Friday, September 30, 2005

Holy Crap

Francona is in playoff mode. He used Chad Bradford against a right-handed batter (Gary Sheffield), then took him out for Mike Myers, after Bradford got the out, to face Matsui, a lefty. I think this may be a sign of the Apocalypse, or possibly 2004. In any case, I'm rediculously excited about this development, even if Francona is pulling to his "rocking like Rain Man" routine.

Game 159: Tell Your Kids

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 4

-Red Sox Nation

When Ted Williams first came to the plate, my father wasn’t born. When Jim Rice first came to the plate, I wasn’t born. When my child (ok, in the future damn it) watches baseball, he/she won’t know about David Ortiz from first hand experience. However, he/she will know his name. I will make sure of that.

The greatest clutch hitter of my time happens to play for my team. I don’t know what to do with that knowledge. I don’t vote for MVP’s. I don’t have a say in who wins trophies. I am not even certain the Red Sox will make the playoffs this year (although I “believe” they will). All I know is that David Ortiz would rather lie down in traffic than let his team lose a game. It isn’t about his accomplishment when concerning the rest of the league (both the Yankees and Indians won). It’s not about how the rest of his team is doing (Manny and Papi had 5 hits combined, the rest of the team also had 5 hits combined). It is about what can be done for the win. You need a run? He has it in his pocket. You need a RBI? He will bring one to you. His amazing ability to place the Sox into a winning position makes words almost useless. Bill Simmons wrote a column about how he thinks Ortiz should win the MVP, but in the long run, won’t remember if he gets screwed over. I have to disagree. I KNOW I will remember. In fact, I feel awkward even writing about it. I mean… what can you say? No, really tell me! I don’t know what to do here.

Should I move on and talk about the rest of the game? It was good, but not great. Clement pitched well enough to lose (4 earned runs in 5 innings), then Myers and Papelbon proved that the Sox bullpen are not all a bunch of losers (Bradford and Harville) or desperate pickups (Mike “freaking” Stanton). On the offensive side, Manny contributed with a 2 run shot and would be receiving my total admiration if it wasn’t for Ortiz. Big Papi, AL MVP, hero of Red Sox Nation, clutch hitter supreme, all around nice guy, and best sandwich maker EVER! Sorry, I digress.

This season is FAR from over. The AL East leading Yankees come into town for 3 games and they happen to be the last 3 games of the regular season. Win all 3 and the Sox win the division. Win 2 and there is a one game playoff (in Yankee Stadium). Win 1 or less and it’s Wild Card or bust (Indians say: “bust”). Wells vs Wang @7:05.

Just keep it close Wells. Papi will know what to do when it’s his turn. I believe in him. We all do.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Game 158: Revenge Of The Suck

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Toronto Blue Jays 7

Second place? Nooooooooooooo

Neither Luke nor I can believe this stinker. Maybe Arroyo should stick to the bullpen and his budding music career. All 7 runs were his fault and that was pretty much enough. Ted Lilly started off shaky, but a 7 run backing tends to bolster your confidence. He allowed a lot of base runners, yet with men in scoring position the Red Sox were about 1 for 100,000. Way to use the Force guys. Scott Schoen-why-I-beat-you-so-badly also had a freaking amazing night and put any thought of Jedi-like heroics to bed. But that’s not even the end of this nightmare. I know, I know: “How could it get any worse?”

Well, while the Blue Jays take us in hand like naughty puppies, the Evil Empire was able to squeak out a win against the Orioles 2-1. For those keeping score at home: the Sox are now one game back of the Yanks with 4 near must-win-games left to play. Ugh. Even IF they get into the playoffs, this pitching staff is dropping like an Ewok thrown from the Prudential building. Clement is having his second half swoon, Schilling is being attacked by his own teammates, Arroyo just tanked a vital one, and if you add Wells weight and age? 320+.

But enough of this negativity. That’s the Dark Side talking. Let’s find some bright spots!

  • The bullpen looked really sharp. DiNardo, Myers and Delcarmen combined for 6 innings with only 1 hit. Awesome, now where were you the day before?
  • Renteria has been on FIRE with his bat. In the past week he’s been batting over .400 and even cracked a homerun in this game. It’s almost like he’s playing to save his job. Hmmm…
  • Not every other team is doing well. The Indians lost to Tampa Bay again and are still tied with the Sox for the Wild Card. Even with a big slide, the Red Sox might be able to back door into the playoffs! (Insert sarcastic slow clap here)

You know what? I don’t feel any better. Clement vs Downs in the final game of this Jar-Jar Binks level disaster.

(sigh) Go Sox

Game 157: Cry Me A River

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 7

"We'd be kidding ourselves if this weekend wasn't going to dictate the outcome of this season. It's the master plan. God's way. Yankees-Red Sox."
- Johnny Damon

I’ve read the papers and they all seem to cast a subtle blame on Schilling for last night’s disappointing loss and besides a bit of a swipe by the Courant, aren’t too interested in taking Francona to task for another bit of bullpen mismanagement. Fortunately for all concerned, we didn’t lose any ground, as Cleveland lost in a comeback bid against wretched TBay closer Dannys Baez and as predicted, Baltimore beat the crap out of the Yankees. The tie continues.

Of course, I wouldn’t be taking this tone of post if the offense hadn’t squandered opportunities – I think the superb Toronto bullpen pitched out of bases-loaded situations twice, stopping the Sox from easily blowing the game wide open – but the fact remains that Schilling should not have come out for the seventh inning, Bradford should not have come out for the eighth and sending out Craig Hansen to get two outs with runners on second and third is mildly reprehensible (welcome to the fire, kid. Now enjoy your Fenway debut). Schilling is Schilling; he blames himself for putting the Sox in the position to lose, but the fact remains that although the bullpen is stretched tight on days when Papelbon and Timlin aren’t available (how frightening is that?), the remnants have to be used properly when the starter is tired. Schilling may protest that he’s healthy and that he doesn’t know why he’s pitching so poorly, but just watching him last night, you could see that his hips didn’t have the same drive and you remember once again we cannot expect the guy to make a full recovery a year after he pitched two massively important games with a stapled ankle. We know this, Schilling knows this, I have no doubt Tito knows this…but still he allows Schilling to come back out in the seventh, having through 109 pitches.

Then there’s Chad Bradford. I think Tito must have some sort of super man-crush on him, because that’s the only reason I can think of why he keeps pitching Bradford against lefties – especially when he takes Mike Myers out after walking the one batter he faced. Now, stats-wise, Chad Bradford IS Mike Myers in a mirror: basically the same numbers from opposites side of the plate. Bradford, as I’ve said about 15 times already, should ONLY be facing righties, just like Myers should ONLY be facing lefties, unless the Red Sox have a 15 run advantage, every other pitcher in the bullpen is unavailable and Kevin Millar has already taken his turn as a reliever. And yet, 22 times since July 14, Tito has used Bradford against a lefty and the result is 8 singles, 1 home run, 8 RBI and a lot of ugly.

I could go into reasons why you shouldn’t bring in a kid who seems to be on the verge of dead arm again and has pitched a total of two major league outings in his life when there are two runners in scoring position and the game is tied, but that would just be beating a dead horse. Let’s put it this way – Varitek wasn’t calling for fastballs from Hansen last night, so a strike out probably wasn’t in the offing anyway.

Tonight, Bronson Arroyo versus Ted Lilly. I’d be in a panic, but Arroyo is the only Red Sox starter whose ERA against Toronto isn’t over 10,000 this year – a nice 3.00 to be exact. Mayhaps we’ll get another opportunity we can take advantage of. GO SOX!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Game 156: The Stopper Strikes Again

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Toronto Blue Jays 1

There’s nothing like a quality pitching performance, especially on a day when it’s so desperately needed. Stepping in and getting the job done quickly and easily, Tim Wakefield picked up win number 16 of the year with a 7 innings, 3 hit 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strike out effort, spinning knuckleball mastery once again. Given his performance this season, especially in his four starts this month, the title Mr. September seems very appropriate.

