EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Patriots

October 25, 2007

Sox continue to torture top pitching

BOSTON | While Rockies' rust, Josh Beckett's dominance and Red Sox playoff experience will probably fight for top billing around the water cooler this morning as the reason for last night's destruct-and-destroy World Series opener, I've got another reason.

In fact, it might be the reason the Red Sox, who cruised 13-1 last night, have gone from good to dominant in just a few short weeks.

Water torture.

Baseball experts probably have a more appropriate name for it: professional hitting.

Poor Jeff Francis. Like John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Jered Weaver, C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona before him, Francis couldn't get the job done in October against Red Sox hitters ... or make that lookers.

The Red Sox made Francis pitch. And pitch some more. In between they had 10 hits, including Dustin Pedroia's blast over the Green Monster only two pitches into the game. But that home run was the least of Francis' problems.

As he walked to the dugout, looking as if he was in a heavyweight bout, in the fourth inning, he had thrown 103 pitches. That's better than Carmona's 62 pitches in two innings in Game 6 last Saturday night at Fenway, but not by much.

The point is the Red Sox hitters, the bane of the 2007 Red Sox, might be the reason they look like the team to beat ... by far.

Other than reliever Eric Gagne's implosions, there has been one consistent thing keeping the Red Sox from being a great team | hitting.

The Red Sox were box-to-wire winners of the American League East because of their pitching, particularly Beckett, who made sure the Sox didn't lose more than four straight games at any point in the season.

The Red Sox drove New England crazy too many times. The problem centered around three players, J.D. Drew, Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo.

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