By Ted Gay – @TedG63
God bless you, Don Mattingly. On Tuesday night Red Sox Nation turned their lonely eyes to you, and you did not fail to fail. He left Tayron Guerrero in two batters too long to help the Sox take the lead. Then, after the epic Craig Kimbrell crash that sent the Nation spinning like an out of control barrel going over a waterfall two seemingly innocuous Mattingly moves from an inning before circled to take cost the Marlins’ manager. He pinch hit JT Riddle for catcher Bryan Holaday which pushed starting shortstop Miguel Rojas to first where the duo would combine to throw away the relay on an easy double play causing the Sox to avoid what would easily have been the worse loss of the season. Mattingly who occupied first base for the Bronx Bombers during their longest streak without a World Series win since the Babe arrived in town, has always been a Boston good luck charm and should be considered for the Sox Hall of Fame. Thanks for another win Donnie Ballgame.
Yes, it was just the Marlins, but, after watching the level of panic in Boston when the Yankees took four against the Orioles, a team as historically bad as the Red Sox have been good, a win against the Marlins should rank with beating the ‘76 Reds.
It was the kind of completely stupid, unlikely, lucky win that pulls a team out of a malaise, and given the Boston offensive explosion Wednesday night, perhaps the Tampa Bay slump is over although the Bronx owning White Sox are up next.
On the offensive side of the ball, the only question is between good and better. While Eduardo Nunez is good at third base will Rafael Devers and his threat of power be better in the playoffs? Which of their three starting catches should be playing? Mitch Moreland or Steve Pierce at first? There doesn’t seem to be a wrong answer.
On the pitching side, there are now no good answers, and we doubt what we were once sure of.
Every Sox’s fan heart stopped when David Price took a liner off the wrist and was forced to leave Wednesday’s start. If the Sox wish to show an overabundance of caution a ten-day DL stint may be in his future. Yes, this will make the threat of the Yankees closing the gap greater, unless they have any more home games against the unbeatable White Sox, but it will be worth the risk. I am sure Price would be criticized by his dissenters, including this site’s webmaster Terry Cusham, but keep in mind, Terry’s great, great, great grandfather tweeted his displeasure with Abe Lincoln for disrespecting the actors by leaving the theater too soon because of an “upper body injury.”
Chris Sale says his shoulder feels like Paul Bunyan’s which is great but scouting reports said Bunyan chokes in late-inning pressure situations so it would be better if he had a shoulder like a healthy Chris Sale. The lefty has to be in midseason form for there to be another duck boat parade in November
After that, like Final Jeopardy, there’s nothing but questions. Rick Porcello needs a good start to right his ship. Hopefully, Pedro Martinez can help Nathan Eovaldi regain his form, although I question why Martinez, watching the game on TV, can see things that allude Dana Levangie.
Speaking of the Sox pitching coach, was his animated conversation on the mound with Craig Kimbrell Tuesday night a sign that there is something wrong with Kimbrell’s delivery and the stubborn closer refuses to adjust? There are dozens of small adjustments in pitcher’s motion that can turn a lights-out closer to a batting practice bum. Hopefully, LaVangie, Martinez or some other casual viewer can tinker with Kimbrell’s mechanics and turn him back into Mr. Automatic. Kimbrell has as much to lose as the Sox. Every blown save brings down his market value.
The post-all-star break bullpen has been more disappointing than season two of Westworld. Everyone is calling for Dave Dombrowski to get another arm, but it has to be a good arm. Plenty of teams would be ready to part with a reliever who would pitch just well enough to fail miserably in Boston. Finding a better pitcher than those who currently bleed runs from the Sox pen in the last three days August without a surfeit of prospects is unlikely.
Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly have all shown flashes of being “the guy,” but are more often “anybody but this guy.” If the Red Sox win their fourth championship since 2004, putting them one behind the revered Patriots, the bullpen will have to play a major role.
How that will happen continues to remain a mystery.
Unless, somehow, during the playoffs, old Donnie Baseball will be in the other dugout. No game is over when Mattingly is on the other side.
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