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Home » Monthly Archive » July 2012

July 31, 2012


Dustin Pedroia went “La Luna” last night, contributing to another win that kept the barest embers flickering with hope for a playoff berth.

With the moon waxing and the Red Sox leading Don and Jerry were in a whacky mood. Jerry fielded questions from Twitter and a viewer asked who picked the bump music this season. Kudos go to lead sound engineer Peter Grenier of the NESN crew. He has peppered the broadcast with Radiohead and U2. He even gave an interview last year to the New England Baseball Journal.

Joining the lunatics was Ryan Sweeney. After grounding out to Omar Infante in the eighth the outfielder punched a door in anger and broke a bone in his left pinkie finger and will be out for the rest of the season. His teammates won’t have to learn his replacement’s name – Ryan Kalish was summoned to take Sweeney’s spot.

Unlike the Dodgers, Giants, Pirates, Rangers, and Reds the Red Sox didn’t make a big splash at the non-waiver trading deadline. Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik were sent to Arizona in exchange for southpaw reliever Craig Breslow; I guess Ben Cherington misses hanging out with Yale men.

I was excited about Boston acquiring Steven Wright from Cleveland for Lars Anderson for three reasons: 1. He graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 2. He throws a knuckleball, and 3. Promotional opportunities with Wright the hurler and Steven Wright the comedian.

That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!

Game 103: July 30, 2012
Detroit Tigers
L: Max Scherzer (10-6)
2B: Quintin Berry (5), Alex Avila (14)
3B: Omar Infante (3)
HR: Austin Jackson (11)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Clay Buchholz (9-3)
3B: Carl Crawford (1), Kelly Shoppach (2)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (9), Will Middlebrooks (13)

July 30, 2012

Imperfect Ten

When I was young and impressionable I used to watch “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched.“ Because of those shows I thought that if I just found the correct gesture I could do magic. As America sang, “You can do magic / You can have anything that you desire.” Once I snapped my fingers and I looked up to see a rainbow. For days I thought I had discovered the thaumaturgic twitch that could make my wishes come true. If I snapped and an arc of colors didn’t appear it was because I didn’t believe enough.

Like the kid in the Volkswagon commercial I had finally tapped into that mystic wellspring of all-pervasive power.

So when the Red Sox took two out of three games against the Yankees they thought they found their arm fold and blink. Pedro Ciriaco’s go-ahead bloops single over the reach of Robinson Cano’s glove was an ensorcelled nose wiggle. Put together a random series of gestures and BAM! – postseason here we come!

Game 102: July 29, 2012 ∙ 10 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
H: Andrew Miller (12)
BS, W: Alfredo Aceves (5, 2-6)
2B: Ryan Sweeney (19), Jacoby Ellsbury (6)
New York Yankees
L: David Robertson (1-4)
2B: Andruw Jones (6)
HR: Russell Martin (12)

July 29, 2012

Tim McCarver is in the Baseball Hall of Fame

If Phil Rizzuto earned his place in the Hall of Fame I suppose Tim McCarver does, too. Just like Shimon Peres deserved the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Warren G. Harding was equipped to be President of the United States, and Milli Vanilli was awarded with a Grammy for Best New Artist, so has McCarver’s insights and contributions to the game of baseball earned him permanent enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Joe Buck and McCarver could barely contain their glee when Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the eighth. Up until then they plodded through the game, barely acknowledging Jon Lester’s strong performance. When Lester fell apart in the fifth they came to life, giddy as they recounted Andruw Jones’s leadoff base on balls, Jayson Nix’s improbable homer, on and on until the Yankees trailed by only two runs.

Bobby Valentine summoned Vicente Padilla to the mound in the eighth. If Padilla got all three batters out he wouldn’t face his nemesis Mark Teixeira. Raul Ibanez led off with a liner to right, so a showdown between Padilla and Teixeira was nearly inevitable.

Padilla got to 2-2 with Derek Jeter and froze the shortstop with a sinker. Curtis Granderson struck out on three pitches, setting up the classic confrontation. Padilla fell behind 2-0 in the count and floated an eephus over the plate for a strike. The slow pitch didn’t have any effect on Teixeira’s timing as he lofted the next pitch into the stands to tie the game.

In the top of the ninth Jacoby Ellsbury walked with one out. With light-hitting Pedro Ciriaco at the dish Granderson stepped in rather than back at the sound of the ball off the bat. That miscue was just enough for the center fielder to miss Ciriaco’s fly ball. By the time Granderson gathered the ball Ellsbury scored and Ciriaco stood at third. Dustin Pedroia notched a sacrifice fly to make the score 8-6 and Buck and McCarver gloomily described Alfredo Aceves’s perfect ninth.

