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Home » Monthly Archive » October 2009

October 12, 2009


ALDS Game 3: October 11, 2009
WinAngels 7
W: Darren Oliver (1-0)
S: Brian Fuentes (2)
Red Sox 6
H: Daniel Bard (1)
H: Billy Wagner (1)
BS, L: Jonathan Papelbon (1, 0-1)
Highlight: Despite cruising at an altitude of 39,000 feet I was able to experience most of this game thanks to Frontier Airlines and DIRECTV. The lower the plane got the less faith I had in the Red Sox winning the game.

Watching the final game of the series in an Airbus A319 was a 180-degree turn from my Game 2 experience. There was no smoke, no inebriation, just the plane’s pristine interior shining in the dazzling sun.

The sun was as almost as bright at Fenway as it was above the cloud deck. I boarded the plane just in time to see J.D. Drew’s fourth-inning, two-run shot bounce off the post of the camera hut in dead center.

Were it Jon Lester’s or Josh Beckett’s start, a 5-1 score would seem safer. But this was Clay Buchholz’s playoff debut, and his hiccup in the sixth inning revealed his anxiety. Torii Hunter led off the inning with a double to left. Perturbed by the center fielder’s presence, Buchholz balked with Vladimir Guerrero in the box.

Guerrero’s awkward lop made his infield single deflected by Mike Lowell to Alex Gonzalez a close play at first, but it also froze Hunter at third. Remembering Kendry Morales’s fourth-inning solo shot, Buchholz pitched tentatively to the Angels outfielder, walking him in four pitches.

With the bases loaded and none out Daniel Bard took the mound. Just a few months ago Bard made his major league debut accompanied by Terry Francona’s admonition that the rookie wouldn’t appear in high-leverage situations.

But by the time the leaves began to turn color, Bard was ready to pitch in a crucial situation in the pivotal point of a do-or-die game. The Red Sox reliever started off Juan Rivera with a 99 MPH fastball that painted the inside of the strike zone. Bard fell behind 3-1 but then got Rivera to foul off another 99 MPH heater to tick the count full. Rivera impatiently swung at the sixth pitch and grounded into an RBI 5-4-3 double play.

The local nine would gladly exchange the run for two outs to render the score 5-2, for they have one of the best bullpens in the game. But any player, even a former elite closer and the current preeminent closer, can have a shaky outing or two.

Billy Wagner notched two outs in the eighth but also allowed a leadoff double to Bobby Abreu and a walk to Guerrero. Jonathan Papelbon toed the rubber with runners at the corners, two outs, and Rivera ready to take his hacks.

What kind of pitch does Papelbon usually serve here? Oh, he has both kinds. The kind that get hit and the kind that are balls.

My plane powered down just as Hunter was intentionally walked. I may have turned on my phone a few seconds before the FAA allows to ask my friend for game updates. I knew that Papelbon had blown the save as I shuffled down the aisle, through the jetway, and into the terminal to track down a television showing the game. Everyone was watching football in Brew City’s airport, so I called my friend for what would be a somber play-by-play of the final pitches of October in Fenway.

As the Red Sox went down in order we talked about how Victor Martinez was a splendid player but just didn’t have that superstar production that could carry the team into the Fall Classic. Such a player would be Mark Teixeira, and he is getting paid Monopoly money so that Daddy Warbucks can see another championship team in the waning days of his lucidity.


ALDS Game 2: October 9, 2009
Red Sox 1
L: Josh Beckett (0-1)
WinAngels 4
W: Jared Weaver (1-0)
H: Darren Oliver (1)
H: Kevin Jepsen (1)
S: Brian Fuentes (1)
Highlights: In Japanese the word for “four” (shi) is a homonym of the word “death.” The Angels scored four runs; the Red Sox had four hits.

I watched the game through a haze of cigarette smoke and alcohol, persuaded by my friend to go to a bar to watch the game rather than remain ensconced and alone at home. I was in a bar nowhere near New England, but there was one guy with a Red Sox cap on and another that was openly rooting for them.

There wasn’t much cheering going on, however.

