March 31, 2005

Contest -- A Reminder

You have until noon on Sunday to email me with the number of Red Sox regular season wins and who -- Schilling or Johnson -- will have a lower ERA, and by how much. I'll post all of the entries that afternoon.

In addition to a copy of "Joy of Sox," the winner will get a CD-R with the WEEI broadcasts of ALCS 3-4-5-6-7 and WS 1-2-3-4 and several video/highlight compilations (including some home video from the upper deck of the final out in Game 4 in St. Louis). ... Details here.

Possible cover

WS 1: Red Sox 11, Cardinals 9

After this game (played October 23), I posted a long recap. Random jottings from a rewatching:

Red Sox pitchers who have pitched Game 1 of World Series at Fenway Park:
1967 - Jose Santiago v. Cardinals; Boston lost 2-1
1975 - Luis Tiant v. Reds; Boston won 6-0
2004 - Tim Wakefield v. Cardinals; Boston won 11-9
The Red Sox opened on the road in 1912, 1915, 1946 and 1986; they began the 1916 in Boston, but at Braves Field.

In 2004, Johnny Damon led the major leagues with 90 two-out hits. ... Mark Bellhorn hit .219 with the bases empty this season and .301 with men on base. ... After Keith Foulke nails it down, Fox's Chris Myers asks him how it feels to have won Game 1 of the World Series? Foulke smiles and says it beats being down 0-3.

Kim Traded To Rockies; Myers Returns

Byung Hyun Kim has been traded to the Rockies. This was one of the few Epstein deals that simply didn't work out. Theo: "It's a mystery. It has us totally befuddled. There's no physical problem. I just don't think he's responded to the pressure of playing in Boston and I take responsibility for that." ... Good luck in Colorado, BK.

And Mike "One of The 25" Myers, who signed with the Cardinals as a free agent, has rejoined the Red Sox, giving Tito three lefties in the pen (Alan Embree, John Halama).

From an excerpt from Dan Shaughnessy's book on the 2004 season: "During the meaningless late innings [of ALCS Game 3], three customers walked into the Twins Enterprise souvenir store on Yawkey Way and switched allegiances. They bought Yankee caps. The unbearable heaviness of being a Red Sox fan had simply become too much."

I call bullshit -- CHB must have been in the press box during the entire game. So who told him this? Who are these "fans"? I say this is fiction, but it fit his Curse Storyline too nicely to ignore.

Red Sox at Yankees

April 3: David Wells / Randy Johnson
April 5: Matt Clement / Carl Pavano
April 6: Tim Wakefield / Mike Mussina

Yankees at Red Sox

April 11: Wakefield / Mussina
April 13: Bronson Arroyo / Kevin Brown
April 14: Wells / Johnson

It's possible that Curt Schilling will pitch on either the 13th or 14th. ... Also on Opening Day at Fenway: Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio and Bobby Doerr will be in uniform.

March 30, 2005

ALCS 7: Red Sox 10, Yankees 3

We scare 'em shitless just by showin' up alive!

The Yankees truck in Russell Earl Dent to throw out the first pitch. ... Nice try, chumps.

Red Sox 1st: Facing Kevin Brown, Johnny Damon singles under Alex Rodriguez's dive into left. Damon steals second before Mark Bellhorn strikes out. Manny Ramirez singles to Derek Jeter's left, Damon is thrown out at the plate, Hideki Matsui to Jeter to Jorge Posada. Manny's ball is not hit hard and Damon had to hesitate to see if Jeter would stop it from going through the infield. Matsui has the ball as Damon touches third and Posada blocks the dish nicely. Dead.

But before any Sox fan could really start complaining, up steps David Ortiz. First pitch - BOOM! A bomb to right field. Boston 2, New York 0. As Derek Lowe said after the game, "When he hit that, we all relaxed!"

Yankees 1st: Gary Sheffield ends the inning by looking at strike three from Lowe, a filthy curveball that made Sheffield flinch, if not actually buckle his knees.

Red Sox 2nd v Brown:
Trot Nixon: bbcb - grounds out shortstop to first.
Kevin Millar: cb - singles to center on pitch over and away.
Bill Mueller: bbbc - walks, Millar to second.
Mel Stottlemyre visit to mound.
Orlando Cabrera: cbsbbff - walks, Millar to third, Mueller to second.
Brown pulled (1.1 IP, 9 BF, 44 pitches); Javier Vazquez in.
Damon: first pitch grand slam to right, Millar, Mueller, Cabrera and Damon score.
Praise Jeebus! ... When Damon hit THAT, I relaxed.

Fox begins (already!) showing downcast Yankee fans, including Brian Cashman. The end-of-game shot of Billy Crystal was also worth the price of admission. ... New York scores once in the bottom of the third -- Miguel Cairo is hit by a pitch, steals second and scores on Jeter's single. Tim McCarver says he's "shocked" at the look on Jeter's face as he rounds first. To me, Jeter looks pissed, angry, desperate. It's 6-1 now. As Slappy grounds back to the mound for the second out, Mike Myers and Curtis Leskanic are warming up. And Pedro Martinez is taking off his jacket.

In the top of the fourth, Cabrera walks on seven pitches. Facing Vazquez for the second time tonight, Damon hits his second home run, this time a moonshot into the third deck. It gives Boston an 8-1 lead. After Vazquez walks Bellhorn and Ortiz, he is pulled for Loaiza. ... Yankee fan's sign: "It's Not Over" -- Now there's a bit of role reversal.

Fox shows Pedro tossing in the top of the sixth, but the talk from Joe Buck and McCarver at the time is that he's simply getting some throwing in before starting Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday night. Martinez is still warming in the bottom of the sixth ... and he comes into the game in the bottom of the seventh.

I cannot recall reading any reasonable explanation after this game for why Terry Francona brought Martinez in. Lowe had thrown only 69 pitches through six brilliant innings and had retired the last 11 batters -- every Yankee since Jeter's third inning single. Also Pedro had thrown 111 pitches two nights earlier. ... Did Pedro tell Tito to put him in? Did Tito think that Pedro deserved to get some revenge on the Yankee fans? ... Having Pedro pitch in this game meant he would not pitch the opening game of the World Series.

Whatever the reason, it turned on the Yankee Stadium crowd like throwing gas on a low flame. After one pitch to Matsui, the "Who's Your Daddy" chants were deafening and when Matsui drilled a 2-0 pitch into the right field corner for a double, the fans were going nuts. Bernie Williams followed with another double and the Yankees got their second run. Mike Timlin began warming up. ... Posada grounded out first-to-pitcher, but Kenny Lofton lined a single to center. Williams scored and it was 8-3. ... I was now begging Francona to pull Pedro.

Facing pinch-hitter John Olerud, Pedro started throwing heat -- Fox had him at 97 on one pitch -- and he struck out Olerud on a 95 mph fastball up and away. Martinez schooled Cairo -- 93 fastball fouled off, 96 fastball taken for a ball, 77 changeup swung on and missed, 96 fastball hit to Nixon in right for the third out. ... Maybe Francona is really a sadistic son of a bitch and he put Pedro in knowing it would rev up the crowd (in vain!) and the Red Sox would crush their hopes twice in one evening.

Boston scored single runs in the eighth (Bellhorn's home run off the right field pole) and ninth (singles by Nixon and Doug Mientkiewicz and a sac fly from Cabrera). ... McCarver, shortly after Bellhorn's HR: "I'm not too sure the Red Sox's coming back like they have belongs in the miraculous category, but it is overwhelming." Oh, Timmy, deal with it.

Final surprise: Two outs in the top of the ninth, Boston up 10-3, Joe Torre brings in Mariano Rivera. And the Yankee Stadium PA plays "Enter Sandman." ... I suppose it would look conspicuous if they did not play his entrance music, but hearing it when Rivera's team is down by seven runs in the last inning must have been embarrassing. ... Timlin started the bottom of the ninth, but Alan Embree ended it, getting Ruben Sierra to ground out to Pokey Reese. And the Boston Red Sox celebrate on the Yankee Stadium infield as 2004 American League champions.
Game 1 -- Yankees 10, Red Sox 7
Game 2 -- Yankees 3, Red Sox 1
Game 3 -- Yankees 19, Red Sox 8
Game 4 -- Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 (12)
Game 5 -- Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (14)
Game 6 -- Red Sox 4, Yankees 2
Game 7 -- Red Sox 10, Yankees 3
Had 'em all the way!

March 28, 2005

ALCS 6: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2

Schilling took the mound on Tuesday, October 19, amid the mist and rain. From the beginning, the blood stain on his right ankle was visible, although at first there was confusion whether the stain was actually blood or some of the marcaine. (one of my game posts)

Schilling pitched seven brilliant innings, allowing only four hits, one of them a solo home run to Bernie Williams in the seventh inning. He walked no one -- his first three-ball count was to Derek Jeter leading off the sixth. When Bronson Arroyo struggled in the 8th (just before the Slap), Joe Buck wondered if Schilling might have been removed too soon. When asked after the game about pulling Schilling after the seventh, Terry Francona laughed and said the Sox were thinking of pulling him after five.

Jon Lieber was solid, but Boston banged him around in the fourth with two outs. After Ortiz and Nixon both grounded out, Millar doubled down the left field line, Varitek singled to center (1-0), Cabrera singled to left, and Bellhorn lined a three-run home run just over the left field fence (4-0) (his first RBIs of the series).

Jeter singled home New York's second run in the eighth. In the ninth, Keith Foulke walked Hideki Matsui, and after getting two quick outs, walked Ruben Sierra. Tony Clark stepped in as the potential pennant-winning run for the Yankees. Over the winter, Theo Epstein said that this confrontation was the scariest moment of the ALCS for him. ... I could visualize Clark hitting a home run -- it would seem cruelly logical if the man we called the Thermos (during the 2002 season he remained ice cold (in 298 PA, he hit .207/.265/.291 (!)) for the Sox while the rest of the team was hot) would crush the Red Sox. ... Foulke fell behind 2-0, but came back to strike out Clark swinging to end the game -- and force Game 7.

Overheard during the post-game congratulations on the field: Foulke saying, with a smile, "gotta make it interesting." ... With the victory, the 2004 Red Sox became the first baseball team down 0-3 to make it to a Game 7.

One recurring comment from Tim McCarver and Al Lieter has been that pitchers can "produce, but not direct." What they meant is that a pitcher can do everything possible to "produce" a good pitch, but once the batter hits it, the pitcher cannot "direct" where it will go. Whether they know it or not, they were hitting on some pretty cutting edge sabremetric theory.

Several years ago, Voros McCracken announced that "hits allowed [were] not a particularly meaningful statistic in the evaluation of pitchers" -- that a pitcher had no control over what happened once he threw the ball. He developed DIPS -- Defense Independent Pitching Stats -- which represented a pitcher's stat line without any possible influence from his defense. Go here for a 2001 article by McCracken (who is now employed by the Red Sox).

Once the replays of The Slap were shown, everyone in the booth was in agreement that Slappy's play was blatantly against the rules. ... My own personal horror? What if the umpires had ruled in New York's favor? What if, as Rodriguez has now admitted to hoping, he did it on purpose and got away with it? ... The Yankees would have cut Boston's lead to 4-3, Rodriguez would have been on second base with one out, and Sheffield and Matsui would have been up. Timlin and Myers were warming up, as was Rivera in the other bullpen.

The Red Sox were incredibly resilient during the ALCS, but I shudder to think what might have happened if the umpires had blown that call.

March 27, 2005

Baseball's Most Literate Fans

Three more Red Sox blogs:

Over The Monster
Empyreal Environs
Bullshit Memorial Stadium

Also, Baseball Prospectus writer Will Carroll will host a Red Sox Q&A session this week at the Fire Brand of the American League blog. Go visit and submit a question.

Batting Second ...

Terry Francona says Trot Nixon will bat second against right-handers, with Edgar Renteria moving to fifth. Against lefties, Renteria will hit second and Jay Payton will replace Nixon. Tito: "The idea is, if they hit like they're supposed to, is to maximize our scoring opportunities." ... Relevant stats here.

On Friday, Curt Schilling pitched 3.2 innings against the Twins, allowing five hits and three runs. He threw 66 pitches in the 81-degree heat. "I felt like I came out in the bottom of the 14th when I came out of the game today." His next start will be on Tuesday against either the Twins or Yankees. My money is on Minnesota. ... He is also being slotted in to pitch on Opening Day -- for Pawtucket, in Indianapolis on April 7. Schilling could then face the Yankees April 13 at Fenway Park.

David Heuschkel has a good wrap-up of where the Sox stand one week before the season begins, including info on Wade Miller and Matt Mantei, the bench and Theo's attempts to deal Byung-Hyun Kim. As far as the bench, it looks like the final spot is down to either David McCarty or George Lombard. Kim will likely be in the pen, but will likely be bumped off when Schilling returns from the DL.

David Wells is enjoying himself. "I'm having the time of my life. ... Some guys can't handle [candid feedback from teammates]. I don't know if Kevin Brown can. But guys like me, basically, you don't care what they say. Coming in here, it's like I've been here for 20 years."

March 26, 2005

ALCS 5: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (14)

Tim McCarver started off the broadcast with a pretty good quip: "Boy, these split doubleheaders are great, aren't they?"

Mussina was eight outs away from a perfect game in Game 1, but the Red Sox got to him early this time. With one out, Cabrera singled to left, Ramirez singled to right center, Ortiz singled to right (1-0), Millar walked, Nixon reached on a force at home, and Varitek walked to force in a run (2-0). ... After that inning – 34 pitches – Mussina pitched very well. Over the next five innings, he allowed only two hits (no walks) and no runs.

Pedro struck out Jeter and Sheffield in the first inning, both on three pitches, but he was intermittently sharp. Bernie Williams nailed his first pitch of the second into the right field seats for a home run. (If Joe Buck refers to Bernie Williams as the New York lineup's "forgotten man" every time he comes to the plate, how overlooked can he be?) Martinez allowed a walk and a hit with two outs in the third, a single and a walk to start the fourth, and a leadoff walk in the fifth – yet still kept the score at 2-1.

In the sixth, his luck ran out. With one out, Posada and Sierra singled. After Clark struck out, Pedro hit Cairo to load the bases. As Buck and McCarver pointed out how Pedro loses effectiveness after 100 pitches (he started the inning at 82), Jeter sliced a bases-clearing double down the right field line – on Pedro's 100th pitch. The Yankees took a 4-2 lead.

After a visit from Dave Wallace, Martinez hit Rodriguez (Myers and Timlin were up in the pen) and walked Sheffield. He got the third out thanks to Nixon's tumbling catch of Matsui's sinking liner to right.

Boston had four innings to score two runs. They went in order in the sixth. Bellhorn doubled to start the seventh (and chase Mussina) but Sturtze retired Damon and, after he walked Cabrera, Gordon came in and got Manny to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

At the start of the eighth inning, Rivera was up in the New York pen. Ortiz hit an 0-1 Gordon offering into the Monster seats and Boston now trailed 4-3. Millar swung wildly at the first two pitches, then took the next four for another crucial walk. And there was Dave Roberts running at first base again. Nixon stepped in and there was an exceptional game of cat-and-mouse between Roberts and Gordon (who had now appeared in all five games of the series):
Gordon looks over, throws pitch (88), called strike, 0-1
Rivera ready, watching from bullpen
Roberts twitching off first Gordon looks over, steps off
Gordon throws over, an easy throw, Roberts dusts off
Gordon holds the ball, and holds it, and holds it, finally Roberts walks back to the bag
Crowd chanting "Gor-don! Gor-don!"
Gordon fakes a throw, Roberts gets back
Gordon throws over to first
Pitch (85) low/inside at knees, called 1-1
Pitch (91) low in dirt in front of plate, 2-1
Pitch (91) in dirt, 3-1
A-Rod to mound to talk
Roberts off with pitch, lined into right field, Roberts to third
After that, Rivera came in and Varitek lofted a fly ball to center. Roberts scored easily, the game was tied at 4-4, and Rivera had blown another save. It was the first time in Yankee history that the team had blown saves in consecutive post-season games.

In the Yankees 9th, the camera caught Schilling rushing to the dugout phone. The next time they showed him, he was sitting on the bench, holding his glove. ... McCarver: "What's he doing with his glove?" Buck: "Interesting question." ... There was a lot of activity in the dugout, Schilling then disappeared down the runway.

During the mid-inning break, Schilling, Lowe and Wakefield had walked from the dugout to the bullpen. The roar of the crowd was deafening. I don't think anything could have said "We will pitch anyone tonight" more than that defiant display.

Boston 9th against Rivera: Damon beat out a single to Cairo's right, but he was then thrown out trying to steal second, although a replay showed him being tagged by Jeter's left wrist instead of his glove. Cabrera grounded out to short and Ramirez flew to center.

The Red Sox had chances to win it in the tenth (Millar doubled over Sheffield's head with one out, but Quantrill got Nixon and Varitek) and eleventh (Mueller and Bellhorn singled with no out, but Damon popped out and (facing Loazia) Cabrera hit into a 6-4-3 DP. In the twelfth, Ortiz walked with one out and tried to steal second base. He may have been safe – some replays seem to show his hand in there – but he was called out.

The Yankees' best chance to score came in the thirteenth. Sheffield struck out against Wakefield, but reached on a passed ball. Matsui forced him at second and Williams flew out to Nixon for the second out. Wakefield's first pitch to Posada rolled away from Varitek (who had caught Wakefield for only two innings during the regular season). After a called strike, another passed ball put Matsui at second. Posada was walked intentionally. Facing Sierra, Varitek was charged with his third passed ball and the runners advanced to second and third. The next pitch was a knuckleball – Wakefield refused to not throw it - that squirted out of Varitek's glove, but it did not go far. Sierra struck out on the next pitch.

In the bottom of the fourteenth, Bellhorn struck out, Damon walked, Cabrera struck out and Ramirez walked. Ortiz then faced Loazia:
Fastball (91 mph), cutting away and down, 0-1
Way outside (90), 1-1
Big rip (88), fouled 3b side, 1-2
Fouled off (90), 3b side, 1-2
Clubbed deep to right, hooked foul, 1-2
Outside (90), 2-2
Pitch up (92), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
Pitch up (92), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
Pitch up (89), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
10th pitch (87) lined to center, single, Damon scores, Sox win 5-4
Buck on Damon: "…and he can keep on running to New York."
At this point, I was pretty confident the Red Sox would win the pennant.

ALCS 4: Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 (12)

Sunday, October 17. All I really remember about my mindset before this game: "Do not get swept. Please."

Top of the 1st: Jeter lines the game's first pitch off the back of Lowe's right thigh, but he's okay. The fans are hopeful, chanting "Let's go D-Lo! Let's go D-Lo!"

Top of the 2nd: Matsui on third, one out, no score. Infield in. My heart starts pounding for the first time tonight, even as I look down at my completed scorecard. Posada smacks the ball on one hop to shortstop. Cabrera backhands it, takes a split-second to set himself and fires the ball home. It's to Varitek's left, and at shoulder height, a perfect spot for the catcher to tag Matsui as he comes sliding in. Out.

Bottom of the 2nd: The first Dave Roberts sighting of the night -– in the dugout as Millar bats. Dave, you have no idea how much your life is going to change in about three hours. ... Also, Millar has shaved most of his chin, leaving a normal-looking goatee. Clearly, the brillo pad look was bad luck.

Top of the 3rd: Lowe's cutter is top notch, but Fox's sideline guy says the Yankees tell him that they think they can hit Lowe. With two outs, Jeter lines a ball off Mueller that goes into left for a single. Rodriguez bangs the next pitch over everything in left and New York leads 2-0.

