Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Game 130: Hitting When It Counts

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6

The bad news, part 1: Tampa Bay hit Curt like Nelson hits Bart on the Simpsons for two innings. Schilling hung four split-fingered fastballs in the first two innings and paid the price, dropping the Sox down 5 – 0.

The good news, part 1: after resolving to pull himself together, Schilling made adjustments in the third inning, ditched the splitter and started getting men out. Four innings later, after 97 total pitches, having shut down the TBay offense with the exception of a walk and three hits and hit 94 on the radar gun, the big man was done for the night and the Sox were back in the game with score 5 – 4. In other words, Schilling was able to adjust to the problems and figure out how to pitch and to pitch well. Whether or not he’ll be able to use those adjustments again in his next start is a good question, but I’m encouraged: overall, he pitched better this time out than he did against Kansas City and there’s no reason he can’t continue to improve.

The good news, part 2: once again, the Red Sox offense rose to the occasion, crushing out seven runs to overcome a large deficit. For some reason, Tony Massarotti is bothered by how strong the hitting is on this team. Now, while I can understand being disturbed by how poor the pitching is in comparison, especially compared to last year, Tony’s angle is completely off. Yes, the Sox can hit. It’s a feature of the Theo years – obscene number of runs scored, a high OPS, etc. Yes, the runs scored may have already overtopped 2003 and 2004 by a healthy margin, but with Damon and Varitek both hitting as well as they have this year, that shouldn’t be such a surprise. In any case, the hitting is not important as a measure of potential failure – it’s the pitching. The Sox will go through slumps, like they did on their last road trip and lose games as a result, unless the pitching can pick them up…but don’t call the fact that Boston has scored 5 or more runs in all but one of its 17 victories in August “a very disturbing point” – it’s the result of an excellent offensive team playing to its strength.

The bad news, part 2: Keith Foulke had another weak outing against the Vermont Expos in Single-A Lowell yesterday, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out three in an inning of work. Foulke’s rehab assignment is now finished and according to director of player development Ben Cherington, Keith accomplished the major goals of his assignment: he faced live hitting, threw his pitches and made it through without injury; any other results were secondary. From that statement, one might infer that Foulke wasn’t really out in Lowell to test himself and thus his subpar performance isn’t indicative of any long term problems or a shattering of Sox hopes for the post-season. That may very well be the case – certainly we don’t scrutinize the rehabs of hitters (like Trot Nixon, for example) as closely as we do those of pitchers and maybe that’s a mistake. In any case, Foulke will be back with the club tonight.

Major League Baseball called David Wells and his agent down to Manhattan today to discuss his comments from yesterday and possibly meet with Bud Selig, who was the target of much of Wells’ vitriol. I see one of two results: Wells comes out of the meeting breathing fire, or becomes completely docile for the next month or two as the result of a threat behind closed doors.

Wakefield gets to enjoy a non-stopper role this evening, going up against Casey “The Blade” Fossum tonight at 7:05. GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | david wells | keith foulke | curt schilling

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Game 129: We Brought The Thunder

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 10, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6

It may have rained for an hour and 43 minutes in the second inning, shortening, though not spoiling Clement’s excellent outing (5 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 strike outs) against a Tampa Bay club that’s 25 and 14 since the All-Star Break and was fresh off sweeping the Angels at home. David Wells may have had the most awesomely obnoxious press conference ever, basically threatening to beat the Commissioner of baseball if/when the Sox win the World Series this year. Don’t mess with his cake, indeed. Mark Bellhorn may be a Yankee now, much to the dismay of Oakland. Jason Giambi may have homered again to snatch another victory from the jaws of defeat in Seattle. None of this matters, though, because the Sox destroyed Tampa Bay last night, achieving a dominance belied by the score – at one point the Sox led 10 – 2, until the youngins (Papelbon and Alvarez) surrendered five runs in the seventh and eighth. David Ortiz hit home runs number 34 and 35 and Johnny D led off the Boston half of the first with a solo shot, part of a 2 run first that knocked Seth McClung out of the game after three outs. Johnny later took a pitch off the hand in the sixth and left the game with a bruise; he’s listed as day to day and will most likely sit out two days of TBay lefties. Gabe Kapler, who played center after Damon came out, ended the game with a tremendous diving catch on what would have otherwise been a double, if not a triple. After a hard, multiple week battle, Matt Clement is now in proud possession of win number 12.

Speaking of Giambi, at what point does his resurgence become suspect? Since the All-Star Break, the guy’s had the same number of runs, half as many hits, five more home runs and the same number of RBI, in 85 less at-bats. He’s got an OPS that’s up over 300 points and most of that comes from higher slugging. True, Giambi has struck out about half as many times since July, so maybe he’s figured out how to see the ball properly again, but when a guy goes off the juice, has a terrible first half and then, just two days ago sets a new career high of 7 RBI in one game, you have to wonder what’s up. Boston may have its share of home run mashers (yesterday was Big Papi’s seventh multiple home run game of the year), but at least they’ve been consistently powerful all year, or, in Manny’s case, subject to weird slumps that seem to be related more to attitude than anything else.

Not that I was entirely expecting him to be a Red Sox this year (although I had my hopes), but Craig Hansen’s meteoric rise to the top has stopped – temporarily at least and possibly for the rest of the year – as the young fireballer has developed a case of tired arm, similar to the exhaustion suffered by pitchers in Spring Training. With the ghost of Cla Meredith still floating around (and possibly coming up to the big club in two days), the news presumably made the Front Office even more eager to delay Hansen’s promotion until this key member of the bullpen’s future is ready to go. In the meantime, Theo acquired Chad Harville, a 28 year old right handed reliever with high velocity and control problems from Houston off waivers. Harville, a former Billy Beane project, has a 4.46 ERA with a 1.57 WHIP in 38.1 innings, but does sport a .254 opposing AVG. Harville has yet to be activated, but it sounds like he’s another arm to cover the pitching gap in the bullpen – a way to get more innings without exhausting arms and, as keeping with this year’s theme, hopefully minimize the damage so that the offense can win games. On the less cynical end, it may also be that El Guapo’s Ghost is correct and that one of the Sox coaches sees a flaw they can fix in Boston’s newest acquisition, turning him into a genuine relief presence.

Game 2 tonight: Schilling makes return outing number two against Scott Kazimir at 7:05. GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | david wells | mark bellhorn | manny ramirez | david ortiz | craig hansen | matt clement | jason giambi

Monday, August 29, 2005

Funny, Funny Things

Edit: Robin is much cooler than I am, because he called me about the news about Bellhorn, whilst I was munching on gnocchi at Vincent's in Little Italy. He rules, blah blah blah.

According to, the Yankees have signed Mark Bellhorn as a utility player to replace Rey Sanchez and Ruben Sierra, both currently on the DL. Bellhorn will become a Yankee as soon as he clears waivers. I think I've figured out the real reason for the signing, though: Cashman's decided that the best way to beat the Red Sox is to sign the guys who beat the Yankees in key moments in the post-season last year - how else do you explain New York snatching up both Embree and Bellhorn as soon they hit the waiver wire?

A rendering of Bellhorn with his new haircut, shave and uniform

I want to state for the record now that I bear Bellhorn no more emnity for signing with the Yankees than I do Embree - the guy needs a job and he'll forever be a part of the 2004 team in my mind. I just hope that Boston doesn't have to face New York in the post-season.

