Baseball or Golf? Sox Decide Tonight !!!

It’s Maalox time in Red Sox Nation again, just like the pre-2004 days when pessimism ruled supreme. I, for one will not fall prey to that feeling for this game. Let’s check some key match-ups and questions for debate that will be topics of conversation for the game tonight:

Pitching Match-up

Alfredo Simon  gets the nod tonight for the Orioles.That is the first positive sign for the Sox in this game. Check Simon’s last 3 outings and you’ll see that he seems to have hit a streak in which he pitches well one game and terrible the next. His last outing against Detroit was a gem on the road in a big stadium where he threw for 8 innings and surrendered 3 ER on a meager 6 hits. However against a fastball hitting team such as the Angels in the game before that he was rocked for 6 runs in 5 innings. The Sox are also a fastball hitting team and unlike most games when OBP and taking pitches is the key, I’m hoping the Sox green light the kid early. I expect a lot of fastballs up in the zone. He also has a rather slow wind-up getting to the plate in the stretch, so I expect Ellsbury, Pedroia and Crawford to be running all night. That is of course if Tito plays to win and not to lose, but that is a topic I’ll touch base on further down the line here.

John Lester is towing the rubber for the Sox and although he has struggled mightily as of late, he has proven many times before that when his back is against the wall he rises to the occasion. The so-called professional scouts and pundits keep pointing out the fact that he is on only 3 days rest, but a strange silver-lining is the fact that he only threw 55 pitches in 2.2 innings. So, the short rest shouldn’t be an issue. He also faced the Yankees in that wiffle-ball sized stadium where balls carry a ton. My prediction is Lester goes 6 strong tonight. Why? The Orioles will stupidly try and take picthes and drive the pitch count up, so they can tax Sir Lester and try to get to our struggling pen. If Lester can manage control in the strike zone with  strikes early in the count, the patience of the O’s (other than Vladdy who knows no patience) may work against them. Let’s bank on that happening. This leads nicely into our next subject of debate:

Salty or Lavarnway?

After last nights game I’m sure everyone is on the Ryan Lavarnway bandwagon right now and rightfully so. His 2 HR night most likey saved the season for us, but with Lester on semi-short rest and the game-calling of major importance tonight, I gotta lean with Salty on this one. Pounding the strike-zone early is of huge importance as is the timing and use of both the breaking ball and change-ups tonight. My strategy would be to actually get these two pitches working early and keep the Orioles off-balance. As I said before they will most likely be trying to drive the pitch count up unless a fastball is mistakenly thrown dead-red wheel-house. Off-speed stuff early may be the key to Lester’s game tonight. Then he can force the O’s to chase cutters and fastballs off the plate or up above the letters.

Both options here are young and Lavarnway may be a bit over-hyped after last night’s game. I’d rather have the guy with more familiarity with the staff against a slow-running Orioles team that probably won’t be running a lot in this one. What do I think Tito will do? I bet he actually plays Lavarnway to break up a heavy lefty line-up.

The Bullpen

First and foremost Daniel Bard in no way shape or form should be handed the ball tonight. Remember 2003 and that look Derek Lowe had in his eyes. Yes, I see the same look in Bard’s eyes now. What am I doing out here? Why can’t I locate? Where oh where has my nutsack disappeared to? Sit him down, give him some spoons and let him play Soundgarden in the visitors bullpen tonight. Wakefield is probably the long relief duty tonight or maybe even ready for a 2 inning stint. I’d like to see this combo work out. Lester goes 6, Wake goes 1, Aceves goes 1 and Papelbon closes it out.  I really don’t want to see Tito mismanage this Pen by pulling righties to get Doubront or Morales in there to face Markakis only to immediately yank  someone we have confidence in and start playing with fire. Let the guys with the spines do the work tonight and don’t even think about tomorrow until this game is over.

Line-Up

Interesting options with a righty on the hill tonight against the Sox. Tito has been known to tinker here and there, but I say load up the lefties at the top of the line-up. I, personally would love to see Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Drew, Scutaro, Salty, Lowrie. Small ball has to be an option tonight and if they are willing to pitch around Ellsbury with CC on deck, so be it. Let Crawford take a pitch so Ells can run on Simon’s slow wind-up. He doesn’t have a huge leg kick in the stretch, but a guy that tall that doesn’t get to the plate quickly. Preach patience to CC, let Ells run and if need be CC can bunt him over to third setting the middle of the order up to do damage. We can’t afford to have Crawford hitting in the line-up with base cloggers in front of him and no protection behind him. Not anymore. His legs look good and I say we let him pull a drag bunt tonight with Ellsbury on the go.  It also happens to be the anniversary of Teddy Ballgame’s career ending Home Run in his final at-bat!!! Who will replicate the bomb tonight remains to be seen, but it would be nice to see J.D. Drew get some form of redemption in this game and those of you consistently dogging him need to realize that he still has one of the prettiest swings in the game and looks like he is seeing the ball well right now.

Playing to Win and not to Lose!!!!

Hey Tito, if you are going to send Dave Roberts when the world knows he is going  in ’04, let’s throw down all the chips and go all-in tonight. I do not want to see any hunches played in this one. Your stomach seems to have shit for brains lately and during this “Moneyball” frenzy, let’s use the stats to our advantage in this game. Nobody can blame you post game if you have facts to back up your decisions. In fact, I would invite Bill James into the dugout with a lap-top and some taped glasses if they allow it and follow his lead. I know this in fact will never happen, but I can dream can’t I?

Final Prediction:

Sox win easily tonight 8-3. Why? It’s the opposite of what everybody else expects and I really think that Alfredo Simon is ripe for the taken. Think shaky knees, high fastballs and long bombs.

Go Sox!!!

You can follow chat about this game with Coach on twitter @coachlepsray,here on our Meebo chat Instant Messenger or on facebook Paul LeSpray tonight at 7PM.

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Comments
One Response to “Baseball or Golf? Sox Decide Tonight !!!”
  1. Scorcho Slim says:

    Agreed: Go Sox! But I gotta’ say my attention turns with the leaves; I’m all baseballed out. The time for foosball and the Pats has arrived for me. Go Pats!

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