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September 27, 2014

Double Digits

Once again the Red Sox routed the opposition. Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t sharp in his second start since his return and the local nine took advantage of that. It feels like the rookies are auditioning for starting roles and veterans are making sure they keep theirs in the waning days of the season.

Joe Kelly put the finishing touches on his strong case to be a relied-upon starter in 2015. He had the longest outing of career and notched his sixth win of the season with a strong line, keeping in mind he had a huge lead to work with: 7⅓ innings, 9 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.

The second inning featured 14 plate appearances by Red Sox batters. There were three walks, six singles, and a double. After Boston scored five earnd runs Allen Craig reached on Eury Perez’s misplay and Daniel Nava scored. Tanaka’s stat line was spared the three runs after Perez’s error, but surely the young Yankees center fielder was spoken to by Joe Girardi.

Derek Jeter’s sterling presence inspired the Yankees infield even though he didn’t play short. In the fourth inning New York turned a heads-up inning-ending double play. Garin Cecchini was at second base when Rusney Castillo chopped the ball up the middle. Jose Pirela recovered it deep behind second base and had no play at first on the speedy Castillo.

Cecchini was caught too far past third base by Pirela and failed to get into a protracted rundown to allow Castillo to advance to second base. For his part, Castillo should have been more aware and returned to first base quicker once he saw that Cecchini failed to occupy the infielders.

As Cecchini left the field you could see him say “my bad” to Brian Butterfield. At that point the Red Sox had a 9-0 lead so perhaps the he cut the rookies some slack. But that lesson should be learned so that in a meaningful game the players know the right way to complete that play so it doesn’t result in a 4-5-2-5-3 twin killing.

Fox Sports was expectedly deferential to Derek Jeter, but at least we had Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz instead of anyone and Harold Reynolds. Smoltz is a better color analyst than Red Sox pitcher. I’m actually trying to compliment him but then I looked at Baseball Reference, remembered how horrible his 2009 season was, and regretted damning Smoltz with faint praise. He is already better than Reynolds and will hopefully join Fox’s A-team.

Game 161: September 27, 2014
New York Yankees
83-78
4 L: Masahiro Tanaka (13-5)
2B: Chase Headley (20), Chris Young (20), Stephen Drew (14)
3B: Jose Pirela (2)
WinBoston Red Sox
71-90
10 W: Joe Kelly (6-4)
2B: Mookie Betts (11), Garin Cecchini – 2 (3), Xander Bogaerts (28), Carlos Rivero (2)

Enemy Mine

It was an evening to embrace one’s nemesis. The fans at Fenway chanted for Derek Jeter even though he had the evening off. Jeter played his last game as a shortstop on Thursday, a night where he sparked a storybook ending at Yankee Stadium. But he will make an appearance as designated hitter at Fenway because he acknowledges the importance of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. And so pinstripe devotees and carmine hose followers alike feted Jeter.

Dan Butler tried to make peace with Steve Wright’s knuckleball but the backstop had a trying game behind the plate. He allowed two passed balls, and they were the only passed balls he has tallied as a major leaguer.

Joe Girardi took advantage of his manager’s challenge in the first inning. Yoenis Cespedes was called safe when he stretched a single Chris Young into a double. Replays showed that there was a split-second in time where Cespedes wasn’t touching the keystone sack and Jose Pirela had kept the tag applied.

I even softened my stance against Yankee fans and their grammatical errors.

Game 160: September 26, 2014
WinNew York Yankees
83-77
3 W: Chris Capuano (3-4)
H: Shawn Kelley (12), Adam Warren (23)
S: David Robertson (39)
2B: John Ryan Murphy (4)
Boston Red Sox
70-90
2 L: Steven Wright (0-1)
HR: Rusney Castillo (2)

September 26, 2014

Routed by Rookies

While Derek Jeter was putting the finishing touches on his historic run at shortstop in the Bronx the Red Sox youth movement started what will hopefully be voluminous feats of their own in Boston.

Christian Vazquez was a triple short of hitting for the cycle. He went 4-for-4 in the nine hole. In the second inning he knocked the ball off one of the signs above the Green Monster for his first homer in the bigs. With so little to celebrate this season it was wonderful to see such genuine joy in the dugout.

Rusney Castillo also had a spectacular offensive evening. The center fielder batted seventh and went 2-for-4. In the third inning with two men on and one out he powered the ball into the first row of the Monster seats. His other hit was a near-homer in the seventh inning.

This season Boston has played 19 rookies. The last time the Red Sox came close to that number was 1952, which featured 18 newcomers. That team finished sixth in the American League with a losing record of 76-78. I found 11 of the players on the wonderful site Baseball Almanac.

