Thursday, September 30, 2004

Game 158

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 9

I guess this is the reason I like Tampa Bay - they don't give up against the big boys. Pedro was roughed up in his fourth straight start (the first time since the beginning of his career), but still managed to come off Pedro in the post-game interviews. Unlike other recent games, the Sox offense wasn't able to produce enough to make up for the deficit and they trailed for most of the game as a result. The Yankees won both of their games last night, so the magic number is down to one in the AL East. Thank God for the Wildcard, once again. Wakefield versus Lopez and Orioles tomorrow night - hopefully we can make it two in a row against him. GO SOX!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Games 156 - 157

Final Scores:

Game 156: Boston Red Sox 7, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3
Game 157: Boston Red Sox 10, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8

"Our team was a lot more professional about clinching a playoff berth than a few of us thought. We're a bunch of idiots, but we're grown-up idiots now. We celebrated the right way. We did it for a little bit and that was it."
-Johnny Damon

I really should have updated yesterday, but clearly I was remiss. In any case, the past two days: On Monday night, I came home from the gym around 8:00, opened up and discovered that the Devil Rays were up 2 - 0. On went the hat, on went the game and all of the sudden David McCarty is sparking a rally that led to a three homerun by Damon and a two run homerun by Manny (a bomb that went 458 feet into center) and the Sox going up 5 - 2. McCarty and Varitek each hit solo shots off of Rays' reliever Lance Carter in the eighth and even though Timlin gave up a solo homerun to Midre Cummings in the bottom of the eighth, T-Bay couldn't mount an effective comeback. I'm awesome for being a good luck charm, Sox win and in so doing, clinch a playoff berth...end of story. Or not. As it turned out, the Sox might not have scored a run on Monday night, if not for some exceedingly odd circumstances.

Bronson Arroyo is not known for being the most controlled pitcher in the majors - he leads the AL in hit batsmen. In the bottom of the third, Arroyo hit two batters in a row. In the top of the next inning, Tampa Bay's starter, Scott Kazmir, who was working on a 1 walk, 6 strikeout no-hitter, hit Manny. Warnings were issued by the umpires to both benches. The next batter, Millar, was hit by a Kazmir fastball in the ribs. Both benches emptied, although no altercations broke out and both Kazmir and manager Lou Piniella were ejected. Lou, in classic form, went ballistic - Robin told me that not just one, but three umpires went over to eject him and it took a while to get him off the field. In part, it's understandable - "bad blood"* from the past or no (although it's true that TBay loves to get into it with the Sox), it doesn't make a lot of sense for a pitcher working on a no-hitter to throw deliberately at a batter, especially after warnings have been issued. I guess, though, that this incident will add to the developing TBay mystique and make the Sox/Tampa Bay games that much of a competition next year. Should be fun to watch.

Last night, it was time for us to question once again whether or not Derek Lowe is in his right mind right now. For the second time in three starts, Lowe did not make it past the third inning, giving up 5 runs in 2.1 innings. Terry Adams, who has yet to prove himself as an effective middle reliever, gave up an additional three runs. After that, though a team of five relievers (Embree, Williamson, Astacio, Mendoza and Foulke) combined to bring home the bacon...along with an offense too hungry for the AL East title to give up easily. Each time the Rays scored, the Sox were able to even up the score, until Millar won the game in the 11th with a two run homer off of closer Denys Baez. The win closes the AL wildcard race with the Sox on top for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile, in New York, Hurricane Jean sent forth a rainstorm that dropped a disgusting amount of rain on the City (I'm not kidding - there were sheets of rain falling most of the day and the wind wasn't above blowing them into your face, either), then disappeared overnight. The first game of the Yankees/Twins series was postponed until today, when they have another single-ticket doubleheader starting at 3:05. The AL East magic number is still 4.

Across the rest of the league, the playoff standings are locking up. Minnesota has the AL Central, Anaheim, who's on a hot streak, are tied with Oakland for the AL West with Texas three games behind, Atlanta has the NL East, St. Louis the NL Central, the Dodgers have a magic number of three to take the NL West from San Francisco and the winner of a virtual three way tie between Chicago, San Francisco and Houston will determine the NL Wildcard winner. As someone mentioned recently, this is why the Wildcard was invented; it's keeping a lot more interest in baseball across the country, even as the season is about to end. GO SOX!

