Series Preview in Blog: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox come to town to start off a ten-game road trip with a 4-game series with the Twins.  Boston lost 2 of 3 against the Mets this weekend, and lost 3 of their 4 series on the road this month.  Overall, the Sox are 9-12 on the road, but remain in first place in the AL East, one half game ahead of the Blue Jays.  The Twins are 17-9 at home, having won 8 of their last 9 in the Dome.

Judging by the blogs, everyone in Red Sox nation is talking about David Ortiz.  He’s been keeping pace with Matt Tolbert in the HR race, but apparently that’s not acceptable for Big Papi.  He’s gone back to struggling mightily, and the rumor is that he’s going to be moved down in the lineup for this series.  Still, it could all just be an elaborate trap (A-Rod and Teixeira were supposedly struggling too).

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Series Preview In Blog: Boston Red Sox

The Twins travel to Boston for a quick two game series having just swept the Angels to get their record back to even at 7-7.  The Red Sox welcome the Twins for a quick two game series having just swept the Orioles to get their record back to even at 7-6.  The Twins are 1-2 on the road (having only traveled to Chicago thus far), while the Red Sox are 5-2 at Fenway.  The four game sweep of the Orioles worked wonders for fans that weren’t panicking, but were, perhaps, a tad concerned before the Orioles came to town.  Among their concerns was the fact that David Ortiz wasn’t hitting for power (or at all).  Before you get too worried that he’s due for an enormous series to right himself, he broke out a bit with a big day Monday with a couple extra base hits (why am I not relieved?).

The Sox have had some injury issues of late, they currently have Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Smoltz, Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, and Mark Kotsay all on the disabled list.  Of course, a team like the Red Sox is built to withstand situations like this.  Except that most of the people mentioned as potential replacement parts in that post are now injured themselves (Clay Buckholz, probably next in line for the rotation recently went on the minor league DL with a hamstring injury), so with their top two shortstops on the shelf they may be wearing thin in a couple places.

As if that wasn’t bad enough now people are threatening the Sox MVP second baseman.  This, of course, has his roommates on edge a bit.

—PROBABLE PITCHERS—

Baker v. T. Wakefield

Wakefield has had one good start and one bad start this season.  Last time out he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, saving an overworked bullpen and inspiring a whole bunch of tributes from fans that have been seeing him in a Sox uniform for a long time.

Liriano v. B. Penny

Penny has had one good start and one bad start this season.  He got rocked by the Orioles last time out (the only bad pitching performance of the last weekend), but the Boston offense bailed him out so he has the somewhat nonsensical line of 1-0, 11.00 ERA so far this season.

Series Preview in Blog: Boston Red Sox

Minnesota Twins (15-13) v. Boston Red Sox (18-9)

The Twins return home after a .500 road trip in which they won 2 of 3 from Detroit and lost 2 of 3 to Tampa Bay. The Red Sox won 2 of 3 in New York last weekend, then split a two game set with Oakland before winning a makeup game with Seattle on Thursday night. The Red Sox currently sit 5.5 games ahead of second place Toronto and Tampa Bay in the AL East while the Twins remain in third place in the Central 3.5 back of the Indians. The Twins are 7-7 at home in 2007, while the Sox are 9-5 on the road. Since the beginning of time the Twins are 278-266 against the Red Sox (160-112 at home)

On to the Red Stockings:

First off, Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save of the year on Tuesday, and given his amazing success thus far in his career, his failure has been the occasion of some comment. You have to admit it was odd that it was the bottom of the A’s lineup that finally got to him. For those in charge of the music videos here at the WGOM, there are some real winners in that last link, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here is some analysis of whether Papelbon has been as lights out as his reputation, or whether his legend has already outgrown reality. Also out of the bullpen is the April Rookie of the Month, Hideki Okajima, and my only question about him is, what is he looking at?

The Red Sox, playing on the East Coast, are the subject of their fair share of media exposure, especially when they line up against the Yankees. Some fans tire of that circus quickly, but they still revel in any Yankees failure.

Speaking of media coverage, Manny Ramirez and his “Manny being Manny” antics are always a favorite topic. Even given all his quirks, I think this may be going a bit far. Some people have noticed that Manny may be showing signs of slowing this year, but in his last 4 games he’s 8-17 with 2 HR. For everything you wanted to know about Manny’s intangibles, here’s the scouting report.

The only position where I saw any controversy was at second base where youngster Dustin Pedroia is hitting .172/.294/.224 thus far and his backup Alex Cora has been hitting the ball well (.345/.406/.724). Many still advocate allowing Pedroia to find his stroke while playing everyday, and indeed the coaching staff says they have no intention of platooning the two second basemen.

The Twins will face Tim Wakefield, Julian Tavares, and Curt Schilling, owner of probably the most well known blog written by a current MLB player, 38 pitches. I honestly hadn’t checked it out at all before putting this together, but I did read some of the Q&A sessions which yielded some interesting nuggets. For instance the dynamic betwixt a starter and a reliever who blew a lead is the kind of thing I find fascinating. Schilling, also responded through his blog to Gary Thorne’s comments about the famous bloody sock. That was a short-lived controversy but it did raise the question, why do people love to hate Curt Schilling? (the other article that’s referred to in the previous link is here if you’re interested)

Theo Epstein was heralded as a genius when he stepped in as the GM and built a world championship team, but now people are starting to ask, “What have you done for me lately?” In Epstein’s defense, he has made some pretty good moves to build the farm system, especially developing pitching prospects. However, I thought the article had a decidedly optimistic view of the Matsuzaka bidding and signing. I’m not going to really touch on Daisuke Matsuzaka this time around, but as far as the gyroball question goes, I’ve heard from the only expert that matters, so I’m a believer.

Finally, David Ortiz has to be acknowledged as one of the best hitters in baseball, it’s no surprise that he made the Red Sox fans “all-beloved team”. Once his career is over he may just have a career in acting. If you haven’t seen the Sportscenter commercial with Ortiz and Jorge Posada, I strongly urge you to check it out. Additionally, there is this one with Brian Urlacher. Both were entertaining.

OTHER RED SOX BLOGS:
Literally hundreds, check out the blogroll at www.fenwayfanatics.com for a pretty good idea.