Aug 10, 2009, 3:10 AM EDT
There’s no other way to put it: It was a miserable week for the Boston Red Sox.
They lost six straight, including four to the Yankees, falling 6 ½ games back in the AL East, and into a tie with the Texas Rangers for the wild card lead.
Their offense took a vacation. Their bullpen, showing signs of wear and tear, could use some help. And their big offseason hope for the rotation, John Smoltz, ended his time in Boston looking like a shadow of his once-great self.
This week, it doesn’t get any easier.
The Red Sox travel home for a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, leaders of the AL Central. Boston is 3-0 against Detroit this season, winning those games by a combined score of 21-9. Of course, the Red Sox were 8-0 against the Yankees before the four-day disaster in the Bronx.
After Detroit, Boston travels to Texas to take on the Rangers. Texas enters the week 62-48 and tied with Boston for the wild-card lead. The Rangers lead both leagues with 169 home runs (40 more than Boston) and have found enough pitching to stay in the playoff race.
Derek Holland, the promising rookie the Rangers wouldn’t part with at the trade deadline, is coming off a three-hit shutout of the Angels. He’ll face the Red Sox on Saturday.
Through the recent slump, the Red Sox have kept their composure. Terry Francona, not one to yell and scream, says there’s no reason to panic.
“The energy level is there. We’ve just been putting up zeroes for a lot of innings now. I think sometimes you balance that. If I thought the effort was terrible I’d say something, but I don’t think that’s the case.”
That may be true, but for Red Sox fans, if this week doesn’t go well, everything could change.
FIVE SERIES TO WATCH
Tigers at Red Sox, Aug. 10-13: Boston will break in Junichi Tazawa on Tuesday, giving him his first big league start in what has becoming a most important series for the Red Sox.
Dodgers at Giants, Aug. 10-12: They’re hated rivals, and for the first time in awhile, this series has playoff implications. The Giants have crept within 5½ games of the NL West-leading Dodgers, and are tied with Colorado for the NL wild card.
Rays at Angels, Aug. 10-12: Tampa remains in the wild card hunt, but the AL West-leading Angels, who are hitting .289 as a team, present a serious challenge.
Phillies at Cubs, Aug. 11-13: After rising to the NL Central lead, the Cubs have taken a hit of late. Two games behind the Cardinals, Chicago must take advantage of the struggling Phillies, who have dropped seven of 10.
Red Sox at Rangers, Aug. 14-16: Neither team has given up in their respective division races, but this series could go a long way toward deciding who takes the AL wild card.
ON THE TUBE
Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Tigers at Red Sox (ESPN)
Wednesday, 8:05 p.m.: Phillies at Cubs (ESPN)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Indians at Twins (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Phillies at Braves (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Giants at Mets (FOX)
Sunday, 2:05 p.m.: Red Sox at Rangers (TBS)
Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Phillies at Braves (ESPN)
*Check local listings
If you Twitter, you can find me at @bharks.
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- Report: MLB likely to adjust rules for plays at home and transfer catches 14
- Settling the Score: Friday’s results 17
- Giancarlo Stanton sends the Marlins to victory with a walk-off grand slam 22
- Jason Bartlett will retire after 10 years in the big leagues 11
- Hank Aaron is getting vile racist hate mail in retaliation for pointing out that racism still exists (248)
- “They Don’t Know Henry” (167)
- Doug Glanville’s story about being racially profiled at his own home (125)
- There is still a racial divide in baseball (112)
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights (96)