On the offensive side of things, the Boys in White and Red got enough done to establish a lead (2 runs in the first off of Dave Bush, who’s given up a first inning run in 17 of 23 starts this year) but kept the explosions to a minimum, speeding up the game. Ok, maybe that wasn’t the intention – besides the first inning, Bush pitched a good game and the Sox didn’t really crack the Jays’ bullpen. In any case, Boston did enough to win and for that we’re all happy.

In a bit of Bill James-style managing, Francona opted to have Mike Timlin pick up save number 12 by bringing him out to pitch the ninth, operating off the maxim of using your best reliever when he’s needed most – although the rough spot that Jonathan Papelbon hit and the 25 pitches he threw in the eighth might have helped the decision, too. The move does put a bit more pressure on the Sox to perform well tonight, though, as presumably Francona won’t want to use Timlin again unless he really has to.

Schilling versus Gustavo Chacin tonight at 7:00. Chacin beat the Sox back in May, but has only 1 win in 10 appearances since August 5 with a WHIP of 1.35 and an ERA of 4.36 over 64 innings, so there’s a possibility of getting to him early. Meanwhile, Baltimore has lost 9 straight and is due for a win, so maybe Boston can gain some ground tonight and the scary, scary three way tie between New York, Boston and Cleveland over the Wild Card (not to mention the tie for the AL East) will break up a bit. GO SOX!!!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

Crap. Now that really complicates things. The called game means a day/night disaster with Wake in the first half and Schilling in the second. 3 days later Wake goes AGAIN (vs Big Unit… lets hope it goes better this time around) and Schilling gets the last game of the regular season on normal rest. Meanwhile, the Yankees BEAT THE TAR out of the hapless Orioles. You know it was an 11-0 blow out because Embree…
Wait, make that an 11-2 blow out…
Well Ok, an 11-3 blow out and Embree is the 9th inning goat? Man I am happy we got rid of him.

So the Sox are in second place again and waiting to catch up. Still 7 more games people. Lets try it again. LOAD IT UP! Wake vs Bush @1:05 then Schilling vs TBA @7:05 weather permitting.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Game 155: Going Home

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 9, Baltimore Orioles 3

There's nothing like it

Big win today. The bats are as healthy as ever and Manny is apparently, being Manny. Wells pitched 6 strong innings (but may still have a hurting knee) and even without Foulke, the bullpen looked almost halfway reliable... maybe. In the end, Baltimore rolled over* and the brooms saw some action. The only problem is that a BIG win doesn’t matter much without a BIG loss from the ever beloved Yankees. However, the Blue Jays appear to be saving all their power and vitriol for the Sox and couldn’t pull out a win. So where does that leave us? Tied? Yep. Frustrated? Sure. In trouble? Not really.

The way I see it, the Red Sox have 7 home games. The Yankees have 7 away games. I like them odds. The Yankees and Red Sox are both barely over .500 on the road. Unlike the Yankees though, a lot of “home” has been following the Sox around. Part of the GLORY that is Red Sox Nation is that we seem to fill any empty seat wherever we play. Camden Yards is being called “Fenway South” but I didn’t remember any “Lets Go Yankees!” chants last time they stopped in Baltimore.

So I wonder how many Toronto and New York fans are going to make it to Fenway for the final 7. I bet if they all travel together they can drive in the carpool lanes.

Bring it on bluebirds. Schilling vs Bush (giggle) 7:00 at the Fens.


*Is any team MORE done than the Orioles? Sosa is done, Palmerio is done (forever?) and everyone else is playing like they have something better to do after the game. I just hope they can win ONE freaking game this week. Man... mope on your own time losers.

Games 153 and 154: Fit To Be Tied

Final Scores:

Game 153: Boston Red Sox 6, Baltimore Orioles 3
Game 154: Boston Red Sox 4, Baltimore Orioles 3

It's kind of like first place

Well, the world has returned to normal. We are tied with the Yankees for first place and I can now eat solid food again. Arroyo and Clement looked fine, the bats woke up and then fell asleep again, Hansen proved he was human and Timlin (gulp) got two more saves and some death threats that should be forwarded to Francona. Not from me though. I don't know what you are talking about.

Last away game of the regular season is today! Lets sweep up and go home. Wells vs Maine @1:00 in the Birdhouse. Game to be followed by longer post and a chance of light drinking.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Game 152: Torches And Pitchforks

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7

Some people here to see you, Mike

Angry Members of Red Sox Nation: “GET HIM! Bring him out here! We are gonna string him up!”

Me (For Some Reason): “Woah woah woah. What seems to be the problem?”

RSN: “Problem? We’ll tell you the problem: he blew it! We should have won that game and that overused, washed up, converted closer totally blew it!”

Me: “Who, Mike Timlin?”

RSN: “Yeah TIMLIN! We want his head!”

Me: “It doesn’t all fall on the head of Timlin does it? I mean we could have scored more runs. Manny didn’t run out a ball he hit to Kazmir in the first, Ortiz and Renteria hit into double plays, and there were 10 men left on base. Besides that, it was one of the weirdest lineups Francona has ever penciled in.”

RSN: “That doesn’t matter! We were winning before that joker came in. WE WANT TIMLIN!”

Me: “Well doesn’t Wakefield share some of the blame? He didn’t have his sharpest stuff tonight. 4 of the earned runs were his. What about Francona? Maybe he shouldn’t have put Timlin in.”

RSN: “Yeah maybe, but one of the runners Timlin inherited WITH 2 OUTS! That same inning he allowed 3 more! It was 4 straight hits before an out! Francona was right to go to him, that’s Timlin's freaking job…he just blew it! BRING US MIKE TIMLIN!”

Me: “Aren’t you guys over reacting? It isn’t the end of the world is it?”

RSN: “The Yankees won. We have fallen out of first place.”

Me: “Timlin huh? Just a sec. Let me go get him.”

Timlin (Looking Scared): “Uhhh Go Sox?”

Game 151: Heckle This

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 15, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2

“Maybe they ought to put out a public address announcement to tell those children out there to be careful.”
- John Olerud after Ortiz’s second home run

Reactions of die-hard Rays’ fan Rob the Heckler to selective events from last night:

David Ortiz’s 45th home run: “But…! But…! I was heckling him! Heckling is supposed to make the hitter do badly, not crush rockets into the right field bleachers!”

Manny Ramirez’s 37th home run, coming back to back with a Big Papi blast for the first time this season: “Ouch, that’s not pretty. Of course, Manny does own us almost as bad as that Wakefield guy…who I see is pitching tomorrow night. Crap. But hey, we can get the runs back.”

Jorge Cantu’s home run in the bottom of the first: “Yeah baby! That’s the way to rock Schilling! Now we can have a rally of our own…son of a *****!…never mind.”

David Ortiz’s 46th home run, marking his 8th multiple home run game of the year: “What, is McClung just handing Ortiz the ball and saying ‘I want you to smack this like A-fraud and Vlad in that Pepsi commercial? I think that ball hit the frickin’ back of the stadium!”