The Red Sox didn’t hit very well on the road this season. At home the team batted .284, had .365 OBP, and slugged .498; on the road they combined for .257 batting average, .340 OBP, and .414 slugging.

Boston pitchers didn’t fare very well hurling in the bottom halves of innings, either. Opposing batters had .272 batting average, .346 OBP, and .433 slugging against visiting Red Sox pitchers; when at Fenway they only attained .362 batting average, .324 OBP, and .411 slugging. While the ERA was highly discrepant (4.07 at home versus 4.64 away) and WHIP slightly different (1.351 home compared to 1.467 away), Red Sox arms had slightly better strikeout per nine innings on the road (8.0) than in Boston (7.4).

The combination of poor batting and less effective pitching outside of Fenway made the possibility of victory in Anaheim unlikely. My friend and I sang karaoke while our team’s championship chances faded away. He was on stage singing Cheap Trick’s Surrender when nine-hole hitter Erik Aybar tripled to center field to plate two runs.

Whatever happened to all this season’s
Losers of the year
Every time I got to thinking
Where’d they disappear

October 9, 2009


ALDS Game 1: October 8, 2009
Red Sox 0
L: Jon Lester (0-1)
WinAngels 5
W: John Lackey (1-0)
Highlights: Having Don Orsillo as play-by-play man is almost like having a postseason game on NESN. Buck Martinez spoiled the effect by sprinkling in imperceptive comments here and there. Too bad Dennis Eckersley is chained to the studio desk by TBS, it could have been a complete takeover by a regional sports network.

C.B. Bucknor is an umpire I have singled out in the past for his poor performance:

  • On my birthday (May 23) two years ago Bucknor presided over a Red Sox/Yankees game with Curt Schilling and Andy Pettitte starting. Bucknor’s strike zone judgment was notably inconsistent in the 8-3 Yankees victory.
  • He was home plate umpire in another Red Sox defeat, this one a 6-5 loss to the Orioles on August 11, 2007. Erik Bedard was openly scornful of Bucknor’s strike zone.
  • In the course of a 9-8 loss to the Orioles on August 31, 2007, Bucknor was hit in a sensitive part of the male anatomy. He seemed to have done a competent job in umpiring this game; it was just amusing for me to reminisce about his pain.

Curt Schilling posted about Bucknor and Greg Gibson in his blog, opining that you can tell the bad umpires from two characteristics: 1) they are consistently in conflict with coaches and players and 2) both hitters and pitchers complain about the strike zone.

Not that we need Schilling to tell us that Bucknor is visually impaired; just look at this picture by the Boston Globe's Jim Davis of Howie Kendrick clearly out at first to lead off the sixth inning. Had Jacoby Ellsbury not made a spectacular diving catch of Chone Figgins’s fly ball to the right-center the missed call would have cost the Red Sox a run.

Kendrick reached first on another blown call at first with two out in the fourth. Alex Gonzalez’s throw sliced away from Kevin Youkilis, forcing the first baseman to swipe tag Kendrick in the torso instead of toeing the sack. Replays showed that Youkilis tagged Kendrick before the runner reached the bag. Jon Lester had to get an extra out that inning, throwing six pitches to strike out Jeff Mathis.

If Lester didn’t have to throw those half-dozen pitches, perhaps he would have had more velocity or better location on the fastball he threw to Torii Hunter in the fifth that ended up in the faux naturescape (naturefake?) past the center field fences.

John Lackey dominated Boston batters, limiting them to a mere four singles (Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, J.D. Drew, and Alex Gonzalez) and a walk (Victor Martinez) while striking out four. Former Ranger, Cardinal, Red Sox, Rockie, Marlin, Astro, and Met lefty Darren Oliver pitched a flawless 1⅔ innings to shutout the visiting team.

Oliver’s line stands in stark contract to Ramon Ramirez, who made his postseason debut and didn’t tally an out. He loaded the bases by walking Bobby Abreu (his fourth of the evening, tying the division series record), hitting Hunter with a pitch, and allowing Vladimir Guerrero to single with a comebacker to the mound.

