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Home » Category Listing » September 2012 Game Comments

October 1, 2012

Zach Attack

Zach Stewart was born on September 28, 1986. Not a good year for the Red Sox but on that day Oil Can Boyd pitched a complete game against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Red Sox won 12-3.

J.J. Hardy defeated Robert Andino, Mark Reynolds, Jake Arrietta, and Tommy Hunter in fan voting for a bobblehead day. I think it is because the Brewers sent the extra bobbles from 2008 to Baltimore and the Orioles repainted him.

It wouldn’t be 2012 without yet another injury. Dustin Pedroia jammed his finger and expressed his pain and frustration in the dugout.

Game 159: September 30, 2012
Boston Red Sox
69-90
3
L: Zach Stewart (1-4)
2B: Ryan Lavarnway (8), Jose Iglesias (2), Pedro Ciriaco (14)
HR: Cody Ross (22), Daniel Nava (5)
WinBaltimore Orioles
92-67
6
W: Joe Saunders (9-13)
H: Darren O’Day (14)
S: Jim Johnson (50)
HR: Nate McLouth (7), J.J. Hardy (22), Chris Davis (31)

And Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson

Brooks Robinson joined Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken, Jr. in bronze immortality at Camden Yards. No, he didn’t put on spray tan like Mitt Romney on Univision. He has a statue in the Legends Area, surveying the surging Orioles.

The Orioles want to win the pennant so badly they can almost taste the champagne spray. After Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run homer in the fifth brought the visitors to within a run Mark Reynolds went headfirst between the tarp and the wall for the final out of the inning. It was nice to see a reminder of what a hustle play looked like. Red Sox players wanting to stick around for 2013 should take note.

Chris Davis, who clouted his 30th home run in the fourth, hugged his manager after the shot. Somehow I can’t imagine any player embracing Bobby Valentine. The victory tied the Orioles with the Yankees. In the season when Orioles legends were enshrined at their park the team on the field played with vivacity and purpose. Sadly Fenway’s 100th anniversary didn’t inspire its denizens the same way.

Game 158: September 29, 2012
Boston Red Sox
69-89
3
L: Felix Doubront (11-10)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (25)
WinBaltimore Orioles
91-67
4
BS, W: Tommy Hunter (1, 7-8)
H: Brian Matusz (3), Darren O’Day (13)
S: Jim Johnson (49)
2B: Nate McLouth (14)
HR: Chris Davis (30), Manny Machado (7)

September 29, 2012

Tea for the Tillman

The Red Sox got off to a quick start with Scott Podsednik’s leadoff bunt single and run scored in the first.

But the Orioles came back with a vengeance in the bottom of the frame, a scoring assault capped by Ryan Flaherty’s first career grand slam. As the Charm City squad stalks the division-leading Yankees the atmosphere at Camden Yards is electric.

Watching the 2012 Red Sox is like watching paint dry. On your corneas.

Game 157: September 28, 2012
Boston Red Sox
69-88
1
L: Aaron Cook (4-11)
No extra base hits
WinBaltimore Orioles
90-67
9
W: Chris Tillman (9-2)
2B: Mark Reynolds (26), Manny Machado (8), Ryan Flaherty (2)
HR: Chris Davis (29), Flaherty (6)

Playing Out the String

The All-Fenway Team had a better chance against the Rays than the 2012 Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia, who is on both historic Boston squads, went 0-for-2 with two walks and didn’t continue his two-game doubles hitting streak.

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were named amongst five least biased baseball announcer teams by the Wall Street Journal. Despite this recognition, Orsillo seemed to be on the search for a new partner.

Orsillo was also getting his pipes in shape for postseason with TBS, his sixth straight year. Sadly, Orsillo has been part of the playoffs more often than the Red Sox of late.

Game 156: September 26, 2012
WinTampa Bay Rays
85-70
4
W: Alex Cobb (10-9)
H: Jake McGee (17), Wade Davis (6), Joel Peralta (36)
S: Fernando Rodney (45)
2B: Ben Zobrist (37), Jose Lobaton (10)
HR: Carlos Pena (19), Ben Francisco (4)
Boston Red Sox
69-87
2
L: Jon Lester (9-14)
No extra base hits

September 26, 2012

Eight Years Ago

Although the game ended with a loss by the Red Sox, fans got to revel in past glory with a celebration of the 2004 World Series Champion team. Alan Embree, Mike Timlin, and Tim Wakefield made their way around Fenway on a duck boat with the trophy. At one point Nomar Garciaparra held the trophy, which must have been a bittersweet moment for him.

