August 31, 2009

Off-Day Outtakes: Rolling Stones

Place Pigalle - 1971-1981

Disc 1
01 Drift Away
02 Slow Down And Stop
03 Living In The Heart Of Love
04 Fast Talking
05 Separately
06 Waiting On A Friend
07 You Should Have Seen Her Ass
08 Save Me
09 Wind Call
10 Tops
11 I Got A Letter
12 Act Together
13 Slave
14 Do You Really Think I Care
15 Black Limousine
16 Everlasting Is My Love
17 I Need You

Disc 2
01 Everlasting My Love
02 No Spare Parts
03 Hang Fire
04 Black Limousine
05 Everlasting Is My Love
06 So Young
07 Some People Tell Me
08 When You're Gone
09 Munich Hilton
10 You Don't Have To Go
11 Shame Shame Shame
12 After Hours
13 Armpit Blues
14 You Win Again
15 Do You Get Enough
16 Sheep Dip Blues
17 Worried About You

Disc 3
01 Everything Is Turning To Gold
02 Fuji Jim
03 Light Up
04 What Gives You The Right
05 Los Trios Guitaros
06 Stay Where You Are
07 Dancing Girls
08 Broken Head Blues
09 Up Against The Wall
10 Broken Toe
11 Golden Caddy
12 Golden Caddy
13 Dancing Girls
14 Disco Muzic
15 Still In Love
16 The Way She Held Me Tight
17 It's A Lie
18 Never Make Me Cry

Disc 4
01 Piano Instrumental
02 Linda Lou
03 Sweet Home Chicago
04 Dancing Girls
05 Muck Spreading Dub
06 Petrol Gang
07 Never Let Her Go
08 Guitar Lesson
09 Never Make Me Cry
10 It's All Wrong
11 Never Too Into
12 It's Cold Down There
13 It's Cold Down There
14 Guess I Should Know
15 Heaven
16 Neighbours
17 Slave
18 Waiting On A Friend

August 30, 2009

J.D. Drew's Perfect Temperament

The Herald's John Tomase writes that J.D. Drew "might have the perfect temperament for thriving" in Boston.

Even better. On Fire has the perfect temperament for baseball.

My mind-set is simple. I don't change because of the atmosphere and the electricity in the ballpark. ... I think everything affects you to some extent. I've always been pretty good at realizing there are ups and downs to the game of baseball. ... My faith plays a lot into it. I'm just very grounded in how I grew up. ...

It's hard to judge character when you don't know somebody. I've always been that way. ... I care as much as anyone out there. I'm just not geared the way some people are to show it outwardly. ... There are times when the fans are fired up and going crazy all the time. Those are the times when you need to step back and wind it down a little bit.

I'm good at that.
It reminds me of what SoSH Razor Shines wrote in the wake of Kevin Youkilis's comments about the media:
J.D. Drew is a great litmus test to separate rational fans from the braying jackasses. ...

[W]henever I see or hear someone claiming that "player x has no heart", I immediately write off everything else they have to say. It just strikes me as the height of arrogance to claim that you know what goes on inside another person's brain, or what degree of pain another person is feeling.
One of the moves to activate Paul Byrd had Junichi Tazawa sent down to the Gulf Coast League. Since the GCL season ends on Sunday, Boston will not have to wait the usual 10 days before recalling Tazawa for his next start this week (after rosters have expanded).

The Red Sox acquired outfielder Joey Gathright in a deal with the Orioles.

When Tommy Harper found out that Jacoby Ellsbury's family has a baseball Harper signed for Ellsbury's grandfather back in 1969, he was shocked.
You wouldn't believe that sort of thing would happen. You can understand someone holding onto a ball, but it turns to be from someone who's record is going to get broken? That's unique. What are the odds?
Like bunting, it seems, proofreading is a lost art.

Matsuzaka Roughed Up In AA Start

Daisuke Matsuzaka needed 49 pitches to get through the first inning on Sunday in a start for Portland against Toronto's AA club.

Dice allowed four hits (including a leadoff home run) and walked three in the inning, allowing five runs. He came out for his second and final inning and retired the side on nine pitches.

Wakefield Will Get Cortisone Shot On Monday

Tim Wakefield, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Tuesday in Tampa because of recurring back trouble, will get a cortisone shot on Monday.

Before Sunday's game, Wakefield said his back was "pretty bad".
I felt my hip kind of cramp up [during the game on Wednesday], but I was able to kind of pitch through it. ... The next day it was just sore ... it was just getting worse and worse. ...

I got out of bed [on Saturday], I couldn't even stand up straight. ... It's irritating in there, and it's a matter of getting that to the right position where it's not going to bother me anymore. ... I think [off-season] surgery is inevitable ... I get the shot Monday, maybe start playing catch on Wednesday, and see how it feels.
Wakefield received a cortisone shot back on July 23 after being put on the disabled list with lower back strain for the first time this season.

Paul Byrd, Chris Carter And The Yankees

Joel Sherman, Post:

One reason the Yankees put in a claim for Chris Carter was because of Paul Byrd. Stick with us here.

Byrd spent most of this season as a free agent and the Yankees were negotiating with him around midseason to bring him in as rotation insurance, a source told The Post. The Yanks were told by Byrd that they were his first choice, the source said. However, the Yanks refused Byrd's request to be assured of a Sept. 1 promotion.

So Byrd signed earlier this month with the Red Sox.

When the Yanks learned that Carter was one of the players that was going to the Mets in the Billy Wagner deal, they claimed Carter him on waivers and forced Boston to pull the outfielder/first baseman back. One reason was they assumed Boston had to make the same deal with Byrd -- to bring him up on Sept. 1 -- that the Yanks refused. So that meant Byrd has to be put on the 40-man roster. So the Yanks figured they could cause some 40-man roster havoc for their main nemesis by forcing Carter back on the 40-man, as well, at a time when Wagner, too, had to be added and Daisuke Matsuzaka is close to coming back from the 60-day DL.
The Yankees were apparently so broken up over losing Byrd to the Red Sox -- even though they refused to agree to Byrd's request and so have no real beef if Byrd decided to play for someone else -- that they decided to act in such a way that doesn't harm the Red Sox much at all, but totally screws over Carter, an almost 27-year-old minor leaguer, preventing him from having any September playing time with the Mets. So classy.

G130: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 0

Blue Jays - 000 000 000 - 0  5  1
Red Sox - 111 100 30x - 7 10 0
Byrd: 6-3-0-3-1, 83!

And the Red Sox chipped away at Halladay from the very start of the game. He got the first two batters on six pitches, but needed another 22 to get the third out. Boston scored on back-to-back doubles from Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis.

Rocco Baldelli homered to left on Halladay's first pitch in the second, Dustin Pedroia doubled and scored on Yook's sac fly in the third, and a Alex Gonzalez singled home a run in the fourth. Halladay (6-7-4-1-6, 103) had only one inning in which he retired the side in order.

Gonzalez also got the seventh started with a double. From there, a bunt single from Jacoby Ellsbury, a throwing error by pitcher Shawn Camp and Yook's single tacked on three more runs.

Billy Wagner made his Sox debut in the eighth, allowing a one-out double, but striking out the side. He fanned Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells on hard sliders and got Lyle Overbay on a 94 mph fastball.

The Yankees beat the White Sox 8-3, so Boston stays 6 GB in the East with 32 to play. The Twins beat the Rangers 5-3, so the Red Sox are 3.5 GA in the wild card.
Roy Halladay (3.03, 144 ERA+) / Paul Byrd (2009 debut)

Too much pitching? The Red Sox have gone from having (supposedly) at least eight starters for their five rotation spots to handing the ball today to Byrd, who last pitched in the majors on September 24, 2008, for Boston.

