PUNCHLESS And 'PENLESS Boston Red Sox Humbled By NY Yankees 10-3
This one became really ugly really fast. Saturday afternoon's Fenway Park game between the Boston Red Sox and the NY Yankees started out well enough with Boston having Yankee starter Andy Pettitte on the ropes. They scored two runs that first frame, but except for a meaningless run in the sixth inning, that would be it for the home club. They finished with a total of six hits, and six hits will not win many games the rest of the year. The final score was 10-3 Pinstripes, as Tim Wakefield, with a little help (the wrong kind of help) from his bullpen, gave up 6 runs in just 5 1/3 innings, allowing 8 hits while striking out 3 and walking 4. The help from the bullpen came in the sixth inning. Justin Masterson faced 3 batters and gave up base hits to each one of 'em. By then, of course, the game was essentially over. Face it, Peter (that's me), it WAS over! Javy Lopez followed Masterson and pitched well, one of two pitchers from the 'pen who did. He was followed by Craig Hansen, who is more up and down than a Yo-Yo being tossed by a speed freak. He went 2/3 of an inning and gave up three more runs. Timlin mopped up and was perfectly fine.
I have a few things to say about yesterday and the overall state of the club as of now. As we near the end of July, by no means is this world championship club complete in any way. The Yankees very recently added a lefthander (Damaso Marte) to bolster their bullpen and an outfielder (Xavier Nady) to help take the place of the injured and out for the season Hideki Matsui. The Red Sox bullpen is in trouble, and there is NO CHANCE of the Sox making the 2008 postseason without some additional help. PERIOD. Masterson is untested, and after a stellar first 'pen appearance, he was awful Saturday. Jonathon Papelbon is Paps...don't worry about him. Mike Timlin, when used sparingly, is usually fine. Manny Delcarmen is as up and down as Hansen is...we never know what to expect. I like David Aardsma. Hideki Okajima is not what he was last year, but maybe he IS and the hitters have adjusted. No matter what, MOST of the time so far this year, he gets the job done, with some struggles. I've already written some words about Craig Hansen. I thought that by now he would have blossomed into a premiere reliever, part of that important bridge to Paps. But that hasn't worked out--not at all. The bridge to Papelbon remains one made of LEGO plastic. So the Boston bullpen needs some help, or the Red Sox will remain a second or third place team for the rest of the regular season. And that brings me to the offense, and to Manny Ramirez.
The Boston batting average since the All Star break is approximately .235. Yes, you read that right. Their record after yesterday's debacle is 3-5. Compare that to the Yankees...they are undefeated at 8-0 in the same span of games. I know sometimes that teams go into teamwide mini-slumps, so I hope this one does not last. But a major distraction has been, at least since Wednesday, Manny Ramirez. He took himself out of the last left coast game against Seattle, citing a sore knee. After a day off on Thursday, he pulled the same sh*t again Friday night, the night the Yankees invaded town and the evening of Big Papi David Ortiz' return. As I said in the last post, SHAME ON YOU, MANNY. His self-scratch prompted a meeting between manager Terry "Tito" Francona, Theo Epstein and two of the owners of the team, John Henry and Tom Werner, before Friday's game. With the trade deadline getting closer and closer, the Red Sox FO has put out "feelers," notifying the other MLB clubs that Manny, in the last year of his longterm contract, might be expendable. DON'T EXPECT ANY TAKERS, however. The Sox brass must have a sitdown with Manny and remind him, not gently, that the team comes first. He comes second, a distant second. Oh, by the way, he went 0-4 yesterday while his teammate Big Papi collected two hits. When Manny starts hurting the team, as he did Friday night, anything is possible. So expect ANYTHING! Tito said this before yesterday's promising but eventually deadly game...
"We have a lineup and Manny is playing left," manager Terry Francona said before the game. "He's fine to play. I actually knew Friday night. We obviously had some conversations last night. One thing leads to another. We just wanted to talk through some things and make sure we were on the same page.
"We have run into bumps in the road ever since I've been here. And there's been some before I've been here. The result two of the times has been a World Series ring. As a team, sometimes you fight through things, you work through things, it's not always perfect. When you go through some times that maybe aren't perfect, how you come through that is ultimately what's important. I'm hopeful that will be the same way this time."
Peter here, and that was SO well said, Terry. I share your feelings and your emotions, as all (or almost all...there are a few Yankee fans here...good for them, good for me!) of my readers do. My Constant Readers, it's hard to add anything to Tito's words, so I won't. My bottom line is this...the 2008 Boston Red Sox are an incomplete team. Theo & company know what needs to be done...they just have to do it. Do I think Manny should be jettisoned? NO WAY. Do I think they (the FO) have to meet with him and drill into his head that his team comes first? Oh yes. Eighteen thousand times YES. Things right now could only get better, but they could get a whole lot worse. (That reminds me of the Beatle song called IT'S GETTING BETTER. "It's getting better all the time..it can't get no worse"). Thanks Paul (the optimistic one,) and John, who almost always looked the other way.
OK, I'm off my soapbox. Gee, I'm lucky to have one in the first place. At least I think I do! Click on the title of this post to read the gleeful thoughts of the "other side." I hope your Sunday is a wonderful one. We're starting the very early morning with a light and sound show of thunder and lightning. That's why I woke up when I did...there was NO sleeping through those fireworks! I hope the Sox can rebound tonight. I called Jon Lester our stopper a few posts ago, and if anyone can stop the Yankees and bequeath them their first loss since the break, it is he. The thug (in my mind) Ponson goes against him in a nationally televised ESPN and ESPNHD telecast. Don't forget to click and as always, BE WELL. I thank you so much for stopping in, and I'd love to read and respond to any of your comments.