Runs, Hits and Errors: Bring Back The Boston Brag


Bring back the Boston Rag
Tell all your buddies
That it ain’t no drag
Bring back the Boston Rag
– The Boston Rag, Steeley Dan 

Runs and Hits
Week four of the 2012 baseball season brings with it, in large part, encouraging news to Red Sox Nation. Boston is riding a six game win streak after last night’s 1-0 blanking of the White Sox  and are now perilously close to catching the Blue Jays for the fourth spot in the AL East. What giddy heights. To what can we attribute the turnaround? This is an easy one, two, three.
1. Better than average starting pitching and a more reliable bullpen.
2. Beastly hitting
3. Playing the AL Central

David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Aviles, Dustin Pedroia and Cody Ross put the hurt on both the Twinkies and the ChiSox as Boston outscored them  45-19. During last week’s streak through Saturday night, Salty hit .529, Ortiz hit .500 and had a gaudy .577 OBP, Pedey hit .393 and Aviles made Sox fans feel pretty damn good about a leadoff man who was able to get things going by hitting .357, slugging .679 and scoring eight times. Cody Ross led the team with nine RBI. With the exception of Kelly Shoppach and Lars Anderson, all Red Sox hitters batted over .300 for the week. Take that!

"Boston’s offensive onslaught resulted in an opposing pitcher chamber of horrors. With the exception of Jake Peavey’s outstanding complete game Saturday Night Special 1-0 loss, Boston hitters have battered opposing pitching, scoring at least five runs against every pitcher they faced this week and chasing them from the hill, on average, after just 4.1 innings."

True they did this against the Twins, the worst team in the AL Central, and the Chicago White Sox, who although in second place have a record barely better than Boston’s. Bottom line: wins are wins. The box score doesn’t say cheap win or win against a mediocre team. Just a W. Thank you ma’am.

Pitching, as well, has been much more stingy of late. Daniel Bard (two wins this week), Josh Beckett, Felix Dubront and Clay Buchholz – although he pitched terribly – all bagged wins. Matt Albers threw two shutdown innings on Friday night after a strong Daniel Bard outing. Likewise, Felix Doubront (6.0 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs) and Junichi Tazawa, who threw three stellar shutout  innings on Thursday sealed a 10-3 Sox deal.

Saturday night Lester (7 complete, 5 hits, 7 Ks, 1 BB) and Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves combined to win a tight 1-0 game against a determined White Sox lineup and pitcher.

"Bottom line: Sox pitching is finding ways to win whereas they found every conceivable way to lose in the first three weeks of the season."

I’ll take his defensive catching and pitcher handling but Kelly Shoppach can’t bat his hat size and never has. Ugly swing, Ugly results.

In the original incarnation of Saturday Night Live’s cast, Chevy Chase would reiterate week after week on the newscast that Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still “valiantly clinging to death.” Likewise, I can in week four report that Carl Crawford is still valiantly clinging to both injury and his paycheck that continues to hit his bank account unabated while contributing nothing.

One error goes to me. I can’t make up my mind about Daniel Bard. One minute I’m thinking “What a selfish bastard. Just suck it up, go back to the pen and take one for the team.” Five days later after watching him win his second game of the week and seeing Tazawa befuddle the opposition I’m thinking, “Well, wait a minute. Let’s see what happens.”

This has nothing to do with runs, hits or errors but still worth saying if for no other reason then to antagonize the Yankees. In the gleeful “it couldn’t happen to a more deserving team” category, the Yankees got some bad news this week regarding splashy free agent pitcher Michael Pineda who went down for the season with a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder. Hehe. Welcome to our nightmare. This is not good news for the Evil Empire. With the exception of Ivan Nova, Yankee pitchers has been universally sub par so far this year. Again, welcome to the club.

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