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Home » Category Listing » June 2012 Game Comments

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)

June 30, 2012

Seattle Slain

Aaron Cook pitched like a latter-day Derek Lowe in his complete game shutout of the Mariners. He threw a mere 81 pitches, struck out two, and had no walks. Only Ichiro Suzuki and and John Jaso managed hits off the sinkerballer. Dustin Ackley reached base on a fielding error by Mike Aviles in the sixth.

While the Mariners offense was feeble the Red Sox bats proved formidable. Hector Noesi was Felix Hernandez-like for four innings but then Will Middlebrooks and Cody Ross smacked back-to-back home runs to lead off the fifth. Noesi avoided the fate of Chase Wright and got the next two Boston batters out, but Daniel Nava lofted the third four-bagger of the inning.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia added to the lead and to his All-Star resume with a two-run shot in the sixth. He homered in David Ortiz, who has yet to hit his 400th home run. With just four games left on this road trip he may as well wait for the team’s return to Fenway. It would be fitting to hit such a momentous shot off whichever replacement-level starter the Yankees scraped up with the injuries to C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.

Game 77: June 29, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Aaron Cook (2-1)
2B: David Ortiz (24), Mike Aviles (20)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (10), Cody Ross (12), Daniel Nava (3), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (15)
Seattle Mariners
L: Hector Noesi (2-10)
No extra base hits

June 29, 2012

Felix Felicis

Felix Hernandez didn’t need to imbibe a lucky potion, don the gear of his alter ego, or proffer his ventriloquist act; he just did his thing on the mound. Some potential longballs may have been deadened by the roof being shut and Hernandez might have benefited from home plate Adrian Johnson’s rather generous judgment. But regardless of those advantages the ace pitcher still had his entire repertoire at his command.

This Red Sox fan must have know chances were slim that he’d see David Ortiz’s 400th home run with Hernandez toeing the rubber, but he made a sign anyway. His wife’s sign must have distracted Dustin Pedroia, who went 0-4 with two strikeouts.

Franklin Morales’s scoreless seven innings were as impressive as Hernandez’s complete game shutout given that the former was a reliever up until a few weeks ago. Morales didn’t factor into the decision but he can wear this outing like a badge of honor. Not many pitchers match Hernandez pitch for pitch and Morales nearly did.

Scott Atchison pitched without his usual competence and the Mariners hit without their typical incompetence in the bottom of the ninth. Casper Wells laced a double to to center with one down in the ninth frame. Bobby Valentine called for the four-finger salute for Justin Smoak but had Atchison pitch to John Jaso, who has been hitting well for the past two weeks.

The pinch hitting catcher lined the ball to Cody Ross. Ross’s throw to home was a shade too far up the third base line, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia should have caught it to tag out his counterpart.

The Mariners celebrated as if their city’s basketball team made the NBA Finals.

Game 76: June 28, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Scott Atchison (2-1)
No extra base hits
WinSeattle Mariners
W: Felix Hernandez (6-5)
2B: Casper Wells (6)

June 28, 2012

Midafternoon of the Living Dead

Ricky Romero pitched a horrific first inning, as gruesome as a zombie apocalypse flick for the dozens of Blue Jays fans lightly spread across the Great White North. The local nine scored four runs before Romero got a batter out. After batting around back to Daniel Nava, who led off with a base on balls, the Red Sox had a six-run lead.

David Ortiz added to the carnage in the fifth with one out and none on, by which time Romero was long gone. The designated hitter was deliciously close to clubbing his 400th career home run in this game. His 399th circuit clout came courtesy of Jesse Chavez. The shot cleared the Red Sox bullpen and ball became a treasured keepsake of a lucky Fenway fan in the low bleachers who can tell the story about how she was one away from Papi’s 400th. Ortiz may hit the quadricentennial mark in Seattle, the team that signed him as an amateur free agent in 1992, so the milestone may happen with storybook circularity.

While Yankee pitchers were dropping like flies Clay Buchholz was released from the hospital after his five-day stay. Buchholz had esophagitis and gastrointestinal bleeding, illnesses that weakened him such that he won’t be able to fend off reanimated corpses or put a Red Sox uniform back on until after the All-Star break.

Game 75: June 27, 2012
Toronto Blue Jays
L: Ricky Romero (8-2)
2B: Brett Lawrie (14)
HR: Jose Bautista (25), Edwin Encarnacion (22)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jon Lester (5-5)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (19), Cody Ross (14)
HR: David Ortiz (21)

Yank Aaron

Aaron Laffey hadn’t started a major league game since June of 2010, when he was pressed into the starter’s role for the Cleveland Indians. My friend and I were talking about Laffey’s paltry major league resume and laughed about how the Red Sox lineup would pummel him. But then I remembered: this is exactly the sort of less than replacement level player that somehow shows up Boston from time to time.

Sure enough, Laffey lasted six innings, allowed only three hits, walked a pair of batters, and struck out two extremely hot hitters, Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a laborious 24-pitch first inning. Brett Lawrie led off with a liner starched to center. Colby Rasmus beat out Mike Aviles’s throw to first and Lawrie advanced to third on the play. Matsuzaka battled against Jose Bautista and induced a pop out to his backstop. Rather than wait around for his pitch Edwin Encarnacion swung at the first he saw and plated Lawrie with a single to third.

Middlebrooks rushed his throw to first and sent the ball towards the tarp, which allowed the both runners to get into scoring position. But then Matsuzaka had Kelly Johnson fly out to left and deftly gloved Yunel Escobar’s comebacker to avert further disaster. From that point on Matsuzaka was Laffey circa this game.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered with two down in the seventh to tie the game 1-1. It was too late to give his battery mate the win but perfectly timed to give Andrew Miller rather than Vicente Padilla the win.

