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Home » Category Listing » April 2015 Game Comments

April 30, 2015

Heavens to Betts

Rick Porcello pitched his best game in a Red Sox uniform so far: 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. The only extra base hit he gave up, a double off Kevin Pillar’s bat in the second inning, was converted into a the only run the Blue Jays scored.

Porcello wasn’t on the 2006 Tigers team whose pitchers failed to field on the grandest of stages, the World Series. But perhaps he is somewhat touched by the legacy of Detroit pitchers’ poor fielding. Porcello failed to touch the bag to complete Mike Napoli’s assist in the second. This allowed Pillar to reach third base.

It seemed that Porcello was on his way to another poor outing. He hit Dalton Pompey with a pitch to load the bases. Then Josh Thole laced the ball to center, which plate Pillar.

Thole swiped third base with Ryan Goins at the plate, but even then Porcello did not lose focus. Goins sent the ball up the middle for Dustin Pedroia to gobble up. Pedroia dashed to second to start the double play and fired to Napoli to end the inning.

Koji Uehara returned to 2013 form last night. He earned his fourth save by striking out the side.

But the play that will be best remembered happened in the third inning. Devon Travis must have thought he had at least a double when he sent the ball to center field. Mookie Betts ran at full sprint towards the center field wall to intercept the ball. When he got to his last step before the warning track he leaped to snare the ball. He turned his body in time to lay supine at the base of the wall. He nonchalantly lifted his glove to show the umpires he made the catch.

Whenever there is an outstanding catch in center people always evoke Willie Mays’s name. And in this situation it is warranted.

Game 22: April 29, 2015
Toronto Blue Jays
1 L: R.A. Dickey (0-3)
2B: Kevin Pillar (7)
WinBoston Red Sox
4 W: Rick Porcello (2-2)
H: Junichi Tazawa (5)
S: Koji Uehara (4)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (10)

Buch Off

Clay Buchholz had another frustrating start in Tuesday evening’s game. He lasted just 2⅔ innings with 6 hits, 4 earned runs, a walk, and 4 strikeouts. The bullpen didn’t help contain the Blue Jays, either. All of them except Robbie Ross, Jr. surrendered at least one run.

What is Hanley Ramirez looking at in the lofty heights besides his slugging percentage?

Could it be Buchholz’s ever burgeoning ERA?

Or perhaps Jose Bautista’s monstrous foul ball that broke a light in a sign?

It may even be Mookie Betts’s IQ.

Game 21: April 28, 2015
WinToronto Blue Jays
11 W: Marco Estrada (1-0)
H: Liam Hendriks (1)
S: Brett Cecil (1)
2B: Kevin Pillar (6)
3B: Ryan Goins (1)
HR: Jose Bautista (5), Josh Donaldson (5)
Boston Red Sox
8 L: Clay Buchholz (1-3)
2B: Pablo Sandoval – 2 (4), Mookie Betts (4), David Ortiz (3)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (9)

April 28, 2015

Solid Betts

When will the Red Sox win again? When pandas fly.

Pablo Sandoval not only made this outstanding catch in the fifth inning but clouted his first home run at Fenway Park. The line shot cleared the fences in right. If this were San Franciso it could have been caught if the outfielder shaded Sandoval correctly.

With his recent blown save Koji Uehara might have wished he pitched in a spacious ballpark like AT&T. But he was back in form in the top of the ninth, dispatching Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar, and Dalton Pompey without fuss.

Mookie Betts stepped into the box in the bottom of the ninth with one out and men at first and second base. Miguel Castro, the pitcher who opposed Betts, uncorked a wild pitch to allow the runners to advance. Betts got the pitch he needed and sent it back up the middle to plate Xander Bogaerts.

Betts would have been Bogaerts’s double play partner if Dustin Pedroia were not entrenched at the keystone sack. Instead they are a relentless batting combination. If a pitcher doesn’t get Bogaerts and the nine-hole hitter out he will have to face Betts.

Game 20: April 27, 2015
Toronto Blue Jays
5 H: Aaron Loup (2)
BS: Roberto Osuna (1)
L: Miguel Castro (0-2)
2B: Russell Martin (3), Kevin Pillar (5)
HR: Devon Travis (6)
WinBoston Red Sox
6 W: Koji Uehara (2-1)
2B: David Ortiz (2), Mookie Betts (3)
HR: Pablo Sandoval (2)

April 27, 2015

Gray Day

As much as I love baseball the events in Baltimore around the death of Freddie Gray are all I can think about.

Most of what I know about the city is from “The Wire” and “Ace of Cakes.” So for an inside look into the city and the intersection of sports and politics please read David Zirin’s article “Camden Yards and the Baltimore Protests for Freddie Gray.”

