Tagged: Mike Napoli

What’s Up With Will?


Middlebrooks at the plate

Middlebrooks at the plate (Photo credit: timaoutloud)

Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks (Photo credit: timaoutloud)

Another thing, although unlikely, is that he’s hiding an injury. This wouldn’t be the first time a Red Sox player had hid an injury to stay on the field and suffered for it. In 2009 Daisuke Matuszaka hid a groin injury and pitched poorly due to the discomfort in his groin area. Now I doubt Middlebrooks would try to hid something from the Sox, but he is the kind of guy who wants to be out there everyday, so I wouldn’t be stunned if that were the case and it would also give us an explanation for his performance.

Even we don’t know exactly what is wrong with Middlebrooks, we can try to figure out what should be done about his performance. The Sox could always take the irrational overreaction route and send down Middlebrooks and call up someone like Xander Bogaerts, but I would like to think the Sox are smart enough where they wouldn’t to something that far out of the box. A more realistic route is to give more playing time at three of Ciriaco, since he has slightly outperformed Middlebrooks, until Middlebrooks starts to perform in limited playing time until he’s eased back into an everyday role. Despite the fact that that is more realistic than the first option I still don’t see that happening. I think the Sox will just stick it out with Middlebrooks until he figures it out. What do you think the Sox should do about the struggling Middlebrooks?

 

Advertisements

Nava Should Start


Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Tomorrow David Ortiz is expected to be activated and Jackie Bradley Jr. is expected to be optioned to AAA to make room for Papi. That is exactly how the Sox had planned for this to go. Following those two moves Jonny Gomes was supposed to move from the DH role to left field, but there could be a change of plans.

 

Nobody expected Daniel Nava to get off the start that he has. In 10 games he’s batted .324/.429/.618 and I know it’s a small sample size, but it’s all we’ve got so far and why not ride the hot bat? Nava’s also has 3 home runs this year, 2 more than all other Red Sox outfielders combined. He’s also tied for second on the team with 9 RBIs and tide for fifth on the team with 6 runs scored. So, not only is he getting on base and scoring runs, he’s also driving them in.

 

Compare that to Jonny Gomes whose hit just about as well as Jackie Bradley Jr., so not very good. He has taken his fair share of walks, leading the team with nine, and has a higher OBP than Nava with .433. Other than that though Gomes’ bat has been dead. As long as Nava continues to perform at the rate he’s at and Gomes continues to under perform there’s no reason to start Gomes over Nava.

 

Also Nava’s defense in left has been impressive. He may not be a gold glover, but he plays very well in left field. The thing that impresses me the most about Nava’s defense is how quickly he gets the ball back into the infield. He’s turned a few doubles into singles by just playing the ball off the wall quickly and firing the ball back in. He’s like Dustin Pedroia in the outfield, he never stops hustling  always giving a 100%.We’ve only seen Gomes in left for two innings this year, but from I’ve seen from him, which isn’t too much, he’s not quite as quick as Nava. It may be a minimal difference, but if you can hold a couple more guys at first rather than letting them get a double, it could end up saving some critical runs throughout the year.

 

One last thing in regards to Monday’s attack at the Marathon. The One Fund has been started by Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino  to help those affected by the tragic events. If you’d like to donate you can here. Also 47 Brand has new “Boston Strong” hats with all proceeds going to The One Fund.

 

Game 11: Vs. Rays


Buchholz (2-0) v. Cobb (1-0)

 

Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz during an...

Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

After yesterday’s exciting win that I failed to review the Sox had momentum swinging in their favor. Could it carry over into today’s game? Maybe it did, but maybe it didn’t.

 

Clay Buchholz was as good as he’s ever been. He was dominate in every way possible. There really isn’t any other way to sum  up his performance. He had a career high 11 strikeouts and had no hitter going into the eighth. The no hitter was broken up by a broken bat bloop single by Kelly Johnson. He would give up another hit in the inning, a double to Desmond Jennings, but kept the shutout going for all 8 innings he pitched. Andrew Miller would finish off the game with a strong ninth.

On the other side Alex Cobb was very good, but not great. He struggled in the third and didn’t get much help from the defense which lead to a 4 run third for the Sox. Other than that Cobb pitched very well for 6.2 innings giving up 4 runs with only 3 earned. Jamey Wright finished off the game allowing one run in 1.1 innings of work.

In the end the Sox came out on top with a 5-0 win over the Rays for their second straight win. They’ll have the chance to go for their first sweep of the season tomorrow in the early 11:05 Patriot’s Day game. It’s also Jackie Robinson Day so everyone will be wearing number 42 jerseys.

11 games down 151 to go

 

Game 7: Vs. Orioles


Buchholz (1-0) v. Chen (0-0)

The Sox held their home opener today at Fenway Park and it did not disappoint. There was a great pitching duel and an exciting finish to the game.

