A total disaster for the Red SoxWednesday November 21st, 2012
The throwback uniforms were put away and most of the former Red Sox who returned to Fenway Park for the 100th anniversary celebration Friday had returned to their homes across the country.
The only attraction Saturday was a baseball game, one against their rivals that the home team very much needed to win.
Instead, there was a disaster that will be talked about for the next 100 years. Up by nine runs after five innings, the Red Sox could not hold on and were beaten, 15-9, by the Yankees.
“I think we’ve hit bottom. That’s what I told them after the game. You have to sometimes hit bottom,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “If this isn’t bottom, then we’ll find some new ends to the earth, I guess.’’
Owner John Henry made a rare appearance in the clubhouse after the game, summoning Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington into a closed-door meeting to determine what happens next with a $175 million team that has lost five straight and a franchise that has gone awry.
Going back to last season, the Red Sox have lost 30 of their last 41 games. For what amounts to a quarter of a full season, the Red Sox have lost 73 percent of their games. That’s nearly as bad as the 1962 Mets, losers of 120 games.
Cherington said he was “very satisfied’’ with Valentine.
“He makes the lineup out, he makes decisions during the game. The players will always influence wins and losses more than anybody else. That’s no different here. He’s doing the best he can with the roster he has.
“It will get better. He knows that and I know that.’’
The Red Sox are 4-10, just as they were after 14 games last season. But they are fielding a pitching staff that offers little hope for the kind of turnaround experienced last season.
The Red Sox have a team earned run average of 6.68. The relievers have allowed 40 earned runs in 42 2/3 innings. The Red Sox have given up 46 runs in the last five games.
“Our pitching performance has to improve, that’s the bottom line,’’ Cherington said.
On Saturday, 24-year-old Felix Doubront allowed one run in six innings, leaving the game with a 9-1 lead after 99 pitches.
Vicente Padilla, the first of six relievers, struck out Andruw Jones. Fifteen of the next 17 Yankee batters reached base via hit, walk, or error with 13 scoring.
In all, the bullpen allowed 14 runs, the most by the Red Sox since allowing 17 on June 19, 2000, in a 22-1 loss to the Yankees.
“It all happened pretty quickly. It’s all kind of confusing right now,’’ Valentine said.
Nick Swisher had a grand slam off Padilla in the seventh inning and Mark Teixeira had a three-run homer off Matt Albers, making it 9-8.
Alfredo Aceves was called in with a runner on first in the eighth inning to try to get a six-out save. He didn’t get a single out. Swisher had a two-run double to give the Yankees the lead. Teixeira followed two walks with a two-run double.
Russell Martin smacked a two-run double off Justin Thomas, the rookie lefthander who replaced Aceves. Swisher and Teixeira each had six RBIs.
Aceves (0-1) has two blown saves in four chances and an earned run average of 24.00. He has failed to record an out in three of his six appearances.
Valentine was booed louder each time he came to the mound to make a pitching change. After only 14 games, he has become the focus of fan angst.
“I’ve been booed in a couple of countries, a few different stadiums,’’ he said. “I don’t want to be booed. I want the good decisions. This just didn’t work out.’’
The numbing work by the bullpen ruined a day in which the Red Sox scored nine runs in the first five innings. Seven players drove in runs as the Sox drove Yankees starter Freddy Garcia off the mound in the second inning.
When the game was over, few prominent players were around to talk about it. Even David Ortiz, who in spring training vowed to be a leader, walked off.
“Not talking today,’’ he said.
Shortstop Mike Aviles was one of the few players who agreed to speak.
“It sucked,’’ he said. “That’s it. There’s no other way to talk about it. That game sucked. That shouldn’t happen. We should play better all around.
“In all honesty, I don’t want to see it if it gets any worse. It just hasn’t been a good time lately. Baseball hasn’t been all that great now for us.’’
Aviles predicted the Red Sox would look back on the game and laugh. Valentine also tried stabbing at some positives, saying they should not be overlooked.
But the words rang hollow.
“I mean, if this is bottom we’re good,’’ Aviles said, “because there’s nowhere else to go but up, right?’’
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.