After two pitches to Sheffield, the home run ball comes sailing back from Landsdowne Street and lands in center field. Time is called. Damon walks over, picks up the ball and throws it back over the Monster seats. [Insert joke about that throw being the best Damon's made in weeks.] It doesn't take long before the ball comes flying back into the park, again. This time, one of the umpires gets the ball and puts it in his pocket. It is a nice moment of humor after the home run.

Bottom of the 5th: Millar leads off with a four-pitch walk off Hernandez and the crowd suddenly comes alive. They have been following the game intently and roaring at various points, but for the most part, just watching ... and waiting. Boston has had only one hit so far -– an opposite field single by Mueller in the second. Here, Mueller forces Millar at second, and there is no relay back to first. Bellhorn (batting .077 in the series) takes three balls, then a strike, then ball four. (Ten of Hernandez's 13 pitches so far this inning have been balls.)

The fans are on their feet. Damon (.067) works a full count and hits a double play ball to shortstop. Jeter goes to Cairo, but Damon beats the relay and Boston has runners at first and third. Cabrera quickly falls behind 0-2. Hernandez is throwing sweeping breaking balls outside, hoping to get an anxious Cabrera lunging. On 2-2, Cabrera slaps one of those pitches the other way; the ball skips through into right field and Mueller scores.

Ramirez walks on five pitches and the bases are loaded for Ortiz, who hammers a changeup to center field. Two more runs cross and Boston's up 3-2. Fox tells us that the Red Sox led briefly in Game 3 (seven minutes). Tonight's lead lasted 16 minutes.

Top of the 6th: Lowe gets Sheffield to ground out to third, but after Matsui triples to the triangle, Timlin comes in. The infield is in again and Williams (16-for-47 against Lowe, only 4-for-25 against Timlin) battles for eight pitches, before chopping the ball to the right side. Cabrera tries to bare-hand it, but the ball doesn't bounce high enough on the grass and it's a hit -– and a tie game. 3-3.

Timlin walks Posada. Pitching coach Dave Wallace visits, while Joe Buck wonders if Lowe was pulled too early. Timlin surrenders two infield hits -– one to Bellhorn's right (Sierra) and one to Bellhorn's left (Clark). The Yankees are nickel-and diming the Sox -– and there is a quick chant of "Pokey! Pokey!" -– and New York leads 4-3. Cairo walks, but with the bases loaded, "the clutch Derek Jeter" (in Buck's words) grounds out meekly to second.

It is at this point that Fox begins to read Boston's obituary. Buck calls the sixth a "deflating and demoralizing inning" for Red Sox fans and the cameras begin to show us the long faces around Fenway. One guy has a paper bag over his head, with tears drawn in under the cut-out eyes and "Who's My Daddy?" written across the forehead. Another is holding up a sign that reads: "I Can't Believe We Fell For It ... Again!"

This enrages me. Why did these losers even come to the park tonight? There were thousands of fans who still had faith that could have (and should have) used those tickets. … I wish there was some way to keep those morons out of Fenway forever.

Top of the 7th: Rodriguez walks and Sheffield fouled out to catcher. Timlin is out and Foulke is in (the relievers Francona refused to use in Game 3). Tito, wisely, is treating the seventh as if it's the ninth. Every inning is the ninth inning now. Matsui (8-for-12 with runners on base in this series) grounds out sharply to first. At this point, Buck says that Fenway is "deathly quiet," even though a "Let's go Red Sox!" chant can be easily heard behind him. Foulke needs nine pitches to retire Williams, mixing his fastball (87-88) with his changeup (75-77). It's the fastball that does the trick, finally, getting Bernie swinging and missing up and in.

Bottom of the 7th: Bellhorn strikes out looking, Damon grounds out pitcher-to-first and Cabrera flies out to Williams in right center.

Top of the 8th: Foulke walks Posada, who is forced by Sierra. Clark strikes out and Cairo pops to short.

Bottom of the 8th: Rivera is in. His post-season stats: 0.69 ERA, 32/35 saves. Manny starts off by grounding a single through the shortstop hole into left. Ortiz is 7-for-14 against Rivera lifetime, but he strikes out, getting rung up by the third base ump after a check swing. Varitek and Nixon both ground out to first.

Top of the 9th: Foulke in for his third inning. Jeter walks, Rodriguez pops to second, Sheffield lines to left and Matsui strikes out. Jeter is stranded at first.

Bottom of the 9th: Boston is three outs from being swept and Fox is wrapping up the series. Rivera is on for his second inning. Millar:
93 inside, 1-0
93 over plate, fouled off 3b side, 1-1
93 inside, 2-1
93 inside, 3-1
up and in, ball four
Rivera's cutter usually goes down and away from a right-handed hitter, but almost all of the pitches to Millar are inside.
The crowd roars as Dave Roberts pops out of the dugout, fitting a helmet on his head, bumps fists with Millar coming off the field and stands on first base. It's about 40 degrees. Everyone in the universe knows Roberts will try to steal second base. Roberts immediately takes, as Fox correctly points out, "a huge lead."

Rivera throws over three times. On a replay of the last throw, you can see Roberts saying "Ooooooh" after he slid back in, knowing how close he came to being picked off. In subsequent interviews, Roberts said that after that third throw, he felt totally focused, as though he had been playing the entire game. (Actually, he had not been in a game in ten days -– since ALDS 2).

More inside info: Since the sixth inning, Roberts had been in the clubhouse studying videotape of Rivera and Gordon, trying to memorize their moves to first in case he would be needed to pinch-run.

When Rivera finally pitched to Mueller, he was taking all the way. Roberts was off. Posada's throw was right on the money, but a hair late. Jeter was out in front of the bag, but Roberts slid in just before the tag. SAFE! Rivera's next pitch was right down the middle -– was he thinking Mueller might bunt Roberts to third? –- and Mueller lined it right through the box, knocking Rivera to the ground, and into center field. Roberts scored without a throw and the game was tied at 4-4.

Boston still had a chance to win it. Mientkiewicz moved Mueller to second and Damon reached on an error by Tony Clark, who bobbled his grounder to first. After Cabrera struck out, Damon took second uncontested. Boston had runners on second and third with Manny and Ortiz up. Rivera fell behind Ramirez 3-0, got the count full, then walked him. With the bases loaded, Ortiz popped out to second.

Top of the 11th: Embree in for his second inning. Cairo singled to right, Jeter bunted him over. Rodriguez then lined a ball to the shortstop hole. Cabrera, who had been cheating towards the bag to keep Jeter close, dove to his right, snagging the line drive just as it was about to hit the dirt. Two outs. After falling behind to Sheffield, Embree put him on. Myers came in for Matsui and walked him on four pitches. Damn.

Curtis Leskanic came in to face Williams with the bases loaded. He got a called strike -– and we got a shot of Wakefield warming up in the bullpen, the same Wakefield who had gone 3.1 innings and thrown 64 pitches the night before.

Boston went quietly in the 11th (Wakefield still throwing) and Leskanic came out for the 12th. He allowed a bloop single to Posada, but retired Sierra, Clark and Cairo. If the game went into the 13th, it looked like Wakefield would be in.

Bottom of the 12th: Quantrill took over after two solid innings from Gordon. Manny took a strike, then two balls, then lined a single to left. Ortiz got ahead 2-1 before launching a pitch into the visitors' bullpen in right, winning the game 6-4. In an interview about two minutes after he crossed the plate he said the pitch he hit was one Quantrill had gotten him out with before, so he was looking for it.

There would be no sweep. Lost in the exhilaration was the fact that the top arms in the pen had thrown a lot of pitches: Embree 30, Timlin 37, Foulke 50. And Game 5 would begin in 19 hours.

March 25, 2005

Because You Have Too Much Free Time ...

Four more blogs to read:

Sox Rant
Baseball Rants
Soxy Girl
Last Year Was Next Year

And I want to give another plug to Red Sox Wire, which gathers new Red Sox stories, video and blog posts every day.

I'm late to post this, but that doesn't make it any less fucked up. Some 5th- and 6th-graders in Acton want the Yankees and Red Sox to shake hands before Opening Day at Fenway on April 11. And why is that?

It seems that while the Red Sox were executing the greatest comeback in the history of sports, some of the young Yankee fans were "intimidated ... afraid to wear their Yankees hats. Things were just crossing the line from respectful and fun." That's according to teacher Ed Kaufman, who just happens to be -- surprise! -- a Yankee fan.

Eric Wilbur slaps this idea aside:
This isn't about sportsmanship. It's about Yankee immunity in New England. ... Hey, Yankee fans. You lost. Deal with it. We're awfully sorry some of you have had to suffer through five whole months of verbal torture, the very same Red Sox Nation received from your side for the better part of 86 years. You sure could dish it out when the time was right.

We all know someone or have encountered, at one time or another through our lives, similar Yankee fans. These young Red Sox fans in Acton probably got the same kinds of comments from their Yankee fan classmates prior to the New York collapse. And it is only a problem now? Nice try folks.

March 24, 2005

Hyzdu Traded To San Diego

Outfielder Adam Hyzdu was sent to the Padres for right-handed reliever Blaine Neal.

Neal will turn 26 shortly after Opening Day. In 40 games last season with San Diego, he was 1-1 with a 4.07 ERA. He spent the previous three seasons with Florida, and compiled a 3-0 record in 54 appearances. ... Hyzdu, 33, would have been a 4th or 5th outfielder if he made the Red Sox roster. Discussion.

March 23, 2005

ALCS 3: Yankees 19, Red Sox 8

You know what? To hell with Game 3. I didn't write anything about it back in October either. ... I watched Bronson Arroyo pitch to the first four batters in the top of the first -- walk, double, fly out, home run -- but that was enough.

However, there were some things I would have liked to see:

Towards the end of Boston's second inning rally against Kevin Brown (they scored four to take a brief lead), the crowd is chanting "Punch the wall! Punch the wall!" ... A few minutes later, Damon is shown clipping his toe nails on the top of the dugout steps.

Somewhere in the middle innings, Derek Jeter is overheard (thanks to one of the dugout mics) as saying something like "Let's get 20!" I missed that the first time around.

