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