Ok, so running a little behind schedule on the weekly updates, but needed to wait for something good to happen before I posted about the sox again. It took extra innings, but things finally got back on track last night when Stephen Drew hit a game winning double in the 11th inning to snap the longest losing streak of the year for Boston. The game also featured some redemption for Clay Mortensen, who pitched 2.1 scoreless innings to close out the game, and to make up for the game winning hit he served up to Adrian Beltre the night before. Another positive take away from last night is David Ortiz hit a double in the 8th inning to keep his hitting streak alive, currently at a career long 26 games. Some negatives from last night. For anyone who missed it, Clay Buchholz, who has been looking like the staff ace so far this season, has some under some scrutiny for the past week. Last Wednesday during a masterful 7 inning, 2 hit, 8 k performance from Buchholz, Blue Jays announcer Jack Morris accused Buchholz of throwing a spit ball (a violation of major league rules). Buchholz has stated that he is using a combination of moisture from his hair, (which he wets down between innings) and rosin on his forearm (this combination shouldn’t be a rules violation). So far Buchholz has not faced on punishment, and it doesn’t seem apparent that there is any coming, but it seems like the accusations may have been enough to throw off the pitchers mental game. Of course even the best pitchers have an off night, and Buchholz performance last night certainly wasn’t terrible (he went 6 innings giving up 4 runs on 7 hits while striking out 9), so it may be nothing to worry about. Finally for anyone who may be concerned about Buchholz possible cheating, I refer you to this video of Dennis Eckersley telling Jack Morris (and other detractors) to “zip it” (amongst other things). (On a side note, Eck was my favorite player growing up, and he still never disappoints me, his post game stuff is just gold).
The other negative take away from last night is that the Red Sox have announced closer Joel Hanrahan may be returning to the DL. Hanrahan left the game last night with “tightness” in his right forearm after giving up a game tying home run to Brian Dozier in the 9th, and was scheduled to be re-evaluated today. (I’m fairly certain the actual injury is – “you’re-still-pitching-like-shit-itis”). A second trip to the DL for Hanrahan would be especially troubling with his back up, Andrew Bailey, already on the disabled list with a right biceps strain. Red Sox manager John Farrell said earlier today on MLB Network radio that he wants to use Junichi Tazawa in the closer’s role and keep Koji Uehara in the set up spot. Farrell said he feels Tazawa has the velocity and the demeanor to handle the closing job (this season he has a 2.51 ERA and a very strong 18/3 strikeout to walk ratio over 14 1/3 innings). The Red Sox are also concerned about Uehara’s workload, and don’t want to risk the 38-year-old burning out before the end of the season.
Now that things are back on track with last nights victory, let’s stop looking at the past and look at whats ahead for Boston. Tonight the Red Sox will play their second game of a four game series against the Minnesota Twins. Ryan Dempster will take the mound for the sox tonight with the Twins sending out Scott Diamond. Both pitcher’s sport 2-2 records, but Dempster has a massive lead in the strikeout department, (47-13) and looked strong in his last outing (a 6 inning, one earned run performance that gave Dempster his second victory on the season). In another bit of good news for Red Sox fans, the rest of the month looks pretty favorable schedule wise for the sox. Boston hosts Toronto after the Twins leave town (hopefully there will be a face off between Eckersley and Morris somewhere during the series). And then goes on a road trip against three teams who have looked fairly weak so far, (Tampa, Minnesota and Chicago) then comes back home to play Cleveland and Philadelphia before closing out the month with two games at the Phillies, (kind of a weird home and home series) and finally end with a Friday night game at Yankee stadium to close out the month. So, baring any major injuries to the sox, I’d say they have a decent chance to still have the best record in baseball come June. If this is the case I should be ready to apologize for doubting them, but I’m not giving in just yet. (Also, in case anyone was wondering, I am aware the title rhymes, and I was quite pleased with myself when I came up with it). See you sometime next week for another update, until then, GO SOX!.