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The Week Ahead: Time of reckoning for Red Sox

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.

  1. Richard - Aug 10, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    No two ways about it, The Sox signed an over 40 legend who went into rehab right away and never recovered,, didn’t get Santana, didn’t go after Holladay, allowed their ace, Dice K, to throw his arm out before the season began, traded a promising young pitcher, Masterson, ran into a PED’s scandal with their biggest bat,(who is in a slump), suffered numerous DL problems with their starting lineup, and going into the Detroit series, have only 3 starting players hitting 300 or better, 7 roster 250 or better,
    The pitching fix: elevate H Okajima to starter status,
    The Hitting Fix: bench Ortiz, Replace Ortiz with C Kotchman,

  2. This is GREAT! - Aug 10, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    They have turned into everything they proclaimed to hate, the Yankees. Glad they’re losing.

  3. Yankee Universe - Aug 10, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    After the massacre in the bronx this past weekend, I think it’s safe to say Boston will be in the rear view mirror for a a while – especially with that horrible offensive output (Yanks’ pitching had something to do with that also).
    Speaking about pitching… I heard Clemens is going to make a comeback with the Sux :)
    Clemens and Smoltz will definetly overpower the Yankee batting lineup (on “old timers” day)

  4. bh0673 - Aug 10, 2009 at 3:45 PM

    While I loved the sweep I won’t count Boston out till they are out. Next weekend in Boston the Red Sox could climb back in if the Yankees sweep next weekend then get out the rear view mirror. It is amazing how Boston fans were pounding their chests about the first 8 games between these two teams but that was a Yankee team with problems and a Boston team fairly healthy now the tide has turned but we still have 40 plus games to play and no lead is safe.

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