Nats Swat Sox 7-4, Boston Slides Back to .500


It’s a much different major league baseball landscape in 2012 than 2011. The American League overall got stronger, which has been one of Boston’s primary problems. Everyone else got better and stronger. The Red Sox didn’t.

The Washington Nationals are proof positive that the American League isn’t the only place where once doormats are now knocking on the door . They have a young lineup peppered with solid players, budding stars and have the best pitching staff in the majors (32-23 with a 2.97 team ERA).

The much-improved Nats, currently perched atop the NL East, wore down and eventually broke down Sox starter Felix Doubront (4 innings, 6 runs, 8 hits on 82 pitches) while Nats starter Stephen Strasburg tamed Red Sox hitters after a rocky two-run bottom of the second. Washington was selective with their swings and made Duobront pay, especially in clutch situations.

While Doubront got into scrapes that he couldn’t get out of – 3 runs in both the third and fourth innings – Strassburg got sharper as the game progressed and frankly made many Sox hitters look very bad. He struck out David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kevin Youkilis in the fourth, Into the fifth had struck out five in a row after showing Mike Aviles the dugout without so much as a step out of the batter’s box. When his night was done he’d Kd 13 Red Sox batters.

"Two things can also be said about Nationals’ rookie Bryce Harper: 1. I don’t like his cocky, punk attitude; 2. I dearly wish he played for Boston. He is the real deal kids. Harper clocked an RBI double, a homer and an RBI single while scoring three runs to pace the Nats offensive attack. He was solid in the field. He made one base running mistake, a so what inning ender after stroking an RBI single off Matt Albers. If you’re a Nats fan – hell, if you’re a baseball fan – there’s a lot to like about this kid."

And so it was that Strasburg absolutely hog-tied the Sox, cruising into the sixth inning riding the crest of a 7-2 lead. That is until, with one out, Dustin Pedroia singled, Adrian Gonzalez doubled off the Monster and Ortiz walked to load the bases. All of sudden, Strassburg was jammed up with one down and 114 pitches to his credit. A hot hitting Salty couldn’t get the job done, striking out on a nasty 12-6 curve. Youk got punched out to end the inning on a below the knees called third strike. He went nuts and got ejected. Ah, baseball…

Boston rallied for a run in ninth but fell short when Adrian Gonzalez, who had earlier hit a no-pressure monster moon shot to straightaway centerfield in the eighth, flied out to centerfield with Daniel Nava on second to end the game.

Boston and Washington lock horns again at 4:05 Saturday when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to the Red Sox for his first start of 2012 exactly 365 days after Tommy John surgery ended his 2011 season. I never thought I’d be relieved to have Dice return to the rotation but after the failed FrankenBard experiment i am at least hoping to have Matsuzaka chew up some innings and not bean or walk everything on two legs. And speaking of Daniel Bard

Footnote: this has nothing to do with the game but has to be said
Regarding Daniel Bard‘s comment, “I’m just an employee here.” after be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket, I simply can’t give up a chance to make a deservedly snarky comment .
Mr Bard:
employee |emˈploi-ē, ˌemploiˈē
a person employed for wages or salary, esp. at nonexecutive level.
Sounds about right to me. And by the way, when regular folks like me consistently underperform we don’t get rehabilitated, we get fired. There are no minor leagues in IT management. And while I’m at it, wouldn’t we all love to get a chance to be our absolute best every fifth day? Further, we’ll take back the cumulative $878,000 for the six terrible losses so far this year, one half of your $1.6 million salary. You want sympathy? Sorry. You want to not feel pissed about this turn of events? Screw your head on straight, fix your mechanics and get better. A lot better.

I’m a bitch, I’m a bitch
Oh the bitch is back
Stone cold sober as a matter of fact
I can bitch, I can bitch
`Cause I’m better than you
It’s the way that I move
The things that I do
– The Bitch is Back, Elton John