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Home » Monthly Archive » August 2011

August 31, 2011

Clap On, Clap Off

Jerry Remy’s nickname for Francisco Cervelli, the Pest, while apt, doesn’t have the zing that Boston Dirt Dogs’ moniker does. In response to Cervelli’s trained seal impersonation at home plate in the fifth inning the Yankees catcher was dubbed “the Yankee Clapper.”

Give Cervelli a standing ovation, ladies and gentlemen. That was his third home run. In his career. (He made his major league debut in 2008 but didn’t have appreciable at bats until 2009.)

John Lackey stuck a four-seamer in Cervelli’s spine when he led off the seventh inning. Rather than take his base the backstop made a move to the mound only to be blocked by Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s sizable bulk. The benches cleared and the bullpens made their way to the infield but no blows were exchanged. The retaliatory pitch bit the local nine in the end as Cervelli advanced on a passed ball, proceeded to third on Brett Gardner’s bunt single, and scored when Derek Jeter grounded into a double play. The extra run would yield the game’s final score, 5-2.

It was amazing the brawl wasn’t more lively. The game opened with Curtis Granderson not getting a base in the first inning as home plate umpire Ed Rapuano ruled that the ball hit the knob of the bat rather than his hand. CC Sabathia retaliated in the bottom of the first by hitting Jacoby Ellsbury in the elbow.

The Red Sox squandered bases loaded situations in the second and seventh innings. Rapuano’s Sabathia-sized strike zone for Yankees pitchers didn’t help the Boston batters’ cause, either. Rapuano called 15 pitches that should have been balls strikes in favor of the Yankees. In contrast, only one pitch that was outside of the zone was called a strike for a Red Sox hurler.

Perhaps to appear less favorable to the Yankees two of their club were ejected. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was thrown in the seventh in the aftermath of Cervelli’s beaning and Joe Girardi followed in the ninth when he raised a stink about Saltalamachia swinging at a pitch that hit him.

Game 134: August 30, 2011
WinNew York Yankees
W: CC Sabathia (18-7)
H: Corey Wade (5)
H: Boone Logan (8)
H: Rafael Soriano (16)
S: Mariano Rivera (35)
2B: Robinson Cano (36)
HR: Francisco Cervelli (2)
Boston Red Sox
L: John Lackey (12-10)
2B: Marco Scutaro (14), Jed Lowrie (13), David Ortiz (35)
HR: Carl Crawford (10)

August 28, 2011

Rolling Out the Tarp

There’s a hurricane starting in the park
Bedard’s throwing a pitch and it’s a curve ball with an arc
Finally, the fans are buying beer
Go ahead and sell out and Aramark will charge for air
See how the vendors will sell every piece to you
Don’t underestimate the things that Larry will do

The scars of our park remind me of the fuss
They keep me thinking that we should win it all
The scars of our park they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling

That we should win it all
(A’s gonna wish they never had met B)
Rolling out the tarp
(Rain is gonna fall, rolling out the tarp)
You had Bedard on the mound
(A’s gonna wish they never had met B)
And he played it to the beat
(Rain is gonna fall, rolling out the tarp)

Inspired by Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”

Erik Bedard would have been in line for his first win as a member of the Red Sox but a two-hour fifty-two minute rain delay ended his start just three outs short of the minimum. Bedard allowed just two singles but did permit four baserunners to reach on walks. He struck out five batters and didn’t allow a run despite having ducks on the pond in the first inning. Waterfowl would have felt at home in parts of the park where Fenway’s drainage system couldn’t keep up with Hurricane Irene.

Fenway was also home to a cousin of the mantis they encountered in Kansas City. Logan Morrison, a recent victim of a vicious mantis attack, should meet with his agent Fred Wray to begin drafting language for future contractual language around no-trade clauses to the Royals and the Red Sox.

David Ortiz went to the opposite field in the second with a two-run shot. Jarrod Saltalamacchia muscled the ball twice in Brandon Allen’s direction. In the fourth the catcher queued a grounder that Allen snared and tossed back quickly enough to Graham Godfrey to beat out Saltalamacchia’s head-first slide. Two innings later Saltalamacchia blooped the ball just past first base that Allen tried to catch over his shoulder but ended up dropping as he slipped on the slick turf. David DeJesus gathered the dropped ball but not in time to try to stop Jed Lowrie from scoring or hose Saltalamacchia at second.

With the sweep of the doubleheader the Red Sox built up a two-game lead between them and the Yankees, just in time for the three-game series between the AL East adversaries.

Game 133: August 27, 2011
Oakland Athletics
L: Graham Godfrey (1-2)
No extra base hits
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Alfredo Aceves (9-1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (30), Jacoby Ellsbury (34), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (20)
HR: David Ortiz (27)

Hurricane Rally

Guillermo Moscoso’s name sounds like he should be an executive chef at a Michelin three-star restaurant or an avant-garde choreographer debuting his work at Masdanza. Instead of those lofty professions this Moscoso faced off against Jon Lester on a slick, muddy mound in the opening game of a day-night doubleheader.

The Red Sox scored in each inning they faced Moscoso. In the first inning Marco Scutaro knocked the ball off the top of the scoreboard, a ricochet that allowed the shortstop to advanced to second base. Safe at second, safe and secure with Dunkin Donuts newest Coolatta flavor, Minty Mantis.

Scutaro advanced to third base on Adrian Gonzalez’s ground out and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s sharp grounder off the left field stands. Cliff Pennington pursued the ball into shallow left field and fired to Jemile Weeks just in time to swipe tag Pedroia. Pedroia’s quick reaction time often allow him to evade such tags, but Weeks seems to have similarly honed his reflexes.

Gonzalez led off the third with a double off the wall. Pedroia followed up with a five-pitch walk and both scored on David Ortiz’s liner to left-center. The Red Sox second baseman missed the plate on his initial slide but returned to the touch the dish. The home plate umpire Marvin Hudson wasn’t even looking toward his area of responsibility at that point.

The officiating crew seemed equally oblivious to the elements. Tim McClelland allowed the game to dribble into the seventh inning even though the score was already 9-2. It wasn’t until Jon Lester slipped during his delivery that the tarp came back on the field.

Three hours later Dan Wheeler took over for Lester for an inning, allowing only a single off the bat of Scott Sizemore. Michael Bowden, summoned from Pawtucket to replace Scott Atchison, pitched the rest of the game and almost escaped a bases-loaded situation in the ninth. Bowden kept the damage limited to one run.

Fortunately for Lester and the Red Sox, the southpaw avoided damage to himself pitching on a treacherous hill.

