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Home » Monthly Archive » August 2013

August 31, 2013

Brook No Quarter

Ryan Dempster made a triumphant return to the mound after his five-game suspension for plunking Alex Rodriguez. Shane Victorino continued his scorching streak with a 2-for-4 showing with two runs scored and a run batted in. But the real winner was Brooke Mulford, the girl who threw out the first pitch.

Brooke was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2009 when she was four years old. An imaging exam showed that the cancer had spread to her bones and bone marrow. She went through two years of treatment and was declared cancer-free. Brooke has relapsed and is now in a clinical trial for a potential treatment.

In this video Brooke’s mother speaks about her daughter’s wisdom. “Mommy, I’m not sorry that I got cancer and I’m not sorry it came back because so many good things came out of this, too.” The Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon is done but you can still donate.

In the bottom of the second Stephen Drew lofted what should have been the third out of the inning to shallow right-center. Alejandro De Aza had a play on the ball but Avisail Garcia called the center fielder off. Garcia was trying to be Yasiel Puig when he should have been more like Victorino (with his major league-leading UZR of 22.4).

Kenny Williams’s expression says all you need to know about the 2013 Chicago White Sox.

Game 136: August 30, 2013
Chicago White Sox
3 L: Hector Santiago (4-8)
2B: Paul Konerko (15)
3B: Alejandro De Aza (4)
HR: Avisail Garcia (4)
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Ryan Dempster (7-9)
H: Junicihi Tazawa (20), Franklin Morales (1)
S: Koji Uehara (15)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (35)

August 30, 2013

Tiny Tools of Ignorance

I would have never noticed it if Dennis Eckersley hadn’t mentioned it, but Matt Wieters has a terribly small chest protector. It looks as if he took it off and handed it to Dustin Pedroia it would fit the diminutive second baseman perfectly.

But for Pedroia’s facial hair, Wieters and Pedroia standing next to each other reminds me of the Little League World Series when some kids have hit their growth spurt and some have not yet.

In the third Stephen Drew butchered a batted ball off Adam Jones’s bat a bit like a little leaguer. Drew seemed to be distracted by the shards of Jones’s bat and dropped what should have been an easily fielded pop-up. Fortunately the gaffe didn’t cost a run.

On the other side of the keystone sack Pedroia was a defensive marvel. In the top of the third with Danny Valencia at second and none out Pedroia scooped up Brian Roberts’s batted ball and fired to third to erase the lead runner. Nate McLouth walked and Manny Machado ended up doubling off the wall to drive in Roberts and McLouth, but that’s just Manny being Manny.

Pedroia made a diving play on Nick Markakis’s scorcher in the eighth. Stopping the outfielder from reaching first was probably a relief to rookie Brandon Workman. It was Workman’s highest leverage relief situations he has faced so far and Pedroia’s defensive support undoubtedly helped the rookie’s confidence.

Game 135: August 29, 2013
WinBaltimore Orioles
3 W: Chris Tillman (15-4)
H: Tommy Hunter (17), Brian Matusz (17)
S: Jim Johnson (41)
2B: Danny Valencia – 2 (9), Manny Machado (45), Chris Davis (38)
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Jon Lester (12-8)
2B: Daniel Nava – 2 (23)
HR: Shane Victorino (12)

August 29, 2013

Hugs Not Drugs

In the nine-hole row make sure you updated the hitter from Xander Bogaerts to Mike Carp. Make sure you write “PH” for pinch hit. He singled over Manny Machado, so put down “1B” in the lower left.

Now in Salty’s box fill the line from second to home and put a dot for a run. Put Carp’s number there, 37, to show who drove him in.

That Carp’s floater somehow eluded Machado’s glove was remarkable. The Orioles third baseman is threatening to topple Evan Longoria as the AL East’s premiere player at the hot corner. Machado smacked his 12th homer of the season in the third. It should have been a two-run shot but Brian Roberts was caught stealing third base (make a perpendicular line on the basepath between second and third and put “13” to show he was nailed during Machado’s at bat).

In Uehara’s row it’s 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, and 24 hugs. Hmm, maybe fewer hugs and more high fives, I’ll have to review the video.

Game 134: August 28, 2013
Baltimore Orioles
3 L: Tommy Hunter (3-3)
2B: Chris Davis (37), Nick Markakis (21)
HR: Manny Machado (12), Davis (47)
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Craig Breslow (4-2)
S: Koji Uehara (14)
2B: Stephen Drew (22), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (35)

August 28, 2013

Maui Nō Ka ’Oi

“Maui nō ka ’oi” means “Maui is the best.” Shane Victorino, originally from Maui, had a career day last night in a blowout against the Orioles. The right fielder went 3-for-3 with two homers and a double. With seven RBIs to his name, Victorino drove in more runs than many entire teams scored (I’m looking at you, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Athletics, Tigers, Orioles, Indians, Braves, Angels, Rays, Phillies, Mets, Astros, White Sox, Royals, Twins, Reds, Cardinals, Giants, Rockies, Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers, and Mariners). That’s a long list; I should have picked teams that had more runs than Victorino.

But it wasn't Victorino’s somewhat sparse beard that Felix Doubront touched but Mike Napoli’s. I’m not sure if it was for luck or if Doubront subscribes to the maxim that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Napoli’s facial hair looks as if it could propagate more than a few pathogens and a family of three.

Doubront overcame a rough third inning to tally his tenth victory. The starter seemed stymied by Wally Bell’s strike zone and even asked the umpire “Were those balls balls?” at one point. The Red Sox bats supported Doubront, enabling him to stop worrying about what Bell would call and control what he could control.

