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Home » Monthly Archive » October 2010

October 4, 2010

There’s No Place Like Home

The Yankees were denied the American League East championship with their 8-4 loss before the Rays’ comeback victory against the Royals. They won’t have home field throughout the playoffs and will face the Minnesota Twins in the American League Divisional Series. Yankee Stadium is second in the league for runs scored park factor 1.182 compared to Target Field’s 0.970. Southpaws won’t have the short porch to pad their home run statistics; in fact, Homophobia Field’s (Target donated $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, a political action committee that supports anti-gay marriage Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer) home run park factor of 0.638 is last in the league while Nouveau Stade Fasciste is third with 1.440.

I should be careful about how vociferously I broadcast my hopes for a quick exit by the Yankees. I might find myself stabbed in the neck like Monte Friere, a Red Sox fan from Nashua, New Hampshire who was attacked by John Mayor, a Yankee fan from New Haven.

While Mayor is sitting in the clink waiting for someone to bail him out for $500,000, he should unwind with some quality television programming. On Tuesday evening at 8 PM ESPN will present the next installment of the “30 for 30” film series. Entitled “Four Days in October,” Mayor’s favorite team is an integral part of the story. I hope he checks it out; it might get his mind off of his current troubles.

For his final performance of the season John Lackey pulled out all the stops: 7⅔ innings pitched, 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, and 10 strikeouts. Red Sox fans wondered where such pitching was all season. Four more years of performances like Sunday’s and he might be worth a five-year, $82.5 million contract.

Jed Lowrie went 2-for-3 and both his hits were home runs. Finishing the season with .287 batting average, .381 on-base percentage, and .526 slugging should guarantee the switch-hitter a spot on the 25-man roster next season.

As he did for Mike Lowell and Tim Wakefield in the first game of the series Terry Francona pulled David Ortiz and Jason Varitek so they could be cheered by 37,453 faithful fans. Ortiz’s last hit of the season wasn’t a towering homer or a grounder through the shift but a bunt single to the vacated left side of the infield. Varitek was replaced by Kevin Cash in the top of the ninth and a chant of “Va-ri-tek!” echoed through the park.

There’s no place like home. Ryan Kalish thought so, too: he stole it in sixth.

Game 162: October 3, 2010
4L: Dustin Moseley (4-4)
2B: Brett Gardner (20)
HR: Nick Swisher (29)
WinRed Sox
8W: John Lackey (14-11)
H: Daniel Bard (32)
HR: J.D. Drew (22), Jed Lowrie – 2 (9)

October 3, 2010

Bill Hall-elujah

As he didn’t have the impact of Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, or David Ortiz, Bill Hall’s possible departure from the Red Sox has not been widely discussed. If Boston exercises its club option Hall would be paid $9.25 million in 2011, a price tag that the front office may balk at since it has a cheaper infield option with Jed Lowrie.

Hall played every position but first base and catcher, so his versatility will be missed. He pinch ran for Ortiz in the bottom of the eighth, giving him a close-up look at a miracle. With the bases loaded, Kevin Cash worked a walk to push the tying run across home. “And he shall reign for ever and ever!” Because backup catchers have a long shelf life; witness Cash’s line of .133 batting average, .224 on-base percentage, and .150 slugging percentage with the Red Sox.

As ineffective as Cash was as a hitter so were A.J. Burnett and Daisuke Matsuzaka as starters. Neither pitcher made it past the sixth inning and both gave up four runs. Burnett surrendered more hits but Matsuzaka relinquished more base on balls. Mix inefficient pitchers with two of the more patient lineups in the majors and you have a four-hour extra inning contest.

Burnett’s moment of embarrassment was the third inning leadoff solo shot by Felipe Lopez that had the journeyman infielder flipping his bat. At least Lopez had his “true Red Sox moment.” Matsuzaka’s was walking Lance Berkman in the first with the bases loaded to give the visitors the early lead.

Hall filled Ortiz’s sizable cleats in the bottom of the tenth, caroming the ball off the far left field wall near where it meets the center field wall for a double. Cash came through again, this time with a sacrifice bunt to advance Hall to third. Eric Patterson joined Lopez in having the defining play of his Red Sox career, a ringing single lined past Ivan Nova’s outstretched arm. The extra innings loss meant no champagne would flow for the Yankees, who now had to win another game to clinch the division title.

Game 161: October 2, 2010 ∙ 10 innings
6H: Sergio Mitre (1), Royce Ring (1)
BS, L: Ivan Nova (1, 1-2)
2B: Francisco Cervelli (11)
WinRed Sox
7W: Robert Manuel (1-0)
2B: Daniel Nava (14), Bill Hall (16)
HR: Felipe Lopez (8)

It Really is a Marathon

The miles show on Mike Lowell’s face but not in his words. “You know, I’m kind of at a loss for words to kind of explain the emotions I’ve felt over the last five years, with respect to the support and positive response I’ve gotten from Red Sox fans,” said Lowell during the pre-game festivities celebrating his baseball career. “But I think it’s your passion and your knowledge for baseball, I’ll truly miss but I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”

Josh Beckett, who came with Lowell in the trade with the Marlins, gave the corner infielder a third base bag. The left field wall echoed fans’ signs and thoughts: “THANK YOU MIKE.”

