Thursday, September 11, 2008

Devil of a time

Well, now. That didn’t exactly go as planned, did it? This was the chance to take over first place for good. Instead, the Sox fell farther behind. I guess the division lead will have to wait until next week.

I think I’d be bothered by the events of the weekend more if it weren’t for the Wild Card. If the division were the only hope for the playoffs, I’d be a lot more troubled by the inability to win those last two games of the series. With a playoff spot very likely sewn up regardless, I can look at it as a stepping block instead of the end-all.

The pitching staff did very well. Lester threw his usual great performance on Monday. Who would have thought when the season began that we’d come to expect dominant outings by young Lester. On Tuesday, Dice-K had his usual start. Not awful, not great. While he didn’t deserve to win or anything like that, he didn’t pitch bad enough to lose. Yesterday, Beckett was still making rehab starts, but he pitched great. It was just like you’d hope from your recovering ace under those circumstances. The bullpen looked good. Papelbon’s going to blow a save here and there. You’d like him to nail down all of them, but he’s still human. Yesterday, the bullpen pitched a ton of quality innings. Masterson looked great getting out of a tough jam. There’s only so many scoreless inning you can expect a bullpen to throw though. If you picture the staff all lined up and bullpen in order, the playoffs look encouraging. The pitchers you’ll be counting on in October (Beckett, Lester, Dice, Masterson, Papelbon, Delcarmen) are pitching well. The others won’t be needed anyway. I can live with that.

Hopefully, the same will be said of the offense. Right now, the line-up is a jumbled mess. Drew’s still out. Youk keeps popping in and out of action. Lowell’s coming around. Once October rolls around, you’d think that the fully operational line-up looks good. I still have confidence that a line-up of Ellsbury-Pedroia-Ortiz-Youkilis-Drew-Lowell-Bay-Varitek-Lowrie can get some things done. (Would have been nice to have those two Manny homers in Fenway last night instead of San Diego) Once all those players are happy and healthy, runs should be easier to come by. As long as that happens by the time the ALDS starts, things should be ok.
While it’s nowhere near coast time, it’s not press time either. I can give Drew as much time as he needs to rest his ailing back. He’ll need it soon enough. I can let Beckett take his time getting back into form. I can test out the young guys in different situations, and see what sticks.

Thank goodness for the Wild Card.

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