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Home » Category Listing » September 2006 Game Comments

October 1, 2006


Game 161: September 30, 2006
Orioles (70-91), 5
Red Sox (85-76), 4
W: Chris Ray (5-9)
H: Lenny DiNardo (1)
H: Bryan Corey (3)
BS, L: Mike Timlin (8, 6-6)

It’s not so much the loss that upset me last night. It was uncertainty about the future.

Manny Ramirez was the designated hitter last night and he did his thing: two for three, walk, home run. His longball in the sixth inning cleared the wall with ease. Will this be one of his last appearances in a Red Sox uniform?

Wily Mo Peña followed Ramirez by getting a base on balls. Will the young slugger harness his untapped potential and possibly replace Ramirez in the lineup?

Trot Nixon doubled off the Monster and a hustling Peña scored from first. Would that be one of the right fielder’s last RBIs for the only team he has known?

Carlos Peña drove in a run in the sixth with a grounder just past the glove of the diving Brian Roberts. The Haverhill native, who was one the pinnacle of prospect lists, now is an itinerant infielder looking for someone, anyone to give him a sustained chance in a major league lineup. But he had his autumnal moment in a Boston uniform, something he probably never dreamt was possible. Where will he be given is fourth chance?

Mike Timlin came apart in the ninth inning. He relinquished two consecutive singles in the final inning, meaning he had to work out of a runners at the corners, no out jam. Has Timlin reached the end of the line?

Neither team seemed to want to win. Ramon Hernandez grounded sharply to Mike Lowell who checked the runner at third and relayed to Mark Loretta. Loretta was slow to relay to first, however, so again there were runners at first and third.

Corey Patterson, who had pinch ran for Miguel Tejada, didn’t manage to score from third on a passed ball. But Kevin Millar, who never lacks for enthusiasm, showed some spark.

The Orioles first baseman singled high off the wall to plate the tying and go-ahead runs. In most parks the hit would have likely been a homer. The galumphing Millar, however, ran into the second out of the inning.

David Ortiz pinch hit for Dustin Pedroia to lead off the ninth and very nearly tied the game with a mighty blast to center field. Will the Red Sox renovation crew build out Williamsburg further to catch more of Ortiz’s deep fly balls and provide more space for tomato plants?


Game 160: September 29, 2006
Orioles (69-91), 3
Red Sox (85-75), 4
L: Erik Bedard (15-11)
W: Julian Tavarez (5-4)
H: Craig Breslow (3)
H: Javier Lopez (6)
H: Keith Foulke (14)
S: Mike Timlin (9)

According to Jerry Remy, Kevin Millar planted himself in Terry Francona’s office and was drawing up a lineup card for the home team. If this is the lineup Millar devised, perhaps I do miss something about him. But he seems to share the same misgivings about David Murphy in the starting nine.

  1. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
  2. Mark Loretta, 2B
  3. David Ortiz, DH
  4. Wily Mo Peña, CF
  5. Mike Lowell, 3B
  6. Jason Varitek, C
  7. Trot Nixon, RF
  8. Gabe Kapler, LF
  9. Dustin Pedroia, SS

Millar brought his special brand of kooky crazy to the clubhouse. Julian Tavarez’s crazy is a shade more intense.

In the third inning with the bases loaded and one out, Tavarez took it upon himself to try tag out Brian Roberts by charging the keystone sack.

This was just seconds after Jason Varitek made a visit to the mound and time was still called. In fact, the backstop had not even made it back to the plate yet.

Even stranger, Tavarez actually called out Pedroia in his postgame press conference, implying that the rookie shouldn’t have been chit-chatting with the runners, because “that’s how they get you off your game.” The shortstop was asked about the incident and he did mention that it was his impression that time had been called.

As the starting short fielder, Pedroia turned a Nick Markakis grounder into an inning-ending double play. I hope Don Orsillo is working on his “Dustin Pedroia! D.P. for the D.P.!” call for next season.

Mike Lowell had an evening to remember. His 47th double of the season in the first drove in two runs and he plated a key insurance run in the fifth. He also elevated in the eighth to rob Millar of a potential extra base hit. Then again, it was Millar, so it probably would have only been a single.

These former Marlins are canny. In the fourth, Lowell attempted the “oopsie, I dropped the liner, I’d better go tag third, and oh my, does that mean it’s a double play?” trick, again. It didn’t work, again. Paul Nauert wasn’t having any of it. I think the umpires must have a special Mike Lowell workshop during Spring Training.

Kevin Youkilis doubled in the sixth and was in obvious pain as he lumbered to second base. The infielder moved more like a 20-season veteran than a 27-year old man who had just completed his first full season of play. Carlos Peña pinch ran for his platoon-mate in what is likely the hometown boy’s final series in a Red Sox uniform.

Another local hero, Manny Delcarmen, had a rough outing. The young righty loaded the bases in the seventh but was bailed out by sidearmer Javier Lopez. Keith Foulke and Mike Timlin combined for two perfect innings to secure the series opener against Red Sox nemesis Erik Bedard.

September 29, 2006


Game 159: September 27, 2006
Devil Rays (61-97), 11
Red Sox (84-75), 0
W: Tim Corcoran (5-9)
L: Josh Beckett (16-11)

It’s official: the right field foul pole is now genuinely “Pesky’s Pole.” The Red Sox honored the former shortstop on his birthday this past Wednesday by making what was common parlance authentically commemorated.

He was born 87 years ago under the name John Michael Paveskovich in Portland, Oregon. He shortened his name in 1947 to help the dimwits that have ever inhabited the media. It was better than the “Needle Nose” moniker granted to him by friend Ted Williams.

Despite the loss, the 2006 Red Sox did set the high watermark for errorless games with 105 flawless outings. The 1998 Baltimore Orioles and the 1999 New York Mets are now tied for second with 104.

Pesky bleeds Red Sox, while the Devil Rays make the Red Sox bleed runs. Particularly in the seventh inning.

At least one team offered fireworks for Pesky’s birthday.

Photo courtesy of Brita Meng Outzen/MLB.com.

September 27, 2006


Game 158: September 26, 2006
Devil Rays (60-97), 1
Red Sox (84-74), 5
L: Jason Hammel (0-5)
W: Curt Schilling (15-7)

Before the game started, I prowled the stands looking for good subjects for photos, as usual. There were a few of us circulating about, savoring the atmosphere, but less so than when the Red Sox are contenders. While I was lingering around the right field loge seats to take pictures of the then-hidden banner on the wall, one friendly person asked me to take a picture of him with his camera. He wanted the Green Monster in the background as well as the interior façade. He beamed as I took the pictures from beneath the brim of his newly-purchased 59/50.

We ended up conversing a bit. He was from Argentina, not exactly a baseball hotbed. He played as an outfielder and, when he got fat (his words), he converted to first base. While on this trip to the US, he also went to games at Dolphin and Shea stadia. Given the parks he has seen in person, of course he thought Fenway Park was the best.

“When I go back to Argentina, people are going to ask me what I did there. And all I’ll have are pictures of baseball games,” he grinned.

So it transpired that he was a Mets fan because of the 1986 World Series. Who knew that series had a global impact? He saw the return of Pedro Martinez in Florida and enjoyed the first four innings of that game.

“I like Boston and the Red Sox. I don’t have anything against them,” he said.

I told him how much Pedro is missed in Boston. Although Curt Schilling has some marquee appeal (as well as the trivia chops to be on “Celebrity Jeopardy!”), when Pedro took the mound at Fenway, the timbre of the evening was richer, more invigorating.

I pointed out the place where the K-Men dwelt and described how the “Ks” would festoon the railing for his starts. Sadly, for Schilling’s final start of the 2006 season, the strikeout squad was nowhere to be seen. They could have posted nine signs last night during his seven innings of work and also seen him tip his cap to an appreciative crowd.

Top prospect Delmon Young struck out three times while the less-touted B.J. Upton walked twice and singled. In the second inning, Upton was picked off for the first out of the second inning. Just prior to the pickoff, I took a picture of Mike Lowell oddly gesturing, which I think may have been a signal to Schilling about the rookie runner at first.

