Friday, June 29, 2007

Game 78: Somebody get my pills

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 2, Texas Rangers 1

If you’re like me then you’re pumping your fist and clutching your chest at the same. I hope all Sox fans with heart problems have now been hospitalized and are in stable condition. How do we keep pulling out these wins? The Sox can’t hit (especially not with men on base), they don’t score runs (especially not in the late innings), and they can’t catch a guy stealing (especially not Kenny Lofton).

What the Sox CAN do is pitch freaking lights out and that’s exactly what they did today… but it wasn’t easy. Wake went 6 and 2 thirds strong (ummm “scattered hits/walks” strong) but left in a jam with two on and two out. MDC came in and proceeded to walk the bases loaded before facing Sammy Sosa. You remember him? The guy with 600+ career homeruns? Well Delcarmen struck him out. Cue increased pulse.

The Sox tried to help Wake in the bottom of the 6th but couldn’t get a run in with the bases loaded and only 1 out. In fact, the toothless Sox left 11 men on base and had runners on in every inning but the first. Somebody do the Heimlich cause the bats are choking. Cue abnormal heart beat.

Then after a brilliant 8th by Oki (who should be up there with Pedroia and Dice K in the rookie of the year talks), Paps comes in all bloodthirsty and starts to feed on the Texas lineup. That is until Lofton (4-4 with 4 stolen bases) puts up a 100,000 pitch at bat and ends up beating Paps to the bag on a swinging bunt. Frankly (he was out) I thought the play (he was out) was too close to call (he was #%^@ing out). This rattled Paps enough that he nearly breaks Hairston's wrist in the next AB. So it’s 2 on, 2 out and Young at the plate. After another 100,000 pitches Paps gets him looking. Game Over. Cue massive coronary.

I’m fed up! I have reached my limit with this squeaking by crap. The Sox need to start blowing teams or the stress will send me over the edge. Tomorrow I want to see the Sox lay down some extra base hits, crooked numbers and calls for the mercy rule. I’m begging you! Hurry before I have the big one.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Game 77: What a &%#!ing Waste

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, Seattle Mariners 2

Eight innings of high-quality dominance from Matsuzaka and no one could string together enough hits to score one measly additional run? I would have happily taken a blow-out on Tuesday in exchange for more run support yesterday; I could have gone to bed earlier one night and had the satisfaction of seeing at least one win in the deadly confines of Safeco. Instead, this pile of BS: eleven men left on base, six men stranded in scoring position and not a single run knocked in without surrendering an out. Eleven innings of excellent pitching, ending on a walk and a double and Ichiro's speedy legs, the end of the best road record in the MLB and a sweep to boot...hell, it makes me want to boot.

What's even worse is that, like the fight-loving gentleman Robin and I met at the Hairy Monk a couple of years ago, the Red Sox brought this loss upon themselves: two straight nights of starting pitcher weakness, culminating in complete bullpen drain that couldn't keep things scoreless long enough for the offense to pull the stick out and do some damage. It's a little incongruous: the Sox possess (by half a game) the best record in baseball and Seattle...well, they're doing pretty well this year, but they wouldn't lead a division in the NL, let alone pull out the domination switch. For Boston to win at least one game a series, even on the road, doesn't seem like a complete impossibility.

Being a curious, scientifically-minded person, I decided to see if there's any sort of historical basis for this level of suckitude. As it turns out, it's been a particularly lopsided century for Boston/Seattle matchups: Boston has won the season series twice (2003 and 2004), tied it once (2005) and lost every other year. Team ERA during those years: except for two years, consistently above 4.00. When Boston plays Safeco (six games a year, half the time - the scheduling gods are not kind), the numbers get even worse: one tie (2005 again) and six losses. With all of this consistent butt-kicking, I think it's time to paraphrase Pedro: "They beat [us]. They're that good right now. They're that hot. [We] just tip [our] hat[s] and call the [Mariners our] daddy." I just hope the Sox find a way to turn the tables next year.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Game 76: Hail to the King, Baby

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, Seattle Mariners 8

Now I remember why having a decent bullpen is important: it keeps games from seesawing back and forth, like last night's toothless wonder. Sure, the Sox got to King Felix and his ineffective fastball early and often, keeping Boston in the game with six runs over the first six innings, but every time the Sox would establish a lead - or tie the game - Seattle had an offensive answer that kept this frustrating game going tit-for-tat far too late into the night.

Hernandez may have been nowhere near the dominating powerhouse he was on his last outing against Boston on April 11, but (once again) he still managed to outpitch Boston's starter, as the once glorified and exalted Gabbo...well, not to put to fine a point on it, but he sucked. Long and hard, with enough walks to turn the base paths into a treadmill for Mariners. Lord knows where the kid's command went, but it wasn't with him last night. However, according to the Herald, Gabbo will get another shot to prove himself again next week - Tito is not going to use the off day on Thursday to rejigger the rotation to cover for Schilling's second missed start. Having a ten game lead on the competition does give you the opportunity to experiment, I guess...

Speaking of Tito, what was up with his decision to leave MDC in for more than an inning last night? I know we're a bit short on relievers at the moment - a problem compounded by Joel Pineiro twisting his ankle in one of the more awkward ways possible - but MDC ain't no Kyle Snyder and his presence on the mound in the fifth made the bullpen look very, very thin. I'm a little surprised the Red Sox haven't called up another reliever to compensate, really - looking at the Sox pitching numbers against Seattle this year, poor pitching performance should now be the expectation, not the exception.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Game 75: Clueless in Seattle

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Seattle Mariners 9

Jeff “Freaking” Weaver? They only got 2 runs off Jeff Weaver? Except for the playoffs last year this guy has been a disaster his entire career and the Sox only manage to put up 2 runs? Another dozen left on base probably contributed. That’s pathetic.

Almost as pathetic as the meltdown Tavarez had today. Man… even saying that I can’t really blame him. He has been pitching out of his mind for a month and considering he is normally out of his mind anyway, you just have to assume this was going to happen eventually. He lost his control and his marbles in the bottom of the 5th and it kinda steam rolled from there. With the bases jacked, his replacement Kyle Snyder got walk happy and I got grumpy. This pitching disaster continued in 7th when Timlin showed up to push things completely out of reach. The emerging pattern of ‘ol Mike Timlin turning 3 run deficits into 6 run deficits has to stop. He’s like the awful old relative that turns an awkward uncomfortable family reunion into a memory you hope you can repress later in life. And just like that creepy uncle, Timlin is going to give Sox Nation huge therapy bills this year.

