May 31, 2009

G51: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 2

Red Sox   - 100 310 020 - 8 11  0
Blue Jays - 100 000 010 - 2 5 0
A great afternoon in a shitty building in a fine country.

Lester (6-3-1-3-12, 115) set a career high in strikeouts, fanning the side in both the fourth and fifth innings. Ks by inning: 220 332.

It was the most strikeouts by a Sox lefty since Bruce Hurst struck out 14 A's in a nine-inning shutout on May 5, 1987. [L and I were at Fenway for Hurst's next start -- another complete game shutout -- on May 10. It was L's first game at Fenway!]

Kevin Youkilis belted two home runs, both solo shots. Jason Bay followed Yook's eighth inning dong with one of his own, on the next pitch from Brian Wolfe. Bay also doubled in the first inning, immediately after Yook's first bomb, and walked twice.

Dustin Pedroia broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth with a three-run shot off the left field pole. It was his second home run of the year; he hit his first on Opening Day. David Ortiz doubled to start that rally; in his other four at-bats, he grounded out to shortstop, popped out twice to third, and struck out.


Jon Lester (6.07, 80 ERA+) / Ricky Romero (3.08, 146 ERA+)

The Red Sox's record after 50 games in recent years:
2004 31-19 0.5 GA
2005 27-23 4.0 GB
2006 30-20 Tied
2007 35-15 11.5 GA
2008 31-19 2.5 GA
2009 28-22 1.5 GB
Boston has scored only 4.2 runs per road game, more than two runs fewer than their 6.3 average at home.

Dustin Pedroia: "We've got to find a way to score runs. ... It's not early anymore."

Rookie left-hander Ricky Romero gave up five runs on 11 hits (including three dongs) in 5.1 innings on Tuesday in Baltimore, his first less than impressive performance (log).

BP 2009:
Romero throws in the low 90s with a good curve and change and gets a ton of ground-ball outs ... but he continues to struggle with both command and control, as evidenced by his walk rates.
He walked 20 in 42.2 innings last year at AAA and 55 in 121.2 innings at AA in 2007. In his four major league starts, he's walked a total of five batters (2, 0, 2 and 1).

May 30, 2009

Tracer: The Pitch-Calling Ump

In the May 25, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci wrote (my emphasis):
So dominant was [pitcher Randy] Johnson that before a game in 1993, the home plate umpire told Mariners catcher Dave Valle, "They don't even need you with Randy pitching."

"What are you talking about?" replied Valle, who would not name the ump.

"He's so good they don't need you. Let me call the pitches tonight."

"I let him call every pitch." recalls Valle, to whom the umpire whispered pitches under his breath.

An overpowering Johnson went the distance in a Mariners victory.
I have not thumbed through the rule book recently, but I'm pretty sure that the home plate umpire is forbidden to call pitches during a game he is officiating.

Assuming Valle is telling the truth, this brings up a lot of questions: Did Johnson know about this arrangement? Did the umpire really call every single pitch? Couldn't the batters have heard something? Might this umpire have given favourable calls to Johnson in future games?

Verducci presents this as an amusing anecdote of how dominant Johnson was in his prime -- and if this was about Walter Johnson during the Deadball Era, I'm sure we'd all get a chuckle out of it, just like we do of tales of cheaters from the good old days. But this was only 15 years ago -- and the pitcher is still active. Maybe the umpire -- whose behaviour is out there on the continuum between "doing his job" and "conspiring to throw a game" -- is too.

How many "overpowering" complete game wins did Johnson have in 1993 with Valle as his battery mate -- and who was behind the dish for those games?

Johnson pitched 10 complete games that season. We don't need to look at all 10, though, because Valle did not play in all of them and three of them were losses. I have also decided that Johnson had to allow fewer than three runs for an "overpowering" performance. So what does that leave us?

Six games:
Apr 21 vs Bos - 5-0 - 9-4-0-1- 8, 129 - Jim McKean
May 16 at Oak - 7-0 - 9-1-0-3-14, 123 - Dale Scott
Aug 20 at Tor - 4-1 - 9-3-1-1-11, 130 - Ken Kaiser
Sep 5 vs Mil - 3-2 - 9-5-2-1-13, 128 - Joe Brinkman
Sep 21 vs Tex - 8-0 - 9-3-0-1-11, 143 - Ed Hickox
Oct 1 at Min - 8-2 - 9-9-2-2- 7, 150 - Drew Coble
And, annoyingly, six different umps!

Of the six, these are the four most dominant:
May 16 at Oak - 7-0 - 9-1-0-3-14, 123 - Dale Scott
Sep 21 vs Tex - 8-0 - 9-3-0-1-11, 143 - Ed Hickox
Aug 20 at Tor - 4-1 - 9-3-1-1-11, 130 - Ken Kaiser
Apr 21 vs Bos - 5-0 - 9-4-0-1- 8, 129 - Jim McKean
There are two shutouts with high strikeout totals -- I'd say Dale Scott or Ed Hickox is our mystery umpire. They are both working in major league baseball in 2009.

G50: Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 3

Red Sox   - 120 000 000 - 3  4  1
Blue Jays - 101 001 20x - 5 14 0
Tallet had a rough time through the first eight Boston batters -- 42 pitches, three walks and two hits, including Rocco Baldelli's two-run home run -- but then something clicked (7-3-3-4-6, 118).

The Red Sox managed only two hits the rest of the game: Nick Green's double with two outs in the seventh and Mike Lowell's single off Scott Downs to start the ninth. None of the last 27 Red Sox batters made it past second base.

Runs scored by Boston in the last five games: 2, 2, 3, 3, 3.

Meanwhile, the Jays chipped away at Penny, who had only one perfect inning and again allowed a lot of hits (6-10-3-0-5, 102), to tie the game after six. Ramon Ramirez was slapped around in the seventh, as Marco Scutaro and Alex Rios (4-for-4, two doubles) both singled and Vernon Wells doubled.

Baldelli left the game in the fifth after banging his left knee (and his head) into the wall attempting to catch a ball that went foul.

The Red Sox and Blue Jays are now tied for second place, 1 GB the Yankees, who are in Cleveland tonight.


Brad Penny (5.96, 81 ERA+) / Brian Tallet (4.31, 104 ERA+)

Last night's loss dropped the Red Sox into second place, 0.5 GB the Yankees. The Blue Jays sit in third, 1.5 GB.

On Wednesday, May 20, Penny had a 6.2-9-2-1-2 line against the Blue Jays at Fenway. Over his last five starts, Penny has posted a 4.40 ERA.

Tallet faced the Red Sox on May 19. He pitched well -- 6-4-2-2-5 -- but Boston won the game 2-1.


I missed last night's game, but it sounds like there were a couple of bright spots.

Sean McAdam, reporting on Daniel Bard striking out five consecutive batters:
It was telling that Bard cited his breaking ball - and not his smoking fastball - for his overpowering outing. ...

"I changed my grip between this outing and my last one," he said. "I like it. It felt good."

The pitch, a sort of hybrid between a curve and slider, had been, in Bard’s words, a "little loopy," recently. At the prodding of pitching coach John Farrell, Bard slightly rotated the ball in his hand, resulting in a pitch that broke later, with a more pronounced break.
And: Adam Kilgore, Globe:
David Ortiz nearly hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw last night, a soaring fly ball that fell inches short of the wall and into an outfielder's glove. He blistered the next ball he hit so hard it nearly seared through the first baseman's mitt. ...

"All I can do about myself right now is laugh," he said. "Because I ain't going to cry. Laugh. Keep on swinging. ... I can't swing the bat no better than that."

May 29, 2009

G49: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 3

Red Sox   - 010 100 100 - 3 11  1
Blue Jays - 001 050 00x - 6 10 0

Tim Wakefield (3.99, 122 ERA+) / Casey Janssen (4.50, 190 ERA+)

Note: Tonight's game thread is here.

The Red Sox lead the AL East by one-half game. The Blue Jays have lost nine games in a row, the team's worst road skid since two losing streaks of 10 games in 1979.

Janssen's last start -- May 23 at Atlanta (6-8-3-1-0) -- was his first major league appearance since 2007 and his first start since July 24, 2006.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona was examined by emergency medical technicians to check on his blood pressure not long after being ejected from Thursday's game in Minneapolis, The Boston Globe reported. ...

According to the Globe, Francona was pacing in his office, agitated and "worked up" because of the ejections of himself and Varitek when a member of the Red Sox training staff suggested that Francona, who has a history of medical issues, be examined before the team left the Metrodome ...