After being traded to the Red Sox from Cleveland in August 2008, Byrd had a 4.78 ERA (97 ERA+) in eight starts/49 innings. He became a free agent, but had not signed with any team until the Sox signed him to a minor league deal on August 5.

Halladay has been roughed up in both of his last two starts, lasting only five innings against the Red Sox on August 19 and getting pelted by the Rays for 12 hits and eight runs in six innings last Monday.

And: White Sox/Yankees at 1 and Rangers/Twins at 2.

August 29, 2009

G129: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2

Blue Jays - 000 000 002 - 2  5  1
Red Sox - 100 002 00x - 3 10 0
Buchholz (8.1-3-1-2-9, 107) was masterful, but was pulled after giving up a leadoff single and a line out in the ninth.

Hideki Ojakima -- facing two lefties, Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay -- allowed an RBI double (poof, there went the shutout) and an RBI single in only four pitches. Suddenly, Toronto had the tying run at first with only one out. Terry Francona went to Jonathan Papelbon, who retired Vernon Wells on a first-pitch foul pop-out to catcher, then got Kevin Millar to pop to third.

The Sox wasted a ton of scoring opportunities -- Romero (5.1-7-3-4-5, 116) was lucky he wasn't trailing 6- or 7-0 after three innings. Jacoby Ellsbury began the first with a double, took third on an attempted pickoff throw by catcher Raul Chavez and scored on Dustin Pedroia's single.

Boston stranded two runners in the second and left the bases loaded in the third. They also left the sacks full in the sixth, but they scored twice before doing so. Jason Bay and J.D. Drew walked, Alex Gonzalez rapped an RBI single, Pedroia (3-for-4, with a walk) singled to load the bases, and Victor Martinez walked to force in the third run. They ended the day with 12 LOB.

Ellsbury hit a stand-up triple in the eighth on a ball that sailed over Wells's head and rattled around in the triangle. LBJ took a wide turn around third, but DeMarlo Hale wisely stopped him.

The Yankees one-hit the White Sox 10-0 and the Rangers topped the Twins 3-0, so the standings stay the same: 6 GB in the East, 2.5 GA in the WC.
Ricky Romero (3.91, 112 ERA+) / Clay Buchholz (5.02, 95 ERA+)

Romero in 2009
           GS     IP   H  R  ER  BB   K   ERA 
vs Red Sox 3 12.0 19 15 14 13 15 10.50
vs Others 18 119.1 113 43 43 39 87 3.24
Boston has hit .388/.508/.735 against Romero. ... David Ortiz is 5-for-7 with one single, three doubles and a home run. Kevin Youkilis is 3-for-5 with two dongs.

Also: White Sox/Yankees at 1 and Rangers/Twins at 7.

Wakefield Scratched From Tuesday Start

Amalie Benjamin, Globe:
Tim Wakefield has been scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday against the Rays because his back is acting up. He will be evaluated on Monday.
Sunday's pitcher is unknown, though it might be Paul Byrd. If tonight's game is rained out, Clay Buchholz will go tomorrow, with Jon Lester pitching in Tampa on Tuesday.

Red Sox May Start 2010 Against Yankees

An early version of the 2010 schedule has the Red Sox opening the season at Fenway Park against the Yankees. Sean McAdam has the scoop on the tentative schedule. The Red Sox opened the 1992 and 2005 seasons in New York.

Red Sox pitchers struck out 17 Toronto batters last night: Beckett 9, Saito 2, Bard 3, Papelbon 3. It was most in a game since April 8, 2001 against the Devil Rays: Pedro 16, Lowe 1.

Daisuke Matsuzaka's rehab start for Portland was pushed back to Sunday; he's still on schedule to face the Orioles at Fenway on September 9. ... Jed Lowrie rejoins Pawtucket today. ... George Kottaras will be back with the Red Sox on Tuesday in Tampa Bay.

Two articles on Jason Varitek blocking the plate on Travis Snider. It was a very nice play -- and it kept the game tied -- but the praise seems a bit much. ... Terry Francona says Billy Wagner will not pitch on consecutive days: "That's for sure."

Donkey Watch: Justin Masterson has made four starts for Cleveland (and one relief appearance). In those starts, he has allowed 20 hits and 12 walks in only 19.2 innings.

August 28, 2009

Another Baseball Show Cameo

I'll be making my third visit to The Baseball Show on Saturday morning. The Web Sox Nation segment should air at 9:55 AM.

G128: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5

Blue Jays - 020 020 000 - 5 10  0
Red Sox - 000 320 01x - 6 10 0
Johnathan Papelbon loads the bases with one out in the ninth, but strikes out the next two batters for the save.

The winning pitcher (Okajima, 3 pitches) and losing pitcher (Brian Tallet, 7 pitches) each faced only one batter. Jeemer got the last out in the eighth once play had resumed and Tallet walked Ortiz to start the Boston eighth.

The Sox went ahead on Casey Kotchman's fielder's choice -- after David Ortiz had walked, Drew doubled and Varitek was intentionally walked. Kotchman's hot shot was to the right of Lyle Overbay at first base; it rolled away from him and his only play was to second base for the force, as Flo scored.

The Yankees beat the White Sox 5-2 in 10 innings and the Twins held on to beat the Rangers 3-2, so Boston remains 6 GB in the East, but is now 2.5 GA of Texas in the Wild Card.
11:01 PM: Game is back on, after a 49-minute delay. And Okajima strands the runner.

10:12 PM: Rain delay with two outs in the top of the eighth and a runner at third base.

Beckett (5-5-5-5-9, 108) did not have it for the third consecutive start, throwing 80 pitches in the first three innings. He allowed a three-run homer to Aaron Hill and a two-run dong to Rod Barajas.

Boston got five hits in the fourth and RBIs from J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury. Jason Bay tied the game in the fifth with his 29th home run.
Scott Richmond (4.09, 107 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (3.65, 130 ERA+)

13.1 innings, 18 hits, 15 runs (including eight dongs).

That's the damage done to Beckett in his last two outings by the Blue Jays (August 18) and Yankees (August 23). It came as a bit of a shock, as in 16 starts before those outings, Beckett had a 1.93 ERA over 116.1 innings. John Farrell insists there is nothing physically wrong.

Jacoby Ellsbury hopes to play tonight after suffering a left high-ankle sprain last night. Francona was "hopeful" LBJ could play and said the injury didn't seem to be "anything more than a nagging thing".

The other games in this series:
Saturday, 7 PM: Ricky Romero/Clay Buchholz
Sunday, 1:30 PM: Roy Halladay/Jon Lester
On The Big Board: White Sox/Yankees (Buehrle/Sabathia) at 7 and Rangers/Twins at 8.

Green Pitches In

Nick Green was told by Terry Francona in the third inning last night that he might be pitching before the night was through.
I didn't know my ball was going to move all over the place. ... I didn't know what to expect. I haven't tried to throw a strike to a catcher in 11 years [in junior college]. ...

[Francona] told me the way it was going to work, with Manny pitching two and Ramon pitching one, and then I come in. But I asked Farrell, "Who's going to pitch the ninth?"
John Farrell:
Given the situation with two guys unavailable [Saito and Wagner] and with two other guys [Bard and Okajima], if we pitched them, would have been three out of the last four days ... [He kept] us rested going into this next series.
The only other Red Sox positional player to pitch two hitless innings was Eddie Lake, against the Browns on May 17, 1944. David McCarty pitched two innings for the Sox against the Orioles on October 3, 2004.