  • Hal Bevan
  • Milt Bolling
  • Ralph Brickner
  • Dick Brodowski
  • Ike Delock
  • Hersh Freeman
  • Dick Gernert
  • Bill Henry
  • Ted Lepcio
  • Gene Stephens
  • Faye Throneberry

There’s no Hall of Famers in the list. Perhaps the Red Sox Rookie of Class of 2014 doesn’t have a future Jeter, but I’d rather be dreaming on young players’ potential than feting an old-timer’s retirement

Game 159: September 25, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays
76-83
1 L: Jeremy Hellickson (1-5)
No extra base hits
WinBoston Red Sox
70-89
11 W: Allen Webster (5-3)
2B: Mookie Betts (10), Rusney Castillo (1), Christian Vazquez (9)
HR: Vazquez (1), Castillo (1)

September 25, 2014

Garins Ball-barans

The title is a variation of the Hawai‘i Creole English (HCE) phrase “garan ball-barans.” It combines a shortened version of the word “guaranteed” followed by an HCE pronunciation of the term “ball bearings.” Kirby Yates, who came to the Tampa Bay Rays by way of Kauai, would understand.

Garin Cecchini had a spectacular night. He clouted his first major league home run in the second inning. The leadoff home run landed in the visitors’ bullpen. The third baseman got the time-honored silent treatment when he returned to the dugout.

On the defensive side Cecchini needs some polish, but he turned in a trio of gems last night. He ended the first inning with a diving stop of Logan Forsythe’s grounder. His throw to Allen Craig was high but the first baseman managed to come down with it.

Cecchini was key to stopping a potential rally in the eighth inning with a pair of fine plays. He snared Wil Myers’s liner with Evan Longoria at second base, a catch that probably saved a run. Later in the eighth he captured another of Forsythe’s sharply rapped grounders. This time his throw to first, manned by Ryan Lavarnway, was perfect.

Another Red Sox player with Italian ancestry, Mike Napoli, caused a stir off the field by being completely clean-shaven. With his beard shorn he resembled Steven Wright.

Rusney Castillo tried to better acquaint himself with Fenway’s odd dimensions. He doggedly chased down Sean Rodriguez’s deep fly ball to the wall in the seventh. Castillo made an impressive leap when attempting to corral the ricochet but it still got over his head. Once he hones his routes and learns his home field’s peculiarities he may eventually rival Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s defensive prowess. Hopefully that will be the only part of Bradley’s game he mirrors.

Game 158: September 24, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays
76-82
3 L: Jake Odorizzi (11-13)
2B: Wil Myers (14), Sean Rodriguez (13), Evan Longoria (26), Ben Zobrist (34)
3B: Kevin Kiermaier (7)
WinBoston Red Sox
69-89
11 W: Anthony Ranaudo (4-3)
2B: Bryce Brentz (2), Daniel Nava (21), Yoenis Cespedes (36)
HR: Garin Cecchini (1)

September 24, 2014

Blanket Statement

Lindsay Buchholz visited Don and Jerry in the booth to talk about all the wonderful work her and her husband’s charitable foundation does for Boston-area children. You can read more about the Clay Buchholz Foundation and how they support charitable organizations that give aid to children who are undergoing critical medical procedures.

It was cool how Lindsay got into the tense play in the third. Ben Zobrist singled to Yoenis Cespedes with Yunel Escobar at second base. Cespedes gunned down Escobar at home, which prompted an excited shout from Mrs. Buchholz. She was one of the few people that were really into the game.

With both teams out of contention, Daniel Nava getting hit by a pitch didn’t elicit any opprobrium from the crowd. Buchholz hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch in the eighth but again no eyebrows were raised as there was a runner on and one out.

After Guyer reached base he scored on Zobrist’s two-RBI double, which gave the Rays a 2-1 lead. Cespedes didn’t have a great read on Zobrist’s fly ball and jumped at the wrong time. David DeJesus plated Zobrist and at that point Buchholz seemed to mail it in. His pitches inside to Evan Longoria that eventually led to a plunking didn’t incite the dugouts.

In the bottom of the eighth Jeff Nelson called Cespedes out on a curveball, which stranded Mookie Betts at second base. Cespedes disagreed with Nelson’s call and was promptly ejected. It was the first time he was thrown out of a game.

Game 157: September 23, 2014
WinTampa Bay Rays
76-81
6 W: Alex Cobb (10-8)
H: Grant Balfour (10)
2B: Ben Zobrist (33)
HR: Matt Joyce (9)
Boston Red Sox
68-89
2 L: Clay Buchholz (8-10)
2B: Daniel Nava (20), Mookie Betts (9)

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