Friday, August 11, 2006


Swept by the Royals. I just can't get my head around that. How can the Red Sox lose three in a row to the Royals? How can they drop five out of six to two last place teams that are a combined 53 games under .500? How can this be?

As usual, the answer comes back to pitching. The starting pitching has been mediocre at best. Everyone except Curt Schilling has not been getting the job done. Even Schill blew up in the 8th inning last night, giving the Royals (the Royals!) their second win in their last at-bat in as many nights.

The problems with the starting pitching cascade into the bullpen. When Beckett, Lester, Wells, Johnson and whoever else the Sox can pull off of Yawkey Way to start that night can't go more than 5-6 innings, it puts a tremendous strain on the bullpen. The guys who were the most reliable relievers; Papelbon, Timlin, Delcarmen and Hansen have been struggling of late and I think you have to attribute at least some of it to the workload they have been forced to take on. Certainly the loss of Varitek to a knee injury is hurting as well. Few catchers handle pitchers like 'Tek. There's a reason why Mirabelli is the backup, and Javy Lopez is not known for his defense. I have to think that the young guys miss particularly miss Varitek.

The talk radio reaction seems to be to blame Theo for not doing anything at the trading deadline, especially when the Yankees picked up Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. It certainly would have been nice to pick up a Roy Oswalt or a Dontrelle Willis, and I would have given up some of the jewels of the farm system for a dominant starting pitcher in his prime for one of those guys. But do you empty out your farm system for a guy like Lidle, who had a 4.74 ERA in the National League? I wouldn't. And I don't think that guys like Kip Wells are any better than what you have.

The next three weeks are really going to tell the story of this season. After playing the Orioles this weekend the Sox have three games at home against the resurgent Tigers, five against the Yankees, then a nine game trip to the west coast with three games each against the Angels, Mariners and A's. That's 20 games in the next three weeks. Realistically, they need to be no worse than 12-8 to stay in the race. We'll see how they do starting today against the Orioles.

(I wrote this before David Wells' 9-2 win over the Orioles tonight. Boomer's start (7 innings, 1 run) was certainly encouraging. Jason Johnson starts tomorrow - NESN named his start against Tampa last Sunday as the best Sox pitching performance of the week. When Jason Johnson is your best pitcher, that tells you a lot about how things are going)


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