Let’s Stop Lopez

The question for today is if Matt Clement can keep up the pitching dominance we’ve seen out of our starting pitching so far. Matt Clement’s last start, he threw seven innings and finished with a line of 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K. He was followed by Tim Wakefield who gave us six innings, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Curt Schilling took the ball for 5 IP, 10 H, 5 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 10 K. Then Arroyo turned in an underrated 5.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 1 K. He made mistakes that hurt him but other than that was great. Then David Wells just turned in an eight-inning effort tonight to stymie the Orioles. With the possible exception of Arroyo (Schilling struck out 10 in five innings and most of the hits off him seemed to be flukes) the Sox have a nice streak going, even nicer when you recall David Wells, Tim Wakefield, and Bronson Arroyo’s previous starts.
Clement is currently 1-0 with a 3.12 start, and we’re facing Rodrigo Lopez who is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA. Lopez has always stymied us, pitching 82 IP against us (16 G, 12 GS) with a 3.73 ERA and an 8-3 record. In 2004, Lopez was 3-1 in 30.1 IP against us, 1.78 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .243 BA. He’s going to bookend Bruce Chen’s great start tonight who tired as the game went on and coughed up Jason Varitek’s three-run bomb to make it 4-0. After that, we took it to the relievers, scoring an additional four. Chen has been pitching very good this year and it’s nice to see him realize his potential. The Red Sox bats woke up against the relievers, so we know it was Chen being effective. The reason we finally got to Chen is we kept waiting out his pitches, something we need to with Lopez tomorrow to succeed.
If we can win today, then we get first place for the first time this season, and continue to try to build the lead over the Yankees who seem to be snapping out of their slump – although they haven’t had much competition in the Devil Rays to stop them.
A little known factoid this season is that over the last four years, the Orioles have played the Red Sox 19 times this season, but because of scheduling, the regular season will see only 18 matchups.
The Red Sox STILL haven’t allowed a run in the first inning this season, something that no other MLB team can claim.
Meanwhile Manny finally had his homer-streak stopped, and didn’t get a chance to finish it up late in the game when Trot Nixon pinch-hit and predictably walked. The man has a .440 OBP thus far (.297 AVG) and is really posting numbers. He seems to have taken to the two-spot well, and his now not playing against lefties at all really adds a threat to our bench late in game where we can have no qualms about pinch-hitting him for Payton. I don’t know about you, but I feel better PHing Nixon in for Payton against a righty than I do PHing Payton for Nixon against a lefty late in the game.
Another hitter on a power surge is Jason Varitek, who has a .340/.367/.600 line. The OBP isn’t great, but I’l take a catcher with a .340 AVG and .600 SLG any day of the week.
Kevin Millar had a single. How much longer before Varitek and Millar flip-flop in the batting order?

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