Jorge Cantu’s sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Carl Crawford from second, giving Cantu a franchise-record 109 RBI: “That may be the weirdest sacrifice fly ever scored in baseball. Man, is Carl Crawford fast and man, does Johnny Damon’s arm suck. Too bad it’s 7 – 2 Boston and Curt’s dealing like he’s got a personal vendetta against every man to ever wear a Tampa Bay uniform…”

On the combined 16 for 20, 12 run, 12 RBI, 5 home run night by Ortiz, Ramirez, Nixon and Varitek, where Nixon went a double shy of the cycle: “Oh sweet merciful GOD, why must you torture this team so? Why were we forced to be the brunt of such an offensive explosion, especially on a night when anyone not named Cantu can’t buy a run? I think my brain is bleeding from the beating…”

It was a damn satisfying game, a breakout of magnificent proportions on a night when the Sox needed to win. With the Thursday day off looming, the Sox shook off the offensive gloom that’s hung over them for the past week or two and dominated the Rays offensively from the very first inning. Schilling pitched a solid 7 innings, giving up two runs on six hits, walking one and striking out 7, ending the streak of bad starting pitching from the past two days. Mini-Manny and DiNardo were perfect in the eighth and ninth; Delcarmen struck out the side. New York may have kept pace, but if Boston can build on last night’s success in the final game of the series, they can go into their first day off in 30 days with confidence.

Tim Wakefield, owner of a perfect 6 and 0 record with a 1.89 ERA against Tampa Bay, starts tonight against Tampa Bay’s best pitcher, Scott Kazmir, who’s had his own success against Boston. Hopefully the Red Sox offensive juggernaut will continue to ride over all attempts at opposition. GO SOX!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

It's A Real Drag

(From Dirtdogs) Left to Right:
Papelbon, Lil' Manny , Adam Stern, Shoppach, and Machado

The Sox Rookies are all decked out for the home stretch in the pennant race. Schilling tonight... just win baby.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Game 150: Children Of The Damned

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8

“Woe to you, O Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the Beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the Beast, for it is a human number. It’s number is fifty-six.”
- With apologies to Iron Maiden

Craig Hansen will get you out

The highlight of night: Craig Hansen’s debut, a 1-2-3 inning with two strike outs and a pop-up. Hansen, whose fastball and hard off-speed pitches ranged between 88 and 97 miles per hour, has a weird release point that makes him look like he’s tossing the ball in a backyard game of catch instead zipping it by batters in a major league ballpark.

Other than some of the standard-fare Big Papi heroics (two run double and a solo home run in the ninth) and a quick manufactured run to the start the game, there wasn’t much to recommend the Red Sox performance this evening. Boomer lasted 2 and 2/3rds innings, victim of his own failings and a Francona hook after the Rays scored 4 runs. Harville added a run in the fourth, Papelbon two more in the sixth when a curve failed to curve and ended up over the left field wall and Bradford another in the eighth – but then again, Francona was misusing him again. Basically, with the exception of Hansen and Myers, every time the offense made a step forward, the pitching just moved the final goal a little further out of reach…and every time the offense tried to mount a rally, they fell short of taking the lead – grounding into double plays (3), striking out (5, including Manny’s to end the game), playing Edgar Renteria (1 for 4, 2 men LOB, plus another error)…

Meanwhile, in New York, Baltimore had a 2 – 0 lead going, then blew it to tie the game, then lost on the unkindliest cut of all, a walk-off home run to Bubba Crosby. But hey, cutting the first place lead to half a game will definitely inspire heroics from the exhausted and battered Red Sox, so close and yet so far from their Thursday day off. Thank, Bud Selig, for forcing them to play this 30 game stretch so late in the year. We all appreciate it. I know Robin, who's probably stalking around his apartment right now with murder in his eye and hot rage in his heart, would probably love to burn you in effigy, especially if this year's post-season starts without Boston as a participant.

Schilling tomorrow against Seth McClung. Will we get the Schilling who beat down the Yankees, or the Schilling who was beaten down by Oakland? Only time and the possibility of falling out of first place will tell. GO SOX!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Game 149: Who Are These Guys?

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Oakland Athletics 12

The New Red Sox Bullpen Car

Oh God turn it off!! It was a massacre. The Sox lost by 9 runs but it wasn’t even THAT close. Down 12-1 in the 7th inning, AA Portland was now basically in the field for the last game against non AL East teams. By then the lineup looked like this:

Hyzdu LF-CF
Petagine LF
Shoppach DH
Mirabelli C
Nixon RF
Machado CF-SS
Olerud 1B
Graffanino 2B
Cora SS-3B

Except for Nixon, Olerud and maybe Graffanino, it’s the all scrub team and there was nobody left to play. Francona was so lonely in the dugout it looked like he was picked last in kickball. If Nixon stubs his toe, I am shagging fly-balls in right field. Now that would be ugly.

Sox did manage 11 hits (only 6 by starters) and made the weakest attempt at a comeback ever. What can you expect from a group of guys that were riding minor league pine, DFA’ed by another team or playing in Japan a few months ago? A horror show.

How did this happen? Blame it on the pitcher. That is the second unwatchable start from Clement in a row. 5 hits and 3 runs before the first out is a great way for me to break a TV and for him to get left off the playoff roster. But the crap continued to flow downhill as his replacement, Jeremi Gonzalez had a lovely 5 run fifth that caused blood to shoot out of my eyes. I guess the good news was that Foulk, DiNardo and Harville combined for 4 scoreless innings against the A’s second stringers and players wives. Good for them!

The Yankees finally lose one (still 1.5 back) and we are treated to this mess. If the season ended today Red Sox win the division and Yankees miss the wild card. But guess what? Still have 13 games left. Feel free to chime in, but I think they have to go 10 and 3 to be safe. Ugh. I need a break. I need a nap. Someone shake me in October.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Game 148: Pitching? Yep! Hitting? Not So Much.

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Oakland Athletics 1

A Rare Sight?

Red Sox with good pitching!!! Lies you say? Heresy you scream? Blasphemy you gasp? Something you… something? Well it’s true! Bronson was fantastic. Papelbon-bon was super hot and Timlin threw 9 straight strikes to get the save. It was playoff caliber pitching and it really is about time. I know it's football season and everything, but 14-9 scores every night get a little old.

Unfortunately, this game wasn’t all sunshine and moonbeams. The lineup seems to be suffering from a near fatal case of Dead Bat Disorder (DBD). Danny Haren pitched a hell of a game… but I mean really. Tek looks so beat, I think wires are actually holding him up when he bats. Millar has been hot recently (over .350 in September) but he still hasn’t found his mojo, Billy Mueller has had a “please don’t pay me well next year” offensive season and Renteria thinks RISP is the name of a band. Moving into the outfield, Nixon and Damon are so banged up they look forward to their cortisone shots like junkies waiting on a fix.

That leaves Olerud (he’s old), Tony G (he’s hurting), Alex Cora (doesn’t play everyday), Youlk (doesn’t play everyday), Mirabelli (thank GOD he doesn’t play everyday), Petagine (wait... who?), and then Manny/Ortiz.

Ortiz is automatic. His gun is usually loaded, but even Big Papi runs out of bullets now and then. And Manny? Well it’s been said that Manny is having an “off” season. Just don’t tell that to the homerun he hit tonight. It should be coming down anytime now… anytime. 36 homers, 126 rbi and counting. A few more of these “off" seasons and he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame.

So the combo of Manny/Ortiz is still the most potent in baseball, but still isn’t 9 guys worth of potent. The Yankees are still 1.5 games behind us and seem to be reading the paper over our shoulder. That means the other bats need to wake up and they need to do it around 2:05 tomorrow. The final non AL East game of the season is against Kirk “Stupid Dog Name” Saarloos, with Clement pitching for the good guys in red socks. Win the series and knock the extra vowels out of Saarloos name.


