April 30, 2009

G22: Rays 13, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 -  0  1  0
Rays - 004 211 05x - 13 18 0
It's been an interesting two days for rookie Jonathan Van Every.

While he might have imagined himself making a couple of crucial catches late in the game and driving in a couple of runs, including an extra-inning home run for the win -- his contribution to Wednesday's victory in Cleveland -- the rest of his fantasy probably did not involve coming in from right field the very next night to pitch to four batters in the eighth inning of a blowout.

Unwilling to waste another arm in what was then a 12-0 game, Terry Francona banished Javier Lopez (.1-4-5-1-0) to right field and called JVE to the mound six batters into the eighth inning. Jason Bartlett fouled out to third, but Michel Hernandez doubled to right center -- forcing a humiliated Lopez to chase the ball to the wall. JVE walked B.J. Upton before getting pinch-hitter Ben Zobrist to foul out to first.

Garza retired the first 18 Boston batters before an infield single from Jacoby Ellsbury ended his dreams of perfection in the seventh. LBJ, however, was quickly erased on a double play. Garza (7.2-1-0-1-10, 108) then walked David Ortiz before getting Kevin Youkilis to ground out. Boston's third and final baserunner was Julio Lugo, who was walked by Grant Balfour in the top of the ninth.

Lopez's six-batter appearance -- in what was initially an 8-0 blowout -- was amazingly bad. Can you spot the pattern?

Crawford: falls behind 3-0, groundout 4-3 on full count
Longoria: single to center on 1-2 pitch
Pena: falls behind 2-0, single to right
Burrell: falls behind 3-0, walk on 3-1 pitch
Gross: falls behind 2-0, double on 2-1 pitch
Iwamura: falls behind 2-0, double to right-center

14 balls and 11 strikes (and 4 of those strikes were 2 singles and 2 doubles).

He's worthless. Cut. The. Cord.

Now.

***

Josh Beckett (6.00, 84 ERA+) / Matt Garza (4.97, 97 ERA+)

First of four at the Trop against the last-place Rays (8-14).

***

Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a bullpen session of 47 pitches yesterday afternoon after long tossing from about 200 feet. Dice is expected to throw another bullpen on Saturday and then be sent out on a multi-start rehab assignment.

Terry Francona, on John Smoltz's progress:
I would say it's about a week of just kind of slowing down a little bit. I guess we had probably thought all along that this was a possibility. ... He's been grinding pretty hard, going pretty hard. ... There's nothing that came up that's crazy. We just thought this was the best thing to do.
Manny Delcarmen has been dealing with a tight left hip flexor for the last week. ... Mike Lowell has a 13-game hitting streak. ... Alex Rodriguez, aka Bitch Tits.

April 29, 2009

Mild Setback For Smoltz

Nick Cafardo, Globe:
John Smoltz has been shut down for what looks like a "10-14" day period according to a team source.

The veteran righthander was backed off from throwing late last week and then was scheduled to throw batting practice on Thursday, but that was scratched. Smoltz ... [will] take some time off to rest his right shoulder which has been experiencing some discomfort.
If this is not considered serious, then Smoltz's debut date is now roughly two weeks later, or mid-June.

With Justin Masterson doing well in the rotation, Clay Buchholz available to replace Brad Penny, Daisuke Matsuzaka possibly heading to a rehab assignment next week, Boston -- winners of 12 of its last 13 games -- should be able to deal with this minor setback.

G21: Red Sox 6, Spiders 5 (10)

Red Sox - 000 002 030 1 - 6 10  1
Spiders - 210 200 000 0 - 5 8 1
Jonathan Van Every's first major league home run -- a solo shot to dead center off Jensen Lewis in the top of the 10th inning -- was the difference tonight.

Lester (6-7-5-3-7, 109) struggled through four innings, putting Boston in a 5-0 hole. Stymied by Carmona for 5.2 innings -- the Cleveland lefty retired 12 in a row at one point -- the Sox battled back. With two outs in the sixth, Jason Bay walked and Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek followed with back-to-back doubles. 5-2.

In the eighth, Lowell singled with one out, Varitek singled, Jeff Bailey reached on an infield error (bases loaded), Van Every singled (5-3), pinch-hitter J.D. Drew drove in a run with a fielder's choice (5-4), and Jacoby Ellsbury's third single of the night tied the game at 5-5.

Relievers Hideki Ojakima and Manny Delcarmen handed out four walks and a HBP in the eighth and ninth, but escaped untouched. With two out in the eighth, Jeemer walked Mark DeRosa and Ben Francisco and hit Kelly Shoppach, but got Grady Sizemore to line out to Van Every in right. JVE recorded the first out in that inning with a fully prone dive into foul territory to snare Ryan Garko's pop up.

MDC walked two men in the ninth, but got Jhonny Peralta looking to send the game to extras. After Van E was Van E, Jonathan Papelbon got the save. Ellsbury chased a DeRosa fly to deep left center. Francisco singled, but Bot snuffed both Shoppach and Sizemore on strikes.

The Royals win over the Blue Jays means Boston is back in first place, by .015 percentage points over Toronto.

On to Tampa Bay!

***

Jon Lester (4.88, 103 ERA+) / Fausto Carmona (7.36, 66 ERA+)

Kevin Youkilis, showing professional restraint last night:
We didn't lose the game on that play. There were other opportunities. It's all right. We'll go back out tomorrow and play another game.
From Joe Posnanski's SI article I quoted earlier today:
The gentle relief pitcher for the Royals, Dan Quisenberry, wrote a poem about his manager Dick Howser, the refrain being Howser's quote for every occasion: "Piss on it." That was Howser's answer for losses, for slumps, for bad pitching performances, for anything gone wrong. Piss on it. Get 'em tomorrow.
13 wins in the first 20 games of the season. That's .650 baseball -- a 105-win pace.

A bad loss? Piss on it.

A Terrible Decision Often Leads To A Terrible Result

What I surmised as Terry Francona's thought process for choosing Javier Lopez over Jonathan Papelbon for the bottom of the ninth inning last night was likely correct (not that it required much brain power).

Stephen Ellsesser, MLB.com:
Both Lopez and closer Jonathan Papelbon were warming up in the Boston bullpen in the top of the ninth, but with Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Youkilis coming to bat in what would have been the top of the 10th inning, Francona went to Lopez.
Amalie Benjamin, Globe:
Both Jonathan Papelbon and Javier Lopez were warming. The easy choice would have been the closer, at least for most teams. But Red Sox manager Terry Francona rarely uses Papelbon in tie games on the road, so Lopez it was, trying to steer last night's game against the Indians through the bottom of the ninth, to get to a 10th inning in which the Sox could come through for their 12th straight win.
I know that Playoff Assassin Tito cannot rule the roost for every single game of the regular season, but Francona made not only a risky choice, but a terrible choice.

At least two better options were staring him in the face. Why not look to Manny Delcarmen, who had thrown only 11 pitches the night before? Choosing Lopez over Papelbon (it feels insane even typing that) did not put the Red Sox in the best position to win, or even in the best position to get to the tenth inning.

It would be impossible for the Red Sox to score the go-ahead run if they never got another chance to bat. Making that opportunity possible should have been Tito's main goal at that point. Instead, Francona was charting his pitching plans for the bottom of the tenth inning and, seemingly like clockwork, his poor strategy backfired.

Maddux vs Pedro

Joe Posnanski:
The question came up: Who had the better seven-year stretch, Greg Maddux [1992-98] or Pedro Martinez [1997-2003]. Well, first of all, they were both utterly brilliant. So I guess it will depend on what you mean by "better." Maddux was more durable during his stretch. Pedro was more dominant. Maddux walked fewer. Pedro struck out more. And so on. ...
Seven years is arbitrary, of course. You could go single season, back-to-back years (Maddux 94-95 & Pedro 99-00, for example!!), 10-year periods, etc. ...

