Friday Notes: Ortiz, Crawford, Wakefield

by Marc on May 6, 2011

in Red Sox

Scott Baker and the Twins come to Fenway tonight (photo courtesy minnpost.com)

Tim Wakefield gets the start tonight in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw 20 pitches in an inning against the Angels in extra innings Wednesday night (or Thursday morning, whatever–it isn’t the next day until you go to sleep, despite what your clock tells you). Wakefield pitched well in his lone start of the season on Sunday, going 5 2/3 innings (in 76 pitches) with three punch outs against a single walk, and just one run allowed. Here is hoping he can replicate that against an anemic Minnesota lineup (especially since I am going to the game tonight).

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In the last week of April, I wrote a piece on David Ortiz‘s third April power outage in a row. The key points:

  • April is a small sample, so don’t read too much into it
  • Again, this is the third April in a row where he hasn’t hit homers
  • Slight concern that his bat may be slowing, given the extra patience and opposite field hitting he had displayed–both are signs of reduced bat speed in older players

Since that went live, Ortiz has doubled his homer total, hitting .333/.379/.593 in seven games and 27 at-bats. Small sample size caveats, etc., but it looks like Ortiz just takes a month to get right these days. As it was a week ago, it’s worth keeping an eye on to see which direction his season will take.

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Carl Crawford has also seen a mini resurgence after a tough April. He has hit .333/.379/.444 over his last seven games, and even drove in the winning run against Seattle on May 1.

There was (and is) no reason to worry about Crawford, despite his April putting him below the Mendoza line. He plays excellent defense, so he is contributing on the field even on the days he doesn’t hit, and has already contributed on the basepaths despite barely being on base to begin the year. Having him start to hit just completes the package the Red Sox paid handsomely for, and helps to make the lineup as dangerous as it was meant to be.

*****

Scott Baker takes the mound tonight for Minnesota, and while he is a good (and underrated) pitcher, he is also the kind of starter that Boston can have a lot of success against. Boston is successful because the lineup is not just built with patient hitters–they are also smart hitters who know when to pull the trigger. Baker lives in the strike zone, keeping his walk rates down, but may end up paying for that against the bats of Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and the others playing. Think of him as something akin to James Shields, or like a poor man’s Dan Haren.

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