The Tampa Bay Rays avenged their embarrasing offensive showing yesterday by scoring six runs to avoid a second sweep in Fenway Park. Despite the loss, the Red Sox still remain dominant over their Florida division rivals, with their record now being 9-3.
Here are the four bases:
First Base: Even with the absent run support, Ryan Dempster recorded his fifth quality start in a row on Wednesday night. He lasted six innings and relinquished three earned runs, but did give up eight hits and two walks. What is unfortunate was that his effort got his eighth loss of the season. Dempster’s season earned run average is now 4.23, which is not a shock, given his 4.33 career ERA. With Buchholz on the disabled list, he now slides up a spot in the rotation in terms of importance, and this was not a bad start to begin his bigger role.
Second Base: The streak may be over, but José Iglesias getting the start today was a signal. Maybe not a signal with the light reflectors you’d see on the highway, but still bright enough to bring up an issue: is he a better option at third base than Will Middlebrooks right now? Middlebrooks might have an edge in the power department, Iglesias provides a better average and on-base ability than Middlebrooks does, not to mention stellar defense (disregarding his error on Wednesday). Maybe, for now, playing Iglesias starting at the hot corner may not be a bad thing, but only time will tell.
Third Base: Not a bad follow-up to a walk-off night. Jonny Gomes went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in, one of those RBI tying the game in the fourth inning. After a very slow start, Gomes is now hitting .321 in June. The Gomes-Carp platoon may be turned off for now, with Mike Carp playing more first base, but that is more because both are hitting so well that they are forcing themselves into the lineup. That’s something Red Sox fans have not seen for a long time.
Home Plate: Well, let’s go behind home plate. Jarrod Saltalamacchia got the start tonight, despite the fat that Ryan Lavarnway was called up with David Ross on the 7-Day Concussion List. Let’s also set aside what Saltalamacchia did at the plate for a second (1-for-4 with a run and three strikeouts). John Farrell deciding to start Salty behind the plate means that the curly-haired backstop may not be disposable after all. Ever since Lavarnway made his major league debut in 2011, Saltalamacchia’s name appeared in trade rumor after trade rumor, but the more and more he plays, the less likely he could actually depart Boston.
Beyond the Diamond… Now that the Orioles have taken two-out-of-three from the Detroit Tigers, they can no longer be considered a fluke. The inconsistency that the Red Sox show at times due to their high offensive strike out rate and high pitching walk rate won’t fly anymore. If the Red Sox want to make a serious run, they will need to be more consistent on both sides of the ball. The Orioles are nipping at their heals, and I don’t know what you do to get Orioles out of your back yard, but winning might do the trick.
(Photo Courtesy of Gail Oskin/Getty Images)