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Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Athletics”

Not Your Average Joe

Joe Kelly saved his job in Saturday’s game with his six innings of one-run ball. Just as NFL quarterbacks give their offensive linemen Rolexes Kelly should give opulent presents to Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Mike Napoli. The three sluggers drove in all four runs for the Red Sox in the club’s winning endeavor. Your browser does not support iframes. Ramirez drove in two runs with his first-inning bomb to the batters’ eye. Ortiz drove in Ramirez in the third. Ortiz then scored on Napoli’s single, a grounder that deflected off Marcus Semien to Ben Zobrist. With Jessie Chavez toeing the rubber the Athletics replicated the same paltry production of two runs as the series opener. Just as Oakland mimicked the Red Sox’s facial hair last season this season Chavez sports a similar coiffure to Clay Buchholz and Kelly. Whether to improve his luck or his look Chavez might consider a new haircut. He was 2-3 in the month of May and started June off with a loss. The Red Sox were almost as happy as this Bogaerts fan. He was lucky enough to nab a foul ball off Xander Bogaerts’s bat. Game 57: June 6, 2015 Oakland Athletics23-35 2...

Just Not In Time

Justin Masterson had a dreadful outing. In the two and one-third innings he pitched he gave up six hits, two of them homers. All told he surrendered six earned runs as he walked one and struck out one. The day after this performance he found himself on the disabled list with arm fatigue. “I’m not real happy, but I don’t have to be,” said the beleaguered starter. No one is really happy when you have a pitcher who pressures his offense into having to produce. Maybe that is what Dustin Pedroia was thinking when he tried and failed to stretch his first-inning single into a double. Masterson was throwing batting practice speed to opponents and consistently forced his teammates to play from behind. With Masterson on the disabled list Steven Wright could be tapped to fill the hole in the rotation, but his five and two-thirds innings did not make a convincing case. Wright gave up six hits, three earned runs, and three walks while striking out four. Even the laws of physics seemed to favor the Athletics last night. When Sam Fuld nubbed the ball towards Pedroia with Brett Lawrie on the run from first it narrowly missed the...

Panda Power

Going into this game the Athletics were in last place in the American League West and attempting to snap a five-game losing streak. As poorly as Oakland has been playing they still stretched the Red Sox into extra innings by tying the game in the seventh inning. It took a circuit clout in the 11th authored by Pablo Sandoval to break the 4-4 tie. Perhaps the Bay Area air reinvigorated him. In earlier innings the Athletics managed to scrape back into a tie. In the bottom of the 11th Matt Barnes slammed the door shut with just six pitches. It was Barnes’s first major league win. Note that it was Matt Barnes the rookie reliever, not Matt Barnes the Clippers’ small forward. Your browser does not support iframes. The taut contest also had a bit of history sprinkled in the sixth inning. David Ortiz’s leadoff double to Coco Crisp didn’t lead to a run but it was his 1,041st extra base hit. He shares 26th place with Pete Rose in the record books. The Boston squad is on a two-game winning streak. They’re getting hot; best put on oven mitts before handling them. Game 32: May 11, 2015 ∙ 11...

Abad Ending

Coco Crisp was immortalized as a garden gnome. Mike Napoli entered the history books as the first Red Sox player since 1967 to steal home and homer in a game. Rico Petrocelli did the same on September 9 against the Yankees. Your browser does not support iframes. Koji Uehara showed that he was a mere mortal by blowing a save. The ninth frame started off uneventfully with Alberto Callaspo’s ground out to first. Stephen Vogt somehow deciphered Uehara’s splitter and clouted his second home of the season to bring his team within a run. Uehara handled Nick Punto in two pitches; the infielder popped out to Jonathan Herrera. Bob Melvin sent in John Jaso to hit for Craig Gentry. Jason evened the score 6-6 with a blast into the stairs in right field. Prior to this game Uehara had surrendered three home runs in 33 games. David Ortiz is used to saving closers. He used to do that for Jonathan Papelbon all the time. The Red Sox designated hitter lined a homer over the center field fences. Fernando Abad must have been wondering why Melvin had him pitch to a slugger known for clutch hits. Your browser does not support...

