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Shhh, the Red Sox are sleeping

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  September 9, 2011 12:47 AM

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TORONTO — The Yankees invited the Red Sox to join the pennant race, losing two games against sad-sack Baltimore. But the Red Sox declined the offer.

The AL East is not exactly a fight to the finish. It's more like a battle of which team can be a little less lousy.

The Sox lost three of four in Toronto and have now dropped seven of their last 10. The pitching staff has a 5.82 earned run average in the last 10 games. The offense has been held to two runs or less four times.

So they remain 2.5 games behind the Yankees. Meanwhile the Rays are now 6.5 games out of the wild card. They have seven games remaining with the Sox. A three-game series starts Friday night in St. Pete.

“We still have to get ourselves close enough to really make that impact and we’re on the verge of doing that,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “If we could get ourselves within striking distance then I think people are going to start feeling our breath.”

That sounds good. But if the Sox win once this wekend, Tampa is still 5.5 out with 17 to play. At some point the math catches up to you.

Tonight's game was predictable. Andrew Miller put the Sox in a 5-0 hole and that was that. The Sox scored a few runs to make it respectable, but that was as far as it got.

Their lack of interest was such that in a three-run game in the ninth inning, Nate Spears pinch hit for Darmell McDonald. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Jarrod Saltalamacchia must have busy filling out their customs cards

Miller afterward lamented "one big inning" and felt he pitched well otherwise. He has a 5.58 earned run average and a 1.83 WHIP this season. But on a staff where John Lackey is the No. 2 at the moment, a 5.58 probably looks pretty good.

As we saw in April, this team is capable of playing bad baseball. But as we also saw in April, this team can put together some wondrous runs, too.

Right about now might be a good time for that. The postseason starts in three weeks and at the moment, the Sox are sleepwalking. Somebody should wake them up.

As to other stuff:

Dustin Pedroia is 1 for his last 23 with six strikeouts. “I’ve pretty much had five [expletive] games. That’s basically it. I’ve been swinging the bat like [expletive] for five games,” he said. “There will be a time where I swing the bat for five games where I won’t get out. That’s how it happens.”

• The notion that Felix Doubront could make his way onto the postseason roster is fantasy at this point. A lefty named David Cooper who was 4 for 33 doubled off him in the eighth inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury has 70 extra-base hits, the most for a Red Sox center fielder since Carl Everett had 70 in 2000. Ellsbury has 103 runs, 41 doubles, 25 homers, 89 RBIs and 36 steals. Only three other players in history have hit those marks in a single season: Alfonso Soriano (2002), Bobby Abreu (2004) and Vladimir Guerrero (2001).

Willie Mays, to my surprise, stole 30+ bases only three times in his career had more than 36 doubles once. Mickey Mantle never stole more than 21 bases because of bad knees. He also never had more than 37 doubles.

Bet you could win a lot of money in bars betting drunks that Jacoby Ellsbury has more doubles in a season than Mickey Mantle ever did.

• That home run Jason Varitek hit in the ninth inning was crushed. He has 11 now.

OK, off to Tampa tomorrow morning. Thanks to everybody for reading.

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