“In the back of your mind, you kind of wonder if we’ll play them again,’’ Boston slugger David Ortiz said.
But there’s a better chance you can get a baseball player to discuss the intricacies of French cinema in the 1930s than to concede that one series is more significant than another, especially in June.
“I don’t lose any sleep thinking about the Phillies,’’ Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis said. “I haven’t really thought about it. I didn’t even know who we’re facing or anything like that. When we go out on the field and we take batting practice and prep for the game, then we’ll be ready.
“I’m not really interested in this series other than going out there and just playing baseball. I don’t look at it as foreshadowing. Both teams still have to play a lot more baseball to even get in the playoffs, let alone the World Series. If it’s October and we’re both in the playoffs and we’re both playing well, then we can talk about it. But until then it’s just a series where we have to go out and play some good baseball and hopefully take two out of three.’’
Before the season, everyone and their mom was picking a Sox-Phillies World Series. Remember this?
Baseball players are superstitious (and nuts), so their resistance to talking about it is expected. But I'm surprised to see some of the Sox writers (like Gordon Edes in the related link below) listing off reasons why this series isn't that important.
Well, it is.
We're still a favorite (if not the favorite) to win the AL, and the Phillies are still the favorite to win the NL. We don't have our full team healthy -- but who's to say we ever will?
This series gives us a chance to see the starting pitching the Phils have to offer. We get to test out their bullpen (assuming we can get past aforementioned starting pitching). And we get to see if our starters, who've had mixed results with AL opponents, can match up with the best lineup in the senior circuit.
It all starts tonight with Beckett-Lee. It should be a pitcher's duel, so naturally it'll end up being 14-12. But it'll be fun to watch, and it should give us some notes for October.
On page 2, our other other Japanese pitcher gets rocked in his return from injury.
Tazawa, 25, pitched for Portland Monday night against New Britain and struggled. He recorded just two outs in the first inning before being pulled. He allowed six earned runs on three hits, two walks and one hit batsman.
Tazawa, who underwent Tommy John surgery on April 6, 2010 and missed the entire 2010 season, also threw a wild pitch that allowed a New Britain run to score.
Lost in the excitement over Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima in recent years is Junichi Tazawa. He seems an intriguing prospect to me, but he's had a pretty subpar Sox career so far. The highlight of his brief stint in the majors was giving up a towering home run to Alex Rodriguez in the 15th inning. Not exactly something to write home about.
Other than that, he's been hurt. Obviously, the road back from injury is a long one. It's too bad this start went so badly, but the sky isn't falling.
Related: Globe | Tazawa rocked in return for Portland