Pitchers, Hitters, minor leaguers …….
“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven for these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of Sox-loving people march with you …… I have full confidence in your skill and courage. We will accept nothing less than full victory over Tyranny. Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking. “
The above was excerpted from Theo Epstein’s “order of the day” for April 1, 2011. Unfortunately, it didn’t’ quite produce the same results that its inspiration produced almost sixty-seven years ago. And that is because things went awry yesterday from the first moment the Sox hit the beach.
For one, Jon Lester stumbled right from the start, proving once again that he and April don’t get along. Three home runs, zero strikeouts and just four swinging strikeouts was not part of the battle plan.
Nor was Carl Crawford’s 0-4 with runners in scoring position. It was a tough spot for Crawford, going up against a murderous lefty in CJ Wilson, but Carl did not distinguish himself with three Ks and a soft humpback liner to short.
Despite these muffs, the Sox attack still had life right up to the point where Daniel Bard gave up a two-run double to David Murphy in the eighth. When that flare caught chalk and two runs scampered around, it was clear that the Sox opening assault would be turned back. So much for best laid plans and quick starts.
Of the three hiccups, Bard’s was clearly the most disappointing. I realize the Tar Heel didn’t exactly have the best spring and he still is probably a bit peeved that UNC is not playing tonight, but you don’t expect him to come in and spit the bit like he did yesterday. Not against the likes of Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba and David Murphy.
But here is one thing I noticed with Bard last season. Watch out when he walks a batter early. Bard is a guy who really losses something after he throws fifteen pitches and when he burns six or seven of those on a walk, it doesn’t bode well. With that said, it probably shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise that Murphy’s flare down the line came on Bard’s seventeenth throw. Now one could argue that Bard’s day might have looked a whole lot different if that ball had faded two more inches to the left but let’s not sugar coat this one. Bard was bad before and after that bit of misfortune and he is the one who will now spend April working it off.
The Bard failing aside, yesterday was not a complete waste as there were two noteworthy positives. First off, one has to be encouraged by Papi’s game tying bomb in the eighth. My memory has been failing me of late so could someone else help me out and tell me the last time Ortiz has managed a big fly, off a lefty, in a late inning spot? Given the fact that he only hit two home runs off goofy-arms all of last year, my gut tells me you have to go back until 2009 (or earlier) to find Ortiz managing some late-inning “lefty-on-lefty” crime like we saw yesterday. Hopefully, that won’t be the last time because God knows there is some upside in the Sox 2011 battle plan if Ortiz isn’t an automatic out every time he sees a southpaw after the sixth inning.
The other bright spot yesterday was the two-out RISP demonstration we got yesterday from Adrian Gonzalez. The two-out RBI hit is the most valuable play in baseball and the Mexican Penis gave us two of them yesterday. If he is racking these wins up against tough lefties like Wilson, imagine what he is going to do when the competition eases. Gonzalez is going to be a MONSTER!
Bright spots aside, the Sox first wave was turned back yesterday. Hey, it happens. But don’t’ worry, the Sox will take that beach. They faced a tough guy yesterday and they stepped on some mines but that doesn’t shake my faith. Wave two lands at 8:05 and I am expecting it to have more success.