David Ortiz took the league lead in homers in the third by belting his 54th of the season into the seats just to the right of the visitors’ bullpen. He followed up in the next inning with a two-RBI single that evaded the infamous Joe Maddon 3-4 defensive alignment.

In the pre-game ceremony, Ortiz was recognized for breaking the team record of home runs in a season. Jimmie Foxx’s daughter Nancy Canaday and Babe Ruth’s granddaughter Linda Tosetti were present and Ortiz gave them autographed memorabilia.

An entirely splendid evening that could have possibly converted a certain Argentinian into a Red Sox fan.

September 26, 2006


Game 157: September 25, 2006
Red Sox (83-74), 0
Blue Jays (82-74), 5
L: Tim Wakefield (7-11)
W: Shaun Marcum (3-4)

One excellent thing about this season is the lack of truly atrocious commercials. To bring back some dreadful memories, recall that McDonald’s had two abominations in consecutive seasons: the baby shower jingle of 2004 and the pseudo-poetry jam in 2005. The Jimmy Fallon/Parker Posey Pepsi spot threatened to ruin the summer but was eventually pulled. The Southwest Airlines Philly commercial briefly made a Schilling-like resurgence.

As I ponder it, perhaps the reason why these advertisements are no longer annoying is because we’re less interested in the on-field happenings. In fact, taking a break from some of the mediocre play is a relief rather than a vexation.

Something I had meant to comment on in August is the Chevy Triple Play promotion. During the month of August, if the Red Sox turned a triple play during a game in which you are the selected contestant, you would win a Cobalt SS Turbo Coupe, Equinox LS FWD, or a Silverado 1500 4x4. The last time the Red Sox turned a triple play was July 8, 1994, and it was John Valentin’s unassisted triplet killing. This season there were five triple plays total, none in the month of August, but still up from just one last year. Suffice to say, Chevrolet didn’t give away any cars this season. If triple plays are something that fascinate you as they do me, be sure to visit the Records Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research’s Triple Play site.

Jerry Remy as a homer in the fourth inning was amusing. It seemed to be a composite impersonation of Ken Harrelson and Ron Jackson. The latter was gifted with the bat that hit the franchise-breaking home run on September 21st by a grateful David Ortiz.

As far as Ortiz and I are concerned, he holds the record for roundtrippers on the road. Were it not for a speaker in the Metrodome, the designated hitter would have had 33 homers as a visitor.

I’m going to see the third-place Red Sox with the losing road record tonight. Ortiz will be honored in a pre-game ceremony for his record. Even if it weren’t for the celebration, I’d still be happy to go. It’s baseball. That’s reason enough.

September 25, 2006


Game 156: September 24, 2006
Red Sox (83-73), 4
Blue Jays (82-73), 13
L: Kyle Snyder (4-5)
W: Gustavo Chacin (9-3)
H: Brian Tallet (5)
H: Brandon League (10)

Gustavo Chacin is a much more flamboyant member of the Red Sox Killers Club than Rodrigo Lopez. He had a fragrance before Derek Jeter did. Unlike Yankee fans, I’m not one to advocate beaning an opposing player for off-field incidents, but this blatant rip-off may deserve a brief serenade of chin music.

After yesterday’s blowout, the Red Sox are now 798-800 in runs scored. Plugging these numbers into Bill James’s Pythagorean theorem of baseball, which is WP = RS2 / RS2 + RA2, we get an expected winning percentage of 49.87, or 81 wins in a 162-game schedule. At least there is one thing in which the team is excelling. Also, despite dropping the series against our northern neighbors, Boston remains a half game ahead in the standings. Thank you, David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon. Sox Watch has the WPA totals to prove it.

Wins and losses are meaningless in light of real-life battles, like Jon Lester’s fight against lymphoma. There’s Cyn’s KCancer t-shirt fund-raising project with proceeds going to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Be sure to also check out the Jon Lester Project, which was actually mentioned by Gordon Edes before one of the games this weekend. Money raised by the bracelets sold here will be donated to the Jimmy Fund.

September 24, 2006


Game 155: September 23, 2006
Red Sox (83-72), 3
Blue Jays (81-73), 5
L: Devern Hansack (0-1)
W: A.J. Burnett (9-8)
H: Justin Speier (23)
S: B.J. Ryan (35)

Eliminate. In limine. Limitation. Ill. Illuminate.

It was going to happen. It was unavoidable. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

Baseball doesn’t use clocks, but since the sweep by the Yankees the games have ticked by with the ever-mounting inevitability that this would not be the year.

Oddly enough, I enjoyed this season more than last year. Wearing the luxuriant mantle of defending World Champions was cumbersome, distracting, heavily embroidered with the filament of past glory. They said they were going to turn the page, but they didn’t.

To be certain, there instances of keeping around the 2004 for old times’ sake; Gabe Kapler and Mike Timlin spring to mind. In the most extreme example, Doug Mirabelli was whisked from San Diego in a futile effort to rekindle the spark of two seasons ago.

But it was also a time for the emergence of a new team philosophy. For once, Boston would field a team that would lead the AL in fielding percentage. It was less raucous and had more polish, but still had the internal talent to give a few youngsters a taste of the major leagues.

Devern Hansack isn’t exactly young at 28, but he made his major league debut yesterday. Who would have thought that on the day the Red Sox faced elimination they would place a rookie on the mound?

Hansack distinguished himself in the Eastern League championship series, during which he pitched the bookend games. Yesterday he lasted five innings with a line of six hits, three hits, three earned runs, no walks, two strikeouts, and two home runs. Most impressively, he rebounded after relinquishing giving up back-to-back longballs in the fourth to Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus with one out.

A.J. Burnett turned in an outstanding seven-inning performance for his ninth win on the season. If it weren’t for his injury, one wonders if the Red Sox would have been better off bidding for his services rather than trading away Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett.

For my game notes, follow the link below.

Continue reading “Eliminate” »

September 23, 2006


Game 154: September 22, 2006
Red Sox (83-71), 7
Blue Jays (80-73), 1

W: Julian Tavarez (4-4)
L: Ted Lilly (14-13)

Did Ted Lilly forget to pay his dues for the Red Sox Killers Club? He lasted just five and one-third innings with five hits, five runs (just two earned), four walks, eight strikeouts, and a single home run.

The roundtripper came early. Kevin Youkilis led off the second with a seven-pitch at bat. Lyle Overbay could have sat Mike Lowell if the first baseman gloved Lowell’s pop-up in foul territory. You can’t give a wily hitter like Lowell another chance; the corner infielder took Lilly deep over the obnoxiously electronic scoreboard-laden center field wall.

Dustin Pedroia is rather small of stature, so he couldn’t clear Alex Rios’s sliding body in the fourth inning. Despite the encumbrance, Pedroia managed to relay to Mark Loretta to complete the double play. The rookie second baseman is a gamer, as this video of his hazing attests.

His double play partner, Alex Gonzalez, had an outstanding offensive night. His two hits were doubles and both came after he had fallen behind in the count 0-2. He drove in Wily Mo Peña in the second and drove in two more runs in the sixth with the bases loaded.

Surprising performances from unexpected sources abounded. The formerly-maligned (even on this very site) Julian Tavarez pitched the second complete game of his career. He was absolutely radiant in his interview with Tina Cervasio. Short of beauty pageant contestants, I’ve never seen anyone happier while answering insipid questions.

September 22, 2006


Game 153: September 21, 2006
Twins (90-62), 0
Red Sox (82-71), 6
L: Johan Santana (18-6)
W: Josh Beckett (16-10)

We are lucky.

It doesn’t seem like it after this injury-ridden season, I know. But we are.

Because we cheer for players like Alex Gonzalez, who had just seven errors this season and makes the spectacular look mundane.

And Manny Ramirez, who, since he joined the team, has had an on-base plus slugging of greater than one for all but one season and has hit 40+ homers for three years and more than 30 for every other year.

And Jason Varitek, who has caught more games for the Red Sox than any other backstop.

And Curt Schilling, who earned his 200th win and 3,000th strikeout while with our team.

