I do almost sort of wish tonight had been a blowout loss so that I could just chalk this up to luck or a lack of interest or whatever. But the Bruins got sorely outplayed and while it didn’t quite show on the scoreboard, it was painfully obvious on the ice. They were playing their second game in two nights of course, that’s never fun. And Tuukka Rask was strong like he always is. Good signs? But there was no offense. None, zero. That’s troubling.
It remains to be seen where the scoring is going to come from. Boston has always been a defense-first team, but someone needs to do the scoring and right now with three goals in two games it’s not quite apparent where those goals will come from. Spending almost sixty minutes in their own defensive end doesn’t help either. Fatigue? Who knows. It’s been two games. Next up are the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin on Saturday night. Tune in! Hockey is cool.
We’re back! Jarome Iginla isn’t. Neither is Johnny Boychuck. That’s life in a salary cap league folks. But most of the team is back, and so are all the young Bruins expecting a full-time shot once the cap forced some of last year’s team out. Also back are the Flyers, who we hate because they’re in the same league as us or something.
Maybe you’d expect some early-season jitters, but the Bruins looked like a fairly solid team tonight. Yes they weren’t able to add any insurance goals and blew a late lead, but they managed to hold down the Flyers’ offense throughout the night and Tuukka was there when they needed him to be. They also managed to steal away with a regulation win, which is always nice when it looks like a game is headed to overtime.
Also notable was the debut of 32 year-old rookie Bobby Robins, who has been designated-gooning it in the minors for nine seasons now. He didn’t manage to score or anything like that, but he did get in a fight. Congratulations Bobby, you’re a true Bruin. The next B’s game is tomorrow night at the same time in Detroit, so tune in.
Okay so Lester was traded over what would amount to money to a franchise that has infinite money, and Lackey was traded over, I dunno, the expectation that he’d never be as useful as a player to the team as he would be as tradebait again. We’ve got that. But the season keeps rolling on and the Red Sox had to play out the last two months of the season because of contracts and tickets already sold and stuff. So tonight they went out and continued playing in spite of the team’s diminished importance this year.
In town were the Yankees, who are trying really hard to convince their own fans that the year isn’t over for them by grabbing every scrap-heap player the team can possibly locate. One of those was ex-Sox pitcher Chris Capuano, who was released earlier in the year, and Stephen Drew, who was traded yesterday and had to jog between dressing rooms. Facing them was Anthony Ranaudo, a guy whose name I had to try hard to learn how to spell in 2010. Ranaudo was, I dunno, not bad. He walked more than he struck out and had an unfortunate habit of putting the leadoff man on base, but he got out of it and lasted six innings for a win. In a major-league debut, I’ll take it. The Red Sox offense actually looked alive tonight, although in the end that only produced four runs. Mookie Betts was back and looked good, Will Middlebrooks was back and looked shockingly like a hitter and not one of us nerds with a bat and a helmet, and Allan Craig was there too I guess.
So the Red Sox won a fun game in what has been a not-fun season thus far. Maybe some of these young players will actually pan out instead of getting sent down again. Time will only tell!
Highest WPA: Go away
Lowest WPA: nerds.
So maybe some of the less optimistic among us around here are looking forward to next year’s campaign. Sure the All-Star break hasn’t even arrived yet and the team has more than two months to catch up with the rest of the pack, but realistically that isn’t happening. So maybe you watch to see the young talent adjust to the majors and think of what will happen when they have an entire winter to prepare for a major league campaign and forget the horrific slumps that some of them are mired in. Or maybe you don’t. You don’t watch. You leave that to the rest of us.
Well, the team should be really good again next year, is what I’m saying. This is what happens when a veteran team wins a title and is slowly phased out in favor of a youth movement the next year. Tonight the Sox, the Red Sox that is, looked to win a game for the second time of this homestand and remove a few heads from Boston-area stoves. Unfortunately, Chris Sale is a pretty good pitcher and for good measure the team has been having a whole lot of difficulty scoring runs this week. So for seven and two-thirds innings everything looked bad for Carmines (the fuck is a “Carmine” anyway?). Then Robin Ventura displayed the thought processes of someone whose brain was tenderized by Nolan Ryan two decades ago and removed Sale when he got in trouble in the eighth. Or maybe he wanted to protect his young ace during what’s pretty much a lost year for the White Sox as well. I just had to get in a reference to that famous beatdown. From then on, oh boy was it ugly if you were a White Sox fan. The team’s bullpen gave the entire lead back and more in the next inning and gave the Red Sox their first win of the series when Brock Holt lined a pitch into right and Daniel Nava beat a wild throw home.
