Monday, April 28, 2008

What a Weekend

Generally, I don’t get too worked up about road losses. Last year, the Red Sox led the AL with a .580 road winning percentage. So, even the best team in the league won just a bit over half of their road games. On the surface, a sweep on the road isn’t something to lose sleep over. As long as I look big picture, I can get over the events of this weekend. It’s the little pictures that drives me nuts.

Clearly, the depth is starting to wear on the line-up. You can only carry on so long missing your starting third baseman and #5 hitter. Now, they’re even without Casey, so they’re at their third option at third. Add to that Papi being out, and a sweep is almost understandable. Which, by the way, is why I don’t get on Manny’s case when he doesn’t always run as hard as he could. Raise your hand if you think it worked well for the Sox to have Ortiz really hustle and dive into first. With Lowell ready to come back, the offense is already much better. That doesn’t worry me too much.

The pitching was great this weekend, so that’s a bright spot. Sure, the bullpen couldn’t get out of its own way Friday. But, they’re pretty clearly overworked. They all got a pretty good rest the rest of the weekend. Buchholz looked great Saturday. Sometimes you just hang a breaking pitch. It happens. Beckett looked like his dominant self on Sunday. The Sox will need a lot more of those outings this year. (And, yes, I know it’s the Rays. But, the Rays can still hit.) Everyone should get a welcome day of rest today…for the first time since it stopped snowing. The next homestand should be a better look at what they can do.

The real problem going forward is the use of the pitching staff. If the starters can’t get out of the 6th inning, the bullpen is going to implode. However, the Sox also have two youngsters with innings “counts”. Lester and Buchholz won’t be pitching many complete games, unless they’re absolutely cruising. (See Saturday night) So, the bullpen has to expect to be used to some extent. The way the games work these days, even Beckett’s only expected to go 7 with Oki in the 8th, and Pap in the 9th . So, exactly whose fault is it? A lot of it has to do with the middle relief itself. These guys need to pitch better. If Aardsma, Delcarmen, and Timlin can pitch 1-2-3 innings, they won’t be as tired as they are now. They need to pitch to the point that they don’t tire themselves out. Daisuke needs to go 6 innings every start, and 7 lots of the time. Beckett needs 7+ every time out. Sometimes, I think Wake needs to take one on the chin and be told he’s going 7, no matter the score. Lester/Buchholz can stick to their 6 a piece, with 7 once in a while. That ought to do it. The Red Sox need about 1500 innings from their pitchers this year. The middle relief needs to get some quick ones as part of their share.

The Sox are still virtually tied for first in the East. How can that not be good?

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