Sox Look to Win 2nd Straight Series
The Red Sox came into Minnesota looking to play spoiler in the first ever series at Target Field. After dropping the Twin’s home opener, the Sox bullpen avoided implosion yesterday to even the series at one apiece. The Sox are looking to take their second straight series in this afternoon’s rubber match behind their longest tenured player and knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield.
The biggest concern for the Sox coming into this season was their middle-relief and as each game passes, I become more and more worried about the entire Sox bullpen. Of the seven members of the bullpen that have appeared in at least one game this season, just one has not allowed an earned run (Manny Delcarmen). The bigger concern for me is with the end of the Sox ‘pen, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. Bard and Papelbon have allowed 2 earned runs each in 6 and 4.1 innings respectively. If either or both continues to struggle, the Sox could be in serious trouble.
It will be interesting to watch how Terry Francona manages his bullpen over the next few weeks, because he wants everyone to have a chance at ‘righting the ship’ so to speak, but also has to be focused on winning ballgames. That same situation is occurring with the DH spot and David Ortiz. Ortiz is struggling mightily and although he can’t get comfortable and re-find his swing on the bench, the Sox are wasting valuable run-scoring opportunities by a strikeout machine at DH. Mike Lowell will start in the DH spot today against the tough lefty, Francisco Liriano.
These tough situations and decisions are why managers get paid the big bucks. Francona has had success in the past at balancing a lineup and pitching staff and I have the utmost confidence that he will pull the correct strings, but if he doesn’t have any strings to pull, it could get ugly.
Other Game Notes
Mike Cameron was a late scratch this afternoon with a pulled abdominal. According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com’s tweet, it forces Bill Hall to play center field for the first time since 2007. This injury places the Sox in a tough spot of have two starting outfielders sidelined and it may result in the Sox needing to make a roster move before too long.
Today’s Lineup – 1:10pm EST (Lineups courtesy of Boston.com)
Pitching: RHP Tim Wakefield.
Pitching: LHP Francisco Liriano.