Former Red Sox hurler David Pauley isn’t flourishing under John Farrell. He took the mound with two down in the seventh and inherited Ryan Kalish at second from Luis Perez. He hit Daniel Nava and then walked Aviles to load the bases. Dustin Pedroia knocked two runners in with a gutshot single but Aviles ran into the final out by getting hung up between second and third.

It was the only out Pauley managed. He toed the rubber in the eighth and allowed in succession a double to David Ortiz, a single to Ross, and a double to Adrian Gonzalez. It’s nice to have an embedded Red Sox player in the Blue Jays bullpen, but he has to pitch well enough to keep the job.

There are openings for twirlers in the Bronx.

Game 74: June 26, 2012
Toronto Blue Jays
BS: Jason Frasor (3)
L: Luis Perez (2-2)
2B: Brett Lawrie (13)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Andrew Miller (2-0)
H: Vicente Padilla (17)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez – 2 (24), David Ortiz – 2 (23), Ryan Kalish (1)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (14)

June 26, 2012


Two blasts by David Ortiz weren’t enough to salvage this rain-drenched series opener. The sky opened up with two out and Yunel Escobar on second in the seventh inning. Perhaps it was in mourning for Kevin Youkilis (spelled “Youklis” whoever wrote up the White Sox’s lineup card) or for the Red Sox, who had just fallen behind by two more runs thanks to Jose Bautista’s line drive two-run shot into the Monster seats.

At least one person was happy.

Make that two.

Game 73: June 25, 2012
WinToronto Blue Jays
W: Henderson Alvarez (4-6)
H: Jason Frasor (9)
S: Casey Janssen (8)
2B: Edwin Encarnacion (14), Ben Francisco – 2 (4)
HR: Colby Rasmus (14), J.P. Arencibia (10), Jose Bautista (24)
Boston Red Sox
L: Felix Doubront (8-4)
2B: Cody Ross (13), Will Middlebrooks (11)
3B: Dustin Pedroia (2)
HR: David Ortiz – 2 (20)

June 24, 2012

Swapping Sox

Even before he was a star on the diamond Kevin Youkilis captured the attention of baseball executives, so much so he was mentioned in Michael Lewis’s Moneyball as one of Billy Beane’s obsessions because of his walk rate and ability to get on base.

Today a much different general manager from Beane acquired Youkilis in a trade. Kenny Williams, in many ways the antithesis of the statistical front office breed, sent right-handed reliever Zach Stewart and utility man Brent Lillibridge for the three-time All-Star, two-time World Champion, and Gold Glover (for his defense at first base, not his natural position).

Youkilis was a rookie when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. He was a card-carrying frequent miles member of the Pawtucket shuttle that season but got his share of champagne showers. Because he was a witness of the unthinkable comeback from 0-3 he must have seen the challenge of battling back against the Cleveland Indians in the 2007 ALCS as just another postseason miracle to accomplish. In the 14 games he played in the 2007 postseason he had a .388 batting average, .475 on-base percentage, and .755 slugging percentage with four home runs.

In his last at bat as a Red Sox player he arced a fly ball to right-center. It dropped between Jason Heyward and Michael Bourn and Youkilis didn’t take his foot off the gas until he slid hard into third. Fittingly, he ended his run at the hot corner. Bobby Valentine had Nick Punto run for him and the fans got to say farewell to the much-loved “Youuuuuk.” I hope the Red Sox saved that base and present it to him when the White Sox come to Fenway in July.

Youkilis is a player that looks good on spreadsheets and when evaluated by traditional scouts who look for intangibles like “makeup” and “work ethic.” His numbers can dazzle and his uniform is dirty.

Game 72: June 24, 2012
Atlanta Braves
L: Mike Minor (3-6)
2B: Jason Heyward (15), Erick Hinske (3)
3B: Hinske (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Aaron Cook (1-1)
2B: Daniel Nava (15)
3B: Kevin Youkilis (1)
HR: Cody Ross – 2 (11), Adrian Gonzalez (6)

Fox Trap

Mitch Williams used as many words as Vin Scully does when broadcasting a game. The problem is, Williams’s play-by-play man Thom Brennaman also spoke as much as Scully. The Fox B team didn’t let the action on the field speak for itself but attempted to explain or elaborate on every pitch, swing, and twitch.

One particular habit Williams has is calling or guessing what the pitcher will throw by the signs the catcher puts down. A more adroit analyst like Jerry Remy will only use this occasionally to show how a pitcher is setting up a hitter and does so in a manner that increases the appreciation and enjoyment of the interchange. At one point Williams did this so often it leached entertainment out of the action because it was about showing off rather than complementing the game.

Lost in the verbiage was Franklin Morales’s second superb start. The southpaw went 6 innings, struck out 8 and only allowed 3 runs. The second run came in the fifth inning when Jason Heyward bunted for a single. Morales rushed his throw to first and missed Adrian Gonzalez, allowing Heyward to take second. Heyward advanced on a foul ball out to Gonzalez and scored on Michael Bourn’s single to left. Cue the ongoing argument for counting pitchers’ fielding errors against their ERA.

While David Ortiz has cooled at the plate other players have stepped up their offensive contributions. Dustin Pedroia has shaken off the rust with a 3-for-4 showing with a base on balls and two runs batted in. Daniel Nava has acclimated well to the leadoff spot and added to his team’s lead with a two-run single right in the seventh.

