Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't Let The Yankees Ruin It: Jimmy Fund Time Has Returned!

I do this every year. It's time again for the Jimmy Fund Telethon, guys! Now, I know the Sox dropped an ugly one to the Yankees last night, leaving an entire nation on base, but don't let that sour your outlook on life. There's still plenty of good to be done, and maybe those karma points could go toward a Sox victory tonight? Hmm? Just a suggestion.

Cancer has affected my family so deeply, and I have lost so many loved ones to this horrible disease. The Jimmy Fund is my charity of choice for that very reason. There have been so many breakthroughs in cancer research, but all those breakthroughs require money. Every small bit counts. Believe me, it does.

My father and both of his parents were lost to cancer. My maternal grandfather died of cancer. My aunt and uncle both have struggled with cancer and are hanging strong right now. More funding means more research, and more research likely means more cures. I want to believe in a future where my niece and nephew don't have to worry about the disease. I want to believe in a future where people don't have to watch their loved ones go through what I watched my loved ones go through.

If you'd like to donate, go on and click here or call 1-877-738-1234. Additionally, you can text KCANCER to 20222 to donate $10 instantly! It's so easy, and you really didn't need to buy coffee and a bagel from Dunks today, did you?

If you'd like more inspiration as to why donating is a good idea, there are some touching stories listed here or if you just want to follow along with how the telethon is going, you can head over to the WEEI Radio Telethon page.

Or, if you've had enough of my little guilt trip, you can just look forward to watching Beckett mow down the Yankees tonight. There's nothing wrong with that.... but imagine how much better a win tonight would feel if you've already done your good deed for the day. Just saying.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Water Water Everywhere: My Saturday Getting Rained On

I hate rain. I hate rain and water and storms and puddles. I hate that this season, my 'game bag' also known as my purse that I take to Sox games has officially become my 'rainy game bag,' and includes a poncho, an umbrella, a towel for drying my seat, and plastic bags to put all my wet garb in. I hate that more than half of the games I've gone to this season have included rain delays.

So of course, I had tickets for Sunday's game. Good seats, too! Eleven rows from the visitor's dugout... and I got them at a discount. $90 seats that cost me $65 because they came from my best friend's cousin who knew a month in advance that she could not use them. That's why we got hit by a hurricane.

Driving to the train station, seeing the water literally just pouring off of buildings, finding out that one of the stations that I need to pass through was closed due to flooding... yeah, there was nothing about Saturday that made me think we were getting those games in. There was a huge part of me that just prayed they'd cancel because I'm tired of sitting in the rain, but my dedication would not allow me to not go.

The Red Sox allowed game two ticket holders to come into Fenway for the last two innings of game one. We got to go in early and sing along to Sweet Caroline and dance to Dirty Water (there was PLENTY of it, by the way) and still got to see game two. As a disclaimer, we didn't stay all the way through game two. Once it hit rain delay, I was convinced there was no way they were getting the rest of the game in. I was wrong... but I still justify my decision. If I never have to wear my poncho again, it'll be too soon.

I hate you, rain. I hate you, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. I hope everyone out there is safe, and for my friends who lost power this weekend, hope you get it back in time for the Yankees series that starts tonight.... or better yet, skip tonight and wait for Beckett tomorrow.

200 Denied: Again. Seriously?

Dislike. That is all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Varitek Triples: Doesn't Fall Apart

I was in the car listening to the game on the radio. It was the top of the fifth in a scoreless game. Jon Lester had just, minutes before in the bottom of the fourth, given up his first hit of the game, so my dream of another KC no-hitter was dashed. I was feeling a little grumpy at the thought that it was the fifth inning and we still didn't have a single run against Kansas City. And then it happened.

Joe Castiglione started shouting. The ball was over right fielder Jeff Francoer's head. It was rolling to the wall! It got stuck under the wall and Tek was on his way to third as Jed Lowrie had already had time to get home and take a nap. Jason Varitek had collected himself an RBI triple.

Do you know how rare it is for Jason to hit a triple? Very. I know triples are rare in general, but in Tek's fifteen seasons in the bigs (yes, I count his one game in 97 as a year in the bigs), he's had 14 triples. He hasn't hit one since 2007, though he did have three that year. I know, I couldn't believe it either. From 2000 to 2005, he collected exactly one triple per season. In comparison, in the same span of years, David Ortiz has 16 triples. In six seasons, Munchkin has seven triples. In five seasons, Pretzels has 21. Slow guys don't hit as many triples as fast guys. THAT is a true story, so I am always more impressed with a Tek triple than a Pretzels triple.