After the commenters hashed it out, Joe posted a follow-up, including stats for similar stretches from Sandy Koufax (5 years: 1961-66), Tom Seaver (1969-75), Jim Palmer (1969-75), Walter Johnson (1910-16), Carl Hubbell (1931-37), Lefty Grove (1926-32), Pete Alexander (1911-17), Christy Mathewson (1905-11), Randy Johnson (1995-02), and Bob Gibson (1964-70).

What did Joe learn?
Maddux's 191 ERA+ and, especially, Pedro's 213 ERA+ over seven seasons are historically insane.
By comparison: Koufax (156), Tom Seaver (146), Walter Johnson (188), Lefty Grove (165), Christy Mathewson (154), Randy Johnson (177).

You obviously know where I stand on this topic, but as the many comments show, there is no "right" answer. In "Wins Above Replacement", it is a dead heat: Pedro: 51.1 / Maddux: 50.9. They can lay serious claim to the two best seven-year stretches of all time -- and they worked that magic during an overlapping period of only 12 years!

Jeff, a commenter (my emphasis):
One interesting note, excluding Pedro's own seasons, his seven-year cumulative 213 ERA+ is better than the individual league leader's ERA+ in all but eight years since the end of World War II (Bob Gibson 1968, Dwight Gooden 1985, Greg Maddux 1994 and 1995, Kevin Brown (!) 1996, Roger Clemens 1997 and 2005 and he tied Clemens 1990). So in 119 seasons in which Pedro did not lead the league in ERA+, only eight times did someone exceed his seven-year average.
And Curtis:
I am a Maddux guy. He was so freaking good, and yet it didn't seem like he could do anything that I couldn't have done. He could, of course, but I could aspire to be like Maddux. I could never even dream of what it would be like to throw like Pedro.
***

Posnanski also wrote a cover story on Royals pitcher Zach Greinke for SI. Greinke, who has dealt with extreme social anxiety since 2005, has allowed only one unearned run in 29 innings this season; he faces Toronto tonight.

April 28, 2009

G20: Spiders 9, Red Sox 8

Red Sox - 142 000 100 - 8 14  3
Spiders - 124 000 101 - 9 13 0
Bill James would not approve. Tie game, bottom of the 9th. Who should you put on the mound? Your closer or the worst pitcher on the team?

Sadly, Terry Francona chose Option B. And the Red Sox's 11-game winning streak is now history. I can only assume that he hoped to squeak through the 9th (the 8-9-1 hitters were up), maybe get a run or two with FY-Flo-Yook-Drew in the 10th and go to Jonathan Papelbon to nail it down. The only problem with that strategy is you have to not allow a run in the 9th!

Javier Lopez gave up a single to Mark DeRosa (who had homered in the 7th to tie the game at 8-8) to start the final inning. Ben Francisco bunted the runner to second and Grady Sizemore struck out. Lopez went to a full count on Asdrubal Cabrera, who whacked a grounder to the right side.

Kevin Youkilis half-dived to his right, snared it, turned and lobbed an easy, underhanded toss to Lopez. The pitcher and the ball were at the bag in plenty of time, and Lopez's foot was on the base, but he looked down anyway, and the ball clanked off his glove and rolled into foul territory.

Lopez then fell down and Youkilis raced after the baseball, but it was too late. DeRosa was crossing the plate.

How'm I doin'?

Lopez: From a LOOGY to a LWCGAOIHGDMFLDOI.

The Red Sox failed to score in the top of the ninth, with runners at the corners and one out. Nick Green was overmatched on three fastballs and Jacoby Ellsbury lined the ball right to Cabrera at second.

Toronto beat the Royals 8-1, so we are back in 2nd place. The Yankees broke a scoreless tie in Detroit with 10 runs in the seventh and beat the Tigers 11-0.

***

Brad Penny (7.80, 65 ERA+) / Anthony Reyes (4.76, 102 ERA+)

The first place Red Sox (13-6) -- by a slim .017 over the Blue Jays (14-7), but atop the East nonetheless -- continue their series in Cleveland.

Julio Lugo may get his first start of the season tonight. I somewhat fear Tito putting Lugo at leadoff, but I'm now confident that (a) Lugo will be eased into the lineup/regular playing time and (b) Ellsbury's hitting and overall play have improved enough to dispell Francona of that idea.

Only three Red Sox players have ever faced Reyes -- and one of them is Penny! J.D. Drew is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Jason Bay is 3-for-6 with a walk.

Of the five Spiders to have seen Penny previously, three are pitchers. Mark DeRosa is 8-for-27 and Tony Graffanino is 1-for-6 (but 0-for-his-last-5). (Graffanino has a -11 OPS+ in 24 plate appearances this year!)

***

Note: The Yankees' run differential is worse than that of the hapless Nationals, owners of the worst record in baseball:
            W   L    PCT    RS    RA    DIFF
Yankees 9 10 .474 102 126 - 24
Nationals 4 14 .222 85 107 - 22
New York's Phil "The Franchise" Hughes makes his 2009 debut (6.62 ERA in 2008) in Detroit at 7 PM. ... Jays in Kansas City.

Papelbon Tinkering With Delivery

Jonathan Papelbon -- whose rate of swings and misses has dropped from 27.6% to 21.2% -- says he has changed his delivery
... kind of added a little bit more power to it. When you make adjustments in this game, you're going to have to take the good with the bad, and maybe right now I'm throwing a little bit more pitches than I have in the past. To me, I'm still not overworking myself because by changing my mechanics, it's able to take some of that pressure off my arm. So throwing 15 pitches the old way is the same as throwing 25 the new way. ...

I'm using my legs more so all that torque and stuff is going to be on my legs and not on my arms. I feel really good with it right now. My outing in Oakland kind of solidified that, like OK, I'm comfortable as I can be with the new mechanics.
and many SoSHers are neither pleased nor hopeful. Amid some video and pics:

JohntheBaptist:
I know the Sox are on top of these things on various levels, but that sentence ["take some pressure off my arm"] seems revealing to me. His velocity still seems OK but it's strange because those extra feet on his fastball don't seem to be there.
roundegotrip:
... I'm wondering if Papelbon is trying to increase his stride length ... Note Papelbon's low arm slot, and how unbalanced he is at the end of his follow-through, falling over to his left with his right leg kicked out in an attempt to stay balanced. ... It looks like he's opening up and working east/west, whipping the ball, which is a habit he's gotten into in the past.
jodyreeddudley78:
He is constantly missing his spots this year, and his follow-through seems to have more of a pronounced fall off to the side of the mound than it has in the past. His fastball doesn't have that extra zip and everyone knows it is coming. I am in the concerned category.
Small sample so far this year, but his strikeout rate has been dropping since 2007: 13.0, 10.0, 7.7. His fly ball rate has jumped from last year (31.1% to 59.3%), his groundball rate has dropped (49.2% to 25.9%) and line drives are slight less frequent (19.7% to 14.8%).

This year: 9 games, 9.1 innings, 8 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts, 2 runs. Thirteen baserunners in 9.1 innings is far too many, but more than half of them (7 of the 13) have come in two outings (April 11 and last night). Other seven appearances: 7 innings, 3 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 0 runs.

***

Tim Wakefield: "I feel phenomenal. I'm throwing a lot of strikes." In his four starts, here's Wakefield's runs allowed totals: 3, 2, 1, 0! He's allowing only five hits per nine innings. After a good first start, his last three: 23 innings, 10 hits, 7 walks, 1.17 ERA, .123/.220/.173, throwing 62% strikes.

