|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
After a good end to the series in Baltimore last Sunday, the Red Sox had an off-day followed by a trip down to the Trop in Tampa Bay for a short two-game series with the Rays followed by a trip to New York for a longer four-game series with the Yankees over the weekend. Neither series went exactly as the Sox wanted and they suffered their worst week of the season to date by losing six games in a row to both the Rays and Yankees.
They now see themselves staring up at the first place Yankees while they sit in second place, back six and a half games before play on Monday night.
The Red Sox gave up their attempt to get former All-Star John Smoltz back into form this season after he had surgery on his shoulder last season. Smoltz was designated for assignment after his terrible start against the Yankees on Thursday night. Smoltz finished the season with the Sox going 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA with 33 strikeouts. Smoltz is still optimistic about staying with the Red Sox in a possible minor league arrangement.
Due to injuries the Sox called up quite a few players this past week from the minors. Josh Reddick, Chris Woodward (from Seattle), Junichi Tazawa, Billy Traber, Enrique Gonzalez, and Fernando Cabrera were all called up this week from AAA Pawtucket. However, Traber and Gonzalez have already been designated for assignment to make room for Chris Woodward and Fernando Cabrera respectively.
Due to need for a strong bat against the Yankees and the injury to Jason Bay’s hamstring, the Red Sox had a new left fielder for two games against the Yankees this week. Kevin Youkilis took a shot a playing left field since he volunteered to play the position for Terry Francona. Youk has had experience in the outfield both in the 2006 and 2008 seasons, but did not have his outfielder’s glove for Thursday night’s game and had to borrow Jason Bay’s. Sox fans will probably all agree that it’s much better to see Youk at either corner of the infield.
It seems like half the team is hitting the disabled list lately. Already on the DL for the Red Sox are Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka, George Kottaras, and Jeff Bailey. Now, add to that list this week. Baldelli hit the DL on Thursday with a left ankle contusion and Lowrie was back on the DL on Saturday retroactive to August 7th with ulnar neuritis in his left wrist. The same wrist he had surgery on earlier this season.
After being revealed to be one of the players on the list of players confirmed to have used steroids in 2003, David Ortiz made a public statment where he apologized and said that he did not think he had used steroids, but did admit to being careless then when buying drugs over the counter.
So much for those hot bats that I mentioned last week. The Red Sox had the worst stretch of offense they have had since 1974. The Sox went scoreless for 31 straight innings against the New York Yankees this weekend, which greatly led to them being swept by their rivals in the four game series.
The Red Sox are once again looking at shortstops now that Jed Lowrie has once again hit the disabled list. Nick Green is not really putting up the offensive numbers that the Sox would like for him to be the full time replacement. Therefore the Sox have been rumored to have placed a claim on Nationals’ shortstop Cristian Guzman. Guzman would be a good replacement as he has some pop in his bat. He is currently batting .315 with five home runs and 39 RBI this season.
Bard’s scoreless streak and impressive outings came to a hault this week as he let up a run Tuesday against the Rays and was tagged with the loss Sunday night against the Yankees. The Sox had finally managed to grab a lead against the Yankees after a two run shot by Victor Martinez, but with almost no delay Bard gave the lead right back to the Yankees with back to back home runs to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira.
Thank God the Sox got this guy. If there was one bright spot at all against the Yankees this weekend it was that Victor Martinez was the only one who could get any runs in for the Red Sox. Martinez only had a grand total of two rbi, but he was the one who snapped the scoreless streak of innings for the Red Sox and proved why they signed him.
The Sox eagerly await their return home this weekend to Fenway Park after such a horrific week. The Sox will face the Tigers at home for a four game series then head back out on the road to Texas for the weekend.