May 4, 2004

It's Aggravation, Not Panic. MainerInExile, from last night's game thread: "I don't want to be one of those red sox fans who overreacts, but sometimes when no one is looking I rip my hair out." ... Check out the unexpurgated Soxaholix.

Curt Schilling: "I called the wrong pitch and it ended up costing us the game. ... When you give up early runs against an offense like ours that's trying to get something going, it makes it hard on you. ... It was probably the only one all night that I didn't want to throw and threw anyway." ... Afterwards, Schilling said that as Victor Martinez came to the plate, he went "brain dead". Varitek called a fastball in and Schilling said okay "knowing full well I wanted something else." When the pitch caught more of the plate than it should have, Martinez belted it to deep right for two runs. ... The sleepy Bosox bats couldn't come back, though they did have their chances:

3rd inning: 1st and 3rd, 2 outs, Ortiz grounds out to first.
4th inning: bases loaded, 1 out, Bellhorn hits into a double play.
6th inning: 1st and 3rd, 2 outs, Bellhorn grounds out to second.
7th inning: bases loaded, 1 out, Daubach strikes out, Varitek strikes out.
9th inning: man on 3rd, 1 out, Ortiz grounds out to second, Ramirez walks, Daubach flies to left.

It's fine if Schilling wants to shoulder the blame, but this loss was not his fault. In the first time through the batting order, the Cleveland hitters were very aggressive, swinging at fastballs early in the count. Schilling threw 25 pitches to the first 9 batters (and excluding Hafner's 6-pitch AB, he threw only 19 pitches to the other 8 batters). Schilling and Varitek mixed in more splitters and curveballs the second and third times through the order and kept the Cleveland bats quiet. After allowing 4 hits to the first 8 batters, Schilling gave up only 3 hits to the next 20 hitters.

Boston was within easy reach of the lead for the entire game -- they had the tying run on third with 1 out in the 9th -- but the bats were silent. Only Varitek is hitting well right now, but the one player getting the most attention for his slumping is Mueller. Earlier this season, he fell into an 0-20 funk and he went 1-13 in the recent Texas series. In his last six games, Mueller is 2-23. He's hitting 3-29 with runners at second and/or third. That's too Jeter-esque for my taste. ... Another black hole in the lineup is Kevin Millar, who is hitting only .231 since June 29, 2003 (that includes last year's playoffs).
Boston:  012 312 302 - 13
That's how many runners the Red Sox left on base last night; they lead the majors in LOB with 222. Boston is hitting an AL-worst .216 with runners in scoring position and .189 with the bases loaded. Yet the Red Sox's opponents have been even worse:
            AB   H  2B  HR  BB   K   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS

Red Sox 235 52 15 5 38 49 .221 .337 .349 .686
Opponents 200 40 15 2 27 41 .200 .302 .315 .617
Part of the problem is with Nomar and Nixon out, Tito has to give significant plate appearances to lightweights that would normally be riding the bench or playing in Pawtucket. In the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, McCarty, Bellhorn, Kapler and Crespo batted 6-7-8-9. It is tough to be consistently good with a lineup like that.

Nomar Garciaparra had a good day despite having to work out indoors because of rain in Boston. Francona: "He took groundballs in the gym off the wall with himself throwing. He did it, sat down, did it again, and then he simulated some base running." ... Keith Foulke suffered back spasms on Sunday. Francona said it wasn't that serious; Foulke has pitched only once in the last week (Thursday/Tampa Bay). ... Ellis Burks, a self-described quick healer, hopes to return before the end of the month.

Theo Epstein talks a little more about the various free agents. "There's no strategy to make these guys play the year out for contracts. There are and there will be attempts to sign these guys." ... Carlos Beltran (.316-8-19) edged Manny Ramirez (.338-5-16) as April's AL Player of the Month. ... Byung-Hyun Kim should throw about 80 pitches in his start on Wednesday night. Bronson Arroyo will likely pitch out of the pen in that game. ... More on "Still, We Believe," the Red Sox film that damn well better come to Manhattan.

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