Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Fine Start

The old mantra goes that the games in September are the ones that count. Which is a total crock. Last time I checked, a win is a win no matter when you get it. Look at it this way; if Boston sweeps that first series in Toronto last April, they'd have won the AL East.


So today's 5-3 win over Tampa to start the year is an important one. Not only because it sets an early tone for the team, but because these April wins tend to matter come September.


The Good


It starts with Josh Beckett's masterful outing. He allowed just one run on two hits over seven innings and struck out ten. You couldn't have asked for a better start from Josh. Not only was his fastball working but he was using his curve to great effect...Dustin Pedroia, the reigning AL MVP, took just two pitches to get his first home run of the year. Mighty Mite went 1-3 and scored two runs...Youk continued his offensive onslaught from last year, going 2-4 with a run scored...eight of nine batters got at least one hit...Jonathan Papelbon worked a clean ninth for his first save of the year...Tek hits a homer!


The Bad


Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-4. It's still early, but you can't be happy with that kind of start from your lead-off batter...The relief pitching was a little rough. Okajima hit Bartlett and walked Iwamura before he was lucky to get Carl Crawford chasing a pitch for an out. Then Masterson came on and two things went wrong. On his first pitch Bartlett and Iwamura stole third and second respectively. That wasn't Masterson's fault; Tito should have been aware that Joe Maddon would try something like that late in the game. But then Masterson hung a pitch out there to Longoria and he drove it to center to drive in two runs. He came back nicely after that, but Masterson looked shaky... No Boston pitcher had a positive ground ball/fly ball ratio. Again, it's early but you hate to see something like that.


Keeping An Eye On...


First-pitch strikes. This is an area Sox pitchers have had issues with from time to time. Beckett had first-pitch strikes or outs to 18 of 26 batters. Okajima was 1-3, Masterson was 3-3 and Papelbon was 1-3. In all, Boston pitchers either got an out from or got ahead in the count of Tampa batters in 23 of 35 batters. That's about 66% of the time, which isn't too bad. If you are getting out in front of 2/3 of your opposition's bats, that bodes well for your team.


Next Game


April 8 / Home against Tampa / Lester vs. Kazmir / 7:05 PM

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