It was a tough one tonight, as it looked like the team was in good shape through the first five innings. However, Jake Peavy started to lose it and the bullpen couldn’t hold it down. It didn’t help that we couldn’t hit Doug Fister either. Ah man, well, here are my thoughts…
I still just cannot understand for the life of me what’s happened with this team with RISP. Sure, odds are that a team will come back down to Earth somewhat if they have produced well in those situations, but this isn’t just “coming back down.” It’s more like a gigantic thud.

The Sox had no answer for Doug Fister tonight, as he allowed just two hits over seven innings, both solo home runs (photo via Yahoo! Sports).

It really irks me when fans say “they aren’t trying,” because the problem, I think, is that they are trying TOO hard! This obviously is not the same loose team that it was the first five months of the season. You can physically see them pressing too much at the plate with men on-base. Robin needs to find a way to get these guys playing loose again.
Zach has said this all season long, and he was proved right again tonight: Jake Peavy is an untimely pitcher. His line always looks good at the end of the game, but all of his runs are huge ones that seemingly shift the entire momentum of games. There’s a reason why he’s 10-11, and I really do not think all of it is bad luck. Sure, you’d expect some more run support, but he’s getting paid more than anyone on this ballclub for a reason as well. If they make the playoffs, he’s your #2 starter, but he’s got to start holding the momentum the club builds.
There’s a few decisions that I know people will second guess Robin Ventura for tonight (Liriano coming into the game, not pinch hitting Dan Johnson for Tank, sacrifice bunting Youkilis), but I think in all of those situations, the accountability needs to fall more on the players.
Look, Francisco Liriano has known for a few days now that he’s going to be pitching out of the bullpen for the Detroit series. If you’re number gets called upon, you can’t go walk the world, period. Plus, bullpen wise, EVERYONE has walked the world lately, so what is Ventura supposed to do if EVERYONE is struggling back there? He’s almost in a lose-lose situation right now with this bullpen because everyone’s gone south at the worst time (sounds like the clutch hitting, right?).
As far as the other two situations go, Viciedo has got to know Jose Valverde throws first pitch fastball to EVERYONE. So, again, if you KNOW it’s coming and the Sox have hit him hard like they did the first two batters in the inning, you’ve got to be ready for the first pitch heater right down the middle. It’s probably the best pitch you will see all at bat. For Youkilis, sure, there are better bunters on the team and Youkilis is a good clutch hitter, but that situation warranted a bunt (two run game, no one out, men on first and second). My stance on bunting is that all major leagues should know how to bunt, period. Sure, some guys won’t bunt hardly ever, but it’s not a difficult skill to learn (I’ll argue this with anyone who disagrees). If you are a major league player, you should be able to get a bunt down in that situation. There really aren’t any excuses for that.
I really think that it’s time to shake up the order a bit. Yes, this is mostly the lineup that got you to this point, but thinks aren’t working with it and have not been for a few weeks not. I love DeWayne Wise and he’s produced, but he’s not a three hitter. Also, Paul Konerko really has not done his job in the four-hole. Clean-up hitters shouldn’t have 66 RBI in September. So, until Dunn returns, maybe you think about hitting Rios and AJ ahead of Paulie, and maybe sliding Youkilis down lower to allow a hotter hitter like Wise or Beckham hit second. I’m not sure exactly what lineup I’d concoct, but I’m starting to think it’s time to shake things up a little bit.
I really felt the momentum for the season shifted with last night’s win, but the Sox back-tracked tonight. We’ll see Gavin Floyd return to the bump tomorrow night to face Max Scherzer. Scherzer has been very good, but Gavin has owned Detroit in his career. If he’s right physically, I think he will do well tomorrow. The question is can we get enough run support off of Scherzer?