Outfielder Jonathan Van Every pitched against the Rays on April 30. The only other season in which the Red Sox had two position players take the mound was 1928 -- Doug Taitt (July 25) and Jack Rothrock (September 24).

Note: Francona pitched a perfect ninth inning for the Brewers on May 15, 1989, getting two fly outs, then getting a called strike three on Stan Javier.

August 27, 2009

G127: White Sox 9, Red Sox 5

White Sox - 044 100 000 - 9 14  0
Red Sox - 000 020 021 - 5 9 1
A comeback seemed possible all night, but the real excitement, as it turned out, began after NESN showed Nick Green warming up in the bullpen as the Red Sox came up in the bottom of the seventh.

Green ended up pitching the final two innings, walking three but allowing no hits and no runs. Twenty-two of his 35 pitches were balls. The Fenway crowd was completely behind him, cheering like crazy as he ended the eighth inning. Even as the Red Sox cut the lead to 9-4, Terry Francona stayed with Green (although it looked like Hideki Okajima would have pitched the ninth had the Sox scored a couple more runs).

Green hit 90 with his four-seam fastball and had a consistent release point. He may not have won the #3 starter spot in the playoffs with tonight's performance, but he's got to be part of the discussion. Dude was painting with easy cheese!

J.D. Drew and Alex Gonzalez hit back-to-back homers in the fifth; Drew hit a second dong to began the bottom of the ninth. A two-out rally in the eighth -- a Kevin Youkilis walk and doubles from David Ortiz and Jason Bay -- accounted for the other Boston runs.

After an easy first inning, Tazawa (4-10-9-1-2, 85) was hit hard for the rest of his time on the hill. He could not keep his fastballs down in the zone and his curve had no bite.

Jacoby Ellsbury sustained a mild left ankle sprain on a play at the plate in the fifth inning. He was replaced by Rocco Baldelli.
John Danks (3.85, 122 ERA+) / Junichi Tazawa (3.57, 133 ERA+)

Tazawa has been allowing a lot of base traffic (26 hits, seven walks and two HBP in 17.2 innings), but has been able to houdini his way out of trouble. Opposing batters are hitting .091 (2-for-22) with runners in scoring position.

Here is an odd fact: In his last start, Tazawa "became the first Red Sox pitcher since 1988 to log six or more scoreless innings while allowing at least one hit in every frame". ... Also, on 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0 counts this season, opposing batters are 9-for-10 against Tazawa.

Billy Wagner will be in the pen tonight. He last pitched on Monday, so he should be available. [UPDATE: Wagner said this afternoon that he will throw a bullpen session before tonight's game. That may mean he's unavailable. Or not.]
But first: Rangers/Yankees at 1 PM.

Youkilis Explains; Penny Released; Lowrie Has Pain

Kevin Youkilis explained the comments that were reported in the Globe yesterday.
I've heard from a couple people around here that I'm angry with the fans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I've also been told that I don't want to play here anymore. That is way far from the truth. I love playing here.

I think I said the greatest time for me is from seven o'clock till the last pitch, because there's nothing better than playing baseball here at Fenway Park every night. That's the greatest part of my day, coming here and being with all the fans. ...

The negative part comes from comments from a select group of fans that are directed towards, not even me, just towards my teammates. A lot of times I feel like I have to stick up for some guys. Maybe it's not my platform to do that. Sometimes you get frustrated. You have teammates who go out there and really work hard and sometimes they're not producing like they'd like to but they're putting forth a hard effort. It's not like they're not trying. They're not having success. ...

It's about sports in general all over the place. This isn't just Boston. It's all over the country. A lot of [negative] stuff gets played up, but there are a lot of positive things, too. Maybe I was wrong by making my comments the way I made them, but these aren't new comments. Sometimes you're at fault for saying things because they get put out in the media in a different light than what you mean. ...

I understand people might have one opportunity to come to a game, and they might see us get beat pretty bad. That can definitely be frustrating. ... I do understand that there are going to be people that are positive in life and people who'll be negative in life. You can't change people.

I love this city. I love the history. There's a lot of great places here.
Well, there's a lot, a lot of culture here.

Youkilis did not mention the media, which was clearly the main source of his annoyance.

The Herald's Michael Silverman thinks that criticizing the media -- he cites examples from Yook, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, even Terry Francona -- makes the team look bad:
This latest hard-to-miss bout no doubt has as much to do with the team’s August stretch of injuries, suspensions, slumps and poor play as it does with the actual subject of the gripes. ...

It has to be unpleasant, to say the least, to read and hear stories that make you look like a jerk, a cheat or some sort of unappreciative heel when all you want to do is play baseball, help your team win and read fan-boy journalism.
Silverman isn't much of a shit-stirrer -- he probably had the best relationship with Pedro Martinez of all the Boston sportswriters -- but his column makes it seem as if he thinks anything non-jerky will sound like a gushing "fan-boy". He is smarter than that.

Brad Penny asked for and was given his release last night.
I enjoyed playing with all of the guys. I played for a great manager on a great team. I had a great time. I enjoyed it. I wish things had worked out better, but that happens. ... I had some bad breaks and made some bad pitches. But I'm healthy, and that's what I'm happy about. ... All in all I had a great time here. ... I'm glad I came here. It was a blessing.
As a fifth starter, Penny was excellent for two months -- in 12 starts between May 3 and July 4, he had a 3.68 ERA. He ended his time in Boston with a 5.61 ERA.

Jed Lowrie left his third rehab game with pain in his left wrist. Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson: "He said it was similar to what he felt before. I don't think it's going to be a major thing. I'm not a medical guy. ... I think he had some anxiety going on, so we just shut it down."

Victor Martinez used his first baseman's mitt to catch Tim Wakefield last night.

August 26, 2009

G126: Red Sox 3, White Sox 2

White Sox - 100 000 010 - 2  7  0
Red Sox - 010 001 001 - 3 7 1
BIG PAPI Walkoff HR!

Wakefield was brilliant (7-6-1-1-3, 94) and David Ortiz hit two home runs! The game-winning blast was clubbed down the right field line, plenty high and deep enough, and it stayed fair -- his first walkoff dong since September 12, 2007.

Boston's other slugger -- Alex Gonzalez -- hit a solo shot in the sixth.

And Victor Martinez's night of dealing with the knuckleball was a complete non-event. It was never an issue. ... Plus, 21 of Wakefield's first 22 pitches (and 27 of 30) were strikes.

The Yankees beat the Rangers 9-2, so Boston stays 6 GB in the East. The Rangers fell 2.5 GB Boston in the Wild Card. The Blue Jays scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Rays 3-2 and drop Tampa 4 GB in the WC.
Gavin Floyd (3.98, 118 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (4.31, 110 ERA+)

Wakefield returns from the DL (lower back and left calf) for his first start since July 8. His pitches shall float like a butterfly while the Red Sox bats sting like a bee. A big fookin' nine-stinger stabbin' bee. Well, maybe an eight-stinger bee, since Seabass will be in there.

Brave Victor Martinez will be behind the plate:
I'm really looking forward to it. I've had a chance to catch four or five of his [bullpen sessions]. ... I'm pretty excited. ... You don't have to look pretty catching it. You just have to make sure that you catch it.
Since Wakefield's mobility in somewhat uncertain, Tito will go with strong gloves at the corners: Kotchman 1B and Yook 3B, with Tiz DHing.
Also: Rangers (Holland)/Yankees (Pettitte) at 7 PM.

Wagner Will Join Sox Thursday; Lowell Makes Doubles History

ADDED: a bit on Josh Papelbon.

