Every week, The Lineup will take a comprehensive, numerical and often uproarious look back at the previous week of Red Sox action both on and off the diamond. We'll go one through nine, from top to bottom in the order, covering all you need to know about your favorite team.
Without further ado, let's get this party started:
Overheard after the fourth inning of Tuesday night's devastating 11-10 loss to the Orioles: ?Ugh, you mean because Tito doesn?t want Smoltz pitching after the rain stops, he won?t get through five innings and can?t earn his first win for the Red Sox even though they?re winning 10-1? That sucks!?
One hour, 11 minutes later: ?Finally! They?re taking the tarp off the infield. Looks like we?re gonna get this win tonight after all.?
17 seconds later: ?Can?t they just institute the mercy rule? With the rain delay, this game is taking forever!?
31 minutes later: ?Well, I guess it?s cool that the Orioles haven?t given up.?
45 minutes later: ?Holy crap, this game isn?t over yet?!?!?
11 seconds later: ?Holy crap, the score is 10-6?!?!?
37 minutes later: ?Holy crap, they lost 11-10? And Papelbon blew the save and gave up the winning runs??
44 seconds later: ?How come the Red Sox never come back with late-inning rallies like that??
You?d have a tough time denying that he?s looked a bit shaky of late. As Tom Caron wrote in his weekly post, Paps has already doubled last season?s walk total (17 so far in ?09 compared to eight in ?08), and his WHIP has ballooned to 1.34, the highest it's been since his rookie season of 2005, a season in which he actually started three games.
But the heat is still there. He?s one of the few pitchers in this day of watered-down talent on the mound who?s still capable of making major league hitters look like Little Leaguers.
Still there, also, are the saves. In fact, in Wednesday?s shocking comeback win over the Orioles, Papelbon became the Red Sox' all-time saves leader, passing the inimitable (thank goodness he?s inimitable, given how most of us in this area haven?t exactly forgiven him for his wild pitch in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series) Bob ?Steamer? Stanley.
Perhaps no player on the Red Sox has been more influential in the team getting out to a lead in the AL East. His 69 RBIs are tops in the AL, and his 19 homers are third-best in the Junior Circuit. But, seriously, what?s the deal with this guy in the last week? He was 0-for-15 with nine strikeouts in the series against the O?s. Overall, he?s 2-for-his-last-30 — a stirring .067 average — with 14 K?s.
But give the guy a break. Maybe he?s been studying for his citizenship exam. See, Bay, a native of Trail, British Columbia, became a U.S. citizen on Thursday. ?I figure I might as well [get my American citizenship] since [the U.S.] is where I?ll be working for probably the rest of my career,? he told WEEI.com last week. ?It?s just a natural progression.? Stirring stuff. And just in time for the Fourth of July.
It?s just a matter of time before he earns that elusive first win – and hopefully, a bunch more before season?s end. Wait, Daisuke who?
The All-Star Game
Hooray! It looks like Bay will be starting for the American League in the Midsummer Classic on July 14 in St. Louis. At last check, Kevin Youkilis, too, held a narrow lead on Mark Teixeira to start at first base, and Dustin Pedroia was locked in a nip-and-tuck battle with Ranger Ian Kinsler for the starting nod at second.
Booooo! Since the All-Star Game started meaning something in 2003 (the winning league now earns home-field advantage for the World Series), Red Sox manager Terry Francona suggested, quite rightfully, that it defeats the purpose of being a fun summer showcase. ?I don?t agree with it,? he said. ?I understand their point because they want this game to be [important and entertaining], and they?ve accomplished that. I just think you can?t do both. ? [Playing to win] took a lot of fun out of it.?
After being so close to rejoining the parent club, poor Mr. Lowrie goes and gets plunked in the back of the leg while playing for the PawSox. "He got smoked in the knee," said Francona on Wednesday, "and I think he's got some swelling up where it kind of collects." (Thanks for the keen, medical analysis, Dr. Tito.)
Now Lowrie hasn't played since last weekend, and his knee is still swollen and bruised. Wednesday, Lowrie was sent back to Boston to have his knee examined by specialist Scott Waugh. No word yet on his status, but it?s looking like the Green–Lugo project at short could be continuing for the immediate future. Speaking of which ?
Say what you want about the guy in the field. (Yes, yes, I know, he?s like one of the early-season contestants on American Idol: no range.) But despite taking a recent backseat to Nick Green?s wind-blown heroics, Lugo has hit the ball well all season long. Lugo had two hits and two runs in the comeback loss to the O?s, then followed that up Wednesday with the go-ahead single in the top of the 11th.
?When you don?t play every day, it?s hard to go out there and be sharp,? he told the Herald after the comeback win in Baltimore. ?But I try to stay as positive as I can and do my best. When I play, I?m not going to go out there and feel sorry for myself. I know what I got and what kind of player I am.?
Rumors suggest he (and at least some of his $9 million-a-year contract) may be headed elsewhere at the trade deadline, but you have to admit he?s been a serviceable (if high-priced) backup this season.
Athletes are never happy (at least outwardly) to gain ground at the expense of an injured teammate, but Bailey got the call back up to the bigs after Mike Lowell was placed on the 15-day DL because of his sore hip. Lowell is apparently doing well after a receiving a Synvisc injection on Monday and could be ready to return before the All-Star break, but Bailey appears to be making better use of this trip back up I-95.
In his first call-up this year, Bailey looked more like George Bailey, hitting a putrid .188 with just three home runs and nine RBIs in 23 games. But, voila! He had his best game of the season at the plate on Tuesday, going 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs in, ugh, you know which stinking 11-10 game I?m talking about.
OK, Teddy Ballgame?s not exactly the one responsible for the creation of HBO?s new documentary, but the greatest hitter who ever walked the face of God?s green Earth, got rave reviews for his performance (playing himself, duh) in There Goes the Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived. It premieres at 9:30 p.m. on July 15. I?ve already set my DVR.