Although Keith Foulke expressed some dissatisfaction with his throwing sessions in Single A today, saying that his velocity was down and his control was off, the Front Office has announced he'll be back in Boston by September 1, following another outing in Lowell tomorrow. Foulke cites weakness in his knee and the resultant inability to push off correctly as the root of his problems - time is now clearly the factor as Foulke, like Schilling, must regain his pitching strength.

David Wells tee-ed off on the MLB disciplinary office, the appeals process, the Commissioner and MLB's handling of steroids in an interview today, maintaining that he never bumped third base umpire Angel Hernandez, never sprayed him with spit and that Rafael Palmeiro should have been suspended as soon as he failed his test for steroids, not several weeks later. Major League Baseball took the time to issue a press release basically calling Wells an idiot and point out that the steroids appeal process is determined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The Red Sox put out their own press release disavowing Wells' comments. Although the entire thing is hillarious because it's Wells, the big man does have a point: CBA or no, there's no good reason why the steroids appeal process should be so secret and so accomidating to the player, while a suspension appeal hearing takes two months to process and doesn't seem to make much difference to the end result. When you take into account that a.) Palmeiro kept playing the week he tested positive and played a big role in Baltimore's series win over Boston and b.) Wells will miss a start while the Sox are in the middle of a pennant hunt, the circumstances, coincidence or no, get downright rediculous.

baseball | red sox | keith foulke | david wells | mark bellhorn

Games 126 - 128: 40 and 19

Final Scores:

Game 126: Boston Red Sox 9, Detroit Tigers 8
Game 127: Boston Red Sox 8, Detroit Tigers 12
Game 128: Boston Red Sox 11, Detroit Tigers 3

Despite the questionable home run, the Sox pulled out a tough victory, making their home streak fourteen wins.  Curious about whether or not the game could actually be protested, I checked Wikipedia – since it was a matter of fair or foul, Boston could not have played the game under protest.  So much for my little outburst.  One amusing side effect of the call was that every time a batter hit a ball foul down the first base line, no matter where it went into the stands, the fans would start waving their arms in imitation of an umpire’s home run call.  The Stopper now leads the staff with 13 wins.

Is it me, or have there been one too many “worst game of the year” calls this year?  I missed Saturday’s collapse, but it sounds as ugly as any the Sox have had this year so far, as Arroyo’s pitch control deserted him and the Tigers quickly tied then overtook the lead with a Dmitri Young grand slam and a pair of doubles of off young Jonathan Papelbon, called in to protect Boston’s 7 – 6 lead.  Epstein and Francona were quick to leap to Pap’s defense, pointing out that Papelbon pitched three times over the past week (once as a starter, twice in relief).  

I read talk about switching Arroyo and Papelbon’s positions in the staff, by making Arroyo a reliever and Papelbon a starter, but that talk quickly followed up with mention of Pap’s 130 innings pitched this year – bordering on too many for a young arm.  The 14 game home win streak ended with a pretty miserable bang – fortunately, for those worried about the state of the bullpen, September 1 and expanded rosters are but three days away and all those young arms will soon come to flood Fenway.  After six straight scoreless outings, going over 10 and 2/3rds innings, Jeremi Gonzalez has surrendered 5 runs, including 3 on Saturday.  Keith Foulke made two appearances in Single A Lowell, giving up an earned and an unearned run on four hits and walk over 2 and 2/3rds innings in the two games.  Keith plans to return to Boston after a third game, although he does not expect to be used in save situations immediately.

On a related note, the Sox solved the Matt Perisho problem by DFA’ing Mike Remlinger, with an intention to release him after the 10 day period.  Odd that the organization waited so long (perhaps to give Perisho more time to prepare); perhaps they hoped that Remlinger’s past three scoreless appearances would either help soften the blow for the reliever or make him more likely to be picked up by another team.  Abe Alvarez took Remlinger’s spot in the interim, finishing out yesterday’s game with a spotless ninth inning of three fly balls.

On Sunday, vindication from Golden Buddha: 7 innings, 9 hits, 3 runs (two earned), 5 strike outs and no walks, picking up win number 11.  Bill Mueller played like the professional he is, going 3 for 4 with a home run and two excellent fielding plays; Johnny Damon regained the lead in the race for the batting title by a point over Michael Young, getting his first multiple hit game since August 14; Big Papi hit home run number 33, tying Manny for the RBI lead and Manny deliberately went out to disprove nay-sayers by tearing down the first base line on a close play.  The offensive slump of the road trip seems to have dissipated like the heat of the Dog Days of Summer and the infusion of the expanded roster combined with the revitalized hitting may be just what the Sox need to take real advantage of this home stand.  

Again a related note: Bob Watson continues to be a dick, denying Wells’ appeal on the stupid 6 game suspension for supposedly brushing an umpire back on July 2.  Yes, not only did Wells not touch the umpire, but more importantly, it took the disciplinary office almost two months to hear an appeal on the matter, forcing Wells to miss a start while his team is in a playoff hunt.  It must be nice to able to abuse power in such a blatant manner.

How good is Terry Francona really?  This article takes a good look at Francona’s successes and limitations and makes some very good points on why Boston’s manager is so good for Boston’s team.  My favorite observation: Francona manages to be both a player’s manager and a winning manager by giving players the opportunity to play through their slumps in the regular season, gradually shortening their leashes during the stretch drive and running a very tight ship in the post-season.  The 2005 Kevin Millar is an excellent example – Millar’s playing time has decreased a great deal recently, as Francona has less and less slack to give him and still get the Sox important wins.  Assuming Francona’s management skills at the end of last year – outthinking Scioscia, Torre and LaRussa to win it all – were not a fluke, I’m much less worried about Boston’s chances this year than I was last year.

Scott Stossel: blasphemer.  Yes, being the perennial stoic losers might have been a boltering of the strong New England character, but who wouldn’t rather be fat and happy at the end of the day?  If Stossel likes losing so much, he can move to Chicago and root for the Cubs – I’d much rather have a 2004 win and a lessening of the overall intensity of baseball fever in Boston than a loss with one of the best teams Boston ever fielded.  Wishing otherwise is frankly quite sadistic.

Clement versus Seth McClung tonight at 7:05.  Clement, looking for win number 12, has no decisions in his last three starts (including two starts in the midst of the offensive slump on the road trip), but sports a 2.25 ERA.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | mike remlinger | manny ramirez | kevin millar | keith foulke | david ortiz | jon papelbon | bronson arroyo | tim wakefield | bill mueller | david wells

Friday, August 26, 2005


This call will be disputed tomorrow and if it means the Sox lose the game, there should be a huge out cry about it - but the "home run" hit by Curtis Granderson was a foul ball, as anyone taking a quick perusal of the replay could tell. THIS situation is why the instant replay should be instituted in Major League Baseball. The Red Sox should be playing this game under protest right now.

Game 125: Home Sweet Home

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Kansas City Royals 7

Thank GOD that road trip is over – after last night the Sox limped back home having won 4 out of 10 games, lost 1.5 games in the standings and failed to perform well against two of the weaker teams in the American League.  The offense is in a slump, hitting .251 with a .689 OPS over the past seven days.  A team with one of the weakest offenses in the majors hit Schilling hard last night, as the right-hander gave up 6 runs on 9 hits over 5 innings (86 pitches), walking 1 and striking out 5.

