Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Houston, We Have A Problem

For one, you appear to be stealing our #1 starter for the rest of the season. But that's not really what I mean. Today was an absolutely horrific day for the Boston Red Sox franchise, at nearly every level.

The Red Sox themselves, as everyone must know by now, were brutalized by the Jays, proving once again that they cannot hit purely mediocre lefty Gustavo Chacin. As it turns out, they really just can't hit lefties period, as the team's season average against them was at .253 going into the game, and no doubt got worse.

Vernon Wells on the other hand proved once again that if he could hit against the Sox every day of the week he would be the greatest hitter of all time bar none, and people would be saying "Barry Who?". Vern connected for 3 HRs on three awful pitches, and now has 8 dingers against the Sox for the season. He has 7 against everyone else.

If I were still paying for cellular phone time by the minute and somebody asked me what happened in this game, I'd say "Beckett couldn't hit his spots, the Sox couldn't hit Chacin, and Vernon Wells couldn't NOT hit a dinger". That pretty much sums it up. Right now, Toronto is simply a better team than the Sox.

The loss, painful as it is to a division rival, was made even more painful by the fact that Todd Jones coughed up an extra-inning loss to the MFYs by throwing DJ Juicy G a hanging curveball that he spasmed into the right-field stands. Not good, not good on any count.

So, after suffering the agony of defeat I tried to ease my pain by seeing how our young proteges in the minors had fared. This was not as soothing as I had hoped, although there were certainly more positives to take away than there were from the big-league club.

Pawtucket lost 3-2 but got three strong pitching performances from Jimmy Serrano (has yet to mention Jobu), Barry Hertzler who took the loss on an unearned run, and LH reliever Craig Breslow. Serrano's season ERA dipped down to 3.05, and while he doesn't miss a lot of bats he might have some value to someone. Hertzler was recently promoted from Portland (AA) where he had a 1.05 ERA, and seems to have transitioned well in his first two games. Breslow struck out the side, and has been getting a lot of Ks in recent outings. I'm thinking he is probably the next logical relief call-up if the 'pen continues to crumble.

Obviously in a 3-2 game the bats weren't exactly lively, Stern the biggest offender with an 0-5 collar. He is not hitting, which makes me sad since I am high on him. However, recently promoted David Murphy had two hits including a double and also walked, and Pedroia also had two hits.

In Portland things get a little depressing. Phil Seibel provides the happy place, pitching 5 one-hit innings. Phil has been pretty damn good. In 50 A and AA innings coming into tonight his ERA is well under two, and he has struck out 46 while only walking nine. Phil doesn't get a lot of press but so far I am liking his style. So the Seadogs headed into the 9th up 5-1 and all hell broke loose. Big Edgar Martinez, a hard-throwing converted catcher who appears to be in the midst of his first confidence crisis gave up 5 runs without getting a single guy out. The Sea Dogs end up losing in crushing fashion 7-5.

Way down in Greenville, the story sounds familiar with rookie starter Clay Bucholz doing fair job keeping them in the gme before embattled reliever JT Zink came in and got shellacked, giving up 6 runs in one and third. Amazingly, Matt Hancock came in and gave up another three in the same timeframe, walking SIX. They ended up losing 12-9.

Wilmington provides the sole win in the organization today, defeating Kinston 9-2 behing a solid Luis Mendoza start. Mendoza has looked pretty good. Taylor Sturge finished the game off an lowered his season ERA to 1.52 with Wilmington. CF speedster Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits and a stolen base, and continues to make the case for promotion.

By the way, Minor League Baseball's web site is pretty comprehensive, and also lists the games that are internet broadcast for audio in case you're bored one afternoon at work. Try it sometime, it's good times. If the Sox keep playing like they have the past couple games it could be the best part of the baseball season.

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