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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Indians”


Before the game a young Cleveland fan named Dylan Fantone gave Dustin Pedroia a sign that said, “From our city to your city: Our hearts and prayers go out to you Boston. Love, Cleveland.” Brian Fantone has raised a fine young man, indeed. Another Cleveland fan, John Adams, has his own Wikipedia page. Steadfastly he drummed away, even as Jon Lester struck out five, through Zach McAllister’s jams, and as Bryan Shaw surrendered the lead in the seventh. Even with the tragedies in Boston on his mind Lester pitched well. He lasted seven innings, only allowed a single base on balls, four hits, and two earned runs. The southpaw seems to have rebounded from the issues that plagued him last season. Mike Napoli supported Lester’s win with an RBI single in the seventh. His profile needs to be updated with “speed demon;” the slugger legged out a triple in the second. He was a bit winded after his jaunt around the bases, particularly in the 81 degree heat. Alfredo Aceves was somehow not affected by the heat. He even donned a balaclava and took a few warm-up swings. I would have written this sooner but for the astonishing events that...

Boston Strong

To support their city the Red Sox made a jersey with Boston’s area code and hung it up in the dugout. Throughout the game the Cleveland crew made the visitors feel at home, playing “Sweet Caroline” and “Dirty Water.” The flag in center field stood at half-mast. The President decreed that flags at the White House and government buildings, military posts, and naval vessels would be half-staff until sundown this Saturday. Will Middlebrooks etched his support on his shoe. The third baseman went 0-for-4 with a walk, but his teammates more than made up for his lack of hits. Felix Doubront had a seven-run lead to work with after the second inning was mercifully ended by Middlebrooks’s strike out. Jerry Remy was visibly angry when he spoke about the Boston Marathon bombing in the show opener. Meryl Masterson’s cookies seemed to cheer his mood. Banter between Don Orsillo and Terry Francona also had him chuckling. “That's the only reason I want the Red Sox to hit a home run, so I can have something to go to sleep to,” quipped Francona in the pre-game press conference. Gordon Edes got in a jibe about how he would mute the sound during...

The Devil is Six

Yesterday I said I wasn’t concerned. Now yesterday seems so far away and yes, I do need a place to hide away. But I don’t believe that yesterday or today, or any of the days since April 1, are indicative of what this team is capable of. Which makes this losing streak all the more baffling. Fausto Carmona was battered by the Pale Hose for 10 runs over three innings just last week. Today he two-hit what was supposed to be one of the most potent lineups in the league. The Red Sox were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Jon Lester turned in the starting rotation’s only quality start of the season thus far: 7 innings pitched, 3 hits, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts. Behind Lester’s stellar start were a number of dazzling defensive gems. To start the fourth inning Adrian Gonzalez tumbled after a grounder off the bat of Shin-Soo Choo and fired to first from his knee, expertly leading Lester to the first base bag with his underhanded toss. Carlos Santana reached on a base on balls right after but was erased by Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s timely throw. Dustin Pedroia had to pick the throw out of the...

DFA (Dennys Reyes for Assignment)

I’m not so much concerned than I am disappointed. On paper this should be the best team in baseball, like how the Dream Team was assembled for the 1992 Olympics. Instead, the 2011 version of the Red Sox have played out like the LeBron James-led Miami Heat, who were supposed to be juggernauts of the NBA. Coincidentally, James purchased a minority stake of John W. Henry’s Liverpool Football Club today. The basketball superstar grew up a fan of the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, and Chicago Bulls. Apparently the Glazer brothers weren’t shopping shares of Manchester United. Jason Varitek made his first start of the season and over the course of the game it was clear he had not completely shaken free of the off-season rust. Dennys Reyes rolled onto the mound in the sixth and loaded the bases faster than he loads up at the post-game spread. The rotund reliever hit two batters and walked a third. Of the dozen pitches Reyes hurled only one was a strike. Terry Francona yanked him in favor of Dan Wheeler. Wheeler induced a liner off Michael Brantley’s bat into Kevin Youkilis’s glove. Youkilis dropped the ball and third base umpire Dan Iassogna...


Four losses, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Japanese word for four being a homonym for death — coincidence? Most assuredly not. There’s only 158 games left in the season. It’s far too late for the Red Sox to dig themselves out of this hole. I recommend taking up a hobby that one can pick up quickly to distract yourself from these last few torturous days of the season. Might I suggest stone carving, helicopter piloting, or Galápagos giant tortoise caretaking? Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned around his year in the twilight of his team’s campaign. His second-inning single slipped past second baseman Orlando Cabrera to plate David Ortiz for Boston’s only run of the game. If only Theo Epstein made a move as he did in 2004 picking up Cabrera to turn around the squad’s fortunes. Josh Beckett turned in another disastrous season. His five-inning outing with a line of 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts was a sterling example of all his other 2011 starts. Four games in and still no repeat ties from Don Orsillo. Tonight’s accessory featured a dark blue and silver pattern that conjured images of scales of a piscine creature wading in...