George Kottaras had two passed balls:
It was breaking at the last second. I was focusing on it and all of a sudden it would take a left turn or right turn. It even got me on the hip, made me miss one really bad. I was just trying to stay with him and it was good. He was on tonight.
Wakefield needs 27 more victories to becoming the winningest pitcher in Red Sox history; he has 166 and Cy Young and Roger Clemens are tied with 192.

Mike Lowell was named AL Player of the Week (10-for-23, .435, 11 RBI). ... Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.

David Ortiz has a seven-game hitting streak (.345). ... Manny Delcarmen has not allowed a run in his last 22.2 innings, dating to September 9, 2008. ... Clay Buchholz pitched against Lehigh Valley last night: 6-3-1-1-7 (game log). ... The Portland Sea Dogs lost 20-15 on Sunday.

J.D. Drew says he feels "considerably looser than [Sunday] when I left. I don't know if it's more dehydration, cramping kind of issue ..." Drew, on Sunday's excitement:
I'm not the guy who steals home. I'm the guy who tries not to kill the guy who steals home. I saw him coming the whole way. In that situation I didn't want to give it away by backing out of the box or anything to speed Andy up. I could see his complete focus was on me. I could feel Ellsy coming. I almost squared around to bunt to keep Posada back but then Andy sped up and flipped the ball in there. ... It worked out good all the way around other than Ellsy tripping and falling over home plate.
Josh Beckett is calling Jacoby Ellsbury "The Jet", from a character in "The Sandlot" movie. "The Jet" was the nameplate above Lyndon's locker in Cleveland.

April 27, 2009

G19: Red Sox 3, Spiders 1

Red Sox - 000 000 003 - 3  8  0
Spiders - 000 000 001 - 1 4 1
11!
11 consecutive wins!
AH AH AH AH AH AH!


Wakefield (7-1-0-4-5, 112, 1.86 ERA) and Lee (8-5-0-0-5, 106) traded goose eggs for most of the game. And once Lee left the mound, the Red Sox pounced.

Facing Kerry Wood in the ninth, Dustin Pedroia walked and David Ortiz dropped a single into short center. Kevin Youkilis flew out to short right, bring up Jason Bay, who had hit the ball hard in his previous three trips, singling twice.

The pale Canadian took a strike before launching a three-run homer to deep left-center, a no-doubt blast that gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. (On Wood's next pitch, Mike Lowell tripled -- yes, tripled -- as Grady Sizemore dove to catch his sinking liner, only to have it bounce over him and roll to deep center.)

Wakefield allowed only one hit -- a two-out single in the first inning to Victor Martinez. He walked and hit a batter with two outs in the fourth and walked two in the sixth, but worked out of trouble each time. In the sixth, he needed a running catch from Jacoby Ellsbury in right-center to preserve his shutout bid.

Manny Delcarmen pitched a quick and perfect eighth before turning the game over to Jonathan Papelbon. He allowed three singles to his first four batters -- and he appeared to receive a gift strike three call on the one batter he retired -- giving Cleveland one run and bringing the potential winning run to the plate. But Kelly Shoppach chased a slider in the dirt for the second out, and he got pinch-hitter Ben Francisco to pop to first to end the game.

It's the longest Red Sox winning streak since June 16-29, 2006, when the team won 12.

The Royals beat the Blue Jays 7-1, allowing the Red Sox to creep into first place for the first time this season.
Red Sox     13   6   .684   ---
Blue Jays 14 7 .667 ---
The Yankees lost to the Tigers 4-2, though CC Sabathia threw a complete game and lowered his ERA to 4.73. New York is 9-10, 4 GB.

***

Tim Wakefield (2.45, 208 ERA+) / Cliff Lee (5.25, 94 ERA+)

The F Train rolls on to Cleveland, where the Red Sox begin a three-game series against the Spiders (7-12). Having finished a three-game sweep of the Yankees and now riding a 10-game winning streak, Boston sends its ace to the hill tonight.

J.D. Drew is not in the lineup after a tight left quad forced him out of Sunday's game after seven innings. Gumball Bailey gets the nod in right field against lefty Lee. Julio Lugo will play in this series, but he's not starting tonight.

The Red Sox's bullpen has allowed just five runs over the past 41 innings. (1.10 ERA).

Lee is making his fifth start of the month. After a disastrous Opening Day outing, he has posted a 3.32 ERA in the three starts since, though he has allowed 32 baserunners in 19 innings. His season WHIP is 1.750.

Top hitters for Cleveland:
Victor Martinez     .397/.448/.654/1.102
Travis Hafner .293/.388/.586/ .974
Shin-Soo Choo .286/.418/.524/ .942
Asdrubal Cabrera .339/.456/.482/ .938

Schadenfreude 74 (A Continuing Series)

Ken Davidoff, Newsday:
Welcome, Yankees fans, to this annual pit stop on your baseball calendar.

It's your April state of emergency.

You know the drill: The Yankees visit Fenway Park early on the schedule, and things don't go well. ...

Boston pulled out this close victory even though skipper Terry Francona kicked off the day with the news that closer Jonathan Papelbon and top setup men Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez would take the night off to preserve the trio for the long term.
John Harper, Daily News:
In the end, the steal of home was more than an embarrassing punctuation mark to a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox that was full of heartbreak and exasperation.

For the Yankees, it was symbolic of a weekend in which they were beaten in the cruelest of ways, three losses that leave you wondering if they are as tough as the Red Sox anymore. ...

Gut-wrenching as those first two defeats were, in fact, Sunday night's 4-1 loss should have been the most deflating of the series to the Yankees. ...

Tell the truth: had you ever heard of Hunter Jones and Michael Bowden, the two rookies who pitched 2.2 scoreless innings? Did you even know that Takashi Saito, the former Dodger who closed out Sunday night's game, was in the Red Sox bullpen?
George A. King III, Post:
"Obviously, that's frustrating. Jorge told me to watch him. I was in the windup, I should have been in the stretch," said Pettitte, who was victimized on a steal of home by Toronto's Aaron Hill on May 29, 2007 when he was in the stretch. "I figured if [Ellsbury] took off I would go through my windup and throw him out."
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
Stealing home? That's the kind of stuff they do in bad baseball movies, in bad baseball novels. Stealing home? Forget having legs swift enough to get you there, you had better have guts steel enough to even think about asking your legs to get you there.

And yet, even with that . . . ...

"Be careful," Posada said. "Pay attention to him."

Just 10 days ago, the Red Sox were a mess, off to a brutal start, looking discombobulated and creaky, which is to say not very different than the way the Yankees suddenly looked heading into this game. ...

The Yankees left behind a team riding a 10-game winning streak and a ballpark still shaking from what it saw. Sometimes, this game really can still surprise you.

April 26, 2009

G18: Red Sox 4, Yankees 1

Yankees - 001 000 000 - 1  7  2
Red Sox - 001 030 00x - 4 7 1
SWEEP!
The three-game sweep of the Yankees capped a 9-0 homestand -- and extended the Sox's winning streak to 10 games!

This game turned over the course of five pitches (with an intentional walk thrown into the mix) in the fifth inning. Boston had runners at first and second with two outs when David Ortiz doubled to the wall in left. Nick Green scored -- giving Boston a 2-1 lead -- and Jacoby Ellsbury went to third. Pettitte walked Kevin Youkilis intentionally to load the bases for J.D. Drew, who had struck out in his previous two at-bats.

