April Thoughts...First Place Thoughts...OUR Thoughts!
That was the month that was. April, 2007. 16-8. A four game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays, the LARGEST April lead in franchise history. And the best record in all of major league baseball. Those are the neccessary facts so far this glorious season of '07. Here are a few observations I'd like to make.
The hitting. Grade B-.....Some guys started hot and cooled, JD Drew to name one. Some guys haven't even started to hit their stride. Manny immediately comes to mind. And some have been steady performers, such as Big Papi, Kevin Youklis and Mike Lowell. The hitting will improve.
The Rotation. Grade B.....Schill is just fine, and will be our ace for the entire season. And next season too, we all have to hope. Josh Beckett? Simply just about the best in all of baseball. Daisuke? Up and down games, but each start has been a milestone for the Japanese youngster. Milestones that are as far from normal as possible. Now the season will settle down for him and we'll see how he does. Wakes has a stingy ERA, but has suffered from a lack of run support and, like Daisuke, control issues. Tavarez, soon to be Lester? Yesterday's win over the Yankees was his best outing yet. He probably will only have one more turn as a starter. He will be valuable in the bullpen in a long relief pairing with Kyle Snyder.
The Bullpen. Grade A.....Simply astounding. Papelbon leads everybody with 8 saves in 8 chances and an ERA of nuthin'! Hideki Okajima, our Darkman, has also been one of the best relievers in all of baseball, with an ERA of 0.71 and a growing reputation as a Yankee killer. He truly is our "Hero of the Dark." Donnelly has been steady and consistant, Piniero good enough. Romero, another left arm, has been OK, too.....just. Kyle Snyder has been just fine. The 'pen right now is the best in the AL, if not all of baseball. Let's hope they keep it up. From Gordon Edes of the Globe, our Boston Globe..
"Jeter's home run ended a string of 13 2/3 scoreless innings by the Sox pen, which still has a 1.09 ERA (5 ER in 41 IP) over the last 17 games."
Peter here...and I have one word, and one word only..... WOW!!
Overall. B plus.....The 2007 Boston Red Sox are going places. If the injury bug stays away, the hitting becomes a little more consistant, the 5th spot in the rotation settles in with Jon Lester, and the bullpen remains lights out, we'll be at or near the top all season long. We all know that the Yankees will not languish where they are in the dankness of the cellar much longer. Or will they? Stay tuned, as May approaches at light speed. C'mon along and enjoy the ride. Something tells me that you already are!
And before I leave you, here are some great words about the man in the bullpen, our man, the Darkman...Hideki Okajima. Am I a fan? Oh yes! From the Monday Herald....
"For Red Sox [team stats] fans, Hideki Okajima’s performances thus far have been artful. Yesterday’s effort in a 7-4 Sox win over New York at Yankee Stadium was just the latest example, as the reliever lowered his ERA to 0.71 with two innings of shutout ball that included four strikeouts.
Finding a reliever who has given up just one run, struck out 17 and walked only three in his first 12 2/3 innings in the major leagues for the low price of $2.5 million over two years is rare enough. But discovering someone with that description who doesn’t look where he’s throwing the ball is downright legendary.
“Not to that extreme,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell when asked if he has seen a pitcher with a similar delivery. “Particularly to have the fastball command and overall command he has. It’s very rare. When a pitcher gets a sense of where he’s throwing the ball, then he’s going to let his hand-eye coordination take over.
According to bullpen mate J.C. Romero, the entire process Okajima undertakes with each pitch has a very specific purpose. Romero explains that the long stare leading into each pitch is when the lefty finds his target, allowing for the no-look approach when the time comes to throw.
Considering Okajima hasn’t allowed an earned run since the Royals’ John Buck sent the lefty’s first big league pitch over the center field wall in Kansas City - he’s also now gone five innings against the Yankees, giving up just three hits while striking out seven - positives aren’t hard to find, no matter the delivery.
“It seems like every time he’s come into the game it’s been a rally-killer for us,” Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. “We need to figure him out.”
You see, I told you. The Darkman lives! Our Yankee killer. And it's not even May. Click on this post's title to link with a column penned by the Courant's Jeff Jacobs. He calls it "Clicking on all cylinders." AND THAT WE ARE! I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment away, and thanks. Enjoy your Monday, an off day for RSN, but not for our Red Sox hearts.