Theo Epstein on Billy Wagner, who will join the team on Thursday:
We were looking to add another left-handed reliever ... Coming off [elbow ligament replacement] surgery, we understand there are limitations, but we think with the depth of our bullpen, with rosters expanding in September, that's something we can manage around ... We think he's going to help. There's no guarantee of present benefit or future benefit, but there's a chance for both.
And Theo on Jonathan Papelbon's recent comments about adding Wagner:
[He] went out of his way to make sure Billy knew that he was more than welcome here ... I think Pap feels like he was misunderstood. He's not a Rhodes Scholar to begin with, obviously.
Mike "Dr. Doubles" Lowell's fourth inning two-bagger last night gave him 25 or more doubles in each of his last 10 seasons, the longest-ever such streak for a third baseman. George Brett, Wade Boggs, Brooks Robinson and Harlond Clift each had nine seasons in a row.

Jed Lowrie has gone 3-for-8 with three home runs in two rehab games with Pawtucket.
Terry Francona:
[Monday] night on the way home, it was a late night, we were talking about the Wagner stuff and all that, Victor [Martinez] is texting me at 1:15, saying, "Let me play [on Tuesday]". I finally wrote back and I said, "Leave me alone, you'll come in, pinch hit and get the game-winning hit." And he said, "OK, good night."
Martinez's pinch-hit single in the seventh tied the game, and he added an RBI double in the eighth for some insurance.
Papelbon says his younger brother, Josh (who is a 26-year-old reliever for Salem (A)), is unhappy at not being promoted -- he has not allowed an earned run in seven of his last 10 outings and has an ERA of 3.32 -- and wants to pitch for a different organization. Bot: "We've talked to Theo about it. It's already out in the open. ... He's ready to move on."

Youkilis Is Sick Of The Media

I'm just annoyed with the media as a whole. People write stuff about players on this team throughout the whole year and it's been going on for years and people just keep writing crap. ...

One night we get beat and it's the end of the world and the next night we win big and it's totally solid. We're back. It's up and down. One night we're getting bashed and the next time they're cheering. One guy has a bad game one night and they're all over him and the next night he has a good game and he's a hero. ...

I get sick of the questions. After we lose a game, [they're saying] it's over in the AL East. What are you gonna do now?
These quotes can be found in today's CHB column. And so we are given absolutely no context for his remarks. We don't know when Youkilis said these things. We have no idea what he was responding to. And if he said these things only to CHB -- I see nothing about this at the Herald or MLB -- we have no idea how accurate they are.

The up-and-down attitude Youkilis describes is nothing more than the job description of a sports columnist. And he should be well aware of that by now. It is usually a snapshot of the now. There is no perspective, no reasoned consideration. A bad loss means further losses will follow. An exciting win, however, could be predictive of a long string of success -- or it may mean the team is "due" for some losses.

Sadly, far too many fans are content to not think for themselves and adopt this attitude completely. The Chicken Littles drive me nuts and I have almost no contact with them. It must make the players insane. (And this is with 2004 and 2007 presumably fresh in everyone's mind.)

When people ask me, "What do you love about Boston?" I say, "From 7 o'clock until the last pitch is thrown." That's the best time in the world. I love it. I love playing on the field.

But there's a lot of stuff that goes on. People portray people. I've been portrayed as a guy who breaks helmets and breaks bats. I don't do that.
This is odd. Yook has certainly calmed down on the field, but the Red Sox held several team meetings a couple of years ago to address his petulant tantrums after making outs. But are Red Sox fans bothered by his outbursts? I thought they loved it (as Yankee fans loved Paul O'Neill) and saw it as evidence that "he cares". Those same fans complain that J.D. Drew doesn't throw stuff around after an 0-for-5 night.
People know me. I have good intentions, I do good things in the community. But I've heard more and more crap from people, [they] talk to my wife and talk to my people and say stuff, and I'm like, "You know what? I'm sick of it."
I wish Youkilis would elaborate more on this -- or if he did, the quotes had been printed in the paper. This cannot be solely from his mound charging/suspension. Yook's apology for that and his regrets about how it might have impacted his work with kids seemed quite genuine. Were people in Boston making that a big deal about the incident? Was he actually portrayed as an evil guy?

If I made a list of the most popular Red Sox players, I would put Youkilis near the top. He has been very consistent as a hitter and is solid at two infield positions. I have no reason to doubt what he's complaining about, but I wouldn't think he gets much shit from fans. Perhaps he hears crap about the team in general.

The comments sound a lot like what he said back on August 18, when he returned from his five-game suspension. Yet it's not like the CHB is sit on quotes like these for a week. If he had them before last night, we would have seen this column on the eve of the Yankees series.
I had the following ready to go as a post back on April 26. I didn't have much to say about it, so I did not put it up, but it seems appropriate to dust it off now. It was titled "Milton Bradley Makes Sense":

Things are not going well for Milton Bradley in Chicago. His season began with an ejection for arguing a called third strike, he has gone 1-for-23 (.043/.290/.174) and is currently sidelined with a groin injury. He is also not happy with the media. Last Thursday, he broke his 11-day silence.

April 23:
You come in here and all they want to talk about is how often you get hurt and your attitude and everything. ... [T]he more reporters get in my face, the more I talk, the more things get written the way I don't say them or they're taken out of context, and that's when you lose teammates and you lose fans. ... [S]omebody throws a question at you, just the way they ask it or the question, might make me look perturbed at the question they're asking. ...

I can see already I'm going to be that guy that since nothing else is going on in here -- "We're going to harp on Bradley all year and see if we can get him to snap." I'm not going to go for it. ... If I talk to you, you're going to make something up, and if I don't talk to you, you're going to make something up. So just go ahead and make something up and leave me out of it.
April 24:
I'm tired of being told somebody wrote this about you when that person has never even come in here and talked to me. You can't write articles and consider yourself a legitimate, credible reporter when your information is based on nothing. ...

Basically, for me, I talk to people I like. I don't particularly like the media, and the media doesn't like me. So let's not pretend we're buddies or you're trying to do anything for me. If anything, you hurt me more than help. So I don't see any benefit of really talking to the media.

August 25, 2009

G125: Red Sox 6, White Sox 3

White Sox - 001 000 200 - 3  8  1
Red Sox - 101 000 13x - 6 11 1
The Red Sox rallied immediately after Chicago had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh. With one out, Jason Varitek doubled to right center. Nick Green ran for him and scored when pinch-hitter Victor Martinez hit a first-pitch single to left center.

In the eighth, Jason Bay homered with one out to give Boston a 4-3 lead. Then, with two outs, Green singled, Martinez doubled him home, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled Martinez in. Jonathan Papelbon had no trouble in the ninth, striking out the first two, allowing a double, then getting Gordon Beckham on an easy fly to center.

In the first inning, after doubling to right-center, Ellsbury stole third on the first pitch to Dustin Pedroia. A.J. Pierzynski bobbled the pitch and made no throw as LBJ set a new Red Sox single season record for SB with 55.

Three of Boston's six runs came with two outs, making it 33 of the last 39.

Lester (6.2-4-3-2-6, 113) pitched well -- he retired 12 in a row from the third to sixth -- and should have made it through the seventh. Although he allowed a single and walk to start the seventh, he got two outs on a bunt and a line drive to right. Lester struck out Alexie Ramirez for the third out, but the ball got past Varitek and the tying run scored from third. Then a single gave Chicago the lead.

Hideki Okajima came in and allowed a single to load the bases, but fanned Beckham for the third out. Okajima and Manny Delcarmen wiggled out of a 1st-and-3rd situation with no outs in the eighth.

