Thursday, May 31, 2012

Red Sox Use Long Ball to Beat Tigers

The Red Sox have an abundance of corner infielders. Gonzalez, Middlebrooks, Ortiz, and Youkilis. All of them had big hits last night. Three of them hit homeruns. Gonzalez hit a ground rule double to give the Sox a 5-4 lead in the 7th. Middlebrooks and Ortiz each hit two run shots in the 4th. Youkilis hit an insurance solo homer in the 8th.

Since coming off the DL, Youkilis is 9 for 31 (.290) in 8 games. He's getting on base. He's hit 2 homeruns and knocked in 12 RBI. He only had 9 RBI in 18 games in April. I think it's safe to attribute some of his struggles in April to his injury.

With players like Pedroia and Ellsbury on the DL, it's tough to trade Youkilis away. And at the same time his trade value increases, his value to the Sox also increases.

Jon Lester gave the Sox a good start. It's amazing how well the team plays when the starting pitching does its job. He went 6.2, throwing 120 pitches. He was charged with 4 earned runs, but 1 of those was an inherited runner that Albers allowed to score. He allowed 10 hits, but he didn't walk anyone, and he got 7 strikeouts.

Lester is a key figure to the Sox' success. It's hard to imagine the Sox making the playoffs (let alone winning in the playoffs) if Lester isn't performing. He's been a rock in the rotation for a few years now. This year he's been shaky. He needs to put together a few good starts in a row and get into a rhythm. He doesn't have to be an Ace. He just has to be consistent.

I'll give a tip of the cap to Alfredo Aceves, who's pitched in 4 straight games. I'll show more restraint with my appraisal of his performance this season. He's blown 3 saves. One of those came in this 4 game stretch. He hasn't been bad. But let's stop declaring him things that he's not. Only 4 other relievers have blown more saves this season.

Then again, he has stepped up and adequately filled a role the Sox needed to fill. It's not his fault that Papelbon wasn't re-signed, that Bailey got hurt, and that the Sox didn't acquire a starter so they were forced to put Bard in the rotation.

I'm liking Daniel Nava more and more each game. He had an outfield assist in the 7th that proved critical. If he doesn't throw out Avila at second, the 7th inning might have seen Detroit take a lead, not just tie the game.

Marlon Byrd also made a spectacular diving catch.

Guys like Nava, Byrd, and Aceves are easy to root for. There's no doubt that they're giving 100%, and that they're hungry to win.

The Sox are now 13-13 at home. They'll look to sweep the Tigers tonight. Beckett faces Max Scherzer. The Sox tagged him for 7 runs in 2.2 innings back in April (then lost 13-12). He's settled down since then, and has had a decent May. But the Sox should still win this apparent mismatch.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

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