Game 132: August 27, 2011
Oakland Athletics
L: Guillermo Moscoso (6-8)
2B: Kurt Suzuki (22)
HR: Brandon Allen (6)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jon Lester (14-6)
2B: Marco Scutaro (13), Jacoby Ellsbury (33), Adrian Gonzalez (39), David Ortiz – 2 (34)
HR: Jason Varitek (9)

August 27, 2011

Flustered Flutterball

The Oakland Athletics repaid upon the Red Sox the violence visited them by the Yankees in the epic drubbing on Thursday. The typically feeble Athletics offense exploded for 15 runs, the most runs they have scored in a game this season. The only thing dazzling from Tim Wakefield was the sheen of his sweat; the knuckleballer was torched in his four innings of work, surrendering four earned runs.

Scott Atchison was called upon to burn innings and lasted for three innings. The same cannot be said for Matt Albers, who gave up as many earned runs as Wakefield but in just one inning. Terry Francona tapped Darnell McDonald, who became the first position player this season to take the mound.

McDonald had some fun with his fill-in duties. “Trying to throw strikes, I was a little wild early on. Couldn’t find my release point. You know, a couple more bullpen sessions with [pitching coach Curt Young], I’ll be ready for the playoffs.”

David Ortiz, who blasted a solo shot in the fourth right after Dustin Pedroia’s home run, commented on McDonald’s pitching appearance. “It was cool, man, to see my man out there performing as a pitcher. Now he knows it’s not that easy.”

A very expectant Holly Beckett made a booth appearance to promote the 2011 Beckett Bowl. Holly is not your typical blonde trophy wife: she graduated with her husband from the same high school in the same year, she has a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering, and has a pilot’s license.

Game 131: August 26, 2011
WinOakland Athletics
W: Gio Gonzalez (11-11)
H: Brian Fuentes (6)
2B: Jemile Weeks – 2 (17), Brandon Allen – 2 (5), Hideki Matsui (22), Cliff Pennington (19), David DeJesus (19), Josh Willingham (22)
HR: Scott Sizemore (7), Willingham (23)
Boston Red Sox
L: Tim Wakefield (6-6)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (32), David Ortiz (32), Josh Reddick (12)
3B: Ellsbury (4)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (17), David Ortiz (26)

August 26, 2011

Ranger Rovers

This team makes me giddy as a schoolgirl gazing at her crush as he gets on the school bus they share.

As happy as Dustin Pedroia is when he beats Terry Francona at cribbage.

As excited as astronomers are about a supernova in M101, 21 million light years away.

They are as cool as Fenway when they bring an ice rink for hockey, as they did on January 1, 2010 and will on January 7, 2012.

They make me want to write terza rimas in Romansh, strum a love song composed by me for them on a guitar made from wood hewn by my own hands from a tree torn from the ground by a hurricane named Adrian, or travel to the Amazon Basin to discover a new species and name it after one of them.

A beetle named after Pedroia? Xysticus circumcisus. A sloth inspired by Adrian Gonzalez? Praepotens clava. David Ortiz in piscine form? Grandis pater.

Not even my punnishing titles can tarnish them.

They got Andrew Miller to a half-dozen wins for the first time since 2008. One thing they might not be able to do? Take over Steve Jobs’s position at Apple.

But only because the position has been filled.

Game 130: August 25, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Andrew Miller (6-1)
2B: Josh Reddick (11)
HR: Adrian Gonzalez – 2 (23), David Ortiz (25), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13)
Texas Rangers
L: Alexi Ogando (12-6)
No extra base hits

August 25, 2011

You Got What I Need

Kevin Youkilis found a profitable way to spend his time during his disabled list stint. A-list movie stars only let such commercials run on continents other than North America. Perhaps the MLBPA should intervene.

While Youk still has what the Red Sox need, Jacoby Ellsbury’s return was like a spark that lit the Red Sox lineup like a string of firecrackers. All along the batting order bats were cracking: Carl Crawford went 2-for-3 with a two-run double, a sacrifice fly, and a two-run home run.

Adding to the Red Sox pyrotechnics were Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s eighth inning shot was particularly methodical. Darren O’Day thought he evaded the slugger’s implacable bat when Gonzalez pulled the ball foul. Gonzalez converted the very next four-seamer into a four-bagger, causing the Rangers reliever to bellow a four-letter word.

Texas native Josh Beckett, like Abilene-born John Lackey the night before, enjoyed embarrassingly extravagant run support. The Red Sox scored in every inning but the third and ninth. As in Lackey’s start, every starting position player had at least one hit. Tim Wakefield was seen desperately trying to bottle the excess runs, like Henry Ford capturing Thomas Edison’s last breath in a test tube.

NESN has posted the official rules for the Signs of Fenway Contest. The signs will be judged on creativity and originality in equal parts.

Not mentioning New
England’s premiere
Network would be dumb

Game 129: August 24, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Josh Beckett (11-5)
2B: Carl Crawford (19), Marco Scutaro (12), David Ortiz (31)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury (23), Crawford (9), Adrian Gonzalez (21)
Texas Rangers
L: Matt Harrison (10-9)
HR: Mike Napoli (22)

August 24, 2011

Good Signs

Jacoby Ellsbury’s return to the lineup jump-started Red Sox offense, getting on base with a ground ball single to right to leadoff the first. Terry Francona was unused to having runners on base so early in the game and called for Marco Scutaro to sacrifice bunt Ellsbury to third. Adrian Gonzalez eschewed his National League roots and homered to the second deck in right rather than sacrificing Ellsbury for the score.

Boston’s bats, as red hot as Don and Jerry’s polo shirts, scored two runs in the second and third innings as well. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway were key to each inning with their doubles.

Seemingly in response to commentary about his recent lack of production Gonzalez knocked in his second home run of the night in the fourth inning, a two-out solo shot to center field.

For good measure the visitors tallied a quartet of runs in the eighth. With two down and two on Scutaro’s fly ball to left was initially ruled a double and on review the call stood, plating Lavarnway and Saltalamacchia. Pedroia didn’t take kindly to Mark Lowe intentionally walking Gonzalez to get to him and laced a double off the left field wall to plate Scutaro and Gonzalez.

The luxurious run support John Lackey received allowed him to notch his 12th win of the season. If I were to make a sign for NESN’s contest it would be:

Next time
Score more runs for the

Game 128: August 23, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: John Lackey (12-9)
H: Franklin Morales (7)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 2 (19), Ryan Lavarnway (2), Marco Scutaro (11), Dustin Pedroia (29)
HR: Adrian Gonzalez – 2 (20)
Texas Rangers
L: Colby Lewis (11-9)
HR: Josh Hamilton (17), Ian Kinsler (21)

August 23, 2011


Doug Eddings ruled Josh Reddick’s play on Ian Kinsler’s fly ball trapped rather than caught. Replays showed that Reddick made the catch before the ball touched the turf but did so awkwardly to his side as he came down to his knees. If Reddick stayed in the praying position he could have appealed to some higher power for some power. At this point Red Sox fans would take singles with runners on base let alone extra base hits.

As Admiral Ackbar exclaimed, “It’s a trap!” But unlike Ackbar, first base umpire Eddings was wrong.