But there are some people I can’t blame this loss on. A few players I have had issues with this season have managed to really turn it around. First Pedroia started to (and continues to) throw together a rookie of the year season and then the unthinkable happened. The outfield started to hit. Coco has looked great with his new batting stance and no media stance and Drew is really taking to his roll as leadoff hitter. He gets on base and Coco gets hits down the line. Now if either of them could play short stop… well… that’s too much to wish for.

So it’s the same old story. Not enough clutch hits, a bad inning coming back to haunt the pitching staff and another 0-fer performance from Lugo. I just hope we’ve entered some alternate dimension where the Sox can’t hit Jeff Weaver, but King Felix is a pushover. I’ll take anything as long as it’s better than the last time we faced him.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Passing of a Fantastic Mustache

Rod Beck August 3, 1968 – June 23, 2007

Not all great men show their greatness with their profession. Rod Beck showed his greatness on his face. I know “Shooter” wasn’t the best relief pitcher later in career, he always had a few extra pounds, his mullet scared children, and he sure didn’t get the job done for the Sox in his 1999-2001 stint in Boston…

But look at the man. That was one amazing mustache. Sal Fasano wishes he could carry that a stache like that. He can’t. Beck was one of a kind.

Beck, who died Saturday at his home in Phoenix, was a Red Sox “character” and not just a baseball player. There aren’t enough real “characters” left in baseball and the passing of Beck really makes me furious at guys like Johnny Damon who squandered their gifts.

Besides hall-of-fame facial hair, Beck was an all around good guy, too. I am just trying to imagine the chemistry of that pitching staff in 1999. Beck, Sabes, Wake, Wasdin, D-Lowe, El Guapo, Pedro and his brother Ramon? Can you see the unlimited possibility for hilarity and hijacks?

Remember when Pedro, Beck and El Guapo got Pat Rapp drunk, shaved off all his body hair and shipped him to Cancun in a box labeled “Giant Hairless Chihuahua” while D-Lowe robbed his locker and banged his wife?* Those were the golden days of baseball.

So, Godspeed Rodney Roy Beck. You’re going to facial hair heaven with Salvador Dali and President Taft. You’re among the hairy angels now.

*event may not have happened

Games 73 and 74: The Epic Journey

Final Scores:

Game 73: Boston Red Sox 1, San Diego Padres 6
Game 74: Boston Red Sox 4, San Diego Padres 2

Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you. Sometimes these games are just a cultural disaster and there's nothing you can do but shake your head and wonder about Petco's reputation as a pitcher's park - is it some sort of rumor designed to lull you into a false sense of security, like the pool hall shark who tells you he's not very good before he takes all of your money? Seems like the case for Wakefield on Saturday, as his baffling pitch hung in the air and invited whacks - eight hits in all - and scores - all six runs - in the total opposite of its usual function and intended result. In other words: nine mile per hour winds out to right field don't make a floater bob and weave. The Sox suffered the result, even as they gifted Padres pitcher Chris Young with eleven strikeouts and the win over seven innings.

Sunday afternoon and fans are abuzz: the victory of the series hangs in the balance and each team's winningest pitcher would take the mound: Beckett for Boston, Peavy for San Diego. Truly a battle for the ages in the making, if not one that played out on the mound: Peavy left after five innings, nine hits and three runs, his pitch count at 111 and his effort wasted. Meanwhile, Josh Beckett, like a king of Sparta (the last Ron Burgundy joke, I promise), pitched balls nasty and godlike strong - the only way a king of Sparta would pitch, of course - throwing eight innings and striking out eight. Save for Paps on a perfect ninth and voila: Josh Beckett has more wins than any other pitcher in the majors, halfway to a (dare I say it?) 20+ win season.

Thus the weekend, which passed through a turn of tragedy and redemption, a progression from hubris to downfall to rise in triumph, covered in glory and a strong Interleague record. Tonight the season journey continues in Seattle (Again? Ugh.), with the JT Killer looking to improve his already impressive June with another win. Go Sox!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Game 72: Dice-K and His Wonderful Imperfections

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 2, San Diego Padres 1

I'd say Dice-K's line of one run, five hits, five walks, nine strikeouts and a win in six innings was an odd combination that usually leads to failure, but looking at Matsuzaka's game logs from this year a pattern of consistent inconsistency emerges: Dice-K will strike out 10 and lose, then strike out 10 and win. He'll turn five hits and five walks into a seven run deficit in Seattle, escaping with a no decision, or do the same thing in San Diego for a close win. Expect the unexpected from the Zen Master, because each start is like a little jewel pulled from a mine, with its own flaws and imperfections and unknown real-world value. You have to watch carefully to see what you're going to get each night Matsuzaka comes to the mound.

Speaking of flaws and imperfections, does anyone know why last night was 1982 throwback jersey night? Besides wondering when I was going to see Wade Boggs stride out of the dugout and thinking that the Padres old uniforms only really work when accompanied by a well-developed porn 'stache, I was a little baffled by the choice. Was it for charity? Was it to mark the Red Sox visit, or because so many Red Sox executives got their start in San Diego? Who knows. Maybe tonight they'll put out the camo unis.

In any case, after Dice-K walked the bases loaded in the first and somehow escaped surrendering just a one-run single, the Sox took just enough from Maddux to get by, scoring their two runs on four singles; solidly-hit, well-placed balls that escaped the infield with just enough speed to do the necessary damage. Lopez, MDC, Okajima and Paps surrender two hits over three innings to end the night and win number 47 belongs to Boston. As both teams prepare for round two tonight, there's really only one thing to say: "You stay classy, San Diego."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Game 71: Boomstick

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 11, Atlanta Braves 0

Did you feel that? That was the Red Sox Hammer. And if you were watching the game tonight you saw it fall HARD on that Braves team. 11 runs, 15 hits, 5 HR and a bodybag for that guy Carlyle. The beach balls he was throwing in the first 3 innings weren’t fooling anybody. The strikeouts he managed to get were because the hitters were so SHOCKED that the change up stayed so far up in the zone and were swinging under it… those mistakes were quickly corrected. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see that Manny and Ortiz have found their boomsticks. What makes it even MORE special is that they seemed to have shared the recipe for ultimate power with Coco and Drew. Hell! Even Hinske was in on the fun. Gotta love the full team dog pile. It’s like they smell blood in the water and everyone needs to get their bite. Except Lug0-for-5. He’s batting .201 right now. Just saying.

Not that any of this mattered. The 7 innings of 3 hit ball from Julian Tavarez saw to that. How scary is it that this guy has been so good lately that I am worried that they might replace him with Lester? This is the #5 starter with the mental issues! What other team can claim a #5 guy with a 5-4 record and a 4.50 ERA? He puts the “crazy” into “crazy good” and doesn’t show signs of slowing down.