It is heartening to see whatever bitterness Terry Francona departed Boston with dissipate.

There is no one else like Pedro. He made dominance look easy. I moved here from Hawai‘i in 1997 so I only briefly understood what it meant to not have a marquee future Hall of Fame pitcher in your rotation. Pedro signed his name behind the Green Monster for the first time. “Now we can all go and sign and say mission accomplished,” he said. “I’m going to sign really high [on the wall], so that Manny doesn’t pee on it.”

He and Kevin Millar need to start a comedy act, stat. Millar joked about how everyone had gained the freshman 30. Pedro recounted his dinner with Jason Varitek and Roger Clemens and how they talked about pitching. That must be like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo meeting in Florence but with less animosity. Or maybe Vasari was just a precursor to a gossip columnist. Speaking of gossip, Varitek is close to taking a job with the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, Clemens is approaching the size of William Shatner.

We celebrated the 2004 heroes, but Laz Diaz honored a real hero in the middle of the game by giving a Marine a baseball. Diaz is a former Marine and has a feud with Russell Martin, making him a-okay in my book.

Game 155: September 25, 2012
WinTampa Bay Rays
84-70
5
W: David Price (19-5)
2B: Ben Zobrist (36)
HR: Jeff Keppinger (8)
Boston Red Sox
69-86
2
L: Clay Buchholz (11-7)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (37)

September 25, 2012

Plucky Play and Producer for a Day

The Red Sox didn’t get swept by the outstanding Orioles! Jerry Remy, what’s your reaction to that?

Tina Santelli was the lucky winner of NESN’s Producer for a Day contest. Her favorite player is Dustin Pedroia because of his work ethic and great attitude. She had a great time filling in various NESN roles around Fenway. Given the rotation’s woes she would have had a good chance of Bobby Valentine calling her to pitch but Felix Doubront turned in an impressive seven innings of one-run ball.

Another plea to please bring Cody Ross back for 2013. Here he is robbing Adam Jones of a home run to end the first inning.

Game 154: September 23, 2012
Baltimore Orioles
87-65
1
L: Luis Ayala (5-5)
2B: Chris Davis (19)
Matt Wieters – 2 (26), Jim Thome (7)
WinBoston Red Sox
69-85
2
W: Junichi Tazawa (1-1)
S: Andrew Bailey (6)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (17), Dustin Pedroia (36), Cody Ross (34)

September 23, 2012

Pro Bono Baseball

As this game meandered into extra innings a.k.a. Baltimore guaranteed win territory it seemed that most of the fans of the 37,570 attending were cheering for the Orioles. To vault from last place in the division to be in contention for the pennant speaks volumes of Buck Showalter’s leadership. He took over in July 2010 and weathered the rest of that season and 2011 in last place. The seeds of discipline he planted over this time has flowered into a playoff contender.

Perhaps Red Sox fans will be making “Vote Bobby 2016 next season.”

Winner of the Lib Dooley Fan Award Lynne Smith was honored at this game. If the outcome on the field isn’t entertaining you can always rely on Smith’s spirited wardrobe. No relation to Jere of “Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory,” I presume.

Game 153: September 22, 2012 ∙ 12 innings
WinBaltimore Orioles
87-64
9
H: Jake Arrieta (1)
BS: Pedro Strop (7)
W: Tommy Hunter (6-8)
S: Jim Johnson (47)
2B: Matt Wieters – 2 (26), Ryan Flaherty (1), Manny Machado (7), Adam Jones (37), Jim Thome (6)
3B: Flaherty (3)
HR: Mark Reynolds (22), Jones (31)
Boston Red Sox
68-85
6
L: Alfredo Aceves (2-10)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (35), Scott Podsednik – 2 (7), Daniel Nava (20)
HR: Danny Valencia (3)

The Lesser of Two Evils

Baltimore is the team Boston used to be, a playoff-caliber team from the AL East that aren’t as repugnant as the Yankees. If Kevin Gregg and Luke Scott were still on the Orioles I would think differently, but this current collection of players is likable. Then again, to me there is no sports team more unlikable than the Bronx Bombers. So, more power to the boys from Charm City.

The Red Sox have more ticks in the losing column than the winning for the first time since 1997. George “The Animal” Steele isn’t gnawing at the ball in frustration over this but is merely playing out his signature move on a baseball. But Steele’s actions before the first pitch serve as suitable proxy for Red Sox Nation’s collective chagrin.

