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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Running on empty -- getting nowhere

By Gordon Edes
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- One day into the month, too soon to call it a June swoon?

OK, if you say so.

But let's review the highlights of the Boston Red Sox's homestand so far:

• Legendary Boston Garden warbler Rene Rancourt, trading in his customary tux for a Bruins T-shirt, offered his usual stirring rendition of the anthem Wednesday, hours before the Bruins played Vancouver in Game 1.

• The Sox announced that Saturday's game against Oakland has been switched to daytime, so fans can watch Game 2 of the Bruins series.

Rich Hill
Red Sox reliever Rich Hill left Wednesday's game after clutching his left elbow in pain and went straight to the hospital.

• David Ortiz hit home runs Tuesday and Wednesday.

• After a tornado watch last week in Cleveland and a tornado warning Sunday in Detroit, Wednesday's tornado watch here seemed like old hat, although seeing the TV tower on the top of the Prudential Tower hit by lightning after the game was some kind of spectacular.

• The White Sox left, with understandable reluctance.

• The Red Sox have Thursday off.

Adding anything beyond that would be a stretch.

Lowlights? How much time you got?

• Rich Hill left Wednesday's game after clutching his left elbow in pain and went straight to the hospital. Never a good sign.

• The White Sox swept the home team in three straight games and have beaten Boston six straight, the first time that's happened since 1966. The White Sox, who have now won 13 of their past 15 games against Boston, hit .342 for the series, had 10 or more hits in all three games, and have now won seven straight in the Fens, something that hasn't happened since 1959, which is near the end of Ted but pre-Yaz.

• Second base umpire Marty Foster ruled Wednesday that Dustin Pedroia did not plant his glove in Juan Pierre's back during a fifth-inning rundown, and refused entreaties from the second baseman and manager Terry Francona to ask his peers for help. "He said it was his call,'' a peeved Francona said afterward. "If that's the case, I wish he'd gotten it right.''

"I asked him to ask everybody,'' Pedroia said of his pleas to Foster. "He said, 'That's enough, or you're out of the game.' '' • The Red Sox, who had just made it back to first place last Friday after starting the season 2-10, have now lost four straight, including the second game of Sunday's double-header in Detroit, their longest losing streak since opening the season with six losses in a row.

• J.D. Drew was benched for not hitting, which means basically Francona could have sat him down any time in the past two months.

Dustin Pedroia
Although it appears Dustin Pedroia tagged out Juan Pierre during a fifth-inning rundown, umpire Marty Foster ruled Pierre safe -- and refused to get a second opnion.

• Carl Crawford was called out for not retouching the second-base bag on his return to first base after a Jed Lowrie flyout Tuesday, the most obvious example of how the Red Sox have not been at their keenest mentally.

• Jon Lester was lit up Monday. Alfredo Aceves was lit up Tuesday. Tim Wakefield deserved better Wednesday, but he, too, went home empty-handed.

• White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, a Rhode Island native, hit two home runs during the series, which placed back to back could have stretched the length of his home state.

• The Red Sox not once during this series looked like a team operating at the type of energy level we've come to expect from them when they're home, a sure sign that the tank is tilted toward empty.

Which brings us back to Thursday's day off. The Sox just completed a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. The only time they didn't play in that span, they sat around for hours Saturday night in Detroit before the game was postponed, resulting in a day-night double-header on Sunday that meant getting home in the predawn hours on Monday.

Players never like to talk about being tired, because they know how fans are so ready to belittle that as the worst kind of excuse-making. But when it's Pedroia doing the complaining, pity the fool willing to call him out for that.

"We're fine, we're fine,'' he said. "We played a day-night in Detroit, and we got home at 5, so guys have kind of been dragging, trying to pick each other up. So, not using that as an excuse, the White Sox played good, but we need a day off tomorrow, get some rest, come back and play good ball.''

Of course, if Lester and Aceves, who presumably were rested, had pitched better, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia echoed Pedroia on how welcome Thursday's day off will be.

"I think Detroit kind of killed us, for real, as far as that's concerned,'' he said.

"That's not an excuse. You could ask anybody. I'm sure Detroit was tired after that one as well, they just didn't have to fly home.

"It's a mental and physical thing. You get prepared for a game to start at a certain time, then all of a sudden you sit there. And then you've got to do it all over again. Double-header on getaway day, it was a rough time.''

Saltalamacchia thinks he fell asleep around 4:30 that morning.

What time did he get up?

"Probably around 6 o'clock,'' he said with a rueful smile. "Kids were there, screaming. But that's the way it goes. ''

Day off. A day of rest. A day of renewal. A day when even Dustin Pedroia lets up on the throttle. We think.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.