Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sox Score Seven: Not The Red Ones, Though

Ew. That's my only reaction to last night's game. I guess the boys didn't enjoy being lonely at the top, and now we've let the Yankees right back into our little first place party. I don't like sharing. I don't want the Yankees and their icky fans listening to our music and drinking our beer. Stop drinking our beer, you jerks!

Kidding, I don't drink beer. I swear though, if they try to touch my rum, someone is losing a hand. Hear that, Jeter? I will rip your hands off if you touch my rum. I'd say that losing a hand would decrease your range and thereby your chances of winning another gold glove.... but I'm not so sure your range COULD get worse. And we all know you're going to win it whether you make any plays or not. Life is unjust.

So... Jon Lester. What's up, my friend? What's gotten into you lately? May, uh.... May wasn't so good to you this year, you know? Walks were up, hits were up, location was off. Any reason in particular? I don't know what's going on, but I think after allowing seven runs to the White Sox, you might want to look at some film or whatever it is that you pitchers do. Make adjustments. Locate your pitches. Do your thing, ok? I like that you acknowledged that you stunk, but now it's time to stop stinking. Let's make June better!

Pedroia was my favorite player of the game. With runners on second and third, Munchkin came up to bat and I nicely asked him to get those two runs in. He did exactly what I asked, and I definitely like when players listen to me. Unfortunately, the rest of the team didn't listen to me, and that's why we are where we are. Just sayin'... I sort of know what I'm talking about. Helpful suggestions such as "score runs" or "stop sucking" are completely for the good of the team. I have your best interests at heart, guys!

The sting was taken away a little by watching "Four Nights In October." I can say without exaggeration that I've watched it no less than twenty times. It ALWAYS makes my day better and I ALWAYS get goosebumps when Dave Roberts goes sliding into second. Favorite team ever, without question. Just seeing most of those guys in uniform makes me smile. Oh Ducky, how I miss you!

On a side note... Daniel Bard and Rich Hill resurrecting the bullpen band? I don't think it will have the same magic as it used to, but the effort is so appreciated, guys. Keep on jamming out there! I knew all my recent talk about Timlin was bound to provide positive results. Yeah, I miss The Admiral, too. Guess I'm just feeling a bit nostalgic today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Failure: Losing To Verlander

It shouldn't be considered a failure. Verlander is absolutely nasty when he pitches as well as he did tonight. Still, it doesn't stop me from being a little annoyed with the boys and their inability to do that thing they had been doing really well. You know, score runs. They could not score runs off of Justin Verlander. Justin Verlander looks like this:
Not hitting against Verlander makes me look like this:
Losing makes Beckett do this:
Not wanting to write out a summary of the game makes me upload pictures I already uploaded... like this:
That's right. Tim Wakefield. Let Timmy make you all feel better. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Valverde Hates Papi: Papi Doesn't Care

As Jose Valverde walked off the mound today, I'm sure he thought to himself, "That's it... Ortiz isn't getting a Christmas card this year." Two at-bats, two home runs, five RBI's. Papi, coming off an afternoon on the bench, stepped up to the plate in a tied game and launched one off of Valverde giving the Sox the winning run that we so desperately needed. Salty had already come out of the game, meaning Varitek was going in. Knowing that Tek there was just about 100% certainty that Jason would be catching the night game for Beckett, we ran the risk of tiring out our veteran catcher if we couldn't score in the ninth. Papi is very considerate of his team mates, though, and he ensured that Tek wouldn't get too worn down before the nightcap. Yessir, Papi was all we needed.

Dahmer wasn't fantastic, in my opinion. He was good, but he found himself struggling and seemingly overthinking. Two solo home runs took away his lead, and he ended up with a ND for the game. It's ok, though, because unless you're Beckett or Lester, I don't really care about individual wins. As long as the team wins, it doesn't matter to me who gets the win. So Dahmer went six and gave up three runs, which is the dictionary definition of a quality start. Matt Albers pitched in for two innings, allowing no one to reach base. I guess that's the dictionary definition of relief pitching... and if it's not, it should be.

Off-topic... the guy on NESN just said he was the Mark Bellhorn of broadcasting. It made me remember how much I miss Mark Bellhorn. I'm ending the tangent, but I'll never stop loving old number 12.

Other equally-as-important runs in the game came off the bats of Ernie, with a sac fly in the first, Cameron, with a solo shot in the second, and Munchkin, with a solo shot in the 3rd. This wasn't the offensive explosion that we've been getting used to, but it was just enough for a win. For the moment, we have a two-run lead in the east. Yankees are currently winning, but we've got another game to go tonight. It's very realistic that we could finish the evening with that same two-game lead. Love it. As good as 'five wins in a row' sounds, I think six wins in a row sounds better. Let's get it done.

Do YOU trust this man to get us to six? I sure do.

Saturday: Washed Away

Tito at US Cellular Field in Chicago, Sept 5th, 2009... just because.

I don't want to post another Blame It On The Rain video.... but you can just pretend I did. Instead of pretending it's still Saturday, I'll use this post as an excuse to jot down some tidbits about what's gone on/is going on. Yay, bullet points!

-Daniel Bard's friend, Matt Hill, who had been missing for five days has been found. He's safe and ok, and I'm glad this didn't end badly. Now it's up to his friends and family to figure out why he went missing to begin with.
-Marco Scutaro will be re-evaluated on Monday, and we may see him back some day in the future.
-Bobby Jenks (booo!) will return to the team either Monday or Tuesday (boooo!!!!).
-John Lackey is on schedule to return from the DL on June 5th. Since I have tickets to the June 5th game, I would greatly appreciate anyone who wants to hit a line drive off his leg or something... not enough to seriously injure him, but enough to set him back for a few days. Thanks!
-ESPN, who originally was going to stop us from watching game two of the doubleheader tonight, has granted NESN an exception to televise the game. This means that we WILL get to watch the Beckett-Verlander rematch tonight. Thanks, ESPN. This makes me like you just a little bit.
Hideki Okajima was outrighted to Pawtucket. The guy who replaced him, Franklin Morales, is headed to the DL with a strained something or other. The Sox have brought Bowden up, and I'm sure Oki is punching a wall somewhere. At least he's still ours.
-I'm going to wait a few minutes before I post my review of the game that just ended. No instant gratification around here. Oh no!

Wakefield is Wonderful: All Hail The Knuckleball King!

Timmy from May 22nd.

I'm sure there's absolutely nothing I can say about Wakey that I have not said a million times in the past except that he only needs 12 wins to become the winningest Red Sox pitcher of all time. I've said statements close to that, such as "Wakefield only needs 14 wins to become the winningest Red Sox pitcher of all time," and "Wakefield only needs 13 wins to become the winningest Red Sox pitcher of all time," but never before have I gotten to use the number twelve. Every fibrous fiber of my immediate being yearns for Tim to get those twelve wins, and every time he has a game like he did on Friday... well, my fibers are happy.

Timmy was classic, spinning 7 innings of knuckleballing madness, allowing a measly two runs. Sure, we've seen BETTER from Wakey, but this was more than enough to satiate me. Timmy kept his pitch count low, finishing the 7th with 83 pitches. We had a four-run lead and a well-rested bullpen, so there was no need to push him further than that. He's not the youngest guy on the staff, after all. Bard pitched a beautiful 8th, and Papelbon pitched a slightly scary 9th, allowing two hits (one a solo home run) but without blowing the game. Very acceptable pitching, everyone! Gold stars all around!

The offense didn't show up nearly as forcefully as they had for the two prior games, only posting six runs... heh, only six runs. I can remember times last month that six runs was all they would score for a week. I like this team better than I liked that April team. I'm sure they like themselves better, too. Down 2-1 in the third, after Timmy had allowed his only two runs on solo home runs, our bats stepped it up in the 3rd. CRW lead off the inning with a solo home run, Munchkin walked, Ernie singled, Youk doubled in Munchkin and Ernie, and then Crawford launched his own home run. Boom! Five runs. I'll take that ANY day.

Combine all that awesome with a Yankee loss, and the Red Sox found themselves in sole possession of first in the ALE. First. It's like a gawddang miracle, I'll tell you what. These are the good days, my friends. Let us feast on all the pitchers in the league and rest our heads on another pennant come the winter! Or, you know, just continue winning games. For now.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crawford Kicks In: Four More Hits For #13

Before I get to this game, I want to recount a quick story. I got an email last night from a stranger, apparently after they read my blog. The email said, "I appreciate your love of Mr. Alex Gonzalez, but I think you're wrong about him. He's definitely not a better shortstop than Derrick Jeter is."

Without trying to overreact, I'm pretty sure this individual needs to be destroyed. Look, if you want to have your own stupid, wrong beliefs, you do that... but at least make sure you know how to spell the names of the players you incorrectly believe to be better than Gonzo. And don't email me about it! Derek Jeter's fielding couldn't hold a CANDLE to Gonzo's, and I don't even know why baseball players would HOLD candles on the field during gameplay! The whole thing is ridiculous. Please.... for future reference, everyone... I cannot tolerate people thinking Jeter is a better fielder than Gonzo. I cannot and will not tolerate it. Stop the insanity!

Anyhow, on to the game! See? I got back on track in a timely manner. It was another day, another 14 runs yesterday afternoon in Detroit. Much like what the Sox did to the Indians, they put quite the hurt on the Tigers to the point that the skies themselves decided they needed to take pity on Detroit and end the game prematurely. Alfredo Aceves stepped up in a big way, going six innings and only allowing one run. I guess it pays to have a former starter as your long-relief/spot starter out of the pen. Gold star for Aceves!

I've got a bunch of these gold stars. I bought a value pack just last week, knowing I would need them. CRW with a home run and three RBIs? Gold star! Papi with two hits and two walks? Gold star! Drew Sutton with two doubles? Gold star! Newly called-up outfielder, Josh Reddick, with three hits? That's just Reddickulous! Gold star! (For the record, I was PRAYING that he had a good game so I could use that line). Tek notching a hit and keeping his average over the Mendoza line? Gold star for him, too!

But the player who earned TWO gold stars on the night? Carl Crawford. Carl, WHY couldn't you have hit one of those triples during Wednesday's game? It doesn't matter now, but it would have been nice for you to have a cycle. Four hits, including two triples, makes Carl the MVP of the game. I have to say, I'm enjoying this version of Crawford SO much better than that April version of Crawford. He has really turned it on, and I am enjoying the show.

So, the Sox manage 16 hits in 8 innings of a rain shortened game, posting 14 runs for the second day in a row. Let's see what they've got left in the tank for Wakey tonight! Also, go Bruins. Please. No, I'm serious, I really need you to pull together and, you know, win. Please?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Atta Boy: Jonny Puts Us In First Place

This is obviously a picture of Lester vs. The Indians at Fenway 04 Aug 2010

All the superheros in the world (or the park) couldn't stop the hurt we put on the Indians today. We are behind the Yankees by mere percentange points right now. We were able to scrape back up the mountain to a point where we are technically tied with the Yankees for first place. Again, percentage points, but they've played fewer games than we have. Leave it to Jonny to help get us to the "top." Also leave it to him to become the first pitcher in the major leagues to reach seven wins. Considering the start this team had, the fact that he has seven wins shows how good (and lucky!) he's been. The boys have been pouring run support on for our ace. I mean, one of our aces. Beckett is clearly still an ace.

By the time Jon could even smell the field, the Sox had slapped a seven on the scoreboard. Mitch Talbot, fresh off the DL, certainly had no idea what hit him. The first inning went like this: single, homer, single, single, fielder's choice, single, single, sac fly, single, single, single, fly out. The only starter to not have a hit was Lowrider. Bad, Jed! With all that offense, you couldn't muster a hit? I guess it's fine. We ended up with fourteen hits and twenty runs.

By the time Lester came out of this game at the end of the sixth, he had given up zero runs, three hits, and a walk. This performance was VASTLY superior to some of the other games we've gotten out of Jonny lately, and it was a welcome sight.

From Jonny's no-hitter, May 19th, 2008... also a welcome sight.

I don't care about the two runs surrendered by the pen. If it were a closer game, I'd care, but since it wasn't, I don't. All I know was that it was a LOT of fun. Chicks dig the long ball, and Munchkin, Papi, Salty, and Crawford were happy to provide the excitement. Chicks (like me, I guess), also dig fantastic pitching and Lester gave me plenty of that. As awesome as the game was, the best part was clearly this line: "Oh yeah, that's a great mouse. How did we miss it?" - Don, discussing Danger Mouse. Brilliant. What a game.

Beckett: Strong Words To Back Strong Pitching

"F**k yeah! F***k this f***kin' place!" Shouted Beckett as the Rich Hills of Milton recorded the final out of the 7th inning. The fiery redneck pumped his fists in the air and scowled in the direction of the field. The Cleveland Indians knew Beckett savored every second of that out, and no one dared question his use of colorful language.

If I were to write a story about Josh Beckett, that would be the beginning of one of the really fun chapters. Don't worry, I'm not writing a story about Beckett... yet.... so I won't torment you with any more silly paragraphs like that one.

Wasn't it fun, though? The win, I mean. I thought the win was loads of fun. Aside from Beckett's pitch count being as hard to manage as my hair during the last month of rainy weather, the Papelbon-surrendered home run, and everyone on our pitching staff trying to kill OC, it was a great win!

See that pretty man in that picture there? That pretty man hit a home run last night! His first of the season, and his first since May 30th of last year! Do we all approve of the way our catchers have been hitting lately? I'm sure we do. I mean, I'm pretty excited about it. Tek had a good night! One hit, one walk, and two RBI. He also CAUGHT TWO BASERUNNERS! I mean... wow! That Jason... I do love him so! Sure, a good night for Tek isn't as good as say, a good night for Ernie, but I will take it all the same. Let's see Ernie try to throw out two baserunners. Yeah, didn't think so. Beckett, in regards to Tek:
"He's always helping me, but when he can throw somebody out and on a night when my breaking stuff's not my best, it keeps me from throwing more pitches," said Beckett. "I think he's been putting together some pretty good at-bats."
I think he has, too, Josh. I think he has, too.

Lester vs. Talbot today... If he wins, we could be tied for first place for at least a few hours... and if the Yankees lose tonight, well then, that baby is ours. Do it, Jon. We're behind you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barding It Again: Another Tough Loss

I intended to post about how there was absolutely nothing to like about this game. I had the beginning of the post all planned out in my head and was ready to spew a bunch of anger, but.... meh. Nope, can't work up enough anger to keep that going long, so instead I'll just say meh. I wanted to write that Daniel was getting beat on his junk pitches instead of on his good stuff, but after re-examining the game data, he really wasn't. Another meh. As for the offense? Whatever. Bad game on a cold, rainy night in Cleveland. Our boys have played in the rain for a long stretch this month. I feel like they're allowed mishaps like this once in a while.

It did waste a great outing by Dahmer. The double play to end the game was very much like a kick to the gut from someone wearing cleats. Watching Pedroia come out with a turned ankle was a solid punch to the face. We lost this fight, and it did hurt.... especially knowing that they had the chance to jump into first last night. At least no ground was lost. That's about all I've got for positives from last night; we didn't lose ground. I just grow increasingly tired of losing to Fetus. Can I call him Fetus any more? He's sporting a beard now, and doesn't exactly look like a child any more. They grow up so fast, don't they? I think I'll stick with the nickname, though. For old times' sake.

One of the reasons I can't get too worked up about this loss is that the Bruins and Lightning put on one hell of a show, but the B's came out with the win. So one Boston team goes home happy. Sure, I would have loved for the Sox to win this one, but.... meh. Beckett/Carmona tonight. Four years ago, this would have been one of those can't miss match-ups. Now? All I know is that I'm not going to miss it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Step Closer To The Top: Wake And The Sox Win

In 100 years when Tim (and all the rest of us) are long gone and the Red Sox are playing in a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium in the outskirts of Boston, people will still be talking about Wakefield. They'll refer to him, of course, as St. Timmy and they'll place their hands over their hearts when they mention his name. Future generations will look to a plaque of St. Timmy's smiling face in the new Fenway, bearing the inscription, "Winningest Pitcher In Red Sox History." People will look at that plaque and smile. The song "For Sentimental Reasons" will be played on a loop in front of the plaque. It's going to be wonderful.

In order for my vision to be realized, Tim has to keep doing exactly what he did on Sunday night against the Cubs. He needs to win. He needs to win no less than thirteen more times before he retires. It's an achievable goal, and if he can pitch that well every time out, he'll reach those 13 wins in no time. Because folks? Timmy was ON on Sunday. That was such a typical Tim Wakefield game that it was absurd. The knuckler was knuckling, as it is wont to do, for six and a third. Tim only threw 75 pitches and allowed only one run. He didn't walk ANYBODY. I love that Tim Wakefield. I just love him.

I could be wrong about this, but did Salty hit one out of the park? That doesn't seem like something he would do, but I feel pretty confident he did it. He'll never be Doug Mirabelli.... but then again, no one can be Doug Mirabelli. I miss Doug. I should buy a house from him, just so I can say I did. I'd make him sign the walls. It would be fantastic.

Back from my tangent. This was a delightful, QUICK game.... which was important, because it was bloody cold at Fenway on Sunday night. I mean, I couldn't feel my feet by the time the game was over. I dressed in layers! And I was still cold! Someone needs to pass around the memo that it's May, because this cold has got to stop. Props to Ernie for his four-hit night. Further props to Munchkin for his two hits, and to Papi for HIS two hits. And don't tell anyone, but I'll go ahead and give Youkilis a smidge of credit for his two RBI's. Bard and Paps were delightful in closing out the game. It was wonderful. Everything is wonderful. And tonight? Well, tonight we get to see Fetus again. Despite the fact that we haven't beaten him since he left the Red Sox, I'm still a big fan. I miss him, too.... but not as much as I miss Dougie.

Bad Matt Albers!: No Gold Star For You!

Ugh! What WAS that? No, I demand to know! Someone get over here and explain this eighth inning debaucle to me right now!
What's that?
.... Ah.
No, I'm not ok with that.