Game 147: Oakland Fans HATE Us

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Oakland Athletics 2

It was a game with a rain-delayed start, fraught with tension, missed chances, incredible pitching, a Big Papi long bomb to tie things up…and Manny’s Big Ass Being Manny’s Big Ass.* Picture it: bottom of the tenth inning, G-unit starts things off with a double to the right field corner off Juan Cruz and is replaced by pinch-runner Alejandro Machado. The Sox have 6 hits, after first Joe Kennedy, Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer engaged Wakefield in a pitchers’ duel over nine innings, so there’s some worry here: what if Boston doesn’t score this inning? Will Machado’s bat be able to make the offensive difference? As The Nation frets and wonders, Johnny Damon tries to bunt, but settles for a chopper to the right side that moves Machado to third. Oakland manager Ken Macha goes for the five infielder defense against Edgah, pulling Jay Payton and replacing him with Keith Ginter. I’m starting to pray for a fly ball – I can’t survive another inning, not after Oakland got within 90 feet of a run in the top of the tenth.

Five minutes later, the A’s are finally done figuring out strategy and Cruz pitches to Renteria. Cruz gets behind Edgah 3 balls and 1 strike before hitting him off the elbow, a ball that must have left a mark on the shortstop’s elbow armor because home plate umpire Rick Reed only ruled it a HBP after examining Renteria’s arm. Macha has Cruz walk Ortiz, then pulls him in favor Keiichi Yabu. The FSN Bay Area guys, who are calling this game on, cite Cruz’s lack of control as the deciding factor – apparently Yabu can make the right pitches at the right time. With all of the defensive conferences (Macha elects to stay with 5 infielders for Manny’s at-bat) and pitching changes, this game is starting to resemble the final minutes of a close football game.

Manny comes to the plate. I’m actively muttering things at the screen now – threats, promises, curses, whatever it takes. Manny hits a groundball that almost gives me a heart attack…until I realize it’s foul. After throwing one high and tight, Yabu rears back…and nails Manny on upper thigh, walking in the winning run. Game over, Sox win and Boston preserves the 1.5 game lead, in the most hilarious manner possible. Once again, Oakland fans have a reason to hate us.

Tomorrow evening it’s the battle of the rock star hair: Bronson Arroyo faces Danny Haren in a battle of the ages. Boston rocked Haren in their only meeting this year (6 runs in 3.2 innings) while Arroyo, although he’s given up 5 runs in 13.2 innings, holds the A’s to a .180 BAA. GO SOX!!!

* - With apologies to Chris Ward.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Game 146: Bedraggled And Exhausted

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Oakland Athletics 6

Me Too, Buddy

One gets the feeling, that Boston, despite having a red hot Yankees team breathing down its neck, pulling within 1.5 games of taking first place (damn you, Tampa Bay, not coming through when you were supposed to), doesn’t really care enough to get the win. Or maybe they’re just too beat up and tired to play hard and get these tough teams. The forecast for tomorrow night is torrential, game-postponing rain and by God, the Sox need it. They need a day off like New Orleans needs a good set of levies and like the Big Easy, bad things will happen if relief doesn’t come soon.

Beyond that little bit of joy, not much to say. Robin is “as angry as I’ve ever been” which has become his catchphrase of late, over Schilling’s lackluster effort (6.2 IP, 11 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 3 strike outs), the Sox hitting once again pretty much failed to crack a pitcher they’ve never seen before, Varitek and Manny look absolutely exhausted and Mike Myers/Chad Bradford did their best impressions of a useless pitcher, killing any offensive momentum by giving Oakland two runs in the eighth. Tomorrow’s scheduled start is The Stopper versus Joe Kennedy, who fortunately has had craptacular season and a terrible September, but, enormous baseball fan though I am, I’m really hoping that there’s a rainout instead and a doubleheader on Saturday or Sunday. Go rain, GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | curt schilling

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Game 145: Today's Tom Sawyer

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 3

Big Papi, Rush...We're Not Worthy

In tribute to Rush, present at tonight’s festivities, we present another edition of Ego & Superego. For Alan’s benefit: Robin’s comments are in italics.

Spent the evening at casa-de-la Eric. Sox were hot, beer was cold and the women were not surprisingly absent. Also, I think Geddy Lee is 100,000 years old. He looks like the love child of Kate Moss and Skeletor.

If the Sox lost tonight, especially if they lost by a run, I was going to talk about the bad call in the second when Graffanino tagged out Hillenbrand, only to see him called safe at second because the umpire somehow missed the tag. It would have been a discussion about the problems of the game, how there should be an instant replay or at least umpire consultation on plays like this one.

I was as mad as I’ve ever been. HOW do you miss that call? The ump was RIGHT THERE and it was obvious Graff hit him flush. Although, in the long run, instant replay would be pretty annoying. Imagine waiting all day to see if Francona wants to challenge a call. The game is slow enough already.

However, there needs to be no discussion, partially because of that same Tony Graffanino, who went 3 for 4 and a triple shy of the cycle, knocking around Josh "Faulty" Towers like he was in his mind, reading his pitches. Graff knocked in two runs and scored two runs and hit a (wicked pissah) home run to put the Sox on top temporarily in the fifth and I love him so very much. I have no idea what the free agent market is like this coming winter for second basemen, but Tony G. is definitely making a big bid to get the resign from the Sox.

I would have been a lot more pleased with the Graff homer if Kapler didn’t DESTROY himself (ruptured Achilles tendon) rounding second on it. Only the Red Sox can manage a season-ending injury on a homerun.

There is also no need for discussion about instant replays and such ilk because of David Ortiz, who just owns (seriously). I was thinking about it, after he hit his career-high 42nd home run, about how Big Papi may be his nickname, but it might as well be all we call him because good enough superlative adjectives just fail the mind.

But they still pitch to him. I am glad everyone is dumb but me.

Clutch hitting may not exist, but somehow every time we need a David Ortiz bomb, we get one. Tonight’s gem came with the score tied, 3 to 3, in the eighth, with 2 outs, with Robin and I not paying full attention to the game, only to be startled back to reality by the slight and sound of Ortiz CRUSHING an outside fastball up and out over the centerfield wall. He reached for the ball and he still destroyed it. Words fail me.

It’s almost not worth talking about anymore. He does it every night. If Ortiz is coming up and it’s the 8th inning or later in a close game, they should just credit the Sox with a run. In the end, it might be less psychologically damaging for the other teams.

Red Sox escape from Toronto with the series victory and return home to face Oakland in a four game match up starting tomorrow night, Schilling versus Blanton.

I know he is another young pitcher that the Sox haven’t faced so we are slated to do AWFUL…but come on! It’s freaking Joe Blanton! Not a lot of volts from this outlet.


tags: baseball | red sox | david ortiz | tony graffanino | gabe kapler
(These stink! Who uses these?)

Game 144: Deep Thoughts

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Toronto Blue Jays 9

"Millar was right. 3 Canadian beers are really like 6 normal beers."

"My ERA was a little low. I just wanted to fit in with the other guys."

"Why does Kapler INSIST on telling Renteria that there are 'ghosts' in his glove?"

"Damn! The Jets really beat up on the Buccaneers! Oh wait..."

"The worst part about giving up 5 runs in an inning is going back to the bench to wake up Francona and tell him the bad news."

"Well at least Papi can pick me up in the late innings. What do you mean there is no such thing as a 6 run homerun?!?!"

"Olerud was right. A 2.5 game lead isn't that big even with the metric system."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Game 143: A Tale Of Two Papis

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Toronto Blue Jays 5

When the Red Sox came up to bat in the top of the eleventh, NESN obligingly flashed the records of the three scheduled batters (Graff, Edgah and Big Papi) against Jays’ pitcher Pete Walker.  When I saw Ortiz’ record of 2 for 3, I was thinking homer.  No matter that Big Papi had hit home run number 39 earlier in the day off of Ted Lilly – the big man’s done it so many times this season (8 all told after today, 2 less than Jimmy Fox’s record of 10) that it’s almost expected, especially when a.) the Ortizzle has displayed ownage and b.) Walker has already given up a game winning home run against the Red Sox (to Manny) this year.  Ortiz worked Walker to a 3 and 2 count, fouling off pitch number 5 that was just below his meat zone, before Walker tried to came back in with the same pitch but missed his location.  The thigh-high inside fastball soon found itself screaming towards center, just clearing the wall to give the Sox the offensive edge they needed to win after squandering a 5 run lead in the seventh.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation, Jonathan “Little Papi” Papelbon pitched as if touched by the Almighty Hand of the Great God of Closers.  Coming on in the ninth inning with the score tied, Paps got the side in order on 13 pitches, including a nasty strike out against Gabe Gross, allowed a walk and a long fly out to Vernon Wells in the tenth and went 1-2-3 in the eleventh, getting the final out against Aaron Hill, the first batter he faced in the ninth, on a pop up to former Blue Jay great John Olerud.  Particularly impressive was Papelbon’s splitter/high fastball combo: if he couldn’t get a hitter to swing at his splitter as it bottomed out, he’d come back at them with the high heat, burning it in at 94 mph and getting them to pop up or, in the case of Gabe Gross, look on foolishly as the ball flew across the outside corner of the plate.  On a night when the bullpen looked dismal – Mike Timlin’s mistake pitch to Vernon Wells that resulted in a three-run tater being the prime example – having Papelbon go three gorgeous innings was pretty damn awesome.

Tomorrow night, Matt Clement takes another shot at win number 14, going up against converted reliever Scott Downs, who’s faced Boston once this year, giving up two runs on three hits in 3.2 innings and has a 4.76 ERA in 11.1 innings in two starts in September.  With the Sox getting by perpetual menace Ted Lilly unscathed, they’ve got a chance to rip into the soft underbelly of Toronto pitching – time to feast.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | david ortiz | jonathan papelbon

Game 142: Crying Over Clichés

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 0, New York Yankees 1

Even though it COMPLETELY describes
this game… if I have to hear one more person say “Baseball is a game of inches” blood will shoot out of my ears.

The first inning homerun hit by Giambi
JUST made it out.

So many strikes that Johnson snuck in on the corners.

Wakefield had 12 strikeouts (a record for him), 1 run and a loss.

Damon JUST missed 2 rbis with a long foul ball.


By the 6th inning, the resigned gripes started popping out of the mouths of those broadcaster fellows. It’s true though. “You can’t steal first base”.

Johnson had a 99mph fastball and 8 strikeouts.

Can’t steal first
Only 7 base runners all day.

Can’t steal first
Mirabelli: 0 for 3 with 2 K but left in because Wake was great.

Can’t steal first
Hardest hit ball? Rents line drive RIGHT INTO the glove of Rivera.

Can’t steal first

The 3 game lead instills a sense of hope in some. Their cries of “It isn’t October yet” echo in the streets and in the message boards. They’re right, it’s not.

I would be drunk and wandering the streets.

If it was October...
Jeter wouldn’t be able to safely open his mail for weeks.

If it was October
Schilling would have long sobbing messages on his voice mail (left by me).

If it was October
Giambi would just be getting a new shipment of
piping hot HGH.

If it was… well any month really.

Look, this game was not a season ending loss, but it was one of the most frustrating of the season. The worst part was seeing Wakefield, the heart of this team, pitch the best game of his career and not win. Johnson however, was a house of fire. He was hot. Of the three hits the Sox got, only one of them belonged to that 6-10 monster. I just hope it wasn’t one of those galvanizing wins that puts a team on a crazy winning streak… you know
the ones I mean.

In the end the Sox are still 3 games up, the pitching is back to some standard higher than “5 innings 5 earned runs” and they KNOW they can win big games. I think they win that game 9 times out of 10. Sunday just happened to be a “10”. Damn Yankees. Damn
Bo Derek.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Game 141: Return of the Native

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 9, New York Yankees 2

I was planning to “live blog” this one, I really was. However, I'm looking at my notes for the 4th inning and it goes something like this:

Chacon up to 60+ pitches… looks totally lost… OLDER DUDE YARD… I want to hit McCarver with a brick… he just called Arroyo “Brandon” again… Hit, hit, hit… bases more juiced than Giambi… RUN!!... aserhaer…afaearh…aersGO BABYaerha…rbiseafdsh5aa54aa...

It kind of breaks down after that. Oh well.

2 errors helped the Sox get 6 of 9 in that inning with the Yankees taking a page from last nights defensive playbook. Thanks guys. Chacon remembered he was once on the Rockies and was shelled so bad he didn’t get out of the 4th, neither did his replacement Felix “the Cat” Rodriguez. The game was then turned over to the Al Leiter who (if you listen to Fox) did an “AMAZING” job in relief with a line of 5.2 innings, 3 runs, 9 hits, 1 hits and 3 strikeouts. I guess that’s what qualifies for “AMAZING” Yankee relief pitching.

Meanwhile, Curt Schilling was phenomenal through his first 3 and a third. The only base runner was on a dumb error flip from Olerud to Schilling (called it a missed catch). That is until the ALWAYS AWFUL Fox announcers decided to scream “HE’S PITCHING A NO HITTER!!” and immediately he gave up a bomb to Giambi (he looks "bigger"). The rest was clear sailing. He tired a bit in the end, but Schilling looked back to form and gave 8 strong innings. Also, apparently I am not the only one who thinks these Fox guys need to be run out of town on a rail. Go figure.

Just a great all around win. Bats came alive, Manny went deep, defense was BETTER, Schilling looked like a playoff starter, Yankees go down hard and what more can you ask for? How about a series win? THAT would be fantastic.

Randy Johnson, when sober or pissed
Could be frequently heard to insist
Letting out a great fart
“Yes, I follow Descartes-
I stink, and I therefore exist!”


Friday, September 09, 2005

Game 140: UGLY

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, New York Yankees 8

Conversation in Tito’s head, prior to pulling David Wells in the sixth:

Tito: Boomer’s looking pretty tired; he’s had a rough night (9 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 walks) and I’ve got Chad Bradford waiting in the pen…should I pull him now?  Even though the Yankees scored this inning, it was because Manny looked like a retarded goat in left, there’re two outs and Boomer did just get out Matt Lawton without problems…and now they’re booing him.  Hehehehe…loser.
Stat-mind of Tito: Terry, I’m not gonna lie to you – you should take out Wells now.  Jeter’s coming up, it’s a righty on righty matchup…exactly what you have Bradford in that bullpen for.  It’ll be perfect.  Do it.  Do it.
Tito: Ok, ok, fine, I’ll do it.

[Francona pulls Boomer, who has the “don’t mess with my cake” look on his face.  Bradford comes in to take his place.  After a 10 pitch at-bat, Jeter, who’s 2 for 8 with 2 walks against Chad, works a walk.  Even in this first at-bat, it’s pretty clear Bradford’s ain’t gonna fool anybody with his stuff tonight.]

Tito: Well, that didn’t work out so well.  Too bad I didn’t warm up anybody else…Bernie Williams is up now.  That might be bad…
Stat-mind of Tito: Hmm, you might be right on that one, cuz Bernie’s a lefty and Bradford’s about as good against lefties as Michael Brown is at heading up disaster relief.  Still, even if Williams gets on, A-fraud and the Juice Machine are both righties…no problems.  And yeah, Bernie may be 3 for 4 against Bradford, but that’s not a big enough sample size to prove anything.

[Williams ups his record against Bradford to 4 for 5 by hitting a single, scoring Robinson Cano, who was on third.  6 – 3 Yankees.]

Stat-mind of Tito: Riiiiiight.  Didn’t see that coming.  Still, righty on righty, Terry.  No problems.

[Alex Rodriguez singles.  Derek Jeter scores and Bernie Williams goes to second.  Bradford may actually be cowering on the mound at this point.  7 – 3 Yankees.]

Tito: Ok, screw you, stat-head…if I don’t pull this guy now, they’ll be burning me in effigy across New England tomorrow.