If you’re one of those people you hate pitching duels and only love offense, you would’ve hated this game. Clay Buchholz and Wei-Yin Chen both had their best stuff going for them today and when those guys are on it’s a fun game to watch. I think Chen is probably the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball. Last year as a rookie out of Japan he quietly became the best pitcher on the Wild Card winning Orioles pitching staff. Regardless, he showed all of his best stuff today and showed he has a very bright future. Unfortunately for him, Clay Buchholz matched him stride for stride. After 6 innings the game remained tied at 0-0. Neither pitcher would even blink. In the seventh, Buchholz started the inning off with a walk to Matt Weiters. After that though, he set the side down in order. Then came Chen’s turn to match yet another masterpiece of an inning by Buchholz. It looked like it was going to start well for Chen. He got Dustin Pedroia to ground to short, but Pedroia beat J.J. Hardy’s throw to first. Then Mike Napoli ripped a double off the center field wall that could have sworn was gone. So that left second and third no outs for the Sox’s hottest hitter, Will Middlebrooks. Then on the seventh pitch of the at bat with a 2-2 count, Middlebrooks waved at a pitch way outside. Chen had climbed one huge hurdle, but he was still 2 outs away from getting out of the jam and in stepped Daniel Nava.  On the third pitch of the at bat, Nava found a pitch, middle in, that he liked and took a rip. And there it went. Right over the Monster. 3-0 Red Sox. That spelled the end of the day for Chen.

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth. Sox still hold a 3-0 lead and the closer Joel Hanrahan comes in. Things didn’t start out so well for Hanrahan. Adam Jones took him deep to put the Orioles on the board for the first time. Then he settled in retiring the next 2 batters and was one out away from closing out the home opener. But Hanrahan had to channel his inner Papelbon. J.J. Hardy gave them some life doubling to bring the tying run to the plate. Hanrahan then got Ryan Flaherty to pop out in foul ground and the Sox won.

Player of the Game: Clay Buchholz 7 IP 0 ER 8 SO

7 games down 155 to go

Game 6: @ Blue Jays


Lester (1-0) v. Dickey (0-1)

I’m back! I doubt you really care but I’m here and ready to do another review. I was away from all technology pretty much Friday and Saturday and missed both games. I was pretty P.O.ed but I watched all of today’s game and I feel much better.

Will Middlebrooks came into today’s game with half of the teams home runs. He left the game also having half of the teams home runs. The difference was the Sox had 8 homers on the season rather than 2. Middlebrooks had arguably the best game of his career going 4 for 5 hitting 3 homers and knocking in 4 runs. He missed a record tying 4th by what couldn’t of been much more than 20 feet. It was a remarkable performance, but did it lead the Sox to a win?

Robert Allen did not have his best stuff today. Last year the reigning NL Cy Young award winner had given up 4 first inning runs all year. Today he gave up 5. R.A. Dickey struggled through all 4.2 innings he pitched. Along with those 5 first inning runs, he gave up 8 runs (7 earned). The knuckleball just wasn’t working for him today and the Sox pounded him. Dave Bush relieved Dickey but there wasn’t much relief. He gave up 5 runs in his 3 innings of work. Then Brett Cecil saved the day, kinda. He finished  the game allowing only a walk but the damage had already been done. Along with Middlebrooks 3 homers Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Daniel Nava all homered as well.

On the other side was vintage Jon Lester. He looked like pre-September 2011 Lester and it was a beautiful sight to watch. He shutout the Blue Jays for 7 solid innings. He allowed just 5 hits with 6 strikeouts and no walks. They couldn’t of asked for much more from him and he appears to be backed to his old self. I realize it’s only been 2 games against lineups missing key pieces, but it’s encouraging nevertheless. Clayton Mortensen finished off the game pitching 2 shutout innings giving up just 2 hits and striking out 4

In the end the Sox coasted to a 13-0 blowout victory. It was a great way to end the road trip and got me excited for tomorrow’s home opener against the Orioles. Also the Sox were the only AL East team to win today and hold sole possession of the first place in division for the first time since early September in 2011. We all know what happened after that, but we can forget that and just be happy that we’re back in first. Hopefully we can hang on to the top spot, but it’s early and a lot will change over the next 6 months.

Player of the Game: Will Middlebrooks: 4 for 5 3 HRs, 1 2B, 4 RBIs

6 games down 156 to go.

Game 3: @Yankees


Dempster (0-0) v. Pettitte (0-0)

Just a warning going into this, I am extremely tired and not in the greatest of moods, plus all my energy went into the Iglesias article, which you should probably read over this, so this may be complete garbage. After all I just started off with a run on sentence so odds are my prediction will be correct. If only  my baseball projections were this good. I also realize I don’t have the lineups. That is because I’m too tired and lazy to find them and make sure I have them correct. It also adds to the overall crappiness of this review which is what I’m striving for today. Anyways, you can forget my rant and just read the review.