And Tim Wakefield, an underestimated practitioner of an arcane art.

And Jonathan Papelbon, who jolted into the consciousness of the fans with nearly as much force as his heater.

And Carlos Peña, who had his childhood dreams made real one late summer evening.

I could go on and name every player that donned the cleats to bring some measure of joy to 2006.

Above them all would be David Ortiz.

In every home game, after Mark Loretta does his thing at the dish, the crowd noticeably comes to life. At first, there’s the barest of rumblings and a smattering of movement as the audience realize who’s batting next. Then, flashbulbs twinkle like diamonds, the fans surge upwards to stand, chants echo, and applause rings.

Ortiz rarely disappoints, and he did not last night, either.

As if on cue, Ortiz pummeled the first pitch he saw from Cy Young-contender Johan Santana into the bleachers.

The anticipation that had been building erupted into pure jubilation.

I was already overjoyed that the Portland Sea Dogs were honored in the pre-game festivities. Sadly, hardly anyone applauded for Dan Burke, Charlie Eschbach, Todd Claus, and Devern Hansack despite the full-capacity crowd. There was more applause for the Gulf Coast Red Sox at the Futures at Fenway doubleheader even though Fenway was not quite half-full at the time.

I was lucky to have seen firsthand how the dugout gave Ortiz the rookie treatment after his 52nd home run. I had a clear view into the Red Sox haven from my loge seats on the third base side.

We (Matt and I) were lucky enough to have had three seconds of fame in the broadcast territory of Fox Sports Net North, the affiliate that airs Twins games. I made a “Circle Me Bert” sign to pander to Bert Blyleven, but it also included a birthday greetings to Scott, who could not make last night’s game.

We are lucky, and I’m afraid some of us don’t realize just how much so.

Dedicated to Scott, a.k.a. Fiskian Pole Shot, whose birthday was yesterday. They played Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” last night, whose lyrics include something about “the twenty-first of September.” Thanks for the tickets. Also, I’m getting my Macbook back soon, so I will finally be able to post pictures from last night as well as a few other games I attended while my laptop was in intensive care.


Game 152: September 20, 2006
Twins (90-61), 8
Red Sox (81-71), 2
W: Boof Bonser (6-5)
H: Jesse Crain (8)
H: Pat Neshek (8)
H: Keith Foulke (13)
BS, L: Craig Hansen (2, 2-2)

For me, this game was just an appetizer for Thursday night.

I did have a chance to go to Fenway on Wednesday night thanks to the kind offer of Witch City Sox Girl (who, alas, won’t be posting any longer), but I actually had to prepare for a full slate of meetings at work as well as make a sign for the series finale.

So, I didn’t see David Ortiz’s 50th home run in the flesh. It came in the sixth inning against Twins rookie Boof Bonser.

I also didn’t witness Dustin Pedroia’s first major league run batted in in the second inning.

And also missed seeing Bonser pitch in person. I actually had a bet with a friend of mine from the Royal Rooters message board. Bonser and Francisco Liriano were making their first major league starts in the same week and both would be pitching in the Milwaukee Brewers series in May, Liriano on the 19th and Bonser on the 21st. The categories were strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, win, and quality start. The breakdown:

Liriano: 5
*Bonser: 8

Liriano: 1.800
*Bonser: 1.500

*Liriano: 1.000
Bonser: 1.333

*Liriano: 1
Bonser: 0

Liriano: 0
*Bonser: 1

Since I lost that particular battle, I had to have his mug as my board avatar for a week accompanied by the tagline, “Boof is a better pitcher than Liriano.” Were it not for his injury, Liriano could have won the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards and been the first to do so since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of ol’ Boof, no matter how spiffy his name is.

September 20, 2006


Game 151: September 19, 2006
Twins (89-61), 7
Red Sox (81-70), 3
W: Matt Garza (2-5)
H: Jesse Crain (7)
H: Dennys Reyes (12)
H: Juan Rincon (25)
L: Tim Wakefield (7-10)

On my dreary way to work yesterday I got a call from Matt of NU50. I was expecting some trash talk about the head-to-head league we compete in, but then I remembered that I made it past the quarterfinals and he did not. Instead, he had free tickets for the evening’s game. I thought how apt it would be to welcome the team back since we had also attended the final game of the last homestand. (Have you checked out the comments to that game, by the way? There’s some funny stuff there.)

It was far from an ideal evening at the park. We got there about an hour in advance of the first pitch. The stands were less than a third full by game time. Our row in the grandstand on the first base side was fairly full, and a very large man was right next to our block of tickets. We opted to sit in the nearly vacant row behind it.

Around the third inning, moseying in comes the holders of the tickets to our temporary seats. It was obvious they had gotten their seats thanks to some corporate boondoggle and had very little interest in the game itself. They asked us fairly politely to move and we did so. The group then proceeded to stagger themselves in the empty row and quite obviously take up more than their allotted number of tickets.

Their conversation consisted of occupational mundanities of which they had exhausted by the middle of the seventh inning. So, they left.

But not before one of them shared their insight on Justin Morneau’s double to the wall bounding left-center: “It’s a double, could be a triple.”

Matt replied, not so sotto voce, “It could be a triple...if the garage door opened, a bear sauntered out, and that bear mauled David Murphy.”

I wish there were a bear available to maul Morneau, who went five for five with two doubles. While the ursid was at it, he could also take out Jason Bartlett and Torii Hunter, both of whom homered off Tim Wakefield.

Wakefield did not have his best stuff, or much of anything, really. He lasted only three and a third innings and gave up six earned runs.

Matt Garza, though not the heir apparent to rookie ace Francisco Liriano, pitched a respectable five and two-thirds innings with a line of five hits, three earned runs, three walks, and four strikeouts. No Twins wanted to be part of Red Sox lore and give up David Ortiz’s 50th home run of the season.

We’ll have another chance on Thursday evening thanks to a friend not being able to make the trip to the Hub. I’ve circled the date on my calendar, and with any luck Bert Blyleven will circle me, too.

September 19, 2006


Game 150: September 17, 2006
Red Sox (81-69), 5
Yankees (90-59), 4
W: Javier Lopez (1-0)
S: Mike Timlin (8)
H: Scott Proctor (23)
BS: Mike Myers (1)
L: Kyle Farnsworth (3-5)

The end of Derek Jeter’s hit streak won’t get as much publicity as its much-hyped progress. Neither will Javier Lopez’s first win in a Red Sox uniform. But it’s those tiny bits of optimism that combine to blot out the idiotic jumble that passes for Joe Morgan’s commentary.

In the second inning, Morgan said that Mike Mussina forced Dustin Pedroia to crush a pitch in a Kevin Millar-like fashion. I don’t suppose it had anything to do with Pedroia’s out-sized stride, his swing, the muscles that propel the bat through the zone. Mussina must be telepathically moving Pedroia’s body to do his bidding. Those damn Yankees.

Morgan’s assertion that Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui’s swings were similar because they both are products of the Japan League was ludicrous. The players’ only true commonality is that they are both Japanese, which Morgan seems to believe intrinsically affects how they handle the bat. I wonder if he and Dusty Baker get together to discuss how to best use players based on their racial characteristics.

The Red Sox mustered runs early and late to salvage some dignity in this wayward season. Trot Nixon dispatched his eighth homer of the season in the second with Mike Lowell, who had doubled (what else?) to lead off the inning.

It wasn’t until the eighth inning that the visitors would come home again. A single off the bat of Mark Loretta skipped along the left field line to begin the rally.

Old acquaintance Mike Myers clambered onto the hill and slung cautiously to David Ortiz, walking him on four pitches. Lowell’s bloop to shallow right fooled Ortiz. It seemed that one of the three Yankees in pursuit would nab the ball in time, but instead it landed safely in their midst. Meanwhile, Ortiz was lingering in no-man’s land and was out at second because of ball’s unexpected drop.

Jason Varitek singled up the middle to score Loretta. Myers then hit Doug Mirabelli to fill the bases. I know Mirabelli is a big target, but part of me likes to think that the Red Sox part of Myers was emanant.

By the way, I can’t figure out if Eric Hinske pinch running for Mirabelli is insulting to one, the other, or both.

I was almost fully convinced of Myers’s true allegiance when his wild pitch to Pedroia allowed the tying run to score.

Wily Mo Peña doubled to right to leadoff the ninth. Alex Cora ran for him, and not only did he proceed to third thanks to Coco Crisp’s bunt, but Crisp found himself safe at first thanks to Jorge Posada’s off-target throw. Perhaps Myers has been recruiting.

Although Loretta’s fly to center was shallow, it was caught by Bernie Williams, easily allowing Cora to grant his team the lead. Crisp swiped second, but Kyle Farnsworth had something to prove and went after Ortiz despite first base being open.

This surprised Posada, who was unable to block the pitch that Ortiz had vainly swung at. Unable... or perhaps, unwilling?

One-run victories usually require a few defensive highlights, and this game was no exception.

Melky Cabrera was caught off his guard in the fifth. The Yankees could have sparked a two-out rally if Kevin Jarvis hadn’t picked off the outfielder for the final out.

Crisp made a superlative snag in the eighth. Jason Giambi led off with a single that broke the shift. Had the Red Sox center fielder not snared Posada’s fly ball, the home team would have regained the lead right after Boston had tied the game. Loretta then fielded Robinson Cano’s grounder, tagged out rookie pinch runner Kevin Thompson, and relayed to first in one smooth inning-killing motion.

Mike Timlin was brought in to finish the ninth and Alex Rodriguez pinch hit in a key situation, showing that even in the most futile circumstances someone will lapse into further fruitlessness. Thankfully for the Red Sox, it was Rodriguez who came up short.

September 18, 2006


Game 149: September 17, 2006
Red Sox (80-69), 6
Yankees (90-58), 3
W: Brian Corey (2-1)
H: Keith Foulke (12)
S: Mike Timlin (7)
L: Ron Villone (3-3)

The Red Sox’s first round draft pick of 2003, David Murphy, mashed his first major league homer to begin the game. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ 2003 pick, Eric Duncan, a third baseman, is blocked by Alex Rodriguez gargantuan contract. Duncan has been taking turns at first base, but the opposite corner isn’t exactly bereft of talent internally. If I were a young prospect, I would think twice about signing on with the Gotham maulers. Who knows when your path to the majors will be barricaded by yet another blockbuster acquisition?

The Yankees took the lead in the third on the strength of Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera’s back-to-back doubles. Cabrera was driven in by Robinson Cano’s liner to left. The home team continued their assault in the fourth with three successive singles to jam the bases. Kyle Snyder pitched with tremendous aplomb, induced a fly ball from Tampa Bay refugee Nick Green and struck out Sal Fasano and Damon.

Snyder showed again those glimpses of near-brilliance that may prompt Boston to sign him to a short-term deal for 2007. But when Snyder is on the schneid, it can be horrendous. On Sunday he lasted five innings while giving up seven hits, two earned runs, and a single base on balls. He struck out seven, including those pivotal whiffs in the fourth. Bob Tewksbury would have pointed to this inning as the key pitching moment when the game was won.

David Ortiz tied the game in the sixth with his 49th four-bagger of the season, bringing him to within one home run of tying Jimmie Foxx’s franchise record. As they have throughout the series, the herd regaled the Red Sox designated hitter with their monotonous lowing.

I guess the check to the baseball officials’ office hadn’t cleared yet, because the visiting team was the beneficiary of a questionable call by first base umpire Mike Estabrook in the seventh inning. Pinch runner Coco Crisp could have been called out for leaving the basepaths when he evaded Craig Wilson’s tag, but instead twisted his way back to first.

Mark Loretta pinch hit for Murphy and after an epic ten-pitch standoff, including four pickoff attempts, made his way to first on a free pass from Ron Villone. Following in fellow greenhorn Murphy’s stead, Dustin Pedroia doubled in the go-ahead runs. Ortiz was then intentionally walked.

Not to be outdone by the new arrivals, Kevin Youkilis arced a bases-clearing double into center field. The mission to avoid seeing Yankees perfunctorily celebrating was successful and the Red Sox’ partial recovery of dignity was almost complete.

As an aside, Pedroia was the Red Sox’s second round draft pick in 2004. The Yankees’ second round pick, right-handed pitcher Brett Smith, seems far from professional glory and is eclipsed by phenom Philip Hughes.

September 17, 2006


Game 148: September 16, 2006
Red Sox (79-69), 5
Yankees (90-57), 7
BS: Craig Hansen (1)
L: Craig Breslow (0-2)
W: Scott Proctor (6-4)
S: Kyle Farnsworth (5)

Fortunately the night half of the doubleheader was covered by NESN. Still, you know the state of the Red Sox is dire when, in a weekend of back-to-back games the major news is about the status of a player next year.

Just two saves shy of the rookie record for saves, Jonathan Papelbon revealed that not only will he most likely be shut down for this season but that he will likely be a starter in 2007. Given Papelbon’s repertoire and talent, I believe that he will be more valuable as a starter. Papelbon’s arsenal is too vast to be squandered in a relief role. With questions about Jon Lester and Matt Clement, it should a given that Papelbon will get the nod every fifth day.

Closers come to their roles because they cannot vary their approach to hitters--they are effective in small doses. Furthermore, closers are useful only when their starters and middle relievers can get them to the ninth.

Somehow Julian Tavarez managed to change my mind about him. Early on this season I had categorized him with the likes of Rudy Seanez, but such an estimation was unfounded.

Tavarez had a defensive dazzler in the second. With Jorge Posada at third, the pitcher gloved Aaron Guiel’s grounder between his legs, looked back Posada, and underhanded to Kevin Youkilis for the out.

Although the Red Sox starter lasted only five innings and relinquished four earned runs and four walks while striking out only two, Randy Johnson proved likewise vulnerable.

The chink in Johnson’s armor was, of all people, Alex Gonzalez. In a manner reminiscent of how Pedro Martinez was tormented by Enrique Wilson, Gonzalez was two for four with two RBIs.

One of Gonzalez’s hits was an RBI double in the third. Dustin Pedroia, who had also mustered a double off the lanky lefty, scored. In turn Youkilis doubled to plate Gonzalez for the lead.

The advantage would not stay with the visitors for long, however. Bernie Williams, showing signs of life in the fourth, launched a two-RBI double to left field to tie the game.

Coco Crisp knocked Johnson out of sixth with a two-RBI ground-rule double of his own with the bases loaded. But Craig Hansen, in his first appearance at Yankee Stadium, blew the lead in the bottom of the same frame.

I will credit Derek Jeter for extending his hit streak and as well as for his bravery in the seventh. The Yankees shortstop faced the onslaught of Wily Mo Peña sliding into second in his attempt to turn a double play, something most infielders would avoid. In that same inning, Alex Rodriguez wanly attempting to nab Trot Nixon’s pop out in the first row of the seats. A floozy actually grasped his arm and tried to get a friend to take a picture of her with the third baseman.

I <3 New York.


Game 147: September 16, 2006
Red Sox (79-68), 5
Yankees (89-57), 2
W: Josh Beckett (15-10)
H: Bryan Corey (2)
H: Javier Lopez (5)
H: Keith Foulke (11)
S: Mike Timlin (6)
L: Chien-Ming Wang (17-6)

Of course the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader had to be covered by Fox. Just as they dust off the clip of Roger Clemens beaning Mike Piazza’s head for every subway series, the network seized upon David Ortiz’s comments on Derek Jeter and discussed it ad nauseum. (And when Tim McCarver is involved, you’ve already got a lot of nausea to deal with.)

Don’t get me wrong -- he’s [Jeter] a great player, having a great season, but he’s got a lot of guys in that lineup. Top to bottom, you’ve got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be.

Generic Fox play-by-play guy said that not only did Ortiz dare to criticize the Yankees shortstop, but was also chastising his team. Not at all; Ortiz is commenting on how the Yankees can stockpile All-Stars in every slot. When he said “this lineup,” he meant every manager that can’t pencil in multi-million dollar mercenaries at each position.

