Following an 0-6 start that became a 2-10 nightmare, the Red Sox have finally begun to turn things around. Or so it would seem. Last week, I discussed what the team needs to do for the remainder of the month in order to avoid a total disaster. And after dropping Game 1 of a four-game set to the Blue Jays, the team apparently took heed.
Boston bounced back to take the rest of the series, putting together a nice three-game winning streak in the process. And the most unlikely thing about the long weekend was Daisuke Matsuzaka’s masterful Patriots Day performance.
No, you’re not seeing things. I said that Dice-K was masterful. And no, I don’t get it either.
Somehow, Matsuzaka went from being a complete trainwreck to being utterly dominant, hurling 7 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed only one hit and one walks while striking out 3 in Boston’s 9-1 victory. The offense was keyed by homers by Kevin Youkilis, Jed Lowrie, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Player of the week
In two starts last week, Beckett threw 15 innings, collected 19 strikeouts, and gave up 1 earned run. It simply doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve gone into agonizing detail about why the Sox need a big rebound year from their former ace, and thus far he is delivering exactly that. His personal two-game winning streak includes only five hits and three walks allowed for ridiculous 0.53 WHIP.
Not that we can expect these types of gems every time he takes the mound, but if Beckett can resume his role as a front-end starter, then this team should be fine. Despite the rough start to 2011.
Game of the week
Saturday 4/16 (Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1)
Beckett’s second win was critical, arguably the most important win of the season. After taking two of three from the Yankees at Fenway, Boston was blasted by Tampa in back-to-back losses. Then Clay Buchholz and Bobby Jenks combined to waste a lead in the opener versus Toronto. Had more losses followed, the Sox would have found themselves in a very deep hole in the A.L. East.
Instead, Beckett was lights out, and the team following the victory up with two more wins. At the time of this posting, it feels like maybe things are back under control.
No significant injuries. Reliever Matt Albers had a mild oblique strain and was placed on the 15 Day D.L., but is rehabbing in Pawtucket and looks to be healing nicely.
Surprise of the week
This is not the kind of surprise any team wants. Crawford’s season line is still abominable: .133/ .159/ .159 through Monday’s game. I have little doubt that the All-Star will turn things around, but no one could have foreseen this level of ineptitude. Whether’s he’s pressing, hurting, or just unlucky, Crawford really needs to shake out of this slump and start hitting.
Monday’s game saw him drop from the leadoff spot to seventh in the order. Terry Francona was wrong to ever bat him first to begin with, but seventh is certainly not where he belongs long-term. He’ll straighten things out, but for now, it’s just bizarre. The good news? He did have a double and an RBI in the 9-1 romp.
Random stat of the week
Jed Lowrie has a .545 OBP with 8 runs scored, 2 homers, and 9 RBI in 33 plate appearances. Marco Scutaro has an OBP of .297 with 1, 0, and 6 in 37 plate appearances.
Tito, are you paying attention? Lowrie is an everyday player.
Quote of the week
“I think execution-wise and health-wise and everything, I definitely think my last two starts were a notch above what I was most of the year last year.”
- Josh Beckett after Saturday’s win
That’s a nice gift for understatement, Josh.
Minor league update
The Sox optioned Felix Doubront to Pawtucket and recalled Hideki Okajima. Doubront had allowed two earned runs in 2.2 innings or work this year. Okajima’s next appearance will be his 2011 debut.
The Red Sox will hit the West Coast for the first time, playing a pair against the Athletics before a four-game series with the Angels. Wednesday and Sunday feature 3:35pm (Eastern) starts; the rest are night games. Oakland is slated to have Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez on the bump and the Angels are expected to trot out Tyler Chatwood, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Matt Palmer.
Boston’s rotation will hold, with John Lackey getting two starts. The second will be against his former team. Expect some boos.
It would be nice to see Boston sweep the two with Oakland which should be doable. Taking three of four from the Angels would do nicely as well. Beating Dan Haren is always a tough task, but the other games are eminently winnable.