Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gutsy Win

All the pieces were in place for the Sox to lose last night's game in Toronto.

Their second baseman had to leave to be with his wife for the birth of their son. Their starting catcher had to be scratched at the last moment with neck spasms. Their pitching coach had to leave the team to tend to a family matter. And all that threw their starting pitcher's game-day schedule into turmoil.

Yes, all the pieces were in place for a loss. But instead the Sox reached down and gutted out a 10-9 win. Combined with Texas losing to Minnesota last night, the Sox are back in a tie for the wild card slot.

Everything started off great last night. The Sox manhandled Ricky Romero to the tune of six runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings. David Ortiz (a last second addition to the lineup) got two hits (including a homer) and three RBI off Romero, leading the way to a 6-3 lead after four innings. A Jason Bay homer made it 7-3 after the top of the fifth.

And then the rarest of things happened; Josh Beckett had a lousy game.

He had already given up two single-run homers in the second and third, along with a sac fly in the fourth. But things weren't horrible. But in the fifth he gave up three hits and a run, and then a two-run shot by Rod Barajas in the seventh to tie the game up at 7-7. All in all, Beckett went 5.1 innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits. It was his worst outing since April 25, when the Yanks tagged him for eight runs and ten hits in five innings.

Now, all credit to Josh Beckett for not making any excuses after the game. He wasn't having any part of making excuses for his performance.

“Victor did a great job tonight,’’ Beckett said. “It’s unfortunate [my] stuff didn’t equal what he was doing.’’

Beckett said he had not thrown one pitch to Martinez, even in a side session. “That doesn’t have anything to do with it, though,’’ Beckett added. “I felt comfortable with him. The guy’s caught two Cy Youngs, the last two. He’s obviously doing something right.’’

That's one of the reasons we all like Beckett so much; he doesn't duck anything. So I'll posit the reasons for his bad outing instead.

Pitchers are creatures of habit. Beckett always meets with Tek and Coach Farrell before his starts. Yesterday they were both pulled away mere hours before gametime. That throws Beckett's game time prep into chaos. Add that to the simple fact that sometimes a great pitcher won't have great stuff and you get a bad outing. It happens. I have no doubt Beckett will kick ass in his next start. And besides, the Sox won so it didn't cost the team anything.

The bullpen did it's job of holding down the fort. Delcarmen and Oki did their job. Oki looked great, needing just nine pitches to get through the seventh. That earned him his fourth win of the year. Bard got roughed up a little (2 hits, 2 runs, 0.2 innings) but still got his sixth hold. And then Paps came on to get the last four outs. And while he didn't have his best stuff (three walks and two hits sent his WHIP up to 1.31), none of those runners crossed the plate and Paps got his 29th save of the year. He also lowered his ERA to 2.08.

The Boston offense was on track last night. All the starters got at least one hit. Every batter 4-9 scored at least one run. Ellsbury had a great night leading off, going 2-3 with two sac flys and three RBI. V-Mart went 2-4, including a game-winning RBI double in the top of the eighth. As mentioned before, Ortiz had a monster night as well. There really isn't much more to say...

Of course there is. If you watched last night's game, you saw J.D. Drew take two of the worst swings in the history of professional baseball. One of them looked like he was swinging over his head.

Drew has all the talent in the world. But he has ZERO desire and passion to push things, evidenced by the fact he has been on exactly one All-Star team. Those swings were the lazy swings of someone who cruises on his talent. He has never played more than 146 games in a year. For all his talent he has batted better than .300 over the course of a season exactly twice. He has cracked 30 homers in a season exactly once his his career (2004); he has yet to break 20 in Boston. Drew has driven in more than 90 runs twice in his career (2004, 2006); he has yet to break 65 in Boston. And for all this he is paid more than any other player on the team.

Here's the best thing I can say about J.D. Drew...he was born to play in Atlanta. He never should have left.

The win last night was big for another reason; the Sox face Halladay tonight. Going up against him is Clay Buchholz. Clay must be wondering which deity he pissed off recently. In his last three starts he has gone against Halladay, Verlander and Sabathia. That's, that's rough. Clay has been pitching well, but he's going to have to bring it up a notch tonight against Doc.

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