With 102° heat at first pitch Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy got to wear their NESN polo shirts. For the fourth time this season they wore blue shirts, but at this point I’ve given up trying to discern the difference between robin egg and sky blue. It’s just the blues, like the funk the Boston bats are in with Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz, and Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup.

Game 127: August 22, 2011
Boston Red Sox
L: Erik Bedard (4-9)
No extra base hits
WinTexas Rangers
W: C.J. Wilson (13-5)
H: Koji Uehara (18)
2B: Yorvit Torrealba (26)
HR: Mike Napoli (21)

August 22, 2011

Kauffman’s Qualities

Prior to the game Heidi Watney gave the NESN audience a tour of the improvements to Kauffman Stadium and its amenities and made a rather good case for the organization being granted the 2012 All-Star game and festivities. Fenway Park simply cannot compete with Kauffman in terms of space and parking. Boston’s park is awkwardly yet endearingly ensconced in a city block while the Royals’ home is paired with Arrowhead Stadium to form the Truman Sports Complex.

The park lives up to their state’s nickname: the Crown Vision high definition scoreboard in center field certainly shows the crowd game information. The club added fountain view terraces, increased the width of concourses, and revamped the outfield concourses so that fans can walk entirely around the field.

So overall I was impressed by Kauffman’s renovations. They should definitely host the All-Star game… when they have their 100-year anniversary.

I think John W. Henry and his ownership group are finished with upgrading Fenway, but I think there’s one more bold move they could initiate. Would they ever consider buying Lansdowne Street to build a concourse behind the left field wall? They could put the home bullpens on that side, just glass it in on the field-facing side; I think the bullpen band would appreciate the air conditioning. Nothing that would change the current dimensions of the park, just something that would allow a fan to walk around the field without leaving it.

Speaking of the bullpen band, I was surprised that Daniel Bard is the Red Sox’s union representative since he’s only been in the majors since 2009. In response to Mike Jacobs’s 50-game suspension from the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox for human growth hormone (HGH) Bard recently stated that testing technology has to get better, that players are hesitant to get blood drawn before or right after games as it could negatively impact them, but that despite the hurdles players want the game to be clean and that HGH testing would eventually make its way to the big leagues.

Game 126: August 21, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jon Lester (13-6)
H: Daniel Bard (30)
2B: Marco Scutaro (10), Ryan Lavarnway (1)
3B: Jason Varitek (1)
HR: Darnell McDonald (5), Carl Crawford (8)
Kansas City Royals
L: Danny Duffy (3-8)
3B: Johnny Giavotella (2)

August 21, 2011

Do You Have Prince Albers in a Can?

Then leave him in there next time.

Tim Wakefield entered the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead and turned the ball over to Matt Albers with a one-run lead, Mike Moustakas on second, and one out. Albers allowed the inherited runner to score to tie the game and tacked on three of his own earned runs to the total. Franklin Morales returned the favor and allowed two of Albers’s runners to score when he surrendered a triple to Eric Hosmer.

I dreamed I was a kid in the Little League World Series with Terry Francona as my team’s manager. Our team played against Japan and I worked a walk off a little girl who threw knuckleballs to load the bases. I eventually scored and a woman in the audience complimented me on my plate discipline.

In my dream the little league relievers did a better job Boston’s bullpen. At least we didn’t cause NESN talking baby to cry.

Don Orsillo didn’t wear the chicken hat but did wear a tie similar to his May 19 ensemble. That tie was aligned so the grid appears as diamonds whereas last night’s tie had horizontal lines parallel to the horizon.

Game 125: August 20, 2011
Boston Red Sox
BS, L: Matt Albers (3, 4-4)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (17)
WinKansas City Royals
W: Felipe Paulino (2-9)
2B: Billy Butler (30), Alex Gordon 2 (39), Jeff Francoeur (37), Mike Moustakas (9)
3B: Eric Hosmer (3)

August 20, 2011

Muddy Chicken Hats

There are no words necessary. Get your own Chicken Lady hat for the low, low price of $4.95 (that’s right, less than five dollars!) at Century Novelty.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia flew the coop with a three-run home run in the fifth to give the visiting squad a 5-1 lead in the same inning that Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy doffed the hen headgear. The NESN broadcast team may have to add the fowl fedoras to their repertoire of lucky charms. The biddy bonnets also don’t clash with Orsillo’s wide array of ties.

In his second major league game Ryan Lavarnway knocked in his first hit. The ground ball single slipped between first and second to the right field to advance Jed Lowrie to second in the fifth frame.

Adrian Gonzalez, facial hair shorn, went 3-for-4 with two doubles, breaking an 0-for-14 slump over the past five games.

Jacoby Ellsbury made a circus catch in the right-center gap of Alex Gordon’s fly ball. Although the third inning web gem resulted in Mike Moustakas tagging up for the first run of the game Ellbury’s ballhawking prevented Gordon from notching an extra base hit. Ellsbury left the game in the bottom of the eighth inning after getting drilled in the number, but not until after he advanced to third on Mike Aviles’s double and tagged up on Gonzalez’s sac fly to left.

The Red Sox offense reblossomed in Kansas City, perhaps invigorated in the City of Fountains but more likely because Jeff Francis’s middling stuff was in the offing. Dustin Pedroia, hitting clean-up because of the recent spate of injuries, was intentionally walked twice by Francis. “Go ask Jeff Francis who I am.” Francis definitely remembers Pedroia from Game 1 of the 2007 World Series.

Game 124: August 19, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Andrew Miller (5-1)
S: Alfredo Aceves (2)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez – 2 (38), Carl Crawford (18), Mike Aviles (13)
3B: Darnell McDonald (1)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (12)
Kansas City Royals
L: Jeff Francis (4-14)
2B: Jeff Francoeur (36), Mike Moustakas (8), Billy Butler (29)

August 19, 2011


The Royals received an ill-gotten victory on Wednesday evening against the Yankees when the umpire crew failed to apply Kauffman Stadium’s ground rules to Billy Butler’s third inning fly ball to left. Even after Dana DeMuth, Kerwin Danley, Doug Eddings, and Chad Fairchild huddled in the review booth the home run call stood despite the first rule in Kansas City, “Foul poles -- above surrounding fenceline is a home run. Below surrounding fenceline is in play.”

Goodness knows the Yankees never get calls in their favor.

The Red Sox batters didn’t get any balls close enough to the fences for any controversial calls. When they knocked the balls to the outfield they tested the arms of the fielders and found that Alex Gordon and Melky Cabrera had cannons. Jason Varitek was hosed at second in the second by Gordon. Cabrera nicked Carl Crawford at home plate in the fourth inning for the final out, a particularly frustrating out as the score was knotted 3-3. Pedroia was another of Cabrera’s victims in the fifth inning but in the same play the infielder had successfully driven in the go-ahead run. Never doubt the Muddy Chicken.

