Thursday, August 31, 2006

Game 133: Who Cares?

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Oakland Athletics 7

Schilling got his 3000th K and the Red Sox got their 3000th loss of the month of August. At this point I am just waiting by the phone just in case I get called up to start in this next series at home. I can’t be that far down on the list right?

Just forget it. Toronto is coming to Fenway for 4 games. Everyone can’t sweep us…. Right?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Game 132: Rain Song

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 1, Oakland Athletics 2

I have a theory for you, which might come from the exhaustion stemming from my staying up late to watch a game I knew was going to end in a loss, but might also be divinely inspired.You be the judge:

As any of you living in the Northeast know, it’s been raining or dark and cloudy (i.e., threatening rain) since last Saturday.According to, it’s not really going to stop for the next 10 days, so we’re in a perpetual rain state, a bit like the endless winter in the Chronicles of Narnia.Now, the Red Sox haven’t won a game since it started raining, even though they’ve been playing on the sunny West Coast.Clearly we can link these two issues: the Red Sox not winning is connected to the rain not stopping, like the Sox have been put under a curse that makes it rain, too.Very evil, I know.However, like all good (or bad) curses, this curse probably comes with a prophecy, something about someone returning to the team, stopping the rain and the losing streak in one fell swoop (and maybe solving the injury problem, too).I have a feeling the One in this case is Tim Wakefield, but that might be because I’m sick of watching a new rookie get his start under less-than-auspicious circumstances every fifth day.It could also be Varitek.I’m flexible. And then after whoever it is steps up as the One, Papi comes out and reveals that he's actually Aslan and everything is awesome.

Anyway, weird curses aside, Beckett managed to keep this one close, but not close enough.The A’s had help from the Sox outfield, made up as it is of Coco Crisp and two guys (Hinske and Youkilis) who hadn’t played outside this infield before this year.There was a triple that didn’t need to happen, if I remember correctly and that ended up making all the difference.The same umpire (Doug Eddings) who screwed up the A.J. Pierzynski call in the ALCS last year also robbed Hinske – he called a curveball at the letters strike three, killing a rally in the process.How is this guy still in the league?Sox lose, blah blah.Marquee match up of current Sox ace Curt Schilling and future Sox pitcher Barry Zito this afternoon at 4:05, followed by an escape back to Boston.GO SOX!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Game 131: sM*A*S*Hed

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 0, Oakland Athletics 9


Look… underperforming down the stretch is one thing (one thing that HAS been going on), but when they finally put this dog of season down, the “wounded in action” list needs to be factored into the failure:

Coco- A broken finger and now his shoulder is weakening an already weak throwing arm.
Tek- Knee surgery has sidelined the captain when they need him most.
Wily Mo- Wrist surgery and now the after effects.
Trot- His annual injury was a bicep and infection rather than his back or knees. Shocking.
Wells- Bad knees on a fat man. Do the math.
Belli- Bad ankles on a fat man. A similar equation.
Manny- Hurt knee, bad hammy and 100 reporters up his ass.
Foulke- Shoulder issues made him miss most of the season.
Beckett- A cut finger… yeah that’s right. A booboo. Wanna fight about it?
Lester- A sore back and now 15 days to rest it.
Youk- The flu (might turn into the plague if this luck holds up).
DiNardo- A bad neck and a bad pitcher (zing).
Clement- Out for the year with… wait what is it again? Didn’t he just suck?
Lowell- Missed time from fouling 90 balls off his ankle.
Ortiz- Heart trouble (now spreading through Sox Nation) and now gets more tests.
Timlin- A bad case of “freaking old”.
Gonzo- A right oblique strain.
Wake- A broken rib.
Lt. Col. Henry Blake- Shot down over the Sea of Japan.

Ok, you get the idea. A ton of people are/were hurt. This doesn’t even include the aches and sprains that are going undocumented OR all the AAA guys that might have been called up more (Stern, Alverez) if they weren’t so hurt. It’s a disaster. It’s like an artillery shell hit Fenway during BP… no… that wouldn’t be as bad as this. If someone yelled “DUCK! SHELLS!” Wells would have taken the full blast because he would have thought they were serving duck stuffed shells in the outfield (I shouldn’t kid… he’s the best pitcher now).

So now we’re dealing with CARLOS Pena (just called up), Pedroia (a year early), Eric Hinske (waivers), Javy Lopez (waivers), Cora (utility bench) and Gabbard to shut down the red hot A’s? HA! They were lucky to get the 6 hits! Foulke came in just in time to give up 3 moon shots and put the game completely out of reach… but I think 1-0 was pretty much out of reach too. But it wasn’t like it was all one sided. Boston still managed to leave 10 men on base.

They were over matched. It wasn’t even a laugher. It was embarrassing. Can’t even talk about it. Let’s move on… to what, I don’t know. Go AAA Sox. Ugh.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Game 130: Did You Know?

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Seattle Mariners 6

Did you know that Dustin Pedroia is all of five feet and nine inches (small enough for baseball anyway), but for some reason the Seattle TV announcers seem to think that he’s actually a miniscule five feet, five inches? Has there ever been a 5’ 5” baseball player? How about in the past 100 years?

Did you know the Red Sox offense is slumping right now? Of course, when half the team is hurt and you have to field a team that has Ortiz, Youkilis, Lowell and Hinske (in that order) as the heart of your lineup, it’s likely you’re not going to get many hits, or capitalize on five walks. Things are so bad with the hitting right now that the Sox scored a run (off an error) before they got a hit off of the starter Baek.

Did you know that my dislike for Javy Lopez grows every time I watch him play? Look, buddy, I know defense is not your forte. Sure, the Front Office jumped on an opportunity to grab a veteran catcher for a low cost in a time of need, but the idea is that you’d contribute some pop with the bat somewhere at the level of your .288 career BA. Instead, you’re flirting with the Mendoza Line and your OPS…well, we’ll not talk about that in polite company. When’s Tek coming back again?

Did you know that the Red Sox are now 6.5 games out of the AL East and 5.5 games out of the Wild Card? Actually, that’s not as upsetting as the realization that half of the past six series have resulted in Red Sox sweeps, including two zero-wins versus cellar teams. With an 8 and 18 record so far, this August has to be up there as one of the worst months ever for the Sox. Edit: I have the answer on this one: the Sox lost 22 games in one month in 1985. Things could be worse...but only if the Sox don't get swept out of Oakland. I know I was the voice of optimism about a week ago about making a come back in the last weeks of the season, but man, it’s tough to keep your head up about things right now.

Did you know that the Sox finish up their final trip to the West Coast of 2006 with a three game series against the division-leading Oakland Athletics? Did you know that I’m looking forward to these games about as much as I would be to a sharp stick in the eye? Kason Gabbard starts things out against Esteban Loiza with another ungodly 10:05 PM start. Come on, boys, prove me wrong. GO SOX!!!

Game 129: Wasted Opportunities

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Seattle Mariners 4

I’m not sure what’s worse: not having the offense score big runs against a bottom-rung team like the Seattle Martiners, watching Mike Timlin blow the third Sox lead of the night or having Boston go with nary a whimper in the ninth to man named Putz.

