BOSTON -- Look hard enough, and every game will tell you something about a team, and this one was no exception.
We now know what the Red Sox look like when they are sleepwalking.
The puzzle, of course, is that the most rested guy on the team is the one who looked like he pulled the all-nighter.
Ask John Lackey what time it was, and the answer most definitely was not, "Awesome o'clock," the one the Red Sox pitcher gives on a wicked YouTube parody.
On an afternoon the Red Sox were still weary from last call at 2:45 a.m. the night before and in need of a pick-me-up after a dispiriting 5-3 loss to the Angels in the mud and the blood and the beer, Lackey instead gave them every reason to wish they'd ignored their alarm clocks and rolled over for some more shuteye.
The margin of defeat matched Boston's worst loss of the season, a 16-5 thumping by Tampa Bay on April 11, and the Angels' 18 hits fell one short of the 19 the Rays put up in that game. The Sox also were shut out for the fourth time this season, and after winning the first six games they played against the Angels this season, sent the Angels winging back to the West Coast with wins in their last two.
After pitching well in his previous three starts but finding himself on the losing end of two shutouts, Lackey was no match for his former team, the Angels, who got the same amount of rest as the Sox did but must have collectively dined on Terry Francona's favorite breakfast of a dozen strips of bacon washed down by cans of Red Bull.
The Angels played whack-a-mole with their former ace, knocking him around for 8 runs and 10 hits before Francona could bear to watch no longer, lifting Lackey after Mark Trumbo's two-run home run into the Monster Seats made it 8-0. The first five Angels runs came after two were out, including the three they scored in the fourth on five consecutive singles.
The Sox, meanwhile, managed little against their former teammate, Joel Pineiro, who pitched his way out of town in 2007 but on Thursday had the Sox pounding his sinker into the ground, with 12 of the 17 outs he recorded coming on groundballs, including three double plays.
Even in those rare moments when the Sox did something right, it came out all wrong. The most egregious example of that was when David Ortiz smoked a ball off the left-field wall in the fifth, one of his three singles on the day, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. The Sox were trailing by nine runs at the time.
And Kevin Youkilis, hustling to cover second on an infield hit off diving shortstop Jed Lowrie, managed to hurt his left wrist in an awkward collision with base-runner Peter Bourjos. He remained in the game, but he took his glove off several times to inspect his hand. Lowrie, too, appeared shaken up on the play--he appeared to have landed awkwardly on his surgically repaired left wrist--but he, too, stayed in the game and later made a leaping catch and hit a double.
Francona gave the slumping Dustin Pedroia (6 for 50, .120) the day off. The newly arrived reinforcements for the bullpen, Scott Atchison and Rich Hill, both were pressed into service Thursday, especially Atchison, who played the role of sacrificial arm, going 3 2/3 innings while giving up 7 hits and 3 runs. That's the kind of outing appreciated by a manager grateful that Atchison took one for the team, but hardly conducive to ensuring an extended stay in the big leagues.
At least Francona, who spent the night in the clubhouse with the equipment crew, had a free evening for dinner and a movie should he choose. Unlikely, given that less than 24 hours earlier the Sox were within a game of finally reaching the .500 level, and now find themselves three games under headed into this weekend's series against the Minnesota Twins. Unless they've been pounding the boulevard, the Twins should be very well rested, having been here since Wednesday night after flying in from Chicago after a day game.