I would also have liked to have heard the commentary when Tim Wakefield came in to pitch in the 4th inning, giving up his chance to start Game 4, meaning that Derek Lowe would absolutely get the ball.

Wakefield pitched like shit -- 3.1 innings, 5 hits, 5 runs, allowing the Yankees' lead to balloon from 9-6 to 14-6 -- but as everyone has said, he saved the pen a lot of work. As did Mike Myers, who pitched the 8th and 9th innings, throwing 41 pitches.

Myers allowed the first four Yankees to reach base in the 9th. Only two of them scored, but I wonder how long Tito would have left him out there if he had continued to struggle. ... Because the only other available pitchers were Timlin, Foulke, Lowe, Pedro and Schilling. And Francona wasn't going to use any of them.

Hideki Matsui: 5-for-6, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, five RBI. Someone better knock that guy on his ass -- and soon.

Ramiro Mendoza pitched one inning and allowed one hit and one run, easily the best Boston pitching performance of the evening. And he got stuck with the loss -- the last game the 2004 Red Sox would lose. ... Ah, am I spoiling the ending?

March 22, 2005

More On Kim; Schilling Throws Three; Arroyo Solid; Sox Staying In Fenway

Doug Mirabelli spoke out on Monday about Byung-Hyun Kim:
You don't get a sense for what he's feeling. I have no idea. He stays in his own world. ... I don't know if he gets the concept of a teammate or if he grasps that. ... You've got to give him some leeway for language but at some point [you realize] he does speak more than he lets on. So at that point, you start to think he's making that choice. ... We're not segregating him out of anything. He's choosing to be over there [by himself]. That's his choice, not ours.
Terry Francona wasn't too pleased.
I don't know that's the way we need to handle things. I'm not going to send BK a message through the media and I don't think players necessarily need to do that either. ... Part of our responsibility is to be patient and use good judgment.
Kim worked a perfect inning against Pittsburgh on Sunday, but one scout in attendance was unimpressed. "He was at 84 ... He's just a shadow of the pitcher he was in Arizona. This is a guy who threw in the 90s when he was in Arizona, and his slider had incredible movement. Now, his slider is flat. He's a very, very marginal pitcher right now. I wouldn't give the Red Sox $500,000 for him."

Gordon Edes writes: "It appears preposterous to believe Kim will win a job in the Sox bullpen coming out of camp; it appears almost as unlikely the Sox will be able to unload him ... The Rockies and Brewers have shown interest, but given Kim's performances to date, that interest could dry up in a hurry, if it hasn't already." ... In a Globe chat, Edes picked the Red Sox to win 2005 wild card.

Curt Schilling threw 37 pitches in three innings of a simulated game on Monday. He was happy with his velocity and command and called it a "breakthrough day." The CHB has more.

Schilling will pitch again on Thursday. He admitted that he's known "for a couple weeks" that Opening Day was out of the question, though he wants to start one of the two exhibition games in Arizona on March 31 and April 1. ... Schilling also talked about his injury and the ALCS. "In that Game 6, the tendon had split in half. There was a 6-inch tear we didn't know about until they went in there and fixed it. And the bone issue [a bruise diagnosed last May] was also a lot bigger than we expected." After his surgery -- which he said was really "four separate surgeries" -- Schilling was told to expect discomfort for 12 to 18 months.

On Tuesday, the Red Sox beat Derek Lowe and the Dodgers 7-3. Bronson Arroyo went six innings, allowing only four hits and one run, lowering his spring ERA to 2.87. He threw 73 pitches and said he feels more comfortable this spring, knowing his roster spot is secure. He also agreed with Lowe before the game to throw each other only fastballs. ... After Arroyo singled on a 2-2 pitch, Lowe told him, "You'd better not throw me a breaking ball. If you do, I'm telling you right now, I'll shoot you after the game." ... Lowe grounded out in the third.

Also from the Globe: "The Boston Red Sox [Tuesday] will announce that the team is staying put in Fenway Park ... The announcement would end a long cat-and-mouse game by the team's ownership, which has every year made considerable improvements in Fenway such as expanded seating and concessions but refused to commit to staying long term. It is also a dramatic reversal from the Red Sox's stance just five years ago, when the previous ownership argued that the team needed a new ballpark to be financially competitive in the league."

ALCS 2: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1

As I asked at the time, "Where are the goddamn bats?" In the first six innings of Games 1 and 2, the Red Sox were a combined 1-for-37.

Boston got a runner to third with two outs in the third, but Lieber then set down the next 11 batters, including a 16-pitch battle with Damon, who didn't get the ball out of the infield in either game.

Pedro Martinez over came a shaky first inning -- walking Jeter on four pitches (he promptly stole second), hitting Rodriguez (really grazing his hands) and allowing a hard-hit single by Sheffield. New York held that 1-0 lead until Olerud hit a line drive over the short right field wall, making it 3-0.

Boston had the tying run at the plate several times against Gordon and Rivera. Nixon started the 8th with a single. Gordon came in and Varitek doubled to deep right-center. Nixon held at third, tying runs on, no one out. Cabrera grounded out to shortstop. Nixon scored, but Varitek had to hold at second. It was a poor play from O-Cab, since the pitch could have been hit to the other side, which would have moved the runner to third. Mueller grounded to second, moving Varitek to third, but Rivera got Damon looking at a 2-2 pitch that split the heart of the plate to end the rally.

In the 9th, Manny doubled with one out, but Ortiz fanned on three pitches (all at 95) and Millar struck out on five (the last one hitting 96).

Hacker: In Game 1, Nixon saw six pitches in four AB. He saw seven pitches in three trips in Game 2.

Some media quotes re Curt: "Schilling needs surgery on his injured right ankle, but the Red Sox hope he will still be able to pitch Game 5 of the AL championship series Sunday. ... The Red Sox hope a better brace will help, but if not, Schilling's season will be over. ... Schilling: 'If I can't go out there with something better than I had (last night), I'm not going back out there. ... I won't take the ball again.'"

So the teams head to Boston for Game 3. Will I watch the whole thing -- all 4:20? ... I remember along about the 7th inning last October, when it was 17-6 and midnight crept closer, asking myself why I was still watching and scoring? At the time, I'm sure I told myself, "That's what a fan does."


Thanks to Zack Albert at USAToday for the link (very bottom of thepage).

March 21, 2005

ALCS 1: Yankees 10, Red Sox 7

This afternoon, I continued watching the 2004 post-season. (Some of my pre-ALCS Game 1 posts: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.) Back on Tuesday, October 12, just a little more than an hour before the game began, I posted to this blog:
This series will not be easy; these two teams are very much alike. What will happen in the next week -- and who will do it (whatever "it" is)? How low will we be brought? How high will we be raised? My seven scorecards remain blank -- rows and columns of white boxes free of markings.
I enjoyed (again) Fox's Star Wars-inspired intro, especially superimposing Johnny Damon's head on Chewbacca's body. I wondered if Schilling was exhibiting any pain or discomfort during his three innings, but I didn't see much. His ankle was heavily taped, there had been talk of inserting a metal rod in his cleat to stabilize the ankle (that wasn't done) and he had received a shot of marcain before the game. He stopped to retie his right shoe about 4-5 times.

The only evidence of any trouble was in his actual performance: a loss of velocity on his fastball (he hit 94 in the first inning, but was most often between 89-92) and bite on his breaking pitches. Schilling allowed four straight base runners to start the third inning; they all scored and New York led 6-0.

Al Leiter on Schilling as he allows hits to Jeter and Rodriguez to start the 3rd inning: Facing right handed hitters,
60% of the time he throws fastballs, 20% of the time he uses his split, 7% his slider or curve, and my point is that if he's using his curveball and slider more often than his split, then he's not feeling comfortable or something is wrong.
Or both. Mussina retired the first 19 Red Sox batters. Going through the order for the second time, he retired seven consecutive Boston hitters: K, K, K, K, K, 1-3, K. The ground out -- by Nixon -- came on a check swing.

Things changed in the 7th. Damon struck out (he was 0-for-4, with 4K) and Mussina got ahead of Bellhorn 0-2. Then, in a matter of 13 pitches, Boston had cut the lead to 8-5. Bellhorn doubled to left, Ramirez grounded out, Ortiz singled, Millar doubled, Nixon singled, Sturtze came in and Varitek homered.

In the 8th, with two on, Ortiz tripled to left center, bringing Boston to within one run, 8-7. Looking at the game (and replay) again, the ball actually never hit the wall. Matsui had it in the absolute center of his glove, but the impact of hitting the wall -- slamming into the very top of the wall -- jarred it loose. The blast was a lot closer to being the inning's third out than a game-tying home run.

Boston did have the tying run at the plate against Mariano Rivera in the 9th. With one out, Varitek and Cabrera singled, but Bill Mueller ended the game by grounding back to the mound for a game-ending double play.

Other things:

Puke: During a Jeter lovefest in the top of second inning, after Buck says that looking at Jeter you wouldn't know if it was a meaningless game in April or an October playoff game, McCarver gushes that Jeter has "two of the calmest eyes under pressure of any athlete I've ever seen."

Laugh: Matsui's double in the 3rd scored Jeter, Rodriguez and Sheffield. After Sheffield slid across the plate, he popped up right in front of Rodriguez. A-Rod went to high-five him, but Sheffield instead chest-bumped him -- hard. Rodriguez looked more than a little surprised.

Slap Forehead: Four McCarver Errors
1. Bill Mueller hit a 3-run home run to beat Rivera and the Yankees on July 24. It was actually a 2-run shot.

2. The Red Sox came from 7 runs down to win that game. Less then 30 seconds later, a Fox graphic shows that the largest deficit Boston overcame to win a game was five runs (which they did twice, including the July 24 game).

3. Consistently refers to Bronson Arroyo as "Brandon" -- at one point saying (with a slow, drama-inducing voice) that Brandon would be pitching against Pedro Martinez in Game 2. ... Later on, Buck, with something akin to sarcastic tact in his voice, asks McCarver if perhaps he knew anyone with the name Brandon Arroyo while growing up, as though that could be the only reason for the chronic mix-up.

