How pitching woes affect teams down the home stretch.
The Yankees suddenly have a larger division lead than the Tigers, the result of the recent five-game sweep of the Red Sox and a three-game sweep of the reeling Red Sox by the Seattle Mariners.
The Red Sox are not in good shape. Jason Varitek, their catcher, captain and soul, has not played this month, having had knee surgery. Manny Ramírez has been in and out of the lineup the past week with leg and knee problems. Shortstop Álex González is on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, and right fielder Trot Nixon is on the list, too, with a strained biceps.
David Ortiz had to be hospitalized overnight during the disastrous Yankees series because of stress.
Imagine the Red Sox’ stress when they discover there’s no room for them in the playoffs. After last night’s 9-0 loss at Oakland, they are nearly as far behind the Twins (six games) as they are behind the Yankees (seven), and there’s no other way for them to get to the postseason. They have to overtake the Yankees, or the Twins and the White Sox.