***Huge aside*** I have heard a few anecdotal sources (including the ESPN guys tonight) say that Tavarez is throwing a junk ball. He goes to the forehead quite often and held on to the ball a lot tonight so I can see where people might come up with this idea of “doctoring” the ball. I just want to go on the record as saying that I don’t think ANY of this is true and I attribute his last few victories on human sacrifice and baby punching. And if you call that cheating then I don’t know what to say to you.

Anyway, an appearance by Joel and Tim lin (mop up guys) couldn’t even damper the spirits on this one. Pop the corks people! The Sox are 21 games over .500 and now 10 games up on the Yankees.

Anything negative from today? Well sure… Schilling is going on the DL which may make room for Lester or Gabbard, Lowell got another day off cause of his hand injury and Drew was removed after going 2 for 2 for “safety” reasons (aka Francona knows Drew is made of balsa wood or that dance he did with Papi hurt his hammys). But none of this can bring down this Sox team. Everyone looks like they’re having fun and I can really see the clubhouse chemistry forming. And now that everyone seems to have pulled out of their slumps (Except Lugo who is batting .201) the Sox are primed to go on a mid season tear.

Stay hot for San Diego guys. I hear that town is named after a whale’s vagina.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Game 70: Josh Beckett and the Big Bang

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Atlanta Braves 0

I'm convinced that for the first third of last night's game, the Sox and Braves played in Bizarro World, a land where - along with Bizzaro versions of Superman and Lois Lane - Tim Hudson (6.26 ERA and a WHIP of 1.62 over 69 innings against Boston) dominates the Red Sox and Josh Beckett (2.45 ERA and a WHIP of 1.21 over 88.1 innings against Atlanta) struggles to keep Braves runners off the bases. By the end of the third inning, the Braves had four base runners to the Red Sox one. One of these runners even made it to third base before Beckett finally escaped, leaving me (and many of you too, I'd guess) to wonder when the (Bizarro) tomahawk would finally drop and draw first blood.

Fortunately, Atlanta would have no such luck. With two outs in the fourth, Big Papi strode to the plate and took the fifth pitch he saw 380 feet for his twelfth home run, shouldering open a crack in the walls of reality and returning the game back to its normal, non-Bizarro context. Ortiz's home run set the stage for the next two innings, where Beckett turned into the balls-out nasty pitcher we know and love, hit a double to score Alex Cora, came around to score as part of a two-run fifth and generally made life miserable for his hosts. He left after a 48-minute rain delay skewed time between the sixth and seventh innings, secure in his tenth win and continued awesomeness.

Even with the reassuring news that Schilling's arm isn't about to fall off, Beckett's slide-stopping performance last night was psychologically important: temporarily down a key member of the staff, facing a long road trip to parts out West with the series win on the line, Boston needed a win to keep things on the positive and out of another slump. Tonight the JT Killer looks to build on that positive note a win in game three.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Game 69: Curt-tailed

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Atlanta Braves 9

Ok, so the Braves are a hot team and the Sox are in a bit of a prolonged slump… but there is just no way to survive a pitching performance like the stinker Schilling dropped on us today. I mean wow. Two ass spankings in a row for the guy who wants an extended contract? Was it the one hitter? Was it the fact that he had to bat? Well , you can’t blog your way out of this one Schill. This was on your head.

If he wasn’t bad enough, Joel and Timlin sealed the deal with a 3 run in 2 inning performance that made me grimace through my beer. Let’s just call them the dark side of the bullpen. It really makes me sad that the old workhorse Timlin is now resigned to the “up by 4 runs, down by 4 runs” duty. Long gone are the days when he is the go-to-guy.

The bats were as inconsistent as they have been… with 2 glaring exceptions. Drew had a homerun, and Coco had 2. Everyone ok? Do you need a moment to collect yourselves? Yeah I said “homeruns”… why are you looking at me like that? You’re going pale and getting woozy? Just steady yourself and hold tight. I promise I’m not lying. I know it can be quite a shock when 90% of the offense comes from the guys who aren’t hitting. We’ll get Papi back in the lineup tomorrow and all will be well… maybe.

Enough with this back and forth BS. Paging doctor Beckett…. I need 9 innings of domination STAT.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Game 68: The Big Hitting Glow

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 9, San Francisco Giants 5

Did the Sox achieve a bloody, messy victory for Father's Day 2007? Most definitely - a victory well-worth Tim Wakefield's rising ERA and even (though I hate to say it) the home run he surrendered to Barry "*" Bonds. A golden slice of heaven, a sweep (!) that soothes the mind of a Red Sox fan so much more because for three reasons: first, it upped the gap over the dangerous Yankees up to 8.5 games; second, after two weeks of weak play and two lost series, a series sweep fits in well to that old joke about the similarities between sex and oxygen: sweeps are only important when you're not getting them.

The third reason is by far the most important: the Red Sox are really, legitimately hitting again, or at least I'm going to say so because the extended dry spell had me so freaked out that even two (non-consecutive) heavy-offense days will need to stand in as the steel and flint to spark a return to hitting normality. In other words, I'm willing to pin my hopes on this weekend's efforts, because the Sox have the mother of all evil road trips coming up and need to keep hitting.

So, let's revel in the glory of yesterday's hitting: the only starters not to get hits were Lugo (ugh) and Wily Mo, but Wily Mo left after three at-bats for Crisp, who got a single in the eighth. J.D. Drew as lead-off continues to pay unexpected dividends, as Drew converted a hit and two walks into two runs thanks to a strong showing by the heart of the lineup: no less than 2 for 4 for Papi, Manny and Youk, topped by another Man-Ram bomb. Even better, the Sox took the lead early with two runs in the first, then took the game away with a gorgeous five-run explosion in the third. I don't know about you, but I'm still basking in the happy glow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Game 67: Although I Wear a Smile, I Am Not a Happy Man

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, San Francisco Giants 0

Talk about skin of your teeth. There were so many ways this could have gone bad, but Dice K kept his head JUST above water for seven innings. Like a hero from some bad 1920’s radio serial, he kept getting into these amazing jams and then just as things couldn’t get any worse, he squeezed his way out without any sign of damage. Bases loaded? Nothing a few well placed strikeouts can’t fix. Runners in scoring position? A little infield pop-up will solve that problem like gangbusters. Food burning to the bottom of your wok? Call Dice K cause he got the non stick coating.

The man from Japan has been a bit underrated as of late. So far this month he has a 2.25 ERA and 25 K’s. That’s a pretty healthy June. It’s too bad he has 1 win and 2 losses to show for it. Dice K seems to have contracted the “no run support virus” from Wakefield. And it’s not just those two. The Sox bats have a way of sniffing out a fantastic pitching performance and then those same bats decide to take a break and let it do its thing. They have now won 7 games where they’ve scored 3 runs or less. Good pitching, good bullpen, bad bats.

