Monday, May 19, 2008

Brewers Short on Braun, Swept by Boston

No, the title does not have a misspelling. Milwaukee Brewers' left fielder, Ryan Braun, had an impressive afternoon yesterday, hitting two home runs off of Red Sox ace, Josh Beckett, accounting for 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. Shortstop JJ Hardy also had a 2 run home run, and Prince Fielder contributed with a solo home run of his own. All four home runs came off of Beckett, who was not his usual masterful self, yet amazingly, the Brewers would need more brawn than that if they hoped to beat the Red Sox yesterday, as Boston completed the three game sweep with an 11-7 victory.

David OrtizDavid Ortiz led the way for the Red Sox offense, and with Manny Ramirez' bat acting a little bashful lately, Ortiz had to look for another dance partner. He found one in Dustin Pedroia, and what dance partners they made! In the first inning, Pedroia walked and Big Papi drove a beautiful double into the left center field gap to score Dustin from first base. In the third inning, Pedroia lofted his second home run of the year into the Green Monster seats, and Papi followed with a solo home run of his own around the Pesky Pole in right field. The dance continued in the fifth inning when Pedroia led off with a single and Papi drove his second home run of the day into the right field seats, this one 3 rows behind the visiting bullpen. Between the two of them, Papi and Pedroia drove in 6 runs and scored 5! Quite a 1-2 punch. But, they were not the only ones with offense. Jacoby Ellsbury drove in two with a bases loaded single in the 4th, and Kevin Youkilis hit a 2 run home run in the 7th, his 9th of the year.
Dustin Pedroia
With all that offense, Josh Beckett did not need to be brilliant, and he really was not as bad as the score looked. He went 7 innings, saving a tired bullpen, and struck out nine batters while only walking one. Three of the four home runs he gave up came on curve balls, and the fourth was on a change up. The curve balls all stayed up in the zone, and when they do, they are very vulnerable. The fact that it was the curve ball that got Beckett in trouble is better news for Sox fans than if the home runs came off of ineffective fastballs. But, this is something to keep an eye on. Beckett pitched reasonably well for the Sox in 2006, but a rash of home runs (36) prevented him from having a stellar season. Last year he kept the ball in the park much better, only giving up 17 home runs, and nearly won a Cy Young award. Let's hope this is just a blip on the radar, as he has now given up 9 so far this year.
Josh Beckett
Jacoby Ellsbury, even with his blinding speed, finally got thrown out stealing in the 4th inning on a perfectly executed pitch-out by the Brewers. The pitch-out was the only way they could have caught Jacoby, and it was inevitable that someone would time that play right.

We talked about this briefly yesterday, and at the time I thought it was only a one-time oddity. But, for the second day in a row, Terry Francona pulled Julio Lugo out of the game prior to the 9th inning in favor of Alex Cora, presumably only for defensive reasons. I am struggling to recall a time when a starting shortstop was ever pulled late in a game for defensive reasons only. Starting shortstops become starters because they are good and don't need to be replaced for defensive reasons! Typical defensive substitutes are terrific batters who are playing first base or outfield, but are defensive liabilities (think Jason Giambi), but not your starting shortstop! I am surprised I have not heard anything about this yet, but after you all read this, spread the word and let's get the talk going.
Julio Lugo
Every relief pitcher, other than Hideki Okajima who was resting a mild wrist sprain, was used on Saturday, so the Red Sox called up pitcher Chris Smith from Pawtucket as an insurance measure on Sunday. Van Every was sent back to the minors to make room. Smith did not get in to the game on Sunday, and that is unfortunate as he'll most likely be headed back to Pawtucket shortly. It appears the Red Sox were indeed planning on bringing up Bartolo Colon to pitch on Tuesday to take Clay Buchholz' spot. But, with the rain out Friday, Daisuke Matsuzaka was bumped up to Saturday. If Dice-K takes his next scheduled start on Wednesday, he'd be doing it on only three days rest, something the Sox would rather avoid. So, rather than have only one start to fill, the Sox now have two to fill. So here's the plan...

Justin Masterson will be called up for the second time this year to pitch Tuesday's game, and Bartolo Colon will pitch on Wednesday. Justin will be sent back to the minors after his start to make room for Colon, and it is clear that Smith will be sent back to Pawtucket to make room for Masterson. As long as the plan holds up, get ready for the Bartolo Colon experiment to begin! At least we are going up against the Kansas City Royals, so a little experimentation does not feel as risky as if we were going up against serious contenders, like the New York Yan....wait, strike that, I meant the Tampa Bay Rays!

(Photos Courtesy of Boston.Com)


Suldog said...

Rooster - Celts contest up at my place. Come on over and take your shot!

Peter N said...

Hi Sul..I meet everyone here.
Hello Rooster...if you or ANY of your readers wanted a one-time stop for all the good web sites, click on this. I hope it's OK..I've bookmarked many of what we all click on, in ONE place. Peter


Rooster said...

Will do Sul!

Thanks Peter!

Matt said...

Even though the Sox are playing the Royals they always find ways to play at their level. I hope this year is different from the last few where they always had trouble with KC.

Rooster said...

FW - That is very true. I hate when (historically) they's battle toe to toe with the best teams in the game, and then face the last place team and barely escape, if at all.

That's why they play the games, right?

Matt said...

I take back every thing I said about the Sox having trouble with KC

Peter N said...

FW just saw what I saw, and my comment about Lester's gem? One word...


Thanks Rooster. Oh, what a night for the ages.