Game 101: July 28, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
H: Matt Albers (7)
BS: Vicente Padilla (3)
W: Andrew Miller (3-1)
S: Alfredo Aceves (22)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez (28), Will Middlebrooks (14)
3B: Pedro Ciriaco (2)
HR: Gonzalez (10)
New York Yankees
L: Rafael Soriano (2-1)
HR: Chris Stewart (1), Jayson Nix (4), Mark Teixeira (20)

Bronx Blowout

Three solo home runs were not enough to overcome the Yankees on their home field. Instead of watching the Red Sox get thrashed I switched over to the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.

Danny Boyle (no relation to songstress Susan or comedian Frankie) directed the extravaganza, which was the first intentionally postmodern pastiche of British social, economic, and military history with splashes of pop culture.

Boyle recreated the Industrial Revolution but avoided dramatizing the engine that powered it: Great Britain’s colonial conquests. I found the retrospective correction of having a multicultural group of magnates swaying in awe of their creations amusing. While Great Britain doesn’t share the United States of America’s shameful history of slavery I doubt that men of African or Asian extraction were fathers of industry on the isles of wonder.

As egregious as Boyle’s omission was NBC’s omission of the segment memorializing victims of the July 7 terrorist attacks in London. If a non-US broadcasting company willfully edited a tribute about September 11 Americans would be upset, and rightfully so.

Two multimedia mash-ups showed the style and verve that best exemplify the British. Queen Elizabeth gamely played herself along with Daniel Craig’s James Bond for a helicopter and parachute grand entrance. Rowan Atkinson’s reprisal of Mr. Bean as a bumbling orchestra member and runner in Chariots of Fire made for a hilarious interlude. Other world powers would never deign to amalgamate high and low brow the way Boyle did in London; everyone enjoys people that can take the piss out of themselves. Cheers, London!

Game 100: July 27, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Aaron Cook (2-4)
2B: Cody Ross (18)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (8), Carl Crawford (1), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (20)
WinNew York Yankees
W: Phil Hughes (10-8)
H: David Robertson (14)
2B: Curtis Granderson (11), Andruw Jones (5)
HR: Raul Ibanez (13), Russell Martin (11), Granderson (28)

July 27, 2012

Horses’ Rear Ends

Mike Napoli might a great guy, but because of how he plays against the Red Sox he makes the gallery. Ron Washington was feeling merciful and sat Napoli this game.

The Rangers’ lame mascot Rangers Captain makes the list for being, well, lame, and for having “Cotton Eyed Joe” as his favorite song.

Across the pond the Queen of England celebrates her jubilee and the Olympics while in the states the king of assholes evades judgment from the International Court of Justice and takes in the national pastime.

Game 99: July 25, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Josh Beckett (5-9)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (12), Dustin Pedroia (7)
WinTexas Rangers
W: Derek Holland (7-5)
H: Mike Adams (17)
S: Joe Nathan (20)
2B: Michael Young (16), David Murphy (13)
HR: Nelson Cruz (13)

July 25, 2012

Slim Win

Clay Buchholz used to win games in which he pitched badly but in this start and his previous one he pitched well and the game was won by late-inning hitting heroics. Buchholz lasted seven innings and turned in a respectable line: 4 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks, and 1 strikeout.

The Red Sox capitalized on a leadoff walk by Cody Ross in the fourth. Two batters couldn’t advance Ross but Kelly Shoppach arced the ball to right field. David Murphy wandered an unsure path to the ball and couldn’t connect with the ball, resulting in a 1-0 lead for the visitors.

Adrian Beltre had an adventurous evening. He stretched a hit into a double by seemingly evading Will Middlebroooks’s tag, but the replay showed he was out. Vicente Padilla knocked Beltre out of the game in the eighth with a pitch in the ear. Beltre tried to talk the coaching staff to keep him in the game but thankfully players don’t have a say in such matters.

Elvis Andrus tied the game in the sixth. He laced a double to right field and scored on Josh Hamilton’s tap out to Mike Aviles.

Aviles turned the tables on his counterpart in the ninth. With two down and two on the Red Sox shortstop sent a soft liner just out of Andrus’s reach for the go-ahead run. Alfredo Aceves closed out the game with just one base on balls, which was to Mike Napoli, Red Sox killer.

Aceves didn’t douse anyone with Gatorade this time around.

Game 98: July 24, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Vicente Padilla (4-0)
S: Alfredo Aceves (21)
2B: Kelly Shoppach (11)
Texas Rangers
L: Joe Nathan (1-3)
2B: Adrian Beltre (20), David Murphy (12), Elvis Andrus (23)

July 24, 2012

Dustin in the Wind

To welcome Ichiro Suzuki to the Bronx a Yankee fan decked out her SUV with a note of welcome.

As a result of his team’s woes Dustin Pedroia is trying too hard to win games by himself. In the bottom of the third with runners on first and second with no outs the Rangers executed a double steal. Elvis Andrus tapped the ball to Pedroia who doggedly dashed after the orb. Pedroia wildly wrenched himself around and lofted the ball to Adrian Gonzalez. Or to be more exact, over Gonzalez. Two runs scored on Pedroia’s throwing error.

With the score 4-1 in favor of Texas in the top of the sixth Pedroia led off the frame with a line drive single to left. Gonzalez struck out and Cody Ross flied out to right and any fan could see Pedroia was stewing at first trying to will runs for his team on the board. The second baseman took it upon himself to swipe second despite the facts that his run didn’t mean anything and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had homered in the second, was at bat. Saltalamacchia led off the seventh with a double that just missed clearing the fences.

When one of the smarter players and a team leader makes poor plays like these because he thinks that extraordinary risks must be taken for a win, any win, there is a problem.

Game 97: July 23, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Felix Doubront (10-5)
2B: Will Middlebrooks (13), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (14)
HR: Saltalamacchia (19)
WinTexas Rangers
W: Scott Feldman (4-6)
2B: Adrian Beltre (19), Josh Hamilton (16), Ian Kinsler (28), Brandon Snyder (2)
HR: Mike Napoli (15)

July 23, 2012

Divisional Debacle

I’m the opposite of an oracle, akin to Theresa Caputo, the Long Island medium. This show was renewed by The Learning Channel, which makes me think they should rethink their brand. George Orwell said, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” I’m afraid it’s worse – reality television.

I had thought that the walk-off win against the White Sox was a harbinger of a bright future. Instead the Red Sox were swept by their divisional rival to the north.

So here are distracting pictures from events ancillary to the game that you will enjoy more than any description of the actual events, except for the home runs by Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Gonzalez’s idol Ted Williams was commemorated in a stamp that was released to coincide with Induction Weekend at Cooperstown.

Wally joined by a pair of wee Red Sox fans as well as the Wareham Gateman mascot, who is named “no one told me that this baseball internship entailed wearing a mascot uniform that hasn’t been cleaned in 3 years in 84 degree heat.”

Game 96: July 22, 2012
WinToronto Blue Jays
W: Henderson Alvarez (6-7)
2B: Edwin Encarnacion (19), Rajai Davis (11)
HR: Brett Lawrie (9), J.P. Arencibia (15), Davis (5), Travis Snider (1)
Boston Red Sox
L: Jon Lester (5-8)
2B: Ryan Sweeney (18), Mike Aviles (24)
HR: Adrian Gonzalez (9), Jacoby Ellsbury (1)

July 22, 2012

Thanks Tek

On a day that Jason Varitek was honored for his 15 years of service Jarrod Saltalamacchia came through with a three-run home run into the visitors’ bullpen. The Blue Jays battled to tie the game in the sixth and took the lead for good in the seventh. Boston’s sputtering offense was 1-for-6 when runners were in scoring position.

The best memories of yesterday were of the ceremony for Varitek. He threw the ceremonial first pitch to Tim Wakefield.

Varitek didn’t just celebrate with his Red Sox family but with his own family, too. The burly backstop didn’t break down until his daughters read their speeches. They thanked him for braiding their hair, road trips, and and being a great dad.

In his booth interview Varitek seemed to send strong signals that he he wanted to keep in touch with the game and the organization. There have been a number of strong field managers that were former catchers, so Varitek entertaining thoughts about managing a team are realistic. But even if he doesn’t return as a coach or manager, we’ll never forget the two World Championships, the four no-hitters, the three All-Star appearances, the 2005 Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, and the Punch.

Game 95: July 21, 2012
WinToronto Blue Jays
W: Carlos Villanueva (5-0)
H: J.A. Happ (1), Darren Oliver (11), Rajai Davis (10)
2B: Kelly Johnson (10), Yunel Escobar (12)
HR: Edwin Encarnacion (26), J.P. Arencibia (14)
Boston Red Sox
L: Aaron Cook (2-3)
2B: Cody Ross (17)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (18)

July 21, 2012

Beckett Blues

The Red Sox fell behind early behind Josh Beckett’s tepid pitching performance. Beckett was booed but his performance wasn’t the only reason last night’s game ended in defeat for the local nine. Offensively the Boston bats fell silent with no extra base hits and collectively they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. To add the home squad’s shortcomings home plate umpire Sam Holbrook missed a key call at home, but even without the ill-gotten run Toronto’s offensive outplayed the opposition.

Cody Ross’s misplay of Colby Rasmus’s liner off the right field wall with one down in the first turned a double into a triple. Rasmus dashed home on Edwin Encarnacion’s grounder to Will Middlebrooks. The third baseman threw perfectly to Kelly Shoppach, who immaculately blocked the dish from any incursion by Rasmus. After a moment’s hesitation Holbrook called Rasmus safe. Bobby Valentine popped out of the dugout to question the call, and rightfully so as replays showed the Blue Jays outfielder didn’t touch home.

While Ross had a part to play in the Rasmus debacle he ended the visitors’ half of the ninth nimbly. With runners at first and second and a run already in Ross charged Rasmus’s liner for the second out. Ross snared the ball just before it grazed the turf and then fired to Mike Aviles for the final out.

Aviles was also part of a nifty twin killing in the eighth. Dustin Pedroia nabbed Kelly Johnson’s grounder and flipped it directly from his glove to Aviles’s.

Unfortunately Alfredo Aceves doesn’t provide Gatorade showers for defensive gems.

Game 94: July 20, 2012
WinToronto Blue Jays
W: Aaron Laffey (2-1)
2B: Yunel Escobar (11), Colby Rasmus (19), Travis Snider (1), Yan Gomes (2)
3B: Rasmus (4)
Boston Red Sox
L: Josh Beckett (5-8)
No extra base hits

July 20, 2012

Ross Dress for Success

Something exciting happened at Fenway last night.

No, not Joan and Melissa Rivers. Also, when did celebrities besmirching the Fisk Pole with their signatures become a thing? This park is on the National Register of Historic Places and should be treated with respect. Joan Rivers could have made the register but the original structure has undergone too many changes.

Cody Ross took the box in the bottom of the ninth with one out, Dustin Pedroia at second, and Adrian Gonzalez at first. Nothing says “win this game now” like Bobby Valentine summoning Nick Punto to pinch run for Gonzalez. Ross answered the called and pummeled Addison Reed’s fastball into the Monster seats. The game-winning circuit clout deserved Ross’s flourish of a bat flip.

Punto managed to run the bases in order and stayed in front of Ross. All the while Punto was positioning himself to shred Ross’s jersey, transforming it as Rivers has done her with her face. The outfielder crossed home to plate for his third three-run homer in the past two days. Alfredo Aceves celebrated his first win with a blue Gatorade shower. During his interview with Jenny Dell approximately 38,413 fans chanted, “Cody! Cody! Cody!”

Perhaps this was the turning point this team so desperately needed.

Game 93: July 19, 2012
Chicago White Sox
H, L: Matt Thornton (14, 2-6)
S: Addison Reed (3)
2B: Alejandro De Aza (19), Gordon Beckham (16)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Alfredo Aceves (1-6)
3B: Pedro Ciriaco (1)
HR: Cody Ross (16)

July 19, 2012

Red Hot Ross

This family misses Kevin Youkilis, and so will Robin Ventura. His third baseman tweaked his hamstring and will be sitting out of the series finale.

Despite the earlier downpours Don Orsillo refreshed the park with his interpretation of the sprinkler dance. The English cricket team shows how it’s actually done in this clip.

It wasn’t Cody Ross’s pair of three-run home runs that had Jerry Remy singing. The color analyst crooned “Help!”, no doubt a coded message to the audience to get him out of the ambit of Orsillo’s dangerous dance maneuvers.

I miss the shenanigans in the booth in blowout games. We need more of these.

Game 92: July 18, 2012
Chicago White Sox
L: Pedro Hernandez (0-1)
No extra base hits
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Felix Doubront (10-4)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (5), Cody Ross (16)
HR: Ross – 2 (15), Adrian Gonzalez (8)

July 18, 2012

OMG Adam Dunn Stole a Base

According to the internets Adam Dunn’s nickname “Big Donkey” was given to him by teammates who have seen him in the shower. I’m sure Dunn has overcome the hardship of having a grey-haired hide, particularly with his baserunning acuity.

Dunn notched his 60th stolen base in the top of the third. It was his first stolen base since April 9, 2008, a game between the Reds and the Brewers.

Since Dunn’s most recent theft America has witnessed large sweeps of historic scale. Later in 2008 the subprime mortgage crisis came to a head, power exchanged hands from the GOP to the Democrats with Barack Obama’s defeat of John McCain, and the world lost Tim Russert, Paul Newman, and Betty Page.

In 2009 the likes of Ted Kennedy, Farrah Fawcett, and Patrick Swayze passed without enjoying the majesty of a Dunn stolen base. Howard Zinn, Leslie Nielsen, George Steinbrenner, Rue McClanahan, Jose Lima, and J.D. Salinger followed in 2010. Last year Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor, Gerry Rafferty, Frank Buckles (the last surviving American WWI veteran), Christopher Hitchens, Amy Winehouse and Betty Ford joined the ranks of those who would miss Dunn’s stunning swipe.

The Adam Dunn stolen base. Not as infrequent, regular, or fast as Haley’s comet, but just as amazing.

Game 91: July 17, 2012
WinChicago White Sox
W: Philip Humber (4-4)
S: Addison Reed (15)
2B: Paul Konerko (16), Alejandro De Aza (18), Dayan Viciedo (9), Alexei Ramirez (14)
HR: Kevin Youkilis (8)
Boston Red Sox
L: Jon Lester (5-7)
HR: Kelly Shoppach (5)

July 17, 2012

Youk Can Put It On the Board – Yes!

It was the best of both worlds. The faithful gathered at Fenway got to cheer for a former favorite but also celebrated a win against a division leader.

Kevin Youkilis laced a single up the middle in the first. Adam Dunn followed by pounding the ball into the infield and grounding out to second. Pedro Ciriaco fielded it well despite being screened by Youkilis but Adrian Gonzalez threw galley-west to Will Middlebrooks, who was stationed between second and third because of the shift. Youkilis scored because no one was manning third. Poetry.

The Red Sox bats responded immediately. Like Youkilis before him Carl Crawford singled up the middle. David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez combined for a pair of singles to push Crawford across the plate for the tie.

It wasn’t Gonzalez’s most impressive hit of the evening, however. In the eighth he clouted a three-run homer into the Monster seats. Unfortunately Ortiz kept up with this team’s trend of the year: on the very game a player returns he hobbled himself badly enough to be removed from the game. Early exams indicate that Ortiz will not be going on the disabled list because of this particular injury, an Achilles tendon swelling.

Game 90: July 16, 2012
Chicago White Sox
L: Leyson Septimo (0-1)
2B: Kevin Youkilis – 2 (11)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Vicente Padilla (3-0)
2B: Pedro Ciricaco (3), Cody Ross (15)
HR: Adrian Gonzalez (7)

July 16, 2012

True Flu

Like a latter-day Michael Jordan circa 1997 Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Josh Beckett battled through the effects of flu to secure a remarkable triumph against a key divisional rival.

In the likeness of Kirk Gibson in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Mike Aviles clubbed a two-run home run. The only differences were that wasn’t the World Series and Aviles wasn’t injured in both legs nor rundown with a stomach virus. Otherwise, totally like Gibson.

With the grim determination of Mariano Rivera in every postseason (except 2001 and 2004, now that I think about it), Alfred Aceves retired the Rays batters in the ninth with surgical precision. He walked three batters to load the bases just to keep it interesting.

Boston Red Sox 2012: standing on the shoulders of greatness.

Game 89: July 15, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Josh Beckett (5-7)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (4), Will Middlebrooks (12)
HR: Mike Aviles (10), Daniel Nava (4)
Tampa Bay Rays
L: James Shields (8-6)
2B: Ben Zobrist (21), Elliot Johnson (8)

July 15, 2012

Wading in the Shallow End

Imagine Wade Boggs as a color commentator.

Bottom Third
Orsillo: And so the Rays take an early lead on Sean Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly to center.
Boggs. Rodriguez only hit .204 in his first year in the bigs. I hit .349 as a rookie, but I came in third in Rookie of the Year voting. That was the year Ripkin came up, though, and he’s in the hall, too.

Top Fourth
Orsillo: Middlebrooks in the air to deep left center field. Jennings heading back at the wall — and that ball is gone! Two-run home run for Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox on top 2-1.
Boggs: Middlebrooks has to keep it up to prove that he deserves that spot over Youkilis. Sort of how like I was playing well and took over for Carney Lansford back in the day. As far as home runs go, I wasn’t trying to swing for the fences, you know. One year, 1987, I hit 24 home runs, but most of the rest were single-digits. Except for 1994 when I was in the Yankees, when I had 11 home runs.
Orsillo: Coincidentally, that was Middlebrooks’s 11th homer.
Boggs: Well, he’s only batting .291. When I was 24 I hit .349 and the next year I got it up to .361 and I was the batting champion.

Top Sixth
Orsillo: Ross is sort of challenging Price at third. He walked to get on the bases, advanced to second on a passed ball, and then got to third on Middlebrooks’s ground out. Price tries to pick off Ross — and he threw it away! Price threw it way over Keppinger’s head and Ross scores! Red Sox lead 3-2!
Boggs: That reminds me how I was labelled “all hit, no glove.” I worked hard to get rid of that perception. And in 1994 it all changed and I got my first of two Gold Gloves.

The only color he brings is his garish aloha shirts.

Game 88: July 14, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Clay Buchholz (8-3)
BS: Alfredo Aceves (4)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (3)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (11)
WinTampa Bay Rays
W: David Price (12-4)
H: Joel Peralta (19)
S: Fernando Rodney (26)
2B: Jeff Keppinger – 2 (6)
HR: B.J. Upton (8)

July 14, 2012

Help Us, Jacoby-Wan, You’re Our Only Hope

The Red Sox broke with recent history and leaped to an early lead. David Ortiz slammed a solo shot into the left field stands and then tossed his bat farther than a Nick Punto batted ball. I expected retaliation in this game against the designated hitter, but I’m sure David Price or James Shields or both will buzz Papi sometime in the next two games.

It made me think of those tense games with the Devil Rays when Pedro Martinez pitching. If you miss Martinez, you can order a personalized “egraph” from him. Amazingly enough an egraph from Martinez is the same dollars as Price and Shields, which is rather like allowing the same rate per pound as Prime and Choice beef.

