The Red Sox have won 11 straight and have virtually erased any concern of their 2-6 start.
What’s working? Jason Bay. He’s hit for power while getting on base. Bay has 5 home runs and has walked an MLB leading 20 times while getting on base at a .506 clip. Mike Lowell leads MLB with 22 RBI. An impressive accomplishment considering he was an after thought during the Mark Teixeira negotiations and given his hip surgery.
Kevin Youkilis is hitting .414, getting on base 52.3% of the time and hitting for power with a .709 slg%. Dustin Pedroia has dragged his average up to .286 and the rest of the line-up has stepped up their game. David Ortiz continues to struggle, but has done better of late, showing a willingness to go opposite field with a few doubles. Ortiz has always used all 90 degrees of the baseball field and now that he is back to doing that, I expect better production. Not vintage Ortiz production, but certainly good production.
And of course a steal of home by Jacoby Ellsbury will always get an offense (or the crowd) fired-up. Then again, had he been thrown out, with 2 out and the bases loaded, he’d have been demoted…
Tim Wakefield has, for the 3rd start in a row, bailed out the Red Sox bullpen by pitching deep into a game. Wake has allowed only 16 hits in 29 innings and has managed to avoid the long-ball in 2009 (did I just create a jinx?).
Even the young kids in Hunter Jones and Michael Bowden have done their part.
The Red Sox are playing well as a whole. The concerns are: Josh Beckett and his 6.00 ERA and Javier Lopez. I am thrilled that my biggest bullpen concern is Lopez, but he has been terrible having allowed 14 hits/walks in only 5 2/3 innings. His 4.76 ERA isn’t reflective of his inability to keep batters off the base paths. Beckett is just…annoyingly inconsistent. He is walking too many players and just seems to lose focus. He is my 2009 downer so far.
I’ll hold off on any further complaints, but I also recognized it is early with only an 1/9 of the season in the books. The Rays have not played well and the Yankees will have an important player returning soon, so the Red Sox cannot afford to fool around.
Notes: Julio Lugo is back and should slowly resume his shortstop position, given what Terry Francona said today, don’t expect Lugo to be the starter in the immediate future. Nick Green has done a great job offensively and will probably get 75% of the innings over the next week with Francona slowly dialing the innings more towards Lugo over time.
I’m still very much looking forward to John Smoltz being an option.