Then there was McCarver’s verbal hagiography of Jeter, who would never say an unkind word about any soul, be it an opposing player or Adolph Hitler. Jeter makes pablum seem piquant.

Yankee fans were creative with their anti-Ortiz signs. I wonder if they realize that in their attempts to vilify and downplay Ortiz’s impact, the more silly they render themselves. One sign labeled Ortiz as a “Part-Time Player,” implying that he is not worthy of MVP considering because he doesn’t field. I’m sure this logic wouldn’t extend to a Yankee designated hitter if he were in the mix.

Do you really want to diminish the accomplishments of a player who was essential to handing your team its most humiliating defeat? If you said yes, then you are a petty Yankee fan.

The Yankees came out strong in the second inning with a two-run homer by Robinson Cano, one player who doesn’t pull in over a million a season.

Rookie David Murphy wasn’t intimidated by the vastness of the occasion; he was two for four and notched his first major league RBI with his double, a key part of the Red Sox’s three-run rally in the fourth.

Trot Nixon sparked the inning with a double over the glove of Melky Cabrera and advanced on a throwing error by Jeter. Needless to say, this error wasn’t discussed at length by the broadcast team. But when Jeter extended his hitting streak to 24 games, the comparisons to Joe DiMaggio wouldn’t stop.

Boston added insurance runs in the seventh and ninth. The run in the seventh came thanks to the combined incompetence of Ron Villone and Brian Bruney; together the walked four batters in succession. In the ninth, Mark Loretta led off with a double that was just fair of the left field line. Ortiz was given the four-finger salute, showing that despite the disdain of his constituency, Joe Torre still respects the Red Sox slugger. Loretta proceeded to third on Nixon’s grounder and scored on a wild pitch by Octavio Dotel.

The additional runs loomed large as Keith Foulke allowed the first two runners on base in the eighth. The change-up artist buckled down and struck out Cano and induced harmless flys from Hideki Matsui and Cabrera.

In the ninth, Mike Timlin also allowed a runner on base in the form of Bernie Williams. It was only a single, so a curtain call was not yet in the offing. Johnny Damon laced a liner into left but defensive replacement Gabe Kapler tracked it down despite the sun. Jeter and pinch-hitting Jorge Posada struck out to end the game.

September 16, 2006


Game 146: September 14, 2006
Red Sox (78-68), 6
Orioles (63-83), 5
W: Keith Foulke (3-1)
S: Mike Timlin (5)
H: Chris Britton (4)
H: Jim Hoey (2)
H: Brian Burres (1)
H: Todd Williams (11)
BS: Chris Ray (4)
L: Rodrigo Lopez (9-16)

This season Kevin Youkilis has at last emerged as an exceptional everyday player and leadoff hitter (when the whim strikes Terry Francona to do so). If only Francona’s whims aligned with statistics.

Batting First AB AVG OBP SLG
Kevin Youkilis 381 0.291 0.389 0.436
Coco Crisp 220 0.232 0.290 0.341

Youkilis’s fly ball off the top of the wall rebounded back into to the field of play for a double; a very odd event that seemed to defy physics. Youkilis made his way to third base on Mark Loretta’s ground out and scored on Brian Roberts’s error in fielding what should have been a routine grounder off the bat of David Ortiz. This season, the Red Sox are 51-25 when scoring first, so the early run boded well.

Boston added to their lead in the fourth. Ortiz led off the inning with a base on balls and Wily Mo Peña and Mike Lowell followed up with singles. Lowell’s allowed Ortiz to score. Jason Varitek had a single of his own and the Red Sox loaded the bases, threatening to put the game away early. But Trot Nixon grounded into a double play that scored a run but effectively killed the would-be rally.

The Orioles responded in the bottom of the inning with a barrage of hits of their own. Lenny DiNardo came apart and allowed four consecutive singles and a pitched wildly to David Newhan. Newhan would eventually ground into the second out of the inning and DiNardo walked Chris Gomez to clog the basepaths with birds.

DiNardo was unable to put away rookie Jeff Fiorentino or Roberts. Mike Burns relieved the lefty and struck out Melvin Mora on four pitches, but five runs had scored.

It’s bizarre how similarly Boston and Baltimore are playing right now. The Orioles bullpen relinquished runs in the last three innings to blow the game. It could have been much worse for the Charm City club as the Red Sox loaded the bases twice but did not seize these opportunities.

Mike Timlin, perhaps not looking forward to the tedium of retirement, made it interesting in the ninth. Mora smacked a double to begin the inning and tagged up on Nick Markakis’s fly out to center. Francona played for a double play and intentionally walked Miguel Tejada, a risky proposition given Timlin’s tendency to give up fly balls. But the veteran righty managed to induce a room service grounder off the bat of Ramon Hernandez to secure the game and series win.

September 15, 2006


Game 145: September 13, 2006
Red Sox (77-68), 0
Orioles (63-82), 4
L: Tim Wakefield (7-9)
W: Erik Bedard (14-9)

Tim Wakefield returned to action after two months away from the game. He would be one of the pivotal chapters in the book on the disappointments of the 2006 season. A trite song from the 80s said, “Don’t know what you got until it’s gone/And I found out a little too late.”

Although the understated knuckleballer’s contributions are often overlooked, this season showed just how essential he is. He lasted only five innings and gave up ten hits with three earned runs, including a homer to designated hitter Kevin Millar in the fifth. It was not his typical seven or eight innings of perplexing pitches, following the season’s pattern where there was no innings-eater in to be had.

Millar would also score when Doug Mirabelli attempted to pick him off of third in the third. The ball hit Millar and meandered into left field, allowing him to score. I guess Mirabelli envied his former teammate’s speed.

Eventually, Red Sox killers will have their comeuppance. Whatever spell Rodrigo Lopez had over Boston has finally dissipated; the same will eventually happen with Erik Bedard, Scott Kazmir, and their ilk. Until then, we’ll watch every game, inuring ourselves to two-hit games like this one.

Such a hard habit to break.

September 13, 2006


Game 144: September 12, 2006
Red Sox (77-67), 6
Orioles (62-82), 5
W: Craig Hansen (2-1)
H: Craig Breslow (2)
H: Manny Delcarmen (14)
S: Javier Lopez (1)
L: Daniel Cabrera (7-10)

From: kason.gabbard@redsox.com
Subject: Robbed!
Date: September 12, 2006 10:32:45 PM EDT
To: david.pauley@pawsox.com
Cc: rockiemtnpauley@yahoo.com

Hey Crackhead,

Does this e-mail work in the offseason? I wasn’t sure so I cc’ed your yahoo address.

Stupid strained latissimus dorsi. I don’t even know what or where the hell that is, but it forced me out of the game in the fifth inning after I had gotten two outs. Just one more out and I would have had the win! Argh!!! I tried to stay in, but it was too much. After I gave up that double and threw high to Mar-cakewalk for the free pass I knew I was finished.

Anyway, did you catch that weird play in the third? I was pitching to Mora and he totally whiffed. Roberts was at first and took off for second, assuming Mora would make contact. Tek threw to Lowrider who managed to get the ball back to Youk for the out.

Good thing Daniel Cabrera doesn’t pitch for the Royals. Over in KC, looks like pitchers and catchers get into fights. Four-eyes would be a prime target.

I was thinking about something--isn’t Cabrera to pitching what Wily Mo is to hitting? Just raw, unbridled stuff? Papa Jack has done a lot with Wily, and you can see the difference. I think pitching takes longer to finesse, but if Leo Mazzone can fix up Cabrera that would be frightening.

Bummer that Wily got hit in the wrist with that heat. He stayed in past the fourth, though, ’cause he’s a tough guy.

Another tough guy is Miggy. Insane how he backhanded Lowell’s grounder back to his throwing hand to get the force at second. You don’t see that stuff at Pawtucket or Portland.

Coco is playing hurt, too. He muscled out that two-out RBI single in the sixth and broke open the floodgates. And we needed every single one of those runs, as Timlin à la king was being served.

Let me know if you or your fam want Lester bracelets.

K-Man (I can still call myself that. I got 2.)

From: david.pauley@pawsox.com
Subject: Re: Robbed!
Date: September 12, 2006 11:22:53 PM EDT
To: kason.gabbard@redsox.com

Dude, in reality, are you like Jarvis’ age? You are almost fricking bald in the front. You should keep your cap on in the dugout, or try that stuff Boggs schills.

September 11, 2006


Game 143: September 10, 2006
Royals (54-90), 3
Red Sox (76-67), 9
L: Mark Redman (9-9)
W: Julian Tavarez (3-4)
H: Bryan Corey (1)

The last time I went to the park and felt so subdued was the third game of the ALDS last year. The Red Sox attempted to avert the sweep, but failed.

Yesterday, Boston managed to win the last game of their homestand, but still lost the season series to the lowly Royals. They mustered a considerable offensive barrage, and against All-Star Mark Redman, no less.

I had standing room access to the pavilion section. It was quite blustery and the ushers are sticklers in this rarefied atmosphere. After standing for seven innings straight, they actually kicked us out of seats. In a meaningless games. Against the Royals.

Welcome to Friendly Fenway, indeed. I should have flashed my Red Sox Nation membership card or dozens of my past ticket stubs. My loyal feet just wanted a brief respite in an area briefly inhabited by gawking tourists and nouveau fans. You know the type: they come in the third and leave in the seventh.

I was in the park from when the gates opened until the final note of “Dirty Water.” But how dare I try to sit in the long-vacated seats? The view from the pavilion is beautiful, but the sense of privilege there is not.

I typed that phrase forlornly: “meaningless game.” For it is well overdue to admit that the Red Sox are only playing for what little is left of their dignity. But to see it stated so starkly in black and white is difficult.

There are individual accolades to recognized, and more to be pursued. David Ortiz could surpass Jimmie Foxx’s Red Sox record of 51 for most homers in a season and is a candidate for AL MVP. Curt Schilling garnered his 200th win and 3,000th strikeout with this team. Jason Varitek tied and surpassed Carlton Fisk’s games caught record.

But we all know they won’t be winning the real prize this year.

After the game, the crowds still thronged to the player parking lot exit to say goodbye, including me. I stood right at the bend in the barricades. Julian Tavarez, who won his first game as a starting Red Sox pitcher, signed autographs for quite a bit of people for the group gathered directly across the street from the lot. One little boy next to me started crying because he didn’t get Tavarez’s autograph. I wanted to console him; I mean, it’s just Julian Tavarez.

I thought about the trajectory of Tavarez’s time with the team, how he went from maligned middle reliever to sole reliable starter. Baseball is funny that way. Funny enough to make you cry.

September 10, 2006


Game 142: September 9, 2006
Royals (54-89), 10
Red Sox (75-67), 4
BS: Ryan Braun (1)
W: Joe Nelson (1-1)
L: Craig Breslow (0-1)
12 innings

The Red Sox need to be taken out behind Wally’s shed and beaten.

I’ll be at the game on Sunday. Don’t forget that it’s Jon Lester Fan Appreciation Day.

You really want to know what happened during Saturday’s game? If so, click below.

Continue reading “Whipping” »


Game 141: September 8, 2006
Royals (53-89), 10
Red Sox (75-66), 9
H: Scott Dohmann (4)
H: Joel Peralta (14)
BS: Jimmy Gobble (2)
W: Ambiorix Burgos (4-5)
S: Joe Nelson (6)
BS, L: Mike Timlin (7, 6-5)

Angel Berroa, Rookie of the Year in 2003, made two errors in the game. In the third with one out and Kevin Youkilis on first because of a free pass, Berroa muffed Mark Loretta’s grounder that should have been a room service double play.

Instead, Odalis Perez had to face David Ortiz with two men on. Ortiz launched a single to the triangle that glanced off the short side of the bullpen wall such that it rebounded parallel along the center field wall. Ortiz drove in two runs and made it to third for this second triple of the season.

Manny Ramirez followed suit with an opposite field grounder to plate Ortiz.

Berroa’s second error in the sixth wasn’t costly. He ran back lackadaisically and at the last second took his eye off Mike Lowell’s looper. Jason Varitek followed up with a line shot off the wall, but this time Perez eluded peril, however, but garnering the next three outs in seven pitches.

Yes, the Royals are a force to be reckoned with...at least when they face Boston. The visitors roared back in the fourth and fifth to tally five runs and take the lead. Ryan Shealy was nearly thrown out at home by Gonzalez, who made a sliding jab at Joey Gathright’s liner into shallow left and fired to home quickly. Shealy dislodged the ball from Varitek’s on his slide into the plate for the second and final run of the fourth.

Mike Sweeney piled on with a three-run homer deposited into the Monster seats.

The eighth inning was a cabinet of wonders for odd plays. Shealy led off with a fly ball off the ladder on the wall for a triple. According to Wikipedia, this has only happened twice before during games and both instances led to an inside-the-park home run. John Buck doubled, driving in Shealy, but while he was camped there he didn’t advance on Gathright’s single to center.

Alex Gonzalez executed a flawless deke by feigning a catch of Gathright’s hit. Buck had no choice but to anchor himself to second while Coco Crisp had the wherewithal to back up the play to freeze the runners. But consecutive singles would add two more runs to the Royals’ lead.

For an inning, in the eighth, the Red Sox looked like the team they could have been all season. Varitek propelled his 12th homer of the year with Lowell on first. The Red Sox would bat around and score six runs for the lead.

This year’s version of Alan Embree, Mike Timlin, blew the game in the top of the ninth. Gathright drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with his double to right.

Lowell, Varitek, and the pinch-hitting Trot Nixon went down in order in the bottom of the final inning.

September 7, 2006


Game 140: September 6, 2006
White Sox (80-59), 8
Red Sox (75-65), 1
W: Jose Contreras (12-7)
L: Kyle Snyder (4-4)

Dustin Hermanson is still in the majors? The last thing I remember about him was his 2002 stint with the Red Sox where he suffered a litany of ills. You thought this year was bad; Hermanson was a one-man episode of “House” that season.

  • 4/8/02: Placed RHP Dustin Hermanson on the 15-day DL with a right groin strain, retroactive to 4/4; recalled RHP Sunny Kim from Pawtucket (AAA) to report to the Red Sox 4/9.
  • 7/13/02: Assigned RHP Dustin Hermanson on injury rehab to Pawtucket (AAA).
  • 7/20/02: Recalled RHP Dustin Hermanson from injury rehab assignment and reinstated him from the 15-day DL; optioned INF/OF Bryant Nelson to Pawtucket (AAA).
  • 7/24/02: Placed RHP Dustin Hermanson on the 15-day DL with a left elbow staph infection; recalled LHP Casey Fossum from Pawtucket (AAA).
  • 8/9/02: RHP Dustin Hermanson on injury rehab to Gulf Coast (Rookie).
  • 8/13/02: Transferred injury rehab assignment of RHP Dustin Hermanson from Gulf Coast (Rookie) to Pawtucket (AAA).
  • 8/20/02: Recalled RHP Dustin Hermanson from injury rehab assignment with Pawtucket (AAA).
  • 10/31/02: Declined the option on RHP Dustin Hermanson for 2003.
  • 12/7/02: Offered arbitration to OF Cliff Floyd; did not offer arbitration to RHP Ugueth Urbina, INF Carlos Baerga, INF Rey Sanchez, RHP Dustin Hermanson, OF Rickey Henderson, INF Tony Clark and INF Shane Andrews.

The only legacy lingering of Hermanson’s time in Boston is the clubhouse’s predilection for odd facial hair configurations.

It seems I was a bit premature with my nomination of Kyle Snyder for a spot in the 2007 rotation. Like the little girl with the little curl, when Snyder’s curve is good, it is very, very good. But when it is bad, it is horrid. Snyder lasted just two and a third innings with the White Sox ringing up five earned runs in the process. Jim Thome launched a leadoff homer into the bleachers in the second inning, and whatever supernatural force that was containing Chicago’s offense was lifted. The White Sox scored more runs in this game than both teams did in the other two games combined.

