My sincerest condolences go out to the family, friends and teammates of Josh Hancock, relief pitcher of the St. Louis Cardinals, who died Sunday in a car crash. Josh was drafted by the Red Sox back in 1998, and was part of the 2002 trade that got us Jeremy Giambi.
Untimely passings such as Josh's remind me that baseball is just a game. It is very easy to get caught up in the big rivalry. We find ourselves rooting for our favorite baseball heroes, and putting them up on huge pedistals. These guys get the big money, have nice cars, beautiful homes, expensive toys. We make them out to be larger than life, teflon coated untouchables. Its part of what makes watching their games so much fun.
But in the end, sports figures are just human beings like the rest of us. They live, they hurt, they cry, they even make bad choices from time to time. And they die too. Sometimes way, way too early.
So, once again, the Sox come out of the gate with a successful April, this time going 16-8, the best lead in franchise history. This start is despite the fact that Manny has struggled, and players like Coco and Pedroia still have inconsistent offense.
The big story has been the Red Sox pitching. Wow, who knew that other acquisition from Japan was going to be so effective? Okijama has been nothing short of spectacular. In 12 outings he has only allowed 3 hits. Its been a great confidence boost having him be a regular setup guy, and on days where Papelbon needs the day off to rest, Okijama is a great choice to fill in. Papelbon has continued this year, right where he left off. LIGHTS OUT. What a one two punch at the end of a game. Our starters are consistently going deeper into games, so the bullpen is rested and ready to go. Beckett's got a few new pitches this year, which has helped him be more effective as well. Dice-K has had some struggles, but when the run support is there, he can be successful.
Offense has been streaky, but the good news is that its seems more people are contributing. This isnt a team that is going to always rely on Manny and Papi to get it done. There is some decent depth this year, with the additions of Lugo, and Drew. And at least in April, we have a confident and strong off the bench guy in Alex Cora. He's currently batting over .300. Putting Cora in late in a game doesnt mean the 3rd out, this guy has been great.
The key so far is that the Sox have been solid. May will bring some challenge, as we will face the likes of Cleveland, Atlanta, Toronto this month. Also there will be 3 more games in the Bronx, which is always good fun.
So keep up the good work, guys. Stay healthy and consistent. Red Sox Nation is a great world to live in right now. Our rivals across the state lines keep reminding us that the inevitable Sox slide is coming after the All Star break. Let's prove em all wrong this year, can't we?