Adrian Gonzalez has shown signs of life of late. He went 2-for-5 and tied the game in the first with a single to right. The first baseman had two footraces against Bourn. He lost the dash to the bag in the third but Morales was spared from Bourn’s dancing at first when Martin Prado grounded into a double play. With the final out at stake, however, Gonzalez beat Bourn to first.

The next chapter to the epic of Will Middlebrooks was written. The third baseman hit the middle of the left field wall, deep enough to plate Gonzalez for the go-ahead run in the first. He tacked on a solo shot in the third to an area where most of his souvenir shots have landed: the Monster seats.

Game 71: June 23, 2012
Atlanta Braves
L: Randall Delgado (4-8)
2B: Chipper Jones (5), Andrelton Simmons (4)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Franklin Morales (1-1)
H: Scott Atchison (4), Andrew Miller (10)
2B: Will Middlebrooks (10), Dustin Pedroia (18), Mike Aviles (18), Cody Ross – 2 (12)
HR: Middlebrooks (9)

Jair of Hearts

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?

Christina Perri, “Jar of Hearts”

Nothing like feeling slighted to relight the competitive fire. Jair Jurrjens roared back from his return trip to the minor leagues with a 7⅔ inning, three-hit gem. Only the young pair of Will Middlebrooks and Daniel Nava managed to score off the resurgent starter with their doubles in the eighth.

Boston’s five-game winning streak was snapped with a man who should have been a sports legend but may end up a laughingstock.

Roger Clemens, feeling emboldened by his recent acquittal in his perjury trial celebrated with a trip to the Monster seats. He was surrounded not by his family but by security.

Surprisingly he didn’t first visit Rogers Centre, where he revitalized himself in his twilight years, Yankee Stadium, where he won two World Series, nor Minute Maid Park, where he had a reunion stint with Andy Pettitte. I can imagine that Clemens is planning is to tour his former teams’ stadia and end his trek in Cooperstown. The voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America may have other thoughts on the matter.

Game 70: June 22, 2012
WinAtlanta Braves
W: Jair Jurrjens (1-2)
H: Chad Durbin (8)
S: Craig Kimbrel (21)
2B: Jason Heyward – 2 (14), Andrelton Simmons (3), Martin Prado (19)
Boston Red Sox
L: Jon Lester (4-5)
2B: Will Middlebrooks (9), Daniel Nava (14)

June 22, 2012

Everyday I’m Hustling

The Marlins jumped to an early three-run lead when Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed a smattering of singles and steals in the first. He settled down to retire 14 Marlins in a row.

Cody Ross led the fourth off by getting hit by a pitch, but replay showed it was a call as bogus as all the foul calls against any player that comes within breathing distance of LeBron James. Carlos Zambrano figured he’d get his money’s worth and Jarrod Saltalamacchia took the ball off his tricep. Will Middlebrooks drove in Ross with a line drive single to right. Saltalamacchia advanced on Ryan Kalish’s ground out and scored on Mike Aviles’s fly ball to center.

Adrian Gonzalez carried the momentum into the fifth with a leadoff base on balls. David Ortiz flied out to left but Ross singled to the same area. Saltalamacchia could have given up when he tapped the ball to second baseman Omar Infante but turned on the turbo with Gonzalez in scoring position. The catcher beat out Jose Reyes’s throw to first with pure hustle, so instead of the inning-ending out there were runners at the corners with two down.

Middlebrooks continued his Wally Pipp-ment of Kevin Youkilis with a game-tying single blooped to right field.

Matsuzaka’s scoreless streak ended abruptly with Giancarlo Stanton’s home run in the sixth with none on and one out. Bobby Valentine pulled Matsuzaka in favor of Andrew Miller but Gregg Dobbs singled and was doubled in by Infante.

Once again Saltalamacchia came through, this time with a double to center. Middlebrooks clouted a home run to dead center to tie the score 5-5 while Youkilis thought about which furniture he would take with him to his next team.

Ryan Kalish singled with a grounder to right, which isn’t extraordinarily noteworthy except that he represented the go-ahead run. When Aviles knocked the ball towards first Kalish did something I’ve only seem teams do against the Red Sox: Kalish sprinted around second and took third on the ground out.

Daniel Nava may not stick in the lineup when Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford return but he hopefully opened enough eyes for another team to take a shot at starting him. He lined a single to center and the Red Sox swept a team for just the third time this season.

Game 69: June 21, 2012
Miami Marlins
H: Ryan Webb (6), Randy Choate (12)
BS, L: Edward Mujica (3, 0-3)
2B: Omar Infante (16)
HR: Giancarlo Stanton (15)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Scott Atchison (2-0)
S: Alfredo Aceves (18)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (8)

June 21, 2012

Moving On Up

The Old Town team pulled itself out of the AL East cellar with a bombastic offensive performance on the first official day of summer in record scorching heat.

It started off promisingly with Dustin Pedroia-sized Little Leaguers getting to take the field with their Red Sox counterparts. They stood reverently with one hand holding their baseball caps over their hearts during the presentation of the national anthem and their other hand clutching a baseball and pen. The Red Sox paid tribute to the mending Pedroia by scoring 15 runs, their highest score in the season so far.

Deven Marrero, Boston’s first draft pick in the recent amateur draft, visited the booth in the fourth inning. While he will not follow in the footsteps of former shortstop standouts Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia, it is pleasant to dream on the untapped potential of touted prospects. On the other hand, not many of the vaunted talent evaluators saw a Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in Pedroia, so perhaps another middle infielder from Arizona State will wildly exceed expectations.

Somehow without Pedroia the lineup pummeled the opposing pitchers. David Ortiz hit the 11th grand slam of his career in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 11-4: numeric poetry.

