A Triple Feature at Last Night’s Laser Show

If last night’s victory was a fish, I would have thrown it back in the creek and promised to never visit that spot ever again. Yes, catching a fish is nice but after nearly five hours and 425 pitches, it losses some of its luster.

Last night’s little marathon had something for everyone.  Dice got things going by serving up a giant plate of “frustration.” Dustin put on a Rocky Mountain Laser Show for the ages. Adrian Beltre’s 2010 “Redemption” tour continued with an excellent Thursday night show in Denver. And Colorado’s left-handers continued to do things to Jonathan Papelbon that you ordinarily might see in a Rocco Siffredi film.

All told, the Sox did managed to eke one out and avoid the sweep. And had they lost last night’s game, after leading 6-2 and 11-8, it would have been pretty difficult to stomach, especially since they coughed up Wednesday’s game and had Tuesday’s game slip by on a bad hop. So all things considered, last night’s extra innings victory was needed so I won’t be throwing it away just yet but please, can we do something about this bullpen so each game doesn’t resemble an Isner-Mahut match?

The big story last night was obviously Dustin Pedroia who dazzled with an extra special Laser Show. Folks, you just don’t see many shows that feature five hits and three bombs. To put some numbers on Dustin’s night …… well, he entered the game slugging .460 and sporting an OPS of .817. By the end of the night, he was slugging .503 and had an OPS of .872. Those are the types of fluctuations you might see in early May but when it happens 300 at bats into the season, you know you just watched an explosion. Moreover, with last night’s surge, little Dustin has himself firmly planted at the top of the player of the month chase. Check out these June numbers:  .378/.448/.633, four bombs, nine doubles, a triple, and six steals. He might need a strong close but the laser show is right in the mix and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him walk away with the June hardware.

The news on Jonathan Papelbon went from awful to atrocious last night. I realize that Francona wanted to get him back out there after Wednesday’s pummeling but to throw him back out there against Colorado’s lefties struck me as the height of stupidity. After what we saw Stewart and Giambi do to Pap on Wednesday, did it really make sense to put him out there against five straight southpaws? The record now shows it was an idiotic idea as the Rox went to town on Pap, absolutely blistering him for the second night in a row.

Following last night’s beating, lefties are now hitting .308 and slugging .523 off Papelbon. Righties, on the other hand, are hitting .132 and slugging just .340. Friends, those are some of the most perverse splits you will find (this side of Justin Masterson) and it raises the question: what the hell has happened to Papelbon’s anti-left defense? Granted, we are talking about a pretty small sample so the last two nights have skewed the picture, but for anyone who watched this week, it is impossible to deny that Papelbon is the same pitcher. Last night, he seemed scared to challenge Colorado’s lefties and when the count demanded he come back inside, he got hammered. That happens one, you move on. It happens again, and you now have a problem.

My gut tells me Pap isn’t hurt as his velocity has been excellent. In fact, he was throwing 97 last night which seems a bit hot given what we have seen in recent years. But his command is obviously failing right now, he isn’t missing too many bats and hitters are having little trouble squaring him up. It all makes for a mess. Yes, Bard could take over the closing role but who takes Bard’s spot right now? Three weeks ago, I thought the Sox needed at least one very solid addition to the bullpen. Now, I think the number is more like three.

I say that because the underbelly on the Boston’s pen is also busted. You know things aren’t great when Scott Atchison is more effective than the triumvirate of Ramirez/Delcarmen/Okijima. This troika had some sixth inning last night, surrendering six runs on seven hits. To be fair, a couple of the hits off Oki were hardly bullets but the truth of the matter is Oki’s story is tired and Delcarmen’s is stale. The Sox can limp along with these guys but if they really want to compete this season, Theo Epstein will have to find a couple of fresh arms. It’s too bad the White Sox have caught fire because JJ Putz would be perfect.

Other Points:

* With Mike Lowell now on the DL, I think the chances are more than 50/50 that we won’t see him play for the Red Sox again. I guess the Sox can warehouse on the DL and keep him on the 40-man roster just in case something happens but at this point, I think he will be released before he is activated.

* Was anyone surprised that Dice K shat the bed in the first last night? It seems EVERYTIME this guy returns from a break in his routine, it takes him thirty attempts to throw a strike. Hopefully the rust is off and Dice will have his “A” game next Wed against the Rays.   

* If Dustin Pedroia isn’t leading the Player of the Month race, it’s because Adrian Beltre tops the chase. This has been some June for AB as he continues to massively outperform pre-season expectations.

* The matchups aren’t bad this weekend in SF. Lincecum on Sunday promises to be a fight but Lester should be able to stuff that Giants lineup. Saturday, Buch draws some journeyman from Boston college so that sets up nicely. And tonight, it’s Wake versus lefty John Sanchez. I realize the Sox probably got in at five in the morning but if Wake can pitch effectively, I like the Sox chances to win two of these and split the road trip.

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