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Are the Red Sox Done?

Under normal circumstances, such a question would be absurd. Their deficit to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS is a mere one game, following yesterday's emphatic loss. We all know how the Red Sox have come back from far more dire situations than this in two of the last four ALCS -- down 3-0 to the Yankees in 2004, and down 3-1 to the Indians last year.

However, just for kicks, let's look at the starting pitchers the Red Sox had lined up for the remainder of those series, as well as this one:

2004 (down 3-0): Derek Lowe (Game 4), Pedro Martinez (Game 5), Curt Schilling (Game 6), Derek Lowe (Game 7 on short rest).

2007 (down 3-1): Josh Beckett (Game 5), Curt Schilling (Game 6), Daisuke Matsuzaka (Game 7).

2008 (down 2-1): Tim Wakefield (Game 4), Daisuke Matsuzaka (Game 5), Josh Beckett or Somebody Else (Game 6), Jon Lester (Game 7).

Let's just say this ain't 2007, let alone 2004. Wakefield is a roll of the dice any time he takes the mound. Josh Beckett has a fraction of his 2007 effectiveness. Matsuzaka always teeters on the edge of disaster. And Lester just absorbed a vicious beating from the Rays. (Incidentally, he could start Game 6 on regular rest, instead of Beckett, but there are no indications the Red Sox are considering that.)

But the Red Sox's problems go beyond their starting pitching. David Ortiz... wow. He has absolutely disappeared (.148, no homers, one RBI this postseason), and it seems obvious now that the wrist injury that cost him 55 games earlier this year is really bothering him. When he talks about not getting pitches to hit, don't believe him. He is. He's just missing them.

Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury are also easy outs right now, but Varitek will be out of the lineup tonight, with Wakefield on the mound, and Terry Francona could also opt for Coco Crisp over Ellsbury.

Francona is handling his pitching staff in a way that leads me to believe there is something we don't know about the health of certain arms. Yesterday, with the Red Sox trailing by four runs in the sixth (in other words, a game that was still winable) he went with long man Paul Byrd to replace Lester, instead of sending out a parade of his best bullpen guys -- Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson, Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon. It felt like a white flag of surrender. Either Francona felt as if the Red Sox's offense was simply not going to get them back in the game, or one or more of those relievers were unavailable, despite the break offered by Sunday's off day and the fact only Okajima exceeded 20 pitches Saturday night.

And now, the Red Sox have this additional problem tonight: If Wakefield gets knocked out in the third inning -- always a possibility given the ephemeral nature of the knuckleball -- who can the Red Sox turn to, since their long guy (Byrd) can't pitch? You're probably looking at three innings of Mike Timlin and/or Javier Lopez.

So, I ask you again: Are the Red Sox done?

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 14, 2008; 10:20 AM ET
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Next: Can The Rays Close the Deal?


"You're probably looking at three innings of Mike Timlin and/or Javier Lopez."

As the meme goes, I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Posted by: KR | October 14, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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