Here are a few excerpts:

But before we go to the baseball field, let’s make one thing clear: Most everything the media reported about the Baltimore protests has skirted the line between the highly sensationalistic and the libelous. Every headline and photo has focused on property damage, allegedly done by those protesting for Freddie Gray. Played down or ignored is the Baltimore I saw: a place where more than 2,000 people—including families and children—marched resolutely while helicopters and visible surveillance drones flew overhead.
That story, the one where a portion of the city—the black, economically ignored portion—lives in dread of police violence and were marching not just for Freddie Gray but against the history of the Baltimore PD, was not the story the media chose to tell.
Camden Yards morphed from a field into a fortress. It became a stadium dividing a city between haves and have-nots: a barrier erected on the foundations of racial and economic inequality dressed in the trappings of spectacle and sports. That it was built with the tax dollars of those on both sides of the divide just makes the situation all the more dismal.

I hope the investigation into Gray’s death is thorough and that anyone who is at fault faces justice. Don’t allow another city to be added to the litany of places where police brutality goes unchecked.

Game 19: April 26, 2015
Boston Red Sox
7 L: Wade Miley (1-2)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (4)
HR: Pablo Sandoval (1), Hanley Ramirez – 2 (8)
WinBaltimore Orioles
18 W: Bud Norris (1-2)
2B: Chris Davis (5), Rey Navarro (2), Delmon Young (2), Jimmy Paredes (4)
3B: Paredes (1)
HR: Davis (4)

A Tense Ten

The Orioles were triumphant but the people of the City of Baltimore lost. Protests around Freddie Gray turned violent while an ultimately meaningless sport played out on the field. There’s losing a game and then there’s losing one’s life. For many people in Charm City it means losing the peace of mind that their city’s police force holds the citizenry’s safety above all else.

Orioles chief operating officer John P. Angelos tweeted about the situation.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance and other abuses of the bill of rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kid’s game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the US and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic, civil and legal rights and this … makes inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

Given his passion and empathy for people Angelos is wasted as a baseball executive. We need someone like him running police departments or shaping public policy, not arguing about arbitration.

Game 18: April 25, 2015 ∙ 10 innings
Boston Red Sox
4 BS, L: Koji Uehara (1, 1-1)
HR: Mike Napoli (1), Xander Bogaerts (1)
WinBaltimore Orioles
5 BS: Zach Britton (1)
W: Brian Matusz (1-2)
2B: Alejandro De Aza (2), Jimmy Paredes (3), Manny Machado (3)
3B: Adam Jones (1)
HR: Paredes (3), David Lough (3)

April 25, 2015

Two Out Thaumaturgy

Wally isn’t the most iconic or entertaining mascot, but he is a sight better than the B’more Luchador and The Oriole Bird. That is his actual name, folks.

With this farcical pair leading the crowd at Camden Yards I can see why the local nine’s rally fell short.

Brian Matusz was likely blinded by the pale luchador’s glow, causing him to walk Pablo Sandoval with two outs in the eighth. Manny Machado fell victim to the same radiance when he whiffed on Allen Craig’s bounding ball.

With two men on base Brock Holt lofted the ball over the right field wall to put Boston ahead 7-4. All the runs the Red Sox scored in this game came with two outs. The offensive outburst was welcome after a drought in the Trop where they scored seven runs in three games.

With so many games against AL East teams in April it is key to keep up with or outpace divisional rivals. Baltimore is at the bottom of the barrel after winning the pennant last year.

Game 17: April 24, 2015
WinBoston Red Sox
7 BS: Craig Breslow (2)
W: Alexi Ogando (1-0)
H: Junichi Tazawa (4)
S: Koji Uehara (3)
HR: David Ortiz (4), Hanley Ramirez (6), Brock Holt (1)
Baltimore Orioles
5 L: Brian Matusz (0-2)
2B: Rey Navarro (1)
HR: Jimmy Paredes (2), Chris Davis (3)

April 24, 2015

Squid Heads

The Rays’ likability has increased tremendously with the departure of Joe Maddon and the addition of Kevin Cash and Rocco Baldelli. Please, please, please Chris Archer start another brawl so we can hate you all again. The Red Sox need to pay for all the hard slides into second, right? Right?

Steven Souza, Jr. would be a great candidate to spark a basebrawl. He had no qualms about complaining to James Hoye about the calls he was getting and he’s a rookie. Someone needs to introduce a 95 MPH fastball to his ribs.

The Rays battled in the ninth for a walk-off win and there seemed to be more Red Sox fans in attendance than Rays fans. They really dressed for the occasion.

Fish head fish heads,
Roly poly fish heads,
Eat them up yum

They can’t play baseball
They won’t wear sweaters
They’re not good dancers
They don’t play drums

Hmm, okay, perhaps they do from time to time play drums.

