Wednesday, April 25, 2007


One thing that the Sox haven't had in the Theo Epstein era is a great bullpen. The pen in '03 was good at the end of the season (not that Grady noticed) but only so-so in it. In '04 Foulke was just amazing, especially in the post-season, but the pen didn't have a ton of depth. Since then, the bullpen has been a medium-grade disaster featuring such luminaries as Matt Mantei, Mike Remlinger, and John "The Llama" Halama in '05, and Rudy Seanez, Jermaine Van Buren, and Mike Burns in '06.

Well, no more (hopefully). Hideki Okajima hasn't given up a run since his first pitch this season, Brandon Donnelly hasn't given up a run period, and Jonathan Papelbon has been as dominant as I can imagine a pitcher being. Having three guys like that to control the game in the late innings is going to go a long way towards winning the AL East, not to mention helping Terry Francona quit chewing tobacco (You can do it, Terry!).

Tonight, Curt Schilling pitched a gem, giving up one run in seven innings (a moonshot of a solo homer to Miguel Tejada on a hanging curve). His counterpart, Daniel Cabrera of the Orioles, pitched a good game also, leaving with two runners on base after allowing only one run (strangely enough on an Alex Cora solo homer).

At this point the game was up to the bullpens. Here is their respective performances:

Baltimore: 2.1 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks and two inherited runners were allowed to score.
Boston: 2 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 K's.

And thats the game. The Sox offense came alive as soon as the Baltimore bullpen showed their head, while the Orioles offense was even less alive (if thats possible) after the Boston bullpen entered the game. If their bullpen can keep up the pace, the Sox will be extremely formidable this season, especially compared to the bullpens that the Yankees and Blue Jays have right now.

AL East: Good win for the Sox today, as they win in Baltimore, 6-1. The Yankees and Blue Jays were rained out today, so the Red Sox pick up a 1/2 game against both of them in the standings and a full game against Baltimore. The Sox lead the Orioles by 2.5 games, the Blue Jays by 3.0 games, and the Yankees by 4.5. The Rays are just starting up in LA against the Angels. Their deficit will be either 4.0 or 5.0 depending on whether or not they win. This will not keep me up at night.

Tomorrow: The Sox go for the mini-sweep in the concluding game of their mini-series in Baltimore. Josh Beckett will try to go 4-0 on the year. He will be opposed by O's super-rookie Adam Loewen, who has pitched well this year so far (3.72 ERA). Game time 7:05pm.

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