Ryan Dempster made his first start as a member of the Red Sox today. He started off a little shaky, getting into a lot of deep counts, but he was able to settle down I the later innings. During his shaky stretch was when the Sox fell back. After giving up a lead off single to Travis Hafner, it appeared Dempster was going to get out of the inning without any damage. Then he allowed a two out ground rule double to Eduardo Nunez setting up second and third with two outs for former Red Sox Lyle Overbay. Overbay came through with a bloop single that scored both runners giving the Yankees their first lead of the season. The next inning Dempster would give up a solo shot to Brett Gardner to put the Sox down 3-0. After that Dempster really settled in, only allowing one more hit for the rest of his outing. Dempster would end up lasting only 5 innings giving up 3 runs on 5 hits with 4 walks and 8 strikeouts. One good thing I picked up watching Dempster, was that his splitter is filthy. More than once he got guys to chase it in the dirt. Next into the game was Junichi Tazawa. He pitched a scoreless 6th allowing just one hit. After him Clayton Mortensen came into the game. He pitched decently over two innings. He only made one bad pitch which ended up becoming a solo shot for Francisco Cervelli. Overall the Sox pitching wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either.

Andy Pettitte looked like vintage Andy Pettitte. He dominated the Sox for 8 innings allowing just 1 run on 8 hits. The key for Pettitte was the 3 double plays he got the Sox to ground into. It killed any momentum they had each time. He did have one blemish on his otherwise great outing though. In the 7th, Will Middlebrooks strated a little two out rally with a single. That was followed by a Jackie Bradley Jr. double which scored Middlebrooks. At first sight it looked like he had his first bug league homer, but instead he settle for his first double. Then came David Ross with a chance to cut the Yankees lead to 1. He hit a shot to left center field and I was sure the game was tied. Then the ball fell harmlessly into the glove of Brett Gardner and the inning was over. In the 9th Mariano Rivera took over in his first appearance of his farewell tour. He started off with a rare walk to Dustin Pedroia but he got Mike Napoli to fly out next. Then things got interesting. Johnny Gomes  ripped a double into left setting up second and third with only one out for the tying run, Will Middlebrooks. Unfortunately, Middlebrooks would ground out to first, but it did knock in a run. This left the game in the hands of Jackie Bradley Jr. And on the 0-2 pitch Rivera caught him looking to end the game.

All in all it was a disappointing game for the Sox because they missed so many chances. Had they just come through on one more then they could’ve pulled it off, but you can’t change things now.

Player of the Game: Andy Pettitte 8 IP 1 ER 1 BB 3 SO

3 games down, 159 to go

Game 2: @Yankees


 

Clay Buchholz (0-0) v. Hiroki Kuroda (0-0)

Red Sox                           Yankees

Ellsbury CF                    Gardner CF

Nava DH                           Suzuki RF

Pedroia 2B                      Cano 2B

Napoli 1B                         Youkilis 3B

Saltalamacchia C          Hafner DH

Middlebrooks 3B          Overbay 1B

Victorino RF                   Wells LF

Bradley Jr. LF                Nunez SS

Iglesias SS                        Stewart C

So after my first lame attempt at recapping the game, I’m back at it again! As you can see I’ve added the starting pitchers and the lineups as well. I’ve got 162 chances to make this as good as possible, so I hope to find neat ways to make these reviews more interesting and cool. So without further adieu here is my wonderful review.

The Sox jumped out early against the Yankees tonight, grabbing a 1 run lead off Hiroki Kuroda in the first off of a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single. Then disaster struck for the Yankees in the second when Kuroda took a Shane Victorino line drive off of his pitching hand. Kuroda would stay in the game, but he proceeded to hit Jackie Bradley Jr., load the bases and then hit Daniel Nava to score a run for the Sox. That would end Kuroda’s day after an inning and a third. The Yankees then brought in Cody Eppley who got Dustin Pedroia to ground in to a inning ending double play. It appeared as if they had avoided any danger, but then the the third inning rolled around and Eppley faltered. It looked like it was going to be a quick inning after getting two outs and allowing just one single. Then Victorino singled in Salty and stole second. Then JBJ knocked him in on his first career hit. The Sox would score two more runs that inning off a Jose Iglesias double and a Jacoby Ellsbury single. The Yankees then turned to Adam Warren who ended up going five and a third innings out of the pen allowing just one run.

As for the Sox’s pitching, it started off very well. Clay Buchholz dominated the Yankees for 7 innings allowing just one run. Unfortunately after he departed things took a turn for the worse. Andrew Miller was the first to relieve Buchholz and his command was lacking a bit. He faced just two batters; hitting one and getting the other to line out. Then it was Alfredo Aceves’ turn to take over. He wasn’t bad, but he threw one bad pitch to Vernon Wells and it became a 3 run ballgame. In the ninth Joel Hanrahan came in for his first save opportunity as a Red Sox. It was a stressful inning, probably because of the long at bats and the simple fact that it was ninth inning. In the end Hanrahan picked up the save and the Sox won the game.

All in all it was a good game. Buchholz looked like his old self and the bats came to life. This lineup looks like it could be incredibly efficient and score a lot of runs this year. Maybe it’s the Moneyball get on base theory, maybe it’s the chemistry, or maybe John Farrell’s just a genius. Either way I’m excited for this season.

Player of the Game: Clay Buchholz 7 IP 1 ER 2 BB 4 SO

2 Games down 160 to go