September 2, 2003

Red Sox 13, Phillies 9. Wow. This team is amazing in its ability to inspire such hatred and such admiration, usually in the same game. How they can act so unfocused and clueless and then at times, like yesterday in Philadelphia, look like they could come back from any deficit defies explanation.

I was sure that pinch-running Merloni for Ortiz in the 8th could come back to bite the Sox in the ass, but Lou was able to reach on an infield hit to third in the 9th that finished off Jose Mesa. Enter Turk Wendell with the Phillies up 9-8 with 1 out and the bases loaded. I was following the game at work on MLB's Gameday, and with a full count to Millar, I was waiting waiting waiting for one more little green circle (a ball) to appear ... and YES YES there it was, tie game 9-9. Next up was Christopher Nixon, who pounded a 1-0 pitch into the right field seats for a grand slam. Stunning. Two comments from the SoSH game thread: MannyRam: "This is how other teams must feel when they hit against our bullpen!" and Judge Mental13: "My neighbors on both sides both came over to my apartment to see if I was alright. ....'We heard screaming.'"

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers began the game this way: called strike, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball. Two men on; no outs. Nomar then swung at the first 2 pitches: he missed a breaking ball well out of the zone and grounded into a double play. Myers then walked Ortiz on six pitches. ... Hackmar's seeming obliviousness to the situation while in the box is one of my bigger pet peeves. All year I've thought that Nomar is swinging at the 1st pitch a lot more, with worse results. ESPN has splits dating back to 2000, so I took a look:

Year   AB   H  2B 3B HR  BA   SLG OPS
2000  125  54 13  2  5 .432 .688 1.188
2001   19  8   2  0  1 .421 .684 1.105
2002  163  53 11  3 13 .325 .669  .998
2003  134  49  9 4 8 .366 .672 1.037
00-02 307 115  26  5 19 .375 .678 1.086

Well, he has clearly swung at more first pitches in the past two seasons, but I see no drop in production. In fact, his extra base hits are up a little bit this year. And an OPS over 1.000 is damn good. So why do I think he's hurting the team with his hacks? Maybe it's the type of outs. I recall a lot of popups; if there were more hard grounders, line drives and deep fly balls, perhaps it wouldn't seem so bad.

With the roster having expanded, Grady had a 9-man bullpen today. By the top of the 5th, Jeff Suppan had allowed 8 hits, 3 walks and 6 runs in 4 innings; Boston trailed 6-5. With Mueller on first and one out, Grady let Suppan bat; he bunted Mueller to second. I can understand Grady's reluctance to go to the pen, but did he think that play increased Boston's scoring chances? If he did, he's wrong. A run expectation chart for 2002 says: Man on 1st and 1 out:  .54 runs -- Man on 2nd and 2 outs: .32 runs.

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