Drew swung through the first pitch. Then, while Pettitte was getting ready to deliver, Ellsbury took off -- and stole home*!!! He was trying to run so fast, he stumbled at the very end and sort of fell/slid head first across the plate, but was in safely ahead of Jorge Posada's tag.

[* It was the first Red Sox steal of home since Jose Offerman on August 30, 1999, though that was part of a double steal. The last straight steal of home was by Billy Hatcher on April 22, 1994.]

Drew looked at another ball, then stroked a double to right, bringing in Ortiz. The Sox led 4-1 and the bullpen -- Hunter Jones, Michael Bowden and Takashi Saito -- shut the door.

Masterson was excellent: 5.1-6-1-1-4, 99.

***

Andy Pettitte (2.53, 193 ERA+) / Justin Masterson (3.18, 163 ERA+)

The last two games -- both played in 4:21 -- have not only been amazing Red Sox comebacks, they have also been crushing losses for the Yankees! Wonderful on every level.

The Red Sox's current nine-game winning streak is the best April stretch in team history. A win tonight would complete a perfect 9-0 homestand! It would also, providing Toronto loses to Chicago (2 PM), put us in first place.

Mike Bauman, MLB.com:
If the Red Sox continue to win games the way they won the past two, this season is eventually going to remind a lot of people of 2004 and '07.

Yes, it is extremely early for major pronouncements, but there is never an inappropriate time to turn seemingly certain defeat into extremely uplifting victory. And extremely early is a terrific time to prove to everybody that you are completely capable of this kind of transformation. ...

There is no need to exaggerate the importance of what the Red Sox were able to accomplish in their first two meetings with the Yankees this season. They performed the way that winning teams -- postseason teams -- perform: with resilience, persistence and determination.
Bryan Hoch, MLB.com:
The tight quarters of the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park have taken on a funereal pall after the first two games of the weekend, with Yankees players shuffling about silently and preparing to make their exit ... out the dank concrete corridors of the ancient ballpark.
Current Red Sox hitters have done extremely well against Horseface: .365/.425/.557/.982. Yankee hitters are 9-for-18 against Masterson, though no one has more than five plate appearances.

Masterson:
I feel more assured of myself and who I am, and I feel like I'm understanding my mechanics, like, what makes me good. I think I'm understanding that better. I'm not overthinking.
Gil Velazquez was told he'll likely be optioned to Pawtucket tonight, meaning Julio Lugo will rejoin the team in Cleveland. ... Record of the rivalry at Fenway: 446-446, with four ties.

Schadenfreude 73 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Welcome to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, A.J. Burnett. A very rude welcome at that.

Burnett blew a six-run lead, then watched the Yankees' bullpen surrender eight more runs in a 16-11 loss to the Red Sox Saturday, marking the second consecutive day the Bombers had choked away a game against their bitter rivals. ...
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
The Yankees led 2-0, then 4-0, then 6-0. The Sox led 8-6, then 9-8, then 12-10. The Yanks crawled to within 12-11. And then the Sox crushed them with their steel-toed boots.
Roger Rubin, Daily News:
It's taken just a little more than 24 hours for the Red Sox to set the tone for the 2009 season series against the Yankees. They were dealt bleak situations two games in a row and walked out of Fenway Park victorious both times. ...

"When you've come back and then you're down again, you believe you can do it again," Lowell said. "It reinforces that it's not over. Instead of going down six runs and every time it's an 8-2 loss ... the team proves to itself that it can come back in situations where it seems like it's not very likely."
John Harper, Daily News:
This was exactly the type of game the Yankees had in mind when they decided to gamble $82.5 million on A.J. Burnett last winter. As a Toronto Blue Jay, nobody pitched better against the big dogs in the AL East than Burnett. And don't think his career ERA of 0.40 at Fenway Park wasn't a huge selling point.

Furthermore, he'd very much looked the part of the new Yankee stopper to this point, with Joe Girardi more than once saying he sensed that Burnett loves pitching on the big stage. ...

Yet when given an early 6-0 lead, Burnett looked as if he had suddenly contracted a case of stage fright. ... [I]f their starting pitching isn't going to stand tall in games such as these, the Yankees are in huge trouble already. ...

Some two hours after he'd been removed from the game, Burnett was sitting at his locker in full uniform, staring straight ahead.

"Trying to calm down," he said.
George A. King III, Post:
Friday night, the great Mariano Rivera flushed a victory over the Red Sox in the ninth.

Yesterday, A.J. Burnett couldn't hold a big, early lead, and a bullpen that was without Brian Bruney was awful.

Tonight? Who knows what will happen when the Red Sox attempt a three-game sweep of their blood rivals.

April 25, 2009

Kings Of The Comeback

In the last eight days:

April 17 - Red Sox trailed Orioles 7-0 in 2nd inning, won 10-8.

April 24 - Red Sox trailed Yankees 4-2 in 9th inning, won 5-4 in 11.

April 25 - Red Sox trailed Yankees 6-0 in 4th inning, won 16-11.

***

The winning streak is now at nine (from 2-6 to 11-6).

G17: Red Sox 16, Yankees 11

Yankees - 202 202 210 - 11 15  1
Red Sox - 000 531 34x - 16 13 1
Wow. Hard to recap this one. Some highlights:

Beckett threw a whopping 73 pitches in the first three innings, but managed to stick around for five frames (5-10-8-4-3, 116). Burnett (5-8-8-3-3, 91) also allowed eight runs. The last time both starters in a Yankees-Red Sox game each allowed at least eight runs was June 26, 1987 (Tommy John and Roger Clemens).

Varitek's first-pitch grand slam with two outs in the 4th brought the Sox from 6-1 to 6-5.

Jacoby Ellsbury's first dong of the season tied the score at 6-6 and Jason Bay's two-run double gave the Sox a 8-6 lead.

After New York had moved ahead 10-9, Mike Lowell belted a three-run home run to left. Boston 12-10! Lowell also had a three-run double in the 8th -- thus tying a career-high six RBIs in only two innings. It was also the most RBI by a Red Sox player against the Yankees since Carlton Fisk on April 6, 1973, Opening Day!

Dustin Pedroia reached base all five times; Kevin Youkilis scored four runs; Bay scored three times and drove in three.

On the other side, Robinson Cano doubled and homered twice, driving in five runs (tying his career-high). Mark Teixeira walked five times in six plate appearances, the first Yankee with five walks in a game since Roger Maris on May 22, 1962.

In the last two games, the Yankee bullpen has thrown 177 pitches in eight innings, allowing 10 hits, five walks and 11 runs.

And this was the first Yankees/Red Sox game in which the Yankees blew a six-run lead and lost since May 16, 1968 -- almost 41 years ago.
Yankees - 106 201 000 - 10 9 2
Red Sox - 300 110 06x - 11 14 0
***

A.J. Burnett (3.20, 150 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (3.79, 134 ERA+)
           GS    IP    H   BB    K
Burnett 3 19.2 13 9 17
Beckett 3 19 16 9 20
Beckett has not allowed a home run this year.

Beckett, Burnett and Mike Lowell were teammates on the Marlins from 2001-05. Dr. D:
We're going to have our hands full facing a guy like A.J. High-velocity guy -- really good curveball. But that doesn't mean he's unbeatable.
Also: Nick Green has had three consecutive two-hit games. ... As expected, Jonathan Van Every is the new backup outfielder.

Friday Night Videos: Dan Lamothe has a NESN clip of the game-ending blast. Jere shot a video of Bay's dong from the bleachers.

Schadenfreude 72 (A Continuing Series)


Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Since the beginning of 2008, the Yankees had been 84-0 in games they led after eight innings, but the homers by Bay and Youkilis ended that run ... It was Rivera's 12th career blown save against the Red Sox, his most against any team in the majors.