4. Says Terry Francona would want reliever Mike Myers to come in to face a lefty hitter like Matsui or Damon.
In bottom of 8th, New York is up 8-7 and momentum is clearly with the Red Sox. Fox begins showing fans in the stands, quiet, staring worriedly at the field.
Buck: So this crowd and this feel at Yankee Stadium, is a feeling of unease by these fans who were just rolling, having fun, 'Who's your daddy' chants and all that, and now it's a one-run game with the middle of the Red Sox lineup coming up in the 9th.

McCarver: It's certainly room for thinking, from the Yankees', either the players or the fans, or a combination of the two, that if you can't win with a pitcher out there retiring the first 19 in a row and you've got an eight-run lead -- and they made it close under those circumstances -- what in the world are they going to do in a close game?

March 20, 2005

What Happened To Byung-Hyun Kim?

For two years, I've been hoping that Kim gets his head straightened out and helps the team, but it's pretty clear that will never happen. ... Theo Epstein: "It's a mystery. It has us totally befuddled." ... Tito: "I think he can do it. I'm not sure he wants to do it here."

Tony Massarotti writes that Kim "is a virtual non-entity these days ... there has been nary a hint of suggestion that Kim will be with the Red Sox when the regular season begins in two weeks. By then, Kim almost certainly will have been traded, perhaps to Colorado or Milwaukee ..."

Curt Schilling is scheduled to make his first spring start Monday, pitching two innings in a minor league intrasquad game. If all goes well, he might pitch Friday against the Twins. ... Gordon Edes sets the record straight on the Radatz/Mantle stats and interviews Jose Antonio, executive director of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, who likens the current hysteria over steroids in baseball to "Reefer Madness."

Also: Red Sox Jet Involved In Torture Transports?

Mantle v. Radatz

Many of the obituaries of former Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz, who died this week after a fall in his home, contained a statistical tidbit about his success against Mickey Mantle:
"... Mantle, who in 63 lifetime at-bats struck out 47 times against the reliever."
Boston Herald

"Radatz struck out Mantle 44 times in 63 attempts."
Associated Press

"Few pitchers handled baseball legend Mantle as well as Radatz, who struck out the Hall of Fame switch-hitter 44 times in 67 at-bats."
You'll notice that all three of the quotes are slightly different. And they are all wildly wrong. Retrosheet has all of the play-by-play logs of the games in which Mantle batted against Radatz and OttoC posted the info to SoSH:
AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  RBI  AVG   OBA   SLG
16 3 1 0 1 3 12 2 .188 .316 .438
Radatz still dominated Mantle, that's for sure, but in far fewer at-bats. It's neat to see that in three of the four times Mantle didn't strikeout, he singled, doubled and homered.

Surfing The Curls of Destiny

A nice essay by Mr. Snitch on baseball, zen and the giant foam finger of fate.
[T]he first sting of the Sox' big win was felt by sportswriters, particularly those in New York. This group had years of cliches at the ready to be mixed, matched, pureed and jello-molded into new-ish prose. The Sox' loss was prewritten, an old story that required only freshening before it was committed to print. ...

In the wake of fate's prank for the ages, discerning readers of the NY sports pages noticed that the playoff coverage had taken on petulant overtones. All together, it seemed, the writers' alarms had gone off too early, their spouses were in a bad humor, their dogs had peed in their shoes and their raises hadn't come through. It wasn't so much that the home team had lost, bad as that was. Actually, the writers had gotten Destiny's interoffice memo: 'Sorry boys. You'll have to do some actual work this time.' ...

The baseball season, incorporating far more games than any other sport, makes a large number of failures (losses) inevitable. Moreover, many of these losses (and more than a few wins) are serendipitous. Humidity, heat, cold, wind, noise, ennui, light (or lack thereof) and the idiosyncracies of various ballparks often trump skill and will in determining outcome. ... Success in baseball depends largely on an acceptance of fate's role in the game.

March 19, 2005

It'll Be Wells on Opening Day

It's official. Although Curt Schilling threw 63 pitches in a three-inning simulated game on Wednesday, he will not pitch on Opening Day and may end up spending the first two weeks of the season on the disabled list.

Boston will open in New York -- two weeks from tomorrow! -- with David Wells, Matt Clement and Tim Wakefield. Bronson Arroyo begins a weekend series in Toronto, leaving Wakefield as the home opener starter on April 11. ... The defending World Champions will lineup this way:
Johnny Damon
Edgar Renteria
Manny Ramirez
David Ortiz
Kevin Millar
Trot Nixon
Jason Varitek
Bill Mueller
Mark Bellhorn
Millar, Nixon and Varitek will move around the 5-6-7 spots depending on the opposing pitcher. ... Damon was diagnosed with cellulitis this week, a bacterial infection in his right leg and groin area. ... The Sox have made two rounds of cuts, with Hanley Ramirez heading to Portland. ... Wells on Selig: "He's an idiot, to be honest with you."

The Red Sox episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" will be televised June 7. ... Mike Timlin would have refused to appear on the show, continuing to believe that murdering tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis is a-okay, but talking with a homosexual is wrong. ... Oops, suppose to keep my politics here. Sorry.

March 17, 2005

ALDS Game 3: Boston 8, Anaheim 6 (10)

It's Friday, October 8 and the Boston Herald has this on its front page:

At the time, the Yankees and Twins are tied 1-1. With the Red Sox not yet having dispatched the Angels, it's pretty ballsy.

For Game 3 of the ALDS, hitting coach Ron Jackson says Boston needs to force Kelvim Escobar to throw 20-25 pitches per inning, run his pitch count up by the middle innings. The totals for the first three innings: 24-21-32. ... Escobar gets squeezed by the home plate ump, especially in the first inning; he also walks the leadoff man in each of the first three innings.

The Red Sox leave two men on in each of those innings, but they do bring two home in the third, as Mark Bellhorn walks, scoots to third on David Ortiz's double off the wall and scores on Trot Nixon's single to center. Ortiz then scores on Kevin Millar's ground out to second.

(Re Bellhorn: Chris Berman again mentions Bellhorn breaking the Sox season strikeout record and says Butch Hobson set the record "in 1985". As I pointed out in an earlier post, Hobson's last major league game was in 1982 (his last game for the Red Sox was in 1980.) This is clearly the most important tidbit ESPN has on Bellhorn, so it's amazing that Berman gets it so wrong every single time. ... Berman also butchers the nickname Johnny Damon has given the team. They are known far and wide as "The Idiots," but Berman consistently refers to them as either "The Happy Idiots" or "The Traveling Idiots.")

Bill Mueller starts off the 4th by reaching on an error by Chone Figgins, who is now at second base and still having a nightmare of a series. Johnny Damon bloops a single over short and Bellhorn comes up with men at 1st and 2nd. It sounds like Berman and Rick Sutcliffe are making fun of Tony Gwynn's overwhelming desire to see Boston bunt. And when asked if Bellhorn should sacrifice, Gwynn says, "I would!"

It is pointed out that of Boston's 12 sacrifice bunts all year -- and half of those were by Pokey Reese! I didn't know that. Six other guys had one apiece: Bellhorn, Gabe Kapler, Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts, Bronson Arroyo and Derek Lowe. ... Escobar walks Bellhorn on five pitches to load the bases. Manny Ramirez flies to deep left and Mueller scores (Boston 3-1) and Escobar is pulled, after 91 pitches in 3.1 innings. Scot Shields gives up another double to Ortiz (4-1) and walks Nixon intentionally. Millar grounds to shortstop, and Eckstein tries to force Ortiz at third, but his shovel pass is late. Bellhorn scores on the error (5-1).

During the 4th, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler is interviewed in the stands, saying this is the Red Sox's year. When asked why, he says, "Well, look what they're doing. Look at this. It's insane ..."

Singles by Mueller, Damon and Ramirez give Boston a 6-1 lead in the fifth and Berman -- saying the Angels are running out of outs -- starts wondering how Sox fans will feel if they end up playing the Twins in the ALCS and win the World Series, will it have the same magic? Or if Boston does beat the Yankees for the pennant, but loses the Series to, say, St. Louis, will that still count as some sort of victory?

Anaheim 7th: Arroyo walks Jeff "Yogurt" Davanon on five pitches and is pulled. Mike Myers jogs in and walks pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman on five pitches. Boo. ... Adam Riggs is announced as another pinch-hitter and now it's Timlin's turn. He gets Curtis Pride, who is sent up for Riggs, to pop to Cabrera near second base. In noting the pinch-hitters, Sutcliffe says Mike Scioscia is just trying to turn the lineup over, "maybe get Vlad up there as the tying run or something." ... Eckstein slaps a little flair (on an 0-2 pitch) into right field to load the bases with one out. Leadoff hitter Figgins is an easy second out, striking out on three pitches.

Now it's lefty Darin Erstad. Francona has Embree in the pen, but he stays with Timlin. Erstad has only about six AB against both guys, but he has hit Embree a little better. The pitches:
Foul, 3b side, 0-1
Sinking fastball off the plate and low, about 90, swing and miss, 0-2 (crowd howling, on its feet)
Fastball up, with Varitek in that half-crouch that almost never gets the hitter to chase upstairs, taken, 1-2
Off-speed down and away, fouled down left field line, 1-2
Tek out to talk to Timlin. Sutcliffe: "You don't want to face the guy on deck [Guererro] as the tying run." Duh.
Ball outside, 2-2
Ball at 86, high, 3-2
Ball four, just high and outside, run scores, now 6-2, Guererro up as tying run.
After Timlin jams Vlad with a fastball in, which Guererro takes a mighty cut at and misses, Sutcliffe says the "last thing he [Timlin] wants to do is leave a ball out over the plate." Timlin's next pitch is a fastball left out over the plate and Guererro pounds the fuck out of it -- sending it well over Nixon's head into the suddenly-silent bleachers, tying the game at 6-6. ... Embree comes in and gets the third out.

