Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pining for Neshek

Red Sox 1, Twins 0
Red Sox 6, Twins 5

I haven't been sleeping so much the last few days, but we're hoping for better tonight, so I'll be brief.

My folks were in town from Stillwater for the birth of the baby, so I put the game on for them Monday night on MLB.TV. A very good game, just as tough to lose as the Sabathia game last month. However, I really felt like the guys swung the bats well enough to beat Matsuzaka. With 2 outs in the 6th inning, Justin Morneau began a 10-batter stretch that went like this: double off the wall in CF, liner to RF, HBP (I felt bad that Delmon didn't get credit for a walk - it was a 3-1 pitch that hit him, and I was so impressed that he came up there taking!), liner to first, triple off the wall in RF, liner to third, diving catch in LF, bunt single, single, walk. Had the Red Sox defenders been positioned just a tiny bit differently, that could have been another big crooked number.

I was surprised to see Brian Bass out there to start the 8th. I know he's been very effective recently, but he's still no better than the 6th-best guy in the 'pen. Tie game late at Fenway, I'd want them to beat our best guy.

Tuesday night looked to be well in hand, but ended very similarly to the loss to the Tigers last week. At 85 pitches, they certainly could have stuck with Nick Blackburn a bit longer, but I understand Gardy wanting to trust his bullpen the way they've pitched over the last several weeks. Unfortunately, Matt Guerrier got knocked around pretty good (although the hit by Dustin Pedroia was ri-freakin'-diculous - that ball was about ankle high, 6 inches off the plate. When you're hot...), and the Twins were done in by an 8th inning rally for the second straight night.

I haven't had a lot of reason to miss Pat Neshek lately, but I certainly have the last 2 nights. I wish Jesse Crain would step up and take over that role - I've never quite been convinced that Guerrier was suited for it. If neither one of them can consistently hold leads in the 8th, the Twins might think about trading for a dominant setup man as the trade deadline approaches.

Denard Span continues to impress, having fantastic ABs vs. LHP as well as RHP, and now he's even starting to make highlight-reel catches every night. Did you see how quickly he got to Pedroia's single to right-center in the 8th, turning his hips toward the plate and falling down with the effort he put behind the throw? Zzzzzip! Right to the cutoff man, and the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury was held at 3rd. There's no way Span's going back to Rochester.

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