Too Little, Too Late
By Brian Phair
Sunday afternoon’s Red Sox game was a great showing of shutdown pitching and strong offense. The only problem? Too little, too late. Jon Lester got his 18th win by throwing 7 innings of shutout baseball, allowing 4 hits and 4 walks to one of the most powerful offenses in the AL for the Toronto Blue Jays. Lester’s strong outing was backed-up by 6 runs of offense, giving plenty of cushion for a leisurely victory in front of 37,234 fans, myself included. As I mentioned in a previous post while at the stadium this afternoon, nothing beats walking into Fenway Park on a sunny afternoon, regardless of how amazing or terrible the hometown ball club is playing.
Besides Jon Lester, both Scott Atchison and Robert Coello had excellent innings in relief to cap the 3-man shutout and avoid an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the team from north of the border. Atchison has had a strong year, especially after barely making the club out of the Spring. He has had his momentary struggles, but it is great to see a guy of his character and with his story succeeding in the bigs. For those who don’t remember, Atchison left Japan where he was playing to come to the US, because his daughter needs special medical care that he could not get where they were. He passed-up on a contract in Japan for a no-guarantee Spring Training invite from the Sox.
The Sox offense was electric on Sunday, dropping a 5-spot in the 5th inning, blowing the game wide-open. The inning began with a single from Jed Lowrie, followed by a single from Bill Hall and a run-scoring ground-rule double from Daniel Nava. Yamaico Navarro drove in his 4th an 5th runs of the season next with a single (advanced to 2nd on a fielding error) and after a fly out for Ryan Kalish, J.D. Drew crushed a ball beyond the Red Sox bullpen for the final 2 rbis of the inning (and the game). It was a strong outpouring of offense that was a sampling of the young talent in the Red Sox system.
For the 29% of you that voted Yes on the poll over the last few days about whether you believe the Red Sox have a shot at the playoffs, it’s over. Not officially just yet, but it is over. From here on out, it is all about getting young players the chance to play and prove their worth for the future. The Sox have begun doing that already over the past few weeks, allowing some less experienced pitchers to get a shot out of the bullpen and taking their time in bringing back J.D. Drew to give Josh Reddick a chance to play more regularly.
If nothing else, 2010 has been a chance for role players to get more playing time and a chance for the Sox staff to see many of the AAA talent up-close and in person for a significant chunk of the season. It will be interesting to see the direction the Sox go this off-season, whether they choose to rely on some of their young talent and let them mature in the bigs or go after a big name free agent or 2. Never fear, I will have all of the options covered over the next few weeks and months as the season winds down and the all-important off-season begins.