Sunday, April 22, 2007
SOX WIN WITH SMALL BALL AND LONG BALL
This was a total team victory. I love total team victories. Beckett got knocked around early on in the game, but settled down nicely and gave us a really good start. Okajima came in for 2 batters and got them both, leaving two inherited runners on base and picking up his first Hold. Timlin came in after that and pitched 0.2 perfect, giving the ball to Papelbon who pitched a hitless 9th for his 15th Save in 15 attempts in his career in April. Lugo went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI, Youk went 2 for 4, Ortiz went 2 for 5 with 4 RBI, Manny, Lowell, and Drew didn't contribute a whole lot, Tek went 2 for 4, Crisp went 2 for 4, Cora went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice bunt.
All in all, a very well played game by the Sox. We manufactured a run in the 2nd. Crisp bunted for a single with 1 out, then Cora bunted for a single. A wild pitch moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Lugo grounded out, knocking in Crisp. Youkilis singled to left to knock in Cora and tie the game.
The 4th inning was an interesting dichotomy of seemingly opposing baseball philosophies. In other words, we played small ball and long ball in the same inning. Crisp had a soft line drive single, stole second base, Cora sacrifice bunted him to 3rd, then Lugo grounded out, driving in Coco. That was how we took the lead. Then Youkilis walked and Ortiz hit a homerun around Pesky's Pole. That was how we kept the lead.
There's been a lot of debate among baseball nerds like myself about offensive strategies. Some people argue for the small ball tactics like stolen bases, hit and runs, sacrifices, moving runners over, basically trying to score runs 1 or 2 at a time. Then there's people who argue for what has been dubbed "Money Ball" tactics (even though Money Ball was more about finding undervalued players that provide cheaper production). This philosophy is more numbers crazy and involves things like OBP, OPS, and other alphabet soup stats. Essentially, you get a few guys on with walks and hits, then hit homeruns and extra basehits. You don't risk things like stealing bases, you don't give up outs with sacrifices. The goal is to score runs in bunches.
I think both strategies are good, but also need to be used in tandem with the other. What I mean is, a team should be able to do BOTH effectively. It has to be able to manufacture a run, and it has to be able to frequently score multiple runs in an inning. We've got a bottom of the order than can manufacture some runs for us. These individual add-on runs are huge over the course of 162 games. And in the playoffs, they're monumental, because it's a lot tougher to score any runs in the playoffs.
When the hell is Manny Ramirez going to get some luck? The poor guy has peppered the warning tracks of the AL with fly outs these past few weeks and has a .193 average to show for it. When he gets hot, the dynamics of our lineup dramatically change.
Coco Crisp finally got his average up over the Mendoza Line. YAY!
Is it time to consider using Cora frequently? He's contributed each of the last 3 games, he's hitting well, and he plays good defense. I still think we give Pedroia a chance, but maybe sprinkle in some Cora every 4th or 5th game.
But anyway, the Man of the Game is David Ortiz. Papi went 2 for 5 with a double, a homerun, and a warning track fly out. He had 4 RBI and a run scored.
Hideki Okajima: 0.2 IP, K, 2 inherited runners left
Julio Lugo: 2/4, 2 RBI, run, BB
Kevin Youkilis: 2/4, RBI, 2 runs, BB
Daisuke vs. Chase Wright tonight for the sweep.