April 30, 2008

G29: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 000 000 010 - 1  5  0
Red Sox - 000 000 101 - 2 7 0
We're still stuck in the Deadball Era, but the Sox come through with another walk-off victory!

After Ortiz donged to right in the seventh, the Jays tied the game at 1-1 against MDC and Jeemer in the eighth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Ortiz singled and Manny walked. Lowrie pinch-ran for Tiz before Lowell struck out looking. Moss singled to center and Wells (whose bobble last night = a Boston win) threw out Lowrie at the plate. Varitek followed with another hard single to center. Wells came up firing yet again, but this time his throw bounced off the mound, slowing it enough for Manny to slide in with the winner.

The Rays beat the Birds 8-1 (and the Tigers topped the MFY 6-2) and Boston takes sole possession of first place.

Dice: 7-2-0-2-4, 111.

***

Dustin McGowan (4.18, 100 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (3.14, 142 ERA+)

Matsuzaka was scratched his last start, against the Angels, because of the flu. John Farrell:
I think the biggest thing we'll look at as the game unfolds is, 'How is his stamina?' Fortunately, the weather is going to be a little bit cooler, so he's not going to have to deal with heat and humidity, but we've got an idea going in what his pitch count will be.
Boston's last five starters:
                   IP   H   R  BB  SO   GAME
0424 LAA Masterson 6 2 1 4 4 L 5-7
0425 TB Wakefield 6 6 4 5 1 L 4-5 (11)
0426 TB Buchholz 8 3 2 2 9 L 1-2
0427 TB Beckett 7 4 2 1 13 L 0-3
0429 TOR Lester 8 1 0 4 6 W 1-0
Wake's wasn't too pretty, but the kids look alright.

Overall, the staff has allowed only six runs in the last 32 innings. Unfortunately, the Red Sox have scored a paltry three runs over those same 32 innings.
Opp: 000000100000002x00100011x000000000 - 6
Sox: 0100000000010000000000000000000001 - 3

No News On Ortiz's Knee

Although David Ortiz was hobbling back to the dugout after scoring the winning run last night, there is nothing in the papers this morning about his knee. Perhaps it looked worse than it really was?

The Red Sox's last 1-0 walk-off win: July 18, 1980 -- Dave Stapleton homered in the 10th inning to beat the Twins. Both starters (Mike Torrez and Roger Erickson) went the distance.

Mike Lowell may wear a protective insert in his glove all season.
It holds the joint from going where they don't want it to go. It doesn't really bother me, so I think I should wear it. If I don't wear it one day and then I test it and I hurt it again, I'm going to feel like I'm an idiot.
To make room for Lowell, Bryan Corey was again designated for assignment. ... The Red Sox have used 33 players and 17 pitchers this season, tied for most in the majors in both categories.

Rob Bradford: "How does he do it? How can Jonathan Papelbon make his pitches miss so many bats, so many times?" ... JD Drew has gone 4-for-31 (.129) since April 17, dropping his average from .362 to .269. Drew has only one extra-base hit in his last 51 AB.

Alex Cora, who could return from the DL this weekend, on Dustin Pedroia:
I just love him. I love to listen to him to see what he has to say today. It's like he's the little brother I never had, because I'm the youngest. I finally got somebody I can beat up a little bit, someone I can tell to shut the freak up when I have to. I love that.
Pedroia and his wife Kelli (who was diagnosed with stage two melanoma at age 18) are McCain supporters.

Jere wonders about the term "grand slam".

Newsday: Roger Clemens, Victim

Newsday's Wallace Matthews (who has a seven-year-old daughter) says he feels "a twinge of sympathy for Roger Clemens, Victim". He appears to be serious.
I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend Roger Clemens.

I mean, I know the guy’s dishonest, arrogant, a bully, a perpetual teenager and quite probably, a steroid cheat. But a little perspective here, please.

A ballplayer who cheats on his wife? I am shocked. ... The fact that she was 15 and he 28? Well, that one is a little tougher to get around, but these days, 15 is the new 30. ... aside from the age of his alleged mistress at the time of their meeting, this is one big non-story ...

We don't know if Clemens was having "an affair" or "a romance" with the underage McCready ... if Clemens was simply assuming a mentoring role with his young friend, knowing as we do how strongly he feels about serving as a role model for young people.
Matthews, whose up-is-down world includes the belief that Tim Wakefield is the slowest-working pitcher in all of baseball, concludes by saying that perhaps McCready leaked this "non-story" in an attempt to restart her career. And if so, then isn't she just as bad as Clemens, who allegedly used steriods to prolong his career?

Schadenfreude 42 (A Continuing Series)





NYDN: "Roger Clemens hung out with several attractive women in his baseball career, including beauties in California and Boston and a former Manhattan bartender named Angela Moyer. Clemens, 45, flew the women around the country on his private jet and bought expensive jewelry for at least one of them, a source told the Daily News Tuesday. ...

"[Moyer] worked as a bartender from 2000 to 2004 at Sutton Place, a yuppie East Side watering hole. That's roughly the same time the pitching legend played for the Yankees. Moyer acknowledged she knew Clemens, but has declined to discuss the relationship."

April 29, 2008

G28: Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 0

Blue Jays - 000 000 000 - 0  2  0
Red Sox - 000 000 001 - 1 5 0
Lester (8-1-0-4-6, 97) was magnificent, and was able to vary his pitches more than usual, mixing in his curve and changeup. The only hit he allowed was a leadoff single in the fifth to Overbay. On the next pitch, Stewart grounded into a double play.

Lester walked four batters, but three of them came with two outs and no one on base. The other one was a leadoff pass to Zaun in the sixth. But again, there was little harm. After Rios was caught looking, Eckstein grounded into a double play.

Even with the walks, he was around the plate all night. In a string of 11 batters -- from Stewart in the second to Lind in the fifth -- Lester threw only 11 balls. He also avoided long at-bats. Only five of his 27 batters saw more than five pitches in an at-bat, and no one saw more than seven.

I would have sent Lester out for the ninth on a short leash, but Tito went with Papelbon. Bot struck out Rios and Stairs before Rolen doubled to left-center. Wells then ripped a shot by Bot's head. It seemed headed for center field, but Pedroia dove to his right, snared the ball on a high hop, spun and fired a strike to first. It was a phenomenal play -- as eye-popping as the one he made to preserve Buchholz's no-hitter -- and it kept the game at 0-0.

For 8.2 innings, the Red Sox did as much with Halladay as the Jays did with Lester. They managed only three singles: Youkilis in the second, Brandon Moss (who took over for Drew when he left in the fourth because of a tight left quad muscle) in the fifth, and Varitek in the eighth.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Ortiz whacked a 2-0 pitch to deeeeep right field, but foul. Was Halladay -- at 106 pitches -- rattled? Perhaps. He threw two more balls to Tiz, walking him. Manny then dropped a 1-0 pitch into center, moving Ortiz to second. Francona could have pinch-run Lowrie for Flo, but with a short bench, he thought he might need Lowrie to fill in for Pedroia -- who had jammed his shoulder making the diving stop on Wells.

Youkilis looked at a ball, then lined a hit to center. Ortiz came chugging around third. Wells bobbled the ball, and there was no throw to the infield. Tiz came across the plate with the winning run, but he was limping.

It's great to see such strong starting pitching and although Boston has scored only two runs in their last 32 innings, the bats will return.

***

Roy Halladay (3.73, 113 ERA+) / Jon Lester (5.40, 83 ERA+)

Three-way tie for first in the East between Baltimore (14-11), Tampa Bay (14-11) and Boston (15-12).

The Rays and Orioles play at Camden Yards, while the Yankees host the Tigers.

McCready Admits Clemens Affair

Mindy McCready, on yesterday's report of her long-term affair with Roger Clemens:
I cannot refute anything in the story.
NYDN:
The News reported that the two met in a Florida karaoke bar when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer and Clemens was a 28-year-old ace for the Red Sox and a married father of two. ... After the teenage McCready met Clemens at a Fort Myers bar called The Hired Hand, she returned with the Rocket to his hotel room, but there was no sex that night ... It wasn't until later, after McCready had moved to Nashville and become a country singing star, that the relationship turned intimate.
And so only one day after Clemens's lawyer Rusty Hardin makes definitive denials of the story, he is shown to be totally full of horseshit.
At no time did Roger engage in any kind of inappropriate or improper relationship with her.
Oops.
Hardin said the Rocket's wife, Debbie, knew McCready ...
Oops. "[S]ources with knowledge of the relationship between the singer and Clemens say McCready has never met Roger's wife ..."
He's considered her a close family friend.
Yet when Clemens sent checks to McCready to help her with her legal issues -- sometimes as much as $25,000 -- they "were channeled to the singer through an intermediary". And isn't that what we all do when we loan money to a "close friend" -- go through a third party.

