You’ve heard so many times how great a story Daniel Nava is. While it is, in fact, a great story – the guy didn’t even make A ball until he was 25 and didn’t make his major league debut until he was 27 – it seems like the worm has turned for Nava and it’s time to get over his great story and start talking about his great season. No longer will he be known just for being the guy who made his major league debut by hitting a grand slam on national television. Now he’ll be known as the guy who didn’t quit after that and kept busting his ass until he became one of the most consistent outfielders in the American League at age 30.
Nava has been a revelation for the Red Sox this season
Nava isn’t really even supposed to be here when you think about it. After that storybook major league debut Nava fizzled out and only hit .242 in 2010 with only that one home run to go along with 26 RBI. Going into 2011 Nava found himself relegated to minor league camp in spring training and didn’t even see one game active on the major league roster through the course of the entire 2011 season. Nava then found an unlikely benefactor in 2012 in the person of Bobby Valentine who got him into 88 games while the Sox outfield struggled with injuries. Though improved Nava didn’t give the Sox a great deal of production last season, hitting .243 with a .353 OBP to go along with 6 home runs and 33 RBI. Nava came into the 2013 season once again hard pressed for playing time. The Sox spent good money on Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes to play alongside Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield and had Ellsbury’s heir apparent Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings in the minors.
Nava persevered once again to make the big club out of spring training and with Victorino battling injuries and Gomes struggling against right handed pitching Nava has made the most of his playing time. Coming into play on Saturday Nava is hitting .294 with a .389 OBP and a .468 slugging %. He’s got 9 home runs, 44 RBI and he’s scored 40 runs, all career highs already.
As Boston sports fans are still recovering from the gut wrenching loss the Bruins took last night in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Red Sox did complete a series with the Tampa Bay Rays last night. In a spot start Alfredo Aceves only gave up one run in six innings of work in a 2-1 Red Sox win while Andrew Bailey got the save. I for one will admit I was wrong when I said two months ago that Aceves pitched his last game in a Red Sox uniform and he has looked good in two spot starts since starting for Pawtucket after his demotions. Aceves has shown he can pitch well against the American League East and is battle tested so maybe now is the time he sticks around.
Matt Joyce took exception to getting hit by John Lackey on Monday.
On Monday night, the first game of this series, we found out that John Lackey and Matt Joyce do not like each other. Joyce took Lackey deep and seemed to flip his bat which Lackey did not like. Joyce in his next at bat his a long foul ball and seemed to do another bat flip and when Lackey retired Joyce, he yelled towards the Rays dugout. Next at bat with two outs Lackey hit Joyce with a pitch and Joyce began walking towards the mound and getting into a shove match with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Whether Lackey hit him on purpose remains to be seen but Rays manager Joe Maddon believes in was on purpose and thought Lackey should have been tossed. No ejections were made, the benches did clear but after Joyce was hit the game did not escalate into anything else unlike the Dodgers Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Anytime a player makes his way towards the mound I think he should be ejected from the game. The game is working towards being a pitchers game with offenses hitting less home runs in this steroid tested game we watch now, so they should protect the pitchers. At the same time when a warning is not issued for either team how could they eject a pitcher for plunking a batter?
Have you ever wanted to watch a baseball highlight without going on MLB.com and trying to navigate their ridiculous video section? Well that might not be a problem any longer. Major League Baseball has finally lifted its ban of Major League clips on YouTube. As every other sports league was easily accessible worldwide, the tyranny of Bud Selig wouldn’t allow even a 30 second clip of an MLB game. Now MLB has finally joined the 21st century and has posted full game videos of classic games, and have eased their ban on others posting MLB videos.
One of the best full games MLB had posted thus far is the 1999 all-star game at Fenway Park.
Every Red Sox fan remembers this classic!! Ted Williams is comes out of Center field waving his hat to the crowd, and even the players are in awe of the greatest hitter that ever lived. The when the actually starts, Pedro Martinez strikes out 5 of the 6 batters he faces.
If you have 5 hours to kill, you can always watch game 5 of the 2004 ALCS
And you can even follow it up by watching the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years!
Although the MLB YouTube channel isn’t spectacular, its a start for the league. The NBA, NHL, and even European Football have been big commodities on YouTube, and people all over the world now have the opportunity to follow teams without paying with a limb for an MLB subscription
Felix Doubront has gotten out of the funk he had to start the season.
At the start of this season I said Felix Doubront was the most important young player on the Red Sox. After a sub par April, I still felt the same way. He may have been 3-0 in the month but he was throwing too many pitches and wasn’t going deep into games which was taxing on the bullpen. His month of May started much of the same giving up six runs in each of his first two starts and not getting out of the sixth innings. Since Franklin Morales began rehab as a starting pitcher Doubront has performed the way I thought he could. In his last four starts he has surrendered no more than two earned runs while facing the Yankees and Indians along the way. Maybe the thought of him losing his job in the rotation had a positive effect. Since he was put in the bullpen for a game in which he was used quickly after Allen Webster couldn’t get out of the second inning against the Twins, he has looked like a man on a mission.
With John Lackey performing well after a year off from Tommy John Surgery, Doubront should have some extra motivation not to be the under performer of the staff. Even Ryan Dempster after a few rough starts had a good night on Monday with seven solid innings against the Rangers. The Rangers offense might not be what it once was with Josh Hamilton but they still pack some punch. Speaking of Hamilton, Doubront’s next start comes against his new team the Angels on Friday night at Fenway.
Every starting pitcher has some bumps in the road during the season, let us Sox fans hope Doubront’s bumps are now out of the way early. Jon Lester is going through somewhat of a tough time right now giving up four or more runs in his last three starts and eight walks combined. We know Lester is somewhat of a nibbler when it comes to the strike zone and when he doesn’t get the calls he wants it takes a toll on him. He is on the mound tonight against the Rangers opposite fellow lefty Derek Holland. Maybe this will be the start Lester turns it around as this month is a tough stretch and the team will need Lester to be a stopper.
1.62. That is the ERA of Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz. We knew Buchholz had the talent going into the last few seasons. After all this is a pitcher who threw a no hitter in his rookie year. Some pitchers throw no hitters and disappear from the radar. Sure Buchholz had his ups and downs but now he has settled down with a manager he apparently fears in John Farrell. He goes out there and pitches and pitches effectively. What more could the Red Sox ask for? Just stay healthy.
With the Sox starters going into the sixth inning and beyond the bullpen has had time to rest after a busy month of April. Andrew Bailey has only pitched in four games since his return from the disabled list. This could be good and bad as he has only had one save opportunity to get himself back into the closer role he was doing well with before his trip to the disabled list. Junichi Tazawa has looked good back to his setup role. The Red Sox now have three lefties in the pen with Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow, and Franklin Morales. John Farrell will have plenty of pitchers to play with matchups in the later innings if the opposing manager wants to get into a game of left/right. Alex Wilson after a successful stint with the club was sent down to Pawtucket being the odd man out when Morales returned and having options. Clayton Mortensen’s time may be running out giving up runs in three of his last five appearances.
The Red Sox have a tough stretch coming up with series against the Angels, Rays, Orioles, Rays, and Tigers over the next three weeks. If they can finish over .500 during that stretch they will be in the drivers seat to closing out the month June. June is an important month on the calendar as winning teams begin to separate themselves from the other teams and some team begin to make moves to their club hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. If Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino can return healthy and be effective the Sox will be one of those teams at the top of the American League.