BOSTON -- The dateline may read Boston, but this was a game that could have easily been teleported from early March in Fort Myers or Dunedin, Fla.
The Red Sox lineup featured only two regulars -- designated hitter David Ortiz and shortstop Alex Gonzalez. And since clubs are routinely fined for not starting at least four regulars during spring training, this very well could have drawn the ire of the commissioner's office.
"A terrible night,'' manager Terry Francona lamented after the 12-0 loss to the Blue Jays. "We always want to play well regardless of who pitches or who plays. That didn't happen tonight.''
One look at the Red Sox lineup told you this was probably going to be a difficult night, especially considering the opposing pitcher was Toronto's Roy Halladay, one of the game's premier starters and a former Cy Young Award winner. Halladay was so on and Boston's hitters were so outmanned, that the Blue Jays starter didn't give up a hit until Joey Gathright slapped an opposite field single to left in the sixth, drawing the first sincere cheer from the Fenway Park crowd.
The 12-0 final score was embarrassing to several Red Sox players. But the reality is that Boston was outmuscled during the entire three-game series. Toronto scored 31 runs on 42 hits and never trailed at any point of any game. The Red Sox have lost six in a row, which ties a season-high, and eight of their last 10.
"This is not the way we want to head into next week's playoffs,'' Gonzalez said.
The night took on an even more bizarre look for the Red Sox in the seventh when outfielder Rocco Baldelli made his first-ever appearance in the infield, moving from right field to third base. It got even more twisted in the ninth when rookie catcher Dusty Brown, a September call-up, pitched for the first time since 2000 when he was in high school.
"Anytime we get Dusty Brown pitching that's a tough night,'' Francona said.
ESPN's Pedro Gomez covered the Oakland A's from 1992 to 1997 and then became the national baseball writer and later a general columnist at The Arizona Republic before becoming an ESPN bureau reporter in 2003.