Boston 8th: Francisco Rodriguez strikes out Bellhorn on four pitches and Ramirez on three. The ESPN guys are busy telling us -- Red Sox fans -- how we feel. We are scared now, because if Boston loses this game, then we have to win Game 4 or fly back to Anaheim. There was a lot of hand-wringing in the next day's papers how when Guererro hit the slam, we all supposedly moaned, "Here we go again," but this wasn't Game 5. It was Game 3 -- there was no doomsday scenario going on. Thankfully, ESPN stays out of that mode of thinking, for the most part. ... At the time of the Slam, I just remember being annoyed.

With two outs, Ortiz beats the Angels' shift, getting a single on a grounder to deep second base. Sutcliffe says Francona must pinch-run for Papi now: "I make the move, 1 out, no outs, 2 outs. You've already got your closer [Foulke] in the game." Gwynn disagrees: "You don't want to take one of the best batters out now to get a run, and deny him a chance to win the game later." ... Maybe you run if it's the 9th or you are trailing, but neither of those things is true right now. ... Tito keeps Tiz in the game and after Nixon walks, Doug Mientkiewicz grounds into a force play to end the inning.

Foulke has a rough 9th inning. Eckstein flies to left, but Figgins singles, Erstad doubles and Guererro is walked intentionally. Bases loaded, one out. Garret Anderson just needs to loft a fly ball over the infield somewhere to give Anaheim the lead. Foulke starts him off with two inside fastballs, one taken for a strike and one fouled off. His third pitch is up and in, knocking Anderson off the plate, not close enough to hit him (which would force a run home), but to set him up for his next pitch. Varitek sets up inside, making some extra motion so Anderson knows where he is, then deftly hopping out to the outside corner as Foulke goes into his motion. The pitch is a changeup, about 75, low and away. Anderson waves at it and strikes out.

Troy Glaus is next. He's a hit a couple of absolute bombs in this series, but he's also had a number of pitches called strikes that has had Scioscia fuming (to me, his hangdog look always makes him look like he's about to cry). Glaus misses the first pitch, then takes a ball up and in. Foulke's pitching him the same way as Anderson. His 1-1 pitch is on the outside corner, and it's called a strike. The Angels, as Don Orsillo would say, are not enamored of the call. ... Down 1-2, Glaus checks his swing on a pitch down and in, but is called out anyway by the first base ump. End of inning.

Boston goes 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th and Anaheim threatens again in the 10th. They are now facing Derek Lowe, who was dropped from the playoff rotation in favor of Arroyo (5-0, 3.78 in his last nine starts; Boston won all nine of those games). The crowd is loudly chanting, "Let's go, D-Lowe! Let's go, D-Lowe!" His first pitch, to Davanon, is crushed to straight away center. Shit. ... Damon races back -- hair flying everywhere -- and grabs it right in front of the wall. Whew.

Lowe then walks Jose Molina, and after Mueller's bare-handed play on a bunt, he gives up a single to Eckstein. ... Mueller's play was perfect. He took a couple of slow steps, gauging how fast and where the ball was rolling, then sprinted in, grabbed it and fired. With the go-ahead run at third, Figgins chops the ball to short. Cabrera runs in, makes a basket catch at his waist and guns it to first, just beating Figgins and ending the inning.

K-Rod starts the bottom of the 10th -- his third inning of relief -- and he's spent. Damon lines a 1-1 pitch up the middle for a single. Bellhorn bunts -- hey, Tony, it makes sense NOW -- and Figgins (now back at third, as of the 7th inning) grabs it and throws wildly to second. The 66-inch tall Eckstein dives to the left field side of the base and just manages to catch the ball and keep his toe on the bag. One out. Ramirez goes down meekly -- the last pitch a fastball that split the plate -- for the second out.

Scioscia has Troy Percival and Game 1 starter Jarrod Washburn waiting in the pen. Percival hasn't pitched in the series yet and Ortiz is supposedly weaker against lefties, so in comes Washburn. ... Back in Game 1, Ortiz mashed Washburn's first pitch for an RBI-single; he walked on four pitches in his next at-bat against him. ... Ortiz sees just one pitch -- up and out over the plate -- and he pounds it into the Monster Seats for a game-winning home run.

Ortiz rasies his right fist as he jogs the bases -- a huge smile on his face -- as the dugout spills out to greet him at the plate. It's a beautiful scene -- especially where he slaps the batting helmet off his head just before hopping into the throng. I happily rewind the DVD (can you do that to a DVD?) to see it a few more times.

ALCS Rewind starts on Monday.

Lemons For Lunch

This man is not pleased.

March 15, 2005


Sox Win!
Red Sox 000 201 201 - 6 14 1
Devil Rays 000 010 220 - 5 12 0
Justin Sherrod's solo home run to center field in the top of the ninth snapped Boston's five-game losing streak. ... Bronson Arroyo pitched 4.2 innings, allowing a run in the 5th on consecutive doubles by Julio Lugo and Aubrey Huff. ... Mark Bellhorn had two doubles and 2 RBIs; Adam Hyzdu played the entire game in center and went 2-for-4.

To the minors: infielders Alejandro Machado and Kenny Perez, outfielder Chip Ambres and pitchers Abe Alvarez, Chris Smith, Manny Delcarmen, Anibal Sanchez, Luis Mendoza, and Juan Cedeno.

ALDS Rewind

Game 1: Boston 9, Anaheim 3
Game 2: Boston 8, Anaheim 3

I'm finally rewatching my DVDs of the 2004 post-season. I skipped through the first two games of the ALDS last night, but I don't have many comments.

Ortiz was on fire from the start. He drove the first pitch he saw into right for an RBI-single, scoring Manny, who had doubled. Tiz also walked five times in the two games, three times intentionally. After those BBIs, the next batters went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI. ... I was also curious about how Schilling's ankle felt in the early innings of Game 1, before he tweaked it fielding Anderson's 7th-inning dribbler. In all the stories over the winter, I haven't read too much about that.

Most of my chicken scratches concern the truly shitty broadcasting team of Chris Berman, Rick Sutcliffe and Tony Gywnn. Gywnn seems like a nice guy, but he adds absolutely nothing to a baseball broadcast. Sutcliffe's stupid-to-reasonable-comment ratio is quite high and Berman continues to act as though he -- and not what's going on down on the diamond -- is the show.

Game 1, top of the fourth. Boston's up 3-0 after Ortiz walked and Millar homered. Varitek lined a hit to left and Cabrera walks. No one out. Gwynn: "It wouldn't surprise me at all if Billy Mueller's up there to drop a bunt ..." Well, Tony, if you had read anything about the 2004 Boston Red Sox before you went on the air, you'd know that they rarely bunt. Boston had only 12 sacrifice hits, the lowest in the AL; the White Sox led the league with 58 and the Angels were second with 56.

Mueller's at-bat would have been a good time to explain why the Red Sox would not be bunting, but no one did that. After Mueller struck out, Gwynn seemed genuinely surprised there had been no attempt to move the runners over for the #9 hitter. ... Gwynn again had bunting on his mind in the first inning of Game 2 when Damon and Bellhorn both singled. Bunting with Manny and Ortiz coming up? Please.

During Game 1, Berman noted that Bellhorn had set a new Red Sox single-season record for strikeouts, breaking Butch Hobson's old record, which had been set (he said) "in the mid-80s." ... Actually, Hobson set the record (162 K) in 1977. And his last major league game was on August 3, 1982, as a member of the Yankees. ... Berman repeated the Hobson "mid-80s" "factoid" during Game 2.

Pedro Martinez came out throwing heat in Game 2. Of his six pitches to Vladimir Guererro in the first inning, one was 95 and three were 94. By the 7th inning, Martinez was still consistently throwing in the low 90s. He had thrown 93 pitches through 6.1 innings, but then needed 12 pitches to get Eckstein to fly out and 10 more to strike out Figgins. That made 115 pitches and Francona handed the ball over to Timlin, Myers and Foulke. ... I noticed that Arroyo was warming up as Foulke was striking out Glaus to end the 8th. Boston led 4-3 at the time and Tito was apparently planning (just in case) for extra innings. But the Sox battered Donnelly for four runs in the 9th and put the game out of reach.

Check out The Baseball Desert for an mp3 of Vin Scully calling the 9th inning of Sandy Koufax's perfect game on September 9, 1965. ... Just what I need to cleanse my aural palate before subjecting myself to ESPN's Three Stooges for Game 3.

March 14, 2005

Curt Set To Throw Simulated Game Wednesday

Curt Schilling had a good 60-pitch long-toss session yesterday, but it was merely a tune-up for Wednesday, when he'll throw a three-inning simulated game. Terry Francona: It's "a pretty big day for him, effort-wise. He could throw Wednesday and have a great session. If he doesn't, we kind of stay at the same pace."

In three spring starts (all against the Twins), Matt Clement has allowed five runs and 12 hits in nine innings. The good news is that he has not walked anyone. "This time of spring I'm not usually the sharpest, but I'm throwing a lot of strikes. Maybe that's the reason I'm giving up a few more hits right now."

Clement's main concern is minimizing how often he throws his slider, so he's using his other pitches -- cut fastball, sinker, changeup -- in situations he wouldn't usually. ... Getting his walk rate down would be a huge boon for Clement, because, as Tony Massarotti notes, over the last three seasons, Clement has held opposing hitters to a .223 average, 6th in MLB behind Johan Santana, Jason Schmidt, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Kerry Wood.

Evan at Firebrand is also high on Clement. He "has a very good chance to be our ace the entire season. ... [I]f Jason Varitek can work his magic and he can sustain Act One of his 2004 Cubs season for the Red Sox, we're talking Cy Young. We're talking 25 wins."