A Pedro almost as electrifying as Martinez continued to turn heads. Pedro Ciriaco went 3-for-3 with two runs batted in and a stolen base. You know you’ve made it when your difficult-to-pronounce name is correctly enunciated by Jerry Remy.

Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the field but didn’t look quite ready for prime time yet. He was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. He didn’t even have the best play in the outfield last night, either. That honor goes to Ryan Sweeney, who dashed in to snare B.J. Upton’s sinking liner and recovered in time to fire the ball to the cutoff man Mike Aviles. Aviles relayed to Punto in time to tag out Ben Zobrist for a pivotal double play in the eighth. The next batter, Jeff Keppinger, ran out an infield single that Zobrist could have scored on had he been safe. This is the sort of play that Boston failed to execute during the first half of the season. Perhaps things really have turned around.

Of concern is the late scratch of Adrian Gonzalez. Reports surfaced stating the first baseman’s back seized up on him when he greeted a child in a stroller. Boston fans in St. Petersburg: please do not engage players in direct eye contact — serious injury may result. To the player, that is.

Game 87: July 13, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Franklin Morales (2-2)
H: Scott Atchison (5), Matt Albers (6), Vicente Padilla (20)
S: Alfredo Aceves (20)
2B: Mike Aviles (23)
HR: David Ortiz (23)
Tampa Bay Rays
L: Jeremy Hellickson (4-6)
2B: Ben Zobrist 2 (20), Jose Lobaton (6), Sean Rodriguez (11)

July 13, 2012


I knew if I waited long enough to recap the last game of the first half of the season yet another clubhouse drama would emerge. Gordon Edes came out with a dirty laundry list today, with most of the items . Some of the highlights:

[Gary] Tuck keeps his communication with Valentine to a minimum. He is known to walk past the manager without so much as a hello.

David Ortiz publicly stated his support recently for the manager, but another respected player on the team said privately that it was all for show. That same player has gone weeks without speaking to Valentine and said that the manager does not have the support of “anyone” in the clubhouse. That is likely an exaggeration -- another veteran told a friend he has come around on the manager after initially being shocked at his hire -- but Valentine told associates that he knows he is being bad-mouthed in the clubhouse and is at a loss to understand why.

Valentine went out to the mound in Chicago for a visit with his pitcher, and all the infielders joined him for the conference except star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who remained at his position

One report says that players are taking their complaints directly to general manager Ben Cherington. Meanwhile, CEO Larry Lucchino, who orchestrated Valentine's hiring, says that the manager is doing an outstanding job.

Writing about the Red Sox turns reporters into Perez Hilton. All that is missing is writing captions on photos with Microsoft Paint. Isn’t the bandwidth spent on these scurrilous blind items better spent on analytic columns, a comparison of Derek Jeter to Carl Yastrzemski (Jeter surpassed Yaz in career runs in this game) given their impact and devotion to their respective franchises, or some investigative journalism on the Leominster police officer who called Carl Crawford a racial slur.

As the second half opens, I look forward to the return of Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. I am also hopeful that non-white players aren’t assaulted by hate speech when they get back on the field. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Game 86: July 8, 2012
WinNew York Yankees
W: Ivan Nova (10-3)
2B: Mark Teixeira (20), Jayson Nix (4), Nick Swisher (21), Robinson Cano (26)
3B: Alex Rodriguez (1)
HR: Andruw Jones (11)
Boston Red Sox
L: Jon Lester (5-6)
2B: David Ortiz (25), Mike Aviles (22)

July 8, 2012

Vote for Pedro

Pedro Ciriaco played as if infused with the spirit of Dustin Pedroia but had the speed of Emilio Bonifacio. The replacement middle infielder went 4-for-5 with four runs batted in. His key at bat was in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, one out, and the score 3-2 in favor in the visitors. The first pitch Ciriaco saw out of Phil Hughes’s hand skittered down the left field line. By the time Andruw Jones reached the ball Ciriaco was at second and his team had a 5-3 lead.

His heroics earned him the chant of his first name, something not heard since our beloved future Hall of Famer toed the mound. Ciriaco may have been the player with the highest number and/or the fewest at bats that was serenaded with his name.

Mauro Gomez was impressive with his bat (3-for-4 with 2 runs and a run batted in) but didn’t inspire as much admiration. It may have been because of his two errors in a single play in the first inning. He flubbed Derek Jeter’s grounder and in an effort to make up for the lost seconds hurried his throw to first so that even Adrian Gonzalez couldn’t catch it.

The Yankees had four of their own defensive gaffes. Darnell McDonald was given one in the fifth when he and Curtis Granderson converged on Daniel Nava’s fly ball. McDonald backed off but Granderson dropped the ball. Ciriaco was on first base and made it to third, allowing him to tag up on Nick Punto’s can of corn to center.

