Though I’m not one to resort to name-calling of other teams, in the case of the Texas Rangers, it’s pretty hard not to. They suck. Plain and simple. They had every chance in the world to beat the Red Sox (for at least one game) and couldn’t do it. They had a huge amount of things going in their favor, the kind of things where fans of the losing team can only cry out, “But it shouldn’t count, you didn’t really face our team!”
Hideki Okajima sitting the whole weekend due to a stiff neck? Check.
Red-hot Manny Ramirez sitting the last two games? Check.
Mike Lowell on the DL? Check.
Super-sub Alex Cora on the DL? Check.
Josh Beckett’s turn in the rotation coming the day before the series? Check.
And those Texas Rangers just couldn’t get it done. Not once. David Ortiz got his mojo back in a big way, starting off the weekend with a grand slam on Friday. Manny Ramirez hit a monster on Saturday that would still be traveling to New Hampshire were it not for the light tower it kicked off of. Tim Wakefield pitched eight innings on Sunday, giving up five runs but really being in control for most of it… a couple home runs killed him, but he hung on and allowed the team to win. And Clay Buchholz finally got his first win of the season on Monday.
It’s baseball, and everything can change in a heartbeat. I know this. But you have to like how these Red Sox are looking so far, after they returned home and settled into a groove, relegating the Japan-West Coast-Canada road trip to memory. There are still problems, of course. Starters haven’t been going deep enough into the game, which has resulted in an overworked bullpen. They’ve survived the strain, for now, but you wonder how long that can go on. Jon Lester still throws too many pitches, works far too slowly, and more often than not appears very beatable. That said, after his troubles in the first three innings of Saturday’s game, something seemed to click in him and he started pitching the way we all hoped he would, the way he pitched that World Series game last year. I never worry about Tim Wakefield; he knows his roll. Dice-K looked better this time than last and improved to a major league-leading 4-0, although he’s still throwing waaaay too many pitches early on and not challenging hitters who shouldn’t stand a chance against him. Clay Buchholz still needs to be more consistent in his command, but I’ll take another outing like yesterday’s.
In other words, this is a team starting to get on a roll, with some players looking like they’re turning the corner. Now we’ll see what happens as they start going up against more competitive teams. I’m not worried, but I’m not exactly making travel plans for October either, not yet.