The Toronto Blue Jays graciously allow the Boston Red Sox to use their homefield as a launching pad, so on Sunday the Red Sox returned the favor at Fenway Park.
Actually, the Sox were not feeling terribly hospitable after having their hearts ripped out by the Blue Jays’ Adam Lind’s Saturday night’s 9th inning park job after the Sox had a rare burst of clutch hitting to tie the score in the bottom of the 8th…
…but it’s as good an excuse as any for allowing the ‘Jays five home runs as part of their 12-4 shellacking of the Red Sox that gave the series to Toronto and dropped the Sox to third place in the American League East behind the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.
Jose Bautista send two balls over the Green Monster, one finding a parking spot on Lansdowne Street, and three other Blue Jays blasted round trippers as Toronto sent the Red Sox to their lone day off for three weeks with their eighth loss in ten games and a rash of fresh teeth marks to tend to before boarding a charter to Tampa for their series with the Rays.
Emilio Bonifacio , Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie also homered for the Blue Jays, who have won just seven of their last 20 and are last in the AL East at 15-24…
…which isn’t a real confidence booster heading off for a nine game roadie that promises nothing but grief should the Sox not find their stroke at the plate. The Bullpen is hurting and it shows in the elevated ERA from April til May, but the inability for the offense to generate base hits with runners in scoring position is the real concern.
And with baseball being as simple as hitting a ball with a stick, perhaps the issue is that once the Sox strung together a couple of bad games they began to press, to put pressure on themselves to swing freely or not at all, never finding a happy median.
Baseball is such a mental game, a chess match with breathing pawns – to the point that the simplicity of the sport takes a backseat to the details and loses its pureness, and with a loss of innocence comes a natural evolution of doubt, starting a vicious circle that only a return to the fundamentals of the game can break.
Pitching, hitting, fielding. It’s really that simple – expectations, money and the pressure to win make it difficult.
But now they have a week and a half to learn to relax before returning to their imaginary detractors in Boston. Nobody wants to see the Red Sox start to hit more than the faithful at Fenway, and nobody wants to see the Sox stay in their protracted slump more than the Tampa Bay Rays their hosts for the next three games…
…and the road has a way of affording a certain solace that can’t be found at home, and provides a natural underdog atmosphere that allows players to let it all hang out – so a nine day roadie that takes the Sox halfway across the country could be just the tonic this struggling team needs.
Just pitch, hit and field, it really is that simple. If it wasn’t, nobody would care.