Note: This column took a much-needed week off during All-Star week
In the last five seasons, the Red Sox entered the All-Star break in first place in the AL East. In 2010, the injury-saddled Sox not only couldn’t continue that streak but went into the break in third place for the first time since 2000 after going 2-4 in its last six games of the first half. The only real highlight in that stretch worth noting now was Jon Lester getting his 11th win and manager Terry Francona collecting a milestone 900th win July 9 via a 14-3 ass whipping versus the Blue Jays. The Sox would go on to win that final three-game series of the first half, two games to one.
At Fenway Park this past weekend, the Sox lost a four-game series with the red hot Texas Rangers, three games to one, and through July 18, are now losers of eight of its last 11 games, falling to 3.5 games out of the AL Wild Card race and 6.5 behind AL East-leading New York. And the one win they got came Saturday against the much sought after Cliff Lee, a pitcher that was bound to go from Seattle to the Yankees until last-minute talks broke down on July 9, the day he eventually ended up getting traded to Texas. More on that game later.
Bengie Molina Hits For The Cycle At Fenway Park
Just when you thought you’ve seen everything, the heavy load of veteran catcher Bengie Molina of the Rangers easily legged out a triple at Fenway last Friday night to complete a cycle. He became the first catcher in MLB history to hit for a cycle and a grand slam in the same game. Largely because of that, he is now the reigning American League Player of the Week. And to think, it wouldn’t have happened if rookie spot starter Felix Doubront didn’t make a bad throw to second base and instead threw to first base for the final out of the fifth inning. Instead, Francona yanked the young pitcher after that play and brought in Fernando Cabrera, who gave up five runs in that inning, four of them of course coming from one swing by Molina.
David Ortiz: Home Run King
As far as All-Star week is concerned, the only highlight from a Boston angle was seeing David Ortiz become the first Sox slugger (if you can believe it) to win the annual Home Run Derby, defeating former teammate and Sox top prospect, Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins. It was Big Papi’s fourth time in the Derby – so I guess the fourth time is the charm. And he did it in front of a very unfriendly crowd in Anaheim, where Angels fans have not so fond memories of he and the Sox eliminating their team from the postseason in 2004 and 2007, even though last year, Anaheim finally returned the favor via a three-game sweep of Boston in the first round.