Ryan Lavarnway made his major league debut, joining Jose Iglesias, Tommy Hottovy, and Kyle Weiland as the farmhands who have gotten to the show this season. The promising slugger showed none of his potential, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and no walks. He seemed a long way from succeeding Kevin Youkilis in the lineup.

As far as the ferocious praying mantis was from the NESN booth.

Game 123: August 18, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Josh Beckett (10-5)
H: Daniel Bard (29)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (29)
2B: Josh Reddick (10), Jed Lowrie (12), Dustin Pedroia (28)
Kansas City Royals
L: Luke Hochevar (8-10)
2B: Alex Gordon (27)
HR: Gordon (16)

August 18, 2011

Rocked Jocks

David Ortiz was out of the lineup up due to bursitis in his right heel and has since been joined by Kevin Youkilis, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore back. With any luck it will not develop into a seemingly season-ending injury like Clay Buchholz’s stress fracture.

Only three Red Sox hitters managed to find turf with their bats: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Youkilis. Ellsbury tripled to start the sixth, a feat as impressive as Pedroia’s called triple off Jon Lester in their epic series in Sullivan Tire commercials. Yes, events outside of the game were the most enjoyable parts of the last broadcast of the series.

Milan Lucic visited the NESN booth in the fourth inning sans trophy as he already had his quality time with Lord Stanley. To avoid inciting another riot Lucic took the Stanley Cup on a boat cruise when he returned to his hometown of Vancouver for his day with the trophy earlier this week. Lucic will host the Rock & Jock Softball charity event at LeLacheur Park in Lowell on August 24, where rank amateurs will outhit the slumping Red Sox batters.

Game 122: August 17, 2011
WinTampa Bay Rays
W: David Price (11-10)
2B: Johnny Damon (21), Ben Zobrist – 2 (40), B.J. Upton (16)
HR: Upton (17), Evan Longoria (19)
Boston Red Sox
L: John Lackey (11-9)
3B: Jacoby Ellsbury (3)

August 17, 2011

Take Three

Five, four, three. It’s the most common type of triple play according to SABR (although this particular page hasn’t been updated since August 2009). A play that took seconds was 17 years in the making.

John Valentin’s unassisted triple play on July 8, 1994 was by far rarer than Jed Lowrie, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez’s effort. The replay of the shortstop’s feat shows that people, including his own teammates, didn’t quite seem to realize that they had witnessed the turning of just the 10th unassisted triple play.

But the flawless coordination around the horn by the trio of infielders to end the top of the fourth was like Vaslav Nijinsky, Fred Astaire, and Bob Fosse on stage.

Game 121: August 16, 2011
WinTampa Bay Rays
W: Jeff Niemann (8-4)
2B: Johnny Damon (20)
HR: Desmond Jennings (5)
Boston Red Sox
L: Erik Bedard (4-8)
HR: Jason Varitek (8), Jacoby Ellsbury (22)

August 16, 2011


Three in the third by number… two. That was almost mathematically poetic. If Jacoby Ellsbury had an affinity for the first Mersenne prime number rather than the only even prime number I could have described a trio of threes. Instead the opening paragraph of this column wobbles uneasily, like a tricycle with a loose wheel.

The victory in the first game of the day-night double header broke the tie atop the AL East. By the end of the evening the two titans could be separated by 1½ games with Boston in the lead, or Red Sox ahead by a half game, or behind by a half game. It took me a lot longer to figure that out than it has taken mathematicians to compute Mersenne primes with thousands of digits.

Funny, I picked the title for this column before the second game started and as I wrote it the Red Sox turned a triple play in the bottom of the fourth in the night game. The 5-4-3 triplet killing was the Red Sox’s first since John Valentin’s unassisted triple play against the Mariners on July 8, 1994. What started out unbalanced ends elegantly, like Adrian Gonzalez stretching to glove a throw.

Game 120: August 16, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays
L: James Shields (11-10)
2B: Desmond Jennings (6), Ben Zobrist (38)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jon Lester (12-6)
H: Daniel Bard (28)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (28)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury (21)

August 14, 2011

A Sadder and a Wiser Man

For the fourth time Tim Wakefield and his teammates didn’t get to celebrate his 200th win. This spoof about Wakefield by The Onion is beginning to seem more truth than satire: “Facing the cruel prospect of winning 200 grueling games in his interminable 19-season career, 44-year-old Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield tried to get a line drive to hit him in the head Friday to finally put an end to it all.”

The Red Sox mounted a rally in the eighth in support of Wakefield. With one out Dustin Pedroia lined a single to Ichiro Suzuki. Kevin Youkilis proved productive in his return to the lineup; after he flailed at Jeff Gray’s four-seamer but he then jacked a decent slider into the left field stands to bring his team within two runs.

Brandon League shut down the three batters that he faced in the ninth. It’s amazing how Seattle transforms relievers of little account into closers. League is 2011’s version of David Aardsma. League struck out Jed Lowrie and Carl Crawford and then induced a line out off Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s bat after an eight-pitch battle. When the ball landed into Franklin Gutierrez’s glove the Red Sox lead in the AL East dwindled to a half game.

While the major league team fends off its rival the front office is fighting for the franchise’s future. At midnight the clock runs out for Boston to sign its amateur draftees. First rounders Matt Barnes and Blake Swihart and supplemental rounders Henry Owens and Jackie Bradley all remain unsigned. Hopefully Theo Epstein will find a way late in the game to come up successful.

The NESN crew somehow found Timothy Hutton, hidden behind sunglasses, a Red Sox cap, and a middling acting career, in the stands. Hutton was 20 years old when he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Ordinary People in 1980 and hasn’t done much since. How poetic that someone afflicted by the Oscar Jinx followed the Red Sox.

Game 119: August 14, 2011
Boston Red Sox
L: Tim Wakefield (6-5)
HR: Kevin Youkilis (17)
WinSeattle Mariners
W: Charlie Furbush (3-4)
S: Brandon League (29)
2B: Wily Mo Pena (1)
HR: Casper Wells (7)

Aces Wild

Felix Hernandez’s alter ego Larry Bernandez took over in the sixth inning. The Red Sox touched up Bernandez for four runs in that inning when Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia both homered with a runner on base.

The quartet of runs were not enough to overcome the lead that Josh Beckett’s doppelganger Henry Reckett gave up in the first inning. The local nine scored five runs in the first, led by Ichiro Suzuki’s first-pitch four-bagger. Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley singled and doubled respectively and both scored on Mike Carp’s single up the middle. Reckett didn’t notch an out until he faced former Red Sox outfielder Wily Mo Pena. Casper Wells homered to plate the fourth and fifth runs of the inning and game.

Besides the two innings of offense the only other highlight was Terry Francona’s ejection in the fourth. Home plate umpire, fill-in official, and teacher at the Wendelstedt Umpire School Mark Ripperger initially ruled Ellsbury safe at home but he was overruled by first base umpire and crew chief Brian O’Nora. Ellsbury did say the crew did make the correct call after the game but that didn’t undo Francona’s tossing and classic “you’re throwing me out, I’ll throw you out” comeback.