Mike Napoli showed signs of life not just in his facial hair but at the plate. His home run in the fourth inning ended up on the roof of the parking garage. Not the low lot right next to the Cask and Flagon but the two-story structure next to the lot.

Game 133: August 27, 2013
Baltimore Orioles
2 L: Wei-Yin Chen (7-7)
No extra base hits
WinBoston Red Sox
13 W: Felix Doubront (10-6)
2B: Dustin Pedroia – 2 (34), Jonny Gomes (15), Jacoby Ellsbury (29), Shane Victorino (23)
HR: Victorino – 2 (11), Mike Napoli (17)

August 27, 2013

Happy Anniversary

It was one year ago this past Sunday that Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto were sent to the Dodgers for James Loney, Ivan De Jesus Jr., Allen Webster and two players that were later confirmed to be Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands. Both teams currently lead their divisions so it seems to be one of those deals that worked out well for both parties.

Although it probably wasn’t expected that the Red Sox could turn their listing ship aright so quickly. The prospects Boston received who have played this season weren’t particularly stellar, filling a need in the depleted pitching staff when necessary. Webster doesn’t seem ready this season but seems to profile as a fourth or fifth starter. De La Rosa has been erratic but, as Dennis Eckersley would say, has the cheese to party.

Jake Peavy brought the cheese all game save for a fastball he teed up for Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth. The four-bagger was the only extra base hit Peavy relinquished and was one of only three hits to boot. Peavy was likely motivated by his San Diego roots to perform well against the Dodgers. Perhaps Gonzalez wished to do well against the team that traded him away, but unlike Carl Crawford he didn’t comment negatively about his experience in Boston.

Ben Cherington built upon the trade by adding free agents who had played in pressure cooker environments (Shane Victorino, who doubled and homered in this game), had playoff experience (Mike Napoli, who followed Victorino’s lead), had the right demeanor (Jonny Gomes), or some combination of the three (Peavy). The retooling of the veteran core and the return to form of Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Jon Lester has made this team a playoff contender. The Dodgers have done the same with the players they acquired from Boston, and this series could be a preview of the Fall Classic.

When ESPN showed Magic Johnson enjoying a nosh at Dodger Stadium I couldn’t help but think, “Beat L.A.!” Given the Celtics’ rebuilding project, for the foreseeable future it will be easier for Boston’s baseball team to do so than its basketball squad. That made this series win particularly sweet.

Game 132: August 25, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
8 W: Jake Peavy (10-5)
2B: Shane Victorino (22), Mike Napoli (31), Xander Bogaerts (1), Dustin Pedroia (32)
HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (11), Victorino (9), Napoli (16)
Los Angeles Dodgers
1 L: Chris Capuano (4-7)
HR: Adrian Gonzalez (17)

August 25, 2013

Southpaw Resurgence

Jon Lester stymied one of the hottest-hitting teams in the league over seven and one-third innings, permitting a scant three hits and four walks while striking out six. The lefty didn’t allow an extra base hit and the earned run marring his line was due to Craig Breslow letting an inherited runner score.

As he did in the first game Carl Crawford was an important cog in Don Mattingly’s comeback machinations. Crawford pinch hit for Brian Wilson in the bottom of the eighth and drew a base on balls. Yasiel Puig scorched a single to center and Adrian Gonzalez drove them both in with a ringing double. The Los Angeles fans who arrived a few innings before had something to cheer about, or would have, had they stayed this late in the game.

After Breslow allowed Hanley Ramirez a base on balls John Farrell pulled him in favor of Koji Uehara. Uehara struck out A.J. Ellis on six pitches and then closed the ninth with a mere 10 pitches.

Xander Bogaerts pinch hit in the ninth and laced his first major league hit, a single to Puig. There were enough Red Sox fans in the stands to hear a cheer for what will hopefully be the first of the rookie’s many milestones.

Rookie hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched rather well except for the first inning. Mike Napoli singled in Shane Victorino in what is hopefully a late-season resurgence. Jonny Gomes smacked a three-run home run that a fan standing on a stairway in the left field concourse nearly caught. Ryu displayed impressive control for the remainder of his outing, walking none and striking out seven.

In Hangul Ryu’s name is 류현진. The writing system for Korean is widely lauded for its rational development. Hangul’s featural design is such that the visual representation of the letters align with how the mouth is shaped when it utters the sound. King Sejong the Great created the script so that common people could learn to read. He wrote, “Therefore amongst uneducated people there have been many who, having something that they wish to put into words, have been unable to express their thoughts in writing. I am greatly distressed because of this, and so I have made twenty-eight new letters. Let everyone practice them at their ease, and adapt them to their daily use.”

Game 131: August 24, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Jon Lester (12-7)
S: Koji Uehara (13)
2B: Stephen Drew (21), Dustin Pedroia (31)
HR: Jonny Gomes (11)
Los Angeles Dodgers
2 L: Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5)
2B: Adrian Gonzalez (28)

August 24, 2013

Showdown at Chavez Ravine

Two division-leading teams entered Dodger Stadium last night but only one left. Boston’s loss and Tampa Bay’s win over the Yankees leave the AL East tied, but the Red Sox are two behind in the loss column.

The Red Sox lineup hit like pitchers last night. Only Dustin Pedroia and Stephen Drew tallied hits. John Lackey managed to foul off a ball, which Dennis Eckersley would count as “styling.”

Carl Crawford is the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter because it is much easier to do so on the West Coast. He started the fourth inning with a line drive single to right and had a chance to tell David Ortiz how much he wanted to beat the Red Sox. “That was just a bad experience,” the outfielder said. “I definitely felt like I had a chance to get a fresh start. With a new team, new atmosphere, new environment.” Because that isn’t what he got when he went from the Rays to the Red Sox.

Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez had a footrace to first in the fourth inning that Pedroia nearly won. There couldn’t be two more different players than this pair. Pedroia is boisterous, obstreperous, and spirited while Gonzalez is tranquil, quiescent, and passive. It’s no wonder that one thrives in Boston while the other didn’t.

Not that the Red Sox need Gonzalez. Ortiz flashed his glove at first as he always does in interleague games.

The camera crew focused on a number of celebrities in the stands, including Mary Hart, Flea, and Joaquin Phoenix.

Game 130: August 23, 2013
Boston Red Sox
0 L: John Lackey (8-11)
No extra base hits
WinLos Angeles Dodgers
2 W: Ricky Nolasco (10-9)
S: Kenley Jansen (22)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (13)

August 22, 2013

Workin’ for a Livin’

Baseball is a game of split second timing, of grace, of speed. The difference between fair and foul, between a hit and a ground out: mere milliseconds. When the batter reaches base he transforms from a tightly coiled machine to a high performance engine prepared to power around the basepaths like a McLaren F1.

Then there’s Jonny Gomes. Here he is in the third inning bulldozing over Marco Scutaro to break up the double play.

On the defensive side of the ball outfielders prowl their territory like cheetahs waiting to pounce upon their unwitting quarry. Their eyes are akin to those of raptors that spot their prey from a mile away and flawlessly adjust their trajectory to snare their victims.

Here’s Gomes making a last second lunge to catch Brandon Belt’s fly ball to left to get the first out of the fourth inning.

It’s not pretty, but a dozen runs on the board certainly are.

Game 129: August 21, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
12 W: Felix Doubront (9-6)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (28), Dustin Pedroia – 2 (30), Shane Victorino (21)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (11), Stephen Drew (10)
San Francisco Giants
1 L: Barry Zito (4-9)
HR: Joaquin Arias (1)

Shiny Happy Helmet

An extremely shiny helmet in late August can only mean a late-season call-up at the plate. Xander Bogaerts made his highly anticipated major league debut. The strapping shortstop went went 0-for-3 out of the seven-hole with a strikeout and five left one base.

Bogaerts made a smooth play on Marco Scutaro’s chopper to end the fifth. He gloved it on the hop and transitioned to his throwing hand with lightning speed. Mike Carp stretched to complete the play and Scutaro helped by sliding into the sack headfirst, but you could see Bogaerts’s defensive potential on the play.

Shane Victorino clouted a solo homer in the third to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Later in the game Victorino helped the Giants score the tying run by making a catch of Buster Posey’s fly ball in deep right foul territory with Scutaro on third. Perhaps if Victorino had let it fall foul Junichi Tazawa could have gotten Posey out, but then again the Giants backstop could have just as easily gotten an extra base hit to drive in both Scutaro and Brandon Belt.

While Bogaerts’s debut game was less than stellar, many a current star had their early struggles. Who can forget Dustin Pedroia’s growing (ha!) pains in 2006 that continued into the early months of 2007? By the time 2007 ended, however, the Red Sox had won the World Series and Pedroia was the American League Rookie of the Year. As a now-bloated, egomaniacal lead singer once crooned, “All we need is just a little patience.”

This team can make one extremely impatient. Ryan Vogelsong put balls up on a tee for seven innings but Boston’s batters couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. Not that Jake Peavy would ever call out his teammates for failing to score runs, but he’s the last pitcher I would want to upset.

Game 128: August 20, 2013
Boston Red Sox
2 H: Craig Breslow (10)
BS: Junichi Tazawa (7)
L: Franklin Morales (2-1)
2B: Daniel Nava (21), David Ross (3)
HR: Shane Victorino (8)
WinSan Francisco Giants
3 W: Sergio Romo (4-6)
2B: Brandon Belt (27)
3B: Belt (4), Joaquin Arias (2)

August 20, 2013

Gigantic A Big Big Love

“He’s not Gas Masterson any more,” said Dennis Eckersley of Tim Lincecum. The lithe pitcher went 5 innings with poor line: 9 hits, 5 earned runs, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Maybe he shouldn’t have cut off all his moss.

Touchingly the Giants organization expressed their solidarity with Boston by wearing “B strong” patches on their jerseys.

The opposing hurler had one of his best outings of the season. Jon Lester enjoyed eight and one-third shutout innings with a half a dozen hits surrendered (none of them for extra bases), walked two, and whiffed three. Eckersley of course mentioned how much more difficult it was for pitchers in the American League. Lester earned one of those strikeouts in a seven-pitch affair against Pablo Sandoval. The other two were gimmes: Jeff Francoeur and Lincecum.

In the second inning Lincecum committed a bizarre balk with Lester batting, a gaffe that plated Daniel Nava. The next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, reached on catcher’s interference.

I can’t imagine these two oddities happening in the same game let alone the same inning and one batter after the other. I’m trying to determine how often these occur together. I’m thinking an expedition into Retrosheet may hold some discoveries.

Game 127: August 19, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
7 W: Jon Lester (11-7)
2B: Shane Victorino (20), Stephen Drew (20), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (34)
3B: Dustin Pedroia (2)
San Francisco Giants
0 L: Tim Lincecum (6-13)
No extra base hits

August 19, 2013

Plunk Drunk

All weekend I was wondering if a Red Sox hurler would take it upon himself to drill Alex Rodriguez. After 19 innings with nary a graze the first pitch Ryan Dempster delivered to the Yankees third baseman missed the batter’s legs. The next two pitches were inside and had Rodriguez lurching away. The fourth pitch found its target and Rodriguez’s ribcage will carry reminders of this encounter.

