July 31, 2006

G104: Red Sox 9, Cleveland 8

All you can do is laugh.

Cora singles, Yook walks, and with one out, Ortiz swings at an 2-0 pitch and hits it to deep center. ... Three-run home run. ... Red Sox win 9-8.

He cannot possibly be human.


***

Paul Byrd (4.71) / David Wells (8.64), 7 PM
Sizemore, CF Youkilis, 1B
Michaels, LF Loretta, 2B
Hafner, DH Ortiz, DH
Martinez, 1B Ramirez, LF
Blake, RF Lowell, 3B
Peralta, SS Varitek, C
Luna, 2B Crisp, CF
Shoppach, C Pena, RF
Marte, 3B Cora, SS
Jermaine Van Buren was sent down to make room for Wells, who returns for his first start since May 26. Terry Francona: "Our medical people think he'll be fine, or we wouldn't do this. ... But I'm going to hold my breath every time he fields a bunt. ... His arm is in great shape. If he gets up to 95 to 100 pitches, that's probably the max."

Byrd has a 2.87 ERA in his 11 starts since May 21, but his last time out, he gave up seven runs on 10 hits in 3.1 to Detroit.

BTW: I guess the trade dealine is the top priority in the media at the moment, so that's why we read nothing about Trot Nixon jogging to first base on his 3-6-3 DP to end the first inning last night and nothing about his misplaying Adam Kennedy's single into a triple in the corner the following inning. Yeah, that must be it. ... Let the Wily Mo Era begin.

The Price Of Milk

Not necessarily verbatim notes from two SoSHers listening to Theo's 5 PM press conference:
No deal done. ... Asked for young players, they are part of long term plan, no deal worth it. ... Came close on a lot of things ... We have a long term plan. As much as we desperately wanted to do something to help our big league team it would have been a mistake to jeaopardize that plan to marginally improve our chances this year ... Still a possibility to do a waiver deal.

It'll hurt to be without Trot, but we have WMP. ... maybe looking at 3 weeks, but that's rough. Starting pitchers returning will make things easier for us, we should be better as they come back. ...

We were most aggressive for starters. Very few changed hands. We tried to get very creative about getting teams to think about giving up pitchers they weren't interested in giving up ... came pretty close to high-caliber starting pitchers but in the end didn't find one worthwile for us.
Sounds a lot like what Theo said exactly one year ago today:
I think it was the ultimate sellers' market and if you're a buyer and you're in the ultimate sellers' market, it's hard to make a fair deal. It's hard to make a deal that doesn't hurt you more than helps you.

I kind of liken it to if you need a carton of milk and put five bucks in your pocket and go to the store to get some milk, and all of a sudden milk is 100 bucks, you may walk out of that store without some milk. That's what we did.

Nixon on DL

Trot Nixon was put on the disabled list with "a grade two biceps strain".

Michael Silverman, Herald:
We just got out of a meeting with Terry Francona and he told us that according to GM Theo Epstein, "nothing has happened and he doesn't foresee anything happening." That was from a phone call they had just before 4 o’clock, so there is a small chance something could have happened but it appears the Red Sox will settle with what they have.
For the final two months of the season, the Yankees picked up Abreu, Lidle and Wilson for Chacon. ... I'm very glad the Sox didn't panic and give up any young talent, but assuming there are no late announcements -- and fully understanding that New York needed pitching and got only Lidle -- I'm feeling a bit annoyed at the moment.

Deadline Drama III

Monday, 4:00 PM -- Kip Wells traded to Texas (Edes says Sox "ultimately passed because of [his] shaky medical history). ... WEEI says Loretta, Lowell, Crisp and Pena in the lineup tonight.

Shawn Chacon traded to the Pirates for Craig Wilson. Jesus.

Lugo traded to Dodgers.

Will Carroll, BP:
The Sox are also looking for cheap outfield help as a backup in case tests on Trot Nixon come up with a poor result. There are several names in play, including Craig Wilson, Geoff Jenkins, and Moises Alou. The question here will be price and fit. The Sox, even if Nixon is out for the year, could go with Gabe Kapler and Wily Mo Pena if the price is too high on an acquisition.
SoSHer says ESPN's Keith Law:
on Outside the Lines is claiming that Coco has fallen out of favor with the Red Sox. He claimed Coco's defense isn't as advertised, and that Coco has created problems in the clubhouse. WTF? Nobody's even whispered about him being a clubhouse problem, and everyone knew Coco has a Damonesque arm. Where do they come up with this crap?
Anyone else see that?

Monday, 3:00 PM -- From SoSH:
Three baseball sources [including Olney] say that Pirates RHP Kip Wells is on the verge of being traded to Boston, and that the two sides are ironing out details to get it done. A deal could be done at any minute, a baseball source says.
Wells (for Abe Alvarez, apparently) would be the #5 and Snyder would move to the pen (which would seem to be the best place for him). Theo better have landed him for free, though.

Monday, 2:50 PM -- Sean McAdam: "At some point today, the Sox were in contact with the agent for Julio Lugo, trying to hammer out an extention before completing a trade for him."

This would be tampering without approval from both the Devil Rays and the Commissioner's office, which would likely mean a deal is in place. So ... ???

Monday, 2:40 PM -- Updates from the Globe:

Gordon Edes:
I was told by a Pittsburgh source this afternoon that the Red Sox were talking to the Pirates about starting pitcher Kip Wells. Wells 1-5 with a 6.69 ERA in seven starts for the Pirates this season. In July, however, he has a much lower 3.16 ERA in four starts.
Edes also says that after the Red Sox said no to Atlanta about Lester, "that was it. No counterproposals, no further conversation." The Sox "might still be involved" with Alfonso Soriano and have talked to San Diego about reliever Scott Linebrink and starter Chris Young.

Nick Cafardo:
The Red Sox have been in the running for virtually every big name out there ... But the Sox are only hearing names like Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Craig Hansen, Manny DelCarmen, Dustin Pedroia and they're not liking those sounds. There's still a possibility the Sox could make a quick deal for the Phillies' Jon Lieber.
Monday, 2:00 PM -- Two hours to go!

Buster Olney (1:17 PM):
Boston and Atlanta have talked about sending Andruw Jones to Boston for Coco Crisp, Craig Hansen and a prospect. Atlanta asked for Jon Lester, but the Red Sox said no.
From SoSHer DJnVa (1:44 PM):
Olney on with Dan Patrick: Since Abreu trade Sox have moved from looking for a "good" player to looking for a "great" player. ... Sox are very aggressive today. ... Thinks there will be a lot of trades announced at deadline.
Jones is under contract for next year at $13.5 and he'd look damn good at #5 after God and Manny (and in center). Hansen is clearly the most "tradeable" of the young arms and if Papelbon stays in the pen, Hansen is way more valuable to another team than as a setup man here. I don't see why the Sox and Atlanta can't agree on some other pitcher to fill out the deal.

Monday, 1:30 PM -- From the papers:

Nick Cafardo, Globe (11:15 AM):
A source close to Clemens said today that Clemens would not ask to be traded even though his frustration level is through the roof following another rough day for the Astros, who blew a 5-1 lead and lost to the Diamondbacks 7-6 yesterday. ... The source indicated that Clemens, who has a no trade clause in his contract, would not veto a trade to the Red Sox or Yankees.
Sean McAdam, ProJo:
Friends of the Rocket insist he's sorry that he chose the Astros over the Red Sox. ... Clemens would love to be dealt to the Red Sox, but doesn't want to antagonize his hometown by asking for a trade. Similarly, owner Drayon McLane, having won the furious bidding war for Clemens two months ago, doesn't want to alienate Astros fans by dealing Clemens.
Gordon Edes, Globe:
[A]ccording to a major league executive who said he spoke directly with one of the three teams involved, the Red Sox are working on a three-way deal with Tampa Bay and San Diego in which they would end up with Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo and Padres setup man Scott Linebrink, with Lowell going to the Padres. The Devil Rays presumably would end up with prospects from one or both clubs. ... Another major league executive confirmed the Padres' willingness to trade Linebrink, and it is well known that San Diego has been seeking a third baseman.
Michael Silverman, Herald:
The juiciest rumors: The Red Sox are attempting to strike a three-way deal with the Rockies and Padres, with third baseman Mike Lowell shipped out of town and first baseman Ryan Shealy arriving here from Colorado. The Sox also would presumably obtain a more-than-reputable starter. ... David Pauley also was mentioned as part of the Red Sox' package.
Cafardo, Globe:
According to major league sources the Sox were working on a three-way deal with Tampa Bay and San Diego.

Padres special assignment scout Ted Simmons was still in town checking out the Sox, but Boston has indicated it won't move Kevin Youkilis. Sources were indicating the deal, if consummated, would have the Sox getting Devil Rays shortstop Julio Lugo and Padres righty setup man Scott Linebrink, with Mike Lowell heading to San Diego and Tampa Bay receiving prospects from Boston.
Other news:

Curt Schilling: The Yankees "make a huge deal, they win a game, I pitch like crap, we lose a game, and everybody is at the extremes."

Trot Nixon will undergo an MRI today after aggravating a strained right biceps injury in the third inning last night. ... Matt Clement was moved to the 60-day DL to make room for Bryan Corey, who should be with the team on Wednesday.

