Mike Napoli and David Ortiz are the spongey core of the Red Sox line-up right now. It feels like the old guard has lost its potency, and the new guard, especially Bogarts, Betts, and Holt are rejuvenating the team. It’s not only a shift from old to new, but from the muscle-bound right side of the infield to the aggressive. up the middle leadership.
What was excused as a slow start is now a couple of old men fussing about the strike zone and hitting into the shift, instead of trying to out-maneuver the opposing managers stacking one side of the infield. Napoli and Ortiz are wasting their breath complaining about pitches they should have swung at, instead of attacking earlier in the count, when pitchers try to get ahead of them.
Tonight (Tuesday) Napoli sat and Ortiz went hitless. Napoli’s replacement, Travis Shaw, went three for four. Ortiz struck out with runners in scoring position. Bogarts drove in the tying and winning runs with a clutch single in the eighth inning. Betts scored the winning run. Holt plugged the right side of the infield, as Pedroia’s replacement. These are the Sox of the future.
Now that the team is collectively hitting better, it is easier to identify the soft underbelly of the line-up. Napoli may yet find his stride, but he has stirred a lot of air in the first half of the season. Ortiz may also recover. He has proven us wrong before. But he has looked helpless at the plate in recent days.
Old men, take a seat!