***

Oh yeah, Red Sox baseball tonight! Mike Lowell is expected to be back.

April 28, 2008

Fat Billy's Affair With A 15-Year-Old

Daily News:
Roger Clemens carried on a decade-long affair with country star Mindy McCready, a romance that began when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer performing in a karaoke bar and Clemens was a 28-year-old Red Sox ace and married father of two, several sources have told the Daily News. ...

Contacted by the Daily News Sunday through his lawyer Rusty Hardin, Clemens confirmed a long-term relationship but denied that it was of a sexual nature. ... Hardin said the Rocket's wife, Debbie, knew McCready and that the singer had traveled on his plane. ...

[Brian] McNamee, who worked with and traveled with Clemens extensively over the last decade, has confirmed that he saw Clemens and McCready together on many occasions, including in Clemens' room at his apartment in the former SkyDome ...

Clemens would frequently send bundles of cash in FedEx packages ... The two were known to take lavish trips to Las Vegas and New York. One time, McCready attended a Yankees game at the Stadium and jokingly donned a catcher's mask near the home dugout.

During another Big Apple excursion, the two holed up in the trendy SoHo Grand and later partied with Monica Lewinsky and Michael Jordan. ... There were personal love missives to Clemens hidden in McCready's album liner notes. ...
As Clemens acted blamless, arrogant and untouchable and threw everyone he knew -- including his mother and wife -- under the bus, we knew there would be more dirt coming out ... but man oh man!!!

Something Else #8: Baby Bonding

Here is something a bit different for this off-day.

Jennifer Margulis is a Red Sox fan living in Oregon. She and her husband James di Properzio are both writers and they have collaborated on "The Baby Bonding Book For Dads". While I am a 44-year-old man who has chosen not to have children, it looks like a great resource. Margulis and di Properzio have a writing style that is casual, informative and reassuring.

Jennifer invited JoS to be part of their online book tour and they answered a few questions via email. They will also check comments here if anyone has anything to ask.

Since this is Red Sox blog, let's start with the baseball angle. Tell me a little bit about your introduction to the Red Sox.

Jennifer: I wanted to be Jim Rice when I was little. No, I was Jim Rice. My older brother and I would go into the back yard in our house -- I grew up in Newton Center though it wasn't nearly as posh then as it is now -- and play ball. A group of kids in the neighborhood would also get together and play pick-up games. ... The first book I ever read, when I learned to read chapter books, was about baseball. Even though we usually think of baseball as father-son bonding time, I totally bonded with my dad over Boston's sports teams. Even now that we live in Oregon, I get that rush of adrenaline when I hear that the Sox have won a game. And it's definitely a way that I connected to my dad, who spent a lot of time with my brother and me when we were growing up.

James: I, on the other hand, grew up in Buffalo, which hasn't had major-league baseball since the 1800s! I'm still chagrined at the loss of our NBA team in the late 70s, and can't sing the national anthem without slipping and saying, "And the home of the Braves."

What prompted you to write this book?

James: I really had zero idea what to do with a baby -- I'd never even held one before our first was born. A lot of men in America grow up a little short in the whole experience-with-babies arena.

Jennifer: And we felt like most parenting books (and magazines) talk only to moms, but then we say we want dads to be more involved in parenting. That's what prompted us to write this book -- we wanted to inspire dads to interact with their babies, and give them ideas how.

Reviews of the book seem directed more towards mothers who may be unsure their husbands are prepared for a baby. Was that the case in your experience?

Jennifer: I think we were both really excited about the idea of having a baby. Then she came along and we were BOTH pretty overwhelmed. Even though I had a lot of experience babysitting and also looking after my sister (who's 23 years younger than me), I still felt unprepared.

James: I was on a radio talk show a few weeks ago and a guy called in and said he didn't have kids, and didn't think he was "father material" -- like, he shouldn't have kids because he might not be good at it. Then he backtracked and said maybe it was a stupid thing to say -- but I said, "Hey, that's why I wrote the book!" I think a lot of guys feel that way, even though most of them aren't going to admit it on public radio. But I appreciated that caller's honesty. In some ways Jennifer had more trouble adjusting to being a parent than I did, but I think I had more apprehension about it beforehand.

How does your book fit in with the other baby books that are out there? Does it fill a void or have more progressive information?

James: It's a to-do list. Everyday, do-able things that will help you bond with your newborn, and not feel at a loss. The chapters are short, because new parents don't have long stretches of time.

Jennifer: There are a lot of books out there about babies -- huge tomes that they give you in the doctor's office. I think sometimes it's information overload. When we were first pregnant what I really wanted was real-life stories and ideas not an exhaustive reference-like book.

Tell me a little bit about the process of writing the book.

James: This is not an "expert-written" book. It's by someone who was so clueless that he felt the need to book up on it, and the books weren't really there. And since I was the first among my group of friends to have children, I got to see that they had no more idea what it was about than I did, and so the book is aimed at guys like us, who could use some practical tips.

Jennifer: We passed documents back and forth a lot. We were actually writing the book while we were in Niger, West Africa, and we had to brave computer disasters (the 130 degree heat destroyed two computers) and brown outs and black outs. It was a bit painful to mesh our different voices but we work together a lot (James edits almost everything I write) so it was also a lot of fun.

One of your blog posts mentioned a survey showing that fathers now spend almost twice as much time taking care of their children than they did in the 1970s. Because of that, do you think that the stereotype of the clueless dad may be out-of-date? In 2008, don't many men already know these things?

James: Well, I dunno, I didn't. The difference you point to is more in attitude, or even consciousness that we as guys could bond with anyone too young to play little league. We can't so much look to the previous generation for an example of how to do it. I say in the book that we all look forward to when our kids can play ball and eat pizza; this book is about how to have those bonding experiences in the meantime.

What kind of feedback have you received from men (and women) about the book?

James: Our publisher [Willow Creek Press] said to us that it's women who buy parenting books, and that many copies of the book would be bought by women for men who were clueless -- whether they knew it or not. So far we've gotten a lot of positive reviews from women readers. We're looking forward to hearing from more men, and most of the blogs on the book tour are dad-oriented.

Jennifer: People always say they like the photographs and I say, "But what about the content?!" The black and white photography by Christopher Briscoe is really striking, I think.


Any thoughts on the growing trend of ballplayers (like Daisuke Matsuzaka) taking time off to be with their wives or girlfriends during childbirth?

Jennifer: I think it's awesome. When ballplayers like Matsuzaka take time off, it sets an example for everyone. Our second daughter was born at home and I said to James afterwards that I feel like he had her, and I was just along for the ride. He literally held me up the entire time I was in labor, and was right there with me. I couldn't have done it without him. I wish America were more like Canada and Scandinavia -- where there is paid paternity leave. The more high profile dads who show the American public that their families are important, the better.

James: Matsuzaka probably has a more balanced perspective on his life as a whole. What's he going to regret 20 years from now, missing one game or missing out on the beginning of his kid's life?

Any final thoughts?

Jennifer: We write in the book about how portable small babies are. They really are, especially once they are three or four months old, and we tell dads not to be afraid to take the baby with them -- to the post office, to the DMV, to a Sox game. ...

We espouse things like baby wrestling and crazy stroller pushing in the book. Dads tend to be more physical than moms with their kids, and babies love that (as long as you're not too rough, of course. But chances are you'll drop the baby -- James did and our daughter's skull got slightly fractured when she was 18 months old but she was fine -- their bones are like green branches, they just bend but don't usually break, and they are made to bounce ...) We also suggest dads get into the picture instead of staying behind the camera. It's easy to stay on the sidelines, especially when your kid is little, and we want to encourage dads to be right smack in the middle of the game.

***

As far as music for the off-day, I thought of the Talking Heads demos for the Little Creatures album -- the song "Stay Up Late" in particular ("he's just a plaything/we wanna make him stay up all night"). But it turns out that song is not among the demos I have. But we'll go with Talking Heads anyway.

April 27, 2008

Need A Laugh?

Eddie Pepitone can help.

Warning: He uses a few obscenities!



Alright, a lot of f@*#ing obscenities!

G27: Rays 3, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  2  2
Rays - 001 000 11x - 3 5 0
Who would have thought that after a month that began with a three-country road trip, and included five games against the Yankees and series against contenders Cleveland, the Angels and the Tigers, that the worst stretch would come in three games against the Tampa Bay Rays?

After wilting against Sheilds's 9-2-0-1-7 performance (he faced only 29 batters and threw 98 pitches), the Red Sox have now lost five games in a row (after winning 10 of 11). In their last 23 innings, they have nine hits -- all singles -- and have scored one run.

Beckett was the lone bright spot today. In seven innings, he struck out a career-high 13 batters. He fanned the first five Rays and got the nine of his first 10 outs by way of the K.

But Beckett's third-inning error on an attempted pickoff play at first base rolled into foul territory and Jason Bartlett was able to score from first (aided by a second error by J.D. Drew). That one run was enough for Shields, but Evan Longoria homered to open the seventh and Tampa tacked on an extra run against MDC in the eighth.

***

Josh Beckett (5.12, 88 ERA+) / James Shields (3.30, 131 ERA+)
Ellsbury, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Drew, RF
Ramirez, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Crisp, CF
Varitek, C
Lowrie, 3B
Lugo, SS
On this date in 2002, Derek Lowe pitched a no-hitter against Tampa Bay (10-0).

April 26, 2008

G26: Rays 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 010 000 - 1  5  0
Rays - 000 000 02x - 2 3 0
Alternate headline: Buchholz Fantastic; Francona Getting Dumber

A team that scores one run in nine innings will not win too many games, but it looked like it might be enough for the Red Sox on Saturday.

Buchholz had pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, with eight strikeouts. He had retired 19 of the last 20 Rays hitters and only one of those outs left the infield. But he was at 94 pitches. And MDC, Jeemer and Papelbot were ready in the pen.

Francona sent Clay out for another inning. Why? What's the point?

Buchholz struck out the first hitter, allowed a single to right and got a fly ball to center. But Iwamura crushed a 1-1 pitch to deep right field -- it was Clay's 110th pitch -- and the Rays had two runs.

And that was that. Buchholz finished with a wonderful 8-3-2-2-9 line, but Tito should have been satisfied with 7-1-0-2-7.

Remember that Red Sox management was so concerned about Buchholz's shoulder that Theo ordered Tito to remove him from his no-hitter last September if he reached 120 pitches? He threw 113 today. Against Tampa Bay in late April.

With or without your top three bullpen arms rested and ready, that decision defies common sense.

Is there something in the air in the Trop wreaking havoc with Francona's mind? Does he hallucinate when he hears a cowbell? ... He has not been himself these last two nights.

***

Clay Buchholz (4.79, 95 ERA+) / Edwin Jackson (4.63, 94 ERA+)

Amalie Benjamin, Globe:
Brandon Moss has joined the Red Sox in Tampa, and the corresponding move might be a trip to the DL for Sean Casey. ... David Ortiz was in the original Red Sox lineup, but a second lineup has been posted, and Ortiz has been scratched.
Ellsbury, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Drew, DH
Ramirez, LF
Youkilis, 1B
Crisp, CF
Varitek, C
Lowrie, 3B
Lugo, SS
Buchholz:
The thing I noticed with the Yankees, the first time I faced them, the first time through the lineup they were getting a feel for pitches I threw and the second time they saw me, that's when everybody started swinging. For the most part, teams I've pitched against this year have been basically the same way - they get a feel for pitches I throw the first time through, try to work you deep in the count. Next time they try to sit on a pitch and if they get it they're going to swing. I think [that] helps any pitcher.
Justin Masterson is the first Jamaican-born pitcher to appear in the majors (his parents were missionaries). He is also "the first Sox starter to allow two or fewer hits while lasting at least six innings in a major league debut since Billy Rohr's complete-game one-hitter at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 1967".

The Yankees (with Ian Kennedy and his 9.64 ERA and 2.29 WHIP) play in Bugland at 4 PM.

Papelbon Fine; Francona Dumb

It appears that there was nothing wrong with Jonathan Papelbon last night. No migraine, no flu. It wasn't a question of overuse. And yet there he was, watching from the bullpen, after warming up three different times, as the back end of the Red Sox bullpen lost the game last night.

The 11-inning defeat was the first truly infuriating loss of the young season. For some reason, Terry Francona's brain left the game early, and he lapsed back into the kind of manager we laugh about, saving his best pitcher for a "save" situation that might never materialize because he's content to rely on unreliable arms in the meantime.

Tito:
We asked a lot of a lot of people. You get into extra innings, and we had our chances, and we couldn't shove a run across so we could go to Pap.
The Red Sox are a modern team and their decisions are based on progressive ideas. So it's doubly maddening when their manager harkens back to the old days when teams did things because of their gut or tradition, rather than common sense.

When the game was on the line in the bottom of the 9th inning, Tito kept his best weapon holstered, and entrusted the game to a guy who Boston put on waivers last week and who went unclaimed by all 29 other teams. Lopez helped Corey escape his mess in the 9th, but Francona did not learn his lesson, staying with Lopez in the 10th and bringing Timlin back out for the 11th, a second inning of work for the fading righty, who allowed a single, stolen base, walk, and game-winning single.

Papelbon should be well rested for tonight's game, if he's needed.

Casey May Be Headed To DL; Lowell Plays In Rehab Game

Sean Casey may be headed to the disabled list. He suffered a right hip-flexor sprain in the second inning when he scored from second base. He slowed up between third and home and was limping back to the dugout.

Terry Francona:
When he came around third – I saw him right away – he was dragging his leg. Even before he hit home plate I told Jed Lowrie to get loose because I figured something was wrong. On examination it was horrible, but I'm sure we're going to lose him for some time.
Brandon Moss would likely get the call to replace the Mayor.

Mike Lowell went 1-for-5 as Pawtucket's DH Friday night. His two-run single helped the PawSox beat Syracuse 6-1. Lowell said he had no trouble gripping the bat. He's scheduled to play third base on Saturday night and DH on Sunday afternoon.

Kevin Cash had three hits in Friday night's loss, his first three-hit game since June 24, 2004.

FanGraphs says that most of the blame for Friday's loss rests squarely on the shoulders of David Ortiz. When Flo came to bat in the 11th with runners on 1st and 3rd and one out, Boston had a 68.2% chance of winning. His inning-ending double play dropped the Red Sox's chances to 35.7%.

April 25, 2008

G25: Rays 5, Red Sox 4 (11)


Red Sox - 030 001 000 00 - 4 10 1
Rays - 101 200 000 01 - 5 11 0
Something must have been wrong with Papelbon tonight (migraine?), because with the game on the line, Francona chose to go with Corey, Lopez and Timlin. Assuming everything was normal in the pen, that was a shockingly un-Tito thing to do. Naturally, things did not work out for the best.

***

Tim Wakefield (3.96, 115 ERA+) / Matt Garza (9.00, 48 ERA+)

Garza pitched eight innings over two starts (12 hits and five walks), then went on the DL with radial nerve irritation. He returns to Tampa's rotation tonight.

Wakefield has 2.41 ERA at Tropicana Field over 101 career innings (14 starts and six relief appearances). Kevin Cash will (likely) make his sixth straight start.

***

Bobby Kielty had surgery on his left hand and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks.

In Case You Were Curious

April 24, 2008

G24: Angels 7, Red Sox 5

Angels  - 000 010 411 - 7  9  0
Red Sox - 010 200 002 - 5 10 1
Masterson: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 4 K.

Masterson was absolutely fantatsic. He used all four of his pitches from the very start, showed great poise, and despite the four walks, was around the strike zone all afternoon. The bullpen coughed up the lead, and a ninth-inning comeback was a bit short, but this was a good day for our future. We'll be seeing Masterson again very soon!

***

Joe Saunders (2.15, 200 ERA+) / Justin Masterson (MLB Debut)

Justin Daniel Masterson is 23 years old. He's 6-6, 250, and was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

Sox Prospects on RHP Masterson:
Masterson has a three-quarter delivery with a slinging-type motion. His arsenal includes a sinker, a slider, and a change-up. Of those pitches, his best is a phenomenal plus-sinker with an excellent heavy drop -- he can vary its speed from 84-94 mph, catching many hitters off balance. Also mixes in a very good slider that sits in the low 80s, and an improving 77-81 mph four-seam circle change. Uses his sinker predominantly as his out-pitch, but also can make use of his secondary pitches to get out of jams. His mix of pitches results in a high groundball-to-flyball ratio, getting a lot of double plays. Very good command of the zone. ... Converted to a starter in 2007 after coming out of the pen for Lowell in 2006, may still project as a reliever at this point depending on how well his change-up progresses.
With Portland (AA) in 2007, Masterson pitched 58 innings, allowing 49 hits and 18 walks. He struck out 59 and posted a 3.28 ERA.

In four starts for Portland this year, he has an 0.95 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 19 innings. In his last start on April 19, he threw five shutout innings and struck out 10. He has never pitched above AA.

April 23, 2008

G23: Angels 6, Red Sox 4

Angels  - 111 011 001 - 6  13  0
Red Sox - 011 020 000 - 4 10 0
For his first career start on three days rest Lester's line (5-9-4-2-1, 81) was pretty much on par with his other starts -- too many baserunners and an Angel run in all but one of his five innings.