Game 16: April 23, 2015
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Anthony Varvaro (0-1)
2B: Pablo Sandoval (2)
WinTampa Bay Rays
2 L: Chris Archer (2-2)
2B: Evan Longoria (5)

Tup of Joe

“Tup” is a rather vulgar word in British English but I don’t think I have readers across the pond. If I did, I don’t think they’d be scandalized by its use. For indeed, Joe Kelly was well and truly tupped in this game.

The Rays gained an early lead in the bottom of the first but Kelly contained them until the sixth inning. Kelly surrendered four straight singles and then walked Logan Forsythe with the bases loaded. Craig Breslow tried to stop the bleeding but rather ripped off the bandages (or plasters). Brandon Guyer lined a game-tying single to center, erasing the Red Sox’s four-run advantage.

One bright spot was David Ortiz’s fifth-inning blast. The Red Sox icon has amassed 469 home runs and 1,538 RBIs. He surpassed Chipper Jones for 32nd place in home runs and pulled ahead of Joe DiMaggio for 46th in runs batted in. But I’m sure Dustin Pedroia reminded Ortiz that so far this season he has four circuit clouts while the designated hitter only has three.

It is funny how the game can turn so quickly. I got onto a plane with the score 5-1. Thinking the lead safe and not wanting to pay for WiFi I entertained the thought of Boston not having dropped a series thus far in 2015 with a victory in this contest. When I switched my phone out of airplane mode the scores updated and mood deflated.

Game 15: April 22, 2015
Boston Red Sox
5 BS: Craig Breslow (1)
L: Edward Mujica (1-1)
2B: Mike Napoli (1), Ryan Hanigan (1)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (4), David Ortiz (3)
WinTampa Bay Rays
7 W: Brad Boxberger (1-1)
H: Kevin Jepsen (4)
S: Steve Geltz (1)
2B: Steven Souza Jr. (3)
HR: Souza (4), Jake Elmore (1)

Party in the U.S.A.

This team was constructed to bash its way to victories, not rely on pitching excellence to triumph in close games. Perhaps Wade Miley was tired about hearing how the Red Sox pitching staff had no aces?

Miley was visibly angry when John Farrell pulled the pitcher in the sixth inning with two outs on the board. Miley had allowed Brandon Guyer a single and then proceeded to load the bases by walking Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria. While I appreciated the passion that Miley displayed, Farrell’s decision to bring in Alexi Ogando to get Desmond Jennings out was the right one.

Jennings grounded into a force play, an outcome you could foresee with his three-year splits against left- and right-handed hurlers: .273/.359/.454 compared to .238/.309/.371.

What you might not have imagined was Pablo Sandoval’s leaping snare of Steven Souza, Jr.’s liner. Forget Kung Fu Panda, he’s Air Panda.

There are many storylines to weave with Ryan Hanigan: player with local connections as an Andover High School graduate, former Rays catcher, horse breeder, and dog fancier. But most importantly for this game was his single in the third inning as it was the catalyst for the only run of the evening.

Mookie Betts followed with a base on balls and Dustin Pedroia scorched the ball up the middle. Chris Archer tried to start the double play but Betts slid hard into Ryan Brett. Brett’s throw was off-target, allowing Hanigan to score and Pedroia to advance to second.

It was amusing to see balls hit up the middle right at Archer. He’s the sort of player that can’t stop himself from inciting controversy between the Rays and Red Sox. His temperament seems better suited to the 2015 Royals.

Game 14: April 21, 2015
WinBoston Red Sox
1 W: Wade Miley (1-1)
H: Alexi Ogando (2), Robbie Ross Jr. (2), Junichi Tazawa (3)
S: Koji Uehara (2)
2B: Shane Victorino (1)
Tampa Bay Rays
0 L: Chris Archer (2-2)
No extra base hits

April 21, 2015

Pay It Forward

This child should be an example to us all. Rather than keep the ball he got he gave it to a younger child.

The Baltimore Orioles took this lesson to heart and handed the Red Sox run after run. In the first inning Mookie Betts led off with a line drive single to first. He swiped second base. Ryan Lavarnway hated to see the young man have to steal so he gave Betts third base with a poor throw. David Ortiz sacrificed with a fly ball to right for the first run of the game.

The giving spirit continued in the third inning. Wei-Yin Chen allowed Xander Bogaerts to reach on a five-pitch walk. Bogaerts sprinted to third on Ryan Hanigan’s single lined to right. Chen bobbled Betts’s batted ball multiple times, allowing the center fielder to reach first and Bogaerts to score. The generous gaffe gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

Chen wasn’t out of gifts yet. He walked Allen Craig to load the bases and Mike Napoli to give the Red Sox an insurance run.

Manny Machado showed his own altruism by misplaying Shane Victorino’s grounder. A fan also interfered so only Betts and Craig scored as ruled by the umpiring crew.