"I'm fine," Francona said. "I just got a little worked up and my blood pressure shot up."

May 28, 2009

G48: Red Sox 3, Twins 1

Red Sox - 000 010 200 - 3  6  0
Twins - 010 000 000 - 1 5 0
Jason Varitek hit two solo home runs -- the second on a long bomb deep into the upper deck in right-center -- and Josh Beckett (7-3-1-4-8, 111) turned in another fine performance.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch, ending his 22-game hitting streak. Lyndon popped to left in the first, grounded to second in the third, flew out to left in the fifth, and was hit on the wallet in the seventh. He was in the on-deck circle when Julio Lugo made the final out of the top of the ninth.

Beckett struck out the first four batters, then allowed a dong to Joe Crede and walked the next two Twins. A double play got him out of that inning and he allowed only a single and a walk over the next four frames. A one-out double and two-out walk in the seventh were also stranded.

The seventh inning featured the ejections of both managers and both catchers. Ron Gardenhire and Mike Redmond were tossed for arguing a play at the plate in which Jeff Bailey scored Boston's third run on Dustin Pedroia's line drive to right field. The replay seemed to show Redmond tag on Bailey's left arm a split-second before he touched the dish. Bailey may have also missed the plate with his hand; no replay that i saw gave clear evidence either way.

In the bottom of the inning, Beckett and Varitek were steamed at a non-strike call to Brendan Harris. The pitch was nothing special, off the outside corner, but Tek was given the heave-ho pretty quickly and Terry Francona soon followed. I'm not sure how or why things escalated so quickly. Post-game interviews may shed a little light.

The bullpen cleaned up handily. Hideki Okajima allowed a two-out single in the eighth. Jonathan Papelbon gave up a one-out single to Harris before getting Delmon Young to line out to right and striking out pinch-hitter Brian Buscher.

The Yankees are off today, so the Red Sox moved 0.5 GA in the East.


Josh Beckett (5.01, 97 ERA+) / Anthony Swarzak (0.00, 2nd career start)

Jason Bay is not in the lineup for the first time this season.
Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Drew, RF
Youkilis, 1B
Lowell, 3B
Ortiz, DH
Varitek, C
Bailey, LF
Lugo, SS
RHP Swarzak, 23, made his major league debut last Saturday against the Brewers. He threw seven shutout innings (7-5-0-2-3, 98). It was the first time in Twins history that a starting pitcher went seven scoreless innings in his debut. (Mike Fornieles pitched a nine-inning shutout on September 2, 1952, when the Twins were known as the Washington Senators.)

BP 2009:
Swarzak has apparently gotten past the drug use that earned him a 50-game suspension in 2007, but his effectiveness didn't come with him. Unlike most Twins pitching prospects, he actually has impressive stuff, but he's also a fly-ball pitcher short of a strikeout pitch. Right now, he has a fastball and curve down pat, but might need a third pitch to make it as a starter in the bigs. His results at Triple-A were obviously greatly improved [1.80 ERA in 7 starts after 5.66 in 20 AA starts], but the low strikeout rate [26 in 45 IP] and still lower BABIP [.266] argue for some sample-size cynicism.
The Star Tribune reported that the "drug of abuse" was marijuana.

May 27, 2009

G47: Twins 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 001 001 000 - 2  6  1
Twins - 003 001 00x - 4 13 1
An annoyingly slow, crappy loss.

5-9-3-3-6, 102. Does that Dice line surprise you? However, he did lower his ERA to 8.82.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled twice (22!) and stole two bases and scored the third inning run. Jason Bay homered (#14) in the sixth. Mike Lowell singled twice. David Ortiz went 0-for-4 (K, F8, F8, PF3).

The Red Sox tied a modern record with six wild pitches, four by Matsuzaka (2 in the 1st and 2 in the 4th) and one each from Manny Delcarmen (6th) and Justin Masterson (7th). Also, all three Boston pitchers have nine-letter last names.

The Yankees beat the Rangers 9-2, so Boston and New York -- both 27-20 -- are tied for first place.


Daisuke Matsuzaka (10.32, 47 ERA+) / Kevin Slowey (4.23, 101 ERA+)

Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Drew, RF
Youkilis, 1B
Bay, LF
Ortiz, DH
Lowell, 3B
Kottaras, C
Green, SS
Terry Francona:
I can see our lineup being a little fluid for a little while. I can see us moving around a little bit here. Youk could hit third, we could hit [Dustin Pedroia] third -- there's a lot of things we could do. ...

In the next few days ... we may not have our full lineup. We are on turf, we have some quick turnarounds, we are going to see how guys come through these games and how they are swinging, how they feel.

News On Ortiz, Smoltz, Lester

David Ortiz, on batting 6th:
Look, let me make something clear so you guys don't ask me the whole time about me hitting sixth. I started hitting third here a little bit after I got here. If you're hitting third, you must be swinging the bat good. The manager moved me to sixth because we got guys swinging the bat good, right? Now, I've got to work my way up, right? That's about it. I'm an employee. I follow orders.
Jason Bay:
Ultimately, you only hit in a certain spot in the lineup once and then you're hitting in different situations. I think it's a good idea to just try something different. You're taking the same approach whether you're hitting second or ninth, but sometimes you're just looking for that magical something to turn things around.
Francona explained the move:
When we came back from Seattle, because David had sat for three days, I wanted him to get back in there and see if we could get him hot. Then when it didn't look like it was going real well last week, I just didn't think it was in his best interests to do it at home against the Mets -- to me, that's not helping, that's almost placing blame on somebody. ... I wanted to wait until I got on the road.
Tito added that he hopes Ortiz "doesn't feel like he's got to carry the team."

Sean McAdam of the Herald writes that the Red Sox
have unwittingly boxed themselves into a corner ... [It's] hard to shake the feeling yesterday that the Sox and Ortiz both moved themselves uncomfortably close to the cliff.
But what choice did the team have? They have handled this issue fairly conservatively, treating Ortiz with the respect he has earned since 2003. They kept him in the third spot. They gave him a weekend off. Now he's hitting 6th -- that should stay the same with Mike Lowell in the lineup, with Lowell-Varitek-SS batting 7-8-9.

I'm assuming that "the cliff" McAdam is talking about is cutting ties with Ortiz -- and we are nowhere near that now. If Ortiz keeps hitting under .200, the next step would be playing him only three or four times a week. But with him hitting in the lower half of the lineup, he should have plenty of time to work out his troubles.

A record crowd of 8,903 watched John Smoltz pitch against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last night. Smoltz (3.1-3-1-0-2, 60):
I was really pleased with my split and my changeup, a little displeased with my slider. That's my No. 1 pitch. We'll work on that this week. Another rung in the ladder.
Smoltz will pitch five innings/75 pitches for Greenville (A) on Sunday. And then? Perhaps two starts with Pawtucket and on to the big club.

Amalie Benjamin, Globe:
[Jon] Lester now has allowed at least five earned runs in five of his starts this season, bringing his ERA to 6.07. He gave up that many runs in just four starts over 33 games in all of 2008. ...
I gave up five runs. What else is there to say about it? Made one pitch. One pitch cost me three runs. ...

I think it's just not executing pitches. Tonight it was a 1-0 fastball in. If he takes it, it ends up being a ball. I don't know what to tell you guys. I don't really have any answers for you. Five days I get the ball again. That's where I go.

May 26, 2009

G46: Twins 5, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 010 100 - 2  9  0
Twins - 000 050 00x - 5 7 1
Lester (6-6-5-3-4, 100) faltered in the fifth inning, with Justin Morneau's three-run line drive home run to right being the big blow. Lester's ERA rose to 6.07.

Jacoby Ellsbury scored both Red Sox runs. He also singled to begin the game, and extend his hit streak to 21 games. He stole two bases and made a tremendous diving catch in deep right-center in the fifth inning, before the Twins did their damage. He scored on Dustin Pedroia's double in the fifth and on an infield error in the seventh.

David Ortiz doubled to right center in his first time up and walked in the fourth. He finished his night with a strikeout and pop out to left.

The Minnesota fifth: Brendan Harris singled, Delmon Young lined out to deep center, Matt Tolbert singled, Nick Punto singled (RBI), Denard Span grounded out to second (RBI), Joe Mauer walked, Morneau homered (3 RBI), Michael Cuddyer grounded out to third.


Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Drew, RF
Youkilis, 3B
Bay, LF
Ortiz, DH
Varitek, C
Bailey, 1B
Lugo, SS

Jon Lester (5.91, 83 ERA+) / Nick Blackburn (3.83, 112 ERA+)

Lester and Blackburn hooked up back on July 8, 2008; Boston won the game 6-5. It was the last appearance each pitcher had against the opposing team.

Jacoby Ellsbury's hitting streak has reached 20 games, but he's not having a good year at the plate. His slash stats since the streak began on May 2: .330/.365/.418 for a .782 OPS -- which is below what Nick Green has done this season (.794). LBJ has collected only one hit in nine of his last 11 games: .275/.310/.350.

Ellsbury has drawn five walks during the streak (96 PA). He has walked only 10 times all year, in 201 PA. In five fewer trips to the plate, Jason Bay has walked 24 more times (34 in 196).

Ellsbury's season stats are .300/.333/.374 for a paltry 79 OPS+. (For reference: Jeff Bailey is at 86 and Julio Lugo is at 73.) Lyndon has led off in all but three of Boston's 45 games and the Red Sox are 9th in the AL in leadoff batter OBP.

Finally, in his 12 stolen base attempts during the streak, he has been caught four times.

My suggested lineup for tonight (Lowell has a scheduled night off):
R - Pedroia, 2B
L - Drew, RF
R - Youkilis, 3B
R - Bay, LF
L - Ortiz, DH
L - Ellsbury, CF
S - Varitek, C
R - Lugo, SS
R - Bailey, 1B
I'm not crazy about Ellsbury batting 6th, but if he was on first base, Tek and Lugo might get some tasty fastballs.

Ortiz And The Red Sox Batting Order

David Ortiz is batting 6th tonight in Minnesota -- the lowest he has been in the Red Sox batting order since he hit 6th on May 11, 2004 (he went 3-for-4).

It is the first time Ortiz has been out of the #3 spot since May 13, 2005.

Here is a chart of Red Sox games started by Ortiz by batting spot:
       1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
2003 1 8 93 11 4
2004 90 51 3 1
2005 123 33
2006 148
2007 147
2008 108
2009 40 1

657 92 96 13 4

Injury Of The Month

Star Tribune:
[Twins outfielder Carlos Gomez] needed two stitches in his head after getting caught in the revolving door while entering the stadium [Monday] morning.

Buchholz Misses Perfect Game In Pawtucket

Clay Buchholz came within three outs of a perfect game yesterday for Pawtucket. He allowed a single to lead off the ninth, but finished the one-hitter: 9-1-0-0-7. He went to a three-ball count only once.

PawSox manager Ron Johnson:
Pretty much everything [was working]. What I liked about it was he threw 70 out of 96 [pitches for] strikes. It wasn't like they were strikes with guys swinging at a bunch of bad pitches. It was really impressive to watch. ... When he's throwing fastballs for strikes, the other stuff just flows. He stayed on line. When he would spin off a little bit, the next pitch he would throw the fastball into the zone. It makes me a better manager when he throws like that.
HH has nothing left to prove in AAA. He's making the hitters there look like Little Leaguers. He's allowed only three earned runs in his last 33.2 innings (those runs came in one start) and has held opponents to three hits or fewer in six of his eight starts. His season ERA is 1.30.

Yesterday afternoon, Brad Penny was vomiting after each inning. Francona: He'd come out, throw up, laugh and go get 'em. He said every time he threw up, he felt better." ... Penny said he had a sinus infection: "I was a little lethargic, maybe, but I felt I had good stuff. I felt pretty good all around."

Mike Lowell will get a day off tonight. David Ortiz will be back in the lineup, probably hitting 5th or 6th.

Jed Lowrie took 15 swings from each side of the plate yesterday:
Righthanded it felt better. Lefthanded, obviously, that's the swing that I'm going to have to continue to work on. That's the top hand. That's the hand that's affected me when I was - can't say healthy - but when I was playing. ... It was more fatigued after 15 swings from the left side than it was from the right side.
The Red Sox streak of 57 straight games with at least one walk ended yesterday. There were no walks at all in the game.

John Smoltz makes his second rehab start today (roughly three innings/50 pitches) for Portland.

May 25, 2009

G45: Red Sox 6, Twins 5

Red Sox - 003 200 010 - 6 16  1
Twins - 010 002 002 - 5 8 0
Jonathan Papelbon allowed another two-run homer with twos in the ninth inning -- to Joe Mauer this time -- but got the next batter for the save.

DH Mike Lowell had four hits, Dustin Pedroia had three, and Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 20. Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay each drove in two runs. Jeff Bailey's dong in the eighth gave the Sox their sixth run.

Penny: 5.1-6-3-0-7, 91.


Brad Penny (6.07, 80 ERA+) / Francisco Liriano (6.04, 71 ERA+)

The Red Sox have sole possession of first place for the first time since July 17, 2008.

Penny has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last three starts. While allowing a lot of hits -- eight, seven and nine, respectively -- he has been able to work out of most jams.

David Ortiz was asked if he needed another day off:
No. Not again. I think I got figured out what I need. That's it. I've got to keep on playing. No more breaks. Ride or die from now on. ...

I'm feeling good. My balance is good. I'm seeing the ball. I am what I am. I like what I am. I'm not going to lie to you. I'm taking good swings. There's nothing much you can do about it. Sometimes you put a good swing on the ball, and it won't go nowhere. ...

What you can never do is just give up. You've got to keep fighting, man, keep fighting, keep on fighting. That's all I've got in me right now. Keep fighting.
Dave Magadan:
I think his mechanics look very good in his pregame work. I think in the game, he gets to a point where he gets a little late in getting ready and his mechanics kind of fall apart a little bit. Maybe it's a matter of just continuing the repetition and the pregame stuff so when the game starts, he's not thinking about what he's working on so much and he can just react where the baseball is.
AL East: Blue Jays/Orioles at 1:30 and Yankees/Rangers at 2:00 (A-Rod in Arlington!).

May 24, 2009

Ongoing Problems: Ortiz, Shortstop

The Globe's Adam Kilgore reports that when Dave Magadan was asked after today's 12-5 win if David Ortiz -- 2-for-18 since hitting his first home run of the year -- might be moved down from the #3 spot in the batting order when the Red Sox play tomorrow afternoon on Minnesota, the hitting coach said:
I think that's something we're going to discuss. We'll probably talk about it on the flight. We want to do what's best not only for David, but what's best for the team.
Meanwhile, we'll see if anything comes out of tonight's WHDH interview.

The team's shortstop problems got significant play in Sunday's papers, magnified by Julio Lugo's flat-footed attempt to turn a double play on Friday night. Terry Francona was fairly pointed in his comments:
We all thought we should have had a better shot to turn that.
Francona also hinted at some friction between manager and shortstop:
The hard thing is, sometimes Loogie and I go back and forth. He wants me to have his back, which I think I'm supposed to do, but at the same time, if I have something to say to someone, I have to say it. We've gone back and forth where it's not always real comfortable. You're always trying to help, walking that fine line where you're helping and not hindering.
Evaluating our shortstops in May, for public consumption - I don't know [how that] helps our cause. I watch the games. But it's our responsibility - if it's not good enough, then make it good enough.
There are no solutions within the organization and it's doubtful the club would make a trade for an everyday shortstop since Jed Lowrie is expected back from wrist surgery in mid-July. We may have to grin and bear it for seven more weeks. At least Green is helping with the stick (102 OPS+).

Magadan notes that he has spoken to Jason Varitek about the importance of hitting in the cage every day. It turns out that Tek was taking some days off from hitting.
He took a couple days off early [in April], that's when I spoke to him about it. ... he's got to find a way to go in that cage and take some swings, even if it's 10 swings, at least get ready for the game. To his credit, he jumped right on it, said, "You know what, you're right." Because there are a lot of times he wouldn't do anything, day game after a night game.

G44: Red Sox 12, Mets 5

Mets    - 013 010 000 -  5  8  0
Red Sox - 030 032 40x - 12 16 0
With the win today and losses by the Yankees and Blue Jays, here are the updated AL East standings:
            W   L   PCT    GB   NEXT
Red Sox 26 18 .591 --- at Min
Blue Jays 27 20 .574 0.5 at Bal
Yankees 25 19 .568 1.0 at Tex
Rays 23 23 .500 4.0 at Cle
Orioles 18 26 .409 8.0 vs Tor
Every starter had at least one hit and scored one run, except David Ortiz, who went 0-for-5 (now batting .195). ... Drew had four hits, Lowell and Kottaras had three, and Pedroia had three walks to go with his single.

Manny Delcarmen threw two excellent innings of relief, allowing only a two-out double in the eighth (K, 3U, 5-3; K, 4-3, 2B, 4-3). Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth (5-3, 3U, K).

Sox 7th: Singles from Kottaras and Green (5 hits from those two guys today). An ill-advised bunt from Ellsbury forces Kottaras at third. Pedroia smashes a single to left for a run. Ortiz pops to short left (0-for-5). Yook hits a first-pitch, three-run dong to deep left.

Wakefield: 6-7-5-4-3, 94. Only three outs recorded by the outfield.

Sox 6th: With one out Pedroia walks. With two outs, Youkilis walks, Bay singles to center to score FY, and Drew doubles to right (he is 4-for-4), bringing in Yook.

Sox 5th: With two out and no one on, the Sox attack. Drew singles to right, Lowell singles off the Wall, Kottaras doubles to right-center (his second double of the day), scoring one run, and Nick Green pokes a two-run single to right, then gets caught in a 9-3-6-4-5-3 rundown.

Sox 2nd: Bay walk, Drew double, Lowell three-run HR to left. Later in the inning, Ellsbury doubled to extend his hit streak to 19 games.


Game back on at 2:24 PM.

1:48 PM: Rain delay in the bottom of the first (large hail-like drops).
Wakefield allowed a single and a walk to start the game, but got Beltran to GIDP 4-6-3 and struck out Sheffield. In the Boston half, Ellsbury lined out to center, Pedroia walked -- and the tarp came out.


Tim Redding (3.00, 146 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (3.59, 136 ERA+)

Before heading out on a ten-game road trip to Minnesota, Toronto and Detroit -- the longest trip of the season -- it would be nice to avoid a sweep and grab a win.

I'm asking politely.
Making his season debut after missing six weeks with a strained right rotator cuff, Redding gave the Mets a fine outing last Monday in Los Angeles: six innings, two hits and two runs. ... In two career starts in Boston, he is 0-2 with a 12.72 ERA, while the Sox have hit him at a .414 clip.
Those two games came on June 14, 2003 and July 15, 2005 (1-4-6-4-2, Red Sox beat the Yankees 17-1), so take them with a quarter-grain of salt. (NL guys like Drew and Bay have faced him most often.)

That doesn't mean he isn't a chump, though. He is -- and the Sox should pound him into pulp.

The Red Sox and Yankees -- both at 25-18 -- trail Toronto by 0.5. ... Phillies/Yankees at 1:00 and Blue Jays/Atlanta at 1:30.

WHDH Interview: Ortiz Having Wrist Pain

SoxScout, SoSH, 7:54 AM:
WHDH is going to air [an] interview with Ortiz tonight in which he says he came back from the wrist injury too soon last year and he is now in pain and the wrist is clicking again.
No other information. Ortiz is in this afternoon's lineup.

May 23, 2009

G43: Mets 3, Red Sox 2

Mets    - 100 000 002 - 3  6  0
Red Sox - 200 000 000 - 2 6 1
Josh Beckett took another huge step towards reasserting himself as the ace of the Red Sox staff. Although it was his own error -- on a pickoff attempt -- that helped the Mets score in the first, it's still considered unearned. (8-5-1-1-5, 117).

Boston returned fire in the home half, as Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia both singled (18-game hit streak for Lyndon!), then pulled off a double steal. After David Ortiz struck out, Kevin Youkilis lined a two-run single to left.

Both starters settled down after that and we had a nifty duel. Pelfrey ended up going seven innings (7-6-2-1-6, 111) and Beckett set down 12 in a row at one point, from the first to the fifth. He also got out of a sticky 1st/3rd, one out jam in the seventh, getting a strike out and liner to center.

Jonathan Papelbon walked Gary Sheffield on five pitches to start the ninth, but roared back to overpower and strike out David Wright and Jeremy Reed, both swinging. But then Omir Santos then drove the first pitch he saw -- 97 fastball right over the plate, maybe a little high -- off the small ledge on the Wall for a two-run home run, though umpire Joe West had to go look at some video before the actual call was made.

Down a run, Youkilis walked to start the home ninth and was forced by Jason Bay. That was a tough play for the Sox, as Wright made a nice backhand to get the ball, then Luis Castillo saved an errant throw at second while still recording the out. J.D. Drew lined out to right and Mike Lowell grounded to shortstop. Lowell's ball was deep in the hole and anyone else on the roster would have beaten it out. But alas.

The Yankees walked off with a 5-4 win over the Phillies and the Blue Jays lost to Atlanta 4-3.

The top of the AL East:
Blue Jays 27 19 --
Red Sox 25 18 0.5
Yankees 25 18 0.5

Mike Pelfrey (4.61, 95 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (5.85, 84 ERA+)

Pelfrey balked three times in his last start, against the Giants last Saturday. Afterwards, he spoke with a sports psychologist who has helped him in the past:
The mind is pretty powerful, and it controls all your muscles and all those things. So if it happens, then I'll be able to -- in my own little way -- I'll be able to tell my mind what I want to do, and hopefully, all the muscles and everything follow that.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel:
That's the way you try to solve things. If he said, "I don't have an issue" and continued to do that, then we've got a problem.
In seven starts, Pelfrey has pitched 41 innings, allowing 46 hits and 17 walks, while striking out only 11.

Matchups: David Wright is 1-for-15 against Beckett. No Red Sox batter has ever faced Pelfrey. ... Also: Phillies/Yankees at 4; Blue Jays/Atlanta at 7.

Missed DP Fuels Lugo Disgust

Julio Lugo's first comment, re the botched fourth-inning DP last night:
I've got nothing for you guys.
Asked again, he defended himself:
I was trying to stay on the bag and get the first one first, before we do anything. I made a throw over there. He just beat it.
The moment the ball was hit, I thought it would be a double play. ... After that point, I couldn't hold the hitters and the runners and that part is what I'm a little disappointed about.
It was a terrible play (or non-play) by Lugo, who seems lost in the field too much of the time. He's been easy to hate -- just about every game brings a new reason -- but there is no guarantee that if the double play had been made and the inning ended with the Mets up 2-1 that the Red Sox would have eventually come out on top. Perhaps New York would have blown things open in the fifth and won 23-4.

It's also Matsuzaka's fault for giving up two line-drive singles to the next two batters. It's simply annoying when the team does not make routine plays and we have to watch as further damage follows.

It was likely decided before last night's game, but Nick Green is playing shortstop tonight.

Terry Francona, on Matsuzaka:
I thought he ball had some life. We wanted to keep him somewhere around 80 (pitches). We were very encouraged by his outing. The ball was coming out of his hand a lot better. It was encouraging. Again, it doesn't give you a win, but long term it looks good.
(The ProJo quotes Tito as saying Dice "had 22 first-pitch strikes". Actually, Matsuzaka faced 22 batters and threw a first-pitch strike to 16 of them. The Globe has Tito giving the correct info. Also, that 16 includes three first-pitch hits, including Sheffield's HR.)

Matsuzaka sat at 91-92, but some fastballs hit 95:
My pitches today were the best of all my recent starts, including my rehab start.

Kevin Youkilis and Johan Santana talk about their misunderstanding in the fifth inning last night. ... John Smoltz's next rehab start will be for Portland on Tuesday. ... Mark Kotsay went 2-for-3 and played six innings in the outfield for Pawtucket last night.

Manny Delcarmen, on an ESPN report yesterday of possibly being traded to the Nationals for Nick Johnson:
The Red Sox told my agent that, no, they turned them down. It made me feel good. I feel like I'm part of a team here. Growing up and being from around here, it would be kind of weird for me to go somewhere else and start over. I got drafted here and would like to end my career here.
Jonathan Papelbon, on his slider:
It's opened up my game and it's opened up my ability to throw on both sides of the place with it. It makes my fastball that much better. Hopefully I can keep myself separated from the hitters and stay ahead of the game.
Bot feels a kinship with Frod? Besides the fact that they both act like complete morons when they save a game?

May 22, 2009

Eck Being Eck


G42: Mets 5, Red Sox 3

Mets    - 010 300 100 - 5  8  3
Red Sox - 010 200 000 - 3 6 1
Dice was strong out of the gate, retiring ten of his first 11 batters on only 37 pitches. But he faltered in the fourth, after a missed chance at a double play would have ended the inning with the Mets up only 2-1.

