Friday, April 25, 2008
It used to be that when the Sox and (Devil) Rays were in a battle of bullpens, the Sox would have a decisive advantage. Even in the days of Chad Fox and the closer-by-committee, this was true. It isn't that Tampa Bay's relief corps has improved that much, it's that our bullpen has fallen into mediocrity.
The longer last night's game went on, the more you felt as though Tampa would win. When Timlin came in to pitch the 11th, I had already started writing this post. I'm a pessimist by nature, but watching the Sox bullpen and predicting failure is more realism than pessimism.
To be fair, the relievers were great until the 11th. Aardsma continues to impress, as he threw a hitless 7th. Corey had an interesting outing but didn't let up a run. Lopez didn't blow it in the 10th. And until the 11th, Timlin looked decent.
Another big problem for the Sox in this game was David Ortiz. There have been a few times this season at which we all felt like Papi was emerging from his slump. But every 2 for 4 game he has seems to be followed by an 0 for 5, or an 0 for 4 with a walk. Last night he was an astonishing 0 for 6, with 4 men left on base, a strikeout, and a huge double play in the top of the 11th. The Sox are hitting .299 as a team. If you took out Ortiz's .177 average, they'd be hitting .314 as a team.
Sean Casey had to leave the game in the 2nd with a right hip flexor strain. He's listed as day-to-day.
Clay Buchholz takes on Edwin Jackson Saturday night.
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
A solid MLB debut for Justin Masterson went to waste last night as the Sox bullpen couldn't hold onto a lead against the Angels.
Masterson went 6 innings, allowing just 2 hits, 4 walks, and 1 run. He struck out 4, and his sinker induced 11 groundball outs and only 3 flyball outs. He threw 95 pitches, 58 of which were strikes. But then Javier Lopez came into the game.
The Sox had a 3-1 lead, and only needed to get 9 outs for a win. But Lopez walked the first man he faced, then allowed a single. Delcarmen came in, but also struggled, allowing another walk and an infield single which made it a 3-2 game. Then Okajima came in, but allowed back-to-back basehits, which knocked in 3 more runs.
Aardsma allowed another run in the 8th, then Tavarez let in one more to make it 7-3. Those runs turned out to be important, as David Ortiz hit a 2 run homer in the 9th, but the Sox still came up 2 runs short.
On the bright side, Coco Crisp is still hitting. He was 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 stolen bases. He's been a very pleasant surprise so far this season. Manny, Pedroia, and Youkilis are 1, 2, 3 in the AL batting title race. And Justin Masterson looked GREAT for someone who hasn't even pitched in AAA ball yet.
All things considered, having three scratched starting pitchers, losing 2 of 3 to Anaheim isn't that bad. The games were close, almost playoff like in that respect. But you know what helps you win close games? Middle-relief. And the Sox simply don't have much reliability in that department.
The Sox travel to St. Pete to take on the (Devil) Rays. Tim Wakefield goes against Matt Garza
AP Photo/Steven Senne