Opening Series Win: Red Sox vs. Yankees – A Sign Of Things To Come For Boston?
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By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Redsox Correspondent): Follow @ryandana1
I dare you to find a more exciting way to start a season than facing your bitter rivals? Taking 2 of 3 games from them on their field is even better. The start to the 2013 Boston Red Sox season has been good all things considered; much better than the starts to their past 2 seasons.
They spent the start of 2012 getting swept by the Tigers in 3 games, then losing 2 of 3 to the Blue Jays (This was before the Blue Jays had talent on their roster). The year prior, in 2011, the Red Sox came in with high expectations only to start the season 0-6 with series sweeps at the hands of the Rangers and Indians.
To take a quote from rap legend turned sports agent, (hint: he just stole Robinson Cano away from Scott Boras, uh-oh) “moral victories is for Minor League coaches.” Yes that would be Jay-Z.
In the Major Leagues it is all about where you stand in your division. After the 1st series of play for Major League teams the Red Sox were tied with Baltimore atop the AL East. I know I’m getting carried away; it is after all, only 3 games into the season, (Now a little bit further). In the end a win is a win, and a loss is a loss.
However, I want to look at how the Red Sox won (and lost). I want to do this because I think it sheds light on what they are poised to do in 2013.
Red Sox vs. Yankees Opening Day Recap:
I must admit I didn’t get to catch all of the 1st game (decided to be a good student and go to class), but I saw all of games 2 and 3 in the series. I did see highlights of game 1 as well.
I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me, for better or worse, was the aggressiveness the Red Sox played with. It seems the new mentality the organization was trying to inject into their ball club this offseason is working so far.
There were a couple plays in particular that really attest to this point, both by newcomers. Jonny Gomes scoring from 2nd on an infield grounder in the 9th inning when the game was already in hand during the 1st game was one of them. The other was in the 3rd game when Shane Victorino tried to score from 2nd on a wild pitch, but just barely got beat to the plate.
This is the type of heads up, aggressive play that will give life to a team. If it wasn’t already clear, this is not your 2011 or 2012 Red Sox.
As my previous examples sort of allude to, the Red Sox have added some speed to a lineup that has slowly upgraded their ability to run over the past decade. Something else they have added to and sort of redefined is their pitching.
I think everyone is expecting a bounce back year from John Lester and Clay Buchholz in 2013. There is a new skipper in town, John Farrell, who had success as Lester and Buchholz pitching coach from 2007-2010. There is also a new pitching coach Juan Nieves. So far, so good with the 2 righties that lead the Red Sox pitching staff.
Lester was the Opening Day starter, and did a good job outperforming CC Sabathia over the 5 IP they each went. Lester let up 5 Hits, 2 ER, and 2 BB, while Striking Out 7.
Nothing too spectacular, but for his 1st start of the season coming off a miserable 2012, it was plenty. Buchholz was even more impressive going 7 IP allowing 6 Hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, and Striking Out 4. His only blemish was a Solo HR to Travis Hafner.
In the 3rd game of the series, offseason acquisition Ryan Dempster got the start. He went 5 IP giving up 5 Hits, 3 ER, 4 BB, and Struck Out 8. Dempster ended up picking up the Loss, but he could have just as easily seen a Win if it weren’t for a few slight mistakes and a very good performance by opposing starter Andy Pettitte.
Dempster’s biggest problem was running up his pitch count (101 through 5 IP). Over 5 IP 4 BB is a lot, but he showed the ability to miss bats with his 8 Ks. He really made 3 big mistakes which led to 3 extra base hits out of the 5 hits he gave up. (1 was a HR to Brett Gardner).
Some people are worried that Dempster won’t hold up in the AL East since he struggled with the Rangers in the AL West to end 2012. He definitely won’t put up the kind of numbers he did with the Cubs in the senior circuit, but trust me, it won’t be as bad as it was with the Rangers either.
The Bullpen worked to near perfection in the 4 IP in game 1. Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa, and Joel Hanrahan combined for a shutout over the final 4 frames with the only hit being allowed by Tazawa.
