6-25-2010: Sox weather rocky series,

After coming into Colorado on a torrid streak of dominating Inter-League opponents, the Red Sox dropped two of three to the Troy Tulowitski-less Rockies this week. Tampa Bay continues to fizzle, but we need the Yankees to stay slow if we want to catch up.

Game 1: Jon Lester was good again, but the Sox just couldn’t get anything going versus Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin is a young talent, and he did a good job keeping the ball low and away from right-handed hitters, especially. We wasted a couple of bases loaded opportunities in this one… Dustin Pedroia made a nice play on that ball that took a bad hop on Kevin Youkilis, but that’s no rarity. He also backed up that bad throw in the 2nd on the swinging bunt nicely. I see him in the right position all the time, just the way you’re supposed to play… I don’t know why the injured Mike Cameron was trying to steal 2nd in the top of the 3rd; that must have been a botched hit and run or something, right? Normally I don’t complain about a strikeout for one of our pitchers, but that punchout in the 8th was clearly on a ball way outside. Hideki Okajima got lucky.

Game 2: Closer Jonathan Papelbon had a meltdown of historic proportions (again), blowing a 3-run lead on two HRs by Ryan Spilborghs and Jason Giambi in the bottom of the 9th. It was only his 2nd blown save of the year, but the problem was the way in which it happened. Papelbon blamed it on a “flat” flastball- hey, that’s exactly what he said after he blew his first save against the Yankees, another late-inning two-HR debacle of an outing… John Lackey continues his string of lackluster starts; if something’s not wrong physically, does he maybe have fat cat syndrome? Daniel Nava collected 3 hits and 3 RBI against Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez on a night where we needed someone to kickstart the offense. He’s quickly convincing me that he could stick as a 4th outfielder for us.

Game 3: What kind of player is Pedroia? He’s the kind who cares deeply about winning and can seemingly will his team to win at times. His 5-5, 3-HR, 5 RBI performance was the best hitting performance of his career, and it saved Papelbon’s tail, who blew his second straight save in as many nights. And don’t think this puts Pedey in the power hitter category, because he just doesn’t hit them like those guysBoth bullpens were horrible last night, reemphasizing our need for help out there… I keep thinking that Adrian Beltre has to come back to earth soon, but every time I say that, he goes out and gets two or three hits. Credit Theo Epstein for signing a capable player who is motivated to get a big contract next year, and the benefit we are reaping from him this season. Beltre’s numbers and overall quality of defense (despite the high number of errors) make him a legitimate All-Star candidate in my book… Josh Reddick needs to relax out there. He’s all tense about proving he can hit, and that’s making him, well, not hit.

Papelbon looked terrible in this series, and there are all kinds of theories out there on what’s wrong with the guy. J.P. Ricciardi claims that Papelbon’s fastball is “a little shorter” than it was in previous years (is he referring to movement?). It’s not the same as it was, that’s obvious. But let’s not get carried away; Daniel Bard is not ready to be a closer yet, say former closer Mitch Williams, saberist Dave Cameron and ESPN’s Rob Neyer. I think it mainly centers around Bard’s poor splits against left-handed batters, new changeup notwithstanding.

Mike Lowell was placed on the DL yesterday to activate Daisuke Matsuzaka. I doubt that his hip’s getting much worse, but I see this as kind of “taking one for the team”. This move is noble on his part, but it all but kills any trade value he had; that means Lowell will remain a Red Sox probably up to the trading deadline if not longer. I could easily see him going in a waiver-type trade after July 31st to a team needing an emergency corner infielder.

Right fielder J.D. Drew has now targeted Saturday for his return, the second game of the Giants series. His unavailability has caused us to send down Robert Manuel and keep Reddick on the roster so we can have at least have a warm body out there in the OF.

Josh Beckett’s return has been penciled in to be late July. They’ll give him a shot, and if he still can’t perform, I’m sure the Sox will evaluate the need for a starter at the trade deadline. In the meantime, the shortage of strong starters and the spent bullpen from this series makes it more likely that Michael Bowden will see some action soon, points out Peter Abraham. Bowden seems to be finally putting it together at Pawtucket after an inconsistent two months.

In honor of the player of the game yesterday, check out these prototype saber baseball cards, featuring the Laser Show himself. I’d buy one.

There was a report this week that the Red Sox were interested in recently released SS Adam Everett, but that rumor has now been debunked. I don’t really see him as a fit, especially given his declining defensive numbers in recent years.

The Batting Stance Guy is back, doing his all-strikeout team. Smirk.

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