Thursday, August 25, 2005

Closing Time, or, Bully for You

Games 123 & 124 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, Royals 2
Royals 4, Red Sox 3 (11)
Record: 72-52

Schilling on the mound this evening in his return to the starting rotation - 3 hits for the Royals' first 7 batters. At least he's consistent. Make that 4-for-8. Sorry, 5-for-9. And Kevin Millar's displaying one of the most godawful throwing arms in major league history. 2-0 Royals in the bottom of the 2nd. I'm gonna start drinking. More. Spoke too soon, 6-for-11, 3-0 Royals.

The struggles of the Sox' erstwhile ace cast a recent theory of mine in sharp relief. Lost in the warm fuzzy glow that still tinges all things Red Sox is this simple fact: the 2005 Boston Red Sox really aren't very good. Sure, they're one of the league's top teams, and their offense is still probably the best in the bigs (most nights, though tonight's lineup that eschews Ortiz and Nixon in favor of Kapler and Millar says hi). They're even in first place in the AL East with 37 games to play. And still, they're not very good - at least not nearly as good as they were last year.

As the Yankees creep increasingly closer - only 3 games out as the Sox play tonight, and looking more and more like things are going to get that much more snug - while their pitching staff improves on a nighly basis, the Sox' glaring weakness sticks out like Gabi Reese at a Star Trek convention. They can't pitch. At least not on any consistent basis. The starters are at least mediocre, but the bullpen is flat horrific - next to last in the AL in ERA. Not gonna get it done, to say the least.

So it's taken me 124 games to figure this out, mostly because I'm still luxuriating in the memories of last October. And, to be sure, the American League has no dominant team, so the Sox have as good a chance as anyone to be the Cardinals' punching bag in the World Series. Still, I don't think the Sox can win anything worth writing home about - including the AL East, which my pre-realistic mind considered almost a foregone conclusion - as they're currently consituted. Would be a bit of a nutpunch to watch the Yankees pass the Sox this season, but I'd call it a coin flip at this point based upon what I see today.

The Sox do have 24 of their final 36 games at home, which is a bright spot. About to lose 2 of 3 to the league's worst team - not quite as sparkly. 7 hits in 12 ABs for the Royals against Schilling now. Downright dingy.

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