The game was shortened to seven innings by rain. If only more games in the marathon that is the baseball season were curtailed like this one, particularly showdowns against division heavyweights like the Orioles.

The 2-2 series split is likely a harbinger for the 19 games these two squads will contest this season. Neither team is in top form yet, but when they are the pennant is at stake.

Game 13: April 20, 2015 ∙ 7 innings
Baltimore Orioles
1 L: Wei-Yin Chen (0-1)
2B: Ryan Flaherty (2), Jimmy Paredes (2)
3B: Travis Snider (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
7 W: Justin Masterson (2-0)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (3)

April 20, 2015

Fallen Umpires

Things were looking up in the bottom of the first. Hanley Ramirez launched a three-run jack into the Monster Seats to put his team ahead 3-2.

The celebration lasted until the fifth inning when Rick Porcello gave up a bushel of singles and a sacrifice fly to lose the lead. Adam Jones piled on in the sixth inning with a bases-clearing double that clanged off the far part of the left field wall.

Paul Emmel left the game with an undisclosed injury in the middle of the fourth inning. John Tumpane, who was at second base, replaced Emmel at home plate. With the switch there was a net loss of 11 years of major league umpiring experience behind the dish.

In the fifth inning David Ortiz took issue with third base umpire Jerry Meals’s ruling that he went around on a swing. Ortiz had done the same thing in the first inning and Emmel didn’t toss the designated hitter. Tumpane ejected Ortiz and the hitter made his displeasure known.

Pablo Sandoval played a part in the Orioles’ three-run onslaught in the sixth. Everth Cabrera bunted the ball down the third base line and it looked like it could go foul. Sandoval inexplicably scooped it up when it was still in fair territory.

I was hoping Sandoval would pull a Lenny Randle to perplex Meals.

Game 12: April 19, 2015
WinBaltimore Orioles
8 W: Miguel Gonzalez (2-1)
2B: Chris Davis (4), Adam Jones (3), Ryan Flaherty (1)
HR: Adam Jones (5), Flaherty (2)
Boston Red Sox
3 L: Rick Porcello (1-2)
2B: Pablo Sandoval (1)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (5)

April 19, 2015

Outpaced and Out Aced

Losing this game felt like a foul ball off the face. Just ask the kid who was tagged by Brock Holt’s foul ball in the third inning. Holt went 3-for-4 in the leadoff spot. Had other Red Sox players managed to get multiple hits off Chris Tillman and the Baltimore relievers they might have won, but only David Ortiz matched Holt’s production.

Tillman lapsed slightly in the sixth frame. Ortiz led off with a double to the low fences in right. Hanley Ramirez grounded out to short to advanced Ortiz to third base. Tillman didn’t concentrate on Pablo Sandoval’s grounder and failed to glove it. Ortiz crossed home plate and Sandoval was safe at first.

Clay Buchholz could have allowed many more runs to score than he did. He escaped bases loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings. If I had to choose between watching a Buchholz start and a sideline reporter segment on fashion tips, I would choose the latter.

Here Gary Striewski demonstrated that a pocket square can add some flash to a traditional suit. Ken Rosenthal exhibited a bowtie with lapel pin. The quirkiness of the bowtie shouldn’t compete with a pocket square or boutonnière, particularly when it’s a bowtie for a cause.

Game 11: April 18, 2015
WinBaltimore Orioles
4 W: Chris Tillman (2-1)
H: Brad Brach (1), Darren O’Day (3)
S: Zach Britton (4)
2B: Jimmy Paredes (1)
HR: Chris Davis (2)
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Clay Buchholz (1-2)
2B: David Ortiz (1)

April 18, 2015

How to Build a Team

Sign a player that will slide hard into second base to make sure his teammate has a chance of being safe at first.

Make sure said player has enough padding to take a pitch as a consequence of his hard slides.

Have a divisional rival with a feisty starting pitcher who feels he has to take the game in his own hands and mete out punishment for interrupting his middle infielders. Throw in a younger MLB umpire with an itchy trigger finger.

Go into a tight, tense game into the bottom of the ninth with the score tied. Ensure the leadoff hitter gets on base and bunt him over. Urge the superstar-in-making at short to knock in the winning run.


Game 10: April 17, 2015
Baltimore Orioles
2 L: Brian Matusz (0-1)
2B: Chris Davis (3)
HR: Caleb Joseph (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
3 W: Koji Uehara (1-0)
HR: Ryan Hanigan (1)

April 16, 2015

One Boston

Most people associate April 15 with the Internal Revenue Service deadline, but in baseball circles this day commemorates Jackie Robinson’s major league debut in 1947. In supposedly post-racial America we need to remember not to backslide into bigotry. Robinson said, “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.” These days with the killings of African Americans by police officers and the suicides of transgender people too frequent we need to replace the word “free” with “safe.”

