A friend (Yankee fan) and I discussed the sorry state of baseball the other day, with the embarrassment of riches that encourages 'quality at bats', extended pitch counts, and getting into the opponents bullpen. The strategy worked somewhat on Carlos Zambrano today, but not as well as his baserunning that produced a foot injury.
Unfortunately for the Sox, Wade Miller also proved a victim of lack of pitching parsimony and he departed with the Sox trailing 5-4. As customary recently, the bullpen failed again, yielding two Cub runs in the eighth, and a Sox rally fell short, dropping a 7-6 decision to the Nomarless Cubs.
The defeat was the fourth in the past 5 days as the road trip continues to extract its toll.
Trot Nixon got the Sox off to a fast start in the first with a three-run shot to left center, followed by a second inning dinger by Bill Mueller.
Pen-Stained Sox. The Sox era for June has risen to (gulp) 6.92, and the Sox pen is allowing a league leading .812 OPS. They are next to last in K/9 innings, 12th in K/BB ratio, and 11th in WHIP ratio. Aside from Mike Timlin, nobody has been really effective, although Keith Foulke has pitched better recently.
The Sox are still second to Texas in offense, and if the pitching had been even mediocre, they would be challenging for the lead.
The question for Theo Epstein is what alternatives he has, for example, bringing up Abe Alvarez or Jeremi Gonzales from Pawtucket and giving up on (or finding a DL spot for) John Halama or Alan Embree. Clay Meredith seems to have found himself at Pawtucket, but I expect they'd like to have him get more experience first. If they brought up a starter, they could move Tim Wakefield to the bullpen, where his versatility and a change of scenery might help.
All things considered, it's probably best not to try to push Papelbon or Lester up from Portland until September callups; not that Theo's calling me, but I'd rather not make the Bagwell trade all over again. DO NOT TRADE OUR FUTURE FOR SOMEBODY ELSE'S PAST.
Obviously, Curt Schilling is a wildcard, but I don't think anybody can expect anything from him until further notice. In other words, you can't count on what you don't have.