In the aftermath of the blowout Ortiz blew up. “I’m just tired of dealing with the drama here. This is baseball, man. It seems like everything that goes on around here is like one of those Congress decisions that will affect the whole nation,” he said. While it is upsetting to see a key player seething at the media, I was amused that Ortiz, an American citizen since 2008, still thinks that Congress does make decisions.

Sing it, Mary J.

Game 68: June 20, 2012
Miami Marlins
L: Ricky Nolasco (6-6)
2B: Justin Ruggiano (6), Donovan Solano (3), Omar Infante (15)
3B: Ruggiano (1)
HR: Logan Morrison (7), John Buck (5)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Felix Doubront (8-2)
2B: Cody Ross (10), Kevin Youkilis (7)
HR: Mike Aviles (9), David Ortiz (18), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13), Will Middlebrooks (7)

June 19, 2012

Morale(s) Booster

Yes, I was an English major who tried to write those avant-garde intertextual theses with parentheses that cleverly (or so I thought) split one word into multiple lexemes. Forgive me for the sins I visited upon Shakespeare, Elizabeth Bishop, and a whole gamut of novelists, poets, and playwrights with the assistance of Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, and Michel Foucault.

Franklin Morales made a spot start in the last game of this series in Chicago and would have been the winning pitcher were it not for a comedy of errors in the bottom of the sixth. The circus started with Kevin Youkilis booting Darwin Barney’s ground ball. Starlin Castro found a soft spot in the infield defense with a short single to the right of the mound. Youkilis was able to field Alfonso Soriano’s ground ball but Barney advanced to third and Soriano was safe at first.

Matt Albers fielded Jeff Baker’s comebacker well but when he threw to second Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles both dived for the ball. The ball squirted into center field and Barney scored the tying run. Through no fault of his own Albers was tagged with a blown save.

In the top half of the seventh Darnell McDonald led off with a double to the left-center ivy. Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to right and ran with his head down to second. Unlike his escapade in the basepaths in the preceding game Saltalamacchia was safe at second and McDonald advanced to third because the cutoff man bobbled the throw. Ryan Kalish, who took Ryan Sweeney’s place on the roster, looped a single into center for the go-ahead run.

Pinch-hitting for Albers Will Middlebrooks sacrificed in Saltalamacchia and Daniel Nava squeeze bunted to plate Kalish. Terry Francona reminisced a lot about his time with the Red Sox, but in his memories sacrifice bunts late in the game would be rare.

With Wrigley Field’s orientation the first baseman spends a part of late afternoon games blinded by the setting sun, prompting Ortiz to wear his cap askew “like Fernando Rodney,” Francona noted. The former Red Sox manager mentioned that part of his knee cartilage was in the bricks ringing foul territory. Francona ripped on Pedroia for a bit, calling out his short arms and quirky swing that somehow righted itself when contact was made.

At times when talking about the Red Sox Francona would use the word “we.” I don’t need a French post-structuralist to deconstruct that word usage. I miss him. He misses managing. He may even miss the Red Sox, though not some of its executives, I imagine.

Game 66: June 17, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
BS, W: Matt Albers (3, 2-0)
H: Andrew Miller (8), Mark Melancon (1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (16), Darnell McDonald (7)
HR: David Ortiz (16)
Chicago Cubs
L: Shawn Camp (2-4)
2B: Reed Johnson (5), Starlin Castro (10)
3B: Castro (6)

June 17, 2012

Backstop Barrage

Jarrod Saltalamacchia tried to get David Ortiz across home plate in the first. The Red Sox catcher laced the ball to the right field corner but rather than motor around the bases Ortiz slowed down to watch the progress of the play. Jerry Royster sent Ortiz home despite the runner’s slow pace and the ersatz first baseman was thrown out for the final out of the inning.

Maybe Royster got advice from Dale Sveum, current manager of the Cubs.

Saltalamacchia and Ortiz paired up successfully in the fourth. Leading off Ortiz cleaned out a fastball for a double to right. Saltalamacchia launched Jeff Samardzjia’s hanging splitter into to benches in right for a 2-0 lead.

Boston tacked on runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Will Middlebrooks drove in Ortiz with a liner to center but on the play it was Saltalamacchia’s turn to make a blunder on the basepaths. Royster tried to hold the catcher up at second but Saltalamacchia ran through the stop sign. In the seventh Mike Aviles visited the double-friendly right field like his teammates before him and scored on Scott Podsednik’s single to center.

Jon Lester stifled the Cubs lineup until the seventh inning. The two runs proved vital as Luis Valbuena clouted his first four-bagger of the season with runners on first and third with one out.

It wasn’t Samardzjia or Royster who had the worst game but Alfonso Soriano. In the bottom of the sixth the left fielder failed to run out a hot shot to Middlebrooks that was bobbled. Sveum defended his player, saying that “100 percent of every player in the history of baseball would do the same thing.” Sveum learned backing up his players from the Terry Francona method of management.

Game 65: June 16, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jon Lester (4-4)
H: Scott Atchison (3), Vicente Padilla (15)
S: Alfredo Aceves (16)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (12), David Ortiz (21), Mike Aviles (16)
HR: Saltalamacchia (12)
Chicago Cubs
L: Jeff Samardzjia (5-5)
2B: Jeff Baker (5)
HR: Luis Valbuena (1)

June 16, 2012

The Battle of Who Could Suck Less

Who sucked less?

