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The Red Sox suffered quite the overall team slump when it came to hitting the ball this past week. The end of the Blue Jays series and trip to Texas saw the Sox lose four times in a row (five times overall) and fall out of first place, behind the Yankees. However, the bats finally woke up at the start of the weekend with a return home and a visit from the Baltimore Orioles.
The trade deadline has not come and gone yet, but Theo Epstein was busy at work acquiring two new players this week. LaRoche came over from the Pirates in exchange for two minor leaguers (Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland). LaRoche joined the Red Sox Organization batting .247 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI this season. The activation of LaRoche saw the end of Mark Kotsay in a Boston uniform as he was designated for assignment to make roster space.
Theo Epstein did more than just add LaRoche to the mix this past week. He acquired outfielder Chris Duncan in exchange for shortstop Julio Lugo, who had previously been designated for assignment. Duncan will start off his Red Sox career in the minors while he tries to get back to his old ways. This season he is batting .227 with five home runs and 32 RBI. Duncan is only 28 and still has some potential,with his best season coming in 2007 when he hit for a .259 average with 21 home runs and 70 RBI.
Thank God for Brad Penny and the Baltimore Orioles. After watching the Sox lose five straight games to the Blue Jays and Rangers, it was nice to see them come home and get a win behind Brad Penny. Penny is still getting better with each start in my eyes, but it is tough to see him still not go at least seven innings yet this season. On Friday night, Penny lasted 6.1 innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits, while striking out four. His season ERA is now down to 4.71 and he is now 7-4 on the season. Not bad for a guy they were looking to get rid of earlier this season.
It’s a shame to have to see the words “New York in first place again in the AL East.” It’s especially hard since it has been quite some time that the Red Sox have fallen behind them. However, after the Red Sox lost five games in a row, it’s tough for the Yankees not to be in first place for the first time this season. They currently have a 2.5-game lead over the Red Sox in the East.
The guy does not get a chance to play in his first All-Star game, and then he lands on the disabled list. Things are not going the way Wake would like them to go right now, but at least the disabled list stint is mostly precautionary. The man is 40 years old, and he is going to feel some nags and pain every once in a while. That’s what this time away from playing is for Wakefield: just to recover from some natural wear and tear of the season.
Speaking of Wakefield going on the disabled list, Clay Buchholz was brought back up from AAA much sooner than he expected. Subbing for Wakefield, Buchholz made one start this week on Wednesday against Texas. He pitched four innings giving up three runs on six hits, while walking two and striking out three. He was tagged with the loss in the subpar effort. If there is any potential trade involving Buchholz, now is a good time for teams to get a good look at what he is capable of.
Now just because the Red Sox broke their losing streak on Friday night, it did not necessarily mean that their bats came alive again finally, as they only won 3-1. The bats sure woke up on Saturday, though. The Sox scored seven runs for Jon Lester who continues to prove time and time again how he is turning into an ace pitcher.
What happened to this guy? Remember when it seemed like he was a hitting a home run almost every third game? Bay has not had an RBI since before the All-Star break and has seen his average drop to a measly .256. Bay did have two hits on Saturday, the first multi-hit game he has had since the break, but it’s still not much. Hopefully Bay snaps out of this funk and gets back to his old form.
Beckett pitched a near complete game, albeit a loss, on Tuesday. This was also the game that saw the Sox fall out of first place to the Yankees, but no discredit to Beckett; the bats did nothing to support him against a rookie pitcher. Beckett will look to rebound at the start of the Oakland series on Monday and look to get his 12th win of the season to lead the American League, which would also tie his total from all of last season.
This coming week the Sox have a four-game homestand against the Oakland Athletics and then take a trip down to Baltimore where yours truly will be in attendance on Friday night.