Mike Lupica, Daily News:
Bay's homer is the one you will remember even more than Youkilis' walk-off shot. ...

In the quiet Yankee clubhouse, October quiet in April, Jorge Posada was asked if he could remember the last time anybody in baseball took Rivera out of a park the way Bay did. Posada stood there for a minute and took a sip of soft drink and finally said, "It's been awhile."

Again: There had been other games Rivera couldn't finish. What became a loss in Game 4 in '04 was the worst loss in Yankees history, and it started because the greatest guy in history at getting the last three outs couldn't get them when the Yankees could have swept the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series and maybe kept their foot on Boston's neck for another 86 years. ...

You try to remember somebody hitting him like Bay did last night. You couldn't believe the way the ball sounded coming off his bat and you couldn't believe where it landed.
George A. King III, Post:
... last night Mariano Rivera getting taken over the Green Monster by Jason Bay with two outs in the ninth was simply one peg on the checklist of problems.

Prior to the Red Sox handing the Yankees a 5-4 loss in 11 innings, when Kevin Youkillis hit the game-winning homer off Damaso Marte, the Yankees' world started to go dark.

Brian Bruney, who has been sensational setting up Rivera, was on his way home to New York with a cranky right elbow. ... Chien-Ming Wang was found to have abductor muscle problems in his hips and was placed on the disabled list. ... In the eighth inning of the crushing defeat that stopped a three-game winning streak, the Yankees lost starting third baseman Cody Ransom due to a quadriceps injury. Ransom, who replaced Alex Rodriguez, was immediately placed on the disabled list. ...

Rivera's flush job makes the headlines because of who he is and what team did him in. But the Yankees failed to score off Javier Lopez when he loaded the bases without getting an out or giving up a hit in the ninth when the Yankees led, 4-2. ...

April 24, 2009

G16: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (11)

Yankees - 000 200 200 00 - 4 13  1
Red Sox - 100 001 002 01 - 5 14 0
After Jason Bay tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run bomb to center off Mariano Rivera, Kevin Youkilis won it with a dong to left off Damaso Marte.

The first half of the game was highly frustrating, as the Red Sox hit into four double plays in the first five innings. But things clicked in the sixth, as Mike Lowell doubled and Jason Varitek and Nick Green followed with singles, tying the game at 2-2.

Hideki Okajima relieved Lester (6-7-2-3-7, 114) in the seventh and faced four batters. They all reached safely, but only two of them scored, thanks to Manny Delcarmen's arm (3 outs on 8 pitches) and Bay's diving catch of Robinson Cano's liner to left center.

After Jonathan Albaladejo plunked Green with two down in the eighth and threw a called strike to Jacoby Ellsbury, Joe Girardi called on Rivera. Panic move? Maybe. Lyndon singled, but Dustin Pedroia was caught looking.

Javier Lopez loaded the bases in the top of the ninth with no outs on an HBP and two walks. But he toughened, getting Cano to hit into a 4-2-3 double play with the infield in and retiring Melky Cabrera on a foul pop to Tek.

Rivera struck out Ortiz to begin the bottom of the ninth. Youkilis lined a single right back through the box and took second on J.D. Drew's slow grounder to second. Then Bay came up, looked at a ball, and crushed a home run into the left-center end of the Monster seats. Tie game, 4-4. Lowell singled, but Varitek fanned. Rivera ended up throwing 30 pitches.

Mark Teixeira stranded runners at second and third in the tenth and Milk Dud GIDP'd to end the eleventh. After Ortiz struck out against Marte, Yook hit a no-doubt shot on a 2-1 pitch to left field and the first walk-off of 2009 was in the books.

***

Joba Chamberlain (5.06, 97 ERA+) / Jon Lester (5.50, 95 ERA+)

The Herald's Sean McAdam thinks "it might be too soon to expect the requisite high drama this weekend".

Over at the Post, Mike Vaccaro counters with: "Not to worry. There is Joba."
Referring to the four times Chamberlain has pitched up near the head of Kevin Youkilis in the last two seasons, Terry Francona notes that "he has great command until Youk gets in there". David Ortiz says "the next step for [Joba] will be to earn respect from everyone in the league so people don't get the wrong idea about him".

Over at SoSH, ToeKneeArmAss posted this:


Both teams come into the series on hot streaks. The Red Sox are led by Youkilis: .429/.522/.750; 14 runs scored, six doubles, four homers, 12 RBIs. ... Ortiz: "He gets up in the morning and he's already got a hit."

Roger Rubin, Daily News:
The Yankees have won six of their last eight games, while Boston has won seven in a row to go from the AL East basement to within striking distance of first-place Toronto. Both teams enter the weekend series at 9-6 [2 GB the 12-5 Blue Jays]. ...

On the current streak, their primary method has been beating foes into submission - Boston leads the AL in team batting average (.320), on-base percentage (.409), slugging (.580) and runs per game (7.86) over the last week. ...

Pedroia is hitting .458 over the last six games, while Ortiz has five hits in the last three games ...
Since a 12-inning loss to Oakland on April 14, the Red Sox have not lost. In their last four games, the Red Sox have outscored their opponents 31-6. Here are some numbers on the two halves of the young season:
REC    RS   AVG   OBP   SLG    RA   ERA
2-6 29 .237 .319 .388 43 5.40
7-0 55 .320 .409 .580 20 2.66
What, Ortiz Worry?
People panic too easy here. I've been here seven years, man, and the years that we struggle the most, we win the World Series. Sometimes, I guess, panicking, that's what makes the game interesting. Sometimes, that gets the game all (messed) up too. I don't know, I love it. It's good with me. I've been dealing with it for years, so I know how it goes.
***

When he was 13 years old, Arthur Giddon was a batboy for the Boston Braves. That was in 1922. For his 100th birthday, he'll be working at the city's other ball park, serving as the Red Sox's batboy during batting practice.

The Red Sox have sent Chris Carter back to Pawtucket and are expected to call up Jonathan Van Every before tonight's game. ... Boston has also reacquired Kason Gabbard from the Rangers. ... In his first start since injuring his hamstring, Clay Buchholz pitched five innings against Rochester, allowing three hits, two walks and two runs.

April 23, 2009

RBI Radio: Red Sox/Yankees Debate

Update: Archived show here.

***

On the eve of the first Red Sox/Yankees series of 2009, I will be debating the pros and cons of both teams with Mike Axisa from River Avenue Blues on RBI Radio, hosted by Joe Hayward.

The show begins at 9 PM. To listen, go to NowLive.com by clicking here. If you like, sign up at the site and participate in the chat during the show.

Dave Roberts's "Dig Me" Room

We know this in our hearts, but it bears repeating.

Dave Roberts is the Greatest Human Being Ever:
Screw this crap about teaching the American Revolution in our public schools. Sit kids down on day one, show them The Steal, and remind them how lucky they are to live in these magical times.
It's true. That revolution thing never really panned out, but the Steal and its aftermath will resonate for centuries.

Red points us to this cool USA Today interview with the Man of Steal:
If I came to your house, is there a continuous video loop of that play?

(Laughs) No. I would be divorced if there was. I've got one room which is a sports room or my wife calls it a "dig me" room . There is the helmet I had when I stole the base and there is also my spikes and picture. But that is it. A continuous loop? No. ...

How often do people remind you of the play?

I played four seasons after the '04 season and there is not a day that went by during the baseball season where a member of Red Sox Nation would not say thank you. That is a fact. Unless I'm in my house and by myself, I'm pretty much hearing it all the time.
I know July 19, 2005 was covered.