This is what innings 1-3 looked like: :\
This is what innings 4-7 looked like: :D
This is what inning 8 looked like: FAAA$#^@*@!*^&#&%$^&%^%^!!!!!!
And what caused that mess that you see above? Matt Albers did. He didn't get a single out! I mean, for goodness sake, Matt, you were pitching against the Cubs. I could have gotten at least one out. What the hell happened? Listen, I don't want to dislike you. In general, I feel that you have been a serviceable bullpen guy to this point, and I appreciate the good that you do. But that eighth inning? That just wasn't alright. Though, if it makes you feel any better, I blame Tito as much as I blame you. I understand the concept of having guys get through an inning, but Matt, you just didn't have it, baby. I'd like to remind you of your night: single, single, walk, walk, double, fielding error (by Lowrie). I just... I just don't want to talk about it any more. That's all.

You want something positive to take away from this one? David Ortiz hit his 300th home run as a member of the Red Sox. That's our Papi.... and that's only one of hundreds (more than 300) reasons that we love that man. Yes, I'm saying we, implying that everyone out there loves him, too. If you don't, you're incorrect. End of story.

The only other notable part of this game was Marlon Byrd getting hit below the left eye with an Aceves pitch in the second inning. Oh man, that was a scary moment. All I know is that I hope he's ok. I know Aceves didn't mean to do it, and I'm sure he feels badly about it. I'm rooting for a quick recovery for Marlon. Hopefully this doesn't impact his life or his career too severely.

Overall, just a crappy day of baseball. Our seven game winning streak was snapped, and we didn't take over the AL East like we all thought we would. Now.... now we turn to Wakefield to bring us a series win.

Streaking To Seven: Lester Bests The Cubs

This wasn't as much of a win as it was a beatdown. Johnny got the win, but he definitely didn't deserve to win. He's been on the wrong side of sharp lately, and I would be troubled by it if he didn't keep winning. I enjoy the fact that the boys have been rallying behind Jon and ensuring that he walks away with W's. His line for the night, 6 IP 12 H 5 R 2 BB 5 K, isn't the loveliest Lester line you'll ever see, but it didn't actually matter, because the combined line for the Cubs looked like this: 8 IP 19 H 15 R 6 BB 5 K. Yeah, that's really all I need to say about their pitching for the night.

There's not enough room on the internet to go over all of the offense. The only member of the starting lineup to not have a hit was Cameron, and only Crawford had a single hit for the night. Everyone else ended up with two or more. Youkilis and Salty were hitting home runs, Munchkin and CRW were stealing bases, and everyone else was RBI'ing like it was their God-given purpose. All that offense and goodness, and we still managed to leave ten runners on base. That's the kind of scary bat-infested night that Dracula dreams of.

And at this point in the post I pause and apologize for what I can only imagine is a bunch of nonsense. I'm a little on the sleepy side, and as usual, I'm just going to embrace the stupidity. Why fight it?

Let's see... Lester? Check. Cubs pitching? Check. Offense? Check. Atch? Nope. So Atchison came in after Lester and went three innings, giving up zero hits and zero runs. THAT is what relief pitchers are supposed to do, everyone who pitched Saturday. I'll get to you. Atch gets a gold star and a cookie for Friday, seeing as he was the best pitcher in the game from either team. I personally am a big fan of bullpen pitchers pitching well. Atta boy, Atch!

Also, Carlos Pena? I miss you. I just don't think the Cubs appreciate you the way I do.

And, well, that was Friday. I will, out of principle, do a recap of Saturday, but I will take no joy in it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Farewell... Again?: Oki DFA'd

Are we actually losing Oki this time? There were many post-game moves last night, the saddest one being that Hideki Okajima was designated for assignment. I don't know if he'll accept an assignment to Pawtucket... I hope he does. If he is leaving us, I will regret that I didn't snap a few shots of him warming in the bullpen last night. I should have taken at least a few. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Oki lands somewhere good.... like Pawtucket. Hey, I don't want to lose him for real!

Also, Theo signed washed up pitcher Kevin Millwood. If we're going to sign a washed up pitcher, as quite a few people suggested last night, why not sign Pedro? I don't care who you are. If you are a Red Sox fan, you feel better losing with Pedro than with Millwood. Same thing with Wakefield-Lackey. Losing with someone you love hurts less.

And then there is the pickup of Franklin Morales. I'll reserve judgement for after he pitches a few games with us. I don't want to instantly hate him just because he took Oki away.... but I might.

And futhering all of that news, creepy shortstop Jose Iglesias, who took a creepy picture with me and my friend before the game (but he's adorable and I love him), and Michael Bowden are being sent back down the Pawtucket express and Drew Sutton is coming up to replace them. Wow, that was a busy night for Theo. But seriously, GM-Man.... get Pedro on the phone. I promise, I won't be mad over that signing.

Love All The Dirty Water: But Would Prefer Fewer Heart Attacks

Daniel Bard... oh, Daniel, we need to talk. Actually, instead of talking, you have necessitated me ripping your face off again, so I'm going to do that. We had a good stretch without ripping your face off, didn't we? Then you had to go and choose the 8th inning of the game I was most anticipating for the week to go and implode. Why did you do that? I don't even know where I left my face ripping gloves, so now you're inconveniencing me again. This time, I might sew your face back on backwards just to serve as a reminder that it did happen. Enough of your shenanigans and dilly-dallying. For real this time.

And Joshua Patrick Beckett, let's get that neck loose, huh? We can't afford more disabled starters right now. Not to say that you weren't fantastic and impressive in your six innings even with a stiff neck, because you were. I'm just saying that if you had taken control of your neck and loosened it, Daniel Bard wouldn't have pitched the 8th, and I wouldn't have suffered eight heart attacks in the ninth inning. You were only at 83 pitches... an unbelievably impressive fete considering you threw 24 pitches in the 2nd. That's an average of 11 pitches per inning, excluding the 2nd. You did fantastic! No sarcasm, I swear.

What a game, though. Verlander didn't look like he was ever coming out of this one, which scared me a little. I love pitchers' duels. I love them so dearly! Luckily, after giving up a run in the 2nd, Beckett settled down for the next four. After giving up a run in the 3rd, Verlander gave up solo home runs to Drew and Papi in the 4th and 7th innings respectively. Matt Albers pitched respectably in the 7th. Daniel Bard did not, but I'm not going back over the mess he made. And then there was the ninth.

Two pitches into his outing, Paps gets drilled with a line drive off the bat of Alex Avilla. There was general panic in the bleachers... more so when the next three batters reached base with the game tied. But man, Jonathan must have steeled his will, and struck out Boesch and Cabrera back to back on nine pitches total to end the inning and let everyone breathe again. THAT was the definition of heart-attack theater. Scary and entertaining all at the same time. All nine pitches were four-seam fastballs, topping out at 97 for the strikeout of Cabrera and averaging 96. It was beautiful. He's been pitching like he wants a huge contract at the end of the year.

Before anyone really knew what was going on, the Sox had the bases loaded with zero outs in the bottom of the ninth. Lowrider stepped to the plate and participated in a terrifying 10-pitch at-bat that ended with what should have been a single but turned into a force out, as little Jose Iglesias got thrown out at home on a tough play. He couldn't get a lead, or he risked being doubled off third, and by the time he COULD run home, he was out. So that was deflating for a moment. Luckily, with the bases still loaded and one out, Crawford got a hold of Al Alberquerque's 1-1 pitch and deposited it over the head of Austin Jackson in center. Dirty Water, and we win again. Nerve-wracking. And wonderful. That's six for the Sox. With Lester on the mound tonight, I like our chances of getting to seven. Thanks for the heart attacks, boys.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nicely Seasoned Game: 8th Inning Got A Little Salty Though

Yes, it DID take me all night to come up with a title that bad, and I'm proud of it. Another thing I'm proud of? The Sox. Despite their aversion to winning in front of me, they all put their big boy pants on yesterday and managed a tough win... and I didn't have to leave the park!

Well, I mean, I left eventually. Pretty sure they wouldn't let me sleep there even if I wanted to, and no I don't want to.

So last night's game. It was a lot of fun, even if the first seven innings were offensively frustrating. I don't blame them for not hitting. They probably couldn't see the baseball with all that fog. I couldn't see the left field grandstand from the right field grandstand, and it wasn't because my eyes are that bad (they're not yet). It was pretty crazy, folks. I don't believe I've ever seen, or not seen, Fenway that foggy. Insanity.

But there was so much more than fog! There was baseball... at least I'm pretty sure of that! There was pitching (probably!) and hitting (very likely!) and even the occassional walk (that happened, too!). Dahmer actually pitched very well. He had a no-hitter going into the 4th, but his pitch count was getting very high very quickly. He made it through seven, throwing 127 pitches and only allowing four hits. That's about as good a performance as you're going to get out of him, and it was VERY appreciated. Bard came in for the eighth, threw one pitch, and then the tarp came on the field. It was a short delay, only about a half hour, and it was a pretty pleasant rain delay. It gave the boys a breather... a chance to collect themselves. They obviously needed it because all of the scoring in the game happened in the 8th.

