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Home » Category Listing » September 2014 Game Comments

April 5, 2015


In the last game of the 2014 season Derek Jeter played shortstop for the New York Yankees for the final time. In the third inning he faced off against Clay Buchholz with one out and Ichiro Suzuki at third base. He watched two fastballs over the plate, a strike and a ball respectively. Jeter fouled off a cutter but then tapped the ball towards third base for an infield single.

And mercifully that was the last cheap hit and run batted in we will ever see off Jeter’s bat. Jeter, not Joe Girardi, decided when he would leave the field. Jeter’s retirement was just the start of the changes to these lineups.

Ben Cherington had Red Sox fans celebrating Thanksgiving early when he announced that he had signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez on November 25, 2014. With the addition of a pair of powerful bats Yoenis Cespedes became a fungible asset.

The signings didn’t impress Jon Lester enough to lure him back to the Red Sox. On December 10 Lester announced he signed with the Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox began cobbling back together a starting rotation the next day by signing back Justin Masterson and trading Cespedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier to the Tigers for Rick Porcello. The day after that Cherington came to terms with the Diamondbacks for Wade Miley, sending Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, and Raymel Flores to Arizona.

Don Orsillo will be happy with Masterson’s return, not just because of his pitching ability but also for Masterson‘s wife Meryl’s exceptional cookies. Perhaps Masterson will flourish again under John Farrell and get new insights from Juan Nieves. Porcello and Miley may benefit from the change in scenery, but both are moving into tougher pitching situations.

There is also rebuilding to be done in the bullpen. With Koji Uehara starting 2015 on the disabled list, picking up Alexi Ogando for a year looks like a good insurance plan.

It will be hard to follow up the Patriots’ dramatic 2014-2015 championship season. But seeing Hanley Ramirez in home team whites at Fenway Park will be nothing short of spectacular. And if we can see such a sight come October, all the better.

Game 162: September 28, 2014
WinNew York Yankees
9 W: Michael Pineda (5-5)
2B: Brett Gardner (25), Jose Pirela (1), Austin Romine (1)
3B: Ichiro Suzuki (2)
Boston Red Sox
5 L: Clay Buchholz (8-11)
2B: Dan Butler (3), Mookie Betts (12)

September 27, 2014

Double Digits

Once again the Red Sox routed the opposition. Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t sharp in his second start since his return and the local nine took advantage of that. It feels like the rookies are auditioning for starting roles and veterans are making sure they keep theirs in the waning days of the season.

Joe Kelly put the finishing touches on his strong case to be a relied-upon starter in 2015. He had the longest outing of career and notched his sixth win of the season with a strong line, keeping in mind he had a huge lead to work with: 7⅓ innings, 9 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.

The second inning featured 14 plate appearances by Red Sox batters. There were three walks, six singles, and a double. After Boston scored five earnd runs Allen Craig reached on Eury Perez’s misplay and Daniel Nava scored. Tanaka’s stat line was spared the three runs after Perez’s error, but surely the young Yankees center fielder was spoken to by Joe Girardi.

Derek Jeter’s sterling presence inspired the Yankees infield even though he didn’t play short. In the fourth inning New York turned a heads-up inning-ending double play. Garin Cecchini was at second base when Rusney Castillo chopped the ball up the middle. Jose Pirela recovered it deep behind second base and had no play at first on the speedy Castillo.

Cecchini was caught too far past third base by Pirela and failed to get into a protracted rundown to allow Castillo to advance to second base. For his part, Castillo should have been more aware and returned to first base quicker once he saw that Cecchini failed to occupy the infielders.

As Cecchini left the field you could see him say “my bad” to Brian Butterfield. At that point the Red Sox had a 9-0 lead so perhaps the he cut the rookies some slack. But that lesson should be learned so that in a meaningful game the players know the right way to complete that play so it doesn’t result in a 4-5-2-5-3 twin killing.

Fox Sports was expectedly deferential to Derek Jeter, but at least we had Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz instead of anyone and Harold Reynolds. Smoltz is a better color analyst than Red Sox pitcher. I’m actually trying to compliment him but then I looked at Baseball Reference, remembered how horrible his 2009 season was, and regretted damning Smoltz with faint praise. He is already better than Reynolds and will hopefully join Fox’s A-team.

Game 161: September 27, 2014
New York Yankees
4 L: Masahiro Tanaka (13-5)
2B: Chase Headley (20), Chris Young (20), Stephen Drew (14)
3B: Jose Pirela (2)
WinBoston Red Sox
10 W: Joe Kelly (6-4)
2B: Mookie Betts (11), Garin Cecchini – 2 (3), Xander Bogaerts (28), Carlos Rivero (2)

Enemy Mine

It was an evening to embrace one’s nemesis. The fans at Fenway chanted for Derek Jeter even though he had the evening off. Jeter played his last game as a shortstop on Thursday, a night where he sparked a storybook ending at Yankee Stadium. But he will make an appearance as designated hitter at Fenway because he acknowledges the importance of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. And so pinstripe devotees and carmine hose followers alike feted Jeter.

Dan Butler tried to make peace with Steve Wright’s knuckleball but the backstop had a trying game behind the plate. He allowed two passed balls, and they were the only passed balls he has tallied as a major leaguer.

Joe Girardi took advantage of his manager’s challenge in the first inning. Yoenis Cespedes was called safe when he stretched a single Chris Young into a double. Replays showed that there was a split-second in time where Cespedes wasn’t touching the keystone sack and Jose Pirela had kept the tag applied.

I even softened my stance against Yankee fans and their grammatical errors.

Game 160: September 26, 2014
WinNew York Yankees
3 W: Chris Capuano (3-4)
H: Shawn Kelley (12), Adam Warren (23)
S: David Robertson (39)
2B: John Ryan Murphy (4)
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Steven Wright (0-1)
HR: Rusney Castillo (2)

September 26, 2014

Routed by Rookies

While Derek Jeter was putting the finishing touches on his historic run at shortstop in the Bronx the Red Sox youth movement started what will hopefully be voluminous feats of their own in Boston.

Christian Vazquez was a triple short of hitting for the cycle. He went 4-for-4 in the nine hole. In the second inning he knocked the ball off one of the signs above the Green Monster for his first homer in the bigs. With so little to celebrate this season it was wonderful to see such genuine joy in the dugout.

Rusney Castillo also had a spectacular offensive evening. The center fielder batted seventh and went 2-for-4. In the third inning with two men on and one out he powered the ball into the first row of the Monster seats. His other hit was a near-homer in the seventh inning.

This season Boston has played 19 rookies. The last time the Red Sox came close to that number was 1952, which featured 18 newcomers. That team finished sixth in the American League with a losing record of 76-78. I found 11 of the players on the wonderful site Baseball Almanac.

  • Hal Bevan
  • Milt Bolling
  • Ralph Brickner
  • Dick Brodowski
  • Ike Delock
  • Hersh Freeman
  • Dick Gernert
  • Bill Henry
  • Ted Lepcio
  • Gene Stephens
  • Faye Throneberry

There’s no Hall of Famers in the list. Perhaps the Red Sox Rookie of Class of 2014 doesn’t have a future Jeter, but I’d rather be dreaming on young players’ potential than feting an old-timer’s retirement

Game 159: September 25, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays
1 L: Jeremy Hellickson (1-5)
No extra base hits
WinBoston Red Sox
11 W: Allen Webster (5-3)
2B: Mookie Betts (10), Rusney Castillo (1), Christian Vazquez (9)
HR: Vazquez (1), Castillo (1)

September 25, 2014

Garins Ball-barans

The title is a variation of the Hawai‘i Creole English (HCE) phrase “garan ball-barans.” It combines a shortened version of the word “guaranteed” followed by an HCE pronunciation of the term “ball bearings.” Kirby Yates, who came to the Tampa Bay Rays by way of Kauai, would understand.

Garin Cecchini had a spectacular night. He clouted his first major league home run in the second inning. The leadoff home run landed in the visitors’ bullpen. The third baseman got the time-honored silent treatment when he returned to the dugout.

On the defensive side Cecchini needs some polish, but he turned in a trio of gems last night. He ended the first inning with a diving stop of Logan Forsythe’s grounder. His throw to Allen Craig was high but the first baseman managed to come down with it.

Cecchini was key to stopping a potential rally in the eighth inning with a pair of fine plays. He snared Wil Myers’s liner with Evan Longoria at second base, a catch that probably saved a run. Later in the eighth he captured another of Forsythe’s sharply rapped grounders. This time his throw to first, manned by Ryan Lavarnway, was perfect.

Another Red Sox player with Italian ancestry, Mike Napoli, caused a stir off the field by being completely clean-shaven. With his beard shorn he resembled Steven Wright.

Rusney Castillo tried to better acquaint himself with Fenway’s odd dimensions. He doggedly chased down Sean Rodriguez’s deep fly ball to the wall in the seventh. Castillo made an impressive leap when attempting to corral the ricochet but it still got over his head. Once he hones his routes and learns his home field’s peculiarities he may eventually rival Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s defensive prowess. Hopefully that will be the only part of Bradley’s game he mirrors.

Game 158: September 24, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays
3 L: Jake Odorizzi (11-13)
2B: Wil Myers (14), Sean Rodriguez (13), Evan Longoria (26), Ben Zobrist (34)
3B: Kevin Kiermaier (7)
WinBoston Red Sox
11 W: Anthony Ranaudo (4-3)
2B: Bryce Brentz (2), Daniel Nava (21), Yoenis Cespedes (36)
HR: Garin Cecchini (1)

September 24, 2014

Blanket Statement

Lindsay Buchholz visited Don and Jerry in the booth to talk about all the wonderful work her and her husband’s charitable foundation does for Boston-area children. You can read more about the Clay Buchholz Foundation and how they support charitable organizations that give aid to children who are undergoing critical medical procedures.

It was cool how Lindsay got into the tense play in the third. Ben Zobrist singled to Yoenis Cespedes with Yunel Escobar at second base. Cespedes gunned down Escobar at home, which prompted an excited shout from Mrs. Buchholz. She was one of the few people that were really into the game.

With both teams out of contention, Daniel Nava getting hit by a pitch didn’t elicit any opprobrium from the crowd. Buchholz hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch in the eighth but again no eyebrows were raised as there was a runner on and one out.

After Guyer reached base he scored on Zobrist’s two-RBI double, which gave the Rays a 2-1 lead. Cespedes didn’t have a great read on Zobrist’s fly ball and jumped at the wrong time. David DeJesus plated Zobrist and at that point Buchholz seemed to mail it in. His pitches inside to Evan Longoria that eventually led to a plunking didn’t incite the dugouts.

In the bottom of the eighth Jeff Nelson called Cespedes out on a curveball, which stranded Mookie Betts at second base. Cespedes disagreed with Nelson’s call and was promptly ejected. It was the first time he was thrown out of a game.

Game 157: September 23, 2014
WinTampa Bay Rays
6 W: Alex Cobb (10-8)
H: Grant Balfour (10)
2B: Ben Zobrist (33)
HR: Matt Joyce (9)
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Clay Buchholz (8-10)
2B: Daniel Nava (20), Mookie Betts (9)

September 22, 2014

Please Please Tell Me Now

What I’ll remember most about this game is the interminably long review that ended with the incorrect outcome. The umpires at the MLB headquarters took so long Duran Duran’s “Is There Something I Should Know?” played twice while they reviewed whether or not Mookie Betts’s throw to Daniel Nava pulled the first baseman off the bag in the seventh inning.

I know you’re watching me every minute of the day, yeah
I’ve seen the signs and the looks and the pictures that give your game away, yeah

NESN showed the play from multiple angles and it seemed clear that Caleb Joseph was out to complete the 5-4-3 double play. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were shocked when crew chief Dana DeMuth removed his headphones and signaled that Joseph was safe. Jonathan Schoop followed by grounding into a force play at second so the missed call didn’t impact the game.

