Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Yearling

Game 61 – Red Sox

Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Record: 36-25

Let the record show that I’ve significantly jinxed the Sox at least twice already this season. Once more into the breach, then, to prove once and for all that this superstitious crap is bunk. And if it doesn’t work, I’m totally keeping this Obama ’08 rabbit’s foot.

One of the biggest moments in last night’s win over the Rays was Craig Hansen’s 8th-inning performance. After Javier Lopez allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach, Hansen entered the game. It was by far the most important situation he’s faced this season, and probably since 2006. 10 pitches, 2 groundouts, and a strikeout later, the Rays were retired without a tally and the game was all over but the Papelboning.

That makes 3 consecutive solid to excellent outings for the formerly highly-touted Hansen, and while the small sample size police (they’re all about 6 oz.) stand ready to pounce, arms akimbo, there’s some anecdotal and visual evidence that the right-hander is learning how to harness his electric stuff. No less an expert than Jim Palmer waxed awestruck about Hansen’s stuff last week – and while that and $4.00 will buy a gallon of regular unleaded, it’s a sign that the lad is growing into his talent.

With Hideki Okajima struggling and Mike Timlin finally wearing down, the Sox are searching for an answer in the 8th inning. It’s not the crisis our friends in New York are facing in the post-Joba era, but it’s a concern, nonetheless. If Hansen’s recent performance heralds a longer-term upside, then cross off a big one from Theo’s trade deadline to-do list.

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