With one out, Carlos Beltran hit a ground rule double to right, Gary Sheffield (who had homered in the second) walked, and David Wright poked an RBI single to center. Jeremy Reed bounced to second. Dustin Pedroia flipped to Julio Lugo, but Lugo stayed anchored to the bag and threw flat-footed (and late) to first. The next two batters hit RBI singles and Boston trailed 4-1. (Dice: 5-5-4-2-4, 80)

The Sox got two back right away, though, on a errant throw from shortstop Ramon Martinez. Jason Bay had walked and been forced by J.D. Drew, and Mike Lowell doubled. Down by one run with one out, and Jason Varitek on second, Lugo fouled out to third and Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to center.

The same situation arose in the sixth. Still trailing 4-3, Boston had runners at second and third with one out. Lugo popped up to second and Ellsbury grounded out to shortstop. Boston went in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Ellsbury had an infield single in the first (17 games!). Varitek homered in the second. Pedroia had a double and single. Ortiz looked horrible against Santana, striking out three times and grounding into a double play.

Bright Side: Atlanta beat the Blue Jays 1-0 and the Phillies topped the Yankees 7-3.


Johan Santana (1.36, 324 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (12.79, 39 ERA+)

Santana leads the National League in ERA and ERA+, is second in K/9 (11.4), and has the third best BB/K ratio. He allowed two or fewer runs in his first seven starts (an 0.78 ERA), before giving up four in his last outing.

Santana has a 5-2 record; in both of his losses, he allowed no earned runs. Since 2004, he has a 2.75 ERA, tops among all pitchers with at least 600 innings.

On the other side of the diamond is Matsuzaka. Dice began his season on April 9 with an average outing against Tampa (5.1-9-4-3-5, 100), then lasted only one inning against the A's (1-5-5-2-0, 43) on April 14 before going on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue/inflammation.

Dice made three rehab starts for Pawtucket, allowing nine hits and five walks in 11.2 innings, while striking out 14 K (1.59 ERA, 1.235 WHIP).

The injury-plauged Mets -- Carlos Delgado had surgery this past Tuesday to repair a labrum tear and remove a bone spur in his right hip joint, Jose Reyes has tendinitis behind his right calf and is day-to-day, Alex Cora has a torn ligament in his right thumb, Oliver Perez is out with right knee tendinitis -- have lost four in a row (scoring only six runs) and have dropped out of first place in the NL East.

The Mets are 21-19 and are 1.5 GB the Phillies. ... They have not hit a home run since May 13 -- 67.2 innings ago. ... The Stems last played the Red Sox June 27-29, 2006, when they were swept in three games at Fenway.


David Wright Fun Facts: has MLB-best .463 batting average in May ... MLB-best .438 road average ... has 12-game hitting streak (.511) ... has reached base at least three times in each of his last seven games ... in San Francisco series (May 14-16), had nine hits, nine RBI and five stolen bases -- since 1920 (when RBI were first officially recorded), no player has ever had 9+ hits, 9+ RBI and 5+ SB over any three-game span.

Bay Sets Red Sox HR Record

Jason Bay's home run off the top of the right-center field fence last night was his 11th consecutive home run with at least one runner on base -- a new Red Sox record.

The previous mark: 10, by Tony Conigliaro (1966) and Kevin Youkilis (2008).
You can't do it without guys getting on. I can't do it on my own. That's just one of those stats that they find that makes you look good because who would have ever thought that?
Bay joins Jimmy Bannon (1894), Bob Meusel (1925), Hank Greenberg (1933), Leon Durham (1984) and Chili Davis (1993) with 11 straight men-on dongs. ... The major league record is 12, set by Hank Aaron (1970) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1999).

Bay joked that he fouled out to first in the eighth inning because there were no runners on base.
Date   Opponent    Homer 
0417 Orioles Two-run
0424 Yankees Two-run
0427 Cleveland Three-run
0504 Yankees Two-run
0505 Yankees Three-run
0507 Cleveland Three-run
0508 Rays Three-run
0513 Angels Two-run
0516 Mariners Two-run
0520 Blue Jays Two-run
0521 Blue Jays Two-run
Bay has hit 13 home runs, second only to Carlos Pena (14) in the American League. Adrian Gonzalez and Raul Ibanez lead the NL with 15; Albert Pujols has hit 14.


John Smoltz started for Greenville (A) last night (box/pbp). He pitched three scoreless innings (29 pitches), allowing one hit and striking out two. Smoltz said he threw at about 85% and his fastball was clocked at 92.

In mop-up duty for Pawtucket last night, reliever Javier Lopez allowed four earned runs on four hits and five walks in two-thirds of an inning in the PawSox' 14-1 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Mark Kotsay begins his rehab with Pawtucket today. ... Hunter Jones will be sent to Pawtucket when Matsuzaka is activated. ... Updates on Portland's Ryan Kalish and Lars Anderson.

May 21, 2009

G41: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 000 000 100 - 1 11  1
Red Sox - 301 010 00x - 5 7 0
SWEEP! ... 0.5 GB.

Jason Bay hit a two-run home run off the top of the right-center field wall to cap a three-run first. Dustin Pedroia doubled and scored on Kevin Youkilis's single in the third, then drove in Jacoby Ellsbury with a single in the fifth. LBJ doubled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.

Lester was strong (6.1-8-1-2-4, 109), allowing a fair amount of hits, as Brad Penny did last night, but staying out of any serious trouble. Toronto had at least one baserunner in eight of the nine innings. Lester took great advantage of a generous outside strike zone (to right-handed hitters) from home plate umpire Marvin Hudson. Toronto hitters were in a perpetual state of annoyance all evening.

David Ortiz got an RBI on a ground out in the first, singled in the fifth and lined out to second in the eighth (Aaron Hill was perfectly placed in short right field).


Robert Ray (3.60, 127 ERA+) / Jon Lester (6.51, 76 ERA+)

Lester has had a bad case of gopheritis this season, allowing 10 home runs compared to 14 all of last season. He has allowed two dongs in three of his last four starts. Overall, in his last 10 innings, Lester has allowed 18 hits and 13 runs.
Ray recorded his first Major League victory last Saturday, when the Jays defeated the White Sox, 2-1, at Rogers Centre. He went a career-high eight innings, allowing three hits -- the fewest he has yielded in three big league starts -- and issuing one walk. The lone run he surrendered was unearned, as Chicago's Scott Podsednik stole third base and scored on a throwing error by Jays catcher Raul Chavez. Ray struck out three and did not allow an extra-base hit.
In my post earlier today, I included a (presumably tongue-in-cheek) quote from David Ortiz saying that he was slumping so bad, he was considering batting right-handed.

This Date In Baseball History:
1930 - Babe Ruth hits three consecutive home runs in the first game of a doubleheader against the A's, then batting against Jack Quinn in the 9th, Ruth decides to hit right handed. After two strikes, he switches to lefty but strikes out. ...
There are a few other recorded instances of Ruth batting right-handed in a game. ... From May 21, 1957:
Boston baseball writers reaffirm their decision to bar women from the press box and refuse to allow Doris O'Donnell, a Cleveland feature writer traveling with the Indians, to sit in the Fenway Park press area.
Finally, I have a hard time believing this one:
1880 - In Albany's Riverside Park, Lip Pike hits a ball over the wall and into the river. RF Lon Knight begins to go after the ball in a boat but gives up. Few parks have ground rules about giving the batter an automatic home run on a hit over the fence.
Wouldn't Pike have already circled the bases by the time Knight found a boat, got in and pushed off from shore?

More Pre-Game Reading Material: Joe Posnanski vs Steve Phillips, fjm-style: Not a fair fight!
SP: "While he [Beltran] has that great talent, there are times when he doesn't play the game and make plays."

JP: "Yep, those players who don't play the game or make plays, those are the worst kinds of players in the world. You want a player who plays the game, makes plays, a player who makes game plays, the plays gamers play to make, a player who makes plays for plays that playmakers make."

JoS On "The Baseball Show": Video

The Baseball Show has posted the video from last Saturday's Web Sox Nation. I was the second blogger on the segment.