The Rangers beat the Yankees 10-9 -- New York and Joba (4-9-7-3-5, 96) blew a 4-0 first-inning lead and their four-run comeback attempt in the ninth was ended on an unassisted double play -- so Boston is now 6 GB. One step at a time.
Freddy Garcia (10.38, 45 ERA+) / Jon Lester (3.58, 133 ERA+)

Lester hopes the big bats stay hot tonight. Actually, everyone is hoping for that.

Lester is ranked last among Boston starters in run support, getting only an average of 4.36 runs per game; every other starter is over 5.5 runs.

Garcia has made only one start this season: August 18 against the Royals (4.1-7-5-1-3, 91).

Also: Rangers (Millwood)/Yankees (Chamberlain) at 7 PM.

Red Sox Get Billy Wagner

Lefty Billy Wagner is the newest member of the Red Sox bullpen.

Boston traded two AA-level players to the Mets.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Wagner has made two appearances for the Mets, throwing 15 balls and 18 strikes in two innings. Control is the last thing for a pitcher coming off TJ surgery to regain.

Both Wagner and his agent ("Bean Stringfellow" (!)) say that he can pitch only once every three days.

A few days ago, Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen questioned how effective Wagner would be and if his presence would upset the chemistry in the bullpen.

What has he done? Has he pitched this year? Is he ready to pitch or is he not? ... I think our bullpen is good where we're at right now. Don't get me wrong. But I guess you could always make it better.
I think our bullpen is fine right now. It is what it is. If [Wagner] comes and helps us win, that's what we want. But sometimes, shaking things up this late might work out different.
When told of Papelbon's comments, Wagner said:
I don't have anything to say about somebody like that. ... When he walks in my shoes then I'll say something. Let him be 38 and have Tommy John surgery.
Wagner has worn out his welcome with the Astros, Phillies and Mets. In May 2008, he blasted Oliver Perez:
Perez honestly has got to step up and know that we've just used every guy in the bullpen the night before. He can't come in and come out there and decide that he doesn't have it today, and so be it.
About a week later, he implied teammates like Carlos Delgado were avoiding the media:
Someone tell me why the (expletive) you're talking to the closer. I didn't even play. They're over there, not being interviewed. ... I got it. They're gone. (Expletive) shocker.
In 2005, while playing in Philadelphia, he said the Phillies "ain't got a chance" of making the playoffs and criticized his teammates for quitting when they got fell behind.

While he does not sound like a good mix for this team, he is a hard-throwing lefty that they are renting for next to nothing. Since he is facing free agency, maybe Wagner will simply shut his piehole two months and pitch well, and we'll say buh-bye to him at the end of October.

The Hit (And Run) Parade Continues

It was a little more than two weeks ago that the Red Sox went 31 innings without scoring a run and an amazing 23 innings without getting a runner past second base. Over the last seven days, however, the offense has returned with a vengeance (batting .314 and slugging .597).

Facing the Blue Jays, Yankees and White Sox, the Red Sox have averaged 9.3 runs per game. Thirty of their last 33 runs -- dating back to the ninth inning on Friday -- have scored with two outs. They have hit at least two home runs in 12 of the last 14 games.

Jason Bay:
I think everyone has kind of been waiting for this. It's kind of like we've been searching for the offensive identity all year.
Ozzie Guillen, on that third inning:
I thought I'd never see it all, but I did. Hit by pitch, walk, wild pitch, an error and a home run in two-thirds of an inning. ... It had to be a record. ... The [Lowell] home run came three hours later, after we should have been out of the inning.
John Farrell says Josh Beckett's troubles are mechanical:
We're not concerned ... there's no injury, there's no issue that isn't able to be adjusted. (Poor) location of his pitches ... missing with some fastballs up in the strike zone or a curveball that hasn't had the same finish. ... We're talking about fine adjustments that lead to night-and-day different results. There may be some times when maybe some added effort or an attempt to get some added velocity has caused him to get a little spread out (with his delivery) and caused him to throw the baseball on a little bit more of a flat plane rather than the downward angle that all pitchers need. ... It's a very fine line. With a power pitcher, you want to be careful not to overemphasize angle at the expense of velocity. It's being able to channel that drive on a downward trajectory.
Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched three innings in a live game last night in Fort Myers, throwing 37 pitches and allowing only one hit. Dice will start for Portland on Saturday, then for Pawtucket on September 3. He could be back with the Red Sox on September 8 or 9.

Any deal for Billy Wagner seems unlikely. ... Dustin Pedroia became the second Red Sox second baseman to have two 40-double seasons, joining Jody Reed (1990-91). ... Jacoby Ellsbury snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a double in the fourth.

Nice photo caption!

Controversial Sabermetrician Posits That There Is No Such Thing As Baseball

Saying that there are no pitchers, fielders, or batters, only numbers and statistics, radical sabermetrician Kyle Osterman theorized Wednesday that there is no such thing as baseball.

"Some say people wear gloves. Do they? Why? There is no ball. There is only the curvilinear progression of the ball," said Osterman, who later broke down Bill Mazeroski's World Series–winning home run into nothing more than a combination of likelihood estimates that are systematically null and void because, as Osterman said, "There really was no such thing as Bill Mazeroski."

"Everything that happens on the field is part of a predetermined numbers matrix. Every final outcome is fixed, so ultimately, there can be no game."

Osterman then cracked open a beer and proceeded to watch the Red Sox play the Tampa Bay Rays on ESPN.

August 24, 2009

G124: Red Sox 12, White Sox 8

White Sox - 022 030 010 -  8  8  2
Red Sox - 016 200 30x - 12 13 1
All six of the Red Sox's third inning runs were unearned.

Alex Gonzalez (3-for-4) singled to center against Contreras. Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to center and Dustin Pedroia (also 3-for-4) popped to first. With two outs, the rally began.

Victor Martinez walked. Kevin Youkilis was hit by an 0-2 pitch to load the bases. David Ortiz, green-lighted on a 3-0 count, tapped a dribbler along the first base line. Contreras came over to field it, but could not pick it up with his glove. Tiz had stopped, then he ran around Contreras and Paul Konerko and continued on to first base. Seabass scored and Boston trailed 4-2.

Jason Bay walked to force in a run, and while Mike Lowell was batting, a wild pitch tied the game at 4-4. Lowell then capped an eight-pitch at-bat by crushing a three-run home run to left. Boston led 7-4.

Boston also had a nice two-out rally in the seventh. With two gone, J.D. Drew hit a solo home run over the bullpens. Gonzalez doubled, Ellsbury tripled, and Pedroia doubled.

Buchholz (4.2-6-7-3-3, 92) had an easy 1-2-3 first on nine pitches, but struggled most of the evening. Five of the seven runs he allowed came on home runs to Gordon Beckham and Konerko.

The Rays beat the Blue Jays 12-7 and stay 3 GB Boston in the wild card. Texas and New York were off, so the Rangers dropped to 1.5 GB in the WC and the Yankees' East lead over the Red Sox is now 7 GB.
Jose Contreras (5.13, 91 ERA+) / Clay Buchholz (3.99, 119 ERA+)

In Buchholz's last three starts -- against the Yankees, Tigers and Blue Jays -- he has a 1.89 ERA over 19 innings.

The Yankees and Rangers are off. They begin a three-game series in New York tomorrow.
David Ortiz, to WEEI:
To tell you the truth, I don't really like [hitting] seventh, and I haven't told that to no one. It's because the back of my jersey still says "Ortiz".

Penny Sent To Bullpen

Brad Penny has been officially sent to the bullpen.

