Sunday, May 03, 2009

Oddfellows Local 151

Games 23 through 25 - Red Sox

Rays 6, Red Sox 2
Red Sox 10, Rays 5
Rays 5, Red Sox 3
Record: 15-10

The Red Sox' 25-game records since 2003: 16-9, 15-10, 13-12, 14-11, 16-9, 15-10. So no particular solace or sorrow to be read into this year's .600 mark. I daresay, though (because I won't be researching it) that none of those seasons featured 2009's 2-6, 11-0, 2-4 stretches all in the first month. And so odd is the order of the day, odd and vexing. Consider:

The Sox' starting pitching has been among the very worst in the league, dead last in ERA (5.75), as a matter of fact. They've given up the second-most walks in the league and carry the third-worst WHIP (1.57). I don't even want to consider how bad the numbers would be you take out Tim Wakefield's 3-1, 2.91 start. (Also, I don't have a calculator handy.) The rotation is averaging just over 5 1/2 innings per contest, placing an inordinate amount of stress on the bullpen.

Which, in accordance with 2009's confounding thematics, has been rock solid. The pen carries a 2.93 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP, good for 3rd and 4th in the league, respectively, despite pitching 83 innings, the circuit's 3rd-most. Ramon Ramirez has been a revelation, authoring 15 scoreless innings. Oft-maligned Manny Delcarmen has been only slightly less terrific, giving up a single scratch in 14 1/3. I'd like to see how good the numbers would be if you take out Javier Lopez' 0-2, 9.39 start. (Still, no calculator.)

Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ledger, the Sox are getting strong to spectacular performances from a goodly chunk of the lineup. Jason Bay leads the AL in walks, in addition to clouting 5 HR and carrying a 1.053 OPS. Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Nick Green, and Jason Varitek have all delivered .800+ OPS numbers (2 of these are not like the others). And Kevin Youkilis has arguably been the AL's best offensive player, clubbing 6 HR and driving in 20 runs while amassing a nifty 1.253 OPS, and providing world-class protection for the #3 hitter in the order.

Who, in accordance with 2009's confounding thematics, has been finger-chewingly, wince-inducingly, remote-hurlingly awful. Last night, with 2 out in the top of the 7th and the Sox leading, 9-5, the Rays intentional walked Pedroia to get to David Ortiz. That's a little bit of statement about the defending league MVP, but it's a Tolstoy-worthy epistle about the once-feared Papi. Ortiz walked, and that's about the best the result the Sox could've expected. The Large Father totes a sweet .600 OPS through 25 games, with 0 HR, 12 RBI, and one more extra-base hit than Nick Green in 40 more ABs. Worse, he looks lost, overmatched by pitchers who he used to treat as nothing more than appetizers.

I wrote this about Papi in 2004:

David Ortiz is a big, giant stud. Tizzle's .954 OPS is sparked by 23 HR and a league-leading 78 RBI. He's a threat to hit the ball out of the county every time he comes to the plate, and his swing is a joy to behold - bat head dropping into the slot, ball just disappearing as if pulverized before reappearing in a majestic arc behind the rightfielder. On top of all that, he's a terrifically silly man who appears to realize that he's playing a little kid's game for an assload of money.
None of those descriptors are remotely apt in this odd season. And this, chief amongst the concerns, is my single greatest worry. The production, sure, but even more, the joie de vivre. Because without Papi, the Sox just aren't the same.

Fingers crossed, brow wrinkled, counting on small sample sizes to explain things my eyes don't want to believe.

1 comment:

hou said...

That's a little bit of statement about the defending league MVP, but it's a Tolstoy-worthy epistle about the once-feared Papi.
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