As disappointing as last night’s 8-5 Boston Red Sox loss to the Baltimore Orioles was, it’s not a big deal. These things happen in baseball. The loss is certainly disappointing, but it’s a long season and the loss illuminated more of the positive aspects of the team than it did the negative.
The Red Sox were the better team for the first eight innings of the game. Ryan Dempster pitched well. His seven strikeouts, while only allowing three hits in five innings were most impressive. He may have been able to go longer if not for the rain delay.
The duo from the Land of the Rising Sun, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, continued to be a force in the bullpen, teaming up with converted former closer Andrew Bailey to strike out five batters without giving up a hit in three innings of work. Effective middle relief is the most underrated aspect of a successful baseball team. You don’t realize how lucky you are until you have to watch Vincente Padilla and Mark Melancon blow leads like that all season.
The entire loss is completely on the shoulders of Joel Hanrahan. He blew the game by giving up a three-run shot to Manny Machado. Nothing else you can say about his performance, except that it’s part of the job. This is what closers do sometimes. It’s a job where if you succeed then you did your job, but if you blow the save you are booed off the field as Hanrahan was tonight.
If Hanrahan can rebound and close out his next save situation this will quickly be forgotten. However, if it becomes a pattern it may force Bailey into the closer role, which would disrupt the dominance of the middle relief. I’d rather have the blame squarely placed on one person’s shoulders as opposed to the broader team issues that have caused the team to lose in years past.
Bats get cold sometimes too. There won’t be many games when Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, and Will Middlebrooks go hitless. Long term these guys are going to hit the ball. During the long summer in Boston this foursome is going to put some big numbers up on the scoreboard at Fenway Park.
The most troubling aspect of the loss was Stephen Drew. For starters, he is a Drew. His brother J.D. was a talented player, but he went out and played every game for himself. He was happy to produce and hit when he could but he never made the people around him better. Great players bring out the best in their teammates. There’s a reason that players like Derek Jeter and Kevin Millar have won World Series, while players like Adrian Gonzalez haven’t.
Drew is also injury prone and an unproven hitter. It’s a downright shame that Jose Iglesias was sent down to Pawtucket despite hitting .450 this season. His glove has been as good as advertised and he obviously loves to play baseball. Meanwhile in Drew’s first game he went 0-4 and the Red Sox lost.
Jack Dempsey once said, “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t”. If the Red Sox are a championship caliber team they will still have losses like this. It’s how they respond to it though that will define what kind of team they really are.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment to continue the conversation.
Aidan Kearney also writes for his own blog aidanfromworcester.com. Follow him on Twitter @aidanfromworc