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Frustration also getting best of them

By Nick Cafardo
August 9, 2009

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NEW YORK - The Red Sox are a team oozing frustration. You can see it in their body language, and hear it in their comments. They are not hiding it well. How could they?

We knew Friday night’s 15-inning, 2-0 loss would be demoralizing.

Clay Buchholz threw a curveball behind Alex Rodriguez in the first inning (A-Rod beat the Sox with a two-run homer the night before) only to hit his bat instead of his body. Guess that’s what happens when you’re going bad.

Ramon Ramirez threw a high, hard one at Mark Teixeira, then drilled A-Rod on the left triceps in the seventh inning. Ramirez was ejected by umpire Jim Joyce, in spite of Terry Francona’s protests.

After the game, Francona said he didn’t understand the ejection.

“I just think there are a lot of reasons there why we would want to try to keep the game close,’’ he said. “I just didn’t understand.’’

Nobody understood what Ramirez was doing, either. He claimed he was merely coming inside to try to get a double play, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “We expected something to happen and it did.’’

CC Sabathia, the lefthander signed by the Yankees in the offseason, continued to throw zeros at the Red Sox, just as A.J. Burnett and 7 1/3 innings worth of relief had done the night before. The Yankees’ 1-2 starters combined for 15 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Sox offense? Twenty-four straight innings of nothing. Fit to be tied? You bet.

Frustration was evident after the game. Nah, the Sox didn’t try to hit A-Rod.

After Ramirez got tossed in a 2-0 game, the Sox had to use Enrique Gonzalez, a call-up from Pawtucket because the bullpen is spent. Gonzalez walked Nick Swisher with the bases loaded to make it 3-0 and allowed a two-run homer to Derek Jeter in the eighth.

The Sox don’t have enough outfielders, so Kevin Youkilis made his second start in left field (Josh Reddick was available) but misplayed two balls hit by Johnny Damon, one for an error in the first and the other for a double in the fifth. Youkilis shouldn’t be blamed, but he took umbrage with reporters questioning the route he took on Damon’s double.

“I am not an outfielder,’’ he said.

The Sox really needed righthanded-hitting Jason Bay and Rocco Baldelli but both are injured, adding to the glum scenario.

And there is no major league starting shortstop on the team.

The silver lining is that Buchholz pitched well for six innings, but the Yankees misfired with men on base, leaving 11 on. But Buchholz kept the Sox in the game, minimized the damage, as pitching coach John Farrell has been preaching, and overcame poor defense behind him.

This series has proved that spending a zillion dollars on pitchers can help.

This is precisely what two top-of-the-rotation pitchers can do. Imagine if the Red Sox had Roy Halladay?

So what is it? If the Yankees’ pitching is this good, the Sox are in deep trouble. If this is just a prolonged slump at the worst possible time because of injuries and an assorted blah feeling that’s taken over the Sox, then it’s something they can bounce back from. The Sox have not received what they hoped when they acquired Victor Martinez. Lights-out pitching seems to revive teams.

Losing three straight here and two straight to wild-card rival Tampa Bay isn’t what the Sox had in mind. Splitting this series would have been tolerable, but if they get swept tonight, well, the sky will be falling on Red Sox Nation.

“It is what it is,’’ said Youkilis. “There’s a long way to go. The season’s not over. We’re still in the wild-card race. We’re still competing for first place. All we have to do is make the playoffs.’’ Youkilis called the Red Sox-Yankee scene “very tiresome.’’ He managed to get in a shot at the media (“You were bashing [the Yankees] and now you’re bashing us.’’).

Dustin Pedroia, who got drilled in the shoulder during Thursday night’s blowout, said, “We have a lot of games left, we just have to keep playing. CC was tough. CC had something to do with that today.’’

There’s one more chance to score tonight.

Andy Pettitte can be tough in his own right and the Sox have their No. 2 pitcher, Jon Lester, who must stop the bleeding. Although it’s tough to lose when Josh Beckett pitches, a loss will be tougher to digest with Lester trying to stop a Yankees’ sweep. The Sox have lost 11 of their last 16 road games.

Some Sox players were already eyeing the home series against Detroit, but be careful what you wish for. After that, they play in Texas in a wild-card battle. It doesn’t seem to get easier, though Bay should be closer to returning.

It is the worst of times. Five-and-a-half games out.

Now is the time to quiet the naysayers. Now is the time to stop the frustration.

Tonight, we will see what this team is made of.

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