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Home » Monthly Archive » April 2014

April 29, 2014

It’s a Shame About the Rays

The Red Sox returned home after a rousing series win fired up to face another divisional foe. They had baserunners in every inning but didn’t tally a run until the fifth frame.

The two players that completed the circuit that powers the Red Sox motor, Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino, were pivotal to getting on board. Middlebrooks worked a leadoff walk, Jackie Bradley, Jr. laced a double to his counterpart, and Victorino lofted a sacrifice fly to center.

The Rays tied the game in the top of the sixth inning but Boston responded with five runs. The local nine fell one short of batting around. Middlebrooks, Bradley, and Victorino all doubled. Joe Maddon went through Brandon Gomes and Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez) but neither his relievers nor potential replay loopholes saved the day.

The familiar strains of “Dirty Water” played with the Red Sox victory but it was odd to hear Steve Lyons with Don Orsillo. I kept on thinking Fox Sports music riffs should be playing. Lyons was fired from Fox for ethnically insensitive comments about Lou Piniella’s Spanish ancestry. Let’s see how long he lasts at NESN.

Wil Myers was born in 1990. He would only know about “Cheers” through reruns. That he does know about this classic sitcom gives me hope for the Millenials.

Evan Longoria thought he could disguise himself. This was a good test for Lyons, who didn’t make a comment about the third baseman looked like a ninja and then follow up with a joke about Koji Uehara.

It was a joke on John Farrell that he had to resort Uehara in the ninth after the Rays scored two runs. It wasn’t entirely on Edward Mujica’s shoulders but rather because of Xander Bogaerts’s throwing error. Perhaps Bogaerts needs to resort to a Pineda to get a better grip, or surreptitiously swipe a foreign substance from the on-deck circle.

Game 27: April 29, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays
4 L: Brandon Gomes (1-1)
2B: James Loney – 2 (10), Desmond Jennings (7), Wil Myers (5)
WinBoston Red Sox
7 W: John Lackey (4-2)
S: Koji Uehara (6)
2B: Jonny Gomes (5), Jackie Bradley Jr. – 2 (8), Will Middlebrooks (3), Shane Victorino (3)

April 27, 2014

Caption Contest

The Red Sox failed to sweep the Blue Jays because they were unable to decipher R.A. Dickey’s cryptic knuckleball. Jon Lester recovered from his shellacking by the Yankees but could not out-duel Dickey.

So instead of discussing a rather disappointing game, let’s play Caption Contest!

In the fourth inning Jackie Bradley, Jr. made an impressive snare of Edwin Encarnacion’s line drive. After the catch Bradley had a moment with the ball.

A. Do not come wiz me to ze Casbah - we shall make beautiful musicks togezzer right here!
B. Jack, I want you to draw me like one of your French girls.
C. The Jockey fashion statement is bold.
D. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.

Brett Lawrie doubled in the seventh to plate Encarnacion.

A. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!
B. I give myself high fives because no one else will.
C. I live for the applause, applause, applause / I live for the applause-plause / Live for the applause-plause / Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me / The applause, applause, applause
D. Girls say I give them the clap like it’s a bad thing.

David Ortiz and Jonathan Herrera had the day off and relaxed in the dugout.

A. Did you fart, Papi? Oh my god, let me go!
B. Have you ever played “Why Are You Hitting Yourself?” No? It’s fun. Here, see.
C. Just what I always wanted. My own little bunny rabbit. I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him and pat him and pet him and and rub him and caress him and…
D. It’s Big Papi’s signature move, the Papi Paralyzer!

Game 26: April 27, 2014
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Jon Lester (2-4)
2B: Xander Bogaerts (6)
WinToronto Blue Jays
7 W: R.A. Dickey (2-3)
H: Steve Delabar (4)
2B: Melky Cabrera (7), Edwin Encarnacion – 2 (8), Brett Lawrie (1)
HR: Lawrie (6)

Blogrolling Along

I had resisted succumbing to 140-character soundbites and thumbnail pins but Twitter and Pinterest widgets are now featured on the right side of my site. Feel free to follow me on your preferred platform:

Twitter @jjmhicks
Tumblr omnia mutantur, nihil interit

I went through and updated my favorite links. Sad to see many people who had blogs move on, but happily a few are active on Twitter and I’ve added them to my Red Sox Twitter list.

Live Deep and Suck Out All the Marrow of Life

The Red Sox fell behind early in the game with Clay Buchholz expending 26 pitches, giving up three runs, and muddling through seven Blue Jays hitters. On the other side of the ball Brandon Morrow wasn’t sharp himself. He walked two batters in both the first and second innings but escaped by virtue of double plays.

The tide turned somewhat in the second inning. John Farrell challenged Marty Foster’s call that Jose Reyes was safe at first and after review the ruling was overturned. Farrell improved his challenge record to two out of six won.

John Gibbons pulled Brandon Morrow out of the game in the third inning with two out even though he had a no-hitter in the works. None of his teammates wanted to disrupt Morrow’s mojo.

Or perhaps it was because in the 2⅔ innings Morrow had walked eight batters. He allowed four consecutive bases on balls in the third that loaded the bases and then forced in the visitors’ first run of the game.

Morrow was replaced by Chad Jenkins. Jenkins’s second pitch ended up in the Rogers Center’s left field seats thanks to A.J. Pierzynski’s grand slam home run. The Red Sox assumed a 5-3 lead that Will Middlebrooks immediately improved upon with a solo home run.

Buchholz snapped out of his first-inning funk to pitch until the seventh. Junichi Tazawa didn’t have his typical dominance and surrendered a leadoff home run to Juan Francisco in the eighth. Tazawa gave up three singles and another run scored until Farrell replaced him in favor of Chris Capuano.

Capuano tandemed with Koji Uehara to get out of the eighth. Like Tazawa, Uehara allowed a leadoff solo shot. Jose Bautista’s homer pulled the Blue Jays within a run but Uehara buckled down for his fifth save of the season despite permitting a pair of singles.

This edition of the Red Sox seems to be defining its character in this series. They maintained the lead in a blowout. They rallied from behind, bending but not breaking when the opposing team attempted to mount a comeback.

Game 25: April 26, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
7 W: Clay Buchholz (1-2)
H: Chris Capuano (3)
S: Koji Uehara (5)
2B: Mike Carp (3), Grady Sizemore (3)
HR: A.J. Pierzynski (2), Will Middlebrooks (2)
Toronto Blue Jays
6 L: Brandon Morrow (1-2)
HR: Juan Francisco (2), Jose Bautista (7)

April 26, 2014

Victory for Peavy

Jake Peavy finally notched his first win this season. In three of his previous four starts he pitched well enough to win but either wasn’t the pitcher of record when the Red Sox offense scored or had little run support. After a lackadaisical showing against the Yankees, Boston opened the series against another divisional foe with a positive performance.

Peavy went 7 innings with 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. It’s hard to tell the difference between fired-up and pissed-off Peavy.

The Blue Jays played defense as badly as the Red Sox had done against the Yankees. In the sixth inning Jose Reyes’s throw to Juan Encarnacion was off the mark, allowing Dustin Pedroia to reach first. Toronto reliever Neil Wagner, who replaced Mark Buehrle in the sixth, walked David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, forcing in Boston’s seventh run.

I wouldn’t expect Colby Rasmus to make every play to center look like a can of corn but he continues to look as if he lets balls get in play over his head with disturbing frequency. Rogers Centre’s playing field is amongst the worst surfaces, so one could forgive an outfielder for not laying out on every play or an infielder being unable to cope with its unpredictable quirks.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. had an outstanding performance: 3-for-4 with a run batted in. He had been eclipsed by Xander Bogaerts as the rookie du jour but with more games like this under his belt the outfielder may outpace the shortstop in Rookie of the Year voting.

Will Middlebrooks’s return resulted in immediate benefits. The third baseman went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. He also provided the clubhouse with a favorite movie other than “Dumb or Dumber” or “Last Man Standing.”

A Canadian welcomed an American to the group of industrialized nations with national health care. Glad you finally joined the club!

Game 24: April 25, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
8 W: Jake Peavy (1-0)
2B: Xander Bogaerts (5), Jackie Bradley Jr. – 2 (6), Mike Napoli (6), Will Middlebrooks (2), Shane Victorino (2), A.J. Pierzynski (2)
3B: Bradley Jr. (1)
HR: David Ortiz (5)
Toronto Blue Jays
1 L: Mark Buehrle (4-1)
2B: Jose Bautista (3), Jose Reyes (2)
HR: Juan Francisco (1)

April 25, 2014

Sloppy Throes

The Red Sox committed five errors in last night’s debacle against the Yankees. It was the most Red Sox gaffes in a game since April 28, 2001 versus the Royals.

Shane Victorino returned with a slightly shorter snippet of “Three Little Birds.” He only went 1-for-5 but he didn’t have any errors in right field. The Gold Glover looked much more comfortable in right field than Grady Sizemore did.

One game too late the MLB clarified the transfer rule. Just as it was since the 1800s an out occurs whenever a player has complete control over the ball in his glove, and even if he drops the ball after opening his glove it is still an out. No longer is it a requirement to successfully remove the ball from the glove for it to be an out. So Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox would have had an out on this play in the second inning. The Yankees scored three runs in the frame.

In “other than that Mrs. Lincoln” news, David Ortiz started his 1,644th game as designated hitter, which is an MLB record. Ortiz went 0-for-1 but had a sacrifice fly in the third inning.

John Farrell tapped Mike Carp to pitch the ninth inning to spare his bullpen staff in the blowout. Carp brought a dash of intrigue to the mound as he has a knuckleball, something not many positional players possess. Home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi’s zone didn’t adjust much for Carp. The ersatz reliever walked five batters, but no Yankees batter got the ball out of the infield with Carp toeing the rubber.

Game 23: April 24, 2014
WinNew York Yankees
14 W: CC Sabathia (3-2)
2B: Alfonso Soriano – 2 (6), Yangervis Solarte (8), Carlos Beltran (8), Jacoby Ellsbury – 2 (8)
HR: Mark Teixeira (1)
Boston Red Sox
5 L: Felix Doubront (1-3)
2B: Shane Victorino (1), Jonny Gomes (4), Xander Bogaerts (4)

April 24, 2014

Neck Tar of the Gods

Signs maligning Jacoby Ellsbury were replaced with jests at Michael Pineda’s expense. On April 10 in Yankee Stadium Pineda had a splotch of pine tar on his wrist. One would think that such an incident would stop future violations of Rule 8.02.

After a poor first inning Pineda’s pine tar appeared on his neck. Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley, Jr. flied out for the first two outs of the second when John Farrell halted the proceedings.

After conversing with Farrell Gerry Davis inspected Pineda and quickly found the offending foreign substance. Pineda was ejected on the spot and a 10-day suspension was issued today. The starter will not appeal the ruling.

Joe Girardi fiddled with the ESPN camera mounted in the Yankees dugout because it followed Pineda down the tunnel to the visitors clubhouse. This isn’t like the National Security Agency using the Heartbleed bug to spy on people. No one, including the disgraced pitcher, has any expectation of privacy in the tunnel.

Derek Jeter wished camera weren’t recording a few of his moments on the field last night. This mishandling of A.J. Pierzynski’s batted ball in the first inning won’t make it to the retirement tour commemorative video. This flub was perhaps generously ruled a hit and scored the second run of the frame for the local nine.

Jeter attempted to field Adam Warren’s throw to second in the eighth but Bradley was safe at second and Grady Sizemore reached first. Captain Calm Eyes as momentarily Captain Closed Eyes.

Boston Marathon men’s winner Meb Keflighizi threw out the ceremonial first pitch. John Lackey was inspired and turned in an 8-inning showing that gave the bullpen a sorely needed respite. Lackey tallied 11 strikeouts, walked none, and only allowed a single earned run.

There were rumblings around the Red Sox’s slow start, but just ask Meb: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Game 22: April 23, 2014
New York Yankees
1 L: Michael Pineda (2-2)
2B: Kelly Johnson (4), Carlos Beltran (7)
WinBoston Red Sox
5 W: John Lackey (3-2)
2B: Mike Napoli (5)
3B: Grady Sizemore (1)

April 23, 2014

Ellsbury Doughboy

Jacoby Ellsbury looked as if he worth every penny of his $153,000,000 contract last night. The center fielder went 2-for-5 with two runs batted in. He also robbed Grady Sizemore of an extra base hit in for the first out of the game. In his first at bat he got a mixed reception, but after a video tribute there were mostly cheers and Ellsbury tipped his cap.

Some fans haven’t forgiven Ellsbury, however, and expressed their displeasure with signs.

Jon Lester had his worst outing of the season so far: 4⅔ innings, 8 runs (only 3 earned, so there’s that), 4 walks, and 7 strikeouts. That’s a lot of strikeouts for that number of innings, but the 11 hits allowed showed that he was around the plate too much. He seemed to be squeezed by Quinn Wolcott’s strike zone.

Although David Ortiz and Mike Napoli clouted back-to-back home runs in the fourth the lineup just didn’t string together hits. Fortunately this cold streak isn’t contagious to a fellow Boston team that has commenced a playoff run. The Bruins defeated the Red Wings 3-0 and took a 2-1 lead in the series.

This Bruins fan was trying to snatch a souvenir in the first inning but ended up giving Ellsbury a triple instead. At least he could enjoy both games at a local watering hole after his removal from Fenway.

So the team with the second highest payroll steamrolled the Red Sox on their home field. Can we get a reaction from MLB Network?

Masahiro Tanaka has lived up to the hype thus far, going 7⅓ innings with 2 earned runs, no walks, and 7 strikeouts. The symbols in Tanaka’s family name 田中 mean “middle” and “rice paddy.” For his given name 将大 the first symbol means “commander” or “leader” and the second means “big.” He certainly was that last night.

Game 21: April 22, 2014
WinNew York Yankees
9 W: Masahiro Tanaka (3-0)
2B: Alfonso Soriano (4), Mark Teixeira (1), Brian McCann (2), Jacoby Ellsbury (6), Ichiro Suzuki (2)
3B: Ellsbury (2)
HR: Carlos Beltran (5)
Boston Red Sox
3 L: Jon Lester (2-3)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (9), A.J. Pierzynski (1), Mike Napoli (4), Jonny Gomes (3), Xander Bogaerts (3)
HR: David Ortiz (4), Mike Napoli (5)

April 21, 2014

Buck Up

Clay Buchholz started off well enough but unraveled in third inning. Of the eight batters he faced in the frame only Adam Jones didn’t have a hit. But Jones came to bat with runners at the corners and even his fielder’s choice score a run.

Since returning to Fenway Park and calling up Brock Holt the Red Sox offense has improved somewhat, but not enough to overcome a six-run third inning and an extra run tacked on late in the game. The Red Sox rallied in the fifth inning, putting up a three-spot sparked by Xander Bogaerts’s leadoff walk. Jackie Bradley, Jr. drove Bogaerts in with a ground-rule double to right, Brock Holt lofted a sac fly to plate David Ross, and Dustin Pedroia fired a double down the left field line to score Bradley, Jr.

Ross and Mike Napoli homered in the seventh and eighth respectively. The local nine scraped up a run in the ninth with the bases loaded on Napoli’s ground out, but Mike Carp grounded out to Chris Davis for the final out.

Although the Red Sox didn’t win on Patriots’ Day they are showing signs that this homestand is serving them well. On every Marathon Monday the Red Sox will wear home jerseys with “Boston” across the front, not “Red Sox.”

“New Girl”? Really, Brock? I guess the old-fashioned knickers make up for that. Also, he has Dot and the People’s Republic of Cambridge represented.

Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983. He wrote the names of the marathon bombings in the corners of his bib. I was proud of him, but even if an American didn’t win I’d still be inspired. Today’s race went on despite the attack and there were no major incidents.

As a wise man once said, “Nobody is going to dictate our freedom.”

Game 20: April 21, 2014
WinBaltimore Orioles
7 W: Wei-Yin Chen (3-1)
H: Ryan Webb (1), Zach Britton (3), Darren O’Day (1), Brian Matusz (3)
S: Tommy Hunter (5)
2B: Steve Clevenger (2)
Boston Red Sox
6 L: Clay Buchholz (0-2)
2B: Jackie Bradley Jr. (4), Dustin Pedroia – 2 (8)
HR: David Ross (1), Mike Napoli (4)

Boston Stronger

On the eve of Patriots’ Day the Red Sox held a ceremony for the Boston Marathon. Families of the victims, survivors, and first responders gathered while a bagpipe orchestra played. Canvases from 50 states paying tribute to the marathon ringed the field.

By the afternoon one Boston team was celebrating. The Bruins won the second game of the first round of the playoffs against Detroit 4-1. Justin Florek, Reilly Smith, Milan Lucic, and Zdeno Chara scored goals while Jarome Iginla and Torey Krug had two assists each. In a reversal of David against Goliath, Brendan Smith tried to start a fight with Chara at the end of the first period. Referees intervened, not wanting to see more red on the Detroit player’s uniform.

If the Red Sox were to be victorious they would have to overcome an early deficit. Jake Peavy was roughed up in the first inning to the tune of a Nelson Cruz home run, a free pass to Chris Davis, consecutive singles to Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, and a sac fly for J.J. Hardy. Baltimore scored runs in the fifth and sixth. Jones’s line drive RBI single to Jonny Gomes in left field knocked Peavy out of the game.

No one more than Gomes illustrates the connection between the Red Sox and the community. It was fitting that his three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth breathed life back into Fenway Park.

Another life line was extended to the local nine in a surprising way. The season thus far has frustrated John Farrell’s attempts to make sense of the new rules and replay system. But his squad benefitted from the transfer rule.

In Official Rules: 2.00 Definition of Terms, the following defines a catch:

A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.

In the seventh Brock Holt came in hard at Ryan Flaherty at second base. Grady Sizemore had tapped the ball to Zach Britton, who pivoted and fired to Flaherty. Paul Schrieber ruled that Flaherty didn’t hold the ball long enough. Holt was safe at second when Flaherty dropped the ball on the transfer, and Sizemore was safe at first.

Middle infielders used to have the benefit of the neighborhood play where they didn’t have to stay on the keystone sack to get the first out of a double play. Now they have to prove “secure possession,” holding “the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.” Buck Showalter came out to discuss the ruling but didn’t challenge the call. The Red Sox tied the game in the seventh inning with an RBI single off David Ortiz’s bat and Jonathan Schoop’s throwing error.

Pedroia was determined to break the tie when his turn came up in the ninth inning. He missed a home run by inches. A few enthusiastic fans in the Monster seats reached into the field of play and he had to be satisfied with a ground-rule double.

Along with Farrell’s failed challenges another recurring theme is close-up views of Napoli in agony. Here he is seconds before a pitch ricocheted off his left kneecap. The first baseman writhed in pain for a few moments but, Napoli being Napoli, he recovered quickly. After running up and down the first base line a few times to test his knee he stayed in the game.

Mike Carp pinch hit for Gomes after Napoli’s at bat. With the bases loaded he made solid contact, sending a liner to shallow left field. David Lough caught the ball but failed to throw it in the general vicinity of Wieters. Pedroia resembled Jeff Suppan on the basepaths for a second but finally dashed home for the winning run.

Boston strong, indeed.

Game 19: April 20, 2014
Baltimore Orioles
5 H: Zach Britton (2)
BS: Evan Meek (1)
L: Brian Matusz (1-1)
2B: David Lough (1), Ryan Flaherty (3), Adam Jones (4)
WinBoston Red Sox
6 W: Edward Mujica (1-1)
2B: Jonny Gomes (2), Dustin Pedroia (6)
HR: Gomes (2)

April 20, 2014

A Pitch of Orioles

With the score tied 2-2 in the seventh and Mike Carp at first base on a base on balls David Ross stepped into the box. Ross took issue with Bud Norris throwing up high. A guy who has had multiple concussions might be sensitive about such things. Ross was so concerned about injuring his brain further he experimented with an old-fashioned mask with shock absorbers and has worn an UNCAP, made of military-grade composite, underneath his gear.

So it’s not surprising that Ross jawed at Norris to make an adjustment in his throwing. Matt Wieters did his job as a catcher and interceded. As the situation escalated the benches cleared, but unlike prior dustups against the Orioles this fracas didn’t come to blows or suspensions.

I thought that “a quarrel of orioles” would be an outstanding collective noun, but apparently sparrows have plucked that word as their own. This site suggests “a pitch,” but I think “a riffraff of orioles” has a ring to it.

Mike Napoli missed just one game due to his dislocated finger. This glove should come with an embroidered reminder: “DO NOT SLIDE HEADFIRST.”

When Brock Holt isn’t busy helping old ladies across the street he’s helping his team win baseball games. Ross ended up striking out after the melee but Holt kept the line moving. Holt powered the ball to the bullpen wall and tripled in Carp for the lead. He then scored on Jonathan Herrera’s safety squeeze.

Buck Showalter challenged in the sixth where Nelson Cruz was called out at first with Adam Jones running home and Chris Davis advancing from first to second. Replays showed that Cruz was safe so the score was knotted 2-2. Had Davis kept on running, a tactic which Joe Maddon has drilled into his team, he may have been awarded third base. Wieters reached on a throwing error by Holt in the very next at bat, which could have given Baltimore the lead. It’s a good thing Showalter isn’t as much of a genius as Maddon.

Game 18: April 19, 2014
Baltimore Orioles
2 L: Bud Norris (0-2)
2B: Adam Jones (3)
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Junichi Tazawa (1-0)
S: Koji Uehara (4)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (5)
3B: Brock Holt (1)
HR: David Ortiz (3)

April 19, 2014

Goofus & Gallant

On the very first pitch of the game Nick Markakis laced the ball to left field. Third base umpire Will Little ruled the ball fair. Multiple replays showed that the ball was foul. John Farrell challenged the call

Goofus umpiring crew in MLB headquarters upheld the call and Markakis tallied a double.

In the eighth inning Brock Holt knocked the ball to Steve Lombardozzi. First base umpire Mark Carlson called Holt out. Replays showed that Holt got to the first base bag a split second before the ball reached Chris Davis’s glove.

Gallant umpiring crew in MLB headquarters overruled Carlson’s call and Holt was safe at first.

Goofuses on the Red Sox side were John Lackey (5⅓ innings pitched, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts) and the Red Sox lineup with runners in scoring position (5-for-15).

Game 17: April 18, 2014
WinBaltimore Orioles
8 W: Chris Tillman (2-1)
H: Brian Matusz (2)
S: Darren O’Day (1)
2B: Nick Markakis – 2 (3), Jonathan Schoop – 2 (6)
Boston Red Sox
4 L: John Lackey (2-2)
2B: Mike Carp (2), Daniel Nava (3), Mike Napoli (3)

April 18, 2014

Glove for Sale, (Nothing But) Flowers

Chris Sales’s perfect game would have ended abruptly with just two down in the first inning were it not for Adam Eaton’s glove. Eaton’s leaping catch of David Ortiz’s line drive shot just above the center field fence was reminiscent of Mike Trout or, if you prefer to go old school, Andruw Jones. Even Ortiz gazed on in admiration.

From that point Sale only allowed two baserunners: David Ross walked in the second and Xander Bogaerts was hit by a pitch in the fourth. Perhaps Bogaerts took the plunking personally as he delivered the end of the no-hitter via air mail with two down in the sixth. Alejandro De Aza had no chance to snare Bogaerts’s blast to left field.

Jon Lester carried a perfect game into the sixth. Once again Bogaerts was pivotal to the play as Tyler Flowers sent a single just out of reach past the shortstop. Leury Garcia proved a better hitter than reliever and laced a ground-rule double to right. Eaton, hero of the first inning, tapped the ball through Mike Napoli’s dive but it was seized by Dustin Pedroia. Lester couldn’t beat Eaton to the bag and the score was tied 1-1.

In the seventh Chicago’s third base coach Joe McEwing sent Adam Dunn from first all the way home on De Aza’s double to the right field wall. Daniel Nava took a while herding the ball in the corner so he had to hit his cutoff man perfectly. Pedroia got the ball home on two bounces, requiring Ross to pick it before tagging Dunn. Dunn was done, and McEwing might be as well.

The Red Sox didn’t need to face an infielder to score runs late in the game. In the ninth Ross doubled in the Mikes, Napoli and Carp, who both singled off Ronald Belisario. Pinch-hitting Carp finally worked this season. President Obama said, “May the best Sox win!” Perhaps they did.

You can own your own animal print bathrobe courtesy of Kimpton Hotels. That giraffe robe looks rather fetching.

Game 16: April 17, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
3 W: Jon Lester (2-2)
S: Koji Uehara (3)
2B: David Ross (2)
HR: Xander Bogaerts
Chicago White Sox
1 L: Ronald Belisario (1-2)
2B: Leury Garcia (2), Alejandro De Aza (2)

April 17, 2014

When Leury Met Jackie

After fourteen innings of baseball you begin to see things. Visions of flightless foul and faux fruit flitted across my television screen.

I imagined Ken Harrelson frozen in carbonite like Han Solo.

I even dreamed that the Red Sox only managed to win a game because Robin Ventura is so terrible at managing a bullpen that only a utility infielder was available to pitch. It was only then that the Red Sox managed to get the ball out of the infield. Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s line drive to right off Leury Garcia plated two runs that proved to be the winning scores.

