With one more week down and two more to go, there have been some big shifts in momentum for a number of Red Sox. Overall, it has the feeling of a good week--the team did go 5-3, after all--but for the most part it seems like many of the players were fairly average. And given how hot much of the team was in the week before, many of them probably wish things had just stayed the same.
Still, some outliers exist, and two of them were cold players who found themselves on a much-needed hot streak. Who are they? Let's find out.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
The Sox' speedy outfielder has been slacking off on his base-stealing. But that can be excused when he gets to second or further on four of his seven hits on the week. With two doubles and two homers, Ellsbury has shown a surprising amount of power, and even added in a pair of walks in under 15 plate appearances to satisfy the critics of his leadoff ability.
2. John Lackey
He took a fair bit of contact in his second appearance, but John Lackey's two starts this week resulted in 10 innings and just two runs. Lackey has also continued to keep the walks down, offering up just one in the period to five strikeouts.
3. Dustin Pedroia
His 6-for-12 performance wasn't as impressive as Ellsbury's, and only included the one double, but after a slow start to the spring, the return of the laser show was a more-than-welcome sight.
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Last week's coldest turned things around in his lone start this week, dominating a Detroit lineup that we might expect to see on opening day for five scoreless innings, allowing just three baserunners while striking out five. Of course, this sort of inconsistency is really just par for the course with Daisuke, so don't be surprised if he ends up on the other side of things next week.
5. The Bullpen Locks-Minus Papelbon
We'll get to Jonathan Papelbon in the second half of things, but for now, let's focus on the good: The three other relievers who are almost sure things to break camp with the team--Bobby Jenks, Daniel Bard, and Dan Wheeler--kept their opponents off the board for five innings this week. They racked up five strikeouts and managed a WHIP of 0.94 in the process.
1. Jonathan Papelbon
It's hard to be worse than Papelbon was this week. The Red Sox closer had two frighteningly bad appearances on the week, and ended up giving up more runs than he got outs. First, against the Twins, Papelbon recorded just one out while allowing the only three Minnesota runs to come across on three walks and a double. On Thursday, he blew another one, this time allowing four runs to the Mets without getting out of the inning. Two more walks, a hit batter, and two more doubles cost him this time. While it's not time to give him the heave-ho just yet, after his poor 2010 campaign, things are looking very grim for Paps.
2. Josh Beckett
Beckett's mention in this should come with a decent-sized asterisk. He did allow five runs in four innings against the Pirates, yes, but it seems like most of this came as the result of him tiring in the fifth inning, which isn't really all that unusual for a guy just trying to get stretched out in spring training. Given how encouraging his start was through the first four innings, it's worth giving Beckett the benefit of the doubt, if only for now.
3. Carl Crawford
The biggest free agent signing of the offseason for the Red Sox hasn't really been having the greatest debut with the team. A 2-for-11 performance with for strikeouts has Crawford firmly in the cold list for the second straight week.
4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Jason Varitek
After a strong start to the season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has slowed down some as his playing time has become more sparse (likely just to avoid early wear and tear). Salty went 2-for-9 on the week with a walk and a double. Of course, that's nowhere near as bad as his partner behind the plate went; the Captain put up a goose egg in eight trips to the plate, striking out three times.
5. Ryan Kalish
Even with three walks, it's hard to say much positive about three hits in sixteen plate appearances. The team's outfielder-of-the-future hasn't had a great spring so far, though he may have turned it around in Friday's game against the Tigers, however, getting two hits and a walk in four trips to the plate.
With two weeks to go, there's not much time left to make a good impression before the season starts. For some, this is less important than others--Carl Crawford, for instance, isn't going to be benched anytime soon no matter what his spring results are. But there are some spots to be had. Three spots in the bullpen could be available for players like Matt Fox and Matt Albers. Or maybe the shortstop position could still be usurped by Jed Lowrie. All it could take is a couple of great weeks.