Monday, August 10, 2009

Down...But Not Out

The sweep is finished. The Yankees kicked Boston's butt. Hard. On the face of things, the best thing that can be said is that the Sox weren't shut out in three straight games.


But now is not the time for the gnashing of teeth and wailing to the heavens. Not by a long shot.


Yesterday's 5-2 loss stings, primarily because for a brief moment it looked as if Boston may pull the win out on the back of V-Mart's two-run blast in the eighth. But then Daniel Bard learned what pressure is all about and cracked. It happens. The kid has a bright future and won't respond that way again. But a loss is a loss.


Now Boston is looking up at a 6.5 game deficit with New York. They lead the Rays by 1.5 games in the AL East for second but have fallen into a tie with Texas for the wild card. They have lost six straight games. Things look grim. Boston fans all over are calling a close to the 2009 season. They are blaming Tito and/or Theo for the losses*. It's a miracle that a chasm hasn't opened between Yawkey and Lansdowne, swallowing Fenway Park whole, if you listen to these people. And if you are one of these people, you need to do two things.


  • Take a deep, cleansing breath.
  • Shut up.

I am not here to blow sunshine up your ass. The Sox are in a bind right now and no one can say different. But things are not as bleak as some would have you believe.


Consider the starting pitching we got in this series. Setting aside the Smoltz debacle, here are the three lines:


  • Beckett: 7.0 IP | 4 H | 0 R | 2 BB | 7 K
  • Buchholz: 6.0 IP | 6 H | 2 R | 5 BB | 3 K
  • Lester: 7.0 IP | 5 H | 1 R | 0 BB | 7 K

That is three quality starts in the Bronx. Buchholz actually pitched a decent game. Yes, the Yankees countered with some amazing pitching. But Boston's starters did their job. Getting Wakefield back will make things even better.


Victor Martinez started producing in the last two games. He put Boston ahead last night with his 17th homer of the year. Combine that with some good numbers against Baltimore and Tampa, and Boston definitely has found that bat they needed.


Jacoby Ellsbury has been incredibly effective as the leadoff batter. Even with last night's 0-fer, Ellsbury has been productive leading off over the last 15+ games. As I stated the other day, that problem has been solved for the Sox as well.


Boston's problem lies in the middle of their lineup. And until Drew, Bay and Ortiz can start to hit with any kind of regularity, Boston will have issues. One would think that sooner or later at least one of them will start to hit. Basic math almost demands that it has to happen. If not, then let's give Josh Reddick an extended tryout in right field. Hell, he's going to be playing there sooner or later as it is.


So the Sox limp home for three games with the Tigers before going back on the road for a super-critical three game set with the Rangers. But here is something else to consider as Yankee fans strut around and the doom-sayers tell us Boston's season is over.


1978.


On August 10, 1978 the Red Sox were in first place ahead of New York by 7.5 games. As late as August 20, they were up by 8.5 games.


Anyone feel like recounting how that year ended?


If there are any two fan bases in baseball that should appreciate the concept that no lead is safe, it should be the fans in Boston and New York.


The Yankees have 51 games left. The Red Sox have 52 games left. The teams go head-to-head six more times.


This ain't over yet. Not by a long shot.


Game on.


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* One of the things I want to do at some point is a retrospective on Theo's moves over the years. I think he deserves more heat that he gets for not having decent backup plans. As for Tito...the man gave us two titles in five years. Quit acting like spoiled, entitled Yankee fans and be thankful he's our manager. He isn't going to be perfect; no one is. But you whining babies are the same knuckleheads who wanted to fire him after the Sox missed the post-season in 2006. And what was it that happened in 2007? So chill out.

4 comments:

Aviv said...

By no means is the division wrapped up, but before the Sox can point to 1978, they've got to start winning and beating the good team. 0-9 in series vs. team over .500 since the break ... and there are more coming for the Sox.

Dave said...

Oh, no arguments there. The Sox have shown no ability to beat a winning team in the second half thus far. But all the pieces are there. They just need to start having them work at the same time.

Matthew in Hoboken said...

Dave, if there's a difference in air of entitlement these days between Yankees fans and Sox fans, I can't see it.

I'm not saying Yankees fans have lost it. Just that Boston fans have it, too.

Or maybe it's just that when you start winning regularly, you start to enjoy it, and relishing it makes you look entitled to everyone else.

Dave said...

Matt, that's my point pretty much. Too many Boston fans are getting that "We should win every year" mindset...which is insane. No team can do that these days. And if that is your expectation, then you will be regularly disappointed.

What I want from Boston is a team that is consistently competitive and can compete for a title in any given year. We have that now. So while I will be bummed when Boston doesn't win a title (which is fine) I don't carry that into "We need to fire the manager" and more assorted claptrap. That way lies madness...and a lifetime of calling WEEI.