As this is being written, the Boston Red Sox are down 5-3 to the Oakland Athletics in the 3rd inning. The Sox started well, scoring three runs in the top of the first, staking Daisuke Matsuzaka an early lead. But Matsuzaka could not hold it, giving up five runs in the bottom of that inning and not returning in the second. Justin Masterson has taken over.
While it is only the 8th game of the season, the Red Sox should be in panic mode. It looks like Matsuzaka is hurt (he has left with arm fatigue), starting shortstop Jed Lowrie has been placed on the DL with the same wrist ailment he had last year, Jon Lester is 0-2 with two terrible starts, and the offense is stagnant. The only thing good about the Red Sox seems to be Kevin Youkilis, who is on fire to start the season.
Matsuzaka’s arm fatigue would explain the lack of any good pitches and his continuing poor command. Lester has been unable to hit his spots, looking brilliant in select innings while getting rocked in others. It is time the Red Sox shook things up before this season gets out of hand.
With Beckett facing a six game suspension and Matsuzaka possibly hurt, the youth movement in Boston needs to happen. Top pitching prospects Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden need to come up and bring some much needed young and cheap talent to the starting rotation for a breath of fresh air.
On a side note, Masterson is pitching extremely well. He did well as a starter and a reliever last season. It is not out of the realm of possibilities that Masterson could see some starting action yet again this year.
Getting back to Buchholz, yes, he had a horrible year last season. However, this spring he was almost un-hittable having worked on his control and confidence all offseason. Bowden came up last year and won his major league debut. Putting Matsuzaka on the DL could be a good thing for him, as it might prove to be a much-needed wake-up call. Getting him some time in AAA could get his control and confidence on track.
If Boston falls too far behind now, they may not have the strength to make up the ground over the Rays and Yankees. The pitching needs to improve within the next week. If it doesn’t, the Red Sox could be this year’s surprise failures.