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Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Holt (Brock)”

Last Gasp

While this edition of the Red Sox has been disappointing, at least they don’t play as if there is no hope. In the fourth inning Mike Napoli and Blake Swihart were sent on a double steal. Napoli was safe at home plate but Swihart was out at second. Napoli’s run made the score a tight 3-1 in the visitors’ favor. That slim margin was shaved to zero in the sixth frame. David DeJesus tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right that plated Joey Butler. On the same play Evan Longoria tagged up to reach third base. Rick Porcello uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Longoria to tie the game. Your browser does not support iframes. The Red Sox had a chance to take the lead in the seventh stanza. Jackie Bradley, Jr. led off with a single laced to center field. Mookie Betts reached on a fielder’s choice but then was caught stealing due to indecisiveness. In the ninth Napoli muscled a ground ball single up the middle but Brad Boxberger got the next three outs without incident. Betts atoned for his seventh-inning flub in the 10th. He lofted a double to DeJesus. Brock Holt got a hold of...

Brock of Ages

I’ve been writing this blog for 10 years and in that span of time the Red Sox have not had a player hit for the cycle. Brock Holt ended that drought on Tuesday. He is the first Red Sox player to accomplish this feat since John Valentin did on June 6, 1996 against the Chicago White Sox. Valentin is the only player to have hit for the cycle, turned an unassisted triple play, and hit three home runs in a game. If there’s another player on the current Red Sox who could do this it would be Holt. Two players have hit for the cycle against Boston since 2005: Mark Ellis on June 4, 2007 and Bengie Molina (of all people) on July 16, 2010. When a player hits for the cycle it is often brought up how this exploit is rarer than no-hitters. Two Boston pitchers have thrown no-hitters in the past decade: Clay Buchholz on September 1, 2007 and Jon Lester on May 19, 2008. If there’s a non-pitcher that could no-hit a team for an inning, I would vote for Holt again. Your browser does not support iframes. Major League Baseball’s commissioner Rob Manfred was in attendance...

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 Boston Red Sox10-7 7 BS: Craig Breslow (2)W: Alexi Ogando (1-0)H: Junichi Tazawa (4)S: Koji Uehara (3) HR: David Ortiz (4),...

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...

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. Your browser does not support iframes. 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...

The Numbers All Go to Eleven

When Brock Holt strikes out he still scores because he’s Brock Holt. Holt scored on Dustin Pedroia’s first-inning home run. Pedroia’s moonshot was impressive as it reached the second deck but it wasn’t quite far enough to be the longest four-bagger of the evening. The umpires got to test their interpretation of rule 7.13 early in the game. Will Middlebrooks arced the ball over Kevin Pillar’s head to the center field wall. Mike Napoli scored easily from second base. Allen Craig tried to follow him but was out at home. The officiating crew took a look at the play to ensure that Josh Thole didn’t block the plate before he had the ball and ruled that he didn’t. I think it’s because whenever Craig gets near any defender he seems to crumple. He must have watched a lot of Arjen Robben during the World Cup. Your browser does not support iframes. Napoli got hit in the helmet by R.A. Dickey in the fifth inning. Dickey’s knuckler is considerably slower than the Felix Hernandez change-up that found Xander Bogaerts’s earflap. Like Bogaerts, Napoli stayed in the game. It was good that he could because he was a pivotal part of the...

Don’t Call It a Comeback

I wouldn’t have guessed a lineup without David Ortiz could manage to win a game. The Red Sox designated hitter is day-to-day because of a ball he fouled off his right foot on Sunday. Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia made up for Ortiz’s production with a home run each. Someone that was supposed to provide power, Allen Craig, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. But he does love the island I grew up on, so I can overlook his lack of production. For now. John Farrell kept Clay Buchholz on the mound one inning too long. Up until the ninth frame Buchholz had allowed two hits; he left the game with two more hits and a walk added to his line. Koji Uehara induced an RBI ground out off Adam Lind’s bat but he then surrendered and two-run double to Edwin Encarnacion. Sometimes this team just can’t get out of its own way. Pedroia collided with Brock Holt when they both pursued Jose Reyes’s batted ball in the ninth. This was the hit that allowed the Blue Jays to tie the score 3-3 and force the game into extra innings. But by the 10th Holt recovered enough to single. He stole...

