Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slugging For Cover

The most important thing about yesterday's 13-12 win by the Patriots Red Sox over the Argonauts Blue Jays is that they did, in fact, win. They are now 9-11 on the season and sport a winning record on the road (4-3). They are a game back of the Jays for third and 5.5 back of the Rays.

Another good thing is that the Sox finally outhit their opponents for the first time in five games. And wonder of wonders, there were no errors committed in the field. But no one should look at this win and think that everything is better in Boston.

Boston's primary problem is pitching right now. Last night Josh Beckett got lit up like the Ginza district in Tokyo after dark.He made it just three innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits. He now has an ERA of 7.22 and a 1.74 WHIP, which is bad but still not as bad as the 1.80 Javier Vazquez is lugging around. He just didn't have his stuff at all last night.

Now, some people are going to start in on the new contract and how it was a major mistake. Well, you're wrong. I am not white-washing the struggle that Beckett is having right now; he looks lousy. But he has also been one of the top pitchers in the AL since he came to Boston in 2006. The numbers bear that out. He will get it figured out...I just hope it's sooner than later.

But just as problematic as the starting pitching is the bullpen. Scott Atchison has been struggling and Hideki Okajima looked like he never saw a baseball last night, allowing two runs on three hits. Last night marked the third straight relief appearance where Oki allowed at least one run. Since getting the win against Texas on April 24, Oki's ERA has ballooned from 1.59 to 7.04 with a blown save against the Orioles thrown in for good measure.

But there may be some good news. Manny Delcarmen looked great for two scoreless innings yesterday, giving the Sox time to find their legs and take the lead for good. In Delcarmen's last five outings, he has thrown 6.1 innings and has allowed no runs. Another good sign was Bard and Papelbon combining to close the game out in the last two innings. Both pitchers looked solid, which Boston desperately needs considering the runs they have been allowing.

But the real story was Boston's hitting. Thirteen runs on eighteen hits. Every starter except for Bill Hall had at least one hit, and five players had three hits apiece. Jason Varitek, obviously benefiting from a reduced schedule, went 3-5 with two runs scored and four RBI. Beltre went 3-5 with two RBI and boosted his average to .309. Pedrioa continued to break out of his mini-slump, going 3-6 with three runs scored and two RBI, giving him 15 so far this year. Youk tore it up with a 3-4 night with two runs scored and a RBI. Over his last seven games he is hitting .419 with six RBI and a 1.083 OPS.

But again, as good as all this is, Boston cannot win a title by trying to outslug every other team in the game. No team can win it all when their pitching is sub-par. Pounding on the pitching in Toronto is one thing, but trying to do that against New York or Minnesota is another thing altogether.

With the heavy usage of the pen, I wouldn't be surprised if Boston calls up a fresh arm from the Bucket for relief duty. And Buchholz is going to have to go long again. It's not fair that he has to do it twice in a row, but those are the breaks.

One last thing, and it's Jays-related. The attendance for last night's game was 13,847. That is 28% capacity for the Rogers Centre.

What the hell is wrong with you, Jays fans? Your team is actually competitive right now. You are blessed to even have a major-league franchise. And in a city with a population around 2.5 million, and a metro area with over 5 million people, you can't scrape together 30,000 to watch a baseball game? Jesus wept... It's not like your hockey team is doing anything right now besides playing golf.

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