Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walking To A Win

Well, last night's game did nothing to argue against the reputation Al East games have for being long. The first two innings in Boston's 7-6 win over Toronto took over an hour and twenty minutes thanks to control problems from both starting pitchers. But at the end of the day, Boston's pitching was better by just enough to grab the "W".

Still...what an ugly start. Spotted a 2-0 lead, Lackey walked a pair of batters in the bottom of the second and allowed four hits. The first six batters of the inning reached base safely and a 2-0 lead became a 4-2 deficit. Apparently, Toronto's Brendan Morrow wanted to top that display and he did with flying colors.

Morrow walked five of the eight batters he faced in the bottom of the second and four of the first five. That's right, Morrow loaded the bases with walks and then walked in a run. A bad throwing error, one single and another walk later, it was 6-4 Boston and Morrow was done for the night.

Lackey allowed another two runs in the fifth but he held it together through six innings on a night where he didn't have his best stuff and picked up his fourth win of the year. But I don't think he'll be bragging much about this one. With the exception of Lester, every Boston starter has allowed five or more earned runs in their last start.

What saved his bacon and his win was the stellar play of the bullpen. Hideki Okajima pitched a brilliant seventh. Since that horrible three-game stretch in late April where his ERA went from 1.59 to 7.04, Oki has pitched relatively well. His ERA is now down to 5.23 and maybe he is finally finding his groove. Bard looked good in the eighth despite allowing a walk. He seems to not be showing any ill effects from that rough outing against the Yankees. And Paps got his ninth save of the year. His WHIP is still a little high based on his previous work, but Paps seems to be settling into a good place.

Boston's batters obviously did a great job of making Toronto's pitchers work; they saw 175 pitches in total while the Jays saw only 128. Kevin Youkilis stood out in this regard; he saw 33 pitches in his five at bats. Victor Martinez saw just 17 pitches in his five at bats but drove in three runs with a two-run single in the first and a fielder's choice in the second that resulted in a Toronto throwing error and the Sox taking the lead. And David Ortiz went 1-4 with two strikeouts but did get his 11th RBI of the year. He has an OPS for 1.001 for the month of May, but it remains to be seen if Papi can maintain this new level of productivity.

The win pushed Boston back over .500 overall (17-16) and at home (11-10). Tonight it's Daisuke facing Dana Eveland. Eveland is 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA, but the Sox beat him like a pinata on April 26, chasing him after tacking seven runs on him in three innings. But when Daisuke is on the mound...you know he's off to a rough start when giving up five runs in 5.1 innings is his good start. If Daisuke can just keep it close and possibly get a lead, Boston's bullpen should be able to step up and seal the deal. But Daisuke getting to that point...there's the trick.

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