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Lack of consistency a cause for concern

Was last week's series against Detroit a mirage? Or do the Sox just get really homesick whenever they're pulled away from the confines of friendly Fenway? After taking three of four from the Tigers, the Sox appeared to have solved their offensive woes, having scored six, seven, and eight runs respectively on consecutive nights. Getting shut out on Thursday afternoon was understandable, as Justin Verlander was clearly on top of his game. The dominant right hander had it goin on, routinely lighting up the radar gun with fastball in the upper 90's (his last pitch hit an eye popping 100 mph). No worries, workhorse Jon Lester would take the mound the next night. Lester showed up, tossing six solid innings with 11 strikeouts to boot. Another strong performance from the southpaw was almost wasted, however, as the hometown team was down to its last strike before Victor Martinez laced a two run double down the right field line to ignite a ninth inning rally that lifted the team to an 8-4 victory. There would be no late inning heroics over the rest of the weekend, however, as the Red Sox' bats combined for five runs over the final two games of the series. Mediocre starts by Brad Penny and Junichi Tazawa didn't help, obviously.

One reason why the offense has been so inconsistent lately could be the fact that there is never really a consistent lineup. At this stage in his career, Mike Lowell is probably much better at the plate than he is in the field, and you still can't play him everyday because of his hip. Jason Bay has been nagged on and off by a hamstring issue. Varitek is getting older and is almost an automatic out when he is in the lineup. The revolving door at shortstop continues, as journeyman Chris Woodward was cleared off the roster to make room for Alex Gonzalez, a great defensive shortstop but a terrible hitter. David Ortiz has had his hot streaks here and there, but has mostly had a very disappointing season. J.D. Drew is well, J.D. Drew. And to top everything off, Youkilis got slapped with a five game suspension for going berzerk during the Detroit series. I can understand having to stick up for yourself, but Youk could have picked a better time to let his emotions boil over. Could some of the past week's games ended differently had our best player been in the lineup? Possibly. But if the season were to end today the Sox would be out of the playoff picture, and if no consistency can be achieved in both the rotation and the lineup, New England may be in for a long off season.

-Dave Mansfield


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