Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beltre: Has Something Against Camels

As much as I don't like Adrian Beltre (because he is not Mike Lowell), I am absolutely going to give him credit for last night. He was, by far, the star of the game with his two home runs, single, triple, and 6 RBI's. Yet another occasion where one of our guys gets the hard part of the cycle out of the way, but can't quite get there. It's ok, because I don't know if I'd remember them hitting for the cycle anyway. So kudos to Beltre. He provided the early pop we needed, and perhaps his RBI's gave John Lackey a reason to believe that there are good things ahead and he needs to pitch well in order to see those good things. Beltre was the catalyst in this game. Two home runs in consecutive at-bats in consecutive innings? Yeah, I'll take that from him any day.

And, as usual, props to Papi for his own 2-run blast of the night. Yup, Papi is ok. Took him a while. Took the whole team a while, but Papi and the Sox seem to be back on track. I guess it's true that how Papi goes, so go the Sox. We scored five runs in the 9th inning, and it was all started by a Papi single, followed by a Youk walk, a Beltre triple, a Wolverine single, a Cameron single, and a Ronald McDonald double cheeseburger... assuming base hits are cheeseburgers. Which they so are.

Lackey was good enough. He went 6 1/3rd, allowing 2 runs and four walks on 115 pitches. He had one strike-out to show for his effort, but the bigger thing was that he didn't take the Sox out of the game early. Our bullpen held down the fort again. They may have gotten plenty of time off over the weekend, but our starters are starting to give them a little bit of work again, which is fine by me. Oki finished up the 7th for John. Rambo and Nelson each got an inning, collected one strikeout a piece. Sure, Nelson allowed a run in the 9th, but again... when we have a nine-run lead, I don't care if the bullpen gives up a few runs. As long as they don't give up nine (ok, so I may have used different numbers last time I said that, but the principle applies anyway). Hey, we walked away with a win. Our pitching staff must have been doing something right. They actually did plenty right, and I'm so happy that we were able to sweep the Rays. Sure, it wasn't a four-game sweep like they treated us to, but I'll take it.

We're now in third place in the division, after Toronto lost to LA. I was tracking the game on Gameday. Bottom of the ninth with the game tied and a runner on 3rd, one out, Toronto elects to intentionally walk two guys in a row to load the bases. Of course, it didn't entirely matter because Bobby Abreu singled in the winning run. So, good. Abreu finally did something I approve of. Thanks, Bobby!

Also, another game in which our suddenly great defense did not allow an error. Excellent. This absolutely, 100% cannot be the same team.... can it? I'm amazed. Now that we've gotten past Lackey's start with a win, I think tonight is our next big hurdle. Dice-K's been alternating between good starts and bad starts. Considering his last start was awesome.... I don't know. He's also facing the Royals, so he's got that going in his favor. We'll see what happens.

Also... Celtics? Stop being the Bruins! NOW!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ronald McDonald: Welcome Back!

Damn, I knew I was forgetting something. So all that sadness about Ronald being designated for assignment was for nothing. The Sox apparently changed their minds after learning that CRW was hurting.

It was nicely strange for Francona to be able to welcome McDonald back to the team less than 24 hours after he informed him that he was going to be a roster casualty.

"We tell our guys when these happen, 'Make the adjustment, go down and work on some things.' He did it as well as you can," quipped Francona.

Meanwhile, reliever Scott Atchison, who had just been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, was designated for assignment to make room for Cameron.

So it is with extreme happiness that I move Ronald's name back to the current player list to your right. I feel bad for Atchinson, but because I hadn't really seen much that I liked from him, it was hard to build an emotional connection. I feel bad. I know a little bit of his back story, and he was really happy to be in Boston because his little girl is sick and he was thrilled to have access to the best hospitals in the world. I wish him nothing but the best, and hope his daughter is doing good. I hate to see the dreaded DFA happen to anyone, but I acknowledge that it's part of the business. The business side of baseball is sucky, but it's necessary. Good luck, Scott. I hope you land on your feet. And welcome back, Ronald!

Pitching and Defense: Finally Getting Around To Winning Games

Oh, Jon Lester, how I love you. Jon and his pirate friends were able to shut out the Rays 2-0 yesterday, limiting the AL East leaders to one hit for the night. Yep, one hit. That ups the number of one-hitters that Jason Varitek has caught to six. Sure, Jonny only lasted six innings, but Clay only lasted six innings this time around, too. The Rays were definitely making our pitching staff work, and we ended up surrenduring six walks, but the pitching staff also accumulated 12 strikeouts. Hey, whatever. Wins don't have to be glamorous, though this one was on the verge of glamorous. According to Remy and Don, the only other game Sharky has lost this season was Dallas Braden's perfect game. So is it safe to say that Sharky will only win when his team gets two or more hits? Anyway, between Jon and the bullpen, our pitching was solid, which is just beyond fantastic to see. I really hope we can keep on this roll.

It was a heck of a game. Where do I start? How about the strike zone? It was a tad ridiculous, and between the two teams, nine walks were still issued. I'm not going to get all high and mighty about how the Rays should just shut their yaps and not complain about the strike zone. Was it professional? No, absolutely not. As funny as it was to see Crawford and Maddon ejected from the game last night, it's really just a piece in the bigger picture of the season. I feel that this season, more than any in recent memory, has seen the umpiring be absolutely horrible. This isn't the first time there's been a ridiculous strike zone. A lot of games I'll watch on TV AND on Gameday, just because I like getting the general idea of where a pitch is when it goes over the plate. The results have been maddeningly inconsistent. I absolutely think Crawford and Maddon should have been ejected, but perhaps the umps might need to look at their own game data to find out why hitters are getting so mad.

And oh, David Ortiz. I love how now that Papi is back on track, all the people who were complaining to me a month ago that David needs to be released, or beaten or whatever, are all proud of him. One guy who works with me has come over the last two days saying 'what about that David Ortiz, huh? He won the game last night.' My response was something along the lines of 'glad we didn't release him like you wanted, huh?' and the guy just laughs. I take verbal attacks on Papi very seriously, and I don't think people who gave up on him a month ago deserve to brag about how well he's doing now. But it's cool. Get back on the Papi bandwagon for now. I swear, though, I better not hear these same people complaining again the next time Papi slumps. And he WILL slump. It's part of the game. David locked this game up for us and Jon last night. His two-RBI double was all we needed. Which is good, because it's all we could get. I loved it. I love seeing David win games. That was a glimmer of clutchness, wasn't it? Maybe his clutchness is starting to come back already!

I am going to give Beltre some credit here. Our defense last night was terrific. Actually, in the last five days, no one on the team has committed an error, so everybody is doing their job. How could I even fathom complaining about that? It amazes me what a difference three weeks made. My first post of May was complaining about how horrible they were playing and how I didn't even want to watch them any more. Of course, the night after I posted that, I totally wanted to watch them again, because I love baseball, and I love the Sox. But just three weeks ago, everything seemed so dire, and all of a sudden, they clicked. We're on our longest winning streak of the season. I'm pretty sure we're on the longest error-less streak of the season. We've had six quality starts in the last seven games. It's such a nice change. It's so nice to see a talented team actually utilize their talent.

Tonight, John Lackey will be on the mound against Camel. Oh man, does Matt Garza bother me. Everything about him bothers me. There's nothing I want to see more than Lackey rebounding from his craptacular outings with a W against Garza. But hell, my niece is performing a concert tonight, so I'll be getting updates on my phone. Even if he doesn't have a good game, I won't be able to see it. I'm not actually holding my breath for the sweep, but it would be nice.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beating The Rays: It Finally Happened

Honestly, I don't know why I keep up with the same strange style of titles for my posts. It's not neccessary. I don't need to use a colon in every title, do I? I guess I do. I think I have maybe three posts in total that don't utilize a colon. It's an addiction, I guess.

Anyway, first off, it makes me sad to report that Ronald McDonald has been designated for assignment. It makes me sadder to report that I forgot to mention that Vantastic had been designated for assignment last week. I listened to the interview with Ronald after the game last night, and it damn near broke my heart. I don't know if he always talks like that, but he seemed so incredibly sad. If it's any consolation, his good play in Boston certainly had to have been noticed. You can't tell me that there aren't any other major league teams that could use him on the roster. Same with Van Every. I hope that these guys either latch on with another big league club, or that they accept the assignment to Pawtucket so they can come back and contribute in the future. Baseball is a cruel business. Unfortunately, it is a buisness, and stuff like this happens every day. Where ever they end up, I wish them both the best of luck. Man, do I hate moving names from the current player list to the former player list. Mike Cameron will be activated tonight. I just hope he makes the sadness of Darnell McDonald worthwhile.

Dahmer may not have pitched eight last night, but he was solid for six. Yeah, the pitch count was really high. He was facing the Rays. They have a bunch of good hitters and were bound to make him work. Clay held his composure fantastically in his last two games. Neither game was an easy assignment. He took on the best team in the National League, and follows that up by facing the best team in the American League. I guess if there was ever a test to find out your mental makeup on the mound, this would be it. He passed. Yet, I'm going to continue to be weary of him, because I don't want to jump on the Clay bandwagon and ruin the mojo he's got going. I'll be hesitant in my praise, but he was good. He may have thrown 108 pitches in six innings, but he had eight strikeouts and only one walk. His ERA is at a nifty 3.08. I do love ERA's, no matter how bad of a stat the lowly ERA is. I guess I'm just part baseball traditionalist at heart.

Oki came in and pitched the 7th and the 8th last night, allowing nothing. No runs, no hits, no walks, no strikeouts. Just three fly outs, a ground out, a pop out, and a line out. When it comes to our pitching staff, any thing that ends in 'out' for them works for me. Oki especially needed a few clean, trouble-free innings. He's had a rough start to the season, and he's watched his role diminish a little due to his inconsistency, so I'm happy that he got in his work and didn't blow the game. Bard came in for the 9th, and had a clean, drama-less, 11 pitch inning to finish the Rays off for the day. This was the pitching that Sox fans have been expecting all year. It's nice that the pitching decided to show up at the end of May. Hey, better late than never, right?

Appropriately, the only run that the Rays managed was a solo HR off the bat of Carlos Pena. I don't care that he's no longer part of the Sox, I love Carlos Pena. I was so sad when we got rid of him, and really thrilled when he latched on with the Rays and became a force in the AL. The game last night was just about the perfect scenario for me. We win, but Carlos still looks good. Hey, I root for the laundry just like everyone else, but sometimes you just can't look past the hometown boy. Besides that, it's perfectly ok to like players on your rival team. After writing that, I realized that I don't need to justify who I like and who I don't, but there you go.

I was following along on Gameday (and watching the finale of Lost) when Victor hurt himself. I saw Varitek come in as a pinch runner, and all I could think was that Victor broke his leg walking down to first. That was the only logical explanation in my mind. Tek, for all his wonderful abilities, is not a runner. Have you seen those thighs? Those things slow him down significantly. Gladly, the injury is only a contusion on his toe, and he should be fine. Varitek may have to start a few days in a row, but that shouldn't be a problem. Actually, I see it as a good thing, but that's just me.

Papi hit another home run last night. He also came up to bat with the bases loaded again and failed to deliver. I guess 'clutch' hitting is the last thing to return? He's got the power back, and most of his timing back, but the 'clutch' isn't back yet. Hopefully, it will reappear this summer. For now, the lack of clutchiness hasn't hurt us (lately), so I'm willing to wait. It'll be back. After all, he's still Papi, and Papi is the definition of clutch.

Beltre, my least favorite everyday player, and Munchkin, the most arrogant everyday player, both racked up three hits last night. While Munchkin had been going through a bit of a slump, Beltre's been hitting pretty well, to the tune of a .335 average. Hey, call me when he learns to be Mike Lowell and I'll be impressed. For now, not so much. It takes a lot for people I don't like to impress me. And again, it's nothing personal. I just love Mikey, and Adrian took his job. How am I supposed to react? We ended up with a pretty good offensive game. After the third inning, it never really felt like we were in danger of losing this one. It was nice. Having heart attack free wins are always nice, and we just have not had enough of those this year.

Jon Lester on the mound tonight against James "Sharky" Shields (whose ridiculous and inappropriate media-appointed nickname will not be repeated here). Let's keep the epidemic going, huh?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Timmy Wonderpitches: Won Against Halladay. No, I'm Serious

No disrespect at all to Tim, but when I looked at the pitching matchups and saw that he was going to be facing Halladay and the best-in-the-NL Phillies... well, I didn't really expect to win the series. I should know better. The Sox, in general, do pretty good against Halladay. As of right now, they are the only team in baseball with a winning record against Halladay. It may not mean much to this current squad, but I think it's pretty cool. Better yet, he didn't have appendicitis this time, so the win was actually legit.

Tim was fantastic in getting his first win since before the ASB of last year. He earned every bit of that win. 102 pitches in eight innings, giving up five hits and no runs. I mean, did ANYONE expect Tim to fare that well against the Phillies? Maybe he did. You know the man has faith in himself. He managed to seal up win 176 for himself. He only needs 16 more to tie Clemens and Cy Young for most wins. He needs 17 to pass them. Assuming that Tim can manage eight wins this season... which might be a stretch... he'll only need nine wins next season. Strangely enough, he also needs 17 IP to pass Clemens as the Sox all time leader in innings pitched. I think he can do it, because I want him to do it. I believe good things can happen to good people, and who's better than Tim Wakefield in the baseball world. He seems like such a great guy. I hope I never hear anything that proves that assumption wrong. Not like I'd believe it anyway.

Offense was on against Halladay, which surprised me. Seven runs (six earned) against Halladay makes for an incredible day. Maybe he's gone soft facing these NL teams? Or perhaps we just caught him on a bad day. Whatever it was, I'm thankful we were able to get to him. Doc only lasted 5.2 innings, so we were doing something right against him.

Munchkin is going through a mighty slump, it seems, while Youk has picked it up and is now batting .322 on the season. And Drew, the object of unquestioning hatred in Philly is actually surviving pretty well on that injured hamstring of his. Maybe he's sick of people insinuating that he's made of glass (which I'm still pretty sure he is). But it was Youk and his awesome hitting ability that really won the game. He had a shot at going for the cycle after he got the triple and the home run out of the way, but like many wonderful history book type things this weekend, it was not to be.

And honestly, to save my life I can't remember if it was Saturday or Sunday when CRW made that crazy diving catch. All I remember was that it actually made ME feel pain. That couldn't have been very awesome on those cracked ribs. But, despite that, I feel a little better about centerfield defense when he's there... not much, because his fielding tends to make me cringe, but a little bit. No disrespect to our serviceable fill-ins, but they couldn't field. At all. So, the offense was on. The defense was excellent. Our starting pitching was beyond what I could have expected. And while Rambo struggled a little bit out of the pen, he still sealed up the win for Timmy. Look, when we have an 8-run lead, I don't care if the bullpen struggles, as long as they don't blow the game. I'm sure Rambo was a bit rusty. After all the wonderful pitching performances this week from our starters (Lackey not included), they needed work to get themselves together. I am supremely happy with the way the Sox clicked this week. Now all we desperately need is for them to keep it together during this next series. It gives us a chance to close the gap between us and the top spot in the east. Please don't let them squander this opportunity. It all starts with Dahmer tonight. I'll be watching.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jason Varitek: A Magician Of Sorts

I'll get to Dice-K and his own personal sorcery in a minute, but I just want to take my opening paragraph to praise my favorite player, because Dice-K's brilliant performance affords me that opportunity. Yes, I'm ridiculously bias, but I love Tek, and SOME credit has to be given to the catcher for bringing the best out of their pitching staff. Yes, I am aware that over his career, Tek has been blessed with the opportunity to work with some of the best pitchers the Red Sox have ever had. But I'm not going to let a trivial detail like that get in my way Tek-praise. I decided to do a little research and see how often Tek has caught no-hitters (4), 1-hitters, or two-hitters. Sure, two hitters aren't as impressive, but whatever. I like having stuff to look up. I admit, I only checked out the game data for games the Sox won where the opposing team didn't score any runs. I know, I'm a bad historian. Sue me. Or don't. Actually, don't. I don't have a lot of money nor do I have a lot of time to spend in court. Anyway, before my Dice-K praise, here are my findings:

April 4, 2001 (vs. Orioles) - WP Hideo Nomo
April 27, 2002 (vs. Devil Rays) - WP Derek Lowe
October 1, 2006 *5 Inning Game* (vs. Orioles) - WP Devern Hansack (doesn't actually count in the books as a no-hitter, but I'm adding it to my list)
September 1, 2007 (vs. Orioles) - WP Clay Buchholz
May 19, 2008 (vs. Royals) - WP Jon Lester

August 29, 2000 (vs. Devil Rays) - WP Pedro Martinez
May 25, 2001 (vs. Blue Jays) - WP Hideo Nomo
June 14, 2005 (vs. Reds) - WP David Wells
July 18, 2006 (vs. Royals) - WP Jon Lester
June 7, 2007 (vs. A's) - WP Curt Schilling (the infamous shaking-off-Tek game!)
May 22, 2010 (vs. Phillies) - WP Daisuke Matsuzaka

July 28, 1999 (vs. Blue Jays) - WP Pat Rapp
April 4, 2000 (vs. Mariners) - WP Pedro Martinez
May 12, 2000 (vs. Orioles) - WP Pedro Martinez
June 8, 2000 (vs. Indians) - WP Pedro Martinez
April 26, 2001 (vs. Twins) - WP Hideo Nomo
April 5, 2002 (vs. Orioles) - WP Derek Lowe
April 19, 2002 (vs. Royals) - WP Pedro Martinez
April 25, 2002 (vs. Orioles) - WP Pedro Martinez
June 20, 2002 (vs. Padres) - WP Pedro Martinez
July 6, 2002 (vs. Tigers) - WP Pedro Martinez
July 30, 2002 (vs. Angels) - WP Pedro Martinez
September 21, 2002 (vs. Orioles) - WP John Burkett
June 8, 2004 (vs. Padres) - WP Pedro Martinez
April 29, 2008 (vs. Blue Jays) - WP Jonathan Papelbon (SP Jon Lester)
August 29, 2008 (vs. White Sox) - WP Daisuke Matsuzaka
June 9, 2009 (vs. Yankees) - WP Josh Beckett

So there. Proof that Tek is amazing. I mean, sure, Pedro's name is up there about a hundred times, but where would he have been without Varitek? I dare not even think it (because it may disprove my theory of Varitek being indispensable). I feel good now.

As for Dice-K.... wow. I was absolutely stunned and impressed. But of course, I knew he wasn't going to get the no-hitter because I am utterly superstitious when it comes to these sorts of things, and around the 7th inning, the jackasses on Fox said "I'm just going to say it. He's got a no-hitter." And that, my friends, was the end of the good karma. You NEVER say no-hitter during a no-hitter. Apparently, the Red Sox radio guys were doing the same thing. Bad karma all around. I really wanted it for him. I've given the guy so much abuse, and I finally have a reason to be nice to him and the horrible people in charge of the media go and mess it all up. I guess I've learned my lesson. Now, if any of our pitchers are throwing a no-no, I'll be sure to put the TV on mute. If you don't hear the bad karma, it doesn't count, right? Right.

Anyhow, the one hit Dice allowed was painful. Painful because it was catchable.... or it would have been if Scutaro were just a few inches taller. I found myself muttering bitterly that Gonzo would have had it, but I don't know. It was just placed very inconveniently. I'm not going to blame Scutaro, even though I want to blame him really really badly. He did all he could. At least I think he did all he could. Still, Dice-K was able to get it together long enough to finish the game. This Dice-K robot that shows up every other start or so is very welcome. I just don't know what happens to him the game after a gem. I really, truly hope he can follow up this performance with another great one.

And not for nothing, but our once-suspect defense was unbelievable. David Ortiz played a great first base. Adrian Beltre snared a line drive. Even Dice made a fantastic catch off of a line-drive that could have ended up going up the middle. I don't know what got into our usually sketchy defense, but I'm glad that they're putting it together. I mean, really, how could I complain?

I'd go into the offense, but all I really care about is the fact that we won the game. We scored runs, and we didn't waste the great performance from our starting pitcher. Also, I'm lazy and I still have one more good game to write about before the game tonight, so... all you get is the fact that I'm happy. What a game it was. What a wonderful, heartbreaking game. Luckily, I've got another wonderful game to report on. All in due time, though. All in due time.

Jon Lester on Thursday: So Good

Goodness, I am about three or four days behind in my blogging but there have been two games (looking like three soon) that I really want to make sure I write about, because they were just that damn good. I wrote about Dahmer on Wednesday, but Jon Lester on Thursday was just as good. Actually, he was 2/3rds of an inning better, going nine innings and only tossing 104 pitches. I thought Clay had been economical? Well, he had, but Jon was just slightly more economical. I like that our pitching has been picking up the slack for their crappiness earlier in the season. Sure, both of them gave up two runs, but both of them came away with wins, and they both have ERAs under 4 and WHIPs under 1.5 (though Lester's, as mentioned in the previous post, is clearly better at 1.14). Jon ranks 30th in MLB with his 1.14 WHIP. I'm not really sure why I commented on that, but I think its worth mentioning that he's the only Boston pitcher in the top 50. Clay Buchholz, second in Boston with WHIP, comes in at 77th.

Jon actually had a very tough assignment against Liriano for his 100th career start. Liriano, though he hadn't been at his best in the last couple of seasons, has really put it back together, and he was pitching incredibly well. Then again, despite his typical rough start to the season, Jon put himself together quite nicely. One of my friends was going to her first game at Fenway on Thursday, and I have to say, she couldn't have asked for a better initiation to the Fenway Faithful. She got fantastic pitching and timely hitting. Sure, we had an error, but the defense was pretty spot on. I mean, jeez, Jon didn't even give up his first run until the 8th inning. I imagine he was probably starting to get a little tired, but it's fine. The offense gave him a 6-run cushion, and he didn't even need all of it.

VMart, Youk, and Beltre led the way. The offense combined for eight hits and five RBI's. Seven of those hits and all five of the RBI's came from those three. The other hit was courtesy of Ronald McDonald. Sure, everyone else had an 0-fer night, but you can't have it all, right? Youk and Beltre had HR's, and Victor had, I believe 3 hits. I mean, what more could we ask for?

It amazes me to see how far Jon has come as a pitcher. His first start as a member of the Red Sox came on June 10th, 2006 against Texas. He didn't get a decision. He went 4.1 innings, giving up 3 runs on five hits and four walks with four strikeouts. Now, in his fifth season with the Sox, on his 100th start, he went nine innings giving up 2 runs on six hits and no walks with nine strikeouts. I don't know what else to say. I'm feeling all nostalgic and reflective about Jonny, and I continue to be so impressed by what he's made himself into. I'm so glad that the Sox didn't give up on him or trade him away. He's come a long way, and it's been an absolutely fun ride.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kevin Millar: OURS!

Oh happy day!

NESN, New England’s most-watched sports network, announced on Thursday that former Red Sox first baseman and postseason hero, Kevin Millar, has joined NESN to serve as a Red Sox studio analyst for select games.

Millar will share time in the NESN studios with the network’s trio of Hall of Fame baseball analysts, Dennis Eckersley, Peter Gammons and Jim Rice.

Millar is back in town! And I will be at the game on the 28th... hopefully he'll be doing the pregame that day also. It would make my week to see Kevin live and in person again. Because Kevin's smile? It makes me happy. Welcome back to Boston, Ducky!

Dahmer: Exceeding Expectations

I'll happily eat crow on the topic of Clay Buchholz. I always say that I don't think he's going to be what Theo thinks he's going to be. So far this season, he's proving me wrong and I couldn't be happier about that. On a cruddy, rainy night at Fenway, Dahmer showed me in person that he may just have what it takes to win me over. I'm not won over yet... but I'm a few steps closer. Really, what's to complain about? He pitched 8 1/3 innings, and sure he gave up two runs, but it's ok! He was very efficient with his pitches. To get 25 outs, he only used 104 pitches. I like that. That tells me that he was throwing strikes, had good command of the zone and wasn't wasting pitches. I hate it when they waste pitches (though I can see the necessity for it every once in a while). I do believe Clay is our new team leader in ERA, with a handy 3.26 after the game. Granted, he's third on the team in WHIP, at 1.43 (Jon Lester is at 1.14, and Timmy Wakefield is 1.28), but we all know Dahmer allowed a bunch of unearned runs early on. He's getting better at pitching, though. Or perhaps he's always been this way and I just never gave him any credit? Yeah, that seems more likely.

But, really, the story of the game for me was David Ortiz. Why? Well, because Papi took so much abuse at the beginning of the season that I'm making up for it with all the extra love I can manage. That's the proper way to nurse an abused creature back to health, you know. When he launched that ball over the monster... oh man, what a moment. No matter how damp and uncomfortable Fenway was, seeing Ortiz pop one out to the opposite field makes sitting there worth it. Sure, it was more left center than left, but that still counts as opposite field, and I LOVE when he does that. Where are all those people now that were screaming about Papi being all done, huh? Yeah, that's what I thought. I wish those kinds of people could be banned for life from Fenway. They don't deserve to cheer for him now.

I have now been in Fenway park for two reviewed home run calls. I'm glad to say that the system actually works, and I promise you, the wait wasn't that bad. It's fun to be in the crowd with everyone twirling their fingers in the air, trying to convince the umps to call the HR. They got it right, and Papi got the home run. All was well in Red Sox world. The only thing I wish they did was show a replay of the home run on the big screen... you know, for the people who didn't get a good view of where it hit. I would have really liked a replay at that point, but I'm sure they have reasons for not replaying it. Namely, they just didn't want to.

Our other run was a good old-fashioned kinda run, with Beltre, Hermida, and Hall working together to push one across the plate at the bottom of the 6th. It's a good thing they were able to put that together, because we needed that run. Dahmer deserved the win, and they made sure that he walked away with it. I really do love it when everything falls together just right. Yeah, it's a little annoying that they left eight guys on base, but whatever. They got the win. I'm not going to complain at all. For today anyway (also for later today when I write my post about Lester's pitching performance last night... but that comes later!)

The Blue Jays won in Seattle and the Yankees lost at home to Tampa, so we at least pick up a game on New York. Like I said though, I'll worry about them when we're looking directly up at them. For now, I'm focused on getting past Toronto.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wolverine: Saving Our Butts Again

Oh, what would the X-Men do without Wolverine? Or should I call them the Sox-Men? I don't know. I'm trying to be cute here and it's not working. Admittedly, I passed out at around 10:30. I tried to stay up! I really did! I only got to see Josh get beat up (again) by the stupid Yankees. They're also whiney. Apparently, Joe Girardi decided that his team had a better chance of winning if Beckett stayed on the mound, so he's pissed that Beckett was pulled with two outs in the fourth. Yes, I am aware that they filed this complaint immediately after he was pulled (with the score 5-0 Yanks in the 5th), but come on. Beckett was injured, and the injury actually WAS more severe than a bruised ego, though I don't want to comment on him much more severe.

Again, Beckett sucked. I don't care if it was his spasm-y back or his inability to beat the Yankees that held him back, but dude has just not been good this year. I don't think it'll be like this for the remainder of his contract, but something's got to give with him. He has to figure out what he's doing wrong and fix it. We can't wait around forever for him. At this rate, we're actually getting better innings out of Wakefield than Beckett, and that tells you pretty much all you need to know.

Also on my shit list for the day... Scugo. I know the field was wet. I know playing conditions weren't optimal, but two fielding errors in one game is not acceptable. I feel pretty confident about the fact that Beckett would have gotten out of the 2nd inning with no runs allowed had Scugo not botched that ball that would have absolutely been a DP. Not cool. He damn well better dazzle me tonight if the game is actually played.

JD "Glassman" Drew is hurt. I'm not going to harp on him too much because he's been doing well. Doesn't take away from the fact that he's made of glass. It's not an insult, it's the truth. Hopefully the hamstring injury isn't going to linger because really, we need bats. Lots and lots of bats!

Anyway, on to the offense! There was literally nothing to get excited about from the Sox offense for the first five innings. Finally... FINALLY!... in the 6th, Youk took advatage of a bad Sabathia pitch and put it over the wall in left. Sabathia was hittable all night. His location wasn't on. He was all over the place, but our guys just couldn't take advantage. Maybe they were really deceptive pitches. Whatever it was, Youk's HR finally got us on the board after what was probably about 80 or 90 pitches. Luckily, the boys saved all the fun for Flyswatter and Mariano, scoring six times in two innings off of this particular combination of relievers. I don't care how bad we looked up until this point in the season, scoring runs against Mariano shows me that things are closer to getting back on track, and I am cool with that. In the eighth, we saw this sequence: error, single, double, single, ground out, single (Ortiz out at second), ground out. When it was all said and done, 4 runs got tacked on to Joba. Then in the 9th, heroics. Ronald singled, Scugo reached on an error (how appropriate), Munchkin grounded out, but then Wolverine came up against Mo and smacked a 2-run double to left over Randy Winn's head. Ugly wins are still wins, and I'll take them however they come.

Paps closed the 9th, but not before giving back a run and giving everyone a heart attack. Seriously, can we all stop considering Pap a top-tier closer now? He hasn't been this year, and he really wasn't stellar last year. Maybe I'm just being as bitchy and whiney as Joe Girardi, but Paps doesn't mean instant win to me any more, but he still acts like he's the best thing to happen to the bullpen since Keith Foulke. Him closing out the 9th of yesterday's game does not make up for the shit he put us through on Monday's game. Not even close.

Slightly off-topic... it really really pains me to read about how unhappy Mike Lowell is. I think he has every right to be unhappy. The Sox front office has gone seemingly out of their way to let him know that he's not wanted. From being forced to take him as a throw-in to the Beckett deal to trying endlessly to get rid of him.... I just don't know what Theo has against Mike. Sure, he doesn't have the offensive numbers of Beltre right now, but I don't like Beltre! Mikey is frustrated, and it makes me sad...

"I think sometimes you feel like the team might be better off if you're not on it," Lowell said. "I just eat up a roster spot. I really do. I don't know. If anything, it's a good feeling that I've had so many teammates come up to me and they say they sympathize with my situation. I think I've truly agonized over it. But it's not good or bad, it's just reality. ... I don't know what else to do."

Maybe he stays with us and gets a role on this team... more likely, he moves on. Whatever is going to happen needs to happen quick, because Mike's sadness is my sadness, and I don't want either of us to be sad. Mike doesn't deserve this treatment. He's done nothing but contribute to this team, and now we're treating him like an albatross instead of a contributing baseball player. Sad.

Fun fact: Me and Theo Epstein had something in common for one moment in time. We were both at the Pearl Jam concert on Monday, getting Sox updates on our cell phones. And for people who think that Theo (as much as I dislike him) doesn't deserve to take a night off.... seriously, shut the hell up. Theo may not be my favorite GM, but he's not the worst, and who doesn't enjoy Pearl Jam? Though, I still don't like him, and I think he should stop trying to hurt Mikey's ego. But what do I know?

Dahmer against Baker tonight at a very soggy Fenway.... if they can get the game in. We'll see.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Me: Slacker

Honestly, I just don't feel like there's much positive to write about the .500 Sox lately. It looked like we were about to start rolling for the first time this season, and then we dropped 2 out of 3 to the Tigers in painful fashion. We wasted good pitching by Lester. We wasted about 17 walks in the course of two games. We couldn't capitalize on any opportunities, and in the end, we fell two games further behind ALE-leading Tampa. It's been an ugly, ugly ride so far. But being a fan isn't always easy, so you just chalk it up to an off-year and keep watching. If you're me, you're not going to quit on them. I literally count the days between the end of the season and the new season, so I'm just going to ride it out and enjoy all the moments of good baseball between now and October.

