Someone needs to tell Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell that every game counts, because apparently he’s under the impression that the Red Sox’ lead over the Tampa Bay Rays is bigger than it actually is.
Going into last night’s game with the Houston Astros the Red Sox held a slim half game lead over the Rays. The importance of winning the division cannot be understated. With the new playoff format the top two non-division winners meet in a one game playoff to see who will advance onto the next round. This is essentially a coin flip, and quite frankly the Red Sox lack the shut down starter needed to win such a game.
Considering the consequences of not winning the AL East, Farrell’s focus should be winning every single night. Unfortunately that was not his primary goal going into last night’s game. Inexplicably Farrell decided that his starting pitchers needed an extra day off and decided to spot start knuckleballer Steven Wright against the lowly Astros. It was a complete disaster.
Wright’s knuckleball was moving like never before. Whether the reason can be attributed to the dome in Houston is irrelevant. He shouldn’t have been starting in the first place. The first inning was epically disastrous. During the 38 pitch disaster he gave up three earned runs on just one hit. That’s largely because catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who has caught him eight times before in Pawtucket, allowed four passed balls and Wright hit a batter. It was a comedy of errors.
Luckily Farrell corrected his mistake immediately and pulled Wright in favor of Brandon Workman after just that one inning. Also luckily for Farrell was the fact that the Red Sox were playing the Astros, and the Astros for lack of a better word, stink. The Red Sox’ bats came alive and bailed Farrell out. Jacoby Ellsbury scored four times including twice on his own home runs. David Ortiz had a 4-4 performance, and Lavarnway made up for all the passed balls with a key two run double in the fifth inning that gave the Red Sox the lead for good.
Hopefully this game taught Farrell an important lesson; his starting pitchers don’t need days off. Sure, they may be tired, but this is a pennant chase. If you can’t suck it up for this then you’re playing the wrong sport. Every game has to be approached as if it’s a playoff game from this point forth.