A bit calmer after a much needed day off yesterday. The Red Sox players and their fans could get away and think about some other things, and break the pattern off doomful thinking and frustrated feelings.
That will hopefully cut down on the mental mistakes which crept into the Red Sox game on Wednesday. Buchholz made a couple of mental mistakes in fielding his position in the inning where they scored 2 runs off of him, which cost him one of those 2 runs.
Julio Lugo made the mental mistake of easing up for just one step while running to first on a one-hopper to short. He hustled out of the box, eased up for one step as he saw that it would be fielded, but when the spin of the ball took it away from the fielder, who bobbled it, Lugo picked up the pace and was thrown out by half a step. With the bases loaded and 2 out, you just always hustle full speed… the stakes are too high. Anything can happen. You could see that Lugo was pissed at himself after that.
Let’s hope all that, combined with a day off, leads to a mental state of calm, determined focus, which is ideal for playing good baseball.
Another benefit of the off day is that all players got some physical rest, since so many were banged up. Crisp is back in the lineup tonight. David Ortiz asked Francona to be put in the lineup tonight, even with Kazmir pitching. Ortiz was saying simply "gotta win, gotta win".
No Manny or Youk yet, although they’re improving.
Beckett will go for win #20 tonight, although his primary focus will be on just winning for the team. Beckett is pitching on 1 extra day of rest.
Other Sox starters are all getting extra days rest. Matsusaka gets 3 extra days’ rest. Wakefield gets 1 extra day of rest. Schilling gets 4 extra days of rest. Lester gets 3 extra days of rest (he doesn’t need it!).
With Kazmir pitching, you never know what will happen. The Red Sox offense has been struggling, and they usually struggle against Kazmir. But sometimes they get him out on pitchcount, then whale away on the weak bullpen. Kazmir has been especially tough on Manny and Papi. Manny won’t be in there tonight.
Beckett is pitching on one extra day of rest. He should be ready to give another dominant performance. He played in the state of Florida for a few years, so he should feel comfortable and focussed on the task at hand.
With all that’s happened lately, it’s tough to predict what’s going to happen here, but given the matchups, I’d expect low scoring in the first half of the game, with the Red Sox relentlessly driving up Kazmir’s pitch count, and getting into the Tampa Bay bullpen in the 6th or 7th, then finally breaking out of their scoring slump and putting the win away.
Look for Timlin’s veteran leadership to help the bullpen to put their recent failings in the past, and have them in the right mental state for performing during this weekend series. Timlin, Delcarmen, Corey, Lopez and Papelbon will be leaned upon heavily during this series.