Luckily Manny’s solo shot stood up even with a little drama from Okajima (when he K’ed Bonds with two men on and it showed all the “*” signs in stands I fell over laughing). Still, as Paps got his 16th save I was cursing the fact that it wasn’t Timlin being brought in for mop up duty in a 10-0 rout. They need to start consistently destroying teams again. Making pitchers pay for every mistake and making sure that every base runner counts. The offense needs to step up and create some room for error because not every start will be a 7 inning gem like this.

But if every start was I wouldn’t complain.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Game 66: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 10, San Francisco Giants 2

"We've replaced Eric's normal Boston Red Sox with a team that can drive in runs...let's see if he notices."

Hell yeah, baby! And as an added bonus, the Yankees pretended Clemens was still an Astro, scoring no runs against their crosstown rivals and pushing the Al East advantage to 8.5 games in favor of the Sox. Now when I see my brother-in-law Danny this weekend, I have a comeback to his taunts over the standings change and Boston's recent change in fortunes! Sweet!

Seriously though: either pod people replaced Drew (three for four with three runs), Lugo (0 for two with two walks two runs) and Crisp (one for three with a walk and two runs) and pumped Pedroia (a perfect five for five and a triple shy of the cycle) full of awesome juice, DC should go into the prediction business, or JT Killer came off that iffy first inning with a fire in his eyes and a sharp knife in his hand, threatening to gut his teammates like chickens (or one of Mike Timlin's deer kills) if the Sox didn't make up the two runs he gave up to the Giants in the first.

After that, was like something changed. Drew gets plunked on the sleeve to start, Pedroia turned one of his Massive Cuts™ into a homer in the next at-bat and (as Robin started screaming while jumping around my living room), it was a whole new ballgame. Papi got tossed on a BS call by an ump whose strike zone seemed to stretch and mutate like mercury on a counter top, but the Sox soldiered on, hitting Zito like they always do by picking up another run in the third, a cluster of three in the fourth, another run in the sixth and three more in the eighth to take the first game of this series firmly in hand. Maybe I've become a drowning man desperately grasp at straws, but the ease of tonight's victory speaks to me of a sea change in the world of Boston baseball: the Red Sox offense is back, baby. Let the domination continue!

Friday, June 15, 2007

I Must Break You

DC and I were talking this morning and he mentioned that he entered a state of emotional numbness regarding our favorite team. In an effort to pull him out of the Sox-induced tailspin - and because I wanted some new material - I goaded him into writing about Barry Bonds and his first visit to Fenway. As always, I hope you enjoy.

With the Giants coming to town this weekend for the first time ever and a mere ten home runs separating Hank Aaron from second place all-time, it’s time to talk about Barry Bonds. Now, my position on him is very clear: for about 2 seasons now I’ve been saying that if I was a pitcher I’d throw at him every time, fines and suspensions be damned. I figure in this day and age where pitch counts rule the world, 1 is better than 4 and it takes 4 balls to pitch around Barry and 1 to drill him. It’s very simple math. And while there are plenty of big questions about this series – can the Sox get off this free fall that they’re on, can the bats wake up against Zito, Cain & Morris – the most important one is: Will anyone have the guts to take Barry out? That’s why I present to you with the pros and cons of beaning Barry:

  • The guy is a jerk! He hates everyone! He hates the media, he hates his teammates, he hates the fans, and he even hates the legends of the game that aren’t named Willie Mays. And he’s very open with his hatred for others. Honestly, I bet every time Barry gets hit every reporter, fan, umpire, and player in the league celebrates a little inside. I certainly do and I bet you do, too.
  • It not only keeps the pitcher’s name off the list of guys who contributed to his pursuit of the record that nobody wants him to have, but also guarantees him a spot on every highlight show in the country (especially if he hits Barry hard).
  • If we’re lucky, he’ll charge the mound (as much as Barry can charge anything these days – he’s so slow the bullpen catcher will take him out before he gets there) and get a big suspension. Bud Selig will then secretly deliver the plunking pitcher a big suitcase full of $100 bills to say thanks.
  • The way Barry hangs over the plate, we might just get the double whammy of hitting him AND getting a strike call. Now tell me that isn’t a story for the grandkids.
  • If you’re JT Psycho you have everything to gain. You’re headed back to the pen in a month or so and when you’re a set up guy your greatest asset is how crazy people think you are. So JT, your best move is to hit Barry and then charge HIM to finish the job!
  • If you’re Dice-K, what better way to win over the league? Everyone knows that Japanese players love the history of baseball and Dice-K told everyone how excited he was to toe the same rubber as Babe Ruth. The odds are good that he hates Barry as much as anyone. So riddle me this… what’s the Japanese word for “chin music”?
  • If you’re Wake, you’ve been saving up this fastball for your entire career. Everyone thinks you’re an old man with no power in that right arm. Imagine how effective your knuckleball would be after the league saw you break Barry’s humerus… THROUGH THE ARMOR! And you’re just old school enough to do it.
  • All of Barry’s fans will hate you. That means you can probably never set foot in San Francisco or Barry’s mom’s house. Other than that you should be fine. So what are you really missing out on here? Some hills, earthquakes and a fluorescent orange bridge? I bet the city is still rebuilding after the filming of the chase scene in The Rock. You know what? This point might actually be a Pro.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not hoping anything really bad happens to Barry. It’s always sad to see someone get really injured. I’m just talking bad enough that he has to quit playing. Of course at this point he wear so much armor that throwing a baseball at him is like trying to take out one of the knights of the round table with a spit wad blown from a straw, but I can hope can’t I? Yeah, I can hope.

My hope for the weekend: Three game sweep on the backs of great pitching AND hitting. 3 home runs for Drew, hits galore for Coco and Lugo and the best fastball of Timmy Knuckles’ career. Why Knuckles? Because he’s my boy and always has been. And also because I really want to see Barry charge the mound with Belli catching. At this point I think he’d protect his pitcher the way a kid at fat camp protects his stash of twinkies. And so if Timmy Knuckles didn’t get the job done, that big crazy Italian probably will.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Game 65: We Suck

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, Colorado Rockies 7
This baffles me. Really. I had the hardest time writing anything about this mess. I have been without words for hours just running the replay in my mind and staring at the box score. Here are some of the alternate titles I came up with while trying to write a post on this disaster:

The Cookie Crumbles
Broken Beckett
Josh Beckett Vintage 2006
Rocky Mountain Lows
Failure to Start
A Short Story Involving Poor Hitting, Poor Pitching and Violence
Lugo, Drew, and Coco: Wastes of Space or Wastes of Money?
Drew Leading Off and Other Terrible Ideas
I’m Down With LOB
It Takes a Village… to Leave That Many People on Base
This Was the Easy Series
Who the HELL is Jeff Francis?

