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April 18, 2015

How to Build a Team

Sign a player that will slide hard into second base to make sure his teammate has a chance of being safe at first.

Make sure said player has enough padding to take a pitch as a consequence of his hard slides.

Have a divisional rival with a feisty starting pitcher who feels he has to take the game in his own hands and mete out punishment for interrupting his middle infielders. Throw in a younger MLB umpire with an itchy trigger finger.

Go into a tight, tense game into the bottom of the ninth with the score tied. Ensure the leadoff hitter gets on base and bunt him over. Urge the superstar-in-making at short to knock in the winning run.

Profit.

Game 10: April 17, 2015
Baltimore Orioles
5-5
2 L: Brian Matusz (0-1)
2B: Chris Davis (3)
HR: Caleb Joseph (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
7-3
3 W: Koji Uehara (1-0)
HR: Ryan Hanigan (1)


April 16, 2015

One Boston

Most people associate April 15 with the Internal Revenue Service deadline, but in baseball circles this day commemorates Jackie Robinson’s major league debut in 1947. In supposedly post-racial America we need to remember not to backslide into bigotry. Robinson said, “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.” These days with the killings of African Americans by police officers and the suicides of transgender people too frequent we need to replace the word “free” with “safe.”

In Boston, from now on April 15 will be One Boston Day. Two years ago Boston was shaken to its core by the Boston Marathon bombing. A week ago Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 charges he faced. Soon he will be sentenced and the death penalty is a possibility. I don’t typically support state-sponsored execution, but for him I make an exception.

This is Wade Miley. He lasted just two and a third innings while relinquishing five hits, seven earned runs, and three walks. Miley struck out one batter, though!

This is Robbie Ross, Jr. He pitched two innings of relief and surrendered three hits, two runs, and a base on balls.

Just kidding. The first picture is Ross and the photo above is Miley. I pulled a John Oliver Uruguay/Paraguay.

Seriously, Hanley Ramirez has to use his binoculars to tell the two southpaws apart.

Game 9: April 15, 2015
WinWashington Nationals
3-6
10 W: Gio Gonzalez (1-1)
2B: Bryce Harper (1), Wilson Ramos (2), Dan Uggla (2), Michael Taylor (3)
3B: Ryan Zimmerman (1)
HR: Ian Desmond (1), Tyler Moore (1)
Boston Red Sox
6-3
5 L: Wade Miley (0-1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (2), Brock Holt (2)
3B: Mike Napoli (1)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (4)


National Disaster

The Nationals defense and pitching collapsed in the seventh inning. Hanley Ramirez reached on Ian Desmond’s fielding error. Matt Thornton hit Shane Victorino but briefly collected himself to induce a fly ball out off Mike Napoli’s bat.

John Farrell pulled Daniel Nava in favor of Allen Craig and Matt Williams countered by relieving Thornton with Blake Treinen. Treinen hit Craig with the first pitch he threw. Ryan Hanigan tapped the ball back up the middle and most people scoring the game would have automatically marked the play “1-2,” as Treinen could have easily gotten Ramirez out at home.

But Treinen bobbled the ball and hastily threw it past Wilson Ramos. By the time the dust settled the Red Sox tied the score 7-7. Brock Holt grounded out to Desmond and this time he fielded it well enough to throw Holt out at first base, but Craig scored to give the local nine the lead.

Edward Mujica continued his dominance from the seventh inning, striking out Danny Espinosa to tally the first out of the eighth inning. Junicihi Tazawa allowed a single but escaped the frame otherwise unscathed. Koji Uehara made a triumphant return with a perfect ninth inning, although there was a scare on Ryan Zimmerman’s towering foul ball to left.

The Red Sox won the game on the field and Napoli was victorious in the War of the Beards with Jayson Werth. Napoli’s beard rivals Dan Haggerty’s.

Werth’s beard, while luxurious, is more akin to an Amish elder’s.

Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-2 but did get on base when Stephen Strasburg hit him in the foot in the third inning. Kung Fu Panda made sure Espinosa couldn’t turn a double play by taking the second baseman out. The Red Sox third baseman seemed to take out some of his frustrations on the play as well.

Red Sox fans are already latching onto Sandoval. No pandas were harmed in the making of these hats.