When the Red Sox signed, traded, and then re-signed Scott Podsednik it was a footnote to a desperate season. But the fleet-footed outfielder understands his greatest attribute and goes to extreme lengths to optimize it. He wears a custom-built sliding cast to protect his hand as he attempts larceny. Podsednik hits above career norms at Fenway, so it wouldn’t be the worst thing to bring back this consummate professional in 2013. As long as his sliding cast still has a use, that is.

Cody Ross has been another veteran bright spot on the roster. In the third with Robert Andino at first and one down Nate McLouth lofted a fly ball to the right that was destined to be a ground-rule double at best or a crazily ricocheting triple at worst. Ross reversed to the warning track and reached back to glove the ball. Andino had rounded second and couldn’t get back to first in time to avoid the double play. Ross is another veteran that would be an asset for the 2013 Red Sox.

Game 152: September 21, 2012
WinBaltimore Orioles
86-64
4
W: Miguel Gonzalez (7-4)
H: Darren O’Day (11)
S: Jim Johnson (46)
2B: Adam Jones (36), Matt Wieters (24)
Boston Red Sox
68-84
2
L: Jon Lester (9-13)
2B: Daniel Nava (19), Pedro Ciriaco (13)

September 22, 2012

Camaraderie

In the final game of this series the Red Sox lost in stunning fashion, blowing a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. The 12,963 fans looked up from the Rays Touch Tank or mobile phones to jangle their cowbells as B.J. Upton’s three-run homer receded into the batter’s eye to break the 4-4 tie. Upton pointed to the stands before the ball landed.

Now that I think about it more, this loss wasn’t so surprising. This team had moments where the pitching staff could stifle opponents occasionally but not consistently. They were as constant as Pedro Ciriaco’s defensive positions. Bobby Valentine started Ciriaco in center and the results were poor. He lost two routine fly balls, turning outs into doubles.

Clay Buchholz offered Ciriaco reassurance after the fielding miscues. I think that is John Lackey in the background wondering why the pitcher isn’t chewing out the defender.

Valentine, Alex Ochoa, and Ciriaco shared a laugh about the escapades in center. Nice inning, kid!

In the top of the ninth Jose Iglesias yanked his first major league home run into the left field stands where it was pursued down a ramp. While the Red Sox have played losing ball this season they pulled off one of the best silent treatments ever.

But of course after a few moments the team converged to congratulate the rookie.

Game 151: September 20, 2012
Boston Red Sox
68-83
4
H: Junichi Tazawa (4)
BS, L: Andrew Bailey (2, 1-1)
2B: Cody Ross (33), Ryan Lavarnway (7)
3B: Mauro Gomez (2)
HR: Jose Iglesias (1)
WinTampa Bay Rays
80-70
7
W: Burke Badenhop (2-2)
2B: Evan Longoria (11), B.J. Upton (26), Luke Scott (19), Desmond Jennings (19)
HR: B.J. Upton (24)

September 20, 2012

Nuclear Inning

I need for Dennis Eckersley to come to my office to recap portions of my day with his pithy phrases. “If we win that bid it will bring in some big iron for the company,” he’d exclaim after attempting to woo a client. In a tough meeting he would try to sympathize, “Those weren’t easy questions at all, they came with some high cheese.” And if my boss had to sit me down for a heart-to-heart to discuss complaints about me it would be a “nuclear meeting.”

Even after garnering Theo Epstein there was no revolution for the Cubbies. A debuting show on NBC set in the near future revised a shot of an overgrown Wrigley Field to omit the “2012 World Series Champions” sign. The North Siders can’t even win in a fictional universe.

Alfredo Aceves handed the ball directly to Bobby Valentine when the reliever was pulled off the mound in the sixth but they didn’t make eye contact. With this sort of line I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror: 2 innings pitched, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and one strikeout.

Alex Ochoa and Valentine had a good rapport. Ochoa noted a tell in Chris Archer’s delivery that the Red Sox tried to take advantage of but with even with five hits and four walks getting men on base only Pedro Ciriaco managed to steal off the starter.

Game 150: September 19, 2012
Boston Red Sox
68-82
3
L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-6)
No extra base hits
WinTampa Bay Rays
79-70
13
L: Kyle Farnsworth (1-6)
2B: Jose Molina (8), B.J. Upton (25), Luke Scott (18)
3B: Desmond Jennings (6)
HR: Jeff Keppinger (7), Carlos Pena (18)

Atmospheric Lack of Pressure

For the second straight game the Rays didn’t have a batter with an extra base hit. In the mausoleum-like atmosphere what little excitement can be had is away from the artificial turf as there is so little enthusiasm for the home team.