Keith Foulke strained his lower back and won't pitch for about a week. PawSox pitching coach Mike Griffin: "He had some stiffness so he didn't want to try it. He did some long toss but got up on the mound and just felt tight." ... Foulke: "I'm not pitching. You can call it whatever you want. ... I don't want to talk about it, really."

Manny Delcarmen is probably unavailable for a few days because of an irritation on his right thumb. It's been bothering him for about a week, and as it turns out, he's allowed five runs in 2.1 innings over his last three appearances. ... MDC:
My four-seamer right now I can't throw it away on the corner, everything keeps running in. When I want to throw my curveball the way I want it, that's when I really feel it. I'd rather say something now than have it get worse and become a big issue later. My velocity's [the same], but I can't really control where I want the ball to go now.
Monday, 12:30 PM -- Jayson Stark, ESPN:
The Red Sox rolled their shopping cart through Soriano-ville on Sunday, just for the fun of seeing what happened. Well, the odds are: Not much will. Since the Red Sox are not a team interested in unloading its supply of young, electric arms, they don't seem like a good match with the Nationals.
Christina Kahrl, Baseball Prospectus, on the Abreu trade:
Master strokes rarely fix two problems simultaneously, but whether you want to consider this a case of Brian Cashman making a simply outstanding deal, or the Phillies dumping salary to the one team that is consistently willing to absorb more, or some combination thereof, this quite simply fixes the Yankees in a way that single trades rarely achieve. ...

The Yankees probably just added four wins in the final 60 games, with Lidle probably being every bit as responsible for that as Abreu. That's not just an upgrade, that's a massive difference, and a reflection on what's being replaced. This doesn't simply help the Yankees keep up with the competition, they now have a much better shot at winning not merely the wild card, but their own division, and they can better withstand an injury in either their rotation or lineup than before.
Monday, 11:50 AM -- Rob Bradford on WEEI reports: Atlanta offered Andruw Jones to the Red Sox for Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, and Craig Hansen last night. It was turned down, but "was a lot closer than you'd expect."

What? It would be better for Theo to turn off his cell phone and go to sleep for four hours than make a deal like this.

Deadline Drama II

Monday, 12:45 AM There was talk during tonight's game about a possible straight Loretta-for-Lugo deal. I'd do that, but that doesn't help our pitching staff.

For what it's worth, there was also this SoSH post at 10:44 PM: "A fellow Sosher embedded at Fenway just called and told me the Loretta for Lugo deal is done. Loretta was seen leaving Fenway earlier." ... Two follow-up posts after the game: "loretta was in the clubhouse after the game laughing off the rumor according to cbs" and "Per CBS-4 (Sports Final), Loretta was in the dugout during the game".

Jayson Stark says the Red Sox have inquired about Giants starter Jason Schmidt, along with the Mets, Rangers and maybe the White Sox. Stark says the Giants are warning teams that Schmidt will be "expensive" -- either two top-tier young players or one player like that and a young starting pitcher who could replace Schmidt.

Sunday, 5:40 PM -- Will Carroll reports that the Cardinals are about to acquire second baseman Ron Belliard, so that likely removes St. Louis from any Loretta discussion.

Sunday, 4:22 PM -- It's official: the Yankees have picked up Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle from the Phillies for shortstop C.J. Henry, lefty Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and righty Carlos Monasterios.

Only Henry (the Yankees' first-round draft pick in 2005, batting .237 in 76 games Charleston (A)) and Smith (who did not allow a run in 12 appearances in New York and has a 2.08 ERA in 24 games for Columbus (AAA)) are worth talking about.

So, in exchange for little more than money (Abreu: $13 this year, $13 in 2007 and a $13 option in 2008 (which they actually may not be obligated to pick up)), the Yankees got a decent right fielder and an upgrade over dreck like Ponson in the #5 starter spot.

But does it really help them? Lidle's NL ERA has hovered around 5.00 all year, and when he was with the Blue Jays in 2003, he posted a 5.75 ERA in 31 starts. Abreu has some speed, but in June and July, he has slugged .404 and .313, respectively. I'm not convinced. Lidle is not the answer to their need for pitching.

The Red Sox acquired Bryan Corey, a right-handed reliever who was DFA'd by the Rangers a few days ago in exchange for AA RHP Louis Mendoza. Corey has pitched in the big leagues in 1998 (Arizona, 4 innings), 2002 (Dodgers, 1 inning) and 2006 (2.60 ERA and 15 hits and 8 walks in 17.1 innings).

Theo is just clearing his throat. ... Right, Theo?

July 30, 2006

G103: Angels 10, Red Sox 4

Although he had a fastball that hit 94-96 on ESPN's gun, Curt Schilling had a very rough beginning. He was unable to spot the fastball at all, usually leaving it up in the zone.

The Angels teed off on him: the first 15 batters collected nine hits (two singles, three doubles, one triple and three home runs). Thanks to some truly stupid base-running and questionable fielding decisions when the Red Sox were batting, Los Angeles led by only 6-1 after three innings.

Schilling settled down after that, allowing only an infield single to the next eight Angels. Through five innings, he had thrown 87 pitches.

In the bottom of the fifth, Boston finally started to hit Lackey's breaking stuff. Alex Gonzalez singled, Kevin Youkilis flied out to right-center, Alex Cora doubled, David Ortiz doubled (6-3), Manny Ramirez lined out to center and Wily Mo Pena doubled (6-4). (Pena had replaced Trot Nixon, who suffered an "upper right arm strain" on an awkward swing in the third. I was seriously Truped on WMP's double. He hit it towards the end of the bat which shattered, but it had more height than distance and banged off the Wall.

Jason Varitek walked on four pitches and the go-ahead run came at the plate. On an inside 0-2 pitch, Lackey appeared to hit Mike Lowell on the arm. But home plate umpire Kerwin Danley said no, Lowell and Tito complained, before Lowell struck out on the next pitch, ending the inning.

At that point, trailing only 6-4 with four innings to go, Terry Francona pulled Schilling. (Was he hurt? Tired? It seemed like a quick hook.) So Tito decided to bring in ... Jermaine Van Buren, who had pitched only once since being recalled way back on July 18. One game in 12 days. Bad choice, Tito.

Now I'm no fan of the Gruesome Twosome, but Rudy Seanez has been pitching better lately, albeit with huge leads. And if you are going to go with either Seanez or Julian Tavarez -- and that still seemed fine, considering who went yesterday, Delcarmen's possible unavailability and Wells going tomorrow -- it's best to do at the start of an inning.

So in comes JVB, who promptly gives up three singles, a walk and a loud line drive out to center (Coco made a diving catch in right-center and had a double play at first, but made a wild throw and the runner got back). One run is in and the bases are loaded. Tavarez comes in and, naturally, allows all three inherited runners to score. 10-4.

P.S. Tavarez started the seventh and retired the Angels in order on 12 pitches. Seanez turned in a perfect eighth and, although he allowed two singles, a scoreless ninth.

P.P.S. Has Vlad's moon shot come down yet?

***

John Lackey (2.89) / Curt Schilling (3.60), 8 PM

Terry Francona says it's simply a coincidence that Mark Loretta gets the night off on the day before the trade deadline.
Figgins, CF     Youkilis, 1B
Izturis, 3B Cora, 2B
Cabrera, SS Ortiz, DH
Guerrero, RF Ramirez, LF
Anderson, LF Nixon, RF
Rivera, DH Varitek, C
Kendrick, 1B Lowell, 3B
Napoli, C Crisp, CF
Kennedy, 2B Gonzalez, SS
Lackey has gone 4-1, 1.69, with 44 strikeouts and nine walks in July. However, the Angels are 0-8 against the Red Sox when he pitches.

The Red Sox are 17-5 this year when Schilling starts. He is 8-0, 2.71 ERA at Fenway. ... In addition to having a season-high 14-game hitting streak, Manny Ramirez is 8-for-15 (.533) with four home runs and 10 RBIs against Lackey.

Sunday Papers

Nick Cafardo, Globe: The Sox disputed a report that Coco Crisp is being shopped. According to one National League general manager, the Sox have been "burning up the phone lines. I don't think there's a team trying any harder than Boston to make a deal over the last 24 hours." The Padres had scouts at Fenway yesterday -- SD was told that neither Mike Lowell nor Kevin Youkilis are available in a trade for Scott Linebrink. (... but for someone else?)

Francona says Manny Delcarmen has a sore thumb that makes it difficult to throw his curve. Tito: "I think giving him a day or two is just what he needs." ... Matt Clement threw off a mound for the first time in nearly a month and will have another side session on Monday. Tito: "He threw about 60 to 75 percent. Again, no twinges, no apprehension."... Angels centerfielder Chone Figgins had 11 putouts, all in the first six innings, yesterday. The major league record is 12.

Jonathan Papelbon says that in the early months of this season, he "was just trying to get my feet wet and get command of the zone. Now that I've got my grasp, I can throw a slider a little bit more, give them another pitch to look for." ... So look for him to start pitching a bit better.

