Since we were on Tito’s case when he was fumbling and bumbling, we thought it would only be fair to offer up a very serious gold foil star to one Mr. Terry Francona, who has certainly been managing much more strongly (and to our liking) these last 10 days. The wins obviously help, but we believe that this isn’t coincidence. Since the debacle in Minnesota, the pitching has been excellent, the hitting timely, and the managing of the lineup and the staff just airtight. A couple of items with regards to our field general stick out:
- Tito’s moves late in the game Saturday against the Phillies, using the youngsters and then bringing in Paps in a high-leverage situation and sticking with him for 2+ innings. I don’t know if Francona supposed that the game Sunday might be rained out, or if he just figured that Papelbon was too valuable and the game too winnable to use his closer in the standard one-inning-and-out fashion that we’re so accustomed to, but it didn’t matter. Terry was managing for the win, for that day, and it worked fantastically. He didn’t push Papelbon too far, by any means, but he also didn’t do the predictable and safe thing. Had the Sox gone on to lose we’d have had no quibble. Superb stuff.
- The lineup: we love it. We’ve been saying it for weeks: Youk at one, Coco down in the order. Nixon, Tek, and A-Gone heating up certainly doesn’t hurt, and stat-rats might say that the Sox would have gone on a run no matter who was leading off if everyone gets hot at the same time, but we’re with the theory of the enabler: Tito’s helped these guys get hot by sticking with a set lineup, by putting the players in the spots that they best help the team.
It may surprise everyone that we say this, but we absolutely LOVE not having to complain about anything but player performance.