Daisuke Matsuzaka (6 innings, 4 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts; as a batter 0-2 with a strikeout and 2 left on base) versus Ryan Dempster (7 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts; as a batter 2-2 with a triple and a run scored): Dempster

Red Sox (5-35 with 3 walks and 23 left on base) hitters versus Cubs hitters (4-27 with 2 walks and 10 left on base): Cubs

Red Sox defense versus Cubs defense: Cubs. The Cubbies may have had three errors but none of them led to a score. Adrian Gonzalez misjudged Dempster’s fly ball in the bottom of the second and the pitcher scored.

Denis Savard singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” versus audience: audience

Jerry Remy and Jenny Dell versus Wrigley Field security: Remy and Dell, once the were finally let in

Game 64: June 15, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2)
No extra base hits
WinChicago Cubs
W: Ryan Dempster (3-3)
H: James Russell (5)
S: Carlos Marmol (3)
2B: Steve Clevenger (8)
3B: Ryan Dempster (1)

Flirtatious Felix

On the same day Matt Cain turned the 22nd perfect game in major league history Felix Doubront came within 10 outs of a no-hitter. With two down in the sixth Jose Reyes found the left field seats and the eyesore in center field jolted into life.

Of the many ways to lose a no-hitter a home run might be least painful in a “pull off the bandage fast” sort of way. There are few things more agonizing than watching a slow dribbler wend its way to a infielder’s glove, feeling the tension of witnessing the subsequent toss, and holding your breath until the first baseman successfully coddles the ball for the out. But what can be more exhilarating than a catch like Gregor Blanco made in the seventh inning of Cain’s perfecto, a route into the warning track ringing the right-center gap of AT&T Park’s vast outfield that ended in a dive and a ecstatic cheer.

David Ortiz has had his share of deep fly balls robbed by outfielders but in the fourth inning he sent the ball over the opposite field fences. Ortiz informed the clubbers in The Clevelander that there was a game going with this home run ball to the row of seats around the outside of the venue. Then again the Miami fans probably just thought someone spilled a drink.

In the eighth the NESN audience witnessed something more rare than a perfect game. No, not a Nick Punto home run but a Vicente Padilla smile. With the score 10-2 Bobby Valentine yanked Padilla after the reliever failed to get Brett Hayes out.

Padilla sat on bench with a wry grin, bewildered by Valentine’s decision. Red Sox fans have the same expression watching their team this season.

Game 63: June 13, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Felix Doubront (7-3)
2B: Nick Punto (3)
HR: David Ortiz (15)
Miami Marlins
L: Ricky Nolasco (6-5)
2B: Giancarlo Stanton (18)
HR: Jose Reyes (2)

June 13, 2012

Miami Beat

Clay Buchholz, Kelly Shoppach, Mike Aviles, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook all contributed superlative efforts to salve the wounds of Boston sports devotees last night.

Buchholz was in peril early when Jose Reyes tripled from the leadoff spot in the first. The Red Sox starter probably wasn’t prepared to pitch because Mark Buehrle’s half inning took all of three minutes. Buchholz battled back to strike out Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, and Giancarlo “Don’t call me Mike” Stanton, stranding Reyes at third.

That inning set the tone for the rest of the frames. Buehrle plowed through batters at his typical brisk pace while Buchholz seemed to somewhat mimic his counterpart’s alacrity. The Red Sox batters finally wrapped their bats around Buehrle’s mid-80s offerings in the seventh. Will Middlebrooks lined a single to the well-worn right field and scored when Shoppach doubled to the equally bedraggled left-center gap to the lime green outfield wall.

Note to the Marlins groundskeepers: there’s a problem when your stadium’s paint is greener than the grass.

Aviles looped a single to center and Shoppach scored. That run was the margin of victory as Logan Morrison homered to lead off the bottom of the seventh. The circuit clout by a member of the local nine led to the awakening of the monstrosity in center field.

If one could physically embody something as damaging to the game on par with Pete Rose betting on baseball the moving monument in Marlins Park would be in the top five. It spews fountains like at Kauffman Stadium but in spurts to imitate fishes splashing. Arcs of lights blaze like a tawdry slot machine. Marlins spin in and out of a garish diorama of rainbows, palm trees, and flamingos. It had all the class of a toddler pageant but less restraint.

Other than that, I enjoyed the play “Our American Cousin.”

Honestly, though, nothing can permanently tarnish the game of baseball. Not steroids, not bettors, not incompetent commissioners, not imbecilic umpires, and certainly not a kinetic sculpture.

To cap off breaking the Red Sox losing streak Durant on the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Miami Heat. The Thunder fans, unlike Marlins fans, definitely know that a game is going. The Okies may take a break to grab a beer from the concession stands but they certainly aren’t whiling away their time in a bar with carnival dancers.

Game 62: June 12, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Clay Buchholz (7-2)
H: Vicente Padilla (14)
S: Alfredo Aceves (15)
2B: Kelly Shoppach – 2 (8)
Miami Marlins
L: Mark Buehrle (5-7)
3B: Jose Reyes (5)
HR: Logan Morrison (5)

June 12, 2012

You’ve Been Burned

“Someone needs your help, Michael,” croaked Christine Cagney, I mean, Madeline Westen.

Josh Beckett, a country-born yokel swindled by big city beer distributors, tries to get the money he invested back from a scam. But can even Michael Westen help the befuddled bumpkin when up against a cadre of deep pockets?

The good Josh is helped by his buddy Dustin Pedroia. If no one helps Dustin get past second after he doubles, will he just go back to feckless barhopping?

Up against Michael, Fiona, and Sam (a.k.a. Chuck Finley) is the evil Josh Johnson. His bewildering arsenal has the neighborhood (and the Red Sox lineup) in hiding.