I’m going to go with option number two: maybe Timlin’s overworked for someone who’s both 40 and one of the game’s most-used relievers in the past few years, but it’s rough to waste another good Wells performance with a blown save. Wells, who Mrs. Eric thinks is motivated by someone holding bacon behind home plate, scattered seven hits over seven innings before surrendering the second tying run of the night, a hanging curve that Betancourt knocked out of the park. Boston regained the lead thanks to a double by Ortiz and a single by Lowell, but then lost the momentum when the third base umpire called Manny out after Beltre tagged Manny on the helmet as Ramirez came into third on the play, popping the ball out of his glove and into his right hand. At least, that’s how the umpire viewed it, but to everyone else on the field (including the Seattle broadcasters, by the way), Manny was safe: Beltre bobbled the ball, managed to catch it after the tag, but didn’t really have control while he was tagging the runner. Whatever, BS call, changed the course of the game but not a break we should be relying on to win or lose.

So now we’re one game closer to playoff elimination, with Minnesota winning last night and Boston failing to take advantage of the Angels pounding the Yankees to advance a game in the AL East and we go for the final game against Seattle this year at 4:05. Kyle Snyder will pull another extended relief performance against young Cha Seung Baek, a pitcher the Sox have never faced before. I don’t like our odds, but what do I know. Come on, boys, let’s avoid the sweep. GO SOX!!!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Game 128: Right back off track

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 0, Seattle Mariners 6

Don’t they know how the hell we are? No runs? NO RUNS?!?! Not one lousy run crossed the plate yet they got 6 (5 off Schilling) and had nothing but smiles and apologizes!! The Mariners! Don’t they know what these games mean to the Sox? Don’t they know they are double digits back of the division lead and the wild card? Don’t they know how to “roll over” and let some team that is on the bubble (the Red Sox) make it in on their normal incompetence?

See, that’s just inconsiderate. It’s not nice to play the spoiler.

The offence was just bad. Real bad. I love Wily Mo (who may be hurt too), but he is a poor replacement for Manny when it comes to protecting Papi in the lineup. I guess that’s why he had heart trouble… he couldn’t stand to see his buddy not waiting on deck (calm down, Ortiz is fine or I wouldn’t be joking about this).

So Manny is gonna come back for game 2 (as DH with Ortiz at first?) and Boomer will be there to welcome him with a cheesecake, some Chinese food, a 6 pack of Shlitz and some road-rage. Oh and MAYBE a good pitching performance. Let’s hope the bats can keep up.

This racecar of a season is out of control and sliding into the guardrail. Can they PLEASE string some wins together and stop fishtailing into September? Is that too much to ask? GO SOX.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Game 127: So This Wily Mo Guy...You Say He Plays Defense, Too?

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1

The funny thing about pivotal moments, especially in a game like this one where there was so much well-played baseball, is that their significance can sometimes pass you by. This game had two of pivotal moments; one obvious, one not so much. The first one, where Weaver left a pitch up in Papi’s wheelhouse so fat and sweet that it would have been criminal not to crush it, was an obvious turning point. Breaking the scoreless tie on a night when both pitchers were dealing was big enough, but making Weaver look human again on the way to his first loss was enormous. I think the psychological boost Beckett got from having that one piece of support from his offense made his pitches even sicker, if possible.

The second one wasn’t quite so apparent until I really thought about it: by the time Wily Mo Pena saved the win for Beckett by gunning down Juan Rivera at the plate with a bullet from left field, it was the seventh inning, the Sox were up 2 – 0 thanks to a Wily Mo RBI single and I was juiced and anxious about the game getting over with Boston on top. But in retrospect, it was obvious: Pena doesn’t make that throw properly, at the very least the score is tied until (hopefully) Boston finds another opening to score and possibly even worse: everyone on the East Coast is up until 2:30 because of the tie, someone in the Sox bullpen blows the game and we all wake up angry. It’s the little things, like preserving my sanity, that really make the difference.

Anyway, take that, Jared Weaver. You and your perfect record can go suck it, because Josh Beckett pitched out of his gourd tonight and he’d probably still be throwing nasty strikes if one of those nasty little blisters hadn’t derailed his night in the seventh. Then we’ve got Timlin to give us an inning and two thirds of miracle ball (the Angels got one hit, with the game literally on the line the whole time). I kid you not, I think Timlin had an epiphany on the mound last night about where his career was going after that set against the Yankees. Either that or the hex he called down on himself by blaming the hitting for losing games suddenly evaporated, like it was on a time fuse or something. The man was guns in the saddle good. Hell, all of the pitching was good, a pleasant change of events from recent history: after Josh and Mike showed ‘em how it was done, Paps wrapped it up with another four out save, acquiring the rookie record in the process.

I’m starting to get a little excited here. Sure, there hasn’t been much hitting (not that there would be against Jared Weaver), but the pitching seems to be coming around and the pitching, as we all know, is most of what’s needed right now for the Sox to have a prayer at making the playoffs. Hell, we won a series against the Angels, which I wouldn’t have thought possible as recently as earlier this week and we’re riding high into Seattle. GO SOX!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Game 126: Losing Streaks, Like Beer Bottles, Come In Sixes

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4
Ok, so this game might have been a little important, by which I mean that half of Red Sox Nation might have been contemplating the virtues of the rope versus the poison bottle while the other half ruminated on the vagaries of the Pats secondary had the end result been anything but a W for Boston. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person counting outs by eighth inning in a manner reminiscent (i.e., accompanied by hyperventilation, heavy sweating and short bursts of prayer) of the counting of the final outs of the 2004 World Series. What started out as a contest heavily favored to Boston in the early runnings had turned to a nail bitter by the end and once again I was very thankful that we had the Papal-Bon to close things out when the going got tough.

What is it about our pitching staff that inspires such close contests? I know the Angels have a lineup that’s got some scary points and they do know to score some runs, but after going up 5 – 1 in the second inning thanks to jacks by Papi, Pena and an RBI single by Coco, I was hoping for a rally monkey massacre, for heaps of shattered thunder sticks as all two Angels fans who know anything about baseball wept in despair, letting their fellow fans know that our pitching was throwing innings without par. I wanted an easy victory, because it was late, getting later and I hate West Coast field trips.

Instead we had tight spots every single inning after Lester exited in the fifth (I’d complain about that, too, except it wasn’t clear yesterday morning if his back would relax enough to let him pitch): Tavarez loaded the bases in the sixth and escaped after giving up a run, making the score 5 – 4. Timlin loaded the bases in the seventh with one out before getting a strikeout and a comebacker to the mound so easily that it looked like he had just woken from a nightmare about pitching terribly against New York, shook himself to clear the cobwebs and then resumed his normal setup mastery. Foulke got two outs in the eighth, but also gave up a single to Chone Figgins, who moved to third by a stolen base and a nicely placed ground ball to first by Macier Izturis. Looking for the strikeout, Tito went to Paps, who faced down the dangerous Orland Cabrera (two doubles, a single, a walk, two runs and an RBI on the day) with heat. Remember how as a member of the Sox Cabrera would really swing through things when he missed a pitch? Turns out he still does that – especially on the strikeout pitch.

I’m not going to say we’re out of the woods yet by a long shot, but it was nice to finally get a win again and just as importantly, to see Papelbon dominate batters again. Tonight we do it all over again, with Beckett versus Weaver the Younger, with his 9 and 0 record and 1.95 ERA. Last time these two faced off Beckett didn’t pitch like a retard and the Sox won in extra innings by getting to the Angels bullpen. Let’s see if we can do one better tonight and win in regulation. GO SOX!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Game 125: Drinking with Hank Williams

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4

Irony upon ironies, the BM in Beantown is followed by the dreaded “West Coast trip”. Not even enough time for your depression to set in. This one followed suit like the 5 before it. Kyle Snyder pitched just well enough to lose, the bats failed to show up when it mattered (10 left on base and only one earned run… thanks for making it close Figgins) and Gabbard out of the bullpen couldn’t hold the tie. Papi gets the IBB with Coco on in the 9th (nice steal moron) and Youk can't come through.