Offday Outtakes: Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams's 1988 self-titled album isn't perfect, but it's damn close. When it was released, I wrote:
"There is rarely a false note or insincere moment on Lucinda Williams. ... [Her] wonderful voice, both soaring and rock-steady, at times suggests early Bonnie Raitt. [There is a] relaxed confidence [to] the music, a hearty mixture of country, blues, rock and folk ... honest emotions and simply-stated dialogue ..."
The first seven tracks here are demos Williams recorded for that album in 1986. The rest of the set was recorded circa 1991-92, during the many sessions for Sweet Old World.
01  I Just Wanted To See You So Bad
02 The Night's Too Long
03 Like A Rose
04 Crescent City
05 Sidewalks Of The City
06 Passionate Kisses
07 Sundays
08 Six Blocks Away
09 Something About What Happens When We Talk
10 Sidewalks Of The City
11 Hot Blood
12 Little Angel, Little Brother
13 What You Don't Know
14 Sweet Old World
15 Prove My Love
16 Drivin' On A Dead-End Street
17 Lines Around Your Eyes
18 Pineola
19 Which Will (Nick Drake cover)
Enjoy!

April 22, 2009

G15: Red Sox 7, Twins 3

Twins   - 000 201 000 - 3  6  1
Red Sox - 032 200 00x - 7 5 1
Sweep! Seven straight wins -- and tied with the Yankees (9-6) for second place.

***

Start delayed 47 minutes.

2nd: Drew walk, Varitek HBP, Bailey three-run home run to left.

3rd: Ellsbury walk, Pedroia single, Ortiz two-run double off left field wall.

4th: Bailey walk, Green double, Ellsbury 4-3/RBI, Pedroia F7/RBI.

Liriano: 4-4-7-4-6, 74
Penny: 6-6-3-1-2, 89 (2 ER)

Red Sox Bullpen: Two earned runs in last 28.1 IP.

***

Francisco Liriano (5.09, 89 ERA+) / Brad Penny (11.00, 47 ERA+)

After a somewhat soggy 10-1 abbreviated victory in the afternoon, there is a second game this evening. ... Weather permitting.

G14: Red Sox 10, Twins 1 (7, rain)

Twins   - 000 010 0  -  1  5  0
Red Sox - 222 000 4 - 10 14 2
4:10 PM: It's a final!

2:45 PM: Rain Delay with Red Sox batting in bottom of the 7th.


***

1st: Ortiz two-out single, Youkilis two-run homer to right.

2nd: Kottaras one-out walk, Green two-run homer to left.

3rd: Drew one-out double, Lowell two-run homer to left.

6th: Reliever Morillo allowed a double high off the Wall to Ortiz, then walked Youkilis, Drew and Bay. Dickey came in and Lowell singled, Kottaras hit a sac fly and Nick Green doubled. Then out came the tarp.

Wakefield: 7-5-1-1-4, 101.

Drew has walked, singled, and doubled twice.

***

Scott Baker (13.50, 34 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (3.00, 172 ERA+)

Game 1 of a Day-Night Doubleheader!

Last Wednesday, in his only start so far this season (he missed his first start with right shoulder stiffness), Baker lasted a mere four innings against Toronto, giving up four dongs and six runs. Last July 7, Baker pitched seven shutout innings against the Red Sox, but the Twins lost that game 1-0.

***

Julio Lugo will rehab with Pawtucket at least until Sunday. Ian Browne speculates that Lugo could return to the lineup for Monday's game in Cleveland.

Daisuke Matsuzaka threw from 60 feet yesterday. Terry Francona said the issue "is not the strength on an exam, but the durability of the strength, which is kind of what can happen when you ramp up too soon". Dice will do the same routine today, then take Thursday off.

(The Washington Natinals?)

Dave Roberts had been scheduled to throw out the first pitch last night. He may be doing some studio work for NESN later this season.
Of all the places I went, this is the place where I spent the least amount of time, but, obviously, the magnitude of that stolen base and what was accomplished, the byproduct of that stolen base, obviously, has defined my career. That's a huge moment and a great honor. I get asked every day, "Do I get tired of hearing about the steal and reversing the curse?" Absolutely not.


April 21, 2009

G14: Twins at Red Sox, PPD

8:10 PM: Postponed until 12:35 PM Wednesday/tomorrow.

7:05 PM: In a rain delay.

***

Scott Baker (13.50, 34 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (3.00, 172 ERA+)

Last Wednesday, in his only start so far this season (he missed his first start with right shoulder stiffness), Baker lasted a mere four innings against Toronto, giving up four dongs and six runs.

Last July 7, Baker pitched seven shutout innings against the Red Sox, but the Twins lost that game 1-0.

***

Does Josh Beckett have a hidden agenda? ... Firebrand has info on Clay Buchholz's left hamstring injury. ... I am doing only so-so with the Reds in Jere's Run Total contest. ... The Stud Who Sells Real Estate?

YFSF notes that Tyler Kepner's main sources for his New York Times story on the many home runs hit at Yankee Stadium III are Greg Rybarczyk's hittracker and Steve Lombardi's waswatching, adding:
... as old media wonders how the hell to make money in the new media world, this story shows that blogs are doing yeoman's work and providing key analysis and news outside the bounds of typical news gathering methods. Though we who traffic these sites know this and therefore this assertion may sound uncontroversial, to see two such websites cited on the front page of the Times sports section as his sources by the Yankees' beat writer is a verification and validation of the strengths and speed of the minds (kudos to Greg and Steve) working solely within our own chosen medium.

Making Three Outs In An Inning

After Jason Varitek made the first and third outs in Boston's seventh inning yesterday, we were wondering if any player had ever made all three of his team's outs in an inning.

Joe Grav commented:
... it happened in an independent minor league game I was at in 2003. The North Shore Spirit scored 15 (?) runs in one inning against the New Jersey Jackals, and Brian Caruso made all 3 outs, striking out each time. They gave him a plaque to commemorate the occasion lol
The New York Times of August 16, 2003 offers more info:
The North Shore Spirit set a record for the independent Northeast League on Wednesday by scoring 13 runs in the fifth inning on its way to a 15-9 victory over the Jersey Jackals. The big inning took 42 minutes, with the Spirit sending 19 batters to the plate and knocking out 12 hits. It might still be going on if not for North Shore catcher Bryan Caruso.

Caruso set a record that might never be broken: he made all three outs in the inning, against three New Jersey pitchers. Caruso led off the inning by grounding out to third. After back-to-back homers, including a grand slam by Fran Riordan, made the score 9-0, Caruso struck out for the second out. The next eight Spirit batters reached base before his teammates presented Caruso with his bat for his third plate appearance of the inning. Joe Magri struck out Caruso to end the inning. After the game, Riordan said he should have gotten picked off second base to help Caruso out.
At least 19 batters would have to come to the plate for a player to make all three outs (as happened in Caruso's game). Hitting into a triple play or making one out and then hitting into a double play later in the inning would not count.

The major league record for most batters in an inning is 23, set by the Red Sox on June 18, 1953, against the Tigers. The Brooklyn Dodgers hold the NL record: 21, in the first inning (ouch!) against the Reds on May 21, 1952.