In game 2 Miller and Alfredo Aceves combined to let up 3 ER in 1 IP which is no good, but Hanrahan continued success picking up his 1st Save for the Red Sox.
In the 3rd game Tazawa put up another good IP, and Clay Mortensen pitched well in 2 Innings other than the HR he let up to Francisco Cervelli. The Bullpen looked solid for the most part, and still has plenty of depth in the Minors and on the DL if it falters.
The impression I get from the pitching is that it is a work in progress, but it shows promise. It’s hard to gauge from the small sample size, but I like what I’ve seen from the starters overall, and Hanrahan has looked as good as advertised, if not better so far.
This may be a weaker Yankees lineup than we are used to seeing, but that doesn’t negate what happened on the field. It’s funny, and I can’t remember who said this, but someone said they would be a lot more scared of the Yankees lineup if it was 2004.
Now for my impression of the Red Sox lineup through the 1st series. Well, the Yankees had their top 3 pitchers (maybe minus Phil Hughes) start, so no excuse making can be made here.
The Red Sox got to CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, but did not fare so well against Andy Pettitte. They also put up some runs off a mediocre Yankees bullpen.
I again liked what I saw overall. Keep in mind this is minus David Ortiz who could start extended Spring Training Games on Monday, and without Stephen Drew who could rejoin the Major League club on Monday.
Care to guess who had the highest Batting Average during the Yankees series? Try Jose Iglesias the number 9 hitter – with an average of .583. In total they were hitting .315 through 3 games which is incredibly good, but obviously will never hold up over a full season.
Victorino, Gomes, and David Ross all got off to good starts, while the other new addition to the lineup Mike Napoli is taking a little bit longer to heat up. (He did take Josh Johnson deep in the 1st game vs. the Blue Jays though). Jackie Bradley Jr has had a solid start to his Big League career batting only .200 through 3 games, but getting on base and recording and RBI in each of them.
The returning pieces to the lineup have also played fairly well. Dustin Pedroia has looked good so far, and Jacoby Ellsbury did too in the 1st and 2nd game. Jarrod Saltalamacchia got off to a good start going 3-7 in the first 2 games.
Will Middlebrooks went hitless in the games 1 and 2, hitting the ball hard a couple of times in game 2, and then picking up a pair of hits in game 3. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic of the lineup changes when David Ortiz comes back, but right now I think it looks quite capable of producing runs.
It is actually a pretty versatile lineup. It has a solid mix of Righties and Lefties with some power, and some on base skills. I think this Yankees series has shown me the Red Sox could be getting back to their old “dirt dog” days, which would be fantastic in my eyes.
I felt I had to write a little something about the Red Sox vs. Yankees series since they don’t play again until the Red Sox head back to the Bronx on May 31st. Don’t miss next week’s article tough, I’ve been wanting to write on the topic for a while now. One final thought for the week, who misses Bobby Valentine?
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
A big thank-you goes out to our baseball writer Ryan Dana for preparing today’s featured article. Ryan is junior studying physical education with a concentration in coaching at Bridgewater State University. He has been playing baseball since he was 7 and coaching since he was 14. Ryan wants to be a college baseball coach once he graduates. Ryan is, and always will be, a diehard Boston Red Sox fan. Secondary to baseball, he is a big health and fitness enthusiast. You can find Ryan on Twitter . Follow @ryandana1.
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Posted on April 7, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @ryandana1 on twitter, alfredo aceves, andrew bailey, andrew miller, andy pettitte, brett gardner, cc sabathia, clay buchholz, clayton mortensen, david ortiz, david ross, dustin pedroia, francisco cervelli, hiroki kuroda, ichiro suzuki, Jackie Bradley Jr., jacoby ellsbury, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jay-Z, joel hanrahan, john farrell, john lester, jonny gomes, Jose Iglesias, josh johnson, juan nieves, junichi tazawa, kevin youkilis, koji uehara, lyle overbay, mike napoli, opening day, phil hughes, red sox, robinson cano, ryan dana, ryan dempster, shane victorino, stephen drew, travis hafner, vernon wells, will middlebrooks, yankees. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Opening Series Win: Red Sox vs. Yankees – A Sign Of Things To Come For Boston?.