And yet, despite the squawkings of the media and with the exception of the slump and perhaps the failure to do well against KC, none of the things that happened on this road trip should come as much of a surprise.  The 2005 Red Sox are 34 and 35 on the road – a winning percentage not too far from the one Boston achieved on this road trip.  They hit .274 and have a .797 OPS on the road – better than they did on this road trip, but not as good as the .284 AVG and .834 OPS at home.  Like it or not, Curt Schilling is still a guy recovering from a difficult surgery.  Physically he may be fine, but he’s still got to go out there and get used to starting games – remember how poorly he did in his first outing as a closer.  He may not be the same Curt he was last year by the end of the season, but it’s foolish to write off his recovery or the Red Sox chances just yet.

Meanwhile, Boston’s reward for a season spent mostly on the road (69 away games versus 56 home games) has finally come: 25 of the last 37 games are home, including a 14 game stretch starting today against Detroit, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Chicago and Anaheim, part of a larger 30 game stretch until the Sox’ next day off.  With a league-leading 38 and 18 record at home, the idea of so many home games at such an important stretch is like sweet, sweet candy.  On the flip side, many of those games are against the AL East, against which Boston has a 22 and 26 record – not as good, but hopefully the balance is enough to keep the Sox on top.

Cool idea for a poll.  It seems that many of Boston’s fans (or those who read, anyway) agree on how Boston’s bullpen should be run, including that Craig Hansen should be pitching for Boston as a middle reliever, possibly in Remlinger’s place (about 11,000 people think that the Sox should ditch Remlinger posthaste).  Of course, keeping the fate of Cla Meredith and his on-going slump in AAA in mind, the Front Office may feel differently.  Unfortunately, Remlinger has been very inconsistent – 3 appearances with multiple runs, 3 with no runs, 1 with 1 run and not including his first two appearances, where he failed to get an out, an average of 1.2 innings per appearance.  If he was flat out terrible all the time, it would make sense to get rid of him and bring up someone like Matt Perisho in his place, but the jury still seems to be out on whether or not Remlinger will be an effective member of this team’s relief staff.  Perisho is not currently on the 40 man roster however and the Sox will have to do some juggling to call him up.

Tim Wakefield will be taking the mound in his stopper capacity once again tonight, going up against the Tigers’ Jason Johnson at 8:05 to give the grounds crew extra time to repair the field after the Rolling Stones concert.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | curt schilling | craig hansen | manny delcarmen | mike remlinger

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Games 123 - 124: We Lost To The Royals?!

Final Scores

Game 123: Boston Red Sox 5, Kansas City Royals 2
Game 124: Boston Red Sox 3, Kansas City Royals 4

“Despite his “hefty lefty” appearance, Wells is an athlete. He can supposedly dunk a basketball and throw a football 70 yards. True or not, I'd take him, Trot and Kapler in a brawl against any starting nine. Anytime, anywhere.”
- Surviving Grady

While I was out rocking out, the Sox were in KC holding the status quo – a win on Tuesday by Wells, still sick from whatever bug continues to try and bring him behind the woodshed and beat the crap out of him and a terrible loss on Wednesday by the Sox offense, who stranded 13 men and left the bases loaded two innings in a row. Boston lost the game in the 11th when Arroyo, pitching in relief, gave up a sacrifice fly to score the winning run. Talking to Robin on Tuesday, it didn’t sound like the win was particularly pretty either, but fortunately for Boston, the Yankees lost yesterday as well, staying 3.5 games back in the AL East. Kevin Millar hit his first home run in forever on Wednesday, ending the ridiculous power drought – now just rinse and repeat about 15 more times, Millar and you’ll be back where you should be at this time of the year. Renteria, perhaps buoyed by the end of his own homer drought, hit the ball very well, going 3 for 5 both nights. Manny disappointed fans by not hustling in a double play situation, but Trot Nixon returned to the lineup, going 1 for 4 on Tuesday and 1 for 5 on Wednesday.

Curt Schilling makes his first start tonight since April 23, going up against Jose Lima, where he’ll have the chance to prove that he’s ready to assume the mantle of dominant starter…or will he? One start certainly won’t be telling about Curt’s real status, no more than one good start meant that Boomer was back on track earlier this summer – like other Red Sox starters this year, the rule of three good starts in a row applies, even if Curt wasn’t coming back against Kansas City, who can be beaten like a rented mule by any team on its game. Knowing this information won’t stop a flurry of media attention tomorrow, no matter how Curt does (and this article by the Herald is remarkable because of its uncommon long view on Schilling’s return) and of course Schilling will focus on it, because that’s the sort of media-loving guy he is.

Game time tonight at 8:05; a big win is in the needing, if not the offing. GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | manny ramirez | kevin millar | curt schilling | edgar renteria

Monday, August 22, 2005

Games 121 - 122: Divide And Conquer

Final Scores:

Game 121: Boston Red Sox 2, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4
Game 122: Boston Red Sox 5, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1

“He's not scared. This kid is going to help us. Period. I like him very much. I'm not going to call him kid.”
- Jason Varitek about Jonathan Papelbon

I watched two of three games this weekend and the Sox won both of them.  ‘nough said.  With the split, the Sox come out of Los Angeles with their heads held high, especially after winning last night’s close contest.  If the Angels make the playoffs again this year, the ALDS should be a good series.

Despite my disparaging comments about Ervin Santana, but the Angel’s starter was basically unhittable on Saturday, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits in 7 and 2/3rds and striking out 5 before giving way to the tag team of Shields and K-Rod.  Guns and Corn pitched fairly well, but with his offense outmatched, an average performance (the lack of efficiency – 116 pitches in 6 innings) wasn’t going to make the difference…and two errors (one by Damon and one by Renteria) didn’t help.  When Arroyo’s relief, in the form of perennial minor-leaguer Lenny DiNardo, came out to hold down the fort until the Sox started hitting again, he gave up two runs and put the score permanently out of reach.

Sunday, on the other hand, was another matter.  Although the Angels sent out another tough starter in Paul Byrd, Red Sox starter Jonathan Papelbon proved himself to be Byrd’s equal, throwing 100 pitches over 5 and 2/3rds innings, scattering 5 hits, giving up 3 walks and striking out 2.  Papelbon was scary good and I was impressed with his outing not only because he threw so well, using his fastball, the split finger that he learned from Schilling, curve and slider to great advantage, but because he didn’t get ruffled at all.  He even threw high and inside to Vlad Guerrero – not as a mistake, mind you, but to establish the inside of the plate – which is a bit like dangling raw meat in front of a shark.  Very, very impressive and it seems like he’ll only get better.  

Meanwhile, no one could string together enough hits to get a run.  The Angels got the closest, getting Cabrera to third in the first, but it wasn’t until eighth when the Sox finally broke it open in dramatic fashion: Edgar Renteria’s first home run in 199 at-bats.  Coming with two out and runners on second and third, it signaled the beginning of the end for Byrd and a definitive turning point to the game.  The next batter, Big Papi, did the only thing that could be more surprising than an Edgah bomah – he bunted.  With the overshift on and third baseman Chone Figgins too far away to make a play, Ortiz dropped a neat little bunt down the third base side and beat out the play easily.  It was Ortiz’s first bunt since playing Winter Ball while in the rookie leagues and it turned out to be very useful as well: Manny Being Manny struck next, dropping a ball just over the centerfield wall and making it 5 to 0.  