The Rays Touch Tank offers up cownose rays for molestation. It is not only their name that is somewhat mammalian; females of this species incubate their eggs in their uterus where they hatch. Cownose rays are near threatened because they hatch one pup at a time. Fortunately for these 30-odd rays they live in the peace and quiet of the Trop.

Joe Maddon’s 9=8 theme is not only mathematically impossible but also doesn’t seem to be powering the Rays into the playoffs. Looks like he replaced that slogan with multiple colored bracelets.

Ryan Roberts has more ink than St. Petersburg reporters use to cover this team.

Game 149: September 18, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
68-81
7
W: Felix Doubront (11-9)
H: Junichi Tazawa (3), Craig Breslow (8)
S: Andrew Bailey (5)
2B: Cody Ross (32), Ryan Lavarnway (6)
Tampa Bay Rays
78-70
5
L: Kyle Farnsworth (1-6)
No extra base hits

September 18, 2012

Dugout Drama

Of course now would be the time the Red Sox stretch themselves and put together a solid effort to defeat a team with a winning record. Unfortunately every win against the Rays takes Tampa Bay further out of the playoff hunt and helps the Yankees. Boston missing the playoffs would be slightly more tolerable but the Rays and their 11,722 fans are limping through September like Aaron Hernandez. How dispiriting it must be for the Rays. Bud Selig saw fit to have a new wild card slot available to energize the end of the season but that has not fired up the Rays fan base.

In the bottom of the sixth Aaron Cook impressively contorted himself to catch Jose Iglesia’s relay to complete the 3-6-1 double play. The rookie shortstop’s defense can be dazzling but his batting is proving paltry at best.

As there wasn’t much of a crowd to rile them up the Rays resorted to dugout drama. Alex Cobb and Jose Molina had a heated discussion that a stern-mouthed gentleman attempted to diffuse. Just ask Dustin Pedroia and Alfredo Aceves how confrontations between teammates pave the way to the success.

But seriously, couldn’t we try harder to lose to get a better draft pick and try to help the Rays oust the Orioles or Yankees?

Game 148: September 17, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
67-81
5
W: Aaron Cook (4-10)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury (4)
Tampa Bay Rays
78-69
2
L: Alex Cobb (9-9)
No extra base hits

Eye Black Blues

With the ubiquity of camera phones even regular people at any moment can have their actions tweeted about and their awkward expressions photographed and facebooked. So a major league baseball player should expect even more scrutiny.

Brett Lawrie couldn’t avoid NESN microphones picking up his shouted expletive when he struck out to lead off the sixth inning. Yunel Escobar brazenly sported an anti-gay slur on his eye black stickers and is now serving a three-game suspension during which he will lose about $83,000, or as Mitt Romney would call it, chump change. Escobar fell back on the typical defenses saying that he has gay friends. “The person who decorates my house is gay, the person who cuts my hair is gay.” Thankfully he will also go to sensitivity training.

The money will go to You Can Play project, which works for equal treatment of athletes regardless of sexual orientation, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Photo courtesy @james_in_to.

Game 147: September 16, 2012
Boston Red Sox
66-81
0
L: Jon Lester (9-12)
2B: Ryan Lavarnway (5)
WinToronto Blue Jays
66-79
5
W: Brandon Lyon (3-2)
H: Darren Oliver (15)
2B: Omar Vizquel (3), Brett Lawrie (23)
HR: Adeiny Hechavarria (2)

September 16, 2012

Tipping America’s Hat

For the second straight game the Red Sox scored in the ninth to defeat the Blue Jays. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off the final frame with a double that bounced all the way to and then off the right field wall. After Ryan Lavarnway struck out swinging Saltalamacchia tagged up on Mike Aviles’s fly ball out to center. Pedro Ciriaco lined the ball down the left field line and as it skipped to the wall Saltalamacchia scored the go-ahead run.

John Farrell called on Brett Cecil in the ninth to stop the opposition from adding another run to the the lead. Cecil walked Jacoby Ellsbury, no doubt the pitcher was troubled by Ciriaco on the basepaths. Is there any more discomfiting feeling than having Ciriaco and Ellsbury as baserunners?

Cecil’s two-tone spectacles are quite the fashion statement.

I have a suggestion for Cecil’s glasses.

Game 146: September 15, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
66-80
3
W: Craig Breslow (3-0)
S: Andrew Bailey (4)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (16), Pedro Ciriaco (12)
HR: Cody Ross (21)
Toronto Blue Jays
65-79
2
L: Steve Delabar (4-2)
2B: Adam Lind (12)

Fit the Bill

On the “Sports on Earth” site Joe Posnanski recently wrote about how Bill James will be re-integrated into the Red Sox organization. James will report directly to John Henry rather than to Ben Cherington.

