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Home » Monthly Archive » July 2010

July 31, 2010

Frame Thy Fearful Symmetry

I had foreseen the inevitability of David Ortiz’s grand slam. The set-up was all too perfect: the score was 6-1 in favor of the visitors, an erratic closer walked three batters in succession, and the personification of clutch crouched in the box.

However, I had also envisaged the local nine coming up short in the bottom of the ninth. It was the story of 2010 writ small: inconsistent pitching allowing just enough runs so that the sputtering offense couldn’t overcome the deficit. To be sure there are individual flashes of brilliance like Ortiz’s grand slam, a number of near no-hitters and perfect games, and a treasure chest of defensive gems.

From the start of 2010 the team was never at full strength and yet they were within a stone’s throw of leading the AL East for most of the season. The losses of Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez to injury were almost contemporaneous with their team coming within a half-game of first place in the division. Since then the Red Sox have not been able to keep pace with the Yankees or Rays.

In an odd season one of the most bizarre plays unfolded in the first. Martinez dropped strike three to Ryan Raburn but the ball bounced back towards Jon Lester. The pitcher gathered the ball and threw to Kevin Youkilis for the final out of the inning. Youkilis also added another pitcher to his casualty list: Armando Galarraga was pulled in the fifth inning because the Red Sox first baseman’s comebacker struck the hurler on the right ankle. Consider it payback for all the times Youkilis was amongst the league leaders in hit by pitches.

Not just in the standings but in the trading arena has Boston trailed New York. The Yankees have acquired Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, and Kerry Wood. With the non-waiver deadline looming there have been no press releases out of 4 Yawkey Way.

There are rumblings of Manny Delcarmen needing a change of scenery and the pursuit of Joe Beimel and Sean Burnett, both southpaw relievers. Such transactions are like spackling over sizable cracks, fractures that might be late for even Pedroia to fix.

But better to stand pat than to reenact Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell.

Game 103: July 30, 2010
6W: Robbie Weinhardt (1-1)
2B: Will Rhymes (2)
HR: Jhonny Peralta – 2 (9)
Red Sox
5L: Jon Lester (11-6)
2B: Victor Martinez – 2 (22), Adrian Beltre (30)
HR: Marco Scutaro (7), David Ortiz (22)

July 29, 2010

California Dreaming

I’d be safe and warm... safe and secure, [largest mutual life insurance company’s name here]. Organ flourish.

As the Red Sox may not make the playoffs they might as well take out as many teams as they can as they play out the rest of the season. Going into this series the Angels had a half-game edge over Oakland and trailed Texas by seven games. Anaheim had just acquired Dan Haren and Kevin Youkilis disposed of him with a liner off the forearm. While Haren won’t have to make a trip to the disabled list, Boston severely hobbled the Angels’ chances taking over the AL West with the series sweep.

Mike Scioscia had to patch together a start with relief arms beginning with Scot Shields. The last time Shields was used as a starter was September 23, 2003, a seven-inning win. Seven years of relief pitching is no way to prepare for a sport start and Shields was chased from the game after a mere one and two-third innings of work.

The visitors feasted on the hodgepodge of hurlers; only Darnell McDonald and Jeremy Hermida didn’t get hits. Eric Patterson was a home run shy of the cycle and Marco Scutaro launched a grand slam in the eighth, which together is known as the Bengie Molina Combo. Scutaro’s homer shattered the 3-3 tie and all but annihilated the Angels’ chance to salvage a game.

The Red Sox lost when they should have won and won where it was presumed they would lose for a 7-7 record since the All-Star break. What could have been a Mondale turned out to be merely a Dukakis.

Game 102: July 28, 2010
WinRed Sox
7W: Josh Beckett (2-1)
2B: Eric Patterson (8)
3B: Eric Patterson (5)
HR: Adrian Beltre (17), Bill Hall (11), Kevin Youkilis (19), Marco Scutaro (6)
3L: Fernando Rodney (4-1)
2B: Mike Napoli (15), Reggie Willits (3), Alberto Callaspo (20)

July 28, 2010

Right Said Jed

He’s too sexy for Pawtucket. Since his return to the majors on July 21 Jed Lowrie has had hits in four out of six games and enjoyed his first multi-extra base hit game of the season last night. His first-inning double wasn’t converted into a run but his seventh-inning two-bagger put his team on the board and ahead of the home team.

With two men on and two out, Lowrie’s late inning hit sailed over Juan Rivera’s outstretched arm and bounced to the left field fences. Better defensive positioning or speed on Rivera’s part would have robbed the visitors of the runs, but the Angels clearly underestimated the returning infielder’s power stroke.

Jeremy Hermida may have taken a bribe from an Angels fan in the left fields stands to butcher his play on Hideki Matsui’s fly ball knowing that John Lackey would react vociferously. There isn’t a single pitcher, not even the emotionally intense and most recent owner of a no-hitter Matt Garza, who reacts so obviously as Lackey does when fielders don’t do what they should. The Anaheim fans must have been nostalgic seeing Lackey’s explosive reactions to his defense’s exploits.

Hermida redeemed himself in the fifth, or rather, second base umpire Laz Diaz’s incorrect ruling of Alberto’s Callaspo’s slide into second expiated Hermida. Lowrie should also be lauded for continually applying the tag to various parts of Callaspo’s body convincingly enough for Diaz. Mike Scioscia, His Multiple Manager of the Yearness, abandoned his usual perch (leaning against the dugout fence) and typical expression (aghast that his pitchers would ever throw a ball and/or his hitters would take a strike) to argue with Diaz but without zeal.

So much for firing up the troops by getting ejected.

Game 101: July 27, 2010
WinRed Sox
4W: John Lackey (10-5)
H: Daniel Bard (23)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (24)
2B: Jed Lowrie – 2 (3), Darnell McDonald (12), Adrian Beltre (29), Marco Scutaro (25)
2L: Jered Weaver (9-7)
2B: Juan Rivera (16), Bobby Abreu (24)
HR: Bobby Abreu (12)

July 27, 2010

Haren Scarin’

dan harenWere they so rushed to put up Dan Haren’s picture in Angels togs that they couldn’t find a hairbrush? With his unkempt hair he looks like a homeless man or a Nick Nolte mugshot.

Haren fell behind in the second inning after surrendering a leadoff triple to Adrian Beltre and allowing a line drive RBI single to Victor Martinez. His Angels debut came to an abrupt end in the fifth when Kevin Youkilis starched a comebacker off the starter’s throwing arm. He fared fairly well in his return to American League hitting: 4⅔ innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, no walks, and 8 strikeouts. He was replaced by Francisco Rodriguez. Not this one, the other one. Tony Reagins should have kept both of them just to fool Ed Wade in a deal.

The return of Martinez as the Red Sox backstop along with David Ortiz’s continued production are two keys opening the gateway to Boston’s path to the playoffs.

One theory that gained currency was that the winner of the Home Run Derby would go on to have a terrible season, something that happened to Bobby Abreu after he won in 2005. In fact, his power outage extended into 2006. David Ortiz only hit one homer since the All-Star break but slammed two circuit clouts in the series opener. His third-inning shot just cleared the right field fences and granted his team the lead and his eighth-inning dinger extended the lead by two runs.

That margin helped absorb the damage by Hideki Matsui’s two-run home run reply in the bottom of the frame. J.D. Drew would give Jonathan Papelbon some breathing room in the top of the ninth with his two-RBI double that just missed being a homer.

Game 100: July 26, 2010
WinRed Sox
6W: Clay Buchholz (11-5)
H: Scott Atchison (2)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (23)
2B: Jed Lowrie (1), J.D. Drew (20)
3B: Adrian Beltre (2)
HR: David Ortiz – 2 (21)
3L: Dan Haren (7-9)
HR: Bobby Abreu (11), Hideki Matsui (14)

July 26, 2010

The Time of the Decent Mariners

Every sub-500 team has that little morale-lifting series where they win or split a series against a powerhouse team. I suppose the injury-depleted Red Sox fill the role of the antagonist to the lovable underdog Mariners. The Seattle squad broke out of the shackles of disrepute and elevated themselves to the lofty heights of mediocrity, halving the four-game series with a timorous win. Not quite the way Jerry Remy would have liked his 3,000 game as a color analyst to play out.

The Mariners were largely powerless against Daisuke Matsuzaka’s middling effort. Chone Figgins doubled off the left field stands and scored on Jose Lopez’s liner to shallow left in the third. It was the only run marring Matsuzaka’s six-inning line of four hits, five walks, and four strikeouts.

The rest of the runs came on Hideki Okajima’s watch. The lefty inherited a baserunner from Daniel Bard and proceeded to allow five consecutive Mariners singles. Most egregious was the failure to get an out when Don Wakamatsu all but presented one on a silver platter by having Casey Kotchman bunt with men on first and second. Okajima fielded the ball and tried to toss to third twice before finally pivoting to first too late to throw out Kotchman, Steinway and all.

It might well be time to free the Red Sox of the albatrosses mouldering in the bullpen.

The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Game 99: July 25, 2010
Red Sox
2H: Daniel Bard (22)
BS, L: Hideki Okajima (4, 3-3)
2B: Kevin Youkilis (25)
4W: Brandon League (8-6)
2B: Chone Figgins (13)

July 25, 2010

Simmering Southpaw

Jon Lester was hot in at least two senses of the word. The lefty carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, striking out 10 batters until that frame, and was literally unhittable.

With one out Lester induced an easy fly ball off the bat of Jack Wilson to center, or so he thought. As he overran the ball slightly, Eric Patterson didn’t field the ball face-on but rather reached back to glove it. The sphere glanced off the leather and trickled away from the center fielder. Lester didn’t display John Lackey levels of emotion, but the fact the Lester even betrayed a twinge of disappointment was surprising for him.

Michael Saunders shattered the no-hit bid and Boston’s lead right after Patterson’s mishap with a resounding four-bagger to right. With recent extra inning and one-run games tapping the bullpen dry, Terry Francona had to stay with Lester as long as possible.

Milton Bradley led off the eighth with a triple and Lester stayed in the game. Shortstop Wilson reached up to flawlessly execute the suicide squeeze to score Bradley and Lester was still on the mound. Saunders soundly smacked Lester’s leg with a smoking infield single and Ichiro Suzuki walked and Lester continued to toe the rubber.

Only when Chone Figgins doubled down the first base line to plate Saunders and render the score 4-1 in favor of the home team did Francona call upon Manny Delcarmen. The difference between making up a two-run deficit compared to a larger gap was the dividing line between staying with an exhausted starter and summoning an erratic reliever.

Game 98: July 24, 2010
Red Sox
1L: Jon Lester (11-5)
HR: David Ortiz (19)
5W: Chris Seddon (1-0)
H: Jamey Wright (2)
S: Garrett Olson (1)
2B: Chone Figgins (12)
3B: Milton Bradley (1)
HR: Michael Saunders (8)

July 24, 2010

Back to Beckett

“Humanity is a well with two buckets,” said Wylie, “one going down to be filled, the other coming up to be emptied.” Murphy by Samuel Beckett
Josh Beckett continued his rehabilitation with a game against the Triple-AAA Seattle Mariners, lasting 5⅔ innings with a line of 5 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. The home team got to him early with a leadoff hit by Ichiro Suzuki, a steal of second, and a run scored on Jose Lopez’s ground-rule double to left. The Red Sox defense greatly improved on its shaky performance in the opening game of the series and didn’t allow their opposition any extra outs.

The same could not be said for the local nine. Former Mariner Mike Cameron crashed a double to the base of the wall to lead off the fifth and advanced to third on Michael Saunders’s throw. The left fielder missed the cutoff man and Chone Figgins didn’t move a muscle as the ball bounced through the infield. Figgins seemed lost in thought, perhaps contemplating the nature of human consciousness in light of Beckett’s (Samuel, not Josh) anti-narratives.

Even though the Red Sox didn’t capitalize on the blunder, Mariners skipper Don Wakamatsu confronted Figgins about the player’s lack of hustle and disregard of the realist agenda. A kerfuffle in the dugout followed and Figgins was pulled in favor of Josh Wilson (who, like Wakamatsu, is a great admirer of Henry James), littering the field with mediocre infielders with that surname.

The poor man’s Figgins Bill Hall (or is Figgins a poor man’s Hall, given their comparative production this season) gave his team the lead in the seventh with a no-doubter to the second deck.

