The Sox had a wildly entertaining season opener filled with great pitching, excellent defensive plays, and a few long balls. The Sox won the game the way they are supposed to win this year: with great pitching and just enough offense.
However, I couldn't help being annoyed by what happened after Paul Konerko reached base.
On two separate occasions, Mark Kotsay stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. There was one out the first at-bat and no outs the second one. On both occasions, Mark beat a ball into the ground for a relatively easy double play attempt.
Though the first one wasn't turned and the Sox still got three runs out of those two innings, I took it as a bad sign for future games. The guys that were supposed to carry the offensive load did it, but the rest of the lineup had some pretty rough days.
The Sox will need to score some runs at other spots in the order, and they won't always be able to rely on double plays not being turned and wild pitches to cross the plate. The fifth spot in particular will be important because whoever hits there should get plenty of RBI opportunities.
Right now, that appears to be Kotsay's spot, which worries me. Kotsay is a relatively average hitter that doesn't exactly strike fear in opposing pitchers. If I'm on the mound facing the Sox, I'm not giving Konerko anything remotely decent to hit with a much less imposing foe in the on deck circle.
Granted, it won't be Kotsay every night, since Andruw Jones should get a fair number of at-bats. However, given manager Ozzie's tendency to alternate righties and lefties, A.J. Pierzynski will probably be batting fifth, which is relatively similar. Also, Kotsay seems to be the guy who will play against righties.
The right guy for the spot is probably Alex Rios, who hit the ball hard yesterday and is far more talented. It remains to be seen if Ozzie will actually hit his four best hitters in a row, even if they are all right handed.
Whoever hits in the fifth spot absolutely has to produce if the Sox are to have an above average lineup. They're not always going to shut out their opponent and slug homers; eventually they're going to have to get some big hits with runners on base. The early indications are that Gordon Beckham, Carlos Quentin, and Konerko will reach base at a decent clip. Now, the Sox need to find someone to drive them in.
Here's hoping that I'm getting all worked up over nothing. However, until we see some more production in the lower half of the order, I'm always going to be nervous when someone like Kotsay comes up with men on base.
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