AL East Standing: 1st
Weekly Record: 5-4
Current Record: 42-28
(Every Saturday I will attempt to give some brief thoughts on the past week for the Boston Red Sox. It will be filled with hopes, frustrations, exhilaration, pain, and plenty of gawd-awful puns. Speaking of which…)
Iggy Pop: If someone had told me last year that Jose Iglesias was in the middle of a 16-game hitting streak, with a .451/.495/.585 line, and continually golden defense at not just short, but at third, my response would have been “No” or “Yeah, but that’s in Double-A”. I think it’s easy to say that nobody saw this coming. Yes, Iglesias was one of the most prized prospects in the Red Sox system, but that was almost entirely due to his truly magnificent glove and immaculate footwork. The knock on Iggy was always the same, he would never make it in the big leagues because he couldn’t hit.
But now Iggy is hitting, and then some. It’s gotten to the point that when my dad told me during Saturday’s game against the Orioles that the Red Sox had (up to that point) accrued two hits, I knew that one of them belonged to Iggy. And I was right. The problem, of course, is that the left side of the infield has gotten mighty crowded. Stephen Drew is performing relatively well, certainly better than his brother ever did, reliable in the field and decent pop for a shortstop. Will Middlebrooks has come back from injury/confidence boosting in Triple A, and while his batting average is still a paltry .198 with only one homer since May 1st, it’s way too early think about getting rid of the talented third baseman. Pedro Ciriaco, who seemed to have lost some of the inexplicable magic of last season, was traded to the Padres on Friday, but his spot in the crowd has already been filled. Xander Bogaerts, who, after hitting .311 with 6 HR and 35 RBI at Double-A, was promoted to Triple A and immediately went 3-7 with one home-run, 2 RBI, a walk, a steal, and two walk-off hits in his first two games.
Seeing where Iggy ends up in this shuffle will be very interesting as the season progresses (also check an excellent article about the Red Sox infield written by my colleague, Jayson McAree), but either way he is proving his doubters wrong, maintaining his sparkling defense and gritting out hit after hit.
(My prediction for all of this? Drew gets traded before the deadline for a mid-level prospect or long reliever, Iggy slides into the starting shortstop spot, Midd the Kid turns things around in the second half under lessened expectations, and the Sox hold on Bogaerts who continues to impress in Pawtucket before an October extended roster call-up)
Bringing Up Rubby: Well, this is exciting.
We’ve already seen Allen Webster. Now it’s time to see the other Dodgers pitching prospect acquired in last year’s uber-deal, Rubby De La Rosa. He’s been great at Triple-A (albeit with a careful innings limit) going 0-1 with a 3.29 ERA and 38 K in 38.1 innings. The 24-year-old flamethrower has been receiving advice from Pedro Martinez, who, obviously, isn’t too shabby a mentor.
We probably won’t see De La Rosa start any time in the near future, but Red Sox fans will absolutely be looking forward to the next Sox blowout win, when they’ll probably get the chance to get a first look at one of the most exciting prospects in the Red Sox system.
(A sadder note: De La Rosa’s promotion comes at the expense of Poor Alex Wilson, who’s been yo-yoed up and down from Boston to Pawtucket for the first three months of the season, often pitching the thankless innings or during extra-inning games. Hopefully we’ll see him back in a more permanent role soon.)
Bumpy Road: Despite the 5-4 record, it’s been a decidedly so-so week for the Sox. After a resounding two victories over the Angels to end their home stand, the Red Sox have gone 3-3 on the road against the Rays and the Orioles. The first win came in 14 innings against the Rays after John Lackey (in a decidedly mediocre start) had started a fight with Rays slugger Matt Joyce, Andrew Bailey blowing a save in the process. The second was a 2-1 win for Alfredo Aceves, whose wins actually scare me more than losses (I’m waiting with bated breath for Ace to do a remarkable heel turn: put in a glowing fall, bringing the Sox to Game 7 of the ALDS only to intentionally give up back-to-back homers and then give John Farrell the finger from the mound). The third was the aforementioned Lackey win on Saturday, his shaky beginning saved by home runs from exceedingly likable journeymen Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes.
While the wins were a tad worrisome, the losses were much more so. Jon Lester had by far his worst start of the season against the Rays, giving up 7 ER including 3 HR and a horrifying 7 BB in only 4 and 2/3 innings. Felix Doubront, likewise, didn’t make it out of the 5th inning en route to a 5-4 loss to the Orioles, another extra-innings affair. And, while Ryan Dempster put in a fine effort, the Sox lost 2-0 to the Orioles, mustering only three hits, two coming from the blazing hot Iggy. Next week could be just as difficult, as the Sox host the Rays as well as the frightening Detroit Tigers.
Checking In With The Reverse Jinx
Well. It looks like this is the last week for the Alex-Peters-Patented-Red-Sox-Reverse-Jinx-For-Glory-And-Wins.
The names offered up to the great gods of Karma were Pedro Ciriaco, David Ross, Clayton Mortensen, and Koji’s Beard.
Ciriaco was traded to the Padres after a disappointing start to the season. Ross is in the middle of a 3-27 slump. Mortensen was placed on the 15-day-DL with a right groin strain. And Koji is still cleanshaven.
It’s been a rough week for the Reverse Jinx. But I’m hoping this is just the Karmic Gods testing my resolve. So, I offer up the names of Stephen Drew (going 6-37 in his last 10 games without any proof of his power) and Andrew Bailey (who is certainly not shaking off his DL rust as quickly as hoped). I’m sorry Karmic gods, if I have offended thee. Hear my final plea!
Next week: Breaking Down Hacksaw (The Redemption of Mike Napoli)