Saturday, May 17, 2008

Red Sox - Brewers Double Header Today

The Red Sox will try to get back to their old winning ways today and break their current four game losing streak. Last night's game against the Milwaukee Brewers was rained out, forcing the teams to agree to a double header today. It will be a separate admission double header, so if you are going to either game tonight, be prepared for some traffic and parking mayhem as the first crowd tries to vacate the Fens and the second crowd swarms in.

Jeff SuppanDaisuke Matsuzaka gets the start in the opener against our old friend Jeff Suppan. If you recall, Suppan started his career in 1995 as a twenty year old hot prospect rising rapidly through the Red Sox farm system. The expectations were very high for Jeff, and the hope was that he would follow in Roger Clemens' footsteps and become the next Red Sox ace. Suppan pitched in the rotation with Clemens for two years until Clemens' infamous departure to Toronto. But, Suppan never quite lived up to expectations. He has had a long and successful career, but mostly as a middle of the rotation type of guy. His best years, statistically, were in 2004 and 2005 with the St. Louis Cardinals when he won 16 games in both of those years. Plus, I think we all remember the Red Sox steamrolling Suppan on their way to winning the 2004 World Series, and his base running gaff that took the Cardinals out of a critical offensive rally. So, as we watch our current batch of new pitchers, we should remember, you never really know which ones will be truly successful and which ones will never quite make it.

Dice-K MatsuzakaDice-K has been on a roll, boasting a 6-0 record and a 2.45 ERA heading in to this afternoon's game. He has an advantage today facing a team that has yet to see him, so if his variety of pitches are all sharp, he and Jason Varitek should be able to keep hitters off balance today. The one thing he needs to work on is keeping the ball near the strike zone so he does not let batters get too patient, driving his pitch count up, and getting too many walks.

JD Drew and Julio Lugo will be available today and for first the first time in weeks, the Sox will have a full and healthy bench - presuming Coco Crisp's stomach ailments have passed.

Perfect timing in the pitching rotation for a double header. In the night game the Red Sox are starting Tim Wakefield, so Varitek will get a rest as Kevin Cash gets another opportunity to chase the dancing knuckle ball around. Wakefield had his worst outing of the season in his last start, but I don't think that is any indication of what we'll see today. The knuckle ball is very much a "feel" pitch. The feel can be perfect one day and nit quite right the next. But, with the heavy humid air today, Tim should have good conditions to work with.

Manny RamirezNeither of the Brewers' pitchers for today are overly worrisome for the Red Sox. There are 8 Red Sox players who have faced Jeff Suppan in the past. Those 8 batters have a combined .344 batting average against him. The only player out of those 8 with a batting average less than .333 against Suppan is Mike Lowell, who is oddly 0-11 against him. In the second game, the Brewers will send Dave Bush to the mound. In seven starts this season, Bush has only won one game, and carries a hefty 6.06 ERA with him to the mound tonight. If you are following Manny Ramirez' quest for 500 career home runs, you may be in for a treat. Bush has allowed an average of one home run per game this season. Could be a good night for Manny. No high fives for Manny from the fans tonight though - the Green Monster won't allow it!

So, the outcome of any game is always a surprise, but the signs look good for the Red Sox to get back on track with 2 or 3 wins from Milwaukee. There's no place like home - just ask the Boston Celtics!

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN.com)

3 comments:

Fenway West said...

I guess that explains why Mike Lowell is not playing in game 1.

Rooster said...

Yeah - smart thinking on Tito's part!

Anonymous said...

Rooster-

Dead on.