Daisuke Matsuzaka and the rest of the Sox staff need to be strong out West. (AP Photo)
It's well known now that Boston has scored more runs than any other team in MLB (494) - and the fact that they've been achieving this production with the M*A*S*H unit I like to call the Zombie Red Sox is pretty incredible. What's been lacking this year though has been the excellent pitching we thought we had heading North from Florida. Our starting pitchers have a combined 4.19 ERA this year which ranks them 6th out of the 14 teams in the AL, however, our relief pitchers have an ERA of 4.51 - which places them in the back of the pack and in 12th in the AL.
What this is telling me is that, for the most part, our starters have held the line, and it's the relief pitchers who have been disappointing. There's two things that can happen to help with this. One is that Theo & crew need to make it a priority heading into the trade deadline to pick up some quality relief pitchers. I'm pretty certain he'll do this, for no other reason then it's what he's consistently done in the past. You can pick-up a quality RP for a much cheaper price then a good bat or starting pitcher. And frankly, as the Red Sox start getting healthy and come off of the DL - it'll affect the team as much as any blockbuster ever could. Getting back Pedroia, Beckett, Ellsbury, and V-Mart alone is enough to make you want to do back-flips, and it's starting to happen, the Zombie Apocalypse may indeed have a happy ending after-all.
So that's one thing that can be done, get help at the trade deadline, and hope for a Zombie cure, but in the short term we need something else to be done, and what needs to be done is exactly what Daisuke Matsuzaka did last night. We need our starters to pitch effectively, well, and deep into games - especially during this brutal July road trip. It's going to be a slow trickle of players coming back to the club off of the DL, and we need to at least go .500 on this trip. Having a starter pitch 6.2 innings and then hand it off to Bard, like Dice-K did last night, is the ideal. Starter, Bard, Paps should be our goal every night, and last night it was achieved.
Seeing Matsuzaka throw 19 out of 24 first pitch strikes was the key for him last night (and every night), as he was mixing in his slider & cutter masterfully. And all this was done with only 89 pitches. Now it's Wakefield's turn (who despite all his amazing years of service to the Sox, always makes me nervous on the mound) to keep the line moving, and just maybe the strange thing about this West Coast trip will be that the Sox will win games with their pitching, much like we imagined after heading out of Fort Meyers, and into the great beyond of 2010.