[Mike Myers replaces Bradford, gives up a run on a single to Matsui before getting the final out on a fly ball to right field.  8 – 3 Yankees.  Red Sox fans everywhere wonder why the manager’s brain seemed to check out once again when a timely hook was needed.]

While tonight’s game was not one I expected Boston to win – Aaron Small’s perfect record with the Yankees didn’t seem ready to die yet – I did expect them to play a lot better than they did.  4 errors by Boston (although I think a closer examination of the quality of play might make it more like 6 errors), 1 unearned run, 10 men left on base, failing to take advantage of a bases loaded situation in the seventh, another screw up by Sveum and Tito’s aforementioned gaffe all contributed towards a game that Boston handed to New York far too easily.  

The thing that really bugs me about tonight, even more than the rest of the team looking like Little Leaguers: the misusage of Bradford.  As Michael Kay noted, Francona has 10 pitchers in his bullpen.  TEN.  In a dangerous hitting situation with a batter against whom Bradford has two statistical disadvantages, why do you even think of keeping the same pitcher?  Having that many pitchers available means you can use one pitcher for one or two batters and if necessary, go to the next pitcher who has the best chance of getting the out.  

We’ll get ‘em back tomorrow, assuming the Sox calm themselves down and start playing smart: Schilling versus Chacon at 1:20.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | terry francona | chad bradford | david wells

Game 139: Pounding Sand

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 0, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3

I think the long beleaguered Kevin Millar put it best when he swung at the dirt after striking out on a nasty K-Rod pitch in the 9th inning. Sometimes they got your number and there’s nothing you can do. The Angels of California, LA, Anaheim, Santa Cruz, Pueblo New Mexico and Bolivia shut down the hot bats the Scarlet foot Condoms have been swinging and they did it with the K.

Outside corners, inside corners, bottoms dropping out, a few rising heaters and some crap out of the zone was on the menu… and Sox batters had 10 helpings. Byrd with 4 (Millar twice), Shields with 3 (Manny, Rent, Ortiz all with men in scoring position) and K-Rod with 3 (the side in the 9th). It was hard to watch. Knees frozen, swinging wild or just looking mad and marching to the dugout, the Sox had their chance to win this one… and they swung through it.

I hate games like this. You just want to scream and yell and take a shot ever time there are men left on base. That’s 9 shots! And yeah the bullpen was great, and yeah Scioscia went psyco after a bad call and was tossed (always funny), and yeah the Yankees lost to Tampa Bay again, and yeah the Patriots won… But come ON! This was for the sweep! Nope. No dice. Ok lets move on.

The long awaited series in NY is upon us and not EVERYONE is excited, but as a Brooklyn dweller I cannot be more so. I've been listening to Thin Lizzy to pump myself up for the eventual battle. When the Sox win here the whole city gets kind of depressed and that just makes it sweeter for me… is that sick? Whatever.

Guess who just got back today?

Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven't changed, haven't much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy

The boys are back in town!


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Game 138: It's Not Luck...It's Confidence

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3

I’m reading Buster Olney’s The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness, which besides talking about the climb, peak, decline and fall of the great Yankee teams of the mid to late 90s (and takes its title from the loss of the World Series to the Diamondbacks in 2001 in Game 7), highlights, intentionally or not, something that the 2004 and 2005 Red Sox have enjoyed a good deal of: luck. Now luck isn’t some sort of mystical cosmic force – it’s an expression of team confidence, played out in bad umpire calls that go in favor of the team or mistakes by opponents that are exploited and it’s the major difference between the 2004 and 2005 Sox and those teams of yesteryear. There was no Curse; it was all about believing you had the team that could win it all, about luck…and the luck factor expressed itself twice last night.

The night didn’t start well for the Sox – Arroyo gave up two runs in the first and another in the second, both rallies coming with two outs. Kevin Millar got the Sox on the board in the bottom of the second with his fourth home run of the home stand, a solo shot into the Monster Seats, but Ervin Santana was taking no prisoners with his slider…until the third.

Arroyo started to settle, getting the Angels in order in the top of the inning, setting the stage for a Red Sox resurgence. Alex Cora, showing remarkable restraint, avoided several tasty pitches to work a 6 pitch walk, which Johnny Damon matched with a 6 pitch walk of his own. Down 0 and 2, Renteria hit a bloop fly ball to center…and that’s where luck reared its head. Although three players converged on the scene, the ball was clearly centerfielder Jeff DaVanon’s play to make and he let it drop, loading the bases for Big Papi. With the count 1 and 2, Ortiz tried to check his swing and third base umpire Larry Young called him safe, even though replays show pretty clearly he swung…another piece of luck for the Sox. Because you can never give Papi two chances, on the next pitch, Ortiz lofted a single to left, scoring two runs and tying the game. After Manny bounced into a double play, Trot Nixon hit a double off the wall to score Renteria and give Boston the permanent lead. Confidence rules the field again.

With last night’s win, the Sox are now 10 and 3 on their ultra-long home stand, have 4 games up on the Yankees with 24 games to go and most importantly, are starting to pitch like they know how to again. On most recent run through the rotation, only Curt Schilling did not go more than 7 innings and the bullpen pitched a combined total of 4 and 2/3rds innings, giving up three runs. As pitching becomes more and more important, Boston looks like it’s finally stepping up to the challenge of winning the division and going strong into the post-season.

Tonight, Clement goes for the sweep versus Paul Byrd, while the Pats duke it out with Oakland on ABC. I’m going to be in sports heaven. GO PATS, GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | yankees | kevin millar | bronson arroyo | david ortiz | trot nixon

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Game 137: Big Papi Wants YOU!

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2

Well, what do you do? The game is on the line. He's done it before. The ballpark can’t contain him. He won’t let down the thousands of screaming people. You can’t stop him. What do you do?

Put him on base? Ummm ok. Just remember that there's this guy named Manny Ramirez up next and he might take offence to the IBB.

Pitch him away? Sure that might work… in the 6th inning. But when you get to the 9th (and later) he’s more discerning than the tattooed music snob at your local record store. He won’t go chasing and he WON’T go looking. He will keep fouling off your mediocre pitches until one of you wins the battle (hint: it won’t be you).

Pitch him inside? Right under the arms. You’d think a big guy like that would have a huge hole in his swing there. Unfortunately for you, this big guy has hands quicker than a rattlesnake. He’ll get a piece off it or layoff the ones too far inside and wait for you to make a mistake, because as a matter of fact… he LIKES em a little inside. Call it his WHEELHOUSE.

Blow him away with your heat? Yeah, he probably won’t be able to keep up with the real hard ones. Great idea but first you should ask Scot Shields how that worked out for him. He knew right away that his 95 mph heater was going on a 470 ft trip as soon as it left the bat. He was in the visitors’ clubhouse before the run scored.

So, what do you do with the game on the line and David Ortiz staring at you? You sit back and watch one of the greatest clutch hitters ever. Watch as he puts on a show you’ll tell your kids about. Shows so grand, so amazing, and so unbelievable, that they make you forget all about stellar defense (in the 9th Olerud and Graffanino), the amazing starting pitching (Wakefield: CG win, 8 hits, 3 walks, 2 runs, 7 K), and even your rivals (Yankees Suck). All you remember is a slow jog home, the team waiting for him at home plate, and the crowd chanting: “PA-PI PA-PI PA-PI!!”


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Game 136: Them Rookies Again

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Chicago White Sox 5

Note to any team who wants to beat the 2005 Sox in the post-season: send out a rookie, preferable someone who Boston hasn’t faced before, for every game.  You’ll sweep the series no problem.  The Red Sox problems with rookies continued again yesterday, as Brandon McCarthy threw 7 3-hit innings and kept the Sox scoreless.  Tony Graffanino helped Boston avoid ignominy of their fourth shutout by hitting a three run homer in the ninth with two outs, before Gabe Kapler ended the game with a hard hit ground ball.  