The Red Sox beat the Orioles in this meaningless series. If only there were more of such wins earlier this season, then Boston fans could be celebrating like these Baltimore devotees.

This fan went so far as to make a mascot costume and wear it to Camden Yards. Keep in mind this is in a town where the average relative humidity in the summer hovers above 80%.

Orange really pops when used in a wig. Add football pads, Hulk hands, and a sequined top and you have a vibrant duo ready to cheer on their pennant-winning squad.

This Orioles Batman joined forces with makeshift mascot man late in the game. They even saw each other unmasked, which reminded me of the Looney Toons episode where Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog removed successive layers of costumes.

Mookie Betts led off the game with a home run into the seats surrounding left field. He became the youngest player to clout a home run to start the game since fellow second baseman Bobby Doerr. Doerr did the same 75 years ago on August 1, 1939 in a game against Cleveland. The Hall of Famer hit two homers off Bob Feller that day.

Miguel Gonzalez is no Bob Feller and Betts isn’t Doerr. But amongst the Red Sox rookies Betts has been most consistent. But that didn’t spare him from having to don a ridiculous outfit.

Game 156: September 21, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
3 W: Joe Kelly (5-4)
H: Tommy Layne (9), Burke Badenhop (13)
S: Edward Mujica (8)
HR: Mookie Betts (5), David Ross (7)
Baltimore Orioles
2 L: Miguel Gonzalez (9-9)
2B: David Lough (6)

September 21, 2014

Bloom is Off the Rose

Rubby De La Rosa had another rough outing. In his last three starts he hasn’t lasted beyond four innings. His repertoire just isn’t versatile enough yet to be successful as a major league starter. He’ll either have to add pitches to his arsenal or learn how to be an effective reliever. Adam Jones in particular profited from De La Rosa’s inexperience to the tune of two home runs.

John Farrell will have Steven Wright start in place of De La Rosa for the rest of the season. He reached his innings limit and could use the physical as well as mental break.

A rookie that has taken to the rigors of starting in the major leagues is Christian Vazquez. Of late the Red Sox had been blessed with offensive catchers who couldn’t throw out runners. Vazquez has shown competence at the plate and a cannon to boot. He easily caught Alejandro De Aza attempting to steal second base in the first inning.

Vazquez’s dazzle behind the dish got Don Orsillo dancing.

First baseman Christian Walker crushed his first major league home run in the fourth inning. The blast landed in the bleachers in right-center. As Dennis Eckersley would say, it looked like he hits home runs just to keep in shape. Look at him running around the bases blowing bubbles. He’s too cool for school, man.

Game 155: September 20, 2014
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Rubby De La Rosa (4-8)
HR: David Ortiz (35)
WinBaltimore Orioles
7 L: Darren O’Day (5-2)
2B: Ryan Flaherty (13), Nelson Cruz (32)
HR: Adam Jones – 2 (27), Christian Walker (1)

September 20, 2014

Eight Great Seasons

Last night David Ortiz surpassed all other Red Sox players for total seasons with 30 or more home runs and 100 or more runs batted in. He clouted a solo homer in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 and added another line to his entry in the annals of Red Sox history.

Ortiz has accomplished this feat eight times, one more season than Ted Williams. When Ortiz and Manny Ramirez paired up for their historic era I thought Ramirez was the one who would be honored in Cooperstown.

Voters would find it difficult to overlook Ramirez’s 50- and 100-game suspensions in 2009 and 2011 respectively. But they may forgive Ortiz’s appearance on the 2003 survey list that contained names that were never supposed to be revealed. MLB and the players union subsequently stated that these results were not be construed as definitive for use of performance enhancing substances.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ortiz blasted a two-run homer in the 10th inning to pull Boston ahead 5-3.

Rusney Castillo collected another infield hit. He beat out Ryan Flaherty’s throw to first base in the fourth frame. He has power potential but just hasn’t realized it on a major league field yet.

Castillo has shown defensive razzle-dazzle, however. In the fifth inning he scooped up David Lough’s ground ball single and fired to Christian Vazquez. The throw was up the third base line, but Vazquez made the adjustment to tag Alejandro De Aza out on the wrist. With the new rule about blocking the plate perhaps throws that are slightly ahead of the runner are preferable. Throws that are right on-target would force the catcher to make a last-second adjustment to touch the runner right when he receives the ball.

Garin Cecchini made his first major league start and his family made the trip to watch him. Unfortunately he went 0-for-3 and Will Middlebrooks pinch hit for him in the ninth. One of his fun facts included a tidbit that he has a song on his iPod that was released 15 years before his birth. Also, he still has an iPod, a product that Apple finally discontinued.

Game 154: September 19, 2014 ∙ 10 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
5 H: Tommy Layne (8), Burke Badenhop (12)
BS: Alex Wilson (1)
W: Junichi Tazawa (4-3)
S: Edward Mujica (7)
HR: David Ortiz – 2 (34), Yoenis Cespedes (22)
Baltimore Orioles
3 L: Darren O’Day (5-2)
2B: Alejandro De Aza – 2 (23), Nelson Cruz (31)
3B: Delmon Young (1)

September 19, 2014

And Our Goal’s In Sight

Here are a few folks whose jobs you may envy.

The street entertainer Burgh Man seems to be a fun gig. He has a comprehensive website that explains his origins:

  • Born out of industrial smoke & soot.
  • Forged in the mills of Pittsburgh during the years it was known as “The Workshop of the World.”
  • Shaped by incredible adversity. Just as the City of Pittsburgh, its region and its peoples, have emerged from the ashes of its industrial past to become a future-tech center of the world!

When you gaze upon Burgh Man you gaze upon the future.

