Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mets @ Red Sox preview

First of all... David Ortiz. I mean, I just can't find any more words (although Ross could probably come up with some choice ones). I can't do him justice. My trying to do him justice is just insulting to him, so I'll stop. But, wow...

Anyway, on to the series I've been looking forward to all season, but even more so now that the Mets look as good as some thought they could be, the Red Sox are somehow still in first place, and we know for sure that Pedro is pitching. Actually, every pitching match-up of the series is intriguing in a "future, present, past" kind of way.

I mentioned already that I think this is a great "well, how good are we, really?" series for both teams, and this is part of the reason that I love interleague play. The Red Sox and Yankees play each other all the time, and while the buildup and the games are always exciting, it's not really much of a test for either of them anymore. They're both pretty good, and they'll both be in the division race in September. We already know this. You could say the same thing, on a smaller scale, about the Yankees and Mets.

What we don't know is if either of them are real World Series contenders. The Mets are steamrolling the National League, but it's been established that the National League sucks. The Red Sox are streaking (also at the expense of the National League), but have yet to play the A's or White Sox, and have been smacked around by the Blue Jays. This series, small sample size be damned, could tell us a lot about both teams.

Tuesday: Alay Soler (2-1, 3.32) vs. John Lester (2-0, 2.76)
Aside from one bad start against the pre-Grimsley affidavit Diamondbacks, Soler has been consistent and reliable this season. He obviously has no track record against the Red Sox, who usually struggle the first time they see a pitcher. I haven't seen him pitch, but from his numbers, he doesn't seem to have overpowering stuff (5.4 K/9), and certainly enjoys walking people (3.6 BB/9). Provided he doesn't get yanked for his pitch count before then, the Sox will probably get to him by the sixth inning.

Lester got cuffed around by Texas in his first start, but since then he's pitched well in two games against the dregs of the NL East, earning his first two major league wins. Plenty of Red Sox fans are enjoying the "now that Lester's in the rotation, all we need is a number five!" Kool-Aid, but I'm not quite there yet. Yes, he's got great stuff and Papelbon-like poise, but let's give the kid a few months before we hand him the keys to a playoff start. Right now, though, I think he's a little more polished than Soler, and I think the Sox can take this one.

And, quick aside, Lester was the throw-in prospect in the Manny/A-Rod trade talks two and a half years ago (has it been that long???) - a lot of things could have turned out very differently if that trade had gone through. It's kinda weird to think about.

Wednesday: Pedro Martinez (7-3, 3.01) vs. Josh Beckett (9-3, 4.84)
If Pedro Martinez gets anything less than a rousing, 60-second standing ovation from 100% of Fenway Park tomorrow night, then I don't know what to tell you. I understood the Johnny Damon debate - he's a Yankee now, I get that. But I was in that stadium when we gave multiple standing ovations to Orlando Cabrera and Kevin Millar, and Pedro was roughly 2,000 times more important to this franchise than either of them. The fact that anyone is considering booing this guy baffles me.

As for Beckett, he's been gaining steam since his stinkbomb in the Bronx, although I'm legally obliged to tell you that his last two starts were, of course, against the NL East. Friday night against the Phillies he took a perfect game into the sixth, a turn of events which, before it was jinxed by the Cubs fan sitting behind me, seriously made me consider the merits of the Ross Friedman hot dog rule. As for the Cubs fan, his punishment was sitting through a 5-hour rain delay in the Bronx the next day. Anyway, hopefully Beckett can sustain his momentum through tomorrow, because I think Pedro is going to pitch 7 strong, and the Mets should win.

For anyone watching the local Mets or Red Sox feed of this game, color men Jerry Remy and Ron Darling are going to switch booths for an inning at some point during this game. It should be interesting to hear the other side's impressions of the game and teams, but I wish the Mets would share Kieth Hernandez with us.

Thursday: Tom Glavine (11-2, 3.33) vs. Curt Schilling (9-2, 3.61)
Glavine is having a tough month, but he keeps getting all kinds of support to start the all-star game because of that magic 11 under the letter W. He actually pitched very well in his last start against the Blue Jays, who mash lefties, so he may be righting himself. I'd put the over under for "local boy comes home" stories about him in the local papers at about ten if Pedro wasn't pitching the day before.

Since staving off a sweep in the Bronx earlier this month, Schilling has faced Johan Santana, John Smoltz, and Mrs. Myers' hopefully-soon-to-be ex-husband. He's drawn three no decisions as two of the games went to extra innings and the third was decided by a late Atlanta bullpen meltdown. He can probably expect another close, low-scoring game here, but he's used to it by now. This should be a hell of a rubber game.

Personally, I'm pretty fired up to see David Wright and Jose Reyes for three games. I've been following Reyes more closely this year because I have him on one of my fantasy teams, but I haven't seen too much of Wright. This should be fun...


Sully said...

Lester just walked a guy more than twice his age to score a run, but got out of the bases-loaded jam without further damage on a grounder by Nady (force at the plate) and a strikeout of Woodward. 3-2 Sox in the bottom of the 4th.

Sully said...

Jose Reyes hurt his arm - I thought it was his hand, but Jerry Remy thinks it's his shoulder - in a home plate collision with Jason Varitek. He looks shaken up, but there's no way to tell how serious it might be. Obviously, this could be devastating for the Mets - hopefully he's okay.

Sully said...

Well, the young pitchers both did what young pitchers do, which is get chased early. Lester was able to pitch out of a few jams, including strikeouts to get out of two bases loaded ones, but he threw 116 pitches through five innings. Soler was victimized by a ball lost in the wind by Lastings Milledge, but gave up homeruns to two former Marlins in the fifth, and was chased before the end of the inning. 8-2 Sox now going into the top of the 6th.

Sully said...

By the way, I should probably mention that Reyes is still in the game. Sorry about that - should have posted right away.

As if anyone is reading this...