The wins, I tell you, are hard to come by these days. And nothing is easy, even against the offensively challenged Athletics.
Last night was no exception as the Sox had to pull some teeth to eke out a 2-1 win over lowly Oakland. Gone are the days where this club can slug its way to victory. Case in point, the Sox have scored more than five runs just once since July 3rd and just twice since June 29th. For comparison sake, the Sox scored more than five runs FIFTEEN times in June.
But while the offense has been slowing, the Red Sox, outside of last Thursday, are getting some decent pitching and last night was no exception. Yes, taking down the Oakland lineup is hardly taking down the German army. But Matsusaka has been burned by bad offenses before, so you can’t take anything for granted when he is pitching.
That was not the case last night as Matsusaka was excellent, throwing first-pitch strikes to nearly everyone he faced as he blitzed his way through six economical innings. He did get into trouble in the seventh, which is customary for Matsusaka after he throws 75 pitches, and he did leave quite a mess for Bard, but isn’t Bard on this team to clean up the messes? So I’ll excuse Matsusaka for that little indiscretion and instead compliment him on keeping the Sox in yet another game where the offense just can’t string anything together.
* Last night was the second game in a row that Matsusaka has pitched a clean first but it was the first time all year he has allowed a run in the third. (FYI … Matsusaka has given up 13 ER in the first inning this season.)
* Matsusaka has made 13 starts this season. Six have been good, two have been decent and five have been poor. He really needs to convert a couple of those poor ones into decent or good ones to be considered much more than a number five starter.
* I relaize that swith-hitter Cliff Pennington got a hit off him last night from the left side, but Bard is so tough on lefties that is makes you wonder at some point, if you might see a switch-hitter take a shot against Bard as a righty.
* Since I had nice things to say about Bill Hall on Friday, he is 0-12 and has stranded a ton of base runners. It never fails.
* David Ortiz was made to look like a fool by LH Jerry Blevins and that doesn’t bode well for tonight or tomorrow, as both are against left-handers. The chances are pretty good that we won’t be seeing another hit from Ortiz until at least Thursday.
* Weird thing I found out last night as I was doing some ‘search on Wakefield. He was third in the AL in ERA+ in 2002, trailing ONLY Pedro and Derek Lowe. Yes, the Sox had the top three guys in the league and they were second in runs scored. Yet they didn’t make the playoffs! (Shows what a miserable pen can do to a won-loss record)
* It’s a shame Eric Patterson can’t put the ball in play more often because he has some power and he can burn. He showed some wild speed on his fourth inning triple. Now I have heard some speculate that he might stick around when the roster normalizes but the way I see it, that means Patterson, and not Lowrie, will get Lowell’s spot if and when Mikey is cut loose. I’d be a little surprised to see that.