But the Red Sox slapped Garland around too. Lugo drove in Drew with a two-out single in the second, Cash began the third with a double and scored on Pedroia's sac fly, and Ortiz drilled a line-drive, two-run homer to right in the fifth. The game was tied 4-4 after five innings.

Hansen made his 2008 debut in the sixth. After two quick outs, he surrendered a solo home run to Kotchman. The Angels got an insurance run against Timlin in the ninth. The Red Sox failed to mount a rally against either Speier, Shields or Rodriguez in the last three innings. They had two men on with one out in the eighth, but Lugo grounded into a double play.

Hansen was sent back to Pawtucket after the game. Justin Masterson will make his major league debut when he starts tomorrow's afternoon game.

***

Matsuzaka is the latest Sock to get the flu, so Jon Lester (5.06, 89 ERA+) gets the ball tonight.

Youkilis is out of the lineup tonight with a sore back.

***

Craig Hansen (not Dusty Brown) was called up and David Pauley was sent back to Pawtucket. Hansen has been great this season: In eight appearances over 12.1 innings, he has allowed three hits, four walks and no runs. Hansen, in today's ProJo:
I've gone back to the way I pitched at St. John's. My mechanics have changed. ... I was able to get a lot of things done in spring training that I needed to. Pitching in different situations, getting myself in different situations and pitching my way through it. It helped out a lot.
***

Jon Garland (4.81, 89 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (3.14, 143 ERA+)

In 24.1 innings this season, Garland has faced 109 batters -- and struck out only three of them.
             W   L   PCT   GB
Red Sox 15 7 .682 ---
Orioles 11 9 .550 3.0
Yankees 11 10 .524 3.5
Blue Jays 10 11 .476 4.5
Rays 9 11 .450 5.0
Third-best record in baseball, behind Arizona (15-5, .750) and the Cubs (14-6, .700).

Dusty Brown Called Up

UPDATE: Varitek is a feeling better, so the Red Sox called up Craig Hansen instead.

***

Catcher Dusty Brown will be with the Red Sox tonight.

Brown is hitting .240/.328/.400 in 14 games with Pawtucket. He played in 13 spring training games in March, going 5-for-16 (.313/.353/.500).(SoSH TaLK)

Is Edes Leaving The Globe?

David Scott of Boston Sports Media Watch reports that multiple sources have confirmed to him that
Boston Globe writer Gordon Edes has agreed "in principle" to a job with Yahoo! Sports as a national baseball writer. ...

the Edes departure will be yet another crippling blow for Joe Sullivan's thinning sports desk and will continue to give the Boston Herald a leg up in Sox coverage with the talented, experienced three-headed monster of Rob Bradford, Michael Silverman and Jeff Horrigan now going up against the 17 Percenter's still-developing Amalie Benjamin and long-timer Nick Cafardo.
Gordon is probably the best baseball writer covering the Red Sox, so while I don't care about the diminishing quality of the Globe, per se, his departure would be a big loss for Red Sox fans.

Stolen Moments

Jacoby Ellsbury stole nine bases in nine attempts last season. So far in 2008, he's a perfect 8-for-8.

According to Jason Paré's research, published by Baseball Prospectus, Ellsbury's streak of 17 is the "third-most steals to begin a career without being caught":
Player           SB         First            Last
Tim Raines 27 15-Sep-79 2-May-81
Mitchell Page 26 10-Apr-77 13-Aug-77
Jacoby Ellsbury 17 2-Jul-07 ???
Davey Lopes 17 23-Sep-72 20-May-73
Al Weis 16 23-Sep-62 20-Sep-63
Barry Larkin 15 19-Aug-86 3-Jun-87
Lee Tinsley 15 7-Apr-94 28-Apr-95
Gary Varsho 15 14-Jul-88 4-Jul-91

Pauley Optioned; Sox May Call A Catcher

David Pauley was optioned back to Pawtucket after his start last night. With Jason Varitek still bothered by the flu, a catcher -- George Kottaras or Dusty Brown -- may be called up.

If all goes well, Mike Lowell could be on a rehab assignment this weekend and be activated for Tuesday's game against Toronto. ... Coco Crisp is expected to start Thursday afternoon. ... Bryan Corey, designated for assignment on April 11, re-signed with the Red Sox and was assigned to Pawtucket. ... Torii Hunter and racist taunts at Fenway.

In his last 12 games, Jacoby Ellsbury is 13-for-35, with 11 walks. Since Game 3 of last year's World Series, the Red Sox are 10-1 with Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia at the top of the lineup. Last night, the duo went 7-for-10, with five extra-base hits -- and Pedroia stole a base. FY:
I'm definitely showing that I'm a lot faster than some of these slugs around here.
Chad Finn's Touching All The Bases has a new address.

April 22, 2008

G22: Red Sox 7, Angels 6

Angels  - 003 200 010 - 6  11  0
Red Sox - 100 131 01x - 7 16 1
Ellsbury gave the Sox a 1-0 lead with a home run to start the first. After Pauley retired the first six Angels, his slider stopped sliding, his pitches stayed up and the Angels battered him for three runs in the third and two more in the fourth.

Down 5-1, Boston began its comeback in the fourth, as Lugo doubled home Drew. Pedroia doubled to start the fifth, and he scored on Manny's single. Then Youkilis bopped a dong to left and the game was tied at 5-5. Ellsbury smacked his second home run of the night with two outs in the sixth, putting the Red Sox back on top.

Okajima worked out of a two-on, no-out Tavarez mess in the seventh, but surrendered a solo home run to Kotchman leading off the eighth. Jeemer got the next two outs on only three pitches, but gave up a double to Aybar (his third of the game). Timlin came in -- gulp! -- and got Figgins on a grounder to short.

With one out in eighth, Ellsbury beat out a drag bunt to first. Shields came in and was quite focused on Lyndon, making three throws to first while falling behind Pedroia 2-1. FY ripped a line drive past third, down the line and into the corner. Ellsbury scored standing up, Pedroia had his third double of the night, and Boston led 7-6.

Papelbon pitched a no-nonsense ninth. He threw 11 pitches and all but one of them was 98 or 99; the other one was 100. He fanned Matthews on three pitches, got Vlad on a check-swing strike three and forced Anderson to pop to Manny in left.

Sixth straight win -- 15-7 record -- 110-win pace. Good times!

***

Jered Weaver (3.60, 117 ERA+) / David Pauley (2006 Sox: 16 IP, 7.88, 60 ERA+)

UPDATE from Amalie Benjamin, Globe:
Josh Beckett [5.12, 86 ERA+] has been pulled from tonight's start because of a stiff neck. David Pauley will start in his place. Joe Thurston was designated for assignment to make room for Pauley on the roster.
Jeff Horrigan, Herald:
Jason Varitek was so ill this weekend that he was unable to drive himself to the ballpark Sunday.

Kevin Cash, who caught Tim Wakefield in Sunday's victory, played again yesterday. Red Sox manager Terry Francona indicated Varitek may need another day off tonight against the Angels.

And Josh Beckett was forced to head home prior to Sunday's game against Texas after becoming ill.
Manny Ramirez was named AL Co-Player of the Week for April 14-20. He hit .417 (10-for-24) with four homers and eight RBI in seven games. He shared the honor with Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers. It's the 10th time Manny has won the award as a Sock, and the 16th time in his career, the most of any player in history.

Herald: Curveball for Sox' 1918 win

Laurel J. Sweet, today's Herald, page 3:
For 86 years, the Red Sox’ 1918 World Series championship remained a beacon marking the last time Dame Fortune deigned to smile on the Olde Towne Team.

But what if that long-ago championship season was a sham? ...

But is it all just blasphemous finger-pointing from the grave? Maybe not, said The Joy of Sox blogger Allan Wood, author of the 2001 book "Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox."

World War I was raging, he said, and ballplayers' futures were on the line. "The game was incredibly corrupt (back then), beyond what we could possibly imagine," Wood said. "This could be true." ...

April 21, 2008

Black Sox Pitcher Says 1918 World Series Was Fixed

In my book on the 1918 Red Sox, I explore the possibility that the World Series that fall between Boston and the Chicago Cubs was crooked.

I could not offer definitive proof that the series had been tainted, but it was obvious that there was no shortage of financial incentive for players on both teams. Additionally, the Cubs mystified many sportswriters with their mistakes in the field, at the plate and on the bases. Two days ago, some news surfaced that may move the 1918 mystery closer to being solved.

First, I started my "investigation" based on notes written after the the 1919 World Series by White Sox secretary Harry Grabiner, Charles Comiskey's right-hand man. The notes were discovered in 1963, resting in -- literally -- a hole in the wall in a storage room in Comiskey Park.

