Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Anti-Girardians

First things first: After another 3-4 day with two stolen bases, another double and another triple, #4 in your programs #1 in your hearts for the Oakland Athletics is now hitting .414. The A's are on a four-game winning streak and Coco Crisp is becoming a legitimate MVP contender. Tomorrow the injury-prone center fielder is scheduled to play his ninth game. Just as many as...well...you know.

On to things that people don't want to ignore, tonight is a good start to the hardest 27-game stretch the Red Sox are going to face for reasons explained this morning. In order to hit the treading water mark of 12-15, they now need only eleven more wins.

I will further harp on the last post by mentioning that that three out of the four players who I said needed to show up during the stretch did exactly that. Lackey didn't make it look pretty (as usual), but got guys out despite giving up a lot of hits and having a lot of ugly innings. More on this later. Hall hit a bomb. Varitek had a key RBI single. Drew did his best to keep the bat on his shoulder, but this is what Drew does when his hammy isn't at 100% and/or when he doesn't feel like playing baseball. But good for all three of these guys. Bill Hall doesn't have to be a bad baseball player. And Varitek is now at the same number of at-bats he hit on May 11th last year. You gotta think the ice packs aren't on. Yet.

I think Peter Abraham said it best: As Okajima is demoted to probably the third guy in the bullpen right now, he pitched in an 8-1 game. Abraham said there was a reason for it. And we saw that reason tonight.

My main point of the night, however, is the fact that we saw a reason for another thing. Anti-Patriots people might call it running up the score. Pat calls it not being complacent. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree on that. With Tampa down 8-1 in the seventh, they came back to 8-5 in garbage time against Okajima, Atchison, and Richardson. If Beltre had not hit a rocket off the wall off of one knee, or if Bill Hall hadn't launched a bomb over the monster, this game very well may have been Blown Save #14 and the first bad loss in the 27-game stretch.

Against good teams, you need all the insurance you get. The Yankees, as we have discussed, committed this mistake a few times this year, including in back to back games against Boston. They got an early lead, then they stopped working counts, went through the motions, and made outs. It was a lack of focus, and we both put quite a bit of blame on Girardi for that.

The 2009 Red Sox did the exact same thing on rainy nights against bad teams. They lost both of the games that come to mind. Though it did not rain, tonight's game could have been the same thing. But they kept their focus. They ran up the score. And they needed to. Just as we crushed Girardi for this in 2010 and crushed Francona for it in 2009, we have to give Francona his due credit for handing these anti-Girardians.

A quick hit: We went over this back in March or April, but John Lackey gives up A LOT of hits. This is not a new thing, as he did the same thing against inferior offenses in the AL West. He's paid for it a lot more in the AL East. I'm not sure if this is a correlation (and it's way too damn late to look this kind of stuff up--I'm looking at you, Tim C), but this kind of production level might be what is the reality against the East. Against the West, you have fewer hits in clumps. Against the East, you have more hits in clumps. Therefore, you might have a few games with eight hits and one run and some with eight hits and five runs. The former might be more common in the West. Also, to his credit, he is not 100% at fault for these problems, as he is giving up singles which are not necessarily all hit hard (some are). Matsuzaka walks guys, something that can be prevented 100% by the guy throwing the ball.

Also notable: 21 pitches per inning from Big Game James. More good execution by the team's mediocre replacement-level hitters.

Game One of the DL Era went well. Only four more against Tampa. And only twenty-six games left until August first.

3 comments:

jason said...

id be willing to bet that part of your analysis of the red sox not being content with a big lead and relaxing may be due to the fact that alot of guys who havent seen as much playing time in the past still highly value every at bat that they get whether it is because they are coming to the ends of their careers or still starting them off

TimC said...

Hey!- I'm looking back, DV!

This is the first day where there are no World Cup games since June 11th. As usual, I thank everyone for making it easier to keep up with the workings of the AL East while I pursued other sporting interests.

And speaking of correlations, I rooted for three teams during the World Cup; USA (as an American), Japan (through birthplace), and Ireland (through grandparents). I realized last night that all three of those teams were bounced from the tournament after 90 minutes of regulation.

Last night, my dad suggested that Lackey was the American Daisuke. Although we regard Dice with the highest respect here in Norwood, this was no compliment. I think your comment that Lackey is more likely to get hurt in the AL East is a good one, whether it be because of ballparks, higher strength of the on-deck hitter, or the tendency for lineups to hit in "clumps"/streaks, but it also makes Dice's 18-3 even more mind boggling. How many times did he put his face on the stove without being burnt?

Also, an interesting comment there Jason. It made me think of Manny strolling up to the plate late in uncompetitive games taking three half-assed cuts and strolling back to the bench to do a handshake with Ortiz. It could also be that guys saw that hitting late in blowouts tend to lead to nine-figure contracts, thus increasing the financial incentive to mash during blowouts.

Anonymous said...

TimC,

I will allow USA and Japan but do not accept your rooting for Ireland through your grandparents. That's very Pat Featherston of you, aka junior varsity. Two teams is enough- just stop there. And yes, I do think that I have the right to tell you who to root for.

On the Lackey comment, I would say that calling him the American Dice K is a little too harsh. I would agree that Lackey is somewhat overrated and not as good as his record might indicate, but he's not nearly as frustrating as to watch. Maybe it's just me.

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