Takashi Saito nearly salvaged the inning by inducing a 5-2-5 double play off the bat of Juan Rivera; the second leg of the twin killing was aided by third base umpire Gibson erroneously ruling that Mike Lowell tagged Hunter at third. But breakout first baseman Kendry Morales dropped a two-RBI single to left that should have have only plated one run but for Bay’s errant throw and Saito’s failure to cover third.

“I’m going to Disneyland!” is reserved for winners. Time for the Red Sox batters to return from vacation and get some runs (and hopefully wins).

October 7, 2009

2009 Retrospective

Continuing with the rest of the season, I list the highs and lows of the 2009 Red Sox. It is almost uncanny how Brad Penny’s success coincided with the uncertainty around John Smoltz such that the front office couldn’t capitalize on Penny’s value at its apex.


  • 2nd: A squirrel steals the show in a game between the Red Sox and Tigers at Comerica Park. Boston defeats Detroit 5-1.
    Mark Kotsay comes off the disabled list. He plays in the last two games against the Tigers but goes hitless until June 7.
  • 3rd: Josh Beckett carries a no-hitter for 6⅔ innings. Curtis Granderson broke up the bid with a line drive single to right.
  • 6th: Jon Lester’s perfect game is broken up by Michael Young’s double to the left-center gap in the seventh with one out. Lester notched a complete game: 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 11 strikeouts.
  • 8th: David Ortiz, in the midst of a prolonged slump, goes to an eye doctor and is prescribed eye drops.
    Jacoby Ellsbury is day-to-day with a strain to his right acromioclavicular joint. Rocco Baldelli and Kotsay play Rock, Paper, Scissors to figure out which positions they will play, but Terry Francona had already decided that Kotsay would play center.
  • 9th: The Red Sox draft 50 players in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, including Carl Yaztrzemski’s grandson Michael. Center fielder Reymond Fuentes is the club’s first round pick.
  • 11th: The Red Sox sweep the Yankees in a three-game series and take first in the AL East.
    Joe Girardi whinges about Brad Penny’s plunking of Alex Rodriguez in the first inning.
  • 21st: Daisuke Matsuzaka placed on the disabled list for the second time this season, this time due to weakness in his throwing arm. Catcher Dusty Brown replaces Matsuzaka on the roster. The starter had an ERA of 8.23 and WHIP of 2.20 in 35 innings pitched.
  • 24th: Ortiz had 999 RBIs going into the game against the Nationals and surpassed the 1,000 RBI mark with a three-run homer.
    Hitting coach Dave Magadan serves a one-game suspension for arguing balls and strikes.
  • 25th: In his Red Sox debut John Smoltz compiles a line of 5 innings pitched, 7 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts. Boston would lose to the Nationals 9-3.
  • 27th: Mike Lowell has 15 cc of fluid drained from his right hip and Synvisc injected to cushion the joint.


  • 1st: In a game against the Orioles Jonathan Papelbon surpasses Bob Stanley’s Red Sox saves record with 133.
    First-round pick Fuentes signs with the Red Sox. Of the 50 players drafted, 26 of them would sign with Boston.
  • 2nd: Jason Bay becomes a citizen of the United States.
  • 3rd: Tim Wakefield makes his 383rd start with the Red Sox, surpassing Roger Clemens’s total as a Red Sox player.
  • 5th: Wakefield selected for his first All-Star Game by Rays manager Joe Maddon. He is joined by Dustin Pedroia, Bay, Beckett, Papelbon, and Kevin Youkilis.
  • 6th: Smoltz makes his Fenway debut and gets shelled: 6 innings pitched, 10 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeout.
    Nomar Garciaparra returns to Fenway for the first time since being traded in 2004. In his first at bat the crowd gives him a standing ovation and he tips his helmet in response.
  • 9th: Ortiz slams 300th career home run off Luke Hochevar of the Royals.
  • 12th: Beckett notches 100th career win and secures a series win against Kansas City.
    The Red Sox go into the All-Star break leading the American League East.
  • 17th: Julio Lugo Liberation Day
    Bay and Red Sox mutually agree to stop contract extension discussions.
  • 18th: Jed Lowrie returns to major league club.
  • 21st: Wakefield placed on 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 18. He is replaced by Clay Buchholz.
  • 22nd: Lugo traded to the Cardinals for Chris Duncan.
    Adam LaRoche traded to the Red Sox from the Pirates for Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland.
    Red Sox fall out of first place with loss to the Rangers.
  • 24th: Kotsay designated for assignment to make room for LaRoche.
  • 26th: Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson are inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
    Taeko Yoshii publishes an article in which Matsuzaka criticizes the Red Sox pitching program.
  • 28th: Rice’s number 14 is retired.
    Kotsay traded to the White Sox for Brian Anderson.
  • 30th: Matsuzaka issues a statement retracting comments attributed to him in Yoshii’s article.
    Ortiz also makes a statement; his is about being named in the 2003 list of players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
  • 31st: Victor Martinez acquired from the Indians for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price.
    LaRoche traded to the Braves for Casey Kotchman.


