A year later, the beatings go on for the Boston Red Sox.
Last September, the Sox went 7-20 and blew a 9 1/2-game lead to miss the postseason. And despite all of their changes, including a new general manager and manager, their freefall has continued -- with no end in sight.
On Friday night, the Red Sox were humiliated 20-2 by the surging Oakland Athletics, their worst loss since a 22-1 thumping by the New York Yankees on June 19, 2000.
And get this: Since last Sept. 1, the Sox are 69-91, a run of misery bookended by last September and an almost equally horrendous 9-20 mark this August. When last month began, the Red Sox were 53-51, 3 1/2 games off the pace for the second wild-card spot. Now, they are 62-71, the deficit swelling to 12 games.
"We obviously didn't expect to be where we're at right now," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "But that's kind of how this game goes sometimes. You don't really know what to expect. I think some changes have been made, so we've got that to look forward to. But at the same time, we want to win. We don't want to finish September on a losing record."
The Red Sox continue to be dogged by controversies off the field. But on the field, the root of their problem is unchanged. The starting pitching has been atrocious.
Last September, Red Sox starters combined for a 7.08 ERA. This season, with only few of the names having changed, the rotation has a 5.00 ERA, fifth worst in the majors behind only Kansas City, Cleveland, Minnesota and Colorado, non-contenders all.
Aaron Cook took his turn Friday night, leaving his sinker up in the strike zone to get pounded for six runs in 2 2/3 innings. The Athletics scored four runs in the second inning on a rally punctuated by Josh Donaldson's two-run homer, then tacked on two runs against Cook in the third inning.
"We got our (rears) kicked -- (by) 18 runs," Cook said. "How are we supposed to feel?"
It's a feeling the Red Sox are too familiar with.