The Sox return home, optimistic that home cooking will help heal ailing bats.
1. Small Ball. As in small-minded. The easiest 'target' for the Sox miasma becomes...Terry Francona. I'm not going there, as if you don't have the horses, you ain't gonna ride. I'm sure that he didn't expect to be missing a pair of starting outfielders and an anemic start from Victor Martinez. Speaking of the latter, we're not hearing a huge clamor for the Sox to throw big money at V-Mart, who has struggled early in his contract year.
2. Bucking the trend. Clay Buchholz comes in as the Sox most effective starter, year to date. The question with Buchholz has been about harnessing his enormous talent. The Sox have promoted pitching off the fastball as a developmental philosophy. Buchholz has always reminded me of Hall of Famer Jim Palmer who controlled the strike zone in and out, up and down with his fastball. Remaining redundant, I contend Buchholz has the best 'raw stuff' on the staff. I hope that he doesn't 'lose' his curveball by overemphasizing the slider, which is his FOURTH best pitch.
3. Statheads. Statistics don't overrule what you see, they reinforce it. Of players with at least fifty plate appearances, the Sox have two players with an OPS of at least .800, you guessed it, Dustin Pedroia (.876) and Kevin Youkilis (.860). You want the answer? The Sox are sixth in runs scored, and LAST in runs allowed. Yes, Matilda you read that right, LAST.
4. Rank order. Fans have a smörgåsbord of choices tonight, including the Red Sox, playoff hockey (on the Vs Network), and postseason basketball as the C's face King James and the Cavs. James is a great player, just as was Michael Jordan. Russell was simply the greatest winner in the HISTORY of sports, winning a pair of NCAA titles, Olympic gold, and eleven NBA championships in thirteen seasons. Russell won five NBA MVP awards, and AVERAGED 22.5 rebounds per game in his entire career. He revolutionized the game defensively and was the greatest shot-botherer in the history of basketball.
5. Mixed Grill. The Sox come in third in the AL in home runs, trailing Toronto and Chicago. To reiterate, the offense hasn't been top shelf, but it hasn't been the sine qua non of defeat. Tampa has an ERA 1.77 runs per game better than the Sox. If the Sox don't get some juices going soon, well, let's just say that they'll be the ones trading talent at the deadline, not buying it.