The league authenticator applies stickers to game-used items and logs them into the MLB’s system. All my elementary school teachers who gave me Scratch ’N Sniff stickers on my mimeographed assignments (am I showing my age?) have transferable skills.

How about running the pit at Manny’s BBQ? Some people may tire of the aroma of the meat, smoke, spices, rubs, and sauces eventually but I would stop savoring these sensations at exactly zero past never.

Wouldn’t it be great to be a major league manager? Massaging the egos of millionaires while placating the will of billionaire owners sounds intriguing. You do have to deal with know-nothing, non-seeing officials like Andy Fletcher, but every job has its drawbacks.

Then there’s major league umpiring. Imagine the thrill of standing behind the plate and deftly adjudicating the strike zone. Wielding the power to call a player safe or out must be intoxicating. There’s bullheaded managers like John Farrell, who seemed unaware of the rule that a when a player in fair territory is hit by a batted ball the player is out, to deal with. But with reviews by replay umpires on the field can throw out their best guess and then pretend to listen when a manager delays the game to see if the complaining team’s video assistant thinks there’s a case for a challenge or not.

Game 153: September 18, 2014
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Brandon Workman (1-10)
No extra base hits
WinPittsburgh Pirates
3 W: Gerrit Cole (10-5)
H: Tony Watson (33)
S: Mark Melancon (30)
2B: Jordy Mercer (26)
HR: Starling Marte (13)

September 18, 2014

Get Up Everybody and Sing

Yesterday was Roberto Clemente Day, a day to celebrate not only a great baseball player but a self-sacrificing humanitarian. Pittsburgh beat writers would spell out his Spanish accent when quoting him, but Clemente rose above such petty bigotry. He lost his life when a plane delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims crashed. Clemente said, “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”

I know Clemente wasn’t part of the “We Are Family” team, but I thought his achievements should be celebrated.

Rusney Castillo made his major league debut in center field. He had four at bats: a ground out to Russell Martin in the second, a single in the fourth with two down and a man on, a fly ball out to center to lead off the seventh, and another ground out to start off the ninth. It wasn’t an electrifying premiere, but he has been bouncing around from team to team while trying to adjust to a whole new world. It will take time for him to learns the ins and outs of the show.

Castillo displayed fielding prowess in the fifth inning. Francisco Liriano, the pitcher of all people, got good wood on a fly ball to left-center that Castillo had to chase down and backhand before it got by him.

Bryce Brentz pinch hit for Clay Buchholz to start the fifth inning and laced a double to the left field corner. That led to Boston’s only run of the game. Mookie Betts lifted a fly ball to right that Brentz tagged up on. Xander Bogaerts grounded out to plate the debutante. Brentz, Betts, Bogaerts: the new killer Bs?

Later Brentz proudly showed off his (fake) souvenir.

Game 152: September 17, 2014
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Clay Buchholz (8-9)
2B: Bryce Brentz (1)
WinPittsburgh Pirates
9 W: Francisco Liriano (6-10)
2B: Ike Davis (16), Clint Barmes (5), Andrew McCutchen (36), Josh Harrison (36)
HR: Gregory Polanco (7), Neil Walker (21), Davis (11)

September 17, 2014

Designated Hurter

Pitchers are specialists. They spend about a decade honing their craft and even then they may not be successful in the majors. So it’s always a treat to see an American League pitcher flail away in a National League park. General managers from the American League must grimace when their prized assets attempt a bunt, swing, or jaunt on the bases (should they even reach). Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred’s first act should allowing the senior circuit to have designated hitters.

Pitchers like Mark Melancon, who were middling in the AL but outstanding in the NL, would suffer. But with the overall downturn in offensive production a designated hitter added to 15 teams may help.

Pitchers can’t multitask but this fan can. He snared a foul ball off Travis Snider’s bat in the first inning while talking on the phone. With the expanded rosters the Red Sox could add him along with Rusney Castillo, Bryce Brentz, Garin Cecchini, Ryan Lavarnway, Edwin Escobar, and Heath Hembree.

Pirate Parrot sprayed Silly String on this young Red Sox fan. It was an amusing antic but not a terribly nuanced act.

The MLB mascot that is outdoing all his peers is Orbit of the Houston Astros. When he’s not trying to taunt David Ortiz he’s playing dolls with Jose Bautista. Here’s a gibe at 50 Cent.

Your move, Pirate Parrot.

Game 151: September 16, 2014
Boston Red Sox
0 L: Anthony Ranaudo (3-3)
2B: Daniel Nava (19), Yoenis Cespedes (35), Christian Vazquez (8), Allen Craig (20), Will Middlebrooks (10)
WinPittsburgh Pirates
4 W: Charlie Morton (6-12)
H: Bobby LaFromboise (2), Jared Hughes (12), John Holdzkom (3)
2B: Neil Walker (25)
HR: Russell Martin (10), Starling Marte (12)

September 15, 2014

Let Me Be Your Ruler

This blue man troupe is more scary than inspiring. They look as if they should be participating in anti-establishment protests, not rooting for the Royals. “Jason Vargas, you pitch well or you’ll find your bank account depleted, the funds diverted to the Kansas City Costume Company.”

This Red Sox fan had a fantastic sign where he would change out the name depending on who was at bat. He needed to look a little closer at Christian Vazquez’s surname, however.

The Red Sox fell behind in the second inning when Eric Hosmer barely cleared the center field wall for a three-run homer. Jarrod Dyson tacked on another run with an RBI ground out to Mookie Betts, who played second base again.

The Red Sox came roaring back in the third inning. Xander Bogaerts sent the ball to the left field seats to score three runs. With the score 4-3 in the Royals’ favor Daniel Nava stepped into the box in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two out. Nava clouted the ball over Lorenzo Cain’s head and gave his team an 8-4 advantage.

The series finale was a topsy-turvy affair where the last-place team bested the playoff contender. Mike Moustakas, a Gold Glove finalist, made multiple errors that led to Red Sox runs. If the Royals do make the playoffs, their pitching and defense has to right itself to be successful.