Eleven Runs for Number Eleven

Clay Buchholz turned in a 109-pitch complete game shutout while Bo Porter burned through six pitchers. The Astros had only three hits, earned no walks, and were struck out 12 times. Buchholz enjoyed so much run support Jake Peavy must have been hoping for more outings against the vulnerable Houston pitching staff. Surprisingly Jose Altuve was held hitless. He broke the Astros’ record for hits in the first half of the season and received an award from Bob Watson, the former record holder. He was the second-least enthused award recipient this Sunday. The distinction for most unenthusiastic: Lionel Messi, winner of the Golden Ball award for best player in the 2014 World Cup but on the losing side in the finals featuring Argentina and Germany. Brock Holt went 5-for-6. He led off the game with a home run into the second deck on a 3-2 offering from Brad Peacock. Steve Lyons charitably characterized Peacock’s fastball as straight as a pencil. Holt’s mother is very demanding. Here she is crying because of his strikeout in the fifth inning that stranded runners in scoring position. Actually, Holt’s leadoff homer had her in tears. It had Jamie Erdahl misting up as well. Come...

Onward Christian Catcher

Rookie catcher Christian Vazquez clouted two doubles, just eight fewer than A.J. Pierzynski did this season. He drove in three runs and scored twice. He did so well that he found himself receiving Edward Mujica in the ninth inning, something that only happens when Boston has a big league or John Farrell has exhausted any other options. Your browser does not support iframes. The freckle-faced youth listed his home country Puerto Rico as his favorite place to have a vacation. (Everyone say, “Awww…!”) He hails from Bayamon, which is where Yadier and Jose Molina were born (eldest brother Bengie was born in Rio Piedras). Catching excellence isn’t transmitted by proximity, but if Vazquez continues on the trajectory he set for himself in this game he will be a solid contributor. Perhaps the Red Sox have produced a long-term backstop, one of the more elusive positions to cultivate. Brock Holt’s family was louder than the Astros crowd. It is clever how they don’t mention how they had found the infant Holt in an alien rocket. The Holts had a lot to cheer for as the leadoff hitter went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a run batted in, and a base on...

Love for Sale

Who’s prepared to pay the price for a trip to paradise? Grass- and blood-stained Jonny Gomes is. The green smears are from his diving grab of Alexei Ramirez’s sinking line drive in the fourth inning. In the seventh Gomes was hit in the face by Tyler Flowers’s fly ball but still recovered in time to get Alejandro De Aza out at home. Love that’s only slightly soiled, love for sale. It is not coincidence that A.J. PIerzynski’s departure has altered the attitude in the clubhouse. Rob Bradford’s report stated that players went to management about Pierzynski’s lack of engagement with his pitchers. Pierzynski’s approach at the plate was in opposition to the Red Sox philosophy of seeing as many pitches as possible. His impatience at the plate, deteriorated offensive production, and lack of camaraderie are not missed. Being a catcher requires levels of sacrifice. You submit your body to countless hours crouching, ricochets, and, prior to the rule change, collisions. You spend time with your battery mates learning their strengths and the opposition’s weaknesses. Pierzynski wasn’t up for that commitment any longer. Old love, new love, every love but true love. Pierzynski’s replacement Christian Vazquez went 0-for-3 in his major...

Brocking Out

Brock Holt robbed Brian Roberts of a home run in the second inning. It’s hard to believe Holt doesn’t have much experience in the outfield. He plays it like a natural. Holt should get his agent on the horn with Sony. He made that outstanding grab right in front of the electronics giant’s sign. Your browser does not support iframes. Holt outran Jackie Bradley, Jr. in an impressive fashion and Dustin Pedroia in an expected manner in the eighth inning to snare Carlos Beltran’s fly ball to shallow right-center field for a remarkable put-out. I mention Holt’s defensive prowess because happenings on the other side of the ball are hardly worth mentioning. The Red Sox cobbled together three hits off Vidal Nuno, he of the 5.29 FIP and a uniform number over 50. But sometimes it’s exciting when a rookie dons a high-numbered jersey. Today the Red Sox called up Mookie Betts, who will be wearing 50. Rubby De La Rosa was sent back to Pawtucket to make room for Betts. Game 80: June 27, 2014 Boston Red Sox36-44 0 L: Brandon Workman (1-1) 2B: Brock Holt (14), Stephen Drew (3) New York Yankees41-37 6 W: Vidal Nuno (2-4) 2B:...