The expression on Rodriguez’s face was a weak attempt at passivity, but I saw behind his eyes was fear. He was afraid his teammates wouldn’t leave the dugout and bullpen to back him up.

He needn’t have worried. By the time home plate umpire Brian O’Nora sprang up to warn the benches his teammates got to their feet to show support for him. He took his base docilely, very unlike the 2004 game where he would have chirped all the way to first had Jason Varitek not demonstrated the virtue of silence.

I think he was so relieved his comrades showed up for him that he forgot that he should be angry at the situation. Joe Girardi was plenty mad for the both of them. The Yankees skipper nearly clocked O’Nora as he demonstratively argued that Dempster should be ejected.

Although I thought Dempster chose his time to make a point poorly (the second inning with the score a scant 2-0 in his team’s favor), I can’t deny how satisfying it was to see Rodriguez whirl away in pain and his face awash with despair that he was truly alone. There aren’t enough at bats left in the year for Rodriguez and the other violators of the performance enhancing drug policy to give back the statistics they unfairly accrued, the dollars they gained from those ill-gotten statistics, the jobs they stole from players who didn’t use, the kids they influenced into thinking PEDs can’t be that bad… and on and on it goes.

I also can’t help but think how that game in 2004 ended for the Red Sox and how it propelled them for the rest of the season. The Yankees tied the game in that second inning. Rodriguez broke the 2-2 tie in the with a ground out to short. He then led off the sixth with a home run to dead center.

The Yankees loaded the bases on Dempster and Brett Gardner emptied them with a triple to the wall of the Red Sox bullpen for the lead. “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Game 126: August 18, 2013
WinNew York Yankees
9 W: CC Sabathia (11-10)
H: Shawn Kelley (7), Boone Logan (8), David Robertson (29)
S: Mariano Rivera (36)
2B: Robinson Cano (24), Curtis Granderson (4)
3B: Brett Gardner (7)
HR: Alex Rodriguez (2)
Boston Red Sox
6 L: Ryan Dempster (6-9)
BS: Drake Britton (2)
2B: Shane Victorino (19), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (33), David Ortiz (28), Will Middlebrooks (16)
HR: Middlebrooks (10)

August 18, 2013

No Lack of Attack

John Lackey was forthright about his thoughts on the Alex Rodriguez/Biogenesis situation:

I’ve got a problem with it. You bet I do. How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right. It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him. He took me deep the first time I faced him as a rookie, and he admitted to doing stuff back then. There are a lot of things I want back from him.

Lackey didn’t exact repayment in the form of a fastball in the ribs but instead delivered 6⅔ innings of quality pitching. He stifled the Yankees lineup, allowing just 6 hits and a single earned run. Lackey walked three but only struck out one batter. The batter he struck out? None other than Rodriguez.

The Red Sox got to Hiroki Kuroda in the fourth inning after three innings of getting a runner on the basepaths but failing to convert. To start the bottom of the frame David Ortiz clouted what should have been his third triple of the season to right field. Instead of pinballing about the curved corner it bounced into the stands. Mike Carp advanced the designated hitter to third base with a seeing-eye single to right.

Daniel Nava struck out on five pitches but Stephen Drew sent a slow roller to Lyle Overbay, who threw off-target to second instead of trying to get Ortiz at home. Carp was safe at second and Ortiz scored, getting the home team on the board first.

John Farrell called for a double steal with Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting. Carp was tagged by Rodriguez on the leg before he slid into third but was called safe. The extra out allowed singles by Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury to drive in two more runs.

Nava had his best luck when he arced fly balls to left field. Alfonso Soriano became too accustomed to ivy and brick with the Cubs; the Monster proved a green barrier with which he couldn’t negotiate. Nava led off the sixth with a double over Soriano’s glove and scored on a single off Saltalamacchia’s bat. Ellsbury added to his RBI tally with a double to the base of the visitors’ bullpen and advanced to third on Robinson Cano’s throw to home.

Ortiz provided a flourish to successful day in the seventh. He blasted the ball to the batter’s eye, the ball providing the point to the exclamation, “This is our f***ing city!”

Game 125: August 17, 2013
New York Yankees
1 L: Hiroki Kuroda (11-8)
2B: Chris Stewart (5), Lyle Overbay (23)
WinBoston Red Sox
6 W: John Lackey (8-10)
2B: Daniel Nava – 2 (20), David Ortiz (27), Jacoby Ellsbury (27), Mike Carp (15)
HR: Ortiz (24)

August 17, 2013

No More Violence

No more silence.

Dennis Eckersley covered for Jerry Remy, who is taking time off. Remy’s son Jared stands accused of murdering Jennifer Martel, his girlfriend and mother of his child.

Martel had been assaulted by Remy a week ago. Just last month Slate posted an article in The New Yorker about how Massachusetts dealt with abusers.

Domestic violence social workers there developed a high-risk assessment team that, using statistical methods and employing the court system in creative ways, has figured out a way to target the men most likely to kill and take special care to make it that much harder for them to do so. Kelly Dunne started the Domestic Violence High Risk Team in 2005, and since then, not a single case she's taken on has ended in murder, and the men who have been sentenced to GPS tracking have not committed any future acts of violence.

It’s not for me to conjecture why Remy was not identified as a high risk potential murderer, but it’s too late for Jennifer and her four-year old child. But if you or anyone you know is in a situation like Jennifer, go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline site or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Don Orsillo and Eckersley hosted the game without commenting on the Remy situation, which is probably what he would have wanted. Baseball helped Jerry Remy through cancer and depression, a much-desired distraction in times of misery.

Eck being handed a promo was almost as annoying to him as an umpire not giving him a call. Gotta have it.