In the article Posnanski listed all the free agent signings that James, in an alternate reality where he didn’t have a non-disclosure clause with the the team he advised, would have lambasted: John Lackey, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks. Perhaps in yet another alternate reality the baseball operations people would have listened to James and none of these signings would have been made.

Would James have recommended keeping Josh Reddick, who is a lynchpin in the outstanding playoff-bound Oakland Athletics? Would he have vetoed Daniel Bard’s starting pitcher experiment, a detour that not only made Boston suffer with a sub-par starter but may have permanently derailed the career of a highly effective reliever? While losing Victor Martinez to free agency allowed the Red Sox to draft Matt Barnes in 2011, was he an advocate for that trade?

So many questions, the answers to which are apparent in this season’s losing record. Ironically enough the Red Sox are battling the Blue Jays for last place, a fight they are winning when losing would benefit them in better draft position.

At one point when the Red Sox baseball development machine was manufacturing success it seemed we had the baseball savvy of Billy Beane but the bankroll of Brian Cashman. (Well, maybe three-quarters the budget of Cashman.) Perhaps the new organizational structure at 4 Yawkey Way will rebuild that engine.

Game 145: September 14, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
65-80
8
H: Clayton Mortensen (1), Junichi Tazawa (2)
BS: Vicente Padilla (4)
W: Chris Carpenter (1-0)
S: Andrew Bailey (3)
3B: Mauro Gomez (1)
HR: Ryan Lavarnway (2)
Toronto Blue Jays
65-78
5
L: Darren Oliver (3-3)
2B: Adam Lind (11), Brett Lawrie (22)
3B: Lind (1)

September 15, 2012

Jello® Pudding Pop-ups

Rather than be entertained by his team Tom Werner had Larry David, Bill Cosby, and Jon Hamm over at the lyric little bandbox. Cosby threw out the first pitch, an effort that was reminiscent of Vicente Padilla’s Eephus pitch. With Joe Girardi managing the game as if it were October it was surprising that Girardi didn’t call on Cosby to come out for a batter or two late in the game.

Larry David is a favorite of Jerry Remy’s so the color analyst sent down hot dogs to David and to Hamm. The pair are collaborating in David’s upcoming HBO movie Clear History. David comes from a Jewish family but doesn’t seem to keep kosher. He chowed down on the Fenway Frank with abandon.

The funniest moment wasn’t provided by Cosby or David but by Buck Showalter. Remy and Don Orsillo brought up Showalter’s note that would excuse students and employees from their absences for Thursday’s day game against the Tampa Bay Rays. “D.B.” stands for doctor of baseball, an apt credential for someone that is in the running for manager of the year.

Game 144: September 13, 2012
WinNew York Yankees
81-62
2
W: Phil Hughes (15-12)
H: Boone Logan (20), David Robertson (26)
S: Rafael Soriano (38)
2B: Eduardo Nunez (3)
Boston Red Sox
64-80
0
L: Felix Doubront (10-9)
2B: Pedro Ciriaco (11)

September 13, 2012

Saltalamacchia Cycle

According to The Book the run value of walk is .32 and a single is .47, so Jarrod Saltalmacchia was .15 short of a cycle. Call it a Saltalamacchia Cycle.

Bobby Valentine showed his tender, tough, and ticked off sides last night.

In the top of the seventh he pulled Dustin Pedroia out of the game because his wife went into labor. (Three-year old Dylan Pedroia now has a younger brother.)

Speaking of babies, Alfredo Aceves acted like one when when Valentine took him off the mound in the seventh. Even though his manager stayed with him after Curtis Granderson clubbed the back-breaking two-out homer Aceves pointedly had no interaction with Valentine. After Nick Swisher doubled off the left field wall he handed the ball to Saltalamacchia and took a circuitous route around his teammates to avoid Valentine. “If I have to explain Aceves’ actions,” quipped the manager, “I’ll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard.”

Finally, Bobby Valentine was thrown out by home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez in the ninth after he defended a fired-up Cody Ross, who was irate by a called third strike to end the eighth.

At least the Yankees seemed to have awakened the Red Sox from their September stupor.

Game 143: September 12, 2012
WinNew York Yankees
80-62
5
W: David Phelps (4-4)
H: Clay Rapada (6), Joba Chamberlain (2), David Robertson (25)
S: Rafael Soriano (37)
2B: Eric Chavez – 2 (12), Nick Swisher – 2 (33)
HR: Curtis Granderson – 2 (37), Robinson Cano (30)
Boston Red Sox
64-79
4
L: Aaron Cook (3-10)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (34), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (15), Daniel Nava (18), Mike Aviles (18), James Loney (20)
3B: Saltalamacchia (1)
HR: Saltalamacchia (24)

September 12, 2012

Spoilsport

So what if it was a win as hollow as home plate umpire’s Chad Fairchild’s head? The Red Sox, who are soon to be playoff race bystanders, can throw banana peels into the paths of the AL East brethren from now until the heat has to be turned on (unless you did so already, in which case turn in your hardy New Englander card).

The Yankees started off as most teams do against Boston with an early run. Instead of his traditional duck fart single Derek Jeter walked. He then advanced to third on Nick Swisher’s double off the wall and scored on Robinson Cano’s ground out.

Pedro Ciriaco carried on the grand tradition of Bill Mueller, Yankee Kueller in the third with a leadoff double. Jacoby Ellsbury singled in Ciriaco and was in turn driven in by Dustin Pedroia. The 2-1 lead lasted until the sixth, when Jon Lester began to falter. Amazingly Lester’s patience with Fairchild lasted this late; Brooks Baseball shows how Lester wasn’t getting the low strike call.

Pedroia tied the game in the sixth with a solo shot into the first row of the Monster seats. Baseball play went from the sublime to the ridiculous by the bottom of the seventh. Ryan Kalish led off with a bunt that prompted Jerry Remy to say, “You do about everything you possibly can wrong and it still get a hit.” The pop-up improbably found the vacancy between short, second, and third. Next Ciriaco’s bunt with extreme backspin looked like it would roll foul but Russell Martin picked it up before it did so and the speedster was safe at first and Kalish dashed to second.

Hiroki Kuroda struck out Mike Aviles but was pulled by Joe Girardi for Boone Logan. Ellsbury broke his bat on a tapper to Swisher who retrieved it easily enough but had no one at first to complete the put out. With the bases loaded Joba Chamberlain lumbered to the bump, inducing a ground out from pinch-hitting Daniel Nava that hosed Kalish at home. Pedroia was up again and this animated sign was spotted. It seemed to be the same quality workmanship that produced the Papelbon dancing sign with the jigging legs from 2007.

The Red Sox relief corps of Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, and Andrew Bailey only allowed two baserunners in their combined 3⅔ innings of work. Their superlative effort set up a dramatic ninth inning.

Of course Ciriaco started the excitement. After his single Aviles followed with a single of his own. Ellsbury arced the ball into right field and was well and properly mauled by his teammates.

If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em.

Game 142: September 11, 2012
New York Yankees
79-62
3
L: David Robertson (1-7)
2B: Nick Swisher (31), Jayson Nix (12), Russell Martin (16), Derek Jeter (30)
WinBoston Red Sox
64-78
4
W: Andrew Bailey (1-0)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (18), Pedro Ciriaco (10), Cody Ross (31)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (15)

September 9, 2012

Bottoms Up

In a recent “Only a Game” segment Bill Littlefield bemoaned how even non-sporting events near the Hub have been dominated by angst about the Red Sox. While the pre-2004 fatalism had been mostly banished by the club consistently contending this season has revived the Old Town team’s fans’ old habit of anxiety and dread.

I especially liked this anecdote:

Moments later I found myself face to face with a man whose novels and stories have been widely celebrated. He has created memorable characters of all sorts. But in the garden on this potentially lyrical day in late summer, his concern was non-fiction. He was savaging a Boston sportswriter whom he regarded as sarcastic, mean-spirited, and wrong, at least as regards the Red Sox, upon whose trials the sportswriter has capitalized in several books.

The sportswriter is undoubtedly Dan Shaughnessy but the novelist is less easy to discern. Stephen King, perhaps?

Speaking of horror, the Blue Jays completed their second straight sweep of the Red Sox. Bobby Valentine visited Clay Buchholz in the ninth with speedy runners at the corners and one down. Buchholz thought he was being taken out and handed the ball over but Valentine told him he was staying in. Anthony Gose swiped second so Buchholz intentionally walked pinch hitter Kelly Johnson to cause a force at each base.

Omar Vizquel, who has has been in the majors longer than almost longer than Buchholz has been alive, lofted a fly ball to left that Rajai Davis easily tagged up on for what would be the winning run. In the dugout Valentine threw his gum. Hopefully a scout had a radar gun on that because the field manager might need to shore up the bullpen given his rotation’s woes.

