AL East Dynamic Changing

AL East

In one game, the dynamic of the AL East has changed.  Demspter drilled A-Rod to the joy of the fans and satisfied whatever personal vendetta he had, but the plunking backfired.  At the time of the HBP the Sox were up 2-0, at the end of the inning the game was tied up.  But the Yankees had all the momentum in the world.  Manager Joe Girardi exploded from the dugout, justly defending his player, screaming red-faced, and slamming his hat to the ground.  Girardi would be ejected, but the Yankees rallied around the emotional tirade and would go on to take two of three games in a hostile, playoff-like Fenway.

Dempster’s focus should not have been on plunking A-Rod, but getting him out; especially in the heat of a pennant race.  Win, above all else.

The Sox are on thin ice.  The Yankees were surging before the intense Sunday night game, now they are looking to make a late season run.  All the momentum has swung to them.  The Sox are 4-6 in their last ten and the Yanks are 7-3.

But the Yankees are the least of our worries. The Rays pose a much more imminent threat for the division lead being only a game.

The Sox are scuffling and about to embark on a dangerous six game west coast swing.  The Giants aren’t the team they’ve been the past two years, but the Sox will face a hot Tim Lincecum in the series opener.  Then they must deal with the scorching, blazing, smoking, white, red, hot Dodgers.  They are on a dominant 42-9 run.  The Sox are vulnerable right now; they must not take the Giants lightly, and then bring everything they have against the Dodgers.

Red Sox Beards and Baldies

Beard

Baldies and beards, oh my!

The bald and bearded look is the new hotness for the Red Sox.  You’re not cool unless your head is shining and your beard needs a daily groom.  Oh you have hair on your head and not your face? I’m sorry little boy, this team is not for you.  Much like the crazy coifs of the 2004 idiots, these 2013 grinders have created a look their very own.

Why shave your face when you can shave your head? Right? I guess? Well, who cares. These Red Sox are bald and beautiful. Do not judge me.  Instead follow me as I shamelessly analyze four grown men’s hair styling.

Johnny Gomes (pictured above) is not a natural baldie, but the close buzz shows he’s trying.  The facial hair hits you before you know what’s up.

“Who is this bearded nobody–” BOOM. Walk off homer in your face!

victorino beard

Shane Victorino was rocking the mohawk for a while, but has recently chosen the shaven path.  For the patchiness, all I can say is at least he’s trying.  That’s all you can ask for in the beard game.

 

 

pedroia BeardDustin Pedroia: The leader of the beard crusade ditched the hair long ago.  His manly mane is about as big as his game and hair as nonexistent as his errors.

 

 

napoli beard

Napoli: KABLOW! Explosive. That’s the only word for Naps extendo-beard.  It just keeps going and going, much like his home runs.

No one knew what kind of team the 2013 squad would be.  Well here they are in all their bald/bearded glory.  The Sox have an identity after everyone questioned them.  They grind to the very end, game after game.  They shave their heads, game after game, and leave their beards be.

 

Thornton Off to Thorny Start

Thornton

Thornton’s early struggles have me worried.

The Red Sox could have used another lefty in the pen along with Andrew Miller.  When Miller went down for the year the front office needed to add a southpaw.  The Sox lamented the idea of trading a prospect for a veteran reliever, but their hand was forced.  Why the hesitation pre-Miller injury?

Let’s review the tape.

Eric Gagne, 2007

In 2007 Gagne was elite with the Texas Rangers.  In 34 innings he gave up only eight earned runs.  When he came to Red Sox near the end of the trade deadline fans rejoiced.  Unfortunately, the cheers soured as quickly as Gagne’s career did in Boston.  In twenty games he gave up fourteen earned runs.  His ERA ballooned from 2.16 to 3.81.  The prospect traded to the Rangers? David Murphy, who has averaged a .278/.340/.444 line and double digit jacks every year since the trade.

Mark Melancon, 2012

Melancon was solid for the Astros in 2011, saving twenty games.  He was brutal for the Sox in 2012.  He served it up every time he went out finishing with a 6.20 ERA in 45 innings.  We gave up middle infielder Jed Lowrie.  Lowrie is now on the A’s and hitting a cool .283.