Ed Linn quoted extensively from them in "The Hustler's Handbook", a book he wrote with Bill Veeck. The notes mostly dealt with what White Sox management knew about the 1919 World Series -- they knew a lot, by the way, and they knew it before the series even began -- but Grabiner also listed 27 players he believed were crooked -- Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland Alexander and Rabbit Maranville, among them. Grabiner also wrote this:
Gene Packard: 1918 Series fixer
I spoke with Linn during my research, but I was unable to track down the notes. Well, Grabiner's diary has been found!

The Sporting News reported on Saturday that the Chicago Historical Society won an auction last December for the rights to documents pertaining to the 1919 White Sox. Grabiner's notes are in those papers. But that's not all!

Check out this paragraph from TSN:
Now, it cannot be said for certain that gamblers got to the '18 Cubs. But Eddie Cicotte, pitcher and one of the eight White Sox outcasts from the '19 World Series, did say in a newly found affidavit he gave to the 1920 Cook County grand jury that the Cubs influenced the Black Sox. Cicotte said the notion of throwing a World Series first came up when the White Sox were on a train to New York. The team was discussing the previous year's World Series, which had been fixed, according to players. Some members of the Sox tried to figure how many players it would take to throw a Series. From that conversation, Cicotte said, a scandal was born.
Cicotte says the White Sox got the idea to throw the 1919 World Series from the Cubs, who had thrown the 1918 World Series to the Red Sox!

Having spent six years researching and writing my book, that's a "HOLY SHIT" moment if there ever was one.

A reporter from the Boston Herald told me this afternoon that the Cicotte affidavit is only two pages long. She was unable to get a picture of the document.

Packard played with the 1916 Cubs and some of his former teammates were still with the team in 1918. He also seems to have crossed paths with many players who were either suspected of being crooked or were banned from the game. However, considering the depth of corruption in baseball at that time, Packard may not have been unique in that regard.

There was also a huge incentive for the players to get as much money as they could during the Series. No one knew that World War I would end two months after the Red Sox clinched the series. It was all but certain that there would be no major league baseball in 1919. Every player would be losing a significant portion of his income and they had no idea when they might be playing ball again. In addition, the players felt they had been screwed over by the National Commission regarding their winning and losing shares. With attendance down in 1918, the shares were roughly one-quarter of what they had been the previous year. Both teams delayed the start of Game 5, hoping to get a resolution to the matter.

G21: Red Sox 8, Rangers 3

Rangers - 000 000 201 - 3  10  1
Red Sox - 000 530 00x - 8 12 0

***

Kason Gabbard (2.41, 175 ERA+) / Clay Buchholz (6.75, 66 ERA+)

The Red Sox go for the four-game sweep on Marathon Monday!

April 20, 2008

Girardi to Yanks: "... And Finish Your Vegetables"

Yankees' beat writer Peter Abraham posted a photograph on his blog last night "of an ice cream freezer outside the visitors clubhouse at Camden Yards wrapped up in a blanket".

Abraham reports that at Joe Girardi's request, Yankees officials have "contacted the visiting clubhouse manager of every stadium where they play and asked that the candy and ice cream be removed before the team comes to town. ... The players, of course, aren't too pleased."

Rob Bradford reports that the ice cream machine has been removed from the Red Sox players' lounge:
Evidently the machine was one of the most popular luxury items in the Sox clubhouse, to the point where somebody believed it was a bit too popular.
Josh Beckett demanded a trade if the machine is not returned. Mike Lowell added: "I don't know why we can't have ice cream. We won the World Series."

I'm going to assume that the Red Sox got wind of the story and are making fun of the Yankees. Forget about steroids or HGH -- the Yankees are going to be smuggling Snickers and M&Ms into the locker room.

G20: Red Sox 6, Rangers 5

Rangers - 110 003 000 - 5  7  2
Red Sox - 000 000 24x - 6 15 0
Joe Girardi got a lot of criticism for not walking Manny Ramirez intentionally back on April 12. Boston, trailing the Yankees 2-1, had runners at second and third with two outs. Instead of walking Manny and pitching to Kevin Youkilis with the bases loaded, he had Mike Mussina go after Ramirez. Manny crushed a first-pitch double to right center for two runs, then Youkilis brought him in with a single off Brian Bruney. Boston won the game 4-3.

I thought Girardi received too much criticism for that move; maybe if Mussina had battled Manny for seven or eight pitches before giving up the hit, the outcry would have been somewhat muted. It might not have been the best percentage move, but you could argue that it made sense on some level, considering how hot Youkilis has been this month.

Now ... Texas manager Ron Washington is another matter.

The Rangers led Boston 5-0 when the Red Sox -- after having left the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth innings -- grabbed a couple of runs in the seventh. Millwood allowed a lot of baserunners, but the Red Sox failed to cash in, leaving 14 men on base in the game.

In the bottom of the eighth, Wes Littleton retired Kevin Cash on a grounder to shortstop and caught Julio Lugo looking at strike three. Three runs down and four outs to go. As I wrote in comments, the game was "in the crapper"; I expected this game to go into the loss column.

But Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left (he reached base three times today and stole two bases). Then Jed Lowrie ripped a double into the right-field corner. Ellsbury sprinted home and Texas led 5-3. At this point Washington went with his closer, CJ Wilson. With two outs and a man on second, the logical decision -- the only decision -- was to intentionally walk David Ortiz and face clean-up hitter Joe Thurston.

Yes, Thurston. Manny had been tossed in the second inning for arguing a called third strike. Handing Ortiz a free pass would have put the tying run on base, but considering the drop-off in batting talent, that was the correct move to make. (Thurston was 0-for-2 with a HBP.)

Yet Washington let Wilson pitch to Ortiz. Flo missed a couple of pitches and fell behind 1-2. After ball 2, he fouled off two more pitches. Then he hit a grounder to short right field. Ian Kinsler was out there because of the shift, but his throw was late and Papi beat out a single. The Rangers seemed to forget about Lowrie for a moment and he ran home. 5-4!

Dustin Pedroia -- who was not in the starting lineup for the first time this year -- pinch-hit for Thurston. He drilled Wilson's 2-0 pitch into the gap in right-center, deep enough to score Ortiz and tie the game. Josh Hamilton's throw back to the infield was wild and Pedroia took off for third. Blalock tried a sweep tag halfway to third. but he missed and FY belly-flopped into third.

(Even if, after this BBI to Ortiz that never happened, Terry Francona had not let Thurston hit, Washington still should have flashed four fingers. He would have had a 5-3 lead, 2 outs, men on 1st and 2nd, and Pedroia up.)

Now Washington went to the BBI, putting Youkilis on. Drew fouled off three 3-1 pitches before getting ball 4. Bases loaded -- Wilson was clearly rattled, but Washington stuck with his "closer". Behind in the count 1-2, Sean Casey took two very close pitches inside before walking to force in Pedroia with the go-ahead run.

The lead now gone, Washington went to the bullpen and brought in Jamey Wright, who retired Cash on a fielder's choice.

Jonathan Papelbon needed only seven pitches to nail down the victory. Wakefield went eight innings, throwing only 86 pitches (10-12-10 7-7-15 13-12). And of his 86 pitches, only 18 were balls! For Texas, Millwood threw 17 balls to the first nine Sox hitters.

Pitches out of the strike zone, by innings:
133 014 33 - 18
Wakefield allowed a home run to Kinsler on his third pitch of the afternoon and Milton Bradley hit a three-run bomb in the sixth, but he gave the pen some much-needed rest and through Washington's stupidity -- and his resilient teammates, of course -- got credit for the win.

Memo to Me: Never Give Up!



***

Kevin Millwood (2.42, 175 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (3.18, 140 ERA+)

Sox against Millwood. Ortiz is 6-for-12 with 3 HR; Varitek, Drew and Casey have all hit him well.

Nice ERA for Millwood, but his WHIP is a Lesteresque 1.46: 28 hits and 10 walks in 26 innings.

Free Red Sox Tickets

Sox1Fan is giving away a pair of Red Sox tickets every month for the second straight season.

When you read an article on the site, leave a comment. That's it. You don't have to agree with my position on an issue or a player or a managerial decision, you just have to leave a creative comment and support your argument. ... At the end of each and every month, except September, we will select the author of the best comment from that month ... that person will be provided with a free pair of tickets to a Sox game in the following month.
Sox1Fan adds:
At the end of August, the person who left the best comment all summer gets another pair of tix as the "commenter of the year" ... they'll also get another prize (likely an autographed baseball of one of the Sox prospects).
Are You Ready For The Country (And The Mayor)? Sean Casey will be a guest on Country Fastball tonight at 9 PM EST. You can listen to the show here.