Gordon Edes has more from the preliminary 2007 schedule: All three Yankees series at Fenway Park are scheduled for weekends: April 20-22, June 1-3, and September 14-16. The New York series are April 27-29, August 3-5 and August 28-30 (mid-week). ... Boston opens the season with a two-city trip to Minneapolis and Seattle. ... The home opener is scheduled for April 10 against the Devil Rays. ... They will make four West Coast trips, three before the All-Star break. ... The Sox will not finish the regular season against an East opponent, ending the season against the Athletics and Twins.

The Globe asked three general managers, one special assignment scout, and one manager to "list the teams they wouldn't want to face in the playoffs in each league, in order of toughness. All five ranked the Twins as the toughest AL team. The Red Sox got most of the second-place votes, followed by the Tigers, Angels and White Sox. In the NL: Cardinals, Mets, Giants, Reds, Padres.

Julian Tavarez: "It kinda sucks. We're in first place and they boo me. They say 'You suck.' During batting practice. Out in the street. I heard it was tough to play here. I didn't believe it until I got here. ... [The fans] got all the right to boo me. I'd boo me too."

On July 30, 1991, before an afternoon game against the Rangers, Red Sox pitcher Jeff Gray suddenly "became light-headed, his speech slurred, and he realized he couldn't move his right arm, his pitching arm. His right side paralyzed, Gray slumped to the floor. He was just 28 years old." ... The Herald talks with Gray about his recovery.

Deadline Drama

Sunday, 1:25 PM -- Julio Lugo leading off for Tampa against the Yankees this afternoon. ... Bobby Abreu has been pulled from Philadelphia's lineup. ... Dustin Pedroia is batting third for Pawtucket this afternoon, and Keith Foulke was stratched from his appearance (no reason yet).

Sunday, 12:35 PM -- Will Carroll writes that the Red Sox
are also closing in on a deal for Julio Lugo, according to sources with other teams. The holdup there is getting an answer on whether Lugo would move to 2B. The backup option for the Red Sox is Dustin Pedroia, not Ron Belliard.
Lugo (hitting .312/.378/.505 right now) played 47 games at second for Houston in 2000-01 and eight games for Tampa in 2004. This would also keep Lugo out of Toronto, but how much should two or three months of free agent Lugo cost (assuming the Sox don't sign him)? ... Is Mark Loretta (.304/.355/.378) going back to San Diego (or St. Louis)?

Sunday, 11:30 AM -- Ken Rosenthal:
The Bobby Abreu trade is likely to happen Sunday, and the Phillies are expected to send the right fielder to the Yankees -— even though the Red Sox are still in the mix ...

The Yankees would get Abreu and right-hander Cory Lidle in their proposed deal, while the Red Sox are negotiating only for Abreu. However, the Sox are working on several other fronts, and their primary motivation apparently is to muddle matters for the Yankees, according to a source close to the talks.
Another reason why the Red Sox are looking for a reliever? From the Herald:
Right-hander Manny Delcarmen is battling inflammation in the capsule near the bottom joint of his right thumb, an injury that began bothering him a week ago. It's causing pain when he throws his breaking ball and is causing all his pitches to cut in toward right-handed batters. His velocity remains unchanged, he said.

Delcarmen, who is taking anti-inflammatory medication, will see a hand specialist today at Fenway Park.
Sunday, 2:00 AM -- Jayson Stark:
[I]t sure looks as if Abreu is moving his act to the Bronx sometime in the next day and a half. And all indications Saturday night were that pitcher Cory Lidle is going to ride that Metroliner along with him ... for a package of three or four of the Yankees' best prospects not named Phillip Hughes or Jose Tabata.
and of Boston's offer of Coco Crisp for Mark Buehrle:
What it indicates to us is just how adventurous the Red Sox could be between now and Monday if the right deal or deals erupt around them. They're not trading any of their marquee young pitching (Jon Lester, Manny Delcarmen or Craig Hansen). So their ticket to a big, outside-the-box blockbuster is clearly to deal from their big-league position-player surplus. That means any of their outfielders except Manny Ramirez, and any of their infielders except Kevin Youkilis. ...

An official of one team that has been brainstorming with the Red Sox says that chain reaction is "logical" and "obvious" -- but also says they're not as far along on those alleged three-team and four-team companion deals as has been advertised. All we know for sure is that they've spent a lot of time this week talking with the Padres, Indians, A's and Rangers -- and those teams have been networking with several other clubs. ... Sunday, says one AL GM, "should be the big day."
Buster Olney (on Sportscenter and BBTN) said the Sox might be trying to get in on a multi-team deal that would bring them Padres reliever Scott Linebrink (game log.

Saturday, 7:40 PM -- Will Carroll offers an update:
The Cubs may be one of the teams involved in the already complex machinations of Kevin Towers and Theo Epstein, though there's no solid evidence that the two are working on the same deal. ...
Greg Maddux is mentioned just before that sentence, but it doesn't sound like he was being linked to any Red Sox rumours.

A SoSHer posts that Buster Olney was on ESPNews saying the Yankees are talking to the Pirates about Roberto Hernandez. Also "a lot of smoke coming from Boston" with several possible three- and four-team deals.

And Bobby Abreu -- mentioned in connection with the Yankees -- is not in the Phillies' starting lineup tonight.

Saturday, 4:20 PM -- More Olney. After mentioning the same stuff about Crisp, the White Sox and Loretta, he writes: "I wish I knew all the details of what the Red Sox are planning, all the tentacles, because the bits and pieces are fascinating."

Saturday, 3:20 PM -- Gordon Edes, Globe: "The Sox this week offered center fielder Coco Crisp to the White Sox for left-handed All-Star Mark Buehrle, perhaps hoping that Buehrle's recent struggles might persuade White Sox GM Kenny Williams to move him. But the White Sox turned the deal down."

Saturday, 2:30 PM -- Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus (my emphasis):
Everyone's still watching the Red Sox, an organization that's plugged most of their former leaks. Whispers of Coco Crisp and Mark Loretta being shopped are coming from other organizations. The chattering masses (myself included) are trying to connect the dots here without much luck so far. Some of this -- but not all -- is smart use of misdirection. We'll know soon, I'm told. One of my best sources says the first of the Red Sox deals will happen this afternoon.
Saturday, 1:30 PM -- Late last night on Baseball Tonight: Buster Olney said the Red Sox offered Coco Crisp to Chicago for "pitching" and were turned down. Also "offering around" Mark Loretta; perhaps Dustin Pedroia is ready to take over 2B. ... SoSHers wonder if the White Sox pitcher is Brandon McCarthy.

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cardinals are interested in Loretta, but he ties it to the Sox getting Julio Lugo.

July 29, 2006

G102: Red Sox 7, Angels 6 (11)


A wonderful day.

First, the Fox game offers us not Tim McCarver, but Jerry Remy! ... Roughly four hours later, after the ups and downs of falling behind 6-3 and rallying with an three-run eighth, David Ortiz adds another walk-off hit to his legendary collection with an opposite field single in the 11th inning (box). Tiz finished the day 4-for-5 with 4 RBI, giving him 99 for the season.

(And don't forget Manny Ramirez's perfect throw home in the top of the 11th, nailing Mike Napoli trying to score from second base. Mike Lowell: "I've always said he throws the straightest ball of any left fielder I've ever played with. He's on the money. He didn't panic, he took his time, he fired it to home and he threw a strike. I think he's very underrated in that sense.")

In New York, Tampa routed the Yankees 19-6, scoring in all but the first and ninth innings. The Red Sox lead the East by 1.5 -- and Toronto is 6 GB.

***

Jered Weaver (1.15) / Josh Beckett (4.77), 1:20 PM

Beckett has won his last two outings, allowing only three runs over 14 innings. He has pitched at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts.

Jered Weaver, 23 years old and the 12th overall pick in the 2004 draft, will try to become the first pitcher to win his first eight starts since Dodger rookie Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. Boo Ferriss of the 1945 Red Sox also won his first eight starts. (The American League record is nine wins, set by the Yankees' Whitey Ford in 1950. Hooks Wiltse of the 1904 New York Giants holds the major league record with 12.)

From the Globe:
Weaver has lasted at least six innings in each of his starts but has never worked more than seven. He has five pitches in his repertoire -- a 90-96 mile-per-hour four-seam fastball, an 87-90 mile-per-hour two-seamer, a slider that hits around 84, a decent curveball, and a changeup.

Much like Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, Weaver has quickly become known for showing emotion on the mound, fist pumping and yelling after big outs during the game. ...
Weaver admits that he's been nervous in all of his starts: "It still hasn't kicked in that I'm [in the majors] ... but I'm getting used to it."

Coco Mentioned In Trade Talks

Michael Silverman reports that "a major league source yesterday said the Red Sox had recently made a concrete offer that included [Coco] Crisp to another team for a starter."

Keith Foulke threw 12 pitches, 10 for strikes, in his one perfect inning against the Vermont Lake Monsters last night. Foulke also threw a few curveballs, a pitch he estimated he hadn't used in seven years. "It's something I'm going to start trying to help keep hitters off my hard stuff. We'll see how it works."

Matt Clement is playing catch up to 100 feet. Terry Francona said it's "probably the best he's thrown yet as far as feeling good, and strength. He's probably a couple of days from" a side session.

