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Pitching, defense nowhere to be found for Red Sox

Posted by Bill Koch on April 5, 2010

boston red sox

Solid pitching? Improved defense?

Not on Opening Day (Night) for your 2010 Boston Red Sox.

Boston’s surprising display at Fenway Park is going to leave the talk radio phone lines completely jammed on Monday, as the Red Sox relied completely on their offense in a 9-7 win against the New York Yankees.

The fact that the game was a back-and-forth slugfest didn’t bother me all that much – Boston went 9-9 against New York last year, and the Yankees did win the World Series. Don’t pay attention to what you hear in Fenway’s bleachers. They don’t suck. It was the way the Red Sox failed to take advantage of their supposed strengths that leaves me feeling like my preseason worries are going to last until October.

We’ll excuse Beckett’s performance as one bad night against an outstanding New York lineup. Let’s have a look at the bullpen, which everyone swears up and down will be solid, and that new and allegedly improved defense.

— Jacoby Ellsbury, playing out of position in left field after spending his entire college and professional career in center, didn’t make it all the way back to The Wall and failed to come up with Robinson Cano’s fly ball to open the Yankees’ three-run fourth inning. Cano ended up with a double and eventually scored on Brett Gardner’s two-out single to left.

— Marco Scutaro, Boston’s newly-acquired shortstop, looked like he was rooted in cement when Derek Jeter followed Gardner’s base hit with a grounder up the middle that squirted into center field for an RBI single. Scutaro got a late break on the ball, took one step to his left and went into a half-hearted dive while Nick Swisher crossed the plate with the fourth Yankees’ run.

— Victor Martinez combined with Scutaro to help Boston get burned on a Little League play in the fourth, allowing the Yankees to execute a double steal and make it 5-1. Jeter took off from first with two outs and Gardner broke from third when Martinez fired to Scutaro in the middle of the diamond.

— Mike Cameron, the 37-year-old who displaced Ellsbury in center and became one of the oldest everyday outfielders in Major League Baseball history in the process, showed his own idea of run prevention in the third inning. He got doubled off first base when Alex Rodriguez gloved Scutaro’s broken-bat liner, keeping the top of the Red Sox order from taking its chance to cut into New York’s early lead with runners on base.

— Boston’s bullpen couldn’t hold the Yankees down while the Red Sox were staging their comeback from a 5-1 deficit. Ramon Ramirez has refused to get batters out from about the midpoint of last season, and that continued on Sunday. He blew up in the seventh in a 5-5 game, walking Mark Teixeira and giving up a double to Rodriguez. Ramirez looked just as bad as he did in his only appearance against Anaheim during last year’s ALDS sweep – he faced three batters in Game 1 and didn’t retire any of them. The usually reliable Hideki Okajima was no better, failing to clean up Ramirez’s mess by allowing both inherited runners to score.

All of these cracks will be treated with a thick sheet of wallpaper on Monday thanks to Boston’s surprising offensive outburst, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still exist. The Red Sox have a long way to go to convince me that their paradigm shift is going to work and that this season is going to be any more successful than 2009.


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