  • 7th: One day after a disastrous 3⅓ innings against the Yankees with a line of 9 hits, 8 earned runs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, and 2 home runs, Smoltz is designated for assignment. Junichi Tazawa takes Smoltz’s place on the roster.
  • 8th: Ortiz holds a press conference to address the leaking of his name on the 2003 survey list.
    Yankees complete sweep of Red Sox at the new Yankee Stadium.
  • 10th: Martinez makes his Fenway Park debut and goes 0-for-5 with a strikeout against the Tigers.
  • 12th: Youkilis begins five-day suspension, which was incurred when he charged Rick Porcello on August 11.
  • 14th: Alex Gonzalez is traded from the Reds in a waiver trade. The Red Sox send Kris Negron to Cincinnati to complete the deal.
    Going into the final frame Boston trailed Texas by two runs. The Red Sox rally for six runs to defeat the Rangers. Francona learns not to send in Buchholz as a pinch runner.
  • 17th: Smoltz is released by the Red Sox.
  • 18th: Dylan Pedroia is born to Dustin and Kelli, weighing in at 7 pounds and measuring 20½ inches.
  • 19th: Red Sox and Rangers are tied for the Wild Card.
  • 20th: Duncan released from the Pawtucket Red Sox.
  • 21st: Remy returns to the broadcast booth for NESN.
    In a game against the Yankees, Ellsbury ties Red Sox single-season steals record of 54 set by Tommy Harper in 1973.
  • 22nd: Red Sox claim Billy Wagner off waivers.
  • 25th: Wagner waived his no-trade clause and the Mets traded him to Boston for two players to be named later.
    Ellsbury breaks the Boston franchise record for steals in a season in a game against the White Sox.
  • 26th: Martinez catches Wakefield for the first time. Wakefield doesn’t earn the win because the game went into the final inning tied 2-2. Ortiz homered for the walk-off victory.
  • 27th: Nick Green pitches 2 innings of no-hit relief with 3 walks against the Pale Hose.
  • 30th: Paul Byrd makes his first start of 2009 against the Blue Jays. He twirls for 6 innings and allows just 3 hits and 3 walks and strikes out a batter.
    Tazawa is optioned to Pawtucket.


  • 1st: Rosters expand and the Red Sox add Tazawa, Brian Anderson, Joey Gathright, George Kottaras, and Chris Woodward.
  • 3rd: Papelbon fined $5,000 for pace of game violation.
  • 4th: Michael Bowden recalled to major league club.
  • 8th: Dusty Brown recalled to Boston and Lowrie activated from disabled list.
    Ortiz ties Frank Thomas’s record of 269 home runs hit as a DH.
  • 15th: Matsuzaka pitches for 6 innings against the Angels and earns his second win of the season. His line is 3 hits, no earned runs, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts.
    Ortiz breaks the record for homers hit as a designated hitter with an eight-inning blast off Angels reliever Jose Arredondo.
  • 18th: Red Sox rookies dress as characters from The Wizard of Oz as part of their initiation.
  • 21st: Tazawa placed on 60-day disabled list with left groin strain.
  • 23rd: Hunter Jones promoted for bullpen insurance.
  • 27th: Yankees wrap up a three-game series sweep in the Bronx, the final series between the two combatants.
  • 30th: Dusty Brown makes an appearance as a relief pitcher against the Blue Jays (1 inning pitched, 2 hits, 1 earned run, no walks, 1 strikeout). The Red Sox use three position players over the 2009 season, setting a club record.
    The Red Sox clinch the American League Wild Card by virtue of the Rangers’ loss to the Angels.