Why Crappy Timlin When Delcarman Goes Wanting?
Lugo is Hitting .212!!! How is That Even Possible?
10 Runs in 5 Games and Other Stats That Make Me Cry
It Only Gets Worse
From 14 ½ to 7 ½
Yankees in the Rearview Mirror are Closer Than They Appear

And that’s it! That’s all I got. I am freaking fed up with this lack of everything good we had in the first 2 months of the season. Now add that to the fact that the Yankees haven’t lost in 2 weeks… and all that gloating I did earlier looks rather silly.

Yup… rather silly.

Game 64: Curt Schilling is Consistently Inconsistent

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 2, Colorado Rockies 12

Before I go into a rant about the failures of the offense, I want to talk about an odd and disturbing trend in Schillling's pitching, a trend that may spell disaster for the Sox - or at least a lot of bad nights for RSN: over the past month, Schilling has consistently alternated between good and bad starts like clockwork. During that time (starting May 12, when he gave up four runs and got a no decision when Lopez allowed an inherited runner to score), Schilling's had three starts where he's given up four to five earned runs, alternated with three starts where he's given up zero to two earned runs. My current working theory is that he gets pissed off after a bad start, pitches his brains out in his next outing, then gets complacent and has another bad start that gets him pissed off again. If so, that's gotta be a tough way to pitch, especially for a guy looking for a contract for next year.

Last night was true to the pattern: after dominating the A's for Boston's only California win on June 7, Schilling gave up two earned runs (et tu, Lowell? Where did your glove go?) in the first two innings, retired seven in a row, gave up two singles to start the fifth, got the next two outs easily, then surrendered the three-run homer to Brad Hawpe that effectively ended his night. During that nine out stretch, however, Schilling gave up more near-miss foul balls (i.e., foul balls that missed the fair side of the foul pole by mere feet) than I have fingers and toes to count on and Hawpe's home run was more of the dropping of the other shoe than an unexpected shock.

So much for Schilling, who will probably come out throwing flames for his next start on Monday against the Braves. The rest of the game was a battle of mediocrity, as the bullpen and the offense fought to see who was more useless. In the end, Red Sox bats connected for eight hits but left seven men on base, while the bullpen surrendered six runs in four innings, so I'd say the real winners were - not surprisingly - the Rockies. And the Yankees, who are now within 8.5 games. Not to overstate the obvious, fellas, but some hitting would really help turn this messy situation around.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Game 63: That’ll Do Pig

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 2, Colorado Rockies 1

Tim Wakefield’s scowl will be slightly softer tonight thanks to J.D. Drew. One out, bases loaded, 8th inning of a tie game and in steps Drew of the many underperforming batters (oh and we’ll get to the rest of them later) that happen to be in Boston’s lineup. Does he hit it out of the park? No. Does he get an extra base hit? Not so much. A single? A walk? An error? No, no, no… but he hit it juuuuust hard enough to score Cora from third. That’ll do pig, that’ll do.

Wake was unstoppable. 8 innings of “how the hell can that ball dance like that?” pitches and hard swingers like Holliday and Helton looked silly. Paps came in and shut the door hard. 97 mph looks like 197 mph when you were trying to swat a knuckleball all day. It was Wake that set the table for the win though. He was the Wake we knew from the beginning of season… same run support too.

The most positive thing that happened offensively today had to be the formation of the lineup. Pedroia and Youk leading off looked mighty fine tonight. Sure the bottom of the lineup Coco, Mirabelli and Lugo look like 3 guys they picked off the street, and SURE Pedroia and Youk didn’t perform as well as we know they can… but at least Francona is thinking about the problem.

So can we live with the crappy underperforming 8 and 9 spots? I say yes and I hope they stay with this for a few nights (weeks). Now go get some runs.

News and Notes While Waiting for the Julio Lugo to get on Base

So I’m on vacation out here on Cape Cod (in the pouring rain) with nothing to do but watch TV, read Red Sox rumors and eat fried sea food (mmm). I’d be at the beach except it’s only 50 degrees and Noah is outside looking for two of every animal… that’s neither here nor there. Let’s talk Sox news.

Lester staying in AAA: I’m ok with this. He needs to make 2 or 3 more “look guys I’m ok” starts and get ready to carry the back end of this staff. Besides they still haven’t found the best drug cocktail to subdue Tavarez when he informed he’s going back to the pen. But let's not wait too long. I would like to see Lester before someone gets hurt and we have no choice but to call him up.

Helton to the Sox? To the Yanks?: With Colorado coming to town the rumors of Helton moving to the northeast still persist. Lowell plus a young arm to the Rockies for Todd Helton seemed likely before the season started, but it fell through. Now the Yanks need a hard hitting first baseman and Helton is still flagged as available. This makes more sense for them right now (Helton said he wants to go to a contender) but what would the Yankees trade for him? Not sure if there is a match here unless the Rockies decide to pull a Philadelphia from last year and ok a trade that would be vetoed in a heartbeat in your fantasy league. If the Red Sox don’t plan to keep Lowell, I would thing getting Helton and moving Youk to third again would be a good deal… but we may need to wait till the off-season for this to pan out.

Lugo to the bottom of a well: Well maybe not a well but at least to the back of the batting order. This guy is doing so poorly he should be batting 11th. Forget leadoff, I don’t think Lugo should be in the two spot. Moving the hot hitting Perdoia up might make the lineup a little top heavy, but they need to get people on base for Papi and Manny to smack in. Lugo shouldn’t have more RBI than runs and he shouldn’t weigh more than his OBP. Bat him 8th for awhile so I can start complaining about Coco again.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Game 62: Still Not Hitting

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, Arizona Diamondbacks 5

Someone seems to have forgotten to tell Randy Johnson he's 10,000 years old. That's the only reason I can think of to explain his complete and utter nine strikeout domination of the Olde Towne Team yesterday evening under the warm, sunny roof of Chase Field. I'm pretty sure the best shot the Sox had at a win was in the first, when they pushed runners to first and second with two outs but failed to score any runs. After that, the one run in the fourth was exciting, but a sense of doom soon settled on the field as it became clear that there would be no repeats of Friday's blowout.

The Red Scare did their best to compound the issue. After a solid six innings from Matsuzaka, who suffered a bit from the base on balls (4) but kept the score within a run, the bullpen toed the line for an inning, then completely fell apart in the eighth. Donnelly puts the lead runner on for the second inning in a row and hits the showers. Javier Lopez walks the only man he sees. Mike Timlin...well, Mike Timlin was Old Man Timlin yesterday, much to the glee of the insurance-seeking Diamondbacks. He did get three outs, but not before allowing three runs to score in a manner of such varied tomfoolery that it was as intellectually interesting (how did he manage to throw to first that way on a bunt right to him?) to watch as it was painful. Thus Timlin and pretty much the remainder of the game.

