“OVERALL a horrible week ... there’s no doubt in my mind these guys can turn it around.” — Alex Cora
“There’s still time.” — David Price
Both comments, uttered after the weekend catastrophe in the Bronx, are hopeful for what’s to come. Inhabitants of Red Sox Nation: Are you confident in your team as it began a seven-game homestand against the lowly Royals Monday night?
In the latest example of how sports fortunes can turn on a dime, we take you back just over a week, to when the Red Sox had just scored 38 runs in three games against the Yankees, leading to talk of climbing the significant hill to a fourth straight AL East crown. There were snickers about the Yankees and how their starting pitching staff had crumbled to dust.
Face it, you were enjoying it.
Then, Chris Sale spit the bit, allowing the Yanks to escape with a win. Then, as nothing was done at the trade deadline by either of the old rivals, the Yankees took off, winning the second game of a two-game series with the Diamondbacks and then hosting the latest Boston Massacre. Meanwhile, the Red Sox were swept by the Rays as Price again failed to come through.
Sale flamed out again on Saturday, the Yankees, who seem to lose a player every time someone runs or swings, won a Saturday doubleheader (to go to 9-1 in twinbills on the season) and Price laid his second egg of the week on Sunday Night Baseball.
It’s tough enough enduring that ESPN broadcast team in good times. But during an eighth straight loss?
Just like that, first place is impossible and the second wild card stood 6½ games away (seven in the loss column) for the highest-paid team in baseball that has already lost more games than it did all of last season.
They never settled the bullpen situation (even though Brandon Workman has been named as the closer). Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez have followed MVP-type seasons with rather pedestrian years. Andrew Benintendi is way too streaky.
But let’s be honest: Sale and Price are the root of the problem.
Sale has a 9.90 ERA in his last four starts and is 5-11 for the season. Price, on the heels of another media run-in with Dennis Eckersley, has worked four times since that happened. As Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe tweeted, “In four games since he “lit” into Eck, Price is 0-3 with a 10.56 ERA. 17 innings, 30 hits, 20 earned runs. Sox have lost all four. He no longer holds all the cards. He is a puddle.”
Again, it’s not too late for this defending champ to make a run at the one-game playoff. But the performance over the weekend sure looked like the dying gasp of an also-ran.
In a related note, MLB announced Monday that the AL Wild Card game will be Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the home of the top wild card. If the Sox get there and win, they would open the ALDS, probably against the Astros or Yankees, two days later.
Told you so
In Sunday’s column, I told you Tom Brady wasn’t going anywhere. Hours later, there was a new contract, as Brady again did what he had to do (leaving money on the table) to help his team.
The extension didn’t guarantee he’ll be in New England for the rest of his career. But the deal did free up money for the rest of the roster (I still don’t understand how they can keep doing this but kudos to them for doing it). ESPN’s Adam Schefter even suggested Monday that the $5.5 million the Patriots saved on Brady can be used to lure Rob Gronkowski out of retirement.
“Even though Tom Brady is signing a two-year extension, he always will be on a year-to-deal with the Patriots,” Schefter tweeted. “Deal can, and will, be adjusted each year as long as Brady plays.”
In other words, TB12 will ALWAYS do what he has to do to keep this team winning.
“He can play forever,” said former teammate Danny Amendola, whose Lions are practicing with the Patriots leading up to Thursday’s preseason opener.
Asked Monday about his contract beyond this season still up in the air, Brady said, “It’s really the reality for most guys in the NFL. I don’t want to think I’m any different than anyone else. Football is a tough business. It’s a production business. I’m ready to go this year and that’s really what matters. That’s where my focus is.
“It’s a unique situation I’m in. I’m in my 20th year with the same team. I’m 42 years old, so pretty much uncharted territory I think for everybody. I’m going to go out there and do the best I can this year and see what happens.
Somehow, Brady is still just the sixth-highest paid QB in the league. Tweeted Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal “If these numbers turn out correct ... Tom Brady: $28.3 million/year; Jimmy Garoppolo: $27.5 million.”
From Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal: “Looks like the Patriots suddenly have $12+ million in cap space.”
Brady took to Twitter over the weekend to say (and show) “I got a chance to hold my draft card a few hours ago. Never forget where you came from.” That, of course, was his NFL draft card, not the one from the Selective Service System.
In ex-Pats news from Schefter Monday, “Bills’ OT LaAdrian Waddle has a torn quad and it is likely a season-ending injury, per source. It is thought to be a 4-5 month injury.”
In sadder news, I didn’t know football writer Don Banks well but knew enough about his reputation to know we lost a good one when Banks passed away at 56. “That was shocking,” Bill Belichick said Monday. “I’ve had an opportunity to work with him many, many times. Very professional, very passionate. I just had a lot of respect for the way he did his job. Our condolences on behalf of the organization, too, to the Banks family. We’ll miss him.”
The Bruins are prepared to go to training camp without restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
“We do have to plan and prepare for these players to not be at camp opening day,” team president Cam Neely told NBC Sports Boston. “But we have five, six weeks hopefully to get something done. We feel like we should be able to get something done with both of those guys at numbers that make sense for us, and hopefully makes sense for them.”
From our pal Mark Divver out of Providence: “Noel Acciari receives R.I. Native-Son Award at Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society Reunion today.”
We told you Saturday what Danny Ainge had to say about center Robert Williams. And, talking to Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal, he talked about French import Vincent Poirier, who may also help inside now that Al Horford and Aron Baynes are gone.
“We’ve been scouting (Poirier) for a few years,” Ainge said. “In my opinion, when he had the move to Baskonia (in Spain) two years ago, he really improved very rapidly. They did a great job with him in development. He really improved and has become a very good player. This year, we obviously started talking with him and his agent throughout the season and we’re excited that he chose to sign with us. As far as his game, he’s really big. He’s 7-foot-1 in shoes. He’s athletic, he rolls really well and he’s a presence at the rim. He’s a good rebounder so he’s a big physical active player.”
Finally, the music blaring in the Yankee clubhouse after Sunday night’s game was the song “More Than A Feeling.” By which musical group? Boston, of course.