In Boston, from now on April 15 will be One Boston Day. Two years ago Boston was shaken to its core by the Boston Marathon bombing. A week ago Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 charges he faced. Soon he will be sentenced and the death penalty is a possibility. I don’t typically support state-sponsored execution, but for him I make an exception.

This is Wade Miley. He lasted just two and a third innings while relinquishing five hits, seven earned runs, and three walks. Miley struck out one batter, though!

This is Robbie Ross, Jr. He pitched two innings of relief and surrendered three hits, two runs, and a base on balls.

Just kidding. The first picture is Ross and the photo above is Miley. I pulled a John Oliver Uruguay/Paraguay.

Seriously, Hanley Ramirez has to use his binoculars to tell the two southpaws apart.

Game 9: April 15, 2015
WinWashington Nationals
10 W: Gio Gonzalez (1-1)
2B: Bryce Harper (1), Wilson Ramos (2), Dan Uggla (2), Michael Taylor (3)
3B: Ryan Zimmerman (1)
HR: Ian Desmond (1), Tyler Moore (1)
Boston Red Sox
5 L: Wade Miley (0-1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (2), Brock Holt (2)
3B: Mike Napoli (1)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (4)

National Disaster

The Nationals defense and pitching collapsed in the seventh inning. Hanley Ramirez reached on Ian Desmond’s fielding error. Matt Thornton hit Shane Victorino but briefly collected himself to induce a fly ball out off Mike Napoli’s bat.

John Farrell pulled Daniel Nava in favor of Allen Craig and Matt Williams countered by relieving Thornton with Blake Treinen. Treinen hit Craig with the first pitch he threw. Ryan Hanigan tapped the ball back up the middle and most people scoring the game would have automatically marked the play “1-2,” as Treinen could have easily gotten Ramirez out at home.

But Treinen bobbled the ball and hastily threw it past Wilson Ramos. By the time the dust settled the Red Sox tied the score 7-7. Brock Holt grounded out to Desmond and this time he fielded it well enough to throw Holt out at first base, but Craig scored to give the local nine the lead.

Edward Mujica continued his dominance from the seventh inning, striking out Danny Espinosa to tally the first out of the eighth inning. Junicihi Tazawa allowed a single but escaped the frame otherwise unscathed. Koji Uehara made a triumphant return with a perfect ninth inning, although there was a scare on Ryan Zimmerman’s towering foul ball to left.

The Red Sox won the game on the field and Napoli was victorious in the War of the Beards with Jayson Werth. Napoli’s beard rivals Dan Haggerty’s.

Werth’s beard, while luxurious, is more akin to an Amish elder’s.

Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-2 but did get on base when Stephen Strasburg hit him in the foot in the third inning. Kung Fu Panda made sure Espinosa couldn’t turn a double play by taking the second baseman out. The Red Sox third baseman seemed to take out some of his frustrations on the play as well.

Red Sox fans are already latching onto Sandoval. No pandas were harmed in the making of these hats.

Ramirez is doing well offensively (2-for-5 in this game) but needs to learn how to play the ball off the left field wall better. He looks more like a visiting outfielder than someone who calls Fenway home. In the second inning Ramirez could have made a play on Desmond’s fly ball but the new left fielder couldn’t get his bearings.

Dick Bresciani saw better and worse plays in his many decades as a Red Sox employee. He passed away last year. The Red Sox named the press box in his honor.

Game 8: April 14, 2015
Washington Nationals
7 H: Craig Stammen (2), Matt Thornton (2)
BS, L: Blake Treinen (2, 0-1)
2B: Ian Desmond (3)
3B: Michael Taylor (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
8 W: Edward Mujica (1-0)
H: Junichi Tazawa (2)
S: Koji Uehara (1)
2B: Mookie Betts (2)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (3)

April 14, 2015

Safe Betts

Mookie Betts’s patience, legs, and bat were responsible for two runs in this game. He led off the bottom of the first with a five-pitch base on balls. With David Ortiz at the dish he stole second.

When he reached the keystone sack he realized he could make it to third base because the Nationals defense was in a shift for Ortiz and Jordan Zimmerman didn’t cover third base in time. Replays showed that Betts may have been out twice, but the video review team didn’t overturn the umpires’ calls.

But unlike the Indianapolis Colts crying “deflated balls,” the Nationals took their defeat in stride. If they had any concerns that Betts’s run was ill-gotten he more than made up for the second inning with a three-run homer.

Betts had first-hand knowledge that he had to get the ball high out of any outfielder’s reach. Had he gone to the bullpens in right field Bryce Harper or Michael Taylor could have Mookied him.

