David Price Is Key To Red Sox Success

For better or for worse, it seems David Price is always in the spotlight. That tends to happen to someone making 30 million annually. Last year, it was the blow up with the reporters and frequent injuries that left fans wanting more. He returned late in ’17 and after a dominant playoff series against the Astros in relief, fans were excited to see what 2018 would have in store for the southpaw. So far, David Price is earning that money.

The Red Sox need Price. They need him healthy and consistent if they want to keep upPrice with Houston and Cleveland’s rotations. They need him if they want to combat that intimidating Yankee lineup. The X-factor to the Red Sox championship hopes is indeed the starting five. The offense has been there all season. Betts and Martinez continue to wreak havoc in the minds of opposing pitching. Pitching is still key though. The Red Sox were division winners the last two seasons. However, they were outpitched by the Indians in 2016 and the Astros in 2017. In order to have any chance this year they need Sale, Porcello, and Price in peak form.

The Red Sox Need Consistency From Price

Price had a rough start to the year. He missed a start against the Yankees because of a “tingling sensation” in his fingers. The tingling sensation was determined to be a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. The reasoning for this was because of Price’s love for video games, particularly ‘Fortnite’. The stress the game put on his fingers and his excessive play progressed the tingling. Fans and the media ridiculed this development extensively. After acknowledging the injury, as well as saying he will tone down playing video games, he has since been lights out dominant.

In David Price’s last six outings he has not allowed more than three earned runs, averaging six-plus innings and keeping hitters under seven hits a game. He is earning that hefty paycheck. The Red Sox need him to be the innings horse he was in 2016. With Sale’s dominance, Rodriguez consistency and Porcello’s confidence, the sky is the limit for that quartet.

Heath Hembree Fan Club

The Heath Hembree Fan Club was born in the wee hours of Monday, April 25 after closer Craig Kimbrel blew hist first save against the Houston Astros. But fear not! For a knight in shining armor appeared and mowed down the Astros hitters for the final 3 innings of a 12-inning circus show. That knight who threw 49 pitches (and only 8 were balls) is RHP Heath Hembree.

At first glance, you may think to yourself “wait…is that John Lackey, I thought we traded him?” Fan ClubOthers have compared him to Kenny Powers from the hit HBO show Eastbound and Down. Personally I think he resembles a John Lackey/Craig Hansen with a splash of Bryce Brentz. Regardless, he’s a guy who the Sox have had to rely on early in his call-up and he has welcomed the challenge with open arms.

Hembree who was one of the pieces acquired from the San Francisco Giants during the summer of 2014 as part of the return for pitcher Jake Peavy, has made three appearances so far this season. In 7 2/3 innings he’s allowed four hits and just one walk to counter his 11 strikes. Over his 3 years with the Sox, Hembree has accumulated a 3.38 ERA while appearing in 30 games. Now I know 30 games over 3 seasons is a very small sample size, but so far in 2016 he’s looking like the real deal.

In a season that has been plagued with injuries so early on and huge pitching woes it’s nice to finally see a pitcher that has not only shown some consistency, but has also been pretty effective. That’s a weapon that John Farrell didn’t have in the beginning of the season and, like they say, sometimes it’s better late than never.

The Heath Hembree fan club will be riding high this week. Twitter will be exploding with Hembree references, jersey sales will be through the roof, and you can bet he’ll be making his way around the late night television circuit. Obviously I am kidding about some of these things, but make no mistake about it: the Red Sox have found what I believe is to be a key piece to this bullpen moving forward. The only question is how long can he keep up this dominance? I’m hoping FOREVER!

Red Sox Lose Seventh Straight Game

The Red Sox continued their losing ways last night, dropping their seventh consecutive game with a 4-2 loss to the Houston Astros. It marked their eighth loss in the last ten games, and further cemented their position in the cellar of the American League.

Since the All-Star break, the Sox have been outscored 34-9, and they have a batting Red Sox Astros July 2015average of an anemic .192. They have one home run in this period, while giving up thirteen. The Sox were shut out in the first two games of this trip, and haven’t even scored in consecutive innings yet. Their four total runs in the series against the Angels were their fewest in a series of four or more games since 1965.  Yes, that’s 50 years.

Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, who are supposed to be table-setters, can’t even get a seat at the table.  They are a combined 2 for 42.  Betts is 1 for 20, and didn’t even play last night, while Pedroia finally snapped an 0 for 20 drought in the most recent loss.

Also in the throes of repair at the plate is the $19,750,000 per year outfielder Hanley Ramirez. He is 2 for 21 in the last six, with a team-high seven strikeouts.

How about the starting pitching staff?  They haven’t reminded anybody of Cy Young. Since the break, they are 0-5 with an ERA of 7.31. One upside from the pitchers is that Wade Miley had a solid outing last time out, not giving up a hit through six innings. He’ll try to snap this season-high team losing streak tonight.

Miley actually had a perfect game going through 5 1/3 innings against the Angels and ended up allowing just two hits and one walk in seven innings…but still took a no decision.

Where things go from here is anybody’s guess.  We haven’t mentioned Clay Buchholz getting a platelet-rich-plasma injection into his right elbow. Who knows when he’ll be back, but don’t look for him for at least a few weeks, and if by late August the Sox are 20 games out, or 25, is it even worth it to bring him back?

