It is interesting how, in many ways, the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles are complete opposites.
Just this year, many examples have come to my attention:
-While our regular starting catcher (V-Tek) is an old vet, Baltimore’s is (as of recently) a young prospect (Wieters)
-4 of the 6 infielders on their roster were born before 1979, while 4 out of our 6 were born in or after ’79
(Don’t worry, they’re not all about age)
-We are in 1st and they are in last in the AL East, and it has been that way for a while
-Their closer (Sherrill) has taken 5 years to become as reliable as he is this season, whereas ours (Papelbon) took 4 years only to already pass the Red Sox all time saves list, and was a star immediately upon entering the league
Okay, those aren’t actually that many examples; I’m sure you can find more if you look harder.
As of yesterday, there is a puzzling new one to add to the list. The Orioles, who are currently playing the Mariners, are up 2-0 in the 3 game series, whereas the Red Sox were 0-2 in the first 2 games of our Mariners series last week. I don’t have enough time right now to discuss why this has happened the way it has, but I welcome anyone to post their ideas about this new “opposite example” involving the O’s and the Sox.
Yesterday in my blog I complained about the Red Sox’ inability to win games when they’re on the line as of late. Takashi Saito wasn’t able to hold our opponents in 2 recent games, and we paid for it.
Today, thankfully, my call was answered with a huge win for the Sox, and the score was close again in the 7th. It was 4-3 Mariners, as they had gotten a huge boost in the 4th when Ronny Cedeno hit a bases clearing triple off Jon Lester. Lester called upon his strength and grit today, throwing 122 pitches in 6.2 innings, 82 of them for strikes. Aside from the 3rd, Lester pitched strongly, and the 3 runs allowed in that inning were unearned.
Trailing by one, the Red Sox faced Miguel Batista in the bottom of the 7th. With 2 out and men on 1st and 2nd, David Ortiz came up to bat. He had already homered in the 1st inning, and was looking to tie the game up. He rapped a single to right, and just like that we had tied the game.
You can imagine my joy that we hadn’t blown it in the late innings, instead we had come back. That’s right, we didn’t surrender a huge lead or end up losing a tie game in the 9th. We came back in the 7th, and ended up absolutely putting the game away, scoring 5 runs in that inning.
It was a well deserved and rejuvenating (did I spell that right?) win for Red Sox Nation and for the team. I felt like my prayer had been answered.
But then the gifts just kept on pouring in. First, it struck me that Big Papi had gone 2-4, and most importantly, he had batted in the tying run that sparked the huge 2 out rally in the 7th. That’s just the kind of game a guy needs to get back on track.
Second of all, I found out that Tim Wakefield had made the AL All Star team for the first time in his career. Wake has been a well loved and very dedicated player on the Red Sox for most of his career, and this was the perfect way to top off a great first half (of a season that will most likely be one of his last). He totally deserved it, and just seeing Wakefield’s name on there made the 5 other Red Sox names on the All Star team all the more worth it.
Thanks for reading.
He said it first:
“It’s not easy being green.” Kermit the Frog sure thought so, but is it really so true? Watching this guy, though, it doesn’t seem so true.
He makes it look easy being Green. Nick Green, that is. After his walkoff homerun (he’s watching it sail out in the picture above) today gave us the win against the Braves, I began to realize that he’s making quite the name for himself here in Boston. But how did all of this really start, and why?
Being a fantasy baseball owner, I went straight to the stats. Us fantasy owners are used to staring at numbers all day, in fact a huge column of numbers under a strange stat like “BsR” (base runs), has ceased to intimidate me the way it used too. I guess it’s one of the few benefits of wasting your life worrying about how many hits Nolan Reimold got today. Anyways, by looking at Green’s stats I found, as expected, that he’s been on a quite a tear recently. In the past 10 days he’s batting a nice .343 with 2 homers and six RBIs. His season average is now a very respectable .293. But how? and especially, why now?
A week ago on June 14, Nick Green got subbed in for Pedroia, who was in the middle of a huge 4-36 slump. This year, Lugo, our only other main shortstop since Lowrie has been on the DL, had gotten almost 20 less starts than Green. So with all the opportunity, Green has been producing all year long. He looks like the man who will earn the starting shortstop spot for about 66-75% of the time until Lowrie returns (he’s currently playing in Pawtucket and still recovering from a wrist injury).
So we know that this guy has some real talent and is putting it to great use for us so far. He’s the main man to go to for the shortstop position and his seasonal stats don’t entirely reflect his stats in certain hot periods (maybe he’s sort of streaky, but whatever). However, the underlying question still remains: why is Nick Green, who didn’t get a single big league at bat last year and went 0-7 the entire year in ’07, and batted .184 the whole season with Tampa Bay in ’06 suddenly playing so well for us this year. I’ll need a little help from you sabermetricians out there on this one, but I have a few theories.
1. The opportunity this year is great for Green. Last year Lowrie became the star and earned his starting spot at shortstop for this year. However, he had barely played for a school week this year before he was placed on the DL. Green was thrust in to the picture by being called up from AAA on April 14. He’s already played in 52 games this year, more than many so-called utility players like he was supposed to be. So an opportunity this great would give anyone the chance to shine. Maybe Green just capitilized on it better than others.
2. He’s doing better in certain situations (the type of stats usually filed under “splits”). In 2006, the last year he had regular major league at bats, he batted .200 against right handed pitchers and .150 vs. lefties, a number that has turned into .273 this year. So he’s still not great against lefties, but he has really improved in those departments.
3. He’s also changed in the way he hits the ball (where and how, or ground/fly stats). This year he’s hitting 42.8% on the fly and 32.1% on the ground, while striking out 22% of the time. I have yet to find those stats for ’06, when I do I’ll be sure to notify anyone who’s interested. Either way, if there are any differences in those from this year and ’06, maybe it means he’s tinkered with his swing or is trying different things that have turned out to work well.
Those are my theories, maybe they have a little truth to them!
Either way, so far a little Green has gone a long way for the Sox. Keep it up Nick!
-Thanks to espn.com and redsoxstats.com for the stats used in this entry…