Serious Shrinkage in Boston

Someone might want to let the Red Sox know that they have not clinched a thing yet, and this maneuvering to set up their playoff rotation could come back to look pretty silly on them in the next couple of weeks. Boston held a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning last night, and manager Terry Francona entrusted the game to Eric Gagne, who got the first two outs of the inning, but then gave up three runs, allowing the Blue Jays to escape with a 4-3 win over the Red Sox, shrinking Boston’s lead in the AL East to 2.5 games.

Rob Bradford has Jason Varitek insisting after last night’s game that the Sox are going need Gagne. Hell, they needed him last night. Needing someone doesn’t mean they’re going to perform. Gordon Edes says that Francona needed to see if he could trust Gagne with a lead, and will have to see how much that will cost him down the stretch. Sean McAdam notes that the Red Sox patience with Gagne last night dealt them a serious blow their short term prospects. Jeff Goldberg notes that a strong outing by Jon Lester was long forgotten by the time Gagne was finished. Bill Ballou wonders if TV manufacturers have seen a spike in sales here in New England since Gagne was acquired.

Tony Massarotti says that fans who are sweating the division have a loser mentality, as he says the important thing is to make the postseason, and their magic number for that actually went down last night. Jon Couture attempts to figure out what the Red Sox postseason roster would look like at this point. Amalie Benjamin has Gagne at a loss for words following the game last night as he struggles to figure out how his command has deserted him. Jim Donaldson looks at how the Red Sox pitching, once the strength of the club, has been so dreadful as of late. Massarotti says that the right knee of David Ortiz is still causing the slugger a lot of pain, and that he might be sitting out a game soon to rest it. Joe Haggerty looks at the injury list piling up for the Red Sox. With fans frustrated about the absence of Manny Ramirez, Bradford says that you need to understand what is involved in an oblique injury. He talks to Mike Timlin, who missed five weeks with his oblique strain earlier this season.

Bradford’s notebook has Clay Buchholz ready for his start tonight, 18 days after his no-hitter. Edes’s notebook has quite a bit more on Manny’s injury, and looks at how the oblique is such a difficult injury to judge, and notes other players who have had to deal with the injury. McAdam’s notebook has Francona shuffling his rotation for the postseason. Goldberg’s notebook has an injury update on Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp, who sat out last night with a sore back. Ballou’s notebook looks at the postseason magic number shrinking to four.

Patriots
Dan Snapp on Patriots Daily says that “Spygate” should teach us that no one is to be trusted.

Mike Reiss notes that early on, the Patriots running back situation has turned into another job share situation. John Tomase says that the Patriots explosive offense now needs a catchy nickname. Dan Pires says that the Patriots have shined while staying the course. Lenny Megliola says that Bill Belichick is still beloved by Patriots fans

Dan Shaughnessy chimes in on Spygate with a column that is about a week late. If you missed Michael Felger‘s report card from yesterday, there it is. Eric McHugh also has his version of the report card. Mark Farinella has his alter ego Ask Fearless address the video controversy. Sarah Green says that the videogate deserves some awards for those who distinguished themselves in this affair.

Reiss’ notebook has the league trying to figure out how FOX got the Patriots video that they showed on Sunday. Tomase’s notebook reports that Rodney Harrison placed his first order for HGH the day before the Patriots played the Titans in the playoffs in 2004.

Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins will be counting on more from Andrew Alberts this season. Stephen Harris says that there were some positive signs in the Bruins opening game of the preseason last night. Shinzawa’s notebook says that Dennis Wideman has something to prove here in Boston. Harris looks at what Shawn Thornton can bring to the Bruins this season.

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