There were many signs berating Alex Rodriguez in the stands. Along with the Eckisms these were the only enjoyable parts of the game.

Simple and direct slam here.

To end it on a positive note.

Game 124: August 16, 2013
WinNew York Yankees
10 W: Andy Pettitte (8-9)
H: Shawn Kelley (6)
3B: Eduardo Nunez (3)
HR: Mark Reynolds (16), Alfonso Soriano (25)
Boston Red Sox
3 L: Felix Doubront (8-6)
2B: Stephen Drew (19), Mike Napoli (30)

August 16, 2013

On the Mark

The Red Sox knocked around Mark Buehrle for 11 hits but only managed to push one runner across home plate. Dustin Pedroia almost scored in the first inning but was thrown out by Kevin Pillar at home. Contrary to my assumption, Pillar is not a branch of Kevin Millar’s family with a debilitating speech impediment.

When David Ortiz fouled the ball off himself there were as many panicked Boston sports fans as when Tom Brady went down with an apparent knee injury in a a scrimmage against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ortiz stayed in the game but went hitless.

Home plate umpire Chris Guccione tipped off Ryan Lavarnway in the sixth. Third base coach Brian Butterfield was trying to send Lavarnway a sign but the catcher was unaware. Good thing Guccione was feeling helpful as a hit-and-run was called.

Next season umpires will be getting help themselves. Major League Baseball will expand instant replay to include challenges from the managers in 2014. Skippers will be allowed one challenge for the first two-thirds of the game and two from the seventh inning until the game ends. Similar to the NHL the challenges will be evaluated centrally.

Game 123: August 15, 2013
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Jake Peavy (9-5)
2B: Daniel Nava – 2 (18)
WinToronto Blue Jays
2 W: Mark Buehrle (9-7)
H: Darren Oliver (7)
S: Casey Janssen (22)
2B: Adam Lind (23)

August 15, 2013

Bad News Hairs

The good news: Mike Napoli and his lush beard circled the bases in the ninth to tie the game 3-3. It was his first home run since July 24. Perhaps dropping him in the lineup did help him ease up at the plate. The bad news: Napoli was part of the defensive butchery on Rajai Davis’s run-scoring jaunt about the basepaths.

Davis laced the ball towards Jon Lester’s plant leg and the pitcher’s calf knocked it down. Because of Davis’s speed Lester made a hasty underhand toss to Napoli. Shane Victorino retrieved the ball from the fences and tried to nail Davis at third. The ball ricocheted off Davis’s shoulders and bounced to the third base fences. Lester backed up the play at third but was no where near the redirected ball. Davis scored and somewhere a sad trombone tooted.

These Boston fans made their Toronto hotel room a home away from home. Leafs fans must not have been happy to see the Bergeron jersey.

Jerry Remy’s doppelgänger also made the trip to Hollywood North. Buenas noches, amigos!

Game 122: August 14, 2013 ∙ 10 innings
Boston Red Sox
3 L: Brandon Workman (3-2)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 2 (30), Will Middlebrooks (15)
HR: David Ortiz (23), Mike Napoli (15)
WinToronto Blue Jays
4 H: Neil Wagner (6)
BS: Brett Cecil (2)
W: Brad Lincoln (1-1)
2B: Edwin Encarnacion – 2 (24), Mark DeRosa (10), Rajai Davis – 2 (10), J.P. Arencibia (15)
HR: J.P. Arencibia (18)

August 14, 2013

Showtime Shane

Jonny Gomes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Dustin Pedroia enjoyed the game like regular people on their off day. Well, normal folks who can afford seats near Geddy Lee. Pedroia’s expression seems to say, “We got these guys.”

Shane Victorino was the primary reason for his team’s victory. In the sixth the Blue Jays threatened to add to their 1-0 lead when Jose Reyes led off the frame with a base on balls. He advanced to second on Rajai Davis’s ground out and was on his way home when Edwin Encarnacion arced the ball into right field. Victorino fielded the orb in a flash and threw out Reyes with a few feet to spare.

In the top of the eleventh inning Victorino took the box with the score knotted at 2-2. Saltalamacchia waited at third while Jacoby Ellsbury distracted Aaron Loup at first. Ellsbury swiped second as Victorino fell behind in the count 2-1. Victorino sent Loup’s two-seamer up the middle to plate the go-ahead and insurance runs.

While Mike Napoli continued to be frustrated at the dish (0-for-5 3 strikeouts, 5 left on base), he didn’t fail at the defensive side of the game. Napoli beat out Davis in a footrace to first in the eighth inning, a critical out as the Blue Jays had tied the game in this inning. To remove some of the pressure the corner infielder is feeling he was dropped to the seven-hole with the hope that he can recover his stride. Swing carefully!

Game 121: August 13, 2013 ∙ 11 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
4 BS: Junichi Tazawa (6)
W: Koji Uehara (3-0)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (28), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (30), Will Middlebrooks (14), David Ortiz (26)
Toronto Blue Jays
2 H: Brett Cecil (8)
BS: Sergio Santos (1)
L: Aaron Loup (4-5)
2B: Brett Lawrie (11)
HR: J.P. Arencibia (18)

August 13, 2013

Blind as Jake Peavy

Jake Peavy is legally blind, which is terrifying considering his chosen profession is to throw objects at people in speeds in excess of 90 miles an hour. To say that he is “blind as a bat” may be a misapprehension of the biology of the order Chiroptera as no bat is actually blind.

I’m not sure if the same can be said about Jerry Layne and his crew. Here they are trying to figure out if the count is correct.

Dropping a four-game series is bad enough, but it had to be against former Rays hurler James Shields. I’ll always remember Coco Crisp’s bob and weave away from Shields’s punch. The Royals starter didn’t pull any punches on Sunday. Much of the Red Sox lineup is slumping, as his line of 7 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts will attest.

