Red Sox Latest Meltdown Showcases Valentine’s Biggest Deficiency

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If there has been anything consistent about the Red Sox in 2012, it has been the level of frustrations amongst the fans, which has been at a steady boil ever since the team opened up the season with just a single win in their first six games. As the season has worn on, and most fans would agree that it has in fact worn on, the inconsistent play and the complete lack of a substantial run to suggest the team would pull out of its funk have not done much to warm the spirits of Red Sox Nation. Now the resentment is boiling over and fans are looking for heads to roll.

And Bobby Valentine is at the front of the line.

Now in fairness to Red Sox fans like me, the movement to can Bobby Valentine has been raging for quite some time. However, the Saturday night loss to the lowly Minnesota Twins, who now sport a 47-61 record on the season, was a microcosm of Bobby V’s biggest fault.
Valentine has absolutely no grasp on how to manage a pitching staff.

Case in point, we have what erupted in Saturday night’s game. Boston has a 2-1 lead heading into the 8th inning. Clay Buchholz has pitched well enough to earn a victory, giving up a single unearned run over 7 innings. He gave way to Andrew Miller, who then walked Denard Span and gave up a single to Ben Revere to start the inning. Instead of going to newly acquired Craig Breslow, who was picked up to be a situational lefty, much like Miller, he stuck with Miller, who in turn walked Joe Mauer to load the bases with no outs. Again ignoring Breslow with the left-handed Morneau coming to the plate, Valentine brought in closer Alfredo Aceves, who induced a sacrifice fly before getting a pop-up and a ground-out to end the inning. Regardless, the tying run came in to score.

The Red Sox would add a pair of runs in the bottom of the 8th to again take the lead. Valentine stayed with Aceves. The Red Sox closer would strike out Brian Dozier to start the inning, but quickly gave up a double to Alexi Casilla, and a single to Jamey Carroll scored Casilla and brought the Twins back to within a run.

Aceves would get Denard Span to fly out for the second out of the inning, but then surrendered a single to Ben Revere to put the winning run on base with Joe Mauer coming to the plate. Now, fans can understand the desire to stick with the closer in this situation, but Aceves had 28 pitches under his belt already when Mauer stepped to the dish. Again, the chance to deploy Breslow was ignored. Aceves would get Mauer within a strike of ending the game, but ultimately surrendered a three-run home run on his 34th pitch of the night.

The lead now gone and the Red Sox now down two runs, Valentine now made the move to the bullpen and summoned Breslow to face Justin Morneau, who promptly flew out to left field to end the inning. Within minutes of the meltdown, #FireBobbyV was the highest trending hash tag on Twitter.

Valentine’s inability to manage to the situation, coupled with his managing through the media, and strained relationships with his players and pitching coach, are just the tip of the iceberg that Red Sox point to when talking about the reason this ship has sunk.

But it is games like this that make the few rats still on the boat scurry for dry ground.