by Mike DePilla
Friday, August 28, 2009
Well yes, it was nice to see the Sox get off the schneid and win big in Boston last night. And nobody here will complain if the Sox put up nine tallies every night and win by a minimum of four runs.
But what the Sox really have to prove is that they can win in close, hard-fought games. They need to show they can win a 3-2 game, in which fundamental baseball and not beating themselves are the keys. When a game goes to the 7th or 8th inning in question, can this Sox team pull out a W? We know they can win when they have it all going on. Can they show us they have the grit and discipline to win when they don't have it all working?
Seven more games on this road trip to find out. Tonight Mark Buehrle takes the hill opposite CC Sabathia. If history is any indication, this one won't be easy. The Sox got to Sabathia for five runs a few weeks ago at the Cell, but the big man is 15-4 in his career against the Pale Hose. Buehrle, who has tinkered with his pitch selection to try and turn his recent slump around, was hit hard by the Yankees a few weeks ago (7 runs and 12 hits in 4 innings) and is 1-6 with a 6.84 ERA in his career against the Bombers.
A disturbing sign: I've focused mostly on the Sox offensive struggles, but the relief pitching shouldn't get a free pass either. Scott Linebrink, as no surprise to anyone, has been terrible. Octavio Dotel drew criticism from the normally positive propaganda-meister Hawk Harrelson last night for relying too much on his fastball and inadequate slider. Without a curveball, which for some reason he has given up on, Hawk called Dotel effectively a "one pitch pitcher." Matt Thornton has shown the knack to give up the big hit lately as well.
Then there's this, courtesy of Jim Margalus and Sox Machine: Check out his piece on Tony "Last Rites" Pena. Good stuff, Jim.
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