Wow! What a week! Two twin bills (thank you Mother Nature), some excellent (and timely) pitching, and a big boost to the offense. And hey, what ever Mike Lowell is eating, I'll have a double order please!! I said last Monday that I expected to Sox to be 5 - 2 for the week but it definitely came about in some unexpected ways! How about the start that Julian Tavarez had on Thursday? And did you see Kason Gabbard yesterday? How would you like to see that southpaw in the starting rotation someday? Maybe next year? Maybe this year?
The week started out great with a complete game from Dice-K which he followed up on Saturday with another great performance against the Braves. The Dice Man is now 6 - 2 with an ERA 4.06 and really looks like he is getting into a very comfortable groove. If he can continue hitting on all cylinders, he is going to be extremely difficult for opposing teams to beat. He may just prove all of us early critics and naysayers wrong and, dare I say, be a viable Cy Young candidate?!? A bit too early for that, not ten days ago a lot of us were saying the same thing about Josh Beckett and look what we did, caused him an avulsion on his throwing hand. May 29th seems so far away right now...
Julian Tavarez did his part to pick up the slack in the rotation tossing 7 innings of 4 hit ball. This really was one heck of a performance at a time that the Sox really needed him to step up and deliver. He had mores walks than strikeouts but he did not let it affect him, or hurt him, and worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the 5th before retiring the side in the 6th and 7th.
Curt Schilling once again pitched well, but not well enough to earn a win in the second game on Thursday. Again however, we see a pitcher get stung by the run production bug as the Sox stranded 10 men in the six innings that Schilling pitched; twice they left the bases loaded. Then again, the Sox started Pena in Left and Hinske in right, seeing that was painful enough.
Tuesday could have been a real nightmare. Wakefield's knuckleball was flat and J.D. Drew slammed into the wall hurting his back. I know that I was not the only person in RSN that was holding their breath when that happened. Fortunately he looks like he has bounced back fairly well. I really think Wakefield is better than the 4 - 4 record he has right now, and I believe the ERA, 2.41, shows that. Hopefully he will bounce back this week against the Yankees and Rangers.
So that leaves us with a tale of two rookies, one a success, the other not so good. Hansack pitched decently, and the Sox were only able to muster one hit to support him in the four innings that he pitched, one hit. He gave up six hits and four runs. He dug himself a hole in the first giving up the HR to Jones but the Sox have been rebounding pretty well in those situations but failed to do so here. Gabbard on the other hand was able to keep the Braves in check, though having a four run lead handed to you in the bottom of the first doesn't hurt at all. The fact that he was able to stay cool and keep the Braves in check is a good sign of things to come I hope.
The Sox offense, while seeming more potent than it has all season, was actually a few points lower this past 7 days than their season average. They are now leading the league in AVG and OBP and are second behind the Tigers in Runs, TB, and SLG. Both Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis hit over .400 for the week, Youkilis had 3 homers and drove in 7 RBI and had an .815 slugging percentage this past week. In fact, five of the nine players in the regular lineup hit over .300 this week, the one glaring exception, Julio Lugo and the blistering .190 average he contributed. We can't really complain though, as least his season average of .250 is higher than Manny Ramirez and Coco Crisp. I am still waiting for this lineup to come to life offensively and really produce like they have the past few years. The disappointment of the week would have to be Doug Mirabelli's going 0 - 10 in three games. Not the contribution we need from a key element to winning.
So as I said, last week I predicted the team would be 5 - 2 for the week but when I saw that there were two call ups being started against the Braves, I figured I missed my prediction by at least one loss, more likely two. I still can't get over the way that Tavarez pitched, what a great start. I also figured the Yankees would be lucky to be 3 - 3 after the week end, but said that they would be more than likely 2 - 4. Am I good or what?!? Just kidding. I really expected the Yanks to take at least two from the White Sox, possibly even two from the Mets, if they were lucky. Let's hope that their win last night doesn't propel them into a win streak.
Up this week, Round 3 with the Yankees. Tonight, Wakefield vs. Wang, Tuesday, Tavarez vs. Mussina, Wednesday, Schilling vs. Pettite (projections made according to staff rotations). The only one of the Yankees that I can see trouble with would be Pettite, though both Wang and Mussina always ratchet it up a notch in front of the home town crowd so this round will be close, 2 - 1 in favor of the Sox. After the Yankees series our beloved team will be in my part of the country, Texas. Look for me at the games, 1st base side, down the line, 16 rows back. Love to say that I'll be the one wearing the Red Sox hat but I would not stand out that way. There are more Sox fans that go to the games in Arlington than there are Rangers it seems. The Sox seem to have trouble with the Rangers here in Texas, dropped 2 of 3 to them earlier this year though neither team seems to be the same. I think the Sox will reverse the numbers here and win at least 2 of the 3 game series. Bottom line, end of day Sunday, the Sox should be 4 - 2 for the week.
The Yankees on the other hand have to contend with two of the hottest teams in the AL this week, three games with the Sox, and then a weekend series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Did everyone else laugh as hard as I did at that name?!? I'm seeing a very gloomy week for our division rivals, another 2 - 4 week as a matter of fact.
Well that's the week in review, and how I see the coming week. Like or not, here it comes!