May 31, 2007

Buster Olney On The Koward

SoSher underhandtofirst, 1:34 PM:
Olney was on Felger's show on ESPN Radio in Boston last night and said people in the Yankee organization feared what would happen to Roger if he started against the Sox. He said he's basically in "March 20th" shape and that the Yankee people were worried that "Youkilis would have a 12 pitch AB and ground to first and Clemens would pull a hamstring covering first and $28 mil would be wasted".

I know the Yankee people are exaggerating slightly, but I think the fear is real. Olney also mentioned Boston is 1st in OBP ~360 and Chicago is last ~311. Clemens doesnt need a grind in his first start and if you really look at it the other 3 guys are much more qualified at this point to face this lineup. ...

NY is 13.5 back in the division but only 7.5 back in the WC. Chicago is one of the teams it must overtake in the WC chase so that game is pretty important to them as well.
New York has to overtake about half of the American League to get atop the wild card standings. So every game is a big game for them at this point.

But you'd think the $28 million Warrior would jump at any chance to shove it down the throat of his rivals on their turf, wouldn't you?

That "Where is Rah-ger??" chant had better be plenty loud tomorrow night.

Is Your Hatred Of Don Zimmer Waning?

I'm here to help. Read Part II.

NYDN: "One Win & Anything Is Possible"

I wondered if picking up a game in the standings -- to be only 13.5 GB in the East and behind seven teams in the wild card hunt -- would cause any of the New York mediots to start muttering about the beginning of a comeback.

In this case, though, the headline bears little resemblance to the article.

Mike Lupica, Daily News:
We keep setting these arbitrary deadlines for the Yankees, sure they will show up for one of them. We just went through those dozen games against the White Sox, Mets, Red Sox, Angels. The Yankees managed to win four. They better show up at Fenway Park this weekend. Show they are something more than their name, their embarrassing payroll, and a fading reputation as the baddest team on the planet.

Sweep the Red Sox. Then you start to look alive, and not like the biggest underachievers, with the biggest payroll, in their sport. ...

They won back-to-back games against the Mets and Red Sox, won two of three against the Red Sox, and of course people got giddy again. Then they lost three straight to the Angels and two straight to the Blue Jays. ...

They need to show up now. They go into Boston with their three best pitchers: Wang, Mussina, Pettitte. Clemens pitches in Chicago. If they don't at least make some kind of stand now, then when?
P.S. I can't criticize Slappy for whatever he yelled as he ran past the Toronto infielders. I know I (and probably most of you) would be thrilled if a Sock did that against the Yankees, especially if the Yankees started whining about it.

May 30, 2007

G52: Cleveland 8, Red Sox 4

Paul Byrd (3.81, 113 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.43, 100 ERA+)

David Ortiz will be back in the lineup tonight!

Q: Does Byrd belong on the All-Animal Team even though he spells his name with a "y"? Laura says Yes. I'm not so sure. (Do nicknames count (e.g., Richard Michael Gossage, Richard Paul Burleson and Frederick Stanley McGriff)?)

The All-Animal Team:

P: Doug Bird, Steve Trout, Randy Wolf, Jim Panther, Dean Crow, Bob Moose, George Haddock, Moses J. Yellow Horse (really)
C:
1B: Jimmie Foxx (?)
2B: Nellie Fox
3B: Mike Lamb
SS: Bobby Sturgeon
OF: Tim Salmon
OF: Kevin Bass
OF:
DH: Rob Deer

Sleeping On The Floor

Daisuke Matsuzaka explains how he may have got sick in Texas last week:
It could be something to do with my sleeping arrangements. I haven't slept on the bed. Instead of doing so, I bring my own mattress and put it down [on the floor and sleep on it]. So maybe dust and other things could have contributed a little bit, too. I didn't want to do so but I thought that would be better for my back than sleeping on the hotel bed. ... It is different from Japan. People [here] keep their shoes on and that is how it is.
Silverman: "Matsuzaka told reporters he may have come up with a solution for the next road trip. He did not wish to share it, Japanese reporters said, because he preferred not to have people wondering or imagining how he looked while he slept."

Kevin Youkilis: "We don't need Papi. Save him for the playoffs. Save him for the ninth innings, when we need a big hit or a walk-off." Ortiz has not hit a home run in his last 15 games (52 AB). "I'm becoming Ichiro." ... Nothing to worry about, though. Flo had 29 doubles last season; he already has 20 this season. He's hitting for power (.586 slugging, 5th in the AL), but the ball is staying in the park. For now.

Mike Lowell has hit safely in 21 straight home games. ... Steven Krasner reports that Beckett threw 18 curveballs in his 91-pitch outing. In the fourth inning, six of 13 pitches were curves. ... Jon Lester pitched five scoreless innings (79 pitches) for Pawtucket on Tuesday night, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out six.

Brendan Donnelly:
I've been on some teams where we have always been talking about needing something else. We need a starter, we need a hitter, we need something. We don't need anything, and that's rare. ... [W]hat's even more rare is we get along and have fun. It's a good combination.
We need you -- 11 hits and 6 runs allowed in your last six appearances (5.1 innings) -- to pitch better.

Pic O The Day:

Line O The Day: George King, Post: " ... a band of Yankee hitters who can't hit sand if they fell off a camel."

Koward

Edes:
The Yankees made it official last night: Roger Clemens will not make his return to the majors this weekend against the Red Sox.
Torre: "I'm not disappointed that he's not pitching at Fenway." ... Neither is he, Joe. Neither is he.

To anyone going to the games this weekend: Now is the time to bust out the "WHERE IS RAH-GER?" chant from the 1999 ALCS. ... Make it so.

Torre: "We'd obviously be tempted if we had a kid pitching and we could replace him with Roger Clemens, but we have Wang, Moose and Andy."

Torre: "It's not going to be in Boston because I can't see who I'd dump."

Yup, he's a #4 starter.

Probables:
Friday: Wang / Wakefield
Saturday: Mussina / Schilling
Sunday: Pettitte / Beckett

Kevin Youkilis Has A Blog

It's called Yooooouuuuukkkkk right now, but if you've got a better idea, he'd like to hear it.

Re his nine consecutive multi-hit games, here are the longest streaks since 1957:
Tony Perez        1973  11
Bernie Williams 2002 10
Chuck Knoblauch 1996 10
Rich Dauer 1978 10
Bob Nieman 1958 10
Kevin Youkilis 2007 9
Rusty Greer 2000 9
Gary Sheffield 1992 9
Shane Mack 1990 9
Billy Hatcher 1987 9
Tony Fernandez 1986 9
Kirby Puckett 1985 9
Jim Rice 1978 9
Rennie Stennett 1971 9
Tony Oliva 1971 9
Jesus Alou 1969 9
Bert Campaneris 1969 9
I think the major league record is held by Paul Waner (14 games, June 3-19, 1927).

Passing By The Newsstand

Today's tabloids are more interested in the Mets' extra-innings win -- the Stems have the second-best record in MLB -- than the Yankees' fifth straight loss.


But there is this:

May 29, 2007

G51: Red Sox 4, Cleveland 2

The lay-off didn't bother Josh Beckett at all. He faced the minimum 18 hitters through the first six innings, allowing only one hit (Jhonny Peralta in the 1st) and one walk (Peralta in the 4th).

He gave up two runs in the seventh on a one-out single to Peralta (again!), a triple to Travis Hafner that eluded JD Drew in the right field corner, and an infield grounder. Those runs cut the Boston lead from 4-0 to 4-2. Brendan Donnelly, Javier Lopez and Hideki Okajima finished it off. (box)

Kevin Youkilis doubled in Julio Lugo in the first inning (21 game hitting streak), then hit a solo home run to begin the home sixth (9th consecutive multi-hit game). Jason Varitek also homered.

In Toronto, the Yankees lost 3-2, as the Blue Jays got one of their runs on a straight steal of home by Aaron Hill (only the second occurrence in Blue Jays history). Toronto scored in the first inning and the game stayed 1-0 until the seventh. The Yankees tied it in the top half, but Toronto went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning. New York tied it again at 2-2 in the top of the eighth, but the Jays scored in the bottom of the eighth to retake the lead. The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the 9th. ... New York is now 14.5 GB.

