Seventh Heaven...Red Sox 11 Royals 8
Well, it wasn't pretty - not by a long shot, but the Boston Red Sox won their seventh straight game Thursday at Fenway Park by defeating the Kansas City Royals 11-8. It was their last Fenway game for the rest of the month of May. The team winged west to Oakland, California yesterday evening. What wasn't pretty about the contest? I'll start with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who improved his spotless record to 8-0. But he was clearly off his game, just as he was in his last start. He pitched five and two thirds innings, allowing three runs on six hits. But his problem yet again was with his control. He walked six KC hitters and threw 118 pitches in his too short outing. Oh, how nice it would be to get seven great innings from him, with one or two walks. But it wasn't to be Thursday. Too many times he nibbled, trying to nudge the outside black of the plate with a sweeping breaking ball. He continually could not hit that target, and at times he seemed literally off balance as he released the ball towards the plate. For the viewers and fans in attendance, it was a very frustrating experience, but I'm sure it was doubly so for Daisuke, too. Here's what he had to say after his day of work was done...
"It wasn't very good," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "It hasn't been very good for a while now. There are a lot of reasons. It is not really something I prefer to discuss out in the open but rather something I need to digest within myself.
Peter here, and Daisuke is EXACTLY right. He has some homework to do. Javy Lopez came on to get the final out of the sixth frame, and by then the score was 11-3. Comfortable sounding? Yes, it was. Key word--"WAS." But then there was Hansen, the up and then down Craig Hansen, who pitched an inning (they do not want him to pitch more than one) and allowed two runs to cross the plate safely. Following him to pitch the eighth (and maybe more, but it was not to be) was Aardsma, and he was clearly not right, giving up three runs. Between Hansen and Aardsma, 50 (!!!) pitches were thrown. That is clearly bullpen inefficiency. Papelbon had to be called on to stop the bleeding and earn the save. He did just that, needing 15 pitches to close out the win, the series and the homestand.
Not on to something a little more pleasant...the offense. The lumber stars were Mike Lowell and JD Drew, who is clearly on his game when you compare his '08 stats to those of '07. Both hit grand slams, Drew's in the second and Mikey's in the sixth. Lowell's tater bounded off the 498 sign, a number the slumping Manny Ramirez has been stuck on in his quest for 500. He will get there, but it probably will not be at home.
All in all, the 7-0 homestand was sweet medicine for all of us. The Red Sox are a deep club filled with talent. Only a few bullpen quibbles irk me, but I won't go into them now. Newly acquired and indispensible Sean Casey had this to say about his new team, sentiments that mirror my own feelings...
“This is probably the best team I’ve played on, talent-wise,” said 12-year veteran Sean Casey. “From top to bottom, all over the place. Even the guys on the bench. It’s every night - top to bottom, this is the best team I’ve been a part of talent-wise.”
Peter back one more time. Well said, Sean. We need you this year to give Youk and Mikey Lowell a day off once in a while, and that's vital. And that's about it for this Friday morning, May 23rd, Memorial Day weekend. I hope you have a great holiday weekend, a three day respite from the things you do in a normal week. It would be nice if the Sox can keep this savage winning streak alive against Oakland. I like the pitching matchups, and earlier in this '08 season, the A's were NOT a team capable of doing much hitting. We'll see, won't we? Here are those pitching matchups...
Tim Wakefield (3-2 4.33 ERA) versus Rich Harden (2-0 2.91)
Josh Beckett (5-3 4.67) versus Justin Duchscherer (3-3 2.67)
Jon Lester ((3-2 3.41) versus Joe Blanton (2-6 3.87)
Peter here, and may the lumber stay alive. That threesome of Oakland pitchers can all be tough, but our three guys are no slouches, either. Late baseball from the west coast on a holiday weekend is in store for all of us, and I hope the Sox can keep on winning. Have a wonderful holiday, and I'll be back here tomorrow morning, or earlier if news warrants. Comments about last night's game will be immediately (or almost immediately) responded to. Thanks for stopping in, don't forget to click on the title of this post for more Soxiness, and as always, BE SAFE.