Aside from that very cool play, we had the usually wonderful pitching of Jonny Lester to love and admire. He wasn't as sharp as he could have been, laboring through six innings and actually allowing more walks than strikeouts. That doesn't happen often. It's happened two other times this season (April 1st against Texas and August 10th against Minnesota), and both other times it has happened, Jon's lost the game. This time, however, he won. Thirteen wins on the season for our boy Jonny. Six runs of support on the board. That's what I like to see.

Ronald and Crawfish broke out the home run power, each collecting a solo shot for the night. In the 8th, Ernie, Lowrider, and the new kid combined to put three on the board. Yup, the new kid collected his first RBI (please keep in mind, Saturday DID NOT happen. Thank you.) I'm proud of him. I love to see the kids do well.

So the offense woke up a bit this weekend. Lester, Miller, and Beckett were able to collect wins to give us a series victory and... well, we won't talk about Saturday's game still. Somehow, through all of this, we've stayed tied with the Yankees. I wish that I could still say the same today. Next post, I discuss why the offense went back to sleep in Texas and theorize what thoughts are running through Erik Bedard's head when he's on the mound. Stay tuned.

Miller Gives Up Less Than Five Runs: Universe Implodes.

I guess I can be pretty mean to Andrew Miller. It's not completely intentional. I know he's just a kid. Talent. Potential. Blah. Not going through that again.

Despite my general feeling that he is of no use to us, he actually managed to pitch well against the Royals on Friday. Honestly, pitching well against the Royals shouldn't be considered a difficult task, but not everyone can live up to my impossibly high standards for pitchers. Actually, no one can. Beckett and Lester come close, but even they don't quite make it. Against one pretty bad team, Andrew Miller pitched 5.1 innings and only gave up three hits and a run. I won't go back through any of his other game data, but three hits and a run seems like a typical inning for him, not a typical game. Anyway, he won so cool.

Itty bitty baby catcher-turned-DH Ryan Lavarnway got his first hit as a major league ballplayer, but he still had a terrible night as he left eight runners on base. It's fine. He's young. If we didn't have injuries, he wouldn't even be up right now. I haven't seen enough of him yet to make any sort of brash statements about his possible abilities... and let's not fool ourselves, my statements would be brash.

Aside from Miller not sucking and the kid getting his first hit, Ernie semi-broke-out from his little funk, collecting three hits on the night and showing a teeny bit of power with two doubles. From what I hear, they almost went out of the park. Sadly, in baseball, almost doesn't count. What does count as going out of the park is Salty's 5th inning home run... because it actually went out of the park. Weird how that works.

Hmm, what else? Pretzels got hit in his back with a pitch and he's a big bruised marshmallow. Aceves continues to pitch like a rockstar when we need him to. Terry Francona still enjoys tea. I think that about covers it.

For the record, I am not writing about Saturday's game because I don't want to trigger any flashbacks. So we're skipping that and going right to Sunday. Everyone's cool with that, right? I sure hope so.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pedroia Is The Show: Everyone Else Is A Background Character

You know I would never take away from the importance of Beckett, but if it weren't for MC Laser Show, we would have been lost. No... wait, we would have lost, not would have been lost. He drove in three of the four runs we gathered on the night, with Tek driving in the other one. Strangely, both of them made outs at second base after RBI singles, so that was dumb. I don't like having so many baserunners thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles. Especially Tek. Tek, darling, you can't run. It's not worth trying!

Beckett actually did get on my nerves yesterday. His first inning was a tad sketchy. His second inning was beautiful and ended with an easy-to-manage pitch count. But the third? Meh. All he had to do was hold the lead they gave him, and that's the one thing he failed to do. Overall, he could have been far worse. Three runs in seven innings with four strikeouts and no walks against one of the worse teams in baseball is nothing to sing songs about, but it'll do. 110 pitches in seven innings also isn't the best we've gotten out of him. Again, I'll limit my nugacious complaints because we won the game. Had we lost, heads would be on chopping blocks.

So, news is that Youkilis is now on the DL with a severe case of suck (which they kindly referred to as 'back trouble,' but we all know) and David Ortiz is down with a case of 'needing a vacation' which they covered up by calling it bursitis and putting him in a boot, so the Sox decided that we needed an offensive boost. Granted, they're about three weeks late to that party, but they called up Ryan Lavarnway to pump up our boys. He may not have gotten a hit last night, but I think he put the fear of God into Tek. Our old man catcher was hustling, for sure. Guess he wants to keep his job. Not gonna lie, I want him to keep it, too. It's got to be hard seeing the ghost of Christmas future hanging out in the dugout.

The Sox ended up with nine hits for the night, matching their hit total from the past three games. Thanks for waking up a little, bats. You're going to need to be fully caffeinated with Andrew Miller on the mound tonight, and I demand that by the time Wakey takes the mound on Saturday that you've gotten your shit together. Really, I don't ask for too much, do I?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Invisible Offense: Sox Do Nothing

Aside from solo home runs from my darling Jason and the suspicious Pretzels, we had nothing. In eighteen innings yesterday, the boys managed six hits, and three of them were home runs. The other three were singles. There's a problem here. I know Papi is sick (and I hope he gets well soon!) and I know Youkilis is all sore and grumpy for whatever reason, but six hits in eighteen innings? Come on, boys, you're far too talented for that.

