|Connelly’s Top Ten: Belichick’s Greatest Move||Red Sox Targeting David Price||Notes and Observations Week 11: Defense Leads Battered Patriots to Victory Over Bills 20-13||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win Despite Cannon’s Assassination Attempt on Brady|
After another Red Sox/Yankees series the Sox have once again fallen on tough times and are now pretty much looking to just secure a spot in the playoffs through the wild card. Boston had a decent week, which they started out rough after losing their lead in the wild card race to Texas, but gained it back after a sweep of Toronto. The Yankees came to town this past weekend though and all but ended the chance of the Sox winning the division.
Smoltz was officially released by the Red Sox on Monday and was later signed by the Cardinals. His first game went well with St. Louis as he tossed five frames of shut out ball and struck out nine. The Cardinals claimed to have found the problem with Smoltz while he was in Boston in that he was tipping his pitches. We’ll see, maybe the National League is just easier to pitch in?
Although the Sox lost 20-11 on Friday night to the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury had a night to remember. Ellsbury stole his 54th base of the season and tied to franchise record set by Tommy Harper back in 1973. Ellsbury then stole his team-record 55th stolen base on Tuesday.
Penny, for a while, seemed to be getting better with each start that he was making, but then suffered what may be his final loss as a starter for the Red Sox this season. After surrendering eight runs on 10 hits last Friday night against the Yankees, Penny was moved to the bullpen with Tim Wakefield set to return from the disabled list Wednesday. Junichi Tazawa and Clay Buchholz will remain in the rotation.
Speaking of Tazawa, how about his start on Saturday against the Yankees! I will admit I was a bit nervous with the division race on the line and Tazawa on the mound. However, he performed well above expectations and got his second major league win. Tazawa tossed six shutout innings and gave up eight hits with two walks, while striking out two. Hopefully, Tazawa can continue to exceed expectations and perform well, as the Sox desperately need good starting pitching down the stretch.
Beckett had two bad starts this past week. Against the Blue Jays, Beckett had issues with home runs. He managed to pitch just 5.1 innings and gave up seven earned runs (four of which came from the long ball), but he only walked one and struck out four. On Sunday night most people expected a pitcher’s duel between Beckett and C.C. Sabathia, but that was not the case as Beckett struggled again. Beckett pitched eight innings this time but gave up eight earned runs, five home runs, nine hits, no walks and he struck out five. Hopefully, Beckett pieces things together for the final stretch of September. He currently stands at 14-5 with a 3.65 ERA and 154 strikeouts.
I’ve said a few times this season, but does David Ortiz have his power stroke back to stay? Ortiz had a great week with four home runs and 11 RBI. That demotion to the seventh spot in the order must have sparked Ortiz somehow, as he currently stands with a .229 average, with 20 home runs, and 75 RBI (as of Tuesday). If he keeps this up, Ortiz could quite possibly finish with 100 RBI, and that would be quite an accomplishment.
One can’t say enough about how great it is to have this guy on the team now. Martinez had another great week with two home runs, five RBI, and 1o hits. He currently has a .293 average, with 20 home runs and 83 RBI.
It’s only about mathematically possible for the Red Sox to still take the AL East, but we should all start to be realistic, as it does not seem likely that Boston will be listed at the top of the division at the start of October. The Yankees currently have a seven game lead over the Red Sox after this past weekend’s series win in Boston. Although the Red Sox have already clinched the season series with the Yanks after their win on Saturday. The Red Sox and Yankees still have one more series against each other in September back in New York, but unless the Red Sox start winning a lot and the Yankees falter, the division is getting out of sight.
So with the division out of sight, the Red Sox look to maintain their lead in the wild card race. The Sox currently stand a game and a half ahead of the Rangers with the Rays three games behind them (as of Tuesday). The Sox do not see the Rangers anymore this season, but still have two more series with the Rays in September. Luckily for the Red Sox, they have a pretty favorable schedule in September with their only opponents being the Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Royals. If they play their cards right, we should see the Sox still playing in October.
The week ahead should be favorable for the Sox with both series in Fenway Park. The White Sox and Blue Jays come in to town and the return of Tim Wakefield to a depleted starting rotation will certainly help. Also, the addition of Billy Wagner may also make a difference. If the bats can stay hot and the pitching can get back on track, then the final stretch of the season should be a fun one to watch.