A Good Win

No one would have blamed the Red Sox for losing last night’s game. Check out this list:

  • Josh Beckett (flu/neck)
  • Jason Varitek (flu)
  • Manny Delcarmen (flu)
  • Mike Lowell (thumb)
  • Alex Cora (elbow)
  • Coco Crisp (legs)

That’s the list of players unavailable for the game. With Joe Thurston sent back down to make room for emergency starter David Pauley, the Sox were left without a backup outfielder, one backup infielder and no backup catcher. One awkward step and the Sox could have had Dustin Pedroia catching and Julio Lugo in left field.

So here’s a one-run game I’m happy to have. The Sox simply beat up the Angels’ pitching staff — should have even won by three runs if Vlad Guerrero hadn’t turned into Superman to rob Manny of a home run and the ump had made the right call on a close play at first on Lugo.

Much like in the World Series, we saw what happens when the two hoemgrown kids at the top of the lineup are both clicking simultaneously. Ellsbury/Pedroia leading into Ortiz/Ramirez is simply an incredible combination. With the way Youkilis and Drew are hitting in the 5/6 spots, it’s no wonder the Sox have won 10 of their last 11.

It’s a good day today. That was a game the Sox could have easily chalked up in the "L" column before it even started. They gutted out a win. Championship teams do that.

37 comments… add one
  • One of these days, “luck” will break the other way! ;) (In the SABR 1-run sense, in any case..)
    But ya, seems like everything’s clicking for the Sox, at least in the “just enough sense”. All the meanwhile, the Yanks are either winning 8-5 or losing 9-1. Grumbles.
    I had Vlad and Manny in another fantasy league, and Vlad went 0 for 5. Would’ve been nice if Manny got that HR!

    Lar April 23, 2008, 10:51 am
  • it came close to going into extra-innings. Imagine what Francona would have had to do in that situation?

    Nick -YF April 23, 2008, 10:55 am
  • Saw this on FireJoeMorgan, and had to share it here:
    Joe Morgan: I may be the only one that feels this way, but I still believe the weather has had an adverse affect on some of the best hitters in the game. In places like Detroit and Boston, hitters are struggling.
    Hitters in Boston are struggling? Really, Joe? You mean the team that leads the majors in batting average (.303), OBP (.377), doubles (49), and rank third in slugging (.462) and runs scored (119)?

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 10:58 am
  • The answer Nick: many, MANY innings of Tavarez.

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 11:00 am
  • But Atheose, Tavarez had already pitched in that game (when Pauley left). It was going to be a debacle of Lopezian proportions if that game went into extras.

    Devine April 23, 2008, 11:03 am
  • PS All this winning is super-fun. One has to figure there will be icky/average months mixed in, but it bears repeating: considering strength of schedule, the disgusting travel, and all the games in a row (five more to go!), this is a great, great start for the Red Sox, who’ve probably won at least 4 games in the past two weeks that they “shouldn’t have”.

    Devine April 23, 2008, 11:06 am
  • Whoops my mistake Devine. Forgot that it was him that came into the game, and who Okajima bailed out of trouble in the 7th.

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 11:07 am
  • Oh, and all the injuries. Yeah.

    Devine April 23, 2008, 11:07 am
  • Agreed, Devine. We’ve also been hitting extremely well with 2 outs, which is very refreshing. It seems like every run we’ve gotten in the last two weeks has been with two outs.

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 11:09 am
  • By the way, Pedroia is now leading the AL in batting average (.364). He’s competing against Youk (.354) and Manny (.342), who are both also in the top 5. I know it’s April, but it’s nice having three players competing with each other for the batting title.

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 11:12 am
  • Also (sorry for the spam of posts) Manny’s tied for both homeruns (6) and RBI’s (20) in the AL. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Manny got the triple crown and won MVP?

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 11:15 am
  • It’s super-awesome, Atheose. This is so unexpected.
    Also, was that Papelbon’s best outing ever last night, or just one of his top 5? Pure heat, untouchable.

    Devine April 23, 2008, 11:20 am
  • Of the current everyday players 7 of the 9 are hitting over .300
    Pedroia .364, Youk .354, Manny .342, Casey .340, Lugo .324, Ellsbury .308 and Drew .302

    TJ April 23, 2008, 11:21 am
  • Devin, it may have been one of his top 5, not sure if it was #1…
    That was a pretty impressive outing for him.
    There was this game August 27, 2007
    – J. Thome struck out looking
    – P. Konerko struck out swinging
    – A.J. Pierzynski struck out swinging
    though it wasnt a save situation.

