By Andy Lindberg
First place was nice while it lasted.
After dropping four out of six games this week, the Red Sox now sit half a game back of the New York Yankees, who keep winning despite shaky pitching and Derek Jeter still on the shelf. Make no mistake about it at least 15-20 wins per year for the Bombers come from “Yankee Mystique.” It exists. I swear it does. There’s no other explanation for them right now, especially with that pitching staff.
The Sox lost two of three to the Padres, suffering through an Alfredo Aceves outing that saw him walk five consecutive batters, and John Lackey couldn’t get through four innings, giving up five earned runs in the finale.
After dropping the first two games of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Sox halted their losing streak at four games with a win on Sunday in one of the sloppier defensive performances one will see in a game all year. Andrew Millerwon his first game in a Red Sox uniform and Adrian Gonzalez had two hits to put his batting average at .361, good for the major league lead.
What concerns me about the Red Sox right now is their pitching. Josh Beckett caught the flu (or something comparable) and had his Tuesday start pushed back over a week. Jon Lester has not been the Jon Lester we have become accustomed to this season. A 9-4 record with a 3.66 ERA seems all well and good but there’s something off about Lester this year. His control is lacking severely and his pitch count is rising early in games, therefore not allowing him to go as deep as he usually would. Lester has already hit 10 batters this year, matching a single-season high, and it’s not yet July.
This week, the Sox have an off day on Monday before beginning a three game set with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Sox then fly out to Houston for a weekend set with the Astros (currently the worst team in the Majors) that might feature a Carl Crawford comeback from the DL. Either way, it’s six more games for the Sox without the DH, and David Ortiz will suffer with the lack of playing time. There is good reason for concern that this 9-game road trip in National League parks could put Ortiz into a prolonged slump.