***

Jeremy Sowers (6.29, 69 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (2.66, 167 ERA+)
             W    L    GB
Red Sox 35 15 ----
Orioles 24 27 11.5
Blue Jays 23 27 12
Devil Rays 21 28 13.5
Yankees 21 28 13.5
The Red Sox's 35-15 start ties the 1986 team for the second best in club history.

On June 3, 1986, the Red Sox were 35-15 and led the Yankees by 4.5 games. ... Fifty games into the 1946 season -- June 11 -- the Red Sox were 41-9 and led the Yankees by 10 games.

Manny Delcarmen, who pitched only one inning since being called up on May 21, was optioned to Pawtucket to make room for Beckett.

Redsox.com:
After beginning the season 0-4 with a 7.13 ERA in his first eight starts, Sowers had his best start of the year on Thursday against the Royals. He went seven strong innings and allowed one run on six hits -- all of them singles -- while walking one and striking out one.

Tabloid Triple Play?



Sadly, no.

May 28, 2007

G50: Red Sox 5, Cleveland 3

Schilling was dominant, regaining control of his fastball and split to strike out a season-high 10 batters (7-6-1-0-10, 114).

Yook hit an inside-the-park home run and scored standing up (20-game hitting streak)! Manny smashed a line drive shot over the Wall in left, and Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-3, with a single, two doubles and a walk.

Papelbot stumbled in the 9th, but held on to strike out Hafner with the tying runs aboard.

The Red Sox's 10 hits: 2 singles, 6 doubles, and 2 home runs. ... The two singles came in the third inning, before the Sox had scored any runs.

Yankees lost to Toronto 7-2. The Devil Rays scored twice in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Tigers 6-5 and raise their record to 21-28, 13.5 GB -- same as New York's.

***

Cliff Lee (5.93, 73 ERA+) / Curt Schilling (3.94, 113 ERA+)

Trot Nixon returns!

His ninth-inning home run against the TCM at Yankee Stadium that gave Pedro a 2-0 win on May 28, 2000 -- how on Earth can that have been seven years ago?!? -- and his pinch-hit two-run, game-winning blast at Fenway against Oakland to win Game 3 of the 2002 ALDS are two of my fondest memories of Boston career.

The thunderous ovation he'll receive is completely deserved.

Tangible

Derek Jeter:
We can't look at the standings. Who cares about the standings?
Mike Puma, Post:
Good thing the Yankees are leaving town for 11 days - it will take at least that long to fumigate the Stadium from the rancid odor left behind by the home team.

The fans even let Joe Torre have it yesterday, booing the manager for his ill-fated decision to replace Mike Mussina with Scott Proctor in the seventh inning. ...

Even the usually unflappable Jeter had some urgency in his voice after the Yankees lost for the seventh time in 10 games and fell a season-high six games below .500.

"You can't give up, you have to continue to fight," Jeter said. "But you do have to get some wins here."
Mike Mussina (before the Red Sox won):
How many games are we out? ... [He is told] ... Twelve is a lot. ... We need what, 72, 73 wins from here? With four months to play [and 114 games], to get to 30 games over ... [W]e have guys who can pitch and hit and score runs, but we just have to do it at the same time.
Brian Cashman ("his voice barely above a whisper"):
We can't worry about the division, the 12 games back, the wild card or anything. We just have to worry about "that day" and hope we swing a lot of "that days" together.
Anthony Rieber, Newsday:
Is it time to worry about the division race?

"I think it's an appropriate time," said Mike Mussina ...

It is time to stop saying it's early?

"Yeah, but I don't know what you do about it," manager Joe Torre said. "It's not that 'now it's time to panic.' Then what do you do?"
Torre:
We're gonna have to find that magic potion.
Or maybe start praying the "ghosts" return to make the other teams fail ...

May 27, 2007

G49: Red Sox 6, Rangers 5

The Red Sox complete their first three-game series sweep of the Rangers in Texas since August 20-22, 1973.

Baltimore also won, so our lead remains at 11.5 games. New York was swept by the Angels and is 12.5 games off the pace -- and only one game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Devil Rays.

***

Julian Tavarez (5.27, 84 ERA+) / Kameron Loe (6.38, 71 ERA+)

Lineup (with EQA and EQA rank on team):
Lugo, SS       .236   9th
Crisp, CF .231 11th
Youkilis, 1B .323 2nd
Ramirez, LF .270 5th
Drew, RF .238 10th
Lowell, 3B .309 3rd
Varitek, C .274 4th
Hinske, DH .227 12th
Pedroia, 2B .253 7th
Ortiz -- out today with "barking" hamstrings and the lingering effects of a cold -- is 1st at .332.

Sexy Lips's last two starts (against the Tigers and Yankees) have produced these totals: 12.2 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 8 walks and 5 strikeouts. Very nice, except for the walks. He has lowered his season ERA by almost 2.5 runs since the end of April.

Loe gave up one run on two hits in .1 IP out to Boston (16 pitches) back on April 7.

Meanwhile, way back somewhere in our dust cloud: The fourth-place Yankees (a mere 1.5 GA of the cellar) try to avoid the Angels' broom at 1 PM (Lackey/Mussina).

The second-place Blue Jays visit the Twins (Burnett/Silva) at 2 PM.

Lugo: 29 RBI While Hitting Only .231

In the comments to G48, 9casey wondered how Julio Lugo could:
have a .231 avg and still be able to have 29 rbi's. And out of the leadoff spot
I answered "more runners on base", noted how much better he does with runners on base:
                AVG   OBP   SLG
Bases Empty .217 .286 .313
Runners On .265 .307 .412
RISP .319 .333 .468
Bases Loaded .500 .566 .875
then went off to get some real answers.

Lugo has 29 RBI, 4th on the team behind Ortiz (38), Lowell (37) and Ramirez (30). Subtracting the times when the batter drives himself in (RBI - HR), the team leaders are: Ortiz (29), Lowell (28), Lugo (26) and Ramirez (23).

Lugo has driven in 21.49% of the runners on base when he bats. That makes him the top Sock in the 48 games played so far.

Mike Lowell (19.86%) and David Ortiz (19.33%) are next. ... Doug Mirabell (6.9%), Wily Mo Pena (7.9%) and JD Drew (9.3%) are at the bottom.

Let's look at the regular lineup and see the number of plate appearances, PA with runners on base, how many runners on each base the batter has seen and the total runners on all bases:
          PA PAROB  R1  R2  R3  ROB
Lugo 209 79 54 42 25 121
Youkilis 206 89 60 46 21 127
Ortiz 212 113 80 45 25 150
Ramirez 206 111 75 51 24 150
Drew 169 85 64 40 25 129
Lowell 191 91 68 45 28 141
Varitek 150 77 55 41 23 119
Crisp 176 87 65 35 17 117
Pedroia 123 53 37 22 12 71
My "more runners on base" comment was not all that accurate. Lugo is 6th out of the 9 regulars in men on base when he bats. Here are the percentage of times the batter knocked in the runners from each base:
         R1BI%  R2BI%  R3BI%   OBI%
Lugo 3.7% 23.8% 56.0% 21.49%
Youkilis 5.0% 17.4% 47.6% 16.54%
Ortiz 7.5% 22.2% 52.0% 19.33%
Ramirez 5.3% 13.7% 50.5% 15.33%
Drew 0.0% 17.5% 20.0% 9.30%
Lowell 5.9% 24.4% 46.4% 19.86%
Varitek 7.3% 7.3% 47.8% 15.13%
Crisp 3.1% 17.1% 47.8% 11.97%
Pedroia 2.7% 13.6% 33.3% 11.27%
When it comes to driving in a runner from third, Lugo is more successful than anyone else on the team. He's driven in 14 runners from third (Lowell and Ortiz have brought in 13, Manny has 12). Lugo is also second best at driving a runner in from second. ... Varitek is quite bad at bringing in a guy from second and Drew is dismal with a man on third (and first, for that matter).

The Top 5 AL hitters in OBI%:
Torii Hunter      23.62%
Ross Gload 23.08%
Magglio Ordonez 22.82%
Brad Wilkerson 22.58%
Placido Polanco 22.52%
Lugo is 8th. (Ordonez has driven in a whopping 66.7% of baserunners on third.)

