Success against Toronto is nothing new to Daisuke Matsuzaka, so it’s best not to read too much into this one, a game the Red Sox took 9-1. That said, after his first two starts of the season, even the most sober-thinking fans and writers seemed to be questioning whether he still had the ability to get Big League hitters out consistently. When you set the standard that low, then yes, go on and read into the start. It looks like it’s not absurd to hand Dice the ball every fifth day. Progress.
It’s even less crazy when considering the particular makeup of this team. They’re going to hit a ton, and so starters won’t need to be much above average to win games. Keep the team in the game, let the offense do its thing and then hand it over to the bullpen. Matsuzaka did more than that yesterday, but you catch my drift.
Jed Lowrie is absurd. Wherever you come down on his potential, he needs to play. If you’re Pete Abraham or a contributor to River Avenue Blues, you think the kid might have a shot to stick around in the Bigs. If you’re inclined to try to place Lowrie’s production into context since coming back from mono last July, you’ll notice he’s been a better hitter than Troy Tulowitzki. Small sample and all that, but wherever you come down on Lowrie at this point, I’d say he’s earned some runway to take a crack at sticking as an everyday player. He was 4-for-5 with a home run yesterday, and is now at .516/.545/.774 for the season.
It’s probably time to see what Marco Scutaro can fetch out there. Teams are in rough shape at shortstop around the Big Leagues and Scutaro’s contract is not burdensome. He’s owed another $5.5 million or so this season, and has a favorable option setup for next season, too. A contender like the Giants playing make-believe with Miguel Tejada every day at short should have interest. So should the Twins (Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla), Brewers (Yuniesky Betancourt) and Pirates (Ronny Cedeno). Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront are fine 6/7 starters but I would feel more comfortable with some additional “what if John Lackey is the worst pitcher in baseball” insurance. Scutaro should be able to return a AAAA pitcher, even one with some upside, while Nate Spears, Yamaico Navarro and Drew Sutton are down in Pawtucket to take on Jed’s utility role.
Lowrie wasn’t the only one to hit yesterday. Kevin Youkilis hit a home run to right and just missed another when he doubled off the very top of the bullpen wall. Jacoby Ellsbury added a home run. J.D. Drew, in the leadoff slot, hit a triple to start the bottom of the first and ended the game on base three out of five times. I’d love to see Drew up there some more. Dustin Pedroia was on base three out of five times, too, and Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez added a double apiece.
Tonight it’s Lackey out in spacious Oakland against Brett Anderson. Anderson’s been terrific, so this is no easy task for Lackey. That said, in that ballpark against another edition of the A’s struggling to score runs, Lackey should have an opportunity to get into a bit of a groove. The Red Sox head into the night just 1.5 games out of second place in the AL East.