Wait, that last thing actually happened? Geez, next you’ll tell me that golden boy prospect Xander Bogaerts made a racy tweet that prompted him to delete his Twitter account.


Game 15: April 16, 2014 ∙ 14 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
6 BS: Edward Mujica (1)
W: Chris Capuano (1-0)
S: Burke Badenhop (1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (4), Jackie Bradley Jr. (3)
Chicago White Sox
4 H: Ronald Belisario (2), Donnie Veal (2), Maikel Cleto (4)
BS: Matt Lindstrom (3)
L: Leury Garcia (0-1)
HR: Alexei Ramirez (4)

April 16, 2014


There were only two things that weren’t annoying about last night’s contest between the two Sox teams. One was Chicago players, like Dayan Viciedo below, wearing B strong t-shirts to memorialize the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. The other was the donning of 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who 67 years ago broke the color barrier in baseball.

Robin Ventura contested Cory Blaser’s call that Jose Abreu was out at first in the second inning. After the review the call stood even though there was at least one angle that showed Mike Napoli took his foot off the bag. The missed called proved particularly costly as Adam Dunn clouted a home run right after.

As if the ailments and injuries of Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia, and Koji Uehara weren’t enough, Napoli dislocated his left ring finger when he slid into second base in the ninth. His sacrifice was for naught as the Red Sox failed to score with two runners on in the top of the ninth. Mike Carp came in as pinch hitter. The replacement first baseman tapped the first pitch out to reliever Daniel Webb for Boston’s final out.

A.J. Pierzynski received a fine ovation from fans of the Pale Hose in his second inning at bat. By the time the ninth rolled around he was wearing out his welcome. He caught Donnie Veal’s pitch between his elbow in ribs, which could be interpreted as not making an effort to get out of the way of the ball.

Chris Capuano inherited a two on, two-out situation from Burke Badenhop and loaded the bases by walking Alexei Ramirez. With the bases loaded Marcus Semien grounded to Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop threw short to Carp, who couldn’t pick the throw.

Badenhop was deservedly tagged with the loss. Webb got the win for Chicago with a single pitch.

Game 14: April 15, 2014
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Burke Badenhop (0-2)
HR: Daniel Nava (2)
WinChicago White Sox
2 W: Daniel Webb (1-0)
2B: Dayan Viciedo (4)
HR: Adam Dunn (3)

April 14, 2014

Replay Dismay

John Farrell went from calm dissent against replay to outright animosity. “It’s hard to have any faith in the system,” he said. “As much as they’re trying to help the human element, it seems like it’s added the human element at a different level.”

Farrell was ejected in the fourth inning for questioning the umpire crew’s reversal of a call. With runners at first and third Francisco Cervelli knocked the ball to Ryan Roberts who tossed the ball to Jonathan Herrera to start the double play. Cervelli appeared to touch the first base bag at the same time Mike Napoli received the ball from Herrera, so much so that first base umpire Bob Davidson called a double play.

Cervelli injured himself on the play. The game stopped for the injury and in the meantime Joe Girardi challenged the call. The double play was reversed. Brian McCann scored and Ichiro Suzuki replaced Cervelli on the basepaths. The score was updated to 3-1. In the eighth inning Suzuki made a remarkable catch on David Ortiz’s fly ball to right, so instead of a double play the reversal doubly benefitted the home team.

The Sports Lip Reader deciphered Farrell’s comments upon his ejection: “Go shove it up your ass!” and “Way to f*** that up too!

John Hirshbeck’s crew did get the double play call in the first correct. Jacoby Ellsbury attempted to tag up on Alfonso Soriano’s fly ball out to Jackie Bradley, Jr. Ryan Roberts tagged Ellsbury out at third before Carlos Beltran touched home. The Yankees center fielder seemed amazed that his counterpart could get the ball past second base with accuracy.

We got a glimpse of the Yankees’ spray charts. Here’s why nearly every player gets some sort of shift put on when he’s at bat.

Here’s the Yankee Stadium organist, Paul Cartier. He replaced Eddie Layton, who passed away the day after Christmas in 2004. Pedro Martinez isn’t pitching any longer so Cartier can’t start a rousing rendition of the ubiquitous Stade Fasciste chant “Who's Your Daddy?” He didn’t even go for a few bars of “Hit the Road Jack” when Farrell was ejected.

Game 13: April 13, 2014
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Felix Doubront (1-2)
2B: Mike Napoli (2)
HR: Napoli (3)
WinNew York Yankees
3 W: Ivan Nova (2-1)
H: Matt Thornton (4), David Phelps (2)
S: Shawn Kelly (3)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (4), Brian McCann (1), Carlos Beltran (5)
HR: Beltran (3)

April 13, 2014

Catch As Catch Can

A.J. Pierzynski made an early impact on this game, tying it 2-2 in the second inning with his home run blast into the second deck. But it was the Yankees’ backstop, Brian McCann, that powered his offense to victory.

McCann clobbered a two-run shot in the fourth to break the tie and added another two runs in the bottom of the sixth (below). He didn’t have occasion, however, to go toe-to-toe with Pierzynski after his counterpart’s home run as he did with Carlos Gomez.

John Farrell is 0-for-2 in challenges. I found Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Portal a handy place to research challenges and ejections. Multiple angles showed that Xander Bogaerts was applying the tag on Dean Anna when he took his foot off the sack for a fraction of a second. MLB admitted that they were in error on the call.

Farrell’s reaction was rather mildly worded: “It certainly raises questions on if they are getting the same feed we are, the consistency of the system. So, it makes you scratch your head a little bit on why he was called safe.” The Red Sox skipper definitely took a page out of Bill Belichick’s playbook.

I can’t decide if MLB officials bungled the replay system more than Alfonso Soriano botched plays in right field. Soriano played Dustin Pedroia’s liner in the fourth into a double and misjudged Bogaerts’s slicing line drive in the sixth (below).

David Ortiz made Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update with a sketch spoofing his selfie with President Obama. “You like Sam? You should meet his son. Who is Sam’s son? He’s the son of Sam.”

Game 12: April 12, 2014
Boston Red Sox
4 L: John Lackey (2-1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (3)
HR: A.J. Pierzynski (1)
WinNew York Yankees
7 W: Hiroki Kuroda (2-1)
H: Matt Thornton (3), Dellin Betances (2), Adam Warren (4)
S: Shawn Kelly (2)
2B: Carlos Beltran (4)
HR: Beltran (2), Brian McCann – 2 (2), Alfonso Soriano (3), Kelly Johnson (3)

April 12, 2014

Falling for Sizemore

David Ross said it best: “[Sizemore’s] been a big pickup for us,… and he’s easy on the eyes.”