* - Part of the reasoning given by third base umpire Gerry Davis for the heads up the umpires were given by Major League Baseball coming into this series.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Games 153 - 155

Final Scores:

Game 153: Boston Red Sox 4, New York Yankees 6
Game 154: Boston Red Sox 12, New York Yankees 5
Game 155: Boston Red Sox 11 , New York Yankees 4

"When I see Johnny Damon 5 minutes before the game starts--he's naked. Five minutes after the game starts he's on 2nd base."
- Terry Francona, quoted on NESN this past weekend (with thanks to Robin)

A wild and woolly weekend. There's a possibility that it might have been a sweep, since Francona fell under the Pedro spell and pulled a Grady Little and left Martinez in a little too long on Friday...and Pedro gave up two runs. As I pointed out to Robin, though, hopefully Francona's gotten this bit of idiocy out of his system now and won't be pulling it when it really matters. I was in NJ for the Jewish holidays for this series, but caught part two through a combination of Gameday Audio and Gameday - watching in bemusement as the Sox blew the game open by scoring seven runs in the eighth inning and then missing game three completely. But Schilling's 21st win was practically a shoe-in in my mind - something would have to go catastrophically wrong to throw Curt Schilling off the win track right now. Game two (and partially game three) just proved again why the Yankees are in trouble - for the most part, their bullpen just isn't. With the AL East magic number at 4, it will be interesting to see what happens when the Yankees play the Twins this week while the Sox are in Tampa Bay - it just might be possible to pull of that reverse 1978 yet. GO SOX!!!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Game 152

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Baltimore Orioles 9

Lord, how I wish I was B. K. Kim. Then I could make 3.4 million a year to blow two games and spend the rest of the time in Korea or in the dugout doing a weird form of Tai Chi. Must be nice. Truth be told, I'm probably being a littleharsh. Well, not harsh so much as unreasonable. Last night was a real grind of a game (and after three nights, it gets a bit tough to bear). Robin had the excellent idea of going over to his apartment, eating pizza, drinking beer and listening to the game on, which I was a big fan of - but it led to a lot of pacing as the game wore down and Byung Hyung Kim gave up those two critical runs in the top of the ninth. I'm being unreasonable because Derek Lowe had yet another awful start (I doubt, at this point, that he'll be on the playoff roster) and after he left in the fifth, the Sox were forced to use another string of relievers to finish the game. By the time the game got the ninth, Francona was forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel and bring in Kim. Clearly, in the scheme of things, yesterday's game wasn't as important as the games this weekend, when (hopefully) we won't need this many relievers and wearing someone
out to beat Baltimore isn't worth it. I just wish that Kim could have gone in there and done his job properly.

On a positive note, Ellis Burks, who was one of my favorite players while on the Red Sox when I was a kid, came off the DL for the first time since April and got a bloop single in the bottom of the
ninth. Robin and I had a great time looking at old baseball records on and talking about how cool Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs are. And, despite my obnoxious head cold, I really
enjoyed myself, although as Robin, the Gameday addict who just couldn't say no, proved again and again, having Gameday and Gameday Audio (which has an unfortunate delay) open at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Gameday should be used only when confused about the score, not as some sort of obscene crutch when the situation on the field is tense. Remember that, kids. Knowing the future, especially in situations like last night (and I kid you not, every time he looked, it was bad news), is a BAD BAD idea. Also, chanting MEEEEEAT meat MEEEEEEAAAAAAAT meat MEEEAAAT, etc. at a computer screen is not as effective as chanting it at a television
screen. Pedro vs. Moose tonight for the start of the last New York/Boston matchup of the regular season. GO SOX!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Game 151

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Baltimore Orioles 6

Another white-knuckled, jumping-up-and-down, pounding-on-the-tables victory, although this one was significantly more bloody, with much back-and-forth throughout the game. Arroyo had a good start to the night, but was touched for five runs before being removed in the sixth. Sidney "Pontoon" Ponson, Mr. Meatball himself, had a comparatively stable outing - it took seventh innings for the Sox to finish him off and even then, Boston was only up by one run. For the second night in a row, Foulke blew a save by giving up the longball - this time to Rafael Palmeiro, coming in to pinch hit for DH Luis Lopez, tying the game 6 - 6. Three pitchers later, Curtis Leskanic, the eighth Sox pitcher of the night, loaded the bases, then got out of the inning by forcing Jay Gibbons to ground into a 3 - 2 - 4 double play, just barely getting the runner at first. The next inning, Orlando Cabrera, just back from a six hour flight from Bogota, Colombia, where he had been caring for his sick wife, hit a solo shot into the Monster Seats off of Rick Bauer to win the game. Madness ensued, both on the screen and in the living room of my apartment. The recap of the game quotes Cabrera as saying that his teammates were so excited that either Manny or Millar tried to pants him...such is the life of America's most fun-loving team.

