What do I know? I said the Vance Worley match up would be a good one for the Sox. On paper, yes. In the reality of last night, not so much. I also said the Twins bullpen was pretty good. On paper, yes. In the reality of last night, outside of Anthony Swarzak, no.
Vance Worley, but for a fourth inning Pesky Pole homer by Shane Victorino, kept the Sox in check for five innings allowing only two runs. He came out for the sixth with his pitch count at only 78, so he could not have been tired when the wheels came off. It was his third time through the order and apparently the Sox had seen enough of his stuff to start doing some damage. In reality though, Worley’s problems started at the end of the fifth when Stephen Drew drove in Daniel Nava with a single and then Ellsbury roped a double to center. Drew tried to score but was thrown out at the plate. I hear that replays show Drew was safe. Worley wasn’t fooling anyone at this point but still Gardenhire let him start the sixth. The Sox took advantage with two singles to start the frame. That meant Worley gave up four straight hits before Gardenhire sent him to the dugout in favor of Brian Duensing. Duensing seemed ready to escape the jam when he got Ortiz to ground into a double play, but Napoli smoked a single to center scoring Victorino. That made the score 4-2. Duensing walked Nava and more damage appeared possible. It was to be a night, though, of single run innings for the Sox. Duensing ended the rally by striking out Salty.
Andrew Miller had an on night and escaped an Alex Wilson created jam the next inning by fanning Morneau and Parmelee. It was the kind of outing that keeps Miller in the majors. Stephen Drew, the game hero, followed in the bottom of the inning with a homer to tie the game. Breslow was up next and looked great setting the side down in order in the eighth. Breslow is no dummy, I discovered. He graduated from Yale, majoring in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. You don’t see that kind of resume often on a major league roster. Not a rocket scientist, but a scientist nonetheless.
In the bottom of the eighth, Pedroia put the Sox up 5-4 with his first homer of the season, halfway up the light tower. Perfect. Time for a closer to turn out the lights. The problem the Sox face is that with Andrew Bailey on the DL, Joel Hanrahan has taken over that role. And, as I’ve said before, I don’t think he is cut out for it.
As the ninth started, the guy in front of me told his friends that Hanrahan was a guarantee. It was then that I knew we were doomed. Two batters later, after some odd tosses and one that went to the backstop, Dozier ripped a homer over the Green Monster. Hanrahan turned out to be a stiff, not a guarantee. He conveniently has injury excuses for his meltdowns – hamstring, tight forearm. I am a tad cynical and find it pretty convenient that these “injuries” coincide with blown saves. In reality, I just don’t think Hanrahan is a closer. Maybe he can close in Pittsburgh but not in Boston.
On a final note, I’ve commented on Middlebrooks before and his decision to go for homers and avoid the walk. That is a recipe for a demotion. Working in Middlebrooks’ favor is that the Sox don’t really have much to replace him with. Their best third base prospect is Garin Cecchini in Single A Salem. Drew Sutton is playing third at Pawtucket and has at least drawn more walks then strikeouts 15/13. He is no spring chicken, he turns thirty at the end of June. His major league slash line in 308 PA reads 256/309/399. Not much of a threat to Middlebrooks whose line in 411 PA is 260/297/470. Middlebrooks is Drew Sutton with a tad more power.
Ryan Dempster starts tonight against Scott Diamond. Diamond is not overpowering, his fastball tops out at 88. But he moves the ball around a bit, has somehow added a few Ks to his pitching line, dropped a few walks and kept the ball in the park. Those things have led to a good start to his 2013 season. If he can keep that up then his 12-9 3.54 ERA 2012 won’t seem like a fluke. A decent, but not great pitcher. He, at the moment, is the Twins ace.