Keep up with the latest news, notes and developments with Fungoes, a daily journal for all things baseball that will last all season long.
AL East: R-E-L-I-E-F
As the Red Sox begin the week set to face the Devil Rays again -- Boston won two of three against Tampa Bay last week -- they hold a four-game lead over the Yankees. While New York has a tough three-game series this week in Anaheim, followed by a four-game set in Detroit, Boston follows up Tampa Bay with a trip to Chicago to play the White Sox. The Red Sox and Yanks meet next week in New York, their second-to-last meeting of the year. Though the Yanks have crept closer, given the schedule, the time is now for the Red Sox to put the AL East away. Dan Shaughnessy contemplates whether the glass is half-full or half-empty for Boston. Bryan Tsao thinks the Red Sox will be just fine.
Eric Gagne has struggled so far for Boston, prompting Joel Sherman to write that the Yankees may have won the Gagne sweepstakes after all. A few weeks is too soon to write off the trade, however, and Boston manager Terry Francona insists that he will continue to use Gagne:
"I don't think using him differently helps," Francona said. "You put a guy who pitches on adrenaline in a blowout game, it's not going to help him. When a hitter goes through a slump, your good hitters, you stay with 'em. You might give 'em an occasional day off, and that's what we'll do with Gagne today, because he threw a lot of pitches. But you try to put the players in the best position that they can succeed, and if you run away from that, it's not going to work. It's kind of weird, when you're pitching late in the game, there's such a glare. K-Rod [Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels] came in and gave it up. Manny Delcarmen came in and gave it up, but you don't hear about it because of circumstances. If we don't score, all the questions [would be], 'What happened with Manny?'
The Yankees haven't missed Gagne, of course, because of the emergence of Joba Chamberlain -- and to a lesser extent, Edwar Ramirez. Chamberlain's fastball is clocked in the high-90s, he's got a nasty slider in the high-80s and has displayed good control. Chamberlain has quickly become a fan favorite in the Bronx, and why not? He's yet to allow a run. He buzzed through the heart of the Tigers order on Sunday (Sheffield, Ordoñez, Guillen). Chamberlain was profiled in the Daily News by Anthony McCarron yesterday -- an excellent background piece. Over at the New York Times, Tyler Kepner describes The Joba Rules.
The attention that Gagne and Chamberlain have gotten of late -- in addition to credit that Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Paplebon have richly deserved all season long -- has overshadowed perhaps a bigger bullpen story: Mariano Rivera is quietly having his worst season as a reliever. Rivera strikes out more than a batter per inning and has only allowed six walks in 53 innings this year. But his ERA is 3.40, a run higher than his career mark of 2.35. He's allowed 20 earned runs so far this season -- something he hasn't done since 2001. Rivera is 37 and his contract is up at the end of the season. Teammates Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez are also in "walk" years (A-Rod can opt out of his deal), but they are performing as well, if not better, than could be expected. The same cannot be said for Rivera. This is not to say that he -- like Gange -- won't return to form over the next six weeks. And it is not to say that the Yankees won't re-sign him -- it would be hard to imagine the new Yankee Stadium opening in 2009 without Rivera. It's just to say that the once-automatic machine at the end of Yankee bullpen has been far from that lately. No wonder Yankee fans are salivating over some kid named after a Hut.
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I love Francona's comments about Gagne. "you put him in there." "Like a hitter, you might give him a day's rest." I think most Sox fans would agree, the Sox didn't have a problem closing games until this load showed up in Fenway. And we gave away a young left handed starter who was 4-0.
give me a break.
Hey Belth if your reading this could you do people a favour and write more than 1 line a piece for the other three teams in the division or else rename your blog to the red sox and yankee report
AL East blog (Monday)
NL West blog (Monday)
AL Central blog (Tuesday)
NL Central blog (Wednesday)
AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
Wild Card (Friday)