Lost in the excitement over the contributions by the newcomers were solid outings by Gonzalez (3-for-5 with two doubles), Nick Punto (2-for-3 with a double), and David Ortiz (2-for-4). But of the entire Red Sox roster only Ortiz is going to Kansas City for the All-Star Game.

Game 85: July 7, 2012
New York Yankees
L: Phil Hughes (9-7)
2B: Russell Martin (11)
HR: Mark Teixeira (15), Andruw Jones (10), Eric Chavez (7)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Felix Doubront (9-4)
H: Matt Albers (5), Vicente Padilla (19)
2B: Mauro Gomez – 2 (3), Nick Punto (5), Adrian Gonzalez – 2 (27), Pedro Ciriaco – 2 (2), Mike Aviles (21)
3B: Ryan Sweeney (2)

Historic Relic

Just like Fenway Park another historic relic was revivified in Boston.

Andruw Jones was 2-for-5, both hits being home runs. He also made an unbelievable catch of Adrian Gonzalez’s fly ball to left which had him colliding with the wall. Jones recovered quickly enough to throw back to the infield and in time to double off David Ortiz. The replay showed that Mark Teixeira was off the bag when Ortiz made it back, but first base umpire Lance Barrett still called Ortiz out. That effectively killed an incipient rally in the sixth inning.

After an effective string of starts against sub-par teams Franklin Morales’s mettle was finally tested against significant competition and came up short. The southpaw lasted 3⅓ innings with a line of 6 hits, 6 earned runs, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts.

Game 84: July 7, 2012
WinNew York Yankees
W: Freddy Garcia (3-2)
2B: Robinson Cano (25)
HR: Nick Swisher (13), Andruw Jones – 2 (9), Jayson Nix (3)
Boston Red Sox
L: Franklin Morales (1-2)
2B: Kelly Shoppach (10)

July 7, 2012

Small Talk

The top 11 things Jiana McDonald, Darnell McDonald’s daughter, has said this past week:

  1. Why did you have to cut your hair? Is it because Uncle Dusty called you “The Predator”?

  2. You said maybe I could work with YES, so I looked at their website. Why does Michael Kay have such a big head? It’s as big as Mr. Orsillo’s.

  3. Could I stay here in Boston so I can still be a kid reporter?

  4. Can Jenny come over for a sleepover?

  5. Daddy, when you hit 400 home runs can I interview you?

  6. Can I wear makeup? Can you ask Mr. A-Rod where he got his lipstick from?

  7. If I can’t be a kid reporter on NESN can I be a Navy SEAL?

  8. Why is Uncle Dusty all angry and trying to take off his cast?

  9. I thought if you did radio you were supposed to sound good. That Mrs. Waldman has a funny voice.

  10. How come you’re in the teeny, tiny clubhouse when we go to Fenway now?

  11. What is that picture on your cap, Is that a spider? Eww, get it away, I don’t like spiders.
Game 83: July 6, 2012
WinNew York Yankees
W: Boone Logan (4-0)
H: Cody Eppley (6), David Robertson (9)
S: Rafael Soriano (20)
2B: Robinson Cano (24), Raul Ibanez (13)
3B: Curtis Granderson (2), Mark Teixeira (1)
Boston Red Sox
H: Matt Albers
H, L: Andrew Miller (11, 2-1)
BS: Vicente Padilla (2)
2B: Daniel Nava (17), Adrian Gonzalez (25), Nick Punto (4)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (17), Cody Ross (13)

July 6, 2012

Four Hundred Club

Let’s ignore the fact that the Red Sox were swept by a sub-500 team and enjoy David Ortiz’s 400th career home run.

I’m not going to any games this weekend, but if I were I’d join Jere in his anti-Boston sports media sign-making movement. As we all know sports reporters and sports radio overreact with every Red Sox snippet. All the information I need from sports reporters is that Dustin Pedroia was put on the disabled list because of an injury to the volar plate of his right thumb and was replaced on the roster by Pedro Ciriaco.

I don’t need hunches about how Pedroia’s previous injury may or may not have contributed to his current state, conjecture about the competency of the Red Sox medical staff, or brouhaha about Ortiz’s contract status. Baseball: it‘s grown men playing a kids’ game, but the adults covering it act like children.

Game 82: July 4, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Aaron Cook (2-2)
2B: Mauro Gomez (1)
HR: David Ortiz (22)
WinOakland Athletics
W: Grant Balfour (2-2)
H: Jerry Blevins (6)
S: Ryan Cook (8)
2B: Brandon Moss (4)
3B: Coco Crisp (2)
HR: Moss (10)

July 4, 2012

Crying About Ryan

Part of Ryan Kalish’s $483,000 salary had better go into the kangaroo court pot for his two gaffes in the ninth inning. The outfielder tried to steal third with two out, Daniel Nava at the dish, and the score 2-1.

In the bottom of the frame he failed to glove Brandon Moss’s single up the middle. Cliff Pennington advanced to third and Moss reached second on the error. Coco Crisp lifted the ball to center to plate Pennington for the winning run.