Curious about the Yankees? (Arranged by OBI%)
          R1BI%  R2BI%  R3BI%   OBI%
Jeter 1.4% 32.4% 59.1% 20.00%
Posada 6.2% 14.3% 42.9% 16.30%
Damon 5.0% 20.7% 35.3% 16.28%
Matsui 4.9% 16.7% 50.0% 16.24%
Rodriguez 12.2% 16.0% 37.5% 16.03%
Cano 4.3% 10.2% 41.4% 13.51%
Re Jeter: His 59.1% is 5th in the AL and 9th in MLB; Orlando Hudson leads everybody with 70%. His 32.4% mark is 2nd best in the AL, behind Estaban Guzman of the Royals (33.3%). His very low % of driving in runners from first is due to his lack of power -- 52 of his 67 hits this year have been singles.

5-Toed Socks


New York Times:
[A] sock is the team symbol again, only this time it is a five-toed version popularized by their two new Japanese pitchers – Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima.

The socks, which fit like a glove with each toe individually encased, were met with curiosity in Boston's clubhouse during spring training. Before long, Matsuzaka began offering pairs to anyone who expressed an interest. And a number of players did, including Mike Lowell, Alex Cora and Doug Mirabelli, who are now playing in them regularly. ...

The socks that Matsuzaka wears are covered with tiny rubbery beads on the sole for better traction. As for Okajima, he said the individual toe slot helps with his balance because he can firmly grip each toe. ... "They give me a better feel and perception of the ground, a sensitivity similar to bare feet," Matsuzaka said.

Matsuzaka has been wearing the five-toed socks since he signed his first professional contract in 1999, with the Seibu Lions of Japan's Pacific League. The socks are popular among professional baseball players in Japan and versions of them are also common among the general public in Japan.

Just Because

May 26, 2007

G48: Red Sox 7, Rangers 4

Wakefield (7-5-4-1-4, 91) was solid outside of a rough fifth, Manny went 4-for-4 (falling a home run shy of the cycle), Drew walked three times, and Youkilis doubled and singled to extend his hitting streak to 18 games.

AL East Lead:

11

The Red Sox Train rolls on.

***

Tim Wakefield (3.14, 141 ERA+) / Vicente Padilla (5.52, 82 ERA+)

Scary dude:


David Ortiz is 4-for-10 against Padilla -- two doubles, two home runs, two walks and no strikeouts.

Daisuke Matsuzaka:
I felt very good coming out of my warmup in the bullpen. ... But all of a sudden, I didn't feel too well. I tried my best to take the team as deep into the game as possible. I regret that I ended up being a burden to my teammates today.
The Globe's Amalie Benjamin wrote that Matsuzaka "was seen dry-heaving in the concourse [and] felt the onset of nausea in the second inning".

Has anyone ever seen a ballplayer get sick on the field? Players have had fevers, been drilled in the groin, swallowed their chaws -- yet I've never seen it. ... How cool would it be to have Dice strike out the side, while vomiting between batters!

OPS+: Manny Ramirez (98) isn't that much better than Dustin Pedroia (93). Yikes. ... Tops on the team: Ortiz (172), Youkilis (152), and Lowell (150). (Cora's at 141.)

This afternoon:
LAA - 300 000 000 - 3 6 1
MFY - 000 100 000 - 1 8 0
11 GA!

Papelbon's Cheerio Mouth

A Papelbot fan would like a shot of his stare/Cheerio mouth to the plate before he goes into his windup. The Google was no help. Can anyone get a screen shot the next time he pitches?

May 25, 2007

G47: Red Sox 10, Rangers 6

We win 10-6. Yankees lose 10-6.

10.5 GA.

***

Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.06, 108 ERA+) / Brandon McCarthy (5.82, 77 ERA+)
Lugo, SS
Youkilis, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Drew, RF
Lowell, 3B
Varitek, C
Crisp, CF
Pedroia, 2B

May 24, 2007

Clemens: Not Up To Speed

According to an ESPN graphic during last night's game, Roger Clemens, in his decidedly mediocre start against the Red Sox's AA club (5.1-6-3-4-5, 102), threw 57 fastballs.

Average speed? 89 mph. Average.

Clemens walked three Sea Dogs in a 30-pitch first inning. Four of the six hits he allowed were for extra bases, including two doubles by Jed Lowrie. (box)

Portland's Clay Buchholz pitched much better (6-7-2-0-8), but the Sea Dogs lost the game 4-3 in 10 innings.

It's up to Fat Billy to decide whether he needs another minor league start or if he's ready to join the Yankees next week.

May 23, 2007

G46: Yankees 8, Red Sox 3

We were never in this one, as Schilling gave up three runs in his first 15 pitches. Crappy pitching, wasted at-bats, sloppy fielding, a mistake or two on the bases, etc.

Let New York celebrate. They are now only three games under .500 and have crawled back to less than 10 games out of first place.

On to Texas.

***

Curt Schilling (3.57, 122 ERA+) / Andy Pettitte (2.83, 146 ERA+)

Schilling has not been sharp in his last two starts. Last time out, he threw 118 pitches in six innings against Detroit, allowing eight hits and two runs. Before that, he surrendered nine hits and four runs to the Orioles over 5.1 innings. Schilling (7-8-5-1-5) faced the Yankees on April 20, a game the Red Sox won, thanks to a five-run eighth inning.

Planting The Seed For Clemens Cop Out?

Roger Clemens makes his second rehab start tonight for Trenton (AA). He'll be matched up against the Red Sox's top pitching prospect, Clay Buchholz, and the Portland Sea Dogs.

George King, Post:
Joe Torre said it's up to Roger Clemens to decide if [his] start for Trenton is his last in the minors.

"It will be his last if he says it is," Torre said of Clemens ... Barring injury, the 44-year-old Clemens will start for the Yankees in Toronto next week. If they keep him on four days' rest, that would be Monday. But Andy Pettitte starts against the Red Sox tomorrow night and Monday would be his day.

It's possible the Yanks could use Clemens Tuesday against the Blue Jays. If they wait for Wednesday, Clemens wouldn't be available to face the Red Sox in Fenway Park.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
If all goes well you can expect Clemens to be on the mound for the Yankees in Toronto next week, most likely, May 29. That would give Clemens an extra day of rest because he is fighting a dead-arm period right now. That would also keep Andy Pettitte on his normal day, Monday. ...

If Clemens pitches Tuesday, and not Monday in Toronto, it's likely he will miss the Red Sox series, and will make his second start on Monday, June 4 in Chicago against the White Sox. The Red Sox will have to wait until the end of August.

A-Rod Elbow - Payback For Pedroia Slide?

Dustin Pedroia called Alex Rodriguez's slide (and elbow jab) into second base in the eighth inning a "cheap [but] no big deal. ... He probably just got a little carried away." (YouTube)

What has gone unmentioned in the media reports I've seen is Pedroia's out-of-the-basepath slide into Derek Jeter in the second inning. (You can't see the bag in photo #13 at the Globe, but it's about seven feet to the left.)

Pedroia's slide was clean -- trying to break up what turned out to be a 4-6-3 double play -- but he was pretty far away from the bag. Possibly something we'd be bitching about if the roles were reversed.

***

Headlines from the Post (Back To Reality) and Daily News (Clutch Klutzes)

George Willis, Post:
As the long fly ball off the bat of Manny Ramirez sailed over the left-field wall and deep into the seats, it was as if all the air had been sucked out of not just one game, but an entire season.
Yes, it's only May with four months of baseball to be played, but Ramirez's three-run home run in the first inning last night continued a pattern that likely isn't going to change with the calendar.

May 22, 2007

G45: Red Sox 7, Yankees 3


All those New York writers who were typing that the Yankees were on their way back because they had won two (!) games in a row can now go back to finishing up those obits.

***

Julian Tavarez (5.59, 78 ERA+) / Mike Mussina (5.64, 73 ERA+)

Sexy Lips turns 34 today! ... This is his second start this season at Yankee Stadium. In Boston's win on April 29, he pitched five innings, allowing three hits and three runs.