Same old, same old. Only thing different (worse in fact) was the line up. They had Kapler in for a hurt/resting Manny and Dustin Pedroia (MLB debut… I like him) in for the DL’ed Gonzo. Another in a line of bad losses and the late game to boot. Now I’m tired and upset, but it reminds me of a song:

What's the use to deny we've been living a lie that we should have admitted before
We were just victims of a half hearted love so why should we try anymore
The vows that we make are only to break we drift like a wave from the shore
The kisses we steal we know are not real so why should we try anymore
The dreams that we knew can never come true they're gone to return no more
False love like ours fades with the flowers so why should we try anymore
Our story so old again has been told on the past let's close the door
And smile don't regret but live and forget there's no use to try anymore

Too bad ‘ol Hank is deader than most of the bullpen arms. He might have been a serviceable 5th starter. Lester vs Escobar up next. I’d say GO SOX… but I'm afriad where they'll go.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Game 124: Moving On Down The Road

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 1, New York Yankees 2

I’d blame Javy Lopez for not blocking the pitch that Foulke threw in the eighth that lead to the Yankees’ second, winning run (I don’t care if it was ruled a wild pitch; Belli or Tek would have blocked that bounce) and then popping out to kill a rally in the bottom of the same inning, but it would be a bit like bandaging someone’s paper cut while ignoring the blood pouring out of their massive head wound – it’s not terrible relevant in the scheme of five losses in a row. Instead, let’s focus on the positive: David Wells stepped up the way Curt Schilling would have last night have the weather not interfered. He went seven and a third, surrendered what turned out to be two runs, battled out of a few small jams, struck out four, ate raw iron and crapped out nails. It was just what the doctor ordered and if the offense had been there, it would have been a moral victory after one of the most difficult weekends RSN has faced since 2004. Not to be and a waste of a marvelous outing, but going forward we appear to have both Wells and Foulke (who was flawless besides the putative wild pitch today and emerged unscathed from two innings on Friday) in full form for the rest of the season.

Coming out of the aftermath of this series, what’s the status? Clearly, there are big problems with the majority of the pitching. Most of the bullpen can’t get outs, can’t hold leads and thus, can’t win ballgames and that’s a problem. The wild card is in the hands of the Other Sox, who are four and a half games up with it – not an insurmountable lead, but there’s Minnesota to deal with as well. Coming up, we’ve got a full West Coast road trip (LA, Oakland and Seattle), then Toronto and the White Sox at home, which may really be the baseball equivalent of a hot lead enema. Things are certainly grim and the odds may just be impossible to overcome, but you know what? We’ve still got September. In about 10 days, Jason Varitek should be returning to his place behind the plate, steadying the younger members of the staff and possibly providing the push we need for another wild card berth. Tim Wakefield should be returning about the same time, adding another reliable veteran arm and ending the starter by committee. There’s a month left. Anything can (and does) happen. And still, even if it doesn’t, we’ve got 2004 to look back on and the 2007 development to look forward to.

Tomorrow night, after the Red Sox fly back in time to the mystical land of California, where they have strange implements like Thunder Sticks and Rally Monkeys to excite the local populace, it’s the first game of a three game set against LA. shows still shows Kyle Snyder as the probable pitcher, but we’ll see how things play out. GO SOX!!!

Games 122-123: Alcohol is now the only solution

Final Scores:

Boston Red Sox 5, New York Yankees 13
Boston Red Sox 5, New York Yankees 8

I feel sorry for people who don't drink, because when they wake up, that's best they feel all day -- Frank Sinatra

I am not going to go into great detail describing these games. If you are viewing this page it is as safe bet that you are a Sox fan and that you SAW these games. Hell, it’s a safe bet almost EVERYONE in both Boston and New York saw these games. So why would you need to read depressing imagery about how Beckett was a total disaster on Saturday or how the bullpen completely failed to preserve what Schilling had done on Sunday. You don’t want to read it and I don’t want to write it. It hurts too much.

So what to do? There are 39 games left in the season and for the first time in 4 years the Red Sox look like they are finished (I am not talking “doom and gloom” like the KC series… they look like they are ready to pack it in). How does one prepare for the near meaningless grind that will be the last month and a half of the season?

Well, the Red Sox will start by making some roster moves between here and Pawtucket. I was delighted to see Jason Johnson and Rudy Seanez take the slow road to DFA town. These guys aren’t worth their weight in industrial waste. It’s a shame it took this long for the front office to see that their “skills” would be better utilized if they were test animals for scientific experiments. Van Buren (already called up AND sent back down) may see some more time with the big club, Javier Lopez (already called up AND ineffective) could be on the AAA shuttle, and maybe rookie sensation Dustin Pedroia could see some time patrolling the solemn grounds of Fenway as the season slips farther and farther away.

The fans have another obstacle to overcome while time drags on. How do you block out these last few weeks while waiting for next season? The answer is simple: Booze!

This series has proven to me that to watch these games without going crazy, you need to get as bombed as the Sox bullpen. You need to knock ‘em back as quick as the Yankees load the bases. Sure you might get fired because you show up to work late and hung over, and sure you are doing irreparable damage to your liver and kidneys by drowning the losses in beer, AND sure you may have to sit through some boring “interventions” held by concerned friends and family… but once you are blind drunk enough not to see your favorite team spiral down into a season ending funk… well then I think you’ll agree with me that it was worth it.

So do as David “Boomer” Wells does (the last starter of this abortion of a series btw) and get blotto! Yeah!!! GO SOX… hic…

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Game 121: Dog Tired

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 11, New York Yankees 14

Ladies and gentlemen, the longest nine inning game in major league history…and not for good reasons (is it ever for good reasons?). When nine Red Sox pitchers give up a combined 26 runs on 34 hits over two games; when neither starter pitches long enough to qualify for the win, which doesn’t even happen; when the bullpen does its best to put the games out of reach as fading veterans and inexperienced youth are not enough to hold back the tide of offense; when the game you’re supposed to win becomes the game you lose because somehow scoring 11 runs isn’t enough, I think you start to wonder a teeny, tiny bit if maybe this team isn’t meant to make to October this year. If last year’s playoff berth was an underserved honor, this year that honor is something you wouldn’t be worthy of thinking of. I knew at the start of the year that this team was a long shot that would only work if everything clicked; next year is the year I really expect to see things perform. But it’s so tough when you’re proven right…

More game tomorrow, about 12 hours from now. Beckett versus Johnson in the battle of the unreliable starters, as Robin called it a few hours ago. Dog tired, will probably go dream about baseball. Go Sox.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Game 120: Ugly Beginnings

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, New York Yankees 12

I think the real tragedy of this first game wasn’t Jason Johnson’s troubles in the first, or his collapse in the fifth, which blew the game open in favor of New York. It was, by far, the inability of the offense to knock in runs when they had the chance that doomed this game to the loss column. Oh sure, Loretta got hits – three doubles that left him stranded in scoring position three times – and Hinske was golden in his Fenway debut with three doubles of his own, but we’re talking eleven men left on base, Sox batting three for 10,000 with runners in scoring position, at least one bases loaded chance blown…basically, if Wang wasn’t such a wily fox, Boston would have knocked him out of the game in the fourth with all of those potential runs, much like the potential energy in an ejection seat has the possibility of rocketing a person you don’t like out of your life, but only if you use it. But today, not to be.