Big Time

Forget being enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Dennis Eckersley is represented in a mascot race. That is baseball immortality. Not only is Eckersley’s inspiring come-from-behind win chronicled in the video below but also Don Orsillo and Eckersley’s awkward white man high five is captured for posterity. Your browser does not support iframes. And unlike the Red Sox, Eck won! In real life Rickey Henderson would win that race with one leg. Next season they should add Charlie O. Finley chasing after Rollie Fingers with a price gun. The Hall of Fame mascots watched on as Dustin Pedroia homered in the sixth inning. He drove in Brock Holt, who singled with one out in the inning. The Red Sox scored only two runs off the formidable Oakland pitching staff. The Oakland Athletics have scored 377 runs and allowed 243 runs. Their Pythagorean W-L record of 50-23 is ahead of their actual record of 45-28, but even with the shortfall they lead the American League. The Los Angeles Angels have rebounded from their slow start to keep pace in the Wild Card race with Detroit and New York. Across San Francisco Bay the Giants lead their division with the...

Soggy Slog

Despite the rain the umpires were alert. In the fourth Jerry Layne called Coco Crisp safe. Mike Napoli thought he tagged him and Layne, who was stationed at first base checked in with Hunter Wendelstedt, the home plate umpire. Wendelstedt overruled Layne and Crisp was called out. Both managers came out to argue, John Farrell to support Napoli and then Bob Melvin to dispute the overturned ruling. Steven Wright made his major league debut. The phrase “less than ideal circumstances” comes to mind, but even that doesn’t encompass the awful conditions Wright faced. The Red Sox were already eight runs down. The temperature was cold, as were Boston’s bats. Wright had to bring out a first baseman’s mitt (the pancake glove as Jim Rice calls it) and a clubhouse attendent carried his arctic gear. The knuckleballer’s first pitch was a ball to Brandon Moss. But Wright ended the inning by inducing a 4-6-3 double play. Wright struck out Josh Reddick in the fifth on four pitches. Rain or shine, Major League Baseball authenticators do their duty. This one was on hand to verify Wright’s baseball with a hologram. The manager of the authentication program has a Twitter account but sadly...

That’s Amore

I kind of meh-ed the signing of Mike Napoli but I have warmed up to him. He gets me singing the Dean Martin classic tune “That’s Amore” in my head. The first baseman took a 90-MPH to the elbow in the fourth but stayed in the game. He had already driven in his team’s first run with a double in the second. Napoli blasted the ball into the Monster seats in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded. The local nine’s run total doubled to eight with one swing of the bat. The power outage over the day-night doubleheader with the Royals was over and the pummeling of the Athletics pitchers commenced. Felix Doubront enjoyed his second victory of the season and showed off his new haircut. There might be something to the makeovers of a few of the Red Sox players; Will Middlebrooks got his hair did and clouted a solo homer in the fourth. Not that Dustin Pedroia need to change his luck on the field, but some maintenance of the pelt on his cheeks is in order. A haircut might decrease the creepiness of this Athletics fan somewhat. Send whoever clipped the Red Sox players’...

Oaktown Blowout

The Red Sox would have done better against the Petaluma Little League squad. One player was about a foot taller than Dustin Pedroia and a number of them were his height. This season the Oakland Athletics and their fans have latched on to the Bernie dance, which was inspired by a song by ISA called “Movin’ Like Bernie.” Of course the song was inspired by the cinematic masterpiece Weekend at Bernie’s. The thespian who portrayed Bernie Lomax, Terry Kiser, was in the stands for this game and in a gesture fitting to his stature to the dramatic arts was tapped to throw out the first pitch in Saturday’s match. It is not a stretch to say that the role of Lomax is the pinnacle of acting challenges. It is not a coincidence that he is similarly named to Willy Loman, the protagonist in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” With his tour de force performance Kiser joined the ranks of Dustin Hoffman, George C. Scott, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Game 133: August 31, 2012 Boston Red Sox62-71 2 L: Aaron Cook (3-8) HR: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (23) Oakland Athletics74-57 20 W: Brandon McCarthy (8-5)2B: Brandon Moss – 2 (9), Josh Reddick...

