- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox Baseball Company played Game No. 17,396 in their century-plus history of hardball Tuesday night in Fenway Park.
All things considered -- weather (unfit for man or beast), score (13-0, Oakland), quality of play (awful, especially by one Alfredo Aceves), and ultimately a rain delay (37 minutes) -- this makes the short list of worst games ever.
The Red Sox have lost three games by 20 or more runs, including their worst-ever loss at home to the Yankees, 22-1, on June 19, 2000, in which Rob Stanifer and Tim Wakefield gave up 16 runs in the last two innings.
They’ve blown 10-run leads (13-11, 12-inning loss to Toronto after leading 10-0 through six, June 4, 1989).
They’ve had pitchers walk 12 batters in a game (Fritz Ostermueller) and give up 12 hits in an inning (Doc Adkins). They’ve had pitchers commit 4 balks (John Dopson), throw 4 wild pitches (Daisuke Matsuzaka), give up 6 home runs (Tim Wakefield) and 10 extra-base hits (Curt Schilling).
They’ve made 10 errors in a game (vs. Washington, 1927) and have had an outfielder, William (Tip) O’Neill make 6 errors in a game.
They’ve been no-hit 13 times, most recently by Chris Bosio (April 22, 1993).
As recently as last September, they absorbed a 20-2 beatdown from these same Oakland Athletics, but that game was overshadowed by Bobby Valentine’s exaggerated claims of persecution for showing up late after picking up his son at the airport.
But to mix it up into one spectacular batch of stink, it would be hard to top what took place in the rain-swept Fens Tuesday night. We will make the recap mercifully short:
* The weather. It was 42 degrees at game time, with a 16 mph wind from the north blowing sheets of rain into the faces of those sitting on the first-base side. The rain never came down in torrents, but it never stopped, either, and at 9:09 p.m., after seven innings, the tarp went on the field.
* Aceves. His third inning will live in infamy. He walked three batters, was called for two balks, failed to cover first base in a timely fashion after a great diving play by Mike Napoli, then threw the ball away for an error. The Athletics scored six runs in the inning, then Seth Smith accomplished the nigh-impossible in the fourth by hitting a ball through the gale for a two-run home run. That made it 8-0, Oakland, and when Jed Lowrie followed with a single, Aceves was done for the night.
* Steven Wright. Some guys begin their big-league career in storybook fashion, like Daniel Nava, who hit the first pitch he saw for a grand slam. Some guys begin their career in forgettable fashion, going 0-for-4 or getting knocked out in the third. But no one deserves to make their debut under the circumstances faced by Wright.
First, he hadn’t pitched in two weeks, making his last appearance in Pawtucket on April 9, then sitting around another full week after being called up by the Sox on April 16.
Second, he’s a knuckleballer, with a trick pitch that probably works better when the wind isn’t blowing sideways.
Third, he was in for the long haul no matter how badly things went. Manager John Farrell wasn’t going to waste another pitcher if he could help it.
Wright dodged a blow when the first batter he faced, Brandon Moss, narrowly missed a three-run home run, yanking the ball just foul. Moss wound up hitting into an inning-ending double play, allowing the satisfaction of Wright to whack his glove in satisfaction.
But the Athletics scored four times against Wright in the fifth, added another run in the sixth and still Wright soldiered on.
* Finally, there was the Sox offense, such as it was, against a bigger-than-Guapo Bartolo Colon, who retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced, the only Sox batter reaching on a nubber to the left of the mound (Dustin Pedroia in the first). Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jonny Gomes hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the fifth, but Stephen Drew popped out to end the inning.
Jacoby Ellsbury walked and advanced to third on two ground balls in the sixth. He was the only runner to advance that far all night, and was stranded there when Pedroia tapped out to third.
Red Sox management was sufficiently embarrassed that they offered anyone holding a ticket to this dreck free admission to Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Athletics or Thursday night’s game against the Houston Astros, who will be making their Boston debut as an American League entry. Fans can exchange their ticket stubs at Gate E beginning two hours before game time.