The night was designed for Nomar but it ended up belonging to the newcomers, as John Lackey and Adrian Beltre filed compelling motions in support of Theo Epstein’s off-season “bridge to the future” plan. Throw in a dying grasp from David Ortiz and some excellent work from the bullpen and you had a nice night at Fenway where the Sox were able to climb back to .500. That might not mean much with the Rays and Yankees winning every night but it helps to know that you can’t launch an offensive wheile you are still reeling. And the Sox are no longer reeling.
* Earlier this week, Dave Cameron (USS Mariner) wrote in the Wall Street Journal that this year’s free agent pitchers have been a bunch of “duds.”The article seemed a bit premature, especially coming from Cameron, who holds a PhD in Sabremetrics and should know about the pitfalls of over-analyzing a small sample size. Anyways, consider Lackey’s performance last night to be a rebuttal posted in the letters to the editor section.
Lackey simply owned the night. He went seven innings on just 102 pitches. Two hits. Thirteen ground ball outs. Half of his strikes were called, meaning he was doing a good job of freezing Anaheim hitters and hitting spots. And he was strong as bull coming in, getting 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh. IN a nutshell, this is why the Sox shelled out 82 bucks over the next five years. Now people will point to that good but unspectacular ERA of 3.89 and point fingers. But if you back out a nightmare against Tampa, Lackey’s ERA is just 2.14 in five starts. I realize they all count, but I’ll take five out of six from just about anyone not named Pedro or Doc.
Even though it was helped by a generous scoring decision, Adrian Beltre had a real nice night. Yeah, the line read three hits and two RBI when it should have read two hits and one RBI, but Beltre crushed one in the 8th to net the Sox some valuable insurance and he was a vacuum at third, scooping up all those Lackey groundballs. And Pete Abraham of the Globe had a nice point this morning ….. Beltre made a very nice play in the fifth and two batters later Brandon Wood goes deep. Put that in Theo’s run prevention column.
* Just for the record, Beltre is 20-43 since April 21 and has lifted his OPS by more than 250 points. His slash line now sits at a very healthy .340/.374/.470. That OBP will come in, but if he can edge that slugging number up to .500, you won’t hear any complaints from me.
* On this morning’s rounds, we find out that patient number thirty-four, David Ortiz, lived through the night and has a feint but stable pulse. A rope single and an opposite field home run (that is probably an out in 26 ballparks) is hardly an onslaught but nor is it death. And it probably bought Ortiz a little extra time. It stinks that it has got to this point but it now feels like Ortiz is fighting for a career extension every night.
* This is pretty much all you need to know about the pen: Daniel Bard and Jon Papelbon threw 22 pitches last night and 18 were strikes. They were both excellent and I like the fact that Pap is using this new slider more. I think Pap finally realized that the book on him was out and he had to start mixing some variety into his act. Hopefully, this pitch will take some pressure of Cinco-Ocho’s fastball and give hitters something else to think about.
* Two Angels who I just can’t stand: Ervin Santana and Erick Aybar. Both are virtually expressionless and it just feels that both are putting on an act.
* Farm Report: The Salem Red Sox won again last night, 11-3, and they are now 19-7 on the year. The team is getting contributions from everywhere and the numbers up and down the lineup scream promotion. Development will surely prevail over expediency, but there are a number of players on this team that should see Portland by my birthday (7/17). Anthony Rizzo clubbed another bomb last night and 2B Oscar Tejeda is just chewing up the Carolina League. On top of that, pitching prospect Stolmy Pimental bounced back off a rough start to throw string five innings for the Sox last night.
* The Sox have won three in a row but if your momentum is only as good as your starting pitcher than I guess the Sox have no momentum, as Dice toes the rubber tonight. Now Dice threw six strong innings at the Angels last September but that was then and who knows what you will get tonight. That being said, the Sox sure could use another win before New York comes to town for the weekend.