While Mariners don’t field the best team on the field the advertising agency they employ, Copacino + Fujikado, develops a slate of winning spots every season. For 2011 the Red Sox partnered with Conover Tuttle Pace for the “We Won’t Rest” campaign. It seems the level of humor in a baseball team’s commercials is inversely proportional to that team’s chances to win the World Series. Hence the amusing Mariners and Athletics clips and the Rangers’ failed attempt at wittiness.

Game 118: August 13, 2011
Boston Red Sox
L: Josh Beckett (9-5)
3B: Marco Scutaro (1)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury (20), Dustin Pedroia (16)
WinSeattle Mariners
W: Felix Hernandez (11-10)
H: Jamey Wright (14)
S: Brandon League (28)
2B: Dustin Ackley (11), Jack Wilson (8)
HR: Ichiro Suzuki (2), Casper Wells (6)

August 13, 2011

Leave it to Beavan

Safeco Field is renowned as a pitcher’s park but you could have fooled David Ortiz, Jed Lowrie, and Josh Reddick. All three homered to power a series-opening victory against the star-crossed Mariners, a team adrift on a sea of futility.

Reddick’s blast was particularly spectacular: it hit off the window of the Hit it Here Café and Terrace. The window didn’t shatter but Seattle’s lead was.

Blake Beavan tallied his second loss against the Red Sox. Oddly enough in his first appearance against them at Fenway, which is a hitter’s haven, Beavan didn’t surrender a single home run.

Beavan seems to be a hurler who can mature into a solid third starter behind Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda. What the Mariners lack are impact bats.

For the first time since his first two years in professional baseball (Nippon Professional or MLB) Ichiro Suzuki is batting below .300. His 2011 on-base percentage of .309 is 62 points below his career average and his slugging percentage of .315 is massively decreased from his average of .422. Jerry Remy remarked how Suzuki puts on a home run derby showcase during batting practice. But in-game against John Lackey the right fielder managed just a double in the first, and it was his only hit of the evening.

With his paltry batting average Suzuki still leads his team. Brendan Ryan is second with .263 and carries unimpressive OBP (.322) and slugging (.338) to boot. Justin Smoak lags even further behind that pair with .220/.317/.387. The first baseman left the game in the second inning after he stopped Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s sharp grounder with his face.

Along with Beavan, Smoak was a key piece in Seattle’s trade of Cliff Lee to the Rangers. Smoak was to grow into a premiere first baseman in the mold of Justin Morneau (when he was an MVP, not this year’s edition). Now he has to wait for his fractured nose to heal before he can resume his campaign to live up the lofty expectations of the Mariners front office.

Game 117: August 12, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jonn Lackey (11-8)
H: Franklin Morales (6)
H: Daniel Bard (27)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (27)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (27), Adrian Gonzalez (36)
HR: David Ortiz (24), Jed Lowrie (4), Josh Reddick (6)
Seattle Mariners
L: Blake Beavan (3-3)
2B: Ichiro Suzuki (16), Mike Carp (8)

August 12, 2011

Money Footy Ball

The series against the feeble Twins ended not with a bang but with a whimper. In the seventh inning Mike Aviles worked a two-out walk and advanced to second on Trevor Plouffe’s failure to glove Nick Blackburn’s toss to first. Marco Scutaro, seemingly inspired by Jed Lowrie’s return to the team, lined a single into left to bring his squad within a run.

David Ortiz clouted the game-tying home run into a bullpen catcher’s mitt in the eighth, a shot to the deepest part of the park. But another slugger, Jim Thome, broke the tie in the bottom of the same frame with a double to left that Carl Crawford might have had a chance at with a better route and positioning.

Alfredo Aceves took over from Jon Lester after he gave up the lead but wasn’t the beneficiary of a vulture win by the generosity of the Red Sox lineup.

John Henry was generous to his newly-acquired soccer team Liverpool during the Premiere League’s offseason. He spent $170 million on five new players:

  • Charlie Adam: $13 million
  • Andy Carroll: $57 million (highest transfer fee paid for an English player)
  • Stewart Downing: $30 million
  • Jordan Henderson: $30 million
  • Luís Suárez: $40 million

(I wouldn’t have minded if a few of those simoleons went to Henry’s club across the pond.)

The signings were driven by a statistical approach to determining player worth, much like the sabermetric-minded Red Sox front office. The question is whether such analyses can be as useful in soccer as it is in baseball. Baseball is nicely segmented by innings, outs, and counts while soccer ebbs and flows about the field.

Damien Comolli is Liverpool’s equivalent of Theo Epstein. This article in the Wall Street Journal takes pains to note that Comolli wears glasses. It’s only a matter of time that Liverpudlian fans’ honeymoon with Henry ends and his new direction with the football club is roundly vilified the Liverpool Echo.

Game 116: August 10, 2011
Boston Red Sox
L: Jon Lester (11-6)
2B: Mike Aviles (12)
HR: David Ortiz (23)
WinMinnesota Twins
BS, W: Glen Perkins (2, 4-2)
S: Joe Nathan (9)
2B: Joe Mauer (10), Jim Thome (12), Danny Valencia (21)

August 10, 2011

True Relievers

It’s a good thing that Erik Bedard is of the non-rioting breed of Canadian. The Navan, Ontario native had to cope with Tim McClelland’s rather unforgiving strike zone. All four of Bedard’s walks came in the torturous first inning which the Twins shot out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a sacrifice fly by Michael Cuddyer and a bases-loaded walk to Delmon Young.

The Twins are a shadow of their usual second-half selves. Instead of mounting an attack on the AL Central they are floundering with a losing record and their past MVPs, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, in varying states of disrepair. Their rotation hinges on Francisco Liriano, last night’s starter who at his most brilliant is not the dominant force he was before his Tommy John surgery. His no-hitter on May 3 of this year, the first of the season, featured just two strikeouts and six bases on balls.

There’s something more to the Bullpen Band than rhythmic tapping. They seem to exercise some sort of neurolinguistic programming on the Boston lineup so that the batters score late to give them wins. Alfredo Aceves has eight wins, more than Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz, who are both stuck with half a dozen wins. Matt Albers has four victories, tying him with Andrew Miller and Jonathan Papelbon.

Even though relievers drum their hearts out in support of rallies the hitters and starters on the bench don’t seem to return the favor. While Albers surrendered the game-tying RBI double by Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the sixth Josh Reddick blew his bubblegum into a bubble about the size of John Lackey’s head. Lackey was amused, almost impressed. That was probably the last pleasant look Lackey will give Reddick — the next fly ball that drops for a single in the outfield in Reddick’s territory will inspire one of Lackey’s overreactions.

Since the Red Sox didn’t get a bat at the deadline Darnell McDonald will be one of the options off the bench that will bolster the team while regulars get some rest. McDonald came through with a two-run shot to right in the fifth to tie the game 2-2.

