By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 21, 2007
Up next: Red Sox
What's new: The only reason the Sox didn't lose more ground in the AL East on Thursday was that neither they nor the Yankees played. Since the Rays left Boston last week, the Sox have moved closer to another historic collapse by losing five of six games and seeing a 12-game division lead on July 5 cut to 1 1/2 games with nine left. Their pitching staff is cracking; LHP Hideki Okajima is shut down because of a tired arm, closer Eric Gagne has been horrible, and starters Daisuke Matsuzaka and Curt Schilling have been shuffled to get extra rest. LF Manny Ramirez hasn't played since Aug. 28 because of a strained oblique, 1B Kevin Youkilis has been out with a bruised wrist, CF Coco Crisp missed two games with a sore back and slumping DH David Ortiz may not play tonight because of a sore knee. Oh, and the fans of Red Sox Nation are getting a bit worried and obsessed.
Key stat: Four times in the last 37 games, and six times overall, the Sox have lost when leading after seven innings. Also, they have a losing record (22-25) in one-run games.
Who's hot: 3B Mike Lowell is on a 12-for-28 tear. Rookie OF Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .381 (24-for-63) since a Sept. 1 recall.
Who's not: 2B Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-26 in his last six games. C Jason Varitek is hitting .205 over his last 50 games.
Connections: Sox SS Julio Lugo and backup C Kevin Cash are former Rays. Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan and Cash are Tampa products. Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer managed the Red Sox in 1978 when they blew a 14-game lead.
Series history: The Sox lead 11-4 this season, 109-57 overall and 48-34 at the Trop.
AL Rookie of the Year
Numbers of the day
.318, 7 HRs, 49 RBIs, .817 OPS, 156 hits, 43 XB hits, 6 errors
Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia, right
.290, 12 HRs, 90 RBIs, .727 OPS, 177 hits, 48 XB hits, 16 assists
Rays RF Delmon Young, right