Thursday, May 22, 2008

Colon Looks Sharp Earning First Win for Red Sox

Bartolo Colon made his much anticipated first start for the Boston Red Sox last night, and walked away with his first win of the season as the Sox defeated the Royals 6-3. As anticipated, Terry Francona planned to limit Colon to 80 or so pitches while he continues to build up his strength. Colon lasting 5 innings, throwing 74 pitches (60 fastballs, 12 sliders, and 2 change ups). The grounds crew had to continually reinforce the pitcher's mound as Colon's imposing size kept packing it down (just kidding), but Colon was able to put his weight behind his pitches, regularly keeping his fastball in the low 90's, but topping out at 96 mph. For a guy who relies on power to overwhelm batters, this is a good sign - he has the strength to still throw with power, and if he is fortunate enough to suffer no physical setbacks, he'll only get stronger, and the Sox will continue tightening their hold on first place (currently 2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays).
Bartolo Colon

Facing the Kansas City Royals at home may be helping the Sox' pitching look even more imposing, but in 3 games against the Royals, the Sox have only given up a total of 4 runs. Last night Colon gave up only 2 runs in 5 innings and walked off the mound with the Sox behind by a score of 2-1, Jacoby Ellsbury providing the one run with a lead off homer in the first inning. In the bottom of the 5th, Jason Varitek got things rolling with solo home run of his own, and by the time the inning was over, the Sox had put 4 runs on the board for a 5-2 lead that would provide Colon with the win. The Red Sox bullpen had a terrific night. Craig Hanson, Javier Lopez, and Manny Delcarmen each pitched a scoreless inning to get to the ninth, where Mike Timlin came in to wrap things up. With a 6-2 lead heading into the ninth, this was not a save opportunity, so Papelbon got the night off. Timlin preserved the win, allowing a single run resulting from a walk, stolen base, and a single, all with two outs.
Jacoby Ellsbury
So, for now, Bartolo Colon is an official part of the Red Sox starting rotation. He will be pitching every fifth game for the near future at least. If he continues to improve, the Red Sox will clearly have the most imposing rotation in the AL. If anyone goes down, Clay Buchholz will be able to quickly step right in. With the success that Justin Masterson has had, the red Sox pitching talent goes even deeper. Right now, you have to feel real good about the Red Sox starting pitching.

Speaking of starting pitching, the NY Yankees are not only jealous of the Red Sox, and regretting not securing Johan Santana in the off season, they are also starting to take some desperate measures to improve theirs. Specifically, they are officially beginning to alter Joba Chamberlain's workouts to get him ready to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Prior to spring training they were leaning towards a starting role for Joba, but he ended up in the bullpen. Brian Cashman wanted him there, Hank Steinbrenner wanted him as a starter. Hank ranted about it in April when the Yankees obviously needed to improve their starting rotation, Cashman held his ground. Well, the boss won! It could be a good move for NY, whose young starters have not come close to the success that Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have achieved. It is nice to see the Yankees squirming, and it will be interesting to see how well, and how quickly, Joba can make the switch. I think the biggest concern is whether he is ready to handle the load of pitching a full season yet. But, by waiting until June to make the switch, it may have shortened the season enough for him to last just fine.

This afternoon, Daisuke Matsuzaka will be gunning for his 8th win. Manny Ramirez will still be gunning for his 499th home run. I think they need to remove the "498" countdown from left field. It feels like he has not hit one (at least at home) since they put it up. Baseball jinxes are alive and well you know.

If Red Sox fans don't already have enough to smile about, take a look at the cover of this month's Sports Illustrated! Derek Jeter getting clobbered by a hefty Rays player in a comic book spoof cover.

(Photos Courtesy of Yahoo Sports)


Fenway West said...

Joba in the starting rotation is not going to solve the Yankee's pitching problems, it simply plugs one hole and creates another...who will they go with in the 8th?

Rooster said...

You would have to think that Farnsworth and/or Hawkins would be the guys who have to step up, but you are right, you add from one area by taking away from another.