Myers and Timlin got the job done in the sixth through eighth innings and Schilling came out to finish it out for the last time before he goes back into the starting rotation on Thursday.  Schilling gave up three hits and a run before getting three outs; not the best outing and hopefully not indicative of how he’ll pitch against Kansas City, but he got the job done.

Oh, the felinity!

Along with the great news about Schilling, Trot Nixon should be back in the lineup for the Kansas City series, pending evaluation by the team.  Nixon hit well in Pawtucket yesterday and will play there again today before rejoining the Sox.  When Nixon comes back, DiNardo should be AAA-bound until after September 1.  With Schilling out of the rotation and Foulke still preparing his return, Mike Timlin will be closing some games, although he wants to avoid a defined role, saying he’ll pitch when Tito wants him to pitch.  

Kevin Millar just proved he should be cheerleading: you can’t be this positive and accepting of your new bench role and not be the team’s cheerleader.  It is pretty weird thinking of him as Magic Helmet’s defensive replacement, but then again, Olerud continues to smack the cover off the ball, bad feet or not.  

The Sox are resisting calling up Craig Hansen, who had back-to-back shutout appearances in AA Portland, despite the hole left in the bullpen.  The official reason is that they want to give Hansen more time, but I have a feeling that they’re waiting until the last second (i.e., the August 31 deadline) to monitor Foulke’s progress.  If Hansen needs to be a part of the playoff roster, they’ll call him up before the 31st; otherwise they can wait until after September 1.  Media is making comparisons between Hansen and the auspicious beginnings of K-Rod’s career in 2002, when he helped the Angels in the post-season.  

Sox are off tonight; Golden Buddha versus Zack Greinke tomorrow night in Kansas City.  KC has won its last two after a 14 game losing streak.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | manny ramirez | kevin millar | john olerud | curt schilling | keith foulke | trot nixon | david ortiz | craig hansen | jon papelbon | bronson arroyo | mike timlin

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Game 120: It's Only Worth It If You Work For It

Final Score:

Boston Red 4, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3

After remarking on the quality of the Angels broadcasters while watching the first hour of this game, I’ve decided to try my hand at that liveblogging thing the kids are so crazy about. Enjoy:

10:59 - The Angels broadcasters have the game tonight and they're actually pretty good; calm, good insight on the little details,* not too kitschy, fairly balanced in their commentary - and the day after the Angels dealt a crushing defeat to Boston, no less. This quality is surprising for two reasons:
  1. They're broadcasting for Fox Sports Net. Fox executives take note: not everyone who broadcasts for you has to suck like Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. In fact, it's better if they don't.
  2. Angels fan don't have the reputation for being the best or most intelligent fans – these are the people who came up with the Rally Monkey, after all, not to mention the park has those weird flares that go up when the Angels hit a home run. Having intelligent broadcasters means that Anaheim’s fans may not be beyond hope.
11:00 - Jason Varitek just bunted – he meant it to be a sacrifice to advance Ortiz, but he placed it so well that he turned it into a hit. I'm speechless with delight. Tito’s playing small ball tonight – the first run scored after two bunts and a groundout. I think he’s come to the realization that the hits aren’t quite coming out right now – maybe he’s also banking on the Angels not expecting Boston, a team that never bunts, to try and pull the sacrifice.
11:02 – Even the competition calls Bill Mueller professional; it must be true. Of course, he just popped up on the first pitch, so looks may be deceiving.

11:07 – From what I’m hearing, Steve Finley is Anaheim’s equivalent of Kevin Millar. With twice the salary…and none of the cheerleading.

11:11 – After giving up a long single, Clement gets out of the inning with a double play, smoothly executed by Magic Helmet. The man is poetry in motion at the plate and on the field, which is why he’s so preferable to Kevin Millar.

11:15 – Researching the link to Joy of Sox in the intro, I see that the Mark Bellhorn era is officially over and that Trot Nixon managed to nail Keith Foulke in the arm this afternoon. On Bellhorn, much like with Alan Embree, I’ll chose to remember you for the really good: for the two home runs in post-season last year that really made the difference, especially the one that bounced off that girl’s jacket in left field – first ruled a double, then ruled a home run after umpire consultation. Like that ruling, you truly were a surprise last year and I wish you the best in the future.

On Nixon/Foulke: fortunately, Trot did no real damage (he hit the fleshy part of the arm) and Foulke believes he’ll be back before September 1st. Nixon plans to go on rehab assignment tomorrow and hopes to be back in the lineup by the Kansas City series. The timing is certainly very good – we’ll finally know what’s up with Foulke very, very soon.

11:27 – The Angels are threatening, with runners on first and third with nobody out and Vlad up. The announcers said that part of his success since the All-Star Break is that he’s reigned in on his free-swinging nature…but he just popped-out on the first pitch. No Pepsi commercials here.

11:28 – Vlad’s popup was the first fly-out of the game…we’re in the fourth inning. I wonder what the record is. I also wonder how hard that stat would be to find on Google.

11:30 – Clement conjures another double play to escape the threat, God bless him.

11:31 – Weinerschnitzel is a restaurant too?! I thought it was just a funny German word. Also, why are the commercials a good deal louder than the baseball broadcast?

11:35 – FSN just showed the NL Wildcard race standings – 5 teams within 2.5 games. I’m willing to bet it’s going to come down to the end, like last year. They also just mentioned that the last three World Series winners were Wild Card winners. Of course, we all know that records were made to be broken.

11:38 – Runners on first and third, one out. It’s Magic Helmet time. Assuming Lackey doesn’t throw the ball away first.

11:40 – He battled, and then Magic Helmet smacks it into center. Manny scores, then Varitek scores from first with a nice slide. I’m convinced sending Varitek was another screw up by the Moron that he happened to luck out on.

11:46 – After remarking on how Nixon hit Foulke in the arm this afternoon, FSN goes on to show the montage of hit pitchers from the past month: Clement (I still wince horribly), Wakefield and Foulke. Gabe Kapler pops out to the catcher, stranding Magic Helmet on third and The Professional on first. John Lackey, who should be out of the game by now, escapes to come back for the next inning.

11:51 – The Angels score after Casey Kotchman doubles, goes to third on a grounder and then comes home after a mental-miscue by Magic Helmet, who tries to throw out Kotchman at home but makes a poor throw.

11:54 – Manny Being Manny: Ramirez makes one of those weird plays in left that he loves to make just to scare the crap out of the fans – this time a half leaping catch to the side of the ball. If he misses, the ball goes into the corner and runs score. I think the FSN announcers just called Manny “Dr. Strangeglove.”

11:56 – With runners on the corners, Orlando Cabrera pops up towards the first base foul line. Neither Kapler nor Cora must have gotten a very good jump on the ball, as the ball almost falls for a hit until Cora makes a full extension leaping catch that makes him look like a receiver stretching for a touchdown.

12:04 – Example of good commentary from the FSN announcers: Renteria strikes out by checking his swing a little too high and thus bringing the tip of his bat across the plate. The Angels announcers point out that Renteria did exactly what you should do in those circumstances – act like you just drew a walk and trot down to first base until you hear otherwise.

12:12 – Varitek strikes out to end the top of the sixth – the Sox have now stranded 11 runners. Remember that point earlier in the year when everyone wondered why Manny wasn’t hitting? Lackey intentionally walked him this inning, but this game is starting to feel that way.