Ellsbury: 12 Putouts

Jacoby Ellsbury became the third major-league outfielder in history to record 12 putouts in a nine-inning game.
I got off to a busy start. It didn't seem like that many but I just got quite a few from the get-go [eight in the first four innings]. ... [Jason Bay and I] were joking that if there were any ball hit even down the line, I'd call him off and he'd say he lost it in the lights.
The other two times also happened in Boston:
Earl Clark, Braves, May 10, 1929 vs Reds
Lyman Bostock, Twins, May 25, 1977 at Red Sox
In the sixth inning, Lyndon broke the Red Sox record of 10 putouts, which had been held by four outfielders:
Ted Williams, September 4, 1948 at Athletics
Tommy Umphlett, August 16, 1953 vs Senators
Fred Lynn, June 4, 1978 at Angels
Lee Tinsley, August 14, 1995 vs Yankees
The box score for the 1978 game credits Lynn with only nine putouts, but I did count 10 in the play-by-play account.

David Ortiz, on hitting his first home run of 2009:
I feel good, man, I feel like I just got that big ol' monkey off my back. In this game sometimes that's all it takes, to have a good at-bat, to get a good hit, and then everything starts clicking. ...

I was missing pitches I normally hit, or sometimes put a good swing on it and still miss. That's crazy, it gets you thinking. It puts you in a situation where you're thinking, "What do I have to do?" I'll try it all. I was about to hit right-handed.
Big Papi's papi was in the stands last night.

Jason Varitek has his eighth multi-homer game last night and his first since August 16, 2005. ... Kevin Youkilis picked up right where he left off, getting three hits last night and boosting his batting average to .409.

The Ballad Of Tim Wakefield

This new song by Bill Janovitz -- guitarist for Buffalo Tom but better known to me, at least, as the author of the 33.3 book on Exile On Main Street -- is making the rounds and I'm going to do my part.

I saw it at Surviving Grady and followed the link back to Bill's blog for the mp3 and lyrics. Bill wrote, recorded and posted the song yesterday morning -- after enjoying Wake's gem on Tuesday night.

He don't need no injections in his ass
He makes the ball flutter, it don't need to go fast
Hitters swinging just like cartoons when it passes
The knuckleball from Timmy Wakefield ...

When the boys are all flailing as the weather gets warm
He always remains the calm eye of the storm
There are 18 year-old people who might have been born
When a night game was pitched by Tim Wakefield

Batters strike out, pop up, heads bowed low
And into dark dugout tunnels they go
And still confused as the video shows
They were defeated by Wakefield ...

Bill also gets a thumbs up for this couplet:

Doug Mirabelli was his stitch in time
The State Police escorted him for no crime

May 20, 2009

G40: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 3

Blue Jays - 000 000 210 - 3 14  0
Red Sox - 002 060 00x - 8 15 0
The Red Sox battered Cecil with a four-dong fifth, with home runs from Jason Varitek (his second of the night), David Ortiz, Jason Bay and Mike Lowell.

The big man slammed a 1-1 fastball into the camera well in dead center field. (He also doubled off The Wall in the eighth.) It increased the Red Sox's lead from 3-1 to 5-1 and sent Fenway into a frenzy. After Kevin Youkilis (3-for-5) singled to left, Bay hit a bomb over everything in left and Dr. Doubles followed him with a shot into the Monster Seats.

Penny (6.2-9-2-1-2, 96) pitched well, but wilted in the seventh. ... Jacoby Ellsbury set a new Red Sox record (and tied the major league mark) for most putouts by an outfielder with 12 catches. By inning: 222 212 001.


Brett Cecil (1.80, 254 ERA+) / Brad Penny (6.69, 74 ERA+)

Cecil is a rookie lefty who turns 23 in July. He has made three starts for the Jays -- facing Cleveland, the Athletics and the White Sox this month -- pitching at least six innings every time out. Totals: 20 innings, 17 hits, 4 walks, 15 strikeouts.

BP 2009 describes Cecil, a 2007 supplemental-round pick, as a "big lefty with low-90s velocity, a plus slider, and a decent changeup ... projects as a mid-rotation horse".

Penny has also gone at least six innings in each of his last three starts, though he has had less success (18.2-21-5-14) than Cecil.


Terry Francona talked a lot about David Ortiz on WEEI today. Extra Bases has lengthy quotes. One quote, in response to whether Ortiz could be finished as a hitter, Tito said:
No, I don't feel that way. You can go back and go a long way, because I've done some research, and look at Yaz. He had some injuries, and he went, what, 56 games one year. It was a pretty good dry spell, and he had what, 10 years in the major leagues and everyone thought he was done. I mean, everyone thought Pedroia was done before he got started. ...
Research? Does Tito have a B-Ref subscription?

Yaz did not hit a home run in his first 57 games in 1972. That drought lasted until July 22! Yet what Tito may not know is that, when combined with a homer-less streak to end the previous season, Yaz actually went 72 games without a home run -- from September 4, 1971 to July 21, 1972.

That link shows all of his HR-less streaks, including a 43-gamer in 1976: July 10 to August 22 (my first game at Fenway!).

Yook Returns Tonight, Dice On Friday

Kevin Youkilis wasted no time in leaving Pawtucket after yesterday afternoon's game and heading north to Boston, high-tailing it out of the clubhouse roughly ten minutes after the game ended. He should be in the Red Sox lineup tonight.

Terry Francona, re Youkilis's 0-for-6 showing in two PawSox games:
I asked him if he wanted to go to Double A to get some hits. He said no.
The Fenway crowd cheered David Ortiz all evening, but he was hitless in four trips and is now 1-for-his-last-17. Francona:
If I said I hadn't thought about the lineup, that's not true. But I knew all along I really didn't [want to move Ortiz]. David and I talked about that a little bit. ... I don't want to tell a player, "Hey, if you keep struggling, we're going to move you down." ... The one thing I don't want to do is start bouncing the lineup all over the place. ... [I]t's our responsibility to not lose patience [just because] everybody is screaming to lose patience.
Tito says that "if we move David around, everybody moves", but that's not really true. Anyway, Yook's return will disrupt the order, too. Why not simply switch Ortiz and J.D. Drew -- both left-handed hitters?
I'm not crazy about Bay hitting 6th, but as long as Ellsbury stays at the top and Francona wants to maintain a L-R-L-R-L-R pattern, that's where he fits. (Unless Bay is 4th and Youkilis 6th?)

Other returns/changes to the roster: Daisuke Matsuzaka, out with right shoulder strain since April 14, will start against the Mets (and Johan Santana) on Friday night. Francona says Mark Kotsay is "very close" to returning to the team.

John Smoltz begins his minor league rehab assignment in Greenville (A) Thursday night. He will throw about 50 pitches. If Smoltz takes the full 30 days allowed for the assignment, he would return on June 19, when the Red Sox host his old team, Atlanta.

Jed Lowrie continues his rehab, including light throwing and one-handed swings, "dry swings, just going through the motions to get my body acclimated to swinging with both hands". Lowrie says he has about 90% range of motion in his left wrist, whereas before surgery it was a painful 50% percent.


Eye-Rolling Opening Paragraph Of The Day: Ron Borges, Herald:
Most Internet users have come to loath what Tim Wakefield was searching for last night. He was looking for pop-ups.
Borges later described Wakefield's knuckleball as "moving like Shakira's hips". Yeesh.

May 19, 2009

G39: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 000 010 000 - 1  5  1
Red Sox - 020 000 00x - 2 6 1
Wakefield was strong (8-5-1-2-3, 97), making a two-run second inning stand up against the AL East leaders. Boston is now 2.5 GB. (The Yankee beat Baltimore 9-1, so they are 3.5 GB.)

Mike Lowell started the second inning with a single to left and J.D Drew worked an eight-pitch walk. After Julio Lugo popped out, Jeff Bailey singled to left center. Lowell scored on the hit, Drew went to third, and Gumball took second on Adam Lind's throwing error. George Kottaras then lofted a sac fly to left.

Cabin Mirror opened the top of the fifth with a dong to left, but that was Toronto's only run. Only two other Blue Jay runners reached second base.

The Fenway crowd was solidly behind David Ortiz, but Flo went 0-for-3, walking in the first, but then: K, 4-3, K. Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a fifth-inning single; he also doubled in the eighth.


Brian Tallet (4.68, 99 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (4.03, 124 ERA+)
             W    L    PCT    GB    RS    RA   DIFF
Blue Jays 27 14 .659 -- 234 174 + 60
Red Sox 22 16 .579 3.5 208 190 + 18
Yankees 21 17 .553 4.5 205 218 - 13
Rays 20 20 .500 6.5 221 196 + 25
Orioles 16 22 .421 9.5 192 225 - 33
David Ortiz (.208/.318/.300) is expected to be back in the Red Sox lineup tonight. Will he batting in his customary third spot in the order?

