Championships aside, the Yankees and Red Sox also know how to break down with the best of them.
Back in 1978, Boston squandered a 14-game lead to New York in the AL East standings, finally surrendering a playoff spot in a legendary tiebreaker at Fenway Park. In 2004, the Yankees led the ALCS 3-0 but lost Game 4 at Fenway and, famously, never recovered before the Red Sox finally won the World Series.
On Saturday, a day after celebrating Fenway's 100th birthday, fans there witnessed another spectacularly stunning collapse. The Red Sox blew a 9-0 lead after the Yankees posted back-to-back seven-run innings in the seventh and eighth in New York's unlikely 15-9 victory.
Mark Teixeira hit two home runs and drove in six, Nick Swisher hit a grand slam and added a two-run, go-ahead double in the eighth. The nine-run rally equaled the franchise's biggest comeback, done five times.
Good for the Yankees, but the loss dropped Boston to 4-10 and the Red Sox have won only 11 of 41 games going back to Sept. 1, 2011. Responding to fierce booing as he fruitlessly changed pitchers in the eighth inning, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine tipped his cap to the fans. As quoted by the Associated Press:
''I think we've hit bottom,'' Valentine said. ''If this isn't bottom, we need to find some new ends of the earth.''
Valentine probably deserves the booing, and Red Sox fans are within their rights to let him have it — despite becoming spoiled the past decade or so. But the biggest culprits were relief pitchers Vicente Padilla, Alfredo Aceves and friends, along with upper Red Sox management. The mess the Red Sox are in goes beyond their sometimes silly manager. And Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, as quoted by WEEI, realizes it:
"He makes the lineup out and he makes decisions during the game as to who's coming in," said Cherington. "The players will always, the players will always influence wins and losses more than anybody else. And that's no different here. He's doing the best he can with the roster he has. It'll get better, and he knows that and I know that and along the way if changes need to be made on the roster that's my responsibility."
So it's not a matter of Bobby V changing his disguises, or banning other performance-reducing substances like beer and fried chicken, but the Red Sox getting their act together in player acquisition. That's what's off. That's what the problem is. The biggest problem, anyway.
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