Some baseball girls’ hearts are swayed by twinkling eyes, a charming smile, and boyish good looks, but for Red Sox ladies the three-run, go-ahead home run is the bare minimum. Sizemore came through in the sixth inning with one out and two on. Adding to the allure was securing the win against a despised divisional rival. He almost made the alternate blue uniforms bearable.

Sizemore’s presence has made most fans forget Jacoby Ellsbury. This young man harbors some lingering resentment, however. Get used to it, kid. Scott Boras represents not only Ellsbury but Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts.

Jon Lester turned in his third straight quality start and finally tallied his first win. Junichi Tazawa took over in the seventh when Lester got into a jam, allowing Kelly Johnson to single in Ichiro Suzuki.

With Brian Roberts at third, two out, and a reinvigorated Yankee Stadium crowd clamoring for their captain, Tazawa toed the rubber against Derek Jeter. Tazawa had been in tougher spots, like in the ALCS against Miguel Cabrera. Jeter flied out harmlessly to right field.

The Red Sox Nation’s hearts were set aflutter at the sight of Koji Uehara in the bullpen, unavailable in a save opportunity. Edward Mujica debuted in Fenway to the tune of 4 runs in two-thirds of an inning. Such an outing did not inspire confidence, so it was doubly disconcerting to see that John Farrell tapped him for the ninth.

Mujica got through the bottom half of the ninth cleanly. Uehara is one of the truly irreplaceable pitchers so the Red Sox staff is treating his shoulder stiffness with extreme caution. But perhaps like Sizemore filling in for Shane Victorino, Mujica can take over closing responsibilities until Uehara is whole again.

Game 11: April 11, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Jon Lester (1-2)
H: Junichi Tazawa (2)
S: Edward Mujica (1)
2B: David Ross (1)
HR: Jonny Gomes (1), Grady Sizemore (2)
New York Yankees
2 L: CC Sabathia (1-2)
HR: Alfonso Soriano (2)

April 10, 2014

You Can’t Spell Pineda Without Pine

Pine tar, that is. Michael Pineda carried a no-hitter into the fifth. Xander Bogaerts broke up the string with a single laced into left field. Coincidentally (?) Pineda no longer had the conspicuous patch of pine tar from the fifth inning forward. In the post-game interview Pineda said it was dirt and that no one spoke to him about it.

Speaking of dirty game-playing, Henry Kissinger is a fan of the Yankees. Perhaps Samantha Power, Ambassador to the United Nations and Red Sox fan, was trying to turn him away from the dark side.

Don Orsillo finally uncovered something interesting: Jimmy Hoffa’s resting place.

The Red Sox have three more games to bury the Yankees as David Ortiz’s jersey was entombed in Stade Fasciste’s foundations.

Game 10: April 10, 2014
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Clay Buchholz (0-1)
2B: David Ortiz (3)
HR: Daniel Nava (1)
WinNew York Yankees
4 W: Michael Pineda (0-1)
H: Cesar Cabral (1)
S: David Phelps (1)
2B: Derek Jeter (2)
HR: Dean Anna (1)

Ortiz’s Record Tater Trot

With two runners on, one out, and a one-run lead in the eighth Ron Washington entrusted the game to Neal Cotts. The left-handed specialist would square off against David Ortiz, who was 0-for-5 against the southpaw. One umpire review and 32.91 seconds later Ortiz would be 1-for-6 against Cotts and the designated hitter once again raised the question about if there is such a thing as clutch.

According to Tater Trot Ortiz set the record for slowest home run jog. They did mention that Ortiz watched the ball because he thought it was foul, not to show up Texas. Washington contested the home run call because of the height of the ball’s trajectory was difficult to compare to Pesky’s Pole, but the call stood.

Bill Belichick called for goalposts to be heightened by five feet and his proposal was accepted. The Rangers’ skipper certainly would have liked such a measure to be applied to Fenway’s foul pole, but there might not be enough metal to match the majesty of Ortiz’s fly balls.

Rangers leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo had been a terror to the Red Sox this series. David Ross neutralized Choo in the third inning with a slick pickoff move. Choo has been fooled on the basepaths before. Last July Hanley Ramirez convinced Choo that he had been tagged out. Choo picked himself up to retreat to his dugout. Once Choo was off the the bag Ramirez received the ball from Andre Ethier and touched the base for the force.

Hey, look! A baseball player whose favorite movie isn’t “Dumb & Dumber.” Jackie Bradley Jr. was negative 8-years old when “Thriller” was released.

Game 9: April 9, 2014
Texas Rangers
2 L: Alexi Ogando (0-1)
BS: Neal Cotts (2)
2B: Shin-Soo Choo (2), Elvis Andrus (2)
HR: Mitch Moreland (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Andrew Miller (1-0)
S: Koji Uehara
2B: David Ortiz (2)
HR: Ortiz (2)

April 8, 2014

Double Play Trouble

Home plate umpire Chris Conroy ruled that Ryan “Tatman” Roberts struck out on a foul tip the ninth with one on and none out. Replay showed that Conroy missed the call. John Farrell came out to argue the judgment but foul tips are not reviewable.

This toga-wearing fan demonstrated what Chris Conroy was doing when he observed Joakim Soria’s pitch to Roberts.

Thus ended Tatman’s Red Sox debut. While he didn’t get a hit he did walk twice. Like so many of the local nine he grounded into a double play to squelch a potential rally. His came in the fifth inning after A.J. Pierzynski led off with a single up the middle. The praying hands on his right arm didn’t help.

It’s difficult to see what adorns Roberts’s left arm from this angle. This articles states the Japanese character for “family” is etched onto the left side of neck. Perhaps it’s time for Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa to unleash their inner bullpen prankster spirit animals.

Dustin Pedroia grounded into two double plays. But if he can’t cut it in baseball, he can pursue his Plan B: NBA superstar.