Pity for me, looks like I won't be home to see Dice-K vs. Hughes tonight. I'll be at the Garden to see Pearl Jam. Why not, right? As much as I love my baseball, I have to have something of a life outside of it. But it's cool, I'll be at Fenway on Wednesday to root for Dahmer in his quest to beat the Twins.

The only thing I do want to point out about the weekend series? David Ortiz. Friday night, 2 for 4 with 2 home runs and four RBI's. Saturday, 3 for 6, 2 RBI. Sunday sucked all arounds, but The Large One is now batting .224 for the season. Scoff if you want, but I remember plenty of people who didn't think he'd ever crack that Mendoza line. He's not the same hitter he used to be, but he's not washed up yet. 'Tiz is having a good May. Thanks to, I can give you the following numbers:

Ortiz in April: 63 PA, 8H, 5 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .143 BA, .238 OBP, and .286 SLG in 16 games
Ortiz in May: 46 PA, 14 H, 1 2B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, .333 BA, .370 OBP, .714 SLG in 11 games

What does this tell me? It tells me that the balls 'Tiz is making contact with, he's driving farther than he was in April. His power is back, so his mechanics must be getting close to 'normal'. He's walking less... strikeouts are more or less still on par... but getting on base more. He's swinging at better pitches, making better contact, hitting with RISP. You will never EVER hear me complain about that. Yes, my statistical analysis is mind-boggling. Don't look at me like that. Numbers terrify me.

So like I said, I'll be at the Pearl Jam show tonight, getting Sox updates via text message. Hopefully, the Dice-K robot that started last time out comes back again. That would be fantastic.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Timmy Wakefield: Trying To Earn His Keep (In The Rotation)

I saw absolutely no problems with the way Timmy pitched yesterday. Actually, I saw nothing at all. I was stuck at work, and Gameday doesn't work at work, so I couldn't see the game. Didn't get a chance to watch the replay. All I saw were the final numbers. Those numbers for Tim were just fine. They're exactly what you expect out of a good starter. Tim made a strong case to keep himself in the rotation.

Our offense on the other hand...

I've got no idea how bad the strike zone was yesterday. I've heard claims of it being anywhere between embarassing and pretty bad. I listened on the radio as Ortiz struck out on a pitch that should have never been called a strike (according to Castig.) but I didn't see it. I'll, of course, side with Papi on this one because he's Papi and I do that sort of thing. Hell, Papi was the only one on the team who had a hit until the 7th or 8th inning, right? RIGHT?! So, yeah, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

So, we lost. We tried really hard for a late-inning comeback yesterday, but when your team decides to f@#k around for seven innings, winning is going to be hard. Maybe they were excited to travel. I don't know. But, we've got a day off and I've got school work to do so I can't be too worried about it. We'll come back and start that extended winning streak any day now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Inconceivable: Dice-K Went How Many Innings?

Seven. Dice-K went seven full innings, allowing only one run. It's an incredibly unexpected surprise. Believe me! Taking a quick look at his game logs (and not counting 2007 when he pitched incredibly well for us and logged over 200 innings), I can see that Dice-K has gone seven or more innings a total of ten times, including last night, from 2008-now. There was a lot of injury in there, but there were also a lot of high pitch counts. In 44 games, Dice has gone seven or more innings ten times. So, 1/4th of the time we can count on him to give us quality starts, I guess.

Just to compare... in that same time frame (and I know it's skewed because he didn't have as many injury problems, but he's my Binky so I don't care), Jon Lester has played 72 games, and has gone 7 or more innings 31 times. 43% of the time, Jon is taking you deep into games. 23% of the time, Dice-K is taking you deep into games. You can understand why I'm so shocked and excited about his really good start yesterday. It's not that common. I'd look up Beckett's numbers for comparison, but I'm not happy with him so I'm not giving him the attention right now. Just in case you don't know, Beckett's been bumped from this week all together. Thank you for messing up the rotation for me, Josh. Thanks. A lot.

Dice-K... whatever he was doing last night, can he please keep doing that? We need THAT Dice-K, especially with the inconsistency of our entire pitching staff. I mean, I know the Jays aren't the toughest opponent in the world, and we've handled them pretty successfully so far this year (thank goodness), but it was a really good start for him. 3H, 9K, and ZERO BB. ZERO! The last time he had zero walks in a game was June 7, 2009, in a loss to the Rangers. Before that? You have to go back to May 27, 2008, in a game where he only pitched four innings in a loss to the Mariners. Ah, what the hell... let's just chart his zero-walk games!

May 11, 2010 - 7 IP, W 6-1
June 7, 2009 - 5.2 IP, L 6-3
May 27, 2008 - 4 IP, L 4-3
April 1, 2008 - 6.2 IP, W 2-1
May 30, 2007 - 5.2 IP, L 8-4
May 19, 2007 - 8 IP, W 13-3
May 14, 2007 - 9 IP, W 7-1

76 games, and only 7 that he didn't walk a batter. See? Rare. His performance last night was rare and appreciated, and I have nothing bad to say about him today.

You know who else I have nothing bad to say about? Aw, come on, you know. That's right. The Captain. Oh, Jason makes me so happy. Two hits (one a solo HR... he loves those solo HR's) and an IBB. That, my friends, is just pure awesome to me. The extra rest is definitely benefitting him. He's up to six HR's on the year, trailing only mighty Munchkin, who has 7. If reduced playing time is what we need to get the most out of Jason, I'll definitely stop complaining about it. I love Jason. I love when he's in the game, and I definitely feel more confident in our pitchers when he's playing. Sure, he's only had 43 plate appearances, but you know, it's fine. He's doing great. I love everything about him today... and most other days.

Not to mention, the Blue Jays were just playing sloppy baseball. I don't think they were charged any errors on the game, but again, they look baffled in the field. I don't get it. They're not that bad of a team. They're ahead of the Sox in the standings. We're in 4th place, 5.5 back. The Sox need to keep chugging right along and get some momentum going. Winning is always fun. I enjoy winning. And I love Jason Varitek

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

John Lackey: Good Enough, I Guess

I'm exhausted today. Don't know why, but I didn't sleep very well last night, so I'm going to make this really short and painless for all involved. Instead of my usual 1000-word ramblings about whatever strikes my little mind, I'm breaking yesterday down in to a few cute, quick bullet points. You'll have to forgive my slackerhood, but I just can't muster much in terms of comprehensive thought. Ok, here we go!

-John Lackey wasn't good. He was actually very frustrating to watch, especially in the early innings. Getting a win doesn't make you good, and it doesn't give me faith in you.
-Gonzo, my shortstop binky, was robbed of a home run. I don't know, I saw that replay over and over and I'm pretty sure it cleared the line (and even if it didn't... again, he's my Binky. I don't care). If it were anyone else, I wouldn't have minded. Because it was Gonzo, I was mad for him. He ended up scoring anyway.
-BOP closed the game for Lackey... though yesterday they were OBP... but accounting for how few baserunners they allowed collectively, they were probably the opposite of OBP.
-VMart continues to frustrate me with his inability to not ground into double plays or potential double plays. Blue Jay's terrible fielding and his single and 3 RBI's were his saving graces. I've got my eye on you, Martinez. Cut the shit.
-Papi got a hit and an RBI. That is good by my standards for him. Because I love Papi.
-JD is suffering from vertigo again. That honestly sucks. Being uncontrollably dizzy is a horrible thing.
-Josh Beckett got pushed back, so again, Tito tweaking the rotation has assured I will not see Beckett when I head out to Fenway. Tito does this to me a LOT. Ugh.
-BUT, that does mean that Wakey gets moved back to the rotation. Perhaps it has something to do with him stealing handwarmers from his fellow bullpen pirates?
-Back up over .500 for Dice-K. Can I cover my eyes again?