I wanted a happy post here, because Lowrider, Munchkin, and Ernie worked together in the fourth inning to record a triple play. A triple play! Do you know how rare triple plays are? I should have been able to write about how awesome it was, and what a great job everyone did to make sure we won on a night where the defense managed a motherfreakin' triple play but I CAN'T! Because aside from the triple play and the two home runs every other moment of this game was useless to me! Bedard recorded a quality start but couldn't get any run support and lost the game. Jeff Niemman collected ten strikeouts from our lineup! TEN! That's more than our collective total of baserunners for the entire day.

I'm trying not to get annoyed, but I'm sure you can clearly see that I am failing that goal. Everyone on the team needs coffee. Lots and lots of coffee since they are obviously falling asleep at the plate. I can provide them with said coffee as I have a source at a coffee distribution center. This can happen. Where do I deliver the magical caffinated beans? Because I don't want to watch the boys sleep any more. We've only got a month and a half left to the season, and I loudly request that we don't end the season the way we started it. The way to avoid that? Coffee. Obviously.

I'll get on it. For now, start praying that Mudpie manages a good game, because we're .5 games out of the division lead, and I'm not comfortable here in second place.

Nice Rebound: Jon Lester Gets Back On Track

Not that I ever had major concerns about Jonny's ability to bounce back from two less-than-Lesterish outings, but it was still nice to "see" (hey, I have a job. I can't watch a 1 PM game on a Tuesday!)

The first inning was a tad bit worrisome, as he let up two doubles and a run in the first, but that would be it. He wouldn't let up another hit until Evan Longoria singled off of him in the sixth. He wasn't as dominant as he could be, throwing 113 pitches in just seven innings. We've seen better from him. His control was a little bit off at times, but he was still pretty fantastic if you ask me. Luckily the mistakes he did make weren't damaging. Oh, that Jonny. How I love him.

It was nice to see one of our starters only allow one run. It's been a while. The last time a starter allowed only one run was August 7th, when Josh once again showed the Yankees that they're nothing to be afraid of. We've had some rough starting pitching over the course of the last week, and even rougher offense. Let's get to the offense, shall we?

I know Sharky is generally credited as being a useful pitcher, which I generally disagree with. Especially against the Sox. Career-wise, he's 6-11 all time against us with a 4.84 ERA. The only teams that he has a higher ERA against are the Diamondbacks, the Reds, the Rockies, the Padres, and the Nationals, and he hasn't played more than two games against any of those teams. The Sox can generally handle Sharky. Not so much yesterday, though.

Three hits was the entirety of our offense against him. All three hits came in the third inning with singles from Reddick and Aviles and a home run for Pretzels. Seriously? Another home run? Is this guy on steroids or something? I'm highly suspicious of why all of a sudden, Pretzels has power. I don't like it. I also don't like that the rest of the offense sees Pretzels' newfound power as an excuse to take a nap at the plate. It may be a tad bit selfish of me to expect fireworks from the offense every night, especially considering how many fireworks we saw through the month of July, but I feel the mid-August sputtering to be entirely inappropriate.

I know. I'm being entitled. I expect to win, and I expect the starters to be stellar, and I expect the offense to put ten runs on the board every night. What a spoiled little sports fan I am... but I enjoy watching my team win, and the best way to win is to have your starters be stellar and to have your offense put a bunch of runs on the board. I like winning games like this, games that can be easily decided by one swing of the bat. I don't like watching the offense fail.... but I'm not going to complain, because they won, and that's what's important. Besides, I've got nothing to worry about as long as we've got Jonny.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Perpetually Behind: Playing Catch-Up in A Single Post

Nope, this isn't entirely ideal. I had been doing really well posting in the month of August, and then.... life. I sort of feel like a scam artist when I write about games that I didn't actually watch. Yeah, I get score updates and I read game wrapups the next day, but not actually SEEING the games makes it hard to write about them. The one thing I don't want to be is a scam artist.

So this is the part where I blame my boyfriend. You can blame him for every post I haven't written, and believe me, he's cool with it. See, he doesn't like sports, and he doesn't own a TV.... and I've been spending lots of time with him, so unless we're at a sports bar, I can't actually watch games. I get score updates from MLB and text messages from friends telling me what's going on, but it's not the same. So there's my excuse that no one asked for.

Anyway, in the week that I haven't found it necessary to post, let me give you a little rundown of what happened....

