Friday, April 14, 2006

Wherefore art thou?

Another ugly outing last night. Clement is looking very inconsistent. He got shelled early last night - a grand slam in the second made it 6-0 - and he threw 83 pitches in just four innings. As opposed to the other night in Baltimore when he was great for the first six innings, then blew up in the 7th. I suppose it could be payback by the baseball gods for all the bragging we were doing about our starting pitchers.

The bullpen, however, does look pretty good. Bad Boy Tavarez finished his detention and came in for two innings. He looked pretty good - and didn't beat anyone up (although he did give up a run). Foulke had two really good innings - only faced 6 batters and struck out two of them - so that's definitely good news. He's starting to look like the Foulkie that carried us to a World Championship.

Our defense continues to impress. Dustan Mohr had a "web gem" catch in center - an awesome diving catch that was perfectly timed. And that double-play infield has at least one amazing play every game. It's fantastic the way Gonzalez, Loretta and Youklis have become a seemless fit, after only 9 games. They look like they could have played together for years. Youk is the surprise there - he is showing some incredible moves, making full split stretches to scoop out his half of the double play. That off-season conditioning is showing!

The question posed above is about our offense. Last year, a six run deficit in the second? We'd laugh in their faces. This year?? I'm not feeling much confidence quite yet. Wily Mo is still flailing at the plate. Manny hasn't broken out yet (maybe he DID need that first week of Spring Training??) We can't rely on Ortiz to dig us out every game - he may be super human, but he's still human. The key to our success offensively in the past has been the way we worked the pitcher. Lots of fouls, lots of deep counts - and suddenly the pitcher is over a hundred pitches in the fourth or fifth. Once we got into the bullpens, we were golden. To me, it looks like Loretta is the only one who's doing this consistently. We need to be much more patient at the plate!

At this point, the Blue Jays look serious. Their pitching has been incredible these last two games - although both pitchers have always been known as "Sox killers." Their offense has jumped right in from their first at-bat, and capitalized on pitching errors and lapses. Actually, they seem to have taken a page out of our offensive handbook. The one thing I try to remember is that last year at this time, we all thought the Orioles would be there contending at the end - and they swooned in May. May the same happen to Toronto.

I wanted to point out one interesting article from Boston Sports Review. Christopher Price says that this year's team will cause the death of the pink t-shirt brigade - all the young women who would come to the games just to look at Johnny and some of the other boys. He writes about this year's team:
In their place, the Red Sox have become suddenly a team full of 9-to-5, punch-the-clock professional men who are more likely to have the clubhouse television tuned to CNBC instead of MTV. They are the kind of guys who write all their thank-you notes the day after Christmas, drink their milk all the way to the bottom of the glass and make sure they say "please" and "thank you."
In other words, a team of grown-ups. Speaking for myself (and, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I DO own a pink Varitek shirt), I almost find that sexier. I loved my Bronson and his cornrows, but that salt-and-pepper look Lowell sports is appealing, too. I miss the scruffy Bellhorn, but the clean shaven head of Coco is quite cute, too!

Speaking of Bellhorn - I'm off on a baseball adventure this weekend. Heading south to Atlanta to catch two of the Braves-Padres games. I'm going to see Peavy and Smoltz pitch tomorrow night - and hopefully, spy some of those ex-Red Sox players. Stalker alert - I'll be right by the visitors' dugout!


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