Foulke: One Perfect Inning

Keith Foulke started for Lowell on Friday night, pitching one perfect inning and keeping the ball in the infield:
Vermont Top 1st
Jonathan Martinez pops out to third.
Jeremy Goldschmeding pops out to second.
Justin Maxwell strikes out swinging.
The box score doesn't include pitches thrown, so we'll have to wait for the morning papers for more info. ... Lowell won the game 7-5; Josh Papelbon picked up his 6th save.

G101: Angels 8, Red Sox 3

With a 2-1 lead, Jon Lester fell apart in the seventh -- and Tito let him stay on the hill long enough to let the first five Angels reach base: single, single, FC, single, double.

Manny Delcarmen and Javier Lopez couldn't shut the door -- Anaheim scored six times on seven hits -- and suddenly, it was garbage time (Sexy Lips and the White Flag) for the final two innings.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox raises our hopes slightly by loading the bases -- Alex Gonzalez double, Kevin Youkilis infield single, Mark Loretta walk -- but David Ortiz, who did not deliver with runners at second and third and two outs in the seventh, couldn't do it here either. During his at-bat, a wild pitch scored a run, but then Ortiz struck out to end the game.

Lester was tagged with the first loss of his career, but it's worth pointing out that this was his first start in which he did not walk a batter.

In New York, Chien-Ming Wang threw a complete game, two-hit shutout. The 6-0 win over Tampa puts the Yankees only one-half game behind the Red Sox. ... Not good.

***

Kelvim Escobar (3.88) / Jon Lester (3.04), 7 PM

Lester, unbeaten in his first nine starts, is 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA in five games at Fenway.

Escobar came off the disabled list (elbow inflammation) last Saturday for his first start since July 6. He threw 98 pitches in seven innings, allowing three runs and five hits in the first inning, but only four hits and no runs over the next six frames.

Weather Report: As of 4 PM, there was a chance of scattered thunderstorms and high winds into early evening.

Terry Francona said that David Wells will start against Cleveland on Monday, followed by Kyle Snyder and Lester.

July 28, 2006

Is Wily Mo Sox Biggest Trading Chip?

Jayson Stark's Stark Market:
The Red Sox might lead the league in phone calls this week. But for all the indications that they're trying to do something creative, clubs that have spoken with them say they're not close to anything on any front. Still, they're hunting for a starting pitcher who would allow them to stop counting on Tim Wakefield and David Wells to return to perfect health. And from all accounts, it's the hulking Wily Mo who is most out there for somebody to scarf up.

We've heard the same rumblings that Buster Olney has, about the Sox trying to cook up all sorts of complicated multi-team deals. So we've chased down rumors about Dontrelle Willis, Jake Peavy, Jake Westbrook, Chris Young, Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Batista and all sorts of other fun, but even more far-fetched, names. But they all seem to be nothing more than items you can file under the umbrella of typical pre-deadline brainstorming. We've also heard surprising names off their own roster that are said by various clubs to be available. But we sense no appetite on their part to deal those names -- not unless they're faced with an offer too juicy to turn down.

So check that list of seven available starting pitchers a couple of notches up on this list [Cory Lidle, Livan Hernandez, Rodrigo Lopez, Jon Lieber, Tony Armas Jr., Mark Redman, Ramon Ortiz]. Then look at the photo of the guy pictured with this item and practice waving goodbye -- because, in the words of one front-office man who has spoken with the Red Sox, "I'd be very surprised if Wily Mo Pena is on their team come Monday night."
Earlier this week, Pena acknowledged the rumours, but hopes he stays in Boston:
For the first time, I feel like this is home. ... I want to stay. I like it here. I like the city, the people. The fans love baseball. They get crazy. In that field [Fenway], I love seeing all the people every night. I love the big crowd. I feel good and comfortable here.
Other AL East rumors: The Blue Jays want Julio Lugo but are unwilling to give Tampa two top pitching prospects. ... Similarly, the Yankees would like Bobby Abreu, but will not trade pitching prospect Philip Hughes. ... At Over The Monster, "SweSox" comments on "reports that the sox are talking about a massive three-team deal for dontrelle ... it might be, and in fact seems likely to be, bullshit. if it's not though, i'll throw a happy-fit that lasts a full week."

And speaking of 5th starters, Jason Johnson allowed only two hits in seven shutout innings last night for Pawtucket. In his last two starts (14 innings), Johnson has allowed one run and six hits.

It looks like we'll be seeing Andy Marte on Monday.

Crazy Stuff, Large and Creative

Yesterday, in his ESPN Insider blog, Buster Olney wrote:
Heard from two talent evaluators yesterday that Boston is very active in trying to come up with a large and creative deal, involving more than two teams. Smart thinking, one of them said, if it all works. Crazy stuff you wouldn't normally think of, said another. An executive with an AL team reports that he's heard that a scout was rushed off his area coverage to go scout Boston minor leaguers. ... Red Sox executives are mum; execs from other teams say they are very active.
Red Sox scouts have been in Philadelphia, watching Cory Lidle and Jon Lieber. Lidle won his game yesterday, allowing two runs on four hits over eight inning, striking out eight.

Olney also commented on Lidle:
Right now, Lidle may be the most tradeable commodity on the market because he isn't tied to money long-term, nobody is confusing him for a star, and yet everybody respects his grittiness and knows he can handle pressure. A guess-timate: He winds up with the Texas Rangers.
Nick Cafardo (Globe) quotes one AL executive: "The price for what we'd like to do is absolutely ridiculous right now. I think we're going right up to Saturday and Sunday before things start to pop when the sellers come down a bit."

The Importance Of The Back Of The Rotation -- SoSHer OttoC crunches some numbers and talks about "the dearth of [starting] pitching and the suggestion that teams might not need to set their sights so high in filling the 3-5 slots".

The Angels are in town. Tonight's starter Jon Lester wants to keep his pitch counts down. ... Javier Lopez was recalled from Pawtucket. ... RedSox.com feature on Manny Delcarmen.

Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post:
A beautiful gift fell from the sky this spring and landed at the feet of the Boston Red Sox. It was so radiant, they didn't know what to do with it at first. So precious, they have come to treat it with exceptional care. So powerful, the mind races at what the future could hold. For now, however, it is simply a gift that should be shared with and enjoyed by the world. All behold, Jonathan Papelbon.

July 27, 2006

Foulke and Wells Back on Monday?

Keith Foulke could be back in the Red Sox pen early next week -- or he could be seriously considering retirement.

Foulke will pitch for Lowell (A) Friday night and for Pawtucket (AAA) Sunday. If that goes well, the team might activate him (and David Wells?) on Monday.

If not, Foulke says: "I don't know what to do. ... It's not worth my time. It's not worth anybody's time." (Since the 2004 World Series, Foulke has allowed 88 hits and 22 walks in 77.2 innings.)

Jeff Horrigan writes that Foulke has "reworked his delivery during the past few weeks in hopes of relieving stress from the elbow. He has lengthened his stride and moved his arm farther away from his head at the start of the throwing motion."

(For their game against Vermont tomorrow night, the Lowell Spinners will rename themselves the "Mike Lowell Spinners" -- complete with new uniforms.)

Kason Gabbard is back in Pawtucket. The team will make a corresponding move tomorrow, though that pitcher (lefty Phil Seibel?) will likely be up for only the weekend. ... Boston has expressed some interest in RHP Jon Lieber, but the Phillies want either Jon Lester or Craig Hansen.

David Ortiz's 34 homers through 100 games are a club record (Jimmie Foxx had 32 in 100 games in 1932). ... In his 12-game hitting streak, Manny Ramirez is batting .500 (20-for-40).

The unofficial 2007 schedule has the Red Sox making four trips to the West Coast. Interleague play will bring the team to Arizona (for the first time) and Los Angeles (and maybe San Diego).

History Lesson

Columnist Lenny Megliola tells Roger Clemens to come back to Boston, where he'd get better run support -- and pitch in a pennant race.
The fans will be ecstatic. They are, after all, a forgiving lot. They even cheer Bill Buckner now.
Note to Lenny: Fans at Fenway were giving Buckner standing ovations back in 1987.

July 26, 2006

G100: Athletics 5, Red Sox 1

Dan Haren shut down the Sox bats (7-4-1-1-4, 107) -- retiring 14 straight Boston batters at one point (and 18 of 19) -- and Frank Thomas hit two long home runs, driving in four of Oakland's five runs.

Kyle Snyder allowed 10 hits in six innings, but seven of those hits (and all five A's runs) came in the fourth and fifth. He made the same pitch to Thomas twice -- fastball belt high -- and got hurt both times.

Snyder also threw more fastballs in his second and third times through the order, which caused some problems. During his Seattle start last Friday, it was mentioned that there is too much of a speed difference between his changeup and fastball and batters can look for the heat and still be able to adjust to the change. He needs his curveball, which splits the difference in velocity, to be successful. In all of his starts, Snyder has pitched very well for the first three or four innings. He may be better suited for the pen.

The Sox scored their run in the seventh on a Manny double and Crisp single. (How many diving/sliding catches did the A's make in this series? A ridiculous amount. I lost count.)

***

Kyle Snyder (7.02) / Dan Haren (4.02), 3:35 PM

In his last start, Snyder threw five innings against Seattle, allowing two unearned runs. He lost his only start against the A's this season, allowing five runs and eight hits over 4.2 innings on July 16.

