By Andy Lindberg
This past week pretty much sucked for the Red Sox.
I know, how eloquent and informative was that statement?
As informal is the opening line was, it’s sadly quite true. Boston went to Cleveland from Texas and got swept up by the Indians. Chief Wahoo had his way with the Sox, and it was very, very weak.
However, the Sox came home and beat the vaunted Yankee Nine for Boston’s first win of the young season. Their momentum was so great Boston decided they could lose the second game of the series in grand fashion.
Also, very weak.
Against Cleveland, the first two games proved to show Boston’s mediocrity within the starting pitching rotation. Josh Beckett only managed five innings of work with four walks and three earned runs in the series opener and Daisuke Matsuzaka followed with the same five inning, three earned run performance.
Boston fans cannot expect the Sox’s bullpen to perform well when they have to toss four innings every game.
The third game of the series saw Boston ace Jon Lester throw seven innings of beautiful baseball in his second start of the year. But it seemed Murphy brought his law, and whatever could have gone wrong did for the Red Sox as they fell 1-0 with the game ending when Darnell McDonald was nabbed when he slipped rounding second base on a J.D. Drew infield single.
But then came the home opener, and even though John Lackey pitched like he hated winning, the Sox came through thanks to Dustin Pedroia and a stellar performance from the ‘pen. It was textbook and when Papelbon took the ball in the ninth, he gave Sox fans what they had not experienced in over a year, but the save against the Yankees reinvigorated the Beantown faithful. Yes, in that way. It was pretty sweet.
However, game two of the Yankee series was far from sweet as Russell Martin got his proverbial hate on and the Yanks chased Boston hurler Clay Buchholz from the game after only three and two-thirds innings. Relievers Felix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves fared no better against New York and joined in on the “holy crap we’re getting shelled” parade at Fenway Park. Final score, New York: 9 ‘roided runs, Boston: 4 measly runs.
The rubber game was far from the woeful pitching Boston had come to expect thus far. Apparently Josh Beckett took to heart what Dustin Pedroia said about the Sox needing to pitch better and turned in a gemstone. Seriously, Beckett thought it was 2007 again. Living up to the “big game” pitcher billing, Josh Beckett threw eight innings of two-hit ball and struck out 10 Yankees, beating CC Sabathia in the process. The Sox held tight, scoring one run on a double play groundout from David Ortiz in the third.
But then Joba Chamberlain came in for New York.
Eager to please and ready to fist-pump, Chamberlain neglected to realize that Marco Scutaro is scared for his job. Scutaro rapped a bases-loaded double to left, scoring Ortiz and Drew. One inning later, Ortiz put the icing on the cake with a ball that goes out of nearly every other ballpark, but settled for the RBI double that scored Kevin Youkilis to make the score 4-0. Papelbon came in and was, yet again, the Paps of old.
While their record now sits at [2-7], one doesn’t shut out New York by accident. If the Sox can string together four or five wins in a row in the very near future, the prospects of reclaiming the division are well within sight.
Coming up this week, the Sox take on Tampa Bay for three games starting tonight in Boston. Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the hill against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. On Tuesday the money game is on. Jon Lester hurls against David Price and on Wednesday John Lackey goes up against James Shields. Without Manny and Longoria in the Rays’ lineup, there is no reason the Red Sox shouldn’t be able to sweep the Rays, or at least take two of three. Over the Weekend beginning Friday the Sox play four against division rival Toronto at Fenway.