June 25, 2009

G72: Nationals 9, Red Sox 3

Red Sox   - 000 001 002 - 3  8  2
Nationals - 401 002 20x - 9 11 1
The Nats batted around against Smoltz in the first inning, scoring four times on four hits, one walk and one HBP.

Smoltz (5-7-5-1-5, 92) settled down -- he retired Washington in order in the second, fourth and fifth innings -- but the damage was done. His fastball was around 91-93, and while he had trouble all night commanding his slider, he showed flashes of dominance. He struck out the side in the fifth.

Daniel Bard and Takashi Saito each allowed two runs out of the pen. David Ortiz had a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Rocco Baldelli hit a first pitch, two-run homer in the ninth.

***

John Smoltz (2009 debut) / Jordan Zimmermann (5.03, 87 ERA+)

Smoltz, 42, begins "a new chapter" tonight. He last pitched in a major league game on June 2, 2008. Eight days after that, he had right shoulder surgery. This will be his first start since April 27, 2008.

Back in mid-January, when Smoltz signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox, Theo Epstein said:
When I close my eyes and envision it, I see [John Smoltz] starting important games for us late in the season and hopefully into October.
Expectations are high, but how Smoltz will do against major league hitters remains a question mark. He had a 2.63 ERA in six minor league starts, but half of those starts were at A and AA.

Still, as long as his shoulder is healthy, a fair amount of hype is warranted. Look at his ERA+ over the years -- he hasn't really had even an average season since 1994 -- especially the three full seasons after he left the bullpen and became a starter again (at age 38!): 138, 127, 137.

Smoltz:
[C]oming back from surgery, as I've said many times, this is not a half-year job. This is not something I wanted to do just for a half a year. I plan on pitching past this year. ... I enjoy what I'm doing. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get back to this point, and if I were doing it to prove one human being or 10 human beings wrong, I'd be foolish. I'm doing it because I love it. When I came back from the surgery, I knew I could pitch again.
J.D. Drew played with Smoltz in 2004:
He's probably the most competitive player that I've ever played with. Ever. High school, college, anywhere. Just everything he does, he competes at it and he loves it. I think that's exactly what [Red Sox fans] will see.
Chipper Jones:
It's like the Red Sox have made a big trade or signed a blockbuster free agent in the middle of the season.
Ian Browne notes that Smoltz is the only pitcher in history to have at least 200 wins and 150 saves:
Smoltz's entire body of work is fascinating, because it hasn't been replicated to such an extended degree in two different roles. Dennis Eckersley comes the closest, but he wasn't Hall of Fame caliber (149-130, 3.71 ERA) as a starter. The Eck was a first-ballot Hall of Famer because of his dominance (390 saves) as a closer.

As a starter, Smoltz is 206-141 with a 3.33 ERA and 2,731 strikeouts. During his four years in the bullpen (2001-04), Smoltz was about as overpowering (2.41 ERA, .215 opponents batting average) as any closer.
Trivia: The first major league batter to get a hit off Smoltz? Dave Magadan, back on July 23, 1988. Neither man remembers much about the at-bat.

Finally -- months ago, while poking around for Smoltz stuff, I discovered that he isn't too keen on full equality for all people. Back in July 2004, he expressed his disgust for gay marriage:
What's next? Marrying an animal? ... If somebody believes two men should be able to get married, well, I think that's wrong. That's against everything that man is built on.
Smoltz later claimed that "Nowhere in my conversation was I critical of gays". I guess comparing gay marriage to bestiality was supposed to be a compliment. To my knowledge, he has not shed his ignorance (or his support of the FARM Act) in the subsequent five years.

***

With Smoltz joining the pitching staff, Dusty Brown is headed back to Pawtucket after four days in the bigs:
It was everything I expected it to be. It was great and it couldn't have come at a better time. ... It was awesome and everyone was great to me. You get a taste of it now. When I go back I know what I'm playing for and where I want to be.
Jason Varitek (who has caught 53 of the Sox's 71 games) says he has had a sore neck since June 12.
I don't know how I did it. I don't know if it was from whiplash from a foul ball or what. ... We've been treating it and we're staying on top of it and hope it goes away.
The Globe notes:
Sixty percent of Varitek's hits (26 for 43) have been for extra bases, the second-highest ratio in the majors behind Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, whose at 64 percent. Nine of Varitek's last 12 hits (six doubles, three homers) have gone for extra bases.
Since June 6, Ortiz is batting .357/.480/.833.

224 comments:

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Benjamin said...

Green regressing pretty hard tonight.

Amy said...

Huh? OK, whatever.

redsock said...

ram ram has got to hack

s1c said...

Clean

Benjamin said...

Oh well.

L-girl said...

sparkling clean water

onward

Amy said...

Just letting the pitcher make the last out?? Oh well, clean water.

s1c said...

Wtf was that all about Tito? Oh, wait, that's right you used all of your bench players.

