Wednesday, May 8, 2013

These are the Times that Test Fan’s Souls

There we were last Friday afternoon, riding a major-league best 20-8 start to the season, boasting a lock-down back-end bullpen, and avoiding any significant injuries.

You know the rest.  

We got swept by the Rangers (note: the Rangers own us.) (another note: I use “we” like I am on the team.  And I don’t care).   Andrew “I am a walking, talking DL trip” Bailey got sore biceps.  The “Joel Hanrahan is good, the hate needs to stop, he is going to be an all-star caliber closer for us, he throws great gas” bandwagon that I’ve been driving hard  on this site and on our Twitter account careened off the road, crashed into a tree, and burst into flames.  There were no survivors.  We damned near had to use Ryan Dempster in a relief role on Monday night.  Then last night David Ross and Will Middlebrooks collided going after a pop up in a play that was a little too reminiscent of the Adrian Beltre and Jacoby Ellsbury collision for my liking.  Both left the game.  As of this writing, they are both day-to-day pending recuperating time for Ross and MRI/CT Scan results for Willie Middle.  

Baseball seasons are long (submission for Captain Obvious statement of the year).  Teams always deal with injuries.  Good teams have good depth and good teams have role players step up to keep the train rolling while guys rehab (I hate to give them any credit, but our rivals in Gotham have stayed in contention all season through an injury plague of biblical proportions).  But it is especially tough when these things come in bunches.  We will now see how this Red Sox team reacts to their first stretch of bad luck in 2013.  Because let’s face it, our 20-8 start was a delicious combination of good luck, chemistry, Boston Strong karma, and legitimately good baseball.  But it’s not going to all be rainbows and candy canes.  These are the times that try baseball player’s souls (bonus points to anybody who can correctly identify the source of this post’s title without Googling).

But it might not all be bad news.  Here are some silver linings:
  • Say it with me now: Allen Webster.  The kid is super nasty.  He gets his second start of the season tonight, and if it goes anything like his first start did, or how his season at AAA has gone, he may be there until October.
  • The Webster call-up, coupled with the taxation on the bullpen, gets Felix Doubront out of the rotation.  The most effective that Doubront has ever been as a pitcher in a Red Sox uniform was when he was working out of the bullpen.  He never showed that he could be anything more than a decent starter with fairly good stuff who could not pitch with efficiency in the rotation.  Now he doesn’t have to worry about efficiency.  He can just fire the hell out of the ball for one or two innings at a time.
  • Maybe taking a seat on the bench for four or five days will be good for Will Middlebrooks.  It will be bad for the Red Sox lineup, especially defensively, but Middlebrooks has been visibly pressing at the plate and could use some time off.  Here’s hoping he uses the time to relax and find some feel good mojo again.  The dude just seems to be gripping the bat too tight and swinging at everything.
  • Maybe Ryan Lavarnway will end up getting another shot in the big leagues and maybe, just maybe, he’ll make the most of it this time.  Here’s a good piece on Lavarnway by Tim Britton at the Projo.  Apparently, he has been working with his old hitting coach and feeling like his old self.  Here’s hoping that if Lavarnway is called up that Salty will never again have to hit right-handed this season.  In fact, I think Salty should abandon the charade that he is a switch-hitter and just call himself a full-time left-handed hitter.
  • Maybe the Red Sox will find that Junichi Tazawa has the stuff to be a full-time major league closer.  Bailey and/or Hanrahan will get the job back this year when they get healthy, but for the long haul they may have a long-term answer under their nose.  Tazawa throws strikes (as opposed to Hanny) and seems to never get hurt (as opposed to Bailey).
  • None of the injuries are season ending injuries.  And with the possible exception of Middlebrooks, none of the injuries are to truly irreplaceable players.  As I said above, as long as Middlebrooks only misses a few days or even two weeks, it might even be good that he gets to sit out a little while.  If he misses a month or more, then forget we ever had this conversation.
  • Our record is still 21-12, folks.  I think if you had told any of us on April 1 that our record on May 8 was going to be 20-12, we have have taken it in a nanillosecond.  We are ahead of the game to this point.  We could be Jays fans (are they cursed?).  Or even Rays fans for that matter (do they exist?).
I don’t know about you, but this has been cathartic for me.  I feel better about settling in tonight to watch a Red Sox team trying to work their way through their first stretch of bad luck in 2013.  Now if I can keep myself away from the negativity on our Twitter timeline, I should be all set.  Fat chance.

3 comments:

  1. We knew it was a matter of when not if. They were going to have some tough stretches in the course of the season and this is the first one. The injuries are concerning and the inability to score runs consistently is frustrating, but to me the difference has been the starting pitching.

    They were 10-0 in the first ten games that Lester and Buchholz started and now they've lost 3 out of the last 4 that they've started. Nothing has changed since the start of the season. The starting pitching is the key.

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  2. And with a couple more losses to the Twins since this original post, our souls have been further tested. As the Red Sox open a new series with the Blue Jays, a pitching matchup of Jon Lester vs. Ramon Ortiz, who is starting a game in the big leagues for the first time since the 1986 Angels- Red Sox playoff series ( okay, I made that up....but it has been years) had better be the start of the Red Sox regaining their footing. Every season brings ups and downs for each team, this has been one of those bad stretches for the Sox. Good teams limit the damage. Let's look for the damage control to begin on the back of Jon Lester this Friday night at Fenway

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    1. Right on cue Jon Lester comes up big with a one hit complete game victory. Because of the strong need for a victory as the Deacon pointed out above this may have been Lester's biggest start since early 2011 or 2010.

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