After watching the Red Sox collect 20 hits — 11 of them for extra bases — and mash the Angels tonight, the temptation is to suggest that such a performance will kick open the door for more to follow.
It certainly felt like a pile of pent-up frustration was let loose.
“They say hitting is contagious,” said Bill Hall, who crunched one of the four home runs. “We don’t feel like we’ve swung the bats like we can all year long. Whether there has been good pitching or not, we feel like we have a lineup that can score a lot of runs. This is a game we can build on.”
But it’s all fairly meaningless unless the Red Sox can keep it going. As Kevin Youkilis said, they don’t need to win every game, just winning series will get them where they want to go.
A few other notes for you:
* Mike Lowell was 4 for 4 with two doubles and four RBI. But Terry Francona made it clear that David Ortiz would be the DH against righthander Ervin Santana in the second game of the series.
Lowell was asked if he thought such a night should earn him more playing time.
“I feel like I earned more playing time by the last 11 years of my career if you take away 2005. If you told me my numbers were terrible last year, than I deserve not to play. That’s my stance. We’ll go to the next question,” he said.
So if you’re wondering whether Lowell is at peace with coming off the bench, he’s not. But you can’t expect him to be. A man doesn’t spend 13 seasons in the majors without a fierce competitive nature.
* Opponents stole 37 of 39 bases over the first 17 games of the season. They are 1 for 7 in the last nine. Much of that is who the Sox have played. But a lot of it is that they’re paying closer attention to detail when it comes to holding runners. Victor Martinez also made good on his vow to improve his throwing.
They’re sending the message that teams can’t simply run at will.
* Believe it or not, that was the first career home run at Fenway Park for Adrian Beltre.
* J.D. Drew is starting to resemble that guy who at the end of the season has great stats and nobody can figure out how it happened. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, going 16 of 44 with four homers and 15 RBI. He is 9 of his last 17 with eight RBI and six runs scored. He’s at .247 and his 17 RBI are second on the team to Pedroia’s 21.
* Be advised that Mike Cameron is going to be back well before Jacoby Ellsbury. Cameron was in center field again today during batting practice, taking fly balls. Ellsbury is still taking swings at balls on a tee at less than full effort. His ribs have been slow to heal.
* Clay Buchholz was hit on the ankle by that line drive in the second inning, but kept pitching and pitched well enough to win. He’s scheduled to face the Yankees on Saturday unless something happens in the next day or two.
* Finally, we’ll close with this:
There are a lot of rumblings about “big changes” that have to be made on the team. That’s part of the landscape in Boston, where the first inclination is to panic. But here’s my question:
There are no significant trades to be made, not in the first week of May. Almost every team out there can still claim to be a legitimate contender for a playoff berth this early. Unless the Sox want to do something stupid and give up young talent for a bad contract, there’s no significant trade coming any time soon.
Free agents? Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield are DHs and would need 2-3 weeks to get ready. Just what the Sox need, more one-dimensional bitter old guys.
Prospects? Pawtucket has Josh Reddick, Dustin Richardson and Daniel Nava, another DH. If you want to see what they can do, I can’t argue against that. But Theo Epstein wasn’t lying when he said the prospects would be ready in 2011 or ’12.
Releasing David Ortiz, Lowell or Tim Wakefield would create change. But I’m not sure that would make anybody else play smarter or better.
The biggest change has to come from within the collective group of players and perhaps it started tonight. The question is not who goes, it’s who decides he’s had enough and does something about it. Maybe that was the message sent tonight. We’ll find out.
But big changes? Not now. These are your Red Sox, flaws and all. It’s up to them to figure it out.
Look at this way: They’re 5.5 games out of the wild card with 136 games left. I may have spent more time at Mike’s Westview Cafe than I did in math class when I went to UMass. But even I know that’s not out of reach.
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