By Andy Lindberg
The Yankees keep winning and the Red Sox, struggle as they may, have kept pace for another week. A 4-3 week is hardly a success, but with David Ortiz out for the week and Kevin Youkilis placed on the 15-Day DL after a long bout with back ailments, a winning record is something to relish.
The week began with a rough double-header at Fenway against the Tampa Bay Rays. As is the case in many doubleheaders, the Red sox split, wining the first game 3-1 and dropping the second. The following day saw Boston get shut out by Tampa Bay lefty David Price.
Boston rebounded by taking the first two of a four-game set with Kansas City but the third game of the series was a glaring failure on the part of Boston’s bullpen to hold onto Tim Wakefield’s 200th career win bid. Jon Lester provided support in the finale, winning 6-1 on Sunday and earning his 13th win of the season.
The Red Sox are a team that has been lucky to hang with the red-hot Yankees. Adrian Gonzalez, although still batting .343, has hot only one home run since the All-Star break, giving further credence to the theory the Home Run Derby hurts a power hitter’s swing.
Red Sox hitting coach Dave Madagan believes this is the case with Gonzalez, as Gonzalez is primarily an opposite field power hitter, even in batting practice. After spending a tremendous amount of effort to pull the ball for power in the Derby, it is clear Gonzalez is having trouble driving the ball the opposite way with power (his one homer after the break was pulled to right field).
There is no doubt Gonzalez has had a great year, but his run production has dropped off since the break significantly with only 17 RBI since the midsummer classic.
The pitching his struggles as well, and John Lackey’s ERA still sits above 6.00 at 6.02; a miserable year for a pitcher the Red Sox bought via free agency to win big games and perform in the playoffs.
Currently, the Red Sox sit 0.5 games back of the New York Yankees in the American League and are up 7.5 games on Tampa Bay in the Wild Card race.
Tonight the Red Sox start a four game series in Texas, coincidentally the ballpark the Red Sox began a dismal April in. After finishing up with the Rangers, Boston comes back home for a weekend series with the Athletics.