O.K. so I said that I was going to comment on the Sox’ experiment with the batting order after the first game of it. I lied. Because everybody sucked last night.
Lets get a slightly larger sample before we pass judgement.
Ortiz was 1-3 with a walk and a double, and it is not his fault he was stranded on second after leading off the second inning with that double. At this point, it is impossibe to see how the shift in the lineup went due to the fact that the guys couldn’t score any runs and this time instead of leaving men on base, Ortiz was the one left on.
The more alarming trend is the propensity of our starting pitching staff to have that one bad inning. It may be that they all caught an STD from the same skank (and she got it from Matsuzaka), or it may just be the added innings load that some of them threw last season (hello Jon Lester’s 210 innings last season, I’m looking at you), but they have all lapsed into the same issue that the Wiggler has always had.
It’s not the whole game where they are giving up a steady stream of runs, or even one here and one there. It is the one bad inning that more often than not leads to Red Sox losses. They can be cruising along and just “boom” a few bad pitches (like Morneau’s three run bomb last night) and the Sox are down big. It’s nothing new, but it is an alarming trend. Lester’s last two losses show much the same pattern as last night. The four run sixth in Seattle (when lester couldn’t get the DP and the inning extended) and the six run fifth in Tampa, and even the three run fifth against the Yanks in a game he won all show the pattern of the one inning with a crooked number.
Let’s take a step back though and look at last night. Nick Blackburn? Nick Effing Blackburn? How do you expect to win when you can’t get your starter any runs against that guy. Granted, Lester needs to be better, his 6.07 ERA will attest to that, but if a guy isn’t getting any run support, then that five run fifth inning might as well be 100. Lester’s been backed up by some of the weakest run support in the league (not that I’m looking at anyone else’s but his is so low that it has to be amongst the lowest). His run support numbers while he has been in the game for his starts (Lester’s result in parenthesis): 1 (L), 2 (L), 2 (W), 2 (ND), 2 (ND), 5 (W), 1 (L), 4 (L), 5 (W), 1 (L). That adds up to 3-5 (the team is 5-5 in games that Lester starts), and only once have the Sox bats given him more than two runs to work with and he has still lost.
He does this every night. Every night.
Last night was mostly a shitty night but there is one more issue to discuss. Our friend BallFour asked the other day if there was another gear that we are going to see from the kid in center field or if this was what to expect. He’ll get a bit better but hitting .300, stealing bases (two more last night, 20 total so far, on pace for 70), and having a web gem every few nights in center (did you see the catch he made last night?) is really all you can ask of a centerfielder. And his hitting streak has extended to 21 games. At this pace he is one of the best game changers in the league.
I also want to throw some love towards the woman selected by our President as the next Supreme Court Justice. Not only is Sonia Sotomayor the first Hispanic woman to be nominated for the high court, but she also ended the baseball strike in the spring of ’95. Thanks Sonia.