trying to not get swept," Mike Lowell said. "That's not really the recipe for staying with the pack, the leaders in the division."

Asked if the team's play the last two weeks has been worrisome, Lowell said, "If we continue this way, we won't have to worry at all, because we're not going to make the playoffs."

So what does this team have to do?

"Come out and play," Pedroia said. "We've got to start playing hard and winning games. We got beat in every aspect of the game. They whupped us."

Lackey certainly did. He had been baffling, just as the opposing starter, Buchholz, had been last Sept. 1 when he pitched a no-hitter against the Orioles.

"Can't say I feel sorry for him," said Buchholz, who gave up six runs (five earned) on six hits, three walks, and struck out five in 6 1/3 innings.

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