Holt of Lightning

At the midpoint of the season it is now time to realize that this version of the Red Sox will not be repeating as World Champions. In losses such as this one a way to enjoy the game is to focus on individual performances. In the second inning Brock Holt lined out to Dustin Ackley to end the frame, stranding Jackie Bradley, Jr. Holt returned the favor in the home half of the inning. Ackley almost made an outstanding grab of Mike Napoli’s slicing line drive in the third inning. The initial angles of the play didn’t show how the ball slipped from his glove. At last a camera from the right field showed that Ackley never had control of the ball. In fact, the left fielder sprung up quickly, threw to the infield, and pointed at second base. Robinson Cano waited a long time after he got the ball from Ackley to step on second. I like to think if it were Dustin Pedroia in that situation he’d step on the sack and try to get the other runner either by throwing or initiating a rundown. If the Red Sox followed the Maddon Doctrine David Ortiz might have been...

Last Minute

Dennis Eckersley’s doppelgänger snatched victory from the other mascots in a last-minute win. Surely that had nothing to do with Eckersley throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. I just noticed that the mascots have mesh-like material in the neck to see through. If they push their face out far enough it looks like the mascot’s Adam’s apple. For the second game in the row the Red Sox were unable to notch any extra base hits. Eckersley not-so-quietly lost his mind as Boston squandered opportunities with runners on base. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and wasted Rubby De La Rosa’s seven-inning gem. The starter’s line of four hits, one earned run, one walk, and seven strikeouts was enough to tally a win with a functional offense. Edward Mujica took the mound in the tenth and allowed a leadoff walk to Alberto Callaspo. Nick Punto bunted Callaspo over and John Farrell replaced Mujica with Koji Uehara. The closer uncharacteristically gave up a hit to the outfield. Even Brock Holt couldn’t get to Coco Crisp’s liner in time to hose Callaspo at home. Jesse Chavez had a no-hitter until Holt singled to lead off the sixth frame. Holt also made...

Brock Star

Last night Brock Holt checked off center field off his list of positions to play. He got a feel for the territory when he fielded Danny Santana’s line drive single to start the game. That play seem to calibrate Holt to his new position’s parameters as he played the spot fluidly. Holt demonstrated his prowess in the third inning. Jonny Gomes in left field lost Brian Dozier’s fly ball in the twilight, as did the crew operating the camera. The lens was fixed on Gomes, who gamely put up his glove in an attempt to deke Dozier. Stephen Drew appeared in frame pointing up frantically. Holt dashed into the picture with a dramatic dive and catch. Dozier could only shake his head in amazement. This was Holt’s first put out in center. Your browser does not support iframes. David Ross joked with Holt, saying, “I hope you can’t catch.” After seeing Ross get hit in the throat by a pitch that bounced in the dirt I don’t think Holt will be actively campaigning to be backstop. That white spot under Ross’s chin? The ball finding a tender, unprotected spot of his body. Koji Uehara wasn’t available but Edward Mujica pitched...

Close Shave

Jake Peavy had a “W” shaved into the back of his head. He went 6 innings with a line of 7 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. He was the pitcher of record when Jonny Gomes hustled down the first base line to avoid a double play, plated Dustin Pedroia, and gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. Craig Breslow toed the rubber in the seventh frame. Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning with a sharp grounder to Jonathan Herrera. The shortstop’s throw was in time but it popped out of Mike Napoli’s glove. Mike Brantley followed with a single to right, where Brock Holt made yet another positional debut. Cabrera alertly dashed to third base on the hit. Jason Kipnis knocked the ball to Pedroia who went home instead of to first. The ball was there in time but A.J. Pierzynski didn’t catch it. Breslow got Lonnie Chisenhall and Nick Swisher out but then walked David Murphy. Junichi Tazawa took over but then surrendered a base on balls to Carlos Santana to force in the go-ahead run. It’s another loss where the Red Sox have to take a good look at themselves in the mirror. What...


The Red Sox were not able to get a hit off Wei-Yin Chen until the fourth inning. Dustin Pedroia’s laser lanced into right field where Nick Markakis tracked it down. At that point the score was 3-0 and there were two outs so Pedroia’s run didn’t mean anything. He tried to test Markakis’s arm anyway. The Orioles outfielder passed the test and Pedroia ended up with J.J. Hardy’s glove tagging his face. Brock Holt turned 26 yesterday but didn’t have much to celebrate on the field. His ten-game hitting streak came to an end. In the bottom of the fourth Holt pursued Chris Davis’s batted ball into foul territory and amazingly kept it in his glove throughout a contorting slide. Holt watched it slip to the dirt at the last second. Davis ended up flying out to the deepest part of center field so it wasn’t a grievous error. It was amazing that Holt, who has only played a smattering of games in the outfield, managed to nearly make such a spectacular play. Sadly, these small, incomplete triumphs are the only things to celebrate about this team of late. Game 65: June 11, 2014 Boston Red Sox29-36 0 L: Rubby...