Mike Lowell is 7-for-14 against Mussina and Coco Crisp is 8-for-20.

Hideki Okajima's scoreless streak of 20.2 innings is the longest for a Sox lefty since Bruce Hurst threw 21.2 in May 1987. ... When they score at least five runs, the Red Sox are 23-0. ... When Boston leads after six innings, they are 22-1.

End Interleague Play

Sign The Petition!

Circulate widely: at your blog, in emails, on messageboards, etc.

Wakefield: "A Bigger Menace To The Game Than Steroids"

Wallace Matthews, Newsday:
If the commissioner of baseball truly wants to get to the bottom of one of the great mysteries of his game, he can shelve the steroid investigation and start looking into how Tim Wakefield has managed to get away with his act for the past 15 years. ...

His knuckleball, or whatever you want to call it, is a bigger menace to the game than steroids, growth hormone or Clomid will ever be. When Wakefield is pitching, the game moves slower than David Ortiz going from home to first. If as many guys in major-league baseball threw the knuckler as have taken performance-enhancing drugs, the game and its fans would have died of boredom years ago. ...

Wakefield may very well be the least entertaining player ever to appear in a major-league uniform, unless of course passed balls, uncontested stolen bases, endless delays between pitches and three-ball counts on every batter is your idea of fun.
I think he's serious.

This is pretty funny, too. Filip Bondy, Daily News:
There was finally something familiar about the Yankees last night, something the people up in Boston probably didn't want to remember and the fans in the Bronx had nearly forgotten. Here were the Bombers again, full of pep and power and pitching, beating up on the Red Sox. ...

The Yanks will have to keep playing like this right through September, if there is to be an October. There is no margin for error anymore. They must keep beating the Red Sox, like old times.
This is more like it. George King, Post:
Two dry days don't guarantee a drunk is going to be sober forever. But sobriety has to start somewhere, and that's the genesis of the "One Day At A Time" recovery mantra.

For the Yankees, it's no longer about taking it two-dozen hours at a time. The ditch they dug themselves is far too deep to think that long term. With May tumbling into June soon and the Yankees losing touch with the AL East-leading Red Sox, they must take it one at-bat at a time.
Joe Torre, on his team's 43rd game of the year:
It was a big game. It was a huge game, to start the series like this.

May 21, 2007

G44: Yankees 6, Red Sox 2

Let's see: Yook smacked a couple of doubles, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. The bullpen (Romero, Delcarmen, Pineiro) pitched three no-hit innings (though Romero walked three).

Tiz walked twice, doubled, and drove in both runs. Crisp walked twice and singled. And Manny made a great diving, rolling catch in short left-center off Cano in the seventh. (box)

Still 9.5 GA.

Tuesday? In Lips We Trust.

***

Lineups:
Lugo, SS          Noodle, CF
Youkilis, 1B CI, SS
Ortiz, DH Shemp, LF
Ramirez, LF Slappy, 3B
Drew, RF Dumbo, C
Lowell, 3B Abreu, RF
Crisp, CF HGH, DH
Mirabelli, C Canoe, 2B
Cora, 2B Snook, 1B
***

Tim Wakefield (2.41, 181 ERA+) / Chien-Ming Wang (4.54, 91 ERA+)

Kason Gabbard down, Manny Delcarmen up.

Smoltz: "People say, 'Hey, there's a lot of baseball left.' But the Red Sox pretty much have cemented themselves in a position where I don't think they can be caught."

Ortiz: "We don't have to worry about nobody right now. Everybody needs to worry about us."

Shoes

Red has the picture.

They look perfect for those long October nights.

I want five pair. I've got a fistful of dollars. Where do I go?

May 20, 2007

G43: Red Sox 6, Atlanta 3

Gabbard (5-6-2-1-7, 100) used a biting curveball to easily outpitch Hudson (4.2-8-6-2-0, 82) (box). Gabbard was lifted after the first two Atlanta batters reached base in the sixth; Brendan Donnelly allowed both of them to score.

The Sox got all the runs they needed in the first inning, when Varitek hit a bases-loaded triple off Hudson and scored on Hinske's single. Pedroia doubled and scored on Ortiz's force in the second. Yook hit a solo home run around the Pesky Pole in the fifth.

Andruw Jones struck out swinging five times (including ending the game as the potential tying run against Papelbot).

Three other East teams lost this afternoon: Baltimore (now 10.5 GB), Toronto (11 GB) and Tampa Bay (12 GB). ... The Yankees (11 GB) play the Mets tonight.

***

Tim Hudson (1.77, 225 ERA+) / Kason Gabbard (2007 debut)

Lineup:
Crisp, CF
Youkilis, 3B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Drew, RF
Varitek, C
Hinske, 1B
Cora, SS
Pedroia, 2B
It's Connecticut Day at Fenway Park and (once again) intermittent light rain is in the forecast.

Lefty Gabbard made his major-league debut last July 22 in Seattle (5.1-8-3-2-2-3) (Ortiz played first base that day.). He posted a 3.51 ERA in seven appearances. In eight starts for Pawtucket this year, his ERA is 2.75.

(Tonight, the Mets go for a sweep of the Yankees, who will be sending out their 11th starting pitcher (and 7th rookie) this year. Boston used 14 starters last season.)

Roger Is A Yankee -- And A Dodger

Chad Finn, Touching All The Bases:
If Roger Clemens fulfills the media's daydream-du-jour and makes his first '07 start at Fenway Park in the Sox/Yanks series June 1-3, I'll order one of his wife's unbelievably tacky sequined Yankees jean jackets ... and wear the "bedazzled" disaster to work every day until the AL East is clinched. My point: Why does everyone forget that a season debut against the Sox is just the kind of high-pressure event that Roger historically dodges?
Nick Cafardo writes that the Yankees may speed up Fat Billy's minor league stint before they fall further out of contention. He may debut against Toronto.

If he starts either of the first two games (May 28 or 29) of that series, he'll be in line to face the Red Sox. If he starts the last game of the Blue Jays series (May 30), he'll miss the series.

Matsuzaka Expected Another CG

Dice-K:
Given my pitch count at the end of the eighth inning (104), I was expecting to go back out there in the ninth. I think, given my pace up to that point, it would have been normal to go back for the ninth inning, but the manager came in and spoke to me and said that, given our big lead, go and get some rest.
If he had finished the game, Matsuzaka would have been the first Red Sox pitcher since Tim Wakefield (2005) to throw back-to-back complete games and the first since Roger Clemens (1996) to win consecutive complete games.

Doris Kahn, 100, threw out the first pitch before the afternoon game. Gordon Edes writes:
She came to Boston on the Lusitania, arriving from Liverpool in 1909, and remembers the Sox winning the 1918 World Series. That's impressive, but no more so than this: She's still working. She's in the accounting department of Riemer and Braunstein, a Boston law firm, where she has worked for 37 years.
Last night's loss was the Red Sox's worst shutout loss since May 25, 1990 (Twins 16-0). Atlanta also set a franchise record with 12 extra-base hits. ... Kevin Youkilis's hitting streak is now a career-best 12 games.

Jon Lester pitched 3.2 innings for Pawtucket last night in Ottawa, allowing one hit, one walk and no runs, while striking out two. He retired the last 10 batters he faced. ... Mike Timlin might throw off a mound on Monday.

The Lancaster Jethawks, Boston's Single-A team in the California League, lost 30-0 to the Lake Elsinore Storm on Friday. (box)

May 19, 2007

G42: Atlanta 14, Red Sox 0

Well. Tables turned in the nightcap.
Atlanta - 110 222 303 - 14 18 0
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0 3 2
Hits:
Crisp's double in the first.
Lowell's single in the fifth.
Pedroia's single in the seventh.

And Ortiz walked in the first.

***

John Smoltz (3.19, 122 ERA+) / Devern Hansack (13.50, 32 ERA+)

Smoltz suffered a dislocated right pinky finger in a loss to the Nationals on Monday. Before that, he had won four straight decisions and three straight starts. ... Bobby Cox used six pitchers in Game 1.