  • 4th: Francona announces that Lester will start the first game of the ALDS against the Angels. Wakefield is not on the roster.
  • 8th: The Red Sox must announce their ALDS roster by 10 AM today.

I watched the tiebreak game between the Twins and Tigers. In his post-game interview Orlando Cabrera said that this game was the most exciting game he’s ever played in. Apparently Cabrera’s memory doesn’t go back more than five years.

The Red Sox and Yankees seem to be on another collision course to meet in the ALCS. Please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins.

October 6, 2009


Game 162: October 4, 2009
L: Tomo Ohka (1-5)
65-97, 5 game losing streak
WinRed Sox12
W: Michael Bowden (1-1)
95-67, 4 game winning streak
Highlights: Bowden, he of the bizarre delivery, attained his first major league win in 2009 in the last game of the regular season. He entered the game after Ramon Ramirez took over following Clay Buchholz’s disastrous five-run third inning. Boston countered with five runs in the sixth inning: Jed Lowrie lofted his first grand slam in the majors and J.D. Drew launched his second homer of the game. In his six seasons as Red Sox field manager Terry Francona has a record of 95 wins or better five times.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been.” This line from the Grateful Dead song “Truckin’” is overused by a portly ESPN anchor, but it is an appropriate sentiment for 2009.


  • 8th: Rocco Baldelli inked $500,000 one-year contract. He wears 5, the first player to do so since Nomar Garciaparra.
  • 9th: Brady Penny deal ($5M for one year with $3M in incentives) officially announced.
    Mark Kotsay re-signed to a one-year $1.5M contract.
  • 10th: Takashi Saito signed for $1.5M with performance and roster bonuses.
  • 12th: Jim Rice voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility.
  • 13th: John Smoltz and Red Sox reach agreement for a one-year deal.
  • 16th: Kevin Youkilis inked a four-year, $41.25M contract.
  • 20th: Jonathan Papelbon and Javier Lopez signed one-year deals to avoid arbitration.
  • 22nd: 100-year old Bill Werber, the oldest living major leaguer, passed away. He was a teammate and opponent of Babe Ruth. Disgusted by the likes of Johnny Damon he didn’t watch baseball in recent years. “They’re a grubby-looking bunch of caterwaulers,” he said.
  • 30th: Jason Varitek signed a one-year, $5M deal with 2010 mutual option.


  • 8th: Nineteen non-roster invitees announced. Of these players, Daniel Bard, Nick Green, and Josh Reddick end up making significant contributions to the Red Sox.
  • 16th: David Ortiz endorsed year-long ban for players testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.


  • 1st: Jason Bay, Javier Lopez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz depart Spring Training for the World Baseball Classic.
  • 15th: Jon Lester’s five-year, $30M extension announced as official.
    Red Sox terminate negotiations with Jason Bay regarding a contract extension.
    Pedroia removed from Team USA roster due to abdominal strain.
  • 18th: Youkilis exited World Baseball Classic due to Achilles tendinitis.
    Josh Bard released.
  • 19th: George Kottaras tapped as Tim Wakefield’s catcher.
  • 23rd: Curt Schilling announced retirement from baseball.
  • 24th: Daisuke Matsuzaka named World Baseball Classic Most Valuable Player for the second time. He has garnered this honor in both tournaments played.


