Wednesday, May 26, 2010
TRUE RUN PREVENTION
Talk all you want about infield defense, UZR, and all that mumbo jumbo. What truly prevents runs is good pitching. And that's what the Red Sox have gotten the last few days. They've beaten two very good teams on the road because of excellent starts from everyone in their rotation except John Lackey, who'll pitch tonight.
Maybe the Rays aren't a .700 team. That's kind of obvious, as a .700 winning percentage would result in a 113 win season, and as good as Tampa Bay is, they're not 113 wins good. But the Rays haven't really played anyone. 6 games against Baltimore, 6 against Seattle, 5 against Oakland, 4 against KC, 3 against the White Sox, 3 against Houston, 3 against the Angels, 3 against Toronto.
I still don't think the Sox will catch the Rays in the East. But maybe they'll catch the Yankees? The Sox are still in 4th, but only 1.5 behind the 2nd place Yankees.
Willy Aybar hit a single in the 4th. That would be Tampa Bay's only hit off Lester or anyone else. Although Lester did walk 5, and needed 111 pitches to go 6 innings, you can't do much better than that. Delcarmen, Bard, and Papelbon completed the shutout.
This was Lester's 5th Quality Start in his last 6 outings. He's allowed 7 earned runs in his last 7 starts (49.2 IP, 1.27 ERA). He's 4-0 in May. He's the Ace of the Sox staff. Or at the very least, he's The Rock. The Cornerstone.
David Ortiz will get some deserved publicity for his reemergence as an offensive force. His double knocked in both Sox runs in the 3rd. He's hitting .361 in May, and slugging .787 with 9 HR and 19 RBI.
I'm not optimistic about the excellent starts continuing, as Lackey goes tonight against Garza. But taking 2 in Tampa is huge. The Sox have played their last 7 games against 1st place teams, and are 6-1 in that stretch. That's impressive.