Here is a list of every player from 1900-1995 who has batted three times in one inning:

National League
Marty Callaghan, Cubs, August 25, 1922, 4th inning
Billy Cox, Dodgers, May 21, 1952, 1st inning
Pee Wee Reese, May 21, 1952, 1st inning
Duke Snider, May 21, 1952, 1st inning
Gil Hodges, Dodgers, August 8, 1954, 8th inning
Dusty Baker, Atlanta, September 20, 1972, 2nd inning
Mariano Duncan, Reds, August 3, 1989, 1st inning
Luis Quinones, Reds, August 3, 1989, 1st inning
American League:
Ted Williams, Red Sox, July 4, 1948, 7th inning
Sammy White, Red Sox, June 18, 1953, 7th inning
Gene Stephens, Red Sox, June 18, 1953, 7th inning
Tom Umphlett, Red Sox, June 18, 1953, 7th inning
Johnny Lipon, Red Sox, June 18, 1953, 7th inning
George Kell, Red Sox, June 18, 1953, 7th inning
I found a rec.sport.baseball discussion from 1991 with the results of those plate appearances:
Callaghan: 2 singles and struck out
Cox: Ground out, single, HBP
Reese: Walk, single, walk
Snider: Home run, walk, strikeout
Hodges: Triple, double, fly out
Baker: 3-for-5 that day; home run (in 2nd), single, double
Duncan: Walk, double, fly out
Quinones: Single, single, fly out
Williams: Walk, walk, ground out
White: Single, walk, single
Stephens: Single, double, single
Umphlett: Single, walk, single
Lipon: Strike out, single, walk
Kell: Double, fly out, fly out
Stephens is the only one with three hits in one inning. (Note: This list does not include games since 1995, such as Boston's 2003 game against the Marlins, in which Johnny Damon batted three times in the first inning and doubled, tripled and singled, joining Stephens in the record book.)

From 1900-1995, no major league player ever made all three outs in a single inning. (In fact, Kell is the only one on the list with two outs.)

Tiz Tweaks Swing, Shows Power To Left

After a 2-for-4 day on Monday, David Ortiz is still hitting only .196. But he thinks he and hitting coach Dave Magadan have identified (and fixed) some flaws in his swing that may have been slowing his bat.

Ortiz said that before his last at-bat on Sunday, Magadan
showed me something that we both agreed on. That's why that guy was throwing 88 and throwing a fastball by me. I was wondering why because I was hitting the ball good. ... It doesn't matter how hard the pitcher is throwing. If you're late, you're late. We've been working on that and like I said, I'm very mechanical. If I don't have everything going the way I normally do, I get in trouble easily.
Late last week, Magadan noticed that
Ortiz has been cocking his hands into a hitting position too late, the same problem that has crept up on Ortiz when struggles surfaced in the past ... Magadan showed Ortiz two pictures, one from last year during a hot streak and one from this year. In the first, Ortiz had his hands back, ready to swing, while the ball was halfway to the plate. In the second picture, Ortiz was in an identical position, but the pitch had nearly reached the plate.
Flo:
When I'm swinging the bat good, I hit to left field naturally, without even thinking about it. And when I'm slumping like I have been and I start hitting the ball to left field, it tells me it's coming around
Both his double and triple yesterday were to left field.

Michael Silverman, Herald:
Jed Lowrie will have surgery on his troublesome left wrist this morning, the first step in a procedure that should have him back with the Red Sox by the end of June.

Lowrie was examined by Phoenix-based Dr. Donald Sheridan. The wrist specialist recommended Lowrie have a procedure to scope the wrist and remove the ulnar styloid.
Lowrie said he was given a timetable of 6-8 weeks to be back on a major league field.

"It's the best news I could have received that gave me a timeline, fingers crossed, I'll be back in 6-8 weeks. The bone is going to be taken out and not cause me any more pain," said Lowrie by phone from Phoenix. "(Dr. Sheridan) didn't find anything new, but he says the injury wouldn't have gotten better without surgery. I would have been able to rehab it again and then it probably would have relapsed again, he was pretty sure.
Julio Lugo is now in Pawtucket for the start of his rehab assignment. The Sox will likely be doubly cautious with Lugo, since Nick Green has been solid in the field and has a decent .321 OBP.

Justin Masterson simply wants to pitch:
Just give me the ball ... I don't care when it is. ... I'm hoping Dice K gets back as quick as he can. I don't know when I'm pitching next or what's going on. I'm fine with that. ...

I wanted to keep the intensity I had coming in from the bullpen when it seemed my velocity kind of elevated, and really just keep that intensity coming into my start.
Terry Francona:
Masterson went out and not only threw the ball well early, he maintained it, which is not that easy to do. The life on his fastball and the depth on his breaking ball were tremendous from start to end. He did a great job.
Tito Explains It All: On the just-completed four-game sweep of the Orioles and current five-game winning streak (longest streak since last May):
That's why you don't panic the first two weeks of the season. ... We say it every year, but it happens. Everything gets blown out of proportion and you just try to play good baseball because at some point in the season, when you start logging enough at-bats and innings, you get into the grind. And if you're good, it shows.
***

Fidrych Follow-up: A comment from JohnnyTwisto in a B-Ref "Stat of the Day" post:
Here's one: Fidrych has the 2nd most complete games (24) of any first-year pitcher in the live ball era (since 1920). #1 is Dave Ferriss, with 26 in 1945. Ferriss wasn't just a creation of weakened war ball, because in '46 he was just as good, going 25-6, 3.25, and another 26 CG. But he faded after that, only 19 more wins the rest of his career. Arm trouble, I suppose.
Wikipedia cites "arm troubles and asthma"; asthma also led to his early discharge from the military.

April 20, 2009

Baldelli To DL; Surgery For Lowrie

ProJo:
It appears Red Sox outfielder Rocco Baldelli is heading to the disabled list with a hamstring injury. As a result utility man Jeff Bailey has been recalled to Boston.

The Red Sox have not made an official announcement. According to manager Terry Francona, the club will wait to see how Baldelli feels Tuesday morning. ...

A balky left hamstring kept Baldelli out of the team's series at Oakland last week, but he was penciled into the lineup [Monday] morning in right field and said he was ready to go.
In the third inning of Boston's 12-1 Patriots Day win, Baldelli legged out three bases on a fly ball that Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis couldn't catch -- and then came out of the game at the end of the inning.

Terry Francona:
It had been bothering him this week and he got to the point where he really felt pretty good today; then he was going around second and it grabbed at him a little bit.
***

Jed Lowrie is expected to have wrist surgery this week. Francona said that the best-possible scenario would have Lowrie back with the team "by the All-Star break".

***

Brad Wilkerson has decided to retire.

G13: Red Sox 12, Orioles 1

Orioles - 001 000 000 -  1  5  1
Red Sox - 210 003 60x - 12 16 2
Four-game sweep! We win a high-scoring game (10-8), a "normal" game (6-4), a tight game (2-1) and a rout (12-1)!

Masterson (5.1-4-1-2-3, 84) pitched into the sixth and the pen turned in 3.2 shutout innings.

Boston got on the board right away as Ellsbury got a pop-up double down the left field line, stole third and scored on Pedroia's single. Pedroia -- 4-for-6, with 3 runs, 3 RBI -- scored on a fielder's choice. Varitek's home run to left in the second made it 3-0.

The Red Sox broke it open in the sixth as Varitek singled with one out. Then, with two gone, Ellsbury and Pedroia singled and Ortiz tripled (he also doubled, back in the first).

Baldelli left the game after third innings with a mild left hamstring strain.

Boston sent 12 men to the plate in the seventh as Radhames Liz and Matt Albers were given the Wang treatment. Bay walk, Lowell double, Varitek 5-3, Green HBP, Ellsbury single, Pedroia single, Ortiz HBP, Youkilis single, Carter F8-SAC, Bay single, Lowell single, Varitek K.

Lefty Hunter Jones made his major league debut in the ninth. Luke Scott grounded out to second. Gregg Zaun grounded out to third (and Yook made a tremendous scoop of Velazquez's low throw). Velazquez made a wild throw on Robert Andino's grounder for an error. Felix Pie put the cherry on top of this game by popping out to left.