Tito talks about managing this season and says he'd have no problem putting John Halama in the rotation for a few weeks, if necessary. Tito hoped Halama could go three or four innings today against Baltimore, but he lasted only two frames as Boston lost 5-3, its fourth straight defeat. ... Francona says he'll probably start the season with 11 pitchers. ... The first round of cuts will come today; Abe Alvarez is already at the minor league complex.

Mindful of the recent losses, Boston Dirt Dog Steve Silva warns: "It's only spring and the games don't mean a thing, but your world champion Boston Red Sox need to start playing some inspired baseball one of these days or run the risk of heading to New York for Sunday Night Live as the real not-ready-for-prime-time players." He's got to be kidding.

Elsewhere: Randy Johnson pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits in the Yankees' 8-2 victory over Houston. ... Jeremy Giambi told the Kansas City Star that he used steroids. ... Yankees special assistant Dwight Gooden was arrested Sunday for allegedly punching his ex-wife in the face.

Blogs: Brian M has a blog called Friendly Fenway. In an early entry, he wrote: "I would push my own mother down a flight of stairs if the Sox could somehow get a win out of it." That's the spirit. ... Five female Sox bloggers have begun a campaign: Bring Back The Bullpen Car! They should print up shirts with that logo!

March 13, 2005

Everyone Loves A Contest, Year 2

It's time for the Second Annual Joy of Sox Prediction Contest -- where ten seconds of thought can win you wonderful prizes.

As before, email me with your guess of the Red Sox's record. In case of a tie, also tell me who will have a lower ERA, Schilling or Johnson, and by how much. Example: If you think Schilling's ERA will be 40 points lower than Johnson's, write in: Schilling -40. If you think Schilling's ERA will be 15 points high than Johnson's, write in: Johnson -15.

Deadline is Noon on Sunday, April 3. All entries will be posted shortly thereafter.

Prize: The winner receives a copy of "Joy of Sox" -- the imaginatively-titled collection of posts from this blog from October 16, 2003 to October 31, 2004. I put this book together mostly for myself, although I'll be selling it through Cafe Press as well, so if you're an insane person snapping up everything associated with the 2004 Red Sox (like me), you may want to check it out.

Also: The winner will receive a CD-R with the WEEI broadcasts of ALCS 3-4-5-6-7 and WS 1-2-3-4 and several video/highlight compilations (including some home video from the upper deck of the final out in Game 4 in St. Louis).

Saturday Debuts

David Wells, Bill Mueller and Keith Foulke.

Wells: Threw 28 pitches in two innings against Tampa Bay. Allowed four hits and two runs (one earned), no walks, no strikeouts, one wild pitch. Boston lost 6-4. Wells threw six pitches in the first and the two runs in the second were not entirely his fault. A windblown triple and a grounder scored one and the second crossed on an error. ... Seeing his #3 uniform, some fans called out "Jody Reed." ... Wells says he needs only 12-15 innings of work this spring; he'll start on Thursday.

Mueller: It was his error (handcuffed on a high, hard chopper on the line) that led to the Devil Rays's second run, but the Professional was happy with his afternoon. He played three innings, went 1-for-2 and scored a run. Tito: "Billy was like a little kid. He was in full uniform by 8:30 (am)."

Foulke: Relieved Wells, threw 14 pitches (nine strikes) for a perfect third inning (including one K). Foulke thinks he'll now pitch "every other day or every third day."

Others: David Ortiz has been icing his right shoulder after every game. He injured it when he was moronically waived home by Dale Sveum last August. ... Curt Schilling will have a side session Monday, then throw about 60 pitches against hitters on Wednesday. It seems all but certain he will not pitch Opening Day. ... Jay Payton is 7-for-12 (.583). ... Boston's next home game will be Wednesday against the Cardinals.

Howard Bryant talked to Nomar: "I was so happy for those guys. And I couldn't tell you how I felt when the guy calls me and asked me for my ring size. ... I got all excited, because I didn't even know my ring size. ... I'm watching the Red Sox, and these guys are my boys, too. Pedro and D-Lowe. When they were down, 3-0, to the Yankees, I told my friends that if the Yankees didn't sweep, the Sox were going to win it. They said, 'How can you predict that?' and I said, Because I know my boys.'"

Three losses:
Red Sox     210 000 000 - 3  9  3
Blue Jays 030 001 21x - 7 13 0
Devil Rays  020 100 012 - 6 10  1  
Red Sox 013 000 000 - 4 10 1
Red Sox     001 100 000 - 2  8  0
Twins 120 001 00x - 4 11 1
Matt Clement allowed three runs and seven hits in four innings today; he did not walk anyone and struck out five.

March 12, 2005

Many Contacts Among The Lumberjacks

Using Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star as an example of the huge number of sportswriters and broadcasters who hate sabermetrics without understanding it, Yankees blogger Larry Mahnken ponders "The Inexplicable Cult of 'Anything but Moneyball'":
... Griffin simply doesn't like the way the A's play baseball, he prefers teams that hit-and-run, steal bases, sacrifice bunt. Griffin, like Buster Olney, remains convinced that this is how baseball games are won, despite not only not having any evidence that this is the case, but mountains of evidence that exactly the opposite is true.

The Boston Red Sox were dead-last in all of baseball in "Productive Out Percentage". They laid down a total of twelve sacrifice bunts all season, they stole only 68 bases. But they were second in the league in walks, hit 222 home runs, and led MLB in OBP and SLG. They were the epitome of a "Moneyball" team. And they won the World Series.

And along the way, they swept the Anaheim Angels and St. Louis Cardinals, teams whose offensive strategies prominently featured bunts, hit-and-runs and steals. They didn't just beat them, the beat the crap out of them, by the combined score of 49-24 (an average score of about 7-3). The only team to challenge them? The Yankees, who hit more home runs and drew more walks than them, and were the second-worst POP team in the playoffs. ...

Sabermetrics says that you win by getting guys on base and bring them home, and conversely, keeping your opponents off base, and making sure the ones that get on don't get home. You win by scoring more than your oppponent, and that's how you score more than your opponent. ... This isn't a new fangled idea, it's how baseball games have always been won. ...

2005 -- The Results of 100 Seasons

I meant to post this awhile back. In late January, SG (from Replacement Level Yankees Weblog) posted the results of 100 simulations of the 2005 season:

Avg High High

American League
Boston Red Sox 92 70 920 788 52 23 109 86
New York Yankees 91 71 905 794 43 25 111 85
Toronto Blue Jays 82 80 804 790 4 9 96 96
Baltimore Orioles 76 86 819 866 0 2 90 103
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 75 87 762 833 1 2 88 102

Minnesota Twins 86 76 793 749 71 0 100 98
Detroit Tigers 76 86 767 824 10 0 88 100
Cleveland Indians 74 88 799 847 10 0 94 105
Chicago White Sox 74 88 753 834 8 2 94 103
Kansas City Royals 69 93 779 912 1 0 80 103

Oakland Athletics 89 73 842 745 50 9 110 91
Seattle Mariners 85 77 810 780 22 13 103 90
Anaheim Angels 84 78 808 781 19 11 96 91
Texas Rangers 81 81 843 852 9 4 98 96

National League
Philadelphia Phillies 92 70 789 684 48 20 107 80
Florida Marlins 87 75 761 708 23 14 98 88
New York Mets 87 75 775 710 19 19 103 90
Washington Nationals 81 81 704 715 6 6 99 96
Atlanta Braves 81 81 766 761 4 11 95 97

St. Louis Cardinals 96 66 781 641 92 4 110 81
Chicago Cubs 82 80 746 720 6 7 94 97
Milwaukee Brewers 79 83 703 724 2 3 96 104
Houston Astros 76 86 688 752 0 1 89 100
Pittsburgh Pirates 74 88 703 767 0 0 91 101
Cincinnati Reds 70 92 732 831 0 0 87 108

Los Angeles Dodgers 92 70 748 661 74 5 110 94
San Francisco Giants 84 78 773 739 22 8 101 94
San Diego Padres 78 84 714 742 3 2 90 97
Colorado Rockies 72 90 796 883 1 0 86 104
Arizona Diamondbacks 65 97 674 822 0 0 82 114
SG: "Just like last year, Boston and New York appear to be very evenly matched, although both teams project to be slightly worse than last year. Toronto projects much better than I expected, especially with the loss of Delgado. What's troubling for Yankee fans is that they missed the playoffs 1/3 of the time in these runs."

According to this, 20 of the 30 teams made the playoffs at least 10% of the time.

March 11, 2005

Arroyo, Youkilis and Steroids

Arroyo would rather start, but understands why he'll be in the pen. "I feel like I can be effective out of the 'pen, throwing the breaking ball for strikes so much. I'm comfortable in either role. I think I've pitched enough out of the 'pen to be effective, and I think I can be effective as a starter. Whatever this team needs is what I'm going to have to do."

He should get a decent amount of starts this year, however. In 2004, five pitchers -- Pedro, Schilling, Lowe, Wakefield and Arroyo -- logged all but five of Boston's starts. The other five were from: BH Kim (3), Pedro Astacio (1) and Abe Alvarez (1). Amazing.

With Schilling returning from ankle surgery, Wells's balky back, and Wade Miller's shoulder -- and anything else that might come along -- getting the five-man rotation to start 157 games again is highly unlikely.

Kevin Youkilis would rather be on the Boston bench than playing every day in Pawtucket. "I'm turning 26 this year, it's not like I'm a young prospect of 22. ... If you're not playing every day and you sit back and watch the game, you learn more about this game and how it works, a little more in detail." Yook's chances of making the roster improved with the news that Roberto Petagine will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus and drain fluid in his left knee. He'll miss 4-6 weeks.

Curt Schilling was served a subpoena to attend a hearing about steroid use before a House Committee March 17 in Washington, DC. Schilling said he would testify at the hearing, and added that it's "not very" likely that he will pitch Opening Day. ... Elsewhere in camp, between six and 12 Red Sox players were randomly chosen for steroid testing. Doug Mirabelli, Bill Mueller and David Ortiz were tested; Johnny Damon said he was not.

