Bobby V. and questions of 'what if?'

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Bobby V. and questions of 'what if?'

Bobby Valentine was fired today, and everyone wants to throw a parade. But before we get too wrapped up in the planning, lets take a quick look back at the season. Real quick. I promise.

Bobby Valentine managed the first half of the year without his closer, his MVP-caliber center fielder and his 20M a year left fielder. Over those first few months, he also saw his former MVP second baseman fall victim to a nagging thumb injury, his first baseman (and one of the AL's best hitters) slump like a chump, his No. 1 and 2 pitchers revert back to Little League and his No. 4 starter fall off a psychological cliff. All while spending 24 hours a day tumbling in a dryer of certifiable media insanity.

At the All Star Break, the Sox were 2.5 games out of the Wild Card.

Less than two weeks later, just as Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia re-joined the line-up, Andrew Bailey was getting closer and Clay Buchholz had established himself as a legitimate ace, Valentine lost David Ortiz for the season (minus one game). Ortiz may have been a pain in the ass but he was also hands down the most reliable and essential aspect of that line-up.

On the day Ortiz went on the DL July 18 the Sox were one game back in the wild card.

After that, with the offense unable to make up for the absence of its best hitter and the pitching staff still a mess, everything slowly spun out of control. On August 10, they were 5.5 games back. On August 20, they were seven back. On August 25, they were 9.5 back, and then finally said uncle essentially trading Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett for James Loney.

Post- trade, Valentines fourth rate line up went 10-27; leaving the Sox with their worst record since 1966.

Obviously, along the way, Valentine pulled plenty of crap that's more than worthy of the criticism hes received and will continue to receive for the next couple hundred years. Theres no question that he needed to be fired this morning. Its all part of the process of cleansing that clubhouse and taking another swing at a fresh start. But for all the anger, frustration and criticism, it's fair wonder what would have happened if Ortiz had stayed healthy. Or if at any point, Valentine had been afforded the services of his entire roster at the same time.

It may not have made a difference. In fact, there's a good chance that nothing could have saved this team from eventual collapse. And maybe that's the point. But all things considered, Valentine tread water for much longer than he should have this season, and had far less to do with the disaster than history will remember.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.