***

Mark Hendrickson (3.00, 172 ERA+) / Justin Masterson (4.50, 117 ERA+)

With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, Masterson, who threw 60 pitches over four innings last Tuesday in Oakland, gets the ball on Patriots Day. He thinks he'll be good for 75 pitches or 5-6 innings.

Jason Bay:
I played a 10 o'clock game in 'A' ball about seven years ago or something. There were like 3,000 elementary students. They bussed in for it. It will be a lot like that, I guess.
Dustin Pedroia:
It's going to be early. I usually wake up around that time.
In two starts this season, Hendrickson has allowed 10 runs in nine innings, but seven of the runs have been unearned.

I remember Hendrickson best for his Fenway Park cameo back on July 20, 2005. Laura and I were there celebrating our 20th anniversary of meeting. The 6-9 lefty faced only six batters: single, walk, single, double, walk, double. Boston grabbed six runs in the first inning and cruised to a 9-4 victory.
Hendrickson Against the Red Sox

ERA IP H BB K

Career 8.56 62 95 26 24
@Fenway 8.42 31 49 14 15

Red Sox Batters vs Hendrickson

GMS AVG OBP SLG

Career 14 .351 .403 .539
@Fenway 8 .350 .409 .500
I guess what I'm trying to say is he ain't no good.

Yet the six players now on the Red Sox that have faced him -- David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Rocco Baldelli, Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay and Mike Lowell -- have not done well, hitting a combined .216/.280/.311.

Also: Seven of Boston's first 13 games have been played during the day. ... Red Sox bullpen ERA for the last five games? 0.86 (two runs in 21 innings).

April 19, 2009

G12: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1

Orioles - 000 000 001 - 1  6  0
Red Sox - 010 010 00x - 2 6 0
Lester pitched seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out nine.

Kevin Youkilis got the Sox offense going with a leadoff double in the second. He scored two outs later on Mike Lowell's single to right. In the fifth, Nick Green doubled and scored on Dustin Pedroia's single.

Since Jonathan Papelbon had worked Friday and Saturday, Takashi Saito was called in for the ninth, after Ramon Ramirez retired the Orioles in order in the eighth. It was the second consecutive day of work for Saito, something Terry Francona said he was determined not to do.

Saito allowed singles to Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff to begin the inning. Ty Wigginton's groundout to third scored Markakis, cutting the lead to 2-1. With the tying run at second, Saito got Luke Scott to line out to right and then struck out pinch-hitter Gregg Zaun.

***

Koji Uehara (7.20, 72 ERA+) / Jon Lester (9.00, 58 ERA+)

Uehara, a 34-year-old right-hander, pitched for 10 years in Japan before signing with the Orioles as a free agent. In two starts, against the Rangers and Yankees, he has a combined 10-12-8-5-3 line. ... Which is actually better than Lester's 11-18-11-2-10 showing so far.

Uehara, on Fenway Park:
I know it's a very historic venue. The Green Monster itself is really famous in Japan, but obviously I've only seen it on television. ... Maybe Ortiz is bigger.

Cody

Our dog Cody has been with us ten years today.

tala cody snow jan 09 062

Schadenfreude 71 (A Continuing Series)

Filip Bondy, Daily News:
Three calamitous appearances into the season, there is considerable cause for panic. ... [B]ehind the scenes, the Yankees are working frantically to repair Wang's mechanics and to massage the pitcher's shattered confidence. They have tried varying his workout schedule, pitching to live batters, speaking to him in low, soothing voices.

Wang's next appearance is supposed to come on Friday at Fenway, but that is very unlikely to happen because the Yankees have an off day on Thursday and can skip him.


***

The New York Yankees spent approximately $1.5 billion on their new ball park, but they didn't buy everything they needed.

It turns out that they did not have "14" to put on the scoreboard yesterday for Cleveland's historic second inning. They had to make due with a strip of white tape stuck to the left of a "4".

For 37 minutes, Cleveland batted. 17 hitters saw 69 pitches. They collected 13 hits and 14 runs.

It was the first time the Yankees had ever allowed 14 runs in an inning (the 13 hits was also an opponents' record). Beleaguered starter Chien-Ming Wang and Anthony Claggett (making his major league debut) were the punching bags.
Cleveland - 0141 140 011 - 22 25  1
Yankees - 2 00 002 000 - 4 7 1
By the time the game was over, the Spiders had set a club record with 52 at-bats and tied a club record with 50 total bases. Five Yankee pitchers threw a combined 226 pitches.The last time Cleveland scored 20+ runs? That was also against the Yankees, on August 31, 2004, when they posted a 22-0 shutout.

The last time a team put up a 14-run inning was June 27, 2003, when the Red Sox routed the Marlins 25-8.

History: Cleveland had also scored 14 runs in the first inning back on June 18, 1950, against the Philadelphia A's. And the Yankees had allowed 13 runs in a single inning to the Tigers on June 17, 1925.

In addition to the 14-spot and Saturday's drubbing, the Yankees also allowed nine runs to Cleveland in the seventh inning of Thursday's home (and stadium) opener, losing 10-2.

Classy Yankee fans made Claggett feel right at home during his major league debut.
Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
It's hard to imagine that the 28.93 ERA [Wang] brought into the game could rise, but it did, ballooning to 34.50. ... The Yankees now face a rotation crisis – Can they let Wang start at Fenway on Friday?

April 18, 2009

G11: Red Sox 6, Orioles 4

Orioles - 000 040 000 - 4  8  1
Red Sox - 014 100 00x - 6 12 1
Kevin Youkilis sparked the Sox with his first four-hit game of the season: single, two doubles, home run. He drove in four runs, three on a dong to left in the third.

Beckett stumbled in the fifth. The inning began with a single, double, walk, bases-loaded walk, double and fielding error. But with a man on second and no outs -- tying run at the plate -- he settled down, getting out of trouble, then ending his night by setting down the side in order with a seven-pitch sixth inning.

And the bullpen was stellar once again. Okajima, Saito and Papelbon combined for a 3-2-0-0-4 line.

Also: Cleveland scored 14 runs in the second inning against the Yankees and won 22-4. Because the Rays lost to Chicago, the Red Sox hopped over them into fourth place. At 5-6, we are 3 GB the high-flying Blue Jays.

***

Adam Eaton (9.00, 58 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (3.46, 154 ERA+)

Eaton has made only one start this season: last Sunday against the Rays. He went 4-8-4-2-6, 100 and Baltimore lost 11-3.

Eaton had a 5.80 ERA (75 ERA+) for the Phillies in 107 innings last year.

Masterson On Monday; Smoltz Throwing Live BP

It's official: Justin Masterson will start on Monday morning, taking Daisuke Matsuzaka's spot in the rotation. It's the Patriots Day game (11 AM).

John Smoltz will throw two innings against live hitters today in Fort Myers. He's still planning on returning early June. "I think the danger in looking forward to things is if you have a setback, then you feel worse."

Julio Lugo played three innings in an extended spring training game yesterday and, thanks to the elastic lineup rules, had five plate appearances. Mark Kotsay had two AB as a DH.

Clay Buchholz says his strained hamstring injury was "a freak type of deal", but I think I found the cause. From the Journal:

He threw 36.2 innings! (Fantastic pitch count, though; less than three per inning.)

J.D. Drew, on last night's victory:
These are the types of games we need after the road trip we had. [Tim Wakefield] got us going in that last game and we come home and this is where we expect to do our damage. To have a game like this where we just don't start out that well and then pour it on like we did and pull this out, that's pretty nice.
Jason Bay, perhaps caught up in the night's excitement:
I think most guys haven't really soaked it up yet. I think that's a potential season-changing win.