No matter which way you look at it or what side you were on, last night’s Red Sox/Yankees game was an ugly mess, an embarrassment.
For both teams.
There are no winners when the score gets to 15-9, not in any practical sense. You don’t get to 15-9 without there being spectacular failures on each side. Both teams flat out stunk. And you know what? I’d be saying the same thing if the Red Sox had come in on top. Coming in at four hours, eight minutes, this was entirely too long for a nine inning game of no special consequence.
Clay Buchholz looked pretty bad, but I suppose it wasn’t all terrible. He did have a scoreless inning in the second, I guess that should count for something. Just seemed that he couldn’t locate the ball. Whether that was some bad strategy, hoping players would swing and miss those bad pitches, or whether it was an off night, who knows. Chien-Ming Wang was awful, flat-out awful. If it seems like I’m being harder on him than Buchholz, it’s not because one’s a Red Sox player and one’s a Yankee. It’s because Buchholz is the #5 man in Boston’s rotation, and Wang is the #1 man in New York’s. You expect more out of your #1 guy, you have to. And after his tremendous start last Friday, you really expected more out of Wang. And Buchholz… well, he’s got great stuff, undeniably, amazing potential, but I’m still not sold on him being ready for prime time. For that matter, I’m not sold on Lester either. I know they’re going to be very good, and very important parts of the rotation for a long time to come. But Buchholz has looked anything but unhittable, and Lester takes seven hours to pitch four lousy innings.
And no Red Sox starter has pitched 7 innings this season. Not a one.
I give Josh Beckett a free pass on that because he essentially missed spring training. He hasn’t had the chance to get stretched out, and with each game he’s gotten better. He pitched 4 2/3 innings in his first start and looked brilliant through the first three or so before he started getting tired, and last time around, he pitched 6 2/3, looking brilliant through about five before wearing out. So there’s been measurable progress there, and he’s had great stuff.
But everyone else?
Tim Wakefield is hit or miss, and he’s probably always going to be that way. With the knuckleball, you just never know… but he knows what he’s doing, and I feel at least when he goes out there that he’s going to give the team a chance to win. He’s a professional, he doesn’t get rattled easily, and somehow he always finds a way to get outs. Daisuke Matsuzaka started off the season with a less than stellar start, threw two back-to-back quality starts, and then returned to the ways of old in his fourth start.
But you know what? All of the pitching in the world can’t help you if your shortstop makes more errors than Hillary Clinton recalling her achievements as first lady. Who knows what might have happened if Lugo had turned the ground ball that Julian Tavarez so desperately needed into the inning-ending double play it was meant to be? Then you have a tie score with your best relievers waiting to be used, instead of a deficit not worth using your best guys to hold on to. I’ll never know what the front office sees in this guy. Sometimes he hits, more often than not he doesn’t, and even if he does have a multi-hit game, it seems as though he finds the least important moments to get those hits.
Timlin? It’s hard to tell if he’s been unlucky, had an off night, or if he’s out of gas altogether.
And Jacoby Ellsbury continues to demonstrate that despite what the Pink Hats might say, despite all of the ladies fawning over how “dreamy” he is (note to people in my office: just because I’m in my cubicle doesn’t mean I can’t hear you when you talk about him right outside of it), he’s not ready to be an every day major league player. He gets fooled each and every time they throw the ball inside on him. 0-5 last night. Meanwhile, Coco Crisp has been off to a great start but the idiots are too busy demanding he be traded/hung/shot to notice that he should be the everyday center fielder.
In a perfect world, Ellsbury, Lester, and Buchholz would all be headed back to AAA to refine the areas of their game that need the most work. Wishing these problems away isn’t going to make it so. Printing more merchandise with their names and numbers to sell to fair-weather fans isn’t going to make them better. But alas, the surplus of starting pitching we were supposed to have isn’t there, and there’s simply no better options available to the Sox. (Please remind me why they traded Kason Gabbard for Eric Gagne? Someone like Gabbard would be perfect right now. If you had Kason Gabbard, you could send Buchholz back down to the minors to work his problems out. If you had a healthy Curt Schilling, you could send Lester down too until he figured out where the strike zone was and remembered how to challenge hitters.)
Make no mistake, the Yankees didn’t have a good night either. I don’t care what team you are, if you give up nine runs, you should lose the ballgame, period. They stunk; we stunk more.
Jon Lester had a tough outing on what was supposed to be the first “normal” game of the young season. There were parts of the game, particularly in his early innings, where he looked really good, and other parts where he seemed less in control. Despite the loss, though, I still think it was a step in the right direction for him. One aspect of his game that I’d like to see him work on is his pacing; he works very slowly, and while he seems to be more comfortable that way, I’d prefer it if he was able to speed things up a tad. Hopefully that comes with experience and maturity.
Losing Mike Lowell isn’t a good thing, but the signing of Sean Casey combined with the brilliant defensive ability of Kevin Youkilis should keep the team balanced for the next few weeks while we wait for Lowell to come off the DL. I was really impressed at how Youkilis was able to shift from first to third in the middle of the game, no warning, no drills before the game.
All in all, it was inevitable that the Tigers were going to win a game at some point. Frankly I’m surprised that it didn’t happen sooner. It’s hard for me to be really upset about the game.
Fortunately, the Sox did what any good team can do after a loss, which is simply to go home, sleep it off, and come back the next day ready to go. Youkilis made a few nice plays at third, including one barehanded grab early on in the game (1st? 2nd?) that would have been impressive for anyone, especially so for someone who’s not an everyday third baseman.
Sean Casey certainly had himself a good night, getting some nice hits, making some good plays. And how about that Kevin Cash, you know, the guy who wasn’t supposed to be able to hit anything? J.D. Drew is off to a great start too; I’m finally starting to see what it was that the front office saw in him. Hope he keeps it up. And I’m not worried about David Ortiz. He’s going to hit. Probably sooner vs. later. At some point everything is going to click into place and he’s going to make a lot of opposing pitchers pay dearly.
With Lowell on the DL and Alex Cora’s elbow acting up a little, Jed Lowrie was called up from AAA. He’ll be making his major league debut whenever he finds himself in a game.
About 3 1/2 hours until the first Red Sox vs. Yankees game of 2008 begins… hopefully… there’s some rain in the forecast…