The Beckett & Manny Show Dooms The Yankees...Thank You Dan Federici. RIP
Josh Beckett is ALMOST back to his 2007 shape, and that spells trouble for American League hitters. And Manny Ramirez is on fire with flames of the white hot variety, and THAT spells trouble for American League pitchers. Big trouble in little Fenway, I guess, and on the road throughout every AL city. Beckett went 8 strong innings Thursday night at Yankee Stadium in the final game of this two game set. He allowed only three runs, walked one and struck out 5. He threw a total of only 105 pitches, which is his approximate limit anyways. Terry "Tito" Francona had this to say about his cleanup batter supreme...
"...I think Manny had an exceptional winter as far as work and preparation. He always does, but this may have been more organized. He went to Phoenix with the API [Athletes Performance Institute]. He's talking a little now. He's always like that with us. But everything is positive. He's a little more open with you guys. It seems like he's in a good place. If they get him out, he figures he'll get a hit next time. He's usually right."
And Manny himself had this to say about his good buddy Big Papi David Ortiz and his slump...
"Look, if he don't hit I'm going to hit for him," Manny said.
Peter here, and Manny, you can hit for EVERYBODY if you want. But last night Ramirez had plenty of help, with his team banging out 13 hits, hits to every corner of the old stadium. And Kevin Youkilis insisted on playing, big toe and all, and collected two hits. Only our Papi was hitless, but he'll turn it around. Sean Casey continues to prove to be a great acquisition for the club, playing first base while Mikey Lowell, who is half ready and should be back in 2 weeks or so, heals. The swelling is almost gone and now he will concentrate on movement conditioning and building strength in that thumb.
Jonathon Papelbon pitched the ninth inning in a non-save situation and uncharacteristically surrendered 2 runs, but the damage had been done and the Sox won easily, bringing their first place record to 10-7. Texas looms on the immediate horizon, and here are the pitching matchups for the 4 game Fenway set...
Luis Mendoza (0-1 1.80 ERA) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-0 2.70)
Jason Jennings (0-3 8.79) vs. Jon Lester (1-2 5.31)
Kevin Millwood (1-2 2.42) vs. Timmy Wakefield (1-0 3.18)
and the Monday Patriot's Day game...ta DA...
"old friend" Kason Gabbard (1-0 2.13) vs. Clay Buchholz (0-1 6.75)
So there you have it...a full 4 day weekend of baseball. I like the way the Sox are playing, with just a couple exceptions. One is the lack of bullpen depth...who else but Aardsma, Okie and Paps can we unwaveringly count on? The other exception is the lack of an effective fifth starter. I know that Clay B. will one day be great, but after Bartolo Colon is hale and hearty, I think Clay would be better off at Triple A Pawtucket. If Colon's oblique heals and he is able to toss 'em in there at 95-96 MPH, with location and a change of speeds on his non-straight stuff, he'll be fine and, more importantly, the Red Sox will be immeasurably better. What do you think? Should Clay go down once it becomes evident that Colon is ready? It won't be for a couple weeks or so. I'd love your comments. And it's goodbye Yankees until the first week of July. The schedule makers are a tad delirious. This two game series should have been played NEXT month, evening out early season meetings between the Yanks and their hated rivals.
Click on the title, if you can, and you will be teleported (beam me up, Scotty) to the Hartford Courant's web page. In it, my favorite sportswriter on this planet, Jeff Jacobs, and I've yet to read any sportswriters from other orbs, waxes poetically on Manny and the Red Sox. A good read is guaranteed for all. So click away.
Lastly, on a sad note, long time (since 1973) organist Dan Federici of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band is dead of blood cancer at the age of 58. I have to thank you Dan...you and the band brought me and countless millions of others all over the world decades of immeasurable joy and utter excitement. I thank you for that. I thank you with every fiber of my heart, of my being. I'll miss you so very much. May you rest in peace. Dammit, you were too young.