-We won last week's series with the Twins, dropping the last game 5-2, when Lester got roughed up and the batters decided to be useless.
-After winning the first game in Seattle and giving Lackey another gotdamned W for his undeserved collection, Beckett and Wakey imploded in their games, and we dropped a series to the Mariners.
-Let me repeat that, we dropped a series to the Mariners. I think I'm going to be sick.
-Wake once again was denied his 200th win in that loss, even though he pitched a complete game and wasn't the worst we've ever seen him. He'll get another shot, and quite frankly, I'm sick to death of waiting for the guys to support him. Enough shenanigans! You guys are making me mad.
-Ernie has not hit a home run yet in the month of August. He hit two in July (July 7th and July 30th). He has two RBIs this month. Make of that what you will.
-Carl Crawford is hitting .342 in his last ten games, so please, everyone... shut up about how signing him was a mistake. He's fine.
-We are, unfortunately, once again tied for first in the division. The Yankees took advantage of our failure in Seattle and used it to catch up to us. I hate the Yankees.
-This afternoon, Jon Lester tries to rebound from his rough start vs. the Twins when he takes on Sharky Shields and the Rays at Fenway. If we sweep the double header today and the Yankees lose their game, we could go right back to a 1.5 game lead in the division. Here's hoping.

So we're all caught up and everything is back to normal. I'm going to do my best this week to keep up, but... you know... don't hold me to that.

Congratulations Jim Thome: Slugger Reaches 600 Home Runs

Jim Thome has reached a milestone that few others have ever been able to reach. Last night, during the Twins/Tigers game, Jim clubbed his 600th career home run, becoming one of eight players to make it to 600. Other members of the 600 club include Barry Bonds*, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., A-rod, and Sammy Sosa.

Aaron, Ruth, and Mays are in the HOF. Bonds, Sosa, and A-rod did it with steroids, so it's yet to be seen whether or not the BBWAA will let them in. Griffey is more than likely going to get in. Where does that leave Jim Thome? Would you put him in the Hall?

He's a five-time All Star, finished in the top ten of MVP voting four times (finished in the top twenty nine times), finished in the top ten for OBP SLG% and OBPS% ten times between 1995 and right now. According to the Jim Thome page on the ever-fantastic , Jim Thome's got a good case. Using the Bill James "Hall of Fame Stats" tool, it looks like Jim's a pretty likely candidate to get in. I know, right now you're thinking "well, obviously Jim Thome is a likely HOF candidate. There was no reason to even write this much about the possibility!" And you're right, but I felt the need anyway.

Jim Thome seems like one of the truly nice guys in baseball. He seems to love what he does, and in every article I've read about his great achievement today, he's come off as an incredibly humble, down-to-Earth guy. I root extra hard for people like that. I want to see him do well, and I want to see him get into the Hall. This may ring as cliche, but once in a while, I want to see the nice guys finish first. And I'm rooting hard for Jim.

Congratulations on 600, Jim! Now keep working on the case for Cooperstown!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Varitek Celebrity Putt-Putt: Pictures!

See? Told you I'd have them up by Monday. Not the greatest shots in the world, but they're something!
Unfortunately, the rest of them came out even blurrier... there was one of Tim Wakefield tickling Salty's daughter, but the quality was not up-to-par. Oh well. Never say I don't give you anything. Back to the game!

Another ND For Josh: But Beating Up On Mo Makes It Ok

He was in control. He had his soul-shattering curveball. He had his electric fastball. He only allowed a single, paltry run in six innings, and yet again, Joshua walks away with nothing to show for it. Again, for the ninth time this season, Josh pitched his ass off and gets to watch someone else rack up a victory. This time, that other person was Daniel Bard.

Not to say that Daniel didn't deserve it. I fully appreciate the work Daniel did, but I'd love to see Josh get some stat-padding wins. But it's fine; I'm not going to dwell. Matt Albers and Franklin Morales both struggled in this one, and the Yankees picked up a lead almost the moment that Beckett came out of the game. Wheeler, Papelbon, and Bard, though... those three held the fort and I have zero complaints. Not allowing the Yankees to pad their lead gave the batters an opportunity to perform some magic.

In the 9th, Scutaro, Pretzels, and Munchkin worked together to steal away the game tying run from Mariano Rivera (the only Yankee I have even the tiniest shred of respect for) in the form of a sac fly. This was the only point in the game where the top of the order came through for us in this one. They're just lucky they saved their best for last when we needed it most.

Joe Girardi, who obviously confused last night for game seven of the ALCS, brought starter Phil Hughes into the game to replace Rivera in the 10th. Granted, Rivera blew the save, but he hadn't thrown a bunch of pitches, and in a tied game, don't you want your best pitcher on the mound? Obviously Joe does not. With one out, David Ortiz doubled and was instantly yanked from second in favor of Ronald. I will never complain about getting a little bit of speed in scoring position in the tenth inning. An intentional walk to Crawfish later, Reddick steps up to bat. One pitch later, he was cruising to first, McDonald was being called safe, and the Sox picked up their tenth win of the season against the Yankees.

