Sunday, April 10, 2011

Red Sox Game 9: Beckett Starts against an ace and Varitek Francona reading this blog?

 FINALLY!!!!!  The things I say in this blog come true.  I have been saying since the start of the season that Josh Beckett should be the ace of this team.  And I have said that Jason Varitek should be the starting catcher because he is a better pitcher's catcher.  Now today, Becket pitches against C.C. Sabathia, arguably one of the best pitchers in the American League.  And Beckett is pitching against the New York Yankees, again, arguably one of the greatest offenses in all of baseball.  And what do Beckett and Varitek combine for?  8 Innings Pitched, 2 Hits Allowed, 1 Walk, and 10 Strike Outs!  These are the numbers of old Beckett!  I have said for a while now, he should pitch against the aces, he's a huge big game pitcher.  He knew today was important, and that a win was needed, and what did he do?  Pitch a masterful game!  Do you think Lester could do that?  I really don't think so.

And the greatest part is that all parts of the team showed up.  Beckett as the starting pitcher was masterful.  Jonathan Papelbon as the bullpen pitcher was amazing.  And the offense even showed up in the persona of Jed Lowrie getting a 2 - run double in the seventh inning.  Everything is coming together.  Everyone is playing up to their abilities.  This team will now start climbing the rankings.  My biggest hope is that Terry Francona knows that Beckett should pitch against the aces of every team we play.  And since he saw what I have been saying for a while, maybe Francona is actually reading this blog and will do what I say.  Hey Terry!  Doing great now man.  But trust me, stick with Beckett as your ace.  Keep giving the captain, Big Tek the start at catcher.  Maybe Salty is younger, but they're doing the same at the plate and the pitchers are better when he plays. 

But, I digress.  Now we look to the future.  And what is next for the Sox?  Well, it's the worst team in baseball thus far coming in to Fenway.  And I understand we haven't been amazing, but the Rays have been down right awful.  And tomorrow we turn to Dice-K Matsuzaka who had a great game the last time he went out.  Now the team from Boston just needs to keep this run going and show up in the next few games to try to make up some games in the AL East.  If this game showed us anything, it's that the Red Sox are for real, and despite a poor start (and I mean an absolutely atrocious start) to the season, the can now pull themselves out of the gutter, dust themselves off, and show everyone just how great they are.  I cannot wait until tomorrow to see how we play against the Rays.  I will be watching that as intently as I was tonight.  I would just like to see a bit more offense in the way of runs scored.  But I loved how many guys got on base, and I loved the great swings everyone was having, especially Dustin Pedroia who came into this game 1-22 against Sabathia and still had 3 hits and a walk.  I am loving this team and cannot wait until tomorrow to see how they play then.  This season is, without a doubt, salvageable!   Just you wait.  This team will be doing some dancing in about 6 months.  Count on it.  Until tomorrow my faithful readers, stay Out of Bounds!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Red Sox Game 5: We've Officially Matched 1996

For the first time in 15 years, the Red Sox have started 0-5.  And with another loss, comes another aspect of the Boston team that faltered.  This game saw success from the offense and from the starting pitcher Dice-K Matsuzaka.  But it was the bullpen that let the team down in this one.  Scoring 4 runs by the offense should have been enough, since Matsuzaka only allowed 3 runs over 5 innings pitched.  Now, the team would like to see Dice-K go longer into games, but Boston has gotten used to the fact that Dice-K can be a bit wild and may only be able to go 5 innings.  That's why there's a pitcher like Tim Wakefield in the bullpen who can pitch in long relief.  But the bullpen couldn't hold the Cleveland Indians scoreless as they had done the game before.  The bullpen gave up 5 runs in 3 innings, 3 of the runs being allowed by Dennys Reyes, who didn't record a single out.

Despite the poor pitching by the bullpen, I still liked this game.  It shows that it is possible that the starting pitching and offense can work together to get the win.  If the bullpen had not allowed the 5 runs, and had shut out the Indians as they had done before, the Sox would have won 4-3.  We know the bullpen will have struggling days.  All teams have days when the bullpen cannot close the door.  But lately it seems that the starting pitching has been to blame for this 0-5 stretch.  But after 2 straight games of good enough starting pitching to get a win, I can see some great things happening for this team.  I still believe that all the Red Sox need is one win to set them off on the winning path.  And that one win can certainly come in the next game.

Jon Lester faces Fausto Carmona in the next game on Thursday.  Lester is coming off a struggling game where he surrendered three home runs and five earned runs.  But there is a pitcher who struggled even more, and that pitcher guessed it, Fausto Carmona.  Carmona had a horrible Opening Day start against the Chicago White Sox.  He only made it through 3 innings and allowed 10 runs, including 2 home runs.  But Carmona is still a great pitcher.  I hope the Sox don't expect that poor of a start out of him.  I don't think the Sox can expect poor performances out of any team they face right now, not the way they're playing.  However, if Carmona's confidence is shaken, there is a good chance that Boston can jump on that to secure their first win of the season.  I've been saying for a couple days not that I believed the next game will be the one, and being the superstitious man that I am, I don't think I will say that today.  I think for now I will say good luck boys, and I hope you can pull this one out.  I would really like to be able to write a blog about a win, because criticizing this team is sure getting boring for me.  So, until next time readers, let's all root for the Sox to pull this next one out so we can all have a party...Out of Bounds! (Shameless blog name plug, I know.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Red Sox Game 4: Different Game, Same Result

The Red Sox are 0-4 for the first time since 1996 when they started the game 0-5 and finished the season 85-77, third place in the AL East and 7 game behind the New York Yankees.  This game however, gave me some hope.  Unlike the previous three series when the pitching was to blame, the pitching was actually decent enough to get the win.  Josh Beckett went 5 inings, allowing 3 runs while the bullpen finished the game off without allowing a run.  Red Sox pitching also combined for 12 strikeouts.  A game like this is exactly what this pitching staff needed.  However, it was a let down that the offense could not give Beckett any run support.

The Red Sox only got 1 run on 4 hits against a pitcher who is in his first full season in the majors. And Dustin Pedroia got 2 of the 4 hits.  Ellsbury, Crawford, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Ortiz, Lowrie, Scutaro, and Varitek all went without a hit.  The Sox need to find a way to combine great offense with great pitching.  In the four losses, the first two had great offense, the third game had poor pitching and hitting, and the fourth game saw great pitching.  Now we will see if the team can carry the great pitching and find their stroke on offense again so that the team can start racking up the wins. 

I do not believe that the Red Sox will have as poor a season as they did in 1996, even if they don't win their next game and match the start to that season at 0-5.  I think they will still have over 90 wins, and possibly around 95, but something needs to change.  This team is not combining great games as I mentioned earlier from both pitching and hitting.  My biggest fear is that the other starters on the team will see the poor performances in Texas and then the great performance out of Beckett who still could not get a win.  I am afraid it will cause uncertainty among the starters. 

So, what we really need now is for Dice-K Matsuzaka to go out in game 2 of this series and pitch as well as Beckett did if not better and get him some run support.  I truly believe that all this team needs is 1 win.  Once they get that first win, it will be the spark that lights the rocket that will be this team.  And we need a win going into this weekend.  If we face the Yankees with an 0-6 record, we will end that series 0-9.  They have been too good early in this season.  Boston needs to be able to look at their record and see a number larger than 0 in the win column before they host New York or they will not be able to win, even at home.  I still have hope for this team.  I will never give up on this team, but I understand other members of the Nation faltering after this start.  But look for this team to take off soon.  We know the offense can do well as we saw at the start of the season, and we know the pitching can do well as we just saw in this game.  Once it all comes together, this team will be unstoppable!  Until next time my faithful followers, stay Out of Bounds!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Red Sox Game 3: Pitching Improves, But the Offense Drops Off

Well, the Red Sox have officially opened the season on their worst opening since 1996 when they started the season 0-5.  After the big moves that were made in the off season and all the hype on this team, I'd say a clean sweep by the Texas Rangers is the last thing anyone expected.  But let's look to the final game of the series in particular.  Once again, the pitching wasn't great, but four of the five Texas runs were scored on solo home runs.  So with the exception of 4 bad pitches, all by Clay Buchholz, the pitching was reasonable.  But those pitches still happened, so the pitching staff has to figure out why so many home runs are being hit.  And Papelbon still looked shaky.  Allowing 1 run, loading the bases as well.  The upside is he still struck out 3, but his control just wasn't there.  I still want to see a game with Jason Varitek catching.  I know the blame cannot be put on Saltalamachia, but I want to see how a pitcher's catcher the caliber of Varitek does behind the plate.  If he succeeds, we might realize what's going on.  If the Sox still fail, there's clearly a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.  Because as I said for the past two games, offense only helps the pitching, and it's the pitching that wins the games.  So the Sox starters need to come out and pitch the way they can.  But, the offense is not without some blame for this last loss.

