The Red Sox offense was a faucet tonight.
They started flowing like no tomorrow, nearly washing Alex Cobb out of the game before he recorded an out. Once Cobb turned the faucet off, the handle was stuck; there was one drip, a Mike Carp hit with two outs in the fifth inning.
The Red Sox almost needed to turn the faucet back on, as the Rays were setting embers that resulted in a slow-burning fire. Luckily the faucet turned back on just enough to keep the Red Sox getting burned, even though it had to be turned on twice.
Here are the four bases:
First Base: Why was the faucet stuck? Was it because they did not have a good handle of the strike zone? Well, they struck out 17 times after the first inning, making their total 540, third worst in the majors. Ironic, because they were also first in the major leagues in on-base percentage with a .352 mark. Does that mean they have figured out a way to win without making contact? Maybe, but it might lead to lineup inconsistency, which is fine for a 162-game season but troublesome in a playoff.Let’s break down that hit by pitch in the sixth inning, shall we?
Second Base: John Lackey already had two outs in the inning with the bases empty. Matt Joyce was at the plate, with Ben Zobrist on deck as the tying run. Lackey had been struggling with his fastball command all night, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia reaching left and right to prevent a wild pitch. All of a sudden Lackey loses control of a pitch and hits Joyce between the numbers. Now why on earth would Lackey, who was approaching the end of his outing, hit Joyce in a two run game? Because he hit a home run off of Lackey in the first inning? Come on Joyce; don’t be so sensitive.
Third Base: John Farrell has great problems to deal with. Tonight he elected to go with hot hitting Carp at first base and integrate Will Middlebrooks, who recently came off the disabled list, back into the lineup. What did Farrell get? Together they combined for three RBI. Next might be José Iglesias at third base, Mike Napoli at first base, and Carp in the outfield. The possibilities are endless!
Home Plate: People who did not watch the game may think that the Red Sox blowing the six-run lead was surprising. However, watching the game, the Rays were getting base runners all night. The fire was getting bigger and bigger, and eventually the wood that was on fire had to break. It finally did with the Junichi Tazawa wild pitch in the eighth inning. They also had the bases loaded with no outs against Andrew Bailey in the top of the tenth before Evan Longoria grounded into a double play. It was a matter of the Rays eventually taking opportunities presented to them that kept them in the game.
Beyond the Diamond… With Middlebrooks coming off the disabled list, Pedro Ciriaco was designated for assignment. Ciriaco is in an interesting position now. With a .216 average and a weak glove in 2013, he might fall through waivers, allowing the Red Sox to send him back down to AAA-Pawtucket. Choosing him over Iglesias was a huge gamble, bit the dice might role their way.
Minor League Scoreboard
Pawtucket Red Sox vs. Syracuse Chiefs Postponed (Rain)
Wilmington Blue Rocks 0, Salem Red Sox 9 | Box Score
W – Henry Owens (5-2), L – Sam Selman (4-5)
HR – Henry Ramos SAL (7)
Charleston RiverDogs 0, Greenville Drive 1 (7 Innings) | Box Score
W – Cody Kukuk (3-6), L – Brett Gerritse (5-4), SV – Gerardo Oliveras (1)
(Photos Courtesy of Chris O’Meara)