Sox lineup:
Lugo, SS
Crisp, CF
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Hinske, 1B
Lowell, 3B
Cora, 2B
Pena, RF
Mirabelli, C
Redsox.com:
How rare was it to see the Red Sox arrive to Fenway Park on Saturday with a 10-game lead in the American League East? It marked the largest margin the Red Sox have had this early in the season in club history. The pennant-winning Sox of 1946 held a 10-game edge on June 11.
Jeff Goldberg, Courant:
[It's]the first time in the 38-year history of the [AL East] a team has had a lead that large after 40 games. ... It is only the third time a team has led by at least 10 games this early. The 2001 Mariners led the AL West by 10 after 35 games and the 1977 Dodgers led by 10.5 games after 26 and by 11 after 40.

G41: Red Sox 13, Atlanta 3

Atlanta - 000 000 300 -  3 10 1
Red Sox - 120 450 10x - 13 18 0
Box
Dice: 8-9-3-0-6, 104
Lowell: 4-for-5, 2 doubles, grand slam, 5 RBI
Ortiz: 3-for-3, BB, double, 2 runs scored
Crisp: Single, double, 2 RBI
Home runs: Lugo, Youkilis, Lowell, Pena

10.5

***

Anthony Lerew (6.52, 60 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.17, 104 ERA+)

In his last two starts (16 innings), Matsuzaka has allowed only two runs, 11 hits and three walks -- and he's struck out 13.

(Yankees-Mets at 4 PM)

If you missed Jerry Remy's air guitar misadventure the other night, enjoy.

May 18, 2007

GA

G41: Atlanta at Red Sox, PPD

Update: Mets 3, Yankees 2. Boston leads the East by 10 games.

***

Another rainout and another day-night doubleheader.

Saturday: 1 PM and 7:30 PM.

***

Anthony Lerew (6.52, 60 ERA+) / Devern Hansack (13.50, 32 ERA+)

Game Logs:

Lerew
IP H R ER BB K BF PIT

0508 SDP 6 2 2 2 2 7 23 98
0513 @PIT 3.2 7 5 5 3 2 21 74
Hansack
IP H R ER BB K BF PIT

0508 @TOR 0.2 1 1 1 3 1 6 33
East:
            W   L   PCT   GB   RS   RA
Boston 28 12 .700 --- 213 136
New York 18 21 .462 9.5 212 185
Tampa Bay 18 22 .450 10.0 184 238
Toronto 18 22 .450 10.0 176 190
Baltimore 18 23 .439 10.5 177 191

And in New York:


May 17, 2007

Beckett To DL; Hansack Goes Friday

Tito on the post-game show: Josh Beckett will be put on the DL (missing two starts) and Devern Hansack will start Friday night.

Sunday's pitcher was not announced, but the Sac will likely be sent back down after his start and Kason Gabbard will come up to pitch on Sunday. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches on Saturday.

The probables for Yankees series in New York:
Tim Wakefield / Mike Mussina
Curt Schilling / Chien Ming-Wang
Julian Tavarez / Andy Pettitte
With the day off on Thursday the 24th, a fifth starter will not be needed until Beckett returns on the May 29.

G40: Red Sox 4, Tigers 2

Me, at 3:51 this afternoon:
[The East lead] can be 9.5 after tonight if all goes well.
All went well.

Eric Hinske, after sprinting, diving, and catching a line drive hit towards the right-field corner in the fifth inning, landing hard, smashing his face against the dirt track in foul territory, crushed a two-run home run in the seventh inning, breaking a 2-2 tie.

Schilling (6-8-2-4-6, 118) was somehow able to allow four walks, 1 hit batter, seven doubles and a home run and still come away with only two runs allowed. The Tigers left the bases loaded in the first and second innings.

Dear Yankees:

***

Edes:
Terry Francona said David Ortiz was ill and almost scratched from the first game. He will sit out tonight's game, Francona said, with Manny serving as DH and Wily Mo Pena playing left field. Francona said J.D. Drew will try to play tonight, but he wanted to watch him hit in the cage first before he made that decision.
Ortiz was 0-for-3 (4-3, BB, 4-3, K) in the afternoon game.

***

Chad Durbin (5.08, 84 ERA+) / Curt Schilling (3.63, 120 ERA+)

Durbin has a 2.13 ERA in his last four starts.

(This afternoon: White Sox 4, Yankees 1. We lead the second-place Yankees by 9 games.)

G39: Red Sox 2, Tigers 1

This is fun!
         IP  H  R ER BB  K  BF  PIT
Tavarez 7 4 1 1 4 3 28 104
Okajima 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 13
Papelbot 1 0 0 0 0 2 3 13
Singles by Crisp and Ramirez brought in a first-inning run. Brilliant play by Coco on Ortiz's grounder to second. Crisp hit the deck and Polanco couldn't reach him with the ball in his bare hand for a force. So Polcano threw to first for the out, but because of the Papi shift, 3B Inge was hanging around second near Coco. Crisp waited 2-3 seconds, then took off for third uncontested.

(There has been talk at Chez Sock about possible similarities between the 2007 Red Sox and the 1998 Yankees. Nine years ago, it seemed that if the Yankees' opponent made even the slightest mistake, at bat or in the field, the Yankees pounced and exploited it. We're seeing the Sox do the same thing, mostly recently with the Mother's Day Miracle and with Coco's opportunistic dash to third today. (I wouldn't be too annoyed with 114 wins, either.))

An infield error, Ortiz's walk and Youkilis's second hit of the game made it 2-0 in the third.

The Tigers got their run in the fifth, but Lips was able to retire Ordonez with the bases loaded to keep it at 2-1. He was at 85 pitches, but was able to get the side in order in the sixth on only six pitches, giving himself the chance to come out for the seventh. And making it easy to use the Jeemer & the Bot to close it out.

***

Zach Miner (2007 debut) / Julian Tavarez (6.60, 66 ERA+)

First of two today!

Zach Miner -- not Mike Maroth (stomach flu, didn't have a pleasant night last night, apparently) -- gets the start for the Tigers. He made his big-league debut against the Red Sox last June, giving up home runs to Alex Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis.

Doug Mirabelli catches the first game.

May 16, 2007

G39: Tigers at Red Sox, PPD

Rained out. Day-night doubleheader tomorrow (12:35 and 7:00).

Maroth / Tavarez and Chris Durbin / Curt Schilling

***

Mike Maroth (4.69, 91 ERA+) / Julian Tavarez (6.60, 66 ERA+)

Possible rain and thunderstorms tonight; the tarp was put on the field shortly after 3 PM. (Check the Globe's Extra Bases for updates.)

Sox lineup:
Lugo, SS
Crisp, CF
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Youkilis, 1B
Lowell, 3B
Varitek, C
Pena, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Maroth is 0-6 in seven starts vs. Red Sox: 38.2 innings, 60 hits, 21 walks, 7.22 ERA. ... Jason Varitek is 10-for-16 against Maroth (throw in walks and he's been on base 14 times in 20 PA.)

Tito Pre-Game: Josh Beckett will not make his scheduled start on Friday. Someone will be called up from Pawtucket. ... Jon Lester will begin a 30-day rehab assignment with the PawSox when he pitches against Ottawa on Saturday.

Big Papi Bio Contest Update

I have added a list of entries to the contest post.

Plenty of dates available.

Drew Out Tonight; Beckett Progressing

Terry Francona, in an interview this afternoon on WEEI, said JD Drew was feeling alright after slamming his back into the low bullpen wall in right field, but that Wily Mo Pena would start tonight against lefty Mike Maroth.

Mike Lowell:
They made the fence a perfect height to ruin your back. It's not high enough where you can run into, but it's low enough where you feel you can make a play. ... It looks like he hit right in the middle of his back.
Josh Beckett turned 27 yesterday and threw a bullpen session. Beckett wore a bandage on the tip of his middle finger and threw only fastballs and changeups. The consensus in the papers is that Beckett will not make his scheduled start Friday night against Atlanta.

Globe:
The Sox have sought the advice of a burn specialist from Mass. General Hospital to possibly suggest a method to close the cut and prevent it from returning.