There wasn't much scoring, of course, with a final of 1-0. With two outs, Crawford walked and Salty doubled him in. I may or may not have threatened to get law enforcement involved if Salty didn't get a base hit. Well, he must have heard me because he managed to hit it just far enough to score Carl from first. I considered giving the RBI to Varitek, but after a discussion with my friend, we decided to give Crawford credit for the RBI because he had to run all the way from first. He earned it.

Heart attack theater commenced in the 9th, with Paps allowing a double to V-Mart. Oh, V-Mart. I didn't give you a standing ovation, but I clapped loudly and heartily for you every time you came to bat. Maybe I should have clapped less heartily in the 9th. Luckily, a ground out and two strikeouts later, Dirty Water was playing, and we all left happy. Can I give Tek credit for the win? If so, Tek has the best winning percentage of all catchers this year. He's 1-0. Show me any other catcher who is 1-0. I dare you.

Beckett. Verlander. Tonight. And while I may not know what Josh was doing at Logan Airport yesterday, I know what he'll be doing on the field at Fenway tonight. Entertaining me. And that's why I love him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Three Cheers For V-Mart: Or At Least One Standing O

Reading the preview for the game tonight, it seems like V-Mart is questioning what the response to him will be. I do need to say that I completely forgot that he'll be returning tonight, and that I'm insanely excited to see him again. You know you miss him every time Salty (or... even Tek) comes up to bat. But I read the preview and it made me wonder if everyone else feels the way I do.
"You know what? To be honest with you, I don't think I did anything bad, anything wrong when my time was up there. I'm just hoping that the fans know that it's part of baseball," said Martinez, who was named AL Player of the Week for May 9-15, after hitting .579 with two home runs and 11 RBIs during the week.

"I'm just hoping they understand that, but we'll see what happens. Either way, nothing against them. There's no hard feelings against anybody. I have nothing but great things to say about the organization, the city, the fans. It was one of my great experiences in my big league career."
Is there anyone who blames V-Mart for leaving? The general consensus was that the Sox didn't plan on re-signing him anyway, so what was he going to do? I hope that everyone else in the park joins me welcoming him back.

After receiving confirmation that the Sox ARE skipping Timmy in the rotation this time around because of the rainout, I feel better knowing that the Verlander-Beckett matchup for Thursday will remain intact. I also wonder how Dahmer is going to feel pitching to V-Mart, his former favorite catcher. It'll be interesting. My hope for V-Mart is the same for every other non-Yankee former Sox player who returns to Fenway for the first time: standing O in the first at-bat, and an 0-4 night in the books. I say this sincerely, with as much love as possible.... welcome back, Victor. I hope you don't get on base at all during your stay here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That Didn't Take Long: Dice To DL

Did anyone not see this coming? After another bad outing from Dice-K, he's headed to the DL to join his partner in bad pitching, John Lackey. From Redsox.com:
Matsuzaka underwent an MRI on Tuesday, and the diagnosis is that he has a sprained right elbow. Because Tuesday night's game was rained out, Boston will officially place Matsuzaka on the DL prior to Wednesday's game. To replace Matsuzaka on the roster, the Red Sox have summoned right-hander Michael Bowden from Triple-A Pawtucket.
So, can someone please reassure me that they're going to skip Timmy this time round the rotation? I was really looking forward to Beckett vs. Verlander on Thursday and I fear this PPD game will ruin that. I hope I'm worrying for nothing. Oh well. New rotation: Beckett, Lester, Aceves, Wakefield, Buchholz? I'll take it.

Delayed: We Know What To Blame

Makes me miss Manny D.

Sox Are Winners: Over .500!

I sat at Fenway for five innings of this game. Five. I don't feel as bad about leaving early when I'm in $12 bleacher seats and got free parking down the street from Fenway. It was a gross night... cold, windy, and rainy, and miserable on the field. It was the second time in a row that I've sat in Fenway for a Dice-K start that he lasted less than five innings, and it didn't look like it was going to end very differently. I'm glad it DID end differently, but even as I drove home, I said to my friend, "Even if they come back and win, I still think leaving early was the right choice."

I hate leaving games early, but sometimes it's the best choice. The Red Sox don't like to win in front of me this season, so I had to remove myself from the equation in order for the comeback to happen. So, you're welcome everyone.

Granted, I missed all the good stuff. The five run sixth? Missed it. Lowrider doubled in Drew, Tek singled in Lowrider, Ernie singled in Crawford, and Youk doubled in Tek and Ernie. Maybe I was making them nervous? I don't know, but I'm glad it happened even if I missed it. In the seventh, Tek singled in Lowrider AGAIN. It was like a loop in the matrix... a wonderful matrixy loop. The great ending where Ernie doubled in CRW and Munchkin? Well, technically I saw that on TV, so I didn't really MISS it.

Now that Lackey's on the DL (hooray!), how long before Dice follows him? I mean, the Lackey situation is different. I really think that he just needs a mental time out. I don't know what Dice needs. They may have different situations, but they have similar results, and those results are troubling at times. How do you make a pitcher consistent? I need to study up on pitching so I can one day be a coach and get the lower end of the rotation in order.

I like that the bats showed up. The only one in the starting lineup without a hit was Papi, but he gets a pass because he's been hitting well in all other games this week. Only Crawfish and Munchkin had one hit. Everyone else had two or three. I mean, we had fifteen hits, they had to be distributed somehow.

I'm rambly today because I don't feel good. Bottom line is that we won, coming back from a six run deficit. Ernie got his first Fenway walk-off moment, and we're looking forward to many more during the course of his career. Dice-K makes me angry, and Wakefield gets to pinch start tonight. We're over .500 for the first time all season, and things are good in Soxville. I've got no complaints. I've got another game to go to on Wednesday, and I promise, if they aren't doing well, I'll leave so they can win.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Papi: Makes Even NY'ers Smile

I don't care that I am once again last to acknowledge the existence of something fun..... this video of Papi hugging NY'ers made me smile. Only Papi could make me smile at a video full of Yankee fans, but he manages. I love that man. Enjoy it even 15% as much as I did, and you should have a great day.

The Holy Land of .500: We Have Arrived

For the second time in as many starts, Jon Lester had the chance to bring his team to .500. After being handed the ball on opening day, essentially being named the team ace, this became Jon Lester's team (even though we all sort of know it's Pedroia's), so it HAD to be him evening things out. Six days ago, when he had the chance, he failed. This game looked from the start to be another failure to accomplish .500, but Jon got it together and made it through six innings when he seemed to be done in the second. I give him credit for holding it together just long enough, but this game was about the bats. They backed him every step of the way. He needed the backing.

After NY put up a run in the first, we matched it in the second with a Lowrider sac fly. Jon came out in the bottom second and allowed three runs in absolutely painful fashion, which I will not recount. We come back in the top of the third to tie it with a 3-run shot from Youkilis. Jon settled down and didn't allow another run to score. He finished with a line of 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 7 K. This definitely wasn't his prettiest start, but it wasn't his ugliest either. Results are really all that matters anyway, and his result was a W.

The Sox didn't stop their scoring at 4 runs. Papi blasted a solo run in the 5th, making it 5-4, then in the 7th, shit went crazy. Boone Logan provided a walk to Pedroia, who stole second. Logan then intentionally walked Ernie. Youk reached on a fielding error by A-rod. The announcers were babbling something about how it was reminiscient of Bucker, but I completely disagree. It reminded me more of a game in 2005 that I have a picture of hanging in my room. The game was April 6, 2005. Manny hit a ball to A-Rod, he misplayed it. Our second baseman, Mark Bellhorn, advanced to third on the error. In 2011-land, Youk hit the ball to A-Rod. Our second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, came home. Two different teams, two different second baseman, and two different results... but they both made A-Rod look like a jackass. There was absolutely no need to tell that story, but as soon as the play happened, all I could think about was the picture of Bellhorn skipping passed A-Rod as he misplayed a ball, so you get the rundown of a play from more than six years ago. Either way, we scored runs in both games due to errors by A-Rod.

Crawford's error in the 8th allowed Granderson to score from first, and I found myself swearing at him a little. Hustle, Carl. With someone as fast as Granderson on base, you got to move a little faster. You get a mulligan because of the win, but just keep it in mind for next time. Wanting to keep the lead at 2-runs, Salty hit his first home run of the season in the 8th off of Flyswatter. I sort of loved it.

Despite the action on the field, my favorite part of the night was a commercial on ESPN comparing Pedroia and Cano. The commercial said, "Second base has never had the sex appeal of shortstop." And I stopped listening because I may or may not have been laughing. I'm sure it makes sense to some people, but to me it's just comedy. Maybe it's because for me, personally, second base has always had way more sex appeal, and I've almost always found myself disgusted with shortstops.... but again, that's just me. I got a laugh out of it. Maybe you did, too.

We're at .500. I thought when we got here, I'd be happy, but I'm not. Now I want more. Now I won't rest for more than six hours per night until we're at .600, so let's get there!

Beckett: Intimidating

According to the guys on Fox who I could barely stand to listen to, Joshua is the type of guy that you're afraid to talk to during his start days. I can definitely see that. He's got badassery oozing off of him, and no, that's not a personal problem. I guess you could say in this game, Josh was scary good.... or that he was just good.

