By Matt Straub
I hate interleague play. One of the things which always made baseball stand out was having a World Series between teams who hadn’t played all year and in many cases had never played before ever. Now teams play each other every few years, taking some of the luster away from some of those matchups. Imagine a Yankees-Mets World Series if they had never played before?
The other bad thing about interleague play is what it does to the schedule. It often causes two-game series which screw up your whole week, like the Yankees experienced with Washington not long ago. For the Boston Red Sox, the schedule quirk gets taken to a new level. The Red Sox host the Braves for two, then go play… the Braves again.
Of course, watching the Red Sox play anyone is miserable these days. Not only are they bad, but now they’re falling apart mentally. There were a number of simple, stupid mistakes against Toronto, not to mention one of the great meltdowns by a bullpen of all time. Still, pitchers blowing games is to be expected. Letting three popups fall in over the course of two games is unacceptable. Not hustling back to second on a caught line drive (Hanley Ramirez) is a joke. And a manager, John Farrell, who can’t decide if he wants to be a tough guy or protect his players isn’t helping.
The Red Sox and Braves have something in common, however. The lack of dominant teams in their divisions mean neither team is out of contention despite lousy starts to the year. Boston is in worse shape, but both teams can look at this week as a chance to try and get something going, knowing all the while they don’t have to go far to be in the mix.
Atlanta Braves (30-33, third place NL East)
at Boston Red Sox (27-37, last place AL East)
Monday, 7:10 p.m.
Williams Perez (2-0, 2.78 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (4-6, 5.26)
Tuesday, 4:05 p.m.
Julio Teheran (4-2. 4.78) vs. Wade Miley (5-6, 5.07)
The Red Sox actually experienced momentum this weekend in Boston. That’s right, they saw the Blue Jays gain more and more of it by first rallying from seven down to beat Boston, then club the Sox for 13 runs on the way to a sweep and 11 straight wins. Boston now has six straight losses and is a little closer every day to the edge of extinction for the year. The Braves are coming off their own crushing loss to the Mets in which they blew a big lead. Atlanta isn’t playing well, but the leaders haven’t gotten too far away yet.
Three Braves To Watch
1. Nick Markakis has been an important member of the Braves’ lineup since coming over from Baltimore. He’s not a home run hitter, in fact he has none, but he provides a nice veteran presence and added depth to go with a .300 average.
2. Freddie Freeman can hit home runs, and he hits for average. He will be a nightmare for a bad Boston pitching staff to handle.
3. Teheran has struggled to regain his form, and this could be an important start for him. If he can keep the Red Sox down Tuesday, maybe it sparks him. If he loses to the most disappointing team in baseball, he might be on the way to a brutal year. It’s hard to say the season cvomes down to one June start, but this could be a jumping off point for him.
In the biggest waste of gasoline ever, the Red Sox and Braves will likely take separate planes to Atlanta, where they start a series against each other on Wednesday. Did I mention I hate interleague play?