Boston hasn’t won both games of a doubleheader since 2004, so I shouldn’t be surprised at the loss – it’s tradition, after all and the Sox are nothing else if not a team who likes the tradition. Still, there’s something about these Sox/Yankees games that gets me going a bit more than normal and I definitely get a little more irrational about the result; one of the few times since 2004 when I’m not able to get beyond the 162 seasons a year feeling I hate so much. Sure, it’s disappointing to lose, but it’s really disappointing to lose to the Yankees.

Keith Foulke is rumored to be coming back from the DL tonight, which means a last minute transaction to clear up some roster space. Someone will probably get sent to Pawtucket, but after Seanez's terrible job in the last inning and a third of the game (the man got four runs on his own! How?!), I really hope they just DFA him instead. It's not like he's going to pitch tonight anyway after throwing 47 pitches, so why not just get the job done? Also, I find it a bit ironic that for the second year in a row Keith Foulke is coming back to be the supposed savior of the bullpen.

So hopefully Boston will come back tonight mad as hell about losing so poorly this afternoon and do terrible, terrible things to Sidney Ponson. GO SOX!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tale Of The Tape: David “Big Papi” Ortiz Vs. Derek “Jeets” Jeter In The MVP Race

Note: Once again for your off-day pleasure Robin and I have another feature from our friend Mike, the Connecticut Yankees Fan/Stat-head. This time, as a preview of the upcoming Yankees/Red Sox series in Fenway, Mike takes a look at the respective cases for David Ortiz and Derek Jeter as 2006 MVP candidates. Just to fan the flames, you might also want to see this piece on Sportszilla, which makes the case for Travis Hafner as the 2006 MVP. We hope you enjoy and make sure to give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Why Ortiz Will be the MVP:

David Ortiz is a middle of the order guy and the voters tend to go for that type; only Ichiro and Henderson have won the MVP in the AL as top of the order hitters since 1990. He is the big hitter, always looking for the fight ending haymaker. Currently, he leads the AL in RBI (110) and HR (41) and is third in runs (86), ninth in OBP (.396) and fifth in OPS (1.014). Ortiz ups his game with runners in scoring position (RISP), hitting .297 with an OBP of .430 – both above his seasonal average – and an OPS of .993. With RISP and 2 outs, he hits .283 with an OBP of .433 and an OPS of .980. He also becomes a monster in close and later situations (from the 7th inning on, either ahead by a run, tied, or with the tying run at least on deck), working the following stats: AVG (.303), OBP (.403), HR (11) – no, that isn’t a typo – RBI (25), SLG (.851) and an OPS of 1.254. He has 5 walk off hits this season, including 3 home runs.

The monster RISP numbers are important to the argument, but so is the lower slugging percentage, which is a demonstration of his hitting intellect: Ortiz isn’t trying to drive the ball out of the ballpark, just hit a single to score the run. In other words, he understands the situation and does the thing that’s best to help his team win. Further, when the game is close and late, forget about it – those walk off wins and the reputation that goes with them make him a rightly feared hitter. Ortiz is the MVP because of his presence in the middle of the order, where he hits home runs, racks up RBIs and makes necessary hits with RISP and because of his deadly nature in late situations with the game on the line.

Why Jeter Will be the MVP:

Derek Jeter is having one of his finest seasons at the top of the Yankee order and he is also a fielder, giving him an advantage in the voting over a DH. More of a fighter than a slugger, Jeter works the jab, only occasionally going for the knockout blow. Currently, he is second in the AL in AVG (.344), ninth in runs (80), seventh in steals (26) – caught only 3 times – and fourth in OBP (.421), with 70 RBIs hitting in the 2-hole in the order. Derek also gets locked in with RISP, hitting .377 with an OBP of .485 and an OPS of .994. With RISP and 2 outs these numbers jump even higher, with an AVG of .395, and OBP of .527 – no that isn’t a typo either – and an OPS of 1.085. Jeter is also a very tough out in close and late situations, hitting .303 with an OBP of .446, meaning he is looking to get on base anyway he can and hope the next guy in line can knock him in.

Jeter is on pace for another 200 hit, 120 run, with OBP, SLG, RBI, BB and steals all higher than his career averages. Jeter is the MVP because of what he means to the Yankee lineup, not only setting the table for other guys, but also becoming deadly when he sees baserunners to be knocked in, especially with 2 outs.

My Fight Card So Far:

Heading into the late rounds (second half of August and all of September), I would still give the edge to Ortiz. His power numbers and ability to produce in close and late situations puts him ahead of Jeter in my mind, although it isn’t as knockout like I originally thought. If one of these two carries their team into the playoffs and the other team doesn’t get in, this debate could get as close as it did with Ortiz and Rodriguez last year.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Game 119: Big Game Hunters

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Detroit Tigers 4

I knew Wells could be “the stopper” when he goes down a waterslide or tries to fit into a Mini Cooper, but I was shocked to see him in that roll in a pitching sense. To be honest it almost didn’t happen. After a solid 5 innings, he gave up a quick 3 runs in the 6th putting the Sox behind. But the bats awakened from their slumber and fought back to get the “lefty gourmand” his second win of his injury shortened season. I know they swept last series, but it feels like it’s been weeks since a good win.

Ortiz hit his 42nd HR (it’s been a while) and knocked in a pair to give the Sox the lead in the 5th and Coco hit a bases loaded double that scored 2 for the final lead (it should have been 3 but Cora got gunned down at home).

Hansen had a solid inning and a third and Paps had a one, two, three no doubter to finish it up and get his 32nd save. Timely hitting? Perfect bullpen? A starter that goes 6+? What team is this and what have you done with my underachieving Red Sox?

Thursday is an off day, so everyone take a big rest before the *gulp* FIVE GAME SERIES against the Yankees. Now I know I have already put a fork in the Sox playoff hopes (twice I think), but these games will really determine if they even have an outside shot. Win at least 3 and the life support stays on. Any less than that and they are in cold storage with Ted Williams head.

Guest column Friday morning and then the fireworks start in Fenway. GO SOX.

Is it really late and am I kinda drunk or did the Sox just get Eric Hinske? Oh, both! Cool.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Game 118: Laugh and Cry

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Detroit Tigers 3
What started as a giggle and smile fest ended in tragedy. That has been happening a lot lately but never this pronounced. Schilling (and the defense backing him) was NAILS for 6 but Bonderman was just as good. If not for a Coco solo shot in the 3rd this would have been 0-0 till late. Then things started to get weird.

On the NESN and WEEI broadcast Denis Leary and Lenny Clark were present as co-broadcasters so they could plug the Leary Firefighters Foundation (awesome cause), but also so they could comment on the game and the players. Some highlights (and I paraphrase heavily).

-A-Rod: Heard he has trouble at home IF you know what I mean. At least that's the rumor they're starting.

-Manny: He has an extensive magazine rack in the Green Monster, for between innings/pitches.

-Youkilis: Is he Greek? He’s Jewish?!?!?! TAKE THAT MEL GIBSON!!!

-Placido Polanco: Didn’t like the “cut of his jib”. Should call himself Perry Perry.