David Ortiz broke the 3-3 tie in the seventh with swinging bunt up the first base line that Phil Dumatrait tripped over in his ungainly pursuit of the ball. The former Red Sox draftee was sent to the Reds in return for Scott Williamson in 2003, a bit of trivia that will share space on his resume along with his blooper reel quality play.

Game 115: August 9, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
BS, W: Matt Albers (2, 4-3)
H: Franklin Morales (5)
H: Daniel Bard (26)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (26)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez (35)
HR: Darnell McDonald (4)
Minnesota Twins
L: Matt Capps (3-6)
2B: Tsuyoshi Nishioka (5)

August 9, 2011

Darts and Vulture

MINNEAPOLIS — Alfredo Aceves, a known clubhouse prankster, extended his most elaborate practical joke yet last night.

“Ever since the end of July me and the guys have been avoiding getting Wakes [Tim Wakefield] his 200th win,” whispered Aceves with an enormous grin across his face. “I kinda went overboard in Chicago and lost the game, but since then we’ve made it so someone from the bullpen gets the win.”

When asked who was in on the antics Aceves merely put a finger to his lips. But others in the Red Sox proudly proclaimed their role in the shenanigans.

“You try and go out there every fifth day and try and catch a knuckler,” exclaimed an exasperated Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “It was pretty evil of me to tie the game up in the sixth with that home run. Timmy came up to me all grateful and excited when I got back to the bench. It took everything I had not to bust out laughing. I looked over at Papi [David Ortiz] and his shoulders were shaking.” Before Saltalamacchia’s home run Ortiz blasted a two-run four-bagger into the right field seats.

One person not part of the ploy was Terry Francona. “I’m pulling my hair out trying to get Wakes that W, which is saying something considering how little I have left.” Francona called for the sacrifice bunt in the seventh and eighth innings to advance runners into scoring position. The Red Sox took the lead in the eighth when Joe Mauer dropped the baseball at home and Ortiz slid home safely. “The guy comes into my office before his starts and is all, “Gonna get that 200 today, skip!” I know Theo is going to rip me a new one for those sac bunts, but I can barely look at the guy these days.”

“Papi almost blew it!” blurted Dustin Pedroia. Aceves came up beside Pedroia and put his arm around the infielder.

“Yeah, man, I had to get the game tied again and rely on schmucks like this.” Aceves and Pedroia looked at each conspiratorially and snickered. “Can you believe I have more wins this season than him?”

Game 114: August 8, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
BS, W: Alfredo Aceves (2, 8-1)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (25)
2B: David Ortiz (30), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (16)
3B: Carl Crawford (5)
HR: Ortiz (22), Saltalamacchia (11)
Minnesota Twins
L: Glen Perkins (3-2)
2B: Michael Cuddyer (24), Jim Thome (11), Joe Mauer (9), Trevor Plouffe (5)
HR: Jason Kubel (9)

August 8, 2011

The Chronicles of Reddick

A man named Josh prevailed last night and it might not be the first one you think of. To be sure Beckett did respectably well against a potent lineup: 6 innings pitched, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. The single run was an improbable home run off the bat of Eduardo Nunez with two outs in the fifth. Beckett got Eric Chavez and Russell Martin out easily with just five pitches. Martin’s hit was a hard liner to right but the Yankee catcher was hosed by Josh Reddick at second.

It was almost as if Beckett overlooked the nine-hole hitter Nunez, who knocked the ball of the base of the stanchion on the left field wall. The fly ball would have been an out to the warning track in other parks but in Fenway it tied the game.

Curt Schilling visited the ESPN team in the third inning. If it weren’t for his World Series rings one couldn’t tell he was a former professional athlete. It doesn’t appear that he went to San Diego this year to promote his wares at the Comic-Con as he looked as pale as a fan of one of his company’s games. The ESPN camera crew also got a close-up of him in the booth, providing ample evidence that the quietude of his retirement and the tight quarters were not flattering.

After decades of torture by Joe Morgan, Bobby Valentine’s well-meaning buffoonery should come as a relief. But Valentine’s clownishness is worsened when flanked by Dan Shulman’s crisp delivery and Orel Hershiser’s astute observations. He would make a good pre-game personality; he could have skits with his fake mustache or have segments on Japanese language, culture, and baseball. Replace Valentine with Barry Larkin and ESPN would have a perfect hitting complement to Hershiser’s pitching expertise.

The game spanned four and a quarter hours, or around the length of the extended version of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” Just like it unfolded in that epic film, good prevailed at Fenway. In the ninth the Dark Lord Rivera was vanquished by an unlikely trio: Marco Scutaro (rather dwarfish) led off with a double, Jacoby Ellsbury (definitely elvish) sacrifice bunted Scutaro over, and Dustin Pedroia (hobbit, no doubt) lofted a sac fly to left to tie the game.

With one out in the tenth David Ortiz fired a ground-rule double to right. Terry Francona pinch ran Darnell McDonald for the designated hitter, a sign that his team must win in this inning or face more frames without a key clouter. Reddick took the intentional walk of Carl Crawford to get to him as a personal affront and sent the ball to the left field corner to plate McDonald.

As Jeff Albertson would say: “Best extra innings game ever.”

Game 113: August 7, 2011 ∙ 10 innings
New York Yankees
H: Rafael Soriano (11)
H: David Robertson (24)
BS: Mariano Rivera (5)
L: Phil Hughes (2-4)
HR: Eduardo Nunez (4), Brett Gardner (5)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Daniel Bard (2-5)
2B: Marco Scutaro (9), David Ortiz (29)

August 7, 2011


Against every other team besides the Red Sox when CC Sabathia starts victory is a cakewalk. Sabathia has six losses; four of them were delivered by Boston, one by Detroit, and one by Tampa Bay. The hefty hurler pitched a Lackeyan line: 6 innings, 9 hits, 7 earned runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts.

Part of the local nine’s two-run attack in the third featured one of Dustin Pedroia’s signature slides. The second baseman knocked the ball off the left field wall at that angle that is the difference between a single for a slow runner and a double for a swift one. Pedroia decided go for the double. He had to slide around the bag to avoid Robinson Cano’s tag, shifting from his right to his left hand to stay in contact with the bag as his momentum carried him past the keystone sack. Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, and the Fox crew desperately replayed every angle in slow motion to prove that Pedroia should have been out but to no avail. Pedroia pounded the infield dirt in triumph as Jarrod Saltalamacchia touched home for the second run of the inning.

The Red Sox pummeled Sabathia for five more runs in the fourth. Kevin Youkilis doubled to lead off the second half of the frame and scored on Carl Crawford’s liner to left. Marco Scutaro knocked a single up the middle to plate newcomer Mike Aviles. Jacoby Ellsbury capped off the barrage with a three-run homer to the right field stands.