J.D. Drew didn't play yesterday, so his hitting streak remains intact at three games, with the potential for more peeking over the horizon against Colorado. In the meantime, he and every other hitter on the Red Sox will have tonight to brood over why they've stopped hitting consistently, why they keep hitting into double plays, having to play small ball to move over runners, keep missing the important hit that would score runs, etc. Maybe I wouldn't worry so much, but the Yankees are finally starting to come to life - as expected - and are now within 10 games for the first time in months.

Speaking of hitting, DC and I were just having a discussion about clutch hitting and how this year's team doesn't seem to have the clutch, come-from-behind luster that recent Red Sox teams have sported. I can't find a stat from come-from-behind victories (anyone know where to find one?) but even though the Sox continue to score more runs in the eighth inning than any other time, they don't inspire a lot of comeback confidence when push comes to shove. However, because feelings aren't very scientific, I did some more stat math and found a good numeric justification for the lack of confidence: runs per inning per game.

As it turns out, while the Sox score 0.84 runs per game in the eighth inning (their top-scoring inning), they only score 0.48 runs per game in the ninth inning, their second worst score overall. While this stat doesn't take into account games where the Sox are winning coming into the ninth inning (on the road) or games where they come from behind to win before the ninth inning, it does mean that if the Sox are losing in the ninth, they really are less likely to score the runs they need to win.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Game 61: The Offense Gets Low(ell)-Tek

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Arizona Diamondbacks 3

Things I love? One run victories, extra inning wins, strong deep bullpens and clutch hits. Things I hate? Nail biting in late innings, leaving men on base and ummm Julio Lugo.

I’ll get to that last item in a second, but first let me reflect on this titanic comeback victory over this desert dwelling foe. Seriously, it looked like it was 230 degrees by game time… how do you play in this heat? I sweat through my pants just watching them take the field. Tavarez don’t sweat (he bleeds) and managed to pitch a solid 6 innings only giving up 3 runs. He through about 500 pitches an inning, but still had enough for a bloop single/bunt/monstrosity type deal when called upon to hit. Not that his pitching mattered, cause the bats were dead again. Ugly times at the plate through 5 innings.

Then Tek said “Enough with this garbage” and put one into the seats in the 6th inning. If that weren’t enough, he also tied it with a double in the 8th to prove that:

a) Yes he IS the man
b) No you CAN’T touch him

Phenomenal performance by the captain who had a chance to be an ultimate hero in the 10th with the bases loaded and no outs… but came up short with a swinging K. Not to worry though, cause pinch hitting master Mike “The Hammer” Lowell got a huge sac fly to put the Sox on top for good. Mmmmm happy pants.

The other heroes were the inhabitants of the Sox bullpen. Donnelly, Oki and Paps allowed no runs in 4 innings of work. Oki and Paps struggled a bit, but you couldn’t tell from the scoreboard. Deep breaths are ok as long as the job gets done.

And I guess that brings me to my only real gripe of the day. Julio Lugo is my new whipping boy. Unlike my past targets on this team, he can’t field like the nimble Coco and he can’t get the slap hits like Pedroia. Besides, those are the 8th and 9th batters… Lugo leads off. He needs to get his bat on the ball, NOT hit into double plays and for the love of Pete take a pitch so he can get on base. You know? Just to find out what it’s like out there.

If that was the only problem I could handle it… hell he hit a homer yesterday… but the other issue lies with his fielding, rather his inability to. Unlike Coco the vacuum, Lugo just sucks. He had an error in this game, but the “infield hits” that are really hotshots to his body are starting to pile-up at an alarming rate. It’s getting to the point where I hold my breath every time a ball is hit to the left side. Mr. Noglove McAwfulthrow is gonna boot it and throw it into the stands. I just know it!

Lugo you need to shape up or join the ranks of Nomar, O-cabs, Renteria and Gonzo. Actually, I wish you had the skills of any of those guys at this point. Maybe they should have kept one of them?

No no no… can’t let my head wonder too much into negative town. I love the win too much for that to happen. Sunday Dice-K gets to test his chops against RJ, the Big Unit. He needs to cut Randy down to size samurai style. HAI YAH!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Happy Trails, J.C. Romero

Mike "Golden Years" Timlin is back, which meant decision time for the Sox: who was the odd man out? Turns out, when push came to shove, J.C. Romero was the most expendable; he's been DFA'd. His departure is not particularly surprising: he's a lefty, which makes him expendable, he's one of three, which makes him even more so and even though he has a better ERA+ (by two points) than Javier Lopez (his heir apparent) his peripherals are weak: a WHIP of 1.95 is not a good thing.

With any luck, the Sox will find a minor leaguer or two in exchange for Romero on the market, although if Boston couldn't find a buyer prior to yesterday, there's no reason to think they will before his assignment period expires and he goes to free agency.

Game 60: The Tao of Drew

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 10, Arizona Diamondbacks 3

Hey! There's the offense! Welcome back, guys. Kicked off by a home run on Lugo on the sixth pitch of the game and lead by J.D. Drew's three for five, two home run, seven RBI explosion, there was more than enough hitting to keep Josh Beckett comfortable and in command for eight innings and his ninth win. After the losses in Oakland and Thursday's white-knuckler, it was very, very nice to have a smooth win.

So, J.D...was last night your breakout, or will this game be a flash in the pan - or even worse, a fluke series bolstered by your stellar numbers (OPS over 1100) against Arizona over the past three years? Are you living a case of sibling rivalry with your younger brother, Arizona shortstop Stephen? If so, can we trade for him and keep him on the bench so you keep hitting this way?

Since the science of predicting hot streaks is non-existent and statistics can only say that Drew should put up some nice numbers this year, there's no way of knowing whether or not last night was a fluke or the start of something wonderful. Color commentators (generally former ball players themselves) and newspaper columnists always seem to put the start of a hot streak on unmeasurable things like seeing the ball better, feeling more confident, etc. Drew has all of those things going for him right now - how could he not after knocking in most of last night's runs - and he's got two more games against Arizona to get some more hits and feel even better about his swing. I'm putting the money on Drew breaking out.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Game 59: I Can't Believe I Live Blogged This Game

The Red Sox still have the best record in baseball, but this losing streak is getting me down. THIS SHALL NOT STAND. I figure a good 'ol live blog should bust this wide open and push Schill and the Sox bats (woefully absent) over the top to salvage the series vs Oakland. I'll be back before game time with lineups, commentary and assorted garbage to help anyone reading this get through the doldrums of a Thursday afternoon.