Despite my unrepentant love for Josh, I didn't have a good feeling about this game. In retrospect the bad feeling was probably about the Bruins game, and my brain just got a little confused. I'm sad for the B's but I'm happy for Beckett. He wasn't as sharp as I would have liked. He only went six when he probably should have gone 7 or 8, but he only allowed four hits. He had that lovely curveball going again. It wasn't as consistent as we've seen in the past, but it was lovely nonetheless. I don't care what you say, Beckett! Your curve is your second best pitch, not your changeup! I will fight you to the death on this matter, even if I'm wrong! One thing I'm not wrong about.... in the neverending rematches of the 2007 ALCS, Josh proves time and time again that he, and not Fatass, is the better pitcher. Let there be no question about that.

The game was a stalemate until the fifth when the Red Sox finally gave up on watching the Bruins game and returned to hitting. With the bases loaded in the fifth, CRW came up and smacked a double to left, allowing two runs to score. It was all we needed as Beckett and the bullpen cowboys posted zeros all night long. Luckily, we threw a few more demoralizing runs on the board against the Yankees, just for good measure. In the seventh, Tek singled in Cameron. There was question whether or not they would credit him with the RBI since Swisher misplayed the ball, but he got his ribby when it was done. Two batters later, Ernie came up and pulled an Ichiro:

"He even said that. He said, 'I'm going to give it a little Ichiro," manager Terry Francona said. "He amazes me. I mean, when you say you're going to do it, and then you do it? That's pretty impressive."
I know I'm not the only one who thinks it's cool that he knows how to pull an Ichiro. I sort of love Ichiro. Whether he's Ichiro or himself, Ernie has been knocking them out pretty consistently in May, and I like it.

Beckett walks away with a win, the Sox inch closer to .500, and Varitek got on base more than once! There was nothing I disliked about this game... except for the announcers and the Posada-drama. He asked out of a game! GTF over it. That's all I'm saying about Chinless. Happiness abounds in Red Sox land. Now.... to the finale!

Friday The Thirteenth: Lucky Day For Clay

Believe it or not, sometimes a stupid title like that can take me upwards of ten minutes to think of. This one only took three, but I've had ten-minute-titles before. Why is that relevant? It's not! Like most of you probably are, I'm ridiculously sleepy-brained today and that's my best excuse.

How appropriate to have our resident serial killer pitching on Friday the 13th? In my mind, super appropriate. Dahmer gathered up seven K victims over seven innings, and only allowed 2 runs. A quality start! How frightening for the Yankees. On their end of the pitching mound (which, for all purposes needed to be the bigger end), Bartohno held us to five hits and three runs (two earned) over six. This is also a quality start, but I prefer ours over his. Pitching on our end wasn't as sharp as it could be. Bard and Paps each allowed a run, making our little tiny lead much tinier and much more terrifying. Still, Dahmer walked away with a win, and that's the only thing that matters.

For offense, Ernie started the scoring for the night in the fourth. Before that, Dahmer and Ohno were throwing up zeros on the board like it was their job. It sort of was. A solo homer from Ernie and an RBI groundout for Crawfish brought it to two-oh. It didn't last long as Dahmer returned both runs to the Yanks in the fifth. My favorite part of the night, however, came in the 7th. Despite my distaste for Youkilis, watching him take Flyswatter deep was just sort of awesome. It's just a little bit a payback for all the headhunting over the years. If only all revenge could come in the form of RBIs, the world would be a better place.

Back to Bartolo, though. I know I'm not the only one who finds it suspicious that he has sketchy off-season surgery in the Dominican and comes back throwing mid-90's at 37. Maybe that's why MLB is investigating him and the surgery performed. I'm sure they won't find anything, though. All overweight 37 year old pitchers who have arm surgery manage to throw in the mid-90's in their first season back. Whatever, we still won. Hooray for Friday. Next on the menu for today, I recount the glorious tale of Josh Beckett and his winning face. Or I just recap the game. I'm really not sure what's gonna happen in my next post.

Wish I Were Eating Crow: But There's No Crow

I had a recipe picked out. I was going to bake that crow up in a nice humble pie and share it with whomever needed or wanted a piece. We were going to eat that humble crow pie at a big table, with everyone laughing and smiling, and enjoying the meal. Maybe there would have been some music. I would have provided lilacs from the garden, because they only bloom for a couple of weeks a year, and it would have been the perfect opportunity to use them. I had a whole dinner party planned, John Lackey, and now because of your performance, everyone has cancelled their RSVPs and I am left staring at this crow carcass that I am NOT eating. Thanks. Thanks for that.

As Blogger.com refused to acknowledge it existed this morning and would not let me sign in to post, I spent the morning making my blog rounds. Normally, I like to write my own post before I read everyone else's take on the matter, but I didn't have a choice this morning. I'm reading a lot about the bad times John and Krista Lackey have been going through. I feel for them. Honestly, I do. It sounds like they are getting wave after wave of bad luck and nobody deserves that. I felt my heart grow maybe a size. I gave Drew a pass when he was going through all the medical issues with his daughter. As much as I don't want to do this because I've never liked John Lackey and I never wanted him on my team, I'm giving him a pass. For this game only. Maybe John needs to take a couple of days and clear his head. I know he doesn't want to use it as an excuse, otherwise he would have come outright and said, 'I'm worried about my wife and I can't focus on this game,' but maybe just stepping away from the team for a while would help. I don't know. I'm not a psychiatrist.

In addition to the shitstorm that was another failed Lackey start, Ellsbury's hit streak came to an end, Jed Lowrie is sick again, and Pedroia continues to struggle. Five of our regulars are hitting under .250. Consider me frustrated.

Highlights? Believe it or not, I have a few! Wakefield became the oldest pitcher to ever don a Sox uniform. Though he didn't do much to help in the 7th, he long-relieved the rest of the game and didn't allow any of his own runs to score. Also? Ernie and Papi. Yes, I'm aware that doesn't have a nice ring to it, and I'm working right now to come up with a nickname for Gonzalez that compliments Papi. It's gonna take a while. I haven't had any caffeine yet this morning. That would probably explain why I'm extra cranky. Oh well.

We're faced with a much-needed off day. Lowrie will get better, Pedroia will find his swing, Papi and Ernie will put together a Vaudeville style show that will wow the masses and distract us all from the horrendous play of the Red Sox, and Jason Varitek will develop the ability to throw out baserunners after getting doused in radioactive slime. Also, he'll grow another head, and it will talk and look like Mike Lowell, and then my world will explode with awesomeness.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sox: Uncoordinated

C'mon, guys. Really? I was half-joking about that whole 'being allergic to .500' thing, but you're giving me lots of evidence to back that claim. I guess I should have been more prepared for this loss. Jon Lester pitches terribly in Toronto, and the Sox play terribly when they're one game away from being mediocre.

Not to say there weren't fun parts of the game. Gregg Zaun discussing his obsession with watching Tek eat apple sauce? That was pretty interesting. I got a couple of laughs out of it. Apparently, Don never knew Tek liked apple sauce, and- what's that? You don't care about Tek's dietary habits? Well what the heck do you want from me? We lost. The apple sauce discussion was far better than the overall game.

In all seriousness, we did have some star players of the night. CRW, extending his hit streak and getting on base three times was nice. Ernie hitting two very clutch home runs was really nice. Papi having three hits, and almost hitting for the cycle was pretty awesome, too. For the first half of the game, the Sox only scored runs in innings that David Ortiz batted, and he generally found himself involved in the scoring. Second inning - Papi doubled and Crawford singled him in. Fourth inning - Papi homered. Top of the 5th - Gonzalez homers, Papi hits a single later in the inning. It sort of stopped being fun from there, as he grounded into a DP in his next at-bat, he didn't bat in the 8th, and in the ninth he grounded out. So, in half the innings we scored, Papi was on base.

His quest for the cycle (not that I think he cared about the cycle) was just a tiny glimpse into the season of the Sox. Consider that hitting for the cycle is like achieving first place in the division. The first three at-bats were like the Sox catching fire and beginning the crawl out of the basement. Even without the triple, any other hit still makes for a great night and likely brings us one step closer to the bigger goal. We'll settle for another single, or maybe even a double which would almost certainly bump us up over .500. Instead we get a double play. Chance after chance comes and goes, and not only do we not get that triple, we don't get any more hits. I'm know I am blatantly stretching this comparison. It sounded much better in my head, but I'm gonna go with it anyway.

Overall, we had 16 hits and could only manage 6 runs. In comparison, the Jays had 9 hits and 7 runs. Ugh. Do we see something wrong with this? I'm pretty sure this isn't right. What can I write that I haven't written a thousand times before, Dave Madagan? What do I have to say to make you better at your job? For that matter, third base coach who does not deserve an actual name, what's it going to take for you to stop sending runners to their doom? Everyone and their blind uncle could see that the ball was hit far too shallow to send Crawford from second. It was almost back to the infield by the time he hit third. He's fast, but not that fast. I sort of hate you, third base coach who doesn't deserve an actual name. When is the last time we had a third base coach that I didn't hate? I honestly can't remember that far back.