If he is not used in relief of Tim Wakefield (Wednesday) or Junichi Tazawa (Thursday), he will pitch a simulated game on Friday.

Terry Francona:
We don't just want to turn him into a reliever. That's not in anybody's best interest. But we want to protect the club ...
It's not where I'd want to pitch, but if I can help the team doing it, then I'll do it.

Media Created "Beckett Needs Tek" Silliness

Steve Buckley, August 24, 2009:
After Josh Beckett was lit up to the tune of seven runs in 5.1 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays last Tuesday at Rogers Centre, he refused to sign off on the glittering array of excuses that were placed at his feet.

Remember? His pregame routine had been spoiled, with Jason Varitek being pulled from the lineup because of neck spasms. He was working with newcomer Victor Martinez for the first time. The Red Sox were without pitching coach John Farrell, who had returned home to Cleveland on family business.

The Stat Police were brought into the discussion, pointing out that Beckett was 14-2 with a 2.52 ERA with 'Tek behind the dish, as opposed to an 0-2 record and 11.25 ERA with either Martinez or rookie George Kottaras doing the catching.
Umm, Steve?

Your condescending attitude is unwarranted because the first people who gave that stupid excuse any attention were your fellow media members. Using a term like "Stat Police" implies that it was those nerdy computer nerds who nerdily came up with this reason for Beckett's poor outing.

No, it was the media. Like your Herald-mate John Tomase, on August 19:
If nothing else, the Red Sox need Jason Varitek just to catch Josh Beckett. ...

[T]he numbers are hard to ignore. Beckett is 14-2 with a 2.52 ERA when Varitek is his catcher. When someone else catches him, Beckett is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA. ...

[Tomase then gives three games, spread out over almost four months (April 30, June 14, August 18) as evidence. Three whole games!]

Beckett is never going to pin the blame on anyone but himself when he pitches poorly, but last night made it pretty clear that Varitek is a partner in his success.
And the normally progressive-minded Adam Kilgore at the Globe also floated that weak balloon:
Josh Beckett is a man who relies on habits. He follows a meticulous schedule ... always the same, every detail perfect and familiar. ...

At 4 p.m. yesterday, while Beckett glowered about the Red Sox clubhouse, his routine unraveled. ... With an untried formula last night, throwing to catcher Victor Martinez for the first time, Beckett produced his first clunker since June, allowing seven runs in 5.1 innings ...

He blamed only himself and not the circumstances. ... He believes when he takes the mound, he owns his results and who squats behind home plate is not a deterrent.

Numbers, though, suggest otherwise. ...
The Globe's Chad Finn shot this fish in a barrel later that day:
... the notion that the notoriously macho Texan might curl up into the Schiraldi position behind the mound if he has to throw to a backstop other than Varitek is ridiculous on the surface, and downright misleading if you have access to Beckett's career statistics.
Anyone who truly understands statistics would never think, let alone suggest, what the media trotted out last week.

Why did no one mention Varitek's seeming inability to influence Beckett back on April 25 (5-10-8-4-3 against the Yankees, the only other time this year he has allowed eight runs) or on July 1 (7-6-5-2-5 against the pathetic Orioles). Where were Varitek's special powers through all of 2006?

This latest "theory" is merely more fuel for the Myth of the Amazing Varitek, the man who makes every pitcher great, except when that pitcher get his ass kicked, then it's his fault.

So, About That Wild Card*

The AL East standings:
            W   L   PCT   GB  LEFT
Yankees 78 46 .629 --- 38
Red Sox 70 53 .569 7.5 39
If the Yankees go 19-19, the Red Sox will need a 28-11 record (.718) to top them.

If the Yankees can go 21-17 -- which, at .553, is worse than Boston's overall percentage this year -- the Red Sox will need a 30-9 (.769) finish.

(I'm not thinking about a division tie, though if Boston wins at least one of the three games in late September they will win the season series, so perhaps I should. If New York sweeps, the teams will be even at 9-9. The next criteria would be which team has the higher winning percentage in intra-division games; Boston is currently 32-20 and New York is 30-20).

Baseball Propsectus' three sets of Playoff Odds put the Yankees as 95.7%, 94.8% and 95.9% bets to win the East. Cool Standings has New York at 91.5%.

It's a steep hill to climb. But if good luck stings the Red Sox and they sweep four from the White Sox this week while New York (off today) gets swept at home by the Rangers (who are 1 GB Boston in the wild card), these numbers will change tremendously.

*: If winning the division is still possible -- and it clearly is -- then that's what I'm on board for. The Yankees have never blown this big a lead this late in the season? Pfft. They had never blown a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 series before, either.

August 23, 2009

G123: Yankees 8, Red Sox 4

Yankees - 112 210 010 - 8 10  2
Red Sox - 020 101 000 - 4 9 0
Josh Beckett (8-9-8-0-5, 120) allowed a career-high five home runs, including one to Derek Jeter on his first pitch of the night.

He is the 3rd Red Sox pitcher since 1954 to allow at least five dongs in a game. The other two are Dennis Eckersley (5 on July 1, 1979 at the Yankees) and Tim Wakefield (5 on September 15, 1996 against the White Sox and 6 on August 8, 2004 at the Tigers).

Fun facts from SoSH's "What the holy hell is wrong with Beckett?" thread:
He was scored upon in 10 straight innings before finally getting a scoreless one tonight.

He has allowed 9 home runs in his last 12 innings.

Beckett had allowed 7 earned runs at Fenway since May 23 -- and seven in 4.2 tonight.
CC Sabathia (3.58, 125 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (3.38, 140 ERA+)

A victory would put Boston 5.5 GB with 39 games to play, including three in New York in late September.

It is the first time the two pitchers have met since 2007 ALCS 5, when Sabathia was with Cleveland. (They also met in Game 1.) Beckett and Boston won both of those games.
2009 Beckett vs Yankees

0425 NYY 5.0 10 8 8 4 3 116 Bos 16-11
0505 @NYY 6.0 10 3 3 1 5 108 Bos 7-3
0609 NYY 6.0 1 0 0 2 8 93 Bos 7-0
0807 @NYY 7.0 4 0 0 2 7 115 NYY 2-0

2009 Sabathia vs Red Sox

0611 @BOS 7.0 6 4 4 2 6 123 Bos 4-3
0808 BOS 7.2 2 0 0 2 9 123 NYY 5-0

2009 Boston vs New York

Jed Lowrie will begin a rehab assignment with Pawtucket on Monday.

David Ortiz's home run on Saturday gave him eight consecutive 20-home run seasons. He's the sixth Red Sox player to have seven 20-home run seasons, joining Ted Williams (16), Dwight Evans (11), Jim Rice (11), Manny Ramirez (8) and Carl Yastrzemski (8).

Greg Montalbano was drafted by the Red Sox in 1999 and spent four years in the minor leagues. He died on August 21 of testicular cancer at age 31. Kevin Youkilis, who played in the minors with Montalbano, had "GM" inscribed on his cap yesterday.

Tater Time

The Red Sox have hit at least two homers in each of the last eight games, a new franchise record.

The 1998 and 2001 teams each had streaks of seven games. This year's team also recently had a six-game stretch (July 31 to August 6). In the 21 games since July 31, they have hit 42 home runs -- and hit at least two in 17 of those 21 games. Here is the list.

Longest streaks of 3+ HR games: 4, July 2-5, 2003

Longest streaks of 4+ HR games: 3, June 17-19, 1977

Longest streaks of 5+ HR games: 3, June 17-19, 1977

(redsock childhood note: The longest two-HR streak by the 1977 club was five (June 14-19, which included hitting 16 (!) in a three-game sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park). June 18, the middle game of that MFY series, was when Billy Martin pulled Reggie Jackson from RF in the sixth inning after he (Reggie) loafed towards a Jim Rice hit that Rice stretched into a double. Martin and Jackson nearly had a fist fight in the dugout on national television.)