According to this article, my assessment about the chances of a rookie in the off-season against Boston might be a bit overrated, as Boston is 7 and 9 against previously-unseen starters, but clearly it takes more than two or three at-bats against a pitcher to get Boston’s offense going.  Also, Brandon McCarthy is SICK – he not only shut down Boston’s offense, but took down Texas like it weren’t no thing his last time out.  Andrew is right though – a massive pitch count on a 22 year old arm, especially when you’re going to be heading into the post-season and might need him to pitch, is pretty damn stupid.  

With Johnny Damon day to day with shoulder problems and Bill Mueller on a day off, the Sox played a version of the second string squad, with Youkilis leading off and Kapler in center.  Although Youkilis is a great player and hopefully has a fine future ahead of him, he’s no replacement for Damon in the leadoff spot.  I assume the move was made to avoid changing the rest of the lineup – making the worst of a bad situation, especially with the way McCarthy was pitching.

Two good things about yesterday that make the loss a lot easier to bear:
  1. Although Schilling may not be happy with his losing effort of 9 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks and 4 strike outs over 6 and 1/3rd innings, he’s looking better and better with each start.  The splitter is still playing tricks on him – every major hit Chicago picked up came off a splitter – but Curt seems to be on the road to being a great pitcher once again.  Whether or not he’ll be ready to really perform before the end of this year is a good question, but at least he isn’t done permanently.

  2. Keith Foulke really has turned things up a notch since returning from the DL – he’s given up one hit in his two outings and had a perfect inning and 2/3rds with a strike out yesterday.  His velocity isn’t as high as it was last year, but if he can fool hitters and keep building then the Sox will have their closer back again.

I’ll still laughing about this article for hours after I read it.  I hope the crow Celizic ate after Game 5, let alone Game 7 was delicious, because it came by the mouthful.  In a way, Boston winning it all last year was not just about ending the “1918” chants – it was about making arrogant sports journalists like this guy look really, really dumb.  And it makes me very happy.

The Stopper tonight against John Lackey in the first of a three game set against Anaheim.  Lackey is has a middling 3.51 ERA and a .277 OBA on the road, but the Sox hit him well last time they faced him: 3 runs and 9 hits in 6 innings.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | keith foulke | curt schilling | tony graffanino

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Game 135: The Infernal Feast

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Baltimore Orioles 1

This one had all the makings of a heartbreaker. Lopez was living up to his name of “Red Sox Killer” and didn’t allow a base runner until a single by Ortiz in the 4th. Then something really strange happened. Right before he pitched the bottom of the 5th, Lopez was greeted by Lucifer himself. The Dark Lord looked pretty upset and appeared to rip up some sort of contract and throw it in the face of crafty right-hander. That little display seemed to unnerve Lopez who gave up 5 runs that inning; including a 3 run blast form Olerud who is channeling the power of the sun he is so hot right now (.571 avg 3 hr 11 rbi on the home stand) .

That’s all the support Wells needed. He went the distance and tore through the Orange Birds lineup like they were a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s. I think Wells was just relived he didn’t have to start the 12:05 makeup game tomorrow. The only thing higher than his ERA in morning starts is his blood alcohol content.

Taking a rare day off, Varitek (who looked banged up last night) let Doug Mirabelli catch someone BESIDES Tim Wakefield. An ecstatic Mirabelli showed his happiness with his bat by legging out a double in the corner. Just amazing. I agree with the RemDog who quipped: “This may be the fastest human being on the face of the earth.” The double by Mirabelli would have been more picturesque if a tiny Indian Jones wasn’t running in front of him.

Tomorrow is the aforementioned makeup game against those other Sox without color guard bleach. They really screwed everything up by not forfeiting that game like they were supposed to. Well, the jokes on them because they have to fly from Chicago to Boston and then BACK to Chicago in one day. Oh, and they have to play some baseball too. On Labor Day at 12:05 it’s Schilling, McCarthy and me with a bowl of Lucky Charms. GO SOX!


Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Baltimore Orioles 6

“They have always given us fits.”

-Terry Francona on the troubles with Baltimore.

Well tonight I threw a fit every time the ball was hit sharply into play. It’s a win, but not the best effort. To err is human, to give up 4 unearned runs (that 7 so far in this series if you’re counting) on 3 errors is certainly NOT divine. Clement threw a damn fine 8 innings but looked like he was out there by himself for most of it. The first run Baltimore scored was done without the benefit of a hit! Hit by a pitch, wild pitch (bad effort by Tek), the next pitch was a passed ball, then a sac fly. I mean, what the hell is that?? From there, it just got ugly. In the top of the 4th, following a WEIRD bloop double by Tejada (nice try Kapler) Manny just DROPS one. It hit him in the glove, he had it…it looked easy but his thoughts were elsewhere. I bet Manny was thinking:

a) “I wonder what the next song on my Ipod is.”
b) “That mango salsa really IS spicy.”
c) “Does the carpet match the curtains on Millar?”
d) “The area of a regular polygon really does equal (1/2) N sin(360°/N) S2”

Well whatever it was, it most likely wasn't “I’m gonna catch this routine fly ball.” So two men on for Javy Lopez and he ropes a single into center and Damon has it on the bounce. Or more appropriately DOES NOT have it on the bounce. Doing his impression of a croquet wicket, Damon lets the ball roll to the wall and 2 runs score. I think we all know what was on HIS mind.

Meanwhile, the offence was back in action. Ortiz went long to drive in his league leading 119th RBI and the entity that now controls the body of Kevin Millar hit a 2 run shot. In the end the Sox were sitting on a familiar 7 run collection and things looked pretty safe. RIIIGHT. Flash forward to the 9th and the “often used always abused” Timlin is trying to close it out when Rentaria shocks absolutely no one by booting the game ending double play ball. 2 more runs score to make it a squeaker.

Not pretty but it was made with love so I’ll take it. Wrap it up and send it to the ‘W’ column.
This afternoon it's “The Red Sox Killer” Rodrigo Lopez vs David Wells, who just ate his way through a 6 game suspension. Should be fun. Should be filling. GO SOX.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Game 133: You Should See The Other Guy

FInal Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Baltimore Orioles 7

Well you can’t win them all, even at home. Lenny DiNardo (Dee Nards) had as good a start as you can ask for: 6 innings, 1 earned run, 7 hits, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. If it wasn’t for the 3 UNEARNED RUNS and the 3 runs the “New and Not Improved” bullpen gave up we might have had a shot to win this one. Or maybe not….

4 hits. That’s all they had…4!! This is a team that NEEDS its offence to win games. The Red Sox have only shut out teams 8 times this year and only ONCE since the all-star break. The way this pitching staff has been lately, if they don’t score 7 or more runs (a 7 game streak broken last night) then they probably won’t win.

A Frustrating night. So then, why am I not totally crazy? Why haven’t I thrown my IKEA chair out the window? Why haven’t I tripled in size, turned a dark shade of emerald and gone wandering through the US trying to find a place where people didn’t make me angry? Two words:

Yankees Suck!

And with that, it’s all a wash. Start it back up! Kick the tires and light the fires. 7:05 and then it’s you, me, Clement and Bedard. GO SOX!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Palmeiro Wusses Out

So not only is Sidney “Pontoon” Ponson a free agent as of yesterday – the Orioles citing his recent DUI as the recent to break his contract, but Rafael Palmeiro won’t be playing in the series this weekend.  The Cheater is in Baltimore, “nursing his ankle and knee.”  Because the boo birds were so bad in Oakland (no surprise) and Toronto (and you know things are bad when you’re booed in Toronto) that he reportedly wore earplugs for at least one game, I doubt that Palmeiro is really that hurt – he just doesn’t want to get well-deserved smoking that Boston fans are dying to give him for his crooked performance last time the Sox were in Baltimore.  Wimp.

