Saturday, August 26, 2006

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Okay, we got some catching up to do. After extending their losing streak to six games Tuesday night in the opener against Anaheim, the Sox won nailbiters against the Angels on Wednesday and Thursday, with the latter victory coming against Jered Weaver (left), who's gonna be a good one. It was nice to see a glimpse of the team that - in the immortal words of Dan Duquette - has spent more days in first place than the Yankees, even if that glimpse was a short one. Last night, they suffered the ignominy of getting shut out by the train-wreck Seattle Mariners, who beat the Sox 6-0 behind rookie starter Jake Woods.

So, as of this writing, the Sox remain 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the division, and are now 4 1/2 games behind the new AL Wild Card leader, those pesky Minnesota Twins.

Some miscellaneous notes from the last couple of days:

* Manny has been in and out of the lineup, which obviously hasn't helped the offense. Since they lost to the Yanks 8-5 last Sunday night, the Red Sox have scored 11 runs in five games. Manny played LF Thursday against the Angels, but had to come out after he was slow getting to a single (insert wisecrack). Hopefully, he's back in there tonight. The Globe today speculates that when/if he does return, he may have to DH. That would move Big Papi to first, which would not be good for our infield D. (Of course, we're not paying attention to this squad since we officially ruled them out of the race earlier this week, so none of this matters.)

* The oft-maligned Josh Beckett rose to the occasion on Thursday night against Weaver, matching the rookie phenom pitch for pitch. Late in the game, though, he had to come out due to a cut on one of his pitching hand fingers. Not a blister, mind you, but a small cut. Jury is out on whether he'll make his next start. (But we don't care because Beckett sucks, right?)

* At one point during the Angels series, NESN flashed a graphic showing that "Corey" and "Gabbard" were warming up for Boston. It's almost September, we're still trying to make the playoffs, and guys named Corey and Gabbard are the first men up in the pen. Ouch.

* Dustin Pedroia is straight from dirt dog central casting. He's a hardnosed kid, seems pretty steady with the glove, and though the results aren't there, is proving to be a fairly tough out. He's hit a few balls on the screws but right at guys.

* The Sox arrived in Starbucks land wondering if/when the overrated Mike Hargrove would get the ax. You think we've had it bad? The Mariners were 6-16 in August entering last night's game, including an impressive 11-game losing streak.

* As for an injury update, we're hearing that Jason Varitek should be ready to play in a week, and that both Alex Gonzalez and Tim Wakefield are on the upswing. Getting all three back would be huge. It ain't a 5 1/2 game lead with a healthy Varitek and Wakefield, and that's indisputable.

Oh well - we're fired up in these parts for the Patriots/Redskins pre-season game tonight because the starters usually play more in the third game. Looking forward to getting a good look at the best QB in the NFL, Tom Brady, and his new receiving corps, as well as rookie RB Laurence Maroney, who has been excellent so far.

Sox and Mariners tangle again tonight at 10. David Wells tries to keep his groove going; Gil Meche goes for Seattle.

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