With a comfortable lead, Jose Contreras showed why he was so highly sought-after in 2003. His mythic forkball baffled the entire Red Sox offense except for Coco Crisp. The center fielder homered in the third inning for his team’s only run and accounted for three of the home team’s four hits. Alex Cora was the only other batter to solve the conundrum of Contreras.

Dustin Pedroia replaced Mark Loretta at second in the seventh inning and showed that he was learning on-the-job in the eighth. On a Chris Stewart grounder, Pedroia came off the second base bag too quickly to get the force out call of Jermaine Dye from Bruce Dreckman. Dye assumed he was out and didn’t rush to return to the keystone sack in time to beat Pedroia’s tag. I have seen Pedroia come off the base much more quickly than major leaguers do, and I wonder if it is a function of him being used a single umpire covering first and second bases, which is the norm for Triple-A. Meanwhile, Dye complacently assumed the rookie would get the neighborhood call; it was a telling combination of assumptions by the players involved.

Despite the loss, there were a few smile-inducing moments worth mentioning:

  • Remote control trucks, capable of speeds of 50 miles per hour, are now the rage in the clubhouse. David Mellor, Director of Grounds for Fenway, must be tickled by this development.
  • Mike Lowell snagged a Paul Konerko liner in the sixth to stem an extra base hit.
  • David Ortiz’s high fly ball to the façade obliterated one of ESPN’s lights.
  • Impromptu breakdancing by a fan attempting to retrieve a foul ball off the bat of Alex Cintron in the ninth.

Also, if you hadn’t seen all of the new and returning faces in the bullpen, last night would have been your chance. The Red Sox sent six pitchers to the mound: Lenny DiNardo, Craig Breslow, Bryan Corey, Craig Hansen, and Mike Burns.

Burns: Smithers, are they booing me?
Smithers: Uh, no sir. They are saying, “Boo-urns. Boo-urns.”

September 6, 2006


Game 139: September 5, 2006
White Sox (79-59), 2
Red Sox (75-64), 3
L: Javier Vazquez (11-9)
W: Kason Gabbard (1-3)
S: Mike Timlin (4)

From: david.pauley@pawsox.com
Subject: Way 2 go!
Date: September 6, 2006 11:22:53 PM EDT
To: kason.gabbard@redsox.com

What up K-Man?!

I see they finally fixed your email address, dude. I guess that is what happens when you STRIKE OUT 6 dudes from the current WORLD SERIES CHAMPS. That was totally awesome! I mean, it’s not like you were striking out just guys like Brian Anderson (well, okay, you got him and Uribe twice), but you whiffed Konerko in the second. You even struck out the side in the third. Holy punchados, Batman!

Grecian Formula is craziness in the hot corner. He saved your bacon in the first with that stop of Ozuna’s line shot. And how about that throw from the knees to nail the guy? You don’t see stuff like that in Pawtucket.

From what I saw on tv, the crowd went nuts with Big Papi’s return. Does he recognize you these days?

NEwayz, you are the nails. Vazquez went for the duration and only allowed three hits, but you guys were just better last night. Congrats on your first big league win. Still waiting on mine.

Cracker OUT.

From: kason.gabbard@redsox.com
Subject: Re: Way 2 go!
Date: September 6, 2006 7:43:25 AM EDT
To: david.pauley@pawsox.com

Yo, Crack-pipe.

Yeah, Papi knows who I am. Well, at least I think he does. He knows I’m not the batboy, at least.

When I tried to call Lowell “Grecian Formula,” it didn’t go over very well. You pulled a fast one over on me, didn’t you?

Hope your shoulder is doing better. Thankfully, Pap’s injury isn’t a labrum tear or anything. A transient subluxation event in the setting of a fatigued shoulder? I guess you have to think of something technical-sounding because the media just isn’t satisfied with “dead arm” any more. Damn internets.

I did get quite a few Ks, but the defense behind me was incredible. Not only did I strike out Rhode Island’s own Paul Konerko (he actually gets some cheers because he’s from the area), but I got him to ground into a double play to end the fourth.

Then there was that crazy twin killing in the sixth. Crede lined out to Lowell and then fired to Youk to double off Iguchi. Did I ever need that with a runner on third because of my wild pitch.

I wish the fans would get off Coco’s case. The one run we scored last night was because of his single in the fourth. Trot looks like he’s getting things together at the plate. He just missed a home run on that double off the wall.

Okay, so I was a little worried with Timlin going two innings, especially when he faced Thome for the final out. But then again, he’s forgotten more about baseball than we know now. It’s just that he forgets it at inconvenient times.

Anyways, looking forward to going over my start with Coach Wallace later this morning. I’m beginning to feel like I’m part of the crew. Did you hear how Coach Mills called me “Gabby”? It’s not cool like “K-Man” (no one here seems to want to call me that), but it’s a start.


September 5, 2006


Game 138: September 4, 2006
White Sox (79-58), 2
Red Sox (74-64), 3
H: Mike MacDougal (7)
H: Matt Thornton (16)
BS: Bobby Jenks (3)
L: Brandon McCarthy (3-6)
W: Mike Timlin (6-4)
10 innings

Thanks to Jere of A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory, I had the pleasure of witnessing Julian Tavarez’s six and a third innings of one-run ball in person. Had I not been there, I probably wouldn’t have believed it myself. I wanted to yell at the madly gesticulating pitcher, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Julian Tavarez?”

It was an evening of welcomes even before the first pitch. Jere introduced me to Cyn of Red Sox Chick and The Triumphant Red Sox Fan, who, along with two of their friends, happened to be next to us in line in front of Gate A. They are extraordinary fans; following this team is like being in a support group that one doesn’t feel embarrassed to be a part of. They had just been to the Build-A-Bear Workshop to get stuffed animals decked out in Red Sox gear, which is something I did myself to commemorate 2004. (His name is William and he was born on October 27th.)

Cyn was handing out fliers for Jon Lester Day. If you are going to the game on Sunday, September 10th, please wear a Lester shirt or bring a sign in support of the lefty pitcher. She and the other Sox Sistahs will also collecting donations for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, so see their site for more details. I’ll be there in the pavilion standing room area proudly bearing a sign for the rookie pitcher.

David Ortiz took batting practice and looked to be healthy as ever. Of course, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, and Trot Nixon all returned to the lineup last night. Both Varitek and Ramirez were intentionally walked, and Bobby Jenks pitched so tentatively to Boston’s left fielder in the ninth it might as well have been an intentional walk. Collectively, the returning players went two for eight.

Curt Schilling was honored for reaching 3,000 strikeouts in the pre-game program. Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan all taped congratulatory messages that were played on the Jumbotron. A banner displaying the names of the 14 players that have attained this milestone was unfurled on the wall.

Perhaps seeing those hallowed names inspired both Tavarez and Jon Garland transcend their usual level of play. Tavarez in particular was geared up. Until the seventh inning, he had no fly balls. The infield defense worked in rhythm to Tavarez’s gestures, like a symphony following their conductor, turning three double plays in the course of the evening.

Garland wouldn’t give up a run until the sixth inning. Kevin Youkilis and Mark Loretta singled to begin the frame, but the latter was effaced by Eric Hinske’s grounding into a 4-6-3 double play. With first base open, Ozzie Guillen called for the four-finger salute to Ramirez. Nixon, feeling disrespected by the stratagem, singled down the right field line to plate his fellow fielder on the right side.

The only run Tavarez yielded was a blast over the wall off the bat of Jim Thome in the seventh. The arc of the game-tying roundtripper looked more akin to a Wily Mo Peña shot than a left-handed player’s homer to the opposite field.

Paul Konerko followed Thome’s hit with a double, prompting Terry Francona to pull his spot starter. Tavarez was warmly applauded as he exited the field. Manny Delcarmen put away A.J. Pierzynski on a ground ball to first but couldn’t shelve Joe Crede, who singled in the go-ahead run.

The Red Sox scraped back in the bottom of the ninth. Ramirez was walked by Jenks, who treated the slugger like a bear coming out of hibernation, to lead off the inning. Mike Lowell tied the game with his RBI double. There were chants of “We want Papi” when Gabe Kapler’s spot came up, but Alex Cora pinch hit instead.