Game 61: June 11, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Josh Beckett (4-7)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (15)
WinMiami Marlins
W: Josh Johnson (4-4)
H: Steve Cishek (7)
S: Heath Bell (13)
2B: Logan Morrison (8)
3B: Jose Reyes (4)

June 10, 2012

Eye Black

A D.O. rocked the eye black today but it wasn’t Boston’s designated hitter. Play-by-play man Don Orsillo had Jerry Remy apply the glare-reducing makeup before the bottom of the fourth inning. It was just in time for David Ortiz’s go-ahead solo blast. “I saw all of it,” exclaimed Orsillo as the ball ricocheted about the visitors’ bullpen. It’s not the best home run call, but it’s far from the worst.

The Red Sox pitchers had issues with home plate umpire Alan Porter. Alfredo Aceves felt he had struck out Roger Bernardina with two out and two on in the ninth and the strike zone plots show a number of pitches in the strike zone that should have been called strikes. Bernardina lined a double to right that scored Bryce Harper for the go-ahead run.

Dustin Pedroia was the last Red Sox batter and he disputed Porter’s called strikes. Bobby Valentine backed up his second baseman from the dugout and was thrown out of the game. Valentine got into it with Porter a bit before heading for the clubhouse. No doubt he wanted to get an early start on how to respond to the media’s questions about why his team got swept by the Nationals.

Game 60: June 10, 2012
WinWashington Nationals
W: Tom Gorzelanny (2-1)
S: Tyler Clippard (8)
2B: Danny Espinosa – 2 (13), Ian Desmond (17), Roger Bernardina (8)
Boston Red Sox
L: Alfredo Aceves (0-4)
2B: David Ortiz (20), Scott Podsednik (3)
HR: Ortiz (14)

Boston Sports Blues

In a dim, smoky lounge a performer slumps on a stool with his harmonica. A single spotlight illuminates him but you can’t see his face because of his fedora. Once your eyes adjust to the lack of light shadowy figures behind him can be picked out: a slight man with white hair with a guitar slung around his shoulders, a stout man with similarly silver hair behind a drum kit, and a woman with red hair holding her upright bass closer than she would any man.

The performer on the stool clears his throat. “You know, I gotta say, this city has been going through some… rough times.” Here and there in the audience are murmurs of assent, a smattering of applause, and one hearty, “Sing it, brother!”

“So them Bruins won last year but this year blew the deal. You got your Patriots not winning them there Super Bowls.” The singer paused after a boisterous shout of “Gints suck!” “I know, I know,” continued the singer.

He clears his throat and puffs a few chords on his harmonica. “Then you got the Celtics getting beat by those whippersnappers down there from Miami. Those men… Garnett, and Ray-Ray, and the Truth… and that Rondo kid, all led by Doc…” His voice trailed off. “Those guys, might have been their last game together, damn shame.” Another chord on the harmonica punctuated by the band tuning their instruments.

“Don’t forget that dangnab Red Sox team. I can’t reckon what they plans are, but they ain’t even got no winning record! It just make me wanna holler.” The quartet kicks into gear.

That ol’ rascal Brady
Got himself three rings
But then a devil lady
Gave him one of hers
Now ol’ Brady
Ain’t got no banners
Instead he got him some
Whoa, childcare planners

Oh, I got them blues
Them Boston sports blues
Why my teams
Always gotta lose

Then ol’ Tim Thomas
Gots more saves then Jesus
Now he got him some hiatus
Fans say what about us
Gonna send him Marshmont
Have them some discussion
Hope it don’t end up
Whoa, with a little concussion

Oh, I got them blues
Them Boston sports blues
Why my teams
Always gotta lose

Now them sad ol’ Sox
Getting beat out the bandbox
Hitters can’t hit
Pitchers can’t pitch
Coaches are snoozing
Or maybe they boozing
Running out of time
Bobby ain’t gonna get no valentine

Oh, I got them blues
Them Boston sports blues
Why my teams
Always gotta lose

Say bye to them Cs
Maybe Danny listen to our pleas
We all agree
Ain’t no more Big Threes
Keep Paul and Rondo
Put on a good show
If you got enough dough
Anything is possible

Oh, I got them blues
Them Boston sports blues
Why my teams
Always gotta lose

Game 59: June 9, 2012
WinWashington Nationals
W: Gio Gonzalez (8-2)
H: Michael Gonzalez (1), Sean Burnett (10)
S: Tyler Clippard (7)
2B: Michael Morse (3), Rick Ankiel (9)
HR: Adam LaRoche (10)
Boston Red Sox
L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-1)
2B: David Ortiz (19), Ryan Sweeney (17)

June 9, 2012


Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore combined for 5-9 with four runs scored, a pairing as formidable as Valerie Harper and Mary Tyler Moore, stars of a smash sitcom that spun off three more shows: “Rhoda,” “Phyllis,” and “Lou Grant.” Harper’s two-run bomb in the fourth inning was very close to hitting the baseball on the Jordan’s Furniture sign.

Many National League pitchers have problems with American League lineups but not Stephen Strasburg. The phenom strung together a dazzling 6 innings: 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 13 strikeouts.

Dustin Pedroia struck out twice against Strasburg; the second baseman looked grimly determined to get a hit off this particular twirler. In the sixth Pedroia lined a single to Moore, probably muttering “he ain’t got shit” as he got to the sack. But Strasburg indeed is outstanding, reminiscent of Justin Verlander and Nolan Ryan but with better control than either.

Kevin Youkilis was ejected in the sixth after having the honor of being Strasburg’s 13th strikeout. He disagreed with home plate umpire Doug Eddings’s call and the replay showed that the pitch was low but still in the zone (at least how Ameeker maps the zone). I think many hitters facing Strasburg would think of a creative way to ride pine when he was on the bump.

