Thursday, July 03, 2008

SWEPT AWAY, FAR FAR AWAY...Tampa Bay Rays 7 Boston Red Sox 6

The Boston Red Sox seemed to be in good shape after six innings Wednesday night in Tampa Bay. They were ahead by a score of 4-1 and needed just five or six outs to get to "Papelbon time." But two things, two people, actually, stood between them and a salvaging victory. They were Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen. They imploded completely, with neither recording a single out. Six runs later, the score was 7-4 and the game was out of reach. Boston added single runs in the eighth and ninth, but it was too little, too late. What had seemed to be a certain victory ended up to be a series sweep win for the first place Rays.

Daisuke Matsuzaka started for the Sox and had immense trouble finding the strike zone in the first two innings. He clearly has to do something about that horrid control. He has great stuff on all his pitches but that means nothing when you walk five opposing hitters. He threw 101 pitches in that short span and handed the ball over to Hideki Okajima for the sixth. Okie was dokie, and the score remained 4-1. So far, so good, but less than 50 minutes later, it would be a different story. Manny Delcarmen, who could do nothing wrong just a couple weeks ago, now can do nothing right. And then there was Craig Hansen. I have no idea what his problem is. I don't know if he does, either, or he'd do something about it. He's got the nastiest of sliders but his pitch sequences leave much to be desired. Javie Lopez finished the game off, allowing one inherited Hansen runner to score. Tito Francona had this to say about the upstart Rays...

"They took it to us," said manager Terry Francona, whose team has not beaten the Rays in six tries under a Teflon sky this season. "They beat us three games in a row. We came here to win, and we didn't do a very good job."

Peter here, and Francona is right. The only bright spot for Boston was their second baseman supreme, Dustin Pedroia, who became the FIRST RED SOX SECOND BASEMAN EVER to have four extra base hits in a game. Congrats, Dustin, but you couldn't do it alone. JD Drew and Moss also had multiple hit games, but the Boston bullpen made the offensive contributions moot and utterly meaningless. Right now, the Sox are in trouble because of that 'pen. Only Papelbon, Aardsma and Lopez (most of the time) can be counted on to be consistant. Mike Timlin, who pitched three scoreless innings in three appearances for Pawtucket, will join the team in New York City. Here are the all-important pitching matchups for the four game set with the Yankees...

Thursday 7:05 pm EDT...Jon Lester vs. Andy Pettitte (two great lefties, but...edge--Yankees)
Friday 1:05 pm...Josh Beckett vs. Darrell Rasner (huge edge--Red Sox)
Saturday 3:55pm...Justin Masterson vs. Mike Mussina (edge, slightly--Yankees)
Sunday 8:05pm...Tim Wakefield vs. Joba Chamberlin (edge--even, dead even)

Boston has lost five games in a row, two of which were blown by the bullpen. We will not go far with this particular set of supporting characters for Jonathon Papelbon. Even the rock, the Darkman, Hideki Okajima is but a shell of himself. So Theo, listen up! Do something over the All Star break. Yes, I know the Big Papi will be back shortly after the break, but even he might not make a difference when the bridge to Papelbon is made of LEGO blocks with Elmers glue and flour paste holding them together, a span ready to topple into the swirling and deadly river below.

Have a great Thursday and a wonderful and safe Fourth of July weekend. Yes, it's that time again! Maybe the Sox will rediscover the fireworks in their lumber in time to take three of four from the Yankees. Or maybe not. But I DO know this...Tito has to be careful choosing which bullpen pitcher to select, because you never know what will happen with most of them, even when starting a fresh inning with no one on, no one out. What a damn shame. As always, BE WELL. Click on the title for more Sox stuff, if you have the fortitude to stomach all those details. You'll be linked to today's Boston Herald Red Sox page, where the lead story reads 'PEN A MIGHTY MESS. Ain't it the truth! I'd love to hear what your feelings are about that very subject, the Achilles heel of the world champs. Yes, the once mighty but now tarnished Boston Red Sox bullpen, whose only truly shining light is Mr. Papelbon, is in trouble.


At 7/03/2008 6:29 PM, Blogger Mainecatwoman said...

"Mike Timlin, who pitched three scoreless innings in three appearances for Pawtucket, will join the team in New York City."

Gee, that fills me with such utter confidence

At 7/04/2008 5:06 AM, Blogger Peter N said...

More than a couple guys I can mention right now. But 7-0 was a nice start. Lester was superb.


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