Incidentally, that double play in the top of the twelfth was courtesy of the dream infield of Mientkiewicz, Reese, Cabrera and Mueller. Three Gold Gloves amongst the four and they certainly showed how they earned them last night - that play was executed as cleanly and smoothly
as if they were in practice. Leskanic was clearly as flabbergasted as most of the audience - he started waving his hands and yelling "bang" afterwards like he couldn't believe what had just

If I were a superstitious man, I would say that both the go-ahead run, a monster homerun by Ortiz that flew 460 or so feet into the center field bleachers and the game-winning walkoff homerun by Cabrera in the twelfth, which flew up into the Monster Seats, were both inspired by outside circumstances. I'll pretend I'm not superstition (the paraphernalia that I HAVE to wear be damned), but it makes a good story anyway: prior to the Ortiz homerun, Robin and I were trying to get
Ponson to throw a meatball to one of the Sox power hitters - there were a few situations where there were enough runners on base for a homerun or big hit to really break things open and we wanted some insurance. How do you get a pitcher 200 miles away to throw a meatball? You chant "meeeeeeat" at the television, repeatedly, preferably at different cadences. I kid you not. We sounded like a herd of cannabalistic cows on the warpath. When Ortiz came up, our chanting worked - Ponson hung a pitch that was as meaty as they come and Ortiz CRUSHED it. With that homerun, Manny and David are tied with Carl Yastrzemski and Rico Petrocelli (1969) for most homeruns in a season by a Red Sox duo. I also heard something about them closing on a record (I believe for back-to-back homeruns) set by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back in the late 20's and early 30's.

The Cabrera homerun came right after the ESPN announcers made a comment about how the Sox would like a homerun right now and how this coming pitch was the 400th pitch of the game...and then Cabrera shot the ball up and up into left field. It was truly a fantastic ending. Meanwhile, Seattle beat up on Anaheim (Sox Wildcard lead lengthens to 6.5 games) and the Yankees and the previously undefeated El Duque Hernandez lost after a tough battle to Ted Lilly and the Blue Jays (Sox AL East deficit shortens to 3.5 games). Both the Sox and the Yanks play today, so we'll see where the standings go after tonight and how it sets things up for this weekend. GO SOX!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Game 150

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Baltimore Orioles 2

Holy COW what a game. Curt Schilling: 8 innings, no runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, FOURTEEN STRIKEOUTS. Yes, 14. Rodrigo Lopez: 7 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts. Although the numbers wouldn't suggest it, this was a pitchers' duel of the first order until the eighth inning. Schilling was just magnificent, pitching what has to be his best game of the year and completely overpowering the Orioles offense. Lopez, the old nemesis, did what he's done best against the Sox all year: until the eighth, no one could string enough hits or walks together to score a run. When the Red Sox did score, they did it on a pinch-run Millar sacrifice fly.

Unfortunately, like Bronson Arroyo's 12 strikeout game back in July, the starting pitcher was not destined to get a win, as Keith Foulke gave up a two run homer to Javy Lopez in the ninth. A slide into a four game losing streak was not in the cards, however as the Sox bats finally came alive in the bottom of the ninth, in highly dramatic fashion: a walk by Youkilis to start, followed by a double by Mueller, sending pinchrunner Dave Roberts around to third. David McCarty, pinch hitting for Pokey Reese, popped out and Johnny Damon struck out, leaving Mark Bellhorn - Mark Bellhorn, who earlier had walked once, but struck out twice, to try and save the day. Fortunately for Red Sox nation, Lopez was out of the game and Mark Bellhorn pulled off another clutch hit - a single - to score two runs and win the game off of reliever Jorge Lulio. The team that wouldn't have come back to win a one run game - the team that had lost three times to Rodrigo Lopez earlier this year - had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the best 2003 fashion.

