Cleveland came into today’s game against Boston with the majors’ best run differential at plus-65, but that number took a beating at Progressive Field as the Red Sox scored 14 runs in the first six innings and coasted to a 14-2 victory.
Mitch Talbot took the brunt of the damage in his first start since April, giving up seven runs in the first inning and eight runs in three innings overall as his ERA rose from 1.46 to 5.87 in 76 pitches.
Boston wasn’t done when Talbot exited after three innings either, knocking around reliever Frank Herrmann for six more runs.
Carl Crawford went 4-for-4 to raise his batting average from .212 to .229, call-up Drew Sutton had three hits starting in place of the injured Kevin Youkilis at third base, and everyone in the Red Sox’s starting lineup had at least two hits except Jed Lowrie, who somehow managed to go 0-for-5 while his teammates went 20-for-40.
Since starting the season 2-10 (including 0-6) the Red Sox have now gone 25-12. They’re four games behind the Indians for the best record in the league.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