One of the two grown-ups in the Boston media has let the children creep into his brain. In (the usually good) Dan Shaughnessy’s latest piece in the Boston Globe, he posits that the Red Sox really weren’t trying to win this series, after all. Its all part of Francona’s super secret master plan to lull us into complacency before he lowers the boom on us in October. He writes:
The starting lineups told you everything you needed to know about the respective approaches of these rivals. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, burning his guys in a manner like Don Zimmer (circa 1978), put out his best nine players along with the winningest pitcher in baseball (tied with Adam Wainwright going into yesterday’s games). Jorge Posada wound up being a late scratch because of an injury, but the point was made. Girardi used his big guns. The Yankees are going wall to wall to clinch the division (magic number 1) and the best record in the American League, ASAP
To be sure, the Red Sox didn’t play their A-lineup yesterday afternoon. But they did play their 1-6 regulars, and the 3 substitutions (Baldelli/Lowrie/Anderson) were all righty hitters for the lefthander Sabathia. Nothing unusual there. Drew doesn’t hit lefties as well as righties, I’m not sure if he wants to get into Jed Lowrie/Alex Gonzalez comparisons (neither of whom hit much) and Victor Martinez’s bat is actually a huge upgrade over Varitek. Baldelli is a decent bat who has to play sometime. If anything, all of that just tells me how weak the Red Sox bench is, and how susceptible they are to good Lefties.
Also, If Dan was a bit more familiar with Girardi he might actually know what he’s talking about. Girardi has consistently rested players all year. Jorge Posada might have been banged up yesterday, but he has caught only 97 games all year and usually doesn’t catch CC. He distributes the bullpen workload all season, and Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera have even been MIA for large stretches of the season, saving them for October. He’s also used the DH spot to give his regulars some rest while he has a full time DH in Matsui who’s having a great season. Posada has started as DH in 8 games, A-Rod 9 games, Teixeira 5 games, Damon 4 games and Jeter 5 games. Johnny Damon has only started 128 games of the 155 games played this year. The notion that Girardi the taskmaster has driven his players into the ground simply has no basis in reality.
Tito did trot his best lineup out on Friday, and they had their best pitcher on the mound in Jon Lester, while the Yanks trotted out a floundering Joba Chamberlain. Even before Lester’s unfortunate injury, the Yanks had already scored 3 runs and were running up his pitch count. He wasn’t long for that game, and the Yankee base runners were doing everything possible to humiliate Jason Varitek. By the time the Sox scored another 2 runs in the 8th, it was already garbage time with the Yanks up 9-3. The Yanks’ pitchers have handled the Red Sox lineup two days in a row, so let’s not only focus on yesterday’s edition.
The Sox are going to win the wild card. They are not going to challenge the Yankees for home-field advantage. Let Girardi wear his guys out. The Sox are getting ready for the playoffs. Call it Tito’s rope-a-dope.
All of this strikes me as odd because just 10 short days ago, Dan penned a piece about how great the Sox were playing, how “It feels like 2004. It feels like 2007″. They came into town with a head of steam, having won 12 of 15 heading into this series while the Yanks were sputtering along off a 3-3 West Coast trip and going 5-5 in the past 10 games. But now when the Yanks take the first two, the Sox aren’t trying?
Pass the Kool-Aid, Dan.
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