Game Start- Whoops lost track of time... Sox lineup is as per normal except Pedroia is sitting for Cora. Maybe it was his off day but isn't this guy still red hot? Why are they sitting him? Anyway they are facing Joe Blanton (off a complete game shut out) and the A's lineup full of guys you would never draft in a fantasy league. Let's hope Schilling can keep them off the board. Oh and hits... somebody start to hit please.

1st- Wow. Blanton got off to a strong start getting Lugo and Youk to ground out weakly, but Papi (still pissed about last night obviously) SLAMMED one into the bleachers. Manny continues things with a line drive, but Drew predictably lines out to end the threat. Schilling gets the A's in order without much drama. Sox 1-A's 0

2nd- Blanton looks like he recovered shutting down the Sox 1,2,3 on 13 pitches. I may go freaking insane if this keeps up. Not sure if I like this ump... he's not giving Curt the inside corner. He manages to strike out Cust and Johnson anyway. Sox 1-A's 0

3rd- I'm not sure who I want to kill more, Blanton or the supposed "speed guys" in the Sox. Coco gets a weak fly ball, Lugo taps a weak ground ball. Ugly weak swings. Somehow Blanton still manages to get chippy with the home plate ump over balls and strikes. God these umps are awful. Schill is doing well... VERY well. Apparently someone reminded these A's hitters that they suck, cause they went in order quietly. Sox 1-A's 0

4th- J.D. Drew has seen 3 pitches and made 2 outs. I want to set him on fire but I'm afraid he wouldn't ignite. Another 13 pitch inning for Blanton. Curt is still looking good... VERY good. Three up and three down for the A's and Schill picked up his 3rd K. Sox 1-A's 0

5th- This is getting sad. The instant outs at the end of the lineup are causing spontaneous eye gouging across Sox Nation. Blanton just mows them down. I HATE LUGO... easy play and he boots it. Dan Johnson is the first baserunner for the A's, but Schilling isn't fazed and gets out of the inning untouched. Sox 1-A's 0

6th- Lugo strikes out and adds another paragraph to the hate letter I am composing. Ortiz gets a two out walk and Manny puts one out... and just foul. He pops out to end it... what happened to the BATS??? Ahem... I LOVE COCO CRISP! Another dead center basket catch in front of the wall. Amazing, but I still wish he could hit. Another great inning by Schilling. Sox 1-A's 0

7th- J.D. Drew got a hit! He seemed as shocked as I am. Sox put on the hit and run and it WORKS! Tek lines one up the middle and it's first and third. Holy offense Batman! Yeah well it was short lived because Cora and Coco were the next up... sigh. Some nasty infield defense helps Schilling in this inning, Lowell with a money throw and Youk with a sliding catch made for ANOTHER 1,2,3 inning. Schilling is throwing VERY VERY WELL. Sox 1-A's 0

8th- THEY CHASE BLANTON!! Not that anyone got a hit or anything, but Youk walked in front of Papi so the A's go for the lefty. Then something freaking weird happened. Papi bunted, Youk safe at second... then tries for an empty third? He's "fast" but not that fast. Dumb move Youk. Manny grounds out to end any threat. Schilling back in again... and the A's go down again. Gulp. Sox 1-A's 0

9th- Some guy named Lewis is pitching with a 4 digit ERA and the Sox still can't put anything together. It's expected at this point... I'm not even thinking about it. Out 1: I LOVE JULIO LUGO... now deleting my hate mail. Out 2: MORE LUGO LOVE! Big Gulp....NOOOOOOOOO freaking Shannon Stewart!! Oh my GOD! Lines a single into right field JUST past a diving Cora... un-freaking-real. Next hitter Mark Ellis pops out into foul ground. Game Over. Sox win off Papi's homer in the first and Schilling having an ALMOST date with destiny and a pitching performance for the ages. That's how you break a losing streak. Wheeew! I need a drink.

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, Oakland Athletics 0

Game 58: June Swoon

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 2, Oakland Athletics 3

Believe it or not, there were two moments of last night's game I actually enjoyed: first, seeing the Sox score their first runs in seventeen innings, by doing what they do best: putting the ball in play with enough room to spare. Manny doubling to lead off, Youkilis knocking him in with a triple, then coming home when Wily Mo hit a grounder to the left side of the infield. Sweet, sweet relief, like a baseball equivalent of rain in the desert footage played at high speed on a nature show, where the plant grows, uncurls and blooms in the span of about a minute. Of course, this bloom got to about half explosion before it fell over and the plant died, but it was something.

Second, Terry Francona completely losing it on a strike two call to Pedroia in the eighth. Or, more accurately, Francona loudly telling homeplate umpire Dan Iassogna - from the dugout - that he disagreed with the high strike call, getting tossed for his trouble then storming out of the dugout, exchanging some words with Iassogna then getting so angry he took out his gum/chem mix and threw it on the ground so he could give Iassogna the reaming of his life. The complaint wasn't entirely justified - nor was the ejection - but Iassogna had it coming: he'd been consistently inconsistent about the size and shape of his strike zone all night and had a made a terrible check swing call against Ortiz in the sixth. But more importantly (and this is what really made me feel good), Francona expressed what everyone on the bench and every Red Sox fan watching the game felt: this team has suddenly hit the brakes going 100 mph down the long train track to the post-season and it isn't fun to watch.

This morning I realized that the descriptor we're looking for is June Swoon. With six losses in the past seven games after a lights-out April and May, with an offense that's left its bats back in Boston, with four runs scored in three games, with seven double plays in the past two days (a number so incredible
it defies the imagination, like trying to imagine infinity), with the four game sweep looming...yeah, June is the word and swoon is the verb. Will the Sox pull out of the tailspin today? I hope so, but with the limited experience the Sox have against Joe Blanton - today's hopeful victim - I think we need to expect Manny to lead the charge.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Game 57: Frustrated

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 0, Oakland Athletics 2

Last night may have been the most frustrating game of baseball I've ever watched. I went to bed irritated over it, I woke up this morning (far too early - stupid West Coast and their time lag) with the shocked returned realization of the loss and here I am at the keyboard,
still fuming. Domination by a superior pitcher over seven or eight innings is hard enough to swallow, but watching the offense fall to Lenny DiNardo and the Four Jokers was as much fun as snorting ground glass.

