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"Wake"ing Up the Boston Red Sox

Sara HannonCorrespondent IApril 17, 2009

24 Feb 1998:  Tim Wakefield #49 of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait during Spring Training at the City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

Wednesday, Tim Wakefield flirted with a perfect game and might have restored the Red Sox confidence in themselves.

It feels as though these first two weeks of baseball, the Red Sox have been trying to start a car. Sometimes the ignition turns over, but it doesn't last long. Maybe Wake's start is the jump they need to really get moving.

It does not help, of course, that they had to face first the Rays, and then the emotionally charged and always difficult LA Angels.

I feel like we need the Hitchiker's Guide to Baseball with a big sign on the back that says "Don't Panic," and we really shouldn't. We've got, what, 152 games left, or something like that?

Looking at the stats for the first two weeks of the season give me hope, however. They have allowed the second fewest runs in the AL East—the Rays have allowed two fewer, but the Red Sox are one of the three teams with more runs allowed than runs scored.

So there is your problem. Well, Dice-K and Lowrie being injured doesn't help either, but truly, the issue is offense.

The Red Sox have just 35 RBI so far this year. That's 27th in the league. Their on-base percentage is ranked considerably higher. Which leads me to one issue: they can't hit with runners on.

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While more of the team has moved above .200, Varitek (who's right at .200), Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Ortiz are all still below the .200 mark. Dustin is a traditionally slow starter, so his engine should start going soon, Papi had his first extra-base hit of the season, so maybe that will kick him into gear, and Ellsbury seems to be coming back; he's hit much better in the A's series than the others.

Maybe Wake's brush with history will rejuvenate the entire team. Right now, Youkilis and Bay are on fire. Youk's hitting .472 and Bay is hitting .345, both with two homers.

Varitek's average might be a little low, but of his five hits, two are doubles, and two are home runs. He's hitting for much more power than last year and is tied with the lowest number of strike-outs on the team.

I'm an eternal optimist. So maybe all of this is nothing, and they're going to continue to be below .500 for the first time in years, but somehow, I doubt it. Maybe Tek is going to have another bad year, but what I've seen so far says otherwise.

Maybe Bay won't hit 30 homers, but I think he will. And maybe Kevin Youkilis will slump after the All-Star break, but I have faith.

The Sox return home tonight to take on the Orioles at 7:10. Penny takes on Guthrie, who has looked pretty good in his two starts for the birds. The Orioles are a game back of the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming.

If Penny can locate tonight, and the bats can get moving, I think the Sox turn it around and get back above .500.

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