So the Red Sox won in dramatic fashion for once and have added just a little tiny bit of cheer to Fenway Park during what’s been a pretty dreary season. Christian Vasquez made his debut tonight and looked almost exactly like what you’d expect an all-glove no-bat catcher to look like, throwing a runner out at second base and seeming over matched at the plate. A. J. Pierzynski, well, are any of us going to miss him? Enjoy the NL, AJ.
Highest WPA: A.J. Pierzynski, .093 (1-1)
Lowest WPA: Brock “how could fans’ infatuation possibly end badly” Holt, -.238 (0-4, K, GIDP)
In a duel of Jakes, the Red Sox once again found themselves frustrated by Mr. Peavy – well, in this case, just his inability to motivate the lineup to get a damn hit – and probably started wondering what Mr. Arrieta would cost them when they have rotation holes to plug this winter. Arrieta, of course, doesn’t have a long history of success, but has been ridiculously good this year by any measure; Peavy has a track record as a solid guy with plenty of upside, but even putting aside context-dependent stats, he’s been a real shitbomb for 2014.
What was hoped to be a nice soft bit of the schedule to keep the division deficit shrinking did not exactly work out. Something to keep in mind when feeling good about beating the 2014 Yankees: the 2014 Yankees are not a good baseball team. They’re a game ahead of the Sox in Pythagorean record, but, well, that’s not exactly a big deal; the Red Sox are bad. Taking a series in the Bronx didn’t change that. Maybe this winter can.
Highest WPA: Probably Dustin Pedroia, .181 (3-3, BB, R, 3 RBI)
Lowest WPA: Sure as hell better be John Lackey, -.173 (5 IP, 6 H, BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 4 ER)
The offense keeps mounting threats enough that I don’t want to stay at the computer until the game is over. Good for them. If we can face Chase Whitley for another 80 games, I think this team could still get into the wildcard race.
Highest WPA: Jon Lester, .418 (8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 K, 2 BB)
Lowest WPA: Stephen Drew, -.171 (0-4, 3 K, 3 LOB, E)
In all likelihood, 2014 is a lost season. Coming into last night, the Red Sox were eight games under .500, eight games back in the division, and seven games back in the Wild Card, with eight teams ahead of them in the “chase” for the final spot. It’s gotten to the point where ardent, life-long fans have given up on the season and stopped watching, taking time only to tweet about how terrible the team is.
Jon Lester doesn’t care.
Maybe he’s just pitching for a contract; God knows he isn’t pitching here next year. Or maybe he’s just the kind of guy who sees that his team, with whom he’s won two World Series, is floundering. And coming into a nationally televised game. Against the Yankees. Who are running out *their* ace. And maybe he sees all that and says “Don’t worry, guys; I got this.”
I’d like to believe that. I have no way of knowing it, of course, but I’d like to believe it. I’d like to believe it in part because I like for my favorite baseball players to also be good guys (which is why I’m intentionally looking away every time someone puts a microphone near David Ortiz), and in part because I’d like for the Red Sox to also have seen that over the past six years and still only offered him four years and $70 million.
Yes, I did just say “only” $70 million. Taken in a vacuum, that’s ridiculous. But consider the economics of baseball, where Clayton Kershaw gets seven years and $215 million, or where Homer Bailey gets six years and $105 million. Consider that the Red Sox are owned by a multi-gazillionaire who buys newspapers and soccer teams in his spare time. To offer the best Red Sox pitcher since Pedro less money than they gave John Lackey four winters ago is insulting.
Thanks to Jon Lester (and Mike Napoli with a late homer, and Masahiro Tanaka being an “idiot”), the Red Sox are now seven games under .500. They’re seven games back in the division. They’re six games back in the Wild Card. They have seven teams ahead of them.
So, yeah, 2014 is still probably a lost season. But Jon Lester doesn’t care. He’s pretty awesome.