Saturday, March 8, 2014
BOSTON — Early greetings from Fenway Park. Only about 8 hours until game time here at Fenway. Catching up on lots of work in an empty press box.
The Red Sox are 31-20 (more about that below)
Two pitchers, former teammates in the Boston bullpen, will be in the spotlight tonight, when the Phillies visit.
Alfredo Aceves, up from Pawtucket, gets the start for the Red Sox, in place of the ailing Clay Buchholz (sore AC joint in the collarbone region). Aceves' last start for Boston on April 23 did not go so well (3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 8 R).
The other marque pitcher might not get into the game, unless the Phillies are leading. Closer Jonathan Papelbon is being his dominant self: 0.96 ER, opponents' batting average of .159 in 18 2/3 innings (15 strikeouts/two walks). Nine of nine in save opportunities.
Tyler Cloyd (1-0, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Phillies. He has taken Roy Halladay's spot in the rotation.
The Red Sox are expected to make one or two moves after the game or on Tuesday.
Left-hander Franklin Morales should be coming off the disabled list. While he has been stretched out as a starter, manager John Farrell said Morales will join the bullpen.
Aceves will likely go down after his start. The Red Sox will still have 13 pitchers and could send another arm down to Pawtucket and bring up an outfielder (with Shane Victorino on the DL).
Alex Wilson is a candidate for Pawtucket. He has pitched well (2.50 ERA), although is walks/hits per inning (WHIP) is 1.56, highest among Boston's active relievers.
Boston may recall outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who is batting .352 for Pawtucket.
Bradley went 2-for-4 for the PawSox on Sunday ... Ryan Lavarnway (.318) hit his third home run, while Bryce Brentz (.275) hit his ninth ... Chris Hernandez (3-2, 3.58) enjoyed his best start of the year: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
Another lefty, Henry Owens (3-2, 3.80), did not fare well for Salem: 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 6 K. Of the 19 earned runs that Owens has allowed this year, 11 have come in his last three starts.
Back to the major league club. While walk-off wins generate excitement, fans mistakenly begin talking about "momentum." We need to point out that Boston also had a walk-off win on May 26 of 2012 (Jarrod Saltalamachia's two-run homer in the ninth to beat Tampa Bay).
Boston improved to 23-23 that day. The Red Sox would not get their 31st win until June 13. These Red Sox of 2013 should do better, but no guarantees. See today's column.
So, what does a 31-20 record mean? Well, it's a good start. Here is a look at past Red Sox teams through 51 games:
Year: record (final record; result)
2012: 26-25 (69-93, out of playoffs)
2011: 29-22 (90-72, out of playoffs)
2010: 28-23 (89-73, out of playoffs)
2009: 29-22 (93-69, first round of playoffs)
2008: 31-20 (95-67, reached ALCS)
2007: 36-15 (96-66, won World Series)
2006: 31-20 (86-76, out of playoffs)
2005: 28-23 (95-67, first round of playoffs)
2004: 31-20 (98-64, won World Series)
2003: 31-20 (95-67, reached ALCS)
2002: 36-15 (93-69, out of playoffs)
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
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