    TJ April 23, 2008, 11:28 am
  • And then I can say I predicted it for Manny! Who was laughing at my 30 HRs and 90 RBIs in July comment?
    Don’t get too excited: Pedroia’s sporting a .397 BABIP, Youkilis a .370 BABIP, and, bummer, Manny is at .412 BABIP. Most amazing to me is Lugo hitting .324 on top of a .381 BABIP. They’ll all fall back to earth when the luck shifts. :) Something tells me playing the Rangers has a certain way of busting slumps. They’re probably the worst AL team this year.

    A YF April 23, 2008, 11:31 am
  • So what you’re saying is the starting pitching will level off to make up for it and Ortiz will actually hit later?

    Devine April 23, 2008, 11:33 am
  • The Sox are hot. No team is as good as they look when they’re hot.
    But the Sox are hot and winning at a time when, ostensibly, you could argue they shouldn’t be hot and winning — their pitching is struggling a bit, David Ortiz untilr ecently has been awful, and they’re battling some injuries.
    Imagine what they’ll do when the pitching is solid, Ortiz is hot and they’re all healthy. :-)

    Paul SF April 23, 2008, 11:38 am
  • To complete the list:
    Casey – .364 BABIP
    Ellsbury – .289 BABIP
    Drew – .372 BABIP
    Of all the hitters, Manny included, I gotta say I’m most impressed by Ellsbury. 13bb against 5k’s – that’s phenom-enal. The homers likely won’t stick, but with that patience, and doubles and triples, and speed/defense – we’re talking a true MVP-caliber player. I wouldn’t be surprised to look up in August and see him replace Sizemore as everyone’s favorite CF.

    A YF April 23, 2008, 11:39 am
  • It is really, REALLY fun to watch a kid like Ellsbury score from first even after stopping on a shot into the left field corner by Dustin. Win or lose, having a kid with speed like this is something of new thing (Otis Nixon’s tenure in Boston notwithstanding). The Sox feel, at least after a night like last night, “home grown”, or at least as “home grown” as a team that can sign mostly whatever player it wants can.

    SF April 23, 2008, 11:42 am
  • “Imagine what they’ll do when the pitching is solid”
    That’s the thing – I’m not convinced the pitching will hold up all year. The lack of depth is the real problem. Beckett has already missed a bunch of starts and it’s not like the cause was the Japan trip :). Between Wake’s age and the youth of Lester and Buck, it’s a tenuous rotation without a safety net.
    Just my two cents – carry on.

    A YF April 23, 2008, 11:44 am
  • Yeah, I’m not sure our pitching will bounce back a lot. Beckett will do well I’m sure, but the rest of it is a giant question mark.
    And you’re right-on about the depth, A YF. We’ve got Masterson coming up in the minors, Colon trying not to suck and maybe Schilling coming back mid-year. Aside from that we have nothing. I suppose we could make a mid-season trade for pitching–we’ll have Lowrie and Crisp to add, though I’d hate to see Lowrie go somewhere else.

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 11:55 am
  • Meant to say “We have Lowrie and Crisp to offer“.

    Atheose April 23, 2008, 11:56 am
  • This team is one good starter from being completely solid (not spectacular, but definitely good enough to consistently win) in the rotation, given that Beckett will be Beckett (which is not a certainty).
    Whether that starter is Matsuzaka, Buchholz, Colon, Schilling, or a crazy mid-season acquisition remains to be seen. But it’s really the only missing piece. The offense is going to be good (though probably not this good). The bullpen has 2 closers, a potentially great setup man (Delcarmen) and a ragtag band of possibly-averages, which is WAY more than most teams.
    I’m optimistic, but very much keeping a “one game/series at a time” attitude.

    Devine April 23, 2008, 12:06 pm
  • No question, the Sox bats are hot right now. When an offense is clicking like that, and everyone is contributing, a team can look invincible for spurts. But we all knew their offense was capable of stretches like this, and will be very good (if not quite *this* good) throughout most of the season.
    The guy who’s really surprising me on the Sox is Okajima. Given his numbers in Japan and the MLE translation, I didn’t think there was any way he kept up this level of production. If he remains as good throughout this year, I’ll be very impressed – both w/ him and the Sox pitching coaches.