Sidney Ponson is an attractive pickup for any team that needs an emergency starter. However, they may need a construction crane to MAKE the pick up. Also, his contract stipulates that he be paid in Wild Turkey and replacement livers.

tags: baseball | red sox | orioles | sidney ponson | rafael palmeiro

Game 132: Back In The Saddle...Again

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4

Call him Older Dude.  Call him Magic Helmet.  Call him whatever you want; last night he was the hero and author of the latest Red Sox comeback.  Once again, a Red Sox pitcher (Arroyo) struggled out of the gate; in Arroyo’s case, he gave up 2 runs in the second and 2 in the fourth before settling into a groove for his last three innings, taking inspiration from Wakefield’s efforts Wednesday evening.  With Manny on a manager-imposed break to rest his legs, Millar was in left and Olerud at first.  Millar went 2 for 4 with a double and a run, while Olerud tied up the game in the second with a two run homer into the bullpen and then put the Sox on top in the sixth with a 3 run bullpen shot.  He also added an insurance run in the eighth with an RBI double.  Olerud, now batting .467 with 11 RBI since returning from the DL and .333 over the year, attributes his success to work he had been doing on his swing to fix a bad habit he picked up in Seattle.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in the eighth and struck out the side, but came out in ninth in favor of Mike Timlin after Papelbon gave up hits to the first two batters he faced.  Papelbon, distracted by the damage of Hurricane Katrina and its potential effects on his family in the Louisiana area, blamed himself for not being able to pull through and close the deal.  Based on what I’ve been reading about the hurricane (and I’ve been avoiding a lot because of how horrific the reports are), I can’t really blame him for having his mind somewhere else.  Timlin gave a rare surprise when he stranded both inherited runners and went on to pick up his fifth save and get Arroyo his eleventh win.  The Red Sox now have the third best record in the majors and have climbed back to .500 (26 and 26) against AL East teams.  If the season ended today, the Sox would win the AL East by 3.5 games and host either Oakland or Anaheim to start the ALDS.  I’m happy.

Lenny DiNardo will be starting tonight’s game, joining Matt Perisho and infielder Alejandro Machado, just named this year’s AAA Rookie of the Year as post-September 1 call-ups.  The Sox also activated Keith Foulke and Chad Harville and expect to call up Manny Delcarmen, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Kelly Shoppach.  The future is here, folks, especially if the Sox can maintain their lead in the AL East.  Perisho went 2 and 0 with a 2.09 ERA in 13 appearances and seems like a solid left-handed option to use along side Mike Myers, although unlike Myers, he’s much, much stronger against righties.  Craig Hansen will start long tossing again today and will probably pitch again on Tuesday.  From the looks of it, the organization is down-playing the extent of Hansen’s dead arm to avoid panic about the prospect’s future (not like that ever happens), but they’re not entirely sure if he’ll be making an appearance in a Boston uniform this year.

DiNardo versus John Maine at 7:05 for the first of a three game set against Baltimore.  Maine is a rookie facing Boston for the first time (bad for Sox) and although he’s yet to make it past 6 innings, has thrown well – 2.70 ERA, 1.26 WHIP.  DiNardo’s never made a start before – but that’s what we have the extended bullpen for.  GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | keith foulke | tim wakefield | kevin millar | bronson arroyo | john olerud | craig hansen | matt perisho | jonathan papelbon

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Game 131: Ego & Superego

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6

Introducing Robin, long time friend, long time commenter, now a writing force to be reckoned with as the second voice of this blog. We’re going to experiment with a few different posting formats, but the result will be better and more coverage overall. For this post, Robin’s words are in italics; here’s his introduction in his own words:

If Eric is the coffee, I am the lap you spill it in. If he is a bright day, I am a drunken night. He's water, I'm a flaming shot. Born and raised a Masshole, I now one of the many Sox fans living behind enemy lines on the New York front. I find sports to be the greatest source of both triumph and suffering... and nothing is funnier than those two things.


It must be rough to be Tampa Bay, score 6 runs 3 nights in a row, take the early lead two of those nights and see your game taken apart by the monstrous offensive power the Red Sox are able to muster.

The only thing that blew more than the starting pitching of this game, was the wind out over the monster.

Although Wakefield gave up three home runs for five runs in his eight innings of work, he, like Schilling the night before was able to hold the line after an early rough start until the offense could get everything back, retiring his last 16 batters and striking out 4 in a row.

Seriously, Wakefield needs to keep that knuckle ball LOW or it ends up on the Mass Pike. His pitch selection is 1) Knuckle 2) Curve 3) Hanging Curve 4) “Fastball” 5) Meatball.

Powered by home runs by Mirabelli, Ortiz and two by Millar (yes, you read that right – I think the man’s starting to find his swing again – maybe it’s the new haircut), the Sox made it 5 – 5 and then, with Millar’s second home run, 7 – 5.

Apparently the Peroxide leeched into his brain, damaging the area that made him pop out in foul territory whenever there are men on base. I hope he and Schilling used the same bottle so he can get his ERA somewhere below his waist size. Also, rivers ran red with blood, locusts filled the air, fire fell from the sky and Mirabelli stole his second base of the year last night. Worth noting.

Mike Timlin came on in the ninth, gave up a double then ground out three outs, allowing a single run to score.

Timlin is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of this bullpen. Sometimes he’s lights out, sometimes I want to crap in my hand just so I have something to throw at the TV.

In his post-game press conference, Millar invoked the gods of 2003 (but, thankfully, with the manager of 2004) with his Cowboy Up hat and desire to “get this city rockin' and rollin' and forget about the first five months of the season.” If that’s what it takes for more home runs (hell, even more production), I’m all for it – they can even bring back the Rally Karaoke video.

Are you kidding me? Bleached blonde men singing karaoke? When did the Red Sox clubhouse turn into the Manhole?

Going off of yesterday’s theme of Keith Foulke going low-intensity (He threw like crap) during his rehab assignment, Foulke told the press that he hopes his return to the majors and the resultant pressure to perform will increase his abilities back to where they should be. I’m not sure if I’m gratified that Foulke is being so candid, or terrified that we’re pinning our post-season hopes on a guy who needs external pressure sources to get his game going. I guess some people are wired that way; at least his sliders looked like they were supposed to.

Oh I’m sure! I am SURE that seeing him pick away at the corners of the plate with a 90mph fastball will make me go insane.

The Wells aftermath: after his meeting yesterday, Wells apologized to Bud Selig for his comments earlier this week, saying that he misunderstood the steroids policy and that there isn’t a big conspiracy in the MLB offices to get him or allow steroids users to play after they’ve tested positive. Of course, none of us know what happened behind those closed doors, so it’s likely that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

What happened was probably similar to the Russian Roulette scene from Deer Hunter. A loaded pistol is the only thing I can think of to make him do a total 180 like he did. Stick to guns Boomer and find us the truth! Where are the test results? Who’s on the juice? Is Michelle Damon that hot in real life? Get us the answers!

Meanwhile, the Sox aren’t sure who they’re going to pitch tomorrow – Lenny DiNardo’s name is floating around as a possible option.

DiNardo? That’s great. Its not like these games are important or anything.

Tonight, the Sox go for the sweep, with Arroyo against Doug Waechter. August is over now, Bronson – time to take the first step in improving the worst Boston month ERA since May, 2003. GO SOX!!!

Get the brooms! Guns and Corn is due for a good outing and Doug “Weight” Waechter has the “I’m gonna get shelled” look about him. Let’s do it…GO SOX!!!

tags: baseball | red sox | david wells | keith foulke | tim wakefield | kevin millar