Advance Scout: Red Sox, April 18-21

Friday, April 18 2003 @ 11:30 AM EDT

Contributed by: Mike D

Finally, the Terrible Twenty concludes. The Jays would do well, really well, to come out of Fenway with a split. Boston's hot hitters are staying hot, and their cold hitters are getting warmer. Maybe someone can step up with an Ernie Whitt/Junior Felix/Joe Carter-type big Fenway performance.

I'm still not crazy about the Beantown bullpen, in part because I'm not comfortable with the one-bad-outing-and-you're-demoted strategy, at least from a psychological perspective. Now, if a reliever has several Ramiro Mendoza outings in a row, then by all means I support handing him a mop. Even the bullpen, though, is showing glimmers of hope (read on below), thanks to a couple of unlikely saviours. The Red Sox are looking dangerous...

On to the Advance Scout!

Construction workers got to take in the Sox' home opener from the new Green Monster seats atop the 37-foot-high wall on Lansdowne...Only fair to offer the seats on Opening Day to those who built them...Kevin Millar continues to rake, as he's on an eight-game hitting streak. His average during the streak (.394) has lowered his numbers to a mere 408/482/755...North American pitching is so weak...After a brief slump, Manny Ramirez got his groove back against T-Bay...The Saber-Sox, certainly not reckless runners, have nevertheless outstolen the Jays 10-0, while being caught three times...Third base coach Mike Cubbage suffered a diabetic seizure during Saturday's game...He was held in the hospital as a precaution through Monday, but he's OK...Meanwhile, pitching coach Tony Cloninger has bladder cancer, but hopes to return to the club this weekend...Pedro's seven-run fifth inning was the worst inning of his career on Saturday...His vengeance, extracted from Tampa Bay last night, once again spares the Jays...Given that multiple rain delays created rotation flexibility for his manager, Derek Lowe thanked Grady Little for "letting [him] pitch" on Sunday after getting bombed in his previous two starts...But I bet he wasn't thankful for the hideous new stop-sign-red third jerseys, to be worn with pride on Sundays...Far from considering a skip in the rotation, Little felt it most important to get Lowe back out there immediately...Rubber-armed Tim Wakefield pitched two innings and got the save on Sunday, made himself available in relief on Tuesday and will start tonight...Shea Hillenbrand's 18th RBI of the season, and fourth hit of the game, bailed out the Bullpen by Calamity, which yakked up a 5-1 lead on Tuesday...Ramiro "Way Back" Mendoza was the culprit this time...Hillenbrand charitably spared the bullpen from verbal abuse, saying "It's a team. We've got to pick each other up"...In fairness to the Committee, good ol' Mike Timlin has been very solid, holding opponents to a .234 average with zero walks, five K's...Compare and contrast: Mendoza opponents more than double the Mendoza Line, hitting .419 with four walks, two K's...Little remains unfazed: "The kid will help us out. He's just getting off to a rough start"...But he hasn't used Mendoza since...Theo Epstein said the demotion of Bobby Howry was "not a message," but rather an attempt to kick-start the struggling reliever...Casey Fossum was good again, with no walks on Saturday...Jeremy Giambi is drawing walks, but has one home run, two doubles, two singles and 13 K's...David Ortiz snapped out of a deep slump on Wednesday with three hits, but didn't get into Thursday's lineup...Little: "The pitchers down in the pen will dictate when they'll be used"...Tampa's Travis Harper on Todd Walker: "The bottom line is you can't walk that guy with Nomar and Manny on deck"...Walker and Hillenbrand both made diving catches on Wednesday...Jason Varitek on Pedro: "You're talking about one of the most competitive pitchers in baseball"...After the rough ride by the Boston media and fans following the home opener, Pedro refused interviews after his dominating performance last night...Both Boston backstops, perhaps stressed out by their pitching staff, have been hitting poorly thus far. But Varitek had two hits last night and Mirabelli got his first hit of the season...Mirabelli was grateful for the opportunity to DH yesterday; he believes his hit will enable him to spot-start behind the plate "with the monkey off my back"...Cloninger says that he has identified several mechanical problems with Mendoza's delivery, most stemming from overthrowing. Little, again: "It's like driving in downtown Boston. One little minor mistake can create a lot of headaches"...So true, and either way you'll have thousands of Bostonians screaming at you with "we-ahd" accents...Kevin Millar's 13-game hitting streak to start his Red Sox career is the longest new-Sox streak since the immortal Lee Tinsley's 14-gamer in '95...Todd Walker is on a new-Sox 14-game on-base streak...The team is on an 8-game home run streak...Trot Nixon is murdering righties: 429/556/679...My word -- and he's the #7 hitter...End of the Committee? Little is coy, but here are his words on old friend Brandon Lyon: "We've been looking for a guy to step up, and I saw a kid [Wednesday] night stepping up...I wouldn't be surprised to see Brandon up there again tonight in the ninth inning."

Probable Batting Orders

vs. LH

8 Damon
4 Mueller/Walker
6 Garciaparra
7 Ramirez
3/9 Millar
5/3 Hillenbrand
DH Giambi/Mirabelli
9 Nixon/5 Mueller
2 Mirabelli/Varitek

vs. RH

8 Damon
4 Walker
6 Garciaparra
7 Ramirez
DH Millar/Giambi
3 Hillenbrand/Ortiz
9 Nixon
5 Mueller/Hillenbrand
2 Varitek

Committee Usage

Long: Shiell R, Wakefield R (when necessary)
Short: Tolar L, Mendoza R
Setup: Timlin R, Fox R
"Closer": Lyon R