-Dmitri Young: Shave the beard you’re scaring children.

-Magglio Ordonez: He had a “Sports Hernia”? You can get a hernia just trying to say his name!

-And what’s the name of the new catcher the Sox got? Havey? Whoovey?

It was hysterical and it was made even funnier watching Jerry Remy doubled over trying to not to die on live TV. Too bad it went down hill from there.

Schilling fell off in the 7th. After 2 singles he gave up a 2 run double to Casey… and then struck out the side. After Coco legs out an infield hit in the 8th and Loretta moves him over, Papi comes to the plate and Jim Leyland has Ledezma pitch to him. This prompts a frantic phone call from Mike to tell me that Leyland is psychotic and obviously doesn’t look at stats. He was right cause Papi comes up big with a game tying single.

With Timlin in to hold the tie, he gets runners on the corners and one out. A popup to shallow right and… Wily Mo drops the ball. Nut sack. Then the “immortal” Todd Jones easily finishes the Sox off in the ninth complete with a Wily Mo strikeout looking to end it. Smiles turn to tears.

So we are down to “Big Fat” Wells vs “Hot Rookie Stud” Verlander who is trying to sweep the Sox right before NY comes to town. Not too confident in this one… so excuse my lack of exuberance. But Go Sox anyway

Monday, August 14, 2006

Game 117: Not Quite Good Enough

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Detroit Tigers 7

Unfortunately, this one was a lot closer than it looks. In the bottom of the eighth, after a couple of close calls against starter Nate Robertson, the Sox finally got to a Tigers pitcher: reliever Joel Zumaya. Loretta, Manny, Youkilis and Lowell all hit singles; Loretta scored on the Youkilis play, but Manny met the ball (and the out) at home when he tried to score off of Lowell’s hit to center. It was a key out, as Wily Mo struck out to end the inning and kill the rally, but it’s also one of the thankfully very few times that DeMarlo Hale has screwed up a call this year. In the scheme of things, of course, that’s great: you don’t want to hear about how your third base coach is doing, or how he once against sent a runner to certain doom at home. Unfortunately, in this case, Manny was out about two miles away from home and it probably cost Boston the game. Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the third base coach gets you. I’m not going to hold it against Hale, though; he’s got a few free passes left.

The other item of the evening that put the game permanently out of reach? Rudy Seanez’s second inning on the mound. After another subpar Beckett performance, Seanez came in to eat some innings/keep Boston in the game/not suck and he managed to do all three in the seventh, his first inning of work: no runs, side in order, nasty breaking stuff making the hitters looked foolish. Second inning, not so much: after Guillen grounded out to start the inning, Francona let Seanez stick around (although really, what choice did he have with the way the bullpen has worked recently) until he had loaded the bases and given up two runs on a single to Vance Wilson. Fortunately, Craig Breslow was as effective today as he was against Oakland a month ago, going an inning and two thirds without any further damage. Not that it was enough, mind you, but I’m looking for a bright spot here.

Tomorrow night: Schilling versus Bonderman for game two. Let’s nip this little Tigers rally in the bud, shall we? GO SOX!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Game 116: Slug Fest

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 11, Baltimore Orioles 9

You know it’s going to be a pitchers’ duel when one team hits a grand slam in the first inning and the other team ties up the score in the next inning. When Boston uses five pitchers and only one of them avoids giving up a run – and that pitcher, Papelbon, allowed two inherited runners to score. When Boston had three “safe” leads and still managed to win only by two runs. Basically, as bad as the Baltimore pitching was, Boston’s pitching was about as ugly and the eventual difference was that the Sox managed to crush more balls for runs (four homers for Boston, three homers for Baltimore).

I heard a theory a couple of days ago that makes a lot of sense, especially with the crop of young pitchers that Boston is relying on these days: the Sox bullpen has been less than effective recently because there’s no Varitek to call the pitches. Bring Varitek back and Hansen, Delcarmen, Snyder and Papelbon start pitching much more effectively and that leads to more wins. Clearly, Tek isn’t having an MVP year at the plate, but it does make me wonder about Tek’s MVP status for what he’s doing behind the plate. Papi has his own share of wins (we’re up to five at this point, right?), but I wonder if anyone could break down the stats to find out how many wins Varitek “owns” as a result of his catching skills.

However, as Robin pointed out to me a few minutes ago, a W is still a W. Jon Lester may not have deserved to get win number six, but he did and his team moved up a game in the AL East standings. Even though the pitching is nowhere near the quality it was in June, even though there are still missing pieces and questions about holes in the roster, the Sox have pulled out of the abysmal road trip slide, broken out of their 18 game slump (not the worst in Red Sox history, by the way) and are poised to seize off-season contention. Next up is a three game set with the Tigers, who are in the midst of a five-game slide of their own at the moment. Even better: unlike some other AL Central teams, the Tigers haven’t exactly had a high level of success against the Sox. I think it’s time to give the Other Sox a boost in the AL Central standings with a sweep of the stripped cats. GO SOX!!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Game 115: Come from Behind

Final score:

Boston Red Sox 8, Baltimore Orioles 7

God I hate Jason Johnson. Is this really the best we can find for a 5th starter? Did David Pauley rub somebody the wrong way? Aw forget it. How can I be upset with a walk off win? In a game where everyone BUT Papi and Manny were able to go deep (Coco, Wily Mo, and Belli) the batting was able to bail out the sub par works of JJ and Tavarez.

Hansen and Timlin were solid for the innings they pitched (what a different a series makes) and Papelbon was the two inning monster that we remember. Except for Johnson being a gimp… it was a flashback to the winning Sox. You remember? The team that could come back from any deficit and always had the big hit ready just in case. Yeah they showed up today. Amazing right?

Well I guess you would give Manny the MVP of this game. Got his hit streak to 27 games in the 10th with the walk off single, but it was his “interesting” defensive plays that made him a hero. In the 9th he saved the game after turning a potential Papelbon triple into an out at third (credit Gonzo with the relay). Finally the wellspring of fortune sprouted in Fenway. It’s been a while.

Ok… now we have Lester with the chance for the sweep. We need this. More than anything there needs to be some redemption in these Sox bats. Bring it Boston. GO SOX!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Game 114: Triumphant Return

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 9, Baltimore Orioles 2

Damn, I go away for 10 days and the entire team falls to crap. What happened? Five losses in a row, getting swept by the Royals, of all teams, Robin bleeding from the ears with rage, cats and dogs living together in harmony…it’s nuts and I’m glad I missed it.

Anyway, I’m back and clearly couldn’t have picked a better night to re-up my half of the blog coverage: David Wells pitches seven strong innings, scatters seven hits and a walk for one run. Kyle Snyder comes in from the bullpen to assume the role shakily held by both of the Wonder Twins earlier this year, taking the final two innings in relative stride. The Sox take the 1 – 0 lead in the first, then explode in the third with a fist-full of singles and a triple to take an 8 – 0 lead. The Sox start their slide recovery out right as New York drops their second game in a row, losing to the Angels tonight. Heck, even Dave Wallace is back. I’m feeling pretty good about all of this good feeling, I must say.

I’d also like to give props to my co-writer, Robin. Doing this blog every day is no easy task, especially during a tough losing streak, but Robin stepped up, kept you all entertained and did some great coverage while I took some time off. Heck, if you all just wanted Robin every day, I’d understand – he’s a heck of a guy.

