Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Kids Are Alright: Red Sox Edition Starring Will Middlebrooks
The Red Sox might be onto something: the youthful energy and enthusiasm of Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish and Will Middlebrooks not to mention Felix Doubront and Jarrod Saltalamacchia is starting to carry them. Boston (36-33, 17-19 home) rallied twice to ultimately defeat Miami (33-36, 16-18 away) 6-5 tonight at sticky Fenway Park for a three-game sweep.
Don't look now but the Red Sox have won five straight and seven of their last eight games as they've tied a season-high at three games over the .500 mark.
Middlebrooks carried Boston's offense, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Down 3-0, his RBI single started the Red Sox' first rally, tied it at three with another RBI single then punctuated it with a two-run homer (his 8th of the season) to knot it at five. At this point, Kevin Youkilis might as well start looking into another career outside of baseball (only half kidding). It doesn't even matter what Boston gets in return for him, it's time to send Youk on his way out of town before the trade deadline (July 31).
The Daisuke Matsuzaka experience was in full effect as he has now started three games in 2012 without recording a win. As is his custom, he handed the Marlins three runs in the first inning then proceeded to retire 14 batters in a row. Like Youk and Josh Beckett, I wish the Red Sox could trade Dice-K but I've heard the key to trades is that other teams have to want the player in return. After 5.1 innings and 101 pitches, Matsuzaka was done. He allowed four earned runs on four hits with four strikeouts and a walk.
Carlos Zambrano also didn't factor into the decision which is fitting because he was neither good nor bad. In five innings, he allowed three earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks.
Greg Dobbs (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, stolen base) had a two-run single and Omar Infante (2 hits, 2 RBIs, stolen base) produced an RBI single in the long top of the first inning.
Middlebrooks' first RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Mike Aviles cut it to 3-2 in the fourth inning. Even though he got jammed, Middlebrooks managed to dump another RBI single to right field in the fifth to tie it at three.
Dice-K's last pitch was a spicy wasabi ball (Japan's equivalent to a meatball) to Giancarlo Stanton (2 hits, 2 runs) that made it over the Monster in about 1.5 seconds. Infante added an RBI double later in the sixth against Andrew Miller.
Middlebrooks' two-run bomb (449 feet to center) against Edward Mujica tied it at five in the eighth and Daniel Nava (2 hits) had what turned out to be the deciding run on an RBI single in the same frame.
Scott Atchison continued his incredible season with a scoreless seventh and eighth. After 22 pitches, his ERA is 1.17 with a WHIP of 0.89 and 29 strikeouts. He honestly deserves to be an All-Star if he keeps this up. Too bad he'll probably get three total votes (from his extended family).
Alfredo Aceves had a 1-2-3 ninth (haha on seven pitches!) to collect his 18th save of the season. You think Ozzie Guillen and Co. were eager to get out of here?
Interleague play ends this weekend with the Atlanta Braves (37-32, 3rd in NL East) at Fenway for three games. Jon Lester (4-4) faces Jair Jurrjens (0-2) tomorrow night (7:10 p.m., NESN), Franklin Morales (0-1) takes on Randall Delgado (4-7) Saturday night (7:15 p.m., Fox) and Clay Buchholz (8-3) opposes Mike Minor (3-5) on Sunday afternoon (1:35 p.m., NESN).
In 2012, the Red Sox are 9-3 during interleague and they've won all four series thus far. Taking at least two out of three against the Braves would be a nice cap to their dominance of the National League.