Terry Francona:
I don't know. I want to talk to him. And I haven't wanted to talk to him yet, because I've wanted to give him some room.
SoSHer Carl Everetts Therapist relayed some information "from someone who interviewed [Vice President of Player Personnel] Ben Cherington" last Friday morning:
Papi's struggles are a combination of mental physical and emotional. He also has been withdrawn and silent in the clubhouse. ... There will be a closed door meeting ASAP that includes Magaden, Tito, Theo, Henry and the training staff. A decision will be made as far as how to approach this thing ...

Suggestions have been made about possible options that include ... Moving Ortiz down in the order ...
SoSHer normstalls:
For what its worth (and maybe not much) Ortiz looked really good during BP on Saturday. He hit a groove and was really driving some balls well. I think he hit about 5 out. Now this was only BP and normally is nothing to be encouraged about, but given his current condition I took it as a glimmer of hope.
John Hickey,
Hitting coach Dave Magadan said Ortiz's mechanics are back where they are supposed to be, so all the slugger needs now is to regain his confidence.
Wily Mo Pena, currently with the Buffalo Bisons, on not hitting home runs in 2006:
[Bronson] Arroyo had two [with the Reds] and I had nothing. [Fans] were jumping all over me every time I came to the plate. I was thinking too much, but once I hit that first one, I was able to breathe and starting hitting. That's going to be the same for Ortiz. ...

He's not swinging the same. I don't know if he's hurt, or if something is bothering him, or if he's thinking about something. I wish I could know something.
Julio Lugo is also expected back in the lineup.

Red Sox DHs Hitless Since Wednesday

A Red Sox designated hitter has not had a hit since the first inning last Wednesday.

After a flair that fell into short right-center for a single, David Ortiz went 0-for-his-last-10 against the Angels and Rocco Baldelli went 0-for-11 in Seattle over the weekend (though he did walk twice). Boston's DHs went 1-for-25 on the short west coast trip.

Sean McAdam offers a Quarterly Report in today's Herald. The Red Sox's starters' ERA (5.76) is tied for worst in the American League with Baltimore, they have played seven series against the trio of Tampa Bay, New York and Los Angeles and David Ortiz is slugging .300. Yet Boston has the third-best record in the AL and is tied for fourth in runs scored.

Kevin Youkilis played first base and lead off for Pawtucket last night. "I felt good. Just a little rusty ..." "In the first, he had a five-pitch at-bat, grounding out to third baseman Mike Lamb. Leading off in the third, he struck out on four pitches. In his final at-bat, he walked on four pitches."

Mark Kotsay may rejoin the Red Sox during this Blue Jays/Mets homestand.

The Hallucinations Of John Sterling

Phil Mushnick, Post:
Every game played by the Yankees is a doubleheader -- the game that's played and the game [John] Sterling calls.

This weekend, the games Sterling described did not exist. Some examples:

In the eighth inning Saturday, Sterling called a game-tying home run by Hideki Matsui -- Sterling gave it his, "It is high ...!" routine, culminating with, "It is gone!" But the ball, as Sterling several seconds later acknowledged, didn't even reach the wall on the fly; it bounced over it. ...

In the fourth inning of Saturday's game, Sterling and Suzyn Waldman fabricated a story. Johnny Damon lost sight of a pop fly as he approached the stands along the left-field line. Damon missed the ball, plain and simple as that. ...

Sterling claimed the ball fell from Damon's glove. ... Waldman added, "He had to fight a fan with a glove." ... But it never happened, nothing even close. ...

Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the first [on Friday] with a line drive that was caught waist-high by Twins left fielder Denard Span in front of the warning track. Sterling, however, gave it his "Waaaay back!" treatment. Next he said the ball smacked against the wall. Finally, he said the ball was caught for an out. ...

In the top of the second, Sterling was so eager to describe a spectacular 6-4-3 double play, so eager to put his hollering pre-fab excesses to every play, he became the last in the house to notice that it wasn't a double play; the low throw to first wasn't caught. ...

And, despite it all, Sterling's on-air demeanor remains smug, haughty, condescending.
Some SoSHers comment:
jon abbey (a yankees fan): Yeah, I've listened to him do an inning or two on the radio only to later watch those same innings on DVR and find that he misdescribed what was going on to such an extent as to make listening to him pretty much pointless. I feel really bad for my blind friend who is a Yankees fan and who listens to the Sterling/Waldman combo ...

mikeford: Wait... how does someone outright LIE about whats going on (The Damon fan interference thing) and keep their job? It is one thing to be incompetent and suck at your job... it is entirely another to MAKE THINGS UP., anyone?

May 18, 2009

Off-Day Outtakes: Jayhawks; Talking Heads

Hollywood Town Hall is a superb album of country/folk/roots-rock released in 1992 by the Jayhawks, a Minneapolis band led by Mark Olson and Gary Louris.

The Jayhawks: Hollywood Town Hall Demos
01 - Sister Cry                            4:03
02 - Pray For Me 3:08
03 - Little Nightshade 5:20
04 - Take Me With You When You Go 4:43
05 - Worn Out Cotton Dress 2:14
06 - Nevada California 3:17
07 - Won't Be Coming Home 3:24
08 - Precious Time 3:33
09 - Wichita 3:55
10 - Bloody Hands 3:14
11 - Cold Dark Night 4:31
12 - Waiting For The Sun 3:21
13 - Waiting For The Sun 4:18
14 - Keith And Quentin 3:16
15 - Clouds 3:32
16 - Mother Trust You To Walk To The Store 3:54
17 - Survival 5:07
18 - Cool Cool Water 3:17
19 - Settled Down Like Rain 2:49
20 - Take Me Down To The Water 2:40

Roughly half of the 15 tracks on the full set of 1975 Talking Heads demos can be found on expanded versions of their first two albums and/or the Sand In The Vaseline compilation. I'm pretty sure these eight tracks remain unreleased.

CBS Demos (1975)
06 - The Girls Want To Be With The Girls 3:03
07 - Who Is It 2:18
08 - With Our Love 4:08
09 - Stay Hungry 4:29
10 - Tentative Decisions 2:42
11 - Warning Sign 3:33
13 - The Book I Read 2:55
15 - No Compassion 3:40
Finally, here are demos recorded by David Byrne at his apartment in New York City, songs that appeared on Little Creatures (1985) and True Stories (1986).

True Creatures Demos (1984)
01 - Wild Wild Life                      4:25
02 - Puzzlin Evidence 4:39
03 - Love For Sale 5:17
04 - Lady Don't Mind 4:37
05 - Hey Now 2:55
06 - Road To Nowhere 4:01
07 - Instrumental (Hey) 5:18
08 - Papa Legba 3:48
09 - People Like Us 4:55
10 - City Of Dreams 5:33
11 - Radio Head 5:17
12 - Give Me Back My Name 4:07

May 17, 2009

G38: Mariners 3, Red Sox 2

Red Sox  - 010 100 000 - 2  8  2
Mariners - 020 000 001 - 3 11 1
Nick Green made a two-base throwing error with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, back-handing Ronny Cedeno's grounder and then airmailing it over first base into the camera pit. It was Green's second error of the afternoon and his 8th in only 23 games at shortstop.

The Red Sox intentionally walked Ichiro Suzuki. Franklin Gutierrez then whacked a 1-0 pitch through the 3B/SS hole into left field. Jason Bay's throw home was late and the Mariners won the game.

Masterson pitched very well (6.1-9-2-0-6, 93). He had a rough second inning, allowing a first-pitch dong to Russell Branyan and then a double and triple with two outs, but otherwise kept the ball down and in the infield (grounders and strikeouts accounted for 14 of his 19 outs).

J.D. Drew scored both Boston runs. He singled with one out in the second, took second on a fielder's choice error, went to third on Jeff Bailey's single and scored on Jason Varitek's fly ball to left. Drew crushed a 2-0 pitch to right field for his 6th home run to start the fourth inning.

He also made two fantastic catches: running back onto the warning track towards the right field corner to snag Ken Griffey's long fly in the third and then leaping at the wall in the eighth, snaring Branyan's drive right at the yellow line that runs along the top of the wall.

The Red Sox missed plenty of scoring opportunities. They loaded the bases in the second, but scored only once. They loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth and could not score (Bay P3, Lowell GIDP 643). They had runners at first and second with one out in the sixth, but Varitek GIDP 463. And finally, in the ninth, they had runners at first and second, but Jacoby Ellsbury popped to second and Dustin Pedroia flied to right.

