Monday, September 21, 2009
Can the Sox Schedule one More Series in Baltimore?
I was amazed when I saw the final record this season for the Red Sox against the Orioles. The O’s were always that team that gave the Red Sox fits. They were a horrible team for years, but always seemed to play the Sox even. This year, though, they worked out exactly how they were supposed to. If it weren’t for the O’s, I’d be afraid to guess what the Sox record would be. It’s the sign of a good team, though, that the Sox won the games they were supposed to win. That’s how you make the playoffs.
With the scores of the games over the weekend, it would be hard to say that the pitching is what did it for the team. Most of the games were won with plenty of room to spare. It’s interesting to see, though, how the reaction to the pitching differed from game to game. Lester went out Saturday, and tossed one of those “quality starts” that means so little. When the game was over, the standard opinion was that he was “off” a little. He wasn’t really his dominating self. A win is a win, sure, but he could do better. Then Dice-K goes out the next day. It would be hard to say he pitched better than Lester. He almost got a “quality” start out of it, but didn’t. But, the reaction has been mostly positive. Another step in the right direction for Dice. It’s funny to see how expectations play such a role in the outcomes.
The big picture for the Sox is that the rotation is looking pretty good. Dice wasn’t perfect by any means, but he’s just fine for a fourth starter. Beckett looks like he’s remembering that it’s crunch time. If I started a playoff series against anyone tomorrow with Beckett-Lester-Buchholz-Matsuzaka, I’m feeling pretty good about the Sox chances.
Who makes the call whether to try for the division? Do Theo and Tito sit down and discuss it? Is it up to the manager? Does ownership get involved? The Sox are currently 5 games back heading into a series against KC. The Yankees play LA. Were it not for Greinke, I would expect a sweep. With Greinke, it’s still likely. So, if the Sox sweep, and the Yankees (in full coast mode) take two of three from LA, the Sox are only 3.5 games back. From there it’s a three game series in the Bronx. When does the division come into play? Obviously, having the rotation set up properly is much more important that the division. But, a little tinkering? If I count out the games, I have Lester starting the last game of the season. If the Sox are down one game, with the division on the line, does he pitch? Do they flub around with the rotation a bit to get Lester a start in NY next weekend? Are they even having this conversation internally? At some point having home field throughout the playoffs has to mean something. I’m reminded of the Bulls when they won 72 games. Their last game was against the Pacers, who had already beaten them earlier in the year. The Bulls were, obviously, in the playoffs. They had home court. But, if they won that last game, it would mean that they would have single digit losses, and that no team would have beaten them twice. They ended up in coast mode, and lost the game. But, did they think about going all out? It’s in the back of everyone’s mind. Does Francona still give the same rest as if the Yanks were 7 up? I don’t know.
I wonder who does.
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