I should have realized things were not going to end well after the first inning, when the Sox loaded the bases and still managed not to score. Of course, by that point DiNardo was already handing out walks like candy on Halloween and I figured there was still plenty of time to come back and drop a sweet can of whoop-ass on the confines of the Coliseum. Instead, the Sox load the bases twice, put the leadoff batter on base three times and then ground into enough double plays to make the game look like some sort of extended fielding practice for Oakland. Meanwhile, DiNardo gives up his eighth walk in two starts but escapes with an ERA+ that makes Tim Wakefield's prior high look bad. Good thing the Sox put DiNardo on waivers, huh?

Ok, maybe that was unduly bitter. I'll happily follow it up with another dose, though: if there's anything I hate more than the massive foul areas in Oakland (the ones that seem to work against the visitor and for the home team, which I suppose they're designed to do), it's losing thanks to a couple of cheap hits - balls struck towards the end of the bat that had no right going as far as they did. Dice-K, who has one of the highest amounts of run support in the majors, strikes out eight over seven innings and still gets the loss on two measly runs? What is this, bizzaro world? Knuckles, it's up to you to make things right.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I wonder how many takes it took Papelbon to get this one done with a straight face?

Thanks to my buddy Don for pointing this one out.

Game 56: Can I Go to Sleep Now?

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Oakland Athletics 5

I hate the West Coast trip. The 10 o’clock starts are an endurance test in itself, but add in extra innings and it becomes a test of wills between you and the Sandman.

I saw the end of this mess… but somehow I don’t feel like it was worth it.

The Sox did everything they could to forfeit this game. Sitting Tek, Lowell, Coco, and Lugo they went with the Super B Squad headlined by crazy Tavarez himself. Honestly I remember very little about this game before the 7th inning. I know Ortiz and Pena took the ace Dan Haren deep, I know Tavarez pitched well enough to almost lose… but that all feels like weeks ago. I still don’t know how they managed to tie it up on Embree when the bats looked as tired as they did. Everyone who was supposed to be resting made it into the game but all those innings seem to blur together in my head.

Fighting through yawns and droopy eyelids I remember Joel Pineiro sucking, I remember clutch hits by Tek and Papi, I remember Oakland loading the bases and not scoring thanks to the weirdest double play ever, but that might have been a bad taco I ate.

More indigestion/insomnia when Pedroia ran into an out at home (et tu, DeMarlo Hale?) and Oakland getting MORE runners in scoring position yet not sealing the deal.

Kyle Snyder was cruising along with two outs in the 11th, until Eric Chavez put one out to finish this off key lullaby. Good, fine, whatever. I honestly don’t even care anymore.

I guess it’s a testament to the gustiness and quality of this team, coming so close to victory while hardly trying in the earlier frames, but I can’t really concentrate on that now... in fact I can barely see the keys.

Another 10 at night start tomorrow? Balls.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Games 53 - 55: Awesome Sandwich with Buns of Crap

Game 53: Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, New York Yankees 9
Game 54: Final Score: Boston Red Sox 11, New York Yankees 6
Game 55: Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, New York Yankees 6

As Robin so succinctly put it to me in an email this morning, "these games were an awesome sandwich with crap buns: bleh WOO bleh." Losing two out of three at home to the Great Rival is hard enough, but an ending like last night leaves a bitter taste in the mouth that extends well into the next morning like a bad hangover, even when tempered with the excitement of the game and the sweet 12.5 game pad in the standings. Still, the final score of Game 55 is just the surface of the weekend that had more subplots than a soap opera story arc. Let's recap:

Where has the starting pitching gone? Not a good series for Red Sox starters: a combined total of 22 hits, 16 runs, 10 walks and only 9 strikeouts in 15 innings isn't in line for spectacular, even against the Yankees. Beckett had the best outing of the set, but still had two tough innings and gave up a brace of runs before his offense woke up and handed him what turned out to be a no decision. I'm happy to blame this lackluster run on the odd weather haunting the East Coast this weekend and move on.

Battle of the Bullpens. I'd be happy to give all of the props in the world to the Red Scare for their job this weekend, but the measure of their success is entirely conditional. On Friday, when the game flew out of reach on the wings of the knuckleball, the four scoreless innings courtesy of Romero, Pineiro and Lopez were like a pretty girl getting stood up by her date: all dressed up and nowhere to go. On Saturday, when the Sox returned the favor and tore into Mussina and Scott Proctor, giving up a run or two (the weekend's consistent theme) was just collateral damage to ending the game as quickly as possible. Last night...well, unfortunately last night was when things really counted; when Lady Luck jumped out of her seat in the EMC Club and into Joe Torre's waiting arms and said, "it's time I did you fellas a good turn." The triple and the home run came at the worst possible times against pitchers who have become the watchwords for automatic, but thus the game.

Kevin Youkilis and his 23 game hit streak. Nowhere near magic number 56 (or, if you believe Joe Morgan's crazed ramblings, the "150 to 200 game" hitting streak Derek Jeter somehow put together over the past few years without anyone noticing), but still a satisfying run for Youk, who snapped his streak on Saturday with an 0 for 2 with three walks. Last year's big surprise was Youkilis robbing J.T. Snow of any use in baseball life by becoming a vacuum at first base; this year's surprise may be Youkilis superseding J.D. Drew as the power in the heart of the order. If so, it might be reasonable to suspect that Youkilis has a thing against guys with two first names.

Dustin Pedroia will accept your homage now. Thirteen game hitting streak. Hitting .500 over the past week or so. Hit the double that cleared the bases in the fifth last night, bringing Boston back into the game. Very nearly hit a second double that would have tied/won the game in the eighth, if not for the interference of Lady Luck (see above) guiding the hand of Bobby Abreu. DC may be waiting for Pedroia to swing so hard that he falls over, but I'm perfectly happy to enjoy this hot streak while it lasts. Go P-Dawg!

Whither Big Papi? Actually, that's not fair: Ortiz has an OBP of 1.091 over the past month, which is monstrous. It just hasn't been as visceral of an impact, because it's been weeks since he's hit a home run. That should have changed last night against Rivera, because that ball was gone as soon as it hit the bat, but once again, Lady Luck had other ideas. Last night was the exception, rather than the rule and I have no doubt Ortiz will drive balls over the wall again in good time.

The Rivalry is back. For better or for worse, the Yankees play a good game when they face the Sox. As I said a couple of months ago, the rivalry isn't any fun when one side is horribly overmatched, which means the Yankees will have to win a few games...or two series in a row. Boston and New York don't face each other again until the end of August, when the games will have become much more important, so now is the time to lick wounds, maintain that AL East lead and wait for the time when sweet revenge can be claimed. For now: off to the West Coast! I hate (baseball) trips to the West Coast! Turn that hatred into wins!

Friday, June 01, 2007

MASSive Attack

Eric and I are back in Mass for the weekend series against the Yankees. We will be returning with an all encompassing post about this first place vs last place match up on Monday.