The Lackey Report

John Lackey

Photo by: Matt Stone

John Lackey’s return to the mound proved he’s ready for his return.  With a 6-1 victory over the Houston Astros today he has a lot to be credited for.  Although it took time to find his comfort zone in the first inning, as the Astros scored their one and only run (with two walks and two hits), the top of the fourth arrived and he was aflame.  1, 2, 3, you’re out! Strike out #3.  As the top of the fifth unwound Lackey persevered and retired eleven Astros in a row.  It would be thirteen by the end of the sixth.

By the sixth inning Lackey held the Astros to just two hits in five innings making it a stellar performance. Lackey’s back, everyone, and better than ever; another strong asset to the improved Red Sox team. John Farrell is doing everything right by holding this team accountable and ready for whatever comes their way. I still am in awe by the way they swing their bats and how they run the bases.  At times it may be a little too aggressive, but in general the players are right on point.

The top of the sixth and only sixty-four pitches into the game, Farrell is happy with Lackey’s performance. He remains in the game even though Lackey was only supposed to pitch five innings, but why take a man out when all he does is show results? After all, the pitch count was low and he had retired thirteen Astros consecutively. Okay, if you were counting strike outs, it wasn’t Lackey’s day (by the end of the sixth inning which he fought his way, tooth and nail, out of) he had a total of four strike outs, but in general we couldn’t be more happy with the way things turned out. It was decided to retire Lackey as the sixth inning came to an end. The Astros were left with three men on base (a possible grand slam) but Lackey wasn’t finished. To end the inning, he struck out Astros, Martinez with a curve ball, and allowed a ground ball to Drew to get the last out at second.

What a nice finish for John Lackey.  He looks terrific. I’m glad to have him back.

Game 22

David Ortiz game

David Ortiz of the Red Sox hits a solo home run against the Astros.

The Boston Red Sox took on the Houston Astros last night at Fenway Park. to finish the four game series,  Game 22, (140 more to go).  David Ortiz, Big Papi, hits his first home run of the season (he hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been back); Clay Buchholz goes 5-0, pitching well into the 8th inning; Mike Carp makes a remarkable presence at bat (due to Shane Victorino’s bad back he was able to play) and #51, Daniel Bard, is back at home.

It could not have been a better game to watch.  It was the bottom of the first; the Red Sox scored 4 runs of 7, which would eventually win the game.  Pedroia stole second by a long shot in the first and Jarrod made his seventh RBI of the season.  If they keep swinging their bats as they did last night and many nights before, the Sox could possibly take it all the way.  Their aggressiveness on the plate is astounding and it’s such a thrill to watch. 109 pitches into the game,  Clay Bucholz was taken from the mound with an appreciative applause by the fans, in the middle of the eighth inning,  leaving Andrew Miller (with his new haircut) to finish the job.  In which he did. It always scares me when Farrell brings Miller into the game, but lately, ever since he got his new haircut, he’s been showing improvement.

On the other hand, Mike Napoli struck out three times out of his four at bats, and Will Middlebrooks missed a tag at third base in the top of the third. The players can’t all be on their game all the time, although we would like to think so. The great thing about this team is when one player breaks down, another one gets right up.

Will Middlebrooks

Marwin Gonzalez of the Astros beats a throw to third base against Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox.

What truly made this particular game an event to watch was Daniel Bard’s entrance onto the field in the top of the ninth. I can recall my asking long ago, “What happened to #51?” Well, #51 is back and what a remarkable job he did on the mound tonight in the short amount of time he had to perform. Upon his return, Bard threw at a 96 mph velocity which is great for him.  In the ninth inning, he threw a 93 mph fast pitch to the plate striking out the batter for his 218th strike out in his career.  The win came when Bard scooped a line drive into his glove and made the out at first with Napoli’s assistance. The Red Sox won 7-2.

Sox Open Up 4 Game Series vs. Houston

red sox

(courtesy of ESPN.com)

The Red Sox open up a four game series against the Houston Astros tonight. Growing up Irish and in New England, I naturally anticipate that the Red Sox are going to lose every single time they take the field. Pessimism was never lost on my people.

However, there is no way this team is losing to the Astros. All four games, Thursday through Sunday, are going to be wins for Boston’s team. Don’t bother turning on the TV or going to the game.

Why am I so confident? Let’s check the facts.

Today’s Starters:

BOS Clay Buchholz, record: 4-0

HOU Philip Humber, record: 0-4

Standings:

BOS 1st in American League: 14-7

HOU Last in American League: 7-14

Run Differential:

BOS 22 more runs scored than allowed

HOU 32 less runs scored than allowed

Last 10 games:

BOS 7 wins, 3 losses

HOU 3 wins, 7 losses

Home/Away:

BOS 7-5 record at home

HOU 3-6 record away from Houston

History against each other:

BOS 7 wins 2 losses all time vs. Astros

HOU 2 wins 7 losses all time vs. Red Sox

History at Fenway:

3 game series June 13-15, 2003 at Fenway Park

Red Sox 3 wins, Astros 0 wins

As you can see, the odds are in Boston’s favor for tonight and the rest of the weekend. I take back what I said earlier about not bothering to go to the game; you should go, as you are bound to see some fireworks courtesy of Boston’s bats. As Dustin Pedroia would say, it’s going to be a “Laser Show… relax.” By the way, while you are there, pick up a copy of Yawkey Way Report!