Sunday, April 08, 2007


Big Papi at Spring Training (courtesy: me)

Great win in TexAss tonight by our Sox. Some Notes from tonight's series ender vs. the Rangers:

• Last night I noted that David Ortiz finally made good contact on a pitch in the ninth inning, flying out to right field. I noted that it could be the start of Ortiz "finding his barrings" out there. Well, in his first two at-bats Ortiz has found his barrings, making contact solid enough to send the ball over the outfield wall both times. I believe the kids call it hitting a "home run."

• Manny has yet to follow Ortiz's lead exactly, but he did make some very solid contact himself. He hit two to the base of the wall in dead center field, both of which were caught by Kenny Lofton who, I believe, is eight hundred years old.

• Through seven innings, Curt Schilling looked like the Curt Schilling we were expecting a week ago in Kansas City. He spotted his fastball, and his splitter had some bite on it. He missed a few spots and hung a curve or two, but he didn't put himself in position to really get hurt. He did give up a first inning homer to Frank Catalanatto, but that was it. Overall, a very impressive performance by Schilling

• In contrast to yesterday, the Red Sox offense was pretty unimpressive. It was Big Papi or bust.

• Maybe its just me, but Jason Varitek seems to be settling in at the plate a bit. He doesn't look great, but he seems to be putting a better swing on the ball than in the first few games.

• A key decision in tonight's game was whether or not to bring Curt Schilling back to pitch the bottom of the eight inning. Schilling hat thrown just over 100 pitches and had retired the side in order in the seventh, but Francona decided to bring in Joel Pineiro anyway.

• So, Pineiro came out of the pen in the eighth inning to face the 8, 9 and 1 hitters in the Rangers lineup. Not exactly murderers row, but he walked the first two hitters he faced anyway. Kenny Lofton followed with a bunt base hit to load the bases. Pineiro was yanked after loading the bases and while not recording an out. Just unbelievably bad. A guy who does that deserves to be cut. Of course he won't be, and he shouldn't, but how do you justify yourself as a major league pitcher when you can't throw a damn strike?

• Because Pineiro screwed up so bad, Francona was forced to bring Papelbon into the eighth inning. As bad as Pineiro was, Papelbon was the polar opposite, only better. While Pineiro came in to face the bottom of the Rangers order, Papelbon came in to face the Rangers two best hitters, Michael Young and Mark Teixeira. Young, who is one of the better contact hitters in baseball and had made solid contact in every at-bat all night, struck out on four pitches. Teixeira popped up on the first pitch weakly to Mike Lowell at third. Five pitches, inning over, rally squashed, thank you very much.

Its easy to second-guess Francona's decision in retrospect. Schilling needed eight pitches to get through the seventh and the bottom of the Rangers order was up in the eighth. I'd have liked to see Schilling go out there and see if he could get the side in order in the eighth. If he couldn't, they could have gone out there and got him mid-inning. Of course, if the Sox are going to do anything this season they're going to need Schilling.

So, in the end, Schilling got "saved" from extra work, Papelbon reminded us why we consented to put up with Julian Tavarez's craziness every five days, and Big Papi's season of crushing began.

Off on Monday, and then the home opener vs. the Mariners at 2:05pm.

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