Sunday, July 17, 2005


Game 90 - Red Sox

Yankees 7, Red Sox 4
Record: 50-40

A few random observations while wondering why Willie Randolph took Pedro out after 6 innings (and only 61 pitches) of 2-hit ball:

There's no such thing as a must-win game in mid-July. That said, if the Sox lose tonight to the Yankees with Al Leiter taking the hill in pinstripes, I predict some shit gets broken in my living room, and hopefully in Theo Epstein's office.

The Sox are keeping their divisional opponents in the race at a time when both the Orioles and Yankees have major challenges with pitching depth. With rumors abounding regarding both teams' efforts to bolster their weaknesses, the Sox seem certain to regret their recent 6-10 run. Once again, it's as if they're bored after last year. Comparing the Sox lineup against the Yanks and O's, it's hard to fathom how the division is so close. Let's look closer:

C - Varitek (BOS), Posada (NYY), Fasano/Gil (BAL): With Javy Lopez hurt and Posada showing his age, this one's a clear advantage to the Sox.

1B - Millar/Olerud (BOS), Martinez/Giambi (NYY), Palmeiro/Gibbons (BAL): Question marks abound in this comparison, but based upon current production, slight edge to the Yankees.

2B - Bellhorn (BOS), Cano (NYY), Roberts (BAL): Brian Roberts is an MVP candidate - easy edge to the O's.

SS - Renteria (BOS), Jeter (NYY), Tejada (BAL): Jeter's having a terrific season, but Miguel Tejada's the best shortstop in baseball right now.

3B - Mueller (BOS), Rodriguez (NYY), Mora (BAL): A-Rod's a prick, but he's killing the ball.

LF - Ramirez (BOS), Matsui (NYY), Bigbie (BAL): As dangerous as Matsui is, he's no Manny Ramirez.

CF - Damon (BOS), Williams/Cabrera (NYY), Matos (BAL): Possibly the biggest incremental difference between the teams. Damon's head and shoulders above the others.

RF - Nixon (BOS), Sheffield (NYY), Sosa (BAL): Sheffield gets the nod over Nixon, but not by as much as first glance might suppose.

DH - Ortiz (BOS), Giambi, et al (NYY), Palmeiro, et al (BAL): Landslide for Papi.

So the tally, 4 for Boston (and none are even close), 3 for the Yankees, but only A-Rod is a clear differentiator, 2 for the O's. Even where the Sox trail the Yankees and Orioles, their talent is in the top half of the league, with the exception of Bellhorn. And they drift with the slightest of margins.

The title of today's entry refers both to the Sox' outlook for another long playoff run and to the great song by the band of the same name, "Middle of the Road," which is sadly descriptive of the Sox season to date.

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