Anyway, enough gushing. I’m back, the Sox are back, the Orioles are still lesser than Boston and it’s time to put together a stretch-drive sprint to get that AL East flag and go from there. Tomorrow afternoon Jason Johnson looks to build on his quality start against Tampa Bay with a win (you hear that, bullpen?), going up against Kris Benson. I’m trying to come up with an Anna Benson joke here, but I think she kinda speaks for herself. GO SOX!!!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Game 113: Attention Red Sox Viewers

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Kansas City Royals 5


That is all.

Game 112: Make it Stop!!! Make it Stop!!!

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Kansas City Royals 5

How? How can these crimson hose wearing slump jobs not take apart the worst team in the AL? I hate HATE hate must win games against crap clubs, but I LOTHE losing must win games against teams like TB and KC. This is ridiculous. Exactly zero clutch hits (unless you count the “clutch” double plays) and a bullpen that looks about as bombed out a Lebanon right now (to soon?).

Beckett started strong with 3 perfect innings… and the offence looked just as hot! Manny is in the midst of a 24 game hitting streak that was continued with a 2 run bomb in the first, then Javy Lopez had a big 2 RBI double. 4-0 and that should be safe… whew!

Yeah, whatever… not with the way things have been going lately. Beckett came apart just as the bats stopped working. A three run 4th (Javy being a sieve didn’t help) and suddenly one bad pitch and it’s a tie game… for 5 innings. That’s right. Base runners (sometimes 3 of them) in every inning and no insurance. Nada… zip… zilch. Delcarman and Timlin get through (by the skin of their teeth) and we go into the 9th.

So here comes Papelbon… who…



It’s a hate crime! That’s what it is. It’s putting small kittens in the parking lot and running them over with semi trucks. It’s beached Whales being covered in napalm and lit up like roman candles. It’s children being told that Santa Clause is just drunk Uncle Ernie and the Easter bunny is rabid and needs to be put down.

This team is freaking D U N = DONE!

I am not apologizing for this one. They don’t have it. 4 in a row against the 2 worst teams ever to put on a jock and a glove and say “Oh I think I’ll play some baseball!” How can they beat a team with a record OVER .400 if they cant beat these festering SINGLE A piles of washed up crap?

Francona (if he is still in the continental United States) needs to walk into the clubhouse with cheese grater and a lemon and deliver an ultimatum:

“Win some f-ing games or I grind citrus into your open flesh, you living dead looking motherf-ers.”

Or maybe that’s just what I would do. I think the Red Sox are making me crazy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Game 111: I’m Sorry

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Kansas City Royals 6

I want to apologize. Last post I was upset, I was angry. I said the Red Sox are done… finished… not making the playoffs this year. That was uncalled for even if the DID lose 2 of 3 to Tampa. That wasn’t “Keeping the Faith” as so many tee-shirts and banners and slogans tell me I should be doing. I remember 2004 and the 0-3 hole they were in vs the Yankees… and the depression that preceded the comeback. I know that if I just “Keep the Faith” and good things will be the result.

I was there and I can tell you that this situation is completely different. This situation doesn’t call for “faith”, it calls for PITCHING!! It calls for HITTING with men in scoring position!! When Papi (41 HR, 110 RBI and the MVP if there is a God) can hit any ball over the plate OUT of the park… then you need to get on base in front of him! It’s just that simple.

As for the pitching… well I went into that didn’t I? There isn’t anything good coming from these arms. They look old, inexperienced or tired. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of these guys didn’t pitch in the majors next year… either based on retirement or being sent down to AAA. Lester got hit in the up for 4 earned… but the useless bullpen provided that extra edge (Hansen and Seanez are always good for a few runs).

Look… I don’t know. 2 games back in the AL East, a game back in the Wild Card and another winnable game down the tubes. Do they have a chance? Sure! They are in striking distance for both spots. Do they look like winners? No way, no how. They need to step up now… or slip into a forgone conclusion.

Go and step up against KC, go and do it now (or never) and GO SOX.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Game 110: Nothing is Ever Easy

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7

-----Insert Image of my head hitting a table and babies crying-----

The Grind. That’s what they call it. Every week, every game, every pitch. It’s a long season and the home stretch (August and September) seems to make or break teams. Now, more than ever, does the effectiveness of the bullpen and the clutch hitting matter to the wins and losses.

Now the clutch hitting they often have covered (more specifically Papi has it covered), but the bullpen has been hit and miss…. Or miss and miss… and miss and miss and miss.

Jason Johnson was about as good as he has ever been. A solo shot and a dumb error with Crawford aboard (on JJ, he still sucks like that) were the only two runs in the 6 good innings he pitched. WOW. I was so hard on this guy and it seemed like he was due for a lynching, but he really knuckled down and made his pitches. That leaves 3 innings for the pen with a 4 run lead to work with. Game over.

Yeah right.

This has been the problem. Nobody can bridge the gap. Delcarman looks like he is on the verge of being that guy… but has mixed in awful outings with spectacular ones. Tonight was the former. 2 runs in 2/3 innings. Not good. Then in comes Timlin, the vet, the bow hunter… the long ball prone. Since the all-star break he has seemed more worn down than ever. A solo shot from him and it’s a one run game and the closer is in to get 5 outs.

Ahhh yes. The Papelbon: dominant, poised and consistent. He is going to get the job done 49 out of 50 times.

So what happens when it’s that 50th time and you are only up by a run? Tie game.

Yeah…in Tampa. Just pathetic.

In the extra frames, Tavarez does what he does best and ends it with another solo blast. This just moments after the bat was taken out of Papi’s hands (IBB) and Manny popped up with 2 outs.

Now I am not one of those annoying “blow ‘em up” pessimists, but I can see the writing on the wall. If you don’t have a bullpen that can get outs, then you are not going to make the playoffs (be it by winning the division or the Wild Card). I just don’t see it this year. Ortiz should get the MVP, and maybe they can scrounge together 95 wins… but I think the playoffs chances are fading away into the hot summer nights as the days grow shorter and shorter.

Maybe next year.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Game 109: The problem with pitchers

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8

Pitching woes? Everybody has them. Some teams have trouble at the front of the rotation, some at the 4 and 5 spots, some clubs have been bit hard by the injury bug and others have some inconsistency in the bullpen. Some teams have trouble with their youth and some have the veterans breaking down. If you look around the league there seems to be a pitching epidemic.

Now what do you do when you have some of everything? A smorgasbord of pitching troubles, if you will. I ask this because the Red Sox have run the gamut.

Let’s go down the check list:
1. Trouble up front? Check. Beckett has given up 32 homeruns and has an era over 5.
2. Trouble in back? Big Check. Who knows who is pitching 4 and 5 these days? All I know is that they usually stink.
3. Injuries? Check. Foulk, DiNardo, Clement, Wells, and Wakefield all have missed time.
4. Bullpen inconsistent? Check. Unless your name is Papelbon, you are questionable coming out of the Red Sox pen.
5. Age issues? Check. The vets Wells and Wake have been hurt, the yougins Hansen and Beckett have been getting shelled.

So that’s everything. The Sox have it all… all the symptoms and all the negative results. Tonight those results were felt first hand as Wells made his second sub par start (a double bogey). The fat man gave up a four spot in the 4th and 5 runs total in his 6 inning night. This time he started strong, but then slipped back into being completely useless (unless you have something on your plate you don’t want to eat… cause he’ll get that).

