After the Red Sox won the first game in Tampa, 3-1, behind a solid effort from Jon Lester (even with his three wild pitches) hope had begun to spring forth that they could overtake the Rays and still get the wild card.
I am not counting them as "dead" yet, but last night's 3-2 loss in extra innings may have been the straw to break the Sox's back.
Clay Buchholtz pitched a solid game, good enough for him to be the winner, but the Sox bats were dead when they had many men in scoring position and of course, Bucholtz cost himself a run with his throwing error to first base attempting a pick-off, which allowed the runner to go to third and score on a sac fly.
The Sox outhit the Rays 10-6 and should have plated more than two runs. But it was, once again, poor managing by Francona with piss poor decisions on pitchers that cost the Sox the game, again.
With the score tied at 2-2 after eight innings, Francona sent Daniel Bard in to pitch the ninth. Bard did a solid job getting the Rays out. He had one strikeout and pitched a total of 10 pitches...Yes, just 10 pitches.
So, what does Francona do, as he has done so many times...he overmanages and pulls Bard and inserts Scott Atchison. Atchison faces ONE batter, throws seven pitches and then, Dan Johnson with his .149 batting average hits pitch number eight out of the ballpark. Game over, Sox lose, and Francona has cost them, yet another game.
Even with all the injuries this team sustained they would be either in the lead for the wild card, or maybe even in first place in the division, if not for Francona's total ignorance of how to handle a pitching staff.
Sure, there is a pitching coach who must share some of the blame, but the manager, Francona, has final say. And his final say on pitchers sucks.
Now they have to win all four remaining games with the Rays and hope that the Yankees beat the Rays in four or five the seven they have left between each other, while the Sox do what they have to do, win games.
They ain't dead yet, but yesterday's game put them one large step closer to the end.