Bradenia is Now Beckettburg

King Dallas I of Bradenia was dethroned by upstart Josh Beckett the Usurper. While the ouster was hardly impressive (6 innings pitched, 3 earned runs, 5 walks, and 7 strikeouts) it prevented the Red Sox from being swept by a team whose record hovers around .500. Aiding Beckett in the expropriation was J.D. Drew and Ryan Kalish with two runs batted in apiece. Drew’s sixth inning double brought the encroachers within a run. Not only did Drew’s extra base hit help spark the rebellion but also made up for him getting thrown out at first to end the fourth inning when he casually back-peddled to the bag after making a banana turn. Fireballer Henry Rodriguez couldn’t blow away Kalish, who pinch hit for Bill Hall and lofted the ball deep enough to left so that Mike Lowell could score from third. Drew charged around the bases with a purpose and scored the go-ahead head run on Kalish’s single. Home plate Hunter Wendelstedt ejected Daric Barton, after calling the Oakland first baseman out on strikes for the final out of the game. The gesture was as useless as the appendix, a vestigial organ that can only uselessly inhabit the gut or...

Who’s Your Lackey?

A one-run loss that only John Lackey got worked up about, such is the state of Red Sox baseball. The hulking starter must have pilloried Bill Hall for his seventh-inning throwing error on Jack Cust’s grounder to left that allowed Oakland its first run. Never you mind that Lackey had surrendered a leadoff double to Daric Barton to start the inning. Ryan Kalish warranted at least an exasperated eye-roll and head title from Lackey for his spectacular yet failed diving attempt to snatch Rajai Davis’s fly ball to center field later in the inning. The resulting triple allowed the go-ahead run to score. That Lackey previously allowed Mark Ellis to rope a single to center to drive in the tying run was of no import; obviously Lackey was pitching well enough to win. I’m afraid to say I’m like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens leaving the field early when it comes to this team at this point in the season. At Gillette Stadium the pair of Bengals wide receivers were on their way to the locker room before the second quarter ended, leaving Carson Palmer to heave a hail Mary that was caught by Jordan Shipley just three yards short...

Welcome to Oaksterdam

The Red Sox seemed to take advantage of the readily available medical cannabis in Oakland, scattering a mere three hits against Trevor Cahill. The visiting bats were so listless even Craig Breslow didn’t allow a hit. From the second Coco Crisp robbed counterpart Ryan Kalish of a home run to start the game the momentum was entirely in Oakland’s favor. The marquee match-up of Clay Buchholz against Cahill, starters who were respectively first and third in ERA going into the game, turned out to be a one-sided affair. Buchholz officially pitched one inning but saw four batters in the second inning, yielding a line of 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 4 balls, and 1 strikeout. Even though Cahill shutout the Red Sox to the tune of 7 innings pitched, 3 hits, 2 walks, and 4 whiffs, he remains third in earned run average after Felix Hernandez and Buchholz. The Coliseum is just 11 minutes away from Oaksterdam University. Founded in 2007, the Oakland branch features “large 100 person classroom, full horticulture lab, and a large administrative staff to attend to students.” Oddly, the Student Union across the street doesn’t serve food. Players traveling with the team but not playing could...

Dr. Strangeglove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Team

John Lackey denied the Mariners his essence, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth. Of all batters to break up the bid it had to be Josh Bard, the former Red Sox catcher who was part of the ill-fated 2006 squad. He was part of the Coco Crisp trade, another player that has found himself on a West Coast club. It wasn’t a cheap hit but a soundly hit line drive single to right. Jack Wilson followed with a ground ball single, but Lackey exited the inning unscathed. The disturbing pattern of bunches of hits would continue with Manny Delcarmen. Delcarmen faced four batters but failed to get an out. Light-hitting Franklin Gutierrez, with Chone Figgins on first, knocked a two-run homer into the left field seats just above the Fenway-like manual scoreboard. How the colors on Lackey’s face must have changed as the game went from a no-hitter to a 6-3 affair. After Gutierrez’s dinger came another improbable event: a walk by Jose Lopez, a batter who has 16 walks in 383 at bats this season. What followed wasn’t so rare, unfortunately. Marco Scutaro Merkin Muffleyed Milton Bradley’s batted ball, turning a double play into two men on with none...