Game 150: September 14, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
8 W: Joe Kelly (4-4)
HR: Xander Bogaerts (12), Daniel Nava (4)
Kansas City Royals
4 L: Jason Vargas (11-9)
BS: Aaron Crow (3)
2B: Alex Gordon (31)
HR: Eric Hosmer (8)

Tigers on a Gold Leash

The Royals finally displayed why they are contending for a playoff spot in Saturday’s game. Jeremy Guthrie went eight innings and only allowed three hits while striking out two and walking one. The sole run the Red Sox scored came by way of Mike Moustakas’s error in the third inning.

Mookie Betts reached first when Moustakas played his grounder to the side. Betts dashed to third base when David Ortiz singled to right and Yoenis Cespedes lofted the ball to center field to plate the Red Sox second baseman.

Yes, for the first time in his major league career Betts started at second base. Despite not playing the infield for a few months his skills hadn’t diminished. He made a nifty play on Alex Gordon’s sharp grounder in the sixth inning.

Matt Barnes didn’t have as good an outing as his Fenway debut. In one inning he gave up three hits, two earned runs, and a walk. On the plus side, he struck out the side and has eclectic taste in music.

Lorenzo Cain scored both times he reached base. He even had a laugh at his own expense when he got himself stuck behind the tarp attempting to catch Daniel Nava’s foul ball. The Royals won’t be so happy if they find themselves any further behind the Tigers in the AL Central or the Mariners in the wild card race.

Game 149: September 13, 2014
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Rubby De La Rosa (4-7)
No extra base hits
WinKansas City Royals
7 W: Jeremy Guthrie (11-11)
2B: Alcides Escobar (31), Lorenzo Cain (27), Salvador Perez (27), Alex Gordon (30)

September 13, 2014

We’ve Cracked the Code

Allen Webster continued in Clay Buchholz’s winning ways and the Kansas City defense carried on their ineffective fielding in Friday evening’s contest. Webster faltered in the fourth by allowing a leadoff walk to to Alex Gordon and then a home run to Eric Hosmer, but those were the only runs the home team could muster.

Webster may not be the most imposing pitcher on the mound but he has turned his game around in September. In August he had two outings where he gave up six earned runs. In this non-contending year John Farrell had the time to stick with Webster and see if the starter could live up to his promise. With a successful run in September he could cement his spot in the 2015 starting rotation. But someone please set him up with Pedro Martinez to learn about mound presence.

Webster could use some meat on his bones, too. Kansas City-style barbecue could help with that. Thank you, Henry Perry, the Barbecue King, and to Charlie and Arthur Bryant, who carried on Perry’s tradition of tomato and molasses-based sauce.

Yordano Ventura is a Dominican-born rookie from whom Webster could take a few lessons from in terms of confidence. But that self-assuredness probably comes from his ability to deliver high-90s heat. In the seventh inning he snagged a screaming comebacker off Xander Bogaerts’s bat. It’s amazing either one of them had the reflexes to react in that volley.

Jemile Weeks batting ninth and transitioning over to Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot has worked out well. Weeks has been atypically productive and last night went 2-for-3 (two doubles) with two runs scored and a walk. Betts was 2-for-4 with a run batted in and a run scored.

Koji Uehara made his return in the eighth inning and had a perfect frame. Despite his recent troubles and Edward Mujica’s saves I would still prefer to see Uehara in the closer’s role in 2015.

Game 148: September 12, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Allen Webster (4-3)
H: Tommy Layne (7), Burke Badenhop (11), Koji Uehara (1)
S: Edward Mujica (6)
2B: Jemile Weeks – 2 (3), Mookie Betts (8)
Kansas City Royals
2 L: Yordana Ventura (12-10)
HR: Eric Hosmer (7)

September 12, 2014

No Postcode Envy

Well, perhaps a little envy exists for the Royals, who are battling for the AL Central pennant against the Detroit Tigers. Kansas City looked like anything but a team poised for the playoffs; the defense gave up two runs because of errors.

Will Middlebrooks scored in the second inning when Eric Hosmer let Christian Vazquez’s grounder slip between his legs into right field.

Vazquez led off the fourth inning and reached first because Alcides Escobar couldn’t get a handle on Vazquez’s ground ball. Mookie Betts singled to Mike Moustakas, who threw poorly to Hosmer. Vazquez took third on the error but was thrown out at home by Moustakas. In prior games this sort of nascent rally would be staunched easily but David Ortiz ripped a single up the middle to plate Betts and give his team a two-run lead.

In the eighth frame Jemile Weeks tallied his first double of the season. It was a clutch clout that Hosmer couldn’t nab before it escaped down the right field line. Middlebrooks and Vazquez, who both worked walks, scored on the scorcher.

Even though the Red Sox have the worst record in the AL East they can surprise with a win against a division leader like the Royals when Clay Buchholz pitches as well as he has been. Tigers and Athletics fans, address your thank you cards to 4 Yawkey Way.

Game 147: September 11, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
6 W: Clay Buchholz (8-8)
H: Tommy Layne (6), Junichi Tazawa (16)
S: Edward Mujica (5)
2B: Will Middlebrooks (9), Jemile Weeks (1)
3B: Yoenix Cespedes (6)
Kansas City Royals
3 L: Liam Hendriks (1-2)
2B: Nori Aoki (19), Lorenzo Cain (26)

September 11, 2014

Mr. Jones and Me

It’s better to give than receive. Just as Ryan gave Reese a baseball a few weeks ago these two girls gave away a ball they got from the ball attendant.

Brandon Workman was also feeling generous and gave the Orioles batters hits by the bushel. Baltimore batted around and more in the third inning. Adam Jones knocked in two runs single-handedly in the frame with a slicing liner down the left field line. Jones went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. He was only bettered by Ryan Flaherty’s 4-for-5 showing, also with two runs driven in and a run.

