June 16, 2004

It's Not Early Anymore. Colorado came into this series with an eight-game losing streak and the second-worst record in baseball. They had spent the weekend being swept by Tampa Bay. Bronson Arroyo pitched 6 innings last night and allowed only 4 runs (3 earned). After losing the lead in the 3rd inning, he retired 8 in a row. It's a performance I'll take with a smile.

But the Red Sox lost in frustrating fashion, because of their continued inability to hit consistently with men on base (they left the bases loaded in the 3rd, 5th and 9th innings). Joe Kennedy escaped a bases loaded, no out jam in the 5th and the quartet of Allan Simpson, Steve Reed, Tim Harikkala and Shawn Chacon shut Boston out over the final 4 innings.

Boston has a strong team, but have been unable to play consistently for any stretch of time. Maybe it's because of the many AAA players they have been forced to use this season; more often, it seems to me like a lack of concentration at the plate from night to night from everyone.

The team's longest winning streak is 6 games (April 23-29); they followed that by losing 5 in a row. They won five straight in late May, then dropped six of their next eight. They are 22-20 in their last 42 games and that simply is not going to get it done, even if the Yankees weren't busy ripping off a 33-9 run of their own over the same number of games. ... Boston has the 3rd best record in baseball, but are languishing 4½ games behind New York.

And yet, I will remain positive. Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe have begun pitching quite well. Nomar Garciaparra is back (and was stinging the ball last night). Scott Williamson (and his nasty slider) has returned to the bullpen. Keith Foulke has been everything we had hoped for. Manny is being Manny. Trot Nixon starts tonight. Bill Mueller is taking batting practice and may be only 2-3 weeks away. ... By the All-Star break, Boston may finally have its regular lineup on the field for the first time. And in August, the schedule gets soft -- Tampa Bay (6 games), White Sox (6 games), Blue Jays (6 games) and Tigers (7 games). That will be the time to make some serious hay.

For now, the job is to stay close to New York. And considering all their missing pieces, and the fact that it is not "early" anymore, I'd say Boston is doing it. Laura, my Yankee Loving Partner, keeps asking me if I'm worried, or rather she keeps telling me that I (or the Red Sox themslves) ought to be worried. But I'm not. The fresh (and uncommon) burst of optimism I got from last year's team has carried over to this summer. This team's best moments are still in the future.

Based on their runs scored/runs allowed, you would expect the East standings to look like this:
         W   L   GB   RS   RA

Yankees 35 27 -- 338 294
Red Sox 35 28 ½ 329 294
Obviously, they don't look like that in reality, but I'm more than ready for luck to start balancing out.

Schilling/Jennings at 9:05 pm.

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