It’s always difficult to watch the Sox lose a series to the Yankees. I’ve gotten used to the fact that MLB likes to schedule the two old rivals early and often, which leaves you wondering if the results of these early meetings are an indication of what to expect all season long, or is it just that one team is still fitting pieces together. In this case, I think it’s a combination of the two, as the Yankee pitching is strong enough to keep them in contention all year, but also that the Sox still have some unanswered questions, particularly around the outfield. One thing that seems certain at this point, is that the Red Sox have lost that “magic” that helped propel them through what was a difficult time in Boston last year. While we contemplate whether or not it’s possible for them to get it back, I think I’ll give the Yankees series a little of the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” treatment.
The main positive that came from the series was that Jon Lester continued his strong start, finally collecting a “W”, and does not seem to be letting the talks about his new contract distract him. In addition, both Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront finally turned in respectable starts that should’ve/could’ve resulted in wins. Buchholz went 6, allowing just two earned runs (the other two were unearned) on seven hits, while Doubront went 6.2, giving up 3 runs on seven hits. Doubront’s poor Spring has surprised me, as he had shown up in Ft Myers in great shape and apparently ready to go, but that has not been the case so far. Look for Brandon Workman to enter the starting rotation soon if those two don’t continue to improve.
Number one on the list is hitting, or more precisely, their failure to do so on a timely basis. Only four teams in the AL have more hits than the Sox, but only four have scored fewer runs. They seem to be getting people on but failing to bring them in, with far too many DP’s (five in one game) being thrown in. I would also add the injuries to Dustin Pedroia and Koji Uehara to The Bad list as well. Granted, they didn’t really have much need for Uehara, but Pedroia’s sore wrist had to be part of the reason behind his lack of production, and in turn the Sox decline in that area. Apparently it’s not “serious”, but could be a problem if it lingers for long. While I’m at it, let us not forget to put John Lackey on The Bad list, as he picked a bad time to become a fly ball pitcher once again. Hopefully the lean and lanky Lackey won’t return to the ways of the fat and feisty Lackey, who had a tendency to give up long fly balls in parks with short porches. I can’t wait to find out…
Daniel Nava was last year’s feel good story, hitting .303 and becoming a fan favorite. This year, he is hitting .140, with 10 K’s, including 5 in a row, and some inconsistent defense. There has been more and more talk lately that either Mike Carp or Nava could be part of a trade package that brings either more power or more pitching to Boston, which could happen soon if the Sox lose this series in Chicago. I would also like to add Instant Replay to the Ugly List, or at least the umpires involved with it in New York. Those of you who were concerned that IR was going to take the “human element” out of baseball can rest assured that officials can watch a replay over and over, and still get it wrong. I believe that Red Sox fans can make the case that blown replay decisions cost the Sox at least one of the games, and a series split sounds better at this point than a series lost, which I don’t believe happened all of last season.
At any rate, I don’t expect that Red Sox Nation will panic just yet, although these next three series; in Chicago for three before returning to Boston for four against Baltimore, followed by three more with the Yanks, could hold the key. They need strong showings, especially against their division rivals, so they don’t fall too far back too soon. The return of the speedy Shane Victorino could be the spark they need offensively, as well as helping to tighten up their outfield defense. Let’s hope so.
Featured image courtesy of: The Associated Press
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