In the first inning Crisp gave his team an early lead with a solo shot. Now every ex-Red Sox player on the Athletics have hit home runs off their former team.

But the blame is not on Kalish alone. Nick Punto should also be called out for popping out on his bunt attempt in the ninth resulting in a double play. The Red Sox hitters were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

At least we got to enjoy Don and Jerry’s dancing (their description, not mine) and the life-sized sign of the pair.

Game 81: July 3, 2012
Boston Red Sox
H: Vicente Padilla (18)
BS, L: Alfredo Aceves (4, 0-6)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (16)
WinOakland Athletics
W: Jerry Blevins (2-0)
HR: Coco Crisp (3)

July 3, 2012

Pain in the Neck

Daisuke Matsuzaka tallied only three outs even though he faced nine batters. Two batters, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss, homered. Unsurprisingly, the pitcher ended up on the disabled list. The stated injury was a strained right trapezius, the muscle that extends from the neck to the shoulder. Mauro Gomez was called up to replace the ailing hurler.

Reddick was part of the package sent to Oakland for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney this past offseason. Moss was part of the three-way deal between the Dodgers, the Pirates, and the Red Sox in which Manny Ramirez went to Los Angeles and Jason Bay came to Fenway.

At least Coco Crisp kept it down to a dull roar by going 0-3 with a base on balls.

Game 80: July 2, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3)
2B: Daniel Nava (16)
WinOakland Athletics
W: Jarrod Parker (5-3)
2B: Seth Smith (13)
HR: Josh Reddick (19), Brandon Moss (9)

July 2, 2012

Leap Second

David Ortiz stuck in a power slump? Adrian Gonzalez lagging in offensive production? Starting rotation woes? Relief pitcher meltdowns?

Blame the recent leap second.

This Saturday the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service added a leap second to keep atomic clocks aligned with the earth’s rotation. Tidal action causes a slowdown of 1.4 milliseconds per day per century (for a more details read this explanation from the Time Service Department of the US Naval Observatory). The adjustment caused havoc for several websites and services: Reddit, StumbleUpon, Yelp, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and Gawker.

Dustin Pedroia was the first Red Sox player to adjust to the new time paradigm. As this graphic shows, a swing of a baseball bat takes 150 milliseconds. It takes 400 milliseconds for a 90-mile an hour pitch to travel from the pitcher’s hand to the plate. The first 100 milliseconds allow for the batter to see the ball and create am image of it in the brain. At 75 milliseconds the brain processes speed and location. Based on this information the batter decides to swing or not in 25 milliseconds and then takes the next 25 milliseconds to decide where to swing. After these decisions are made it takes 15 milliseconds to send the decision to the limbs.

At that point the batter only has to hit the three-inch orb within an eighth of an inch of the exact center, which is what Pedroia did to tie the game in the eighth. Ortiz was off by a few centimeters in the tenth but hit the ball square enough to sacrifice in Ryan Kalish.

Injuries, the Boston media, and timekeeping bureaucracies may try to keep the Red Sox down, but there is still a spark in this squad. Whether it is enough to start fireworks is the question.

Game 79: July 1, 2012 ∙ 10 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Vicente Padilla (2-0)
S: Alfredo Aceves (19)
2B: Ryan Kalish (2)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (6)
Seattle Mariners
L: Brandon League (0-5)
2B: Justin Smoak (4)

July 1, 2012

Wedge Shot

I’m not the first to point out the similarities between Eric Wedge and Ron Swanson, the burly man’s man from “Parks and Recreation.” Wedge drove home the resemblance by taking his team to the mat for their poor offensive performance in Saturday’s game.

“You’ve got to play every day like it’s your last, and some of the people out here need to be playing every day like it’s their last,” he said ominously. The Mariners are last in their division so it is likely that the team will be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. Wedge is likely getting together a list for general manager Jack Zduriencik about who upholds the principles of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness and who does not.

Wedge continued, “There’s just a certain way we’re going to go about things here. I didn’t bring my butt all the way out here to do it any other way. And we are going to be a championship team. Whether it’s with all these guys or some of these guys is yet to be determined. But there’s a vision here.” The vision probably isn’t being 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, but at least Chone Figgins got enough loft under the ball in the eleventh to test the Cody Ross-to-Jarrod Saltalamacchia relay again. Again the right fielder and catcher failed to complete the circuit and the Mariners won in walk-off fashion.

There was some small consolation for Red Sox fans when Josh Beckett turned in a solid six innings with a line of 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts. But then again, it was against the anemic Seattle lineup.

Game 78: June 30, 2012 ∙ 11 innings
Boston Red Sox
L: Alfredo Aceves (0-5)
No extra base hits
WinSeattle Mariners
BS: Brandon League (6)
W: Shawn Kelley (2-2)
2B: John Jaso (10)

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