Because people naturally look for a fall guy in such instances, the question that was only simmering over the past few days has blown up today: should the Red Sox fire Terry Francona? It’s the subject of columns. And a survey. And I presume it’s going to be all over talk radio. But does it make any sense?
Not from where I’m sitting. Terry Francona didn’t injure Clay Buchholz, Diasuke Matsuzaka, Kevin Youkilis and — I’m guessing to an extent more than anyone has let on — Adrian Gonzalez. He didn’t cause Carl Crawford and John Lackey to take collective dumps all season and Jon Lester and Josh Beckett to do the same through much of September. He wasn’t the steadiest hand on the rudder with the bullpen down the stretch, but then again, no one down there gave him any reason for confidence.
A ton of stuff led to this Red Sox collapse. So many things that it’s easy to throw up your hands and say that, given the total failure, the guy who is in charge of everything — Terry Francona — should be held responsible. But I say that’s baloney. Maybe he cost a team a win here or there with a questionable decision, but tons of games were lost simply because a lot of highly-paid professionals didn’t do their jobs. Or were hurt. Or both. Blaming Francona may make you feel good for a little while, but I really don’t see how he’s even in the top five of blameworthy Boston Red Sox.
Now, Fredi Gonzalez on the other hand …
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.