Let’s start with a recap of the end of two weeks ago. On Thursday, Andrew Miller turned in his third quality outing of Spring Training against the Rays. One hit and one K over one and a third innings. Good for him; his previous outing wasn’t so quality. Cameron returned to the lineup after sitting out with tendonitis in his left knee. Obviously the biggest story was Crawford’s debut against his former team; he got a hit and made a spectacular diving catch to end the fourth. Crawford even stole the show from Damon, who claims that he would have approved a trade to Boston if he knew that Detroit wouldn’t re-sign him. I think he’s just saying that now because he sees a World Series-winning team. Anyway, we lost, 8-6, and the rest of the game was a different story. Dice-K gave up five hits and as many runs over three and two-thirds innings with two walks to lead off the game and two K’s. Over his last six and two-thirds innings, he’s given up ten earned runs. In three outings, he’s got an ERA of 11.42. He is not concerned. Tito isn’t concerned. And if this were any time of the baseball-playing year besides Spring Training, they would be about the only two people not concerned. But it is Spring Training, and Dice-K is taking some liberties that he otherwise wouldn’t. I would suggest bearing with him. He’s working on his changeup and cutter a lot this spring, and he wants to be more aggressive with the zone this year, so while he works on that, it could look ugly. But now is not the time to worry.
We scored five runs in the first two innings of Fridays’ game against the Astros and won it, 9-3. Scutaro and Pedroia were the only regulars in the game because the squad was split, but they took care of business. Pedroia went two for three, both for extra bases, plus two RBIs, and a walk. Meanwhile, it took Paps twenty-nine pitches to record one out and three walks and give up one hit and three runs. And that’s how the Twins won, 3-2. Crawford made an error. Lester, however, fired off four spotless innings; he allowed four hits and struck out five.
Adrian Gonzalez batted third and manned first on Saturday in his debut against the Marlins. He turned his first pitch into a single. His second and last at-bat resulted in a sac fly. And his goal is to play in every single game this year. If he continues his good work, that’s fine with me. Ellsbury and Pedroia both went three for three, the former with two doubles and a homer and the latter with a single. Lackey gave up a run on six hits over four and two-thirds innings with three K’s and no walks. Lackey threw forty-nine of seventy-five pitches for strikes. We won, 9-2. Saturday also marked the premiere of “Down the Line,” a documentary on MLB Network at Fenway’s staff. Make no mistake; that is where the magic happens. And according to a Major League source, the team has let it be known that they’re willing to trade Dice-K for a young catcher and Wakefield for a southpaw reliever. Cameron and McDonald, in light of the options on Kalish and Reddick, could also be on the block, and the team may entertain offers for Scutaro. Theo has denied all accuracy of this report, explicitly labeling it as false. I’m going to listen to Theo for now. At the very least, you can be confident that, given his full no-trade clause and salary and performance (or lack thereof), Dice-K will not be moving anytime soon. Meanwhile, he’s changing his side schedule; instead of throwing both a long toss and his side session two days after each start, he’s going to throw a long toss the first day after his start, another the second, and his side session on the third. This idea, of course, is courtesy of Curt Young. At this point, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that it’s all well and good to know everything that’s going on with his various training adjustments and throwing adjustments and workout adjustments, but I just want them to find the problem with him and fix it as soon as possible.
The Pirates beat us, 9-4, on Sunday. Beckett gave up a run on four hits through his first four innings. Then he gave up a homer, a walk, a double, and a bases-loading hit-by-pitch in the fifth, and that was the end of that. Fortunately for everybody, Beckett made an extra effort to incorporate his changeup, which has been the distinguishing feature of each of the best years of his career. Unfortunately for everybody, he lost it last year. So he’s trying to get it back this year. Atchison then proceeded to allow all his inherited runners to score. Bard’s inning was scoreless.
Buchholz and Wake both threw productive simulated games on Monday rather than face the Yankees for the second time this spring. Meanwhile, we beat the Yankees, 2-1; Paps turned in a scoreless frame.
We beat the Tigers by the same score on Tuesday. Dice-K two-hit Detroit through five innings while striking out five. His curveball was absolutely unhittable. On the field and at the plate, Ellsbury stole the show with a homer and a spectacular catch. McDonald also homered as well as DH.
We barely lost to the Braves on Wednesday, 3-4. Lester allowed three runs on eight hits over four and two-thirds innings. He walked two and led off the game with three consecutive singles. Scutaro went deep on the Braves’ second pitch of the game. Salty hit an RBI double, and Reddick hit an RBI single. V-Mart expressed thanks for his time in Boston and believes that Salty and Tek will do well.
We beat the Mets on Thursday, 8-5. Lackey allowed a run on five hits over five and a third innings with two strikeouts and his first walk of Spring Training. Paps got rocked; he gave up two consecutive doubles and four runs. He insists that he knows exactly what his problem is. Honestly, it’s not that hard to figure out: he’s not locating the zone right now. Crawford went two for three with a steal.
We lost to the Tigers yesterday, 3-8. Buchholz was not his best. He gave up three runs, only one earned, on five hits with two walks and a strikeout. That one earned run was the product of a homer that led off the second. He retired the side in the fourth, but that was it for ease. His mechanics were just off. And you can thank Youk and Gonzalez for the unearned runs. Pedroia homered for the first time this spring.
We followed that loss with two more today. Wake allowed four homers, six runs on seven hits in total, and one walk in only three innings en route to a 3-7 loss to Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Beckett allowed one earned run and four unearned over four and two-thirds innings en route to a 5-7 loss to the Pirates. Scutaro and Pedroia posted multi-hit games, and Wheeler’s appearance was scoreless.
We also completed our first round of roster cuts this past week, sending five down. Our lineup, by the way, has more or less quietly taken shape: Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Gonzalez, Youk, Papi, Drew, Salty, and Scutaro have batted in that order during almost all full squad games this spring. That’s not a real surprise; it follows my prediction pretty closely, and it’s a lineup built for success. Tito is doing his best not to cluster the lefties too much and to spread the tools evenly. Not to mention the fact that we are so stacked, it’s not even funny. And we have officially finalized our pitching staff. Lester got the nod to start on Opening Day. As it should be. Given his general sub-par game lately, not only should Beckett not be offended by that, but he should also not be surprised that he was dropped to fourth. And Tito had his other reasons: he’d rather have Beckett start his season against the Indians than against the Rangers. He is not happy. He wanted the Opening Day nod, and he explicitly disagreed with the drop. He doesn’t think that the extra time will matter much, and he’s a competitor, so naturally he doesn’t want to accept the fact that lately he’s been not good in a general sense. Lackey is the Number Two, followed by Buchholz, and Dice-K of course will start fifth. So as it stands now, Lackey will be pitching our home opener against the Yanks. I’m just wondering why it’s Lackey followed by Buchholz and not the other way around. I’m sure Tito has his reasons, but that one-two punch was almost unbeatable last year. I wouldn’t want to split it up.
In other news, the Bruins lost to the Sabres in overtime on Thursday and to the Islanders on Friday. We beat the Blue Jackets in a shootout on Tuesday but lost to the Predators in overtime on Thursday and to the Leafs today.
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