According to Ortiz, "All they are going to find is a lot of rice and beans." ... As Jose Melendez noted in today's Keys to the Game: "David ... Big Papi ... muchacho, it is NOT normal to have rice and beans in your urine. Please get that checked out immediately before you find a steak in there."

March 10, 2005

Thursday: Dodgers 2, Red Sox 1

Dodgers 000 002 000 - 2 5 1
Red Sox 000 100 000 - 1 3 0
Boston managed only three hits: Manny Ramirez's homer leading off the 4th, and singles by Hanley Ramirez and Trot Nixon. Bronson Arroyo allowed a two-run homer to Jose Valentin and took the loss. Box.

NY: Turns Out Pedro Is Good, After All!

Now that Pedro Martinez is in New York, the Gotham sportswriters are seeing him in a different light. Witness this lede from Mark Hale in Wednesday's Post:
When the Mets signed Pedro Martinez, you probably heard a lot that they signed a guy who's only a six-inning starter. And that sometime around 100 pitches, he needs to be pulled or he loses his effectiveness. There's only one problem. Neither is true.

"It's a perception that the media has perceived because of isolated incidences," Met pitching coach Rick Peterson says. Peterson is correct, of course, which is why it's time to de-bunk the two biggest myths about Pedro's pitching.

Start with the idea that Martinez can't go past the sixth inning. In Martinez's 33 regular season starts for Boston last year, he failed to go six innings just five times. He went exactly six innings six times. And he went more than six innings 22 times — two-thirds of his starts.

That's the same number of times as Roger Clemens and more times than younger aces like Carlos Zambrano (20 times) and Barry Zito (18).

Of course, there may be some who scoff at that and say, "Sure, but how did he perform from the seventh inning on?" Well, in innings 1-6 last year, the 33-year-old Martinez held hitters to a .239 average. In innings 7-9, the average against him was .226. That's right — batters fared worse against him in the later innings.
Here are Pedro's numbers from 2004:
Inning 1 137 .281 .321 .531
Innings 1-3 410 .239 .303 .413
Innings 4-6 380 .240 .303 .382
Innings 7-9 99 .226 .267 .409
Martinez's splits from 2002-04 tell a similar story.

But these stats are deceptive, because when would Pedro have had the opportunity to pitch into the 7th, 8th and/or 9th innings? When he's on his game and having no problems. If he was getting lit up or forced to throw a lot of pitches, he's going to be sitting in the dugout by the time the 7th inning rolls around. His late inning numbers are going to be mostly drawn from his good-to-great outings.

Ankiel "Retires" As Pitcher, Will Try Outfield

Rick Ankiel: "The frustration that built up, it seems like it was really eroding my spirit and starting to affect my personality off the field. It just became apparent that it was time for me to move on and pursue becoming an outfielder." ... Although he has no options left, it seems unlikely that any team would block his move to the minors to start the season. (Also: Gammons and St. louis Post-Dispatch)

His hitting stats:
Major Leagues 87 .207 .258 .310
Minor Leagues 165 .279 .337 .558
2001 Johnson City* 105 .286 .364 .638 (10 HR)
*: as part-time DH in rookie-level Appalachian LeagueCurt Schilling plans to long toss today and throw batting practice Friday -- the first time he's faced hitters this spring. ... Keith Foulke is expected to throw to hitters today; Bill Mueller will likely be one of them. ... Roberto Petagine is having a problem with cartilage in his knee.

In progress (2:50 pm): Tim Wakefield threw three shutout innings against the Dodgers (three walks, three strikeouts). Manny Ramirez homered off Scott Erickson in the 4th, but Los Angeles scored two off Bronson Arroyo in the top of the 6th and lead 2-1.

March 9, 2005

Wade Miller Out Until May

Wade Miller will miss the month of April as he continues rehabbing his right shoulder. He says he'll "take it slow now and miss the beginning of the season and, hopefully, come back for the last five months."

Curt Schilling will likely not be ready by Opening Day either, leaving Boston with four starters -- David Wells, Matt Clement, Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo. This shouldn't be a problem, since the Red Sox have 3 off days from April 4-12.
April 3 - At New York
April 4 - Off
April 5 - At New York
April 6 - At New York
April 7 - Off
April 8 - At Toronto
April 9 - At Toronto
April 10 - At Toronto
April 11 - New York
April 12 - Off
April 13 - New York
After that, Boston's next off-day is April 28, but Schilling should be set by then. ... This afternoon's game against Florida was rained out. The Red Sox play the Dodgers tomorrow.

Same As It Ever Was

An editorial from The Sporting News:
[T]he lazy ballplayer is one of the reasons the game is falling back in popular esteem today. Take the National League for instance: it does not have near the number of smart ballplayers it did ten or 15 years ago. The youngsters of the present do not seem to study the game or apply themselves like they did years ago. The crop coming up from the minors, in consequence, is inferior. There are players in the league today who could not have held jobs years ago. Nowadays, the young [player] ... tries to hide his weakness and he does not court criticism.
Dated: December 6, 1917

Red Sox On Magazine Covers

Coming to a newsstand near you: Johnny Damon on the covers of Sports Illustrated's baseball preview, Entertainment Weekly (with "Fever Pitch" stars Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore) and the current Sports Illustrated for Kids. ... The cover of The Sporting News's baseball preview issue will feature Curt Schilling and Jason Varitek will adorn the cover of ESPN Magazine.

Wakefield makes his second start this afternoon, against the Marlins. Damon, Mark Bellhorn, Jay Payton, McCarty, Kevin Youkilis and Mirabelli will make the trip to Jupiter.

In his Yankee debut, Randy Johnson pitched two innings against Atlanta, throwing 36 pitches and getting slapped with the loss. His fastball hovered in the low 90s. ... After throwing three scoreless innings last Friday, Dodger Derek Lowe threw four more bagels in his second spring start.

Orlando Cabrera, to the Herald's Howard Bryant: "Win three, lose three, win eight? Incredible. ... We were down 3-0, and they scored like, 20 runs on us. Anybody else would have been like, 'OK, let's go home.' I had my family telling me, 'Let's buy a plane ticket, 'cause we're going home tomorrow.' And I said, 'This shit isn't over.' ... I got to play on the greatest team in the history of the Red Sox. My name is there. And I'm really proud of that. Tell everyone I say hi."

March 8, 2005

A New Look

Over the next few days, I'll be fiddling with the look of the site. I think this looks a bit sleeker.

Tuesday: Red Sox 7, Twins 4

Boston rallied to beat the Twins this afternoon. Box.
Twins 100 003 000 - 4 12 1
Red Sox 000 012 04x - 7 7 1
Although Matt Clement allowed a home run to Luis Rivas on the third pitch of the game, he finished strong, allowing three hits and one run in three innings. Matt Mantei made his debut, allowing one hit in one inning. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz both hit home runs.

Francona's lineup today had Trot Nixon batting 2nd, Manny 3rd, Ortiz 4th and Edgar Renteria 5th. It may not really matter where Manny and Ortiz bat, but Tito did say this: "My instincts tell me Manny is going to hit third when this is all said and done."

Sox Were Set To Trade Clemens In 1993

Former Red Sox GM Lou Gorman had worked out a blockbuster trade with then Astros GM Bob Watson that would have sent Roger Clemens to Houston, but the deal fell through when new Astros owner Drayton McLane refused to part with Craig Biggio. In his upcoming book "One Pitch from Glory," Gorman says he would have sent Clemens and a catcher to Houston for Biggio, Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch, Eddie Taubensee and a lefthanded pitching prospect.

Last Sunday, Kevin Youkilis made his first appearance at first base, moving over from third and replacing David Ortiz. ... Adam Stern sprained his right thumb Saturday night sliding into second base. ... Curt Schilling has the flu. ... Alan Embree and Jason Varitek recall the final out of the ALCS. ... The Red Sox and Yankees will play again on March 29 in Tampa, then open the season April 3.

This Saturday's game against Tampa Bay will feature the spring debuts of David Wells, Keith Foulke and Bill Mueller. ... Wells: "Everyone's loosey-goosey in this clubhouse. It's a lot different than I imagined it. It's pretty comical to me. New York was reserved, but we had fun. We had characters, but we were a lot more business-like. Here, they like to have fun. They're a bunch of kids."

Monday: Yankees 9, Red Sox 2

They just can't get it done in October when the pressure's on, but winning in early March seems to be no problem. Whatever.
Yankees 020 211 030 - 9 14 0
Red Sox 000 100 100 - 2 8 0

Me With Trophy

At the Sons of Sam Horn party in Boston, Sunday, February 20:

March 7, 2005

Update to 1918 Website

I have posted the text of three articles about the 1918 Red Sox -- and my book about the team -- to my 1918 website. The articles were published during last year's World Series in the Miami Herald, Portland Press-Herald and the Standard-Times (Mass.). They are linked here.

March 6, 2005

Sunday: Red Sox 5, Phillies 4

Another win this afternoon. Box to come.
Phillies 110 200 000 - 4 5 0
Red Sox 001 004 00x - 5 9 0
The highlight was a triple play begun by shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the top of the sixth inning. Ramirez leapt high and caught a rising line drive by Todd Pratt, stepped on second to double off Ryan Howard, and threw to first to get Jason Michaels. Boston then rallied for four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Starter Jeremi Gonzalez allowed two hits and two runs in two innings.

Terry Francona says he won't use a strict platoon in right field with Trot Nixon and Jay Payton, but Payton will get a decent amount of playing time against lefties. Nixon hit only .133 (2-for-15) against lefties last year compared to .336 against righties. In his career, Nixon has hit .293 against RHP and .213 against LHP. Trot: "I don't like it. I don't accept [that I can't hit left-handers]. ... I've had my opportunities against lefties, but usually tough lefties and guys out of the bullpen."

More on Dave Roberts, from Newsday. ... Read an excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities: The 2004 Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry and the War for the Pennant, in which Shonda Schilling and Michelle Mangum (now Johnny Damon's wife) had to be separated from one another after ALCS Game 3. Catfight!