Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sox winning, but storm clouds ahead....

So the Red Sox seemed to bounce back nicely from an embarrassing series with the Rockies, a team bad enough that anything but a sweep would've been a disappointment, never mind losing two out of three. The sox seemed to have gotten their act together and managed to sweep the Giants thanks to a shutout performance in the second game by Daisuke to preserve the 1 run lead for the win. The other two wins are thanks to the Red Sox offense finally clicking. The run support put up against Morrisson was quite impressive. Everything seems to be looking up for the sox right? RIGHT?

Well, here's the thing folks. The Sox have been doing well, but the Yankees have been doing better. They have won 11 of their last 12 games and the upcoming competition isn't exactly "stiff" playing their next 9 games against Colorado, San Francisco and Baltimore (combined record 94-112 .456). The sox have been doing well, but they're about to face some tough competitors with 9 games away against the Braves, Padres and Mariners (combined record 112-92 .549). This really has the potential to be rough on the sox's ample lead in the AL East over the Yankees.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wakefield shuts down Colorado in slim 2-1 victory

It felt damn good to have the sox back in town after a long west coast road trip with alot of late nights spent watching NESN. It was nice to have the team functioning as it should be rather than juggling personnel around to make up for the lack of a DH and having to watch Red Sox pitchers attempt at bats. The sox seemed to have made a general bounceback after the terrible streak prior to Curt Schilling's near no-hitter. Taking 2 out of 3 from a young and promising Diamondbacks team was impressive and could have been a sweep if not for the continued lethargy of the sox bats scoring a single run in the third game. The Yankees have been on an offensive tear as of late and continue a 7 game winning streak. They have also not failed to produce less than four runs since the 29th of May in the loss to Toronto. The sox offense by comparison has performed poorly putting up relatively low run totals and relying on the strength of it's pitching to get wins. If these trends continue this could get ugly for the sox very quickly....but I doubt it will. The Yankees offense is firing on all cylinders at the moment and I think it's safe to say they won't go chugging along producing runs like this all year. The sox offense is also bound to work out the kinks and when they do they are likely to go on a tear of their own and rack up the wins.

Despite this turnaround the sox are still 9.5 games ahead of the Yankees.....there....feel better? I'll say it again.....the sox are still NINE AND A HALF GAMES ahead of the Yankees. Now, on to tonight's game.

The Rockies came into tonight's game just below .500 and aren't as bad a team as fourth place in the NL West might suggest. Wakefield did well tonight. Wakefield seems to always pitch well against inexperienced teams, teams that haven't seen him pitch too many times and in domes. 2 out of 3 of those conditions were met tonight against the Rockies and he managed to mystify them with his knuckleball going 8 innings and only giving up one run. The sox offense was also relatively lethargic with the big exception of David Ortiz who went 3 for 3. Kevin Youkilis' RBI and a sac fly by JD Drew would be adequate to secure the win for the sox with Johnathan Papelbon catching a hint of his early season form with his fastball back up into the Mid 90's and striking out 2 in the 9th to get the save. Papelbon had appeared to be struggling recently with the velocity on his fastball dropping and acquiring some shakier saves than we were accustomed to seeing from Papelbon. We can only hope that this is an indicator that he's worked out whatever kinks he has encountered and has returned to his usual dominant self. The two upcoming games bode well for the sox with Curt Schilling coming off of one of the most impressive starts of his career and Josh Beckett who has been rock solid this year and is still undefeated. Rockies pitcher Josh Fogg comes into the game with an unimpressive 1-5 record and 5.06 ERA. He recently came off the 15 day DL and stuggled in his previous start against the astros. The Thursday starter, Jeff Francis is steadier at 5-5 with a 3.81 ERA but nowhere near as impressive as Beckett's body of work this year. If the sox can get out of this offensive slump and provide their pitching staff with some run support they could easily win the next five games against some unimpressive NL teams at Fenway.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Schilling dominates in 1 hitter to avoid 4 Game sweep by A's

It really is indicative of just what a slump the sox bats have fallen into as of late that Ace Curt Schilling has to throw a no hitter through 8 2/3 Innings in a complete game shutout of the A's to secure the 1 run lead secured by Big Papi's solo shot in the first. It was really heartbreaking to see Schilling lose his bid at a no-hitter shaking off catcher Jason Varitek's signal with 2 down in the 9th to Shannon Stewart, but his performance was very impressive nonetheless. I think it was also important for the sox to put a halt to what has been far and away the worst stretch of baseball the sox have played thus far. The pitching has been acceptable, but the offense has simply dropped off the map and this skid may have marked a turn for the worse for the sox. Hopefully this win will restore some confidence for the Sox as they cruise in to Arizona for a 3 game series with the Diamondbacks. The Dbacks have put together an impressive year just below the .600 mark and a game behind the Padres in their division. Tonight's game with Beckett v. Doug Davis looks promising, the subsequent games of Tavarez v. Owings and DiceK v. Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson are not as promising, but if Tavarez and Daisuke put up good starts like each of their last outings they should be wins with a bit of offense from the sluggish sox bats.

It's impressive to note that despite being in a slump the sox are still the best team in baseball (Angels tie for wins but have 2 more in the loss column) and have a commanding 10 game lead over Toronto in the AL East (10 1/2 games on the Yankees). If the sox offense can get out of this slump and the pitching continues to be strong (possibly stronger with the imminent arrival of John Lester to the Sox rotation) their winning ways should resume in no time at all. The lackluster NL Colorado Rockies and SF Giants coming to Fenway for 6 games following the Arizona series and an off day probably won't hurt either.