    Mark (YF) April 23, 2008, 1:15 pm
  • No kidding. I don’t expect this luck (or, crazy productive, timely offense) to last all season, but man. Winning the ones you’re supposed to lose is always nice.

    Jackie (SF) April 23, 2008, 2:42 pm
  • Oh, and a word about BABIP – how sure are we that every player is going to regress to .300? I’m sure I’m not the only one here who read about the stuff Brian Bannister (SP for KC) is doing to try to keep his down. I wonder whether the SABR-savvy Sox FO is doing something similar (from both pitching and hitting POVs)?
    The one thing that jumped out to me is how different BABIP seems to be in different counts – it’s much worse when the batter is behind (more pressure to swing whether the pitch is something they can hit solidly or not, e.g.). So batters who have above-average plate discipline, and therefore don’t get behind in the count so much – like many of the Sox players – might be expected to maintain higher than average BABIPs.

    Jackie (SF) April 23, 2008, 3:22 pm
  • Youkilis, for example, has a career average .334 BABIP (.335 in 2006, and .334 in 2007, two years when he’s had >100 PAs):
    and Manny has a career .343: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=210&position=OF
    So yeah, I expect some regression (from .380 and .412 respectively) but probably not all the way to .300.
    Can you tell I have a lot of work that I’m procrastinating right now?

    Jackie (SF) April 23, 2008, 3:31 pm
  • Absolutely. We can’t be sure they’ll regress to .300, but as you point out career averages are a much better bet, and most certainly not as high as they are.
    Like you, I think there’s something to be said for how the batting approach changes the likelihoods. The Sox have just done a very good job of bringing in guys who use patience to their advantage. Indeed – they copied the Yankees! (Stick Michael was all over OBP in the early nineties and it influenced the whole system – from Bernie to Jeter to Posada).

    A YF April 23, 2008, 3:55 pm
  • Craig Hansen recalled today from P’tucket.
    Don’t have time to look up the numbers right now, but when I checked last week they were great. Looks like he’s finally got it together, and his sleep apnia diagnosis/treatment might have been the ticket.
    And we need him to be very good right now. The ‘pen needs some consistency.

    I'm Bill McNeal April 23, 2008, 4:43 pm
  • Good point, A – Billy Beane’s A’s are often credited for the rise of OBP’s prominence, but in Moneyball it even points out that Beane’s model was the Yanks of the mid-late 90’s.
    Jackie – IMO a good (albeit simplified) rule of thumb for BABIP is that while pitchers’ BABIP are in most cases likely to revert to the approximate mean of .300 on balls batted off them (with some possible exceptions – like super-sinkerballers and knucklers), it is true that certain hitters will have higher BABIPs than others (due to all sorts of things like speed and the type of hitter they are). As A mentions, hitters’ career averages are a pretty safe bet.

    Mark (YF) April 23, 2008, 4:46 pm
  • Now Dice-K’s out with the flu.
    Instead it’ll be Lester.

    I'm Bill McNeal April 23, 2008, 5:36 pm
  • ok maybe they should think about flu shots next year :p

    TJ April 23, 2008, 5:53 pm
  • I think the problem is that this year’s flu shots are worthless; they guessed wrong on which strain would be prominent.

    Paul SF April 23, 2008, 5:59 pm
    Oh, crap.

    I'm Bill McNeal April 23, 2008, 6:09 pm
  • The Red Sox still need a starter tomorrow.
    Buchholz likely goes Saturday in Tampa, Beckett will go Sunday.
    Will Wakefield start tomorrow on short rest or save him for game 1 in Tampa where he pitches so well.
    If the save Wakefield one option could be Tavarez… Another could be the young man whos scheduled to start tomorrow for Portland.
    Justin Masterson anyone?

    TJ April 23, 2008, 6:09 pm
  • I hold out Tavarez tonight.
    Had they not gotten the message to Pauley in time yesterday, Tavarez was to go.
    Billy Rohr available?

    I'm Bill McNeal April 23, 2008, 6:11 pm
  • Actually Pauley was in Boston Monday evening because they thought they were going to need him.

    TJ April 23, 2008, 6:19 pm

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