  • 5th: Final 25 man roster announced. Four players would not remain with the big league club: Javier Lopez and Chris Carter would eventually be designated for assignment, Brad Penny released, and Justin Masterson was traded.
  • 6th: Opening Day at Fenway postponed for a day due to rain.
  • 7th: Ted Kennedy throws the first pitch to Jim Rice.
  • 12th: Josh Beckett pitched high and tight to Bobby Abreu. Benches cleared and umpires ejected Angels players Torii Hunter and Justin Speier and Anaheim coaches Mike Scioscia and Mickey Hatcher. Beckett was punished by a six-game suspension. He appealed the suspension and had it shortened to five days.
    Jed Lowrie placed on 15-day disabled list with a left wrist sprain and Gil Velazquez is called up to replace him.
  • 15th: Matsuzaka placed on 15-day disabled list due to arm fatigue.
    Wakefield came within five outs of a no-hitter against the Athletics.
  • 17th: Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first African-American on the Boston Red Sox, threw out first pitch.
  • 21st: Lowrie undergoes wrist surgery.
    A strained left hamstring put Baldelli on the 15-day disabled list.
  • 23rd: Kason Gabbard returned to Red Sox from the Rangers for cash considerations.
  • 24th: Jonathan Van Every called up to back up the outfield.
  • 26th: Red Sox complete three-game series sweep of the Yankees at Fenway.
  • 30th: Van Every makes his major league pitching debut: two-third of an inning pitched, 1 hit, no earned runs, 1 walk, no strikeouts.


  • 5th: Red Sox complete two-game sweep of Yankees in the Bronx.
  • 6th: Jerry Remy takes leave of absence to recover from lung cancer.
  • 7th: Boston score 12 runs without an out against Cleveland, setting an American League record and tying the National League mark.
  • 8th: Dom DiMaggio passes away at age 92.
  • 12th: Youkilis placed on 15-day disabled list retroactively to May 5 with an oblique strain.
  • 13th: Daniel Bard makes major league debut against the Angels: two innings pitched, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout.
  • 21st: Jacoby Ellsbury ties major league single-game putout record with 12; the final putout was the last out of the game.
  • 23rd: First use of umpire review at Fenway confirms Mets catcher Omir Santos’s home run.
  • 27th: Boston tied modern-day record of six wild pitches in a single game in a loss to the Twins. Matsuzaka had four; Manny Delcarmen and Masterson had one apiece.
  • 28th: Terry Francona attended to by emergency medical personnel after being ejected in the seventh inning in a game at the Metrodome. The 50-year old did not require any further treatment.

June through October to follow.

October 5, 2009


Game 161: October 3, 2009
L: Aaron Laffey (7-9)
65-96, 4 game losing streak
WinRed Sox11
W: Josh Beckett (17-6)
94-67, 3 game winning streak
Highlights: Beckett allowed four runs but none were by way of the longball. Cleveland is middle of the pack for team home runs, tied for 14th with the Cubs with 161 dingers, so it’s not a completely puny team.

Commentators always say that managers would prefer that their pitchers give up grand slams than bases-loaded walks. When asked if he shared this opinion regarding the second-inning grand slam relinquished to former Indians catcher Victor Martinez, Eric Wedge said that he typically goes with a 3-iron instead of a 5-wood on drives of about 200 yards. He then quickly retracted his statement and said that since Carlos Carrasco was a young pitcher he could rebound from such a setback.

When Wedge was informed that it was Aaron Laffey that surrendered the four-run circuit clout, the Cleveland skipper shrugged and continued to work on his sudoku.

Martinez’s homer came two balls after he had popped a ball foul to the top of the Red Sox dugout stairs. Former Braves prospect and Red Sox jetsam Andy Marte gloved it but didn’t cover it with his free hand for fear of losing his balance and toppling down the steps. The opposite field shot broke the 4-4 tie and capped off the seven-run rally in the bottom of the second.

One wouldn’t think a meaningless eighth-inning homer to render the score 11-6 would engender a curtain call, but that is exactly what happened when Dusty Brown knocked Mike Gosling’s 1-0 change-up into the Monster seats. Terry Francona couldn’t or perhaps wouldn’t give him the silent treatment; the manager waited on the dugout steps to congratulate the longtime farmhand.

