Coming off the Celtics dismal performance tonight I really don’t want to even think about sports (can’t believe I just wrote that), but I’m writing this Red Sox weekly report for you, the loyal readers of my sports blog. And if I can forget about that basketball game for a second, it was a pretty good stretch for the Boston Red Sox, going 6-1 on the week. Yes, the Sox played some pretty weak competition in the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox, but at the end of the day these games count the same as any matchup with the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, or Oakland Athletics who the Sox face this week. I say that because games in the American League East count for more since there are tie-breakers for winning the division which is the goal of this team, and every game against the Rays and Yankees seems to even take an emotional toll on this team. More importantly, nobody of consequence got hurt this week.
April 23: Win at Minnesota 6-5 (Cody Ross the hero)
April 24: Win at Minnesota 11-2 (Offense explodes and Beckett survives rough first inning)
April 25: Win at Minnesota 7-6 (Pedey 3 hits and Aviles bomb propel Sox)
April 26: Win at Chicago (AL) 10-3 (Humber perfect no more)
April 27: Win at Chicago (AL) 10-3 (Huge 6th inning gives Sox win, D-Mac defeats cold weather)
April 28: Win at Chicago (AL) 1-0 (Lester 7 strong innings)
April 29: Loss at Chicago (AL) 4-1 (Gavin Floyd streak-buster)
Standings (still in last but back in striking range)
After a slow week last week, the Sox bats woke up facing the inferior competition in the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox.The Boston bats scored double digit runs in just under half the team’s games this week and scored enough to win in 6 out of 7 games. The only reason I’m giving the team a minus grade is that they only scored 2 runs over the Saturday and Sunday games against the White Sox, but that was enough to take the Saturday game thanks to Lester’s strong performance. David Ortiz is still leading the team in batting average, hitting .395 on the season, while Ryan Sweeney and new acquisition Marlon Byrd are the only other Red Sox batters hitting over .300 on the year. Cody Ross leads the team in home runs with 5, while Mike Aviles, David Ortiz, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have four dingers on the year. Ortiz and Ross also lead the team with 18 RBI’s and both will be vital to the team’s success over the next month or so.
Sox pitching looked way better than this week than the week before, especially in the bullpen. Starter Daniel Bard was available out of the ‘pen on Monday night and he pitched 2/3 of an inning and earned his second win of the season against the Twins. The opposition only scored 23 runs over the 7 games this week, so you have to give credit to the pitching staff for those numbers. Josh Beckett allowing only 2 runs through 6 innings on Tuesday and then 3 runs in 6 and 2/3 innings today is a more encouraging sign, although he needs to limit the number of home runs that he allows. Jon Lester’s seven scoreless innings is also something that the Sox really needed and if he can be a player who keeps himself in Cy Young candidacy over the course of the year this season will not seem as long as it could be. Doobie, Felix Doubront, threw his first quality start of the season (6 IP, 3 ER, 2 Ks) and he could be a valuable member at the tail-end of the Sox rotation and it would be great if he continues with outings like what he produced Thursday night.
Red Sox defense has been a saving grace for the team this season. Even through the hard times the defense has been a strong point. The Sox are currently in a tie for second with the Texas Rangers when it comes to fielding percentage, and also in the number of errors made. The New York Yankees are the only team with a better fielding percentage and have committed just one less error though 21 games, so this team is one that relies on it’s strong defense to keep games low scoring. Personally, I thought the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury would hurt this team more defensively, but Marlon Byrd and the rest of this Sox defensive outfield has been able to fill the void left by last year’s MVP candidate.
The week upcoming
Nobody expects the Red Sox to go 6-1 in any week that is coming up on the schedule. Call me a “negative nancy” or whatever you may, but this team overachieved over this past week taking 6 out of 7 games. This is a ball-club that should feast off these lesser teams, but over the past week they really took care of business more than anyone could truly expect. Over the next week the schedule only gets slightly tougher as the Sox face the Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles for 6 games back in Boston, and as a Red Sox fan I would happy if the team takes 4 of these next 6. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that Baltimore will not be the leader in the American League East when I write this column next week.
April 30-May 2: Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics
May 4-May 6: Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles