DAVID ORTIZstepped up and took a healthy cut late last Saturday. However, having witnessedthe Red Sox surrender 12 or more runs in three straight games for the firsttime in franchise history, he was taking a swing at the sorry state of theteam's pitching. "We need pitching," the Red Sox slugger said after thethird of what would become five straight losses to New York. "We'restruggling, man.''
Boston, whichfell 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees, was 16--22 since the All-Star breakthrough Monday with a major league worst 5.54 ERA. Having entered the serieswith four rookies on its 12-man staff--starter Jon Lester and relievers MannyDelcarmen, Craig Hansen and Jonathan Papelbon--Boston discovered the downsideof relying so heavily on young pitchers late in the season. Even before theseries, that quartet had shown signs of breaking down (chart, below). "Wehave a lot of young players who because of injuries and lack of depth have beenthrust into positions a little prematurely," G.M. Theo Epstein said. "Alot of those guys have responded extremely well, but it's hard to have them doit month after month."
Against New York,the Red Sox used the four rookies and three other pitchers who were droppedfrom the roster before the series ended (Jason Johnson, Rudy Seanez andJermaine Van Buren) for 16 2/3 innings, during which they allowed 26 runs and47 base runners and contributed mightily to one of the most embarrassingweekends in the history of Fenway Park. Said Ortiz, "We need help soon,man."
August 27, 2006
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