Saturday, July 05, 2008

Lineup Black Holes Cost the Sox

Justin Masterson was terrific on Saturday. He allowed just two runs in six strong innings. He got into trouble twice, loading the bases twice with less than two outs, but gave up just one run, on a sacrifice fly. The Yankees easily could have scored five or six runs off him. He continues to show good poise, and shows promise of a bright future. That was the best news for the Red Sox on Saturday.

The Sox were handcuffed most of the day by Mike Mussina and the Yankees bullpen. They pitched very well, allowing just five hits over the first eight innings. But who would have guessed the pitcher on New York who'd really struggle would be Mariano Rivera?

Rivera had just about nothing to start the ninth, as he gave up two hits and two hit batsmen. (The two teams combined for seven hit batsmen, tying an MLB record. Manny Ramirez was dinged three times.) It was 2-1 with a run in and the bases loaded with none out in the ninth against the so-called greatest closer of all-time.

But that's where it ended for the Red Sox. Coco Crisp looked totally overmatched in striking out, Jason Varitek, on a 2-0 pitch, popped up to first for the second out, and Julio Lugo continued to show why he's the most despised member of the Sox by their fans by striking out to end any shot at a sweep this weekend. (Although home plate ump Kerwin Danley had two simply absymal strike calls in the inning, one on Coco and the other on Lugo.)

Varitek looks totally clueless at the plate, and you have to wonder if its time to give Kevin Cash more playing time when he's not catching Tim Wakefield. I'll always love Tek for what he's meant to this club, but he's really showing that at age 36, he's clearly on the downside of his career. The Sox will have a tough decision of what to do with him after the year, as he is a free agent.

They are simply stuck with Lugo. Good Lord, where has this guy's stick gone? Doesn't he hit at least ten homers a year? He's only got one for 2008. We were supposed to live with his errors because of his bat. (He leads the MLB in errors with an appalling 16.) He's been almost worthless at the plate, and I really hope Theo Epstein will consider going the "Renteria route" with Lugo after the year, namely eat some of his contract after the season and dump him off on someone else.

Jed Lowrie awaits at Pawtucket.


Soxlosophy said...

Crisp had a tough AB; a borderline called strike and a nasty pitch for the K. But Lugo had two pitches out over the plate. Very frustrating. And Varitek had a hitters' count, as you point out.

Varitek needs a collosal turnaround to show he's worth commiting to for an entire year; i think its pretty unlikely he's resigned. that you can reasonably suggest a no-stick back up get more AB's shows how far he's fallen.

And how badly does Varitek fail the 'do you want this guy up in with the game on the line' test?

The Omnipotent Q said...

It hurts to see Tek struggle the way he does. He's a warrior, but he's in such a valley right now that if there was a decent pinch hitter available I would have hit for him.

There's not going to be much out there as far as catchers, so I have no idea what the Sox will do with Tek.

But I pray they give Lugo his walking papers.

Peter N said...

I love 'Tek too, but I also have to wonder if one game off in five is enough. He'd still be there to give the pitchers his irreplaceable insight on pitch selection, and maybe every other day off (or something like that) would give him renewed confidence at the plate.

I hope your weekend was a great one, John, the Mighty Q.

Peter N said...

As for Lugo, you said it all!!!!!!!

The Omnipotent Q said...

I was thinking the same thing, Peter. More time off can only benefit Varitek. I know Titio is probably thinking Tek will bust out at some point, but he will need more rest anyway, especially when the Sox make the playoff push, so he can be fresher for September.

Thanks always for the kind words, and I hope you've had a good holiday weekend too!

Michael Macomber said...

I can't remember the last time I thought there was no shot left when our 7-9 batters were coming to bat. This is a serious concern.