We're staying positive in this one. I'm not going to complain about the lack of production from the top of the order or Tek's tough day at the plate. I'm remaining impressed by Beckett's badassery, thrilled with a Reddickulous walk-off, and overjoyed to hand the Yankees another series loss. All positives all the time.

Tonight, in about ten minutes, Tim Wakefield steps to the mound for his third attempt at win number 200. If I see any squandering on the part of our offense, I might fly to Minnesota in a Dustin Pedroia costume and take care of Minnesota myself. Timmy deserves this win. It's time to get it for him. Let's go, boys.

All Tied Up: Offense Eliminates Yankee Division Lead

That's better. Sure, we may have been out of first place for a few hours, but the universe righted itself in a timely manner. I'll take a tie for first over a one game deficit any time, thank you. As much as it pains me to do this, I have to give Pretzels the majority of the credit for this win. Our snacky little centerfielder essentially destroyed Fatass all on his own, going 2-for-4 with six RBIs. Saturday marks the fourth time Fatass has lost to the Sox this season. Have we officially gotten into his head yet, or is it going to take another start?

Do I have to give Mudpie credit here? I really don't want to. In all honesty, saying anything nice about him makes me feel a little dirty. You know no matter well he may have pitched this time around, he's not deserving of the praise. So if I have to give Pretzels credit in this one, I'm going to withhold the Mudpie credit. I can't say nice things about both of them in the same entry. The universe would swallow itself. True story.

It took Fatass two innings to remember he was pitching to the Red Sox, but sure enough, he started handing over runs in the third. It started innocently enough. A sac fly from Pretzels. An RBI 2B from Munchkin. Suddenly, the Sox had a 2-0 lead. A sloppy inning, a double play, and a single in the fourth tied the game at 2 each, but the Sox weren't done with Fatass yet. The bottom of the fourth found a double from Youkilis, a single from new Red Sox that I haven't mentioned yet (welcome to Boston, Mike Aviles!), an RBI single from Crawfish, an RBI single from Scutaro, and to top it off, a 3-run home run from Pretzels. In case you lost count, that was five runs. Suddenly, it was 7-2 Sox, and the Yankees would never come close to matching the Sox offensive output... I mean, if you don't consider four to be close to seven.

Daniel Bard gave up an uncharacteristic home run in the 8th, making it 7-4 at the time, but the Sox poured on three more runs (big surprise, Pretzels was credited with two of those three) in the bottom half of said inning.

How exactly did we lose the sure-thing game on Friday and win the no-chance game on Saturday? Baseball is funny. Next up, Josh Beckett takes on Freddy "The Rock" Garcia. If you don't think he looks like The Rock, you're wrong. Gee, I can't imagine how this one will end. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Lester Loses: Sox Fall Out Of First

Stupid, right? Bartolo Colon, who by my account shouldn't actually be able to throw 96 mph anymore, got the better of Jon Lester? Did that really happen? Why did that happen? I don't approve.

I know Jon wasn't the best he's ever been. His one bad inning was pretty bad (for him), and it was just enough to do the team in. It started so promising, too. Jonny struck out three of the first four batters he faced. He would only collect four more strikeouts on the night, while allowing four walks. That's unlike him. If I recall correctly, there were a number of pitches he wasn't happy with, but he usually can make adjustments. It wasn't his best day, but I'll give him a pass because he's Jon Lester and I love him. Lately, he's been suffering the lack of run support just as badly as Josh has. Seems like the only guys that are getting run support are Miller and Lackey. Life isn't fair sometimes.

Ortiz had a solo shot in this one. The other run the boys posted was a collection of effort from Reddick, Scutaro and Pretzels. I know Reddick was forced out by Scutaro, who ended up scoring on Pretzels' double, but I would be remiss if I didn't give credit to our rookie. With the way Reddick is playing right now, does anyone miss JD Drew? Because I don't.

I guess if you want to take some positives away from this, Albers continues to be solid out of the 'pen... and it's not exactly like Jonny got lit up. The best part, though, is that I can recount the game without annoyance because I have the benefit of knowing what happened in the next two games. There's no need for me to get worked up about falling out of first place at all. I know, it's a charmed life. Next up, the shocking results of the Lackey/Sabathia matchup.... or, I guess by now it's not as shocking any more.

Fetus Bests Bedard: But I Still Love Fetus

No, of course I didn't want Bedard to lose his Red Sox debut. While I did actually want Fetus to do well, I was hoping that the boys would pick up with the offense after he came out of the game. Little did I know that the offense wouldn't be the problem. Franklin Morales, on the other hand....

