11 Games To Go
It's real simple. Win 11 games. Try not to lose three in a row at any stage of the game.
The Red Sox will repeat as World Champions, if:
1. Edgar Renteria bats .320 or better during the playoffs; or if the erstwhile shortstop gets on base at around a .380 clip. It's simple. Doesn't need a glut of extra base hits, but a double now and then wouldn't hurt.
If he and Johnny Damon get on base 32-33% of the time, the Sox will have very good chances to score. At the very least, it will require opposing pitchers to throw 10-12 extra pitches an inning, trying to get around Papi and Manny.
2. If Schilling can be sorta like Schilling. Seven-inning quality starts will give the Sox a chance to win every third game. Control is the key here. If his pitch counts are high and if he tries to overthrow his fastball and underthrow his splitter, it could be real bad.
3. Overall, if the starting pitching can provide quality starts, night in and night out, life is good. Seven innings of less than three run ball is a bit much to ask for 11 games. Or not? Wells and Wakefield have proven that they can do it. It relies a little on Matt Clement to show he can throw quality innings.
The much-maligned pitching rotation becomes bolstered by being able to hand the ball to Bradford/Myers, Arroyo, Papelbon in the late 7th or 8th.
4. Get a little help from the 7-8-9 guys. Tony Graffanino is the "second" leadoff guy, batting ninth and perhaps setting a table for Johnny Damon and Edgar...then you know who comes next. And if Bill Mueller can continue his consistency at the plate and by third, the balanced lineup again should drive up pitch counts and give everyone a chance to drive in runs.
5. Limit the dead weight. That means Millar. Here's hoping that Tito will look to Youkilis at first as an option. It cannot...CANNOT...be worse than Millar. Give him a towel and call him M.L.
Well, Clement vs. Contreras this afternoon. If there is a game for the Red Averages to lose, it's this one. All of us baseball psychologists have determined that Clement can't handle the big time...just like all of us figured that out about Contreras in New York.
But the change of scenery, plus the fact that he knows his wife and family aren't floating over from Cuba in an innertube, has helped Contreras pitch better. Plus, he's locating his fastball and letting it set up his splitter.
I am hopeful that the Good Sox will win, if so, it'll be a 6-3 kinda game. But as I think this is a very loseable game, it's also a game that can set up a sweep for Boston. Get to Contreras early, get to the bullpen by the 6th and it sets up for a good string.
Tomorrow, Mark Buehrle pitches. He works fast. He throws strikes. Which is exactly what you don't want to do to this lineup. He has not pitched well against the Red Hose all season.
Ok, that's about it. Will check in later.