If you’re looking for a Red Sox/Yankees fix you’ve come to the right place. First off, you could start by reading the preview posted earlier for the series. If you had read it, you shouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Hideki Okajima protecting a 1 run lead in the 9th. But I know you probably didn’t come here for previews so I won’t keep you waiting. Here’s your post game.
-The first thing that I’d like to address is the clutch hit by Coco Crisp, which really put the Red Sox in position to win the game. Over his last 2 games Crisp has gone 4-for-8 playing a large part in both late come from behind victories. Not only that but he was merely inches (watch the replay if you haven’t already) from robbing Alex Rodriguez of a 3-run home run as he threw his body over the bullpen wall. Believe me, if disliked is poor display of playing ability just as much as anyone of the last year or so but it’s way to early to count him out for this season. Given his heroics, I also think it’s only fair to give him the benefit of the doubt for the next few weeks at least. Remember, we want him to succeed. The Red Sox will be a much better team if he does.
– Second of all, another hero of the game, Hideki Okajima deserves quite a bit of credit. I gave a shout-out to him this Wednesday, which he truly earned with some impressive pitching. Tonight he was thrown right into the gauntlet and he emerged with the respect of his entire team. Ortiz even had a special handshake ready for him which involved bowing at the end of the game. Okajima continues to build on what has been a sparkling begin to his major league career. Okajima has allowed only 2 hits and 2 walks in 7.2 innings of work while striking out 9. He hasn’t allowed a run since the first batter he’s faced in the majors, which is good for a 1.17 ERA. The acquisition of him by the Red Sox could turn out to be one of the best moves of the offseason.
– I think that Francona’s management of the bullpen deserves some criticism. Francona nearly cost the Red Sox the game tonight when he put Romero in to face Alex Rodriguez. The move cost the Red Sox a run as A-Rod who quickly got a double then came around to score. Yesterday, Francona made a similarly bad move by bringing in Romero to face mostly righties. I don’t think Francona understand that Romero is a LOOGIE and is actually rather bad against righties. In 2006, Romero kept lefties to a batting average of .202 and an ERA in the 2’s. On the other hand, Romero allowed righties a batting average of .382 while they scored an embarrassing amount of runs off him. To give you an idea of how badly Francona has misused Romero this season, Romero has an ERA over 5 even though he’s kept lefties to a WHIP around 0.50 and a batting average against that’s below the Mendoza line. I can understand if Francona doesn’t watch a pitcher that he can only use for one or two batters but if that’s the case then the Red Sox should call someone up for him to use. If he can’t use Romero correctly, he’d be better off not using him at all.
– Although I’ve never entertained the idea in a prior season, I think at age 37 the idea of Mariano’s age finally catching up to him may bear some entertaining. The numbers look bad. Rivera has a 8.44 ERA with 6 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He’s also failed in his two attempts at saves. Rivera’s problem has been his locations. Rivera’s good because he can locate, there’s no other way you can be so successful throwing the same pitch so much. Sure, Rivera hasn’t gotten steady work but that’s no excuse. There have been plenty of times that Rivera hasn’t gotten steady work and he still managed to get the job done. Closers need to be able to execute regardless of the situation. Papelbon hadn’t gotten steady work prior to his save on Wednesday but even without his best location he was able to get the job done and strike out the side in the process. I’m not making any conclusions here. I’ll believe it when I see it, but it is an idea that at least deserves some thought.
– Forgive me if I wasn’t a believer until Alex Rodriguez did it in a game that mattered. I wonder why that may have been… Anyways, I’m now convinced. I said this around his fifth home run and I’m now I’m hearing it everywhere, but I can’t ever remember seeing a Yankees hitter swing the bat like this. He now has 12 home runs and twice as many RBI’s as the 15 games he’s played in.