Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dead Fish

The Marlins came into Boston last night and got summarily smacked around by the Sox. The 8-2 final score didn't really do justice to how dominant the Sox were in the game.

Every Boston starter except for Mike Lowell had at least one hit. Seven of the nine starters scored at least one run. Tim Wakefield only allowed two runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked only one batter. And he was effective enough that the Sox were able to pull him after six innings.

Don't discount the importance of that move. In the past couple of years, Wakefield has run into injury trouble as the year progresses. The knuckleball delays that onset, but the wear-and-tear adds up regardless. By having a solid bullpen, Francona can lift Wakefield, still get him the much deserved win and save him for the full season.

And that was a deserved win. Wakefield's knuckler was hopping last night, drawing foul ball after foul ball (19 in all) and getting those grounders. Wakes is now 9-3 on the year, the second highest win total in the AL. If it wasn't for his ERA at 4.39, he'd be getting some All-Star buzz. As it is, if Wakes can get to 10 or 11 wins before the break, I don't see how he can't be given a slot at the game. That's how good he has been for the Sox this year.

The bullpen was back in form, with Delcarmen, Saito and Bard each taking an inning. Bard has bounced back nicely from that disastrous inning in Philly. He needed only 10 pitches to close out the ninth. I don't know about that beard he's growing, but the kid is throwing serious heat. He hit triple digits at least once last night. And Saito looked good in the eighth. I wonder how much of his appearance was about the game and how much was about showcasing him for interested teams. Saito has been mentioned in more than one trade rumor. And, like Brad Penny, his value is approaching its maximum. Saito is 39 and while I don't him traded just because he can be, if the Sox have to fill a hole then Saito would be a valuable asset and an expendable one.

However, it looks like one of those holes is steadily closing. David Ortiz continued his comeback last night with a 2-3 outing, including both a solo shot and a two-run single in that fantastic fourth inning. For the month of June Ortiz is now batting .333 and has an astounding 1.123 OPS. Batting coach Dave Madigan says Ortiz altered his stance, moving his hands up and away from his body a little more. This gives him more time to generate power coming into the swing without sacrificing his timing. This is what Ortiz needed to do; find a new stance and swing that compensated for his recent injuries. And it seems to be working quite well.

And what wrap-up would be complete without talking about Nick Green? Last night he was 2-4 with a pair of RBI. He started a nice double play in the second to squash what was looking like a dangerous inning for the Marlins. And his fielding overall seems to be improving. He is making it harder and harder to justify anything less than giving Lugo the boot when Jed Lowrie comes back to the team. Nick Green has exceeded expectations so far this year by a wide margin.

Tonight Brad Penny goes against Andrew Miller. Penny is coming off that awesome performance against the Yankees and hopefully he'll keep that going tonight against a lineup that has collectively struck out more than any other team in the majors. Andrew Miller was part of the vaunted pitching youth in Detroit back in 2006-2007 but was shipped off in the mega-deal that off-season that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers from Florida. He's 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA on the year.

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