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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Opinion: Red Sox show resiliance during turbulent season

Dan McCarthy
Journal Staff

The final pitch has been thrown, the final out has been made, and the final Fenway Frank has been sold.  No more wall-balls, west coast trips or funny quips from Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo.   The Boston Red Sox 2010 season has come to a close, and at a much earlier date than many people in Sox Nation expected.

Despite a strong September from the valiant survivors of the injury plague, the Red Sox simply didn’t have enough gas in the proverbial tank to reach the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.  Their 89-73 finish placed them third behind the division champion Tampa Bay Rays and the wild car winning New York Yankees in the AL East.  This was only the team’s third season in the past 14 years to finish lower than second in the division.

The Red Sox were in first place for one day the entire season [opening day], and this is the first time the Sox stayed out of first for an entire season since 1997.  Add that in with their worst home winning percentage since 2002, and it’s safe to say that 2010 was a season to forget for the Boston Red Sox.

“Things happen during every season, unless you win the World Series, [and] around here, that’s kind of what you shoot for,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona told “It’s not possible that it happens every year.”

Heading into the season, Theo Epstein and company promised their fans a roster that would dominate with lockdown pitching and gold-glove defense.  It is safe to say that finishing tied for 20th in the majors in fielding percentage and 21st in team ERA was not exactly what the Boston brass had in mind.

However, where the Sox failed defensively they thrived offensively, putting up numbers that reminded many of the team’s 2003-04 season, during which they put up extremely impressive offensive numbers.  The Sox finished first in the league in total bases, and second in all of baseball in runs scored, home runs and slugging percentage.  Much of the praise can be dealt to the renaissance seasons of Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz, who hit 28 and 32 home runs, respectively, and each had 102 RBIs.  Whether either player will be back for the 2011 campaign is up for debate, but you can certainly expect they’ll be getting big-time contracts for their performances in 2010.

When looking back on what went wrong for the 2010 Red Sox, it doesn’t take a CSI unit to realize that the countless injuries ultimately squashed the Red Sox’ postseason hopes. Over the course of the season, the Sox lost 19 players to 24 stints on the disabled list, with four players enduring season-ending surgeries.  Key players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez were all subjected to the injury bug.  However, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein knows that all the blame should not be pointed at the disabled list.

“Obviously, the injuries were a significant factor, but I think pointing to injuries as the only reason we are where we are is a disservice,” Epstein told following the final game of the season. “It’s not going to help us get better. Obviously, next year I think we’ll be healthier, but there are also elements we want to improve independently of our health.”

One place to start would be in the bullpen.  Of all the relievers, closers and set-up men to pitch for the Sox this year, Daniel Bard was the only one to finish with an ERA below 4.00.  Jonathan Papelbon was downgraded from “sure-thing” to “late-inning liability” with a 4.02 ERA and a career-high eight blown saves in 2010.

“We had 13 walk-off losses on the road. That is a reflection on the depth of the bullpen,” said pitching coach John Ferrell in an interview with The Boston Globe. “When you have to win on the road and you have to win in this division, it comes down to pitching, and that’s where I feel we fell short.”

In a baseball town like Boston, falling short is not an option for a team like the Red Sox.  However, in a season filled with injuries and underperformances from the bullpen, a third-place finish in the toughest division in the major leagues is most certainly forgivable.

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Opinion: Red Sox show resiliance during turbulent season