The slim lead was maintained by a trio of relievers. Scott Atchison took over from Beckett in the sixth, got the final out of that inning, and held the opposition scoreless for 1⅓ innings. Atchison was the last player to make the team out of spring training and seems to have at last confidently assumed the role of spot starter/long reliever. Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the final pair of innings, the former perfectly with two strikeouts and the latter with some amount of drama. But at least the team did not come up empty against a largely punchless lineup.

Game 97: July 23, 2010
WinRed Sox
2W: Scott Atchison (2-1)
H: Daniel Bard (21)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (22)
2B: Adrian Beltre (28), Mike Cameron (11), Kevin Youkilis (24)
HR: Bill Hall (10)
1L: Jason Vargas (6-5)
2B: Jose Lopez (21), Michael Saunders (7), Josh Wilson (9), Jack Wilson (10)

July 23, 2010

Dr. Strangeglove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Team

John Lackey denied the Mariners his essence, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth. Of all batters to break up the bid it had to be Josh Bard, the former Red Sox catcher who was part of the ill-fated 2006 squad. He was part of the Coco Crisp trade, another player that has found himself on a West Coast club.

It wasn’t a cheap hit but a soundly hit line drive single to right. Jack Wilson followed with a ground ball single, but Lackey exited the inning unscathed. The disturbing pattern of bunches of hits would continue with Manny Delcarmen.

Delcarmen faced four batters but failed to get an out. Light-hitting Franklin Gutierrez, with Chone Figgins on first, knocked a two-run homer into the left field seats just above the Fenway-like manual scoreboard. How the colors on Lackey’s face must have changed as the game went from a no-hitter to a 6-3 affair. After Gutierrez’s dinger came another improbable event: a walk by Jose Lopez, a batter who has 16 walks in 383 at bats this season.

What followed wasn’t so rare, unfortunately. Marco Scutaro Merkin Muffleyed Milton Bradley’s batted ball, turning a double play into two men on with none out. Jonathan Papelbon surely would save his team from extra frames, particularly since the Mariners are even worse than the Athletics offensively.

Striking out rookie Justin Smoak proved easy enough for Papelbon, but another former Red Sox player, Casey Kotchman, cued a double down the first base line to plate Lopez. Again the backstop Bard was a thorn in a Boston pitcher’s side, working a walk after falling behind in the count 1-2.

With the bases thus loaded and the game in the balance Papelbon and Wilson faced off in an epic eight-pitch showdown. Papelbon induced what seemed to be a double play with Scutaro sure-handedly fielding the ball this time. In his haste, however, Bill Hall fired off-target and the Mariners tied the score. This made Red Sox fans long for a drink of pure grain alcohol and rain water.

The next four innings pitched by Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, and Ramon Ramirez were amongst the guttiest bullpen performances this season so far. Especially Okajima, who got out of the 12th inning despite allowing the first two batters to reach on singles. But the visiting batters were similarly stifled, including a perfect outing by yet another former Red Sox player, David Aardsma.

The top half of the thirteenth was unlucky for Adrian Beltre, who just missed a home run to left field with Kevin Youkilis on base. Mike Cameron worked a five-pitch walk after going 1-for-5 with three whiffs, another remarkable in-game turnaround. But Eric Patterson’s two-run double to the left-center gap was a career reversal: it was just the utility man’s second extra base hit off a southpaw.

This season has seen an unimaginable number of injuries, the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face. With key players sidelined, unforeseen heroes, like Okajima and Patterson in this game, will come to light. As the Rays and Yankees have been both good and lucky, the Red Sox may never catch up to the American League East leaders. Instead of agonizing over the standings it’s time to savor comebacks such as this in and of themselves. As the injured players return, I have no other expectation other than that they continue to persevere.

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where, don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day…
Game 96: July 22, 2010 ∙ 13 innings
WinRed Sox
8BS: Jonathan Papelbon (4)
W: Hideki Okajima (3-2)
S: Ramon Ramirez (2)
2B: Mike Cameron (10), Eric Patterson (7)
HR: Bill Hall (9), J.D. Drew (12), Marco Scutaro (5)
6L: Garrett Olson (0-3)
2B: Casey Kotchman (11)
HR: Franklin Gutierrez (9)

July 22, 2010

Green With Envy

If you’re a pitcher and a peripatetic AAAA player like Matt Watson jacks his first home run off you and a fringe player experiencing a season-long power outage such as Jack Cust launches his sixth dinger, chances are you’re not going to win. Clay Buchholz’s first start since returning off the disabled list was a close loss that granted his team a 0-2 series record and 2-5 win-loss mark since the All-Star break.

While the green of the Oakland Athletics and their anonymous multipurpose stadium rendered Boston fans queasy, the sight of Fenway verdant in football regalia was a wondrous sight.

The Celtic Football Club, a perennial powerhouse in the Scottish Premier League, took the pitch against Sporting Clube de Portugal, a mainstay in Portuguese Liga.

Both Sporting and Celtic have green and white striped home kits, but for this friendly Sporting wore their dapper away uniforms. Sporting’s striking black and green garb were put to much better effect on the transformed field than Celtic’s bumblebee-like visiting togs. Had both teams opted for stripes it would have looked like Escher artwork come to life.

The field hasn’t had many memorable divots since Manny Ramirez’s tumbling attempt at a catch in the 2004 World Series. The riveting 1-1 match had to be resolved by way of penalty kicks with Celtic taking the victory 6-5. Although it was exciting and novel, I can see why soccer isn’t played with regularity at 4 Yawkey Way. While the grounds accommodated the regulation 70- to 80-yard width of a soccer pitch with a roomy 75-yard span, it was only 98 yards long, well short of the FIFA-sanctioned range of 110 to 120 yards.

The asymmetry of Fenway is the epitome of a pastoral game nestled in an urban landscape, a perfect snapshot of its signature sport’s origins. Soccer is but a summer fling for baseball’s grande dame, as hockey was her New Year’s dalliance. She awaits her constant companion’s return in eight days, a reunion too long in coming.