In five innings against the Red Sox on July 15, Haren allowed five runs and nine hits. Haren is 0-4, 5.36 in his last seven starts and is pitching on four days rest.

Tonight: Yankees (2.5 GB) (Wright) at Rangers (Rheinecker); Blue Jays (5.5 GB) Burnett) at Mariners (Moyer).

P/PA Box Score

Here is a box score of pitches seen per plate appearance from last night, total plate appearances and times on base:
                              PIT PA OB
Youkilis 5 4 7 2 10 2 - 30 6 4
Loretta 3 1 1 4 2 1 - 12 6 3
Ortiz 8 4 4 1 6 - 23 5 1
Pena 4 - 4 1 1
Ramirez 2 5 6 1 6 - 20 5 3
Kapler 6 - 6 1 1
Nixon 7 3 5 3 4 1 - 23 6 4
Varitek 6 6 2 4 2 1 - 21 6 2
Lowell 2 1 3 6 2 1 - 15 6 3
Crisp 7 4 3 1 1 5 - 21 6 3
Gonzalez 3 2 2 5 6 - 18 5 1
I did not count reaching on a fielder's choice as reaching base.

G99: Red Sox 13, Athletics 5

Cold sweats to laughter in roughly 15 minutes.

Bottom of the 7th: Manny Delcarmen, in relief of Curt Schilling (6-6-4-1-3, 105) has allowed three straight singles with no one out. Boston's lead, once 6-1 (thanks in part to back-to-back home runs from Manny Ramirez and Trot Nixon), is now 6-5. The A's have men on first and second. Al Nipper visits MDC. 12:38 am. ... Milton Bradley flies out to Manny in left-center. Frank Thomas strikes out on a full-count, 79 mph curveball on the outside corner. Nick Swisher, after turing away from an outside curve for strike two, swings and misses an 95 mph fastball. Inning over.

Top of the 8th: Justin Duchscherer gets Kevin Youkilis on a hot shot to third base. Then the floodgates open: Mark Loretta singles to right-center. David Ortiz singles to left. Ramirez walks to load the bases. Duchscherer is pulled and is ejected for arguing some close pitches to Manny. Brad Halsey comes in and he walks Nixon on four pitches to give Boston a 7-5 lead. Jason Varitek clears the bases with a double to the left-center gap (10-5). 12:54 am. ... Mike Lowell singles. Coco Crisp (3-for-6) singles to right and scores Varitek (11-5). Alex Gonzalez reaches on a fielder's choice that scores Lowell (12-5). Youkilis singles, but Loretta finally makes the third out.

Julian Tavarez pitched the 8th inning. He allowed a single and walk with one out, but got a 5-4-3 double play. Rudy Seanez pitched a perfect 9th on only seven pitches, all strikes. He clearly is at his best with an eight-run lead.

New York beat Texas 7-4 and Toronto whipped seattle 12-3, so the East stays the same: Yankees 2.5 GB, Blue Jays 5.5 GB.

***

Curt Schilling (3.50) / Jason Windsor (1.80), 10 PM

Schilling has pitched at least seven innings in four of his past five starts and has gone at least six innings in each of his last 12 starts. On July 15, he shut out the A's on two hits over seven innings at Fenway Park.

Windsor made his first major league start on July 17, allowing five hits and three walks to the Orioles in five innings. He gave up three runs, but only one was earned.

July 25, 2006

Sox Pop Zito; Wells Making Progress

After Barry Zito had retired seven of the first eight Red Sox, the Boston bats erupted.

The next 15 batters collected three singles, two doubles, three home runs, one walk, and one HBP, and scored seven runs. It was enough to give Josh Beckett (6-5-3-2-4, 95) his 13th win of the year. ... Good thing, too, since after that outburst, only one of Boston's last 16 batters reached base.

In the third, Alex Gonzalez homered with one out. Singles by Kevin Youkilis and Mark Loretta preceded a three-run home run from Manny Ramirez. Doubles from Mike Lowell and Coco Crisp and a sac fly from Youkilis brought in two fourth-inning runs. David Ortiz hit a line drive home run (his 34th of the year) to start the fifth.

It was the 41st time Ramirez and Ortiz have homered in the same game and the 11th time this season, one shy of the team record they set in 2004. Ortiz has hit 11 home runs in July (team record: 13, by Jimmie Foxx, 1939 and Clyde Vollmer 1951). Tiz also has a good shot at breaking the Sox's single-season record of 50 HR (Foxx, 1938).

Beckett and Curt Schilling will stay on their regular schedule and pitch this weekend in Anaheim. Jon Lester will start the series on Friday, meaning that Kason Gabbard's spot will be skipped with the off-day Thursday.

Schilling is adamant -- he's retiring at the end of next season:
I won't revisit the decision. Ending it next year has nothing to do with baseball. It has nothing to do with on the field. It centers around my family, missing the stuff I'm missing. ... Throwing BP to my 11-year old son [Gehrig] is the highlight of my life now. He's so into baseball. We're having so much fun. I'm looking forward to being at home, being a dad.
It's hard not to be encouraged by all the positive news about David Wells (the team has been so impressed, they may not have him make a minor league rehab start). Yesterday, he threw a simulated game of five innings. But seeing video clips of him -- it looks like he's gained another 20 pounds. He's huge. That can't be good for his knee.

Keith Foulke threw two innings of a simulated game -- about 30 pitches -- and said he was satisfied with the quality of his pitches and their velocity. ... Peter Gammons was sent home from a rehab center yesterday.

Gordon Edes presents some career splits for Manny Ramirez:
AVG OBP SLG
Pre-ASG .314 .409 .598
Post-ASG .314 .411 .601
Home .313 .413 .608
Road .314 .407 .591
Throughout his years in Cleveland and Boston, he has been the very definition of consistent.

G98: Red Sox 7, Athletics 3

The happy recap.

***

Josh Beckett (4.78) / Barry Zito (3.20), 10 PM

A Julian Tavarez-for-Ray King deal with Colorado is likely dead because the Rockies don't want to pay Tavarez's $3.1 million salary for 2007. Imagine that.

Trot Nixon is slugging .186 in July. Slugging. All 11 of his hits this month have been singles. His last extra-base hit came on June 27 (63 AB ago) and his last home run was on June 9 (121 AB). Terry Francona isn't worried: "He's putting the ball in play and hitting the ball to left field. I think it works."

Why has Gabe Kapler started over Wily Mo Pena in three of the four games the Red Sox recently played against left-handers? I'm pretty sure Theo Epstein did not think he was trading Arroyo for a 5th outfielder? Only in very extreme circumstances should Kapler ever start instead of Pena. Is this more of Francona's love for playing "his guys"?

Edes: "Besides being 1-for-16 lifetime against Mike Timlin before he hit his walkoff homer, Richie Sexson began the day as the worst two-strike hitter in the American League, batting .105 (19-for-181). On a 1-and-2 count, the count when he connected off Timlin, he was 4-for-46 (.087), with 27 Ks."

Sigh. Another day, another game.

Elsewhere: The Yankees (2.5 GB) are in Texas while the Blue Jays (4.5 GB) visit Seattle.

July 23, 2006

G97: Mariners 9, Red Sox 8

@#&^*

***

Jon Lester (2.38) / Jarrod Washburn (4.41), 4 PM

Lester, who grew up in Tacoma, says his ninth major league start will be "nerve-racking".

Jon's father: "My wife [Kathy] watches on MLB's gamecasts. I won't watch. I get too nervous. I sit out in the garage and drink a Coke. She'll come in and give me updates. But I can't watch."

Bob Christofferson, the head groundskeeper at Safeco, was a former grade-school coach of Lester: "I'm probably as nervous as his mom and dad when I watch him pitch. ... He can have a good start, as long as the Mariners win."

Rick Barnhart, Lester's baseball coach at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma: "He was always a level above everyone else. As a freshman, he went right to the varsity. As a starter, he was the MVP as a ninth grader. ... His senior year, there must have been 25-to-30 scouts at every game and practice. I swear [the scouts] went to the bathroom with him."

Lester: "Going through the draft, I wanted to be a Mariner. I came up here for a pre-draft workout. I think they were interested. I just don't think they were interested in the round that I wanted to be picked in and they had other plans for that pick. It's a business and they had to do what they had to do."

Todd Claus, Portland Sea Dogs (AA) manager: "It would have been very tempting to give away Papelbon and Lester in trades for now-needs, but Theo keeps the big picture. He's not willing to mortgage the farm for a quick fix. ... I've always maintained from the first day I saw him he's one of the best prospects in the minor leagues I've ever seen. I've always believed he'd be a front end of the rotation starter. I just didn't know he'd have this kind of success this soon."

The Seattle Times has a good feature on Lester.

Lester's eight starts:
Date Opp  Score  Dec   IP  H  R ER BB  K
0610 Tex L 7-4 — 4.1 5 3 3 4 4
0616 Atl W 4-1 W 6.0 5 1 1 3 5
0621 Was W 9-3 W 6.0 3 1 1 2 10
0627 NYM W 9-4 W 5.0 4 2 2 5 5
0702 Fla W 4-3 — 5.0 7 2 2 3 3
0707 CWS W 7-2 W 6.0 6 2 2 3 3
0713 Oak L 5-4 — 5.0 5 1 1 5 3
0718 KC W 1-0 W 8.0 1 0 0 4 4
5-0 45.1 36 12 12 29 37 2.38
If the Manny-for-Slappy trade had gone through, Lester would be the property of the Rangers right now.