After a (shockingly) good inning by Tavarez, Hansen stepped up to let us all down. His 3 run 8th put the game effectively out of reach. By the time Javy Lopez hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the 9th, I was already forlorn. What happened to Hansen? Is it over use? Is he nursing an injury? Or is our closer of the future just not that good? This needs to be investigated further by the coaches and management before anything big gets rested on his shoulders.

The Sox are going to try for the win of this series tomorrow and like an old dog that refuses to learn a new trick, they are sending Jason Johnson back out there. My only hope is that Boston can score early and often against J.P. Howell and his 15+ ERA. GO SOX.

Game 108: Snakebites and Anti-venom

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2

Eeeek! Injuries!

In case you haven’t heard, the Yankees are “struggling” through a tough season fraught with injuries. Awww poor babies. Did Sheffield, Cano and Matsui hurt there widdle wristies? Frankly I am sick and tired of all the “Yankees stop gaps step it up” and “Joe Torre must me a genius to win with these guys” commentary out there. It’s about time the Sox and Francona get some props for the job they have been doing with the walking wounded they manage to field every night. Wells, Foulke, Coco, Clement, Pena, Nixon, Wakefield, Varitek, and DiNardo all have missed major time or are currently on the DL.

Now Lowell and Mirabelli might be joining them. Mikey Doubles has hit about a half dozen foul balls off his instep and sat out this first game (hopefully just this game) and Belli got his knee and ankle really screwed up when Crawford slid into home (he was out). Luckily Javy Lopez was just picked up to serve as the backstop just incase this situation arose… I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

So after all that damage and all those bad breaks… have the Sox given up? NO! They just keep battling and keep getting out of jams and keep chugging along. Schilling had a gritty (see: shaky) 7 inning start, but held the pesky Ray to only 2 runs (both solo homers). Delcarman was hot again for the 8th and Papelbon… well do I even have to say it? Save #30.

The bats were more or less held in check by the hodgepodge Tampa staff… unless your name is David Ortiz. Two of the three runs were huge blasts by our resident colossus, including a go-ahead shot in the 8th. He now has 39 HR on the year and 107 RBI. If isn’t the MVP this year then that award just doesn’t make any sense at all.

So they keep grinding through. Clutch is the only know cure for a snake bit team and the Sox are stocking up. Let’s hope Wells has had his shots. He faces Fossum tonight… ugh crafty lefties… they need to hammer him into the ground. GO SOX.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Game 107: Live + Blog = Log?

It’s the last game of this crazy 4 game series with the Wahoos and I figured I’d do an inning by inning blog or “live blog” or “livog” or “log”… or whatever it’s called. Tonight we are looking at Beckett, Westbrook and this freaking heat wave that won’t seem to go away. The Yankees already beat the snot out of Toronto (remember those Canadians that kicked our ass… well they got swept) so it would be nice if Josh could grace us with a “Good Beckett” performance and keep the “HR Derby Beckett” persona trapped in Matt Clement’s locker. I’ll be here all night giving inning by inning updates so come check me out (or read it all tomorrow at work… lazy).
Here is Gary Thorne, Buck Martinez and the ESPN 2 crew in all their glory (I might switch to MLBtv with the NESN feed if these guys start to drive me crazy… which may be soon cause Thorne just said the word “satisfactraly”). They just flashed the lineups and it looks like Ken Huckaby is in there for the first time… and most likely the last time because everyone and their mother is reporting that the Sox just got Javy Lopez. Didn’t we already have him? Oh the OTHER Javy Lopez. He’s going to be getting most of the starts while Tek is hurt, but won’t be joining the team till they get to Tampa. I guess we only send the private jet and police escorts for backup catchers.

1st inning:
Beckett is ALL about the fastball (like always). He demolishes Sizemore (3 pitch K), but Hafner NAILS one into right on a 3-2 count. I am screaming at him to throw something off speed and he finally does to strike out Martinez. I am already wavering on this ESPN crew after the ball washing they just gave Hafner.

Yoooooooouk with the lead off double, Ortiz sac moves him over and Manny gets him home. Sweet 1-0! Jake Westbrook has that “I’m gonna get pounded tonight” look in his eye. And I am officially off the ESPN broadcast. Buck Martinez looks like he is going to sell me a used car after the game.

2nd inning:
The dulcet tones of Don and Jerry invite me to buy some of their online crap and watch a quick 5 pitch 1,2,3 inning for Beckett as he gets Shin-Soo Choo (bless you) to ground out. 25 pitches through 2 innings. Very happy to have you “Good Beckett”! Please feel free to stick around for a few innings.

Wily Mo goes down swinging for about the 300th time so far this year. He BETTER hit 15 homeruns before the season ends or the “Arroyo fan club” will eat him alive. Then it’s all offence: Coco singles, Gonzo doubles (love you Gonzo), Huckaby hits an infield out (weird throw to first) but it gets the run, Youk singles, Loretta doubles, and then a Papi IBB (hehe). So bases loaded for Manny and Westbrook looks like me after 4 shots of jager. Can Manny get his 21st granny!?!?!?.... nope. Pop up. Damn. But I’ll take the 3-0 lead.

3rd inning:
Hey it’s Aaron F’ing Boone! He gets booed very loudly and then hits a solo shot off the foul pole to left. I’m glad I’m not watching ESPN because I bet they’re going to show replays of the 2003 ALCS. I really really hate Boone. Meanwhile Beckett has given up 29 long balls so far this year. Yeah that’s not good. Boston goes down in order: 3-1 Sox.

4th inning:
Lead off double for Hafner (off the curve even) and I think I am sensing a trend. Settle down Josh. Martinez K’s, Blake gets an infield single (he has been killing us) and an AWSOME double play to get out of it. Whew… that could have been bad.

Huck gets his first hit as a Red Sox! Great, but Youk hits into a double play to end it. And because that went so fast, can somebody please tell me Tina Cervasio’s appeal? She only thing bigger than her huge mouth is her annoying accent. You can take the girl out of Jersey…

5th inning:
Another quick 1,2,3 for Beckett thanks to a diving catch by Coco. He makes plays like this every other game. I am still trying to decide if it’s because he gets late breaks or because he is really freaking good. Unsure.

Poor offensive inning for the Sox. Manny singles but he gets stranded. Maybe Westbrook wasn’t as finished as he looked in the 2nd. Update on Tek. He is now recovering from his knee surgery and looks to miss about a month according to Remy. Feel better Capitan.

6th inning:
Hafner up with a man on, 1 out and I‘m legitimately scared. I honestly think the best case scenario is that Beckett walks him. Oh no….much rather of had that then the 2 run BOMB he just arched around the Pesky pole. 30 HR from Beckett and a 3-3 tie game. Poopstick. 3 more singles (Martinez and Blake) and Beckett looks like he’s collapsing. Francona seems unconcerned… or asleep. Too late to wake him. Shoo (who??) just hit a grand slam and I threw up a bit in my mouth. Beckett is STILL in there and gives up another single. Kyle Snyder is now up, but Josh gets a DP to end it. That was just awful and it was happening so fast I barely had time to get upset. The commercial break is helping me absorb it all and allowing me to lose my composure. I CAN’T FREAKING BELEAVE IT!!!! DAMN IT ALL!!!!!!... 7-3.

Time for the Sox to step it up. They agree and hit 3 straight singles. Bases loaded for Huckaby. Come on you AAA bastard. You have a chance to make yourself a fan favorite before Lopez send you packing. Nuts… DP but they get a run. That bit HARD. Luckily it’s not over. Big single by Youk scores Coco from third but Loretta pops up on the next pitch. 7-5… that’s a bit better.

