Red Sox’ September swoon continues
Maybe the Yankees should have taken it easy on the Red Sox Saturday. After all, there is still tine for the Red Sox to blow their chances of making postseason play, and the way Boston has folded in September the Yankees just may want their rivals in the playoffs for easy pickings.
Judging from what was on view Saturday at Yankee Stadium Wednesday, this Red Sox team did not resemble the group that won 10 of the first 12 meetings against the Yankees this year. In fact, the Red Sox’ September slide began with the final game of a three-game series between them at Fenway Park in which the Yankees won, 4-2, to take the series, two games to one.
Despite that loss, the Red Sox clung to a half-game lead in the American League East. Look at the standings now. The Yanks have clinched the division title and with the Tigers’ loss Saturday night became the top seed in the AL, which gives them home-field advantage in the first two playoff rounds. Home-field advantage in the World Series belongs to the National League because of its victory in the All-Star Game.
The Red Sox’ hold on the wild-card berth has slipped mightily. Even after Boston’s 9-1 loss, it still has a two-game lead over the Rays and three over the Angels with five games remaining, including two Sunday that ends the Yankees’ home schedule. The Yankees will conclude their regular-season schedule with a three-game series at St. Petersburg, Fla., while the Red Sox move on to Baltimore, which won three of four games at Fenway Park last week.
The Yankees kept the Red Sox reeling and roughed up Jon Lester along the way. They bashed the lefthander for eight runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. Lester has been a major part of the Red Sox’ problem in September. In three starts this month, Lester is 0-3 with a 10.54 ERA. He has allowed 16 earned runs, 21 hits and eight walks in 13 2/3 innings in September.
All Boston could scratch together Saturday off Freddy Garcia, who was very good for six innings (no runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts) and five relievers was one measly run as they were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Lester dug them into an 8-0, third-inning hole, and the Red Sox remained buried.
Rookie catcher Jesus Montero had another good game at the plate with a home run, double and a single with four runs batted in. Derek Jeter whacked a three-run homer off Lester to climax a six-run second inning. Russell Martin knocked in the other two runs with a single in the second.
The Red Sox didn’t look like they belonged on the same field with the Yankees, much like back in 1961 when Roger Maris hit his 61st home run off Boston’s Tracy Stallard, an event that was celebrated with a pre-game ceremony. Craig Muder and Bill Francis of the National Baseball Hall of Fame brought down from Cooperstown the ball and the bat from that day. They also went home with bats from Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson from the three-grand slam game Aug. 25 against Oakland.
The Red Sox don’t even look like they belong on the same field with the 1962 Mets, the losingest team in history. Boston’s record this month is 5-17, a .227 winning percentage that is worse than the .250 winning percentage the Mets had in ‘62 in September (6-18) and the entire season (40-120).
My daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Christopher Gennari, made the difference in the Yankees’ setting a regular-season attendance record at the new Stadium of 49,556. That beat the previous mark by one customer. If Beth and Chris hadn’t come, the attendance would have fallen one short of a record total.