Sunday, April 20, 2008

Game 19: Hitting and Pitching

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, Texas Ranger 3

Oh, Texas bullpen. You're clearly no good for anyone, particularly for keeping a lead. Or maybe it's just Joaquin Benoit - six runs in a little over six innings doesn't sound like the sort of average you'd want a closer to carry. In any case, I guess it really doesn't matter who's pitching: contract year Manny is a monstrous entity who eats up pitchers, hits massive game-winning home runs, and panders for a four year contract in Boston. Add in a game-tying single by Big Papi to get the scoring started in the eighth, and you have the back to back horror for which Boston's version of the Bash Brothers are justifiably famous. So much for the hitting (and it feels great to say that after eight innings of hitting frustration); let's talk starting pitching.

I have a theory about Lester and his competitive level: a bit like Dice-K and how his performance seems to suffer when he's given a large lead, Lester's pitching abilities seem to suffer when the Red Sox score first. Here's what I have as far as evidence: Lester's made five starts so far, and he has a 1 and 2 record. In the games where he pitched to either a loss or a no-decision, he either had some sort of lead to protect, or - in the case of the first game against Oakland - he pitched poorly enough to surrender the lead very quickly. Assuming the Oakland game was an aberration (and ignoring the very small sample size), a pattern starts to emerge: as soon as the Sox give Lester a lead, his pitching falls apart: more walks, more hits, fewer innings. It remains to be seen whether or not this theory holds water, but I like it for an explanation for why this talented pitcher seems to be so inconsistent on the mound.