Brown’s teammates desperately tried to stifle their excitement, looking anywhere but at his beaming face. After just a few seconds they broke the quiet and gathered around the exultant Brown. Those fans who stayed despite the score called the backstop out of the dugout for curtain call eight years in the making.

There are few times when a game-winning granny is overshadowed by a late inning tack-on shot; last night was one of those times.

October 3, 2009

Zenerarumanējā [ゼネラルマネージャー]

Game 160: October 2, 2009
L: Carlos Carrasco (0-4)
65-95, 3 game losing streak
WinRed Sox6
W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (4-6)
H: Billy Wagner (6)
H: Ramon Ramirez (12)
93-67, 2 game winning streak
Highlights: The Japanese borrowed the English term “general manager” and use it to describe their Theo Epsteins and Dave Dombrowskis. Usually they abbreviate it as “GM,” using the Roman majuscules as we do. Two MLB general managers were recently fired: Kevin Towers (formerly of the Padres) and J.P. Ricciardi (Toronto as of late).

If Rogers Communications, the corporation that owns the Blue Jays, have smart leadership they would hire Kevin Towers. Similarly, if the Padres wanted to reinvigorate their franchise they would nab Kim Ng.

The San Diego club was dumb enough to axe one of the most talented baseball executives in the majors in Towers even though he followed former owner John Moores’s directives to slash payroll because of his rancorous divorce. Moores had to sell his stake in the team to Jeff Moorad because of the marital split. It seems unlikely that the Moorad Group would risk further controversy by hiring the first female general manager in history.

Theo Epstein’s hiring was somewhat controversial because he was the youngest person hired for such a position at the time. Two world championships later it seems silly to think that his age was ever a factor; hopefully the same will be true for Ng.

Another stanza in the epic of Daisuke Matsuzaka was written and it was more pleasant than previous strophes. The starter’s line (6 innings pitched, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts) was respectable, but this was against a team that has virtually nothing to play for. The Angels, inspired by the memory of Nick Adenhart, will not be such pushovers.

Alex Gonzalez was hit by a pitch by Jeremy Sowers in the third and Kerry Wood finished the shortstop off in the eighth. The 93 MPH fastball struck Gonzalez’s right wrist, the force from the pitch as strong as the punch in the stomach felt by Red Sox fans seeing the impact. Radiographs came back negative, ensuring that Boston’s bottom of the order spark plug and defensive wiz will be able to make the playoffs.


Game 159: October 1, 2009
L: Carlos Carrasco (0-4)
65-94, 2 game losing streak
WinRed Sox3
W: Jon Lester (15-8)
H: Daniel Bard (13)
H: Billy Wagner (5)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (38)
92-67, 1 game winning streak
Highlights: A win, a very palpable win. MLB.com now has a Game Pulse section on its Gameday Wrap tab which tracks the amount of Twitter traffic tagged with #redsox and #indians.

Eric Wedge tweets from the Cleveland dugout:

@terryfrancona do u need new bench coach if Millsy takes my job? Call me.

@AmalieBenjamin any word on openings with Os or Stros?

I def won’t miss visitors clubhouse at Fenway--so small

Always glaze over when the umps tell me the ground rules here, esp Randa“zzz”o

Damn Ellsbury is fast, just looked down to check email and suddenly he’s on third

Shoulda had Carlos join the club and plunk Youk

Marte Mota & Shoppach for Crisp, Bard the catcher & Riske then Crisp flipped for Ramirez. Advantage: Push

@MShapiroIndiansGM Masterson Hagadone & Price for VMart. Advantage: Theo (yeah, I said it!)

Another VMart extra base hit... and it’s me that gets canned and not Shapiro for trading him

How did Papi get around on that? And Youk was safe at third? #FML

Jon Lester is throwing a no-hitter! #redsox #jinx

@MikeBrewCrewBrantley nice hit, thx! but you still haven’t changed your twitter handle?

@lonniesoloff wtf how bad is Carlos’ knee? One more thing to get blamed for.

@JensenLewisNotClueless That was nails, nice getting out of 4th w/o a run!!!

