Remind me not to marvel at how the team seems to win against all odds. That seemed to kill it. Still, as far as I can remember, the six game winning streak the Sox had going until last night was longer than any they had during the regular season in all of 2007. Last year’s team was the anti-streak. They were a model of consistency, never getting too hot, but never getting too cold either. After a brilliant start, they actually spent most of the season playing what seemed like win-one-lose-one ball. So at the least, this has been better to watch.
As soon as I found out Jon Lester would be making an emergency start on three days rest (a first for him) in place of Dice-K (flu-like symptoms), I was worried. I’ve never been, as a rule, impressed with Lester, though I see potential for him to be a lot better. For a guy that nibbles incessantly at the plate and walks a plethora of hitters, starting on three days rest seemed like an awful idea. I guess there was no other option, but still. Before the game started, I predicted Lester would go four innings and give up four runs. OK, so he went five innings, giving up four. He wasn’t dreadful, and while his first couple innings were spotty, he really seemed to turn it around as the game went on. He gave the club a chance to win, which is really all they could have asked for.
And props to my fellow Long Island native, Craig Hansen, pitching in the bigs for the first time since 2006. Sure, you could focus on the Glen Cove-raised Hansen giving up the decisive run, but I think that’s missing the point. In 2006, he didn’t look all that good on the mound, and in 2007 he was more or less dreadful at the AAA level. Last night he looked very good. Made a mistake with that one pitch and paid for it, but what I saw last night out of him was better than anything I saw in 2006. He’s already been optioned back to Pawtucket, but it looks like there may be an opportunity for him to help this club in a big way later in the season. I much prefer to see the homegrown talent over free agent signings and trades, so if this kid can continue to turn it around, it would be great for the team.
So, in the end, a team missing Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Alex Cora, Coco Crisp, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Manny Delcarmen was able to keep it a close game ’til the end. That they didn’t embarrass themselves was already a pretty good thing in my eyes. That they kept themselves in it against a very good Angels ballclub really says something. They didn’t come back this time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.
Justin Masterson, one of the top prospects in the organization, is temporarily being bumped up from Double-A ball to start this afternoon (Lester’s originally scheduled start). Trying to decide if I should just follow the highlights on the internet or radio, or wait until I get home to watch it on DVR. Guess we’ll just see how busy work gets in the next couple hours. I honestly wouldn’t mind waiting and checking it out later. It’s the guy’s first major league start. Call me sentimental, but that’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing.