Jason Bay and Jed Lowrie may be new to a Boston uniform, but they’ve proven unbelievably crucial to the Red Sox season.
Jed Lowrie, despite his .258/.339 line on the season has proven himself more than capable of being the Red Sox’s longterm shortstop. In 260 at-bats, he had 46 RBI. Compare that to Julio Lugo and his 261 at-bats for the Sox this year where he netted 22 RBI. Ouch. How much joy do you think Lowrie derived to go from starting the year in the minors to delivering the ALDS-clinching RBI?
Jason Bay, in the playoff hunt for the first time, may not have made Sox fans forget about Manny and his quirkiness, but he did produce Manny-like at-bats for the Sox (not the Dodger Manny, the discontented-Manny, but we can only compare Bay to the Manny of Boston because that’s what we were getting) and has played a significant role for these Sox in the playoffs. How much joy do you think he derived from scoring the winning run to make it past the first round of the playoffs?
The comments in the game thread also excoriate Justin Masterson and the Fire Brand T-shirt sales took a hit in the process, but he also played a crucial role in the ALDS victory.
We’ve seen a lot of the Angels in the playoffs these past years, and although I’m thrilled for advancing, I can’t help but feel melancholy for the Angels. After all, any Red Sox fan can identify with failure, right? (Well, unless you were born in 2004 or future years past that.) So for the Angels… Vladimir Guerrero went a long way towards exorcising his playoff demons, Torii Hunter showed why the Angels went after him to replace Gary Matthews Jr. and Mike Napoli came up big in a do-or-die game for the Angels. John Lackey, Ervin Saunders and Joe Saunders proved that they should be feared across the league and Mark Teixeira can flat out play.
Onto Tampa…
Now we head to Tampa Bay, where we attempt to destroy the upstart Rays’ Cinderella season. It won’t be an easy task; they’re the division champions for a reason and give opposing teams a lot of trouble in their home park. What should the rotation be?
Who knows what Tito and Theo come up with, but it should be Dice-K, Lester, Beckett and Wakefield. This ensures that Beckett and Lester line up for Games 6 and 7 as needed and keeps everyone on the normal rotation.
Of course, this means that Wakefield wouldn’t start in the dome, but I’m not comfortable moving Lester and Beckett from the 2/3 slot, so if we were to move Wake, it would necessitate him kicking the series off, and I’m not comfortable with him doing that after having been off for so long.
Mike Lowell can’t play in the ALCS due to being removed from the ALDS roster prior to last night. Gil Velazquez is likely to remain as the backup but shouldn’t come close to sniffing an at-bat. Youkilis will probably shuttle between first and third in the ALCS, with Alex Cora and Mark Kotsay picking up the bulk of the time.
Speaking of Kotsay…
What’s with the infatuation of him over Sean Casey? I’m not begrudging Kotsay his due as he is a good fielder and brings a solid bat, but what exactly happened to have the team start playing him over Casey who has done nothing but hit the entire year? So what if he can’t hit a homer? He gets hits, period. Kotsay may be more athletic and have more power potential, but Casey is far more proven this year.
That said, does Casey make that athletic catch Kotsay made in the late innings last night? I say no.
I hate making predictions because they almost always make everyone look silly, but it’s fun to debate. Sox in 6.