The Baseball Desert

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Whetting our appetite

As Emma quite rightly pointed out yesterday, today is the day
we come back down to Earth, worry about wins and losses and ERAs and AVGs and statistics,
but yesterday was a day for getting re-acquainted with the game of baseball. And as Opening Days go, it was a pretty good one. Schilling looked like the Schilling of old - 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts - and had it not been for a couple of innings of 20+ pitches, he probably would have pitched a complete game. He had great velocity and good location (thankfully, given the Gary Darling's movable strike zone) and looked dominating. Papelbon also looked right at home out there, throwing 10 of 13 pitches for strikes in a 1-2-3 8th inning.

The one slight cloud inside all of this silver lining was Foulke, who looked decidely shaky on the mound. I'm not going to read any more into that Opening Day shakiness than I am into Schilling's dominance - it's a long season and yesterday's outing represents about 1% of the innings Foulke hopes to throw between now and the end of September - but I will say that the 9th inning was the only time in the whole game that I felt distinctly uneasy. It could be that I'm just projecting my unease onto Foulke, but he just didn't look right out there. He came in with a five-run lead, but it felt like a lot less. I desperately want Foulke to bounce back, but I don't know the Sox can help build up confidence in that kind of situation. It's potentially asking for trouble, but maybe he really needs to get back in at the deep end, in a tight, one-run game, in order to prove - à laSchilling - that he is capable of handling the situation. Time will tell - for now, I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping that he can pull it together.

A couple of other random reflections from yesterday's game:
  • NESN's HD broadcast: I've spent months being envious of people who have access to this, but the benefits of HD are visible even on - the image is much sharper, and watching it in full-screen mode on the PC no longer requires you to squint at the screen to bring it all into clearer focus. It isn't quite what people are seeing on their TVs all across New England, but for somebody staring at a 12" laptop screen in the suburbs of Paris, it's a pretty good compromise.
  • Coco: I liked him before he ever even put on a Red Sox uniform, but the more I see him, the easeier it is to forget that other guy we used to have in center field (what was his name again?). Coco didn't have an easy day at the plate, but he more than made up for it elsewhere, with a great catch in center and some good baserunning. Damon was no slouch on the basepaths, but Coco's speed going from first to home on a hit to the outfield made Damon look like Doug Mirabelli. For my own personal pleasure, I would like to suggest to the Red Sox that with Coco on first they do not hit home runs this season, favouring instead a steady diet of singles and doubles so that we can watch Coco do his thing.
The season is barely under way, but one thing is certain - I'm going to enjoy watching this team play baseball over the next six months.