Game 95: July 21, 2010
Red Sox
4L: Clay Buchholz (10-5)
2B: Bill Hall (8)
HR: Adrian Beltre (16)
6W: Gio Gonzalez (9-6)
H: Henry Rodriguez (1), Brad Ziegler (13)
S: Michael Wuertz (2)
2B: Kevin Kouzmanoff (19), Daric Barton (23)
3B: Coco Crisp (4)
HR: Matt Watson (1), Jack Cust (6)

July 21, 2010

Extra Innings Excruciation

If only I overestimated the extra time this game took when I activated my DVR. Usually 30 minutes is enough, but not for this particularly frustrating fiasco. My recording ended after Ramon Ramirez escaped the ninth, so I thankfully missed the game-winning hit by Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Home plate umpire Bob Davidson called David Ortiz out at home when the slugger came rumbling in to score on Kevin Youkilis’s double to the wall in the first frame. Video replay showed that Ortiz got his hand on the dish before Kurt Suzuki applied the tag. I’m sure Ortiz’s reputation played into the call; it’s easy to justify such a decision when the runner isn’t exactly a speedster.

Had Davidson made the correct call in the first he wouldn’t have to deploy the Incredible Enlarging Strike Zone and the Random Balk Call to shorten the game as it limped into extra innings. Coco Crisp was ejected in the tenth for disputing Davidson’s strike calls and John Farrell was tossed as well.

Crisp might have a reputation based on initiating the brawl against the Rays on June 8, 2008, but Farrell is slow to anger.

Some good news came to light: the Red Sox organization hopes to upgrade the Jumbotron in Fenway to a $10M high definition screen measuring 17 feet by 99 feet. The Landmarks Commission will review the plans July 27. The commission should only allow the massive screen if it shows replays of controversial calls. Maybe then umpires will get a better view of the game.

Game 94: July 20, 2010 ∙ 10 innings
Red Sox
4L: Ramon Ramirez (0-3)
2B: Kevin Youkilis (23), Mike Cameron (9), Marco Scutaro (24), Darnell McDonald (11)
5W: Andrew Bailey (1-3)
2B: Coco Crisp (5), Jack Cust (8)

July 20, 2010

Sanshabontai [三者凡退]

Daisuke Matsuzaka had four sanshabontai, Japanese for 1-2-3 inning. The first two ideograms represents the concept of three people and the final two mean a baseball out.

Oakland isn’t an offensive powerhouse by any means; the team is seventh in the American League in team batting average (.262), tenth in on-base percentage (.324), and twelfth in slugging percentage (.384). Still, it was heartening to see Matsuzaka have a completely clean first inning, permit only four baserunners (two hits and two walks), allow only a single run, and strike out six over 6⅔ innings.

Boston’s pitching had to be on point as the lineup mustered a mere two runs against an extremely lucky Ben Sheets. In the fourth David Ortiz arced a sacrifice fly to center to plate Eric Patterson, who led off the frame with a triple against his former club. To avoid running on his still-gimpy leg, Adrian Beltre homered into the left field bleacher seats for the lead.

There could have been more runs by the visitors if Kevin Youkilis didn’t violate a fundamental rule of baseball in the sixth. He worked the walk with two outs but then tried to reach third on Beltre’s single to right.

Little League coaches across New England could use Youkilis’s misplay as an example, but the gaffe happened after their players’ bedtimes, as well as mine. When Daniel Bard allowed a hit and a walk I was simultaneously worried about the score as well as being able to stay up for the rest of the game and, heaven forefend, extra innings. Jonathan Papelbon turned in a sanshabontai of his own in the ninth so I could slip into sleep with the strains of the Standells in my mind.

Game 93: July 19, 2010
WinRed Sox
2W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-3)
H: Daniel Bard (20)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (21)
3B: Eric Patterson (4)
HR: Adrian Beltre (15)
1L: Ben Sheets (4-9)
2B: Mark Ellis (9)
HR: Rajai David (4)

July 19, 2010

str8edgeracer Tweets Triumphantly

Motoring to Motor City next. Will work on the novel on the way there--feeling inspired after winning the Beantown series.
1 day, 6 hours ago

Cameron knocked a dinger off Neftali but the rookie blew away the rest of the batters. Unbelievable heat!
1 day, 6 hours ago

Again with the Nava kid, this time I walked him with two outs. Now it’s up to the bullpen
1 day, 5 hours ago

Whew, got Beltre to strikeout with two runners on and two out.
1 day, 6 hours ago

@ErinAndrews I walked that guy who has a crush on you, same one who hit a grand slam on the first MLB pitch he saw, but got out of it.
1 day, 6 hours ago

Double steal by my boys in the fifth! Borbon and Andrus are like DEER.
1 day, 7 hours ago

Got some runs to work with thanks to Cruz. Managed to get Youkilis out--he should have gone to the All-Star game.
1 day, 7 hours ago

Getting into a groove--struck out the side in the third.
1 day, 8 hours ago

Rough going in the 2nd--Beltre has always killed me. Hope he goes back to the NL after he declines his option.
1 day, 8 hours ago

Bookended strikeouts in a clean first inning. Who says Fenway is bad for southpaws?
1 day, 8 hours ago

Never thought I’d see Andrus beat in a rundown
1 day, 8 hours ago

Tried to get some pointers from Matsuzaka about the gyroball but didn’t get past the Boston cop guarding the dugout
1 day, 9 hours ago

Game 92: July 18, 2010
4W: C.J. Wilson (8-5)
H: Darren O’Day (12), Frank Francisco (12)
S: Neftali Feliz (24)
2B: Nelson Cruz (15), Julio Borbon (7), Elvis Andrus (11)
Red Sox
2L: Jon Lester (11-4)
2B: Adrian Beltre (27), Marco Scutaro (23)
HR: Mike Cameron (4)

July 18, 2010

Not So Easy Lee

Darnell McDonald devours left-handed pitching. The splits say it all: .288 versus .262 batting average, a less striking difference in on-base percentage (.333 compared to .328), but a huge gap in slugging (an impressive .507 compared to .361). So it was not too surprising for the platoon player to come through in the first with a one-out double off the wall.

Julio Borbon bobbled David Ortiz’s fly ball to center, allowing McDonald to cross home for the first run of the game. Kevin Youkilis followed the designated hitter with a nifty single to left, and as they had done to many a Cy Young award-winning pitcher such as Cliff Lee before backed their opposition into a corner early. Adrian Beltre grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, hobbling along the first base line, and the local nine did not have another baserunner until the fifth inning.

John Lackey nearly matched Lee inning for inning until the sixth. Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz sprayed Texas Leaguers about the field and Vladimir Guerrero refrained from swinging at anything in sight for a base on balls and the visitors inched ahead for a 2-1 lead.

