It used to be once you got to Okajima and Papelbon, you knew the Sox were golden. Those days seem so far gone today, it's hard to believe they were the "Papajima Show" just a few short years ago.
So there the Sox were, on a sun-drenched getaway afternoon in Seattle, in a game that would decide whether they would head back to the East Coast having split a series with the worst team in baseball, or having only dropped one of the four games in wrenching fashion.
So far, so good in the bottom of the 8th -- the Sox clung to a 2-1 lead as Okajima relieved Daisuke, who had put in his second solid start in the last week.
I still remember how exhausted Okajima looked as he pushed his way through his final innings in the 2007 World Series. His fatigue was broadcast from every pore, seeming to come through the TV screen and sap the energy out of the room.
Novelty played a certain part in his dominance that first year, to be sure, but he hasn't been the same since then. And this year, he's reached his nadir.
The nadir of that nadir, if you will, was the moment he had the chance to earn a crucial out in that nightmarish eighth inning, having fielded a bunt from Casey Kotchman, only to look toward third -- twice -- and then everyone was safe. After that, as they had for Jon Lester, things went pear-shaped quickly, and at the hands of the same hitter that had put Lester on the hook for the loss the night before. For the second time in as many games, Michael Saunders delivered a two-RBI hit to put the Mariners ahead for good.
And so, another day, another inexplicable, unacceptable mental error. Another day, another game lost to a team even the injury-depleted Red Sox should be able to beat. The Sox finish the weekend 8 games back of the Yankees in the AL East, and five games behind the Rays in the Wild Card. Oh, and the Angels just acquired Dan Haren. Have a nice day.