In case you missed it last night, the Sox won their third straight game and in so doing, they went over the .500 mark for the first time in 10 days, moved out of the cellar in the AL East, pulled to within three games of the wild card spot and within 8 1/2 of the first place Yankees.
Clay Buchholz improved his record to 9-3 and in his last three outings he has given up only four earned runs and 15 hits in 23 innings .
Buchholz had an excellent outing and I say that not because he had his best stuff, but because he didn’t. Pretty much without a curve ball, he survived some tough stretches where he couldn’t find the plate, got knocked around a little bit yet he endured and prevailed. Those are the kind of nights that truly measure the worth of a pitcher because let’s face it when these guys have it all working they simply mow people down. When that occurs it’s easy. It’s when things are tough that the true measure of the athlete emerges. Thus was the case for Buchholz last night.
Now where does it all leave us. Well last week one of Boston’s leading negative nabobs of negativism, none other than, Dan Shaughnessy himself of the Boston Globe pronounced the season over and the team dead! He essentially called the playoff race a charade and urged the members of the Nation not to buy into the ruse that this team was good.
Sometimes I think Dan Shaughnessy is still looking for ways to resurrect the “Curse of the Bambino” so he can write a sequel.
Do they have their problems? No doubt, it is clear that they are searching for a new identity. Is Bobby V the guy to guide them to that new identity? Honestly I don’t think so. He is not the long-term solution and I can’t get past the idea that he is a place holder and that in and of itself poses a problem. I am not a huge fan frankly and I do not think he is the type of guy that I would want to work for, however with all this team has endured, he has not done a bad job.
If I asked you to identify the Red Sox “problems”, you might start with this guy.
Let me say this, about that. This guy is a ridiculously talented athlete. Living in a suburb of Tampa FL, I have watched him up close for his entire career. He is a gamer and an overall good guy. I also must tell you that when he became a free agent, I thought he would be better served if he went to a place like Anaheim or Texas where the devotion and coverage of their baseball teams are not quite as, should we say, intense as places like Boston and Philly and New York. You see Carl is not the most loquacious fellow on the planet and I wondered how he might react to a fan base where people would be aware of how many times he flagellated in the course of a day night double-header. He has been injured and he has struggled but I personally think that the jury is still out and he is worth hanging with!
We are all aware of the plethora of injuries this team has endured. In fact they have yet to have on the field the starting line up projected for them for Fenway’s 100th anniversary season. Mr. Shaughnessy referred to them as “excuses” siting the injuries the Yankees have endured yet still they have succeeded. There is an element of truth to that, however upon further review, here is the bottom line!
Success in this game is, always has been and always will be predicated upon PITCHING! You got that? PITCHING, PITCHING and then more PITCHING!
Bearing that in mind, the Red Sox difficulties this year can be summed up in two words, Beckett and Lester!
Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have been woeful this year.
Ponder this; entering this season, Josh Beckett’s lifetime record was 125-81 for a winning percentage of .607. Jon Lester’s was 76-34 and his winning percentage was .691. Let that sink in! There is only one pitcher in the entire history of the Boston Red Sox who has a higher winning percentage and his name is Pedro Martinez! Think about that over your morning coffee and then stir this in, together Beckett and Lester entered the year with 316 starts and 201 wins. They won 65% of their games! SIXTY FIVE PER CENT!
Now let’s have some fun with numbers like your kids third grade math teacher likes to say. Beckett and Lester have combined this year for 38 starts. They have won 10 and lost 17. That is a winning percentage of .370! That is just about the inverse of .650. With the numbers one and two weighing in with that whopping number the Sox are still in the hunt. Let’s look at what they would be if…..If Beckett and Lester simply performed the way that everyone expected they would. They would be 17-10, not 10-17. That puts the Sox at 59-44 and that would put them a game and a half out of first behind the Yankees and 2 1/2 games ahead in the wild card race!
So we can wallow in the negative you can hear it all over the radio and you can read it in the sports pages. Or…..You can look at the good stuff! What is not to like about guys named Pedroia, Middlebrooks, Ciriaco, Saltalamacchia, Doubront, Morales, Nava, and Ross. Gonzalez is a professional even if his numbers are not what the Nation anticipated. Ortiz is having his best year since ’08’ and Ellsbury is simply electrifying. Aviles has been rock solid and Aceves has performed admirably.
So the choice is ours, as is always the case in life, we can whine and bitch and moan and cry or we can celebrate the accomplishments of so many!
I’m going with the good stuff!
PS. The 1912 trophy is still holding at $120,000!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, July 31, 2012.