We begrudgingly turn toward Lackey to save us from a two-game sweep. I don't think he's capable of stopping the sweep, but I'll be more than happy to eat crow if he does. Be a man and prove me wrong, John.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In Command: At Least Till Paps Comes In

What happened, Jonathan? I shut my phone off for a measly hour and a half, and you blow the game? Listen, I only checked the box score, so if you have a reasonable explanation for why you blew the save, I'd like to hear it. The last I knew, it was the top of the 8th, 2 outs, a runner on second, and a count of 2-2. It seemed like a pretty closed deal, but I guess I was expecting too much. What happened? No, you know, it's fine. You all still managed to get out before me, so I didn't have to deal with Red Sox traffic at the end of the concert, and that's more than enough. Finding out we won was the icing on the imaginary cake.

Glancing at Beckett's line of 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K with 103 pitches, I am pleased. I forgot to record the game like I had planned, but as long as I know Joshua did well, I don't need to see it. He's Josh. It's an odd year. He's bound to be brilliant. I mean that figuratively. He said that he struggled to find his curveball. In that case, I'm fine that I missed the game because I love that curveball. It was a little chily last night. It's reasonable that he was struggling with it. In other pitching news, I see that Aceves had another balk. My initial reaction was to swear a little and wonder out loud what the hell was wrong with him, and then I remembered who the umpiring crew was. I'm sure whatever happened, they got it wrong, because they're horrible. Yes, all of them! It's guilt by association in the Major League Umpires Union or whatever the bloody heck they're called. They work with Joe West, they're bad umpires. Sorry, that's life. However, it's nice to see Oki get a win even if Josh is the one who deserved it.

Listen, guys.... Varitek got two hits last night. When I asked for something nice to come home to, he listened. The only other player on our side to have multiple hits was Ernie, who drove in Tek for the first run of the game. Crawford also listened by doubling home the winning run. I'm happy that Crawford won the game. Was he smiling when he won it? I thought I heard smiling, but it gets so loud in the House of Blues, I wasn't sure. It could have just been the Deftones playing. Whatever it was, I enjoyed the sound, the concert, and the win.

I am a little weary, though. We're one game away from .500 and I just don't know if this team has taken their allergy medicine yet. I believe in Lester, despite his struggles in Toronto, but he can't do it alone. The offense is going to have to do something tonight against Kyle Drabek. If they do? Well, my friends, we will have finally reached mediocrity and then we can start aiming higher. C'mon, Sox! Achieve mediocrity!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day: Not a Miracle, But Close

Really now, when Dice-K goes and gives up three runs in the first, you generally don't think he's going to pull himself together and give you a near-quality outing. Well, maybe you do, but I don't. There were a couple of cool things going in this game right from the start that should have told me that we would be fine. First, it was, uh, Mother's Day. Second, it was Ernie's birthday. Third, Jose Iglesias was called up for his first stint in the big leagues. We're plus three right off the bat. I'm sure you're wondering why I used Mother's Day as one of my plus points, considering that the Twins have mothers, too. I have no reasoning. It's just one of those things that don't need to make sense, ok?

My favorite captain was the only guy in the original lineup to not have a hit, but that did not mean he didn't have an RBI. Oh, he definitely did! I was shamelessly cheering for him. RBI's are a big deal. He got the scoring started in the third, which ended up being our big inning for the day. If you combine the 5th and 7th, you get the 3rd. So there, actual math! You can't control me! Birthday boy had a big day with three hits (single, home run, single) and two RBI's, making it a very happy birthday indeed. CRW contributed three hits. Youkilis and Papi each had two. It was a very offensive day. The good kind of offensive.

On the pitching side, Dice was able to get through six, Albers went two, allowing one run, and Bard closed it out. One of the fun things was that Iglesias got into the game defensively in the top of the 9th, and he actually got to field the final out. Which reminds me, Scutaro is on the DL, which is why Iglesias was up. Is it just my imagination, or is the DL slowly starting to get crowded again? Hopefully, it's just my imagination. Anyway, Jose fielded the last out with this huge smile on his face. It was nice to see. I like seeing the kids get a chance to shine. They're our future, after all.

It's even better to see the team win a series, so hopefully Josh can get it done. We don't really want to walk away with a split, do we, Josh? No, we don't. I'm not going to be able to watch the game. I'll be next door at the House of Blues with my other obsession, the Deftones, so let's have a Becketesque performance so I can come home to something nice, ok?

Killer Game: Clay K's Twins

He had six K's, so my title is not a lie, though it does make it sound like he K'd them all. He did not. I also don't want to give the impression that he pitched more than five innings, because again, he did not. However, he did manage to only give up two hits, and if you aren't happy with that, then you have no soul. Or you're not a Sox fan. That's the same thing though, right?

It was nice to walk away with a W after two straight days of getting the proverbial whoop ass can opened on us. It seems that when our boys score first, we win more often. Actually, here are the numbers!

When scoring first: 11-5
When scoring in the first inning: 6-1
Not scoring first:3-14

Sort of feel like those numbers speak for themselves. While I didn't go too deep into them, I can theorize that they show that as Pedroia goes, so go the Sox. Why can I do this? Because I like Pedroia. I'm not going to comb through all the game data and find out if he actually made a difference in every one of those games, but deep down, you know he did. Also, god bless baseball-reference.com. Life could not go on without this website.

Getting off track again. Tangents! Um, so the Sox put four runs on the board, decorating innings 1, 3, and 8. For innings 2,4,5,6, and 7, they were pretty useless.... but man, 1, 3, and 8? Excellent. This game is a nice example of Pedroia impacting the game. We scored first, in the first inning, and Munchkin contributed a walk to the cause, allowing Jed Lowrie to get the scoring started. Isn't that nice of him? I think it is. RBI contributions were also received from Youkilis and Ellsbury. I know, I thought Ellsbury was going on the DL after his collision at home plate last week. Turns out, he might not be made of pretzels after all. Hill, Albers, Bard, and Paps combined to keep the shutout intact after Dahmer left for the day. And... AND there were no balks in this one, which was unbelievably appreciated. Balks are sloppy and they make kittens cry.

I don't want to minimize Clay's effort though. It cannot be forgotten that there was actually a two-hour-and-something-minute rain delay in this one, and Clay actually came back at the end of the rain delay to pitch. It's not often that we see one of our pitchers actually come back to pitch after a rain delay, so major brownie points to the little serial killer for the extra effort. Walking away with a win on a rain-soaked Saturday? Oh yes. I approve.

No Love For Timmy: Friday's Sox Stink

I would love to be able to honestly write that I was shocked at Friday's game. Unfortunately, I wasn't, and I'm sure a whole bunch of you weren't shocked either. Wake wasn't sharp (and this may just be my complete homer side) but I don't think he was as bad as the results showed. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's just my complete homer side talking, mainly because I don't enjoy saying anything negative about Mr. Wakefield. Four point one innings, nine hits, and eight runs later, Wakefield's second start of the year was over, and Tito had been kicked out of the game.

It didn't take long, actually. Wake was charged with a balk in the second inning with runners on first and third and two outs. Tim faked to third and then to first, and apparently, Angel Hernandez felt he did not complete his motion in a satisfactory way and charged him with a balk. Tito lost it. I believe I've seen him angrier at times, but this was the first time this season that I remember him getting worked up to rabid levels. It was ugly. What's even uglier is the way the umpires are allowed to behave. Joe West blocked Tito from speaking to Hernandez. We get it, you're not allowed to argue balls, strikes, or balks. What's absolutely absurd to me is that after he was tossed, he still wasn't able to get even a two-second explanation of what Wakefield did wrong. Joe West is a disgrace to the game, and Angel Hernandez isn't much better. There is NEVER a time when I find out either of them are officiating for a game that I don't groan and accept that they're going to ruin something. Why aren't managers allowed to get clarification on a balk? Why are umpires allowed to make game-changing calls without justifying their decision? Do they think it'll make the game longer if they have to give a short justification? Oh, wait, I forgot. Umpires are infallible. We're supposed to treat them like deities. I'm getting really sick of worshipping at the altar of bad officiating.

My tangents... I do love them. My point is that it would have been much quicker and neater for them to tell Tito where the balk was. Kick him out of the game if you must, but at least explain. I strongly dislike these umpires. It didn't matter much. Aside from a JD Drew solo homer and an Ernie solo homer, there was no offense in this one. Aceves gets the gold star for coming out of the bullpen and pitching four point two innings, only allowing one run. Lowrider gets a slap on the back of his hand for two fielding errors, and the rest of the team gets detention for not showing up to class. And we watch .500 slip farther and farther away....

Friday, May 6, 2011

DL and Pawtucket Express: Getting More Visitors

In my effort to keep track of who the heck is on my team, here's an update. It's more for me that for you guys. Sorry about that, but in two weeks when the Sox send Rich Hill down and I find myself muttering, "When the heck did they bring HIM up?" I will be able to look back at my own blog and remember. Life gets busy. Keeping track of a bullpen is hard.

In a move that I'm sure surprised no one, but pleased everyone, Jenks was sent to the DL with a case of not being able to pitch all well and stuff. He brings Dan Wheeler with him, because apparently the DL is a scary place and Jenks didn't want to go alone. Scott Atchison and Rich Hill were brought up to replace them. However, because of everyone being exhausted, Atch told he was being sent back to Pawtucket yesterday after the game. Alfredo Aceves is expected to be called up in his place. That move isn't official yet, but be on the lookout for it.