Game 120: August 11, 2013
Boston Red Sox
3 L: John Lackey (7-10)
2B: Shane Victorino (18), Stephen Drew (18)
WinKansas City Royals
4 W: James Shields (7-8)
H: Tim Collins (19), Aaron Crow (18)
S: Greg Holland (32)
2B: Mike Moustakas (18), Alex Gordon (19)
HR: Gordon (13)

August 11, 2013

The Gladiator

Pitching coach Juan Nieves called Felix Doubront “the Gladiator” and the southpaw certainly showed aspects of that last night. His line wasn’t overwhelming (4 innings pitched, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 walks, and 3 strikeouts), but he kept the Royals off the board until the fifth inning. Kansas City’s spunky hitters got to him in the fifth but Brandon Workman took over and only allowed one inherited runner score. Workman tallied his third victory with 1⅓ innings pitched, 2 hits, no bases on balls, and 3 strikeouts.

Justin Maxwell had been a burr under Boston’s saddle but last night he was only 1-for-3 with two strikeouts and three left on base. The Royals’ right fielder also misplayed Stephen Drew’s line drive in the fourth, caught between making a diving attempt at a catch and trapping the ball before it skipped behind him. His indecision resulted in the visiting team scoring first.

Will Middlebrooks is playing as if his job were on the line (and in the near future it very well could be with Xander Bogaerts waiting in the wings). The third baseman went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. He also scored twice from first base. He also seems to be a magnet for broken bats, if such a thing were possible without defying the laws of physics. Now that he is back he can practice the hidden ball trick with the other infielders, a la Joe Maddon’s Rays.

Junichi Tazawa acknowledged Jacoby Ellsbury’s superlative effort in the eighth. The center fielder played his light-hitting counterpart shallow and was able to make a diving grab of a floater off Jarrod Dyson’s bat, a pivotal defensive play with Brett Hayes at second and one out.

Game 119: August 10, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
5 W: Brandon Workman (3-1)
H: Craig Breslow (9), Junichi Tazawa (19)
S: Koji Uehara (12)
2B: Stephen Drew (17), Jacoby Ellsbury – 2 (26)
Kansas City Royals
3 L: Jeremy Guthrie (12-8)
2B: Eric Hosmer (23), Billy Butler – 2 (24), Brett Hayes (2)

August 10, 2013

Tripped Up

No one was more upset than Jake Peavy with how he pitched last night. He gave up the lead early but Drake Britton added fuel to Peavy’s fire by allowing both runners he inherited to score, along with many more.

The sixth-inning, six-run outburst by the local nine rendered Mike Napoli’s bases-clearing double in the fourth moot. But it was good to see the Red Sox first baseman produce runs in key situations.

A pivotal play in Kansas City’s rally was David Lough’s line drive to Shane Victorino. The right fielder made the catch but stumbled on the turf before composing himself for a throw. Had Victorino not tripped he may have thrown out Mike Moustakas at home.

Game 118: August 9, 2013
Boston Red Sox
6 BS, L: Drake Britton (1, 1-1)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (29), Mike Napoli (29)
HR: David Ortiz (22)
WinKansas City Royals
9 W: Francisley Bueno (1-0)
H: Kelvin Herrera (14), Tim Collins (18)
S: Greg Holland (31)
2B: Billy Butler (22)
HR: Justin Maxwell (5), Alex Gordon (12)

August 9, 2013

Battered and Bruced

Bruce Chen? Really, guys?

David Ortiz did some babysitting on his day off. In this tough economy you have to find creative ways to boost your income.

Jonny Gomes moonlighted as both a yoga instructor and gardner.

For any Red Sox fans that watched this game in person, it would be worth the trespassing fine to jump into the fountain and cleanse yourself of the memory of this game.

Game 117: August 8, 2013
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Jon Lester (10-7)
2B: Jonny Gomes (14)
WinKansas City Royals
5 W: Bruce Chen (5-0)
S: Luke Hochevar (2)
2B: Lorenzo Cain (19)
HR: Billy Butler (10), Justin Maxwell (4)

August 8, 2013

Texas Throwdown

Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew have been names often mentioned in come-from-behind victories and last night was no exception. In the top of the seventh Gomes sent the ball over the mini-monster that inhabits Minute Maid Park’s left field.

Drew smacked a three-run circuit clout into the right field stand in the ninth. Koji Uehara preserved the lead by striking out the side in the bottom of the frame. And there was much rejoicing.

I think Jerry and Don enjoyed Texas more than they wanted to let on. Howdy, pardners!

Mike Napoli even got friendly with Orbit. I’m not sure why Orbit would like Napoli as the fuzzy alien lists black holes as something he dislikes. I liken Napoli to black holes in a good way, as in he sucks up everything at first! This has nothing to do with his recent penchant to strike out or ground into double plays with the score close and runners in scoring position, nosirree.

Shane Victorino had a frustrating evening with a single hit and three left on base. In the top of the sixth he struck out to end the inning the the bases loaded on Brian Knight’s ruling that he went around. Victorino chirped from the dugout and was tossed in the seventh.

Houston’s manager Bo Porter was dismissed by home plate umpire Mark Carlson in the ninth for arguing that Jarrod Saltalamacchia dropped a strikeout on a foul tip. Surprisingly it was the Astros’ first ejection of the season. If I were on a team with 76 losses I would argue just to get some respite from such a lackluster atmosphere, or get thrown out to fire up the troops.