Javier Lopez and Mike Timlin held the lead for their team in the ninth and tenth innings respectively, although Lopez did walk the leadoff batter and Timlin allowed a fly ball out deep to center, which is something that never used to happen.

This set the stage for local boy Carlos Peña in the bottom of the tenth. As he had come through in the Futures at Fenway game to hit the game-winning home run, the Haverhill native launched a walk-off home run into the seats just beyond Pesky Pole. In June, Peña had signed a minor league deal with the Yankees and was trapped in a Triple-A malaise. And now, he is on the team of his childhood fantasies and is rekindling the dreams of Red Sox fans everywhere.

Note: I would have posted pictures of all these festivities had my computer’s hard drive not died last night. Boo, technology. Hooray, malternative.*

*Since I can’t drink alcohol.**

**Except for Lindemans Framboise Lambic Ale.

September 4, 2006


Game 137: September 3, 2006
Blue Jays (71-66), 6
Red Sox (73-64), 1
W: Gustavo Chacin (7-3)
L: Josh Beckett (14-10)

Alex Gonzalez returned to his spot in the short field and went 0-for-3. His lack of offense characterized most of the rest of the lineup, however. Only Mike Lowell and Wily Mo Peña (who also returned from a spell on the disabled list) managed extra base hits, although Lowell was thrown out after he tried to stretch his ninth-inning double into a triple. Peña’s double was also in the last inning and put him in to position to score his team’s only run of the game on Doug Mirabelli’s single to short.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mirabelli’s hit came on a grounder to John McDonald, who had difficulty handling the ball because of the sodden condition of the infield.

Thanks to the rain, Gabe Kapler was able to bunt in the second inning for Boston’s first hit of the game. Kapler’s attempt seemed to have too much force at first, but the ball died on the soggy turf, fooling third baseman John Hattig and allowing the Red Sox outfielder to leg out a single.

The humidity may have also dampened the Blue Jays’ offense; Toronto’s hitters launched more doubles off Josh Beckett than home runs. The rain delay impacted how many pitches Beckett could throw since he had to warm up twice, but the starter didn’t duplicate the dominating effort he put forth in his previous start, lasting five innings with five hits, three earned runs, two balls, three strikeouts, and a leadoff solo shot to Kevin Barker in the fourth.

One pattern I have noticed is that Beckett seems to pitch poorly with men on base. Comparing Beckett with Curt Schilling, it is notable that Beckett does markably worse with runners on base. Perhaps Schilling and Dave Wallace need to work with Beckett on pitching from stretch. Some video work might be necessary to see if the young ace-in-the-making either needs to improve his mechanics or if hitters are getting a read on him from the stretch.

None On
421 32 100 29 81 .238 .295 .428
With Runners On 231 71 60 35 54 .260 .360 .506
None On
475 34 134 9 101 .282 .298 .472
With Runners On 274 54 73 15 70 .266 .300 .460

September 3, 2006


Game 136: September 2, 2006
Blue Jays (70-66), 5
Red Sox (73-63), 1
W: A.J. Burnett (7-6)
L: Kevin Jarvis (0-2)

Yesterday’s game was the second Royal Rooters outing of the season. Other than being happy to see each other, it was more like a support group for a debilitating addiction. One of Rooters lives in the Caribbean and reluctantly bought tickets for the Friday night’s game.

“I didn’t want to,” she said, “but it was like a compulsion. I found a guy that had field box seats for face value.”

One positive aspect of the Red Sox’s descent in the standings is that ticket scalpers have been forced to sell their wares at the advertised price.

Another potentially uplifting perspective is giving September call-ups the opportunity to shine. Two players made their Red Sox debut, Kevin Jarvis and David Murphy. The debut of the latter, Theo Epstein’s first draft pick, was obviously more anticipated than the former.

David Murphy started in right field and batted ninth in the order. He singled to center in his first major league at bat to break up A.J. Burnett’s no-hitter with one out in the third. In subsequent apperances he struck out and grounded out.

The Red Sox traded a player to be named later to acquire Jarvis from the Diamondbacks. Jarvis replaced the roster spot left vacant by Jon Lester, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list because of his recent diagnosis of cancer. With his start for Red Sox, the twelve-year veteran has played for 11 teams.

Jarvis pitched as you would suspect someone of his caliber would: he lasted five innings with seven hits, three runs (two earned), two walks, and three strikeouts.

Kyle Snyder autographed items before heading to the dugout. Less than half of the kids getting souvenirs signed said “Thank you.” Terrible job, children.

Continue reading “Uprooted” »

September 2, 2006


Game 135: September 1, 2006
Blue Jays (69-66), 1
Red Sox (73-62), 2
L: Ted Lilly (11-12)
W: Kyle Snyder (4-3)
H: Keith Foulke (10)
H: Jonathan Papelbon (1)
H: Craig Breslow (1)
S: Mike Timlin (3)

I just can’t wrap my head around yesterday’s events. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the worst of times. There was no “best,” as a win in game, in comparison to a person’s life, is insignificant.

The Lester family confirmed that Jon was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). The American Cancer Society says,

Response rates are high, and results are excellent, especially with ALK-positive (anaplastic lymphoma kinase positive) cases. ALK is a type of protein which generally indicates a good prognosis with this subtype of lymphoma.

Since the media has presented Lester’s disease as “treatable,” it is probably safe to assume his ALCL is ALK positive (ALK+). “Anaplastic” refers to the cancer cell’s lack of function; “lymphomas” are a class of cancers that begin in the immune system and attack the lymphatic system; and “kinase” is a specific enzyme that catalyzes cell development. In the case of ALK, the cells produced are malignant. Fortunately, there are a multitude of treatment options and long-term survival is around 90%.

Another ailing player received good news: David Ortiz’s tests did not indicate anything was amiss with his heart. He will be wearing a heart monitor for the next few days to confirm his baseline heart characteristics, and may wear one while at the park.

To add to the injury woes, Jonathan Papelbon had to be pulled from the game last night. He entered the ninth and pitched into a jam, allowing two singles while inducing one ground out. The closer attempted a pickoff to second that bounced into center for his first error of the season. On his next pitch to Lyle Overbay, Papelbon came off the mound shaking his pitching arm. He then grabbed at his shoulder. So far the Red Sox medical team believe it to be a fatigue issue.

Craig Breslow finished off the showdown with Overbay, striking out first baseman for the second out of the ninth.

The goat (or hero, to Red Sox fans) of Thursday night’s game Alex Rios, faced Mike Timlin and tapped a grounder to short that was slow enough for the outfielder to reach first. Vernon Wells crossed home for the first, but only, Blue Jays run of the evening.

Bengie Molina routinely grounded to Alex Cora for the final out of the game, but the Toronto backstop was part of a more memorable moment in the eighth inning. Keith Foulke began the inning inauspiciously with consecutive line drive singles. Kevin Barker pinch hit for John McDonald and arced a line drive that seemed deep enough to advance Molina, who was camped out at second.

But Gabe Kapler threw accurately to cutoff man Cora, who in turn slung a strike to Mike Lowell to tag bustling Bengie.

Offensively, Lowell has been one of the only producers during this series. In the second inning he homered into the first row of the Monster seats. With Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Wily Mo Peña out of the lineup, the third baseman seems to have ratcheted up his double stroke just enough to clear the wall.

The only other run came in the fifth inning. Eric Hinske propelled a two-out double to center and advanced on a wild pitch. Ted Lilly was out of sorts, enough so that he walked Kapler and balked with Coco Crisp at the dish. There was no incident when John Gibbons yanked Lilly in the seventh after the latter walked Kapler for the second time.

Two runs were enough for Kyle Snyder, who had a career outing. In his seven innings of work, he allowed two hits and bases on balls and struck out eight. With David Wells gone, Snyder may have the best curve on the team. He looks like a bigger Bronson Arroyo, and if given the chance he could duplicate Arroyo’s emergence as a steady three or four starter for a few seasons. I’d say he’s worth a re-sign.

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