Not only did Betts have a breakout game but the Opening Ceremony was a triple threat of greatness. Pete Frates, originator of the Ice Bucket Challenge, was signed to a lifetime contract with the Red Sox. Players gave him jerseys from a spring training game with his name on the back to generate more funds for ALS research.

The Patriots visited with their fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy. Tom Brady boldly proclaimed his next goal on his chest with a large “5.” One for the thumb!

Pedro Martinez, who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame later this summer, gave the call to play ball. He faced off against future Hall of Famer Tom Brady in the batting practice cages. The quarterback made contact, another item he can add to his prestigious list, which includes marrying a supermodel, playing pickup basketball again Michael Jordan, and giving his fans a collective aneurysm by jumping off a cliff.

Game 7: April 13, 2015
Washington Nationals
4 L: Jordan Zimmerman (1-1)
3B: Clint Robinson (1)
HR: Ryan Zimmerman (2), Danny Espinosa (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
9 W: Rick Porcello (1-1)
HR: Mookie Betts (2), David Ortiz (2)

April 13, 2015

Calamitous Clay

In a rare turn of events the Red Sox-Yankees game was more bloody than a “Game of Thrones” episode. Only one high-profile character died in the premiere episode of the fifth season. In the Bronx Chase Headley, Stephen Drew, and Brian McCann all bloodied Boston pitchers with home runs.

At first I thought that Clay Buchholz and Masahiro Tanaka had swapped places, one having an excellent start the first week to fall to pieces to next and vice versa. But instead Buchholz proved maddeningly inconsistent by starting off brilliantly and falling off precipitously in his second start.

April 6: 7 innings pitched, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
April 12: 3⅓ innings pitched, 9 hits, 9 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
April 6: 4 innings pitched, 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
April 12: 5 innings pitched, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Tanaka, on the other hand, was consistently mediocre.

David Ortiz led off the fourth inning and advanced two bases on wild pitches. From second base he taunted Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox lost this game but won the series, so perhaps some of Ortiz’s ribbing was warranted.

Today the Red Sox welcome a pleasant change of scenery from the Bronx to Boston with their first game at Fenway in 2015. Hanley Ramirez, who homered in Stade Fasciste last night, will see how his swing fits in his new home. Pablo Sandoval and Ramirez can practice playing the devilish corners of left field. Rick Porcello will try for his first win in a Red Sox uniform.

Game 6: April 12, 2015
Boston Red Sox
4 L: Clay Buchholz (1-1)
2B: Xander Bogaerts (1)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (3)
WinNew York Yankees
14 W: Masahiro Tanaka (1-1)
2B: Alex Rodriguez (2)
HR: Chase Headley (2), Stephen Drew (1), Brian McCann (1)

April 12, 2015

Kicking Off the Campaign

The country is abuzz about Hillary Clinton’s not so surprising news that she will seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

Another player threw his hat into a different ring this weekend: Joe Kelly made the first statement in his case for the Cy Young with a seven-inning gem: one hit, one earned run, two walks, and eight strikeouts. The reigning American League Cy Young title holder, Corey Kluber, lasted six and a third innings against the Tigers with seven hits, two earned runs, a walk, and ten strikeouts.

Alex Rodriguez’s candidacy for Gold Glove at first base got off to a rocky start. In the second inning Mike Napoli led off with a grounder to Didi Gregorius, which the Yankees shortstop quickly tossed to Rodriguez for the out. Rodriguez couldn’t come up with the ball. Rodriguez’s hybrid mitt isn’t helping him adapt to this new defensive alignment.

Adam Warren induced consecutive ground ball outs to Pablo Sandoval and Allen Craig, but Napoli advanced to third base as a result. Daniel Nava lofted the ball to left field where Brett Gardner should have been ready to put an end to the inning. Gardner took a poor route from the start and ended up twisted in the outfield with Nava’s fly ball out of reach.

Nava also sparked the seventh-inning rally, leading off the stanza with a four-pitch base on balls. Xander Bogaerts reached on a fielder’s choice and swiped second. The Red Sox shortstop then advanced to third when John Ryan Murphy threw errantly up the middle on a failed hit and run play. Ryan Hanigan then sent a tapper to Chase Headley that allowed Bogaerts to score. The Red Sox backstop was quick enough to get down the first base line to reach safely.

Brock Holt lined a single to Chris Young in center. For some reason Young played Dustin Pedroia very shallow. Pedroia batted the ball over Young’s head and when the dust settled the visitors secured a 5-1 lead.

So as not to let the other Yankee outfielders be alone in their mistakes Garrett Jones contributed to the farce in the eighth inning. Brock Holt faced Matt Tracy with two out and the bases loaded. Holt’s fly ball to right was by no means a can of corn but with a better read on the ball Jones could have made the play.

Holt went 4-for-5 with a run scored and four RBIs. Kelly/Holt in 2016!

