A day that began with Bobby Valentine insisting that the Boston Red Sox were about to catch fire and make a playoff run, ended with him pouring gasoline on the funeral pyre.
Valentine botched key pitching decisions in the final game of a long Boston home stand on August 8, and the Red Sox lost - again - to the Texas Rangers, 10-9. Characteristically, Valentine had excuses for the media after the game. None of which included his own mismanagement, and some showed little resemblance to the truth.
Josh Beckett, who missed his last start with back spasms, clearly had nothing left in the tank after the fifth inning, when he gave up massive home runs to Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton. Yet Valentine sent his struggling starter back out for the sixth. Beckett couldn't get anyone out, promptly allowing a single and another home run, and leaving to a chorus of boos from the fans at Fenway Park.
"He made some good pitches and I guess some not-so-good pitches," Bobby said in his all-too-familiar aw-shucks manner after the game. "He finished the fifth inning pretty good and it's the bottom of the order, I thought he could maybe squeak one out. I sure wasn't expecting Soto to hit a home run."
He may have been the only one who didn't see it coming. Boston writers were on Twitter scratching their heads when Beckett came out for the sixth.
Clayton Mortenson, recalled from the minors in the morning, had given the Red Sox three solid innings of relief. For some reason, Valentine sent him out to start the ninth. The baseball "book" says you bring on your closer in a tie game at home, because there will be no save opportunity. Predictably, Mortenson allowed the first two batters to reach. More predictably, Alfredo Aceves came in and allowed the runner at third to score the winning run on a sacrifice fly.
Aceves has come on with 15 runners on base this season and allowed seven of them - nearly half - to score. So why wasn't he on the mound to start the inning?
"I tried to squeeze to see if Clay could get Hamilton to swing at something out of the zone," Valentine offered. "It didn't work. Very short bullpen today. Everybody else was basically shut down."
Bobby V did not explain why, if they were shut down, he had both Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller warming up in the bullpen.
Despite all of his happy talk fantasies about the Red Sox suddenly making a run at the playoffs, Valentine goes out day after day and makes inexplicable decisions that appear as if he is trying to get thrown into a lifeboat before the ship goes down. His horrific management of the pitching staff in this game, and his refusal to shoulder even a small part of the blame, are just the latest examples.
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Rick Blaine, an award-winning broadcaster and columnist, is a lifelong Red Sox fan. Follow him on Twitter @RickBlaineCT.