Last Tuesday night (8/15), Mike Timlin said: "We've been throwing the ball really well. I'm not calling anybody out, but we haven't scored a whole lot. We're pitching well, we're holding teams down, and they're doing the same to us."
I'll avoid an obvious political crack about claiming things are peachy when they are going down the crapper and simply note that this is very silly. And wrong. Only three Red Sox pitchers have an ERA under 5.18 since the All-Star Game -- and Mr. Timlin, with a spiffy 6.46 (11 runs in 15.1 innings), is not one of them. They are Jonathan Papelbon (1.80), Curt Schilling (4.47) and Rudy Seanez (4.73). That's it.
No one expects any team to get through a six-month season without injuries, but we have missed significant time from many pitchers: David Wells (103 games), Matt Clement (59), Tim Wakefield (31), Keith Foulke (59), Lenny DiNardo (81), David Riske (41), and Timlin (16). The constant shuffling of bit parts to fill these holes has been very difficult. Plus the unexpected (though not exactly shocking) failures of Clement and Tavarez. The younger pitchers have been as good as could be expected (I contend Jon Lester has been better) and we have been too quick to expect them to dominate.
BTW: Did you know that Papelbon is only six months younger than Beckett? Or that Kevin Youkilis is more than seven months older than Coco Crisp?
Among the 15 AL teams, the Red Sox are currently 11th in ERA (NY is 5th), 9th in WHIP (NY 4th), 9th in batting average against (NY 3rd), 10th in on-base against (NY 4th), and 11th in slugging against (NY 5th). ... The good news is that if the pitching can simply be passable, things should be fine if the bats wake up. (Two big ifs in that sentence.)
One thing I have mentioned before is the way Red Sox batters often give away at-bats, as if they cannot concentrate for the entire plate appearance. This seems mirrored in the way Francona will concede certain games about the 6th inning or so. Actually, this has been recurring problem with Sox hitters for several years, and our manager in 2003 used to give up on games all the time, which was one big reason why that club had so many late inning rallies and wins. (The Yankees of 1998-2001 made plenty of outs, they struck out and grounded into double plays, but they concentrated for each and every at-bat, even the scrubs, in a way I've not seen Red Sox hitters do. This pains (and annoys) me.)
So. Right now, the Red Sox are 3rd in the AL in runs scored (7 fewer than NY and 10 fewer than the White Sox), 1st in on-base percentage, 4th in slugging and 4th in extra-base hits. Boston also leads all MLB teams with 518 walks (26 more than the Yankees). ... Since the ASG, Manny Ramirez is hitting .374/.449/.672 and David Ortiz is at .297/.424/.656. ... Mike Lowell is slumping (.228/.295/.360) and Eric Hinske should offer some relief. Whether Terry Francona will sit Lowell now and again is a different matter. Alex Gonzalez is also regressing (.235/.291/.435).
We are currently 39-22 at home (as opposed to 30-31 on the road) and after this weekend and a nine-game west coast swing, Boston will play 18 of its last 29 games at home. So that's a plus.
In summary (though the situation is not nearly as dire):
One. One game. One win. That's all.
Not four, not three, not two.
The game won't start for a few hours, so please enjoy this picture of a puppy: