Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Javier Vazquez sucks. If we had our way, he wouldn't have been the starting pitcher in the Sox 6-4 Game 1 ALDS loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
But there are other reasons the Sox lost.
The Rays have a good pitching staff, so when the Sox get opportunities, they need to take advantage. The Sox trailed 6-3 in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out. Alas, Juan Uribe and Orlando Cabrera both whiffed.
Get one or two runs there and maybe Paul Konerko's solo home run means something in the ninth. Tampa Bay's one weakness is its closer, Dan Wheeler. Already this season, the Sox have gotten to Wheeler twice. Unfortunately, they weren't within reasonable striking distance going to the ninth on Thursday.
In addition, the Sox lack of infield depth cost them. Ideally, you'd like to pinch-hit for Uribe with the bases loaded and the game on the line. But there isn't anybody on the Sox bench who you can count on to make solid contact more than Uribe himself. No options at all, with both Joe Crede and Chris Getz on the inactive list with injuries.
For the rest of this series, situational hitting is key. When the Sox get a man at third with less than two outs, they've got to score him. Chances will be limited against this strong Rays' staff. Every opportunity you get against them, it needs to get cashed in.