One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.
It’s a country song, written in 1987 and sung by Desert Rose and used for line dancing, and Wiktionary says it is “Derived from the idiom “two steps forward, one step back”, which originates with an anecdote about a frog in a well.”
It’s a noun, meaning “A situation in which progress is more than offset by adverse developments.”
It is, to this date, anyway, the story of your Red Sox’ 2019 season.
In short, every time you think the champs are ready to move forward, Alex Cora’s band of merry men messes it up.
It happened again over the weekend.
Big win over the Dodgers on Friday night and the Sox were set to repeat their dominance over the 2018 World Series losers. Then came a bad loss — another Chris Sale loss — on Saturday night. Sunday night/Monday morning saw the Red Sox lose the kind of game they would routinely win last year, when they won 119 games.
They battled back from down two runs on back-to-back homers by Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. They had Andrew Benintendi cut down the winning run in extra innings. They got six innings of superb relief of David Price.
But, innings after Rafael Devers was cut down at the plate with the winning run, Jackie Bradley Jr. was guilty of an unforgivable baserunning gaffe, and Hector Velazquez destructed in the 12th and the game — and series win — were gone.
Someone asked me — the official scorer of the 5-hour, 40-minute marathon — on the way out if that was a “nail in the coffin” for the Sox as far as the postseason is concerned.
The answer, in a word, was NO.
Sure, first place seems way too many miles away. They’re 10 games behind the Yankees, 11 on the loss side starting play Monday night. So let’s talk wild card.
Here’s the picture as we head to the July 31 trade deadline:
The Rays, who opened a four-game series in New York Monday night, had the top spot and were six games behind New York; sizzling Oakland was a game and a half behind and the Indians a half game behind the A’s. The Red Sox were two games behind the Indians, three on the loss side.
In other words, it’s WAY too soon to cancel any October plans in Boston.
However, one has to think they have to start playing better at home, where Sunday night’s loss left them at 21-24 on the season. Last year, the Red Sox lost 24 home games the entire season. They have to go 36-0 the rest of the way to match that.
Barring getting through waivers and accepting a minor league assignment, the Eduardo Nunez Era in Boston ended Monday when he was designated for assignment.
Nunez was DFA’d and Velezquez was optioned to Pawtucket in the wake of Sunday’s loss. Sam Travis and righty Ryan Weber were recalled.
Nunez was hitting .228 with two homers and 20 RBIs in 167 at-bats this season. Velazquez was 1-4 with a 5.67 ERA in 46 innings.
When one of the best pitchers in baseball is pitching poorly, it’s beyond perplexing.
Sale laid another egg Saturday night, falling to 3-9 with a 4.27 ERA — and he has a 7.59 ERA over his last four starts. He still hasn’t won at Fenway and it doesn’t seem to matter who he is pitching to — failing with Sandy Leon catching and a fish-out-of-water Christian Vazquez playing first base Saturday night.
He says he’s healthy and continues to beat himself up the way the opposition has been beating HIM up much of this season.
“I’ve got no other excuses. I’m just not getting it done,” he said. “There’s no other way to paint it. No other way to put it. I’ve got nobody else to blame … I’m going out there every fifth day and getting my (butt) kicked.”
Andrew Cashner makes his Red Sox debut Tuesday night against the Blue Jays at Fenway.
“Good fastball, good changeup, the breaking ball is playing,” Cora said of his new righty. “He’s going six innings against some tough competition. We won’t change too much. He’s been around the league for a while. Talking to him earlier, he’s anxious to get here. I think this is a guy who can help us in the rotation, going deep into the games, and this is what we’ve been looking for a while: someone who can settle the rotation.
“He’s a guy that I’ve been watching (closely) since ’17 in Texas. Saw him with the Rangers and he competes. He’s not afraid to attack the strike zone. He induces people to weak contact.””
Hey, any guy who can go 9-3 with the depressing Orioles is worth a shot, right? Cashner has done extensive work with pitching coach Doug Brocail and it has paid off.
By the way, Cashner needs 90 2/3 innings by the end of the season to trigger a $10 million option for 2020. Don’t count on that happening.
And so on …
Tuesday is “Nifty Night” on Hampton Beach, with Rick Middleton, who lives there, honored. It’s part of a 7-9:15 p.m. night of music on the Seashell Stage and, according to Bill Burt of the Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune: “There will be an appearance by a former teammate of Middleton’s and NHL Hall of Famer” and, “There is no cost to attend.” …
Righty Zack Wheeler, a pitcher who had attracted interest from both the Red Sox and Yankees, hit the IL Monday with shoulder fatigue.
The Celtics signed import center Vincent Poirier, who has played the last six years overseas, to a two-year contract. Poirier, who makes Tacko Fall’s road even tougher (all 15 spots currently occupied but changes have to be coming), took to Instagram to say, “Today I realize my dream by joining the NBA and the mythical franchise of the Boston Celtics. I have a great thought for my friends and relatives, but especially for my father, who I know looks at me from the above.” …
Big news: The quarterback ratings for Madden ’20 Football: Patrick Mahomes leads with a 97, Tom Brady has a 95, Philip Rivers 94. …
Was it J-Lo being shown on camera?? From ESPN’s Ben Cafardo: “Last night’s #Dodgers #RedSox near-6 hour game is ESPN’s highest-rated Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season, drawing a 1.7 overnight rating. It drew a 6.0 in the Los Angeles market, making it the highest rated non-tiebreaker regular-season MLB game on ESPN in LA since 1999.”
Finally, column pal Larry Rosoff says the Jays did the Red Sox a huge favor by optioning former New Hampshire Fisher Cat Rowdy Tellez after Sunday’s game. Tellez is hitting .400, with five homers (including that “505-footer” at Fenway), 11 RBIs and a 1.431 OPS in 12 games (nine starts) against the Sox in his two MLB seasons. He has 13 homers against everyone else COMBINED.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.