Commentary

Molina shows Sox what could have been

Boston loses 8-4 to the Rangers at the hands of the catcher and his cycle

Updated: July 18, 2010, 1:25 PM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Perhaps if the Red Sox's catching crisis had occurred just days earlier, Bengie Molina would have been sought out by Boston before the Texas Rangers grabbed him.

On June 30, the night Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford fouled a ball that struck Jason Varitek and fractured his right foot -- putting a second Sox catcher on the DL -- the Rangers closed a deal with the San Francisco Giants for Molina, a decorated veteran made available because the Giants were ready to promote phenom Buster Posey.

[+] EnlargeBengie Molina
AP Photo/Charles KrupaBengie Molina became the fifth Ranger ever to hit the cycle when he did it Friday at Fenway.

The Molina deal, in fact, was announced on July 1, the same day that the Sox acquired catcher Kevin Cash, who had been sent to the minors by the Houston Astros after being designated for assignment and clearing waivers. If Molina had still been available, you have to believe the Sox would have at least floated his name.

Cash, who played briefly for the Sox in 2007 and was a backup in 2008, has played 10 games since being pressed into service. After striking out twice and rolling out in Friday night's 8-4 loss to the Texas Rangers, he is batting .111 (3-for-27) in this go-round with the Sox. He does not have an extra-base hit, nor does he have an RBI. Neither does Gustavo Molina in his seven at-bats as Cash's backup.

The Sox did not acquire Cash to hit, but an occasional contribution would be appreciated.

Bengie Molina, meanwhile, hit a grand slam Friday night as part of one of the most wildly implausible cycles in baseball history. The self-proclaimed slowest man in baseball added a triple in his final at-bat when center-fielder Eric Patterson dropped his drive into the center-field triangle.

"It makes you happy for a guy that's probably the slowest guy in the world,'' Molina said of himself, "[a guy] who has been criticized for his speed his whole career.''

How slow is Molina? Earlier this season, while still with the Giants, a game highlight on ESPN's "SportsCenter" used the theme song for "Chariots of Fire" as background music to video of Molina attempting -- and failing -- to score on an overthrow. Molina took offense, writing on his blog that ESPN had attempted to "humiliate" him.

Molina also hit a home run in Thursday night's 7-2 Rangers win, his first extra-base hit in eight games with the Rangers.

"The last two nights,'' Sox manager Terry Francona said, "every mistake we make he hits. He's whacking the ball all over the place. He's killing us.''

The biggest Sox wounds were self-inflicted, on a night they fell 6½ games behind the Yankees, the furthest they have trailed in the AL East since May 29.

[+] EnlargeFelix Doubront
AP Photo/Charles KrupaRookie pitcher Felix Doubront's throwing errors proved costly for the Red Sox, who couldn't get control against Texas on Friday night.

Rookie left-hander Felix Doubront, starting because Clay Buchholz was sent to pitch for Pawtucket in a rehab assignment to shake off the rust, made two throwing errors that led to seven Texas runs. He threw away a chopper by Rangers leadoff man Elvis Andrus for a two-base error to touch off a two-run first, but the second was the more damning.

With Texas runners on first and second and one out in the fifth, Doubront speared Josh Hamilton's screaming liner back to the box, but Doubront bounced his throw when he tried to double Michael Young off second. Instead of an inning-ending double play, the runners moved up. Francona summoned Fernando Cabrera, who proved to be the Niuman Romero of relievers.

Cabrera, who had six saves and an 0.50 ERA in his past 10 appearances for Pawtucket before being promoted for Friday's game, walked the first batter he faced, walked the next to force in a run, and then gave up Molina's slam to dead center.

Unlike Romero -- the infielder who played in two games and was designated for assignment after the second, in which he stranded six men after replacing an injured Kevin Youkilis -- Cabrera was one-and-done. The Sox, who plan to activate reliever Manny Delcarmen for Saturday's game, plan to designate Cabrera for assignment.

But Francona, who was tardy for his postgame media session because he was meeting with general manager Theo Epstein, indicated the club may be making other moves.

Outfield help? Ryan Kalish, promoted last month from Double-A to Triple-A, is batting .439 (18-for-41) in his past 10 games while sharing center field with Josh Reddick.

Catching help? Dusty Brown and Mark Wagner, the Pawtucket catchers who were both on the DL when Varitek and Victor Martinez went down, are both back playing.

Infield help? Jed Lowrie -- who had been sidelined all season with mononucleosis -- homered, doubled and singled for Pawtucket on Friday night.

Pitching help? Michael Bowden, being converted to reliever, pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam Friday night.

With seven losses in their past nine games, their injured regulars not close to returning, and a 10-game West Coast trip facing them, there's little question what the Sox need: help.

Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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