Ramirez is doing well offensively (2-for-5 in this game) but needs to learn how to play the ball off the left field wall better. He looks more like a visiting outfielder than someone who calls Fenway home. In the second inning Ramirez could have made a play on Desmond’s fly ball but the new left fielder couldn’t get his bearings.

Dick Bresciani saw better and worse plays in his many decades as a Red Sox employee. He passed away last year. The Red Sox named the press box in his honor.

Game 8: April 14, 2015
Washington Nationals
2-6
7 H: Craig Stammen (2), Matt Thornton (2)
BS, L: Blake Treinen (2, 0-1)
2B: Ian Desmond (3)
3B: Michael Taylor (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
6-2
8 W: Edward Mujica (1-0)
H: Junichi Tazawa (2)
S: Koji Uehara (1)
2B: Mookie Betts (2)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (3)


April 14, 2015

Safe Betts

Mookie Betts’s patience, legs, and bat were responsible for two runs in this game. He led off the bottom of the first with a five-pitch base on balls. With David Ortiz at the dish he stole second.

When he reached the keystone sack he realized he could make it to third base because the Nationals defense was in a shift for Ortiz and Jordan Zimmerman didn’t cover third base in time. Replays showed that Betts may have been out twice, but the video review team didn’t overturn the umpires’ calls.

But unlike the Indianapolis Colts crying “deflated balls,” the Nationals took their defeat in stride. If they had any concerns that Betts’s run was ill-gotten he more than made up for the second inning with a three-run homer.

Betts had first-hand knowledge that he had to get the ball high out of any outfielder’s reach. Had he gone to the bullpens in right field Bryce Harper or Michael Taylor could have Mookied him.

Not only did Betts have a breakout game but the Opening Ceremony was a triple threat of greatness. Pete Frates, originator of the Ice Bucket Challenge, was signed to a lifetime contract with the Red Sox. Players gave him jerseys from a spring training game with his name on the back to generate more funds for ALS research.

The Patriots visited with their fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy. Tom Brady boldly proclaimed his next goal on his chest with a large “5.” One for the thumb!

Pedro Martinez, who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame later this summer, gave the call to play ball. He faced off against future Hall of Famer Tom Brady in the batting practice cages. The quarterback made contact, another item he can add to his prestigious list, which includes marrying a supermodel, playing pickup basketball again Michael Jordan, and giving his fans a collective aneurysm by jumping off a cliff.

Game 7: April 13, 2015
Washington Nationals
2-5
4 L: Jordan Zimmerman (1-1)
3B: Clint Robinson (1)
HR: Ryan Zimmerman (2), Danny Espinosa (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
5-2
9 W: Rick Porcello (1-1)
HR: Mookie Betts (2), David Ortiz (2)


April 13, 2015

Calamitous Clay

In a rare turn of events the Red Sox-Yankees game was more bloody than a “Game of Thrones” episode. Only one high-profile character died in the premiere episode of the fifth season. In the Bronx Chase Headley, Stephen Drew, and Brian McCann all bloodied Boston pitchers with home runs.

At first I thought that Clay Buchholz and Masahiro Tanaka had swapped places, one having an excellent start the first week to fall to pieces to next and vice versa. But instead Buchholz proved maddeningly inconsistent by starting off brilliantly and falling off precipitously in his second start.

Buchholz
April 6: 7 innings pitched, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
April 12: 3⅓ innings pitched, 9 hits, 9 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Tanaka
April 6: 4 innings pitched, 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
April 12: 5 innings pitched, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Tanaka, on the other hand, was consistently mediocre.

David Ortiz led off the fourth inning and advanced two bases on wild pitches. From second base he taunted Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox lost this game but won the series, so perhaps some of Ortiz’s ribbing was warranted.

Today the Red Sox welcome a pleasant change of scenery from the Bronx to Boston with their first game at Fenway in 2015. Hanley Ramirez, who homered in Stade Fasciste last night, will see how his swing fits in his new home. Pablo Sandoval and Ramirez can practice playing the devilish corners of left field. Rick Porcello will try for his first win in a Red Sox uniform.

Game 6: April 12, 2015
Boston Red Sox
4-2
4 L: Clay Buchholz (1-1)
2B: Xander Bogaerts (1)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (3)
WinNew York Yankees
2-4
14 W: Masahiro Tanaka (1-1)
2B: Alex Rodriguez (2)
HR: Chase Headley (2), Stephen Drew (1), Brian McCann (1)


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