McAdam: Interleague play (and talk) finally over


McAdam: Interleague play (and talk) finally over

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- The Red Sox waved goodbye to interleague play for another season Sunday. It was not exactly a teary parting of the ways.

In fact, it wasn't so much goodbye, as it was good riddance.

Starting Monday, the Red Sox don't have to worry about how to get David Ortiz his proper at-bats. They no longer have to fret about Adrian Gonzalez injuring himself in right field. They're free to be themselves again, playing under American League rules.

Why, perhaps the Sox can take the opportunity on the Monday holiday to declare their independence from National League tyranny?

Of course, coping without the DH for the last nine games wasn't nearly as disastrous as the Red Sox made it sound. Their 2-1 win over the lowly Houston Astros Sunday gave them four wins in a row and a winning (5-4) road trip.

When you consider that one of those four losses came against the hottest pitcher on the planet, Cliff Lee, and that Ortiz wasn't likely to make up the difference given how dominant Lee was that night, that's not a bad trip, after all.

Argue if you wish that they had no business dropping two-of-three to the Pittsburgh Pirates. A well-timed hit here or there from anyone in their lineup -- Ortiz included, in pinch-hitting stints -- in Pittsburgh and the Sox might have finished up 6-3 or even 7-2.

But now that it's complete, a little perspective is in order.

Maybe the Red Sox didn't do themselves much good by harping on the topic as much as they did. Before the interleague portion of the schedule, one member of the organization wondered aloud if all the focus on the DH might be providing the Sox with an easy crutch, a built-in excuse to lose.

Through the first five (1-4) games of the trip, that seemed like the case. The Sox generated little against the Pirates and were flat against the Phillies for the first two nights.

The problems went beyond the absence of the DH and Ortiz. The Sox have been without Carl Crawford exactly two weeks now, and he's been missed. The same is true with Jed Lowrie, who had an .803 OPS before colliding with Crawford on Memorial Day weekend.

Throw in Ortiz's excused absence and three productive hitters were missing from the lineup. That and cyclical nature of the season, with the normal offensive up and downs, hampered the Sox.

Still, the Sox survived, for which they can thank their pitching staff (three quality starts in the last four games) and, frankly, the Astros. No doubt, Houston manager Brad Mills got a chuckle hearing the Red Sox lament their horrible fate they'd been dealt.

And yet, Kevin Youkilis, for one, couldn't resist one more swift kick at interleague play as it walked out the door Sunday afternoon, once more chirping about the inequity of it all.

The nine-game stretch of N.L. road games may have highlighted the DH-or-no-DH argument, but given that it had been eight seasons since the Red Sox were so inconvenienced, that seems a minor complaint.

For now, however, there'll be no more victim impact statements, no more railing that MLB conspired against them. That talk is, mercifully, on hold until next May.

That is, unless the American League should lose the All-Star game next week and the Red Sox go on win the pennant.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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