Jacob LaCivita -- aka JoS commenter Jake Of All Trades -- has published a "time travel/rock and roll novel" entitled Timely Persuasion. His website has a couple of Red Sox-related deleted scenes. Check it out.

April 19, 2008

G19: Red Sox 5, Rangers 3

Rangers - 111 000 000 - 3 13  1
Red Sox - 200 000 03x - 5 7 0
News of the Bruins' win over Montreal filtered into Fenway as the Red Sox began to bat against Benoit in the bottom of the 8th.

It had been a frustrating night. Lester (6.1-10-3-2-5, 106) gave up single runs in each of the first three innings, and while his control was much better tonight, Houdini was fortunate to strand six Rangers over the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings.

Boston got two runs in the first. Ellsbury doubled and Pedroia (bunting) reached on Jennings's throwing error. Lyndon scored as Ortiz GIDP on a 3-1 pitch, but Manny walked and scored on Yook's double to right center. After that 30-pitch inning, though Jennings morphed into an ace. He retired 16 of the next 18 hitters, including his last 10.

In the 8th against Benoit, Ellsbury popped out. The crowd was roaring over the hockey score and the Sox seemed to feed off the energy. Benoit's next five pitches determined the ball game. Pedroia drove a 1-0 pitch off the Wall for a double. Ortiz smacked the first pitch to Kinsler in short right field. He knocked it down, but it trickled past him into the outfield. Pedroia sprinted around and scored, tying the game at 3-3. Manny then absolutely destroyed Benoit's 1-0 pitch, driving it high off the light tower in left. It was career dong #496!

Papelbon allowed a leadoff single to Blalock, but got the next three for the win.

Although Ellsbury was silent at the plate after his early double, he kept the Sox in the game with a fantastic running catch to end the eighth. After Texas put runners at second and third against Timlin, Lopez came in to face Hamilton (who had homered in the first and singled and scored in the third). Loogy's first pitch was scorched to right-center, but Ellsbury, in a full sprint, backhanded the ball for the out.

In Baltimore, the Orioles shutout the Yankees 6-0.

***

Win It For: Cody!

***

Jason Jennings (8.79, 49 ERA+) / Jon Lester (5.31, 85 ERA+)

Jon Lester is as annoyed by his high walk totals as we are. After his last start on Monday -- 4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 4 R -- he said it was "the most frustrating time in my whole career ...
It's a continuous battle to not walk people, and it seems like that's what my game plan is every five days is to not walk people. Not necessarily to attack guys or game plan on what pitches I want to throw. It's basically to not walk people, and it just keeps snowballing into something worse. ... It has nothing to do with mechanics. It's just a matter of going out and attacking hitters and throwing strikes. ... Hopefully, I'll go forward next time instead of backwards again.
He doesn't sound overly positive. At all.

Bases on balls has been an issue during Lester's entire professional career. Here's his general progression through the minors (not all stops included):
      Age/Level     IP    BB  BB/9   ERA  WHIP
2003 19 - A 106 44 3.74 3.65 1.38
2004 20 - A+ 90 37 3.86 4.30 1.32
2005 21 - AA 148.1 57 3.70 2.61 1.15
2006 22 - AAA 47 25 3.46 2.68 1.45
Red Sox 81.1 43 4.76 4.76 1.65
2007 23 - AAA 71.2 31 3.90 3.92 1.38
Red Sox 63 31 4.43 4.57 1.46
2008 24 Red Sox 20.1 15 6.65 5.31 1.62

Career Totals
Minors: 484 IP, 203 BB, 3.77 BB/9, 1.31 WHIP
Majors: 164.2 IP, 89 BB, 4.86 BB/9, 1.57 WHIP
He's made no progress at all in cutting down on his walks since he was drafted in 2002. He'll be nothing more than a league-average back-of-the-rotation guy until he does.

Jennings allowed six earned runs in 4.2 innings on Monday, which was a tad worse than his two previous starts. He has not faced the Red Sox since 2004. His only start at Fenway came on June 11, 2002 (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R). Only Casey and Drew have faced him more than five times -- and they have lit him up.

FJM Sentence Of The Day

Junior:
[E]very time Derek Jeter high fives a teammate, an orphan gets a tube of Rolos.
Bonus:
When I was a kid, people only cared about wins and losses. Now everyone is a nerd who loves weird stats and hates baseball. Please, all of you who have this thought, listen to me. Please. Here we go.

There have always been statistics in baseball. Always. Statistics like WHIP and VORP and OPS are better than the old statistics, because they give you more actual pertinent information. This is not up for debate. If you don't like these stats, don't use them. But don't tell me that they aren't interesting or good.

I just don't get it, man. No one ever said: "When I was a kid, if we were going to cut off your leg we'd give you a shot of whiskey and a rope to bite down on, and we'd just take a dirty hacksaw and just hack away, outside, on the ground. Why do all these nerds keep talking about 'anaesthesia' and 'sterilization?!'"

April 18, 2008

G18: Red Sox 11, Rangers 3

Rangers - 001 002 000 -  3  6  1
Red Sox - 004 500 02x - 11 11 0
First things first: that 4 in the third inning? A first-pitch grand slam from David Ortiz! Good Times!

Mendoza had retired the first eight batters, but Lowrie ended the perfect-game bid with a two-out double to left. Ellsbury walked on four pitches, Pedroia walked on five, and Ortiz unloaded his bomb over the Wall in left. Love those rallies that start from nothing and two outs.

Boston put the game away in the fourth: Drew walked, Varitek doubled (5-1), Casey singled, Rupe replaced Mendoza, Lowrie hit a sacrifice fly (6-1), Ellsbury tripled to center (7-1) and Pedroia homered to left (9-1).

Mendoza recap:
First 8 batters: 0-for-8, all outs in the infield, 2 K

Next 9 batters: 8-for-9 in reaching base, 3 BB, 2 singles, 2 doubles, one grand slam HR, 7 runs
In the ninth, Casey doubled and Ellsbury walked (his third tonight). Ortiz's single to right brought in Casey and Ellsbury raced home when the relay throw was bobbled at first base.

Dice threw a lot of pitches once again (24-13-25 19-14-6) and was pulled after giving up a two-run dong to Blalock in the sixth. Lopez did well in his 1.2 IP, Aardsma left the bases loaded in the eighth (a single, two walks and 30 pitches), and Timlin got three quick outs in the ninth on 11 pitches.

Baltimore beat New York 8-2, dropping the Yankees (9-9) 2 GB the Red Sox.

***

Luis Mendoza (1.80, 237 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.70, 166 ERA+)

It's the start of a seven-game homestand (Rangers and Angels). Time for Flo to start hittin'.

Mendoza was originally signed by Boston as a free agent in June 2000. He was sent to Texas for Bryan Corey at the 2006 trade deadline. Speaking of Corey, he has decided to become a free agent rather than accept a Pawtucket assignment.

Don't be fooled by Mendoza's ERA: in his five innings of work this season (April 12 against Toronto), the 24-year-old right-hander gave up eight hits, three walks and four runs (but only one earned run). He pitched in six games (16 IP) with Texas last season.

Mendoza's got a good sinker (low 90s) and an average changeup and curve. Lay off the sinker, and wait until he leaves his other pitches up the zone -- like we so often did with Jose Contreras -- and we should be off to the races.

Mike Lowell, who sprained his left thumb on April 9, is antsy:
I can't eat any more gum or chew any more seeds. ... The swelling is almost entirely gone. Grip strength is another issue. I think that's what we're tackling now. I figure if in eight or nine days the swelling has gone down this much, hopefully I can make the same progress in movement.
Before last night, Jonathan Papelbon had pitched 29.2 innings of scoreless relief in 27 career April appearances, allowing only 11 hits while striking out 42 batters.

Schadenfreude 41 (A Continuing Series)

Manny Ramirez, on Mike Mussina's 2-2 pitch to him in the 3rd inning:
He gave me a good pitch to drive. So, I drove it.

Manny against the Yankees since 2006:
       AB   H  HR  BB  BBI  AVG  OBP  SLG    OPS
2006 45 25 7 17 6 .556 .667 1.111 1.778
2007 51 20 4 8 4 .392 .475 .686 1.161
2008 19 10 3 2 0 .526 .571 1.105 1.677
115 55 14 27 10 .478 .573 .922 1.495

George A. King III, Post:
The Yankees should give Manny Ramirez the finger. Actually, four of them, every time he steps into the batter's box.

In what can only be compared to one's head feeling better when it no longer is getting banged into concrete, the Yankees continue to challenge the greatest run producer of his generation, who punishes Yankees pitching. It almost seems they are allergic to intentionally walking Ramirez. ...

