The Week Ahead: Time of reckoning for Red Sox

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There’s no other way to put it: It was a miserable week for the Boston Red Sox.

They lost six straight, including four to the Yankees, falling 6 ½ games back in the AL East, and into a tie with the Texas Rangers for the wild card lead.

Their offense took a vacation. Their bullpen, showing signs of wear and tear, could use some help. And their big offseason hope for the rotation, John Smoltz, ended his time in Boston looking like a shadow of his once-great self.

This week, it doesn’t get any easier.

The Red Sox travel home for a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, leaders of the AL Central. Boston is 3-0 against Detroit this season, winning those games by a combined score of 21-9. Of course, the Red Sox were 8-0 against the Yankees before the four-day disaster in the Bronx.

After Detroit, Boston travels to Texas to take on the Rangers. Texas enters the week 62-48 and tied with Boston for the wild-card lead. The Rangers lead both leagues with 169 home runs (40 more than Boston) and have found enough pitching to stay in the playoff race.

Derek Holland, the promising rookie the Rangers wouldn’t part with at the trade deadline, is coming off a three-hit shutout of the Angels. He’ll face the Red Sox on Saturday.

Through the recent slump, the Red Sox have kept their composure. Terry Francona, not one to yell and scream, says there’s no reason to panic.

“The energy level is there. We’ve just been putting up zeroes for a lot of innings now. I think sometimes you balance that. If I thought the effort was terrible I’d say something, but I don’t think that’s the case.”

That may be true, but for Red Sox fans, if this week doesn’t go well, everything could change.

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH
Tigers at Red Sox, Aug. 10-13: Boston will break in Junichi Tazawa on Tuesday, giving him his first big league start in what has becoming a most important series for the Red Sox.

Dodgers at Giants, Aug. 10-12: They’re hated rivals, and for the first time in awhile, this series has playoff implications. The Giants have crept within 5½ games of the NL West-leading Dodgers, and are tied with Colorado for the NL wild card.

Rays at Angels, Aug. 10-12: Tampa remains in the wild card hunt, but the AL West-leading Angels, who are hitting .289 as a team, present a serious challenge.

Phillies at Cubs, Aug. 11-13: After rising to the NL Central lead, the Cubs have taken a hit of late. Two games behind the Cardinals, Chicago must take advantage of the struggling Phillies, who have dropped seven of 10.

Red Sox at Rangers, Aug. 14-16: Neither team has given up in their respective division races, but this series could go a long way toward deciding who takes the AL wild card.

ON THE TUBE
Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET: Tigers at Red Sox (ESPN)
Wednesday, 8:05 p.m.: Phillies at Cubs (ESPN)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Indians at Twins (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.:  Phillies at Braves (FOX)
*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.:  Giants at Mets (FOX)
Sunday, 2:05 p.m.: Red Sox at Rangers (TBS)
Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Phillies at Braves (ESPN)
*Check local listings

If you Twitter, you can find me at @bharks.

Arenado placed on injured list due to sore left shoulder

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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The Colorado Rockies will chase after a flickering playoff spot without All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who was placed on the injured list with a sore left shoulder.

Arenado has been hampered recently by inflammation in his AC joint, along with a bone bruise, and the team elected Monday to shut him down. Manager Bud Black said surgery isn’t required but Arenado will need about a month of rest.

Black said there wasn’t one play in particular that injured Arenado’s shoulder, but it was more of a cumulative effect. It’s been bothering Arenado at the plate, where he’s hitting just .253 with eight homers and 26 RBIs.

“It just got to the point where it became too nagging,” Black said before his team opened a four-game series in San Francisco. “He’ll be fine in about a month. This is just a short-term thing.”

The loss of the five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner is a big blow for a Rockies team trying to hang in the postseason chase after starting 11-3. They’ve gone 12-26 since Aug. 9, which is tied for the worst winning percentage in the major leagues over that span.

Colorado entered the day trailing Cincinnati, Milwaukee and San Francisco by three games for the final NL wild-card spot. The New York Mets were a half-game in front of Colorado as well.

“It’s always hard when you lose a player like Nolan,” Black said. “But it happens. It happened to us. … Guys know they have to step up when a player of Nolan’s caliber is not in the lineup.”

The plan is to use Ryan McMahon at third base. The Rockies can also turn to first baseman Josh Fuentes, who’s the cousin of Arenado.

Black wasn’t optimistic when asked if Arenado could possibly be back should the Rockies make the postseason. Arenado didn’t accompany the team on the trip.

“I would think he’s pretty much shut down unless he has a pretty rapid recovery in the next 10 days or two weeks,” Black said. “I was informed this is probably a rest period of about a month and maybe he will feel better. If that timetable speeds up, maybe there’s a chance.”

This is only the second trip to the injured list for the durable Arenado. He was sidelined in 2014 for a broken left middle finger.

The 29-year-old Arenado made some waves over the offseason when he expressed his agitation with a front office that made no major moves despite a 71-win campaign in 2019.

Arenado agreed to a $260 million, eight-year contract in February 2019. He has an opt-out clause after the 2021 season.