Game 116: August 7, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
7 W: Junichi Tazawa (5-3)
S: Koji Uehara (11)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (28)
HR: Jonny Gomes (10), Stephen Drew (9)
Houston Astros
5 H: Chia-Jen Lo (1)
BS, L: Josh Fields (1, 1-2)
2B: Jake Elmore (4), Robbie Grossman (8), Jason Castro (30)
HR: Robbie Grossman (3)

August 7, 2013

Wright Knuckles

R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield have had their rough spots. But above all they were given the chance to ride out their troubles on the mound. With rookie Steven Wright’s performance last night I wonder how many more opportunities he’ll be given. A team with championship aspirations may not have the patience to live through Wright’s growing pains nor a roster spot to a catcher that specializes in catching knuckleballs.

The sheer number of runs scored was too excessive to be enjoyed, like gorging on one bite too many of fettuccine alfredo. Other things we saw too much of last night?

Passed balls by Ryan Lavarnway.

Strikeouts by Mike Napoli.

Kitchens (human and mascot).

Game 115: August 6, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
15 W: Brandon Workman (2-1)
H: Drake Britton (1)
2B: Shane Victorino (17), Dustin Pedroia (27), Ryan Lavarnway (6)
HR: Jacoby Ellsbury – 2 (7), Jonny Gomes (9)
Houston Astros
10 L: Jordan Lyles (4-6)
3B: L.J. Hoes (1)
HR: Robbie Grossman (2), Brett Wallace (9), Jake Elmore (2)

August 6, 2013

Losing Orbit

The Red Sox lost to the lowly Astros and nearly lost their starting ace John Lackey. On the last play of the second inning Lackey pursued Matt Dominguez’s grounder and came down awkwardly on his ankle. He needed help to get off the field.

But in the third Lackey toed the rubber again and was unaffected by the injury. John Lackey, major league troll.

At first I thought the Astros’ mascot was a troll but it is in fact an alien named “Orbit” of the species Homerunus spectacularus.

Three facts emerged from this game: 1) the Red Sox should have swept this historically awful team, 2) Lackey needs to stop making Boston fans’ hearts leap into their throats, and 3) Orbit needs pants.

Game 114: August 5, 2013
WinBoston Red Sox
0 L: John Lackey (7-9)
2B: Stephen Drew (16), Jonny Gomes (13)
Houston Astros
2 W: Brett Oberholtzer (2-0)
H: Wesley Wright (8)
S: Josh Fields (1)
2B: Brett Wallace (7), L.J. Hoes (1)

August 5, 2013


Gerardo Parra had a few problems in Fenway’s sun field. In the first inning David Oritz’s fly ball clanked off his glove, allowing the designated hitter to get on base and Dustin Pedroia to get to third. Fortunately for Parra the error didn’t end with a Red Sox player crossing home plate.

Parra wasn’t so lucky in the sixth frame. With runners on second and third with one out Jacoby Ellsbury lofted the ball to right. For some reason Parra decided to take the field without sunglasses and lost the ball at the last second. Ellsbury was granted a single because Parra didn’t touch the ball

In comparison, Shane Victorino played right field well and with reckless abandon. He tried to make a J.B. Shuck-like catch over the wall. Victorino stayed in the game, batting righty against right-handed pitchers. If he were white he’d be called gritty. (Speaking of, here’s an article entitled “Defending Gritty Players, Sort Of” that evaluates Arizona’s trade of Justin Upton.)

When Parra made an uneventful put out of Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the seventh Fenway fans saluted him with a mock cheer. I imagine Yankee fans will welcome back Alex Rodriguez to the majors similarly.

Ellsbury and Pedroia both went for Martin Prado’s fly ball in the seventh but Ellsbury prevailed. It was the sort of play that goes wrong when the team is doing badly, but when all cylinders are clicking catches like this are made.

Parra might have needed the Hood blimp to provide some shade for him. David Ortiz could have done without the distraction at home plate.

This shadow is nothing like the darkness cast by the dozen players who accepted suspensions today due to their connection with Biogenesis and usage of performance-enhancing drugs. There were no Red Sox players on the list.

Game 113: August 4, 2013
Arizona Diamondbacks
0 L: Brandon McCarthy (2-5)
No extra base hits
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Felix Doubront (8-5)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (26)

August 4, 2013

Fired Up

Jake Peavy made his Red Sox debut on his grandmother’s birthday. Her name was Dama Lolly and she recently passed away after fighting cancer. After his first win with his new team Peavy thanked fans on Twitter, saying “Tonight is just 1 win, but it's 1 I'll never forget!!”

And neither will Red Sox fans.

Since Josh Beckett was traded out of Boston there had been something of a lack of feverish outbursts on the mound. Peavy filled that void, yelling invectives at himself when he departed the mound between innings. Not that he had a lot to berate himself about: 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. One run came in the fourth on NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt’s home run. The other was in the eighth when Junichi Tazawa allowed Wil Nieves, a runner he inherited, to cross home on a single off Aaron Hill’s bat.

Peavy not only covers for Clay Buchholz in the rotation but could also understudy at guitar.

He may have played the hat tip card a bit early, though.

In the eighth Jarrod Saltalamacchia lofted a two-run shot directly into Koji Uehara’s glove. Uehara returned the favor with his tenth save of the season. It was a mostly stress-free save but for the leadoff base on balls to Martin Prado. The infield trio of Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli ended the game with a dazzling double play.

Game 112: August 3, 2013
Arizona Diamondbacks
2 L: Patrick Corbin (12-3)
HR: Paul Goldschmidt (26)
WinBoston Red Sox
5 W: Jake Peavy (9-4)
H: Junichi Tazawa (18)
S: Koji Uehara (10)
HR: Shane Victorino (7), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (10)

August 3, 2013

Ross Goes Off

Stephen Drew and Cody Ross made a sport of abusing their former teams last night. Drew went 2-for-2 with a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth. Ross’s line was a sprightly 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. He also stole a base, but didn’t get a chance to take out Dustin Pedroia as he had hoped. Ross clouted what would be the winning run as the leadoff hitter in the seventh inning.