Game 141: September 9, 2012
WinToronto Blue Jays
64-75
4
W: Brandon Lyon (2-2)
S: Casey Janssen (20)
No extra base hits
Boston Red Sox
63-78
3
L: Clay Buchholz (11-6)
2B: Ryan Lavarnway (4), Cody Ross (30)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury (3), Dustin Pedroia (14)

Cellar Dwellers

The Red Sox mustered only two runs in this drawn out game of drudgery and downpours. Scott Podsednik and Pedro Ciriaco had RBI singles in the fifth. Podsednik drove in Mike Aviles, who reached when his ground ball deflected off Adeiny Hechavarria.

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy had fits with Hechavarria’s name. It is a Spanish cognate of the Basque surname and place name “Etxeberria,” which means “the new house.” According to Wikipedia the name is associated with new farms created after the introduction of American crops such as corn and potatoes. Hechavarria didn’t hit any taters but his teammates Yunel Escobar and Anthony Gose (his first major league homer) did.

The hardest workers on the field last night was the grounds crew. They had to remove the tarp more than twice even though there were two rain delays. Maneuvering the tarp multiple times was the only way to remove all the water that had accumulated on it. The crew also had to transform the sopping infield into a playable surface and did so. Sadly only the Blue Jays took advantage of the improved basepaths.

Game 140: September 8, 2012
WinToronto Blue Jays
63-75
9
W: Brad Lincoln (5-2)
2B: Adeiny Hechavarria (4)
HR: Yunel Escobar (9), Anthony Gose (1)
Boston Red Sox
63-77
2
L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-5)
No extra base hits

September 8, 2012

American League Leasts

After seven years in the MLB and only two seasons where he hit over 20 home runs Edwin Encarnacion has clubbed 38 circuit clouts this season. Jose Bautista was of similar production before his explosive 2010 season. The batting tips that have made their power skyrocket seem to have made their way around the Blue Jays clubhouse; the squad is fourth in homers trailing the Yankees, White Sox, and Orioles.

A kid sitting near a Terry Francona doppelganger made a catch of a foul ball using his ungainly large glove.

Perhaps having someone who resembled his father figure nearby inspired Dustin Pedroia. The second baseman knocked a solo shot into the parking lot in the eighth, pulling his team within two runs. But Colby Rasmus powered a two-run shot in the top of the next frame, rendering useless Mauro Gomez’s two-run homer in the ninth.

Game 139: September 7, 2012
WinToronto Blue Jays
62-75
7
W: Henderson Alvarez (8-12)
H: Steve Delabar (8)
2B: Brett Lawrie (21)
3B: Colby Rasmus (5)
HR: Edwin Encarnacion (38), Moises Sierra (4), Rasmus (22)
Boston Red Sox
63-76
5
L: Felix Doubront (10-8)
2B: Cody Ross (29)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (13), Mauro Gomez (2)

September 7, 2012

Seattle Slew

This must have been the least tense pitchers’ duel ever. Aaron Cook and Kevin Millwood were throwing 90-MPH salad, as Dennis Eckersley would call it. Cook had the most strikeouts in an outing this season with a surprising five punchouts. In the fourth a spate of singles with a walk mixed in did him in, death by a slew of singles.

Don Orsillo had another chance at a foul ball and this time appeared to make a sporting try. But in reality the ball was too far to make a play so he could mimic fielding competence.

Game 138: September 5, 2012
Boston Red Sox
63-75
1
L: Aaron Cook (3-9)
2B: Cody Ross (28)
WinSeattle Mariners
66-72
2
W: Kevin Millwood (5-12)
H: Stephen Pryor (3), Charlie Furbush (5), Josh Kinney (5), Lucas Luetge (11)
S: Tom Wilhelmsen (24)
No extra base hits

September 5, 2012

Checked Out

Cody Ross launched the ball into the Red Sox bullpen in the sixth inning. Ross followed Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury across home plate, tying the game 3-3. Ryan Lavarnway helped his battery mate with his first home run of the season, a solo shot with two outs that nearly hit Junichi Tazawa.

It had been a long time since this has happened.

I guess not everyone has checked out, Glenn Ordway. Not even Bobby Valentine, who was waiting for his son at the airport when the flight was delayed due to fog.