Schilling was quoted afterwards as saying his pitching effort, forced to rely on itself without the usual run support, was "fun" - if he stays on track like this and keeps having fun, the Yankees better watch out come this weekend. The Yankees and Esteban Loaiza beat up on Halliday on his return from the Toronto DL last night, so the standings in the East haven't changed from 4.5 games, but the Angels lost last night - 5.5 games is now the gap in the Wildcard race. Bronson Arroyo versus Sidney Ponson on ESPN - Robin and I will be watching closely. GO SOX!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Games 143 - 149

Final Scores:

Game 143: Boston Red Sox 2, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5
Game 144: Boston Red Sox 8, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6
Game 145: Boston Red Sox 11, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4
Game 146: Boston Red Sox 3, New York Yankees 2
Game 147: Boston Red Sox 4, New York Yankees 14
Game 148: Boston Red Sox 1, New York Yankees 11
Game 149: Boston Red Sox 6, Baltimore Orioles 9

So, it's been a while. I apologize, I've been in Bermuda, where I had a few Sox-related experiences (see below). Since I've last updated: after winning the series against the series against Tampa Bay, the Sox beat the Yankees by once again getting to Rivera when it counted, then lost the next three because of bad pitching and no hitting. At the moment (top of the eighth in game 150), Schilling is handling the pitching part quite well, but the boys have stopped hitting. As of today, the standings are Yankees in first in the AL East, up by 4.5 games and the Sox are first in the wildcard, 4.5 up on Anaheim.

One disturbing thing I noticed this past week, during the second game against the Yankees, was that Francona seemed to give up in the middle of the game, by taking out most of his starters and putting in second stringers. Now, it's true that Lieber was in the process of throwing an excellent game, but I wonder how much that was helped by not having to face batters like Manny a third time. In fact, the FOX commentators, in a rare moment of insight, pointed out this folly in the sixth inning - and David Ortiz hit a homerun to end the no-hitter. If Francona's trying to save his players, you have to wonder what he's saving them for - this game was against the know, a contender team? The one leading the AL East? Right.

As previously mentioned, I was in Bermuda - from Wednesday through Sunday, specifically - and had a few different Red Sox-related experiences. First, the tourist population of this lovely group of islands is almost half Red Sox fans. I kid you not - I saw more Red Sox hats than I've seen anywhere outside Boston and heard a profusion of Boston accents. I had my Sox cap with me, partially because I get nervous without a piece of my paraphanelia and partially because I knew a hat would be good to keep the sun off the head, out of the eyes, etc. and I got a few positive comments on it as well. There were two bars Nikki and I came across that showed Sox games to patrons and one of them, Freddie's in St. George, had a Patriots flag hanging from its balcony.

Second, thanks to the magic of satellite, I was fairly well appraised of what was going on, even if I couldn't watch all of the games. Our hotel got ESPN and FOX and we went to watch part of Friday night's game at a bar in Hamilton - although I missed the exciting conclusion because we had to take the last bus back to our hotel. I also watched part of Saturday's blowout on FOX (as previously mentioned), although by the time I turned it on it was pretty much decided. Point was, though, that I was able to keep track of baseball while on my vacation - an unexpected bonus. Props go to Nikki for wanting to watch the game on Friday - how lucky am I? GO SOX!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Games 138 - 142

Final Scores:

Game 138: Boston Red Sox 8, Oakland Athletics 3
Game 139: Boston Red Sox 1, Seattle Mariners 7
Game 140: Boston Red Sox 13, Seattle Mariners 2
Game 141: Boston Red Sox 9, Seattle Mariners 0
Game 142: Boston Red Sox 0, Seattle Mariners 2

Up and down and up and down again. Hudson proved to be as much of a push-over for the Sox as Zito and Redman had been and indeed, the only real moments of excitement were courtesy, once again, of the bullpen. The next night was apparently the equivalent of a rest night, except the Sox happened to be playing at the time. Wakefield’s in another slump again, but he wasn’t helped by five unearned runs and a weak offensive effort. I was at the first Patriots game for that one, so I had plenty of New England sports happiness for the evening, but clearly the boys were not in the game. Friday night was redemption, as Schilling took the mound and shut the Mariners down (win number nineteen) while the offensive exploded once again. Arroyo put out another stellar effort on Saturday night and the offense continued to pound away at Seattle pitching, this time taking Jamie Moyer down for the count.

Today, however, the Sox were once again shut down, this time by young veteran Gil Meche. Meche held the Sox to no runs on x hits over a complete game, throwing 129 pitches. The Sox had a chance to score in the first, when Damon was on third and Manny was on second – a line drive to Ichiro by Varitek on one out would have scored Damon, but Manny was somehow confused on the play and ended up being doubled off second before Damon could cross the plate. I suppose it’s possible that the Sox could have worked more out of Meche in that first inning, before he settled down for the rest of the game, but clearly the Sox were, once again, the beneficiaries of an excellent performance by an opposing pitcher. At the moment I can think of four times so far this season when the Sox lost because the other guy’s starter had an excellent night – I wonder if there’s a statistic on that somewhere that might prove that the Red Sox are not recipients of some extraordinary bad luck.

Scott Williamson has been activated off the DL and pitched against Seattle in the ninth on Friday, where he pitched one inning with one strikeout and one walk. Ellis Burks is hoping to come back on Friday against the Yankees. Doug Mientkiewicz missed Sunday’s game with something equivalent to a flu bug and David Ortiz was out with a sore shoulder, but presumably they will both be back on Tuesday against Tampa Bay. GO SOX!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Game 137

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Oakland Athletics 1

Defense was SO the key to last night's game. Lowe pitched well, going 6.1 innings with 1 strikeout, 1 run and 4 walks but he was helped several times by good defensive plays by the infield. Trott Nixon made an appearance last night, long after the game was settled by the offensive machine. All in all, the Sox owned the A's last night as much they ever have and everything continues to come up roses. GO SOX!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Game 136

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 8, Oakland Athletics

The funny thing about those West Coast games is that you can spend the evening doing something else and still catch the end of the 1:00 in the morning. I had forgotten, actually, that they were on the West Coast this week and thus expected to find a final score instead of a game in progress. Since I was in the Bronx at the time and since Nikki was watching TV (and because her computer doesn't seem to like to connect to Red Sox games...too loyal, I guess), I switched on MLB Gameday and watched as the bases filled up and then cleared to a three run double by David Ortiz off Arthur Rhodes. After I came back from brushing my teeth, the top of the inning was over and Mendoza was pitching with one out already recorded. Secure in my faith in the new Ramiro, I retired for the evening.

I apparently missed a game fraught with excitement, tension, controversy and upset fans who pitched plastic on the field. Manny and David hit back-to-back homeruns for the 11th time this year, tying Ted Williams and Jimie Foxx (1940) and Jim Rice and George Scott (1977) for the back-to-back record. Manny later made a rolling "catch" in left (sorry, no link - apparently this play was too controversial to put online) to rob Mark Kotsay of a hit. The problem, of course, is that the replay shows pretty clearly that the ball hit the ground first before Manny got it...but I give him an A+ for the effort (it really was a pretty cool stop). Gabe Kapler also made a great catch on top of Dave Roberts to rob Eric Byrnes of a hit. Yes, on top. It was like a weird piggy back thing and Kapler made it look like nothing happened. Byrnes was less than happy.

Speaking of controversy, the two hurricanes in the past three weeks have caused a bit of controversy in the AL East race. Tampa Bay was scheduled to play a day/night doubleheader against the Yankees yesterday (Labor Day), but they ended up postponing the first game because the Devil Rays were trapped in Florida by the weather and playing the second game on time. The controversy arises out of the timing of the Rays' travel plans: apparently Tampa Bay was supposed to leave (or the Yankees thought they should have left) on Saturday, before the hurricane hit the area. Yesterday, the Yankees thought they deserved a forfeit, but were willing to accept postponement of the game until the end of the season, dependent on whether the game needed to played or not. The league decided to make them play the doubleheader tomorrow instead in a single admission, back-to-back form.

My take on the situation: I think the league made right decision - and I'm not saying that because of my sympathies for the Sox. It's an unfortunate situation that occured, but A.) you can't expect the Devil Rays to leave their families and their homes in the face of a major natural disaster and be able to play well, so I think the Rays management did the right thing there. B.) As Bud Selig pointed out, any game the Yankees play helps determine where they'll be at the end of the season - whether it's in first place or not and whether or not they have best record in the league and thus gets to play the wildcard team. Clearly, simply giving them an automatic win wouldn't be fair to any of the other teams involved. Playing at the end of the season might not be such a bad option, but the Yankees were supposed to play a doubleheader this week and should forced to pitch Loaiza (ok, that IS my bias showing) instead of getting a situation where they don't have to pitch their weakest pitcher and possibly don't have to play a game at all because of outside circumstances. That doesn't strike me as terribly fair either. However, justice seems to have been done.

