Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Orioles Historic Comeback; Red Sox Pen Has Awful Night on the Road

You can't argue with the rallying that the Baltimore Orioles did last night at Camden Yards, but from a Red Sox perspective, the bullpen was crap-tastic last night.

I keep hearing this repeatedly over and over in my head: Ten runs over 2 innings. Ten runs over 2 innings.

Was it the rain delay? The big lead in the 4th inning? Heads not in the game? Beat up on the O's so many times you think they suck? So many psychological factors at play that you have to wonder where these guys heads were. But then you have to remember that for most of this season, this pen has been one of the best the Red Sox have ever had.

Let it go? Yes. Watch it closely? Well, close enough--that's what we do here for fun. The 10 runs over the 7th and 8th innings were tough to swallow, but you could feel it slipping away with every hit the Orioles offense made (13 hits in 2 innings for 10 runs--Ouch!).

Right now, pre-All-Star break, the Sox bullpen has the best ERA in the league at 3.24. Leading the league in the bullpen and playing in the AL East is no joke.

Here's some additional perspective on the pen:
  • Red Sox rank 19th in innings pitched (with 228) [Thank you, starters]
  • Red Sox rank 20th in walks [They throw strikes, gets outs]
  • The Orioles rank first in innings pitched with 267.1 innings pitched
  • The Orioles have a BAA (Batting Average Against) of .272.

It's no wonder the Orioles are in last place and will continue to be there. But given the amount these teams see each other in a season, it's no wonder an offense can click and rally occasionally. Nice comeback for a consistently losing Orioles team.

But poor John Smoltz. He pitched well enough--1 earned run--to get a win in Baltimore, but that was erased after a hour plus rain delay in which he was removed from the game, and pitching was turned over to Justin Masterson--who started out quite nicely, then lost it.

But he wasn't alone.

The offense did more than it's share last night to seal what should have been a fairly easy win. But the pitching from Masterson and Okajima last night in particular was just plain bad. Masterson was getting knocked around, then left a hanging slider over the middle of the plate, and the game's momentum was in full swing mode.

Even Papelbon, who you knew Francona did not want to have to use, got knocked around a little. All it takes in only timely hit to lose a game, and the Orioles seized it. Papelbon put it this way after the game:

“The good thing is the group of guys we have down there in the bullpen all can take this pretty well,’’ Papelbon said. “And understand that, hey, this is going to happen, but it’s not going to happen very often - and move on. We’re all professionals down there. You won’t see anybody hanging their head tomorrow, that’s for sure.’’

Congrats, O's. Now go back to being in last place.