Fireworks In Toronto

All nine Blue Jays scored a run before the Yankees recorded eight outs.

The eight-run Toronto third:
Yankees leading 3-2.
Catalanotto singles to right.
Wells flies out to left.
Glaus homers to left center, Jays 4-3.
Overbay singles to center.
Zaun walks.
Wilson replaces Ponson.
Hinske homers to right, 7-2.
Hill singles to center.
McDonald singles to right.
Johnson homers to left, 10-2.
Catalanotto grounds out pitcher to first.
Wells doubles to right.
Glaus walks.
Overbay called out on strikes.
I'm loving the Sidney Ponson Era, but it will likely be short-lived.

e.e. gammings

Random Notes
Rumors are swirling that Mike Hampton has a tattoo of a cotton ball on his ear.

How crazy is the media contingent following Brent Clevlen? He and Ramon Santiago went out to visit some factories, and when they came out of one, there were three TV crews from Biloxi waiting for him, ready to ask him about the about the rumor that he has started a collection of tater tots.

One thing the Red Sox don't have to worry about is Rudy Seanez being tolerant, as he is so every day.

Nick Swisher, who has always been considered somewhat dogmatic, had a dream one night that he was locked inside some phone booths being chased by a giant artichoke, and when he woke up he found he had a cut lung, which will keep him out two weeks, and the Athletics think they will get by if Jeremy Brown, a favorite of Ken Macha, steps up.

Isn't it ironic that Like This by Leftfield was playing on the Mariners public address system, just as Bill Bavasi, who is as clear-headed as they come, was talking to Mike Hargrove about Ichiro Suzuki, who showed up at spring training looking like a puma, totally contrasting Mike Morse, whose religious conversion was impressive, which makes one wonder if in thier disgust and disappointment they were discussing the widely rumored deal with the Mets for Anderson Hernandez?
The last report (a little more than a week ago) I read on Peter Gammons was that he had left the hospital and was in rehab, walking fine and not expected to have any long-term affects. One quote: "I have to write."

Gammons was a huge inspiration to me as a teenager, both in becoming a Red Sox/baseball fan and a writer, and I hope Old Hickory is healthy and back doing what he loves very soon.

Sunday Quotes & Cool Linescores

Mike Lowell says he was told by Terry Francona that the trade rumours involving him and Jake Peavy were bogus. Lowell said he'd make that trade.
I love the trade deadline. I don't know if it's coming up through the Yankee system where once you became a prospect you were linked to every single trade to mankind. I was linked to trades in '03 and last year. It was like a downgrade from all the trades I was involved with in the minor leagues. I was traded like 50 times.
Jason Varitek believes in Kyle Snyder:
I think he can help us. I just like his demeanor and what he has to offer. He gives you a lot of options. ... He opened my eyes with his first start. I was hoping he was going to make another start and then we went another route. Nothing against the person we went with [Jason Johnson] but [Snyder] has done a very good job for us.
Kason Gabbard:
You have a lot of thoughts in the back of your head. They really didn't tell me much [before Friday]. I don't think it's hit me yet. It still hasn't hit me, even though the game's over. I don't know. It's just different being up here.
Jon Lester:
He held his face very well. You couldn't tell that he was nervous or out of synch. He held his composure very well, threw the ball excellent, kept us in the ballgame.
Curt Schilling predicts that if Theo Epstein makes a deal for a pitcher, it will probably be for a fourth- or fifth-type starter rather than a front-line pitcher:
I know he's got a bunch of things going. But [to get a] front-line [pitcher] you'd have to give up players who contribute right now. I think if he does anything, it will be for a 4-5 guy. ... Everybody's made a big deal of [Boston's] No. 5 guy. I don't think we have any more of a situation or a problem than anybody else does. As we're comprised now, if nothing happens, this team can win the World Series.
The Red Sox have used 24 pitchers so far this season, including nine rookies. The club record (set three times, most recently in 2005), is 26. ... As of Friday, Manny Delcarmen's ERA in save situations is 0.79, 4.34 in non-save situations. Kevin Youkilis is batting .364 against LHP with runners in scoring position; the rest of the team is batting a collective .191.

From last night: Wow.
Bal - 300  0 00  900 - 12 22 0
TB - 000 0103 00x - 13 17 0
It was only the fourth game in major league history in which each team posted an inning of nine-or-more runs. The last time: June 3, 1933, at Yankee Stadium, when the Philadelphia Athletics scored 11 runs in the third and the Yankees came back with 10 in the fifth and won 17-11.

I also wanted to post this minor league linescore from July 20 (26 innings!):
Oneonta  000 100 000 000 000 000 000 000 05 - 6 20 2
Brooklyn 100 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 00 - 1 14 5
From the Globe's notebook: "Francona said he wanted to try and stay away from using Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen yesterday, Delcarmen having pitched in back-to-back games, including 1.1 innings here Friday, and Hansen having thrown 30 pitches in a 1.2 inning stint Friday." ... [bangs head on desk]

July 22, 2006

Francona And Flexibility

Terry Francona has made some strange bullpen decisions in the two Seattle games.

On Friday, Boston led the Mariners 8-2 after five innings. For the final four innings, Francona used Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen and Mike Timlin -- the #2, #3 and #4 arms in the pen. Seattle scored twice off Hansen in the seventh, but the Red Sox still won easily, 9-4.

With the game tied 2-2 on Saturday, Kason Gabbard allowed two singles with one out in the bottom of the sixth. At this crucial part of the game, who did Tito call on? Julian Tavarez, one of the worst pitchers on the team. Tavarez allowed one of the inherited runners to score (which wasn't really his fault) and then was left in to surrender two walks, two singles, and two runs in the seventh. Rudy Seanez (the other bullpen liability) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Seattle won the game 5-2.

(The first single in that inning should have been an out, but first base umpire Larry Poncino blew the call, claiming that David Ortiz's foot had come off the bag as he stretched for Mike Lowell's throw. If that call gets made correctly, Seattle has two outs and no one on. (Poncino blew another call at first in the next half-inning, calling Alex Gonzalez out even though Richie Sexson's foot came off the bag.))

So Francona used his best arms when he was up by six runs and then relied on his worst pitchers in a tie game? Needless to say, this is completely backwards. (Some fans might call this Tito 101, but I'll just say it's not unprecedented for the Boston manager.)

If I had to guess, I'd say that Francona looked at the pitching matchups for this series, knew that Gabbard was making his debut opposite King Felix Hernandez this afternoon and figured he should make damn sure the Friday game was in the bag. He'd go with his strengths on Friday, maybe have the dregs follow Gabbard, and then have the big boys ready again to back up Lester on Sunday.

It's not the worst way to look at things, but it shouldn't be carved in stone, and once the Red Sox grabbed an 8-0 lead on Friday, Francona should have altered his plans. He should have been flexible enough to know that he didn't have to use his best arms (or at least not three of them) in the near-blowout.

So when the time came today to stop the Mariners' rally in its tracks, Tito couldn't go to the guys he would normally rely on in a high-leverage spot. On Friday, Hansen had thrown 30 pitches and Delcarmen had thrown 32. Their unavailability -- which was completely Francona's fault -- possibly cost the Red Sox the game.

"Sexy Lips"

Jonathan Papelbon was wearing a Fox microphone for today's game. In one bullpen conversation, Julian Tavarez was telling Paps his two racehorses look like him "because they have sexy lips".

Tavarez also referred to the Mariners home ballpark as "Psycho Field".

G96: Mariners 5, Red Sox 2

Kason Gabbard (ML Debut) / Felix Hernandez (4.89), 4 PM

With Portland, Gabbard was leading the Eastern League with nine victories and had a .192 opponents batting average. He was promoted to Pawtucket on June 27 and was 1-3 in five starts. In his last PawSox start (Tuesday), he was limited to 69 pitches.

Gabbard was a 29th round pick in 2000. In AAA, he was very tough on LHB (.584 OPS) but RHB hit him pretty good (.842). His total AA OPS against was .554 OPS. ... He is the 11th pitcher to start a game for the Red Sox this season, and the ninth rookie to pitch for the club.

Jon Lester pitched with Gabbard at Portland last year: "He's got a good curve and changeup. He doesn't throw real hard, but because he locates his other pitches, it makes his fastball seem better." ... (More from: RedSox.com, Globe, Herald, Courant)

From a SoSH discussion:

The Boomer, noting the breathing room the Sox have on the Yankees right now:
Pitching tryouts for minor leaguers is a good thing for the organization. It sends a message that merit is rewarded and is great for minor league morale.
Carroll Hardy:
I absolutely concur. Moreover, it allows prospects to learn first hand what it takes to get big league hitters out with enough consistency to be successful at the MLB level. When he is 9-2 and dominating AA, it is very difficult to convince a young man how much work remains to be done, and how far away he is. ...

