Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Unexpected

Who the eff is Brett Anderson?


I guarantee you that question is being asked by many a Sox fan this morning. The 21-year old lefty from Midland, TX made Boston's batters look ridiculous last night, throwing a complete game two-hitter and leading Oakland to a 6-0 win over the Sox. Boston now stands at 1-3 in their homestand so far, a record that almost no one thought they'd have at this point.


I mean, 3-1 or even 2-2 would have made sense. But to see the Sox throwing away a very winnable homestand of 10 games like this is frustrating. The only good news from last night is that Toronto finally learned to hold onto a lead in the Bronx. So even with the loss, the Sox are still in first place by a game over the Yanks.


But after coming off that great win on Sunday, it was disappointing to see the Sox just fold like that. It's also becoming apparent (to me) that Smoltz may not have enough to be a starter right now. If you look at his last two games, he looks great through three innings. And then come the fourth, things start to come apart a bit. Maybe Smoltz and Masterson should switch places right now until Smoltz is all the way back. I have faith that Smoltz will be an effective starter. I just think he needs a little more time. Coming out of the bullpen every few days for an inning or two may be what he needs.


All that said, Smoltz's control looks very good. He was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes and almost 70% of his pitches were for strikes. I think he just needs a little more time to build his strength all the way back up and a little more time to get in sync with Varitek. Once that comes into line, Smoltz will be good to go.


There really isn't much to say about the batting last night, what with it being a two-hitter. I suppose a "thank you" is in order for Bay and Green, who kept the Sox from the humiliation of suffering a no-hitter at home. But it is more than a little annoying to watch a lineup that can score tons of runs every night hardly get any wood on the ball all night. On the upside, the game only took two-and-a-half hours to play. So the suffering wasn't drawn out for the crowd.


And with the lack of excitement from the game itself, the focus falls more on the return of Nomar Garciaparra to Fenway Park. It marks the first time Nomar has played in Fenway since his trade in 2004 to the Chicago Cubs. There was some conjecture on sports radio about whether he would be cheered of booed, based on how he left Boston (not pleasantly, in case you didn't know).


I thought the argument was insane. Nomar WAS the Red Sox for a number of years. Everyone thought he'd retire in Boston and put up HoF numbers while playing there. The fact it fell apart - and did so in an ugly fashion - was unfortunate. And Nomar bears some blame for that. But that in no way should overshadow, let alone trump, everything else he did here.


The crowd greeted him with a massive standing ovation that went close to two minutes. Nomar earned that applause and kudos to the crowd for responding properly. It's not like he went to the Yankees or tanked games year after year before shoving an old man to the floor. It was good to see him in Fenway again...a little bittersweet, but good.


So the Sox look to turn this homestand around tonight. And if the rain holds off, they have a great chance. Josh Beckett (named to his second All-Star game last week) will face off against Dana Eveland, who is sporting a 7.40 ERA right now. It's a tailor-made chance for the Sox to get it back in gear. Here's hoping they grab it like grim death.

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