The Boston Red Sox best pitcher, Clay Buchholz, went on the disabled list this past week, becoming the ninth member of their opening day roster to hit the shelf. The lineup is depleted. The pitching staff is thin. And just in time for a series against the Tampa Bay Rays, their division rival.

Boston lost the opener of the series, allowing four unanswered runs in defeat. It was a pain-free game, but tonight’s was not. Early on, Kevin Youkilis left with right ankle pain. He was about to step up to the plate before grabbing his ankle.  He lay on the ground as Mike Reinold, their very bust trainer, rushed out to his aid.

He left and was replaced by Niuman Romero.


Exactly. Boston has suffered so many injuries, and summoned in a few relatively unknown players. Former Independent-Leaguer Daniel Nava was called up in Jacoby Ellsbury’s stead. Journeyman Darnell McDonald was promoted when Mike Cameron went down. But the Red Sox have received adequate output from the replacements.

Youkilis labeled the injury as a cramp. He expects to play tomorrow. But the worst is expected. Far too many important players are on the disabled list, yet Boston has stuck in the race.

Their lineup features just a few recognizable names, and by the fifth inning in the second game of their series with the Rays, it consisted of Romero, Nava, Eric Patterson, Kevin Cash, and Bill Hall. Everyone except Hall hasn’t been on the team for more than a month and a half. Yet, despite all of the injuries, tonight the team was going for their 50th win.

Their chances of picking up that victory were rather slim, considering their makeshift lineup was coupled with young Felix Doubront–who was called up after Buchholz hit the disabled list–on the mound. Yet, Doubront pitched rather effectively, and the offense managed to manufacture something productive to hang tough with their fierce opponent.

After J.D. Drew, whom is surprisingly one of the few healthy Red Sox, reached second base on an error by third baseman Evan Longoria, Nava delivered in the clutch. The left-fielder has delivered big hit after hit during his short tenure with the team, and did so again, reaching on an infield single to plate Drew for the tying run.

Doubront relinquished the go-ahead run an inning later, however, allowing a triple to Sean Rondriguez to begin the fifth and an ensuing rbi-groundout to John Jaso. The Boston bats were silent in the top half of the sixth, but still managed to be just one run down entering the top of the seventh after a wild bottom of the sixth. Two reached with one out, then former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler walked to load the bases.

Cash, known more for his arm than his bat, relied on his strength and fired a frozen rope to MVP-candidate Adrian Beltre at third. His swipe tag beat a diving Longoria, erasing one of the Rays from the basepaths and making life much easier on the rookie pitcher. This mental error by Longoria and tremendous throw by Cash hurt Tampa Bay considerably. A bases-loaded, one-out situation turned into a scoreless inning, as Scott Atchison, who replaced Doubront after Longoria was gunned down, induced Rodriguez to fly out.

Threat averted, but now Boston needed to take advantage. They could not. Bats were silent in their halves of the seventh and eighth. Rays left-fielder Carl Crawford capitalized on the Red Sox offensive struggles, giving the Rays a cushion they couldn’t get in the sixth with a solo-shot to begin the eighth off reliever Hideki Okajima.

The Red Sox now had a tougher hill to climb, but they fought until the end. Hall walked to begin the ninth, then Patterson tripled him home, lacing a 1-1 fastball from closer Rafael Soriano to deep center-field. The Crawford homer was now looming large. But, even with two out, the tying run was just 90-feet away. Without it, Boston would fall a game and a half behind Rays. With it, they could have a chance to tie the Rays for re-tae second place in the division.

David Ortiz was intelligently intentionally walked, bringing up Romero, the 25-year old who was looking for his third major-league hit. He would not get it. A groundout to Rodriguez followed, and that was that: a third straight loss and second-consecutive to the Rays.

Boston will get to 50 wins and most likely win upwards of 40 more the rest of the way. But to do that they have to get healthy. They narrowly spelled defeat, but at this point in the season, it is difficult seeing them trot out the lineup they did, and have to rely on a called-up rookie starting pitcher as they did.

Injuries can be the death of teams, but considering the team is still somehow in the thick of the AL East despite their bad luck, a few returns could mean a distinct chance of battling both the Rays and New York Yankees until the end.

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