The Red Sox’s marathon season reached Heartbreak Hill. The Red Sox ran it with crutches and the Yankees participated in it like a relay, handing off the baton to deadline acquisitions. While perennial All-Star Lance Berkman hasn’t become a true Yankee yet, adding him to the lineup along with Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood gave the Gothamites proven major league options while Boston’s lineup card closely resembled something Torey Lovullo would draw up in McCoy or Arnie Beyeler puts together at Hadlock.

Despite the vast disparity in talent the Pawtucket/Portland Red Sox tied the Yankees late in the game. Joba Chamberlain inherited baserunner Lars Anderson from Boone Logan in the seventh and immediately surrendered a Bill Hall line drive single over Robinson Cano’s glove. Anderson advanced to third on the hit. The rookie first baseman then scored on Chamberlain’s wild pitch to Daniel Nava, bringing the score to 5-4. Chamberlain hasn’t looked so discomfited since being attacked by a swarm of midges.

The local nine scored the tying run in the eighth under similar circumstances. Wood walked Jed Lowrie, Victor Martinez, and David Ortiz in succession to load the bases. Pinch runners Eric Patterson and Josh Reddick replaced Lowrie and Martinez, tactics that paid off in part. Patterson scored easily on a wild pitch but Reddick in his rookie enthusiasm tried to score as well and was thrown out at home.

On that play Tim McCarver marveled at the Yankees response rather than how the score was leveled 5-5 by Wood’s wildness. Ramiro Pena had the common sense to catch the ball Jorge Posada threw to him and then tossed to Wood, who did what any pitcher would do and covered home. But in McCarvers’s eyes it was comparable to Derek Jeter’s play against the Athletics in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS.

Who else but Jonathan Papelbon, who blew eight saves in 2010, would give up the winning run in extra innings?

The Red Sox closer, who compared himself to Mariano Rivera, allowed a base on balls to Brett Gardner to begin the tenth. With the speedster on base Joe Girardi went with small ball maneuvers. Pena bunted Gardner over. Jeter singled off Hall’s bare hand and Gardner scored as Boston’s multipurpose player stumbled after the ball.

In the bottom of the tenth Rivera showed Papelbon what a proven closer can do with a one-two-three inning. Robinson Cano demonstrated how to bare-hand a grounder for the second out. The Yankees kept pace with the Rays, who defeated the Royals, for first place in the AL East.

Game 160: October 2, 2010 ∙ 10 innings
6H: Boone Logan (13), Joba Chamberlain (25)
BS: Kerry Wood (4)
W: Phil Hughes (18-8)
S: Mariano Rivera (33)
2B: Nick Swisher (33), Mark Teixeira (36), Robinson Cano – 2 (41)
3B: Curtis Granderson (7)
HR: Robinson Cano (29)
Red Sox
5L: Jonathan Papelbon (5-7)
2B: Mike Lowell (13), Darnell McDonald (18)

October 1, 2010

Power Outage

Since Jon Lester fell far short of tallying his 20th win of the season the story of the night was the power outage in the bottom of the sixth. Commonwealth Edison had an outage in the neighborhood, which caused a 21-minute delay in play.

Red Sox would have preferred the lights go out in the bottom half of the fourth. Lester struggled to maintain the 2-2 tie but allowed a double to Alejandro De Aza and bases on balls to Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez to load the bases for Paul Konerko. The Red Sox southpaw was far from lights out: his 95-mile an hour fastball was right down the middle of the plate and bottom of the letters high. It was Konerko’s ninth career grand slam.

Marco Scutaro, Mike Lowell, and Bill Hall provided some power, but only enough to cue the organ. While Lester didn’t reach his milestone of 20 victories, Victor Martinez clouted his 20th home run in the third inning.

The Red Sox didn’t produce a playoff berth but celebrated a bevy of births. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz both welcomed their firstborns, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s wife Tomoyo had their third child, and now Adrian Beltre has flown to Los Angeles to be with his wife Sandra, who has gone into labor.

On Saturday the Red Sox will make up the postponed first game of their last series of the season. The league scheduled the games between Boston and New York probably thinking the match-ups would put the final touches on the playoff picture. The games’ results will be immaterial but at least there will a few celebrations. Mike Lowell’s baseball career will be honored, Johnny Pesky’s 91st birthday will celebrated, and the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams’s final game will be commemorated.

Game 159: September 30, 2010
Red Sox
2L: Jon Lester (19-9)
2B: Marco Scutaro (38), Mike Lowell (12), Bill Hall (15)
HR: Victor Martinez (20)
WinWhite Sox
8W: John Danks (15-11)
2B: Alejandro De Aza (2)
HR: Paul Konerko (39), Dayan Viciedo (4)

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