June 2009 wrap

The Red Sox had their best month of 2009 in June, going 18-8 and grabbing first place in the AL East. Inter-league play was good to us, as usual, and we finished 11-7 against the senior circuit. You would think that a 49-32 record would be pretty safe, but the Yankees are right there, and the Rays and Jays are still lurking around as well. Let’s take a quick look back and see what was good and bad this month:

The offense scored 138 runs in 26 games (4th in the AL), averaging 5.31 runs/game. Even though the bats of Jason Bay, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis withered, the offense was buoyed by the resurgence of David Ortiz (.320/.409/.653), Jacoby Ellsbury (.313/.391/.488) and J.D. Drew (.292/.433/.528). Almost overnight, the “Big” has returned to Big Papi, and he’s looking confident at the plate once more. He’s cut down on the strikeouts, and is making pitchers throw it in the zone more. His anticipation is there, and he’s no longer woefully behind fastballs. Those must be some amazing eye drops! Ellsbury has flourished since being dropped to 7th and 8th in the order, and is making pitchers throw to him. By laying off the low and inside breaking stuff, he’s drawing walks at a 10.1% rate again and sparking this offense with a strong OBP and 12 steals (he wasn’t caught once the whole month). Drew always seems to step up when we need him, and he doesn’t get enough credit for that. He’s hit all over Francona’s lineup card, and he’s done a good job getting on and driving the ball.

As good as the offense was, the starting pitching and defense really stepped it up this month. Boston allowed just 96 runs for the month, or 3.69 runs/game. The staff boasted a 3.44 ERA which was 4th best in the AL, and also the best K/BB ratio in the AL by a good margin at 2.91. As a team, we also allowed the fewest HR in June with just 19 hit by opponents. Boston’s starters were tops with a 3.27 ERA for the month, throwing 3 complete games and allowing a measly 11 HR to other teams in 26 starts. They were tops in strikeouts with 134 and walked just 35 men, the best in the AL. Josh Beckett (4-1, 1.51 ERA, 1.94 FIP) and Jon Lester (3-1, 1.85 ERA, 1.98 FIP) led the charge, but Brad Penny (1-2, 3.18 ERA, 4.20 FIP) and Tim Wakefield (4-0, 3.85 ERA, 3.16 FIP) did their part as well. Justin Masterson (4.38 ERA, 2.87 FIP) was dominant when he pitched this month, racking up 10.95 K/9 (tops on the team) and walking just 2.92 men per nine. He appears to be improving on a staff that’s already overflowing with good pitching.

The bullpen pitched well for the most part, finishing with a 3.82 ERA for the month, but there were a couple of embarrassing nights in there (ahem, 9 run lead over the Orioles, anyone?) which hurt their overall numbers. Even so, they still control the game better than any other bullpen in baseball. Jonathan Papelbon (6 saves, 0.75 ERA, 4.12 FIP) and Daniel Bard (1 save, 5.40 ERA, 3.44 FIP) may be two of the toughest relievers to face late in any game.

As for the fielding aspect of the game, UZR credits Pedroia (now +5.0 runs for the year) and Drew (+5.0 runs) for outstanding months, as well as Nick Green (+3.3 runs), who’s showing greatly improved range in the hole, and Youkilis (+3.1 runs). Mike Lowell (-8.0 runs), Bay (-7.8 runs) and Ellsbury (-6.4 runs) have hurt the team. The overall improved glovework is a big reason for this team’s excellent June.


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