Weekend Worries in Red Sox Nation?
Opening Weekend in Arlington, Texas was a highly anticipated series as the reigning American League Champs, the Texas Rangers,
hosted the much-hyped lineup and starting rotation of the Boston
Ace Jon Lester took the mound for the Sox on Opening Day, followed by John Lackey and Clay Buchholz in games two and three. Boston fielded a solid lineup including the off-season acquisitions Adrian
Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, plus a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin
Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. With the young Saltalamacchia behind the
plate and veteran lovable David Ortiz in the DH spot, along with the
revamped bullpen including Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon, Bobby Jenks,
Matt Albers, Dan Wheeler, Dennys Reyes and Tim Wakefield, the outlook was promising facing the stacked lineup of the defending AL champs.
We all know what happened in this three-game set. The Rangers dominated the Sox pitching, led by the likes of Ian Kinsler
and Nelson Cruz, who were the first pair of teammates in MLB history to each homer in the first three games of their season. Not to mention Adrian Beltre, who captured the hearts of Rangers fans after a monstrous grand slam off of his former
teammate, Lackey, who intentionally walked Josh Hamilton to load the
bases and get to the Dominican slugger. The Red Sox starters gave up 9
home runs in the first three games of the season, and in a combined 15.1
IP, had a 10.56 ERA, a 1.72 WHIP and only 6 strikeouts.
Bard, in 73 appearances last season, didn’t give up more than two
runs in a single inning. On Friday, he gave up 4 ER in 0.2 IP with one K
and 1 BB. In a combined 8.2 IP, the Red Sox bullpen garnered an 8.30
ERA, a 2.08 WHIP and 6 strikeouts.
With all the negativity surrounding the Red Sox after an 0-3 start, I
can only say a few things: First, chill out. This is three games in a
162-game season. I’m fairly certain with 159 games left that we don’t need to worry about either team’s “Magic Number” yet. Second, look at the positives. Ortiz, after a slow start in his previous three seasons, went 4-12 (.333
BA) with two home runs. Also, Gonzalez went 5-13 (.385 BA) in
his first series in a Red Sox uniform. Third, CHILL OUT. Can we take a
look at the 1998 New York Yankees? They started their season 0-3, then
ended the season with a 114-48 record and won the World Series. If this series happened in June, nobody would be talking about it.
Now that I’ve gotten my ranting and venting out of the way, I’d like to
look forward to the next 3-game set starting Tuesday when the Red Sox
take on the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Game one will see
Josh Beckett on the mound for the Red Sox while Josh Tomlin (2010: 6-4, 4.56 ERA) makes his
2011 debut hoping to shut down the Sox lineup. Beckett had a very
disappointing 2010 campaign. In 127.2 IP, he had a 6-6 record with a
5.78 ERA and 1.535 WHIP. “I think his pride took a beating last year,”
said skipper Terry Francona. “I definitely agree with that. I think he
feels like he has a
lot to prove” (via RedSox.com).
So, let’s take a little breather, get excited about some more baseball,
and follow Marco Scutaro’s lead in an old, familiar “Beltre Head Rub.”
P.S. In a totally unrelated, non-Red Sox note, in the 8th inning of the Mets/Marlins game on Saturday evening, the Mets inserted pinch-runner Chin-lung Hu. So I know somewhere Abbott and Costello were smiling, as we all know, “Hu’s on First?”