June 23, 2005

G71: Red Sox 5, Cleveland 4

First things first: today's Globe has a long feature on Eric Van, famed SoSH poster/stathead, Ray Davies-lookalike and part-time Red Sox employee. Sidebars here and here, including the calculation that Mark Bellhorn's 177 strikeouts last season cost the Red Sox a total of 0.8 runs. ... Van corrects several errors in the article here.

Last night's win -- the Sox's fourth straight, their ninth in 10 games, and their first sweep at Jacobs Field since May 1999 -- was truly a team effort.

Alan Embree relieved Wade Miller in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs and got a strikeout and a double play (on six pitches, all strikes); John Olerud went 3-for-4 (career hits 2,200, 2,201 and 2,202), homering and driving in two runs; Edgar Renteria homered to deep left (for Boston's only run in the first six innings) and doubled home Jay Payton (who started the ninth with a double and took third on an error) for the game-deciding run; and Keith Foulke shrugged off a long foul ball crushed down the right field by line by Travis Hafner that came mere feet from tying the game and pitched a perfect ninth.

Who else? Johnny Damon came off the bench to pinch-run (and scored in the eighth); David Ortiz belted a pair of doubles; and Mark Bellhorn looked as solid as ever turning that crucial double play in the sixth. ... In light of the victory, I'll not discuss Jason Varitek's sixth inning, bases-loaded strikeout on a full-count fastball up around his forehead (the game was tied 1-1 at the time). How high does one of those pitches have to be before he'll let it go?

Payton: "It feels like we've played with a greater sense of urgency. It seemed like we coasted a little the first couple months." No kidding. ... But now, thanks to Toronto's 3-2 victory over the Orioles, Boston is only one game out of first place for the first time since May 14.

Infield prospect Dustin Pedroia was promoted to Pawtucket and the Globe's Chris Snow has a little recap of Pedroia's career since he was picked in the second round of last year's draft:
Dustin Pedroia was drafted last June, joined the Red Sox system midsummer as a shortstop, and hit .400 at Single A Augusta and .336 at Single A Sarasota. He began this season at Double A Portland at a new position, second base, and was hitting .324 after homering Tuesday night, at which time he received the news: Pack and report to Triple A ... Pedroia, in his year as a minor leaguer, has adjusted remarkably well at the plate. His most telling offensive statistic: In 108 career minor league games he has 48 extra-base hits and just 33 strikeouts.
The Herald's Michael Silverman takes some time to laugh at the Yankees:
They are flops so far, the embarrassing kind. Even when they play the schoolyard bully and beat up the scrawny kid in glasses, they come back the next day and crumble when they lay eyes on the weakling the next time instead of flashing the menacing glare that should be enough.

As incredible as the Yankees' four-home run surge was for the 35 minutes it lasted Tuesday night ... Bernie Williams' comments after the game ("If there was a turning point to the season, this should be it") reflect just how lost and pathetic the Yankees are right now. Turning point? ... You can't have a turning point against the Devil Rays, and the 5-3 Yankees loss against Tampa Bay yesterday is a reminder of both that and just how underachieving this $206 million unit truly is.

The Yankees are 3-6 against the Devil Rays this year, 1-5 against the Orioles, 3-2 against the Blue Jays, 4-5 against the Red Sox.
The Toronto Sun reports that the Red Sox have been scouting Ted Lilly for a possible trade. ... Off day today as the Sox head to Philadelphia.

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