For those keeping track like me, our bullpen right now is Paps, Bard, Oki, Hill, Albers, and Atch/Aceves. I'm not counting Tim in all this because he's starting tonight. So in your face, bullpen!

Red Sox: Allergic To .500

That's it. That's the answer. I've been thinking long and hard about this and it seems obvious now. The Sox are simply allergic to being a .500 team. Every time they start to get close to it, they have a reaction (of crappy baseball) and then it takes them a few games to recover. It's the only possible explanation for this team, a team that we've SEEN play incredibly well, to be as bad as they are. Oh, they're bad. Sure, they can get better, but they haven't gotten around to it yet. How long are they going to keep us waiting?

I'm not even going to rehash the 13-inning disaster that ended at almost 3 AM yesterday because I didn't watch it! Sure, I watched the first seven innings, but as soon as Vernon Wells hit that two-run home run, I shut it off and went to bed. Best decision I've made all week. We didn't have a hit. In seven innings, we couldn't manage one hit. I think that's why I was so disgusted to see we ended with 11 hits. We managed 11 hits from innings 7-13 and we couldn't push through the go-ahead run? Fine, guys. You don't want to win? Fine. I slept through it, so it couldn't upset me much.

Ok, I lied a little. That last paragraph was nine sentences longer than I intended for it to be. But I will get to Lackey. I don't know anyone who thought the Lackey signing was a good thing, but games like this kill me. We needed an ace to go out there and help the bullpen; instead we get Lackey getting lit up in four innings against his former team. I'm sure after the game, he said it wasn't hit fault. Sun was in his eyes, or the ball wasn't properly prepped or some other silly excuse. I've been laying off Lackey a lot, mostly because he hasn't sucked horribly, so I won't rip him to shreds today. All I'm saying is that this performance is far more indicative of what his has to offer than his previous outings. He's a garbage pitcher, and should have never been signed.

Not that the offense was helping! I mean, goodness, I always say I can't get too mad about how bad the starter is if the offense doesn't bother to show up. This is a special case, of course, seeing as how the bullpen was demolished the night before. We went three full innings without getting a hit off of JOEL PINIERO! Are you kidding me? Joel "I'll Let You Hit This Ball Over The Wall" Piniero.... why does this guy always make the Sox look stupid? He made them look stupid when he signed here, and he continues to make them look stupid (with the bats) every time he comes through town. What is it about this guy?! That's really the only unforgivable part of the game for me. Piniero. Ugh. I don't have a stomach strong enough to be ok with looking foolish against Piniero.

I'm tired. I'm tired of the way this team is playing, and I know they're tired of it, too. What is it going to take for them to break through? Do we need psychiatrists for every player and coach? Sleep deprivation? Torture chambers? What?! Someone better figure this out soon, because it ain't April any more and they're still sitting three games under .500.

Timothy gets the spot start tonight, replacing an already-used Dice-K. I'm sending Timmy all the best wishes and happy thoughts that I've got, because he deserves them. Come on, Sox, give Timmy a win. You owe him.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dan Haren: Still Homeless

It's not just the hair. He just LOOKS like he's been sleeping in an alley, doesn't he? I can't be the only one who thinks that. Despite looking like he needs a hot shower and a warm meal, Haren was all but dealing on Tuesday night. I was supposed to be at this game, but due to a family emergency, I had to miss it. It's probably for the best, because the boys don't seem to like when I come to visit this season. We needed to win this game, so I'm sort of glad I wasn't there to ruin it.

Lester made one mistake over the course of seven innings. One mislocated fastball to Mark Trumbo in the second inning that turned into a solo home run seemed to be the deciding moment in the game as the Sox failed to get runs... or hits off of Haren. It took until the third inning for Crawford to break up Haren's no-hitter, but he was stranded on second (after a stolen base). Scutaro singled in the fifth, but was left at first. The aces battled hard, both going seven innings, though Lester could have definitely gone longer if needed. His pitch count when he came out of the game was only 93. With a score of 3-1 when Jonny came out, I'm not sure why Tito felt this was a comfortable lead, knowing the arsonistic tendencies of our cowboys in the pen, but the gamble paid off. I mean, he still came out with a lead so he was in line for the win. This is what went down:

In the 6th, with one out, CRW doubles to right on a ball that hit off that part of the seats that juts onto the field. With two outs, Ernie broke one of my cardinal rules of pitching and swung at the first pitch. He's lucky that he ended up with a single to left, because I would have ripped out his hair if he hadn't. CRW came around to score on a play that was so much closer than anyone expected it to be. Has Jacoby slowed down, or have I forgotten that Wells has a good arm? Either way. Papi followed up with a single, putting Ernie on third. Lowrider drove him in with a single of his own. It was the first time in the game we had more than one hit in an inning, and we made it sting for Haren. I'm glad, because Jonny really deserved to win this one. I mean, the kid was just rolling. Despite six hits, he still racked up eleven strikeouts. Those K-Men were busy last night. I also noticed they have a new sign for A-Gon, obviously using the "I" from "Ortiz" as their hyphen. Made me sort of smile. Just sayin'. So Crawford singled in the 7th and came around on a high wall-ball double for Salty. Dan Haren was on the verge of being done.

As much as I love a pitcher's duel... and believe me, I do LOVE a pitcher's duel, the 8th is where it got interesting. Mostly because it stopped being a pitcher's duel and became a slugfest. Looking at the final score does not give you a good indication of how tight this game was. Bard came in and had a clean inning. How many games that Lester has started this year have featured Bard out of the pen? All of them? I'm pretty sure it's all of them. I digress. Bottom of the 8th, Haren's pitch count was already a little high, but Scioscia and his silly face ran him back out there. Two pitches in, Ernie belts a home run and suddenly, Haren is gone. It's fine, because Papi greets Takahashi with a home run of his own. Back to back! And suddenly, I feel that maybe Adrian... JUST maybe.... could fill in some of the gaps in my heart left by Manny. Too much to hope for? We'll see. Two batters later, with Lowrider on and Drew out, Scutaro hits his OWN home run to left center. The ball cleared the wall, but it looked like a fan reached over and grabbed it, so Scioscia and his silly face (yup, I'm aware I already said that) demanded a review. As anyone who's ever sat up on the Monster can tell you, it's incredibly hard to lean over that wall. Home run! Hooray! 7-1 Sox.

Pap made it interesting in the 9th, but what else is new? After giving up two runs, he buckled down and got some outs. 7-3 Sox is your ballgame, folks. I also want to point out, because I haven't said it in a while.... I love Eck and all his cheese. All of it. The high cheese, the nasty cheese, the dirty cheese, the cheese with hair... love it. Still, I hope Remy gets well soon. Next up Santana vs. Beckett. Let's keep this going, Joshua Patrick. Ok?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Holy Offense, Batman: Sox Score 9. No, the Red Sox. Yes, I'm Serious!

Oh, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm a jerk for having complained about the offense, right? You're thinking that I should stop complaining and just be patient with them because they'll come around and yesterday's game proves that. That's what you're thinking, isn't it? Well you're wrong! I HAVE to call them out and complain about them, because if I don't, they won't have any other way to make me look like a jackass for my impatience. I am well aware of this. They do it to me all the time, so I know I have to complain so they can prove me wrong. Maybe I've not been complaining enough.

For the second night in a row, the Sox have the great misfortune of having to face another team's ace. Sunday, it was Felix Hernandez, who as I've discovered, is not really a king. He's actually just an ace. Better than being a spade, I guess. Monday, we had the pleasure of facing undefeated Jered Weaver. Awesome! Just what we need when we're struggling to keep the offense rolling, right? Actually, it is right. Way to step up the game to match the level of the competition, boys. Now, can we work on not stepping DOWN the game to match the level of crappier competition? Thanks!

Pardon the pun, but the Sox got the ball rolling in the bottom of the first with an RBI single from some guy wearing #20, driving in some guy made of pretzel sticks.... er... I mean, Ellsbury. No, I swear I'm gonna stop saying that about him. Eventually. Anyhows, Dahmer ended up going 6.2 innings. He wasn't awesome, giving up 8 hits and two runs, but he did have that all-important Quality Start that we need and love so much. Both runs came off the bat of Bobby Abreu, who just won't f'n stop torturing us. God, you're not a Yankee any more! Cut it out! The third inning RBI was a single and the 5th inning run was due to a force out. It was nothing super troubling.

Our guys, though... the hitters? I liked them. I'm actually going to petition the league so that we get no days off and spend all of our games playing the Angels. They're the only team that brings out the best in our boys. Hell if I know why. Weaver blanked us for three innings (2 through 4), but we brought out the bats again in the fifth. Dustin Pedroia, you insanely mighty midget you.... Dustin battled against Weaver in a 13 pitch monstrosity of an at-bat that would have been devastating had it ended any differently. Not a single pitch was a called strike. Thirteen pitches it took, but Pedroia made Weaver bend to his will, and he smacked a single up the middle, driving in two runs and giving the Sox their lead back. My grandchildren's grandchildren will tell tales of Pedroia's greatness. But even they won't believe that he's 5'9". No chance, Munchkin. Sorry.

Munchkin's greatness just prompts others around him to be great. That fifth inning at bat was fantastic, but it merely lit the flame for the firestorm of offense they brought in the seventh. My dear Jason got the wheels moving with a one-out single. CRW saw his single and upped him a double. If Jason weren't as slow as dried paint, he may have been able to score, but I'm not judging him. I love him and his slowness. Munchkin cuts his pitches per plate appearance in half and only takes five to walk, loading the bases for Ernie. In five bases-loaded at-bats this season, Gonzalez now has two hits as he took a Francisco Rodriguez fastball into center for a double. Despite being as slow as dried paint, Tek managed to make it around to score, Ellsbury and Pedroia right behind him. Literally. They pretty much were stepping on his shoes waiting for him to cross home plate. A #20 double brought Ernie home, and then Papi brought the inning home with a 2-run home run. It was pretty spectacular. Wish I had been there to cheer for it.

Dan Wheeler allowed a 2-run shot to Wells in the 8th and Oki allowed an RBi double in the 9th to Maicer Izturis, but that was it. Your final score, 9-5 Boston. The funny, and scary, thing is, we actually got outhit in this game 13 to 11. Still, not leaving three hundred men in scoring position leaves me with a sunny outlook this morning. I'll be at the park tonight to watch my favorite baseball Binky take on Dan Haren. What are the odds that we'll get to Homeless Haren again? I don't know, but you know my review tomorrow is going to be full of the name Dan Haren. Just cause it's fun. Happy Tuesday, everyone.

And way to go, Bruins!

Pedroia Strangles Crawford: In A Good Way

Before you lecture me, yes, I know I am now two days behind on blogging again, but I am determined to catch up! All for you good people. We start the month of May with a delightful game that I'm happy to get to recount for everyone. Allow me to tell you the tale of Timmy Wonderpitches....

A long time ago, a young man named Timmy wandered over to Fenway Park. He was downtrodden and sad, having been tossed to the side by his former employee. Timmy wasn't sure what would become of him. It was a crazy time, my friends. Crazy for Timmy, crazy for baseball. The year, 1995. April 26, 1995 to be exact. At the big green gates to that old park, Timmy found himself a new life. Sure, he was used, abused, and blamed.... frequently taunted by the residents of that old, green park, but deep within those taunts, love was developing. Somewhere along the line, the quiet, understated Timmy won us over. That brings us to May 1st, 2011 (I KNOW I skipped a lot of the story, just bear with me). Timmy's coach, Tito, hands him the ball with a simple request, "Just cover for Clay." This is not a situation that Timmy had never been in. He was, as he always is, ready to do what was asked of him. Knowing we hadn't seen much of him this season, the fans were anxious over what he'd bring to the mound. Five and two-thirds innings later, Timmy had given us as close to a quality start as possible, leaving the game with no runs having yet scored for the opposition. Timmy was in line for a win... a win he badly needed and deserved.

And then Jenks happened.

The evil dragon Jenks galloped (Shimmied? Stomped? Trampsed?) to the mound, stealing the ball from good ol' Timmy. With mischief in his eyes, and lack of location in his heart, he proceeded to allow the Ancient Mariners a single and three walks, ensuring that Timmy would not win on this day. Man, I feel like we've heard this story too many times before.

The other residents of that old, green park tried mightily, but could not manage to score off of those Ancient Mariners. Until the 9th inning, that is. The Legend of Jed Lowrie stepped up to face Wright, who thought he would vanquish the young warrior. On this day, Wright would prove to be very wrong (I know, I'm super clever), because young Jed pummeled the great white orb into the sky and asked the sun gods for assistance. These gods who had taken a great liking to the young warrior shone brightly, blinding Ichiro the Wonderful who was trying to stop Jed and the residents of the old green park. Ichiro the Wonderful lost sight of the great white orb and it fell, allowing young Jed to scurry three diamonds forward. But he knew, that young warrior did, that he couldn't do finish the task on his own. He called upon a disheartened warrior to help him.

Carl of Crawford stepped wearily up to face his opponent. He wanted this battle more than anyone knew. Three times the great white orb challenged him, and twice it bested him. That third time, however, he was victorious. A thud sent that orb passed He Who Was Not Wright, finishing the battle for young Jed and letting the residents of that old, green park hold their heads high for one day. It was a new dawn, indeed.

And then Pedroia stormed the field from the dugout and grabbed Carl in a hug, refusing to let go. I'm pretty sure Pedroia is still hugging him right now.

See, guys, this is why I shouldn't be left to my own devices. What the hell is wrong with me? Anyway, Crawford's hit drove in the winning run. I couldn't have asked for it to happen to a more deserving guy... but I cannot forgive Jenks for blowing Timmy's win. Still, a great win is a great win, and it's always so much better at home. Great job, Carl! And Timmy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lackey: Could Have Been Worse - He Could Have Been The Offense

Six walks, seven hits, no runs. Five of those hits were doubles. FIVE OF THEM WERE DOUBLES! No runs. Let me make sure I'm clear.... Thirteen base runners were able to stumble their way onto the basepaths, and all thirteen were left there. In the first inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Papi struck out and Drew flied out to the end the inning. Not even a sac fly. Seriously, offense, you've got to be joking, right? At this point, after this game, I really hope that the guys are embarassed. They're impatient at the plate, swinging at bad pitches, and not coming through when we need them to. I don't remember if it was Saturday or Sunday, but Heidy Watney asked Dave Madagan what this team needs to do in order to hit with runners in scoring position. His response roughly equated to, 'they have to want to hit with runners on base.' Ok. I get it. If they're all dreading coming up to bat with runners on base, they're not going to do well. My problem is, why are all of them so terrified of it? Shouldn't there be at least ONE guy in this lineup who doesn't wet his pants when he has to hit with a man on second or third? Just one! Sorry, Dave Madagan, you don't deserve your paycheck this week.

Sure, we didn't get the best pitching performance in the world from John Lackey, but we definitely have gotten worse from him before. Six innings with less that three earned runs? By golly, that's a quality start! Another quality start wasted by a lack of offense. Not ok. What can I say about this game? It's actually pretty typical for this team. Frustrating. Hard to watch. Unenjoyable. For goodness sake, it's the Seattle Mariners.

I don't know about these guys. I keep seeing the "We Won't Rest" commercials, and I'm finding myself more and more annoyed with them, because I believe them less and less. I understand one or two guys being a slump at the same time, but the whole team? What's going on? I'll be honest, I just don't want to think about this game right now. At least I'll have ONE positive post from this weekend.... coming up next. Stay tuned.

Efforts Get Wasted: Cameron Is Sad

Maybe it wasn't so much Cameron being sad on Friday as it was ME being sad. Or better yet, mad. I was mad at Bobby Jenks for existing. I was mad at him for blowing the game and making sure I'd leave Fenway for a second time after witnessing a loss. More than a few times during the hours I spent in my little section of heaven did I hear "Eric Gagne" being floated around in comparison to Jenks. Can't say that I truly disagreed with this comparison, because no, I don't like Jenks. Even so, sitting in my obstructed world in Section G23, I knew that hating him wasn't going to change him.... which is all I really wanted to do.

No one seemed very sure what happened to Dice-K in that fifth inning. He wasn't having his best game ever, having given up two runs in the first, but he wasn't bad. Aside from allowing a few too many base runners and throwing too many pitches for comfort, I was pretty pleased with him, so I was more than baffled when he mysteriously came out of the game after allowing a single to Ichiro to lead off the fifth. I've since watched replays, and I'm still not sure what happened to him. Now, I know they called it a strained right elbow... I just didn't see any sort of reaction from him to lead to his exit. Apparently, Tito said they were a little quick-handed in removing him since he's not scheduled to miss a start as of right now. Whatever happened, someone saw something that they didn't like, and Dice was lifted from the game.

Albers came in to complete the 5th, allowing a run on a sloppy error, and bringing the score to 4-3. He also pitched a pretty nifty 6th. At this point, everyone in the crowd was feeling pretty good, and lavishing praise on Mike Cameron, the man with the 100 watt smile and two home runs for the night.

And then came Jenks.

I feel like I've written that before, and I know for a fact it won't be the last time I'll write it. To say that Jenks was anything less than terrible would be misleading. He was terrible. In his one inning of work, in which he had a one-run lead, where we were counting on his closer experience to navigate us closer to victory, he took a sharp left turn off a cliff. Allowing two doubles, a single, and a walk, he left the mound at the end of the seventh, not only blowing the game, but allowing the winning run to score. In only took him nine pitches to surrender the tying run and fifteen pitches to send us all home angry.

I can't just harp on Jenks, even though I want to. Our bats had plenty of chances to pick him back up and couldn't do it. As with every other loss this season, there was plenty of squandering going on. Again, they just can't hit with runners in scoring position. It's disheartening, but maybe they just aren't that good. Maybe what we've seen is what we get. I mean, how long does a team have to play .300 ball before we acknowledge that they're not good? Acknowledging won't make me love them any less, it'll just make the disappointment sting less. After all, how can you be disappointed in a bad team for playing badly?

Next up, another loss brought to you by a lack of offense. Sigh.