Lackey rebounded in the seventh against the bottom of the Rangers’ lineup. Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon paired to keep the Red Sox within one run. Ron Washington stayed with Lee perhaps an inning too long, a great temptation given Lee’s ability to pitch the full nine.

Marco Scutaro knocked a ground ball single up the middle and was sacrificed to second by McDonald. Ever the competitor Lee sprinted to first and covered the bag, getting in front of Kinsler who very easily could have made the same play. Ortiz failed to get on base but did work Lee for another eight pitches. That additional effort may have made the difference for Youkilis, who starched a double to left field to send the game into extra frames.

Cruz’s theft of Mike Cameron’s incipient homer in the tenth wasn’t merely frustrating in and of itself but also introduced the possibility that Manny Delcarmen would take the mound.

The first half of this season saw a number of failed late comebacks and the inability to keep runs off the board during bonus baseball. One of the main culprits in this failing was Delcarmen, who toed the rubber in the eleventh.

I steeled myself for another outing like he had on June 30, in which failed to notch a single out and surrendered five runs. Instead he made himself the Pride of Hyde Park again, inducing three ground ball outs. Bill Hall did his best Dustin Pedroia impersonation on the final out, tumbling after Guerrero’s grounder before it skipped into the outfield. He then asked Papelbon to get something off the top of shelves for him. “There you go, buddy.”

While he is not performing as well as Alex Gonzalez and he probably isn’t as good a leadoff hitter as Jacoby Ellsbury, Scutaro has been serviceable. He walked to start the bottom of the eleventh, unnerving Alexi Ogando to throw the ball into left field when McDonald sacrificed bunted again. Or perhaps it was the sight of two sacrifice bunts by the Red Sox in a single game that was so disconcerting.

With none out and runners at second and third Washington called for the intentional walk of Ortiz to set up the force at every base. Youkilis added the slight by the Rangers’ skipper to the All-Star snub and powered the ball deep enough to center to score Scutaro for the win.

Fully aware of his team’s celebratory tendencies, Youkilis flipped off his helmet before he was mobbed. It’s a metaphor, J.D. A metaphor for awesomeness.

Game 91: July 17, 2010 ∙ 11 innings
2L: Alexi Ogando (3-1)
2B: Josh Hamilton (29)
WinRed Sox
3W: Manny Delcarmen (3-2)
2B: Darnell McDonald (10), Mike Cameron (8), Kevin Youkilis (22)

July 17, 2010

The Catcher Did Defy

Bengie Molina is the last baseball player one could imagine to join the very short list of players hitting for the cycle with the home run being a grand slam:

  • Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Athletics, second baseman, July 30, 1901 against the Cleveland Indians
  • Bill Terry, New York Giants, first baseman, May 29, 1928 against the Brooklyn Robins
  • Tony Lazzeri, New York Yankees, second baseman, June, 3, 1932 against the Philadelphia Athletics
  • Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, first baseman, August 14, 1933 against the Cleveland Indians
  • Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners, right fielder, June 23, 1993 against the Oakland Athletics
  • Miguel Tejada, Oakland Athletics, shortstop, September 29, 2001 against the Seattle Mariners
  • Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins, left fielder, April 17, 2009 against the Anaheim Angels
Molina added his names to the annals of baseball history as the first catcher to accomplish this feat. The backstop’s two days in a Rangers uniform have been memorable: .625 batting average and on-base percentage and 1.750 slugging percentage. Although he was pulled from the game last night after he dragged his grand piano all the way to third to complete the cycle, the irresistible force is back in the lineup.

To replace Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek the Red Sox brought in an inferior impostor Molina named Gustavo and Kevin Cash. Cash butchered a couple of pitches that were ruled to be wild but should not have gotten by him. He also dropped an on-target throw from J.D. Drew that would have halted a run from scoring and ended the eighth.

At this point I’d rather see Bill Hall wield the tools of ignorance until the return of Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek. After witness Cash’s ineptitude I can’t imagine Hall would do any worse.

Game 90: July 16, 2010
8W: Colby Lewis (9-5)
H: Darren O’Day (11)
2B: Bengie Molina (7), Nelson Cruz (14)
3B: Bengie Molina (1)
HR: Bengie Molina (5)
Red Sox
4L: Felix Doubront (1-2)
2B: Kevin Youkilis – 2 (21)
HR: Adrian Beltre (14)

July 16, 2010

If Man is Five

Then the devil is six, like the six runs in the first inning of the game. And he was in the details, details that home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman missed. Everyone but Dreckman, including Michael Young himself, thought that he struck out. He ran out a dropped foul tip but got to swing again when it was ruled a foul ball. Young singled and the floodgates opened like Somerville on July 10.

While Bill Hall made an error at third that resulted in an unearned run in the second, the utility man turned a pair of impressive defensive gems in later innings. He laid out to rob Bengie Molina of a single (for any other batter it would been a double) down the left field line in the fifth. In the next inning Hall turned an impressive double play, beating Elvis Andrus to third after gloving Ian Kinsler’s grounder and firing across the diamond to nail Kinsler at first.

Hall also clouted a four-bagger over everything in left in the seventh, a true Monster shot. His solo shot joined J.D. Drew’s fourth-inning dinger as the only runs for the local nine in the game. All game it seemed Boston batters were laying good wood on the ball but all their fly balls were in reach of the Texas outfielders, as if they felt at home on the range.

Game 89: July 15, 2010
7W: Tommy Hunter (6-0)
2B: Josh Hamilton – 3 (28), Nelson Cruz (13)
HR: Bengie Molina (4)
Red Sox
2L: Tim Wakefield (3-8)
HR: J.D. Drew (11), Bill Hall (8)

July 13, 2010

Halfway Closed

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched for six solid innings with five whiffs and had just his third outing without a base on balls. Terry Francona tried to stay with his starter for seven but he surrendered a two-run homer to Aaron Hill. The Red Sox skipper tapped Daniel Bard to pitch two innings and the set-up man displayed why he should be in Anaheim with the other Red Sox all-stars.

David Ortiz hit what would be the game-inning home run in the sixth inning. The 411-foot long shot landed in the second deck of the right field seats in Rogers Centre. That particular bank of seats was in sunlight because the retractable roof was stuck halfway closed (or halfway open depending on your point of view).

Ortiz took his homer-hitting ways with him to Anaheim and beat Chris Young (not the pitcher, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by his single circuit clout), Vernon Wells, Nick Swisher, Matt Holliday, Miguel Cabrera, Corey Hart (how Chris Berman restrained himself from talking about wearing sunglasses at night or never surrendering is beyond me), and last but not least Hanley Ramirez.

Watching Ramirez keep pace with Ortiz while recalling the myriad shortstops who went through the revolving door in Boston made me momentarily rue the trade that sent the infielder to Florida. Then I remember 2007 and how superb Josh Beckett was and can be and the regret ebbs away a bit.

One good I can say about George M. Steinbrenner III on the day of his death: he left the Stade Fasciste lights on so that the Red Sox could celebrate their ALCS win against the Yankees.

Game 88: July 11, 2010
WinRed Sox
3W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (6-3)
H: Daniel Bard (19)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (20)
2B: Marco Scutaro (22)
HR: Darnell McDonald (6), David Ortiz (18)
Blue Jays
2L: Jesse Litsch (0-4)
2B: Alex Gonzalez (25)
HR: Aaron Hill (12)

July 11, 2010

John Lacking

For all the complaints about Daisuke Matsuzaka’s starts, his teammate John Lackey’s performances can be as exasperating. This past offseason’s key free agent acquisition lasted 4⅔ innings with a line of 8 hits, 7 earned runs, 6 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Lackey had so little command of the strike zone that he couldn’t even take advantage of home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg’s favorable strike zone.

Had the Red Sox saved some offensive firepower from the first game Lackey could have secured his 10th win of the season, but Cito Gaston’s relief corps shut down the Boston batters for five innings. The relievers may have been aided by Kellogg’s calls.

Kellogg inspired the ire of many of the visiting hitters. Seven times the Red Sox batters were called out on strikes. As the strike zone seemed to be favoring pitchers, hitters found themselves swinging at questionable pitches, resulting in five swinging strikeouts. Mike Cameron was ejected in the seventh inning for complaining to Kellogg, prompting Terry Francona to confront Kellogg. Seconds after Kellogg motioned that Francona was getting tossed the Red Sox skipper copied the motion, Carlos Zambrano-like, which proved to be one of the few enjoyable moments in the game.

The other came in the bottom half of the seventh. Edwin Encarnacion lined the ball to Daniel Nava’s territory and tried to leg out a double. Nava’s throw to Bill Hall was on the money. Hall made the catch and in the process of whipping his arm around for the swipe tag the infielder caught Encarnacion in the face. The unintentional blow to the opposition must have been rather satisfying for Hall, who got hit in the back in the first half of the inning.

Nava was impressive on both sides of the ball; the outfielder also notched two doubles and drove in two runs. The Blue Jays had an outfield force of their own in Jose Bautista. The Toronto right fielder added to his league-leading homer total with a solo bomb in the eighth. He also hosed David Ortiz in the fourth inning when the slugger tried to stretch a single into a double in the fourth, but admittedly Ortiz was deader than Bob Sheppard on the play.

Too soon?

Game 87: July 10, 2010
Red Sox
5L: John Lackey (9-5)
2B: Daniel Nava – 2 (10), David Ortiz (21), J.D. Drew (19)
WinBlue Jays
9W: Shawn Camp (3-1)
H: Jason Frasor (6), Marc Rzepczynski (1)
S: Kevin Gregg (20)
2B: Fred Lewis – 2 (24), Alex Gonzalez (24), Aaron Hill (12)
HR: Alex Gonzalez (17), Adam Lind (12), Jose Bautista (24)

July 10, 2010

Pummeling the Plumage

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays silly, thereby causing silliness by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in the booth. When Kevin Youkilis launched his 18th homer of the season to lead off the fourth, making the score 11-0, Remy shouted, “Yeah, take that, you voters!”

Nick Swisher used his Twitter account and celebrity endorsements to aid his All-Star campaign while Youkilis just let his bat speak. Only LeBron James’s free agency saga outstripped Swisher’s shameless self-promotion. In this social media era, 140-characters sound bites won out over statistics.

If this game were a page on Facebook it would be “liked” by millions of Boston fans as their favorite baseball team’s four-game losing streak was snapped by an impressive offensive onslaught. What few Blue Jays fans there are (attendance at the game was 27,567 of 49,539 available seats) would bemoan the lack of a “dislike” button.

The visiting hitters batted around in the third and loaded the bases three times thanks to bases on balls by Toronto’s pitchers.

In six innings Jon Lester had half the earned runs that Brian Tallet allowed in a single inning. While Lester and Robert Manuel surrendered one homer each Tallet relinquished three circuit clouts in a single inning.

After the touchdown in the third and the field goal in the fourth Terry Francona swapped out his players to give them some rest. J.D. Drew was replaced by Darnell McDonald, who shifted from left to right. Bill Hall moved to second from short and Eric Patterson took over as Hall’s double play partner, giving Marco Scutaro a break. Daniel Nava took over in left for McDonald. Ryan Shealy quietly made his Red Sox debut in the bottom of the fifth and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Remy had Wally scale the CN Tower on the Toronto backdrop, as improbable a visitor as Jacoby Ellsbury to the Red Sox dugout. But lo and behold, the center fielder arrived at the ballpark in the third inning. Perhaps Ellsbury was sufficiently chided by Youkilis’s comments on “The Big Show,” or maybe Ellsbury wanted to take his complaints about the Red Sox team doctor Thomas Gill right to the source.

The confrontation between B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria sparked the Rays to go on a run, perhaps the tiff between Youkilis and Ellsbury will do the same.

