Darn that Josh Bard. Now what is everyone supposed to fret about?
Well, at some point, David "Way Too" Riske and Rudy "Out To" Seanez are going to pitch. Terry Francona can’t keep them locked away forever. Wily Mo Pena looked about as comfortable as an early reincarnation of Pedro Cerrano on Saturday night against Bruce Chen. A small number of Red Sox fans continue to make the majority look like buffoons.
It is of course but a six-pack of contests. Red Sox Nation will be pulling its hair out about something not too far down the road (David Wells, for instance, has yet to pitch), that much is inevitable. Coco Crisp’s maybe it’s broken, maybe it’s not, knuckle provides cause for concern. Keith Foulke? Maybe, but how much of a testament is it to this team’s 5-1 start that even he has become less of a question mark than whether Mike Lowell’s bat can rebound?
As far as the top most pivotal ingredients of the first week go, there are three.
1. Curt Schilling
2. Josh Beckett
3. Jonathan Papelbon
In other words, duh.
Who needs a $12 million-plus hired gun like Clemens with those three appearing to be at the top of their respective games? Schilling looks like the Schilling of old, with extra zip and a bit more tenacity to prove he’s not the pitcher he was last year. Beckett looks like the Beckett of promise, the kid who stared down the Yankees in the World Series, a lack of blisters thus far. Papelbon looks like the continuation of the scene-burster he was in 2005, stealing the closer’s role away from Keith Foulke for the time being with a dominance we’re used to seeing in veterans, guys named Rivera and Hoffman.
In a matter of a week, they have opened eyes wide, forcing those who picked them third in the AL East to shift their opinions. You want encouraging? How about Keith Foulke’s scoreless inning of work yesterday, after which he admitted he felt better than he did in a “long, long time.” You want intriguing? How about Adam Stern’s two-RBI performance in the absence of Crisp, who may or may not be ready to go tomorrow (reports say Crisp could be out a while with a broken knuckle).
You want annoying? Those Newpro window commercials ought to do the trick, almost inheriting the claim as “Most insufferable ad to deal with during the year.” Our Southwest Philly boys still take the prize.
It is just April 10, but the Red Sox are 5-1 and hold a three-game advantage over the New York Yankees, two over the Toronto Blue Jays. They have the longest winning streak in the majors this side of Cleveland (five in a row), and open their schedule at home tomorrow at Fenway Park, a place they have been dominant over the past three seasons. It's too early to talk wire-to-wire, but this starting staff also might make that a possibility to keep in the back of your faithful mind.
It is a new Fenway that awaits Red Sox Nation tomorrow for another potential season of summer fun. New park, new team. From all accounts, the latest changes to the Fenway landscape are among the greatest, the .406 Club demolished for more high-priced seating. By most accounts, the latest changes to the team playing in it aren’t too shabby either, based on what we’ve seen, 3.7 percent into the 2006 season.
Beckett takes the mound tomorrow afternoon against the Blue Jays in his first Red Sox start at home, and figures to receive one of the most thunderous ovations from the sellout crowd. Here’s predicting the loudest will probably go to Manny Ramirez, as the fans welcome back the guy who wanted to leave yet again with open arms, the prodigal son of Red Sox Nation back for another year of uncertainty.
Because it’s a new season, after all. And the pitch that these Red Sox are the team to beat so far rings true.