Near perfection!

Jon Lester was on last night, tossing his first complete game shutout in five years (Game Score was 90). In the history of the organization, there have only been four other 1 hit, no walk shutouts:

  • Pedro in 2000 v. the Rays (Game Score – 98)
  • Hideo Nomo in 2001 v. the Jays (Game Score – 99)
  • Curt Schilling in 2007 v. the A’s (Game Score – 89)
  • Josh Beckett v. the Rays in 2011 (Game Score – 91)

To put this game in perspective, there have only been 8 Red Sox games where a pitcher has only allowed one baserunner. Lester was not perfect, but he was good and hard hit balls were right at defenders. Isn’t it always the case that the lightest hitter on a team seems to be the one to break up a no hitter or a perfect game? Last night it was Maicer Izturis, who is hitting .219/.246/.333 in 120 PA this year. He’s not a bad hitter, but there seems to be some cosmic joke out there when the ninth batter breaks up a perfect game bid. Granted, it was only the sixth inning, but the game had the feel that something special was possible.

The Sox, though, still do not have a perfect game in their history.

The worry for me last night during the game was partly for Lester’s perfect bid but also for the Sox hitters against the pathetic Ramon Ortiz. He topped out at 89 and was throwing junk. They had lots of men on base but could not do much with their opportunities through the first six innings. It was not until their four run seventh that fans could breath easier. Some of the issues:

  • In May, Ellsbury’s OBP is .271. Victorino’s is .419.
  • In May, Ortiz is hitting .171/.237/.343.
  • In the last seven days, Napoli’s slash line is .182/.250/.227.

One good pitching outing can make the team look great. But, the problems have not been solved. I think Farrell needs to consider moving Ellsbury out of the leadoff spot. In his career, Ellsbury gets on at a .341 clip as a leadoff hitter. That’s acceptable, but not spectacular. This year he is getting on at a .318 rate as leadoff hitter. That puts the Sox 21st out of 30 MLB teams and 11 out of 15 in the AL.

The top 5 in the AL:

  1. Oak – .392
  2. Tex – .373
  3. Hou – .367
  4. Bal – .359
  5. Cle – .355

The bottom five in the AL:

  1. Min – .238
  2. Tor – .287
  3. CHW – .288
  4. Sea – .317
  5. Sox – .318

Farrell could put Victorino in there, but Victorino is only a career .320 OBP leadoff guy. Here is a novel idea – try Nava at leadoff. He has done it in 27 games and gets on at a .352 clip.

A new order for Farrell:

  1. Nava
  2. Pedroia (your best guy should bat second)
  3. Ortiz
  4. Napoli
  5. Salty
  6. Victorino
  7. Ellsbury
  8. Middlebrooks
  9. Drew

If Ellsbury wants his big free agent payday, he needs to start performing. A drop in the order might be the kick in the pants he needs. Since the start of the 2012 season he has done this:

.267/.314/.367 with 5 HR, 38 RBI

That is not a player you pay big money, even with Scott Boras’ help.

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