It's amazing the power a win can have. You can rattle off the stats: a 5-18 September through the first game of yesterday's double header; losing seven of the last eight; a starter's ERA that is last in every league that keeps records. But then Jacoby Ellsbury stepped to the plate against the ghost of Scott Proctor and jacked one out into the right field bleachers. Ellsbury's three run homer made me think two things: 1) Whooopeee! and 2) I know the bullpen is going to find a way to screw this up. They didn't, but if some dumb fan (me) can fall into the trap of thinking like that you know the team can too. So for those hocus pocus reaons as well as the obvious 'still leading the Wild Card race" ones, this was a huge win for the Red Sox. Yes, the Yankees weren't trying to win as hard as they might have if the game meant anything to them. But who cares? The Sox got the 'W' and that's all that matters. Now three in Baltimore. As Papelbon says, "it's time to ball."
Bill Petti over at Beyond The Boxscore thinks John Lackey has been, well not unlucky, but hurt by Fenway Park. A bit. No, he has not pitched well, Mr. Petti doesn't dispute that, but he does think the results would be different had Lackey pitched as wel but done his pitching in Anaheim. This is probably true. What's more I'm virtually certain Lackey's horrific performance on the mound this year is attributable to three things. 1) Age and decline, 2) injury and 3) luck. It's tough to imagine a pitcher of Lackey's pedigree achieving the results he has without some injury and with no bad luck. Age and decline plays into that a bit, but Lackey isn't that old, certainly not old enough to lose it in this manner. His holding the fort for six innings last night will hopefully help set things on the right track for Lackey.
Over at Fan Graphs, Jack Moore looks at the substance behind Brian Cashman's comparison of Brett Gardner and Carl Crawford. This is a complicated comparison, mostly because of Crawford's complete collapse this season. As Alex Speier notes over at WEEI.com, even Crawford's defense has been, depending on which metric you use, below or just slightly above average. In either case he hasn't been nearly as good as during his time in Tampa. (Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson also wrote about Crawford's lacking defense.) We know his offense has been putrid (a below .300 on-base percentage_0.6 fWAR) In other words, comparing just about anyone to Carl Crawford now is a pointless exercise. But, if you're going to look at career stats, then it's clear Crawford has been the better player. That may be changing going forward depending on how much of a bounce back year Crawford can muster in 2012. I imagine you'll be reading a lot of "what to expect from Carl Crawford" articles around these parts and elsewhere over the off season.
Finally, yikes. is pissed. Apparently a member of the media (not a baseball writer, according to Peter Abraham) texted Lackey before the start of last night's game. The text was of a personal nature and Lackey was quite upset by either the content and/or the breaking of the line between his public and private lives. Playing in a media market like Boston is not easy, especially compared to say Kansas City or Tampa. There is a difference. Whether that difference manifests itself on the field or not is up for debate, but I'd guess in some small way it shows up. Hopefully whatever was bothering Lackey gets fixed. The Sox are going to need him going forward.