Trying to Keep a Level Head
It took awhile, but all of the puke is cleaned up. No, I’m not talking about the vomit that derived from the Red Sox pitching staff since Jon Lester left the game on Thursday afternoon. Instead, I’m referring to my own. My gag reflex was triggered after watching Alfredo Aceves waltz into yesterday’s game, armed with a three run lead. A cupcake save?
This was a Cadbury Creme Egg sitting in a basket on the kitchen table on Easter morning. Just take it. It’s yours.
But no. Austin Jackson recorded what seemed like his 28h hit of the series. Brennan Boesch promptly slapped a chopper up the middle that went for a single after Dustin Pedroia was able to knock it down but unable to record an out at second or first. Finally, Miguel Cabrera (man, that dude can mash–not that we weren’t aware of that) cleaned up the mess by dispatching a middle-middle fastball beyond the left field fence. Tie game. Brutal.
Two innings later, in the bottom of the eleventh, the Red Sox had a white-knuckle grip on a two-run lead. Mark Melancon, desperate to prove his mettle to his new teammates (and fans), relieved Franklin Morales (2 IP, 0 R, 3 K’s). The muscle of the Tigers’ order was due up. Boesch graciously grounded out the first base. That proved to be the calm before the sh*t storm.
Cabrera singled to right field. Prince Fielder hit a cue shot through the vacated left side of the Red Sox infield. A wild pitch by Melancon allowed Cabrera to waddle his way to third base. Fielder wanted nothing to do moving into scoring position, so the possibility of a double play was still in order. Delmon Young didn’t cooperate as he lifted a sacrifice fly to center field. Alex Avila followed by hitting a two-run home run to right field, sending Comerica Park into a walk-off frenzy for the second time in three games.
So look, it’s been three games. The Red Sox have not recorded a victory. They came close twice. Let’s not let this get the better of us. Here is your medicine. Overdose on it.
- Detroit is a good team. It is not easy to open on the road against a team that was in the ALCS last season (and they’ve gotten considerably better). The Tigers are flat out good. You got swept in their house. Is this what you wanted? Absolutely not. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
- 5 IP/3 ER’s/4 K’s/ and a loss. That was Beckett’s line in his first start last season. It was in Cleveland, and the Sox desperately needed a win after being swept in Texas. Beckett did not step up and deliver what his team needed. Somehow, he still went on to post a 2.89 ERA. So Yes, Beckett got lit up on Saturday afternoon, but that doesn’t preclude him from succeeding this year. In fact, it is likely that he will pitch well Friday’s home opener against Tampa Bay, a team he performs notoriously well against.
- Click riiiiiiight here.
It looks bad. I know. Last night, I almost internally conceded that Daniel Bard must go back to the bullpen. But after a night of sleep, I realized that I am not ready to do that. Bard, for now, should remain in the rotation. This is not an argument of what is more important: A fifth starter or a closer. That needs to be made extremely, extremely clear. Bard has the ability and the opportunity to develop into a top half of the rotation starter (see: C.J. Wilson). And that is exponentially more important than a closer. For Bard and the Red Sox, 2012 is the first step in that process of conversion.
At the same time, I am a realist. Bard and the Sox could not have predicted Andrew Bailey was going to go down–at least not this early in the season for this long. Bailey’s injury changes the dynamic in the Red Sox bullpen. I get that. As much as I’d like to, I’m not going to jump on the ‘Bard must be the closer’ bandwagon after three games, two of which the bullpen effectively blew. Could Bard end up closing games due to poor performance by some combination of Aceves/Melancon/Morales/Vincente Padilla? Absolutely. I’m just not ready to make that determination quite yet.
Finally, keep this in mind–we do not know if Bard can close. I’m sorry, but we don’t. He is the same guy who imploded down the stretch in 2011 for the Red Sox. He lost his ability to throw strikes consistently due to a poor arm slot. His pitches flattened, and he was hit hard. Do not be the individual that advocates for Bard being moved to the closer role simply because he is different than the current cast of hopefuls.
What we do know is that he create swings and misses, something that is sorely lacking in the bullpen right now (Morales aside). If and when he is shifted out of the rotation and back to the bullpen, it will be because his ability to avoid contact in late inning, high leverage situations–not because he is the elixir to all problems that ail the Olde Towne Team.