12:16 – To match Cora, Bill Mueller makes a beautiful sliding catch in foul ground on an Erstad pop-up, a ball that I disregarded because it was essentially in the Angels dugout. Word to the Professional.

12:23 – John Lackey is done for the night, pulling off a decent outing despite control problems. The FSN announcers go onscreen for their Lackey recap; Steve Physioc has a haircut that makes him look like a crested lizard. Kevin Gregg comes on in relief – he hasn’t given up an earned run in his last 11 appearances.

12:27 – Magic Helmet leads off with a single, but doesn’t get beyond first base as the Sox hit three strong fly outs in a row to end their half of the seventh.

12:43 – Edgar Renteria came within feet of his first home run since June, only to be robbed by Rivera in left. Edgah’s response: pushups in the dug out.

12:45 – Big Papi’s not looking so hot at the plate right now; swinging at bad pitches, looking foolish – and he ends the top of the ninth by striking out looking. And then gets himself tossed for arguing balls and strikes on a close call during the commercial break. Since this field is the same field where Ortiz ended up with a suspension after throwing bats on the field, it doesn’t seem like Angel’s Stadium and David Ortiz get along very well.

12:49 – Clement is done. Great line: 7 innings, 6 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts. The offense may not be having a great night, but Clement certainly did – Timlin on to help Matt get his 12th win.

12:55 – The Angels pull a steal with Cabrera on and a double steal after intentionally walking Guerrero. Why is Timlin not holding these runners on?

12:59 – Timlin blows it, hanging a slider on the outside corner to Bengie Molina, who drives it into the corner to clear the bases and tie the game. Again, why wasn’t Timlin trying to hold those runners?

1:02 – Casey Kotchan grounds out to shortstop, ending the inning with the score tied 3 – 3. Now would be a good time not to be down a DH.

1:17 – The Sox get runners as far as second, taking Magic Helmet out for Adam Stern (presumably to avoid the double play). All for naught, as Bill Mueller strikes out looking on a breaking ball on the corner and Alex Cora grounds to first. Curt Schilling comes in to relieve Timlin, Millar takes Olerud’s spot at first. Shoot me now. Millar, when you come up, I want a home run. Nothing less.

1:25 – Schilling strikes out two in a 1-2-3 inning to end the bottom of the ninth. This game is headed into extra innings.

1:33 – Scot Shields, owner of 25 holds, comes on in relief of K-Rod. After singles by Kapler and Damon, Renteria strikes out looking on a close call. Petagine comes to bat in place of Ortiz.

1:39 – After a 10 pitch battle, Shields walks Petagine to load the bases. It’s so time for Manny Being Manny, as the active grand slam leader steps to the plate.

1:42 – Well, not quite what I was hoping, but after getting to 2 and 2 without a swing, Manny chops a ball to short. Chone Figgins’ only play is to first and Kapler scores. 4 to 3, Boston. Varitek hits into the exact same force out to end the top of the 10. Let’s wrap this up, bullpen.

1:52 – Schilling strikes out two more batters and gets Darin Erstad to pop out to Renteria end the game; Sox win 4 to 3 in a nearly 4 hour grinder that saw the Sox leave 16 men on base, half in scoring position. With the exception of Timlin, Boston’s pitching was excellent tonight – Schilling had a perfect two innings to get his fifth win of the season. Clement should have gotten his twelfth win; the blame for his no-decision can, I think, be placed just as squarely on the hitters not coming up big in the clutch as on Timlin’s mistake to Molina.

Guns and Corn tomorrow afternoon against The Lesser Santana (Ervin). GO SOX!!!
* - To the point where even though Lackey was struggling through the first inning, I was still worried about what he was going to do, because these two announcers focused on the strategy of throwing the right pitches at the right time and avoiding challenging the dangerous Boston offense with the fastball.

tags: baseball | red sox | roberto petagine | manny ramirez | kevin millar | john olerud | curt schilling | keith foulke | trot nixon | matt clement | david ortiz

Friday, August 19, 2005

Game 119: ...And Fall

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 13

“It must be tough pitching with a huge fork sticking out of your back.”
- Joy of Sox on Mike Remlinger

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it over and over again: I hate West Coast road trips.  Hate ‘em.  Schedules should be set up so that the Sox have to go out West once a year – a nine game road trip against Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim and then back into time zones closer to Boston’s for the rest of year.  If the Sox happen to be playing in NL West during Interleague, they can make that a separate trip, but we should only have the pleasure of 10:00 starts once a year.

As Soxholics pointed out though, if Boston was going to choke, at least they did it early.  And boy did they choke.  Colon was masterful.  The offense wasted opportunities, especially in the 2nd when they could have tied up the score 1-1 but stranded a runner at third.  The defense made costly errors.  Wake had the misfortune of taking a Casey Kotchman line drive off the meaty portion of his lower leg and had to leave the game, although X-rays revealed nothing more than a contusion and Tito had one of his usual pitching brain farts by bringing in Mike Myers to pitch to a righty, Juan Rivera, who promptly hit a three run homer to put the score out of reach.  Is the bullpen really in such tough shape that Francona is forced to bring in a LOOGY against a righty?  Doesn’t that go against basic common sense?  Maybe not, as Mike Remlinger went on to prove once again in the 7th that he’s not in any sort of shape to be throwing pitches, except maybe to his kids: two innings, six hits, five runs, including a homer.  I gave up after the top of the fifth with a headache and a growing sense of despair, but if you want to read the details of the whole sordid mess, Joy of Sox took the time to liveblog it.

Last night’s failures are a showcase of what’s wrong with this team right now: we’re holding onto the wrong players.  Kevin Millar and Mike Remlinger should not be playing for the Red Sox; they should be dusting off their resumes and looking for other lines of work.  It’s frustrating not because the problems exist, but because the solutions are right there, on the team right now.  Both John Olerud and Roberto Petagine can play first base and they can both hit for more power than Kevin Millar has generated at any time in the past several months.  Manny Delcarmen may not be a left-hander, but he gets guys out and he doesn’t give up runs to the extravagant level that Mike Remlinger does.  And if you don’t want him, you’ve got Jon Lester, who’s got the double fortune of being a southpaw and a good pitcher.  The keys are there; Theo and Tito need to make the switches and do so before the Sox enter a major slump and start to slip out of contention.  Thank God the Hansen promotion seems to be closer to reality every day.

I think if both Johnny Damon and Theo Epstein deny the steroid rumors as being not only patently false but deliberately inflammatory, they’re probably not true.  Not to mention denials by both the players union and major league baseball.  At least I hope so; I don’t think I could stand that kind of news or being lied to straight out, especially in the middle of a pennant race.  I think I understand a bit how Baltimore fans feel right now.  I guess In Theo We Trust is starting to get a bit too close to home at the moment.

Trot Nixon faces off against Keith Foulke today to determine whether or not the right fielder is ready to go and do a rehab assignment.  Remy and D.O. mentioned last night that Nixon has had a very quick recovery from his oblique injury, which is just as well, since he hurt himself through such aggravating and pedestrian circumstances.  The Sox pushed Wade Miller’s next throwing session back to next week in Kansan City.  I know I’ve read several stories where Miller denies that the injury is particularly serious or close in severity to the shoulder problems he had last year, but it’s a bit odd he’s getting this much rest.  Perhaps because Papelbon is proving himself such a boon to the pitching staff (and pitching about the same number of innings per game as Miller), the Sox are willing to give Miller some extra time to recover.  David Wells has started to recover from his stomach problems.

