Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Game 93: Git-R-Done

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 1, Kansas City Royals 0

Well, the pitching did anyway. Josh Beckett, coming off his dreadful last start against Oakland on July 15, had something to prove today. Pitch with your head, not your cojones. Make use of those off-speed pitches that make your fastball almost unhittable. Complete the sweep against the Royals; a win so necessary that it had passed beyond privilege and into the realm of right. Bring it.

Well, bring it Beckett did and how: eight innings of shutout ball, pitching out of jams in the third (Angel Berroa doubles, ends up stranded on third for two outs), sixth (with two outs, Beckett hits Esteban German and loads the bases on two singles before getting a fly out) and eighth (a double by DeJesus with one out) with ease. He struck out seven batters, turning his pitch selection into an arsenal of doom, devastating the Royals’ hitting. He also had some help from the usual defensive gems, plus a leaping snag from Lowell and a rolling dive by Manny that saved potentially dangerous hits. Top all of this run-stopping goodness off with a 21 pitch save by Papelbon and the love affair continues: Beckett ties Roy Halladay for the AL lead in wins and the Red Sox sweep the Royals, hold their first place position and win by a score of 1 – 0 two days in a row for the first time since 1990 against Toronto.

Strangely enough (or maybe not, I did predict a hitting slump last Friday), All-Star pitcher Mark Redman pitched like he won the honor through his performance this season and not through his uniform. His finesse pitches stymied the Red Sox all afternoon (Kevin Youkilis got so frustrated after one strike out that he pulled a Trot Nixon on the clubhouse hallway) with one exception: Manny. After grounding out his first time up on a Redman change-up, Manny took the next pitch he saw (another change-up) and dropped it into the Monster Seats, setting the final score at one to zip to start the fourth inning.

Post-Mortem on This Series

It wasn’t the beating we all expected to give the boys from KC, but the sweep will do. What won’t do as the Sox prepare for a makeup game against Texas tomorrow and then a road trip to Seattle and Oakland is that first, no one is hitting. The strongest part of the rotation pitches yesterday, today and tomorrow, leaving Boston to start the series with the fifth starter flavor of the week. That means that barring a miracle where the entire rotation turns into pitching gods, the bats need to wake up again; we’re going to need them. Second, the official prognosis on Wakefield seems to be getting worse by the minute, even though the Red Sox are still in monitoring mode. It’s unlikely he’ll make his next start, which means yet another unknown arm in the rotation; another reason why these games out west may need to turn into slugfests.

Coming Up

Curt Schilling takes the mound tomorrow against Texas and that funny looking Rheinecker guy in the makeup game at 2:05. In Schilling we trust, but let’s see some offense, too. GO SOX!!!