Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ever Get that Feeling?

Just watched the Sox nail their 8th walk off win this season vs. the hapless Orioles. Winning in this fashion is almost to the point of getting old -- wait a second -- nope, it will never get old. Just kidding. What was so sweet about this win was that it was Manny (not Papi) that got the walk off hit. That hit just happened to extend Manny's hitting streak to 27 games.

So what's "that feeling" of which this blog post title speaks? It's what I told a co-worker yesterday morning when he walked in gloating about the fact that the Sox had just dropped 5 of 6 to two of the American League's bottom feeders. He's a Let's Go Mets fan -- not quite as bad as a Yankee fan, but pretty close. The Mets are on a five game win streak which is why he felt so comfortable about rubbing it in about the Sox losing streak. I said to him, "Derek, would you rather have your team hot right now or in September?" I also mentioned that in spite of their losing ways, the Sox were ready to rip off 12 wins in their next 15 games to re-take the lead vs. the Yanks. Well, they're less than 20% of the way to 12 wins but with two consecutive wins, they're off to a good start.

Why I'm so confident about the Sox getting hot right now is that they have the team to get hot. Everyone is hitting. The starting pitching is starting to come back around (what about Wells last night?) It's amazing what a difference having your starters last more than 4+ innings has on the rest of the team. More encouraging is the fact that we get Tim Wakefield back sometime in the next week or so. All of a sudden, the Sox 1-5 starters start looking pretty good -- Schilling, Beckett, Lester, Wells, and Wakie.

No offense to Jason Johnson but he is NOT the answer for a 5th starter. He could be of assistance in the bullpen, especially in long relief however. Who knows, maybe Snyder -- their current long relief guy -- can become a 6th or 7th inning "bridge" to Big Papelbon giving them another bullet beyond just Delcarmen, Hansen, and Timlin.

Side note to this blog entry... how beneficial do you think a 6-8 week vacation for Jason Varitek is going to be come late September/early October? Anyone can see that he's been scuffling as a result of pulling his glut muscle back in April during the World Baseball Classic. It didn't affect his defense much but it dramatically affected his hitting. I can see him coming back as a force and hitting 6-8 HRs/.300+ avg. in his last 80-100 ABs.

Getting Varitek hot in the five hole (huh.. huh... hmm... huh... huh... I said "five hole") would also make a huge difference to how opposing pitchers face the 2nd through 4th hitters. The Sox lack of production from the 5th spot in the lineup has been the Sox Achilles heel to the point that the D-Rays and Royals both realized that it wasn't the worst strategy in the world to walk Ortiz and Manny and take their chance on Youkilis or Lowell.

I know winning 10 games in the next 13, especially with 8 of thos games coming against the Yanks and Tigers, is a tall order but I've got a feeling. By August 26th, we'll have a pretty good idea whether or not there was anything behind that feeling. Who knows, maybe Manny will have passed Dom Dimaggio's record 34 game hitting streak by then too. We'll just have to wait and see...

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