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July 26, 2005
It's not the same
The Red Sox sit this morning with 54 wins and 45 losses. A year ago after 99 games, they sat with 55 wins and 44 losses. Virtually identical.
What's more, the 2004 Sox would continue to meander for about two more weeks from that point. They lost three of their next four, five of their next eight, and six of their next 11; they fell 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the A.L. East race, and a game behind Anaheim in the wild-card race. It wasn't until Aug. 10 that they righted the ship and began the surge that extended into late October, carrying them to infinity and beyond.
So there's nothing to worry about now, right? Especially since they actually lead the A.L. East race today, instead of trailing by 7 1/2 games as they did after 99 games in 2004.
Yes and no.
Yes, it's too early for anything definitive to be decided. But, no, comparisons to 2004 should provide no comfort. No comfort at all.
Because the fact is, the 2004 Sox eventually went on a run that the 2005 Sox are highly unlikely to replicate. When they finally started winning, on Aug. 10, the '04 Sox never stopped. They won 20 of their next 23 and 34 of their final 47 regular-season games. Counting the postseason, they went 42-16 from Aug. 10 to Oct. 27. That's a .724 winning percentage, folks -- a 117-win pace over 162 games -- and we've seen nothing to indicate the '05 Sox are capable of making such a run.
So the trouble with measuring the 2005 Sox against the 2004 version at this stage of the season -- and concluding that all is well -- is that it implies the '05 Sox will make a similar sprint to the finish. First off, the sustained run the Sox made last year was unique and extremely difficult to achieve, and thus not likely to happen again. Secondly, and more importantly, the present Sox show no signs of being able to put together that sort of streak, not if last night is any indication.
How did they mess up last night? Let us count the ways: Inability to get a clutch hit. Kevin Millar unable to scoop an extremely pickable throw from Edgar Renteria, leading to the tying run. Mike Timlin again -- again -- allowing inherited runners to score. (Why in the world Terry Francona continues to summon him in mid-inning, with men on base, is beyond my comprehension.) Trot Nixon getting caught betwixt and between in the outfield on the game's final play, allowing the winning run to score.
It was a winnable game against a bad team, and it slipped away more because of their own mistakes than anything the Devil Rays did. It hasn't hurt them so far in the postseason race -- as we said, they lead the division and would also be tied for the wild-card lead were they behind the Yankees today -- but there comes a point where staying the course isn't good enough. There comes a time when you have to begin to separate yourself from the pack.
The 2004 Red Sox did just that. No matter how similar they look to their '04 brethren at this stage of the season, the '05 Sox are showing no signs of being able to do the same.
Posted by Art at 10:26 AM | Permalink