With both Dice-K and Jon Lester looking terrible in their performances against the A's while in Japan, there was reason to be concerned as these two would start the following two games in Oakland in the same pitching matchups. Fortunately, Dice-K and Lester both seemed to find their grooves early, Gave 6 2/3 IP and the only run given up between these games was a solo homerun off Dice-K. The bullpen was also unscathed with Jonathan Papelbon ending the first game with authority by striking out all 3 batters he faced in the 9th inning protecting the sox slim 2-1 lead and recording the save. Bryan Corey and Manny Delcarmen would give a solid performance to wrap up the 5-0 win the following night. A confidence inspiring performance all around by the Red Sox pitching staff.
The Red Sox bats were adequate but a bit disappointing at times. The quantity of hits isn't the problem, but more so that it seems that the Red Sox are squandering opportunities. In the first game the Red Sox had 9 hits and a walk, but only managed to put up two runs. In the second game the Sox had 13 hits, 5 walks and had two batters hit by pitch, that's a grand total of twenty base runners, but only managed to yield 5 runs. The Red Sox had multiple low-out/bases loaded situations but continually failed to capitalize thanks to strikeouts and hitting into double plays. It was a solid win, but easily could have been a complete rout if the hitting had been a bit more timely.
There is some good news on the hitting front, both Big Papi and Jason Varitek seem to have broken out of their respective mini-slumps that had me so concerned in the previous post. Varitek went 4/8 in the two game series including a homerun and a homerun that was mistakenly ruled a double by the officiating crew. Big Papi was not quite as impressive with his 2/8 performance (both hits coming in the second game), but showed that he's still got it by blasting a 2 run homerun to kick off the Red Sox offense.
The Sox have Thursday off and open up a three game series against the Jays in Toronto on Friday. Sox Ace Josh Beckett is expected to start the third game which should match him up against Jays Ace Roy Halladay, should be a hell of a game. The Fenway park opener is April 8th against the Tigers.