Red Sox Get a Needed Night Off in Toronto

A win, a Tampa loss, a beat-down on tough southpaw, another day closer to the cavalry arriving, a surge from a slumbering offense and another big night from one of the league’s top two lefties. Sox fans can’t ask for a whole lot more than that menu.   

Coming off a deflating sweep down in Tampa, the Sox needed a night like last night. A night where things came easy.  A night where the pen wasn’t needed to protect a tight lead. A night where a AAAA player wasn’t asked to get a big hit off a tough reliever. A night where a starting pitcher wasn’t asked to perform with no margin of error. In other words, the Sox needed a night where they could get off early and put it in cruise control. They got that last night in Toronto.

My only quibble with last night is all that largesse came on a “Lester” night when it really wasn’t needed. With the horse on the mound, five runs would have sufficed. Instead, I would have preferred that at least one of those touchdowns be carried over to this afternoon when John Lackey’s “2010 Tour of Mediocrity” continues from The Rogers Centre.  Unfortunately, those runs are now gone and Lackey and the Offense will have to start from scratch this afternoon against the usually wild Brandon Morrow. By the way, today is a rematch of a May game where Lackey and Morrow hooked up in one of the ugliest games of the year. That night, Lackey was about a D+, but Morrow became unhinged and walked 37 batters, a new AL record.

There really isn’t a whole lot say about last night. Lester was very good once again and he now leads the AL is surrendering the fewest hits per nine innings. Throw in the all the Ks and you have a devastating combo.

And on the offensive side, it’s pretty hard to imagine a night where David Ortiz, JD Drew and Kevin Youkilis get just one hit and the offense scores fourteen runs. But that is what happens when the bottom of the lineup explodes and the opposing pitchers can’t find the plate or keep the ball in the park. So Mike Cameron and Bill hall got a chance to do some stat-padding, Youkilis continued his trek to climb his OPS above 1000, and Beltre got an opportunity to stave off a slump. All told, the Sox were squaring up balls right out of the gate and needless to say, it would be nice if Cam and Hall could give us a little more of that, especially against left-handed pitching.

Other Thoughts:

* There is good news and bad news on the Cliff Lee front. The bad news first. The Sox play Texas to open up the second half and clearly that means Lee is on tap. Moreover, if the Sox do make the playoffs, Lee and Texas loom in the Divisional Series. Having to beat Lee to move on is not an appetizing thought. But look on the bright side, the Sox have three second-half series with Seattle and with Lee in Texas, there are probably a couple of matchups in there that just got a whole lot better.

* The Sox are now 4-5 since their injury report bottomed out. I would have signed for 5-6 so they are performing in-line with what I thought but boy, it sure seems like they had a shot to outperform. That Monday night loss at Tampa STILL bothers me.

* Was listening to WEEI this morning and I have to agree with Lou Merloni. Yes, the Sox need a reliever but what they really need is a big right-handed bat to play left-field, at least on a platoon basis. Nava and McDonald have filled-in admirably but this team has struggled mightily against lefties and they need another guy out there who can mash.  

* Jacoby Ellsbury says he was prescribed Celebrex for his broken ribs? Did the Red Sox think his rib injury was arthritis? I haven’t seen today’s “defense” from Ellsbury but based on reports I have seen, this guy seems like he knows he has been convicted in the court of public opinion.  

* Bad News on the injury front: sounds like Victor Martinez will not be back next Thursday. Given the replacement, catcher is the Sox biggest hole right now and the Sox simply can’t afford to be without Martiinez too much longer. If this thing is going to keep Martinez out until August, the Sox have made a big mistake by not acquiring a better interim option.  On the bright side, Mark Wagner is back at Pawtucket after a long stint on the DL and he probably is a better option than Gustavo Molina if the Sox decide more help is needed.

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