Pitching Depth, Contributions From Carl Crawford and David Ortiz Have Been Keys to Red Sox Turnaround

Pitching Depth, Contributions From Carl Crawford and David Ortiz Have Been Keys to Red Sox Turnaround It may seem like a distant memory already, but just a month ago the Red Sox were toiling at the bottom of the AL East, trying to recover from a league-worst 2-10 start to the season.

The Sox have recovered and then some in the month of May, and as the calendar turns to June, they sit tied with the Yankees for the AL East’s top spot.

So what prompted this drastic turnaround? I’ll take on that topic and more in this week’s mailbag.

What is the biggest difference for the Red Sox now in May than what we saw in April?
–Randy, Framingham, Mass.

The best answer is better starting pitching across the board. Guys are going deeper into games and the bullpen is not nearly as taxed as it was in April. The starters are staying in the game longer and having more success. What is amazing, is that two of the starters who began the season in the rotation are currently on the disabled list, and the Red Sox have been deep enough to not miss a beat with Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield stepping in and both doing very well. I also think the contributions of Carl Crawford and David Ortiz have been great. Adrian Gonzalez continues to amaze, but he was doing this back in April.

How is Curt Young settling into his position as new Red Sox pitching coach?
–Scott, Swampscott, Mass.

I think extremely well. He is an incredibly likeable guy who really has done a great job. He came in with the reputation of handling young pitching and has great credentials from his time in Oakland. He has a veteran staff who had worked well for a number of years under one guy in John Farrell. Young took a great approach of stepping back in the spring and sort of allowed guys to get ready on their own. It was an observe approach but he was there if they needed him. He got a good feel for the strengths and weaknesses of each pitcher and now, two months into the season, he is really doing a great job. I think the Red Sox were very lucky to able to get a coach of his ilk after losing Farrell.

The Red Sox ended up splitting the doubleheader with the Tigers on Sunday. They looked lifeless in Game 2. Did you observe the same?
–Carlos, Newport, R.I.

Well that’s hard to say. I think anytime you run into a pitcher as good as Justin Verlander and you can’t string together many hits, it can make anyone look “lifeless.” However, I really think it was more a product of one of the game’s best pitchers shutting down a good lineup. Also, I really think day-night doubleheaders are very hard on players and it’s always difficult to sweep them. I know the lineups are generally different for both games, but it can be a very long day for the players. I think the older version of doubleheaders, the non-separate admission deals, were easier because there was very little time in between games and just felt sort of like an extra-inning game. Now there could be three hours in between games. But again, Verlander was the overriding factor if you ask me.

Do you have a favorite booth, besides Fenway, to broadcast games from?
–Jeff, Newington, N.H.

There are so many great ones, as you might imagine in the majors. I have always been very fond of the booths in Camden Yards and Seattle’s Safeco Field. Lots of counter space, good site lines and most importantly, we are relatively close to the field, not set too far back. The new Yankee Stadium gets high marks as well and it’s much more comfortable then the old one in the Bronx. A good booth makes a big difference considering that’s where we spend the majority of our day on and off the air.

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