Honest Abe tonight versus John Lackey, hopefully minus Millar and Remlinger, but we’ll see.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | roberto petagine | jon papelbon | manny delcarmen | mike remlinger | manny ramirez | kevin millar | john olerud | craig hansen | tim wakefield

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Games 117 - 118: Stumble

Final Scores:

Game 117: Boston Red Sox 10, Detroit Tigers 7
Game 118: Boston Red Sox 5, Detroit Tigers 6

A game won because Alan Trammell had a mental-miscue and took out his young pitcher, who was shutting down the Sox and brought in his weak bullpen to get beat up and a game lost because Tito sent out a still-sick David Wells to get beat on for four innings. Because the Yankees are now 4 and 9 versus Tampa Bay this year, Boston picked up a game and as the Herald kindly reminds us, in the AL this year, it’s no one’s race just yet. Even in on the South side of Chicago, where they have the best record in the American League and still only get about 70% attendance, 13th overall, things aren’t completely set for a pennant.

On a totally unrelated note, statistics are your friend.

I tuned in to Tuesday’s game just as the 10th inning rally started and had the satisfaction of seeing only good things come off of Red Sox bats. I even saw Mike Remlinger get his first outs as a Sox reliever, despite giving up a grand slam to Magglio Ordonez in the same inning. Yesterday, I caught the final two innings, after the damage to Wells and, just as importantly, the offense had grounded into four of its five double plays. Remlinger pulled a complete reversal by giving up one hit and no runs in 1 and 2/3rds innings, Gonzo continues to impress with another two innings of scoreless relief – maybe he should have started instead – and Older Dude returned from the DL just where he left off, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run. In the end, though, even though the human clutch machine, the Big Papi, the Ortizzle, saved the game for the Sox on Tuesday with his long ball power, he wasn’t able to deliver this time around, grounding into double play number five. Not the best way to play against a team that Sox should have had no problems taking out and not the way to go to California to play the Angels, but fortunately the State of the Nation and more importantly of the players is to be able to shrug a blow like this one off without too many problems. Well, maybe the players can. The fans, from what I’ve been reading, seem to be prone to the same irrationality they’ve always had, God love ‘em.

Manny took the day off yesterday, opting to take off yesterday’s game instead of one of the games against the Angels. He was available to pinch and would have come in at two different junctures, but the Sox ended both innings before he could come up. Terry Francona told the press that Manny told him he was “beat” before the game – the Herald cites his recent fielding mishaps as perhaps being the root of Manny’s request. Yes, Manny is 5 for 8 against Bonderman, yesterday’s pitcher, but as 12eight points out, not counting the two games Francona sat him around the trade deadline, the only Sox who’s played in more games this year is David Ortiz. Besides, Manny’s absence is a big deal only because the Sox lost and Boston should blame that loss on five double plays, not a lack of Manny. Not that the media blowing something out of proportion is surprising…

Kevin Millar may be a hitting bum who hasn’t a home run in 175 at-bats and was in a 0 for 13 slump until a single last night in the eighth, but he does love to play. With Francona saying that there’s no need to settle on a division of playing time at first base between Millar, Olerud and Petagine, which I can only imagine means Olerud getting most of the playing time at first, I’m curious as to how Millar will get the chance to find his swing again. I’ve suggested making him team cheerleader in the past – Red’s idea of firing The Moron and making Millar the third base coach in his stead seems a viable way to make it happen.

Speaking of losing out on chances to make good, the Mark Bellhorn-in-Boston-era may be drawing to a close, with Tito finally naming Tony G. as his second baseman. Assuming no one claims him off of waivers after his rehab period expires, Bellhorn would have to agree to a minor league contract to stay with the Sox and then come back up after September 1. If he refuses the contract, which the Herald says is likely, he’d be DFA’d, where he’d most likely end up as a free agent - $725,000 in remaining salary being too steep for another team to want to trade for him. Not that I think he should start, but it’s still sad to see an important member of the 2004 team fall so far so quickly.

Craig Hansen’s high 90s low-in-the-zone fastball is all the rage right now, to the point where the talk of bringing him up to the Show before the end of the year is becoming fairly prevalent. With Ricky Bottalico struggling (8.31 ERA in 4 and 1/3rd innings/4 games) and Matt Perisho having mixed success (2.84 ERA in 6 and 1/3rd innings/6 games) in AAA, especially when compared with Hansen’s perfect efforts so far – 9 strike outs and 6 hits in 7 innings/5 games in the rookie league and AA – it’s not hard to see why having Hansen up to bolster the bullpen seems so attractive, along with Mini Manny and Jon Papelbon. Even if Remlinger goes on to prove that yesterday was not a fluke performance, Theo’s homegrown talent may be the biggest part of this year’s end of the year effort…how exciting is that?

The Stopper versus Colon tonight at the ridiculously late 10:05. GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | roberto petagine | jon papelbon | manny delcarmen | mike remlinger | david ortiz | manny ramirez | kevin millar | john olerud | craig hansen

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Game 116: One That Got Away

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Detroit Tigers 7

Must go to my happy place, must go to my happy place...

The irony of Schilling blowing a game and admitting afterwards it's because he's still working on his pitches is that while we were watching the game last night, I defended Schilling's results to my friend Mike, who hates Schilling and thinks he should be shown the door. Clearly I was right for the wrong reasons.

In truth, though, it seems like the atmosphere of the whole night was a bit of whack for the BoSox. Damon, coming off a short break for a slightly strained hamstring, went 0 for 4 with a walk, snapping his league-leading 15 game hitting streak. RBI Guy Petagine grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, killing an opportunity for the Sox to blow the game open. Guns and Corn, his pitches missing their usual bite, danced around disaster all evening, including a bases loaded situation in the fifth when Jason Varitek made a lunging grab to snag a pop-foul about to fall into the Red Sox dugout, providing a crucial second out. And when I say grab, I mean web gem quality - I didn't someone, especially wearing that much equipment, could stretch that far and still hold on to something.

Hopefully the Sox don't let last night's disappointment get into their heads, get back out there tonight and dominate a sub .500 team like the Tigers the way they should. Schilling may sit for a day or two, like he did after his first loss against the Yankees, or his first blown save against Chicago, or he may be back in it tonight, like he was after losing to Tampa Bay to start this most recent success streak.

Speaking of streaks, it's the one year anniversary of the super stretch drive of 2004, which, as the Herald reports, started out with a loss too - to Chicago. Success of that magnitude (20 wins in 22 games) is not required, but the first AL East title of 10 years is calling...and the Yankees, despite our best efforts to beat them off and back into the realms of wildcard oblivion, are crawling back like the restless dead. Time to bring out the shotgun and take out those zombies with a string of wins.

Jon Papelbon is today's mystery starter after all, AAA bullpen assignment or no - the Herald now has him in Pawtucket to save his arm, rather than to become a reliever for the expanded rosters. To free up a roster spot, Mini-Manny's first stay with the big leagues is over, but with only one problem appearance, he'll definately be back in a few weeks. John Olerud is eligible to come off the DL today, but will most likely return tomorrow to go against a righty instead of a lefty. Kevin Youkilis will most likely be making his way back to Rhode Island on Olerud's return. Trot Nixon and Keith Foulke are both making excellent progress towards their respective returns.

