The Red Sox notes 4/25/11
Good god, is that… it is… that’s the 2011 Red Sox’s music!
Yes, seemingly back from the dead after a disastrous start to the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox are at 10-11, winners of 5 in a row and 6 of their last 7. To top it off, they are now only 3.5 games behind the Yankees for the top spot in the American League East. Not bad considering plenty of fans had them dead in the water after the first full week of the season:
- I don’t know who gave Dice-K the godfather “You can act like a man!” slap across the face after his god awful start to the season, but Daisuke Matsuzaka found something this past week. I’m just not sure what. A one hit shutout on Patriot’s day Monday followed by a one hit shutout on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels. The one thing Dice-K did differently compared to the terrible Tampa Bay start that had everyone in Boston calling for his head was he stopped pitching the ball down the middle. That Monday where he got shelled, Dice-K was leaving fat meatballs that got hammered into the stratosphere. Against Toronto and LAA, Dice-K simply hit his spots. When he does that, it brings back memories of 2008 when hitters could barely get a piece of his pitches. Saturday’s game was the perfect Dice-K game. 8 innings, 9 strikeouts, 3 walks and only 1 hit. I would like it if Dice stopped putting the ball in the air too often (in the past two starts he has given up 26 fly-balls compared to only 9 ground-balls) but overall, this is promising stuff from Dice-K.
- The other person who got a slap in the face was John Lackey. Lackey pitched nicely on Sunday afternoon with a six hit shut-out of his former team. His start against Oakland wasn’t half bad either as he gave up only 1 run on four hits in a 5-0 loss. According to Lackey, his better pitching comes from anger. When Red Sox manager Terry Francona skipped Lackey’s turn in the order on the April 13th rain-out, Lackey said it “Pissed him off“. I honestly don’t care what he needs to do to get motivated to pitch. As long as it’s legal, do whatever the hell you want to do. Just continue to pitch light’s out and I will continue to board the train to awesome town.
- One person who still hasn’t reached awesome-town yet is Carl Crawford. His line-up position has been tossed around more than a drunk sorority girl at a party. This weekend against LAA was the low point as he batted eighth. Let me remind you that the Red Sox are paying him fifteen million dollars this season. I’m pretty sure no team in the history of baseball has ever paid fifteen million for their number eight hitter. Here’s the good news. Crawford ended his weekend with two 2-4 performances including his first home-run of the season on Friday. I’m always in the camp that the great players break-out of slumps by hitting big home-runs. Could Carl Crawford be poised to break-out of his slump and move his way back to the top of the order? It’s certainly something to keep an eye on, but until he starts getting on base more, it is not going to happen.
- Pop quiz! Who is batting .431/.455/.686 with three home-runs and 12 RBI? If you guessed Jed Lowrie, you’re right. I don’t think anyone saw this start from Jed coming. He definitely won’t hit like this for the entire season, but if the production is similar, he may have wrestled away the starting short-stop job from Marco Scutaro which in turn…
- Raises the question whether Scutaro is now expendable. Scutaro is struggling out of the gates but he’s not expendable for two reasons. The first reason is that Jed Lowrie can play any of the infield positions. God forbid someone gets hurt, the Red Sox can use Jed at any of the infield positions and plug Scutaro into the shortstop position. The second reason is that there really isn’t anything the Red Sox can go out and get right now. The bull-pen is fine, the rotation is (for the time being) fine and the line-up is fine. Let’s not pass the trash and give up an asset for nothing.
- The big debate this week was Varitek vs. Saltalamacchia for who should be the starting catcher. Varitek calls better games while Salty (allegedly) hits better. The reason for starting Varitek right now is simple. The differences in their offensive production are almost non-existent right now. They both suck. Give the job to the guy who calls the better game and helps the Red Sox starting pitching more. That will give the Boston Red Sox a better chance for continued success.
- Three games in Baltimore this week (anyone want to go on Thursday?) followed by a weekend series back home with Seattle this weekend. Do I expect the Red Sox to continue their monster tear? No. I think the Sox are playing a little over their heads right now. They are certainly not as bad as they started but they aren’t this good. Now, do I expect the Sox to have a winning record this week and get back over .500? Yes I do. I think the Red Sox will get back over .500, level off to where they should be and the rest of the season will play out as such. It was tough going there for a little bit, but the good ship Red Sox is floating on open ocean and it should be smooth sailing for a while there.
- I definitely just jinxed it. They are getting swept this week.