Game 86: July 9, 2010
WinRed Sox
14W: Jon Lester (11-3)
2B: Adrian Beltre (26)
HR: Bill Hall (7), Kevin Youkilis (18), Adrian Beltre (13), Mike Cameron (3)
Blue Jays
3L: Ricky Romero (6-6)
2B: John Buck (15), Vernon Wells (26)
HR: John McDonald (2), Jose Molina (2)

July 9, 2010

Sweeping Generalizations

Top 11 Things I Would Rather Do Instead of Being Swept by the Irksome Rays

  1. Drink 20 Wally Coolattas (I love raspberries but the otherworldly shade of green and splash of orange entrances yet frightens me)
  2. Vote for Nick Swisher for the All-Star game (sorry, looks like it’s my fault Youk isn’t going to Anaheim)
  3. Listen to Ronan Tynan sing “God Bless America”
  4. Evaluate the probability that Gloria James, LeBron James’s mother, will hook up with Miami Heat player(s), where, and what position(s), given her alleged history
  5. Read the doctors’ reports by James Andrews and Lewis Yocum on Jake Peavy’s detached latissimus dorsi muscle
  6. Write, produce, and direct a Sullivan Tire commercial, as I might have delusions of auteurism that I could improve the oeuvre
  7. Or how about an Olympia Sports advertisement? “That’s Jennie Finch.” Really, dude? You didn’t recognize her until she pitched?
  8. Join a reading group with Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew, and Kevin Youkilis. Our next book? Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.
  9. Have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the booth for the remainder of the Red Sox games
  10. Dine on Paul the psychic octopus
  11. Sit next to Robert Szasz for an entire game. Although the inane cowbells might drown out his drone.
Game 85: July 7, 2010
Red Sox
4L: Tim Wakefield (3-7)
2B: David Ortiz (20), Adrian Beltre (25), Darnell McDonald (9)
3B: Daniel Nava (1)
HR: Mike Cameron (2)
6W: David Price (12-4)
S: Matt Garza (1)
HR: Evan Longoria (13)

July 7, 2010

Injury Prone

When Kevin Youkilis limped out of the batter’s box to start the fourth inning, I wasn’t even angry. I chuckled mirthlessly as he got stretched out by the trainers. What’s next, pneumonic plague? Schistosomiasis? Ebola hemorrhagic fever? The injuries plaguing this team are becoming so ludicrous it’s like the body count in Heathers. But the All-Star first baseman is back in the lineup as his ankle soreness has since resolved itself.

Youkilis was replaced by Niuman Romero. With runners on first and third with two out, score 3-2 in favor of the Rays, Romero’s slot in the order came up. The replacement player tapped out to second base for the final out, and it will be his final out in the majors for a while. Romero was designated for assignment and replaced on the rosterby Ryan Shealy. When the fate of a key game against a divisional rival was in the hands of someone who was so easily demoted, you know your team is stretched to its breaking point.

Dan Wheeler smashes his pitching hand into his glove before each pitch. It reminded me of the relentless grinding of a pestle in a mortar and the way Rays relievers have pulverized Red Sox batters.

Felix Doubront turned in a remarkably gutty 5⅔ innings of yeoman’s work. With his limited and unpolished repertoire he held one of the most prolific lineups to a mere five hits and two earned runs. He walked four hitters and struck out three.

The only point in the game where I cheered out loud was when Evan Longoria was picked off third for the second out of the sixth. I imagined B.J. Upton smirking at the sight and calling out Longoria’s baseball smarts when he got back to the dugout.

Game 84: July 6, 2010
Red Sox
2L: Felix Doubront (1-1)
2B: David Ortiz (19)
3B: Eric Patterson (3)
3W: Jeff Niemann (7-2)
H: Dan Wheeler (6), Lance Cormier (2), Joaquin Benoit (6)
S: Rafael Soriano (23)
2B: Evan Longoria (26)
3B: Sean Rodriguez (1)
HR: Carl Crawford (8)

July 6, 2010

Floundering in Florida

Many words that start with “f” come to mind when I think the opening game of this series against Boston’s foils in the American League East, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Frustrating, as in how I feel when Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches. The starter had his typical first-inning fits: walking leadoff batter Ben Zobrist, allowing a double off the bat of Carl Crawford for the first run, then walking Matt Joyce after getting two outs. The fatiguing inning curtailed Matsuzaka’s outing such that he only lasted 5 innings with a forgettable line of 8 hits, 5 runs (4 earned), 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts.

Fantastic, which is how Eric Patterson must have felt about his first two-homer game. The light-hitting utility man mustered the four-baggers against Rays ace Matt Garza and middle reliever Andy Sonnanstine. If Zobrist and Crawford hadn’t made web gems ahead of Patterson’s third-inning shot the Red Sox newcomer would have given his team the lead rather than the 1-1 tie. Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre, and Bill Hall came through with more two-out mayhem, increasing the lead to 4-1.

Frazzled, an apt encapsulation of Garza’s pitching performance, his worst since his 1⅓ inning outing against the Florida Marlins on June 18. The Red Sox touched Garza up for four runs but couldn’t maintain the lead.

Fiercely, how the Rays bullpen responded to the visiting lineup. Five Tampa relievers shut out the Red Sox for four innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out six. But at least at Fenway we have proper bullpen structures.

Flabbergasted. Do they really need to have the shift on Carlos Pena with runners on first and second? If so, why didn’t Marco Scutaro and Hall figure out who would cover second in case the ball was batted to one of them? Such coordination was all the more fundamental since Pena’s ground out resulted in just one out, advanced the runners, and allowed Jason Bartlett arc a sacrifice fly to right to notch what would be the winning run.

Frak this field, this team, and the cowbells.

Game 83: July 5, 2010
Red Sox
5L: Ramon Ramirez (0-2)
2B: Eric Patterson (6)
3B: Kevin Youkilis (5)
HR: Eric Patterson – 2 (6)
6W: Randy Choate (2-2)
H: Joaquin Benoit (5)
S: Rafael Soriano (22)
2B: Carl Crawford (20), Willy Aybar (6), Sean Rodriguez (14)

July 5, 2010

Gored on the Fourth of July

Outside of Brian Matusz, who pitched seven innings with a line of 2 hits, 3 walks, and 8 strikeouts, the best performance put forth was by Ronan Tynan. That is quite damning evidence of the Red Sox players’ lackluster production in the finale of the series.

Tynan was trotted out to belt his bombastic and banal version of “God Bless America,” a presentation that was only entertaining because the tenor was formerly a fixture of the Toilet and George Steinbrenner’s birthday is July 4. If Steinbrenner is still coherent, it is serviceable jab at the megalomaniac owner.

Let it not be forgotten why Tynan was barred from Yankee Stadium: during the playoffs last year a real estate agent revealed that he made an anti-Semitic remark to her about potential lessees. Such a thing couldn’t have sat well with Kevin Youkilis. The first baseman’s anger about that and about the All-Star snub was taken out on a 3-1 offering from Jason Berken. The solo shot to lead off the ninth was the only run Boston batters scored, but it was a blast against bigotry and uninformed All-Star voting and selection.