In the eighth Adrian Gonzalez knocked in a home run deep to dead center. It was his 200th career home run but would have been his 201st if Xavier Nady didn’t make a circus catch of Gonzalez’s fly ball to right in the third frame. Gonzalez has averaged 30 homers a season but this was only the slugger’s fifth circuit clout of the season.

Game 58: June 8, 2012
WinWashington Nationals
W: Stephen Strasburg (7-1)
S: Tyler Clippard (6)
2B: Danny Espinosa – 2 (11), Bryce Harper (8), Ian Desmond (16), Tyler Moore (1), Ryan Zimmerman (10)
HR: Harper (6)
Boston Red Sox
L: Felix Doubront (6-3)
2B: Mike Aviles (15), Adrian Gonzalez (22), Daniel Nava (12)
HR: Gonzalez (5)

Clay Nation

Clay Buchholz had his third complete game shutout of his career and his second such game against the Baltimore Orioles. His first complete game shutout of the Charm City squad, which happened on September 1, 2007, was a bit more memorable.

As Buchholz shut down the Orioles across town the Celtics were getting outplayed by LeBron James and the Heat. Just as the Baltimore sluggers couldn’t get runners into scoring position Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s runs at the basket kept on missing.

Although the Celtics game wasn’t entertaining this sign was. I don’t know how authentic this photo posted on Twitter was, but it’s worth a chuckle.

Game 57: June 7, 2012
Baltimore Orioles
L: Brian Matusz (5-6)
2B: Chris Davis (9)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Clay Buchholz (6-2)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez (21), Darnell McDonald (6), Daniel Nava (11), Kevin Youkilis (5)

June 7, 2012

Good Job, Good Effort

The Red Sox fell back to a .500 record. Good job, good effort!

Josh Beckett lasted 8 innings with 5 hits, 2 earned runs, no bases on balls, and 5 strikeouts. The Orioles didn’t have any extra base hits off of the starter but scored two runs on a smattering of singles in the sixth. Good job, good effort!

The Red Sox left 16 on base and were 1-9 with runners in scoring position. Good job, good effort!

Game 56: June 6, 2012
WinBaltimore Orioles
W: Wei-Yin Chen (5-2)
H: Pedro Strop (11)
S: Jim Johnson (18)
No extra base hits
Boston Red Sox
L: Josh Beckett (4-6)
2B: Darnell McDonald (5)

June 6, 2012

To the Naysayers

Doris Burke has not wanted for soundbites in her courtside interviews with Celtics players. Kevin Garnett was the star of Game 5 and of the mic. “The competition, the naysayers, the owners who talk too much. The people who don’t think a 36-year-old can do what I do. I take a lot of pride in my craft, I work really hard at my craft every day, and I’m a true professional.”

The Celtics’ win made up for the deflating extra innings loss to the Orioles. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run home run tied the game in the ninth, but the blast didn’t ignite his team like Paul Pierce’s three-point shot over LeBron James.

The Red Sox rotation is in temporary disarray after Daniel Bard’s implosion in Toronto. He was sent down to Pawtucket and Darnell McDonald was activated to replace him. Daisuke Matsuzaka is ready to replace Bard in the rotation, so perhaps the seeming failure of the experiment of Bard as starter was well-timed.

Bard confessed what was apparent to most observers. “I allowed something to happen when I switched roles,” he said. “I think it’s just maybe that we just tried to turn me into a starter rather than just take the same pitcher I was out of the pen and move that guy to the rotation, which is probably what should have been done.” Whereas Garnett proved his critics wrong Bard ended up agreeing with his. I think instead of stubbornly trying to mold Bard into a starter it seems like he needs to be allowed to flourish in the role he found the most success.

Game 55: June 5, 2012 ∙ 10 innings
WinBaltimore Orioles
BS: Troy Patton (1)
H: Luis Ayala (6), Pedro Strop (10)
BS, W: Jim Johnson (1, 1-0)
2B: Matt Wieters (8)
3B: J.J. Hardy (2)
Boston Red Sox
BS: Scott Atchison (1)
L: Alfredo Aceves (0-3)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (11)
HR: Saltalamacchia (11)

June 4, 2012

Fit to Be Tied

Dennis Eckersley said it best: Daniel Bard spit the bit in this game. He walked six batters over 1⅔ innings pitched but only allowed a single hit. Unfortunately for the Red Sox that hit was a three-run home run off Jose Bautista’s bat. I like Bautista better as a personification of a jersey.

In the second inning two Blue Jays batters were victims of Bard’s wildness. Yunel Escobar was hit on the hand and the ricochet of the ball knocked his helmet off. Escobar’s near-concussion led to the bases being loaded with two out. This time around Bard walked Bautista instead of allowing a home run so only a single run scored. Bard couldn’t get the ball anywhere near the zone and hit Edwin Encarnacion in the wrist for another run.

It should have been obvious to everyone, particularly John Farrell, current Blue Jays manager and former Red Sox pitching coach, that Bard was reliving his disastrous Lancaster days in Class A ball and that he was not intentionally hitting batters. In the sixth Drew Hutchison hit Kevin Youkilis in the shoulder nonetheless. Youkilis was incensed, not because he was hit by a pitch but because of how high the pitch went. As he took his base Youkilis angrily indicated to the sophomore pitcher to hit him lower next time and not go anywhere near the head.

After one team from Boston fell into a tie with their divisional rivals another one drew even with their conference foes. The Boston Celtics prevailed over obdurate officials and the Best Player in the NBA Today™ to tie the Eastern Conference Finals series at 2-2.