7th inning:
Snyder comes in to try to stop the bleeding. DC says he looks like Arroyo on steroids and I tend to agree. 1 on and 1 out for Hafner AGAIN but this time they take my advice and walk him. The Indians are weak enough that Hafner should have 3 IBB’s every game. He is just too scary. Now Snyder can’t find the plate and walks the bases loaded. This is just going from bad to worse. Coming back up is Craig Hansen and that frozen burrito I ate for dinner. YES!!! HUGE DP. Big props to Craig and Gonzo… now to clean up the mess on my floor.

Sox need to do SOEMTHING here to make that worth while. Papi tries but is juuuust a few feet short and he can’t believe it (me neither). Manny also goes down quick with a hot shot to 3rd. Lowell shows some signs of life and singles, but Wily Mo strands him. This how the hell is Westbrook doing this? I would say he has to be the luckiest pitcher in the world, but I think Jon “Houdini” Lester has that title wrapped up.

8th inning:
Hansen back in there and gets the Tribe in order with a pop up and 2 K. All his stuff was working and his slider was particularly sick. Probably the best outing of his major league carrier. I still don’t think he’s closing next year though.

Cleveland has absolutely NO bullpen. Coco lines one into center and Eric Wedge keeps Westbrook out there. Davis and Mota are warming up (didn’t we have Mota for a week?). Now Gonzo hits a flare and Westbrook is still out there. Cora is batting for Huckaby and they go straight sacrifice. I am not so sure I like this… but with Youk hot and now both runners in scoring position it’s the right move. Westbrook STILL out there with 110 pitches and gives up a sac fly. Westbrook pops Loretta up killing any chance of Papi ending it with one swing. Not exactly what we were looking for… but I like the one run game more than the alternative. I’m shocked that Westbrook isn’t removed by way of stretcher. Why is Wedge managing this game like it’s Game 7 of the World Series?

9th inning:
Francona is playing favorites and puts Timlin in the game with Belli catching and Cora now at third. After how shaky Timlin has been lately I KNOW I don’t like this move. Maybe it’s over use, age or an injury… but he doesn’t look in top form. He gets the Indians in order… what the hell do I know?

Westbrook is apparently dead because Jason Davis is pitching to Papi. Everybody (including me) is on their feet cause we need another miracle. Nope… another DEEP out for Ortiz. It’s funny Manny is coming up with only 1 out and a good chance (he’s taken Davis deep before) but Fenway still sounds 90% deflated. Nobody can believe Ortiz didn’t tie it up. Neither does Manny… another warning track out. Now it’s down to Mirabelli. He looks like a mouse compared to the giants that came before him (a very fat mouse). Aaaaaaand he unceremoniously pops out in foul ground to end it.

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 6, Cleveland Indians 7
Well that sucked. 2 of 4 from these losers is really not acceptable. The fact that it was 2 swings away from being a sweep is REALLY bad news. Something has to go right for this club and soon… because the Yankees are really getting hot and the wild card may be an even tougher fight. Tomorrow it is Schilling vs Shields in Tampa. Boston needs to do well in this stretch (Tampa, Kansas City, Baltimore) to really have a shot. Keep your fingers crossed. GO SOX.

Game 106: The Withering Heat

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Cleveland Indians 5

Fenway looks a bit warm again

For the second day in a row it’s been hot. Not just hot… painfully hot. When you live in a city, extreme heat brings up some smells that are better left UNSMELT. Then everything sweats. People, animals, plants, some brands of cars… all of it dripping with condensation. So I wonder how hot it must be down on the field. Players even in the best of shape can succumb to the temperatures and humidity and players in ummm… NOT so good of shapes (see: round) can really feel the effects. David Wells was seen filling his pants with frozen shrimp and sticking popsicles under his arm pits. Things can go bad if you don’t stay cool. That’s what I think happened to Ortiz today. The Big Papi was sweltering under the 90+ degree night and got the golden sombrero (4K). Even Superman has a weakness (broads). You can’t save the day every time.

Thank God that Mark Loretta isn’t a big fat guy.

How does this happen? How does this team manage to look SO BAD (Lester’s first inning) then keep it together (Lester inning 2-6, Manny, Coco and Gonzo defense) then totally turn it around (Manny jack, Pena bomb) and then blow it (Timlin vs Hafner) AND STILL WIN!!! It shouldn’t have happened, but it did and jumping up and down is a great way to beat the heat. Youk looked especially refreshed. When he ran on the field after the victory, the spray off his sphere bald noggin looked like surf hitting the rocks. Equal parts gross and funny.

Top moments of the night? Besides Loretta making me squeal like a girl, Wily Mo cranking one into the monster is up there. That ball was still going up hard when it hit the first row of seats. You get in front of that and they need to identify you through dental records. That ball would have been out of most national parks (where buffalo graze, not the NL).

Back to the game winner… does anyone else feel bad for that Fausto Carmona kid? Besides the fact that I can’t say his name right (I think I called him Carmine Falcone) and that Eric Wedge keeps leaving out there to die, is he starting to get that Donnie Moore look to him or what? Two walk offs in three games? They should take his shoelaces and belt away from him before they leave him alone in the locker room.

The last game of this series is Beckett vs Westbrook. Is it too much to ask for the mercury to drop a bit? I hope the only thing hot tomorrow is Hazel Mae and the Sox bats. GO SOX.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Can Poe Pitch?

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore:Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me I implore!"

Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

Game 105: The Bad, The Worse, and the Ugly

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Cleveland Indians 6

"God is on our side because he hates the Yanks!"
"God is not on our side because he hates idiots also."

Let’s take it from the top. Jason “why the hell am I starting” Johnson was the best he has ever been. The problem is that 5 2/3 innings and 3 runs isn’t really that good when you compare it to Sabathia’s 8 innings and one lousy run (Loretta HR) performance. Also, the bullpen and defense (remember our strengths?) weren’t able to keep us in it either. Basically it was a pooch screw without the pooch. The suddenly awful Hansen and Corey (who?) were just as much to blame as Johnson… naw who am I kidding? I’m gonna heap it all on Johnson!! Come on, It’s fun!

As quiet as the Sox bats were, they did manage to threaten in the 9th with a Gonzo blast, but it was all for naught. Even the terrible Cleveland bullpen (they make Tavarez and Seanez look like all-stars) wasn’t able to get us back in this one. But hold on… that’s just the bad news.

The Yankees were able to hold the Blue Jays to one run and tie us for the lead of the AL East (actually .002 percentage points behind the Yanks). Yeah, life really sucks, but don’t worry… it gets worse.

Our captain, your captain, my captain… THE Jason Varitek is going to have surgery on that dilapidated knee of his. Is he done for the season, or just out 3-4 weeks? Not sure but both scenarios suck. With Nixon out, Wakefield hurt and the trade deadline past, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. Who wants to start the “I heart Ken Huckaby” jokes? Oh, I’m tenth in line? Damn.

This is the ankle grabbing part of the season. Do we end up in second place with the wild card (or more likely out of the playoffs) or do we muscle through and win the division for the first time in more years than Papelbon, Lester, Hansen and Delcarman have been driving? Right now it’s anybody’s guess… but it doesn’t look good.

Lester… can you save us from this misery? We’ll see. Go Sox.