Sports

This Week in Sox Nation: Stinko De Mayo

This Week in Red Sox Nation LogoCustomarily I would be using this space to gripe about the current funk we seem to have found ourselves in, especially considering that we suffered our first home sweep by the Yankees since the Boston Massacre of 2006 when they took five in a row and effectively ended our season. But frankly, the pitching has been better on the whole and with an offense like we have I’m not worried about enduring any prolong slump.

Of course, on the whole doesn’t look too closely at the parts. The pitching that has worked has been Porcello and the bullpen, with decent showings by Masterson and Miley. But then there’s the recent frustrating outings by Joe Kelly, one of which included an absolute nuclear meltdown and the second of which he was just outright shelled. Since his first two nice starts, his ERA has ballooned to nearly 6. Of course, when frustrations mount around the rotation the true ace is Clay Buchholz. After pouncing on the Blue Jays for four runs in the second inning on Tuesday, he promptly gave it all back and then some. If I hadn’t been at the Park I would have turned it off.

I say “customarily” because, and this is my April-June catchphrase, it’s still early. I’m encouraged by Porcello and while I know Masterson will be a mixed bag if he doesn’t wind up in the pen by season’s end, his quantity is well known, and I still believe Miley has a large amount of potential and room to develop under Farrell’s pitcher-based leadership. As for Kelly, well, we just need to wait and see how he endures a full season facing the formidable AL East (except for Tampa Bay) lumber. The less further ink spilt on Buchholz at this time the better.

What got lost in all the dingers and men left on base was the debut of the one and only Blake Swihart. He had a memorable first game, marshalling a sometimes shaky Wade Miley, cataloging his first major league hit and having what will surely be a memorable “welcome to the big show” moment by striking out to end the bottom of the ninth. While he hasn’t followed up with that first hit, with the shattering of Ryan Hannigan’s hand on a hit-by-pitch we should expect to see a lot more of our coveted prospect. While his bat was more widely praised than his glove, what I saw in the young backstop was poise and confidence. Maybe a season worth of defensive drills has altered his focus and he needs to get back into the swing of things, a tall order facing major league pitching.

As it stands, he’s our starting catcher for the foreseeable future. I’m hoping Cherington is about to reveal a trade or some other machination to bolster our devastated catching corps, but if this ends up being Swihart’s rookie year, then so be it. I want to be excited for our young players, but really only Bogaerts is living up to his complete billing, and even then we’d really like to see a bit more pop from him. Mookie followed an encouraging week that saw his batting average spike 30 points, so he may be poised to go on a tear, but that tear hasn’t come yet. I do know that it’s the beginning of May, but I look at the generational divide in our clubhouse and the looming possibility of losing our MVP candidate for more than a day and, yes, even I, ever the (relative to other Red Sox fans) optimist, am getting a little worried.

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