Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Five Swings: Eight Bawl...Not

The Red Sox played their eighth game of the season and came away the victors with John Lackey's first Red Sox win.

1. Quality time. One of the more underrated statistics in baseball is the quality start. Research has shown that quality starts result in victory almost seventy percent of the time. If that holds true, then we'd expect the victory leaders and 'best' pitchers in baseball to produce quality starts. The top five QS leaders in the AL from 2009 included Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, the always tough Roy Halladay, King Felix Hernandez, and the Sox' Jon Lester. Lester started slowly last year as well.

2. Batman Returns. Dustin Pedroia smashed his fourth homer of the season, which according to NESN, took him 81 games last season, and 331 at bats versus 31 this season. Pedroia, Cal Ripken, and Ryan Howard have something in common...all won Rookie of the Year and were MVPs the next season. After 8 games, Pedroia has 10 RBI and is slugging 1.228. Eight games...yeah, we got that.

3. Left out. After a few years called "underachievement", Jeremy Hermida has been making a statement off the bench, and filling in for injured Jacoby Ellsbury. Yes, he looks a little stiff in left, but today he had a big bases clearing double to put the game away. In just fourteen at bats, Hermida has six RBI, and realistically will be the primary competitor for the DH spot. In 2007, he had 18 homers and an .870 OPS, so it's not as though he hasn't shown flashes. Of course, AL pitchers haven't had a chance to find 'holes' yet.

4. Super Saver? Jonathan Papelbon picked up his third save, with another nail-biter in the ninth. Papelbon had a pair of walks in a 20 pitch 'platter' save (three run lead, one inning. Surprisingly, the Sox and Twins combined to allow 13 walks, an unusually high total for the combination of starters Lackey and Slowey. The Twins have a potent offense with Denard Span always on base, the 3-4 punch of former MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and more power with Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. So maybe Paps deserves a free pass, like the ones he seems to be issuing more often.

5. Leader of the pack. Marco Scutaro hasn't made me forget Mark Belanger at shortstop, but he's come as advertised offensively. Scutaro filled in for injured Ellsbury and had a pair of hits, a run, an RBI, and his OBP stands at .417. The Sox saw 181 pitches today, with the first six hitters in the lineup seeing at least 20, except for Scutaro at 19. Scutaro leads Sox regulars in OBP, just ahead of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
All statistics may not be updated as of the time of publication.

The Sox play the rubber game at Target Field tomorrow.

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