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Early returns on new defense

04.06.10 at 2:40 pm ET

Clearly, Sunday’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees was most notable for the offensive eruptions by both teams. The three players whom the Sox had acquired to shore up their defense this offseason (Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro) went a combined 5-for-9 while driving in three runs, ensuring at least a bit of breathing room for the newcomers.

Nevertheless, while run prevention wasn’t exactly at the forefront of the Sox’ victory on Sunday night, a closer look revealed some promising first signs from the Sox’ revamped defense, particularly in the infield. The team turned a pair of double plays, something that they did in a major league worst 20 games last year. Scutaro showed range and a strong arm in the hole at short. Beltre, on the game’s final play, ranged far to his left, cutting off a ball that was hit straight at Scutaro, to record the game’s final out.

Consider the following piece of statistical gold mined by Gary Marbry in the Opening Day edition of Nuggetpalooza:

Red Sox pitchers induced 17 groundballs and only 2 went for hits (.118). They allowed a .244 average on grounders last season, 9th highest in the majors.

Clearly, one game does not a season make, or predict. Nonetheless, for a team that suffered through well-documented defensive struggles in 2009, the ability to convert grounders into outs on such a frequent basis has to be considered one of the more promising signs to come out of the game — perhaps even exceeding the offensive firepower against Yankees starter CC Sabathia.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, defense, marco scutaro, mike cameron
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