August 22, 2009

G122: Red Sox 14, Yankees 1

Yankees - 000 000 100 -  1 12  0
Red Sox - 340 023 02x - 14 15 0
Tazawa was brilliant (6-8-0-2-2, 99), pitching out of several jams. He stranded four Yankees at third base and another two at second.

Comparing Tazawa's outing and Brad Penny's Friday night BP session -- and knowing that Tim Wakefield will start on Wednesday against the White Sox -- it would seem that Penny might lose his spot in the rotation.

Kevin Youkilis knocked in a career-high six runs with two home runs and a double. Dustin Pedroia had two doubles, a single, walk, stolen base and four runs scored. David Ortiz doubled and homered and drove in three. Hell, Alex Gonzalez hit a solo dong in the second inning!

Thirteen of the Red Sox 14 runs came with two outs.

Burnett allowed nine runs for the first time in his career (5-9-9-2-6, 97).
A.J. Burnett (3.69, 121 ERA+) / Junichi Tazawa (5.40, 88 ERA+)

Jim Rice Embarrasses Himself

Jim Rice is in the news for criticizing this generation of players as greedy:
The great trouble with baseball today is that most of the players are in the game for the money that's in it -- not for the love of it, the excitement ... the glorious thrill of it all ...
As I'm sure you know, this "Back in my day ..." attitude is a huge pet peeve of mine and I --


Rice didn't say those words?

It was who --?

Ty Cobb?

In 1925?

Here is what Rice actually said, at the Little League World Series:
We didn't [have] the baggy uniforms; we didn't have the dreadlocks; that's not part of the game. It was a clean game, and now they are setting a bad example for the young guys. ... What you see right now is more individuals; it's not a team. Now you have guys coming in. They pick the days they want to play. They make big money. The first thing they see are dollar bills.
Rice isn't worth this work, but here goes:

1. "baggy uniforms" - Throughout most of baseball history, players wore baggy uniforms. Pictures exist of this. However, baseball also often follows American styles and in the Rice era, players wore tight pants. Rice's generation is the anomaly, not the rule.

2. "dreadlocks" - Statistical studies have shown that your choice of hair style do not make you hit or pitch better (or worse) than another person with "normal" hair. And check out some of the Afros from Rice's day, like Oscar Gamble's. Plus, the Afro was a political statement first associated with the Black Power Movement.

3. "a clean game" - Rice debuted with the Red Sox only five years after Sports Illustrated published a series of investigative stories showing that illegal drug use had infested every sport, including baseball. Players from that era now freely admit they popped amphetamines (now banned) like Skittles. And towards the end of Rice's career, baseball endured a huge cocaine scandal.

4. "more individuals ... not a team" - Weren't the Red Sox of Rice's day known by the "25 players, 25 cabs" adage?

5. "They pick the days they want to play" - Give me one example, Jim.

6. "dollar bills" - Rice's career began right around the time of free agency, a seismic shift in baseball history that allowed players (after a certain time) to offer their talents to the highest bidder or any team they wished to play for. Players were no longer chattel. Uploading all of the quotes from pre-free agency players complaining about the out-of-control salaries of Rice's era (and the big bucks that they missed out on) would likely break the internet.

Finally, Rice -- clueless to all of the words he had just spoken -- advised the young Little Leaguers:
[T]he first thing you need to have right now is respect.
So the player who once tried to start a fist fight in the dugout with his manager and who, ignorant of history, craps all over modern players is talking about "respect".

Wakefield Could Return Next Week

Tim Wakefield could return to the Red Sox as early as Wednesday, possibly bumping Brad Penny from the rotation.

Wakefield started for Pawtucket last night (5.2-2-1-1-4, 81). The main question is whether his left calf is well enough for him to adequately field his position.

There are reports that the Red Sox have claimed Mets reliever Billy Wagner on waivers. On Thursday, Wagner pitched in his first game since having Tommy John surgery last year; he tossed a 1-2-3 inning, hitting 96 and striking out two. The Red Sox have until 1 PM on Tuesday to complete a trade; the Mets could also pull him off waivers.

The 31 runs scored last night were the most ever in a Red Sox-Yankees game. The previous high was 29 (New York 15, Boston 14; July 29, 1903).

Jacoby Ellsbury stole his 54th base of the season in the first inning last night, tying Tommy Harper's single-season record from 1973.

Michael Bowden was optioned back to Pawtucket.
It's definitely disappointing. They wanted me to go out there and eat some innings, and that's what I was here to do. ... I feel like I let the team down and the bullpen down ... hopefully it won't happen again next time.
Happy 70th Birthday to Carl Yastrzemski! (And that means it's the anniversary of my first game at Fenway Park (and first major league game): 33 years ago!

August 21, 2009

G121: Yankees 20, Red Sox 11

Yankees - 240 063 104 - 20 23  1
Red Sox - 100 033 004 - 11 12  1
Andy Pettitte (4.09, 109 ERA+) / Brad Penny (5.22, 91 ERA+)

George A. King III, Post:
What happened in the 2004 ALCS will never be deleted from every mainframe in the Yankees' universe. Not even a World Series title this season completely will erase those painful Red Sox memories that will haunt multiple generations.

Yet starting tonight in New England's living room, the Yankees can extract a wee bit of revenge by burying their blood rivals in the AL East race. Or they can allow the Red Sox to climb off the canvas and turn the final six weeks of the season into a two-way scoreboard-watching orgy.

"We have a chance to do something special against them," manager Joe Girardi said of his club, which leads the Red Sox by 6½ games after Boston blew out the Blue Jays 8-1 last night.
Something "special"? Is the possibility of extending a division lead in the middle of August "special"? Should it happen, is it "special" enough to warrant an ice cream reward?

The Red Sox will emerge from this three-game weekend battle 3.5, 5.5, 7.5 or 9.5 GB the Yankees -- with 38 games remaining in the regular season.

A Boston series sweep -- as the Red Sox have done to the Yankees thrice this season, on April 24-25-26 and May 4-5 and June 9-10-11 -- would make things very interesting once again in the AL East, especially since the two teams will meet again, in New York, on September 25-26-27.

Tonight's game begins a 10-game homestand at Fenway Park. Twenty of the Red Sox's next 25 games are against the Yankees, White Sox, Rays and Angels. It is essential that they continue the strong pitching and hitting performances they showed in Toronto. The Yankees -- 25-9 since the All-Star break, including a four-game sweep of the Sox on August 6-7-8-9 -- have not won a game at Fenway Park since September 28, 2008.

Horseface started against the Red Sox on August 9 in New York, pitching seven scoreless innings and allowing only five hits; he took the loss back on April 26. Penny turned in a 6-6-0-1-5 line against New York on June 11.

Weekend pitching match-ups:
Sat 4 PM: A.J. Burnett / Junichi Tazawa Sun 8 PM: CC Sabathia / Josh Beckett
In other news, Michael Kay is an asshole. (Do not miss the twitter link!)


Batting With Runners On - Bos/NY

After the second inning last night, there was this exchange in the game thread:
Jeff Polman said...
Hate to say it, but there's the difference between the Sox and the Twisted Swastikas (MFY). The Yankees would have scored at least five runs in that inning.

redsock said...
... the Yankees haven't scored 5 runs in 4 of their last 6 games.