The Sox do not appear to be overly concerned about a long-term problem, but they are expected to play this one cautiously in hopes Beckett doesn't have to miss considerable time as he did in Florida.
If his minor league starts go well, the Texas Con Man may make his 2007 debut on May 28 in Toronto. His second start would likely come in Boston June 2 or 3.

May 15, 2007

G38: Tigers 7, Red Sox 2

Wakefield allowed two home runs in the third (Ordonez hit a three-run bomb over everything in left (Manny didn't even flinch) to break a 1-1 tie), Donnelly allowed one inherited runner and two of his own to score in the eighth and Verlander was very sharp (7.2-6-2-0-7, 120). (Box)

But right now, it's time for ... Objectivity Watch.

I had a gut feeling we'd get the Tigers' feed tonight, and I was right.

Fox Sports News' Tigers guys are Mario Impemba (play-by-play) and Rod Allen (analyst [sic]). If you've ever heard these guys, they are fairly ignorable if the Tigers are losing -- though grossly ignorant about the other team and prone to moronic statements about the game of baseball itself.

But let the Tigers grab a lead ... and look out. These guys, especially Allen, start trash-talking and (what sounds like) strutting around the booth, crowing about how great and unbeatable the Tigers are. We heard it last season and it was on display tonight.

Allen was in rare form.

Top of the seventh, Tigers up 4-1:
I'd like to see a few more tack-on runs for the good guys.
Top of the eighth, Tigers up 4-1; Sheffield walks and Donnelly replaces Wakefield. After Ordonez and Guillen both fly out to center, Rodriguez doubles into the left field corner, scoring Sheffield (5-1); Monroe (K, P3, K against Wake) is up:
C'mon Craig, drive this one in!
Monroe obeys, singling and driving in I-Rod (6-1):
Good goin', Craig! ... I just like to hear this Boston crowd so quiet.
Sean Casey lines a single to right, and Monroe scores (7-1):
They came to play tonight. Boy, did they come to play tonight.
Donnelly is pulled:
He's been pretty good this year, but he hadn't seen the Tigers yet.
Top of the ninth, with Sheffield up, Impemba says:
Another full count for Sheffield.
Sheff's counts tonight when putting the ball in play or walking: 0-2, 1-2, 1-2, 3-1.

Good work, guys. Allen is threatening to make Hawk Harrelson sound like a neutral observer.

The FSN cameras showed puh-lenty of Red Sox fans heading for the exits when Detroit was batting in the eighth. Booooooooooooooo!

As I was fond of yelling at departing Yankee fans when the Sox had a nice lead in the Bronx: "We play nine in this league!"

***

Justin Verlander (2.83, 151 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (1.79, 244 ERA+)

Wakefield makes his eighth start of the year and his third at Fenway. In each of his last two starts, he's allowed no runs and three hits in seven innings. Opponents are hitting .189 against him this year, with a .277 on-base percentage and a .280 slugging percentage. Oakland's Dan Haren threw eight shutout innings last night and moved ahead of Wakefield at the top of the AL ERA leaderboard: 1.69.

Verlander is also making his eighth start. Opponents are hitting .242/.331/.331 off him. In his only appearance against the Red Sox -- August 16, 2006 -- he pitched six innings, allowing five runs, six hits and seven walks. Boston won 6-4.

Alex Cora gets the start tonight at second base.

The Globe reports that Daisuke Matsuzaka's complete game came in his eighth major league start -- the fewest number of starts for a Japanese-born pitcher. Hideo Nomo's first complete game came in his 11th start (June 24, 1995). ... The Globe also says Josh Beckett threw off a mound today.

A Streak That Should Never End

From Peter Gammons's ESPN blog:
Dave Roberts takes a lot of ribbing from Giants teammates for how much he talks about his three months with the Red Sox in 2004. ...

"You have no idea what that October was like," Roberts has told teammates. "I have not had one day since that game when someone hasn't come up and thanked me. Not one day."
I said "Thank You!" on July 19, 2005. ... The Blue Jays play the Giants this year, but the series is in San Francisco. Damn.

More Comeback Fun

Mike Carminati (Mike's Baseball Rants) on Sunday six-run comeback victory:
It was just the ninth time in baseball history that a team trailing in the ninth by at least five runs came back to win the game. The last time it happened was April 29, 1979, when the visiting Cubs scored six runs in the top of the ninth to defeat the Braves, 6-5. ...

The last time a home team overcame a five-run deficit in the ninth was July 24, 1978 when the Astros beat the Expos, 6-5 with all their runs coming in the ninth. ...

Here are the greatest ninth-inning comebacks from a previously scoreless home team. The Red Sox's was just the sixth comeback of five or more:
Date        Visiting   Home      Trailed  Won 
1947-08-22 Senators Tigers 0-6 7-6
2007-05-13 Orioles Red Sox 0-5 6-5
1978-07-24 Expos Astros 0-5 6-5
1960-04-17 Reds Pirates 0-5 6-5
1931-05-30 Athletics Red Sox 0-5 6-5
1911-06-01 Reds Cardinals 0-5 6-5
That 1931 Red Sox win was in the second game of a doubleheader. In Game 1, Philadelphia scored five times in the top of the 12th, breaking a 0-0 tie and winning 5-0.

They Said It: Johnny Damon Version

New York Times:
The Yankees have fallen so far behind the Boston Red Sox that every game seems to take on urgency, even this early in the season. ...

The Yankees were playing the Seattle Mariners, but there was no escaping the shadow cast by the Red Sox from across the country. When Boston scored six runs in the ninth inning to win their game, some of the Yankees noticed on the scoreboard at Safeco Field.

"I looked up and I couldn't really believe it," Johnny Damon said. "I thought it was a mistake. ... If the Red Sox keep playing the way they are, nobody’s going to catch them."

May 14, 2007

G37: Red Sox 7, Tigers 1

Updated
Complete game for Matsuzaka: 9-6-1-0-5, 124 pitches (and 16 groundball outs). Pitches by inning: 17-10-18 16-12-17 10-9-15. (box)

It's the first nine-inning complete game by a Red Sox rookie since Tim VanEgmond beat the Brewers 7-2 at Fenway on July 29, 1994 (the Globe's article).

The one blemish was Granderson's solo home run with two outs in the third. The Red Sox came right back and tied the game in the bottom half. With two outs, Youkilis doubled and Ortiz singled.

Varitek's double and Crisp's single (again after two were out) made it 2-1 in the fourth -- and Ortiz's double and Manny's single made (with one out) it 3-1 in the fifth. Lugo's bases-loaded triple in the seventh blew the game open.

Everyone in the lineup but Manny (1-for-5, RBI) and Drew (0-for-4, 3K) had two hits. ... Toronto beat Baltimore, so the Sox lead the idle MFY by 8.5.
1: 1B   K  P6  K
2: F8 163 53
3: P6 K HR F8
4: F7 63 1B 1B 31
5: 43 53 31
6: 53 53 2B K
7: 43 43 63
8: 63 3U 63
9: 1B K F8 54
There was also an E9 on that first-inning single, the 163 grounder was tipped by Dice's glove to Lugo, and the final out was a force play. Hits are in bold. No walks.

It's surprising (and fascinating) that Dice was allowed to go back out after the eight-batter 8th inning, with a 7-1 lead and already at 109 pitches. Okajima and Papelbon had warmed up during the 8th, but the NESN shots made it seem like it was half-heartedly at best.

From the Globe of May 10, after Dice's Toronto start:
He went back to a more vigorous running program and he even threw 109 pitches in a bullpen session. Sounds like a lot, but it was closer to his routine in Japan.

The Sox have tried to put him on their program, which calls for less throwing, but it's hard to teach a pitcher with so much success that he has to throw less between outings. That's how he became the pitcher he is.
At 3:50 this afternoon, the Globe's Nick Cafardo blogged:
Dice-K is still running in the outfield at Fenway. He's been out there for a good 45 minutes. This guy has a routine I've never seen from any pitcher I've ever covered.
Some SoShers are thinking that letting him throw the CG was a way to further build his confidence. That seems logical. I'm really enjoying reading about his routines in Japan, the compromises he and the Red Sox are making with each other -- which clearly are being re-examined after every start -- and how his season is evolving.