Game 8: April 8, 2014
WinTexas Rangers
10 W: Martin Perez (1-0)
2B: Prince Fielder (2), Donnie Murphy (2), Adrian Beltre (3), Robinson Chirinos (1), Shin-Soo Choo (1), Jim Adduci (1)
HR: Chirinos (1)
Boston Red Sox
7 L: Felix Doubront (1-1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (2), Jackie Bradley Jr. (2), Grady Sizemore (2), David Ortiz (1)


The internet has led me to believe that Spanish for “bobbleheads” is “cabezónes,” although “muñecos bobblehead” is also a possibility. Some bobbleheads do a poor job of replicating a player’s likeness but David Ortiz’s was remarkably well done. NESN showed one whose right finger was broken, but the tint of the sunglasses, the bling around the neck, and the elbow guard were on point. The only thing missing was a bit of saliva on the gloves from Papi’s signature at bat preparations.

In the third inning Shin-Soo Choo clouted the ball to deep center field. Grady Sizemore pursued it with reckless abandon. Fortunately for the Red Sox Sizemore didn’t injure himself. Unfortunately for us Mike Timlin is no longer playing baseball; he would be chomping at the bit to replicate the crime scene he made for Johnny Damon when he collided with the bullpen wall back in 2005. You are not a true Red Sox player until you are immortalized by committing or being victimized by a prank.

Will Middlebrooks’s replacement Jonathan Herrera went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. While he hasn’t dazzled at the dish he did turn in a daring play near the Rangers’ dugout. The third baseman perched precariously on the top step and gloved Alex Rios’s pop-up for the second out of the ninth inning.

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a superlative evening in the nine-hole: 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. His bobblehead should have a removable helmet with a do-rag underneath.

John Lackey lasted seven innings with a line of 5 hits,1 unearned run, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Now that he is loved in the Hub, his bobblehead would lovingly, not mockingly, have a sound chip with “Mahna Mahna.”

Game 7: April 7, 2014
Texas Rangers
1 L: Tanner Scheppers (0-1)
2B: Donnie Murphy (1)
3B: Shin-Soo Choo (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
5 W: John Lackey (2-0)
H: Chris Capuano (2)
2B: Grady Sizemore (1)

April 7, 2014

Battered and Brews

Dustin Pedroia received his third Gold Glove and David Ortiz his sixth Silver Slugger prior to the game yesterday. Ortiz tied Wade Boggs and Manny Ramirez for most Silver Slugger awards as a Red Sox player. Pedroia has a ways to go before he can tie Dwight Evans’s total of eight Gold Gloves. Shane Victorino also won the Gold Glove in 2013 but is still on the disabled list and couldn’t participate.

Daniel Nava hasn’t quite lived up to the standard Victorino has set in right field. In the second inning Nava was caught in between charging and backing off Mark Reynolds’s fly ball. His indecisiveness resulted in the ball getting by him, a poor outcome with runners at first and third and none out. Both Jonathan Lucroy and Khris Davis scored on the misplay.

Nava somewhat redeemed himself later in the frame. He reached into the stands to glove Jeff Bianchi’s fly ball for the second out.

John Farrell used a challenge in the bottom half of the second. Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked a grounder in Rickie Weeks’s direction. The Brewers second baseman bobbled the ball just long enough for the call at first to be close. Tim Timmons’s call stood after the review.

Neither early interleague play nor the new replay system has favored the Olde Towne Team. They need to recover from their weekend hangover to face a formidable foe in the Texas Rangers.

Game 6: April 6, 2014
WinMilwaukee Brewers
4 W: Yovani Gallardo (2-0)
H: Zach Duke (1)
2B: Jonathan Lucroy (3), Khris Davis (4)
Boston Red Sox
0 L: Jon Lester (0-2)
2B: Daniel Nava (1), Jackie Bradley Jr. (1)

April 6, 2014

Extra Cheese

What will be the next cheesy Red Sox fad? Wally hats are so 2013. Ron Piazza introduced these Red Sox rally sunglasses back in 2009 but they didn’t catch on. Perhaps with exposure in last night’s game thanks to this person with the Howard Stern-like locks the rally sunglasses will surge in popularity.

Fans have showed their devotion in stranger ways. I’m looking at you, Wisconsin.

Clay Buchholz fared poorly in his first start of the season, turning in a line of 4⅓ innings pitched, 13 hits, 6 runs, 3 strikeouts, and 2 homers. At least he didn’t walk anyone. Buchholz’s short outing allowed the bullpen to make club history: it was the first time that five pitchers or more pitchers had recorded three or more strikeouts in a game and also a franchise record 15 strikeouts by relievers were tallied.

Chris Capuano, Brandon Workman, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa pitched superbly but former Brewer Burke Badenhop allowed consecutive doubles to Khris Davis and Logan Schafer that put Milwaukee ahead. The fans were left out in the cold.

In the bottom of the third John Farrell was tempted to challenge a call. Daniel Nava had grounded out to shortstop Jena Segura and, like so many plays this chilly evening, the fielder bobbled the ball. Nava was ruled out but it was close. Farrell approached first base umpire Clint Fagen while looking over to the dugout for a sign that Billy Broadbent was calling on the replay phone. Broadbent didn’t see any evidence that would overturn the call.

Mike Napoli batted after Nava and clouted a three-run homer to bring his team within a run. Jonathan Herrera, who replaced Will Middlebrooks at third, tied the game in the sixth frame when Segura bobbled his batted ball.

Interleague playing so early in the season seems to have set the Red Sox on their heels somewhat. The Red Sox hope to avoid a sweep in Sunday’s early afternoon game. Put on your rally sunglasses.

Game 5: April 5, 2014 ∙ 11 innings
WinMilwaukee Brewers
7 BS: Zach Duke (1)
W: Tyler Thornburg (1-0)
S: Francisco Rodriguez (2)
2B: Jonathan Lucroy (2), Scooter Gennett – 2 (2), Logan Schafer – 2 (2), Khris Davis (3)
HR: Mark Reynolds (1), Carlos Gomez (2)
Boston Red Sox
6 L: Burke Badenhop (0-1)
2B: Jonny Gomes (1), Xander Bogaerts (2)
HR: Mike Napoli (2)

April 5, 2014

Party Crashers

For the Red Sox yesterday was rather like the Matrix trilogy. It started off incredibly with a sensational ring ceremony but fell off rather precipitously in the ninth inning.

The Red Sox have yet to test out the new replay system. John Farrell could have used it to his advantage when Khris Davis supposedly reached third safely on Scooter Gennett’s sacrifice bunt. Tim Timmons didn’t have the optimum angle of the play and called Davis safe even as the runner popped off the base momentarily while Will Middlebrooks was still applying the tag. Crew chief Tim Welkie didn’t call for a review, which he is empowered to do from the seventh inning forward.

