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Blog Entry

Red Sox Recap 4-9-08

Posted on: April 9, 2008 11:22 pm
 
 The Red Sox lost to the Tigers tonight, giving the Tigers the first win of the season, and the first loss for the Sox on U.S. soil. Some thoughts on today’s game:

Jon Lester was moving through the Tiger’s lineup with few bumps until the fourth inning. He had only given up one hit and two walks through the first three frames. He was getting ahead of batters early, and attacking the strike zone with his two seam fastball that set up a very effective cut fastball and curveball. His fastball was consistently at 93 MPH, even as he approached 100 pitches. He got in trouble when he tried to assert the fastball too often before going to his off-speed stuff. His cutter is probably his best pitch, but he tried to aim pitches to Jose Guillen and Miguel Cabrera but walked both in the fourth, and likewise with Marcus Thames, who connected on an inside fastball for a two run home run. Lester didn’t pitch that poorly; he just needs to mix up his pitches more on the second time around the lineup otherwise hitters will pick up on his stuff.

Mike Lowell left the game after making a diving stop on a ground ball in the first inning. Lowell landed awkwardly and jammed his glove hand into the ground before firing the ball to first to put out Ivan Rodriguez. He had x-Rays taken and they were negative. Because Sean Casey has done such a nice job filling in at the plate so far this season, collecting two hits today, the Sox will not rush Lowell back. He had injury problems with his hand in the past, and the injury is on his left hand, which applies most of the pressure with his swing. Look for Kevin Youkilis and Alex Cora to get some playing time at third until Lowell gets back, probably around this weekend.

It does seem like it is a reoccurring topic on this recap, but it is the last roster spot not yet determined. Both Bryan Corey and Javier Lopez did nothing to enhance their résumés to stay with the team, while David Aardsma looked sharper than he has in recent performances. Mike Timlin has pitched very successfully in Pawtucket and he is ready to come back, so the decision will be made soon. The Sox are convinced that they need another left hander in the bullpen because Hideki Okajima has a determined role as the set-up guy and can not be used for situational spots. The balance seems slightly in Corey’s favor, but the series with the Yankees’ will likely decide the spot.

Jacoby Ellsbury was on base twice tonight with two walks, one coming with the bases loaded to drive in a run. He has started off slow, and is batting under .200, but it is clear that the Sox have no intention of sitting him down for longer than one game at a time, and that he will continue to be the Sox starting center fielder. They will continue to shop Coco Crisp, who is very unhappy to be platooning with Ellsbury right now, and until they can get a deal with him, it will likely be that Ellsbury will play about 60 percent of the games, and never start against left handed pitchers. He does not have his timing down at the plate, and is trying too hard to provide the offensive spark he did for the club last year. It may take him until the end of April to get his swing together, but it will be worth the wait.

Look for this recap tomorrow as the Sox take on the Tigers in the rubber game of this series. (To view previous recaps, follow this link). 
Keep the Faith

Comments

Since: Aug 16, 2007
Posted on: April 10, 2008 10:14 am
 

Red Sox Recap 4-9-08

Thanks for the praise, it makes it easier to keep posting. I agree with a lot of things you are saying. About the starting pitching, yes the Sox will be carried by Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, while Tim Wakefield will be a big question mark really until we can see a bigger picture of his work.

I wouldn't say that Jon Lester looks mediocre right now. He had a rough first start in Japan, but an excellent one last time. Yesterday, he was pitching more agressively and got away from his game plan in the fourth and got rocked for it. And you are right to expect Lester to ve over .500, I'd say around 12-14 wins. This is the same pitcher who started the season with a career 11-2 record, so he is doing something right. As for Clay Buchholz, it is too early to judge him after just the one start. Tonight's start will be very telling, as it is at home and against a struggling team. He needs to pitch more effectively than he did in Toronto, and keep his off-speed stuff down in the zone.

Alex Cora has played third, and can handle all of the infield positions, even first. It has been a trend of the Sox recently that they have had trouble with the middle infielder spots, for example with Julio Lugo struggling all of last year and Dustin Pedroia starting the year off cold, while Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell have shored up the corner spots over the last few years very well. Also remember that Eric Hinske could play both first and third, so Cora's main role was to help out up the middle. Look for Sean Casey to play first tonight with Youkilis at third, and tomorrow Cora getting the start at third and Youkilis back at first. Cora always starts the year off hot, and he has yet to make an out this season, reaching base all six times he has had a plate appearance. I would be surprised if Lowell is not playing by Saturday, Sunday at the latest, and it seems that unless he has a severe set back, he will not go on the DL.

I will also agree with you about the bullpen issue. David Aardsma has the best stuff and he deserves to stay, but this organization is strange about these decisions sometimes. Terry Francona will not forget that Bryan Corey was on the World Series roster, and that they called up Javier Lopez twice last season because they wanted a lefty in the bullpen. And with Mike Timlin, you are getting a pitcher that is better, even at 42, than the three we are debating. Plus he is experienced, something that the Sox bullpen has missed. But he has pitched over 1,000 games, an incredible number, and look for him to be a sixth inning man and occasionally help out Manny Delcarmen with the seventh.

Hope this helps.
Keep the Faith.




Since: Jan 7, 2008
Posted on: April 10, 2008 12:37 am
 

Red Sox Recap 4-9-08

Well... these are the highs and lows that make for the roller-coaster ride of an 162 game baseball season.

You knew the Tigers weren't going to keep losing, but you thought for a second the Sox were turning things around.

This much we may already know...

This year's Red Sox team will go as far as Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka will take them... they are our aces.

We know what we get from them. Unfortunately, you can't say the same for Tim Wakefield. He could be every bit as good as he was last season for us, or he could be mediocre at best like in previous seasons.

Speaking of mediocre... that's exactly how Jon Lester and Clay Buckholz look right now. They seem to be hurting the team more than helping them right now. That being said... I have more faith in Lester that he will be a .500 (or better) pitcher when the season is over. I can't say the same for Clay as the last time he impressed me was the no-no.

Cora playing third??? That's an interesting prospect. I was not aware that he was capable of doing that... I would have just assumed Youk would take over the duties at the hot corner if Lowell will be out for some time, with Casey filling in as an every day player at first for the BoSox.

But let's just hope we are talking days or weeks, and not months, before the Sox start hitting on all cylinders... pitchers included. (On the local news, they reported Bartolo Colon's injury as a "strained love handle"... too funny.)

And to put this out there, I am intrigued by David Aardsma... I believe he has the tools to become the next Mike Timlin for us... his pitches have great movement. But I'm not sure what Timlin brings to the club anymore, being an older pitcher coming back from injury, and I already dread seeing Corey on the mound for us... he needs to go down to AAA, and fast.

Keep up the good work with the game-by-game blogs... and I'll keep on reading them. Good stuff.



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