5 Things We Learned from Playing the Division
Week 2 of the MLB season is complete and teams are settling back in to what looks to be a great upcoming season. The Sox schedule worked out perfectly where the first 4 series we all against each team in their division. The Sox started in the Bronx where they took the Yankees 2-1, then traveled to Toronto beating the Jays 2-1, then coming home falling 2-1 to the Orioles and this past weekend swept the Rays 3-0! Leading the AL East at 8-4 the Sox already know it is going to be a much better year than 2012. The Sox now head to Cleveland for a 3 game series before coming home for 10 games. After 2 weeks of ball the Sox have seen where they have improved and where they will need to continue working over the rest of the year to again become a World Series contender. As the Sox hope to continue their streak after sweeping the Rays here are 5 things we have learned through the first 2 weeks!
1. We still have an amazing rotation
Coming off his worst season ever with 14 losses Jon Lester is already off to the best start of his career. He is 2-0 through 19 innings pitched allowing 15 hits and just 3 runs. All of Lester's starts have been amazing to watch and everything about his pitching has been golden! He has yet to allow any long bombs and has only allowed 3 walks so far. Lester has had to face 3 division rivals starting with the Yankees, then Blue Jays with a win in both then this past Saturday faced David Price and the Rays where he pitched amazing but left with no-decision. The Sox sure were nervous about Lester bouncing back but it sure looks like he has. The other comeback pitcher is number 2 starter, Clay Buchholz. This past Sunday Buchholz took the Rays into the 8th with a no hitter but finished 8 innings with 2 hits allowed picking up win number 3 on the season. Through his first 3 starts, Buchholz has a 0.41 ERA, 11 hits and just 1 earned run. Buchholz only real issue is his 10 walks through 22 innings pitched but that will hopefully improve over the next few starts.
2. Jackie Bradley Jr. is not the man we thought he was
Over the course of Spring Training all the talk was about whether or not Jackie Bradley Jr. would make the MLB 25 man roster. Well he made it! This year I went to one spring training game that Jackie played in and he hit a home run on the first pitch of the game! Seeing him that game I honestly thought this was the guy the Red Sox need to boost their offensive game. I so regret saying that now. Bradley has now played 10 games and has just 3 hits for a batting average below .100. The only advantage from this guy is his plate vision that has given him 6 walks so far. Clearly, he is not the prospect we thought he was. Maybe in a few years he will be back but for now we all know that as soon as Ortiz is back Jackie will be on the first train to Pawtucket.
3. Farrell knows how to deal with the media unlike somebody.....
I think we all know Valentine was an awful manager all together but one thing that he really could not do is deal with the press. He was just simply awkward talking to them and did not like to communicate like a real manager should. Being on the road as well a manager needs to know how to talk to the press without looking like a goof an embarrassing his team. Farrell went to back to Toronto probably knowing it would not be the most pleasant return but he had fun with it. Sitting there at the game I felt so awful for Farrell as the fans chanted Farrrrelllllll Farrrrrellllll but he had his fun and even tipped his cap off at the fans. Dealing with the pressure the Jays fans put on him Farrell was very calm with the press that weekend and even made sure he left his mark in Toronto as the series finale displayed the Sox crushing the Jays 13-0. Way to go John!
4. Bullpen: (Positive-Relievers, Negative-Closers)
Relievers: So far this season the relievers for the Sox have been doing pretty well. Other than a few mistakes versus the Orioles they have come in after the starters and continued strong outings. 1 outstanding pitcher from the bullpen is Koji Uehara who has pitched phenomenal through 5.1 with just 1 hit allowed. He is averaging 1 strike out per innings and has just one walk. When in Toronto I saw Uehara playing catch before the game with fellow Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa when all of a sudden Uehara missed the ball and it hit a kid about 10 feet away from me. Both players ran over to see if the boy was alright and luckily he was. Uehara then gave the boy the ball to keep and autographed it but then later came back and gave him his jacket. Seeing this from a professional athlete is not an everyday thing but this brought cheering from even the Jays fans. Now onto the closer, Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan has seen 6 ninth inning games and has finished just 4 of them. At 0-1 so far the closer has allowed 6 hits, 6 runs and 3 home runs. As he is currently suffering from a hamstring injury Andrew Bailey has been put into the closer spot where he faced the Rays on Monday in the 9th getting a blown save but luckily the Sox won it in the bottom of the 9th. The closer spot will be something that needs to be worked on to avoid any more 9th inning blown saves.
5. 2012 is gone. What's broken can be fixed, 162 chances to restore the faith
The Red Sox are coming off of one of their worst years in the past century but so far 2013 looks a lot brighter. They are off to their best start in over a decade and have seen all their division rivals. Like every team the Sox have a few minor things to fix but this team is back! They are not only back but they are a playoff contender this year. It is early to say that but I am willing to take the risk considering what we have seen this year so far. When I posted my 2013 AL East Predictions putting the Sox in 2nd, I was not kidding. They will battle till the end and could even win the entire division! GO SOX GO!
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