The Red Sox Continue to Feast on Inter-league Play

A lot of good stuff has happened to the Red Sox over the past two days. Two wins, an exciting major league debut from lefty Felix Doubront, some rips from David Ortiz, a big night from Daniel Nava, a BLAST for Beltre and a continuation of Dustin’s laser show. Throw in a pair of losses from Tampa and New York and things are looking up at Fenway. Unfortunately, there is a price to pay for this bounty and it looks like that price may be two weeks without JD Drew.

To begin, let’s just get the Drew stuff out of the way. In case you weren’t watching, here is the setup. Two outs in the third and Mike Cameron drops the third out of the inning. So instead of being in the dugout, Drew is out in right when a sinking liner comes his way. Drew makes a play on the ball but as he reels it in, he hears a pop and presto ….. hammy injury. Given Drew’s injury history, it seems like a trip to the DL is likely which means that every opening outfielder (Ellsbury, Drew, Hermida, Cameron) on the Sox roster will have spent time on the DL this season. That casualty rate is something you would expect to see on a WWII battlefield, rather than a major league outfield.    

At this point, the Sox are playing really thin in the outfield and IF Drew is out until July, you have to wonder if Sox have enough in-house to manage the situation, especially since Cameron isn’t an everyday player. Now they do get Hermida back in a week but that means for the time being, the Sox will be juggling an outfield of Nava, McDonald, Cameron, Hall, and possibly Josh Reddick or recent signing Ryan Sheely. Hermida will brighten the picture marginally but the question remains: Can this contingent hold up for two weeks? Three off days between now and July 2nd will help but if Drew’s hammy is a longer-term issue, the Sox will have to find some outfield help. Anone have Mark Kotsay’s phone number?

Now on to the positive.

A couple things have become apparent over the past few nights …..first, the Sox are feasting on NL pitching and two, David Ortiz’ June correction is over. On this homestand alone, the Sox have scored 55 runs in seven inter-league games. Given that onslaught, you’d think the Sox might be 7-0 instead of 6-1. And no one in the Boston lineup has feasted more heartily than David Ortiz who is 12-25 with three home runs, four doubles and ten RBI since returning home. Ortiz certainly seems over his early June funk and one thing worth noting ….. he already has SIXTEEN walks this month. So despite cooling off early, it is clear that Ortiz is once again a feared hitter who pitchers are approaching with caution.

While Ortiz is simply mashing, Dustin Pedroia has the laser show cooking once again. Riding a 15-31, Pedroia has put a miserable slump behind him and the big question going forward is: can he keep it up when the Sox hit the road next week? Right now, Pedro and Scutaro are doing a lot of damage at the top of Boston’s lineup and it would be nice if they keep this going in Denver and San Francisco.

While the offense has been sizzling, Felix Doubront showed last night why he has a bright future ahead. Yeah, he seemed to tire in the fifth, but there was a lot to like in innings one through four. He has a live arm and that changeup is already good enough to succeed in the AL. Yes, he needs some finishing work at AAA but it’s comforting to know that the Sox have a big insurance policy ready to kick in if a starting pitcher goes down. Moreover, come August, I think it’s conceivable that Doubront could become a factor in the pen as the Sox look for ways to bridge that seventh inning.

I wish the news on John Lackey was as positive but once again, we got an uninspiring effort from the 82M dollar man on Thursday night.  The final line wasn’t terrible, three runs over six innings. But once again, Lackey got smacked around and in a few instances, he allowed two-out rallies out of thin air. Thus far, he simply has not shown a great ability to finish off clean innings and more disturbingly, there are times when I think he is simply intimidated to attack certain hitters. That was the case Thursday with Justin Upton as Lackey tip-toed around Upton like the right-fielder was Manny Ramirez. Call me crazy, but “tip-toeing” and Lackey’s reputation as a “bulldog” don’t seem to mix very well.

Other Thoughts:

Six weeks ago, did anyone think the Sox would be a game out of first? Thanks go out to the NL East as Philly, Atlanta, New York and Florida have been doing right by Boston over the past few days. Things are actually looking pretty good for Boston right now. Yeah, the injuries in the outfield are a concern and Beckett is still out for a couple of weeks but the Yankees now have an Arod problem to deal with and their pitchign is suddenly starting to show cracks. And Tampa? Well, the offense hasn’t been too godo of late and last night, Matt Garza got pounded. Today, Jeff Niemann goes against Chris “prohibition” Volstad in a rematch of last Sunday’s game that went to Florida by a score of 6-1.

* Will so-and-so be booed when he returns to Fenway? Count me in the camp who thinks this whole discussion, whether it applies to Nomar, Manny or Johnny Damon is pretty juvenile and trivial. I really couldn’t care less how these guys are treated and it annoys me how much attention is focused on these returns. For the record, Manny was probably the second greatest free agent signing in history behind Barry Lamar Bonds but he also left town like a punk ass bitch. I think those basically cancel each other out so if I was conducting the orchestra last night, I would have demanded silence as Manny strode to home.

* He’s cooled off a little in this department but Adrian Beltre is still hitting .387 with runners in scoring position and that jumps to .467 with two outs. What a terrific signing this has turned out to be.    

* FARM REPORT: With Drew possibly headed to the DL, it is possible that Josh Reddick might be recalled to take his place. And perhaps the timing is right as Reddick has been heating up of late. Although he went 0-3 last night, Reddick was 9-19 this week and it seems like the switch in Reddick’s bat may have been flipped. All reports indicate that Reddick has been playing much better over the past month and it he is going to take off, he might as well do it in Boston.

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