What remains to do is instructional: teaching and demanding execution, execution, execution. Learning to use -- and repeat with consistency -- one's entire arsenal, at varying speeds, and at all four corners of the strike zone. If you don't do it at AA, it's not a big deal. If you don't do it in the big leagues, you get beat.
MLB says Wily Mo Pena will get a start, with Ortiz at first and Manny DHing. I believe Lowell is back today, so Yook gets a rest.

I saw that MLB.TV costs only $50 for the rest of the year (2+ months), so I ordered it before last night's game. Since I don't like Joe and Jerry and the other team's radio guys are often simply ignorant of what's going on with the Red Sox, this seems like a really good deal. I hope to get NESN most of the time, but if not, I'll still have the picture and can watch without sound.

Gabbard Gabbard Hey!

Countdown To The Deadline

According to Gordon Edes, Kason Gabbard didn't travel with the Red Sox to Seattle on Thursday night because "Theo Epstein was working on a deal to land another starting pitcher."

However, with 10 days before the non-waiver trading deadline, Sean McAdam says the Red Sox are not close to making a deal for pitching. They do not care for Odalis Perez (LA), Kyle Lohse (Twins) or Livan Hernandez (Nats) and Barry Zito (A's) and Dontrelle Willis (Marlins) are most likely off the block.

David Wells threw 50 pitches in the bullpen last night and is scheduled to throw five simulated innings Monday afternoon in Oakland. Optimistically, he could return in early August. ... Keith Foulke also threw yesterday and will pitch a simulated inning or two Monday after Wells. ... Don't expect to see Matt Clement before September.

Manny Delcarmen's nickname for Mike Timlin? "Mad Tarantula". MDC: "It's bullpen stuff. That's all I can say."

Julian Tavarez on Fenway fans: "I won't say they're the best, but they show up every night. The one thing I don't like is they boo you when you're in first place. They don't know how tough that is, to be booed in your hometown, when you're not able to do your job."

What If -- The Play-by-Play

Diamond Mind president Tom Tippett discusses the whole project.

Reality:
Yankees 8th:
Johnson pops out to shortstop.
Jeter doubles to right.
Williams singles to center, Jeter scores, Red Sox lead 5-3.
What If -- Embree comes in two batters earlier than he did in Reality:
Matsui grounds out, shortstop to first.
Posada walks, Williams to second.
Giambi strikes out.

Red Sox 9th (against Rivera?):
Mueller grounds out, second to first.
Varitek strikes out.
Damon grounds out, shortstop to first.

Yankees 9th:
Timlin relieves Embree.
Sierra (pinch-hitting for Wilson) lines out to first.
Garcia walks on four pitches.
Soriano strikes out.
Johnson walks.
Jeter grounds out, third to first.

Red Sox win 5-3 and win the pennant.
I got the info from the SoSH thread. But there's at least one error: Williams could not have gone to second on Posada's walk because he was already on first when Matsui grounded out. So either that was a force play, and Matsui advanced to second on the walk, or Williams got to second on the grounder and remained there after the walk.

And Jeter, with two men on and two outs in the last of the ninth, is the potential pennant-winning run. And he makes the last out of the Yankees' season. Yay.

Posted at SoSH (from the Revealed segment afterwards, I guess):
In 82 of 100 simulations with Pedro taken out, Sox win.
In 15 of 20 simulations with Pedro left in, Sox win.
And some quotes from the discussion:

Tudor Fever:
According to the Maple Street Annual, the average likelihood of a home team winning when down by 3 at the bottom of the 8th is 9.1%. Down by 2 with one out and a man on first, the average likelihood is 18.5%. This lends a lot of credibility to the 82 of 100 win rate in the simulations. It also shows that Grady's decision to leave Pedro in to start the 8th may have already doubled the Yankees winning chances by the time he left Pedro in to face Matsui.
smastroyin:
what I don't understand about the game is that now, 2 years later, people outside of a select few on this site are actually talking about Nixon's non-play on Jeter's double.

Mistakes of the mind are much harder to forgive than mistakes of the body, IMO, and therefore Grady does deserve all of the heat he gets. But when people talk about Trot Nixon, defensive whiz, they must completely forget about this play that most RF aged 14 or over would have made ...
Smiling Joe Hesketh:
Grady's brain cramp rightfully outshines the Nixon screwup. Through the first 6 innings, Pedro gave up only 3 hits. In the 7th alone, he gave up 3 hits, a good indication he was getting tired. In the 8th, he was allowed to give up FOUR MORE HITS before finally being pulled out of the game. ... I'm getting pissed off again.
PedroKsBambino:
I agree Nixon's play was bad. But one thing that reduces attention to it (in addition to the 'dirt dog' stuff) is that the initial camera angles made it tough to figure out how playable the ball really was.

Grady's mistake was so blatantly obvious to people watching that the fielding equivalent from a recognition level for fans would be dropping a pop-up...and then throwing the ball into the stands after dropping it. The CF stands, that is. That's a tough standard to meet.

First Half Video

4:30 of highlights from TV38.

The play where Lowell throws a runner out while sitting on the infield dirt must have happened on the weekend, because I don't recall it. Wow. ... If TV38 wanted to show so many fist pumps, they should have made the video twice as long, so we could see more actual highlights, not the reactions to the highlights.

G95: Red Sox 9, Mariners 4

Synder pitched four strong innings and made it through the fifth fairly unscathed. He had a leg cramp while warming up for the sixth. Hansen, Delcarmen and Timlin finished up.

Boston whacked five home runs off Moyer (Ortiz, Gonzalez, Varitek, Youkilis and Ramirez); indeed, Moyer allowed six hits in 4.1 innings: 5 HR and one double.

Toronto battered Jaret Wright for four runs in the first inning and beat New York 7-3. ... The Red Sox led the Yankees by 3.5 games. The Jays are still 5.5 back.

***

Kyle Snyder (10.03) / Jamie Moyer (3.75), 10 PM

It's the first West Coast trip of the year: three games each in Seattle and Oakland.

The Yankees (Wright) continue their series tonight in Toronto (Burnett).

July 21, 2006

Numbers

Craig Hansen (56), Manny Delcarmen (57), Jonathan Papelbon (58) and Jon Lester (62) are young pitchers with high uniform numbers.

Only Papelbon plans on keeping his longterm. "I'm not superstitious, but No. 58 has been very good to me and I don't see any reason to change now." Papelbon wore 19 in high school, 19 and 41 in college, and 50 in the minors.

Lester is "comfortable" with 62, but would like 31. That belongs to bench coach Brad Mills, who would rather have 2, which was worn by Willie Harris. After the trading deadline, a switch might be made.

Delcarmen wore 17 in high school and has the number tattooed on his right biceps, but Dave Wallace has it now. ... Hansen's favorite number, which he wore in high school and college, is 34. There's no chance of that one becoming available anytime soon.

A list of every player who has worn the four numbers:
56
Zach Crouch 1988
Scott Taylor 1992-93
Jeff Pierce 1995
Alex Delgado 1996
Darren Bragg 1996-98
Tim Harikkala 1999
Steve Lomasney 1999
Israel Alcantara 2000-01
Chris Haney 2002
Jimmy Anderson 2004
Craig Hansen 2005-06

57
Nate Minchey 1993-94
Brian Bark 1995
Ken Grundt 1996
Rudy Pemberton 1996
Ron Mahay 1997-98
Juan Pena 1999
Rod Beck 1999
Calvin Pickering 2001
Luis Aguayo 2002 (Coach)
Jason Sheill 2003
Joe Nelson 2004
Scott Cassidy 2005
Manny Delcarmen 2005-06

58
Jeff McNeely 1993
Nate Minchey 1996
Bill Moloney 1997-2000 (Coach)
Hector Carrasco 2000
Nelson Norman 2001 (Coach)
Luis Aguayo 2002 (Coach)
Bryant Nelson 2002
Hector Almonte 2003
Sandy Martinez 2004
Jonathan Papelbon 2005-06

62
Marino Santana 1999
Sun-Woo Kim 2001
Jon Lester 2006
The lowest number that has never been worn is 64.

According to the Red Sox Team Store, Papelbon's 58 is the most popular uniform shirt. He is followed by David Ortiz (34), Coco Crisp (10), Kevin Youkilis (20), Manny Ramirez (24), Jason Varitek (33) and Curt Schilling (38).

Wakefield's Rib

The Red Sox have very little idea how Tim Wakefield suffered a stress fracture in one of his ribs. Terry Francona:
He thought he slept wrong originally, and he may have. When it turned into this, it's hard to tell. He could have done it sneezing. He doesn't remember one incident. ... He's actually been pitching with pain for a month to six weeks. The bone scan shows there's significant healing now, which is good. ... There's a chance we could have him back with us - best-case scenario - in three weeks. I think four weeks is probably more realistic.
And predictably, the questions are shouted throughout the Nation and sports radio: Is Wake is faking his injury? Why did all this talk of a bad back come out of the blue? Why does Wakefield need four weeks of vacation? ... Is that Tim McCarver quipping that the hardest thing for Tim to do is remember which side to sleep on? It's not? Oh, right, Wake's white, so the media doesn't spew shit about his physical ailments. Carry on.

It's only the second time in his 13-year career that Wakefield has gone on the DL (April 23-May 6, 1997, elbow inflammation). ... On Tuesday, Jason Varitek (in his 9th full season in Boston) set a Red Sox record by catching his 991st game, passing Carlton Fisk.

