Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Red Sox Crush Orioles

September is crunch time, and the crunching sound you've been hearing so far is the Orioles being crushed underfoot by the Red Sox. Last night's match up seemed to strongly favor the Red Sox, but these things don't always play out the way you expect. However, last night's game did indeed play out the way we expected. Orioles' starter, Radhames Liz, is simply not sharp enough with his control to contain a lineup like Boston's. As a result, the Sox jumped all over him in the 3rd and 4th innings to give Jon Lester a more than comfortable 10-1 lead. The Sox would add some insurance in the latter innings to take a 14-2 victory.

The Sox have taken the first two games of the series with one more win needed to sweep. In the last two series against the White Sox and Yankees, the Sox also snatched the first two games, only to drop the third game each time. Daisuke Matsuzaka will try to reverse that trend this afternoon.

Jon LesterLike I said yesterday, we need to keep an eye on Jon Lester to make sure he does not burn out in his first full season. Lester pitched well yesterday, but not great. He only allowed one run in the 5 innings he pitched, but he surrendered 6 hits and 4 walks. That helped get his pitch count up to 99 by the end of 5 innings. Thankfully, the Sox had a 10-1 lead by that point, and Terry Francona made the right move by taking Lester out at that point. If the game had been against the Rays, and the score was 1-0, that choice would not have been so easy to make. So, the scoring barrage truly helped allow the Sox to sit Lester so early in the game, while still giving him the win.

The bullpen did a nice job of wrapping things up. It was nice to see rookies, Chris Smith and David Pauley fare well. There is simply too much offense to go into any details. The Sox had 20 hits and 8 walks, and no one was left out. Dustin Pedroia batting in the cleanup spot again and drove the nail into the Orioles' coffin with a 4th inning three run home run, amazingly, his 16th of the year. Pedroia also has 188 hits this season, and I'm watching to see him top 200, which is quite a milestone.

Dustin PedroiaIf you have been wondering how to treat the Yankees-Rays series, I'll tell you. You hope for the Yankees to win, period. Notice I said "hope" and not "cheer for". There's no reason you need to like the Yankees, and no reason to show them any love. However, if the Yankees beat the Rays, and the Sox win on the same night (which is something you ARE cheering for), then the Sox gain critical ground on first place, while the Yankees get no closer. This is what happened last night. The Yankees beat the Rays, and the Sox won. The Sox are now 4 games behind Tampa Bay, while the Yankees are still stuck 7 games behind Boston for the Wild Card. Let's hope for the same thing today!

The Sox' injury situation seems to be improving just in time. Tim Wakefield has already returned, and the Red Sox confirmed that Josh Beckett will pitch on Friday against Texas, although he will be limited to as few as 75 pitches in that first outing as a precaution. Mike Lowell is also nearing a return, and could get into the lineup during the Texas series as well. Finally, Bartolo Colon is expected to make one more rehab start and the Red Sox hope to use him next weekend when they host a double header against Toronto. With rosters expanded, no moves would need to be made to use Colon, and Colon would help prevent the double header from messing up the starting rotation. The Sox, with the return of Beckett, have a full starting rotation again, so I see Colon helping by being able to give key playoff pitchers some rest as the season begins to wind down.

So, let's hope for another productive day against the Orioles, and a Yankee win over the Rays.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)

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