Papelbon versus Nate Robertson tonight at 7:05. GO SOX!!!

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Games 114 - 115: Keep On Rollin'

Final Scores:

Game 114: Boston Red Sox 9, Chicago White Sox 8
Game 115: Boston Red Sox 7, Chicago White Sox 4

The great thing about washed-out games (like the one yesterday afternoon, cancelled after a combined total of 4 hours of rain delay before the game went the requisite 5 innings) is everything gets erased from the record books, like the game never happened. The White Sox may have been winning 5 - 2 and hitting Clement pretty hard after the first delay, but it doesn't matter - the game is gone forever. A mulligan for Clement, who is struggling to avoid becoming the poor second-half pitcher he was last year. If yesterday's stats had held, Honest Abe would have a 8.39 ERA in the 8 starts since July 1.

For the rest of the weekend, however, playing through a mid-August heat wave, everything came up Boston. Although effected by nasty cold symptoms, Golden Buddha managed to keep the game close through 7 innings on Friday, giving up 5 runs (3 earned - 2 White Sox scored in the first after an error by Ramirez) on 9 hits and striking out 5. Mark Buerhle, who is 0 and 1 this year against Boston, with 11 runs (9 earned) and 22 hits in 13 innings, couldn't hold the line and BoSox scored twice in the third and once in the fourth before a swing of Jason Varitek's bat dropped a ball over the Monster seats and tied things up 5 - 5 in the fifth. Big Papi broke the tie in the seventh with a solo shot and made the difference four runs in the eighth with a three run homer off of power reliever Bobby Jenks, sent out to keep the game close for the run producing ChiSox offense. I was on the phone at that point, "watching" the game with my father and sister back in Boston and serving as stats guy, thanks to

After Jenks came out:

Me: "This guy has a .112 opposing AVG against lefties."
Jenks then strikes out Renteria and Ortiz comes up.
My father: "Eric, how well does Ortiz hit with two outs and runners in scoring position."
Me: "
He's got a .329 average and 1.098 OPS with two outs and men on and a .368 average and 1.085 OPS with runners in scoring position. He also has .305 average and a .887 OPS against lefties...why is [Jenks] still out there?"
My father reports these facts to my sister, who says something to the effect that Ortiz is going to hit a home run here...and of course, he does. It was pretty much preordained after those numbers, though.
My father: "Your sister wants you to know that she called that."

As it turns out, all of Ortiz's career-high six RBI were necessary - Curt Schilling came on in the ninth and did his usual cardiac closing job, giving up home runs to Tadihito Iguchi and Paul Konerko, prompting discussions about how save opportunities are generated, before finishing things out. By the second home run, my sister was loudly calling for Schilling's head, but I have a theory on why his closing situations are generally so fraught with tension: every time he comes in with a decent sized lead to protect, he takes the opportunity to experiment with some of his less used pitches; pitches he'll need to start, but which aren't necessarily as appropriate for a closing situation, like the splitter. I'm not entirely sure of the logic of why certain pitches don't work well for a closing situation - I guess you want as much heat as possible to overwhelm the hitter instead of giving them more finesse pitches you could make a mistake on. You need those finesse pitches as a starter because you can't throw just fastballs for seven innings without your arm falling off. Every time Schilling makes a mistake on one of those finesse pitches he's working on, the ball ends up somewhere it shouldn't. Fortunately for Boston, he's only made mistakes bad enough to lose games twice and both of those situations were about a month ago.

After the game, the Ortizzle, decked out in a Manny Being Manny shirt and a white hat with a Puerto Rican flag on it, explained to reporters just why his average against lefties has improved so much this year: he worked on fixing his problems with lefties in the off season with the help of three friends. In so many ways, he's SO Papi.

On Saturday, the BoSox continued to make White Sox starting pitching look foolish, hitting AL win leader Jon Garland hard - 5 runs on 9 hits in 5 and 1/3rd innings, including Roberto Petagine's first home run since 1998. The RBI-guy now has eight and is batting .333 since joining Boston. The Stopper, meanwhile, picked up win number 12 with his fourth quality start in a row, going 7 and 2/3rds with 2 runs on 7 hits and 5 strike outs. Gonzo and Schilling both had good relief appearances, while Mike Remlinger continues to struggle, giving up a walk, a double and a hit. He had yet to record an out in a Red Sox uniform and I heard a rumor from Robin this morning that he'll be the next to feel the axe in favor of Jon Papelbon, who will make Tuesday's start against Detroit, despite his recent training in Pawtucket as a reliever. Who knows, but Remlinger certainly proving himself less than helpful to Boston's staff.

As Tony G. continues to put up obscenely good numbers - he's batting .314 on the season and went 9 for 16 over past seven days with 8 RBI and 7 runs - and Mark Bellhorn continues to struggle in AAA, the current rumor has it that the Sox will release Bellhorn, re-claim him off waivers, option him to Pawtucket, then call him back up to be a part of the extended post-season roster. It's a clever way to be loyal and effective at the same time, if extremely odd.

Boston goes off on a three city road trip with its thirteen game home win streak, the longest since Boston won 24 games straight at home in 1988, intact; the BoSox have the best home record in the majors. Boston plays the first of three against Detroit tonight at 7:05, Guns and Corn versus Sean Douglass, looking to maintain or expand the 4.5 game lead in the AL East. GO SOX!!!

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Game 113: Bad Odds For The Gambler

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 16, Texas Rangers 5

"And now after all this pumpitude, after an absolute piledriver of a game, we get... an off day. I guess they deserve a bit of rest. They're only human. Except, of course, for Mike Timlin, who we all know is a fully functional werewolf who, after the games, slips off his human costume and goes back to haunting the hills and back alleys of Chelsea."
- Surviving Grady

"People are just plain stupid, man. They've been walking me to pitch to [Manny]. Hang with it.''
- David Ortiz on Manny's monster RBI total


It took four innings, but the Sox broke open the game on Kenny Rogers, thanks mainly to Manny's three run blast. Guns and Corn was on fire (seven and 1/3rd innings, seven hits, four runs, four strike outs, one walk), running into real trouble only in the eighth after he gave up back to back doubles for the second time in the game and hit
Teixeira. The Boston starter also made the return to the cornrows of years past, causing my girlfriend to wonder if he thought that hairstyle looked attractive. I have a feeling it might have more to do with superstition (where's the stat on pitching with a certain haircut?) than anything else. Apparently August 10th is a good day for Arroyo to pitch: a perfect game for Pawtucket in 2003 and his fifth win of the season against Tampa Bay in 2004 to go with yesterday's victory.

The bullpen had a meltdown for the second night in a row, with Myers being mainly responsible for a four run Rangers eighth, but Texas was unable to tie things up this time around and the Sox more than made up for the difference with an offensive explosion in their half of the ninth, getting nine runs off of a combination of Karsay, Shouse, Gryboski and some defensive miscues by the Rangers. Manny Delcarmen came on to finish the night, giving up a single and striking out two. Full game recap at The Joy of Sox. Johnny Damon's hit streak is now at fourteen games and Tony Graffanino (I LIKE him) continued his hot hitting after returning to the lineup last night. going two for five with two runs and three RBI. Manny continues to be Manny; he's now on pace to knock in more runs than any Red Sox in the past 56 years.