Wei-Yin Chen was not so altruistic. He didn’t give up a hit or walk until the sixth inning. The catcher did it. Dan Butler doubled off the Green Monster, just to the right of the Jimmy Fund logo, to break up Chen’s perfect game. It was his first hit in the big leagues.

NESN showed off its 4k cameras and how they cover all the action on the infield even if the camera operators are not trained on the play. It would have been ideal to see the little things Dustin Pedroia does to support his team defensively, but he was not in the lineup.

Jemile Weeks filled in for Pedroia at second base as the regular starter underwent a first dorsal compartment release and a tenosynovectomy. Pedroia’s left wrist had been out of sorts since the home opener. A tenosynovectomy involves removing the inflamed parts of the tendon sheath. I remember this plagued Nomar Garciaparra in the latter part of his career and reduced his production from a Hall of Famer to the hall of what could have been. I hope someone speaks to Pedroia about pushing too hard during recovery that could negatively impact his career and uses Garciaparra as an example.

Game 146: September 10, 2014
WinBaltimore Orioles
10 W: Wei-Yin Chen (15-4)
S: Darren O’Day (3)
2B: Adam Jones – 2 (28), Steve Pearce (23), Nelson Cruz (27), Kelly Johnson (12), Ryan Flaherty (11)
HR: Caleb Joseph (9)
Boston Red Sox
6 L: Brandon Workman (1-9)
2B: Dan Butler – 2 (2), David Ortiz (27), Xander Bogaerts (27), Daniel Nava (18)
HR: Xander Bogaerts (11), Carlos Rivero (1)

September 10, 2014

Don’t Call My Name Alejandro

Thanks to my friend I got to enjoy last night’s game. Thanks to Alejandro De Aza it wasn’t was entertaining as it could have been. De Aza has worked his way from obscurity to relevance. Starting with the Marlins, spending some time with the White Sox, and then finally being traded to the contending Orioles is a journey many players would envy.

Anthony Ranaudo should wear a shirt that says, “De Aza is my Daddy.” The rookie starter surrendered two homers to the Orioles left fielder. Ranaudo came up short on a night where the immortal Pedro Martinez was honored with a bobblehead.

Batting practice was fun. Nelson Cruz was hammering moonshots over the wall with his boomstick to these fans’ delight.

What a roller-coaster ride these past few seasons has been. From worst to first to worst again. Just a year ago Koji Uehara was mowing down batters at a historic pace, John Lackey and Jon Lester were an near-unstoppable one-two punch, and veteran and rookie hitters joinced forces to knock in timely hits. But what was once a humming machine has broken down into humdrum parts.

Thankfully there are a few replacement parts that can be swapped in to get the Red Sox back on track. Matt Barnes made his major league debut, pitching three innings and allowing only three hits while striking out two and walking none.

Carlos Rivero notched his first major league hit when he spelled Will Middlebrooks at third base when the regular third baseman took ill. Rivero went 2-for-2, which included a double in the final frame.

Andrew Miller was injured early in 2013 and wasn’t a factor in the Red Sox’s playoff run. He did, however, suffer through the 2011 collapse and the 2012 catastrophe, so he went through enough to deserve a ring. Miller was dealt to the Orioles and has been an essential part of Baltimore’s bullpen, but it’s hard for me to see Baltimore winning it all because of their inconsistent offense.

On my way home from the game a mother and father with their two kids were on the T. The father asked his older son what he liked better, riding the subway or going to the game. The kid didn’t answer at first but finally said, “The subway. The Red Sox stink.”

“Yeah they do,” replied his dad.

I was surprised how unresponsive the crowd was with David Ortiz’s two key at bats. There were no chants of “Papi” when he batted in the third inning with two out and two on. Nor was there the rhythmic clapping in the fifth inning when he had a chance to give his team a one-run lead with a single swing.

That stunk. Yes it did.

Game 145: September 9, 2014
WinBaltimore Orioles
4 W: Chris Tillman (12-5)
H: Evan Meek (3), Andrew Miller (20), Brad Bach (5)
S: Zach Britton (34)
2B: Nelson Cruz (26), Steve Pearce (22), Alejandro De Aza (20)
HR: De Aza – 2 (7), Adam Jones (25)
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Anthony Ranaudo (3-2)
2B: Daniel Nava (17), Carlos Rivero (1)
HR: Xander Bogaerts (10)


Balloons and buffoonery are readily available at Fenway Park these days.

With two down and the bases loaded Ryan Flaherty tapped the ball to Mike Napoli. Napoli relayed to Xander Bogaerts, who got Steve Pearce out but was taken out by the slide. Bogaerts’s throw was off-target and Joe Kelly couldn’t get a glove on the ball. Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis scored on the muddled play.

Yoenis Cespedes can be electrifying on the field but sometimes when he is fielding his brain goes into cruise control. The left fielder has tremendous physical gifts but needs to hone his focus on defensive plays. He flubbed a can of corn off Adam Jones’s bat in the seventh inning that led to Alejandro De Aza scoring from third. This came on the heels of David Ross’s throw to second to try to catch De Aza stealing that ended up in the outfield.

It’s bad enough when the players err but then fans try to make themselves part of the game. Christian Vazquez made the catch of Jonathan Schoop’s pop-up in foul territory in the eighth inning despite this fan trying to take the ball away from him.

Game 144: September 8, 2014
WinBaltimore Orioles
4 W: Miguel Gonzalez (9-7)
H: Tommy Hunter (8)
2B: Ryan Flaherty (10)
Boston Red Sox
0 L: Joe Kelly (3-4)
2B: David Ortiz (26)

September 7, 2014

Joey Bats

Steven Wright took over for Rubby De La Rosa in the fifth inning. With R.A. Dickey pitching for the Blue Jays it was the first time there were two knuckleballers opposing each other since Charlie Haeger of the White Sox relieved Jon Garland on July 22, 2007 in a game that Tim Wakefield started. The Red Sox defeated Chicago 8-5 that day but didn’t come through with a victory today.

