Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Red Sox Finish Homestand the Right Way

At the outset of this homestand, I wrote a post about how the Red Sox were beginning a 16 game stretch against mediocre and less than mediocre opponents. I argued that despite injuries to starting pitchers, the Sox could and should take advantage of the schedule and win some games. They've done that so far. They finished their homestand 7-2 and now embark on a West Coast trip to play two of the worst teams in the American League.

Jon Lester wasn't great today. He allowed 7 hits in 7 innings, and didn't walk anyone. But a pair of those hits were homeruns. He gave the Sox an opportunity to win, which is nice, but I expect more then just "nice" from Lester. I don't expect him to be Ace-like every time out, but with Beckett and Buchholz down, he should be slightly better than he's been this year. He's 5-5 with a 4.53 ERA. And in June, he's 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA. Today he allowed 4 runs in 7 innings. Good. Not great. He's capable of doing better.

You can't ask much more from the lineup today. They jumped on Ricky Romero early and often. The game was over after the 1st inning when it was 6-1 Sox.

Since it was a blowout game, Adrian Gonzalez of course added to his RBI total. He had 3. Mike Aviles was 2 for 4 with a single and a double. He knocked in a pair. Gonzalez and Aviles are now tied at 43 RBI.

Cody Ross was 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored and a double. His 14th double of the season. His .578 slugging percentage is the second best on the team behind Ortiz.

Speaking of David Ortiz, I saved the best for last. In the 5th inning he hit his 399th career homerun. Unfortunately, he didn't get #400 in front of the Fenway crowd. Odds are he'll hit that milestone in Seattle or Oakland. The Mariners have allowed the 5th most homeruns in baseball despite playing in a pitcher-friendly park.

Ortiz and the Sox are in Seattle for 4 games. The series starts tomorrow night at 10 as Franklin Morales opposes Felix Hernandez. Ortiz has homered once off King Felix before.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Clay Buchholz Has Esophagitis

What is esophagitis? It's an inflammation of the esophagus. And Clay Buchholz has it.

It can have serious effects. Difficulty to swallow can lead to weight loss. Breathing problems can result. And in the case of Clay Buchholz, "an associated gastrointestinal bleed" can occur. This is drastic stuff. It's more than just an injury sidelining a ballplayer, this has potentially life-altering implications.

He was released from Mass. General late last night. Which is great news. There's no timetable on his return, but I'd expect him back just after the All-Star Break.

What causes esophagitis? Acid reflux can wear the tissue of the esophagus. Infections can also cause esophagitis. So can alcohol abuse.

Mr. Buchholz does enjoy a drink. So don't many of us. I'm in fact enjoying a Sam Summer as I write this post. Buchholz and I are the same age (27). Although he's 4 inches taller than I, and about 30 pounds lighter (in other words, he's significantly thinner). His body may be much better tuned to be a Major League pitcher, but my body is designed to handle a few drinks better than his is.

Buchholz has a reputation for drinking. He drank in the clubhouse last season. Starting pitchers have days off between starts and it's common practice for them to have a few after the games they're not involved in. And 99.9% of the time, nothing bad happens.

Maybe Clay's just unlucky. Maybe he's also a ridiculously skinny man drinking above his weight class. I don't know. I'm not a doctor. I'm just a drinker.

But this guy does seem to have recurring health issues. I'm not blaming him for this latest issue. It seems like something that could happen to anyone and be a complete shock. At the same time, this is a slender, gangly man. I'm not questioning his figurative guts, but his actual guts have let him down. I'm not questioning his figurative backbone, but that let him down last year. How long until he gets rotator cuff problems? How long until his delivery becomes too much of a stress for his shoulder?

He was pitching extraordinarily well this year when his belly started to bleed on the inside. He was doing well last year when he got a stress fracture in his back. He's only started more than 17 games in a season once in his career. As someone who's been in the Majors since 2008, even thrown a no-hitter, shouldn't he have more 20+ start seasons?

He seems like a guy that will always carry that "when healthy" disclaimer around with him. He's 27 years old and should be entering the prime of his career as a starting pitcher. Instead, he's being released from a hospital with gastrointestinal bleeding.

Something's not right here.

Patience Pays Off for Red Sox

It took the Red Sox lineup a while to wake up last night. They were utterly silenced by Aaron Laffey Taffy who was making his first starting appearance since 2010. Daisuke Matsuzaka and the bullpen were able to keep them very much in the game, and the Blue Jays bullpen eventually crumbled. The Red Sox are now back in sole possession of 4th place.

Daisuke doesn't seem like he's had Tommy John surgery at all. I'm not sure how good that news is, but considering the health of his fellow SPs, I'll take a 5.2 inning, 100 pitch Matsuzaka Special. And he only walked 1 batter. He's struggled at the beginning of his starts, then settles in and is nearly unhittable.

If he gets that 1st inning down, he can go deep into games and give the Sox an even better chance at winning.

Will Middlebrooks had another error. That's bad luck for him. I don't think this is a post-Youkilis trend manifesting itself. He's not a great fielder and I don't care. He can hit. He had an RBI sac-fly last night.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his 14th homerun of the season. He and Middlebrooks each have 35 RBI. Adrian Gonzalez has 40. He got his 40th last night with an RBI double in the 8th.

The Sox can end their homestand 7-2 if they beat the Jays this afternoon. They need Jon Lester to pitch like Jon Lester. That's because they'll be facing 8-1 Ricky Romero. Romero's benefited from good run support. He has a 5.82 ERA in his last three starts. So if Lester can shut down the Jays, the Sox can get a few off Romero and win.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo