Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sox Lose - Francona Outmanaged

There were a couple of good points in the game, but not many. I watched the game at a bar with a tiny TV and no sound. Just as well, as it turned out. Here are my observations...

Tim Wakefield had a very good night, which is not unusual when he pitches indoors (indoor baseball just does NOT sound right). He cruised through 5 innings but things unraveled in the 6th. Matt Stairs hits his first home run of the season, and things went downhill from there. The Umps missed a call when Wakefield picked off Alex Rios on second base - tough break there. Manny Ramirez misplayed a ball allowing a run to score. Jacoby Ellsbury does a nice job running down a line drive in center, then drops it when he hits the wall. I mentioned before, the one thing Ellsbury needs more work on is plays that are against the wall. He's young, he'll get there, but this one also allowed a run to score. By the time Wake gout out of the inning, it was 3-0, Toronto.

It was 3-0 because Shaun Marcum had one hell of a night. He strike out 8 batters, all of them swinging. That tells you he was sharp. Until he ran into our man JD Drew, who crushed a nice three run home run that I thought was going to wake the Sox up. Unfortunately, that was all the offense they could muster.

In the 7th, I thought Terry Francona got out-managed, or at least his strategies fell short. That happens. He took Wakefield out and sent Aardsma in with the top of the order up. Aardsma proceeded to walk Eckstein. Then, Francona pulls Aardsma with the lefty Matt Stairs coming up. Stairs had already homered, and Francona liked the lefty-lefty match up better and sent Javier Lopez in. At first I thought it was a little early for that, but then I saw his plan. Do everything you can to get out of the 7th, then you're all set up for Okajima in the 8th, and Papelbon in the 9th. Good idea. But, Blue Jay manager John Gibbons said, "I'll see your lefty and I'll raise you a righty batter" as he sent in Shannon Stewart to bat. Terry calls that hand, they lay their cards on the table, and Gibbons wins as Stewart singles to put two men on, no out, and the meat of the lineup coming up. Francona goes back to the bullpen with Manny Delcarmen, who does a great job of getting Alex Rios and Vernon Wells to both pop out foul to Kevin Youkilis. But, the BIG man, Frank Thomas stepped up to the plate next. Delcarmen was trying to be very careful with Frank, and who can blame him? The first two pitches were balls inside - he was trying to paint that inside corner. On the third pitch he got it for strike one. Now that he's got Thomas thinking fast ball inside, he wants to keep him off balance with a change up - low and dropping out of the zone. Oops, the change up sits in the zone and Thomas crushes it. Tip your hat to Decarmen, he stays tough and gets the next batter out on two pitches to end the inning. But, the damage is done, and the Sox were out of bullets.

Francona made two more moves in the 8th. First he sent Coco Crisp in to hit for Jacoby Ellsbury. Again, at first I thought, huh? But then I realized the Jays had a new pitcher, lefty Brian Tallet. Rather than have the lefty - lefty match up, he sent Coco Crisp in to bat right handed, and he went up there being aggressive, swinging at the first pitch, then popping out on the second pitch. Then, he sent Jason Varitek in to hit for Kevin Cash. No lefty-lefty match up stuff going on there, Francona just felt Varitek is a better batter. But, not last night. The Sox only had 4 hits all night, and Cash had one of them - a nice two out double in the third. He was in the flow of the game, and I may have stayed with him, but it was not a bad idea to try Varitek. 'Tek, unfortunately, struck out.

Manny Ramirez, who usually hits very well in Toronto, had a tough night. He flied out and struck out swinging twice, before finally hitting a ground ball single with two out in the ninth. Too little, too late.

Interesting weekend. Today, we get to see Clay Bucholz's first start of the season, and tomorrow a vintage match up between Josh Beckett and Roy Halladay! Sunday is the game not to miss!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I missed the game, but imagine that they were outmanaged, as well as outpitched, again!