Tagged: Ortiz

The Red Sox through eight games: What we have learned so far

Eight games into the 2010 season, the Boston Red Sox are exactly even. They’ve won four games, they’ve lost four games, and we’ve seen some early indications of what the rest of the season might look like. So, what have we learned so far?

Well, for one, the Red Sox can hit. This may have been the biggest concern amongst Bostonians, and while the Red Sox certainly have played in a couple of games where they could have used a few more hits, they have shown that they do have the capability to score runs.

In each of their four wins, the Red Sox have scored six or more runs. On the flip side of that, the Red Sox have yet to win a game in which they have scored less than six runs. This, to me, is more surprising than the fact that they can hit. All offseason, we’ve been hearing about “run prevention”, yet the least amount of runs that the Red Sox gave up so far this season came in the final game against the Yankees, when the Yankees left Boston with a 3-1 win.

What does this mean? The pitching staff isn’t quite there yet. Early in the season, it’s really difficult to assess a pitching staff. They have not yet gotten into a full rhythm, and most of what6-papelbon__1271285969_8402.jpg you see in April is not too indicative of what a pitcher will do over the course of the year.

Yet the bullpen does seem to be a concern. Three of the four Red Sox losses were charged to relievers, and they were charged to the Red Sox’s “best” relievers at that. Okajima took the loss after giving up an eighth inning go-ahead run to the Yankees on April 6th. Papelbon gave up two runs in the top of the tenth the next day. Bard gave up a two-run single to Rick Ankiel in the bottom of the eighth inning on April 9th, blowing a 3-2 Red Sox lead.

While this may be yet another example of early season pitching, the Red Sox don’t have much room for error in the bullpen. Ramon Ramirez has been terrible for the Sox. He’s made three appearances in 1.1 innings of work and has earned a 33.75 ERA. Scott Schoenweis has been okay so far, but at 36 years old, he’s a liability to break down at any moment.

Then there is J.D. Drew, hiding in the shadow of David Ortiz’s batting struggles. Drew is batting just .167, garnering four hits in 24 at-bats. Want to know who else has only four hits on the season? Yes, that would be David Ortiz. Drew is second on the team with strikeouts (10) and is tied for second-to-last on the team with seven total bases. Aside from his one home run, Drew has three singles, and none of those singles have helped the team. His two RBIs come from the home run.

But with every negative, there is a positive. At least for me, Jeremy Hermida has been a great surprise. With Jacoby Ellsbury out of the line-up for the rest of the road trip, Hermida has gotten four starts in left field. He’s made his presence felt.

Hermida is 5-for-14 on the season and has six RBIs. Last night, Hermida hit a three-run double in the eighth inning to help propel the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory. As Ellsbury recovers from bruised ribs, and with a new Mike Cameron abdominal strain, Hermida will continue to see action in the outfield, and the Red Sox have to be excited about what he can do.

The Red Sox will be playing in the rubber game of their opening series against the Minnesota Twins today. Tim Wakefield will be on the mound looking for his first victory of the season, and the Red Sox will attempt to improve to over .500. And, only eight games into the season, anything could happen today. 

picture from boston.com

Advertisements

Who would have ever thought we’d get this far?

sox2__1222256186_2492.jpg

I have to admit, when Schilling went down in early February with a season and probably career-ending injury, I didn’t feel like a repeat was in the books. It only went downhill, in terms of injury, from there.


Beckett had back spasms that kept him from starting the season. Ortiz was out six weeks with a wrist injury. Lowell played all of a week before breaking a finger, landing him a four week stint on the DL. Mike Timlin started the season on the DL and never returned to form. Sean Casey and Alex Cora joined Lowell to make it three infielders on the DL in the month of April. Brandon Moss, who had been fantastic early on in the season, had an emergency appendectomy to start the month of May. Buchholz and Matsuzaka overlapped each other on the DL in May. Colon then replaced Buchholz on the DL and also overlapped with Matsuzaka while there. 

Things got a little bit better in July when only David Aardsma and Julio Lugo landed on the the DL, but Manny was being Manny and was single-handedly screwing the Red Sox season at the time. David Ortiz was activated from the DL only days before Manny left. 

Jason Bay helped lift the mood a lot in August, but Beckett, Lowell, Drew, Casey, and Aardsma (had been activated for a short period of time) all went on the DL, David Ortiz was struggling with some clicking in his wrist, Bartolo Colon was unable to pitch well and eventually was suspended by the Red Sox, and the Sox sent a stomach bug around that knocked out Coco Crisp and Kevin Youkilis for multiple days.

In September, the Red Sox tried to regain their health and the pennant, but they still suffered losses of Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell for many games. This team never reached full strength.

It can be said that these injuries were catastrophic, that perhaps without all the struggles this season, the Red Sox could have repeated their World Championship. However, the bench and the reserves that came in to bolster the team and take the Red Sox deep into October were phenomenal.

Jed Lowrie made his presence known on this team. His stellar play at short and his potential at the plate far surpassed that of Julio Lugo, making Lowrie the number one choice at shortstop for the Red Sox.

Mark Kotsay was an August acquisition that enabled the Red Sox to have a strong bat and decent base-runner at first base while Kevin Youkilis played third in place of Mike Lowell. 

Justin Masterson adapted quite well to relief pitching, giving the Sox another bridge to Papelbon in order to aid the waning Okajima. 

Jon Lester turned from third or fourth starter to ace. His no-hitter in May will always shine in the minds of Red Sox fans. He earned AL pitcher of the month honors twice this season. His velocity is way up, his command is stellar, and he’ll play a huge role on this team next year.

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis both stepped up to become the offensive stars of a team where Ortiz was scuffling because of injury and Manny traded himself away. Both of them are very deserving of MVP honors. Dustin hit .326 on the season with 17 homers, 20 stolen bases, and a .992 fielding percentage. Youk hit .312 with 29 home runs, 115 RBIs and .996 fielding percentage at first base. 

Jason Bay stepped in when this team needed him most. He proved to Red Sox Nation that it didn’t take Manny Ramirez to win games and make it to October. He learned how to deal with the Green Monster very quickly and had a walk-off RBI in his first game as a member of the Red Sox.

Manny Delcarmen stepped it up in the bullpen. His hard throwing met better command, improving him to a 72/28 K/BB ratio from a 41/17 ratio last season. When Okajima struggled, Manny Delcarmen became a pitcher the Red Sox could turn to and rely on.

The fact is, with the injuries and surprise performances the Red Sox had this year (re: Okajima, Clay Buchholz), the Red Sox should have never even made the postseason. It would be easy for people to say, hey, they faced a lot of adversity and gave it a good shot, but the team has simply faced too much to overcome this year. The Red Sox never did that. They never said die, they never gave up. They struggled through many rough patches this season but they pulled through. 

Yes, the Red Sox did not win the ALCS this year. They could not come back again. They did, however, make it much farther than they should have. They beat the 100 win Angels easily, then pushed what looked like a hopeless situation into a 7 game thriller. The Red Sox simply lost to a better team in the Tampa Bay Rays. They lost to a team that should and hopefully will be the World Series Champions. 

That said, I’m waiting with bated breath for February.