Making up the May 14 rainout yesterday meant the Rangers had a very busy Thursday. After playing Wednesday night in Toronto, they left their hotel at 8 AM and took off for Boston at 9:30. They arrived at Logan around 11:00 and drove to the park. After losing the 2 PM game, they headed back to the airport and flew to Chicago. If there was ever a time for greenies ...

The four times in team history the Sox have won back-to-back 1-0 games:
August 17-18, 1907  at Browns
June 22-23, 1916 vs Yankees and A's at Fenway
August 26-27, 1990 at Blue Jays
July 18-19, 2006 vs Royals at Fenway
More on the 1-0 wins: From Mark Teahan's second-inning single on Tuesday to Angel Berroa's double leading off the third on Wednesday, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Josh Beckett recorded 29 outs without allowing a hit. ... Lester became the first Red Sox rookie to start a one-hitter since 1967, when Billy Rohr pitched 8.2 no-hit innings at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 1967, before allowing a single to Elston Howard. ... And Lester is the Sox's first rookie left-handed starter to win his first five decisions (righty rookie Aaron Sele won his first six decisions in 1993).

July 20, 2006

G94: Red Sox 6, Rangers 4

L and I met 21 years ago today (?!?!?). Last year, we spent the day at Fenway. Today, we took a ferry from downtown Toronto out to Centre Island and walked around. Quite a nice afternoon.

Also out on the Toronto Islands is Hanlan's Point, where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run (and only minor league home run) on September 5, 1914. We didn't get over to see the plaque, though.

Back home, the VCR was taping and when we returned, we treated it like a night game -- 8 PM start. Schilling was shaky at times, but turned in seven strong innings; MDC and Timlin finished it off. And the bats awoke, with 12 hits and 6 runs. Loretta, Youkilis, Ramirez and Cora all reached base three times, and Pena chipped in with a two-run double in the third, taking back the lead for good.

At the Skydome, Vernon Wells homered in the bottom of the 11th inning off Mariano Rivera to lift the Blue Jays to a 5-4 win over the Yankees. ... New York fell to 2.5 GB, Toronto remains 5.5 GB.

Off to Seattle ...

***

John Rheinecker (4.82) / Curt Schilling (3.42), 2 PM

Last consecutive 1-0 wins for the Red Sox at Fenway: June 22-23, 1916.

Babe Ruth beat the Yankees in the first game and Ernie Shore defeated the Athletics in the second. Ruth pitched a three-hit complete game, walking one and striking out two. He allowed singles in the second, sixth and ninth innings. The game took 1:18 and was watched by 3,889 fans.

Interesting note: The day before Ruth's start, Rube Foster threw a no-hitter, beating New York 2-0. So after Shore's gem, Boston pitchers had thrown 31 straight scoreless innings (the streak ended at 34).

Wakefield: Out For 3+ Weeks?

Globe:
The Red Sox will have to make do without pitcher Tim Wakefield for at least three weeks, after extensive tests revealed he has a stress fracture in his rib cage, a source with direct knowledge of the injury confirmed. ...

Barring a trade, the Sox plan to promote lefthander Kason Gabbard from Triple A Pawtucket. Gabbard, a 29th-round draft pick out of Indian River Community College in Florida in 2000, was something of a sleeper in the Sox' system, going 9-2 at Double A Portland before his promotion to Pawtucket last month. The lefthander is expected to start Saturday in Seattle.

The Downside Of Winning The World Series

A very small downside, but still ...

Tonight, NESN is running a show called "What If ...". They will be replaying, with Diamond Mind's computer simulations, what might have happened had Pedro been removed from Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS a little bit earlier than he actually was.

NESN has been carpetbombing us with commercials for this show during Sox games, giving me the "opportunity" to see a certain moron way more than I ever expected once he left town. Now that the bitterness of the World Series drought is over, NESN and the Red Sox have shown much more interest in the history of the team, but you know damn well that if 2004 had not happened, revisiting this particular wound in such detail would never have seen the light of day.

NESN is being pretty tight-lipped about the actual process, but I believe the rest of the game was simulated 100 times to get the most probable outcome. I'm intrigued by the idea of computer simulations, but I'm not sure this one is being done correctly.

When exactly do the simulations start? From the commercials, it appears it's after the mound visit when Pedro was not removed. Yet NESN's website says: "We're replaying the game, pulling Pedro with one down in the 8th ...", which makes it sound like he gets pulled after the first batter popped up (although there was also only one out at the time of the mound visit).

Using the mound visit would be a huge error. No intelligent person thinks Pedro should have been in the game at that point. The proper point would be at the beginning of the eighth inning. At the time I was okay with Pedro starting the eighth, yet from everything I've read about conversations in the dugout, he was done after seven. "Pulling him" with one out and no one on (or even after the first hit) would be the next logical point.

Is anyone going to watch this?

July 19, 2006

Beckett Signs Extension Through 2009

Josh Beckett, who was arbitration-eligible at the end of this season, has signed a three-year contract extension, at a guaranteed $30 million.

Gordon Edes has the numbers:
Signing bonus - $2 million
2007 - $6 million
2008 - $9.5 million
2009 - $10.5 million
2010 - $12 million club option
The 2010 option is automatic if Beckett makes 28 starts in 2009 or makes a total of 56 starts in 2008 and 2009. There is also a $2 million buyout clause on the option.

At the end of 2010, Beckett will be only 30 years old.

G93: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

The bats are still very quiet -- Manny hit his 25th home run in the fourth inning for the game's only run -- but the pitching remains impressive.
Royals  - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Red Sox - 000 100 00x - 1 7 0

IP H R ER BB K PIT ERA
Beckett 8 4 0 0 0 7 110 4.78
Papelbon 1 0 0 0 1 1 21 0.54
Beckett had a much better fastball today and, after the first time through the lineup, began mixing in his breaking pitches. Did having Mirabelli behind the plate change his game plan at all?

Beckett pitched out of two jams. In the third, KC had a man on third and one out. Joey Gathright struck out (one of his three whiffs) and David DeJesus lined out to center to end that threat. And after getting two outs in the sixth (also Gathright and DeJesus), the Royals loaded the bases on a HBP and two singles. But Emil Brown flied out to Coco Crisp in right-center. Crisp, who almost ran into Trot Nixon last night, nearly collided with Gabe Kapler on that play.

Manny also made a nice tumbling catch on a sinking line drive to end the Royals fifth. ... Mark Loretta singled twice. ... David Ortiz laid down a perfect bunt in the first inning; the ball nearly rolled to a complete stop on the third base side of the infield.

The last time Boston won two consecutive 1-0 games? August 25 and 26, 1990, in Toronto. In the first game, Roger Clemens (9-5-0-2-6) beat David Wells (8-5-1-1-1) and Dwight Evans homered; in the second, Greg Harris (7.2-2-0-2-8) defeated Todd Stottlemyre (8-4-1-2-4).

Afternoon final from New York: Mariners 3, Yankees 2. ... The East lead is 1.5.

***

Mark Redman (5.38) / Josh Beckett (5.12), 1 PM

July 18, 2006

G92: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

One of the best games of the year.
Royals  - 000 000 000 - 0  1  0
Red Sox - 000 010 00x - 1 6 0

IP H R ER BB K PIT ERA
Lester 8 1 0 0 4 4 100 2.38
Papelbon 1 0 0 0 0 1 8 0.55
An absolute gem from Jon Lester, who was able to keep his pitch count down (15-16-8 20-9-13 11-8). Kansas City's only hit came on a ground ball up the middle by Teahen with one out in the second inning. Alex Gonzalez tried to glove it -- and I thought he might -- but it was just out his reach, bouncing into center field. Nothing else was even close to being a hit.

With one out in the home fifth, Jason Varitek doubled high off the left field wall. One out later, Gonzalez singled to center for the RBI.

In New York: According to several SoSHers, tonight's YES worship of new Yankee starter Sidney Ponson is already in high gear. Michael Kay said that Mariners starter Joel Piniero did a "nice job", but Ponson was "incredible". Let's take a look:
                   IP   H  R ER BB  K 
Piniero "nice" 6 7 2 2 1 5
Ponson "incredible" 6.2 5 4 4 3 5


***

Brandon Duckworth (5.40) / Jon Lester (2.89), 7 PM

Bulletin Board

Big Papi's Power Hitting Clinics will be held at Extra Innings in West Bridgewater, MA, on July 27 & 28.

The July 27 clinic is for ages 7-12 and will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The July 28 session is for ages 13-17 and is from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Both clinics will be followed by a pizza party and a Q&A session hosted by David Ortiz. The event flyer says these clinics "will be taught by certified instructors who will be joined by David and some of his major league friends". Check out the website.

Do you want two free Fenway bleacher seats for the August 3 game against Cleveland? Sox1fan is having a contest.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Charity Golf Tournament is also running an online auction. One of the items is a pair of tickets next to the Red Sox dugout for a 2007 game.

Pena In Boston -- AFT: Harris DFA'd

Wily Mo Pena was activated from the disabled list and Jermaine Van Buren was recalled from Pawtucket. Both are available tonight. Javier Lopez was optioned to the Bucket and Willie Harris was designated for assignment.