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Home » April 2008 Game CommentsApril 2008 » Bomb


Game 19: April 19, 2008
Rangers 3 H: Jamey Wright (3)
BS, L: Joaquin Benoit (2, 1-1)
7-11, 2 game losing streak
WinRed Sox 5 W: Javier Lopez (1-0)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (6)
12-7, 3 game winning streak
Highlights: David Ortiz’s eighth-inning single for the tie and Manny Ramirez’s 496th homer for the win was proof that the Dynamic Duo is gearing up for another spectacular season. Kyle Farnsworth was suspended three days and fined $2,000 for throwing at Ramirez’s head on April 17. The reliever is appealing the decision. The Bruins expand their appeal by defeating the Canadiens and forcing their playoff series to seven games.

With Boston’s designated hitter showing signs of life, its left fielder striding inexorably into the the 500 home run club, and a passel of young players hitting like longtime pros, it’s not the offense that is concerning about this crew.

Rather, it’s the collection of starting pitchers who aren’t able to go deep into the game that is worrisome. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been the workhorse of the group with all five of his starts lasting at least five innings and two where he nearly completed the seventh inning. Josh Beckett has also improved from four and two-third innings in his first start to eight in his start against the Yankees in the Bronx.

In the four starts prior to last night’s game Jon Lester had two that were under five innings and one that went into the seventh. Which Lester showed up last night, the one who over thinks his approach to each batter or the one who trusts his stuff?

It depends on which inning you watched and which batter he faced. David Murphy started off hot by clanking a double off the scoreboard, but then Lester sat him twice. Gerald Laird also struck out twice against the southpaw and Adam Melhuse froze on one of Lester’s fastballs in the fourth to round out the quintet of Lester’s punchouts.

Oddly enough and as Jerry Remy noted, it was lefty Josh Hamilton who knocked in the Rangers’ only longball of the night with his first-inning shot into the Monster seats. Lester’s splits show that lefties slug .517 against him compared to .384 for righties, but that is in 32 plate appearances versus 90. In comparison, Lester strikes out southpaws at a rate of 9.95 per nine innings and right-handers at 3.54. It seems that the reverse split observation is an overstatement; lefties hit for more power against Lester and one is more likely to remember when a hitter gets extra base hits against someone that he has a disadvantage against than not. Furthermore, the strikeout rates I quoted are also an exaggeration given the size of the data available.

Manny Delcarmen is taking the buccaneering thing too far: his scraggly goatee is inspiring as much fear in batters as his mid-90s fastball. Mike Timlin hurled an unnerving two-thirds of an inning in which he allowed two hits, but Javier Lopez induced a liner off the bat of Hamilton to end the eighth and secure a vulture win. Jonathan Papelbon wasn’t his strikeout self but overcame a leadoff single by Hank Blalock to tally his sixth save.

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