Andrew Bailey, 2011

This shouldn’t be hard to remember.  The former rookie of the year did not pitch his first year for the Sox.  He came back this year only to struggle and ruin his shoulder. Yep, you guessed it, out for the year.  Who did we give up? Josh Reddick, who hit 35 bombs his first full season with the A’s.

You can’t judge a guy by past player’s performances, but there is no denying the Sox terrible track record of trading for relief.  Let’s hope Thornton can break the mold.

Webster Solid In First Win

Webster

Back in spring training, perhaps Allen Webster dreamt of a June call up.  Maybe spell a starter or two in the dog days of summer.

Well June is over now, and Webster has seen his fair share of action.  The rookie hurler has now started five games for the Sox, earning his first win against the San Diego Padres.  A lingering shoulder injury to Clay Buchholz has warranted the starts, not necessarily Webster’s performances.

In his five starts, Webster owns a 7.88 ERA and a glaring 4.50 walk rate.  I’m not bashing Webster here.  Surely no one expected him to come in and dominate.  In fact you should have expected him to get roughed up a bit.  He’s faced the teeth of the AL central in the Tigers and the much improved Royals.  He faced the Royals in his first start and pitched his best then, allowing only one walk while striking out five.  His next two starts were ugly.  He lasted only an inning and a third against the Twins, and the Tigers knocked him around for five in four and a third innings.

The last two starts have been better.  In Toronto he was able to battle through six innings to keep the Sox in the game, eventually winning it.  Then, Thursday night, he was even better.  He scattered five hits and four walks through six innings to keep the Friars to two runs.

My knock on Webster is the walks. Even in the minors his walk rate is consistently high, but the strikeouts have always been there too.  We’ve seen both so far in his young career.  If he can command his pitches better he could be potent.  His fastball lights up the gun at 98 and his slider is nasty.  These two pitches are good enough to keep him around.  He just needs to command them.

Boston Blues, Save for the Sox

chara Boston

Times are tough in the Boston sports world.  If the above picture of Chara doesn’t sum it up, I don’t know what will.  The B’s lost the cup. Aaron Hernandez is allegedly a murderer.  The C’s lost their coach, soul, and captain in one fell swoop.  But the biggest disappointment of the last few seasons is offering a ray of hope.  Fenway has become a sanctuary.  A pure palace of baseball made of verdant outfield grass, orderly white lines—even the dirt seems clean—has been devoid of controversy and losing.  The Sox have become the great cleanser of New England sports palate.

fenway Boston

I recommend taking in a game to restore your sanity.  Let the field wash over you as you stroll up a ramp.  If you don’t get goosebumps, see a doctor.  Once you enter the field, shield the high summer sun from your eyes and look towards the scoreboard.  You’ll see that the Sox are in first with one of the best records in baseball.  You’ll also see, if you gaze down the scoreboard, the Yankees are five games back.  The Yankees have given up more runs than they’ve scored.  If they continue this trend they will be well out of contention.

So take a step back.  The Sox are in first and the Yankees are losing.  Everything is right in the baseball world at least.

Bailing on Bailey

Bailey

I’m sick of this Bailey bro.  He was hurt all last season which  might not have been so bad. At least he couldn’t blow saves on the DL.  And another thing, Josh Reddick, the dude we traded for Bailey, raked last year. How many home runs did he hit you ask? 32.  He hit 32 home runs.  Bailey didn’t even pitch that many innings last season.  Plus Reddick’s beard is way cooler than Bailey’s peach fuzz. Seriously look at this beard:

josh-reddick

It’s mesmerizing. Where were we? Oh god that beard it’s so–Right Bailey! It’s at the point where the 7th and 8th are cake with Koji and Tazawa, but once Bailey enters, I feel like I am back at my first middle school dance: nervous and sweating from weird places.

To be fair, Bailey was sort of thrust into the role.  When Hanrahan unexpectedly hit the 60 day DL Bailey went from set up man to closer over night.  But this isn’t a role Bailey should be unused to.  When he was Rookie of the Year with Oakland he was the closer–as a rookie–it doesn’t get more sudden than that.

Bailey is officially out with three blown saves in his last five chances, and a 4.03 ERA on the year.  So, where do the Sox go from here?

Tazawa is likely first in line, as he’s gotten other chances this season.  Koji could be in the mix as well, but he’s been so dominant as the set up man, Farrell would like to keep him there.