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Welcome back to your weekly review of all things Red Sox. This week featured another full slate of games for the Boston Red Sox, so without further ado, let’s get to it.
Boston’s week began Monday against the Baltimore Orioles. It was a rough day for Tim Wakefield, who allowed nine hits and five earned runs in less that four innings of work. The relievers fared only slightly better. Jonathan Papelbon continued his scoreless streak, whereas Hideki Okajima was scored upon for the first time. Offensively, David Ortiz homered for the first time this preseason, as did Josh Reddick, who is continuing his push to make the major league roster come April. He is currently batting .478. The end result? The Red Sox lost, 8-4.
Tuesday saw the Red Sox in split-squad action against the Astros and the Rays. Unfortunately, this splitting did nothing for either team. Houston beat Boston, 3-0, and Tampa Bay also defeated Boston, 7-0. There were no offensive pluses in the game against Houston, as Boston only recorded four total hits. Jon Lester looked good, allowing only one earned run in four innings of work. For the Tampa Bay game, the only positive to take away offensively was David Ortiz, who went 2-2 from the plate. Starting pitcher Felix Doubront looked good in his three innings of work, but the next two saw Boof Bonser give the lead away for good, and the rest of the relief pitchers were unable to do much better. There was little good that came out of Tuesday’s action, and we can only hope for better days than this.
Wednesday saw the Red Sox taking on the New York Mets. It was another amazing pitching performance from Boston, at least for the first seven innings. John Lackey continued his scoreless streak with four more perfect innings of pitching. Jonathan Papelbon followed up with a scoreless inning of his own, as did Hideki Okajima. The Mets finally broke through in the eighth, scoring four times off of Ramon S. Ramirez. The Red Sox, who did little of note at the plate besides another hit from David Ortiz, wound up losing this game, 4-2. Overall, we can think of this game as one of those standard spring training games where the starters put up a winning effort and the reserves and minor leaguers just can’t hold onto it. If Lackey, Papelbon, and Okajima all go un-scored upon, chances are the Red Sox will win the game every time.
Friday’s matchup featured the Boston Red Sox taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Josh Beckett, who has been dealing with health issues all preseason, looked like a pitcher behind in his preparations for opening day. He gave up six hits and four earned runs while striking out just one in 3.1 innings of work. Relief pitching didn’t do anything to help Beckett out, however, as a core of mostly reserve relievers allowed an additional four runs to the Pirates. At the plate, the Sox fared well, belting out 14 hits. The big offensive player was once again David Ortiz, who continued his hot streak with a home run and a second hit. Unfortunately, the Red Sox just couldn’t shut the flood gates of Pittsburgh scoring and wound up losing, 9-7.
Boston faced off against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, looking for payback for their loss earlier in the week. And that’s exactly what they got on both sides. Offensively, the Red Sox got home runs out of both Kevin Youkilis and Marco Scutaro to power their six-run, 11-hit attack. Tim Wakefield bounced back from his earlier rough outing by allowing no runs over five solid innings of work. Age? What age? The O’s kept it close with decent relief pitching until eighth, when the Sox scored three times, putting the game out of reach. The Red Sox defeated the Orioles, 6-0.
This was another split squad game on Sunday, only the first half of the squad saw their game against Toronto canceled. Jon Lester pitched well, going into the sixth inning while only allowing three earned runs and striking out seven. What was odd about this game was the total implosion of Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed five earned runs while recording just one out. We can only hope this is was just a bad game, and not a sign of worse things to come. Offensively, the Sox actually out-hit Baltimore 12-11, with multiple players recording two and three-hit games (Box Score). If not for the pitching problems, the Sox would’ve likely won this game. Instead, they lost, 10-7.
After going 5-1 last week, the Sox went 1-5 this week. They’re back to being just a .500 team. The odd thing about these losses is that there’s no pattern to them. Some days, the starting pitching failed to deliver. Other days it was the relief pitching. And in at least two games it was the lack of offense more than anything else that doomed the Sox. Split squad games always affect team chemistry, so maybe that explains this past week’s results better than anything else. The Red Sox simply were never all on the same page, and someone or other inevitably cost Boston each game it lost. As much as we want to over-analyze these results, we should remember that these are spring training games only, meant merely to help players get into shape in preparation for April. That’s when the fun really begins.