Haggerty: These Sox not playoff worthy

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Haggerty: These Sox not playoff worthy

BOSTON There was plenty of hopeful talk in the Red Sox clubhouse on Saturday night after another loss designed to rip the heart right out of the teams chest.

Never mind the batty reaction of Sox closer Alfredo Aceves, who was alternating between blaming the umpire for missing a borderline strike three call and guaranteeing hell get over the loss because his parents are cool.

Forget about a manager in Bobby Valentine that looks more-and-more shell-shocked with each passing day and is proving to be a very poor fit for a bunch of baseball misfits that needed some structure and order in their world.

Dont pay any attention to the slack-jawed, overpaid starting pitcher with no shot of coming from Tommy John surgery this season, who still somehow manages to secure himself a spot among the Sox traveling party. John Lackey is always around at home and on the road, and that is most definitely not a positive thing for the Olde Towne Team.

Instead most will pay attention to light-hitting, scrappy Nick Punto, who hadnt played in nearly two weeks before popping up in Saturdays lineup against his former Minnesota Twins ballclub. Punto was on the St. Louis Cardinals team that came back from the dead last year to shock the baseball world with a World Series win, and essentially experienced a hardball miracle.

These losses are all devastating, said Punto. Its getting to be that time in the year when you look up at the standings and were not in a very good position. There are a lot of teams in the wild card hunt, so we cant afford to lose games.

Theres no doubt that its not good. We were a mediocre team last year in St. Louis. We were a mediocre team until September. We went on a really nice run and got some help from Atlanta, and we came back from a 9 game deficit. There are some similarities with this team this year. We are very mediocre. Were not playing good baseball. We have the talent to be able to do it and we just havent. We have the talent to play good baseball, but the clock is ticking now. We need to get it going.

Thats exactly what the Red Sox will need after dropping their third game in a row to the lowly Twins by a 6-4 score when Joe Mauer smashed a three-run home run in the ninth inning. The ninth inning wiped out a two-run lead built on the back of inspirational clutch hitter Pedro Ciriaco, and illustrated once again why the Red Sox wont be a playoff team this season.

They are not the miracle Cardinals team of last season. They are not last years Tampa Bay Rays waiting for a choke artist group like the Popeyes and Pabst Blue Ribbon Sox to open the door for them.

Instead theyre a ballclub thats lost nine straight games to sub-.500 team. One of the true tests of a playoff-worthy team is the ability to take care of business against lesser squads, and the Sox are left utterly lacking in that category.

The Sox built up some optimism by winning series against the Yankees and Tigers as they entered August, but then they proceeded to drop three straight games against the American League cellar dweller Minnesota Twins.

Once again it was two steps forward and three steps behind for a Boston club thats made it their motto. Punto stressed that the Red Sox are way too talented to play mediocre baseball and serve as bottom-feeders in the American League.

But at a certain point you are what your record says you are as Bill Parcells was always fond of saying. The Red Sox are five games back in the wild card playoff hunt and sit 3 games and counting behind the Orioles and Rays.

The Red Sox are 75-86 over the last calendar year, and are the very picture of mediocre. This is no lovable group of overachievers ready to set the baseball world on its ear. Its a collection of mercenaries, malcontents and millionaire babies ready to turn on each other as the season inevitably implodes into another seismic event that will make them Major League Baseballs laughingstock.

There will be no happy ending or mythic run for this band of Red Sox.

There are merely those players, coaches and management that will be permitted to escape before the inevitably ugly denouement thats coming for a team that hasnt been a legit World Series threat in a long, long time.

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six


After leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning and missing Friday night's game, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Red Sox lineup Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak to six in a 4:05 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Pedroia felt pain his left knee Thursday night and was taken out of the game by manager John Farrell as a precaution. The rainy conditions and wet field were also factors in keeping the second baseman out Thursday and Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on the knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked various confrontations between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make his second start of the season for Boston and right-handed reliever Ben Taylor was optioned to the PawSox. Right-hander Rob Whalen, 23,  comes up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his first start of the season for the Mariners. 

The lineups:

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Danny Valencia 1B
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Taylor Motter LF
Guillermo Heredia RF
Mike Zunino C
Jarrod Dyson CF
---
Rob Whalen RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Deven Marrero 3B
---
Brian Johnson LHP 

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners for their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third win in a row for Rodriguez (4-1), who gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.