Youth Movement

John Farrell said of Jonathan Herrera, Brock Holt, and Dustin Pedroia: “Three of the guys in the infield might not be able to get on rides at Six Flags.” D.J. Reyburn didn’t eject Pedroia after the third inning because of his height but because the second baseman complained about Reyburn’s strike zone. Reviewing Brooks Baseball’s strike zone maps showed that Pedroia did have something to complain about on a few of the calls. Farrell looked like a Little League parent trying to plead the case for his disgruntled tyke. Pedroia’s absence cleared the way for Garin Cecchini to make his major league debut. Herrera shifted to second base and Cecchini took over the hot corner. In the three-hole the greenhorn went 1-for-2 with a run batted in. Milton native Alex Hassan also debuted for the Red Sox. He was called up on Friday to replace Ryan Lavarnway’s spot in the roster. Hassan went 1-for-3 with a base on balls and a run scored. Hassan was driven in by one of Holt’s four doubles. This particular shot avoided Sean Rodriguez’s diving attempt and found the left field corner. Jackie Bradley, Jr., yet another youngster, scored on Holt’s hit. Even though Jon...

Charismatic Megafauna

Environmentalists often use handsome animals like the tiger as marketing materials for their cause. Academics call such creatures charismatic megafauna and observe how this idealization of animals skews public policy.. When climate activists used polar bears to educate people about the disappearing ice caps they shaped public opinion from despising to adoring these bears. As apex predators tigers have no natural enemies. The Lions haven’t been relevant in years and their old stadium stands in ruins. The Red Wings have had recent success but they were beaten by the Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs this season. Whether or not Stan Van Gundy can revitalize the Pistons remains to be seen. So the Tigers are at the top of the food chain in Detroit, and perhaps in the American League. Time’s passing since the 2013 ALCS has not cooled the Tigers’ passion. Max Scherzer pitched six innings of shutout ball and would have gone longer were it not for a 47-minute rain delay. The Red Sox managed just three hits while the Tigers had twice that number. Neither offense was effective but Torii Hunter’s first-inning single to center to plate Ian Kinsler from second base came...

A Pitch of Orioles

With the score tied 2-2 in the seventh and Mike Carp at first base on a base on balls David Ross stepped into the box. Ross took issue with Bud Norris throwing up high. A guy who has had multiple concussions might be sensitive about such things. Ross was so concerned about injuring his brain further he experimented with an old-fashioned mask with shock absorbers and has worn an UNCAP, made of military-grade composite, underneath his gear. So it’s not surprising that Ross jawed at Norris to make an adjustment in his throwing. Matt Wieters did his job as a catcher and interceded. As the situation escalated the benches cleared, but unlike prior dustups against the Orioles this fracas didn’t come to blows or suspensions. I thought that “a quarrel of orioles” would be an outstanding collective noun, but apparently sparrows have plucked that word as their own. This site suggests “a pitch,” but I think “a riffraff of orioles” has a ring to it. Mike Napoli missed just one game due to his dislocated finger. This glove should come with an embroidered reminder: “DO NOT SLIDE HEADFIRST.” When Brock Holt isn’t busy helping old ladies across the street he’s...

Goofus & Gallant

On the very first pitch of the game Nick Markakis laced the ball to left field. Third base umpire Will Little ruled the ball fair. Multiple replays showed that the ball was foul. John Farrell challenged the call Goofus umpiring crew in MLB headquarters upheld the call and Markakis tallied a double. In the eighth inning Brock Holt knocked the ball to Steve Lombardozzi. First base umpire Mark Carlson called Holt out. Replays showed that Holt got to the first base bag a split second before the ball reached Chris Davis’s glove. Gallant umpiring crew in MLB headquarters overruled Carlson’s call and Holt was safe at first. Goofuses on the Red Sox side were John Lackey (5⅓ innings pitched, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts) and the Red Sox lineup with runners in scoring position (5-for-15). Game 17: April 18, 2014 Baltimore Orioles8-7 8 W: Chris Tillman (2-1)H: Brian Matusz (2)S: Darren O’Day (1) 2B: Nick Markakis – 2 (3), Jonathan Schoop – 2 (6) Boston Red Sox7-10 4 L: John Lackey (2-2) 2B: Mike Carp (2), Daniel Nava (3), Mike Napoli (3)...


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