Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Game 106: Beckett and the Big Man

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 3, Baltimore Orioles 5

Oh, Beckett...hoisted by the lone Bedard. There's a stat on Baseball Prospectus called Expected Wins, which acts a bit like the Pythagorean win expectation formula, in that it crunches some numbers and states where the pitcher should be in the wins column right now (as opposed to where they should be at the end of the year). It's an interesting stat to look at to see whether or not a pitcher is leading a charmed life, perhaps with a chance of a terrible comeuppance at some point in the future. Josh Beckett, who falls to 13 and 5 after tonight's dalliance with the mediocre, has an expected win total of 8.0. Yikes.

However, we shouldn't expect Beckett to come down to earth any time soon, at least as far as win totals go; he's outstripped his Expected Wins total every year since 2004 and combined with the above average bullpen aid and high run support he's benefited from this year, there's no reason why Beckett shouldn't keep winning games and end up somewhere between 15 and 20 victories in 2007, even if the numbers say otherwise. Stats are fun like that.

But moving on past Beckett's loss tonight, past the game-ending ground outs from Lugo and Pedroia (why you gotta swing at the first pitch, P-Dawg? Why you gotta hurt me like that?) that gave the failed rally an even bitterer taste, Wily Mo's "0 for 1 with a walk, this is how I rebound post trading deadline" style and the win of gaining Gagne, I want to give a special moment of praise to my man with the long bombs.

Tonight's offense for Boston came entirely courtesy of David Ortiz, who took two separate off speed pitches from two different pitchers into the no-man's land of right center for home runs, marking his 26th multi-homer game as a member of the Sox. For Big Papi, who hadn't hit a home run since the middle of July, everything looked in place: the smooth swing, the perfect connection, the weight landing on the front foot and dropping into place to propel the ball out of the confines and into the books. It makes me feel really, really good to see those elements fall back into place.