Before tonight’s 2-0 victory over Toronto, check out the last time the Red Sox won by more than 1 run:
That’s right, not since April 14th, 2 weeks ago. The BoSox may have gotten back to .500 with tonight’s win, which is always good to see, but the fact of the matter is they still have a lot of work left to do if they want to contend this season. I am encouraged by the way Clay Buchholz has been pitching and by Jon Lester‘s last two starts. If John Lackey and Josh Beckett can pick it up, then the rotation will be in good shape even if #5 remains a mystery with Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Don’t look now, but Lester hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13.1 innings.
One of the more interesting and surprising bright spots for the Sox thus far has been Darnell McDonald. Carrying a .286 average and 2 home runs through just 25 plate appearances into tonight’s contest, many fans are wondering where the heck this guy came from. That’s where I come in.
McDonald is 31 years old and in his fourth major league season. He made his major league debut back in 2004 at the tender age of 25 with the Baltimore Orioles, who selected him with the 26th overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft. Since then he’s been all over the majors and the minors, logging just 147 big league at-bats coming into this season. During that time he posted a below average slash line of .231/.276/.333.
So where is this new found success coming from? Your guess is as good as mine, but I can tell you one thing. He’s not the young prospect that some interpret him as, and for this reason he doesn’t have a legitimate chance of staying with the team long term. He may be a fan favorite already, but something’s gotta give when both Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury (remember them?) return from the DL. The team can’t afford to carry more than four outfielders at a time, and there’s just no way that McDonald can play himself ahead of Ellsbury, Cameron, J.D. Drew, or Jeremy Hermida. Thanks for the memories DMac, but I’m afraid your time is almost up.
We all remember last year’s Mother’s Day Miracle, when Julio Lugo saved the day in the bottom of the 9th. No such luck this year in Minnesota, although it did look promising for a fleeting moment. And Julio Lugo has been anything but a hero lately, collecting 11 errors already on his way to posting a terrible .917 fielding percentage. One can only wonder how much longer the Sox can keep Jed Lowrie down in Pawtucket. All you can say about a game like that is that when Wakefield is on, he’s on, and when he’s off, he’s off. He was off.
But I’d really like to talk about the night before that when Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched brilliantly and seemed to correct the problems he’s been facing this year. He finally made it through 7 innings and only walked 3 batters while whiffing 7. Sure, it could be better, but it is a steady improvement over his last outing and hey- he’s 6-0.
With Julian Tavarez being designated for assignment today to make room for Sean Casey, you’ve got to wonder who will come in in those long relief situations that Tavarez is known for. Could Bartolo Colon’s arrival be sooner than we think? Also, it seems unlikely that Tavarez would accept an assignment to AAA at this point in his career, so perhaps he will be traded or he will test the free agent market. Stay tuned on that one; the team has 10 days to sort it all out.
All in all, still looking good. It’s in the blood of us true Sox fans to find something to complain about, but they’re in first place and the Yankees are 4 games back at .500. Is anyone really paying attention to the Rays or Orioles yet?
Everything seems to be clicking for this team right now. The starting pitching has been exceptional of late, and quite simply, the team is doing what it needs to do to get the job done. With Ortiz out for a few games and Manny in a semi-slump, Kevin Youkilis picks up the slack and takes his game to the next level. That’s the sign of a good team and the sign of a team that’s going to win a serious amount of ball games this year.
About Daisuke so far this year- you can’t really complain about a guy with no losses, especially when the team seems to win every single time he goes out there. But there are some things you can’t ignore even in light of his success. 27 walks at this point in the season is a lot, and to have 8 come in one game? Over 5 innings? And it was a game that he was otherwise dominant in, only allowing 2 hits, so you can’t say it was a bad night. His high strikeout total (33) masks the number of walks somewhat, but if he doesn’t figure out what is wrong with his control soon, he will have problems in the future. And if he does… then the rest of the American League better watch out because he will have solidified himself as one of the most talented pitchers in baseball.
The ties are going strong- strong enough to overcome what I thought could be a fatal error when I accidentally put on an extra swipe of deodorant Sunday morning. In fact, I was able to go to the game on Sunday after completing the 20 mile walk for hunger. It was a great game to be at; the rain held off just long enough to get the game in. Kazmir made his first start of the season and got roughed up a bit, and Youk had a monster game as I touched on before.
In Detroit again tonight. What’s wrong with this team? They looked so dominant entering the season and yet we have walked all over them thus far. We’ll see if Wakefield can keep the momentum going.
One more thing- I found this story and thought it was hilarious. Just thought I would pass it along…