Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Backing In

The bottom line is that the Sox are in the post-season. That said, the fact they did so riding a five-game losing streak and losing two straight to the lowly Jays...not exactly the way you want to do things.

So let's take a moment to celebrate the Sox getting into the post-season for the third straight year. It also marks the fifth time the Sox have made the playoffs in Terry Francona's six years running the team. They'll face the Angels in the ALDS, a team they have had great success against in the post-season. Baseball in October...a very good thing indeed.

And with that out of the way...what the hell, guys? Dropping two to the Jays? Especially last night to Romero, a pitcher that Boston has owned all year long. And that was, in large part, due to a bad outing from Buchholz.

Unlike bad performances earlier in the year, I don't think this is a reversion to his bad form. He just had a bad game. All pitchers do, from the lowly ones to the all-time greats. So one bad outing for Buchholz in his last seven or so is not a reason to ring the alarms. But his next start will be carefully watched to see how he bounces back from this beating.

And it was a beating; seven runs on eight hits in five innings and an astounding five home runs surrendered. It was a brutal outing. He was throwing strikes (almost 71% of his pitches) but there was too little movement on a lot of them. And when you pitch to contact with a flat fastball...well, you get Adam Lind looking like he was channeling Babe Ruth and Mel Ott at the same time.

It's not often I talk about an opposing player in positive tones, but Adam Lind crushed the hell out of the ball last night. He was the first visiting player to hit three homers at Fenway since Frank Thomas did it in 1996. He's got a sweet swing, hits for power and average...maybe this is the Jay the Sox should have been focusing on instead of Halladay. Ah well...

So having Buchholz spot the Jays six runs in the first three innings didn't help. But what also didn't help was the Sox hitting into four double-plays. Or going 4-11 with runners in scoring position. And as fantastic as that eighth-inning rally was done only after V-Mart hit into a double-play. If he limits that to one out, the score is tied going into the ninth.

As far as notable stats go, Ellsbury picked up his 67th steal of the season. I hope he pushes hard to get to 70, especially since the wild card is locked up. If he gets there, he'll be the first person to register 70+ steals in a season in the AL since Brian Hunter stole 74 bases in 1997.

So tonight Tim Wakefield gets back on the mound and faces Roy Halladay. Halladay has looked disenchanted ever since the trade deadline passed, but his performance has picked up in September, going 3-2 in five starts with a 1.80 ERA. But Boston has been able to get to him the last couple of times they've faced off. I guess we'll see what happens tonight. Will Tito roll out the B-team or try to break the losing streak? Stay tuned!

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