It could be worse

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It could be worse

Weve spent the last two days playing the Red Sox blame game.

In fact, thats been the story for the better part of the last of two years. But with the Cubs and Sox set to face off at Wrigley, and Theo Epstein making rounds to every media outlet in New England did you catch his tell-all with Kids on the Cape Magazine? the conversations hit ludicrous speed.

Who do we blame for this year? Who do we blame for last year? Who do we blame for every bad decision of the last nine years?

Naturally, the answers dont matter. Mostly, because the answers dont exist. While everyones allowed an opinion, the dynamics within this organization are and were so deep and twisted that its impossible to retroactively reach a blame game consensus. You want to just say Larry Lucchino? Thats fine. The Weasels more than deserving of that local legacy. But in reality, everyone deserves a slice of the blame pie, and sorting out the portions is more confusing than a conversation with Jim Rice.

Whos to blame? Let's just say everyone: Lucchino, Epstein, John Henry, Tom Werner, Ben Cherington, Carmine, Terry Francona, Bobby Valentine, the players, Linda Pizzuti, Wally the Green Monster, Jerry Remy, Babe Ruth, Bucky Dent, Neil Diamond, the ghost of Nelson de la Rosa, the entire cast of Small Talk, Brian Evans at Fenway.

Blame them all!

Now, how are they going to make it better? Thats the real question

for another column.

Instead, heres what Im thinking today, from the eye of Bostons blame storm:

Can you imagine what Cubs fans would give for our problems?

I mean, it wasnt too long ago that we Sox fans and Cubs fans were one and the same. Baseballs lovable losers. Teams that other fans pitied, and looked to as a source of perspective: Hey, it could be worse. I could be a Red Sox fan I could be a Cubs fan

And it wasnt too long ago when that was all about to change. The fall of 2003 the cusp of unfathomable greatness. The Cubs leading 3-1 in Game 6 of the NLCS. The Sox leading 5-2 in Game 7 of the ALCS. Each eternally-tortured franchise only five outs away from the World Series. A dream World Series. One of the most emotional and dramatic World Series in World Series history

Before Steve Bartman (I know) and Grady Little teamed up to turn that dream into a nightmare. To take a pair of fan bases that were already in hell and thrust two more tons of fire and brimstone up their collective asses. Man, there was so much pain in Chicago and Boston between October 14-16 of 2003. Pain that many folks still havent recovered from, that changed a lot of us forever. Even in the face of all thats happened since.

Whats happened since?

Well, it took the Red Sox one year to make up for everything. It took them three years to do it again. And in the five years since, sure, the team has lost its way. Ownership has lost touch with reality, alienated so many of their real fans and created an atmosphere where there's a whole lot to be angry about. Of course, it's in the shadow of eight seasons during which the Sox have won two World Series, made the playoff five times, finished with 90 wins six times and been in contention each and every year.

So, how are things in Chicago?

What have the Cubs been up to in the eight years since hitting a new low in 2003?

Well, for starters they haven't won a playoff game. No, not a playoff series. They haven't won a single playoff game. They've only been to the playoffs twice and on both occasions they were swept. They've had one 90-win season. Two 90-loss seasons. They've gone through four managers and haven't sniffed contention since 2008.

Honestly, as a Red Sox fan, how long ago does 2003 feel? Not just the year, but the mentality. The pain, the suffering, the helplessness. Wondering why you even care, why you even put up with this, if you're life as a sports fan will ever amount to anything or if it will all be one gigantic waste of time. Can you put yourself back there? Does it even make sense?

Well, it does in Chicago. Cubs fans are still living it every day. And while I'm sure there are a ton of people they'd love to blame for the team's current predicament, I don't think there's enough beer and Zoloft in the world to even get them to that point.

That obviously has nothing to do with how we feel today in Boston. Things have changed. That's not who we are anymore. Reminders of what is was like before 2004 only go so far when you've been repeatedly beaten down by a gang of fools like the ones atop the Fenway Sports Group masthead.

But through all the anger, it's probably worth taking at least one second this weekend to remind ourselves: It could be a whole lot worse.

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

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.

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that 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 the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP