I have been writing for Fenway West for several years now. My FW posts are here, as well as posts about the San Francisco Giants and MLB.
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It's interleague time again folks, and this time the Sox head out on the road to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Houston. When the AL teams play in NL parks, there is no DH, and pitchers will step into the batters box in these games.
In the past 2 years, when David Ortiz had miserable Aprils and Mays, it wasn't hard to sit him for those 9 games. This year, he's experiencing a renaissance of sorts just mashing the snot out of the ball right out of the gate. With Crawford and Gonzalez in the line-up, he's lower in the batting order, and the pressure has been off him. He has responded with a season that will rank right up there with his best ones. Last time I checked, he projected to hit 42 home runs and drive in 109 runs.
So what will Tito do with him in those 9 games? The likely scenario is that Ortiz will play 1B and Gonzalez will move to right field. RF? Yes, RF. He has played 1 game there in his time in the big leagues when he was with Texas in 2005 during his rookie season. In that game, he made 3 catches and 1 error. Once Mark Teixeira left the game, he moved back to 1B, (That he surpassed Tex in the ASG voting this year makes 2 times he's replaced him.)
Tito does not want to sit Ortiz and his hot lumber for 9 games: "I don't want David to sit nine straight games. That bothers me." Ortiz has hit in 70 of the first 72 games of the 2011 campaign. That is someone you don't want sitting on your bench.
And what does Gonzo have to say about this? He told Boston reporters that he is game for the change—on a temporary basis, of course—but that Francona hasn't approached him about it yet. He likely will soon.
The Midwest tornadoes have been in the weather news quite often this year. Monday night the twisters stormed across the plains, and in Omaha, baseball fans had to scramble out of the stadium during the College World Series. At the 1:08 mark in this video, you can see them hot-footin’ it out of there.
There would be no hard luck losses or no-decisions for Wake today, as the Sox poured it on the Brewers hard, pounding out 14 hits for 12 runs. Chasing Wake's knuckleball, it looked as if the Brewers had been sampling Milwaukee suds a little too much today, as they could manage only 3 hits off of the ageless pitcher. Wake walked only 1 batter, and there are no wild pitches or passed balls to speak of. He needed only 99 pitches to get through the 8 innings. He walked only 1 batter and notched 6 strikeouts on the day. His W-L record now stands at 4-2 for the season to date, with a dropping 4.26 ERA. Dan Wheeler pitched a scoreless 9th inning.
The win gives him 197 career victories, and 183 victories in a Sox uni. Reaching 200 career wins this season is looking like a lock. 10 more victories in the Sox will leave him alone at the top of that list, higher than Clemens* and Cy Young, and is on his 2011 season radar.
Offensively- another fireworks display! The Sox jumped all over starter Yovani Gallardo tagging him for 6 runs in the 1st inning. Every Red Sox starter had a hit, while Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez and Drew all had a multi-hit game. Youk, Pedy and Scutaro hit home runs, while the not-so-fleet-of-foot Gonzalez banged hit 3rd triple of the season. (Not as slow as he claims?) Adding 4 doubles to the mix gives the Sox a total of 8 extra-base hits for the day.
The win gives the Sox a 43-28 W-L record, .606 pct., 41-18 since 2-10, .694 pct. The 2nd place Yankees (oh how I love writing that!) play the Cubs in Chicago tonight.
The Red Sox have scored 83 runs in the past 9 games! That's the type of offense that was written about during Spring Training, but that's not how things started out. We all know those dubious numbers: 2-10 W-L record on April 15. 58 days later, the W-L record stands at 39-26, which gives them a W-L record of 37-16 in those 58 days. (That's a .698 winning percentage for those of you keeping track at home.)
As for individual offensive changes of the 12 players with the most plate time in that time span, take a look at this table:
Click on graphic to make larger
As you can see, 10/12 of these players have numbers heading north. Although Pedroia's numbers have dropped, he is having a monster June and is seeing his numbers back on the rise.
Mr. Cameron, you're still on the Interstate! What is up with that?! Off to the cages with you!
And you, Mr. Jed... you're offensive numbers are, well, quite offensive. On April 18, the Red Sox had just finished a 4 game set with the Blue Jays, a set in which Lowrie went 9/15, leaving him with a line of .516/.545/.588/1.133. We knew he wouldn't hit at that rate for the season, but who saw this drop-off coming? Jed, warm thee up thy bat lest ye be saddled with a moniker of 'trade-bait.'
The most pleasant set of numbers have to belong to The Big Papi. 2009 and 2010 saw slow starts for Papi. Naysayers tagged him with an all-washed-up label, only to have him come back and have respectable numbers at year's end. This year, he started warm, but has gone completely off the hook! He projects to having 43 HRs and 109 RBIs.
No complaints here! Just lovin' every minute of it!
What a blast of good news after coming in from working outside all day!
My main man, Tim Wakefield, notched his career victory #196, and his Red Sox victory #182, only 10 short of the franchise record. Wake pitched 5.1 innings, and while not overpowering- he allowed 5 runs- he left sitting on a 7-4 lead. A little shaky at first, Aceves came in with 2 men on in the bottom of the 6th and gave up 2 singles, allowing 1 of Wake's runners to score, leaving himself with a full boat and only 1 out. He rose to the challenge and induced Jeter to hit into an inning ending twin killing. Aceves walked away from the game with his 1st save of the season.
Big Papi hit his 15th HR of the season, (no bat flip), and is the proud owner of a .323 batting average. Every man on the Red Sox line-up had at least 1 R or 1 H or 1 RBI. Seven of nine had at least 2 Hs or 2 Rs or 2 RBIs. Drew and Crawford homered in addition to the Papi.
The Sox hammered AJ Burnout for 8 runs in 5.2 innings. He has not earned a win against the Red Sox in his 8 starts as a Yankee, and to think that's exactly why the Yankees went out and dropped bank on him.
The Red Sox are all alone at the top of the AL EAST!
Last night in the top of the 5th inning, Big Papi David Ortiz got brushed off in what some speculated might have been retaliation for Lester drilling Teixeira and Martin in the 1st inning. He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and then drilled the next inside pitch for a classic Ortiz home run. He knew it the instant he hit it, as probably much of the 48k fans in the house did at the time. He air-ailed his maple stick back towards the Sox dugout as he spun towards 1st to take his HR trot.
After the game Joe Girardi said he didn't really care for it. He said something about protecting his young kid on the mound (who didn't see the flip), and then said something about if one of his guys did it... yadda, yadda, yadda. Oh come on Joe! It wasn't like he was blowing kisses at the pitcher as he rounded the bases. It wasn't like he was standing at the plate for 10 minutes with his arms in the air as Manny did against the Angels.Yeesh. Joe's comments can be heard at the 4:45 mark in this video.