De La Rosa was chased from the game by Jose Bautista’s three-run moonshot in the fifth inning. Gose had led off with a walk and Jose Reyes singled to center just prior to Bautista’s 31st homer of the season.

Wright lasted longer than De La Rosa, turning in five innings with two hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. He even picked off Reyes in the seventh inning.

Dickey went seven innings with a line of six hits, one earned run, no walks, and four whiffs. As annoying as it is to see a team in the division have success, I still enjoy it when one who throws the butterfly ball does well.

I hope this kid isn’t around when Yankee fans start chanting “Boston sucks!”

Game 143: September 7, 2014
WinToronto Blue Jays
3 W: R.A. Dickey (12-12)
H: Brett Cecil (21)
S: Casey Janssen (22)
HR: Jose Bautista (31)
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Rubby De La Rosa (4-6)
2B: Daniel Nava (16), Mookie Betts (7)


Clay Buchholz displayed flashes of his former self on Saturday evening. John Farrell pulled him in the seventh inning after the pitcher led off the frame by hitting Danny Valencia and inducing a pop out to second from Kevin Pillar. Up to that point Buchholz had fanned five, walked two batters, and gave up four hits.

Craig Breslow relieved Buchholz and surrendered a home run to pinch hitter Colby Rasmus. The outfielder wrapped the ball around Pesky’s Pole to pull his team within a run. Farrell called on a trio of Boston relievers who did what Breslow failed to do; the Blue Jays were held scoreless from that point. Burke Badenhop, Drake Britton, and Edward Mujica only allowed a hit and two walks in their combined 2⅔ frames.

Another player making good on his potential was Will Middlebrooks. The third baseman singled with the bases loaded in the second inning to give his team the lead 2-1. He worked a walk in the fourth and scored on Christian Vazquez’s high double off the wall that made the score 4-1, the key run of the game.

Mookie Betts has been doing so well he batted leadoff. He went 1-for-4, but it was a ringing triple, his first in the majors, over Anthony Gose’s head. Betts also made a splendid diving grab to end the eighth inning. The catch of Pillar’s listless liner was crucial as the Blue Jays had runners at first and second and trailed Boston by a single run.

The game was delayed by an hour and 12 minutes due to thunderstorms. Good things come to those who wait.

This fan can attest to that.

But how much longer can the Red Sox wait for Middlebrooks to reach his potential?

Game 142: September 6, 2014
Toronto Blue Jays
3 L: J.A. Happ (9-9)
2B: Dioner Navarro (19), Jose Bautista (25)
HR: Colby Rasmus (18)
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Clay Buchholz (7-8)
H: Burke Badenhop (10), Drake Britton (1)
S: Edward Mujica (4)
2B: Yoenis Cespedes (34), Christian Vazquez (7)
3B: Mookie Betts (1)

September 6, 2014


Who were the bigger stars, Ryan and Reese or Yoenis Cespedes?

Ryan was the boy who gave a little girl named Reese a foul ball off Christian Vazquez’s bat in the fourth inning.

It was truly heartwarming. When the ball attendant recovered the ball Reese looked at her hopefully but Ryan was closer. Ryan seemed to sense Reese had wanted the ball and immediately gave it to her.

Ryan and Reese’s was not the only storybook ending.

In the top half of the tenth inning the Blue Jays broke the 6-6 tie. Red Sox killer Edwin Encarnacion singled to left and John Gibbons had pitcher Marcus Stroman pinch run for him. That switch worked better than when Terry Francona used Clay Buchholz as a baserunner on August 14, 2009 and Buchholz was thrown out at home. Stroman scored on Dioner Navarro’s infield single that had Dustin Pedroia acting the contortionist as he tried to throw towards home.

John Mayberry tagged up on Danny Valencia’s fly ball to right. Allen Craig didn’t seem to realize there were only two outs with his catch. He didn’t get the ball back to the infield in time to stop the insurance run from scoring.

Three Red Sox rookies, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Vazquez, singled in succession in the bottom of the 10th. Vazquez’s single was supposed to have been a sacrifice bunt but he cunningly popped the ball over first baseman Juan Francisco’s head to exploit Steve Tolleson’s positioning. A player seeking to salvage his career, Will Middlebrooks, singled to left to plate Betts and pull Boston within a run.

Pedroia has been on fire since his return; he went 2-for-5 in this game. In his last at bat he lifted a fly ball into left field and Bogaerts crossed the plate to tie the game. David Ortiz reached on an error by Tolleson at second base, which loaded the bases for Cespedes.

Cespedes crushed the ball to center field. It bounced on the warning track and into the center field stands to push in pinch runner Jemile Weeks for the victory.

Storybook endings, indeed.

Game 141: September 5, 2014 ∙ 10 innings
Toronto Blue Jays
8 H: Brandon Morrow (1), Daniel Norris (1)
BS: Aaron Loup (5)
BS, L: Casey Janssen (5, 3-3)
2B: Ryan Goins (4), John Mayberry (8)
HR: Jose Bautista (30), Edwin Encarnacion (30)
WinBoston Red Sox
9 W: Tommy Layne (2-1)
2B: Yoenis Cespedes (33), Mike Napoli (20), Xander Bogaerts (26), Dustin Pedroia (33)

September 5, 2014

Lack of Closure

Koji Uehara surrendered back-to-back home runs in the ninth for his fifth blown save in 2014. In 2013 he only had three save attempts scuttled. John Farrell was considering shutting down the closer for the rest of the season but instead he will be removed from the closing role in favor of Edward Mujica.

It was a great run, but I think most Red Sox fans have been expecting Uehara’s eventual decline. At least we were able to witness a breathtaking season and championship with him at his best.

Despite two home runs from David Ortiz the Red Sox could not fend off the Yankees. Ortiz faked a bunt before his first inning solo shot.

Brock Holt contributed a leadoff homer to start the fifth inning. On the defensive side in the same frame he made a stupendous catch of Jacoby Ellsbury’s liner over the middle. Both Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts were in pursuit but only Holt could follow the ball’s trajectory.