Jon Lester couldn’t continue his streak of three quality starts, lasting just 4⅓ innings with 11 hits, 6 earned runs, and 6 strikeouts. The enigma of the southpaw’s inconsistency hasn’t diminished with summer’s passing.

There would be no magical comeback this evening. Drew led off the ninth frame with a single scorched to right and advanced to scoring position with Jacoby Ellsbury’s one-out single. Shane Victorino and Pedroia couldn’t advance the runner this time, but the crowd is starting to warm to singing along with Victorino’s at bat song. Don’t worry about a thing… ’cause the Red Sox are still in first place.

Game 111: August 2, 2013
WinArizona Diamondbacks
7 W: Randall Delgado (4-3)
H: J.J. Putz (4), Joe Thatcher (12), Heath Bell (8)
S: Brad Ziegler (6)
2B: Cody Ross – 2 (15), Martin Prado – 2 (22), Aaron Hill (14)
HR: Paul Goldschmidt (25), Ross (7)
Boston Red Sox
6 L: Pedro Beato (1-1)
2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (27), Shane Victorino (16)
3B: Jacoby Ellsbury (8)
HR: David Ortiz (21), Stephen Drew (8)

August 2, 2013

Eleventh Heaven

Jonny Gomes accomplished a lot for being a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. He tallied the second out of the inning by fielding Michael Saunders’s liner and firing to Brock Holt to erase the lead runner (using the term “runner” charitably) Kendrys Morales.

Gomes then collided against the American League East standings on Endy Chavez’s liner. It was as if the slugger’s desire to knock the other teams in the division down a peg was made manifest in reality.

With a 7-2 lead acting manager Robby Thompson decided to let his closer Tom Wilhelmsen get in what he thought would be some easy work. That ended after Daniel Nava’s walk, Ryan Lavarnway’s rope to center, Holt’s run-scoring double to left, and a five-pitch base on balls to Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases.

Thompson decided that Wilhelmsen had enough work at that point and signaled for… well, he had intended to bring in right-handed Yoervis Medina to face Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia but instead he gestured with his left hand.

The umpires forced Thompson to go with his original signal and Oliver Perez had to take the mound. I searched for the specific rule that Thompson violated but I couldn’t find it. I think it is more a custom than a law, sort of how some people get pissy if you don’t bless them after they sneeze.

Victorino and Pedroia both singled, rendering the score 7-6. Perez did, however, eventually strike out his intended target David Ortiz.

With one out and two on Medina was summoned. Gomes singled up the middle to tie the game 7-7. Stephen Drew walked after falling behind 0-2 to load the bases again.

(Did you pinch yourself here? I did.)

Nava sailed the ball into center to complete the second walk-off win of the day. To be sure, a dramatic win in the ninth is impressive, but this is the 2013 Red Sox. This was the eleventh time they’ve done this. I mean, can they do something a little more original next time?

Like Perez! He earned a hold and the loss. How often does that happen? Not 11 times I year, I guarantee that.

This water became dirty, and we loved it.

Game 110: August 1, 2013
Seattle Mariners
7 H, L: Oliver Perez (5, 2-3)
BS: Yoervis Medina (1)
2B: Justin Smoak (14)
3B: Brad Miller (3), Kyle Seager (2)
HR: Henry Blanco (2)
WinBoston Red Sox
8 W: Steven Wright (2-0)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (24), Daniel Nava (16), Brock Holt (2)
HR: Shane Victorino (6)

August 1, 2013

Extra Innings Slog

Did someone order a walk-off win in extra innings as July turned into August that propelled the team back into first place? With a couple of outstanding double plays on the side? A galvanizing win after a pivotal trade sprinkled on top?

The Red Sox were poised to shatter the 4-4 tie in the 14th inning. As if in a movie the fringe player, played by Brandon Snyder, led off the rally with a double. Jacoby Ellsbury bunted Snyder over and Shane Victorino seemed to loft the ball far enough afield for Snyder to tag up for the winning run. But Michael Saunders positioned himself perfectly to coil up for a flawless throw home to end Snyder’s cinematic ending with a crushing double play.

Seattle was paid back in kind in the 15th frame. Saunders laced the ball into shallow left with Endy Chavez on first and Raul Ibanez on second. Jonny Gomes made a diving catch of the liner and trotted to second base for an unusual unassisted double play by an outfielder. For some reason Ibanez didn’t try to get back to the keystone sack.

Dustin Pedroia sparked another chance for Boston in the bottom of the 15th stanza, letting all four of Lucas Luetge’s pitches miss the zone for a walk. Pedroia advanced to second on David Ortiz’s ground out and Mike Napoli was intentionally walked to get to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Red Sox backstop performed as acting manager Robby Thomas expected by striking out on three pitches. Jonny Gomes followed Pedroia’s lead and walked on four pitches. With the bases loaded Stephen Drew smoked the 2-1 pitch down the first base line.

Smells like 2004.

Game 109: July 31, 2013 ∙ 15 innings
Seattle Mariners
4 BS: Oliver Perez (1)
L: Lucas Luetge (0-2)
2B: Kyle Seager (27), Michael Saunders (14)
HR: Seager (17)
WinBoston Red Sox
5 BS: Junicihi Tazawa (5)
W: Drake Britton (1-0)
2B: Brock Holt (1), Brandon Snyder (3)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (8)

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