Sox Cakewalk Turns into Life and Death April Struggle

All wins count the same but can any Sox fan be excited that a comfortable 3-0 lead against the woeful Orioles morphed into a fight for Verdun? Jesus, was that ugly. We saw more sloppiness from a starting pitcher, further problems in the field and a continuation of offensive ineptitude. Add it all up and that win tasted like incest.

Let’s start with Lester who, in his defense, was good at times. But his command was not great as evidenced by the fact that at least a couple of his four walks came after he was ahead 1-2. His economy was again poor as he racked up 113 pitches to get through 17 outs. And he left the game with the bases loaded, having failed to put Nolan Reimold away to escape the sixth. It certainly wasn’t as bad as last Sunday but then again, the Orioles aren’t the Rays. And while the seven strikeouts is encouraging, I don’t think anyone can get to excited by the fact that only 48 percent of Jon’s first pitches were strikes. Thankfully, we are almost through April and Lester is through his “back-to-season” blues.

On the fielding front, some will point to Bill Hall’s assist in the ninth as a huge play and it was. But what should not be dismissed were a couple of terrible decisions earlier in the game. The first came in the second when Marco Scutaro somehow inexplicably went for a force at second base with the runner one step from the bag. The second blemish occurred in the 8th when Adrian Beltre got real aggressive on a sacrifice and threw to second to erase the go-ahead run. It looked to me like the throw was well late and shouldn’t have been attempted in the first place. Only a charitable call absolved Beltre of the blunder. (In Beltre’s defense, he made an awesome play earlier in the game of a well-placed bunt.)

Lastly, the offense was again dormant last night. Basically, it amounted to an opposite field job from Ortiz and seven Oriole walks, including two big ones in the ninth. Pedroia is now one for his last twenty-four, Youkilis is shivering and nobody is driving anything. Throw in three double plays and you have foundation for another frustrating night.

* Bard was almost the goat last night but remember, he did put out a fire in the sixth by coaxing a lazy fly to end a bases-loaded rally. If his stock is down as a result of that home run, I am buying more BARD (NASDAQ listing).

* What is it about the Orioles and Hideki Okajima? Oki’s Career ERA against the league ….2.72. And against Baltimore ….. 5.84. Not sure why, but the Os give this guy all kinds of trouble and did so again last night.

* Beltre picked up walks two and three last night. Still waiting for him to show some power.

* Oriole LF Lou Montanez stole his first MLB base last night. Is it any surprise it came off Victor Martinez?

* Does Francona ride Ortiz’ “hot” bat against a lefty tonight? Doubtful as I think the cement on that platoon has hardened. That being said, I was surprised to see Ortiz hit against Ohman in the 8th last night with runners on first and third and Lowell on the bench. I guess Francona figured the embarrassment of hitting for Ortiz twice in one week was too much for Papi to take.

* The Sox draw lefty Brian Matusz tonight, an extreme fly ball pitcher who only gets about a quarter of his batted ball outs off groundballs. He has yet to give up a home run this year but for a guy who allows so many flies, that is bound to change. You listening Adrian? One thing to watch for tonight ….Matusz gets a lot of people to swing at pitches out of the strike zone. I fear that will play well against this Sox offense.

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