This brief breath of hope the Yankees experienced in this series win will make it all the more sweet when the Red Sox eliminate them in the last series of the season at Fenway Park.

Game 140: September 4, 2014
Boston Red Sox
4 H: Tommy Layne (5), Junichi Tazawa (15)
BS, L: Koji Uehara (5, 6-5)
2B: Christian Vazquez (6)
HR: David Ortiz – 2 (32), Brock Holt (4)
WinNew York Yankees
5 W: Adam Warren (3-5)
2B: Brett Gardner (21)
HR: Mark Teixeira (21), Chase Headley (11)

September 4, 2014


Carlos Beltran has seen the weirdest things in his at bats. He had the bat in his hands when Kolten Wong was picked off of first base to end Game 4 of the 2013 World Series. He had taken ball from Anthony Ranaudo when Christian Vazquez popped up to catch Brett Gardner stuck between first and second.

Gardner tried to draw out the rundown so that Derek Jeter could presumably steal home (as if this were possible these days). Jemile Weeks saw that Jeter strayed too far from third base and pivoted away from the Gardner imbroglio to get the ball to Brock Holt, who tagged Jeter.

The split second Holt secured third and he turned his attention back to Gardner. Gardner’s speed couldn’t save him from Allen Craig’s tag.

To me the “2” the Yankees are wearing to honor Jeter isn’t for the retiring shortstop but for that amazing, improbable double play. It also is representative of the intelligence quotient of someone who continues to allow Jeter to bat in the two-hole.

Despite being a rookie Vazquez has a commanding presence behind the plate. He handles his fellow rookies well and isn’t shy about showing his cannon of an arm. In the sixth inning he doggedly pursued Gardner’s foul pop-up to the netting and made a nifty jumping catch.

It would have been nice to beat the Yankees again to put them further behind in the wild card race, but watching our youthful team against the aging Bronx Bromides is also satisfying.

Game 139: September 3, 2014
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Anthony Ranaudo (3-1)
2B: Brock Holt (23)
WinNew York Yankees
5 W: Hiroki Kuroda (10-8)
3B: Jacoby Ellsbury (4)
HR: Brian McCann (17)

September 3, 2014

Bogeyman and Mookie Monster

Xander Bogaerts had a brilliant showing: 4-for-5 with a home run, double, and an RBI single. He outplayed his counterpart at shortstop but for one play.

In the fifth inning Joe Kelly suddenly lost command of the strike zone, perhaps because he had to pitch from the stretch. Carlos Beltran led off with a single and Brian McCann took advantage of the shift and bunted his way on.

Martin Prado blasted the ball over Yoenis Cespedes’s glove but neither Beltran or McCann scored and Prado ran into the first out. Cespedes unintentionally deked the runners into an improbable tag play.

Kelly walked eight- and nine-hole hitters, the first bases on balls of the entire evening for the Red Sox hurler. After a visit from Juan Nieves Kelly settled down to induce a line out off Jacoby Ellsbury’s bat to Bogaerts. But then Derek Jeter entered the batter’s box with the bases loaded and knocked one of his patented infield singles to Bogaerts. Jeter was called out by Tim Welke but the replay showed he indeed beat Bogaerts’s throw to first.

But it was not an evening where mystique and aura revisited the Bronx. Instead we saw a freak out and horror. Brett Gardner was tossed after Jeter’s RBI single for hurling his helmet in response to Tim Timmons’s called third strike.

Another rookie, Mookie Betts, had an impressive showing. Batting in the two-hole in place of Dustin Pedroia has not daunted Betts. He went 3-for-5 with a homer. On the defensive side he made an excellent snare of Mark Teixeira’s fly ball to the warning track in the fourth inning.

Thanks to the rookies as well as Daniel Nava’s three-run blast in the third inning the Red Sox trounced the Yankees. New York is trying to keep pace in the wild card race and one of the few things left for Boston fans to cheer for is keeping the Yankees out of the playoffs.

Game 138: September 2, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
9 W: Joe Kelly (3-3)
2B: Yoenis Cespedes (32), Xander Bogaerts (25)
3B: Cespedes (5)
HR: Daniel Nava (5), Bogaerts (9), Mookie Betts (4)
New York Yankees
4 L: Shane Greene (4-2)
HR: Martin Prado (10), Brian McCann (16)

September 2, 2014

One and Done

If you thought that the Red Sox have played a lot of close games this season you’d be right. The team has played an AL-high 50 one-run games this year and the results haven’t been as awful as I thought: 25-25. In 2013 Boston played 42 one-run games with a 21-21 mark. Baltimore ranks first in one-run wins with 27 and Boston is second.

Raymond showed more excitement about this game than the reported 10,543 in attendance.

These teams were nearly equal in futility. They split this 4-game weekend wraparound series. The Rays scored 15 runs in total and the Red Sox scored 14. Each team had a strangely symmetrical 28 hits and 25 runners left on base.

Jemile Weeks made his Red Sox debut and didn’t cover himself in glory. He pinch ran for Christian Vazquez in the 10th inning but was picked off by Grant Balfour.

The Rays capitalized on their extra-inning opportunity. John Farrell had Burke Badenhop intentionally walk two batters so that the onus was on the fielders rather than the pitcher to get the last outs. Matt Joyce lined the ball over Yoenis Cespedes with the bases loaded to plate the winning run. Joyce didn’t even get a bath from a Gatorade cooler but from individual bottles.

Game 137: September 1, 2014 ∙ 10 innings
Boston Red Sox
3 L: Burke Badenhop (0-3)
2B: Mookie Betts (6), Xander Bogaerts (24)
HR: Mike Napoli (17)
WinTampa Bay Rays
4 H: Brad Boxberger (18), Jeff Beliveau (2)
BS: Steve Geltz (1)
W: Grant Balfour (2-6)
2B: Wil Myers (11), Ryan Hanigan (9)

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