With two homers and a single when he batted in the seventh, Ramirez had Kyle "The Mop" Farnsworth throw his first pitch, a fastball, behind Ramirez' head. Ramirez eventually grounded out, which produced the loudest roar of the evening. ...

[Alex] Rodriguez' average with runners in scoring position [is now] .067 (1-for-15).
Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
The seventh-inning brushback didn't trigger any brawls, but may prompt grudges, judging by the looks on the faces on the Red Sox bench. Josh Beckett, who beat the Yankees for the second time in less than a week, slowly shook his head afterward, and manager Terry Francona looked pained.

The teams have 13 more games left against each other, the next one July 3 at the Stadium. ...

Farnsworth, often a pariah to those sitting in the stands, was cheered by the 55,088 fans after his pitch went near Ramirez's head.
Farnsworth:
It just slipped. I was trying to be aggressive and go in on him, but the ball slipped on me. ... The ball slipped. Sometimes it's dry. ... Yeah, I heard [the cheers]. It felt good. I hate to have it for that reason, but it's better than the other way.

April 17, 2008

G17: Red Sox 7, Yankees 5

Red Sox - 014 020 000 - 7 13  0
Yankees - 000 030 002 - 5 8 1
Josh goes 8!! 8-6-3-1-5, 105.

Manny hit home runs in each of his first two plate appearances (and scored three runs). Youkilis, Pedroia, Drew and Varitek each had two hits.

Moose Being Moose: 3-7-5-0-1, 77.

***

Josh Beckett (6.35, 70 ERA+) / Mike Mussina (4.15, 101 ERA+)

Dear Josh: Please give us more than 5 innings. If you gave us 7, you'd be the first starter to do so this season. We would like that.

Moving On

Not much to say about last night's debacle -- where, by the end of the fifth inning, your scorecard had likely devolved into "a hopeless jungle of lines and squiggles and filled-in circles". Hell, even Yankee fans want to move on.

It was the 50-minute fifth inning that was the turning point. After a wild pitch scored Melky Cabrera and gave New York a 7-3 lead, the Yankees had a 90% chance of winning the game. That dropped down to only 26% after Dustin Pedroia's two-run single capped Boston's six-run fifth inning, putting the Sox up 9-7, but when the Yankees answered with four runs in their half of the fifth, their chances were back to 80%.

From there, LaTroy Hawkins and Brian Bruney did their jobs of stopping the Boston bats, while Julian Tavarez and Mike Timlin could not do the same with the Yankees. ... New York's chances of winning were 93.6% when Mike Timlin came in for the eighth inning, so his eight-batter implosion really had little effect on the final outcome. Still, after facing 14 Yankee batters (2.1 IP), Timlin has allowed 8 hits (2 singles, 4 doubles and 2 home runs) and 7 runs.

The 24 runs were the most in a Red Sox-Yankees game in the Bronx since April 21, 1956 (Yankees 14-10) and the last time the Yankees scored at least 15 runs against the Red Sox at home was July 7, 1954 (17-9 win). The 1954 game took only 2:40 to play. Last night's time was 4:08.

X-rays on Kevin Youkilis's left foot were negative after he fouled a ball off his big toe in the sixth inning. He is questionable for tonight. ... Coco Crisp may miss the next few games due to soreness in his right leg.

Clay Buchholz:
The big turning point in the whole game for me was not the two home runs, but their catcher, who I had [2-2] and I threw a fastball and I was almost at the point where I was walking off, but I didn't get the call. ... It seems like every time I get in a hole and I need to throw a pitch for a strike and I throw it they get a bat on it and foul it off ... that's what so hard about pitching to lineups like this.

April 16, 2008

G16: Yankees 15, Red Sox 9

Red Sox - 110 160 000 -  9  14  1
Yankees - 300 440 04x - 15 16 0
(created by SoSHer mt8thsw9th)

***

Clay Buchholz (3.27, 136 ERA+) / NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1.23, 341 ERA+)

A rematch of last Friday's game. Wang threw a complete-game two-hitter (New York lost the other two games in the three-game series) and Buchholz allowed only one run and four hits in six innings.
That's the best start that I've had this year. It's just something to build off of. I didn't do anything great. I think I did the little things good enough to get by and keep the team in the game to win. ... They've seen me once and I've seen them, so I think each of us have maybe a little bit of an edge on one another.
Manny Ramirez is 13-for-25 against Wang. ... Nine of Kevin Youkilis's 20 hits this season have been for extra bases, giving him a .635 slugging percentage and a team-high 186 OPS+. Plus, he's been kind enough to allow a family of sparrows to live in his goatee until daddy bird can find a new job.

For those of you outside New England who may be trapped with the MFY announcers tonight, there is an alternative: Jere! Check out his blog for info on hearing his broadcast.

Happy Birthday Jeb Lowry

Jed Lowrie -- who will celebrate his 24th birthday today in New York -- became the second Red Sox player to have three RBI in his major league debut.

The other Sock was Merl Combs, who did it September 12, 1947. Combs also debuted as a third baseman, though he spent more games at shortstop over his brief five-year career.

Lowrie:
My first professional hit in Lowell I remember [former Spinners manager Luis] Alicea asked me if I wanted to keep the ball. I said, "No. I only want to keep my first major league hit." ... Right before [my first AB], Mike Lowell came up to me and told me the guy likes to throw sliders and cutters in. He threw me a fastball away and everything else was a slider in. I was able to put a barrel on it and get it through the hole.
As per tradition, Lowrie was presented with a fake "first hit" ball with "Nice 3,000,000 chopper" and "2 RBI, but K'd in his first at-bat" and "Jeb Lowry" written on it.
I thought it was a joke, but they played up. Beckett sold it pretty good.
Jason Varitek's last pinch-hit homer came on June 12, 2003 against St. Louis. That was a wild game! ... It was also the first Red Sox pinch-hit home run since Doug Mirabelli went deep on October 2, 2005.

Other Red Sox born on April 16 include: Jim Lonborg, Bob Montgomery, and Dutch Leonard.

Cora To Go On Disabled List Today

Alex Cora will be put on the disabled list today. Last Thursday, while taking infield practice at third base, he felt a twinge in his right elbow. Einstein:
If I'm not 100 percent, I'm not going to play, so why be here, you know? I get healthy and I don't have to be thinking, "Oh, I have to show up and play tomorrow." ... I don't want to be in that situation where I'm lying to myself that I can play for nine innings and all of a sudden I have to make a throw or turn a double play or make a relay and there goes my elbow. I'm 32, I'm not that young anymore.
Since the move is not yet official, there's no word on who the Sox will call up -- an infielder or a pitcher.

UPDATE: WBZ reports that infielder Joe Thurston will join the team in New York.

April 15, 2008

G15: Red Sox 5, Spiders 3

Red Sox   - 000 010 202 - 5 13  1
Cleveland - 000 020 100 - 3 8 1
Once again, the Red Sox get some 10 o'clock lightning and come from behind to win.

The big hit in the seventh was a two-run single from Lowrie, who also drove in a run with a fielder's choice in the fifth. With one out in the ninth, Jason Varitek (pinch-hitting for Kevin Cash) hit an opposite field home run to snap a 3-3 tie. Crisp singled to left and Pedroia doubled to right-center. After Ortiz popped to second and Manny was walked intentionally, Youkilis stroked a single to left. Ococ scored, but Pedroia was tagged out trying to score (and missing the plate).

Jeemer nailed it down, striking out Hafner and Martinez on four pitches each, and getting Peralta to foul out to Ellsbury in right. Jacoby made a nifty catch, half-leaping into the stands and robbing a fan of the ball!

Lugo was 3-for-4, Pedroia was 3-for-5, Yook was 2-for-4 with a walk, Ellsbury singled and walked twice. Manny was 0-for-3 with a BBI and HBP.

Ortiz's 5 PAs: GIDP453, single to RF, F7, F8, P4.

Toronto whipped Baltimore 11-3 (and New York held on to beat Tampa 5-3), so we are now in first place!
Red Sox    9   6   --
Blue Jays 8 6 .5
Orioles 8 6 .5
Yankees 8 7 1
Rays 6 8 2.5
***

Tim Wakefield (3.27, 133 ERA+) / Paul Byrd (11.05, 38 ERA+)

Jed Lowrie makes his major league debut tonight at third base.

Coco Crisp, David Ortiz and DeMarlo Hale will all wear #42 in recognition of Jackie Robinson, who made his debut 61 years ago today. Crisp: "Also, Larry Doby, you can't forget about him. He was the first in the American League."

Ortiz: "Put Me In, #@*%"

Late Sunday night, Terry Francona told David Ortiz to let him know Monday morning whether he wanted a second day off or wanted to get back in the lineup. Tito:

He actually texted me -- and this is no joke, I actually thought I was texting my daughter -- and he was like, "Hey, dad" or "Hey, pop" or whatever it was. I texted him back and I was like, "What number is this?" All of a sudden, I get back, "Mine, [expletive]."

