AL East Standing: 1st
Weekly Record: 3-4
Current Record: 74-53
(Every weekend 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 puns.)
Definitely a weird week for the Boston Red Sox. In some games they looked fantastic, like the number one offense in the MLB who could count on their workhouse starters (Saturday’s 6-1 win against the Yankees, Monday night’s 7-0 stellar outing by Lester against the Giants) and even a nice extra-innings win against Toronto (4-2 in 11, thanks to a two-run single by Shane Victorino). But otherwise, we’re looking at a team going through a serious rough patch.
Sox bats fell silent in two crucial games against the Blue Jays, and Felix Doubront (up to this point the model of consistency) and Ryan Dempster got knocked around by the Yankees. Mike Napoli is slowly working his way out of his slump, and Dustin Pedroia is battling a sore ankle and is stuck in a pretty rough August, at least for him (.256/.333/.321) after an even rougher July (.216/.289/.333). The pitching staff is also struggling to stay consistent, and could desperately use Clay Buchholz right now (Bueller?) It goes without saying that this is pretty much THE WORST time for the Sox to start faltering, with the Rays still breathing down their necks, only a game away. Unfortunately, the Sox, after two more games in San Francisco, have a three-game series in Los Angeles against the perpetually streaking Dodgers, and then come home for another round with the Orioles. Not exactly the most friendly of schedules.
What’s in a Name
So last week I bemoaned the fact that Jonny Gomes doesn’t have a suitable nickname. It’s a disgrace, a catastrophe. Luckily you all rose to the task, and either sent me some suggestions, or left them in the article’s comments. The top five were:
Bowzer: Rough and tumble, hard to control in Mario Kart, kinda look similar?
Gomer: Gomes + Homer. Strange Full Metal Jacket connection
The Flux Capacitor: Powers the team, makes absolutely no sense rationally (This also goes for Danny Nava and Mike Carp)
Jonny Gnomes: Commenter Sandy says “He used to play for the Rays, and they’re big on gnomes for some reason. Plus he kinda looks like one!” Wordplay!
Jonny-Five: Name-number combo, the robot from Short Circuit
I like all of them so far, but I can’t decide. So I left a poll. Vote on your favorite, or leave more suggestions in the comments. Let’s get this done.
One-Up: Will Middlebrooks
So last week, I celebrated the call-up of the struggling 3rd baseman from Triple-A, and so far he has only impressed in his return. Since his return, he’s hit 12-27, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and a nifty 6/6 K/BB. Attributing much of his success to his returning health, and clearly regaining confidence as a hitter at the major league level, Middlebrooks should only keep hitting and hitting (all of this at the 9-spot!), and should be dependable come October.
One-Down: Stephen Drew
After an awesome start to the month, Drew has come apart in the last week and a bit, going 5-29 in his last 8 games (despite a nice 2-5, RBI game against the Giants). While his defense remains solid, his bat really needs to come around in a big way for him to stay in the lineup. I like Drew, but he’s the most expendable piece on the team at this point, and it doesn’t help that….
One-Up: Xander Bogaerts
SOUND THE ALARM! HE HAS COME! THE GREAT ONE HAS COME!
Uber-prospect Xander Bogaerts was finally called up to the big leagues on Monday, and looks to be an option against lefties (who Drew struggles mightily against) and to give Drew and Middlebrooks the odd breather now and again. I do think expectations are way too huge for the 20-year old, and we have to remember that Manny Machado may have been a bit of an outlier, and it would be unfair and possibly damaging to his development to expect him to lead the Sox offense. But it’s truly remarkable that he’s made it this far, and any output would be welcomed greatly.
One-Down: Ryan Dempster
Well, so much for competing to stay in the rotation. Barring injury, Dempster will definitely be the starter to move to the bullpen upon Buchholz’ return to the team. While his overall stats (4.77 ERA, 1.47) on the season aren’t pretty, his performances in the last two months have been wildly erratic. He’s only gone above 6 innings twice since June. His last four starts have been both proof that he can’t be reliable, but also a tease of how effective he can be, as his Aug 13 start against the Blue Jays proved (7 innnings, 1 ER, 4/2 K/BB). But the other three starts (a combined 17.1 innings, 25 H, 19 ER) can’t be ignored. It’s a shame, since he’s absolutely a positive clubhouse influence and reputed workhorse, but the results aren’t pretty on the field. Here’s hoping he can turn things around in the months to come.
Next Week: I review the carnage of the Red Sox’ series against Baltimore and LAD. Also be sure to check out my weekly reports on the New England Patriots, if football is your jam, and my AFC East Preview that was published yesterday.