Game 5: April 11, 2015
WinBoston Red Sox
8 W: Joe Kelly (1-0)
2B: Daniel Nava (1), Dustin Pedroia (1), Brock Holt (1)
New York Yankees
4 L: Adam Warren (0-1)
2B: Garrett Jones (1)

April 11, 2015

The Night is Dark and Full of Errors

The night is dark.

And full of errors.

I’m a fan of George R.R. Martin’s World of Ice and Fire, both the television series and the books. This game was a long and brutal contest and reminded me of of Brienne and Podrick’s slog through the Riverlands. Just when you thought the well-meaning pair attained some measure of success they were thwarted by the ruffians of the area. Or as tourists would call it, your typical night in the Bronx.

Carice van Houten, who portrays Meliasandre in “A Game of Thrones,” stayed for the entire six hours and 49 minutes of the game. Rather than Stannis’s balls in her grasp she had a genuine major league souvenir. She rooted for the Red Sox when she found out fellow Dutchman Xander Bogaerts played for them, but then learned Didi Gregorius was on the Yankees. Both players have been knighted, so I should be calling them Ser Xander and Ser Didi. Of course, the Red Woman should root for the Red Sox as long as she refrains from burning the more productive players.

Chris Martin, the Yankee reliever, not the Coldplay* lead singer, replaced starter Nathan Eovaldi in the sixth inning. He inherited Daniel Nava on first and had to get two outs to get out of inning. Martin struck out Bogaerts but then Sandy Leon reached on Gregorio Petit’s error (linked above). Mookie Betts worked a base on balls to load the bases, but Dustin Pedroia tapped out to Mark Teixeira to end the threat.

The dragon has three heads, but so do the Yankees. Three times the Red Sox had the lead and three times the home team tied the score to live on. Finally in the 19th inning Betts sacrificed in Ser Xander to go ahead 6-5.

The New York squad was finally held scoreless by Steven Wright in the bottom of the frame despite Jacoby Ellsbury’s leadoff single. Ser Xander nabbed Garrett Jones’s batted ball and flipped it to Pedroia. Pedroia made an incredible twisting throw to Mike Napoli and the tourney was mercifully over.

*Coldplay drummer Will Champion had a cameo in the episode entitled “The Rains of Castamere.” This episode featured the infamous Red Wedding.

Game 4: April 10, 2015 ∙ 19 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
6 H: Robbie Ross Jr. (1), Alexi Ogando (1), Junichi Tazawa (1)
BS: Edward Mujica (1)
W: Steven Wright (1-0)
2B: Mookie Betts (1)
HR: David Ortiz (1)
New York Yankees
5 L: Esmil Rogers (0-1)
2B: Brett Gardner (1), Alex Rodriguez (1), Brian McCann (1), Carlos Beltran (2)
HR: Chase Headley (1), Mark Teixeira (2)

April 10, 2015


The Phillies surrendered a half a dozen runs in the third inning even after David Buchanan tallied the first two outs with just six pitches. David Ortiz sent a ground ball into the shift but Chase Utley couldn’t come up with it.

Hanley Ramirez scorched the ball up the middle and Buchanan reflexively knocked it down. In a panic Buchanan gathered the ball and threw to an area he thought Ryan Howard inhabited but sadly for the Phillies pitcher there was only foul territory and the left field fence. Ramirez was credited with a single and Buchanan was sullied with a throwing error.

Buchanan then walked Pablo Sandoval on four pitches to load the bases. Shane Victorino knocked the ball to Cody Asche. Asche was as clueless as Buchanan and failed to get an out when he could have come home to nail David Ortiz.

Ryan Hanigan earned his first run batted in as a Red Sox player when Buchanan couldn’t find the strike zone again, giving the Boston backstop a four-pitch base on balls.

Xander Bogaerts lofted the ball to right field. Jeff Francouer, the hero of the middle game of the series, failed to get a proper read on Bogaerts’s blooper and by the time the right fielder returned the ball to the infield Bogaerts stood at third base.

Justin Masterson took advantage of the runner in scoring position and smoked the ball up the middle. He pumped his fists enthusiastically. It was the first time a Red Sox pitcher knocked in a run since John Lackey against the Phillies on June 29, 2011. And Lackey’s still talking about it, just like Masterson will go on and on about his batting prowess.

He even singled again in the fifth inning. Soon he’ll be making Hanley binocular hands.

The Red Sox won their opening series of the season. Even though it was against a subpar team these are the teams that they have to beat if they are to recover from the swoon of 2014.

Game 3: April 9, 2015
Boston Red Sox
6 W: Justin Masterson (1-0)
3B: Xander Bogaerts (1)
WinPhiladelphia Phillies
2 L: David Buchanan (0-1)
No extra base hits

April 9, 2015

Ice Cold

Freddy Galvis was well-disguised but couldn’t steal a hit off the Red Sox pitching staff. Indeed his Boston counterpart Xander Bogaerts made a diving grab of his swiftly dropping batted ball for the fifth inning’s first out.

Pablo Sandoval was similarly garbed. Who knew MLB-branded balaclavas were a thing? Sandoval notched his first hit in a Red Sox uniform with two outs in the fourth inning. Not only did he get his first hit but he also broke up Aaron Harang’s perfect game.

Sandoval committed his first error of the season in the bottom of the seventh. He threw errantly to Mike Napoli after fielding Ben Revere’s grounder. Revere advanced all the way to third and tagged up on Chase Utley’s sacrifice fly to right field. The Phillies padded their lead to 4-0.

Sandoval was part of a rally in the eighth. Daniel Nava was plated by Xander Bogaerts’s single. Ken Giles secured the next two outs but then walked Dustin Pedroia and Sandoval in succession to cut the home team’s lead to two runs.

With the bases loaded Hanley Ramirez was poised to give his team the lead with another grand slam. It could have been Jonathan Papelbon’s stuff or it could have been the heavy early spring air but Ramirez’s fly ball was just short of the left field fences.

If Papelbon loved his former team so much he would have grooved one to Ramirez. “The Red Sox are a part of who I am, man,” he said to Julian Benbow. “Boston’s where I was born and raised. It’s kind of like that, you know. It’s the city you were born and raised in.”

Rick Porcello lived up to his reputation and had 11 groundouts compared to two flyouts. When he surrendered a big fly in the sixth inning it happened with two men on base, and even more surprisingly it came off Jeff Francouer’s bat. A sample size of one is much too small to pass judgment on Porcello’s four-year $82.5 million extension, but Jay Jaffe argues that Porcello could be worth the money. Just don’t expect a lot of strikeouts and hope that the infielders are on their toes.

Game 2: April 8, 2015
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Rick Porcello (0-1)
No extra base hits
WinPhiladelphia Phillies
4 W: Aaron Harang (1-0)
H: Jeanmar Gomez (1)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (1)
HR: Jeff Francouer (1)

April 7, 2015


Ten years ago come this May I was at the Hall of Fame to celebrate my birthday. The Boston squad was enjoying its reign as the world champions so it wasn’t painful to see case after case of Yankee greatness in Cooperstown. If you thought it was all a dream you only had look over at a case full of Red Sox memorabilia from 2004.

I had planned my visit around the Hall of Fame Game between the Tigers and the Red Sox. The Red Sox lost 6-4 but we got to see Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez play. These two highly touted prospects were going to power the player development machine that Theo Epstein envisioned. The 2004 Red Sox were not going to be one-and-done if the organization stuck to Epstein’s vision.

The 2005 Red Sox tied the Yankees’ regular season record of 95-67 but placed second because of their head-to-head record. They were swept by the Chicago White Sox in the American League Divisional Series. The South Siders went on to break their 88-year championship drought.

Rather than patiently grow their drafted talent the Red Sox traded Ramirez, Sanchez, Jesus Delgado, and Harvey Garcia for Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota, and Mike Lowell in the 2005 offseason. This reaped almost immediate rewards with another World Series triumph in 2007, but it must be noted that key members of that team were rookies Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.

What could have Hanley done at shortstop in those years? Or Sanchez on the mound? To the former question we can have a belated answer to a different question: will he uphold the legacy of excellence in left field established by Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and Manny Ramirez?

Based on his two home runs, including a ninth-inning grand slam, the preliminary answer is a resounding yes.

Ramirez showed Justin Masterson how his bat broke on the grand slam. Is the Red Sox pitching staff glad Ramirez is on its team? Another thundering affirmative.

Two rookies from the 2007 class seemed to return to form. Dustin Pedroia launched two homers off Cole Hamels. Clay Buchholz pitched for seven innings and held the Phillies scoreless while striking out nine, permitting three hits, and allowing a single base on balls.

Perhaps it was the hard liquor talking, but Philly fans found it in their hearts to give Shane Victorino a standing ovation in his first on-field first appearance at Citizens Bank Park since his departure from the team. He went 0-for-3 but walked twice. In the fifth he made a clutch catch of pinch hitter Cesar Hernandez’s fly ball that had him careening against the right field scoreboard. Victorino held on to end the inning and the Phillies fans were surprisingly placid. Perhaps the enhanced alcohol offerings are having a pacifying effect in the City of Brotherly Love.

Game 1: April 6, 2015
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Clay Buchholz (1-0)
HR: Dustin Pedroia – 2 (2), Mookie Betts (1), Hanley Ramirez – (2)
Philadelphia Phillies
L: Cole Hamels (0-1)
2B: Ryan Howard (1)

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