Franklin and I, we've had some disagreements in the past regarding how he should handle himself on the mound. He seems to think he should be allowed to surrender runs whenever he sees fit, and I think he should not. Ever. But we're different people and aren't always going to see eye-to-eye on stuff like this. For his, what? Ten minutes of effort? Mr. Morales was handed a well-deserved loss, negating what had been a delightful debut for Erik Bedard. Sorry about that, Erik. It's not always going to be bullpen implosions around here. I mean, sure, there will be times when your lead gets stripped away from you and you walk away with the Beckett special (the dreaded ND), but for the most part, your new bullpen will be good to you.

I'd get on Andrew Miller's case for pouring more fuel on the fire, but honestly, what's the point. On the offensive side of things, the boys weren't doing much with Fetus or his fellow pitchers. Aside from a 4th inning Reddick home run, the only other Boston RBI's were accumulated by Ernie and Papi in the first. They just didn't have anything going. I think the boys get overwhelmed looking toward the mound and seeing Fetus' happy little face. It's just not right. He's one of us! And where did that trade get us? Victor ditched us the minute he could, and Fetus is still piling up wins for Cleveland. Sure, I'd probably make the trade all over again. I'm just sad that he's not one of us anymore and I have a hard time letting go of stuff like that.

As usual, I'm behind on the blogging. I've got the whole Yankees series to review. Luckily for me, there's plenty of good to write about. Who doesn't like writing about beating the Yankees on a Monday afternoon? We just have to muddle through that one little loss first... but don't worry, we'll do it together.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

200: Denied

I'm all for walk-off wins. If I could use a word to describe walk-off wins, I think I'd go with spiffy. I toyed with using splendiferous, but I think I'll just play it safe and go with spiffy. Even when the walk-offs are being perpetrated by Pretzels, I enjoy them.

Before I go further with this thought, let me put in my two cents regarding Pretzels, since I enjoy being the contrarian so often. I still don't like him. I know he's like, the second coming of Ted Williams all of a sudden and everyone is back on the Jacoby bandwagon, pretending it's 2007 all over again, but I'm not buying it. You're not getting me on that bandwagon. It looks crowded, and I'm not that social. After giving it thirty seconds of thought, Pretzels has Kevin Cash syndrome. No matter what he does, no matter how well he plays, I won't like him, and I don't have a legitimate reason. With Cash, at least it was because he was replacing Mirabelli (a big no-no) and I'm ultra-protective of the catchers I love. Jacoby replaced Coco. I didn't love Coco.... I was ok with him toward the end, but I never loved him, so why am I so anti-Pretzels? I don't even want to like him. I guess it doesn't matter, but there will be no Jacoby-bandwagoning here, just the ocassional forced props when he does something well.

Now, onto Timmy. St. Timmy, like Commander Joshua before him, again gets no love from the offense. Oh, sure, they came through and won the game, but that win should have belonged to Tim, what with that quality start he posted and all. I don't know if they're aware, but it's currently August 4th, and we've got just about two months left to the regular season. Timmy still needs eight wins. That means he needs to win at least four wins per month. It's possible, but we need the whole team to rally together to get this done. Score the runs while Tim is on the mound, guys!

Tonight, in the series finale, Fetus takes on Erik Bedard, who will be making his Red Sox debut. I hate rooting against Fetus because.... well, because he's Fetus and I'm still a little in denial about him not being on the team any more, but I'm completely throwing my support behind Bedard in this one. He's got to be better than Miller, right?


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The No-Decision Epidemic: Beckett Again Gets No Support

What is it about Josh Beckett that the offense refuses to support? Is it his grumpy demeanor? Is it the way he wears his facial hair to make himself look like he has a chin when he doesn't? Are they jealous of his fastball? What is it?! I want to know! Josh has eight no-decisions this season. Jon Lester has five (Sox lost four of those five... late inning bullpen implosions, you know), Mudpie has one (Monday's game, breaking up a string of 17 decisions in a row), and Wakey has four starts in which he didn't receive a decision (three which ended up being Sox wins). Of Josh's eight ND's, the Sox have gone on to win six of those games. Five out of those six were won by one run, the other was won by two runs.

If the Sox had managed to score those single runs while Josh was in the game, he'd be 15-4 right now. He'd have as many wins and fewer losses than Justin Verlander. He'd be one win shy of the major league lead for wins. Granted, he's pitched 40 innings fewer than Verlander (no, I don't want to discuss the league leader in wins, thank you), and I don't so much believe that he has a case for the Cy Young over Verlander, it would be nice if his wins accurately reflected how well he's pitched this year. Do you really think Josh is only worthy of nine wins? Apparently, his offense thinks so. It's a shame.