And thankfully, there is little chance of Tito and John Farrell running him out there for a string of 125-pitch outings. But one every eight starts? Why not?

***

Nate Robertson (3.43, 125 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.80, 91 ERA+)

In his Fenway debut, Matsuzaka allowed three earned runs in seven innings (losing to Felix Hernandez). Since then, he has given up 13 runs in 12 Fenway innings (home ERA: 7.58).

In his last start, he held the Blue Jays hitless when pitching out of the stretch (0-for-9, with 2 walks). After that outing, he said:
I made a few technical adjustments heading into the game today. It's too early to tell if that made all of the difference, but I do hope, with small, incremental changes, this will lead to gradual improvement over time. ... The coaches and I talked about some of the difficulties I had with rhythm and timing. In my bullpen session and long toss this past week, I definitely worked on those two elements.
Jason Varitek: "I don't know if it was his work, but he was comfortable on the mound and with his delivery. It was tenfold better than his last one, but I still think he can be a lot better."

The Tigers come in the four-game series with a 23-13, 1.5 GA of Cleveland in the Central. They have scored 198 runs, 2nd best in MLB, tied with the Red Sox behind the Yankees, who have scored 200. (Boston has allowed 51 fewer runs than Detroit.)

Magglio Ordonez (.344/.437/.648), Carlos Guillen (.323/.414/.524) and Curtis Granderson (.269/.333/.567) are the team's top hitters. The Tigers lead the AL with a .449 slugging percentage; Boston is #2 (.443).

Robertson and Justin Verlander (who pitches tomorrow) have been their best starters. Last Wednesday Robertson retired nine of the first 10 Mariners, but then fell apart, eventually leaving the game in the fifth inning, having allowed six runs on 10 hits.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't care much for the Matsuzaka hype:
I don't give a [expletive] about him. I'm not getting into all that. I could give a [expletive] less. It's another pitcher. We're playing Boston. Obviously, he's an outstanding pitcher. He's a major league pitcher. And that's who we're facing.

Monday Grab Bag

The Red Sox's eight-game advantage in the East is their largest lead since the penultimate day of the 1995 season, (September 30, also eight games).

Yesterday was the first time since April 10, 1998 that the Red Sox rallied from five runs down in the ninth to win. Boston trailed Seattle 7-2 after eight innings before Mo Vaughn's grand slam gave Boston a 9-7 win.

Kevin Youkikis has a seven game hitting streak (14-for-29, .483), two games shy of his career-best. In his last 17 games, Yook is hitting .397 (27-for-68).

The Red Sox are 11-0 when Alex Cora starts. In his last eight games with an at-bat, he's hitting .478 (11-for-23). ... After beginning the season 4-for-5, Eric Hinske has gone 2-for-28.

Jon Lester threw 40 pitches -- fastballs and changeups -- in a bullpen session on Sunday. He'll throw another session on Wednesday.

Two of Chris Ray's three blown saves this year have come against Boston. The other one was April 26, when Wily Mo Pena hit a grand slam of a 5-2 Red Sox win.

David Ortiz couldn't believe Sam Perlozzo pulled Jeremy Guthrie (after 91 pitches) when Coco Crisp reached base on an error with Baltimore two outs away from a 5-0 shutout.
If I was a manager, and I had a kid dealing like that, and something like that happened in the ninth, I don't think I would take him out. He was dealing the whole freakin' game. He picked it up even later in the game. ... But their manager wanted to get him out of the game, for any kind of reason. Thanks, anyway.

Beckett's Finger

Redsox.com reports that Josh Beckett left the game after four innings with
an avulsion on the right middle finger, leading to "irritation of the skin." ...

It was not a blister, he said, referring to the problem that plagued him earlier in his career. Francona said it would be a couple of days before the team would decide on Beckett's next start.
From Beckett's DL history:
5/1/02: Placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to April 29 with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. (Activated 5/14)

6/5/02: Placed on the 15-day disabled list (right middle finger blister). (Activated ???)

8/24/02: Placed on the 15-day DL with a blister to his right middle finger. (Activated 9/11)

5/31/04: Placed on the 15-day disabled list with a blister to his right middle finger. (Activated 6/16)

7/6/04: Placed on the 15-day DL with a skin tear to his right middle finger. (Activated 7/30)

6/17/05: Placed on the 15-day disabled list with a blister to his right middle finger. (Activated 6/30)
Hmmmmm. Now it could be that if Beckett is going to get a cut/blister, that is simply the most likely finger. Beckett:
My skin just tore. There is nothing there. It's not like I got a blister under my callus. It's just one of those deals where you have to wait and see.
SoSHer's notes from NESN post-game interview:
My skin broke
Ripped more and more each pitch
Nothing is wrong with my callus
I've had one of these before, better than a blister
Need to dry it out and get the skin grown
It's a big hopefully that I can make my next start
Just a bad ball with a frayed seam or something
This is the best stuff I've had the last two years

May 13, 2007

ERA+

Hideki Okajima's ERA+ is 902.

God himself couldn't pitch better than that.

By comparison, Papelbon's ERA+ last year was 500.

Pedro's best season was 285 (that is also the greatest full-season of all time).

100 is league average.

History Lesson, CHB-Style

I want to make JoS a CHB-free zone. I try, I really do, but ...

From today's column:
Schilling has the best strikeout-walk ratio (4.37-1) among all major league pitchers since 1900. Think about that. Better than Tom Seaver. Better than Warren Spahn. Better than Mr. "We Don't Need Him."
Odd choices. Why Seaver, Spahn and Clemens?

The Top 10 since 1900:
Curt Schilling   4.37
Pedro Martinez 4.28
Ben Sheets 4.03
Roy Oswalt 3.72
Doug Jones 3.68
Johan Santana 3.68
Jon Lieber 3.67
Bret Saberhagen 3.64
Mike Mussina 3.56
Rick Reed 3.40
Seven of the Top 10 are active pitchers. You'd think that might be worth mentioning, but to do that, you'd have to know that the list exists and you'd have to know where to find it. But Bozo does not know these things.

Clemens (2.97) is 22nd all-time; Seaver (2.62) is 44th.

And according to Baseball Reference, Spahn (1.80) is 344th, but that includes pre-1900 pitchers. So he's likely in the Top 300 -- barely ahead of Steve Trachsel (1.78).

G36: Red Sox 6, Orioles 5

Orioles - 200 010 110 - 5  8  2
Red Sox - 000 000 006 - 6 6 3

Thanks to phrenile for the graph (which came from here).

And every writer's game story had to be drastically (and quickly) rewritten!!! (box)

***

Beckett was pulled after four innings (4-2-2-2-7, 64) because of "irritation to his right middle finger" -- an avulsion (tearing away of the skin), not a blister.

Kyle Snyder in -- and he's already made an error and allowed a run. O's 3-0 in the 5th.

***

Jeremy Guthrie (4.64, 92 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (2.51, 173 ERA+)

Lineup: Mike Lowell has the day off, so Kevin Youkilis (batting 6th) moves across the diamond to 3B and Eric Hinske (batting 8th) will play 1B. (Tito has the two regulars with the worst OBPs -- Lugo (.325) and Crisp (.277?!?) -- batting at the top of the lineup.)

Beckett will try to become the 4th Red Sox pitcher in history -- joining Babe Ruth (1917), Dave Ferriss (1945) and Roger Moret (1973) -- to get a W in each of his first eight starts. No Boston pitcher has won his first nine starts in a season.

Guthrie has pitched only two career innings against the Red Sox (April 27, 2006), allowing one run and striking out two in relief for Cleveland. Beckett started that game as well and did quite poorly (9 runs in 3.2 innings). Ben Broussard had 8 RBI, leading Cleveland to a 15-3 win.

May 12, 2007

G35: Red Sox 13, Orioles 4

This game was actually quite close for six innings.

Trachsel lost his control in the fourth and did not get out of the fifth (4.1-5-4-3-4-1, 102). But every time the Red Sox scored, Schilling (5.1-9-4-4-2-4, 95) gave it right back.
Orioles - 000 013 000 -  4 13 1
Red Sox - 000 131 35x - 13 15 0
Donnelly dug a little hole with one out in the seventh, but Okajima got the necessary two outs on six pitches. The Sox went wild in the final two frames -- 11 men batted in the eighth -- to make this one a laugher. (box)

Papelbot saw his first action since last Sunday. O's 9th: Markakis (ffbbf) struck out looking. Bynum flew to left. Bako (fc) singled to left. Huff (bf) lined to third.

