Friday, April 22, 2005

Paper Cuts (W1-0) Season 10-6

The Red Sox behind the combined shutout pitching of Matt Clement (2-0) and Keith Foulke (S3) defeated the Orioles 1-0 to take over sole possession of first place in the American League East. In doing so, the Sox evened their road record at 4-4.

The Sox pitching staff recorded their second consecutive shutout over the Baltimoreans.

Ramon Vasquez had a groundout in the second inning to plate the game winner.

At the 16 game mark, one-tenth of the season, what can we say about the season thus far? From a team perspective, the Sox have the largest run differential in the AL, at 25. The Marlins have the largest overall at 33, having allowed only 44 runs all season. The Sox are tied with the White Sox with eight wins in their last ten games, and their only deficiency with a small sample size is a 2-3 record in one run games.

Offensively the team is third in runs per game, third in slugging percentage and fourth in on base percentage. At the same time, overall production has diminished only slightly. The team struggled early, as Manny Ramirez slumped, but Ramirez heated up with 5 homers and 17 RBI after the slow start. Jason Varitek has carried the load from the outset, both offensively and defensively, batting .353 with a 1.024 OPS.

The pitching has outperformed expectations after a slow start. They now have 10 quality starts in 16 appearances, with an eighty percent winning percentage with those starts. They have moved up the list on WHIP (walks and hits per nine innings pitched), tie for the league lead in shutouts (3) and have converted three of four save opportunities. Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo have overachieved, Clement and David Wells have rebounded with two strong outings apiece, and Curt Schilling is expected to be, Curt Schilling.

After a slow start, possibly attributable to a bit of championship hangover, the Sox have played consistent, winning baseball sparked by excellent and consistent starting pitching, the primary question mark headed into the season.

Alumni note. Nomar Garciaparra´s injury is believed more serious than previously expected, and he is considering surgery. Playing in yet another contract year, after turning down 60 million dollars over four years of Henrybucks, Garciaparra's groin isn´t the only thing that's hurting. All of which reminds me of the old Wall Street adage, 'bulls can make money, bears can make money, but pigs get slaughtered'.

Farm boys. The Sea Dogs got back on the winning track, topping Harrisburg 5-4. Dustin Pedroia had a three-run double, Keith Gabbard (3-0) picked up the victory and Cla Meredith (25th consecutive minor league save) saved it.

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