Green With Envy

If you’re a pitcher and a peripatetic AAAA player like Matt Watson jacks his first home run off you and a fringe player experiencing a season-long power outage such as Jack Cust launches his sixth dinger, chances are you’re not going to win. Clay Buchholz’s first start since returning off the disabled list was a close loss that granted his team a 0-2 series record and 2-5 win-loss mark since the All-Star break. While the green of the Oakland Athletics and their anonymous multipurpose stadium rendered Boston fans queasy, the sight of Fenway verdant in football regalia was a wondrous sight. The Celtic Football Club, a perennial powerhouse in the Scottish Premier League, took the pitch against Sporting Clube de Portugal, a mainstay in Portuguese Liga. Both Sporting and Celtic have green and white striped home kits, but for this friendly Sporting wore their dapper away uniforms. Sporting’s striking black and green garb were put to much better effect on the transformed field than Celtic’s bumblebee-like visiting togs. Had both teams opted for stripes it would have looked like Escher artwork come to life. The field hasn’t had many memorable divots since Manny Ramirez’s tumbling attempt at a catch in...

Sanshabontai [三者凡退]

Daisuke Matsuzaka had four sanshabontai, Japanese for 1-2-3 inning. The first two ideograms represents the concept of three people and the final two mean a baseball out. Oakland isn’t an offensive powerhouse by any means; the team is seventh in the American League in team batting average (.262), tenth in on-base percentage (.324), and twelfth in slugging percentage (.384). Still, it was heartening to see Matsuzaka have a completely clean first inning, permit only four baserunners (two hits and two walks), allow only a single run, and strike out six over 6⅔ innings. Boston’s pitching had to be on point as the lineup mustered a mere two runs against an extremely lucky Ben Sheets. In the fourth David Ortiz arced a sacrifice fly to center to plate Eric Patterson, who led off the frame with a triple against his former club. To avoid running on his still-gimpy leg, Adrian Beltre homered into the left field bleacher seats for the lead. There could have been more runs by the visitors if Kevin Youkilis didn’t violate a fundamental rule of baseball in the sixth. He worked the walk with two outs but then tried to reach third on Beltre’s single to right....

Adding Insult to Injuries

Athletics starter Brett Anderson left the game after two innings with elbow tightness and Ryan Sweeney departed in the third when Mark Ellis’s knee hit Sweeney’s head when both attempted to catch a ball in foul territory. On the Red Sox side Darnell McDonald tweaked his knee on a pickoff attempt in the fourth. He toughed it out only to be thrown out running from second to home when Gabe Gross fielded Jeremy Hermida’s single to right. Victor Martinez, who recently had to sit out a few games because of a foot contusion, was sent home by Tim Bogar in the third on Kevin Youkilis’s line drive double to left. The two runners represented the potential runs that would have extended Boston’s four game winning streak. But Bogar seems to be determined to earn a nickname like “Wave ’Em In” Wendell Kim and “Death Wish” Dale Sveum. Tim Bogus? Bogie? Booger? Kurt Suzuki is the bane of Tim Wakefield’s existence. The plucky catcher broke up the knuckleballer’s no-hit bid in the eighth inning on April 15, 2009. Wakefield was far from a hurling a no-hitter in the afternoon game, and Suzuki took advantage by taking the veteran pitcher deep twice....

All Too Human

Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. — Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human Prior to tonight the only thing I knew about Jim Joyce was that he would make rather dramatic strike calls when working home plate. From now on he will forever be known as the umpire that blew the call on what should have been the final out of a perfect game by Armando Galarraga. There is no reprieve or no method of appeal for those aggrieved by an incorrect call. Chuck Klonke, the official scorer who ruled Jason Donald’s nubber to Miguel Cabrera a hit, has 24 hours to change his determination of the play and give Galarraga a no-hitter, but that would be like makeup over an imperfection on the face of baseball. Many other sports use technology in crucial situations but baseball steadfastly clings to its ever-disintegrating tradition. But it is not just the governing bodies of national pastime’s fault. Joyce could have corrected his call seconds after he made it. Or if he didn’t want to appear as if he were capitulating to Miguel Cabrera’s remonstrations, he could have convened the crew or asked another umpire for help and then...

