Monday, July 23, 2007


You couldn't have picked a better outcome to this game. Jon Lester makes his first MLB start 11 months to the day since his last one, and pitches a solid 6 innings. He allowed 2 runs off 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6. He threw 96 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.

The offense supported him before he even took the mound, scoring 4 runs in the 1st, with the big hit being Manny's 2 run double.

The top of the order did their job with Crisp and Pedroia combining for 7 of 10 at the plate. Manny and Youkilis each went 2 for 4. Crisp, Pedroia, and Lugo all extended their hit streaks.

Now, before we get all fuzzy about this game, let's at least try to remember a few things.

Firstly, the Indians didn't arrive in Cleveland until 5 AM this morning after playing in Texas last night. They didn't take BP and probably didn't get much sleep.

Secondly, the Indians didn't know Lester was going to be the starter until we knew. The move made by the Red Sox was kept a secret until the proverbial last minute. Coming into this game, the Indians lineup had a total of 18 at-bats against Lester in the Majors. It's safe to say that they were all unfamiliar with his stuff, and the surprise announcement that he was pitching probably caught them off guard.

Thirdly, the Red Sox were up against Jake Westbrook. Westbrook is a shell of what he was last year. He has one win and an ERA over 6. He typically gets knocked around in the 1st inning, and the Red Sox treated him no differently tonight.

Fourthly, some signs of Lester's biggest problem last year were apparent. Jon was notorious for getting into jams in 2006, but being able to get out of them. That's all well and good, but they always resulted in his pitch count being very high, forcing him to leave games early. In his 15 starts last year, he went more than 6 innings in 2 of them. He had seven 5 inning starts. He had 6 starts lasting 6 innings or more. He averaged 18.57 pitches per inning last year. That simply doesn't bode well for a starting pitcher. In the 4th inning of tonight's game, Lester got himself into a jam, pitched very well to get himself out, but was forced to throw 28 pitches in the process. He pitched very well in this game, but his problem of not being able to pitch very deeply into games was apparent.

I know it seems like I'm being pessimistic and negative, but I'm not. I'm trying to be realistic. Lester pitched well, but it wasn't like he was up against a well-rested and fully prepared Indians lineup. He had 6 good innings, but he also had to work around his own mistakes.

I'll take the win, but Lester still seems to me to be a stop-gap measure until Schilling returns to the rotation.


Joel Pineiro has been designated for assignment. The Red Sox will be forced to eat his $4 million salary unless he is picked up by another team. Pineiro was essentially used only for mop up, or in emergencies. He had an ERA of 5.03 and a WHIP of 1.62. He will not be missed.

With the open roster spot, the Red Sox have called up Jon Lester from AAA Pawtucket. The Sox have also shifted the rotation, moving Julian Tavarez to the bullpen, and replacing him with Lester in tonight's game. Lester will be matched up against Jake Westbrook in his first MLB start since August 23rd of 2006.

Julian Tavarez was 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in his last 5 starts. He has failed to pitch 5 innings in 4 of his last 5 starts. He hasn't had a Quality Start since June 20th.

This move isn't about making Lester a starter, it's more about making Tavarez a reliever. Lester has not been that great in AAA. He was 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA. He's pitched 71.2 innings in 14 starts. Now, many of those were shortened by pitch counts. However, he's still only averaged a little bit above 5 innings per start. And these numbers are against AAA hitters.

Last season, Lester was 7-2, but with an unimpressive 4.76 ERA. He only averaged 5.4 innings per start. He got a lot of run support, and got some great assists from the bullpen.

He isn't the savior of this team. He isn't The Answer. He is a replacement for Tavarez while Schilling is still on the DL. Do you really think the Sox want to make his first MLB start in 11 months be against the Cleveland Indians and on the road?

Speaking of Schilling, he threw 3 scoreless innings for AAA Pawtucket on Saturday, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 6. This is a major step forward for Curt in his efforts to return from his dead arm type of injury.

Speaking of Pawtucket, Clay Bucholz had a solid start yesterday for the PawSox. He went 5 innings, allowing 2 runs off three hits. He struck out 10 batters. He got the loss as Louisville was able to outscore Pawtucket 6-5. Nevertheless, a very good outing for Bucholz in AAA.


After only scoring 2 runs on Thursday in a 4-2 loss, the Red Sox offense exploded this weekend for 29 runs in 3 games. Just to put this in perspective, it took the Red Sox 7 games to score 29 runs leading up to this stretch of scoring.

Now, we shouldn't get our hopes up, nor our expectations too high. We were up against a Chicago team that is playing horrendously. We were hitting at home. And we did just have a 6-6 homestand against Toronto, Tampa, KC, and the White Sox. We're also starting a 4 game series in one of the toughest places for a visiting team to win this season: Cleveland.

But the news for right now is good. Manny and Lowell both had big days on Sunday, each with a homerun. Manny had 4 RBI and got on base in all 5 plate appearances. Lowell added 3 RBI, giving him 70 on the season.

Enjoy the offense...

Now it's time for my New Englander pessimism to kick in.

Tim Wakefield once again could not reach the end of the 7th inning, nor could he reach 100 pitches. He hasn't gone 7+ innings since June 12th. Once again, Wakefield began crumbling in the 7th, allowing 2 runs to score before being relieved. It was an 8-1 comfortable game in the 7th until Wake collapsed. Then Delcarmen came in and had his first poor outing of the year, allowing his first inherited runner to score all season, and then allowing a run of his own. Manny's old problem of control came back to him as he threw 20 total pitches, only 8 of which were strikes. Thankfully, Okajima saved the day, and the lead.