Johnny Damon is back tonight (and started the game with a homerun) and both Pokey Reese and Trott Nixon have been reactivated. Nixon may be back in the lineup tomorrow. GO SOX!

Monday, September 06, 2004

Games 135

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Texas Rangers 5

I only caught the ninth inning of this one, but it very nearly turned into a disaster. Schilling pitched an excellent eight innings, giving up one run on five hits with ten strikeouts and no walks. However, instead of taking him out and bringing in Mendoza or Foulke to start the ninth, Francona left in his starter to almost disastrous results. Schilling got the first out just fine, but then gave up a single and a homerun before he was pulled. Foulke came in and gave up two more runs in the process of getting those last two outs. My assumption is that Francona felt that letting Schilling pitch another complete game (and the past be damned) would give the bullpen, who has seen some heavy work recently, get some rest. One wonders if he'll finally learn his lesson...? With the win, Schilling has become the first pitcher in the majors to win 18 games in 2004.

Johnny Damon is still day to day on his jammed finger, but an MRI showed only swelling, not a tear, so he should be back in the lineup shortly. Trott Nixon and Scott Williamson are planning to join the team on the coming roadtrip, either in Oakland or Seattle. Pedro Astacio has been called up from Pawtucket to join the relief staff.

The Sox are facing Zito, Redman and Hudson over the next three days. None of the three pitchers have had particularly good luck against Boston this year - a combined record of 0 and 4 and a batting average of above .400. These stats don't make Oakland any less dangerous, but two or three wins by Boston in this series are critical to maintaining momentum as the season ends and could do interesting things to the AL West as the three competing West teams go up against each other to close out the year. GO SOX!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Games 133 - 134

Final Scores:

Game 133: Boston Red Sox 2, Texas Rangers 0
Game 134: Boston Red Sox 6, Texas Rangers 8

The Texas Rangers prove themselves the crew to beat by spoiling the Sox chances for 11 in a row. Truth be told, the second game wasn't as close as the score might suggest - the Sox tried to pull a break out in the seventh, with three straight walks and a grand slam by Mark Bellhorn and then a solo shot by David Ortiz. For most of the game, though, this team was not the offensive monster of the past few weeks, but poor starting pitching by Tim Wakefield didn't help either - a three homerun by Michael Young in the seventh proved to be the final difference in the scoring. All in all, the Sox were basically outmatched, like a smaller version of what happened to them last time they lost, against Ted Lilly. But, like the Yankees loss last week against the Indians, it's only one game - although I should probably be careful with what I say, since the Yankees have lost their last two to Baltimore (including today). For the record, the AL East lead has now been cut to 2.5 games. Schilling's up tomorrow, going for win number 18. GO SOX!

Games 131 - 132

Final Scores:

Game 131: Boston Red Sox 12, Anaheim Angels 7
Game 132: Boston Red Sox 4, Anaheim Angels 3

It was a bit of a slug fest (as it certainly was throughout this series) but the Red Sox pulled off their second sweep in a row. Both games were exciting - I watched the first at home on ESPN and the second in a bar on 79th street with Robin and his friend Matt on NESN - and with the tit-for-tat run scoring that went on through most of both games it wasn't always entirely sure what would happen. What was consistent, however, was the ability of the Red Sox offensive machine to manufacture runs. I actually called Robin on Wednesday and left a message expressing my amazement about the ability of the Sox to score (they had scored four runs in the first for the second night in a row), comparing them to a machine that produced runs and ate pitchers for fuel. Lowe pitched well last night and although Arroyo did not have a good night the night before, Terry Adams, who so far has been less than stellar, put together an excellent performance to put out the Angels' fire. And again and again (although more last night than night before) the defense was excellent, preventing a number of potential hits from turning into runs. For the record, Derek Lowe is now 13 and 10 and has won 6 of his last 7. The Sox have now won nine in a row, are 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the East and 4.5 games ahead of Anaheim in the Wildcard.

