Sunday, April 6, 2008

Let's Go Beckett - Where's Big Papi?

When Abner Doubleday came down from the mountains and showed everyone the commandments etched in stone by the baseball gods, the first commandment said, "Thou shalt not walk thy leadoff batter". Kyle Snyder definitely owes us twenty readings of "Casey at the Bat" as penance for walking both the leadoff batter and the second batter of the 6th inning. Of course, both batters scored, and Brian Corey conspired with Snyder to open the floodgates for Toronto as they built up an insurmountable 10-2 lead. Corey was intent on getting that Toronto lead up there. When Snyder came out, he left with men on second and third and one out, thanks to a sacrifice bunt. Then Corey came in and gave up a single to David Eckstein that scored the two baserunners, followed by a pop-out by Matt Stairs. So, two outs, runner on first, time to stop the bleeding and get back to the dugout? No, not yet. Corey then proceeded to give up a double, a single, and a home run to the big guy, Frank Thomas. The good news from there is that Julian Tavares came in and finished off the last 2 1/3 innings and looked very good!

Any rational Sox fan knows that someone was going to get taken off the active roster to make room for Josh Beckett's return, as it has been prophesied (sorry, got stuck in biblical mode again for a second there). Sox fans now had two finalists to be cut on their scorecards. In a bit of a surprise, the cut goes to Karl Snyder. Why a surprise? Because Karl does not have an option to go to Pawtucket and be called up later.

One last note on pitching. Starter Clay Bucholz looked better than he has looked this spring. He gave up 3 earned runs in 5 innings on 6 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts. He showed some toughness, which is very promising. The second inning started with a walk and two singles scoring a run, but rather than let things get out of control, he struck out the next two batters followed by a pop-up to end the inning. He got into trouble again in the 4th, and may have gotten out of it with less damage, but for an error by first baseman Sean Casey filling in for the error-free Kevin Youkilis. The good sign here was when Bucholz came back out in the 5th and had an easy 1-2-3 inning.

Last note. Again, the Sox offense looked pretty inept. When is someone other than JD Drew going to start hitting (just had to write that sentence for my man JD). Seriously. It is very easy in a 10-2 loss to point all the fingers at the pitching. But, if the Sox only score 2 runs, the ONLY way they can win is to hold the opponent to zero or 1 run. That's pretty easy math, but while Snyder and Corey provided Toronto with a huge lead, and an emotional let down for the Sox, the game was over once the Blue Jays scored their 3rd run in the 4th inning.

Where do fingers point for that? I hate to say it but Big Papi is a key culprit. Toronto has been employing the "shift" against David Ortiz, and it seems to have him off balance, more so than I've seen in the past. I think he is in a little bit of a slump. Combine that with looking out at the field and seeing all of your hot areas covered, and you can find yourself really pressing. The Sox have played 6 games this season, and so far, in 22 at-bats, Papi has a mere 2 hits creating a .091 batting average. Manny Ramirez is faring better, batting .250 with 6 hits in 24 at bats, but he, along with Ortiz, has been batting poorly in the clutch. Just look at last night, for example. Second inning, runners on first and second with one out and Ortiz grounds out to first sending runners to 2nd and third. That opens up first base, so they intentionally walk Manny, and Lowell, who also has had a slow start, softly lines out to end the inning. Then, in the 7th inning with one out and runners at second and third, Ortiz strikes out and Manny grounds out to end the threat.

So, you're a little worried about pitching? You should be worried about offense.

Yankee review tomorrow - how is the enemy looking this year?


redsox.njdevils said...

I'm glad we're getting these ugly games out of the way early in the season. Once the offense warms up again, we should be fine.

I'm looking forward to your "Yankee Review" tommorow, especially considering how they've fared against the Rays!

Rooster said...

I know - getting your butt kicked by the Rays is not too impressive!

Beckett vs Halladay up next!