Ellsbury singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.


Justin Masterson (4.89, 102 ERA+) / Jason Vargas (1.04, 439 ERA+)

This may be Masterson's last start before heading back to the bullpen:
I feel like I've gotten comfortable in the starting role as far as knowing my routine and what to do. ... [I]t's not like if I go back to the pen it's a demotion or anything like that. ... This is a case of a guy [Matsuzaka] coming back to reclaim what he already had, which is understandable. ... Wherever I am, like I always say, I've just got to pitch well.
Today's lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Rocco Baldelli, DH
Jeff Bailey, 1B
Jason Varitek, C
Nick Green, SS
Julio Lugo left last night's game in the seventh with a sore left groin -- "something that's been sore for a few days". Lugo said after he singled in the fourth "and tried to go to second, it got tight then. Through the course of the game, it got a little tighter." Terry Francona thought it was "more of a hip flexor" issue.

Vargas was in the National League from 2005-07; hip and elbow surgery kept him out of pro ball last year. In 2009, the 26-year-old lefty has appeared in three games. He started against Texas last Tuesday -- his first start since July 31, 2007 -- with a pitch limit of 75-80: 5-5-1-2-3, 73.


From The Bill Chuck Files:
So far this season, the most runs the Indians have scored (22), the Red Sox have scored (16), the Rays have scored (15), and the Orioles have scored (12) have all been in games against the Yankees.

Yet Another Reason To Like J.D. Drew

Red Sox Insider has posted each player's intro/at-bat music:
Drew - (no music by choice)

Youkilis And Matsuzaka Could Return This Week

Kevin Youkilis will play for Pawtucket this Monday and Tuesday (both DH and 1B) and be "ready to rock" on Wednesday, when he is eligible to come off the disabled list.

Daisuke Matsuzaka could return to the Red Sox rotation as early as this Friday, when the Mets visit Fenway.

Gumball Bailey had about 80 family and friends from Kelso, Washington, at Psycho Field yesterday -- and they got to see him knock his second career home run. Bailey is hitting only .173, but has done well against lefties (5-for-13, .385).

Jacoby Ellsbury has improved his on-base percentage -- though among qualifying leadoff hitters, his .335 is 23rd, third worst in baseball. During his current 12-game hitting streak, he is batting .357, but his OBP is only .390 (only three walks in 59 plate appearances).

Over the last month, Jason Varitek has slumped back to his 2008 form (.220/.313/.359). In his last 18 games (since April 22), he is hitting .217/.304/.377. ... Jason Bay is slugging .704 since April 24 (22 games) and .755 since May 4.

Ramon Ramirez has given up only one run this year -- in 19 innings (0.44 ERA). He has also allowed only one of 12 inherited runners to score. ... Manny Delcarmen has allowed only two earned runs (though five overall) in 17.2 innings (1.02 ERA). ... Hideki Okajima has not been scored upon in his last 8 appearances (10.1 innings).

And: I updated Schadenfreude 82 with Huff mocking Joba on the back page of Monday's Daily News. Not sure why I missed it originally.

May 16, 2009

G37: Red Sox 5, Mariners 3

Red Sox  - 220 010 000 - 5  6  1
Mariners - 020 100 000 - 3 6 0
Josh Beckett went much deeper in the game than expected after throwing 77 pitches through four innings. He ended up with this line: 7-4-3-3-5, 119 (one of the three runs was unearned).

Of the six Boston hits, three were home runs -- and they accounted for all of the team's runs: Jason Bay hit a two-run shot in the first, Jason Varitek went deep for two runs in the second, and Jeff Bailey led off the fifth with a solo blast.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. The other two hits were singles by Julio Lugo and Mike Lowell.

All five AL East teams won on Saturday, so Boston stays 2 GB behind Toronto and New York is still 4.5 GB.


Josh Beckett (6.42, 78 ERA+) / Garrett Olson (2.57, 178 ERA+)

Happy 29th Birthday (yesterday) to Josh Beckett, who is coming off two 6 IP/3 ER outings against the Yankees and Rays.

Same lineup as last night.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
Rocco Baldelli, DH
Julio Lugo, SS
Jason Varitek, C
Jeff Bailey, 1B
This will be Olson's first start of the season, after pitching seven innings in relief.

Ortiz May Sit For A Few Days

UPDATE: I had overlooked this from today's Herald:
Slumping slugger David Ortiz will not play again until the Red Sox return to Boston on Tuesday in the hopes that a mental break helps him escape the worst slump of his career.

Terry Francona says Ortiz's time out of the lineup may last for rest of the weekend:
Maybe I was too late in doing this. I hope not. I just think he needs a deep breath. ... if there's a time to step back and take a deep breath, it will help us in the long run. [How long will he be out?] We'll see. It might go a couple [days].
That would put Flo back in the lineup at home on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

Mike Lowell knows what it's like to be written off as a hitter:
I don't buy the bat speed [argument]. I don't buy the Manny deal. I just think maybe he's not seeing the ball and that triggers other things. I think he just needs a day where he squares the ball up three or four times, and it just snowballs from there. ...

When he's back in the lineup, he should treat it like the season starts that day. If he goes 0-for-4, that's fine. People go 0-for-4 on Opening Day all the time. Just take it like that. If you stare at the numbers, you'll never win.
This hit chart for 2009 shows only five of Ortiz's 27 hits pulled into right field.

During the winter, Julio Lugo looked at videos tapes of himself with Tampa Bay and with the Red Sox. He found that his stance had changed dramatically. As the Globe notes:
In the Rays video, Lugo stood with his back straight, his head upright, and his eyes pointed toward the pitcher. In the Sox video, Lugo hunched over the plate, his head cocked to one side, one eye hidden and one eye squinting at the mound. The change occurred gradually and by accident.
Secret Weapon*:
I can put better swings on the ball instead of just jabbing at it. I can drive the ball. I'm not a power hitter, but I can drive the ball, get the ball through the infield. That, I've always been able to do.
Lugo is currently batting .326 and slugging .457 (5th best on the team).

John Smoltz celebrated his 42nd birthday on Friday by pitching two simulated innings (which actually worked out to roughly nine or 10 outs). ... Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched for Pawtucket last night: 5-3-2-1-9 (70 pitches, 48 strikes). All of the hits and runs came in the first inning. In three rehab starts, Matsuzaka has allowd two runs in 11.2. He will join the team in Boston on Monday.

Four For Five

The Red Sox have scored an identical number of runs in each of their last five games:
                RS     RA
May 10 vs TBR 4 3
May 12 at LAA 4 3
May 13 at LAA 4 8
May 14 at LAA 4 5 (12 inn)
May 15 at SEA 4 5
That ties the team record, set in 1928:
                 RS    RA
August 1 at CWS 3 7 (2nd G)
August 2 at CWS 3 6
August 3 at CWS 3 1
August 4 at StL 3 11
August 5 at StL 3 1
[Thanks to SoSH's OttoC.]


I don't know what the all-time record is for most consecutive games scoring the same amount of runs, but here are lists of identical run totals from 1954-2009:

0 Runs: 4 games -- 7 times, last by 1992 Cubs

1 Run: 5 games -- 1962 Athletics, 1967 Twins, 1968 Dodgers, 2001 Tigers

2 Runs: 6 games -- 1980 Twins

3 Runs: 6 games -- 1993 Cleveland, 1984 Astros

4 Runs: 7 games -- 2003 Cleveland

5 Runs: 5 games -- 1964 Cubs, 1996 Cardinals, 2005 Dodgers

6 Runs: 5 games -- 1966 Phillies, 2001 White Sox

7 Runs: 6 games -- 1989 Brewers

8 Runs: 3 games -- 28 times, last by 2007 Royals; the 1997 Expos had a 1-2 record!

9 Runs: 3 games -- 18 times, last by 2008 Reds

10 Runs: 4 games -- 1977 Phillies

11 Runs: 3 games -- 1954 Giants, 1991 White Sox

12 Runs: 2 games -- 22 times, last by 2008 Twins

13 Runs: 3 games -- 1999 Cleveland

Naturally, the number of teams scoring at least a certain amount of runs will be higher. For example, two teams have scored at least eight runs in eight straight games.

And the 1993 Tigers scored at least 15 runs in three straight games, sweeping Baltimore in mid-August 15-1, 15-5 and 17-11. (Detroit then scored only one run in each of their next two games.)