There are no curses at work here, no black cats or drowned pianos, no goats or ghosts of great sluggers. There are no balls squirting tantalizingly between gimpy old legs, no light-hitting shortstops launching improbable home runs. The Boston Red Sox are just getting beaten to a pulp by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pounded. Hammered. Lambasted. Thrashed. Pummeled. Pole-axed. Whipped. Smoked. Routed.
There isn't much luck in 9-1, not too many if onlys in 13-4. And that's fine. That old here-we-go-again song won't play in Boston anymore. Four years and two championships since the improbable committed the impossible, the Red Sox and their fans expect to win.
If the Rays, who won Games 3 and 4 at Fenway Park by those scores to take a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series, finish the job the way they've been doing it, there'll be nothing for it but for the Sox to tip their caps. Beaten at their own game, solid pitching and explosive hitting, with no broken mirrors or spilled salt in sight.
Of course, only a fool would write off the Sox at this point. They were in almost the same spot a year ago, down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians, having lost three straight, two of them decisively. A difference is that Games 6 and 7 were at home last year and they'll be on the road if the Red Sox earn them with a Game 5 win at Fenway Thursday.
But that's picking nits. It certainly didn't look like the Sox were in good shape last year because they'd get to play two more home games if they could keep the series alive. They were in trouble, bad trouble, as they are now, and they survived.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was all but unhittable in Game 1, will start Game 5 for the Sox against James Shields, who wasn't much worse. He'll face a Rays lineup that's killing everything it sees, and that has made a friend of the Green Monster. He'd better bring his rabbit's foot.
Update: Rays manager Joe Maddon announced Wednesday that Scott Kazmir, not James Shields, would start Game 5. Shields will start Game 6, if necessary, in Florida.