Sunday, August 13, 2006

Game 116: Slug Fest

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 11, Baltimore Orioles 9

You know it’s going to be a pitchers’ duel when one team hits a grand slam in the first inning and the other team ties up the score in the next inning. When Boston uses five pitchers and only one of them avoids giving up a run – and that pitcher, Papelbon, allowed two inherited runners to score. When Boston had three “safe” leads and still managed to win only by two runs. Basically, as bad as the Baltimore pitching was, Boston’s pitching was about as ugly and the eventual difference was that the Sox managed to crush more balls for runs (four homers for Boston, three homers for Baltimore).

I heard a theory a couple of days ago that makes a lot of sense, especially with the crop of young pitchers that Boston is relying on these days: the Sox bullpen has been less than effective recently because there’s no Varitek to call the pitches. Bring Varitek back and Hansen, Delcarmen, Snyder and Papelbon start pitching much more effectively and that leads to more wins. Clearly, Tek isn’t having an MVP year at the plate, but it does make me wonder about Tek’s MVP status for what he’s doing behind the plate. Papi has his own share of wins (we’re up to five at this point, right?), but I wonder if anyone could break down the stats to find out how many wins Varitek “owns” as a result of his catching skills.

However, as Robin pointed out to me a few minutes ago, a W is still a W. Jon Lester may not have deserved to get win number six, but he did and his team moved up a game in the AL East standings. Even though the pitching is nowhere near the quality it was in June, even though there are still missing pieces and questions about holes in the roster, the Sox have pulled out of the abysmal road trip slide, broken out of their 18 game slump (not the worst in Red Sox history, by the way) and are poised to seize off-season contention. Next up is a three game set with the Tigers, who are in the midst of a five-game slide of their own at the moment. Even better: unlike some other AL Central teams, the Tigers haven’t exactly had a high level of success against the Sox. I think it’s time to give the Other Sox a boost in the AL Central standings with a sweep of the stripped cats. GO SOX!!!