Friday, July 04, 2008


The Sox put up 12 hits in their 6-4 victory over the Yankees this afternoon. Josh Beckett was shaky in the 1st, but settled down and pitched 6 solid innings, earning his 8th win of the season. Pedroia and Ellsbury combined to go 5 for 9. Mike Lowell was 2 for 4 with a double, a homer, and 4 RBI. Jason Varitek went 2 for 4, his first multiple hit game since May 31st. The Sox could have easily scored more, but they left 4 men in scoring position, and were caught stealing 3 times.

Youkilis also could have had a homerun if there were a slight breeze going out to left. He hit a ball deep to the warning track. Johnny Damon leaped, and tipped the ball with the edge of his glove. The ball literally sat on top of the wall before falling back into play, and Youk was held to a triple.

The one disconcerting aspect of the game was Hideki Okajima's performance in the 7th. He allowed a single and two walks to load the bases. He and Manny Delcarmen worked out of the jam, but Okajima has proven himself to be less than reliable this season. That's probably why he's been used as more of a middle reliever than an 8th inning set-up man.

His ERA is a seemingly solid 3.00, but his other stats tell a completely different story. His 1.47 WHIP is considerably higher than his 0.97 WHIP of 2007. He's blown 6 save opportunities. And inherited runners have been a major problem (12 of 15 have scored).

I think it's safe to say the Red Sox will be in the market for a set-up man at the trade deadline. Hopefully not a French Canadian ex-closer.

Justin Masterson makes his first career start against the Yankees Saturday afternoon. He faces 10-6 Mike Mussina, who will be making his 55th career start against the Red Sox.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson


Isn't it weird to be relieved that the Sox are out of Tropicana Field and playing in Yankee Stadium. How the mighty have fallen, and how the weak have risen.

Jon Lester smothered the Yankee lineup last night, earning a complete game shutout win, and snapping the team's 5 game losing streak. It's the 2nd shutout of the season for Lester. The last Red Sox pitcher to record multiple shutouts in a season was...

If you guessed Pedro Martinez, you're wrong. In 2001, Hideo Nomo pitched 2 shutouts. Pedro had 4 in 2000.

Lester's been somewhat of a savior for this team. Beckett has had ups and downs, Wakefield goes through his bipolar stretches, Matsuzaka can't get into the 6th inning, Colon is out of shape, and Schilling isn't coming. Lester leads Red Sox starters in ERA (3.21), innings (117.2), and starts (19).

He's been able to keep two things down: his pitch count, and the baseball.

Here are Jon Lester's pitch count stats from the last three seasons:

Year:Pitches Per Inning:

What's really helped Lester keep his pitch count down has been fewer walks, more groundball outs, and yes... fewer strikeouts. He's striking out batters less often compared to 2006 and 2007, but his strikeout to walk ratio has actually gone up because his walks have been so dramatically reduced.

Getting groundball outs has been huge for Lester. He's already induced 15 double plays, the 6th most in the Majors. Here's a look at the groundball to flyball ratio in his career:


Lester hasn't even allowed a sacrifice fly.

Back to last night's 7-0 victory over New York. It was nice to finally see the entire lineup producing at once. Every starter had a hit except Lugo. But he had a sac-fly. Even Varitek got a single in the 8th, ending that painful hitless streak.

The return of Coco Crisp shouldn't be overlooked. He hit .310 in June and returned to the lineup with a 2 for 3 night.

Josh Beckett pitches against Darrell Rasner this afternoon at 1:00 (Eastern). Beckett's only allowed 4 runs in his last 26 innings, but only has one Win to show for it.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Kathy Willens