While Sabathia had trouble keeping the ball in the park a beer vendor had difficulty keeping his wares out of the field of play. Since they don’t have regular gigs Buck and McCarver were ill at ease at keeping interest in a runaway game so they kept on harping on the spilled beers.

John Lackey continued the rehabilitation of his image as a workhorse pitcher by notching his fifth win in his past six starts and tallying his fifth quality start of the season. Lackey had a season-defining inning in the fifth. The pitcher got himself into a jam by allowing Francisco Cervelli to line a single to left and then hit Brett Gardner with a pitch (on which Gardner had squared up to bunt but it was not ruled as a strike). Lackey surrendered a single up the middle to Derek Jeter that made the score 7-3 with more damage in the offing.

It had all the earmarks of a typical Lackey collapse, but Curt Young’s visit to the mound seemed to do the pitcher well as he faced off against the heart of the Yankees’ lethal order. Both Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira struck out on four pitches and Cano grounded out to Adrian Gonzalez for the last out.

New Era released another Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski commercial dramatizing the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, this one featuring Krasinki’s happy trail. It seems the writers on these commercials have a Yankee bias; I keep waiting for Baldwin to get his comeuppance but it has yet to happen. As long as the Red Sox keep winning on the field Yankee sycophants can write their propaganda.

Game 112: August 6, 2011
New York Yankees
L: CC Sabathia (16-6)
2B: Francisco Cervelli (4)
HR: Mark Teixeira (32)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: John Lackey (10-8)
2B: Carl Crawford (17), Dustin Pedroia (26), Kevin Youkilis (30)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury (19)

August 6, 2011

Colon Blow

Why won’t Bartolo Colon blow like he did for the Red Sox? Colon Blow. Sounds delicious. But now there’s new Super Colon Blow.

Colon, reanimated from his 2006-2009 torpor by way of stem cell treatment of his shoulder and elbow, pitched for only 4⅔ innings and departed the mound with the bases loaded, two out, his team down two runs, and an MVP-caliber batter ready to break open the game.

Joe Girardi’s rash managerial style worked in his favor in this instance. He called Boone Logan from the bullpen and the southpaw reliever struck out Adrian Gonzalez with three pitches. Awkard, tentative swings by Gonzalez are as rare as the vaquita, the world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean.

David Ortiz took his displeasure with official scorer Chaz Scoggins out on Colon in the fourth with a two-out solo bomb that cleared the Red Sox bullpen. Scoggins had removed an RBI from Ortiz’s statistics from the game against Cleveland on August 3 after a Cleveland public relations staffer passed on a message from Tim Belcher, Cleveland’s pitching coach. Guess who isn’t getting invited to next David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic?

The Bronx Bromides scored all three of their runs in the sixth when Jon Lester surrendered a leadoff walk to Eduardo Nunez and subsequently seemed to lose command of the strike zone. A number of Lester’s pitches seemed to touch paint but home plate Eric Cooper wasn’t calling them strikes. The visitors exited the top of the frame with the lead and the relief trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera delivered a series-opening victory.

Don Orsillo’s tie was vaquita grey with dots the color of Yankee hearts.

Game 111: August 5, 2011
WinNew York Yankees
W: Boone Logan (3-2)
H: Cory Wade (4)
H: Rafael Soriano (10)
H: David Robertson (23)
S: Mariano Rivera (29)
2B: Nick Swisher (21)
Boston Red Sox
L: Jon Lester (11-5)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (31), Carl Crawford (16)
HR: David Ortiz (21)

August 5, 2011

Bedard Off Dead

Erik Bedard missed a quality start by an inning with a solid if short line of 5 innings pitched, 7 hits, 3 earned runs, no walks, and 5 strikeouts. He departed the mound with the score 3-3 and handed the fate of his Red Sox debut game over to Franklin Morales.

My friend observed that Morales wasn’t the answer. I countered that he was, if the question was, “Who is going to allow the go-ahead and insurance runs to score?”

Justin Masterson’s lankiness was rivaled by Andrew Miller, who saw action out of the bullpen for the first time. In 2⅔ innings he allowed another pair of runs, effectively putting the game out of reach for the local nine. It is becoming clear that Miller is the answer to the question, “Name a first round draft pick bust by the Detroit Tigers.”

Miller doesn’t even have a wife to bring cookies for Don and Jerry like Masterson does. Just another reason to miss the gangly starter.

Of course the Red Sox lost and the Yankees have won the last seven games in a row, setting it up so the AL East titans enter their weekend series with identical 68-42 records.

Game 110: August 4, 2011
WinCleveland Indians
W: Justin Masterson (9-7)
H: Vinnie Pestano (15)
H: Tony Sipp (19)
2B: Travis Hafner 2 (12), Matt LaPorta (16), Kosuke Fukudome (14)
HR: Carlos Santana (16)
Boston Red Sox
L: Franklin Morales (0-2)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez (34)
HR: Josh Reddick (5)

August 4, 2011

Ellsburying the Hachet

Jason Kipnis, the rookie second baseman for Cleveland, is doing his best Dustin Pedroia circa 2008 but with a couple of inches additional height. The keystone sacker has hit home runs in four consecutive games, a streak he started in Cleveland off Royals’ pitcher Danny Duffy and has continued into every game of the series at Fenway. Do you like Kipnis? I don’t know, you naughty boy, I’ve never kipnised. (With apologies to Donald McGill.)

Sadly Tim Wakefield couldn’t keep the tying run from scoring in the seventh so he missed yet another chance at his 200th career win. The veteran knuckleballer’s line: 6⅔ innings pitched, 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts, which would usually be enough for a win.

The opposing hurler, Carlos Carrasco, pitched well enough to keep the potent Boston offense from clouting any home runs. The two doubles Carrasco allowed, one to Kevin Youkilis in the first and the other to Carl Crawford in the fourth, were both pivotal to the local nine’s scoring, but the young Venezuelan lasted for a respectable seven innings against a formidable lineup.

The blandly monikered Joe Smith took over for Tony Sipp in the ninth and induced ground ball outs from Darnell McDonald and Marco Scutaro with just three pitches each. Jacoby Ellsbury was not so easily fooled by Smith’s four-seamer. A lucky fan in the center field bleachers retrieved a souvenir in the form of a game-winning home run ball off the bat of a player that will get his share of MVP votes this offseason. The center fielder’s injury woes of last season are far behind him and he is finally living up to those who had compared him to Grady Sizemore as he was developing.

Don Orsillo should treat his Terry Francona bobblehead from last night’s Lowell Spinners game with more care. He could sell it for a nice chunk of change on eBay. Although a modified bobblehead with dislocated finger signed by Orsillo could sell for even more.

Game 109: August 3, 2011
Cleveland Indians
L: Joe Smith (2-2)
2B: Travis Hafner (12), Lonnie Chisenhall (6), Ezequiel Carrera (3)
HR: Jason Kipnis (4)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jonathan Papelbon (4-0)
2B: Kevin Youkilis (29), Carl Crawford (15)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury (18)

August 3, 2011

Not Jaking It

Had Josh Beckett the run support that Red Sox batters usually lavish upon their starters he would have joined Jon Lester with double-digits in wins. He surrendered two solo home runs to two rookie infielders: Jason Kipnis in the first and Lonnie Chisenhall in the fourth.