If Davis had been called out as he should have been, perhaps the Brewers wouldn’t have scored four runs in the ninth. In that scenario, Edward Mujica wouldn’t have had to cope with runners on first and third and none out in front of the intense Fenway crowd.

Instead Mujica allowed four runs to score while compiling just two outs. The Red Sox failed to get a man on base with the final three outs, so Red Sox Nation wouldn’t be hearing “Dirty Water” on a day when they had earlier enjoyed the triumphant tones of “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” the heartfelt yearning in “Lean On Me,” and the scintillating synthesizers of “Baba O’Riley.”

The Fenway facade may soon run out of space with all the success the franchise has had.

Fenway’s fences are overflowing with history as David Ortiz’s jewelry box is bursting with bling. The designated hitter thought John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner made a mistake and gave him someone else’s ring. Instead he received a custom ring commemorating his World Series Most Valuable Player award. One flank indicates that he is a three-time world champion and the other side bears his likeness. Inside is inscribed with his World Series statistics: 11-for-16, two home runs, six RBIs in six games. Even etched in white gold those numbers are hard to fathom.

The face of the 2013 ring features the Red Sox logo in rubies with the World Series trophy behind it. The graphics are backed by a field of sapphires. On the side with the player’s name and number there is also the number of World Series the individual has won with the Red Sox. On the other side is the B Strong logo. Connecting these two sides, the individual and the city, is the team’s rallying point: “Bearded Brothers 10-30-13” is inscribed within.

I know too often pundits and pedants talk and write ad nauseum about the healing power of sports. Oritz will not die in the line of duty like Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy. Tom Brady’s day-to-day job does not mean running into imminent danger like the firefighters of the September 11 attacks did. While football does have long-term health effects, the number of injuries pale in comparison to the thousands who have pulmonary disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and cancer in the attacks’ aftermath.

But returning to the normal course of life after terror attacks shows that we had not succumbed. After September 11 the NFL delayed games for a week, which showed they had learned from 1963, when they continued to play games in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. No games were cancelled, just rescheduled.

After the Boston Marathon bombings Ortiz declared “This is our f****ing city.” And the Red Sox won it for their brothers and their city.

Game 4: April 4, 2014
WinMilwaukee Brewers
6 L: Wei-Yin Chen (0-1)
2B: Khris Davis – 2 (2), Jonathan Lucroy (1), Lyle Overbay (1)
3B: Jean Segura (1)
HR: Lucroy (1)
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Edward Mujica (0-1)
2B: Mike Carp (1)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (1)

April 3, 2014

Otanjōbi Omedetō Gozaimasu

「お誕生日おめでとうございます!」 Pronounced “otanjōbi omedetō gozaimasu,” this is a formal way of wishing Koji Uehara a happy birthday. The 39-year-old closer has earned this respect not just by being an elder but by showing he can dominate hitters in 2014 as he did in 2013. Uehara threw only seven pitches in this outing; he may not throw his age until his team’s first trip to Yankee Stadium next weekend.


Jonathan Schoop “saw” three of Uehara’s pitches; the way he flailed at the splitter in the dirt he might as well guest star as J.K. Simmons’s visually impaired buddy in that sitcom NBC keeps flogging. Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis saved themselves from that embarrassment by popping out to Will Middlebrooks, both on the second pitch.

Speaking of embarrassing, Nelson Cruz made a bad break on David Ortiz’s looper to left in the third. Unlike many of Manny Ramirez’s shenanigans in left field Cruz’s mishap was unintentional. Jackie Bradley Jr. displayed speed and game awareness, taking off on contact to score from first on the Oriole’s foible.

Cruz came close to tallying an assist in the fourth frame. He gathered David Ross’s grounder and fired to the plate as Xander Bogaerts sprinted down the home stretch. Matt Wieters was forced to abide by rule 7.06 about obstruction:

NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.

I think Old Hoss Radbourn had the best response to this.

Game 3: April 3, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Felix Doubront (1-0)
H: Brandon Workman (1), Chris Capuano (1), Junichi Tazawa (1)
S: Koji Uehara (1)
2B: Will Middlebrooks (1), Dustin Pedroia (1)
Baltimore Orioles
3 L: Wei-Yin Chen (0-1)
2B: Chris Davis (1), Matt Wieters (1)

April 2, 2014

Big Bang Series

The exhilaration of yesterday’s triumphant trip to the White House carried over into tonight’s game. David Ortiz has 40,000 retweets of his selfie with the President of the United States, surpassing the Instagram “likes” of Bill Nye and and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s snapshot with the leader of the free world. Ortiz was 0-for-7 against Ubaldo Jimenez until the third frame.

Ortiz clubbed his first home run of the season with Dustin Pedroia on base to give his team a 2-0 lead. Baltimore battled back with none other than Nelson Cruz, who homered in his second consecutive game. This time his four-bagger cleared the right field wall in the fourth inning with Chris Davis on base to tie the game 2-2.

Mike Napoli was singled out by President Obama as the only athlete on his Council of Beards. That prestigious appointment proved motivating. Napoli untangled the tied game in the fifth inning with a blast to dead center, driving in Daniel Nava. Napoli tacked on two more runs in the seventh.

Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were the Bash Brothers. I propose that Ortiz and Napoli be called BICEP2. What sluggers wouldn’t want to be associated with energy so powerful its traces are still detectable 13 billion years later? Go, cosmic microwave background supporting the theory of inflation and pointing towards the possibility of the multiverse!

The uptick in offensive production was supported by solid play on the other side of the ball. Dustin Pedroia’s nagging injuries seem to have finally healed, at least until the next time he plays himself to the bone. The second baseman went 4-for-5 and made a stunning stop on J.J. Hardy’s ground ball up the middle. The ball seemed destined to trickle into center field but Pedroia’s positioning and execution allowed him turn the final out of the second stanza.

Napoli followed his go-ahead home run with defensive gem in the bottom of the frame. Steve Lombardozzi starched the ball to right but Napoli was playing just deep enough and jumped exactly high enough to snare the sphere. I wonder if defensive statistics and advanced scouting is supporting more precise positioning?

Pitching continued to be a strong point for the Red Sox. Like Jon Lester before him, John Lackey only surrendered two runs. Boston newcomer Edward Mujica set the stage with a one-hit frame with a strikeout. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara were so in sync they replicated Mujica’s stats.

Game 2: April 2, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
6 W: Jonn Lackey (1-0)
HR: David Ortiz (1), Mike Napoli (1)
Baltimore Orioles
2 L: Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1)
HR: Nelson Cruz (2)

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