See? See how adorable those were. Ok, back to caffeine and school work. My life is exciting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jon Lester: Ugh, Thank GOD!

There was a moment that I was sure it was going to be a lost weekend for all of Boston sports. That moment was right after the Sox finished getting spanked on Saturday. The triple loss on Friday was painful enough.... though I'd be hard pressed to find a complaint with the Bruins game. At least they gave their all. The Sox got stomped at Fenway, and across town, the Celtics were getting embarrased at the Garden. Then of course, Saturday handed us another miserable whipping. Sunday rolled around and I just wasn't sure I could take any more pain, but I tuned in anyway. In the craziness of Mother's Day, I forgot that the Celtics had played, and luckily for them, they won. So there was an ounce of redemption before the Sox game. Just an ounce.

That's when Johnny started rolling.

No, he wasn't perfect. Perfect was reserved for Dallas Braden who threw the 19th perfect game in major league history against the Rays on a beautiful afternoon in Oakland. His mother may not have been around to see it (she passed away), but his grandmother was in the stands to watch. Congratulations to Dallas Braden. Now when that punk b!tch A-Rod asks you what you've done in your career, you can point to the record books for May 9th, 2010.... assuming, of course, that you carry the record books around with you. If not, just reference it!

Like I was saying (I get side-tracked so easily), Jon wasn't perfect, but an 8-pitch first and an 8-pitch second definitely gave me some hope. His finishing line, 7 IP 4H 2ER 2BB 7K, did two important things; it got him the win, and it made sure the Sox avoided the sweep. Jon was a breath of fresh air after being trapped by the REALLY REALLY BAD pitching of Beckett and Dahmer. I'm not even going to discuss those games, because they were just flat-out terrible. Lester was the only starter to earn his keep this weekend. Sure, he gave up two solo home runs in the fourth inning to the two arguably most annoying goddamn guys on the Yankees, but I'm just happy that we got a pleasant ending to a really ugly series. But it still leaves me questioning this team. I honestly don't know what to make of them. Are they average or terrible with moments of brilliance? I've just been so frustrated with them, I don't even know how to size them up. I'm glad we got a win, but I shouldn't be so happy to be back up to .500. Yet, I am.

I am also very happy about Papi's hit and RBI. I'll take my little moments of happiness from him, thank you. Burnett actually looked good for all of two innings. If not for a error by Thames in the 2nd, we would have been tied at zero... until we tee'd off on him in the third, anyway. VMart continued to frustrate me and Munchkin continued to make me happy. Wakey pitched a perfect 9th, and Delcarmen did a serviceable job of the 8th, even though he did surrender one run. Overall, I was pleased with the way they played. I just wished that they had played that way for the two games prior. Oh well. Lackey on the mound tonight, hoping to get a win-streak going.

But, before I wrap it up, I'm going to nitpick. Miller and Morgan. Shudder. Granted, those names never inspire much happiness around these parts. Sunday night baseball irks me like no other, especially the way that Jon Miller kept calling our 3B Bel-TRAY, putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. It shouldn't irk me. It shouldn't make my skin crawl, but for goodness sake, Joe Morgan managed to say it the right way. Why didn't anyone correct Miller?! WHY?!

On top of that, when discussing Dallas Braden's perfect game, they referred to it only as a no-hitter. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall either of them using the phrase perfect game. As a matter of fact, when that tidbit of information scrolled across the bottom of my screen, I pointed out that they had called it a no-hitter. Yes, technically, it's a no-hitter. He didn't allow any hits during the course of the game. That's like saying that that someone with a master's degree has a bachelor's degree. It's true, and it's pointing out a big accomplishment, but you're not pointing out the BIGGER accomplishment. I just don't understand how those two still have jobs. Oh,, where have you gone?

And no, I don't have my master's degree yet. But when I get it, I would expect that people recognize that achievement over my lesser achievements. Do I expect too much?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Remy: "I've Had Enough of This Game"

Because Don and Jerry cannot focus in a game where nothing is going on, we get the brilliant line above from Rem Dawg. He had just been laughing for maybe about three hours over the size of Don's hairbrush. Once you get to that point, baseball just isn't going to bring you back. Luckily for us, the Sox were ahead, and all was well in the land of Fenway.

Seriously. All was well. Daisuke-san bounced back from his absolutely atrocious first inning. That was a bad inning. But he made up for it, and went four and one third more, giving up only one more run. Sure, MDC gave up the home run that brought Dice's inherited runner home and couldn't find the plate to save his life in the 7th, but it's ok because Oki got out of it for him with a very clean and wonderful 2/3rds. Rambo came in for two innings and mostly shut the Angels down, though he did give up two hits and a walk. All in all, the pitching was better than I expected from us. It's nice to not have to use your entire bullpen in a game where we needed someone warming up in the first. And not for nothing, but Rambo has been pitching very well lately. Props to the bullpen for doing a great job!

Kazmir actually lasted one fewer inning than Dice. No, I'm not joking! He was wild. His pitches were all over the place. I mean, he walked five guys so that's a pretty strong indicator that his location was way off. I don't mind. I went into the game expecting a loss, and I got a win from our boys, so I'm happy. I'm glad Kazmir couldn't get out of the fifth inning. I'm glad the Angels bullpen is horrible. I'm glad that in this series, the Sox have gotten at least 11 hits every night. I don't feel bad for the Angels. They're only four games out of first, and we're like, eight*, so having our offense and pitching click on a week where we face the Yankees and Angels isn't a bad thing.

*Disclaimer: I have no idea how many games behind Tampa we are. I don't want to know either. Until we start pulling up closer to them, I'm not going to worry about it.

Youk got hit with a pitch. Again. So no, it's not just our imaginations. He really does lead the team in HBP's. VMart lead the way with RBI's, racking up four on the night. That includes his 2-run home run in the bottom of the third. That home run was his second of the year, and first since April 6th. That's right. In the time Victor managed to hit two home runs, Varitek has hit five. I'm making no comments on this situation. All you need to know is that I love Tek. Wolverine pitched in big last night again also, with three RBI's coming on a single and an Angels' fielding error. Hey, we'll take runs any way we can get them. We were 4 for 16 with RISP, which isn't great, but it's not horrible either. This team has really pulled themselves together in the last few days. Lets hope they can keep this up, because winning is fun, and sweeping teams is way more enjoyable than being swept.

Beckett on the mound tonight against Phil Hughes. Hughes has got good numbers on the season, but I didn't look deep into them so I don't know how he's pitched. All I know is that Beckett can beat them if he wants to. Also at 7 on the ice, Bruins go for the sweep of the Flyers in game 4 of the semi-finals. They'll have to do this without Davie Krejci and Marco Sturm, whose names I had to look up because I don't follow hockey. Celtics are, I believe tied 1-1 in their series with Cleveland. Tonight they're home at the Garden looking to get an edge in the series. I have no thoughts about these games, I'm just stating facts.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Trot Nixon: He Brings The Win

Just like a complete and total fangirl, during the Nomar celebration (why are we honoring him again? I mean, didn't we already do a bunch for him? I digress...) when they announced Trot Nixon, I literally squealed with joy. Complete and total joy. Little Tek, whether or not he actually looks like Tek at the moment, is just... I just love him. Completely. His last game at Fenway is recorded and saved on my DVR. When I'm putting together my yearly calendar, Little Tek still gets his own page. I still celebrate his birthday (not that that's hard, it's the same day as Tek's! Do we understand the nickname now? He's two years younger!) I squealed, I shook my hands excitedly while pointing to the TV, and I smiled endlessly while he was in my line of vision. I wondered out loud if we could just keep him and put him in right field. We don't have to tell anyone it's not JD Drew. Trot could be our little secret.

Honestly, no offense intended to JD who has been outperforming my expectations in the last couple of weeks. I just miss Trot. Yesterday reinforced how much I miss him, but it was just fantastic to see the dirt dog's smiling face. The ceremony was nice though. All I kept thinking was 'what is Nomar going to do with those two old, rickety chairs?' It was a nice gesture, though. Nomar seemed genuinely touched.

