Monday, April 17, 2006


Games 10 through 13 - Red Sox

Red Sox 2, Seattle Mariners 1
W: Schilling (3-0)
L: Moyer (0-2)
Sv: Papelbon (5)

Mariners 3, Red Sox 0
W: Pineiro (2-1)
L: Wakefield (1-2)
Sv: Guardado (2)

Red Sox 3, Mariners 2
W: Beckett (3-0)
L: Washburn (1-2)
Sv: Papelbon (6)

Red Sox 7, Mariners 6
W: Timlin (1-0)
L: Guardado (0-1)

Record: 9-4

Perspective's a wonderful thing, and a 162-game baseball season is uniquely designed to offer moments that both validate and instantly change it in the context of fandom. One pitch thrown a little differently today has me lamenting a home split against Seattle, exacerbated by the Sox' early-season clutch hitting woes. Instead, Mariner closer Eddie Guardado got a lot more of the plate with that pitch than he intended, and Mark Loretta ripped it into the Monster seats for the sweetest of all baseball poetry - the come-from-behind walkoff.

I'm watching Pedro pitch for the Mets right now, and I must admit that there's a wistful little part of me that still gets a thrill watching that whip of a right arm make the ball do otherwordly things (despite the fact that Andruw Jones just hit one to Manhattan - holy shit). Even so, after the season's first 2 weeks, I'd be lying if I wished he were still on the Sox staff, especially if it meant that Josh Beckett wasn't. I said somewhere in this space that Beckett was Pedro Lite - a "young, potentially dominant power arm entering the prime of his career". Beckett's trying his damnedest to make those words define understatement.

A gorgeous Spring weekend had me away from much of the Sox' action against the Mariners, though I did see all of Schilling's gem on Friday, and all the scoring in Beckett's effort on Sunday. If not for Wily Mo Pena's rude introduction to the vagaries of Fenway's vast rightfield, Beckett may have been unblemished, but even as his runs were attributed to woeful defense, the young righty still fist-pumped his way through his 3rd consecutive 7-inning, 1-earned run outing. I completely missed Tim Wakefield's hard-luck loss on Saturday, but was heartened by his complete game performance, if not so much by the continued slumber of the Sox' offense.

The Sox are now 4-1 in games in which they've scored 3 or fewer runs; they were 3-22 in similar outings in 2005. Schilling and Beckett account for all 4 of those wins, which enlightens both the promise and the peril of the 2006 Sox. The 2 stud righthanders seem poised to feed off each other all season long, health permitting. The rest of the rotation, though, with David Wells now on the DL, Matt Clement opening poorly, and Wakefield being Wakefield, seems a lyric in search of a song: Schilling and Beckett, and ahhh, feck it (The Shane MacGowan version). Beckett and Schilling and Dontrelle, Lord willing (the Bud Selig money-is-power remix). Feel free to play along at home, and use Lenny Dinardo's name for bonus points - the lefty did his job today, getting through 5 innings with only 2 runs against in a spot start.

Despite the rotation's 3-5 woes, and the power shortage from all sources not named Papi, the Sox are still 9-4, a testament to terrific bullpen work (2 more dominant saves from Papelbon against the Mariners), mostly excellent defense, and just enough hitting to win, if not comfortably. The injury-slowed lineup starts to get better now with Trot Nixon back today (and 3-4 with a pair of doubles) and Coco Crisp returning in a few days, so I expect the offense to perk back up. Just a little bit of help for Schilling and Beckett, and my optimism may start to match my colleague's, even if not as publicly.

I still think he sandbagged the case bet.

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