Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blown Away By Daisuke

Ummm...where has this Daisuke been hiding for the past 1+ years? I like this model; he pounds the strike zone and goes after hitters. He doesn't walk batters. And he makes it very, very easy for the Red Sox to blow past the Blue Jays 6-1 and go two games over .500 for the first time this season.



Daisuke did the one thing he has had trouble doing with Boston; he avoided the bad inning. There was not one bad inning for Daisuke last night. Frankly, you cannot complain about anything he did last night. He went seven innings and allowed just one run on three hits. He struck out nine and walked none. And no, that is not a misprint. He threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of 24 batters and 67% of his pitches overall were for strikes.

And they were good strikes, not gimme calls from the ump. Daisuke attacked the strike zone with a fervor I haven't seen from him in...well, ever. And his fastball was amazing. His trick isn't to throw it fast (he was hitting 92-94), but to have pinpoint control with it. And he did, while also using his cutter and slider to great effect. When those two pitches are working for him, that makes his fastball even deadlier. When it all clicks...well, you get an outing like last night.

Ramirez and Okajima cleaned up. Oki threw a clean ninth, marking five straight appearances without allowing a batter to reach base. Whatever trouble he was having recently may be behind him. But Boston has to keep an eye on him. Oki's ERA and WHIP have climbed slightly each year he has been in Boston*, so you don't want him to start falling off again.

It didn't help Toronto that Dana Eveland had another bad outing against Boston. It's to the point where if Eveland is on your staff and you are playing the Red Sox, you should move your pitchers around so Eveland doesn't face them. Before this year, Eveland was 0-2 in three starts against the Sox with an ERA of 17.36. This year, he is 0-1 in two starts against Boston with a 16.71 ERA. So you figure out the math to add those up, but it equals the fact that Eveland sucks against the Red Sox. The Sox rang him up for six runs on six hits in four innings. Oh, and he walked four. Then Scott Camp, who relieved Eveland and pitched the next two innings, walked four. Toronto walked eight batters. Add that to the debacle from Monday night and Toronto has walked 15 batters in two games. Which is great for Boston so I hope Toronto's pitchers keep up the good work.

Boston's offense was spread out, with six batters each ringing up one RBI. The most impressive of the lot was Varitek's solo shot in the second that cleared the Monster and likely dented someone's hood in the parking garage across Lansdowne. He went 2-3 with two runs scored as well. Tek has put Boston management in an interesting spot. He is not an everyday player anymore, but he is incredibly productive in his occasional starts. He has six homers in 38 at-bats and 10 RBI. His OPS is 1.287 so far. With this kind of production off the bench from a backup catcher/pinch-hitter, can you really let him go at season's end? But at the same time, will Tek want to continue being a backup or does he think he can do this full-time (which would be a mistake, in my opinion)? Will Boston have to overpay Tek to keep him here? Should Tek DH if he isn't catching? And then what would that mean for Victor Martinez? Once again, catcher will be a very interesting spot for the Sox in the off-season, if not sooner.

So it's an afternoon tilt today, with Wakefield and Shawn Marcum facing off at 1:35. Fingers crossed for Wakes, who stands just 18 wins away from being the winningest pitcher in Boston history and really deserves to have a shot at that record (looking your way, Theo). Marcum did a good job against the Sox back in April, allowing just one run on four hits in seven innings of work, but he was outpitched by Buchholz. So Boston's hitters will have to try and get after Marcum quickly and not allow him to dictate the pace of the game. If they can get into Toronto's over-worked bullpen, even better.

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* Conversely, Oki's post-season ERA and WHIP numbers have declined each successive year. Very odd.

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