Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mariners Domintate Listless Red Sox

Let's take a brief look at yesterday's analysis here of the opening game of the Mariners - Red Sox series. Last night's game held low confidence. There were concerns about the Red Sox overall emotional recovery from the night before, as well as facing a team on a losing streak, with their number one starter on the mound to break the streak. There was one last key point, that the depleted lineup (particularly Manny's hamstring and Ellsbury's wrist) would hurt the offense quite a bit.

Felix HernandezUnfortunately for the Red Sox, those assessments came true. Felix Hernandez pitched an effective game last night, throwing 6 shutout innings, and the Red Sox lineup (apart from JD Drew and Sean Casey) looked as lifeless as Count Dracula in the middle of a sunny day. JD Drew continues to shred opposing pitchers, going 2 for 3 last night, and Casey followed suit, going 3 for 4 with a double. But, with both Big Papi and Manny Ramirez out of the lineup, there was no clout to take advantage of the base runners. We had the battle-weary Coco Crisp in the lineup, who can add speed in Ellsbury's place, but Crisp never even reached base.

Brandon Moss rejoined the team, and as usual, played with a smile. He got a hit, and provided solid left field defense, and looked like he has not missed a step after his appendix surgery just last month. But Brandon was not enough of a spark to recharge the Red Sox batteries last night.

Bartolo ColonBartolo Colon was off of his game as well. We knew he would not win every game all season, and if you are going to have an off day on the mound, you might as well do it on a night the offense has no interest in scoring runs. Losing 1-0 is much more frustrating than losing 8-0, like they did last night. Colon looked mortal last night. His fastball was, on average, a little slower than it had been, and he was getting it up in the zone too often. His other pitches were not as effective as usual, but he was able to battle reasonably well and left the game after 5 innings behind 6-0. Now, before his next start, can the coaches work with Colon on throws to second base? He made two throwing errors last night, one would have started a double play, and the other was a pick off attempt. Both throws ended up in center field!

David Aardsma gave up the other two runs, but the surprise pitcher was Javier Lopez. Terry Francona saw this game was getting out of reach, and did not want to deplete the entire bullpen. He needed someone to hold their ground, and eat up a few innings. Enter Lopez. Javier pitched the final three innings of the game, only allowing two base runners from one hit and one walk. Very impressive, and that saved the bulk of the bullpen to be ready today.

Dustin PedroiaThe brawl review committee has quickly sent down their punishments. Not surprisingly, the cheap shot Rays got hit the hardest, with 5 players earning suspensions. The Red Sox had three suspensions handed down. Coco Crisp got 7 games, not a big surprise, but the other two Sox players were more of a surprise. Sean Casey will be suspended for three games, and Jon Lester for a ridiculous five games! Further review of the melee showed that Casey threw a few punches and was an active participant in the battle. Okay, so we can see that punishment. But Jon Lester???? Lester did not join in the fray, which is wise for your starting pitcher, and he was never ejected from the game. Lester hit two batters, Carl Crawford with a curve ball (obviously not intentional), and Iwamura got grazed with an inside pitch. The umpire never saw intent, and no warnings were issued to Lester. So where the heck does MLB come off deciding that Lester needed to be suspended.

All players suspended can appeal their suspension. If Lester appeals, I think he'd have a good chance of reducing it. Now, Lester is a starter, and starters only pitch once every 5 days. They may have preferred to suspend Lester for one game, but for a starter, that does nothing. They simply take the suspension on a day they are not pitching anyway. So, the 5 day suspension is basically a one day suspension for a starter - they are forced to miss their next regular start, but would probably just pitch the next day on an extra day of rest. But, MLB should not have been suspending a pitcher who was not involved in the brawl, and received no warning or ejection from the umpiring crew!

Today, hopefully Manny and Ellsbury can rejoin the team and help generate runs. Tim Wakefield takes the mound, and has been pitching well of late. you never can predict what you'll get out of Wakefield, but you know you'll always get 100% effort, and it is tough to ask for more than that. I still think the Sox need to find a way to get back on the emotional track they had laid out prior to the foolish brawl. Sit Coco, let him spend a day with his therapist and get it all behind him, and let Ellsbury burn up the bases so Manny can drive him in.

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