Attention, Boston Red Sox: you have many concerns right now, but a stolen base is not one of them. You have concerns with the offense, defense, and pitching. You have concerns with injuries and the disabled list. Your biggest concern right now, though, involves finding a way to end a losing streak at ten games, which gets even tougher Monday night when you travel to Atlanta to face the Major Leagues’ best pitching staff.
What stolen base do I mean? I mean the steal of third from the Rays’ Yunel Escobar with the Rays leading 8-3 in the seventh inning. The play actually went down as defensive indifference because no one covered third and no one threw the ball, but it is still a steal in practicality. Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski took exception. The teams exchanged words, during which Escobar started shouting into the Red Sox dugout. Jonny Gomes came in from left field and threw the first punch, and then it was on as the photo shows. MLB.com’s Bill Chastain describes the scene in detail.
First, this is not kids’ rec ball; it is the Major Leagues. Players make millions of dollars every year to try to win games. There is nothing wrong with Escobar taking third if the defense gives it to him. Teams come back from five runs down quite often; the Red Sox blew a five-run lead to the Rays just one day before. If they do not want the runner to steal, then they should hold him on better and try to throw him out. When the team behind quits trying to catch up, then the team ahead might quit trying to add on.
Facing Altanta Braves pitching (2.78 ERA) for four straight games provides enough cause for concern for any team, but it gets even worse for a team that has lost ten straight. During this losing streak, the Red Sox have scored just 27 runs (2.7 per game), but the pitching has allowed 52 (5.2 per game).
Boston is now playing without Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Felix Doubront, and Will Middlebrooks, all on the disabled list. David Ortiz is playing, but he has a slight calf strain. Xander Bogaerts has a shaky hamstring. Stephen Drew is still in the Minors. Through all this, the Red Sox have to find ways to score runs, hold down the opposition, and end this losing streak.
After two nights in Atlanta, the Red Sox will host the Braves in Fenway Park for two on Wednesday and Thursday before getting another shot at Tampa Bay to end the month of May and begin June. They need to forget about a runner taking third and start finding ways to win. That is the Red Sox’ biggest concern.
PHOTO CREDIT: (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)
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