Game 82: July 4, 2010
6W: Brian Matusz (3-9)
2B: Nick Markakis (25), Cesar Izturis (8), Miguel Tejada (13)
3B: Julio Lugo (1)
Red Sox
1L: John Lackey (9-4)
2B: Adrian Beltre (24)
HR: Kevin Youkilis (17)

July 4, 2010

Halfway Home

All three teams topping the American League East won yesterday so none of the troika gained an advantage. In addition to their half-game advantage over the Red Sox the Yankees have more starters on the All-Star roster. Here’s the breakdown for the AL East leaders

  • Yankees: Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera
    Reserve: Alex Rodriguez
  • Red Sox: Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester
    Reserves: Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz
    Injured: Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez
  • Rays: Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, David Price
Since Boston has 10, count ’em, 10 players on the disabled list, the fewer players who need to jet to Los Angeles during the Midsummer Classic the better as far as I am concerned. I can’t help think that Joe Girardi had nefarious thoughts when he appointed Buchholz and Lester even though they deserved to be on the roster. If all goes well this will be the first of many selections for the pair of aces.

Clean-up hitter Kevin Youkilis leads his team in runs and is tied for second in runs batted in but also tops the list on hit by pitch. The Red Sox first baseman will be on the ballot for the fan selection. Girardi’s selection of Miguel Cabrera over Youkilis wasn’t divisional politics but simply a reflection of the mass of offensive talent at first base.

Girardi could have easily picked Michael Young over Rodriguez at the hot corner, so the simultaneous tapping of his third baseman and Beltre smacked slightly of balancing the scales between the two rivals. Young will be on the fan vote ballot with Youkilis, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, and Delmon Young (no relation).

In comparison to the Red Sox, the Orioles’ sole representative is Ty Wigginton. The versatile fielder, while productive, wouldn’t be a starter in Boston or New York. Wigginton went 0-for-3 with a walk against Lester and Robert Manuel, who made his Red Sox debut. Also making his first start as a player on Boston’s roster was Niuman Romero, who is basically a younger version of Angel Sanchez.

Juan Samuel was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Everitt in the bottom of the eighth after two embarrassing errors by Frank Mata and Wigginton. I got the feeling it was to avoid having to watch the sloppy efforts of his team rather than to rile them up. He could also stock up on office supplies before everyone else left the dugout for the clubhouse.

Game 81: July 3, 2010
3L: Jeremy Guthrie (3-10)
2B: Matt Wieters (9)
HR: Jake Fox (3)
WinRed Sox
9W: Jon Lester (10-3)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (19)
2B: Kevin Youkilis (19), J.D. Drew (18), Daniel Nava (8), David Ortiz – 2 (18), Mike Cameron (7)
HR: Kevin Youkilis (16)

July 3, 2010

Wakefield’s Watershed Win

Tim Wakefield has already surpassed Roger Clemens in intangible categories such as class and loyalty and continues to make inroads on Clemens’s franchise records. The knuckleballer made his 201st start at Fenway to surpass Clemens. It was his 89th win at his beloved venue, a victory made possible by solid veteran and a sensational newcomer.

Brad Bergesen allowed fewer hits and walks and had more strikeouts than Wakefield but the hits he did relinquish were costly. J.D. Drew launched a pair of homers into the Monster seats: the first one in the second inning may have been fan-aided but his leadoff circuit clout in the fifth was a no-doubter. Bergesen held the rest of the Red Sox lineup scoreless and was pulled in the eighth with two out when Marco Scutaro thudded a double two feet fair off the left field wall.

Interim Orioles manager Juan Samuel swapped out his starter in favor of southpaw Will Ohman with the assumption that left-handed Eric Patterson would bat after Scutaro. When Terry Francona pinch-hit switch-hitter Daniel Nava in place of Patterson, Baltimore’s skipper did not make a corresponding move. Samuel must not be particularly motivated with the scuttlebutt that Buck Showalter is a candidate for his job.

Nava whiffed on the first pitch but let the next two sliders fly past for balls. The fourth pitch came off Nava’s bat and seemed destined for Nick Markakis’s glove or foul territory.

But Nava does not take heed of destiny. His bloop hit found that unprotected patch of fair territory between the infield and outfield to drive in Scutaro.

This team of odds and ends, of has-beens and never-should-have-beens, battled back to put themselves within a half-game of the AL East-leading Yankees. A team that has Dustin Pedroia fielding and taking batting practice from his knees (hard to tell at first, but he was), Jason Varitek leading a reading group, Victor Martinez unable to torment Adrian Beltre’s head, Josh Beckett making rehab starts in Florida, and Jacoby Ellsbury in Arizona avoiding immigration authorities has the second best record in the majors.

Game 80: July 2, 2010
2L: Brad Bergesen (3-5)
HR: Nick Markakis (4)
WinRed Sox
3W: Tim Wakefield (3-6)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (19)
2B: Marco Scutaro (21)
HR: J.D. Drew – 2 (10)

July 1, 2010

Manny’s Meatballs and Ribeyes by Ramon

The languorous torture of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first inning would have been more bearable if I weren’t suffering from a lingering cold. In the time it took the Red Sox starter to load the bases I went through a half dozen tissues.

By the time the Rays leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist lined a single into center to plate two runs in the fourth, the Theraflu Nighttime had unentwined the last tendrils of thought tethering me to consciousness. Did I imagine Kevin Youkilis flinging the ball right at home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi in a vain attempt to cut down Kelly Shoppach?

According to my medication-addled notes, that actually happened.

I was thankfully tucked away when Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez joined forces to serve their guests a generous helping of batting practice. The six runs they surrendered put the game out of reach of the local nine. Delcarmen was put on the fifteen-day disabled list with a right forearm strain after the game.

Matt Garza, unlike the other aces the Red Sox recently humbled, lived up to his billing. Although he had three earned runs in his tally, two of those came when David Ortiz doubled off Randy Choate to drive in a pair of inherited runners.

I hope to be off the disabled list shortly, but unfortunately Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez won’t be. The Red Sox traded Angel Sanchez to the Astros for former Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash, a transaction reminiscent of when gave your neighbor your extra pair of pruning shears for the hoe you weren’t using.

Game 79: June 30, 2010
9W: Matt Garza (9-5)
2B: Kelly Shoppach (3), Carlos Pena (10)
HR: Jason Bartlett (2)
Red Sox
4L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-3)
2B: David Ortiz – 2 (16)

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