To the Victor Goes the Spoils

Victor Martinez used the Oakland pitching staff as his personal batting practice pitchers, going 5-for-5 with four doubles and two runs batted in. In the fifth the backstop doubled off the left field wall and was driven in by Adrian Beltre’s three- run home run off the wall behind the first row of the Monster seats. Martinez’s ground-rule double to the center field bleachers in the sixth broke the 4-4 tie. The Athletics jumped out to a 4-0 lead, a lead that would have seemed insurmountable in April. But the Red Sox offense jolted to life, bailing out their starter. John Lackey pitched a sloppy six innings: 12 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Two players, Kurt Suzuki and Bill Hall, knocked in their first triples of the season. Suzuki’s third-inning hit was actually at best a double but was converted to a triple thanks to Darnell McDonald’s ill-advised diving attempt at a spectacular catch in center. Hall’s seventh-inning shot ricocheted high off the deepest part of the left field wall and then caromed over center fielder Rajai Davis’s head into the triangle. Had it been someone with Davis’s speed running the bases instead of Hall it...


Game 101: July 30, 2009 Athletics5H: Russ Springer (5)H: Michael Wuertz (12)BS, L: Craig Breslow (1, 4-5)43-58, 1 game losing streak Red Sox8W: Manny Delcarmen (3-2)H: Daniel Bard (5)S: Jonathan Papelbon (26)59-42, 1 game winning streak Highlights: David Ortiz authored his first late inning pressure situation triumph of 2009 with a three-run blast to the short bleachers in the seventh. The score went from 5-3 in favor of the visitors to 6-3 for the local nine. The designated hitter came out for a curtain call. I wonder how many of them knew about The New York Times report that named Ortiz as one of the 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. I’ve started and stopped and restarted this column as many times as David Ortiz homered in 2006. I was there on September 21, 2006 when he broke Jimmie Foxx’s team record for home runs in a season. This is the best I could do. BOSTON — Red Sox blogger Joanna Hicks issued the following statement today:Today I was informed by several friends via text and instant messenger that one of my favorite players was on the 2003 list of MLB players to test positive for...


Game 100: July 29, 2009 Athletics8W: Brett Anderson (6-8)H: Craig Breslow (9)S: Andrew Bailey (13)43-57, 2 game winning streak Red Sox6L: Brad Penny (7-5)58-42, 2 game losing streak Highlights: Eighth inning, two men on, two outs, one run already in and the tying run at the plate. Breslow induced a pop-out to third off David Ortiz’s bat. Wish we could get players like Breslow.... You know the game isn’t going to go well when the most uplifting moment of the game is Joe Pantoliano visiting the booth in the fourth to talk about clinical depression, alcoholism, and suicide.Perhaps Pantoliano can stage an intervention for Brad Penny. If the pitcher wasn’t depressed before the game he should have been by the end of the first. Adam Kennedy kicked off the game with a home run off Penny’s first pitch and Oakland’s lineup almost turned over in the opening inning.While Pantoliano’s at it, set up a session for couples therapy for Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney. Right fielder Sweeney didn’t yield to center fielder Davis and Jason Bay’s can of corn dropped to the turf for a three-base error on Sweeney. Bay just barely scored on Mike Lowell’s sac fliner to left.Despite...


Game 98: July 27, 2009 Athletics3L: Trevor Cahill (6-9)41-57, 2 game losing streak Red Sox8W: Josh Beckett (12-4)58-40, 1 game winning streak Highlights: The Red Sox failed to score in the second, sixth, and eighth innings. Slackers. They got the early lead and kept it so they wouldn’t have to play the bottom of the ninth. The drama between the Red Sox organization and Daisuke Matsuzaka seems more like one of Jim Rice’s soap operas than a meaningful meeting on of the minds. Through their proxy John Farrell the Red Sox contend that their training program is the right way to make all pitchers effective and Farrell stated that Matsuzaka slacked in the offseason. “In hindsight, there might not have been the work that he needed to put in on his own time during the offseason to build the foundation that every pitcher requires to withstand the workloads that a major league starting pitcher is going to go through here in the States,” said Farrell on WEEI.The Japanese article chronicling Matsuzaka’s interactions with the club throws into sharp relief the vast divide between the pitcher’s approach to baseball and the Red Sox’s plan for him. Matsuzaka seems to believe that...


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