Sunday, April 6, 2008

Anemic Offense - where's the bullpen?

I'm going to presume you watched the game. If so - you saw the Sox are not playing like a Champion caliber team right now. Josh Beckett looked very good, better than Roy Halladay, until he began to tire a bit in the fifth inning. When I say he tired, I do not mean basic arm strength. What I mean is that there are a lot of intricate mechanics involved in throwing a pitch not only 98 miles per hour, but also within an inch or two of where you want it to go. In the 5th, he was still throwing strong (his changeup was effective at 91 mph), but he was starting to lose his location - that was mostly due to his conditioning needing to stretch out a little more to get him over 100 pitches while maintaining all the necessary mechanics. With two outs, he gave up a single, followed by two walks. Now, this puts Terry Francona in a tough spot. It is early in the season, your ace is coming off of a back injury and has not gone too deep yet. He just walked two straight batters, and Frank Thomas is coming to the plate. On the one hand, Beckett is such a competitor, he may bear down and get that last out (that might have been my guess). On the other hand, his control may be done, and Thomas will kill him. Terry decided to go with a fresh arm, and on one pitch, Manny Delcarmen left a pitch out over the plate, and Thomas ended the game with his 11th career grand slam.

Yes, that ended the game. Again, the Sox (other than JD Drew!) are having a tough time hitting right now. What does the box score tell you? There are two things that should jump out at you. First, the Sox had 10 hits, but only 4 runs. The Blue Jays had 5 hits and 7 runs. Without even seeing the game, you can see the Sox are not stringing together enough hits to generate a rally. They are getting a hit here, and a hit there. The only reason they even had four runs was that 3 of their hits were solo homers. Yes, all three were solo. Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Varitek, and JD Drew all went deep, but with no one on base. Now, against a pitcher like Halladay, you should be happy with that. But, the grand slam took that luxury away.

David Ortiz finally got another hit, his thrid of the season, and it was an RIB double. Love to see that.

Oh, I forgot. I said there were two things that should jump out at you in the box score. If you have been screaming, "what about the four errors!", then yes, you got it. Now, let's not run out and lynch the guy, but Julio Lugo had the worst day I've seen for him on a Sox uniform. Well, that happens. These guys are human, and some days they go home and wonder why they play this game. Tonight is like that for him. That's not the reason why we lost the game, and that's why I'm not making a big deal out of it. Chances are, a guy with his talent will not make another error for a week or two. He did not cost us the game, but he does need to tighten up.

Lastly, I am simply NOT on the same page as Terry Francona yet this year. I love the guy, don't get me wrong, but a manager has to not only read the numbers, but also get in a groove and fell out what will work. Taking out Beckett when he did, did not work. Now, of course, a rational fan knows why he did it. Beckett is in his first outing coming off an injury, and starting to lose control. But, on the other hand, his middle relief has been terrible. When I looked into Josh's eyes (in HD) I saw determination. His pitch count was not so high that one more batter would have mattered. Just let him get out of the jam himself. Instead, Francona turned it over to the bullpen, and in one pitch it was over. I know - 20/20 hindsight. But, that is how I felt as it went down. The other thing I disagreed with was no pinch hitting for Lugo in the 9th. Lugo was clearly not having a sharp day - that happens. So, bottom of the ninth, two men on, and the tying run at the plate - isn't that the kind of situation we have Sean Casey for? That was supposed to be the point of a guy like Casey - to hit in those kinds of situations. Now, surely Casey may have struck out. But, Lugo was having an off night, Lugo is not likely to hit a home run. So...

Now the Sox come home to friendly Fenway, where they will hopefully get a huge boost from us fans. Let's get these guys going! We are the tenth man - let's do our part.

Tune in tomorrow for some Yankee talk in the off day.


Anonymous said...

I agree about Tito & his timing. And if I can't do my part in person (ie can't get a ticket), I'll do it via NESN :)

Rooster said...

Tito is not having a good year so far. The moves he is making are not working, and the moves he is not making are looking questionable.

Let's hope for better at friendly Fenway!

~**Dawn**~ said...

Cora for SS. And that's all I have to say about that. ;-)

Rooster said...

Dawn, I understand the feeling. I don't expect Lugo to get the biggest ovation tomorrow either.

They may put Cora in for a game here and there, but they won't use Cora as the full time shortstop. They'll keep going with Lugo and let him work his kinks out. Now, if they do get down on Lugo, I'd watch for a trade to move Lugo and either get a new shortstop in the trade, or, more likely call up Jed Lowrie from Pawtucket.

But, none of that would happen any time soon - late May the earliest.

Glad you stopped by!

~**Dawn**~ said...

Living in the Tampa area, I have been anti-Lugo for much longer than most Sox fans. I know they won't start Cora at SS, but it's been my chant since Lugo first put on a Boston uniform. (Not that you would know that, of course. LOL) I don't foresee them sending him to Pawtucket with the chunk of change they pay him, and truthfully, unless a team is desperate at SS, I don't know who would trade to get him, the way he's played in Boston. I am all for starting the Jed Lowrie era but I think the front office's love affair with Lugo means we are stuck with him for quite some time.

Rooster said...

You are probably right. I was never happy about Lugo either. I loved Cabrera! Too bad that did not work out.

Anonymous said...

Chiming in to say, I can't tell you how upset I also was when they got rid of Cabrera. Man, could he whip that ball to first or what?! I still shake my head over it from time to time :D