Now I'm getting ticked, so I call and it's David. I was all mixed up, because the last one said, "Put me in, [expletive]." And I can't figure it out. I was actually kind of relieved. I didn't care if David gets hits or not, but I won't have a 14-year-old talking like that to her dad. Anyway, the good news is my daughter's not speaking like that and David wants to play. ... It's a win-win.
The Globe's Eric Wilbur understands that it has always been the Yankees and their fans that have been obsessed with curses and jinxes.
[I]n the Bronx, they're concerned that polyester threading might lead to 86 years of an Ortiz jinx, digging through two feet of concrete to pull out an absolutely intangible sign of their impending doom.

Yankee fans always had the curse to lean on when it came to facing their rivals. Now that it's "dead," they're walking around in the dark seeking enlightenment, a group of lost soldiers that Scientology could have a field day with.

Along comes Castignoli, and New York can't even wait 48 hours before proving to the world its dysfunctional front office ways. Initially laughing it off as a prank, the Yankees couldn't get the jersey out of their collective heads, ordering it dug up at the site yesterday ...
Curt Schilling dismissed Dr. Craig Morgan's comments that he would consider pitching for the Yankees next year.
The first word that popped into my head, is a word that I think is new to the English language, but everybody understands what it means is "misremember". ... I'm not really sure how he got to some of the conclusions he got to. ... Me wearing pinstripes, regardless of what point of the season or my career it would have been, is not an option.
Kyle Snyder cleared waivers and was assigned to Pawtucket, where he will go back to starting.

Manny: "Boston Never Had A Player Like Me"

Whenever Manny Ramirez decides to share his thoughts with the media, he's always smart and funny -- never dull. He may be quirky, but he never comes off like the space cadet the media loves to portray him as. He's not easily categorized, he doesn't fit into a preconceived "type" of player, and so much of the sports media has no idea how to talk about him. (Might I suggest "honestly"?)

In years past, hearing or reading a good Manny quote was as rare (and as fun) as finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk. This season, he seems almost chatty, which can only be good news. The Herald's Rob Bradford has a bunch of quotes:

On having his 2009 option picked up:
Why isn't it going to work out? Of course it's going to work out. I don't need a list of teams. Everybody knows it's going to work out. A list? For what? I'm just going to play and have fun. ... whatever happens will happen. ... I'm going to play six years, David is going to play six years and then we're going to retire.
On the pitch he hit for the tie-breaking home run in the ninth inning last night:
Like a fastball, it was something like 80. Or a changeup.
On playing in Boston:
I loved going to Boston because it was a big challenge, a big challenge that I was able to do. ... [I]t made me a better player. I changed everything [in Boston]. Boston never had a player like me. They had Mo Vaughn in the '90s, but after that nothing like me. I went there and my attitude changed everything. Everybody says Boston is a hard place to play. It's not hard to play. It's easy. It depends on what you focus on. There are things you aren't going to like, but you have to look at the good things. Two championships in a city that hasn't won in 100 years. How can you not like that? What more could you want?
On his "It's not the end of the world" statement during last year's ALCS:
I was just being honest. I wasn't thinking about any impact. We were trying, so it wasn't like we were slacking off out there. I didn't realize [the effect it would have]. I was just being honest. I told Ino [Guerrero] right after that we were going to win it all.
Bradford says Guerrero, a Red Sox coach, confirmed the story.

April 14, 2008

G14: Red Sox 6, Spiders 4

Red Sox - 100 000 113 - 6 12  0
Spiders - 000 220 000 - 4 7 1
You puny Cleveland mortals ... did last October teach you nothing? Do you not realize that you are powerless to stop the mighty Red Sox Baseball Machine?

The Sox scored a run in the first, and saw 32 Westbrook pitches. Coupled with Phil Hughes's performance last night, the Bostons have seen 71 pitches in their last two first innings.

Lester was sharp through three innings, but stumbled in the fourth (allowing four of the first five batters to reach) and fifth (five of the first six Cleveland hitters reached base). Julian Tavarez came in and struck out two Spiders to end the fifth, then pitched well through the next two innings. And then Timlin threw a perfect eighth! OMG!!1!!!

In the meantime, the Red Sox chipped away at Cleveland's 4-1 lead. Sean Casey started the seventh with a walk and was forced by Julio Lugo. Singles from Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia brought Lugo home and ended Westbrook's night. Rafael Betancourt struck out both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to end that threat.

However, Kevin Youklis opened the eighth with a solo home run to left -- and the Spiders' lead was cut to 4-3. In the ninth, facing "closer" Joe Borowski, Lugo doubled down the left field line, was bunted to third by Crisp and scored on a fly ball to left by Pedroia. Tie game 4-4. Ortiz singled to left (he finished the night 2-for-5) and Manny followed with a first-pitch home run to deep left. Youkilis doubled, but Drew struck out to end the inning.

Jonathan Papelbon made quick work of Grady Sizemore (bsc: K), Asdrubal Cabrera (bcbs: K) and Travis Hafner (b: F8) and the win was secured.

Baltimore beat Toronto 4-3, so Boston moved into second place, .5 GB the Birds. The Yankees nearly blew a 7-2 lead to Tampa, winning 8-7 to move out of the AL East basement into fourth place.

***

Jon Lester (4.50, 96 ERA+) / Jake Westbrook (2.76, 152 ERA+)

Ortiz:
I know exactly what I'm doing wrong. Everything is right here [pointing to his head]. ... I have to stop thinking too much and fighting myself. I've been there before. I've been messed up before. Big time. Big time. I know I'll be out of it at some point. It happens to all of us. I'll be all right. This game is very mental. Your mind takes over. I know in my situation, my mind works more than anything else. Once you get physically prepared your mind takes over and sometimes you're fighting, fighting, fighting [yourself]. ... The manager can see things. Terry knows what to do. I always do everything Terry tells me to do.
Jeff Horrigan has some cool tidbits, including the fact that Ortiz:
went a career-worst 0-for-27 from Sept. 26, 1998 to April 4, 2000, with Minnesota, including all 10 of his big league at-bats in 1999.

The Sox stole four bases in a game for the first time since July 19, 2003, vs. Toronto. It was the first time they had stolen four vs. New York since May 3, 1995, at Yankee Stadium. ...

Jacoby Ellsbury's first-inning steal made him 11-for-11 in the majors. He is the first Sox rookie to begin his career with 11 consecutive successful steals since Lee Tinsley swiped 15 straight from the start of the 1994 season through April 28, 1995.
Bad Man Watch: Since the start of the 2006 season, Manny Ramirez is hitting .550 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in 18 games against the Yankees at Fenway.

Schadenfreude 40 (A Continuing Series)

First one of the 2008 season! (Updated -- with words!!)




Ken Davidoff, Newsday:
We knew, years ago, that Joe Girardi possessed the intellect and passion to be the Yankees' manager. We still don't know if he can display the necessary leadership and soft touch. ...

Girardi's news conference prior to last night's Yankees-Red Sox series finale lasted 16 minutes, 5 seconds. Of that, 10:38 was spent discussing the biggest (and worst) tactical decision made by the manager in his young, pinstripe reign. ...

He attempted humor a couple of times, but mostly, he attempted to portray the Manny call as just another decision ... He appeared to grow increasingly uncomfortable and annoyed as the inquisition continued ...
Bill Madden, Daily News:
Unfortunately, the new day brought only more Beantown misery for the beleaguered Yankee skipper as Phil Hughes, the crown prince pitcher Brian Cashman would not trade under any circumstances for Johan Santana, had his second straight abbreviated and ineffective outing, Jose Molina, who has filled in so ably for Jorge Posada at catcher, pulled a hamstring, and Joba Chamberlain learned that his father had been hospitalized in critical condition in Nebraska.

And while, yes, this is only April ... there has to be a bit of an unsettling feeling among the Yankee legions about both the first-year Yankee manager and the young pitcher from whom so much is expected this season. ...

[I]t did not help Hughes that his Red Sox counterpart, 23-year-old Clay Buchholz (whom Sox GM Theo Epstein likewise deemed untouchable in parallel trade talks with the Twins for Santana) passed his first Yankees-Red Sox pressure test two nights earlier with six innings of four-hit, one-run ball.
Dom Amore, Courant:
Joe Girardi, not yet 13 games into the gig, was ... patiently answering question after question about his decision to pitch to Manny Ramirez the day before. ... That it was a game against the Red Sox ensured that Girardi would be grilled as if it were October. ...

He couldn't remember a managing decision at Florida, where he had the young, low-budget Marlins in contention until the final weeks of the 2006 season, that drew as much attention as this one did.