@MShapiroIndiansGM Do you know a tow truck service that can get this bus off my back?

Terry Fracona’s tweets:


October 1, 2009


Game 158: September 30, 2009
WinBlue Jays
W: Roy Halladay (17-10)
75-84, 6 game winning streak
Red Sox0
L: Tim Wakefield (11-5)
91-67, 6 game losing streak
Highlights: Only Rocco Baldelli (seventh frame) and Joey Gathright (sixth inning to break up the no-hitter and a two-out hit in the eighth) collected hits off Halladay and all three of them were singles. Maybe the rest of the Boston batters were a little tuckered out from their well-deserved post-clinch revelry. Dusty Brown moreso than the others; he became the third position player this season to take the mound, joining Jonathan Van Every and Nick Green and setting a team record for non-pitchers toeing the rubber. While Boston had to resort to desperate measures the Blue Jays only had to rely on Halladay, who pitched his ninth complete game and fourth shutout.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In Tim Wakefield we see the twilight of such a day as after his knuckleball fades, a pitch that by and by injury and age does take away. All September Wakefield has not surrendered under four earned runs in an outing. The knuckleballer is a candidate to be left off the postseason roster, joining Manny Delcarmen.

I thought and hoped that Wakefield would last as long as Phil Niekro, but the 43-year old’s fire seems to have expired. The perpetual team option may not be exercised for 2010 and the only reliable knuckler will likely retire.

Although he’ll be back for benefits and charity events, to see Wakefield without a 49 jersey will be a poignant moment for the club, the man, and the fans.

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


Game 157: September 29, 2009
WinBlue Jays
W: Ricky Romero (13-9)
S: Jason Frasor (11)
74-84, 5 game winning streak
Red Sox7
L: Clay Buchholz (7-4)
91-66, 5 game losing streak
Highlights: For the second game in a row a Red Sox starter allowed four runs in the first. Buchholz lasted 5 innings, which was as long as Romero did but the former allowed 7 earned runs, including 5 home runs. While J.D. Drew had a timely homer in the eighth with two men on, most of the Red Sox bats were grounding into double plays. David Ortiz slapped the ball into the shift in the sixth for a 6-5-1 twin killing that featured Kevin Millar as the pivot man. He elevated about as high as Dustin Hoffman’s lifts make him tall.

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child!

O, that record could be better had the Red Sox played innings three through seven as they did the eighth. The new thing under the sun would be a Boston victory, not seen since September 24.

Show me their image in some antique book from those triumphant days of 2004 or 2007 that we might see what those former teams would say to this decomposed blunder of a game. The 2004 Red Sox clinched the Wild Card on September 27 in St. Petersburg with a 7-3 victory. In 2007 the champions-to-be memorably won the American League East title on September 28 by beating the Twins 5-2 and benefiting from the Orioles’ extra-innings defeat of the Yankees.

Whether we were defeated or whether our better angels led our way, the resolution be the same.

O, sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.


Game 156: September 28, 2009 ∙ 7 innings
WinBlue Jays
W: Scott Richmond (8-10)
73-84, 4 game winning streak
Red Sox5
L: Michael Bowden (0-1)
91-65, 4 game losing streak
Highlights: The Red Sox honored Johnny Pesky on his 90th birthday by having him throw out the first pitch. Instead of the typical off-target toss to home practiced by many a blood donor of the game, Pesky rolled the ball to Jason Varitek. If he said to the catcher, “Practice not letting the ball get by you” after that maneuver I would kiss him full on the lips.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark that watches games even when the opposing team scores four runs in the first inning and builds a six-run lead by the time the game is postponed due to weather.

It is a star like Kevin Youkilis homering twice to give the fans something to cheer about. David Ortiz’s worth at the beginning of the season was unknown, but when he went yard in the sixth he notched his 28th home run of the season, five more than last season.

Love’s not Time’s fool, but Baseball is Weather’s clod. Within the rain’s chill breadth did the game come, ending it in the seventh.

The Red Sox will alter not with this brief stretch of games but will play with equanimity, bearing out the season even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no fan ever loved.

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