Monday, April 17, 2006

Red Sox Update. Pedro Goes for Number 200.


The Red Sox pulled off a stunning rally to come from behind in the ninth inning to beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 today in the earliest starting time major league baseball features.

The annual Patriots Day game begins at 11:00 AM, and the Sox replacement starter for David Wells (who is thankfully back on the disabled list) was Lenny DiNardo, who gave the Sox five decent innings yielding two runs.

David Ortiz hit two homers, his fifth and sixth of the young season, and Trot Nixon had three hits, including two doubles in his first game back since his pratfall in the outfield a week ago. Manny Ramirez even had two Wall-ball singles which may be a sign that "Manny being Manny" will start being more like the Manny Ramirez we are accustomed to seeing rather than like the Manny Alexander clone he has resembled during this stretch.

The Sox came back twice late in the game, tying the game at 5-5 in the 8th inning, then losing the lead in the top of the ninth when Keith Foulke and Mike Timlin let the Mariners grab the lead 6-5. With two out in the ninth, Kevin Youkilis scratched out an infield hit, and Mark Loretta, the second baseman acquired from the Padres, hit his first Red Sox homer to win it 7-6.

Concerns: The Sox are now 9-4, but have scored just 60 runs while giving up 55. Coming into today's game, the ratio was 53-49 with the 53 runs scored being the second worst in the American League (Only Kansas City with 45 was worse). I don't expect the Sox bats to continue to struggle (at one point during Sunday's 4-3 victory, a graphic detailing the Sox inefficiency at scoring was shown: 1-for-22 with men in scoring position). The newcomers, Loretta, Lowell, Gonzalez and Youkilis (as a starter) should begin to solidify the more they play together. The anticipated return of Coco Crisp should help in this department. Matt Clement is still a mystery, and must realize that he has the stuff to challenge hitters and stop nibbling. Veteran reliever Rudy Seanez has been awful.

Good things: Curt Schilling seems to be all the way back. He is 3-0 and has shown good command of all his pitches so far. Newcomer, and ace-in-waiting Josh Beckett is also showing Sox fans how good he is with his 3-0 start. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has been reliable (only one bad start, and his Saturday 3-0 loss was a tough, but effective start). Jonathan Papelbon has been ridiculous in his new role as closer. He is a perfect six-for six in save opportunities, and shows no fear at all on the mound. Keith Foulke, not withstanding today's performance, seems to have accepted his setup role, and is still available as an experienced closer should Papelbon falter. Mike Timlin, the veteran setup man, has had a couple of shaky appearances (and still has problems with inherited runners as shown in today's game), but is a battle tested veteran who is an anchor as a setup man.

Note: Pedro Martinez is shooting for his 200th career win tonight in Shea Stadium as the 9-2 Mets (!) take on the struggling Atlanta Braves. Right now the Mets lead 4-2 entering the top of the sixth...

Update (9:55 PM): Pedro won his 200th game a few minutes ago as the Mets outlasted the Braves 4-3 at Shea. Pedro went 6 2/3 innings allowing six hits, three runs (all earned, including a LONG solo homer to Andruw Jones, his fifth), two walks and eight strikeouts. Duaner Sanchez finished the seventh, and pitched a perfect 8th before yielding to closer Billy Wagner who nailed it down for his fourth save of the season as the Mets improve to 10-2. Note to Met fan Petey Gee, I may have to take you up on your bandwagon spot offer!

Pedro is now 3-0 on the season, and 200-84 lifetime (good for a .704 winning percentage). The only thing better would have been for him to have done this in a Red Sox uniform. I'll never forget the 1999-2000 seasons when Pedro went 41-10 with a 1.90 ERA in 430 1/3 innings. He surrendered a measly 288 hits (for an opponents batting average allowed of .186) and 69 walks while striking out 597 batters. His combined ERA for those seasons was nearly three full runs lower than the league ERA as a whole. Read that last sentence again. The wonder is that he managed to lose ten games! I think it is safe to say that we can start the design of Pedro's Hall of Fame plaque. But which hat will he wear? Anyway, congratulations to Pedro Martinez for having achieved this milestone.

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