Knocked Out of First

Another depressing night at Fenway as the Red Sox fall again. There are a couple of noteworthy columns in the papers today as well as plenty of rumors. Patriots articles are starting to trickle in as training camp begins at the end of next week. A few media notes round out today’s (late) update.

The slide continues. After letting Scott Kazmir off the hook in the first inning, the Red Sox could do nothing more the rest of the evening, losing to the Devil Rays 3-1. They managed only three hits the entire evening. Nick Cafardo has the depressing story from Fenway. Jeff Horrigan looks at the Red Sox tumbling into second place with the loss. Steven Krasner notes that despite a little excitement in the ninth inning, it didn’t help the Red Sox defeat the worst team in baseball. David Heuschkel observes that Johnny Damon’s inability to extend his hitting streak last night was symbolic of the entire night for the Red Sox. David Borges notes that there was very little for the crowd to cheer about last night.

Yesterday Dennis and Callahan were insistent that a writer needed to go into the locker room and ask Bill Mueller directly if he would have been willing to play second base for an inning or two on Sunday night had John Olerud been used as a pinch hitter for Alex Cora. Dan Shaughnessy must have been listening, and took this task upon himself. He went to Mueller. He went to Francona. He asked the right questions. I may not agree with his delivery of the column today, (I think it’s a bit of hyperbole to suggest that we should all totally lose faith in the entire organization because they apparently stick by Francona’s decision to allow Cora to hit.) but I’m willing to give him credit for being in the clubhouse and asking these questions of the people involved. This is a bit of a no-win situation for me, because Dan and those in his corner will say I’m not giving him enough credit, while Dan’s numerous detractors will say I shouldn’t give him any credit for merely doing his job.

Near the top of Gerry Callahan’s subscription-only column, he says

There is a moment for each Red Sox manager, a decision that defines him and follows him and sometimes haunts him throughout his tenure in Boston and into eternity.

He mentions McNamara leaving Bill Buckner in at the end of Game 6 in 1986, he mentions Joe Morgan sending Spike Owen up to pinch hit for Jim Rice, and of course Grady Little leaving Pedro in during game 7 in 2004. The inference of course, is that Francona’s decision on Sunday with Alex Cora might be that moment. A little more hyperbole, I believe. He does make a good point however that Francona at times seems to forget that he won the World Series last year and should perhaps be a bit more bold in his decisions.

Lenny Megliola says that we still have a lot of questions about this Red Sox team. Horrigan has a more low-key piece on the Bill Mueller situation, with Mueller saying he would’ve been willing to play second for an inning or two. Alex Speier looks at the leaks which have sprung in the Red Sox ship as of late. Joe Haggerty looks at Wade Miller just not having enough to win last night. Michael Silverman and Ron Indrisano each look at Lou Piniella’s eruption in the ninth inning last night following a reversed call at first base. Before the game, Indrisano had written an article on Piniella about how the Tampa Bay skipper came into town believing there would be no eruptions and tempers flaring between the two clubs. Steve Buckley has a quick report on the early returns on Jacoby Ellsbury at Lowell. Jon Couture tells us that the Orioles are in this race for the long haul.

Cafardo’s notebook looks at Johnny Damon’s hitting streak coming to an end. Heuschkel’s notebook reports on Mark Bellhorn heading to the disabled list. Krasner’s notebook observes that the Red Sox are short of candidates for second base. Borges’ notebook looks at what Bellhorn’s injury means for the roster, including Bill Mueller. Horrigan’s notebook says that Dustin Pedroia won’t be coming up to the Majors immediately, and reports on the Red Sox interest in Tony Graffanino.

La Velle E. Neal III in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports on possible interest between the Twins and Red Sox in making a deal. Relief pitcher J.C. Romero is said to have the Red Sox interest, while the Twins might like to acquire Bill Mueller for his bat.

It’s getting close to training camp time. Michael Felger has the first of the positional previews heading into camp. Today he looks at the cornerbacks, a position that was beefed up in the offseason with the goal of replacing Ty Law. Mike Reiss had a look at Adam Vinatieri yesterday and he and the Patriots continue to work on trying to get him signed to a long term contract.

Stephen Harris looks at the NHL labor deal getting closer to ratification. He also looks at the Bruins slim chances of winning the number one pick in the draft.

A note in the Hartford Courant informs us that columnist Jeff Jacobs is recovering from quadruple bypass surgery. Best wishes for a healthy and speedy recovery to Jacobs…Bill Griffith reports that signs seem to indicate that Greg Dickerson will be sticking around at FSN.

Carol Beggy and Mark Shanahan lead their “Names” feature in the Globe today with a mention of the Michael Gee situation as reported in Scott’s Shots last Friday.

Check out the sports stories and headlines from New York on the BSMW New York Sports News page.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00.

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