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Red Sox Over The Hump After Some Major Spring Cleaning

Posted By "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek On May 20 2011 @ 2:49 am In Boston Red Sox | 5 Comments

If you told me the Red Sox would have a losing record for the first 39 games of the season, I would have rather put my money on Charlie Sheen getting his job back. If anything, most of us would have picked them to have the best record in baseball. After all, most fans and media had them pegged for a 100+ win season. I, on the other hand, was spotted stating my prediction on the local news on Opening Day seen here [1] at the 1:59 & 2:10 mark. For those not interested in seeing my TV debut, I opted for a conservative 96 wins, but with the way things have been going, the Red Sox will have to make up a lot of ground to come close to any of those numbers.

Jump in the Standings

A week ago today, the Red Sox were tied for last place (a familiar spot) in the standings heading into a big series at Yankee Stadium. With the way the season has been playing out, taking three games from the Yankees was about as likely as me finding a full time job tomorrow. However, the Red Sox took two out of three from the Yankees in the first battle of the season leaving Red Sox nation hopeful.

Last Friday the Sox sent a huge statement and they haven’t looked back since. It marked the beginning of a six game winning streak. Yes, the Red Sox swept the Yankees and finally reached that coveted .500 mark on the season with a record of 20-20. They came back to Boston and have played in the pouring rain ever since. Monday’s exciting come from behind walk-off win against the Baltimore Orioles, finally gave the Red Sox their first winning record of the season. It was their largest comeback win since April 25, 2009  (vs. NY) overcoming a 6-0 deficit in the 6th inning to win 8-7. And last night, they swept the Detroit Tigers in a two game mini series with their fourth walk-off win of the season. If this past week doesn’t give them the confidence they need and momentum, I don’t know what will.

Last Friday they went from last place in the standings to tied for second by Sunday. This just goes to show how tight the division is this year. Although the Red Sox got off to a rocky start they are the 5th fastest team to reach .500 after a 2-10 start. And since April 16th, the Sox are 21-10 with the best record in MLB. They are also batting .275 at home (2nd in the American League and 6th in MLB), and their OBP is .355 (2nd in the AL and 3rd in MLB). So all you Red Sox fans that are depressed because of their unimpressive start, wake up, things are starting to heat up!

Beating the Yankees was So Good, So Good, So Good….

So far this year the Red Sox have the Yankees number. A very reassuring bit of info is the Red Sox outscored the Yankees 18-9. These are the same Yankees that were leading the American League in runs scored on Sunday. Why is this reassuring? Two reasons: The pitching staff managed to shut down the leagues top scorers and the Sox managed to drive in runs (one of our biggest ongoing problems in my opinion). If they continue to struggle with leaving men on base, it might be my next blog topic.

After the sweep on Sunday, the Red Sox were 20-20 on the season which meant 25% of their wins had come against the Yankees. They are 5-1 this season, batting .292 against them, averaging 5.83 runs per game with 7 home runs. The Red Sox pitching staff has an ERA of 3.67 and have an opposing average of .216 (that’s like having Jarrod Saltalamacchia up at the plate every time).

Decent Catchers are Hard to Find

Speaking of Saltalamacchia, it’s nice to see him starting to come around. He has hit safely in 12 of his last 18 games. He came up big last Sunday night with an 8th inning home run to put the Sox ahead 7-5 and he drove in the only run in Boston’s 1-0 win over Detroit on Wednesday. Even Jason Varitek stepped up in Monday’s come from behind win going 2-5, with 2 RBIs and a run scored. He is has hit safely 9 of his last 12 games. They are finally starting to get production out of both of these guys even though they are hitting a combined .205 with an OPS of .549. My point is, if you think we can find better, THINK AGAIN…We are not alone. Five other teams in the league are batting under .200 in the catching postion (as of last Sunday) and the Phillies and Rays are two of those teams.

Take a look at the rest of the league: (stats were taken as of April 15)

American League Catchers: .221 AVG, 4 HR, .669 OPS

National League Catchers: .255 AVG, 4 HR, .737

So if you think the Sox are struggling at the catcher position, so is every other team in the league. Do we all wish we could click our heels three times and have Victor Martinez back? Hell yeah, but that isn’t happening. So let’s accept the fact that the Sox organization have accepted the catcher position for what it is. They are more concerned with their defense and handling the pitching staff. If they come around with the bats, it will be a plus and as of right now they seem to be building momentum and confidence as the season unfolds.

What a Difference a Month Can Make

April: 11-15 record (one of the worst records in April)

May: 12-5 record (best record in the month of May)

May Team Stats:

.279 AVG (1st in AL, 3rd in MLB)
20 HRs
(tied for 2nd AL & MLB)
169 Hits (1st in MLB)
76 RBIs (2nd in AL & 5th in MLB)
75 Runs
(tied for 2nd AL, 5th in MLB)
.783 OPS
(1st in MLB)
.441 SLG% (1st in MLB)

Just When Things Were Heating Up…

The Red Sox lost 40 percent of their pitching rotation this week. I swear, every time they start to turn the corner something happens to set them back. Both Diasuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey went on the 15-DL this week. One seems a bit more serious than the other. Dice K has a sprained ulner collateral ligament and he will be shut down for two weeks until he is re-examined. This is the type of injury that MAY lead to Tommy John surgery so it is certainly worse than what they thought. He could be out months. Lackey’s injury should be a quicker recovery. It is certainly a blow to the rotation but don’t forget, Toronto and New York are going through the same lack of depth with their rotation. Let’s just hope their bats stay awake and Wakefield comes in ready to fill the role he has filled so many times before. I am secretly rooting for him simply because he needs 13 wins to tie Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the most career wins as a Red Sox. He would have already had one win under his belt this season if Tito didn’t yank him and replace him with Bobby Blank…I mean Jenks.

One good thing to note is how well the top three starters have done compared to Lackey and Dice K.

Top 3 Starters: 14-11 record, 25 starts, 2.98 ERA, 59 walks, 137 Ks

Lackey & Dice K: 5-8 record, 14 starts, 6.65 ERA, 41 walks, 45 Ks

Let’s just hope the top 3 can pick up the slack while they are absent.

Speaking of absent, let’s Welcome Back Jerry Remy. He was out a few weeks with pneumonia and had many fans worried his lung cancer may have come back. We are all happy to hear he is healthy and back with Don where he belongs.

I will be heading to Fenway tonight for my 10th game of the season as the Chicago Cubs come to town on this historic occasion. The last time they were in town was back in 1918. The Sox did play at Wrigley for the first time back in 2005. Hopefully tomorrow is the last of the monsoon games (there have been 30 rainouts so far, compared to last season’s total of 21) and here’s to win number 7 in a row!

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[1] I, on the other hand, was spotted stating my prediction on the local news on Opening Day seen here: http://www.necn.com/04/01/11/MIT-Prof-Predicts-101-Sox-Wins/landing_nation.html?blockID=495850&feedID=7514

[2] Subscribe to author's RSS feed: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/brendasepanek/feed/

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