OAKLAND -- Friday night's lopsided 20-2 loss to the Oakland A's may have represented the bottoming out for the 2012 Red Sox. The 20 runs were the most scored against the team this season and the margin of defeat was the greatest since a loss in 2000.
It didn't help that much of the damage -- 13 of the 20 runs -- were produced by former Red Sox players Brandon Moss (four RBI), Josh Reddick (four RBI) and George Kottaras (five RBI), adding an extra dose of humiliation for the organization.
The loss was the fourth in a row on this nine-game road swing on the West Coast, during which the Sox have been outscored 41-12 and it dovetailed with some increasingly bizarre behavior on the part of manager Bobby Valentine.
On Friday, Valentine arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse at 4:15, less than three hours before the start of the game. Most major league managers habitually arrived five hours or more before first pitch. Valentine's predecessor, Terry Francona, was usually in the clubhouse, home or away, before noon for a 7 p.m. night game.
A team spokesperson said Valentine had picked up his adult son at the airport.
As Valentine arrived, dressed in street clothes, accompanied by personal assistant Zach Minasian, he smiled broadly as he walked through the clubhouse to his office in the back of the clubhouse.
"It didn't go unnoticed -- let's put it that way,'' said a person in the clubhouse.
Saturday's lineup offered a surprise, with outfielder Scott Podsednik hitting third for the first time this season and, in fact, the first time in 1,056 career games. (Podsednik has hit third in six games prior to Saturday, but each time was as an in-game replacement).
When asked about the unusual choice, Valentine offered a rambling bizarre explanation.
"Just a mistake,'' shrugged Valentine. "Is that what it says on the lineup? What the (expletive), switch it up. Who knows? Maybe it will look good. I haven't seen it.''
Typically, Valentine e-mails the lineup to a member of the coaching staff, who types out the lineup on a card and posts a copy of it in the clubhouse.
It was unclear whether Valentine was attempting to intimate that the move was not his idea, but rather one dictated by someone else, or frankly, what his motivation was.
Earlier in the trip, Valentine was asked about a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning that may or may not have grazed Angels shortstop Erick Aybar on the knee. Aybar would come around to score the tying run as the Red Sox suffered a walkoff loss.
When a reporter asked Valentine whether he had seen a replay of the pitch to determine whether Aybar had indeed been hit, Valentine exploded, appearing wildly defensive in the face of a routine query.
"You know,'' ranted Valentine, ''I'm sick of people asking me whether or not we saw anything from the dugout and whether or not the umpires got the call right. Their job is to get the call right. Simple. If they don't get it right, that's not the players on the field's fault for not arguing it. It's not the people in the dugout's fault for not seeing it from 80 feet away. They have a job to do; just do it. I think. I really am sick of talking about that stuff. Thank you. If they can't do the job and get it right, you reporters should all change the system."