Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pedroia's Bat Leads Sox to Another Win

Sports Illustrated

Red Sox 13 Royals 9
Winning Pitcher: Alfredo Aceves (6-1)
Losing Pitcher: Nate Adcock (1-1)

The Red Sox couldn't get the pitching they needed, but Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz handled the bat and led the team to a big 13-9 lead on Tuesday night. Pedroia started his night off early, in his first at bat, hitting a first inning triple to deep center field to extend his hit streak to a career long 23 games. The 23rd game tied Pedroia's streak with the longest streak ever by a Red Sox second baseman. The way he's hitting the ball, there's no predicting how long it can last. Pedroia ended up scoring after Ortiz rocked a double, which tied the game at two. In the third inning, the two headed monster of Pedey and Ortiz continued to rake. First, Pedroia hit a double off the wall in left to score Marco Scutaro and move Adrian Gonzalez to third. Then, Ortiz, the next batter, hit a double to straightaway center, scoring both Gonzalez and Pedroia. The two came back up in the 5th inning, hitting back-to-back singles and scoring two more runs. In the bottom of the eighth, Pedroia came to the plate just a home run shy of the cycle. With Royals' outfielder Mitch Maier (between the 14 inning affair Monday night, and the offensive explosing Tuesday night, the Royals were rapidly running out of arms.) on the mound, Pedroia hit a deep fly ball out to left, but it fell just short and was caught for the out. The second baseman and MVP candidate finished the game 4-5 with 3 runs and an RBI, to go along with seven total bases. He was hitting from the cleanup spot, a place where he typically hits the cover off the ball. In his career, when hitting from the fourth spot of the lineup, Pedroia has a triple slash line of .517/.531/1.069. Of course, it is only 32 plate appearances, and he will obviously come down to earth at some point. However, with the team being cautious with Kevin Youkilis, expect Pedroia back in the cleanup spot on Wednesday. 
It wasn't all good news for the Red Sox in the win, though. Andrew Miller struggled yet again, this time against a lineup that is not all that imposing. Predictably, the major problem for the young left-hander was location. Miller got off to a rough start, allowing two runs in the first inning, and two more in the second. According to Pitch FX, his offspeed pitches just weren't working. He threw both his slider and his changeup 15 times during the game, but was able to get them for strikes just 6 times for each pitch. That is a 40% strike rate on his off speed stuff. His fastball also wasn't great. Although he maxed out at 95 MPH, he was typically living at 91-92, without a ton of movement on his pitches. Because of this, he only created five swings-and-misses in his appearance. In the end, he was lit up for 7 runs (5 earned) in 3.2 innings, on nine hits, two walks and a strikeout. The lack of walks was a positive for Miller, as it was only the third time this year he has doled out less than three walks. However, when you remember he was only in for 3.2 innings, and the fact that it was the first start all year he has given up multiple homers, Andrew Miller left the park without many positives going through his mind.

Quick Hits
  • Alfredo Aceves has been an invaluable member of this ballclub, and he once again showed why on Tuesday night. He earned the win after coming in for Miller and throwing 3.1 scoreless innings. He has been wonderful at coming in for struggling pitchers, and holding the opponent's offense for long enough for the Boston offense to take control of the game. The Red Sox would not have seamlessly dealt with the pitching injuries without the help of Aceves.
  • Jason Varitek hit a solo homer in the 7th. He has been one of the more pleasant surprises for me this year. He has an OPS .733 and six home runs in 2011. While those numbers don't jump off the page, consider that he is the back-up at one of the weakest hitting positions in the game. I expected 'Tek to fall off a cliff this season, but he has been very respectable when he's been in the game this year.
  • Franklin Morales came on in the ninth and gave up two runs. He has been extremely shaky this year, and especially as of late. Tomorrow, I will post a piece on the trade deadline, and he is part of the reason I believe the team could use a lefty reliever. He and Randy Williams are not cutting it at the moment.

The Red Sox and Royals continue their four game series Wednesday night at 7:10 PM ET. Boston will send John Lackey (8-8 6.28) to the mound against Kansas City's Bruce Chen (5-3 3.30).   

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