Wow. Last night was a head-shaker, wasn't it? You have Lester, a guy who is going pretty well in spite of his bizarre on-again off-again relationship with the strike zone, versus Esteban Loioza, a guy who has a pretty steady relationship going with Suck. You have a two-run lead going into the 7th in spite of leaving eleven baserunners stranded through that time. Then it all unravels.
Stranding guys is not at all out of the ordinary for this team. Historically it's one of their strengths, and getting a lot of guys on base means you'll strand some guys. It's disappointing that as a team they're hitting just .266 with RISP thus far into the season, but what can you do?
However, two-run errors by Loretta are certainly surprising. Having Willie Harris, whose only reason for being is baserunning, picked off first with nobody out is a little unnerving. Allowing Ronald McDonald to steal his first base of the season in a one-run game sort of bothers one a bit, doesn't it? I mean, that is just sloppy baseball.
I'm going to chalk it up to rust after the break, but when you're playing the A's and you're looking at Loioza, Zito, Haren, Blanton you kind of need to beat Loioza, don't you? At least, you should try.
The bright spot in the game was Varitek: two hits, two BBs and an RBI. Outside of he and Ortiz, guys did not look sharp. Manny in particular was missing the exact pitches he wanted, which doesn't warm the heart. Still, it's one game.
Looking further afield, a growing concern in my mind is Youks' slump. He is 5 for 39 and hitting .128 in July, and looks to be moving his front foot all over the place before he swings. In this lineup he needs to do two things up top - get on base, and drive in runs. He is not driving the ball right now, and this is hurting us. He is still trying to get on base through the walk but pitchers aren't afraid to throw him strikes so it's more difficult. We know he's a student of hitting though; he'll come around.
The Sox brought LHP Craig Breslow up for a cup of coffee today. Craig has been doing a good job in relief for the PawSox, and is 5-1 thus far. In 45IP he's got a 50/17 BB/K figure, and overall has pitched very consistently throughout the season. He doesn't have a significant split against lefties, except perhaps that he likes to walk them, so I'm not sure how he'll be used if it all. Still, I'm glad he's getting a chance; he's got some ability and he'll get his feet wet.
It should also be noted that Craig is a pointy-headed former Yale student who loves to talk bonds and valences in the dugout, which makes him a teammate and crowd favorite. He was selected for the IL All-Star team, and although he did not make an appearance, he was able to successfully impart an understanding of Van der Waal's Forces to Andy Marte by using as metaphor Andy's easily severed relationship with the Red Sox organization.