Lackey took my advice and learned something from Jon Lester. That was a damn good performance, and you won't hear me complaining. Seven innings, one run, and only 2 hits. He joins Jon on the 'under 4.00 ERA club'... they're both staring at you, Beckett. Time to pull your shit together, too. Really, this is how our pitching staff SHOULD be pitching, so it's great to see them starting to live up to their potential. You'll get zero complaints out of me! Also... Bard? Nasty. Loved it! He was consistently getting that fastball up to 99 mph and locating well. What's not to like about that? Paps? Not as nasty, but awesome anyway. In the two innings that B-P worked, they totaled zero hits, 2 strikeouts, and no walks. Beautiful way to end the game.

Munchkin has another awesome defensive play last night. This doesn't surprise me, but I am happy about it anyway. We came thisclose to hitting into a triple play. Some would argue that Wolverine DID hit into a triple play, but the play was too close to be sure one way or the other. I'm glad that it wasn't called a TP; that would have hurt. A little bit of luck went into that. I thank Little Tek.

And a huge, ENORMOUS amount of happiness came from Papi last night. What was Dustin Pedroia saying about a laser show? Has it started already? I was just happy to see Papi do well. He needed that, that's for sure. Apparently, Papi was the only one who got the memo that Joel Piniero is NOT A GOOD PITCHER! Goodness, how come every time he comes back to Fenway, we treat him like he's the second coming of Cy Young? This frustrates me to no end. But it doesn't matter. We pulled out a W. It was a good night.

Off topic, slightly... Milton Bradley has finally reached out for help for his emotional issues. I'm not going to crack any jokes or make fun of him, because he needs the help. I'm glad he's finally ready to get it. I wish him well. Maybe he'll actually be able to turn himself around a little. He's got the talent to be a star, but his anger has always held him down. Good luck, Milton!

Further off topic... I still love Tuukka Rask. It's a made up name! It has to be! But Tuukka and the Bruins managed to pull ahead of the Flyers 3-0 yesterday. Good job by the B's. I think the C's are playing tonight, so maybe they can go ahead and win? That would be nice. While we're waiting to see what the Celtics do, Daisuke will be taking the mound against Scott Kazmir. I'll be watching with my hand over my eyes. Not to say I have no faith in Dice-K... but I sort of don't. Here's hoping that he proves me wrong.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kevin Millar: Semi-Retired

Well, looks like the cowboy caught on with another team. That was fast, and quite unexpected, considering his new job at MLBN.

Kevin Millar has signed with the St. Paul Saints, according to a press release from the team. Millar began his career with the Saints in '93 before the Marlins purchased his contract. He'll presumably still work for the MLB Network as an analyst this year.

Ah, my Ducky! I wish him nothing but the best, no matter what he ends up doing. But, man, do I miss seeing that goofy smiling face in the lineup.

Wolverine: Winner!

Jeremy Hermida probably saved the life of David Ortiz. After Papi's final at-bat of the night, which saw him strand a cumulative seven baserunners and ground into two double plays, most Sox fans were undoubtedly as on-edge as I was. It's a hard thing to accept when your love doesn't accomplish anything. No matter how much love all of us have poured into Papi this year, he's not getting results, and you can see all over the big guy's face just how much the lack of results bothers him. Some people claim steroids. He suddenly can't hit for power any more, so he must just be off the juice! Right?! Unless steroids give people abilities that I haven't heard about, I'm pretty sure his lack of steroids doesn't account for the horrible, HORRIBLE pitches he's been swinging at. It's not that he isn't driving the ball, it's that he's swinging at really bad pitches and getting on top of a lot of good pitches. Something's not right with Papi still, but it's sure not related to steroids. I'm sure of it. More likely, it's a confidence thing. Papi doesn't believe in himself, and no matter how much we believe in him, he won't turn it around until HE thinks that he can.

But Papi is now batting a heartbreaking .149. His partner in misery, JD Drew, has managed to get his batting average up over a hundred points in the last week or so, finishing up yesterday's game at .258. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the 8th inning of an incredibly well-pitched game by Jon Lester, Papi stepped to the plate. This at-bat terrified me. Papi hadn't put a good swing on the ball all night, and now here he was in a situation he used to excel in. It broke my heart that he was the last person I wanted to see up there, and of course, my fear was justified. On three pitches, a 2-0 count that he shouldn't even have been swinging at with Jepsen's inability to find the strike zone, Ortiz grounded into a double play. The Angels got the out at home and then still had time to turn and fire to first, retiring a very sad-faced Papi. Three years ago, David would have gotten that ball up in the air. Now, he just hit over it and put us in a horrible position. The worst of all for me was that this was the at-bat when I finally realized that no amount of support was going to make Papi better. He shouldn't be batting that high up in the order. It nearly killed us last night... but I am NOT giving up on Ortiz. I'll never give up on Ortiz. He needs us now the way we've needed him so many times. Bump him down in the order a little bit, but he needs to be in there to work his way out of this!

Of course Mike Lowell is deserving of the at-bats, but... I don't know. There's no easy solution to this. I want them both to play. Wait... I have a solution! Get rid of Beltre, then we can all be happy again!

Luckily, after a walk (?!) to Beltre, Wolverine stepped up and made everything ok again, hitting a three-run double to the warning track in left that Rivera botched pretty well. Jon Lester, sitting in the dugout next to his mentor and twin, jumped up and could clearly be seen shouting "F@#$ yeah!"... guess he had to channel Dustin Pedroia for a moment there. It was a wonderful moment... the moment we realized that Jon's 8-inning, 1-run effort was going to result in a win.

Let's go back to Dustin for a minute, shall we? That double play to end the top of the eighth was just about brilliant because it worked. That was a very heads-up play by Munchkin, and it not only spared Jon Lester the added ER, but it got him out of the jam, and ended the inning, and I would say it sort of hyped everyone up. It was the type of play that you don't see often, but when you see it, it's fantastic. All the variables lined up just right. As Munchkin fell to the ground and flung the ball, admit it... you held your breath. When Youk gloved it at first, there was nothing but happiness. Definitely the defensive play of the game. Nothing else even comes close.

While I was a little pissed off that with all the pitches Santana threw early in the game, we couldn't get to him or knock him out early, I couldn't have asked for much more from Jon last night. Five strikeouts to counter his two walks, eight innings and five hits. Can we keep this Jon Lester? I really like this one!

Anyway. Lackey against his former team tonight. Let's see if John can, you know, follow Jon's example.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dave Roberts: Deserves All The Best Wishes In The World

I know I'm a little late on the breaking news here, but Dave Roberts has been diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. Dave Roberts did so much for the city of Boston with his one steal... The Steal... that he's something of a local hero. I feel a little bit horrible pairing his well-wishes with a description of one tiny event in his life, but it truly, honestly meant the world to us. Sox fans more than likely would not have seen that 2004 championship without that one moment, so we cherish Dave around here.

Sure, he wasn't super fantastic as a commentator, but not everyone is cut out for that line of work. By all accounts, Dave Roberts is a great guy, and it makes me sad that cancer strikes good people. Just another reason to donate to the Jimmy Fund when the time comes around.

I was trying to put together a play on words, saying something like he can steal a clean bill of health the way he stole second, but I think I'll just quote Tito on this instead...

"I expect Dave can probably outrun anything," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels. "I know we've got a lot of people pulling for him here. He probably knows that - everywhere he's been."

Prayers and all the positive energy in the world to Dave Roberts right now. Let's hope he recovers from this quickly and can get back to normal. We're all cheering for you, Dave.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Angels: Welcome To Fenway

First of all, I will admit right up front that I did not see the first five innings of the game. I was out having fun and getting score updates on my cell phone. The last update I got via cell phone (and mind you, I don't have none of them fancy interwebs on the cell... this was all text message updates), told me the score was 7-4 Sox heading into the fifth. I imagined that Dahmer was working relatively effectively. I couldn't get a pitch count, or a walk total, but I was at least happy enough with the results. I thought 'hey, this would be a nice little win if we can hang in there,' and I shut my phone and got in my car to turn on the radio.

