March 5, 2004

A Nice Beginning. Two stories: Derek Lowe's strong outing and the lineup flip-flop -- finally! -- of Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez.

Lowe threw two perfect innings, retiring six batters (5 groundouts and a K) on only 17 pitches. I counted 18 pitches; however, I suffered through the Twins announcers [Dan Gladden and some nasally guy who sounded drunk], who were both somnambulant and moronic, so I probably got it wrong. ... Lowe kept the ball down and was not hit hard by anyone. Lowe: "I threw everything. Fifty percent sinkers and 50 percent breaking balls. I mixed in some changeups. That is how I need to pitch in spring training."

Terry Francona's first lineup featured Ramirez hitting 3rd and Garciaparra in the cleanup spot. "I think it will give us our best production. ... It'll be pretty consistent. If these guys hit like they're supposed to, I think we'll score more runs the way we have them there. The more Manny hits with men on base, the better off we'll be. ... We're not trying to reinvent the game. It just made sense to me." ... Francona expects his top five hitters will be: Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Ramirez, Garciaparra and David Ortiz.
                  AVG   OBP

Garciaparra #3: .321 .365
Ramirez #4: .325 .426
Ramirez #3:      .350  .429 

Garciaparra #4: .360 .416
Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the 3rd last night when Jason Shiell walked Joe Mauer and surrendered doubles to Christian Guzman and Luis Rivas. Boston tied the game in the 5th. Pokey Reese opened with a 1st-pitch single to center off Joe Nathan. With one out, Kevin Youkilis beat out a hit to third and Brian Daubach doubled Reese home; Youkilis scored on Cesar Crespo's sac fly. Minnesota's Gabby Torres hit a solo home run in the 7th off Colter Bean, but the Red Sox sent 8 men to the plate in the 8th and regained the lead. Crespo singled, Andy Dominique walked, David McCarty flew to left, Michel Hernandez grounded into a fielder's choice, Adam Hyzdu reached on an error (Crespo scored), Jesus Medrano walked, and Jeremy Owens singled (Hernandez scored). Dominique's home run in the 9th capped the scoring. [Box score]

For the starters, Bill Mueller lined out to deep right center in the first (Torii Hunter made a great back-to-the-infield catch); Manny Ramirez walked and grounded to first; Garciaparra struck out and grounded to third, swinging at 6 of the 7 pitches he saw (he let the very first one go by); David Ortiz doubled in the 4th.

Pedro Martinez threw his first batting practice session Thursday. He faced Ellis Burks, Johnny Damon, Tony Womack, Doug Mirabelli, Terry Shumpert and Mark Bellhorn. Martinez threw 27 pitches, including some changeups and breaking balls. Francona: "He was free and easy. The ball came out of his hand good, and he threw some changeups and spun some breaking balls. He was fine. He was probably better than fine." Martinez will likely pitch 2 innings next Tuesday, with Curt Schilling throwing three in relief.

BlogWatch: Ed Cossette: "It's just a meaningless Spring Training game; still, you've got to like the way things are starting." ... The Big K wrote a running account of last night's game. ... "Firebrand of the AL" has moved; today's entry: Baseball and the Juice, Part One. ... Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts has an excellent series on steroids: First Post, Day 2 and Day 3.

From January 2003: Pumped-Up Hysteria by Dayn Perry: "A more objective survey of steroids' role in sports shows that their health risks, while real, have been grossly exaggerated; that the political response to steroids has been driven more by a moral panic over drug use than by the actual effects of the chemicals; and that the worst problems associated with steroids result from their black-market status rather than their inherent qualities. As for baseball's competitive integrity, steroids pose no greater threat than did other historically contingent 'enhancements,' ranging from batting helmets to the color line. It is possible, in fact, that many players who use steroids are not noticeably improving their performance as a result." [Discuss]

Today's Games: Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin will pitch this afternoon against Boston College. Tonight, Curt Schilling will start against Northeastern. Both games will be 7 innings. David McCarty will pitch an inning tonight, his first mound action in a real game since high school. ... Johnny Damon will play his first game on Saturday, but be held out of Sunday's match against the Yankees.

No comments: