Prior to the 2004 season, the Red Sox gave up young talent and paid through the nose to acquire one of the game’s top starters, as well a profering a 4 year deal to the sort of closer they sorely needed in ’03.

18 months and one championship later, Curt Schilling’s return to the big leagues is still a question mark, as is the status of hockey/BBQ/newsmedia-loving Keith Foulke. The Globe’s Nick Cafaro on the latter’s latest spectacular failure.

Keith Foulke says when he’s out in public people call him Kevin (Faulk). Maybe that’s because the diminutive Patriots running back might be a better choice right now to close games for the Red Sox.

Yet another Foulke disaster occurred at steamy Ameriquest Field last night as he blew a 5-4 lead in the ninth, allowing the winning run on Kevin Mench’s first-pitch RBI single to left with the bases loaded in a horrifying 6-5 loss to the Texas Rangers.

Foulke’s teammates and manager Terry Francona continue to support the embattled closer, but how long can they remain patient?
”He’s going to get through one of these and that’s going to be the end of it,” said Sox captain and catcher Jason Varitek. ”He’s done it over and over in this situation and it just didn’t happen [last night].”

Foulke’s reduced velocity has been much publicized lately, but last night it seemed all right. On one pitch he hit 89 miles per hour. Varitek remains unconcerned about velocity.

”It’s [about] getting comfortable and getting into his zone, because he’s a guy who can pinpoint,” Varitek said. ”He’s got three gears on his changeup. It’s been a tough time for him. There’s no plainer thing to say than to say we need him. We ain’t going anywhere without him. Period. We’ve got to keep getting him out there and it’s going to happen for him.”

Varitek went so far as to say, ”I think he keeps getting better. He’s just not able to get away with any mistakes. People see blood. I just think he’s going to get through one of these and that’s going to be the end of it.”