Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sunday Morning Sports Spectacular: Red Sox Ready to Knuckle Down

by Hal Bent, BostonSportPage.com

A quiet Sunday morning allows me time to take one last look at my fantasy baseball teams for the last day for the week for head-to-head match-ups, another 20 articles to read off my twitter feed (you can follow me: @halbent01), and wondering how I made it through February and March without baseball.  It's April: No longer the cruelest month (Sorry, T.S. Eliot) but it brings baseball, the Red Sox, the Final Four, the NFL Draft, NBA basketball and NHL hockey streaking towards the playoffs, and more and more baseball (thank you, MLB Network!). 

RED SOX LEFT LACKING:
Listening to the Sox game on the radio (And no, no one will top the Red Sox announcers of my youth: Ken Coleman and Jon Miller; yes, the Sunday Night ESPN baseball Jon Miller.  What a great pair.) I was excited to listen to Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey, yes--John Lackey--throwing a beautiful game and missing bats like it was 2007.  Then, disaster as he left the game clutching his arm.  Fortunately, news came back indicating that it was not as serious as feared, but was still an issue with the biceps of the throwing arm, with MRI to follow and give more official news and timetable. It seemed like the elbow at first, so just not being the elbow is great news. Lackey had his fastball thrumming up to the plate in the mid-nineties and mixing his pitches and striking out eight. 

On top of that, the Red Sox could not get their bats in gear against lefty J.A. Happ and an impressive Toronto bullpen.  The Red Sox were swinging and missing, not getting on base, and all-around not getting it done on offense.  The standings now show the AL East in a 3-way tie at 3-2 between Boston, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay, with the Blue Jays right behind at 2-3.  The offensive offense and weak pitching New York Yankees are getting comfortable in the cellar at 1-4 and should get quite comfortable there as they gear up to get a look at some prospects in the second half of the season.  

Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre in Toronto looks like a dandy, with Red Sox ace lefty Jon Lester matching-up against National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey and his devious knuckleball. Watching Dickey pitch is always a treat (even if I will be likely be folding laundry while watching the game), and Lester is poised for a bounce-back season and a return to the number one pitcher he has the potential to be (As in, he'd better: I drafted him in all three fantasy baseball leagues based upon his strong spring and past success). 

The Red Sox bats need to wake-up this afternoon and take the series against their newest bitter rivals.  The venom in Toronto for current Red Sox and former Blue Jays Manager John Farrell is electrifying.  For teams that face each other so often, there was none of the rivalry with Toronto that existed with other teams: The historical Yankees-Red Sox rivalry needs no mention; Baltimore hates the Red Sox, especially with the team winning last year with former Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette and brash Buck Showalter in the dugout; Tampa has had enmity with Boston since they entered the league as an expansion team (remember Pedro Martinez tossing beanballs in the dome?) and with all their success, the rivalry is legitimate.

The entire American League East Division is mad-house of mutual loathing and strong teams.  This year is lining up to be a classic, a 15 round slug-fest, a 1967 grouping of equally matched squads going full tilt at each other all season long.  Signs point to a fun season, and the fun is going strong right now as the Red Sox get ready to finish the opening road trip and head home to Fenway for the home opener. One week in, and this season looks like a winner.


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