Lugo was 4-for-5, Manny reached base four times (double, 2 walks, HBP), Ortiz scored three runs, and Cora (who hit for Pedroia in the 7th) was 2-for-2 and isa now hitting .432.

The MASN team of Gary Thorne and Buck Martinez were annoying and often stupid. They compared the outfields of both teams by looking at batting average, HR and RBI and determined Baltimore's was better. After many years, Martinez is still unable to correctly pronounce our DH's last name. He laughed at people who think OBP is important and after noting his win-loss record, he said "Josh Beckett is the best starter in baseball."

Thorne, who did not mention anything about Curt's socks(!), said that the Birds were 11-4 against East teams so far and that "only the Sox are better -- at 12-5". About five seconds later, an on-screen graphic showed, with winning percentage, that 11-4 is actually better than 12-5, not worse.

On the plus side, they did not comment on Manny's hair.

***

Steve Trachsel (3.70, 115 ERA+) / Curt Schilling (3.28, 132 ERA+)

Likely not much posting today, as I'm still dealing with a sick dog (which ties in with FJM's Headline Of The Year.)

Ortiz: "I'm Going To Be Angry For A While"

Quotes from Jackie MacMullan's Globe column:
I'm angry, bro. I'm going to be angry for a while. ...

What have I ever done for people to question my integrity? Why do people who have never met me want to [expletive] me up? Why would you want to hurt someone who has tried to do the right thing, be available to the media, to be respectful to the fans? ...

People want to see you fail. That's not what I've ever wanted to believe, but that's what I've seen around here. Why do people want to make me look that way when they know I've done nothing but try to lift up this ball club from Day 1? ...

For now, I'm going to be very limited in my responses. Whenever anyone had a question before, about me, about my teammates, about the game, I tried to help. When they had a question, I always had an answer. Now I won't.

Q

Who is the only major league player to reach 2,000 hits before his 30th birthday?

May 11, 2007

G34: Orioles 6, Red Sox 3

The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the first, second and seventh innings. They ended the game having left a season-high 13 runners on base.

They had a chance to pound the hell out of Burres in the early frames and couldn't do it. Mike Lowell was caught looking to end the first, Youkilis flew out to center for the third out in the second, and two pinch-hitters failed to deliver with the sacks full in the seventh: Drew lined to short and Core skied to center.

The last two of Boston's three runs came on bases-loaded walks; the one run that was driven in was Lugo's double in the second, that scored Varitek, who had also doubled.

Lips (5-10-5-4-0-2, 90) was not sharp, though he was also hurt by two poor plays by Wily Mo Pena in right field in the fifth inning (though, honestly, even with a good route, Pena might not have been able to snag the first fly ball (Mora's double)).

Lugo had three hits and Crisp and Youkilis had two. Ortiz had five plate appearances and did not hit a fair ball (BB, BB, BB, K, K).

Javier Lopez was recalled from Pawtucket and pitched the sixth. Devern Hansack was sent down.

***

Brian Burres (3.71, 115 ERA+) / Julian Tavarez (6.48, 67 ERA+)

After 17 relief appearances in 2006 and 2007, LHP Burres made his first major league start last Sunday against Cleveland, giving up seven hits and five runs in 3.2 innings.

Sexy Lips's season has been pretty gruesome thus far, but his last two starts -- against the Yankees (5-3-3-2-2) and Twins (6-4-2-3-7) -- have been acceptable.

May 10, 2007

Standings, May 11

EAST        W   L  PCT   GB   RS   RA  Exp W-L

Boston 23 10 .697 -- 176 110 23-10
Baltimore 17 18 .486 7.0 157 160 17-18
New York 16 17 .485 7.0 192 168 18-15
Tampa Bay 14 20 .412 9.5 154 210 12-22
Toronto 13 21 .382 10.5 156 178 15-19

G33: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 0

Wakefield (7-3-0-1-5, 93) gets support! And we sweep the collapsing Blue Jays! (box)

Red Sox 3rd (leading 1-0): Mirabelli strikes out looking. Cora singles to left. Lugo grounds out second to first, Cora to second. Youkilis singles to left, Cora scores (2-0). Ortiz doubles to right-center, Youkilis scores (3-0). Ramirez singles to right, Ortiz scores (4-0). Drew singles to center, Ramirez to second. Lowell homers to left, Ramirez, Drew and Lowell score (7-0). Crisp doubles to left center. Mirabelli grounds out shortstop to first.

With one out in the fourth, Lugo singled, stole second and scored on Youkilis's second double of the game (and third hit). Youkilis scored the Sox's first run in the first on Ortiz's ground out. ... Lowell homered in each of the three Skydome games.

Halladay was seriously pwned (5-11-8-7-0-2, 86). His last two starts: 10.1 innings, 23 hits, 17 runs (16 earned). Since last Saturday, his ERA has ballooned from 2.28 to 4.37. (The Jays got even worse news before the game began -- B.J. Ryan had Tommy John surgery today and will be out until sometime next season.)

In the first, Wakefield retired Rios, then allowed singles to Lind and Wells, and walked Glaus. Bases loaded, one out. But he whiffed Thomas and Mirabelli picked Glaus off first to end the inning.

Wakefield retired the next 15 Jays hitters and 18 of the next 19. His 1.79 ERA leads the American League.

Boston (23-10) has a seven-game lead over the second-place Yankees (16-17, 14-2 losers this afternoon) in the East. ... And it's home to face the Orioles.

***

Tim Wakefield (2.11, 205 ERA+) / Roy Halladay (3.59, 123 ERA+)

In Wakefield's last 11 starts -- going back to July 17 -- the Red Sox have scored 16 runs while he's been in the game. This must stop.

Halladay allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 5.1 last Saturday in Texas. In 15.1 innings against Boston this year, he has allowed five runs (2.93).

The best hitter of all time (well, since 1977) against the Blue Jays? Mike Lowell. Among Toronto opponents with more than 100 at-bats, he is hitting .380 (49-for-129), with 17 doubles, nine home runs and 30 RBI in 34 games.

Boston has won 15 of its last 20 games. Toronto has lost eight straight.

Tala is sick, so we're not going to the game tonight. Which means only one thing ... BuffyVision.

A Little More on Schilling's Bonds Apology

Nick Cafardo, in today's Globe:
Reporters like athletes who talk. It would be hypocritical to say we wanted a gag order on Schilling, because his responses are thoughtful and enlightening, and cause for great fodder.
"Reporters like athletes who talk." .. Which, in my opinion, is a big reason why some members of the Boston media don't give (and will never give) Manny Ramirez a fair shake.

Cafardo:
[Y]ou're not going to see a groundswell of athletes starting blogs like Schilling's. I jokingly asked Tim Wakefield yesterday when we'd see his blog, and he said, "You'll never see that from me." Sure, this is the 21st century and communication has come a long way. Mainstream media doesn't have to be the only way to get the message across. Fans enjoy hearing things directly from the athlete. There's no spin. Of course, there's no objectivity, either.
Riiiiiiight, and the Boston sports media, and mainstream sports journalism in general, is just overflowing with objectivity. You could drown in it.

A player's blog is simply another outlet from which to get information. It could be your only source of news -- you could also decide to follow the Red Sox by reading nothing but the CHB (not recommended for most fans; please consult your doctor before beginning an all-CHB diet) -- but it doesn't have to be.

Schilling's apology/post was 484 words. No media outlet -- including Cafardo's employer, the Globe -- would have given Schilling that much space to explain himself. (Cafardo quoted 88 words from it.)

This way, Schilling can say exactly what he wants in as many words as he feels he needs to say it (and it was about as far away from the oft-heard "I'm sorry if anyone was offended" as you could get). And Schilling has no fear that a journalist will quote him inaccurately or distort his words so they end up meaning the opposite of what he said -- as some did with his recent comments about Clemens and the Red Sox.