Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Phillies Draw First Blood - Pound Red Sox Pitching

Yesterday, I said that Red Sox pitchers will have to prove they can stop a truly potent offense when they face the Philadelphia Phillies, and they would have to do it with a depleted offense. Last night, the Phillies proved they do indeed have a potent offense, and theirs is not depleted. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins lead the way last night. Rollins started the fireworks with a lead off home run, followed 3 batters later by a 2 run shot from Howard. Howard was only just getting warmed up as he homered again in the 3rd inning, feasting on Bartolo Colon's change up both times. Later, in the 6th inning, Howard came up facing Mike Timlin with two outs and a runner on first. Guess what pitch Timlin and Jason Varitek decided to go with? A change up. Guess what Ryan Howard did with that change up? He hit it 395 feet to center field and even a diving Jacoby Ellsbury could not catch up to it. Howard ended up on third base with a triple, and his fourth RBI of the night.

Ryan Howard HomersHow do you stop a guy like that? Well, for one thing, maybe be careful with the change up. Another way is to send a left handed pitcher in to face the left handed hitting Howard. Javier Lopez treated Howard to a steady diet of curve balls in the fifth inning, and struck him out. Hideki Okajima also struck out Howard in the 8th inning. With two strikes, Okajima threw Howard a curve ball, which Howard watch go by for a ball. But, now Okajima had him thinking curve, and the fastball he threw next was swung at and missed. Today's starter for the Red Sox is none other than Jon Lester, a left handed pitcher, who has a decent curve ball. Don't worry fans, Lester is a regular reader of this site (I think), and he now holds the keys to taming Ryan Howard.

JD Drew HomersThe Sox did get Manny Ramirez back in the lineup last night, but they lost Kevin Youkilis to back spasms. One step forward, one step back. Manny was ineffective going 0 for 4, and the only runs the Sox could put on the board were from back to back solo home runs in the 5th inning from Dustin Pedroia and the surging JD Drew. The National League format also hurt the Sox offense last night. In the second inning, the Sox had runners at first and second with two outs, but Bartolo Colon was the next batter. Colon did his best, but struck out swinging to end the threat. Then again, in the 4th inning the Sox were threatening with runners at second and third with two outs, and again Colon stepped up to the plate, and again Colon struck out swinging. Only this time, he not only ended the inning, he also ended his night. He took a huge cut on his final swing, and pulled a muscle in his back. The injury took him out of the game behind 4-0 after only throwing 70 pitches. The prognosis is good though. With physical therapy during the week, the expectation is that Colon will make his next start.

Bartolo Colon StunkThe bullpen had mixed results in total. Javier Lopez and David Aardsma both had strong scoreless outings. Hideki Okajima, coming off of two sub-par performances, pitched an easy 1-2-3 8th inning. But, Mike Timlin, coming off of two strong outings turned in a sub-par inning in the 6th inning, giving up 4 runs on 4 hits and two walks. Timlin and Okajima have both been on a roller coaster, trading good outings with bad ones. Okajima has been on top more often than Timlin, who is struggling to get in a consistent groove. I don't expect either will be used tonight to support Lester. Tonight's bullpen lineup should feature Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, and finally Jonathan Papelbon if a save is needed.

Tonight will be another struggle for the offense with Jamie Moyer on the mound for the Phillies. As a lefty starter, Moyer has confounded the Sox in the past, and even though he's old enough to be Timlin's big brother, he is having a solid year. Hopefully our own lefty starter can keep us in the game, and maybe our offense can break out a bit more than last night.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)

6 comments:

Fenway West said...

Looks like Dice-K will be coming back just in time, I am worried that the injuries are going to start to be major, not these 1-2 week ones the Sox have had recently.

Rooster said...

So far, whenever there has been an injury, we've had good backup! Colon should be able to pitch, but I like it that we have Masterson and Buchholz available when needed.

This is truly the year of injury - luckily most all of them fairly short term (other than Schill).

kansasblogger said...

Those Phillies must really be hitting the Purple to pull off a victory like that... we'll see if the Sox can swing the series around.

Suldog said...

Rooster:

NOW I can get my head back to baseball.

*joy!*

Rooster said...

You said it Sul! What a night!

Rooster said...

Kansas - thanks for stopping by and commenting! The Phillies have a combination of strong batters and a hitter friendly park. They are tough! But, Lester leveled them! Now, can Masterson follow suit?