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Should fans begin to panic about the Red Sox lineup, or is it still too early? Many among us have been asking ourselves that question. Perhaps our cummulative anxiety has helped. Perhaps it had some affect on Sunday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. We saw glimpses of last year and again felt the faith. Then, Monday rolls around and Clay Buchholz just could not handle those Baltimore bats. He cannot keep pitching this way. What happened to him? What happened to our offense? Answers are needed before we begin the series with the New York Yankees tonight.
The Red Sox must start off strong. It all begins with the leadoff hitter. We lost Jacoby Ellsbusy, which has translated in a loss in momentum at the top. Grady Sizemore is not the guy. A solid leadoff hitter gets on base and sets the tone for the rest of the lineup. Sizemore is not making that happen. We need a leader, a captain, and most importantly a clutch hitter. We need Dustin Pedroia. Everyone saw what he did for the team on Sunday night. He got the ball out into outfield. Our guys have not been able to get hits past the infield, yet when they do they are homers, like those hit by Jonny Gomes and, more notably Mike Napoli in Monday’s game. Unfortunately, it was too late. The pitching damage had been done. Sizemore has 13 hits, 5 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .286. It is time to give someone else a shot. Pedroia is the man for the job. He has a strong history of getting on base. The Sox need that kind of leadership from the start as we take on the Bronx Bombers.
The team desperately needs to pull together and hit like a team like they did last year. Plate patience, a focus on good contact, and aim for just beyond the infield should yield positive results. Red Sox batters must also beat the shift, so good aim is as good as a home run.
Tonight Red Sox batters will face the much acclaimed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who currently holds a 2.05 ERA. Jon Lester will be on the mound for us, so tonight should be quite the pitchers’ duel. That is, if the lineup can keep up with Tanaka. The Sox must keep their eyes on the ball, since Tanaka has thrown 10 strikeouts in his last two games.
Wednesday’s game will feature the Yankees pitcher Michel Pineda (remember the pine tar, goopy guy?) versus John Lackey. Pineda has given solid performances going six innings during his all three starts this season. When he pitched against Boston on April 10th, he struck out seven Sox batters. Lackey is 2-2 with a 5.25 ERA. If he settles into a good rhythm early on this should lead Boston to a win.
In the final game on Thursday against New York, C.C. Sabathia and Felix Doubront will face off. Both players hold ERAs in the mid 5’s so both starters will look to bounce back from slow starts.
Still, the key to winning these games, and all others, is putting runs on the board early, through crafting a stronger lineup. Certainly, our hometown team can perform better than they have been. The Sox have the talent, and now is the time to start showing it.