The fifth was quiet. The radio guys didn't give me much information pertaining to what had already happened. I knew I was going to look it up anyway. Well, I missed an Asshat homer, Bill Hall's first home run as a member of the Sox, and a Mikey Doubles two- RBI special. In the third, the league's favorite target got hit by a pitch. What's that give Youk this year in HBP's? After the magic of internet research, I can see he's been hit 3 times on the year, but I'm not sure if has updated itself yet this morning, so it may be four. Back to the scoring... In the 4th, JD hits a bases-loaded single to score Scutaro and VMart. There you have it, 7-4. What a game, right?

Well, sort of. They exploded in the 6th for 7 runs. I know, I can't believe it either. The team who couldn't score three little runs against the last place O's unloaded on the Angels. The ones from Anaheim. Or Los Angeles. Or Orange County. Listen, I don't need to know where they're from. THEY don't even know where they're from. Just to give a quick breakdown... ground out, double, single, double, home run, line-out, walk, single, home run, single, ground out. Seven runs. Home runs for Beltre (holy hell, he can do that?!) and Munchkin. Early night for the relief pitcher, Palmer. Six runs were charged to him. But don't feel too bad, we saved four ER for Stokes, adding three more runs in the 7th inning. Three consecutive doubles and a single all before the first out in the 7th. Man... wow. That's all I can say.

Overall, our offense finished with an intentional walk, a hit-by-pitch, seven doubles, four home runs, twenty hits over all, and six walks. The offensive onslaught did absolute wonders for a lot of individual stats. Hell, JD and Mikey both had four hits on the night. You know they were feeling good. And this game was exactly what a lot of people needed, including the team. Everyone felt like garbage after this weekend. Fans just needed to know there was some fight in this team. We finally caught a glimpse of it. It makes believing in them that much easier.

As for our pitching, decent work from Dahmer. Three walks and four hits in 5.2 innings gives him the win. Would have liked to see him work a little deeper into the game, but he was over a hundred pitches (and pitchers are babied, of course), and he had a three run lead, the best decision was probably to avoid letting him blow it. Delcarmen finished the inning and pitched a clean 7th, which is just awesome. I don't know what he's changed, but he's been reliable and I appreciate that, especially since I rip on him often. Rambo, getting himself back on track also, pitched a perfect 8th. Schoe was a little frustrating. I'm still not sure that the double wasn't a foul ball, but it really doesn't matter. He's kind of a mop-up guy. I want to see better from him, but in the 9th inning of a game we're winning by 13 runs, I sort of don't care if we give four away. We still win by a large margin.

Good all around last night. A much-needed, pile-on type win by the Sox, a beating of the Cavs by the Celtics, and another exciting Bruins win over the Flyers. Boston sports fans can feel really good about the way our teams played last night. Now we just need to keep it up!

Jason Varitek: The Bright Spot That Keeps Me Coming Back

Sure enough, less than 24 hours later, and I'm completely going back on my last post. I knew I would. I like to react angrily when we are the worst team in baseball. What? We're not? Yeah, like I believe that. I've watched them play. It's ugly.

The worst part of it all is that people are depending on the return of Mike Cameron or Jacoby Ellsbury to bring the season back to good. If they're our best hopes, then we're pretty SOL, aren't we? I'm not insinuating that getting them back isn't going to help. Our outfield defense will improve tremendously. I don't know if people have noticed but Ronald McDonald and Bill Hall? Not really good fielders. With Ronald, I don't know if it's just nerves, but a lot seems to get past him, and when he tries to pick up the ball, he fumbles. Wolverine wasn't so bad, but he's on the walking wounded list. And of course, I don't care what people say about Vantastic... I think he's excellent. If I'm being completely honest, I don't think any of these six men are a good, feasible solution to our outfield issues. It's scary when I think Drew is actually our best fielder out there, because it's a widely-known fact that I don't like him much. I like him better than I have in the past, but I'm not quite there yet. I'm trying. I really am.

The best part, though? Jason Varitek. Without a doubt, seeing him with a bat in his hands is a welcome sight. It used to be the sort of thing that made me cringe and obsessively repeat 'I'll still love you no matter what' while covering one eye as to protect myself from the horror of Jason swinging at the damn high fastballs. Now... this season... I've seen him get base hits on the high fastballs. Whatever he changed, whatever he's doing differently, I approve. Maybe it is just the extra time off, or a mental break from knowing that he's the only one who knows the pitching staff. Maybe he's adjusted to his family issues, and maybe the high socks used to cut off circulation to his feet, making him uncomfortable and causing him to swing at everything. I don't know. I don't know what's different, exactly, (except for the lack of high socks, which I sort of lament), but I do know that I trust the Captain at bat with the bases loaded now. Not just that false, I-want-to-believe-in-you trust. No, the actual, I-know-you-can-do-it sort of trust. Does that mean I want Tek as our starting catcher right now? No. I think the extra rest is a big reason for the improvement. Sadly, doesn't mean I want VMart as our starting catcher either. But since there are currently no other options, I'll just have to keep hoping that Victor decides that double plays aren't cool after all.

Varitek is what's going to keep me watching. And Papi. He's shown slow signs of snapping out of this funk. I'll still be cheering him whether he comes out of it completely or goes right back into it. Papi has brought us good things. I won't turn on him, and kudos to all the other fans who refuse to turn on him.

I do think Theo's 'run prevention' plan was bullshit from the start. In theory, it was a good idea. But he seemed to forget that we're in the AL East. That means we're facing some of the best hitters in baseball frequently. No matter how good your defense is (and ours has NOT been good at all), the best hitters are still going to hit and drive in runs. Run prevention is all well and good, but you have to have a run procurement plan in action simultaneously otherwise you get results much like we've been getting. Losing many one-run games.

The bullpen is tired. The hitters are struggling because they're all trying too hard with each at-bat. The fielding is downright atrocious. Adrian Beltre is on our team. We've got a lot working against us right now. And yes, Beltre is my new Lugo... maybe he's more like the new Renteria. He can't field (and I will not believe you if you say he can. I've seen him!), but he can hit. Belteria? Hmmm.... we'll see if I can work with that.

This is going to sound weird, but... I sort of feel good about today. I'd like to think we hit rock bottom yesterday, so that means we'll start the climb back up. I obviously don't know if that's really going to happen, or if we're actually at rock bottom. All I know is I feel good about Dahmer on the mound tonight. He's going to bring good things, and we're going to get timely hitting and awesome defense. The climb back up starts tonight. You've got to believe it. Believing is all we can do right now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

This Team: Disgusting

Listen, I love the Sox just as much as anyone else, but I'm going to be 100% honest when I say that I am too drained to watch them suck like this, so until further notice, I'm not watching.

I'll be following, of course. I'll be tracking them during game time using GameDay or something, but I absolutely cannot watch them suck any more. I can't. If they don't want to try, I don't want to watch them. They don't deserve the support. I don't deserve to have to see them get swept by the Orioles. I actually feel like they slapped me across the face this weekend.

And with the C's and B's in the playoffs right now, I have two other teams that could easily win my attention. Baseball will always be my first love, but as I said before... they're not good enough to win and they're not bad enough to be amusing. I've got my last few months of grad school looming ahead of me and I can do without getting pissed off at this ridiculous baseball team.

Beckett was good today. We should have finished this game with a happy note, being able to say 'hey, look! Josh turned it around in time for May.' But instead, it's all about really f'ing poorly timed double plays and the lack of any semblance of hitting. Again. As usual. My eyes burn, and I just don't want to see it any more.

Maybe I'm just being reactionary today. Maybe I'll feel a little less pissed off tomorrow. I doubt it, but who knows? By tomorrow, I might really need my baseball fix again, so it's entirely reasonable to think that this entire post is going to mean nothing in 24 hrs. And actually... no, I don't even wish them well. It wouldn't make a difference any way. Ugh.