Ish said...

Looks like Ram-Ram got chewed out by Tito.

Amy said...

Well, 2 out of 3 on the road is good enough. So on to the next series.

Ish said...

Or maybe just said hey you had to swing so don't worry about it. But it didn't look like a friendly pat on the back to me.

s1c said...

Looks like Ram-Ram got chewed out by Tito.

Actually I think it was more of Tito explaining why he had to bat.

Ish said...

s1c I can see that. I was watching on the little TV but Ram looked over like he's saying do I seriously have to do this???

Mariano had the same look over at Tony Pena last night.

Ish said...

Dave Roberts was perplexed in the first inning when Smoltz was throwing all those breaking balls. As I said around the fifth inning or so on Twitter: If you think of this as another rehab start, you won't be disappointed. Looks like he pitched like it was a rehab start.

Then he comes back and retires the last 8 batters he faces. All in all I'm wickedly optimistic.

SoSock said...

Bad news to come home too.
Sox lose.
Oh, and a couple of famous people died too, didn't they?
Well, one famous, and one past the point where famous can sufficiently describe it. Probably the most well-known person to die since Pricess Di.
Anyway, hate I missed the pre-game politics. Looked like a lively one, and one I feel strongly about.
And I still think Smoltzy will be fine. Better than fine, I think he'll be a real asset.

Barth said...

Ish has a decent point, but---and this was something we saw in 2005 with Schilling, if the actual rehab starts do not include anything which shows that the pitcher is really at a level beyond that of a Triple A pitcher, and particularly if he gets hit there, he is not ready for the major leagues.

I am not keen on having regular games lost by some pitcher trying to get himself ready. Go back on the DL and let me know if and when you can get Triple A guys out on a regular basis. (Do not, under any circumstance, blame a bad showing on Pawtucket outfielders, btw. The same guys play behind Buchholz and Bowden, if you know what I mean.

When Yaz was squeezing out a 1982 and then a 1983 season, we winced every so often, though we never stopped cheering for him (ok, I didn't) but y'know he was 41 and 42 years old and there was not much we could expect.

But Yaz was ours, and he meant so much to this team. Even Eck's last season back here was okay by me, given the years he gave us and the fact that he was an important part of this club's history.

Smoltz is not. This was a valiant effort, but he has done nothing in Pawtucket or that low minors game that makes me think this has much of a chance of succeeding. As with Yaz, I admire the effort, but it may just be one of those things and we are not going to tolerate the one more trip around the league from a guy who otherwise means nothing to our team.

I hope

s1c said...

Pawtucket numbers - 16 IP, 10 hits, 4 BB (that is less than a 1.0 WHIP), 11 K's and a 3.38 ERA, yeah, he really sucked in AAA.

L-girl said...

"one past the point where famous can sufficiently describe it."

Right. There ought to be a different word. Celebrity beyond celebrity.

L-girl said...

"I am not keen on having regular games lost by some pitcher trying to get himself ready. Go back on the DL and let me know if and when you can get Triple A guys out on a regular basis."

No matter how many get-ready games a pitcher throws in AAA, he's still not facing ML hitters. Dress rehearsals can never be actual performances.

The Red Sox are going to lose some games. This was one of them. There's no reason to think Smoltz isn't ready yet, or that more innings in AAA would have changed anything that happened tonight.

L-girl said...

"But Yaz was ours ... Smoltz is not."

Check your scorecard. He is ours.

Your poetic memories are lovely but irrelevant.

Barth said...

I did not say Smoltz "sucked" in Pawtucket. He just was unimpressive. Many people who saw him, including professional scouts said so.

That is not surprising, given his age and the injury he is attempting to come back from, but it is also not encouraging, at least to me.

I suppose this might be worth another shot, but the way he pitched to the worst team in the major leagues makes Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden more deserving of a major league start than Smoltz.

Yes, he is currently on the Red Sox roster, but he does not mean to this team what, say, Yaz or the Eck did, so you can call my comments irrelevant, and I will just disagree. A guy like Yaz (or, for that matter, Papi or Tek) is entitled to more patience, given his connection to our team, than Smoltz. I think well of him and he has had a great career, but seeing him pitch for us does not have the impact that a recovering player so tied up with our team would have.

He is at an age where it is hard to be effective. Only a few can do it. I just don't see it happening here. I hope I am wrong.

B.R. said...

Iam nervous that Rocco could potentially be a huge asset for the Sox come Oct. I envision a Yankees-Red Soz ALCS with Rocco hitting a tie breaking solo shot in game 5. That was a great signing by Larry and Theo

The Omnipotent Q said...

Redsox: You wrote that "Josh Bard and Takashi Saito" gave up runs out of the pen. That was of course, Daniel Bard giving up runs. Josh was driving them in last night.

redsock said...

*Daniel* Bard, yes. Thanks.

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