Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Red Sox J's Combine To Defeat Chicago

The Red Sox J's? That's right! The Red Sox J's did it with pitching (Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon) and by driving in runs (JD Drew, Jed Lowrie, Jacoby Ellsbury). The only J who did no damage was Jason Varitek as Jason Bay did manage a single and scored a run. So, where'd Theo get this obsession with players whose name starts with a 'J'?

With Manny gone, you can see how different the lineup is turning out to be. Jason Bay is a nice player, but not a 1 for 1 replacement for Manny's bat. Thus, we are seeing Tito experiment a bit with how to generate the most power in the middle of the lineup. Who would have thought Kevin Youkilis would end up as a leading candidate to bat fourth in the Red Sox lineup? But, last night, with Big Papi giving his wrist a rest (imagine Michael Palin as Pontius Pilate reading that line), we got to see a new lineup. Not sure exactly why Coco Crisp took the leadoff spot, but this lineup will not put fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. However, it is a pretty solid lineup, top to bottom, that can get in a groove and chip away, like last night.

JD DrewWhite Sox starter, John Danks, looked brilliant last night carrying a no hitter into the 7th inning. However, Kevin Youkilis managed to break up the no-no with a broken bat flare to center. Later that inning, the first J struck when JD drew laced a beautiful double to deep left-center, scoring Youk from second and Lowell from first. That put the Sox up 2-1, and would be all the runs they would need to win. But, just to be safe, the Sox scored some insurance runs in the 9th inning when Jed Lowrie doubled in two more runs, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Lowrie.

Josh BeckettThe J's did a good job pitching too. In particular, Josh Beckett did exactly what the Sox needed. He pitched sharp, conserved his pitches, and went deep into the game. Josh did not walk a single batter, and the 7 hits he allowed were spread out across the game. Danks came out sprinting, but did not have enough in the tank to finish. Beckett took a more steady pace and outlasted his opponent. Unfortunately for Papelbon, there was no save opportunity by the time his turn came around, but I'm sure he did not mind simply securing the win with a 1-2-3 ninth inning of work. Nothing like a match up of two terrific players to end the game when Ken Griffey stepped up to face Papelbon. Perhaps if this was a 25 year old Griffey, the results may have been different. But, this is Papelbon's time, and Papelbon got Griffey to easily fly out to Ellsbury in right field to earn a 2-2 split with the White Sox in the 4 game series.

Many questions remain on how this season will turn out. Can the Yankees turn things around in time to avoid missing the playoffs altogether? The Rays are proving everyone wrong by lasting on top deep into August. But, can they survive the loss of both Evan Longoria AND Carl Crawford to injuries? While it seemed the Red Sox had more starting pitching than anyone would know what to do with, suddenly they are looking a little short. With Tim Wakefield on the DL and Clay Buchholz pitching like a New York Yankee prospect these days, can Bartolo Colon return in time to save the rotation? Will Justin Masterson get flipped back to a starting role?

And what about tonight's starter, Charlie Zink? Will his knuckleball be as effective as Tim Wakefield's, or will he have to rely on a Zinkerball? (you heard it here first). Zink should be interesting. He does feature a knuckleball, but his fastball is a reasonable 88 miles an hour (as opposed to Wakefield's 80 mph offering). He has the potential to keep hitters off balance and turn in a solid outing. However, being his first major league start, can he calm those stomach butterflies enough to let his talent shine? I'll be in the crowd tonight (hopefully not hiding under a poncho in a downpour), so I'll let you know how he looked tomorrow.

It's good to be back - now the push for the finish!


Fenway West said...

welcome back...nice line about Buchholz pitching like a Yankee prospect.

Rooster said...

I couldn't resist! Glad you got the joke!

Suldog said...

Welcome home!

I've got to tell you, the more I see of the Angels, the more I think the Sox will not get by them, no matter where they end up in the East. I know, I know - the Angels have been the Sox playoff patsies for some time now. But, this year, they look STRONG.

Rooster said...

I'm with you on that, Sul. You know, every team has to get over their own personal hrudle eventually. The Patriots had to finally get past the Dolphins to move forward, the Sox had to get past the Yankees, and the Angels need to get past the Sox. It happens eventually, and maybe this is their year to do it?

That said, there are a lot of games left. Remember the huge winning streak the Rockies were on last year? Just becuase you look unbeatable, does not mean you can win it all.

Anonymous said...

excellent Monty Python reference! Definitely made me smile...

Soxlosophy said...

fwee wodahwick!