If last week’s 8-0 loss seemed strange, it’s for good reason. The Sox hadn’t lost by eight runs since the fifth game of the season. They hadn’t even lost by more than five runs since April 16. They’re in the middle of a pretty good run of baseball — 16-7 in their last 23 games.
Who’s stepped up during that stretch, and who hasn’t?
- Manny Ramirez. It took Manny 21 games (82 at bats, 92 plate appearances) to hit the four home runs he needed for 500. Since then, he’s hit four more in six games (22 at bats, 27 PAs). .380/.446/.552 in his last 13 games: 11 singles, eight extra-base hits, including five homers.
- J.D. Drew. Only recently has Drew been inserted in place of David Ortiz in the lineup, but he’s been handling the bat well for longer than that. He’s batting .529/.636/1.118 in the five games since being given the No. 3 spot, with two homers and 12 RBI. Go all the way back to May 19, and in 55 at bats, Drew’s sporting a .400/.485/.782 with five homers and 10 of his 22 hits going for extra bases. Fourteen RBI in 16 starts isn’t bad either.
- Pitching. Starting May 26 — 13 games ago — Boston pitchers have posted a 2.58 ERA, holding opponents to a .613 OPS. They allowed as many as four earned runs just four times, and struck out at least seven 10 times. Among the stars: Tim Wakefield (2.05/0.95/.192), Josh Beckett (2.37/1.11/.243). Justin Masterson (2.95/1.09/.188), Craig Hansen (1.08/0.72/.107), Manny Delcarmen (0.00/0.88/.150).
- Jason Varitek. On May 21, the Captain was sitting pretty, an .891 OPS after hitting his third homer in six games and sixth of the season. In the 13 games since, he’s managed exactly one extra-base hit, scored one run and driven in three. He’s walked twice and struck out 15 times. That’s good for a .152/.204/.174 line. A .378 OPS. Ouch.
- Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia has been slightly better. He’s hit a home run. He’s walked five times and struck out only six. But he’s only 5-for-49 in 13 games. His BABIP is .093, so I imagine we’ll see him rebound. Still, it’s not helpful when Pedroia and Coco Crisp are your top two in the order, and neither has an OPB above .260 over the past two to three weeks.
- Terry Francona. On that note, why again is Coco Crisp leading off the lineup, particularly when Pedroia is struggling himself to get on base? And why again was Hideki Okajima allowed to lose the June 2 heartbreaker of a game against Baltimore by himself? We love Tito; there’s clearly no better man for the job, but some weeks, he leaves you scratching your head — even if the team remains hotter than the weather.