I realize that it's difficult for the offense to produce runs when you're already down so much, but with the offense that the Sox have, there should never be a game where they only have 1 run.  Hell, there shouldn't be a game where this team doesn't score at least three runs.  With a healthy line up, with the names on this team, scoring only 1 run is unaccepted.  Runs need to be scored to support the pitching.  Bucholz would feel much more confident in the game if there were runs on the board for the Sox.  For a pitcher to go out there, look at the scoreboard and see a goose egg on the board, it's got to be discouraging.  So this game saw weaknesses in all facets of the game, and not just the pitching.  And now the Sox have a day to think about the sweep.  I'm hoping that this will get the blood boiling and get them to go out and play the way they can. 

Now tomorrow, Boston sends out the work horse.  The man who I have said for almost a month now should be the ace of the staff.  Josh Beckett.  I am looking forward to seeing him go out and hopefully dominate the way he did in his final pre season start.  If he does that, and I am willing to guarantee right now that he will, maybe Terry Francona will finally realize the mistake he has made and fix his starting rotation.  Also, the Sox are going against a pitcher tomorrow who has only ever pitched in 12 games, and while he is 6-4 in those 12 games, his ERA is 4.56, a high enough ERA that the Red Sox should be able to take advantage of him for their first win of the season.  But if Beckett goes out and struggles, people are going to start questioning the rotation.  Fans will look to someone to blame.  And the finger cannot be pointed at the whole rotation.  The blame will be put on the new pitching coach, Curt Young.  But I really do not see Beckett struggling, and I see Boston coming out with a huge win in this one.  So, until tomorrow when I will hopefully have a winning blog to write, stay right where you belong: Out of Bounds!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Red Sox Game 2: Offense Still Thrives, But Pitching Blows It Again

Another day, another display of how offense only supports pitching, while it's pitching that wins games.  Two games now, two poor performances by the starting pitchers of the Boston Red Sox, and two losses compared to no wins on the books.  I mean, the offense this year has looked great in two games.  A-Gonz goes 3 for 5, and the man who best shows the early season slumping, David Ortiz, hits a home run and drives in three RBIs, while also taking the record for most RBIs for a Designated Hitter (a tip of the cap to Mr. Ortiz).  And our lead off hitter, THE LEAD OFF HITTER, drills a two run bomb.  In a game with decent pitching, five runs of offensive support would definitely be enough to get the win.  But two poor pitching performances lead the Sox to losses in these games that should have been won. 

It's been about three weeks now since Terry Francona announced the decision of his pitching rotation.  Lester being number one and Lackey being number two.  Now, I doubted Lester as the ace from the start, but I was growing to the idea.  But Lackey as the number two?!  When we have pitchers like Bucholz and Becket on the same rotation?!  Lackey should be the number 4.  Becket should be the one, Lester the two, and keep Bucholz where he is.  This team will not succeed with the rotation order we have now.  Becket will win half the games, maybe even more than half against the aces of other pitching staffs.  That's more than Lester or anyone else on the Sox staff will gain against ace pitchers.  But Lester will see great success against number 2 pitchers, and Bucholz against number threes, and Lackey against fours and Matsuzaka against fives.  Sure, Becket may only be a .500 pitcher at the end of the year, but the other four pitchers wouldn't have any better success, but will have success against the pitchers they match up against.

Now everyone I have proposed this rotation to tells me the same thing. "Becket is worn out," "He's not good enough to be the ace," "Lester's our number 1," "Francona knows what he's doing."  Well you know what?  Lester's not ready.  He proved that on Friday.  He got out pitched by C.J. Wilson.  If he had pitched the way he did yesterday in today's game, he would have matched up great against Lewis, and probably would have gotten the win.  And Becket is a big game pitcher.  He would have stepped up his game and pitched great I'd bet, good enough to match up against Wilson anyway.  And for those of you who disagree, let me know, but I know I'm right on this.  Becket may not be pitching the way he did in 2007, but he's still good enough to go toe to toe against most aces.  I don't know if I can say the same about Lester.  And Lackey!!  Lackey may have been great in the past.  But not anymore.  He's not an ace, or a two, possibly a three.  But as a four he would be great.  Francona needs to recognize his players and who they will match up against.  You think Lester or Lackey will match up well enough against C.C. Sabathia from the Yankees?  No way.  But Becket would. 

The Sox offense is good enough to win these games.  But we need the proper pitching match ups to make sure we're not getting blown out like the last two games.  I mean, 21 runs allowed in 2 games?  What offense is good enough to make up for that?  There isn't one in baseball, that's for sure.  Now, tomorrow Bucholz goes out there against the Rangers number 3.  That's a good match up.  A great match up.  The Red Sox will probably win the next game.  My only hope is that Tito will recognize that and realize his match ups.  Use the day off on Monday to re work the rotation so that it works.  Skip Beckett's next start and just have Matsuzaka pitch on Tuesday against the Indians.  Then Becket pitches the next game, and Lester, then Bucholz, then Lackey and then Dice-K again.  Then all is well in the world again.  Seriously, I'm still waiting on Francona's e-mail address so I can send this to him, because he will benefit so much from it.  That's all for today my Out of Bounds readers.  Hopefully tomorrow I get to write my first blog for a winning game.  Until then, make sure you stay Out of Bounds!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Red Sox Game 1: A-Gonz and Ortiz Dominate, Lester and Bard Struggle

So today was Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox against a team that they should have beat, the Texas Rangers.  And I don't want to hear, "Oh, Eamonator, the Rangers are the defending AL Champs, they have the defending AL MVP on their team."  Not the same team!  Cliff Lee is gone.  Whether you want to admit it or not, his pitching against the Yankees alone got them that AL Pennant.  And Hamilton getting the MVP?!  To me it's a joke.  The guy missed the last month and a half of the regular season last year.

But this post isn't about the Rangers, and how they probably wont even get a Wild Card spot this year.  This is about how the Sox dropped one they should have gotten.  I mean, Adrian Gonzalez comes out in his first regular season game as a member of the Red Sox and goes 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs!!  That's exactly what we needed from him this season!  And David Ortiz!!  I mean, c'mon!  Last year Red Sox Nation waited 2 months for his first home run.  This year, he steps up in the eight inning of a one run game and jacks one out?!?!  This should have been a game we would win.  Our offense performed the way we wanted them to.  Ellsbury and Pedroia got on a combined 5 times, and Youk and A-Gonz knock in 4 RBIs. That's the way we need this offense to run.  We all know that the reason this game was lost was two people: Jon Lester and Josh Bard.

Lester never seemed to be himself out there.  I mean, jeez.  He had never let up more than 2 home runs in a single game in his whole career, and the first time he's named to an Opening Day start he lets up three?!  Lester showed that, much like Ortiz the last two years, he struggles in April.  Now I realize that he will be better.  Maybe not the rest of April or most of May.  But starting in June, Lester will perform the way we need him to.  However, in the early months we need a work horse to lead this rotation.  We need someone who is used to being the big name in the Boston rotation.  We need someone who has pitched in big games, in Opening Day games, to lead this team.  Jon Lester is not that yet.  We need Josh Becket to lead this rotation.  I know he struggled most of the Spring.  But I would have taken him today over Lester 100 out of 100 days this season.  But you know what?  Despite his poor pitching and poor control, Lester pitched well enough to win this game.  Lester let up 5 runs and struck out none in this one, no where near the numbers we expect of him.  But in the middle of the eighth inning, we were tied 5-5.  There is one man, and possibly a second, who is to blame for the late loss in this one.  Those two men are Josh Bard and Jarod Saltalamachia.

Josh Bard is known in Boston for one thing...his fast ball.  This man can throw 98 MPH!!  Do you have any idea how many guys can do that??  Very, very few! If he can throw like that, he should be throwing 98 MPH balls with the occasional breaking ball.  But, the thing that started the four run eighth inning rally was that walk!  On 3 and 2, if you can throw 98 MPH, throw it!!!  Blow it past the hitter.  Don't throw a slider that's going to be 8 inches outside the plate!!  But I don't know who to blame.  Did Bard make that decision?  He's real young so my thinking is no.  I'm thinking that Jarod Saltalamachia made the call and Bard agreed.  I think that Salty is too young himself to control a young guy like Bard.  That's what makes me want to blame Salty for this loss.  He needs to realize that the rotation is full of proven veterans, guys who can win games even without a catcher.  Our bullpen, however, needs to be controlled.  That is where "El Cap-i-tan" Jason Varitek comes into play.  I have never seen a catcher control pitchers like Varitek can.  He's caught four no hitters!!  Let me repeat that.  He's caught four no hitters!!  The Red Sox bullpen is full of guys who are either on their way up to their prime, or are the twilight of their careers.  You need a catcher who can go out there and tell the pitcher, "Throw the Fast Ball!  No, you don't wave off my pitch, you throw the Fast Ball or nothing!!" Varitek is that kind of catcher.  So here's my plan, and I want to send this to Theo Epstein or Terry Francona, so please, if you know their phone numbers or e-mail addresses, let me know so I can tell them this.  Saltalamachia catches for the starters (even Becket who has said he is better with the captain), and Varitek catches for the bullpen.  The starters don't need someone to control them, so a young catcher works there.  The bullpen needs a control catcher, and there isn't a single better catcher when it comes to calling pitches than Jason Varitek.  Don't argue with it, it's a fact not an opinion.  So come on! Red Sox