Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Uch

Look, I don't want to write about them anymore than you want to read it. Remember what the Red Sox were like before they signed Manny Ramirez? Two full seasons of Scott Hatteberg, Troy O'Leary, and Bernard Gilkey swinging and missing with men on base. Familiar, hu? Remember when Rico Brogna was a big addition to the offense? The thing about not being able to hit is you're okay until you realize it. Hitters have good stretches and bad ones, and they'll essentially work themselves out unless they get in their own way. The trouble comes when a player figures out he's in a bad stretch and decides to go about fixing it. That's when people start pressing, and boy are the Red Sox pressing right now. The patient at-bats are disappearing, no one is going the other way, and productive outs are few and far between. Obviously this a group capable of hitting with runners on base, but recently they've been striking out, popping out, grounding out, seemingly whatever result will assure them of not advancing a teammate. When was it more evident than last night, where nearly every inning if a fly ball would've scored a run they'd grounded out, or if an infield hit was needed they'd K? When a hitter decides he MUST stop the slump at that moment, he often only slumps further. He has trouble taking what a pitcher offers, and tries to force his skills onto the at-bat. Watch Kevin Millar tonight. He's a pull hitter for certain, but nothing gets him into more trouble than trying to pull. Right now he's opening up his front side and jerking everything over with him. He's not hitting so he goes up there thinking "maybe if I can just homer once, I'll get myself out of this." So Kevin sees an outside slider, thinks maybe he can flip it out, and flies open. Groundball to third. If he just relaxed and let himself be, he'd push the ball over the second baseman's head for a single. But at the moment he's having trouble with it. As are most of the Red Sox. So for a few more days at least, we'll have to endure stellar performances from mediocre opponents. There will be no trades and Trot and Nomar are still a bit away, so this group will have to fix its own problems. They'll do it, but for the sake of those who have to watch this every night, let it be soon.
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