Saturday, June 17, 2006

Game 66: Oh THAT Josh Beckett

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Atlanta Braves 3

We need more from the guy in the middle

After two big losses against the Yankees and Toronto and then a (well pitched) no decision against Texas, Beckett seems to have turned the corner… again. He’s great or he sucks. He’s un-hittable or he’s a tee-ball pitcher. There really is no rhyme or reason to Beckett starts and that could be a strength, if it wasn’t such a weakness. His ups and downs in ERA and wins are totally the opposite of the way he pitches. He’s always the guy who pounds the strike zone, always goes for the heat and always challenges hitters with guts, gusto and balls. Unfortunately, that’s not always the way to get the win. Beckett needs to refine and use his off-speed stuff or he will top out at 15 wins every year. Let me just say that I freaking LOVE this guy (unhealthily so) and I think he will be the ace when Schill departs, but many teams with patient hitters can sit on that 96-97 mph fastball and hit it a mile.

the Braves aren’t that type of team. Man they stink. I thought we were in a slump… but Atlanta is in a S-L-U-M-P. As a baseball fan that grew up watching this team in the 90’s, seeing them struggle after 14 years of dominance is pretty perplexing. Worst of all are the fans. I mean, were there even any Braves fans at the game today? It sounded like Fenway (or Camden Yards for that matter). Talk about fair weather. What happens when Atlanta doesn’t make the playoffs this year? Will they cancel next season?

Slumping or not, Beckett took them apart in the first few innings. I don’t know if he was THAT good (he looked pretty good), but they were definitely THAT bad. Andrew Jones eventually caught up to Beckett’s heater and he got into trouble in the 5th, but the damage was minimal. Surrendering 2 runs in 6 innings is much better than what we got from the guy we saw facing those AL East teams. If this can be Beckett for the rest of the year… well I can live with that.

The pen was as inconsistent as ever. Delcarman ran into trouble and Tavarez allowed a run in the 8th (shocking, I know), but Lopez (I still like him better than Riske) came in and got the job done. Paps went 1,2,3 in the 9th and recorded his 22nd save to the sound of cheering in Fenway Deep South. I still can’t say enough about this guy. He’s Superman, Mr. Automatic, and a wonder of the world. This guy needs streets named after him.

The bats were decent as well, although there should have been 4 more runs scored (11 LOB). Lance “Don’t call me Rheal” Cormier might as well be a AAA pitcher (oh, he is… sorry) and when he was replaced by Mike Remlinger, I was floored! I could have sworn Remlinger was dead. Damn, I lost $40 bucks on that. Anyway, Youk went deep, Papi went deep, Lowell got his 25th double and Gonzo went 3 for 4 in an attempt to make me stop making “as advertised” jokes. However, the two biggest hits (for me anyway) came from Beckett (another RBI, what a champ) and from the Super Jew himself: Gabe Kapler. It was a meaningless pinch-hit in the 8th, but more importantly it symbolizes the return of depth to the outfield. With Wily Mo hurt, Dustin Mohr DFA’ed and Adam Stern unready, it was up to Willie Harris or Youk to fill in when Manny, Coco or Trot needed time off. With Kapler back I feel A TON better about this situation. Besides, he’s the
Super Jew… what’s not to like?

Next up is the battle of the AARP cardholders. Schilling vs Smoltz. There is no reason we shouldn’t sweep this team. GO SOX.