Heading into the All-Star break, the Red Sox were in trouble, but they still lead the league in run scored.
Since then, the Sox have gone 4-7 while hitting .227 as a team (88 for 386) and have scored a measly 3.09 runs per game.
It's great to have Beckett and Buchholz back in the rotation, but what the Sox need right now is offense... and help could be just a week away. Victor Martinez caught relievers in the bullpen during yesterday's game and is expected to be activated of the DL for the Angels series. Jacoby Ellsbury could be back with the major league club as early as Monday, August 2nd... and Dustin Pedroia is due to get one more CT scan on his broken foot that could clear him for active duty in the first week of August.
All good things, right?
Sure, but can V-Mart, Ellsbury and Pedroia provide enough of a spark to erase what is now an 8-game deficit in the AL East?
Ellsbury and Pedroia should provide base runners at the top of the order, but does the V-Mart make the middle of this lineup scary enough to compete with the Yankees?
Martinez is hitting .289 on the year, but his splits are troubling when you factor in the thumb injury. While batting as a righty, V-Mart is forced to put his right hand on top of his injured left thumb. He told reporters he's been able to move his hands closer together and feels less discomfort now than he did a week ago, but knowing that Martinez was hitting lefties (as a righty batter) at a .431 clip before the injury and just .230 as a lefty batter, you have to assume he will not be the same hitter he was in the first half.
Bottom Line: With a week to go before the trade deadline, it seems clear that Theo Epstein plans to stick with the current roster and not make a move for a bat or a reliever... but these last two series proved that that is exactly what this team is lacking.
We won't know what to expect from Martinez, Ellsbury and Pedroia until mid-August, and by then it will be too late. With 10 games against the Yankees and 6 more against the Rays... we may still have a shot at the playoffs, but my Faith-o-meter is hovering just above the despair marker right now...no comments
Okay... so that Oakland series didn't go so well. But, as Manny would say, we gotta turn the page.
Tonight John Lackey (9-5, 4.65) kicks off a four-game set with the Mariners, and to be frank, there's no reason we shouldn't take at least three games in this series.
We've got Lackey, Lester, Beckett and Dice-K going through the weekend and somehow we managed to miss King Felix in the deal... couple that with the leagues worst offense (.237 BA, 314 runs) lead by a struggling Ichiro (.230 in July), and I find it hard not to expect a sweep.
But with the Sox offense in hibernation, you never know.
Lackey has seen plenty of the Mariners and is 12-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 25 career starts. He's also 8-5 with a 3.05 ERA at Safeco Field. That said, he's struggled on the road this year (2-3, 5.19 in 8 GS), so the Sox will be hoping he can feed off of his last outing. Lackey threw 7 strong innings against Texas his last time out, holding them to 7 hits and 2 runs, but walked away with an no-decision due to a lack of offense. We could see more of that tonight, but our starters need to remain focused on their jobs, while the Nation prays for a few more hits.
The Mariners will be countering with Ryan Rowand-Smith (1-9, 6.18). R.R.S. is a southpaw, and the Red Sox own the best OPS in the league against lefties at .814. Rowland-Smith has also been in a funk lately, getting pounded for 6 runs through 3+ innings against the Angels and 6 runs through 4 innings against the Yankees in his last two starts.
Bottom Line: If the Sox lose this one, my Faith-O-Meter will fall to an all-time low on the year.
Youk is 2 for 4 with 2 doubles against R.R.S., but as we said yesterday, Beltre is on fire right now: 8 for last 13, 1 HR, 4 RBI... so until further notice, he's the K.M.
Lackey will try and keep Ichiro quiet, but Suzuki is 26 for 85 (.306) against Lackey. Justin Smoak, who came to Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade, has some pop (10 HR, 269 AB) and might be another guy to watch out for.
Leave comments here during the game or stop by Sox & Dawgs to chat with other Sox fans in the Game Thread.no comments
Clay Buchholz returns to action today at 3:30 EST in the series finally against the A's.
Buchhy is 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA on the year and was 7-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his eight starts before he pulled his hammy vs the Giants.
And in the extra good news folder, I found this stat: Buchholz is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA on the road this year...
Buchholz has never pitched in Oakland and has only faced the A's once in his career. That start came on June 28th, 2009 and he allowed 2 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks through 5 2/3 innings.
The Red Sox squeaked out a win on Monday and lost a tough one yesterday... If they want to keep pace in the AL East through this road trip they need to win every series. I expect good thing from Buchholz today, but with the offense sputtering, we may be looking at another 2-1 game.
The A's will counter with Gio Gonzalez. Gio is 8-6 witha 3.63 ERA on the season and has pitched well overall, but he walks a few too many betters and is often cahsed from games early. He held the Sox to 3 runs in June 1st start, but only lasted 5 innings due to 4 walks and 7 hits... the Sox eventually won 9-4.
Bottom Line: This is a winnable game for the Sox and they need to step up and take it.no comments
The Red Sox lost a tough one last night and missed a chance to gain some ground on the Yankees and Rays who also lost.
The game really came down to one bad inning from Wakefield. With a 4-0 lead in the 3rd, Wake allowed a double to Crisp and walked Barton. Then he and Cash were unable to stop a double steel by the A's that put runners at 2nd and 3rd. With one out and a chance to limit the damage, Wake plunked Suzuki and then coughed up a 2-run double, a passed ball tha scored Suzuki and a sac fly to Louzmanoff that tied the score 4-4.
Overall, Wakefield settled in and pitched 6 innings, allowed 3 earned runs and left the game tied and in the hands of the bullpen.
That's when the ump took over. You can get the details here, but we'll just say that the some bad calls or "no-calls" put the Sox in a sticky situation in the 10th and Michael Bowden gave up the game-winning hit to Kouzmanoff.
Bottom Line: We all know that the knuckleball is a tricky thing. It's helped Wake throw complete game shutouts and bounced him out of game after 1 or 2 innings. It's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.
Last night, we got one bad inning and more mediocrity from the offense... and the results weren't good. You can blame Wake, or you can blame the ump, but after 4 quick ones, the offense stranded a runner in the 4th, left the bases loaded in the 5th AND 6th, stranded another runner in the 7th and left two men on in the 10th.
We lost this one at the plate.no comments
With Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett scheduled to come off the DL this week and Daisuke Matsuzaka posting a 3.13 ERA and a 4-1 record in his last 7 starts... it looks like Tim Wakefield will be the odd man out going forward.
Wakefield (3-8, 5.65) has struggled this year and his last two starts have been just plain awful. Last time out, he coughed up 7 runs (6 earned) to the Rangers in just two innings of work. Before that, he allowed 6 runs to the Rays through 5 innings and walked six batters, a season-high.
Tonight, he'll take on the A's knowing full well that this may be his last start for quite a while. Eventually, the Sox may chose to give extra rest of Jon Lester (128 IP) and John Lackey (120 IP), but until then, Wakefield will likely be asked to help out from the bullpen.
Wake is 11-7 with a 4.22 ERA against the Athletics in his career and has been slightly better away from home this year, posting a 2-3 record and a 4.40 ERA on the road. That said, the last time he saw Oakland, he coughed up 6 runs on 8 hits (2 dingers) through 6 innings in an 8-9 loss on June 3rd.
Bottom Line: It's looking like Wake's days are numbered, but I hope he gets another start at Fenway before this season is over. The guys at SurvivingGrady.com named him the face of the franchise a few years back and I whole-heartedly agree. He's been a company man and a workhorse for 15 years and I would love nothing more than to see 7 more innings of dancing knucklahs and shaky knees before this season comes to an end.
Tonight we do it for Wake!
Jack Cust is 10 for 22 (.455) against Wake in his career and Kurt Suzuki is 6 for 15 (.400) with two ding dongs.
Adrian Beltre had three hits last night, including a crucial homer. In this current lineup, he is the K.M. until further notice.no comments
We've only got 10 days left on our Kevin Youkilis Hits For Kids Fundraiser, so we're going for broke this week!
You can now get the new YOOOOUK! t-shirt for just $12.99 at www.blshirts.com. Any size from Youth Small to XXL... they're all just $12.99 each and we donate $5.00 to the charity for every shirt we sell!
If donating to children's charities isn't reason enough for you to get one of these cool tees, here are a few other reasons to pick one up:
* Chicks dig philanthropy. Seriously... if you rock this tee at the Flagon later this weekend, you've got an instant ice-breaker and guaranteed digits.
* Because it's been 90 degrees for what feels like a month straight you've got sweat stains on all your other t-shirts... and that's just gross.
* Nothing turns a guy on more than his lady in nothing but a Red Sox shirt... Get yourself an XL and use it as PJs... or go for the Youth Small and be extra kinky!
* Because I made a deal with Youk that if we didn't meet our goal of $1,000 that I would wear Daniel Bard's Wizard of Oz Lion costume to an upcoming game... and nobody wants to see that, right?
Help us spread the word about this great cause with a link on your blog, a shout-out on Facebook or a Tweet on Twitter!
The Red Sox hope to have a number of key players back in uniform come August... but with the dreaded West Coast roadtrip set to begin tonight in Oakland, the Sox can't afford to get caught looking ahead.
The A's may be 46-46 on the season, but they've won 5 in a row, while we were losing 7 of our last 10. We wasted a solid outing from Lester yesterday, so now we'll be looking for Daisuke Matsuzaka to play stopper...
After frustrating the Nation with three straight games with four free passes, Matsuzaka finally gave us a watchable performance with 6 solid innings against the Blue Jays. He didn't walk anybody and held the Jays to 2 runs, but Tito shut him down after 88 pitches and called on Daniel Bard to handle the 7th and 8th.
Dice-K has faced the A's already this season and got the win after 6 2/3 innings, 10 hits and 3 runs allowed. With guys like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Ryan Sweeney leading the offense, this should be a winnable game for the Sox, but if the offense can't get to Ben Sheets this could become a battle of the bullpens.
Sheets has been mediocre all season, but he hasn't allowed more than 4 runs in a game since May 2nd. I'd happily trade my left arm for four runs right now, so hopefully that's all we need tonight. Last time out, the A's crushed Scott Kzmir and the Angels, while Sheet held the Halos to 2 hits and no runs through 6. I'm not sure we're better than the Angels right now... but I guess we'll find out.
Kouzmanoff is hitting .385 with 7 RBI over the last 7 days. Mark Ellis is 5 for 12 (.417) this week and is 5 for 16 (.313) with a ding dong against Matsuzaka.
JD Drew is 10 for 34 (.294) with 4 homers against Sheets. Kevin Youkilis has carried the offense out of the break with a .467 BA and three doubles.no comments
Clay Buchholz made his minor league rehab start last week and is set start for the Red Sox on Wednesday in Oakland. Josh Beckett will pitch a second rehab game on Tuesday and plans to make his return to the majors on Friday against Seattle.
Jon Lester is still awesome (depsite getting no run support or defensive support on Sunday) and John Lackey went toe-to-toe with Cliff Lee on Saturday, proving that he can still rise to the occasion in a big game... so the roation looks pretty good going forward.
The problem is we can't hit.
I love Darnell MacDonald as much as the next guy, but he's no Pedey. Seeing him D-Mac in the 2-hole yesterday showcases how desperate we are for offense right now. C.J. Wilson has been outstanding in his first year asa starter, but 10 Ks and 3 hits? He's not that good...
Despite Wilson, the Sox had a chance to win yesterday's game, but the lack of run support for Lester was coupled with some amateur play in the field, starring Daniel Nava in left and Dusty Brown behind the plate. Luckily, the Yankees beat the Rays twice this weekend despite falling apart at the seems... so we're still in the playoff race, but if can't scratch out a win after getting 8 solid innings from our starter, we're in trouble.
Bottom Line: There's plenty of time to make things interesting in September, but we're still 10-14 days away from Pedroia taking of the protective boot he's wearing now... Victor Martinez has begun playing catch with his fractured thumb taped up, but he won't be 100% until he gets it fixed in the offseason... and Jacoby Ellsbury is intesifying his baseball activities in Fort Myers, but won't be playing the majors until August.
We're gonna have to find a way to win more than 1 in every 4 over the next two weeks if we want a shot at the postseason. Hopefully the A's and Mariners help us out with that this week...no comments
Coming out of the break, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein had a choice to make:
a) Ignore the CBT tax and sign an impact player or two before the deadline to help his team make a playoff push.
b) Sit tight and hope that all the players coming off the DL will be enough to make a playoff run.
99% of the time, the Red Sox will make the necessary moves to ensure a playoff sopt, but we find ourselves in a unique position in 2010. The farm system has a gap in it and we don't really have any prospects that are ready to make an impact for another team in 2011. Knowing this, Theo built the 2010 squad with money during the offseason, signing guys like Lackey, Beltre, Cameron and Hermida... but now the Sox don't have the means to rent a player like Jayson Werth without being forced to pay the CBT luxury tax.
So what should Theo do?
Last night's loss to the Rangers proved that the Band Aids that worked through June and early July just aren't working anymore. The Sox are now 5 1/2 games out of the division lead and 3 1/2 behind the Rays in the Wild Card race. Clay Buchholz will be back next week, and Josh Beckett shortly thereafter, but the real need on this team right now is offense.
I know, I know... we lead the majors in runs scored! That's true, but after averaging 5.5 runs oper game through June, the Sox have scored just 3.7 RPG in July (when you remove the 14-run game in TOR). And even if you don;t remove it, it's 4.8 RPG through 10 games this month.
Getting Ellsbury and Pedroia back in early August should help. It will stretch the lineup with Ells and Scutaro at the top and bottom and get Pedey working the counts again along with Ortiz (4.44 P/PA, 2nd) and Youk (4.29, 9th)... but guess who else is on the Top10 list for seeing the most pitches?
Jason Werth (4.38, 5th)
Werth is a power hitting outfielder making almost $8M this season with the Phillies. He'll be a free agent in the offseason, but the Sox could use him in the outfield and in the lineup right now. At first glance, his 85 strikeouts in 85 games has me thinking he didn't fit in Boston, but his 41 walks and P/PA numbers fall right in line with Big Papi... and look real nice next to his 13 HRs and 49 RBI.
If Victor Martinez can bounce back from his broken thumb, he could make this argument irrelevant. But we're already hearing that the whole "tape it up and shove it in the glove" theory isn't going to fly and with a pretty serious lefty/righty split (.431/1.266 vs LHP, .230/.642 vs RHP), I don't see V-Mart contributing big numbers down the stretch...
Even if the Red Sox manage to split the 16 games that close out this month, I fear that they will still be 5+ games out of a playoff spot come August. If they're 6-8 games behind the Yanks and 5 games out of the WC, Epstein will have no reason to pay the CBT tax to add a player to a floundering team (see 2006).
But if he wanted to go for broke this year, and support the guys that battled through a plague of injuries in the first half, Werth would be the guy to shoot for. Yes his salary is going to put the Sox over the limit, but for a measly $2-4 million in fees, Theo could have a rotation built for the playoffs and a lineup that would probably lead the league in runs scored - despite some key injuries. I really don't wanna hear the Red Sox tell me they can't afford and extra 3M bucks... do you?
Bottom Line: Theo may not have the prospects to make a trade for Werth, but if the Sox can keep pace through the rest of the month, shouldn't he at least make the call?no comments