Doris Burke is used to the platitudes and bromides sports stars utter into her mic before they escape to the locker room. It must have been surprising when Rajon Rondo answered her question about what holes the Celtics exploited. “Them complaining and crying to the referees in transition,” stated the point guard plainly.

At the end of the game Burke tried to give Rondo an out from his comments at halftime. Rondo didn’t back down. “What I said was true,” he said. “I don’t take back what I said.”

Game 54: June 3, 2012
Boston Red Sox
L: Daniel Bard (5-6)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez (20)
HR: Kelly Shoppach (3)
WinToronto Blue Jays
W: Drew Hutchison (5-2)
2B: David Cooper (3)
HR: Jose Bautista (14)

June 3, 2012

Silent Treatment

I think that Hit Tracker is credible, but how is it possible that Nick Punto’s ninth-inning second-decker and Miguel Cabrera’s moonshot to the camera hut in dead center at Comerica both be 444 feet? How is it possible that I could even be comparing home runs by Punto and Cabrera? The only possible sentence would be something like, “Nick Punto has hit 15 home runs in his career, which is as many as Miguel Cabrera hits in half a season.”

After Punto’s Ortizian blast to right field he got the silent treatment in the dugout. Bobby Valentine posed as if here engrossed in a binder of statistics. Dave Magadan couldn’t help himself and smiled in the infielder’s direction as he made his way down the steps. Ortiz acknowledged the circuit clout boisterously, “I didn’t know you could do that, you m—f—.”

It was an exclamation point on another statement game by Felix Doubront. While other starters have had their question marks, Doubront has emerged as the most consistent hurler of the rotation. His line: 6⅓ innings pitched, 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walks, and 7 strikeouts. He is not as flashy in stuff, temperament, or dollars as fellow Venezuelan pitchers Felix Hernandez, Carlos Zambrano, or Johan Santana. But he has been exactly what the Red Sox need to be competitive: a cost-controlled starter

The Red Sox prevailed but an error in the eighth inning gave the Blue Jays a spark. Ryan Sweeney fielded Brett Lawrie’s ground ball single well enough but then double clutched and inadvertently tossed the ball no man’s land. Edwin Encarnacion scored from second and Lawrie advanced to second. But worst of all Sweeney did this with Vicente Padilla on the mound. No word yet on how Padilla will make his displeasure known.

The official scorer had a tougher game than Sweeney. In the second Colby Rasmus seemed to have a fly ball off Daniel Nava’s bat sized up, but rather than glove the ball for an easy third out Rasmus whiffed on the catch. Nava was credited with a single and two runs batted in.

In the bottom of the third Encarnacion starched the ball at Mike Aviles so hard that it looked like Aviles might have to come out of the game. The official scorer first ruled it an error, but changed it to a single by Encarnacion later in the game. If veteran Doug Hobbs were still keeping score, I doubt the same erroneous error would be made.

Game 53: June 2, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Felix Doubront (6-2)
H: Matt Albers (2), Andrew Miller (7), Vicente Padilla (13)
S: Alfredo Aceves (14)
2B: Nick Punto (2), Kevin Youkilis (4)
HR: Punto (1)
Toronto Blue Jays
L: Kyle Drabek (4-6)
HR: Jeff Mathis (3), Jose Bautista (13)

Fixing a Hole

And it really doesn’t matter
If I’m wrong, I’m right
Where I belong, I’m right
Where I belong
“Fixing a Hole,” Lennon-McCartney

As Clay Buchholz dug his preferred divot in front of the rubber the Red Sox clawed themselves even in the standings with their northerly rivals. This wasn’t one of Buchholz’s lucky wins, either, as the lanky pitcher’s line indicates: 8 innings pitched, 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. The Buchholz that hurled a no-hitter in his rookie season and finished sixth in Cy Young voting in 2010 seems to have returned. Funny to reminisce about the Buchholz of yore since he is only 27 years of age.

The Red Sox kept the rest of the American League within sight while they were down two key outfielders. In fact, while Dustin Pedroia was shelved because of an injured right thumb his team finally kept its record above .500. Who needs that former Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player loudmouth?

The Red Sox can win with a patchwork roster of undrafted outfielders (Daniel Nava) and middling MLB retreads (Scott Atchison, Scott Podsednik), cleverly stitched together by Bobby Valentine. Nava in particular plays with a desperation showing that if he doesn’t make his mark in people’s minds he may waste another season away in a minor league hamlet. Nava knocked in three doubles: one allowed him to score and another drove in a run. The last one was a ground-rule double in the ninth

Atchison has replaced Alfredo Aceves in the bullpen as the rubber arm reliever. If a starter gets lit up early in the game Atchison will be the one to warming in the bullpen. If Valentine needs a reliable, versatile reliever to bridge the gap between starter and closer Atchison is in the mix. When someone has to toe the rubber in a non-save situation, as in this game, Atchison will give you a tidy, scoreless inning.

Podsednik was tapped to leadoff. He added to Boston’s lead with a two-out RBI single to the second baseman. As the regulars mend and return, will it be Nava or Podsednik who will remain? I for one hope that Nava will be given a chance to establish the career that Podsednik has already enjoyed.

Game 52: June 1, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Clay Buchholz (5-2)
2B: Danie Nava – 3 (10), Adrian Gonzalez (19), Ryan Sweeney (16)
HR: David Ortiz (13)
Toronto Blue Jays
L: Henderson Alvarez (3-5)
2B: David Cooper (2)
HR: Yunel Escobar (3), Cooper (1)

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