The Red Sox notched their first run in a unique fashion: with the bases loaded and none out in the second Jason Varitek swung at curve ball in the dirt. It was so deceptive that Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana failed to glove it. As it ricocheted to the visitors’ on-deck circle David Ortiz crossed the plate to tie the game 1-1.

Kevin Youkilis tied the game 2-2 in a more conventional fashion in the sixth. His leadoff homer had a chance to reach Lansdowne Street on the fly but it caromed off the Sports Authority sign.

The game threatened to trickle into extra innings, a seemingly common occurrence this season when the first pitch is delayed by rain. As the innings dwindled Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy finagled jackets from the Yawkey Way Store emblazoned with the logo for the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. Youkilis was ejected by Gerry Davis in the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Just your typical rain delay shenanigans.

In the ninth Varitek knocked a single up the middle. Terry Francona pinch ran Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Varitek for a marginal upgrade in speed; the Red Sox skipper seemed to be anticipating bonus baseball and replaced a catcher with a catcher.

Josh Reddick blooped a single in shallow center between three fielders. Ellsbury followed with a line drive into center that reached Ezequiel Carrera’s glove in one bounce. The center fielder’s throw was up the line and Saltalamacchia was safe by a slim margin. As he got up from his head-first slide Dustin Pedroia was there to hug him. Jonathan Papelbon alternated between Saltalamacchia and Ellsbury with his congratulatory punches. The hit gave Papelbon his third win, one less than Andrew Miller.

Game 108: August 2, 2011
Cleveland Indians
BS: Rafael Perez (2)
L: Vinnie Pestano (1-1)
2B: Asdrubal Cabrera (26), Ezequiel Carrera (2)
HR: Jason Kipnis (3), Lonnie Chisenhall (3)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jonathan Papelbon (3-0)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez (33)
HR: Kevin Youkilis (16)

August 2, 2011

CSI: Boston

Record ID: 1159
Incident Time: Bottom third
Title: Robbery
Location: Home plate
Summary: Two suspects attempted to steal runs. One suspect (6'2" Hispanic male, black hair, late 20s to early 30s) successfully attained run. Second suspect (6'1" Caucasian male, brown goatee, early 30s) got through three checkpoints and attempted to stretch a bungled throw from the center fielder into a run. Apprehended by Josh Tomlin and Carlos Santana at the scene of the crime.

Record ID: 1160
Incident Time: Top fifth
Title: Public intoxication
Location: First base
Summary: Suspect (6'6" Caucasian male, brown hair, prominent chin, mid 30s) sprawled awkwardly over sack in attempt to cover first. Given breathalyzer test and was found sober. Suspect was somewhat belligerent, berating officers on the scene and encouraging them to issue the tests to all of his seven friends, as “they play as if they are drunk when I’m pitching.”

Record ID: 1161
Incident Time: Top sixth
Title: Indecency
Location: Third base side field box seats
Summary: Suspect (5'10" Caucasian male, brown hair, late 40s) seen with baseball glove. When approached and asked about glove the suspect attempted to avoid charges by stating he was a famous football player, a dubious claim given his stature. Released with a warning.

Record ID: 1162
Incident Time: Top eighth
Title: Assault
Location: Press area, broadcast booth
Summary: Suspect (5'10" Caucasian female, blonde hair, mid 20s) endlessly speaking about victim’s streak of scoreless innings. Two accomplices (5'10" Caucasian male, brown hair but balding, late 30s and 5'9" Caucasian male, dark brown hair and greying, mid 60s) joined in the verbal assault.

Record ID: 1163
Incident Time: Top eighth
Title: Battery
Location: Right field stands, first row
Summary: Suspect (6' Hispanic male, black hair, mid to late 20s) assaulted victim with baseball. Victim had an imprint of the baseball’s stitches on her leg. Officials detained the suspect but was released to return home on a technicality.

Game 107: August 1, 2011
WinCleveland Indians
W: Rafael Perez (4-1)
S: Vinnie Pestano (14)
2B: Michael Brantley (20), Jason Kipnis (2), Matt LaPorta (15)
HR: Asdrubal Cabrera 2 (19), Travis Hafner (10), Kipnis (2)
Boston Red Sox
L: Daniel Bard (1-5)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (24)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (15), Carl Crawford (14), Jacoby Ellsbury (30)
3B: Kevin Youkilis (2)
HR: Crawford (7), Saltalamacchia (10)

August 1, 2011

Erik the Dead(line Deal)

As the Red Sox put the finishing touches on a topsy-turvy game Tom Caron reported that the team had acquired southpaw starter Erik Bedard from Seattle. The three-team deal broken down:

Clay Buchholz was placed on the 60-day disabled list because of his lower back pain, casting huge doubts upon his return to baseball this season. Bedard has just returned from his own stint on the disabled list for a sprained left knee. His first start after his return was a disastrous affair against the Rays: 1⅓ innings pitched, 3 hits, 5 earned runs, 4 walks, and 2 strikeouts. In his career he has been successful in the AL East but since 2008 he has pitched in a twirler’s paradise at Safeco in the middling AL West. Perhaps the lefty can return to 2007 form, and the entire team recreate that season along with him.

Games such as Sunday’s displayed the character of this team. The Red Sox seemed to rudderlessly drift through the first weeks of the season but now they have formed a cohesive identity. Although his playing time is diminished, Jason Varitek remains a team leader and continues to contribute on the field and behind the dish. The backstop knocked in a two-run homer in the second to give the shaky Andrew Miller the lead.

Miller didn’t hold it for very long as the White Sox notched a run an inning between the second and fourth. But Miller had one of his best outings this season: 5⅔ innings, 10 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 base on balls, and 8 whiffs. The lanky lefty’s mound presence makes Derek Lowe look like Bob Gibson in comparison. Varitek and Curt Young need to work with Miller to look less like a deer in the headlights and more like a major league pitcher.

The seventh was heaven again for the Red Sox. With one down Marco Scutaro singled to center and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a whistling comebacker that knocked the glove off Jesse Crain. The runners advanced when Tyler Flowers allowed a pitch to pass between his legs. Dustin Pedroia’s single up the middle plated both runners for the lead.

If Pedroia performed in a Cirque du Soleil show as Ozzie Guillen claimed, it would be called “Pedrolion.” With lasers. Lots of them.

Game 106: July 31, 2011
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Alfred Aceves (7-1)
H: Daniel Bard (25)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (24)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez – 2 (32)
HR: Jason Varitek (7)
Chicago White Sox
BS, L: Jesse Crain (4, 5-3)
2B: Brent Morel (9), Alexei Ramirez (22)

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