Links 5-7-2010: Yanks come to town, the Rays’ run, current outlook

I don’t need to add to the chorus of voices talking about how this is a must-win series for Boston, who comes in lagging 6-1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay. But this series will be a real test of this Red Sox team. Here’s a look at the matchups. Our guys have alternated between looking good and very bad this season, and the way they respond to this challenge may tell us a lot about whether they’re in it for the long haul or not.

The Red Sox need to get off on the right foot and win tonight’s game. There’s little excuse, with Josh Beckett on the mound against Philip Hughes. As Bloomberg Sports points out, you don’t need to fear Hughes’ 2.00 ERA too much.

For those of you interested in the whole Boston-New York game length thing, there are some in-depth studies here.

Speaking of unsustainable performances… Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays are unbeatable right now, but no, they won’t continue to be. Their starters can’t continue at this level, and their offense has been incredibly opportunistic in 2010. Once those things level out, they’ll be merely a very good team. Let’s just hope they’ll be merely a very good third place team.

Our offense has been about as advertised, however, the pitching and defense have been sorely lacking. Even with that, there is much to suggest that Boston is underperforming. Matt Claussen has the Sox third to last in terms of doing the little things necessary to win games. Now with J.D. Drew, Adrian Beltre and even Victor Martinez showing signs of life, the lineup may even get a little better.

Theo Epstein is pleased with the way we’ve been playing this week; who wouldn’t be? But it appears that the run prevention is actually starting to happen now, as opposed to April, when the Sox yielded an average of 5.17 runs to the opposition and their starters were 6-6 with a 4.86 ERA.

Have people been worried about John Lackey? I certainly haven’t. But in case you were, here’s a little reality check.

Daisuke Matsuzaka got off to a terrible second start, then settled down enough to give us a chance to win. Don’t expect a 2.90 ERA from him this year, but I’m still going to reserve judgment for at least another couple of starts.

Some of the Red Sox players are not taking the talk about David Ortiz very well. Lackey calls it eye-opening, while Jason Varitek used a much harsher term.

Jed Lowrie is finally over his bout with mono and has resumed baseball activities. He’ll have to show a lot to earn his way back onto the Major League club.

Saberists are working on a “clutch” stat for relievers besides saves and holds, called shutdowns and meltdowns. I think it does an immensely better job at differentiating good and bad relievers than saves and blown saves. Go see where Jonathan Papelbon falls on the list.

An interesting saber article about clutch hitting and how Big Papi slots in historically.


One Response to Links 5-7-2010: Yanks come to town, the Rays’ run, current outlook

  1. Pat says:

    The sox ranked dead last on the ‘little things’ list.

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