So says Fox Sports:
Repeat after me, Red Sox Nation:
It’s not 1978.
In 1978 — hello — there was no wild card.
After the Red Sox blew their 14-game lead to Bucky Bleepin’ Dent and Co., they had no chance to win the World Series.
Now, the Sox are taking steps to enhance their chances of winning the Series, even if it costs them the American League East title.
To succeed in the postseason, the Sox need to rest their pitchers and mend their position players. Finishing ahead of the Yankees is — and should be — a lower priority.
The bottom line is that the Sox are taking the sensible approach by resting certain players and testing others. Any other analysis is sheer Yankee-phobia, nothing more.
No question, the Sox would rather win their first division title since 1995, hold down the Yankees and enter the postseason on a roll.
But consider the alternative.
If the Sox had kept Matsuzaka and Schilling on their normal schedules and then faltered in the Division Series, they would have been rightly accused of losing sight of the forest for the trees.
In their position, even losses can be instructive.
On Tuesday night, manager Terry Francona all but conceded a game by allowing struggling reliever Eric Gagne to blow a 2-1 lead to the Blue Jays in the eighth inning.
If the game had true significance, Francona would have summoned closer Jonathan Papelbon to help Gagne escape the jam. But the manager needed to find about Gagne — and, unfortunately, got his answer.
In any case, the Nation needs to relax.
The Sox aren’t collapsing. They’re exploiting the advantage they gained in the first five months of the season.