Jeff Polman said...
I watch every game and it seems like Boston is frequently leaving people on and hitting into DPs.

Kevin said...
I think that has more to do with the fact that they get a ton of guys on base more than anything.

L-girl said...
There's no evidence that the Sox leave more men on base than any other team - except maybe the teams that don't get any men on base in the first place.

redsock said...
the game and pbp logs for many seasons are available. if someone wants to go check and see if historically, the mfy score more baserunners and have a smaller LOB % than the sox, be my guest. i'd honestly love to see some data.
A big thanks to James, who emailed me the following this morning:
I was looking over [last night's] gamethread today, and I noticed the mini-argument over the Yanks performance with runners on base vs. the Sox performance with runners on. It drives me as crazy as it does you, so I checked some baseball ref splits:

Splits with runners on
Yanks  .272/.360/.448  tOPS+  95
Bosox .267/.359/.442 tOPS+ 103
So we're hitting pretty much just as well as they are. More importantly, since they're a better hitting team than we are in general (although a lot of that's probably the park, they don't have good park translations for Yankee Stadium, yet), they're hitting 5% worse than they do in general, while we're hitting 3% better with runners on that we do in general.

Even more interesting:

Splits with runners in scoring position
Yanks  .259/.361/.412  tOPS+  88
Bosox .270/.377/.426 tOPS+ 104
We're hitting appreciably better than they are with runners in scoring position! They're 12% worse with RISP than in general, and we're 4% better.

Splits with bases loaded
Yanks:  .248/.287/.349  tOPS+  54 (!)
Bosox: .284/.331/.388 tOPS+ 82
So we've been no great shakes there, but they've been absolutely terrible.

RISP and 2 outs
Yanks:  .237/.364/.386  tOPS+  83
Bosox: .277/.392/.443 tOPS+ 112
Again, we're much, much better.

Late & Close
Yanks:  .316/.404/.555  tOPS+ 130
Bosox: .229/.313/.370 tOPS+ 73
So we're getting absolutely killed there. I'm not too worried about this, though; a quick look shows that we weren't good in this category in '04 or '07, either.
It's far from the final word in this discussion --- SSS, and all that -- but any information is better than relying solely on our memories. And as L mentioned, if we are watching all of the Red Sox games, then we are watching almost nothing of what the Yankees are doing.

Bosox Bandit In Subway Strikes

A knife-wielding mugger wearing a Boston Red Sox cap has been targeting mostly young women in a seven-month reign of terror on the subways. ...

Police sources described the fiend as a smooth operator who sidles up to his victims, flashes his blade and calmly makes off with cash, bank cards and other valuables.
If this guy was a true Red Sox fan, he'd be robbing only people wearing Yankees caps. ... Shouldn't he really be sporting a Pirates hat?

August 20, 2009

G120: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 1

Red Sox   - 001 320 110 - 8 10  0
Blue Jays - 100 000 000 - 1 3 3
Three games of productive batting practice before we start a real series against the Yankees!

Lester (8-3-1-2-5, 105) allowed a single, double and walk to the first three Toronto hitters in the first inning. A GIDP scored a run, but Lester was on for the rest of his evening, allowing only one additional hit. Those first two Jays hitters were the only Jays to touch second base.

J.D. Drew was the hitting star for the Sox, going 4-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored. Victor Martinez hit a moon shot dong in the seventh.

The Jays also made some very stupid plays in the field. One of the their errors was by Cecil in the fourth inning. Jason Bay was on first. After ball 2 to David Ortiz, catcher Rod Barajas threw the ball back to Cecil. It glanced off his glove and rolled towards shortstop. Cecil went and got it, looked at it, and casually tossed it away. Time had not been called, however, so it was a two-base error (the ball went into the 3B dugout) and Bay jogged to third.
Jon Lester (3.71, 127 ERA+) / Brett Cecil (4.35, 100 ERA+)

Terry Francona loves this part of the season, as long as his team is in contention:
[C]oming to the ballpark this time of year, being nervous, is an unbelievable feeling. When I was in Philadelphia, ... you get to September and ... we're out there trying to tell ourselves we're going to try to win today and be the spoiler. You know what? [Expletive] that. That's not that much fun.
Boston is 1 GA of Texas in the Wild Card. ... (You didn't go jump off any tall buildings like the mediots told you to do on Sunday, did you?)

Twins/Rangers at 8. The Yankees are off.

Plenty of Lineup Choices For Francona

Q: Who leads the AL in home runs since the beginning of June?

Bill Eichenberger of The Sporting News asked Francona and a few Red Sox infielders about the mixing-and-matching of the Red Sox lineup:

[I]t is important that players understand that our goal is to win and sometimes you have to put your personal goals on the back burner. And our guys are very good at that.
Lowell (3B/DH):
It's kind of like a doubled-edged sword. ... [W]hen you are swinging the bat well, you really don't want to be out of the lineup. If I was 100 percent, things would be a little different. But I can't honestly look at anyone in the face in our upper management and say that I can go every single day and not feel any effects from (the surgery). ... Winning takes precedence over everything.
Martinez (C/1B/DH):
I really like to play both. I like to be behind the plate. I like to be at first. I think playing first gives me a needed break for my legs and my knees. Playing first also takes away a lot of stress mentally, too. I'm very happy with the way it's going right now.
Youkilis (1B/3B/DH):
I just go out there each day and put on a different glove, and wherever I'm playing try to field my position. It doesn't change what I do out there.
Kotchman (1B/DH):
We're just trying to get the most of the schedule that is left and get into the playoffs. ... I'm just happy to be a part of it, regardless of my role.
Jason Varitek and David Ortiz are also pieces of that puzzle.

Daisuke Matsuzaka could be back in the Red Sox rotation by the second week of September. Dice's schedule looks like this:
Fri 0821: side session
Mon 0824: 2-3 innings in Gulf Coast League game
Sat 0829: 50 pitches for Portland
Thu 0903: 65 pitches for Pawtucket
Tim Wakefield will throw approximately 75-80 pitches in a Pawtucket start on Friday.

Jason Varitek has missed the last two games with neck spsams. He is not sure if he'll play tonight. Dustin Pedroia is expected to be back in the lineup tonight.
Ortiz leads the AL with 18 home runs since June 1 (actually, Flo is tied with Kendry Morales of the Angels).

Ortiz's solo home run last night off Roy Halladay -- his 6th, more than any other player -- gave him 800 RBI with the Red Sox. Ortiz is the seventh player in club history to drive in that many runs, behind Carl Yastrzemski (1,844), Ted Williams (1,839), Jim Rice (1,451), Dwight Evans (1,346), Bobby Doerr (1,247) and Manny Ramirez (868).

It was also Ortiz's 265th career home run as a designated hitter; he is four behind Frank Thomas for the all-time record. Ortiz has homered in three consecutive games for the first time since July 2006.

Since being dropped to seventh in the batting order, Ortiz is 7-for-16 with four home runs, two doubles, seven RBIs, eight runs, and seven walks. He's hitting .438/.609/1.313 for a 1.921 OPS. Sure, it's only five games, but it's damn nice to see. Watching him go with an outside pitch and flick it into left field for a single or double is almost as satisfying as seeing a line-drive dong to right-center.

Remy Returns To NESN Tomorrow

Jerry Remy will be back in the NESN booth tomorrow night, when the Red Sox begin a three-game series against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

I'm anxious right now just thinking about it. ... I'm glad I [returned to Fenway last week] because it really kind of gets that out of the way and when I do come back on Friday to do a game, it's just a normal day.
Remy will work part-time for the rest of the season, so we will probably still be subjected to Dave Roberts and the other earsores for road games.