It was a shame last night. I know Beckett only went six innings in a rain delayed game, and I know he gave up two solo home runs, but didn't he deserve a win? Why do they wait till he's out of the game to score runs? I don't get it. Someone ask Pretzels why he couldn't drive in another run earlier in the game. How come no one could get on base ahead of Youk before he hit that home run? Why couldn't Tek single instead of striking out in the second? Why is it so hard to support our damn ace? Ok, I'll stop with the questions that can never be answered. It just bugs me.

What doesn't bug me, however, is winning the game. I like that the winning rally was sparked by Varitek. I think it was a fantastic decision to pull Tek out of the game and let Salty run for him (because those knees aint getting Jason anywhere fast, kids), and I think it was wonderful that Reddick and Pretzels didn't waste the Captain's efforts. Also, I like that Salty is faster than I thought. I like that Salty and Pretzels teamed up in an inning to make good things happen because I legitimately laugh out loud a little bit every time I think of Salty Pretzels (yeah, so what?!). See? There's plenty that I liked about the game. I'm not always unhappy with the results.

So, I'm setting a goal for the Sox. The next time Beckett is on the mound, I would like to see them score four runs. That's it. Just four while he's pitching. With the offense we have, four shouldn't be much to ask for, and I'm fairly confident that Josh could make four runs stand. It's not that lofty a goal, boys. Just try. For me?

Look at that, I'm all caught up! I may have slacked through July, but August is a new month. Maybe I'll write about our new acquisitions next. Or maybe I won't. I guess I'll have to wait and see what I decide to do.

Mudpie Deserves No Love: And That's Exactly What He'll Get From Me

Damnit, Mudpie. Just damnit. You know, even though we had a lead and Mudpie had two good innings, I just never felt good about it. You know, because of who was pitching and all. Just... ugh. And to make matters worse, he let his sucktasticness spread to Bard. Me and Daniel Bard didn't quite see eye-to-eye a few times early on in the season. There were some moments where face-ripping gloves were needed, but in the last couple of months, I've had no complaints! Daniel and I were getting along just fine, and to be honest, I don't want to ruin the harmony we've had, so I have to blame Mudpie for this.

Mudpie left the game in the top of the seventh in a tied game. He had let the Indians take the lead in sixth, but Salty showed a little power and hit a two-run shot to tie it up for him. Not that he deserved it, but Salty was gracious with the run support. It stayed knotted up till the eighth, and then sad stuff happened.

You all know the story by now. Bard's scoreless streak, dating back to May 27th, had reached 26 1/3 innings. Solid, in-control pitching for more than two months. He comes into a Mudpie game and ends up surrendering what would be the winning runs in the form of a home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. Not for nothing, but Asdrubal is the worst name in the world, and based on that fact alone, he should not be allowed to hit home runs off of our solid set-up guy. It's not fair. There's no justice in that.

Am I being irrational? Absolutely. And it's not likely to stop. Because after Bard was infected by Lackey disease, Matt Albers caught it, too. I don't know if you've been paying attention to Albers, but he's another one who's been solid out of the pen. Prior to Monday night, Matt had not allowed a run since June 25th (13 1/3 innings). It's not quite the streak that Bard had, but it's impressive nonetheless. Look at the chain reaction Mudpie caused. Even these reliable bullpen guys could not protect themselves from the awesome sucktitude of John Lackey. Ridiculous.

Nothing in my being wants to discuss this game any more, especially when I know what happened last night. We've got happy thoughts coming our way, boys and girls. Happy thoughts in the form of Josh Beckett.

It's Wednesday: I'm Still Writing About The Weekend

Does it count as slacking if I'm trying really hard to make up for lost time? Because I feel like I should get a little bit of credit here. Better late than never, right?

Thankfully, I'm wrapping up the weekend (finally!) and then we can move on to the two games that already happened this week. Don't look at me with that shame and disappointment in your eyes, I feel bad enough as it is. Today, we discuss Andrew Miller.

Andrew seems like a fine young fellow, to be sure. Potential. Velocity. But mostly potential. Location, on the other hand, is a constant problem. With an ERA now sitting at 5.36 and a WHIP of 1.884, Andrew doesn't instill a whole lot of confidence in me. Though his BAbip is a slightly high .341 (MLB average = .299) and we can probably expect the hits to come down a bit in the future, 51 hits in 40 innings is still scary. To top it off, his BB/K ratio is exactly 1.00. For every strikeout, he walks a guy. I watch his location. Too many times, where Tek is set up and where Andrew throws the ball is too far off for comfort. So what's with this guy? Is it bad luck or is it just a case of potential that cannot be realized? Detroit and Florida quit on him, so obviously he's the type of player that Theo wants to tap into because Theo knows that even in a tight pennant race (like, um, the one we're in), the talent level on the team will be able to compensate for acquisition mistakes. In other words, we have the luxury of being able to give him a chance to achieve said potential. This is a luxury that most teams do not have.

Take Sunday. Miller pitched 5.2 innings and came out of the game trailing by a run. He had an ok game. The hits (10) were a little outrageous for five plus innings, but he only allowed one walk and managed eight strikeouts. He was one third of an inning away from his first dictionary-definition quality start since July 2nd, but a high pitch count prohibited him from continuing on after Juan Pierre's sixth inning single. Luckily, behind him in the bullpen were Aceves, Bard, and Papelbon, who finished out the game by allowing only one additional hit between them. They gave the Sox a chance to come back and win the game. Our bullpen has been incredible this season. As has our offense.

A seventh-inning rally got Miller off the hook and made sure Aceves got the win for another fine job out of the pen. An additional run in the ninth made the lead a little more comfortable. Oh, did I mention that Tek hit a home run? Because I'm pretty sure that was my favorite part of the game. Again. Tek, love, well-documented, blah blah blah. I repeat myself a lot. I'm aware of this issue.

I'm glad the boys walked away with a win, but I'm still uncomfortable with the thought of Miller on the mound. He makes me nervous, and I don't enjoy being nervous. Unfortunately, the man who pitched Monday? He just makes me angry. I think the tone of my next post is going to be angry, and I apologize for that in advance. Sorry, guys.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jonny Saves The Day: Because He Is Awesome

I love Jon Lester. I've always loved Jon Lester, and watching him pitch well? That makes everything sunshine and rainbows. Believe it or not, I actually got to watch this one... which was good because I didn't get to see his first start back from the DL and I've missed seeing him. It was nice to have a night to myself that I could spend watching baseball.

There's a small nagging thought in the back of my mind every time Jon Lester starts a game that leaves me believing he'll throw a no-hitter. Without fail, every time he pitches, I get this thought, and there's always this moment of great disappointment when he gives up that first hit. At least in this one, the first hit got taken care of relatively early with a harmless second inning double so my delusions of no-hit goodness were dashed quickly and I could still enjoy a tremendously well-pitched game.... at least on our side.

To be fair, this was a tense game through four innings. Through four innings, only four baserunners had reached base (a double, a walk, and two singles)... and then there was the fifth inning where the Sox were able to put four on the board, giving Jon Lester the only run support he would need. Maybe if they had given some of those runs to Wakey, we could have won TWO games instead of one. Just saying. The fifth inning went like this: Crawford single, Salty double, Reddick single, Scutaro sac fly, Pretzels single, Munchkin sac fly, Ernie IBB, and Youkilis single. In one inning, we managed to exceed the previous offensive output for the game. I love when that happens. Only when it's in our favor, though.

The ninth was another one of those awesome innings, and the boys managed five more (yes, Scoots drove in an eighth inning run, but not important). Ernie and Youk went back-to-back with home run goodness. There were doubles, there were singles, and there was just good times all around. I'm a big fan of good times.

Man, so far behind. If I have time tomorrow, I'll write about my disappointment with Miller and (ugh!) Mudpie, and I'll wax poetic about how I think I'll react to Wake winning his 200th game, and ramble about how much I love Josh.... only if I have time, though.

No Chicago Salvation: A Bad Friday Night For Timmy and Munchkin

That was stupid. Everything about Friday night's game was stupid, and I'm glad I didn't see the majority of it. As awful as it was of me, knowing that Tim was going for career win #200, I was on a date. I love Tim, and I support him fully (to the point that yes, I did wear my Tim Wakefield shirt on the date), but sometimes I have to miss a game. Lately, I've been missing quite a few of them. I need to get my gentleman caller hooked on baseball. Weird how I manage to find the one guy in Massachusetts that doesn't seem to care for sports.

I digress. I don't blame any of this loss on Tim. Perhaps I should, considering he did give up the three runs that were his ultimate demise in this game, but I don't want to blame him. I want to hug him and tell him it'll be alright and then smack everyone who was in the lineup for not supporting him. Why don't you guys love Tim? He's always supported you all! Do him a favor and let him get the win next time around, ok? Because him losing again because of inept bats is not something I'm comfortable with. Got it?! Jeez.

To further the suck for the evening, little MC Laser Show's hitting streak came to an end. They couldn't even give me that to hold on to, could they? Yes, I know Salty hit a home run, and I'm ultra-proud of him because I love when (most) catchers do well. I've always had a soft spot for catchers. I still wanted better for my Timmy. After all these years, they still can't manage regular run support for our veteran.

Luckily, Tim will get another chance. I'm so late posting last Friday's results that Tim actually gets his chance tomorrow. So you know what that means? That means today is Tim Wakefield's 45th birthday. Go celebrate today with a win, and make sure that he gets his 200th win as a belated birthday present tomorrow, boys. Happy birthday, Tim Wakefield!