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May 25, 2015

I Like Mike

Mike Napoli drove in two-thirds of the Red Sox’s runs yesterday. He clubbed his eighth home run of the season in the second inning, plating Xander Bogaerts. In the eighth he knocked the ball high enough off the center field wall that even Mike Trout couldn’t catch it, driving in Hanley Ramirez and Bogaerts.

Napoli celebrated with Pablo Sandoval in the dugout. Their matching haircuts are looking spiffier than the coiffure question marks proliferating in the rotation.

Wade Miley may have tripped in the fifth inning but he still got the out to end the frame. He carried a perfect game two outs into the fifth inning and lost his no-hitter right after. Miley regained his composure to last eight innings and only allowing Trout to drive in a run.

Rusney Castillo continued to be an adventure, this time on the basepaths. In the eighth inning he contributed to the local nine’s hit parade with a single off Cam Bedrosian. Castillo fell down when Sandoval arced a single to right field.

But I’ll take tripping baserunners over none. The Red Sox seemed to have clicked offensively and the pitching has stabilized.

Game 44: May 24, 2015
Los Angeles Angels
22-22
1 L: Hector Santiago (3-3)
2B: Mike Trout (8)
WinBoston Red Sox
21-23
6 W: Wade Miley (4-4)
2B: Brock Holt (7), Xander Bogaerts (5), Mike Napoli (4)
HR: Napoli (8)

Wrighting the Ship

American League West teams don’t have a lot of chance to practice against knuckleballers. Both current butterfly pitchers, R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright, reside on the opposite coast. Perhaps this unfamiliarity helped Wright prevail.

When Wright departed the mound in the seventh inning he had given up four hits, two earned runs, and a walk. He only struck out two batters, but he didn’t need to dominate the Angels, just befuddle them. It helped that the bats came alive behind him.

Blake Swihart helped Wright with two runs and a run batted. Wright returned the favor by carrying back Swihart’s special glove with him after his six and one-third innings of work.

No bat has heated up more than Mike Napoli’s. He clouted two home runs on Saturday night. Napoli’s resurgence can be traced back to Thursday night when a nine-year old fan named Ethan signed his bat. “Sometimes, there’s kids in the dugout and I go up and have them sign my bat,” he said. “The first home run I hit the other day actually hit where he signed it. It was pretty cool.”

Napoli almost fulfilled another fan’s wish in the second inning by hitting a home run to this sign. Instead he made many Boston fans’ dreams come true but sparking the formerly tepid offense.

The Red Sox were also sharp defensively, correcting course from the three-error showing in the series opener. Mookie Betts made a dazzling catch in the ninth when he snared David Freese’s fly ball to the center field wall. Koji Uehara needed that play as he walked the next two batters.

Game 43: May 23, 2015
Los Angeles Angels
22-21
3 L: C.J. Wilson (2-3)
2B: Albert Pujols (7), Kole Calhoun (8), Erick Aybar (7)
WinBoston Red Sox
20-23
8 W: Steven Wright (2-1)
H: Alexi Ogando (4)
HR: Mike Napoli – 2 (7)

May 23, 2015

PorcelLOL

Rick Porcello was pitching fairly well up until Albert Pujols took him long in the fourth inning. After the circuit clout Porcello loaded the bases by surrendering two singles and walking seven-hole hitter Chris Iannetta. The Red Sox starter got out of the jam when Blake Swihart caught Matt Joyce off third base to end the inning.

The Red Sox took the lead in the bottom of the fourth only to have Porcello get into even more trouble in the fifth inning. Johnny Giavotella and Erick Aybar worked walks. Mike Trout’s ball deflected off Brock Holt to Xander Bogaerts, plating both baserunners for the lead. Bogaerts butchered the throw and Trout advanced to second base.

The fun for the Angels didn’t stop there. Trout dashed to third base with Kole Calhoun batting. His slide was an amazing display of dexterity. He avoided Holt’s tag and just as his hand lost contact with the base his foot touched. John Tumpane called him out and Trout informed Mike Scioscia that they should challenge the call. The replay displayed Trout’s perfect coordination.

Rusney Castillo had a rough outing in his first major league game in 2015. In the fifth he failed to hold onto Marc Krauss’s fly ball for what should have been the second out. He did glove Giavotella’s can of corn on the next play. Castillo got coached by David Ortiz after he failed to help Mike Napoli on his slide at home in the fourth inning. The veteran demonstrated to Castillo how he has to tell his teammate how to slide to avoid the tag.

Game 42: May 22, 2015
WinLos Angeles Angels
22-20
12 W: Garrett Richards (4-2)
2B: Matt Joyce (7), David Freese (8), Albert Pujols (6)
HR: Pujols (8), Chris Iannetta (2), Erick Aybar (1)
Boston Red Sox
19-23
5 L: Rick Porcello (4-3)
2B: Brock Holt (6)
HR: Mike Napoli (5)

May 22, 2015

Home On Our Range

The Texas Rangers wrapped up a series win against the Red Sox last night thanks to the local nine’s sputtering offense. Boston was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Clay Buchholz’s competent outing went to waste. While a line of seven and one-third innings with five hits, two earned runs, two walks, and four strikeouts isn’t brilliant, it should be enough for a win if the Red Sox offense lived up to its potential.

An example of how hard this team is pressing was Dustin Pedroia’s baserunning in the fourth. Pedroia tried to score on Hanley Ramirez’s comebacker to Wandy Rodriguez but was out at home. He was so out his slide was about five feet from home plate.

Ramirez seemed to learn a little from Delino DeShields’s masterful fielding in left. He made a catch on Adam Rosales’s fly ball in the second that probably would have evaded him in April. Yes, you know how badly a game went when Ramirez’s fielding is a highlight.

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy tried to keep the mood light with their gigantic doppelgängers. But with a quarter of the season come and gone perhaps it’s time for other heads to roll.

Game 41: May 21, 2015
WinTexas Rangers
18-23
3 W: Wandy Rodriguez (2-2)
H: Keone Kela (4)
S: Shawn Tolleson (2)
2B: Leonys Martin (7)
HR: Mitch Moreland (3)
Boston Red Sox
19-22
1 L: Clay Buchholz (2-5)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (8), David Ortiz (7)

May 21, 2015

Run Aground

The Red Sox batters left 12 runners on base as a team and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Rangers outfielders played Fenway as it it were their home park. Delino DeShields in particular handled the left field wall well. He robbed Hanley Ramirez of a hit in the second inning with a spectacular catch near the Monster.

Ramirez seems to be reading line drives better and running smarter routes. He made a few catches that he wouldn’t have made in April. But in the seventh Ramirez bobbled Leonys Martin’s hit after gathering it. Mookie Betts backed up the play and nearly got it back to Brock Holt at third base in time. Rather than rely on his fielders again Joe Kelly struck out the next two batters to keep Martin from scoring.

The Boston squad had baserunners in every inning but the first and they only scored when Xander Bogaerts homered in the fifth. Betts dashed for a double with one out in the ninth, sparking a slight hope for a last-minute victory. But the local nine lost the game just as Betts lost his helmet.

Game 40: May 20, 2015
WinTexas Rangers
17-23
2 W: Phil Klein (1-0)
H: Alex Claudio (3), Tanner Scheppers (4), Ross Ohlendorf (2)
S: Shawn Tolleson (1)
2B: Leonys Martin (6), Delino DeShields (5)
HR: Robinson Chirinos (4)
Boston Red Sox
19-21
1 L: Joe Kelly (1-3)
2B: Daniel Nava (2), Mookie Betts (9)
HR: Xander Bogaerts (2)

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