David Ortiz is day to day with bursitis in the shoulder, Brandon Puffer has come up from AAA to replace Ramiro Mendoza, whose shoulder is bothering him and in an impressive display of legal ability, Gabe Kapler and Trott Nixon got both suspensions and fines dropped in their hearing yesterday. The two used video clips to prove that Kapler was attacked by Yankee pitcher Tanyon Sturzte and that Nixon was attempting to pull Sturzte off of Kapler during the infamous fight back in July. GO SOX!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Game 130

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 10, Anaheim Angels 7

It got a bit close at the end, but The Schill put the hammer down for 7 and 2/3 innings (3 ER, 4 Ks, 0 BB) and the Sox offense jumped on top of Angels pitcher John Lackey from the start - Johnny Damon got on after a fielding error by second baseman Adam Kennedy, Mark Bellhorn walked and Manny smashed a pitch into the rightfield bullpen. The Sox would go on to bat around in the first, scoring an additional run off a Bill Mueller double and Manny would make it 5 - 0 in the second with another bomb to center field. The Sox defense was once again sterling - excellent plays by Damon and Mueller stopped additional runs, which was important when Mike Myers gave up his first runs as a Red Sox - in the form of a grand slam in the ninth. Foulke, who had fortunately been warming to start the inning, came in and shut the Angels down for the night. Meanwhile, in the Bronx, the Yankees suffered their worst loss ever (to the Indians), with a final score of 22 - 0. I speculated with my roommate Ryan this morning about the size of the kittens George Steinbrenner had last night. The Sox are now 2.5 games ahead of the Angels in the AL Wildcard and 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East...but as Robin put it, we're NOT talking about that. Not at all.

An interesting thing I noted about the strength of the Angels outfield, which was also mentioned by ESPN's Jim Caple earlier this year: you don't run against them. It's quite possible that the score of last night's game would have been closer to 15 - 7 if not for the Angels in the outfield

It's now September 1st. For the past few years (with the exception of last year, but last year was an exception in many ways), August has been about when what my friend Mike describes as the dessert goes bad (he's got an entire metaphor about the Red Sox season being like a meal at a decent restaurant that has bad desserts). This August, the Sox were 21 and 7 and have spent the last 16 days chipping away at the AL East lead. The year certainly isn't over yet by a long shot, but this has been a massively encouraging month. GO SOX!
(Jose Guillen, Garrett Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero, respectively) - they screwed up the normal running sequence. For example, in the first inning last night after Manny's three run explosion, Orlando Cabrera hit a double. Doug Mientkiewicz then hit a single. Now, Cabrera is a decent runner and even in Fenway, it's possible to score off of a single from second - there's a reason why it's called Scoring Position. Not when the Angels are in have to adjust your scoring by at least one hit to get in a run off of them.

Games 127 - 129

Final Scores:

Game 127: Boston Red Sox 5, Detroit Tigers 3
Game 128: Boston Red Sox 5, Detroit Tigers 1
Game 129: Boston Red Sox 6, Detroit Tigers 1

The back page of the New York Post today had a picture of Jason Varitek facing a picture of Alex Rodriguez, with the caption: "The next few weeks will determine who is the Beast of the East." I could only laugh.

So, another sweep under the Sox belt. One might say a corner has been turned. This weekend was a special one for me as well - I was up in the Northwestern corner of New Hampshire, visiting my dad with my sisters and mother at his temporary home while he restarts a paper mill over the border in Gilman, Vermont. Beautiful house, beautiful scenery (just north of the White Mountains) and most importantly for this diary, I got to listen to Friday and Saturday's games on the radio with my father. In some ways it was a lot like when I was growing up - crackly reception that kept fading in and out, no Internet to catch up on the other scores...just me and my dad sitting around a dining room table, listening to the game. As sappy as it sounds, I thought it was pretty special.

I also picked up (or re-picked up) another artifact: a Red Sox hat of the older school, with the one-size-fits-all snap in the back, higher cut cap and flat (instead of relief) logo. It is the shiznit and more so because before my sister stole it for a number of years, it was the hat that got me the nickname of Boston at CTY at Hamilton College in 1994. After I wore it all weekend, the Boston hat has officially joined The Pantheon of Artifacts.

Injury Report: For once good news. Manny avoided injury of the knee after hammering a foul ball off his leg on the 27th. Youkilis and McCarty are scheduled to come back on Wednesday (tomorrow), Nixon and Pokey Reese may be coming back as soon as next week, Pedro Astacio and Byung-Hyun Kim (yes, THE Byung-Hyun Kim) are probably coming up from Pawtucket at the same time as part of the forty man roster AND Scott Williamson feels himself well enough to come back in the next week or two. And that, as they say, would be HELLA clutch. GO SOX!