In today's atrocious piece of umpiring, Gabe Kapler managed to hit a home run that hit off the top of the wall, but still had it called as inside the park. Trot Nixon was so incensed by the rediculous call (it was very, very obviously off the top of the wall and thus out of the park, the Sox were down one to nothing at the time and the umpires chose not to reverse their decision) that he did what every Sox fan wanted to do, but couldn't: he walked up and down the length of the dugout, taunting third base umpire Derryl Cousins (who made the call) until first base umpire Bill Miller ejected him. About as good revenge as you're going to get, really - the guy who can't play takes all the licks. Not that I don't doubt for a second that he'd be doing the exact same thing if he was healthy and in the lineup...but that's how we like 'em in Boston. Half-crazy.

Keith Foulke had his second throwing session off the mound yesterday, going 35 pitches in the latest part of his rehab. The closer said he was much happier with today's session than the one he had on Monday:

"After my bullpen [session] on Monday, I wasn't real happy. I wasn't real happy with how I felt or how I threw, but today I go out there and pretty much from my first pitch off the mound, I had a little crispness on the ball. Breaking balls were good, and I'm starting to mess with the forkball again. And I'm happy."

Foulke, who was originally against the idea of doing a minor-league rehab assignment, says he's now open to the idea. Foulke was originally scheduled to do another session off the mound tomorrow, but will do a flat-ground session instead and do another mound session on Saturday. The implication is that he's stretching himself a bit too much, but if he's going to do back to back sessions, maybe he's regaining strength quicker than expected. There is still no timetable on his return - nor should there be; Schilling's doing just fine as the closer (two wins and six saves since July 26) and it looks like Wade Miller's stint on the DL may not last longer than the required fifteen days, fixing the starter issue with minimal need for outside coverage. It's starting to look like a rested Miller, a rejuvanted Schilling as starter and, God willing, an effective Keith Foulke will all be back in action by September as the Sox, now 5.5 games up on first place, prepare for the final stretch drive.

Off day today; tomorrow night The Golden Buddha faces off against Mark Buerhle in the White Sox only regular season trip to Fenway this year. GO SOX!!!

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Game 112: Survivor

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 8, Texas Rangers 7

"I don't think Bottalico sounds like the name of a cheap cologne...I think it sounds like the name of a dive bar. Like the sort of place you'd wear Remlinger to."
- Alan

When I got back from seeing The Dukes of Hazzard last night (seen without any expectations, it wasn't half bad), the score was seven to two in the seventh. Matt Clement had pitched a masterful six innings, giving up two runs on six hits, walking two and striking out six, limiting the dangerous Texas lineup to a mere whimper of offense. He came out in the sixth only because a ground ball struck him in the back of the leg and although he struck out Barajas to end the inning, Boston decided not to take any chances. New Red Sox acquisition Mike Remlinger was coming on to make his first outing in a Boston uniform. Meanwhile, the Sox hitters were on the ball, with RBI-man Petagine picking up two more to start out a five run fifth, Johnny Damon extending his hit streak to thirteen games (he's also gone an incredible fifty games with a hit or a run), Manny being Manny (two hits and an RBI) and Bill Mueller's second home run in twenty at-bats. 'Well,' I thought, 'I'll turn this on, but it should be a pushover - no way Texas mounts enough of a come back to make this one interesting.'

Foolish me.

As Robin has put it several times this season, the 2005 Red Sox are the team where no lead is safe and vice-versa.* Remlinger went on to give up four runs (two earned) on two hits and a walk, without getting an out. A controversial call, one of many this series,
** left Remlinger with the bases loaded, just as a fan was taking a daredevil plunge fifty feet out of the Upper Deck in Yankees Stadium into the backstop net (unrelated yes, but odd timing all the same): on a double play ball to third with the overshift on, Mueller tossed to Renteria, who dropped the ball on the transfer. The umpire disagreed, saying Renteria had some how held the ball but missed it entirely, giving Renteria his second error of the day. Bradford and Myers went on to get Boston out of the dreadful inning, but only after Bradford had blown the save with two more hits.

The Sox couldn't get anybody past first base in the next two innings - once because the first base umpire called Kapler out at first even though Teixeira was pretty clearly off the bag in the replay, prompting Francona's second explosion of the night - but Timlin and Schilling picked up the slack, cruising through the eighth, ninth and tenth with a combined one hit and three strike outs.*** In the tenth, Texas reliever Kevin Gryboski, who was about all Buck Showalter had left to throw at Boston besides closer Francisco Cordero, gave up a single to left to Bill Mueller. Alex Cora followed up with a beautiful sacrifice bunt that dribbled right in front of the batters box, putting Mueller in scoring position. After Gryboski fell behind Damon two and zero, Texas chose to intentionally walk the centerfielder. Up came Renteria, looking for vengeance and a chance to make up for those costly errors. After working a three and two count, Renteria smacked a double past third baseman Hank Blaylock (who's hit, ironically enough, was the source of Renteria's last error), scoring Mueller and winning the game. And it was good.

After Kevin Millar made a comparison between himself and Tom Brady - not a lot of runs/points, but full of intagibles - Theo Epstein made a poster-sized blowup of the Globe article and put it, along with Brady's full uniform, in Millar's locker. Millar chose to wear it, along with a "Theo" head band, to batting practice. The Idiots live on.

Turns out neither Mini Manny nor Gonzo is Pawtucket-bound just yet - instead, the Sox put Wade Miller on the fifteen day DL with reaccuring shoulder stiffness, using his roster spot to pick up Remlinger. Because the Sox, with the day off, don't have to worry about having a fifth starter until next Tuesday against Detroit, the Front Office hasn't announced who will fill Miller's spot, but Tito made it clear last yesterday that it won't be Schilling. My guess is that Gonzo might be heading back into the rotation for a game or two - he's already started for the Sox once this year (back in the West Coast trip against Oakland) and he's on the active roster, so no moves would have to be made. The other two options, Abe Alvarez and Jon Papelbon, both have their own problems: Alvarez still hasn't proven himself majors-quality material and Papelbon is back in Pawtucket learning how to be a reliever. Going back to my thoughts on fifth starters yesterday, I'd say Gonzo's got the goods - he's proven he can pitch innings in long relief, even though he's not the most intimidating presence on the mound.

Tony Graffanino hurt his pinkie sliding into home during Monday's game. He was listed as day-to-day and was out of the lineup last night; I have a feeling he'll be back tonight.

The Sox traded Jose Cruz, Jr. to Los Angeles (the real Los Angeles team, not Anaheim) for a player to be named later.

Sox go for another sweep tonight, Guns and Corn versus that asshat The Gambler. With any luck, the boos should distract him even more than the Red Sox bats teeing off on his cameraman-tossing ass and the terrible streak of Sox errors will end. GO SOX!!!

* - Yes, no safe is lead. Apparently one of my close friends is Yoda in disguise.
** -
The umpiring in this series has been so bad that NESN did a quick recap of the bad calls made to both sides...and then went on to examine every bad call made the rest of the night. It was pretty terrible. I really hope that someone sits the whole umpiring crew down after this series and points out every single mistake they made.
*** - One of those outs was a trademark
Manny over-the-shoulder catch, the kind that makes your heart stop momentarily. There's nothing funnier than hearing D.O.'s reaction to those catches - they ALWAYS catch him by surprise.

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