Game 137: September 4, 2012
WinBoston Red Sox
63-74
4
W: Jon Lester (9-11)
H: Craig Breslow (7), Junichi Tazawa (1), Vicente Padilla (23)
S: Andrew Bailey (2)
2B: James Loney (19), Jose Iglesias (1)
HR: Cody Ross (20), Ryan Lavarnway (1)
Seattle Mariners
66-71
3
L: Blake Beavan (9-9)
No extra base hits

September 3, 2012

Shipwrecked

For the visiting club the highlights of the game weren’t authored by the players on the field but by the team’s broadcast crew. Don Orsillo attempting to field a foul ball in the seventh had Jerry Remy in stitches. “You could have had that one!”

The foul balls that honed in on the radio duo came in hot. Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien avoided the orb’s trajectory and let the wall behind them take the blow. They preferred the dry wall take the divot rather than their hands.

Clay Buchholz pitched fairly well except for the fourth inning. The starter surrendered a string of singles and grazed a batter, an unfortunate series of events that allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score.

But then the defense failed. Eric Thames flied out to Jacoby Ellsbury with runners at first and third. Ellsbury airmailed the ball over the cutoff man and Ryan Lavarnway didn’t block the ball as it dribbled past him to the backstop. While other players appeared lackadaisical Buchholz made the best effort to stay with the play, diving at the ball before it wended its way to the dugout, but the third run of the inning scored.

Miguel Olivo singled up the middle and Justin Smoak advanced to third. Carlos Peguero grounded out to Jose Iglesias but the normally sure-handed shortstop bobbled the ball as he rushed to start a twin killing. Instead of two outs another run scored and Peguero was safe at first. On the bright side that set up a spectacular double play that had Iglesias making a backhanded stab at Brendan Ryan’s grounder and firing to Dustin Pedroia faster than Bobby Valentine could say, “Nice inning, kid.”

Game 136: September 3, 2012
Boston Red Sox
62-74
1
L: Clay Buchholz (11-5)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (33)
WinSeattle Mariners
66-70
4
W: Jason Vargas (14-9)
H: Josh Kinney (4)
S: Tom Wilhelmsen (23)
No extra base hits

Sweep Sensation

NESN cameras captured Brett Anderson’s between innings ritual of semi-slurping water from its bottle until finally taking a gulp. He reminded me of a hamster fastidiously licking a water bottle nozzle.

The Red Sox are like hamsters on an endless loop of failure. They were swept by the surging Athletics and this father and son celebrated with color-coordinated brooms.

John Henry and Ben Cherington made the trip to Seattle to meet the flagging squad. In an e-mail Henry expressed how his franchise has gone off track by not listening to Bill James:

“One of (the) biggest issues we’ve had is that Bill James was a great resource for us but fell out of favor over the last few years for reasons I really don’t understand. We’ve gotten him more involved recently in the central process and that will help greatly. He’s the father, so to speak, of baseball analysis and a brilliant iconoclast who looks at things differently from everyone else. But Ben is the right person to make the final decisions for the club.”

It is heartening to hear that Larry Lucchino didn’t make this trip. Henry seems to wresting away some of the power Lucchino grabbed with Theo Epstein’s departure and giving it back to Cherington. It is time to make decisions supported by baseball not by the box office.

Game 135: September 2, 2012
Boston Red Sox
62-73
2
L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-4)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (32)
WinOakland Athletics
76-57
6
W: Brett Anderson (3-0)
2B: Stephen Drew (11)
HR: Seth Smith (13), Drew (3)

September 2, 2012

The Dead Can Dance

Terry Kiser Bernied his way to the mound to hurl the first pitch. Assuming the roles of Larry Wilson (originated by Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) were Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick. The way the Athletics have gelled this season to contend for a playoff spot reminds me of Red Sox championship teams of the past.

In Boston we had cowboyed up and been idiots.This year’s Red Sox have no theme but a funeral dirge while in Oakland they dance in unison to an 80s movie.

Even Don and Jerry jumped on Bernie’s bandwagon.

Alfredo Aceves has been Bobby Valentine’s whipping post since his suspension. In the fourth inning Aceves staunchly stood in the middle of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and James Loney when trying to field a foul pop-up off Crisp’s bat. Crisp ended up doubling and once he was there Aceves was obsessed with throwing pickoffs to the keystone sack. Dustin Pedroia discussed the matter with Aceves in the dugout after the inning. Valentine interceded when interaction got heated but in the end left it up to the players.

Game 134: September 1, 2012
Boston Red Sox
62-72
1
L: Felix Doubront (10-7)
No extra base hits
WinOakland Athletics
75-57
7
W: A.J. Griffin (4-0)
2B: Jonny Gomes (8), Brandon Inge (14), Coco Crisp (20)
HR: Crisp (10), Chris Carter (13)

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