Monday, June 11, 2012

Nationals Sweep Sox

The good news is the Sox only have 9 more games against teams from the Maryland/DC part of the country (they're 3-9 against the Orioles and Nationals). The bad news is, the Sox are below .500 again, their offense has cooled off, their bullpen looks shaky, they can't seem to win at home (14-19 in Fenway), they're 6 games behind the Rays, 5 games out of the Wild Cards (with three teams to leapfrog over), and the Yankees are red hot.

At least the weather's been nice lately.

There is one other piece of good news, and that's the starting pitching. Jon Lester struck out 9 yesterday in a very typical Jon Lester start. He went 7 innings, allowed 3 runs, and gave the Sox a very good chance to win the game. If only they could get a hit with runners in scoring position. Which they didn't. The Sox were 0 for 8 with RISP.

David Ortiz provided the only real offense. He was 3 for 4 with a double and a homerun. The other 2 Sox runs came from groundouts. Dustin Pedroia grounded into a fielder's choice in the 3rd and Scott Podsednik had an RBI groundout in the 7th to tie the game at 3-3. Podsednik has been decent with the Sox, who lately seem to be able to find productive outfielders with their eyes closed. He's hitting .368.

Unfortunately, Alfredo Aceves blew another game. He gave up a 2 out RBI double to Roger Bernadina. Aceves went on a nice run in the middle of May, but since blowing a save against Tampa Bay on May 27th, he's 0-3, and has allowed 7 runs in 9 innings. He does not appear to be a steady, reliable Major League closer.

Jonathan Papelbon has converted 16 of 16 save opportunities and has a 2.22 ERA.

When David Ortiz called a player's meeting a month ago, part of what was discussed was that the starting pitchers need to pull their weight. They've been doing that. Lester was good yesterday. Daisuke wasn't bad (especially for a rehab start) on Saturday. Buchholz was brilliant last Thursday. Beckett was great last Wednesday. The Sox only won 1 of these games.

Now it's the lineup's turn to pull some weight. Ortiz can't do it all. Pedroia is in a 3 for 24 (.125) slump since returning from his thumb injury. Adrian Gonzalez is slugging .419, about .100 lower than he should be expected to slug. Kevin Youkilis did well when he first returned from the DL, now he's in a 4 for 25 (.160) drought. Will Middlebrooks hasn't had an extra-base hit since May.

Hopefully a trip to Miami can help turn things around. The Marlins are in 4th place, and Beckett is on the mound for the Sox tonight. He might need to hit a few homeruns on his own to give himself a reasonable amount of run support. He faces 3-4 Josh Johnson. Adrian Gonzalez is 4 for 11 in his career against Johnson, so maybe he'll get a few hits tonight.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

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