Remove Helmet, Touch Head

Get your mind out of the gutter, not that head. I speak of Marco Scutaro and Victor Martinez, the tandem who launched a combination attack on Adrian Beltre’s head after his fourth-inning grand slam. The shortstop trotted up behind Beltre to remove the third baseman’s helmet and catcher massaged Beltre’s melon. As Beltre mans the hot corner he has a fast reaction time, but not even his reflexes could fend off that fiendish duo. Up until the fourth inning rookie Josh Tomlin was enjoying a perfect game. Scutaro sent a single over the third base bag with one out and Martinez and Drew walked to load the bases. Beltre’s fly ball cleared the Green Monster and the crowd erupted. Daisuke Matsuzaka has gotten over his first-half inconsistency and first inning jitters at last. In his eight innings on the mound the starter allowed 5 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. That he got to the eighth was particularly beneficial with a four-game series against the Yankees looming. Even with a 6-1 lead Terry Francona couldn’t guide his team to a win without burning one of best relievers. Hideki Okajima took over in the ninth and struggled to...

Justin Time to Party Marte

I likened this Red Sox team to a rescued puppy in my last column. Now, imagine bringing home that puppy after he so carelessly captured your heart and finding out a few days later that you had to put him down because he had a congenital defect that would only bring him pain and suffering if he grew out of puppyhood. In effect that is what Kevin Youkilis’s thumb injury did. His season-ending hand surgery is an insurmountable setback for the Red Sox. With the loss of this game Boston fell 6½ games behind the Rays and the Yankees, who were tied with an identical record of 67-40. Their ever-diminishing postseason chances hinge upon Mike Lowell and possibly Carlos Delgado. Delgado was born in 1972, the same year as the newly-minted Celtic center Shaquille O’Neal. What next, is Brett Favre going to take snaps from Dan Koppen? Two former Red Sox players had their way against Boston. Justin Masterson lasted only 5 innings and surrendered a homer to David Ortiz while striking out 3 and walking 4. Andy Marte lofted a three-run shot into the Monster seats to put the game well out of reach in the seventh. A face...

Hollywood Lowell

This team is like the sad-eyed puppy at the shelter that you just can’t turn your back on. No matter how pathetic the circumstances, the team musters that irresistible tail-wag, that cloying big-eyed gaze, that spunky growl as it plays tug-of-war with a shredded remnant of fabric. That tattered cloth may have well been Boston’s playoff hopes, ragged and threadbare. Mike Lowell, activated to replaced the injured Kevin Youkilis, played the tailor in the second inning. Since June 22 Lowell has not faced major league pitching, yet the first pitch he saw he knocked over the Green Monster to give his team a two-run lead. The Fenway faithful didn’t even have time to sit down from their “welcome back” standing ovation; they continued to stand as they cheered Lowell around the bases. The only runs that scored in this game were by way of the longball. Indians backstop Lou Marson, who took the spot of Carlos Santana, homered in the third to shave Boston’s lead to a single run. Bill Hall responded in the bottom of the fourth with a no-doubter over the left field wall. Homers weren’t the only fireworks the 37,714 fans enjoyed. As retaliation for Josh Beckett...

Coup de Grâce

Translated literally, “coup de grâce” means blow of grace or mercy. It refers granting the reprieve of a quick end to suffering of one who is on the verge of death, such as a shot to the head of a prisoner who wasn’t quite finished off by the firing squad. In short, it is the killing stroke, as Kevin Youkilis’s right thumb injury is to Boston’s playoff hopes. My friend and sports guru asked me, “Guess who texted his teammates and told them he was going to retire?” My first real guess was Mike Lowell. My second humorous quip was Jacoby Ellsbury, Of course the real answer was Brett Favre, but I feel badly for writing his name. Sports media to Favre is like your brain to “Mambo Number 5.” Once you hear it, it’s impossible to get out of your head. As entertaining as the thought that the returns of Ellsbury and Mike Lowell might make up for the loss of Youkilis, at some point the beleaguered team and fans have to appeal to the baseball gods as Roberto Duran did to referee Octavio Meyran: “No mas.” I’m already nostalgic about Adrian Beltre’s inevitable departure. No one else takes...

Baseball Bloopers

Jerry Remy covered play-by-play for Don Orsillo, who was out due to illness, for the first few batters until John Rish took over. Remy was as uncomfortable narrating the action as Daniel Bard was pitching in the ninth. Perhaps it was the recent spate of over-usage that caused the fireballer to blow the save and not some sort of mental inability to close out a game. Jonathan Papelbon will put himself on the free agent market once he is no longer arbitration eligible and Bard is currently the most likely candidate to replace him. Bard notched his third career save on June 8 but gave up two hits and two walks in the final game in this series against Cleveland for a disheartening defeat. The Indians led off the ninth with a base on balls for Trevor Crowe. Shin-Soo Choo’s double wasn’t deep enough to plate Crowe, but the speedy center fielder got within 90 feet of tying the game. Bard walked Austin Kearns on five pitches to load the bases, but recovered to strike out Travis Hafner and induce a pop out off the bat of Jhonny Peralta. Rather than improving his curriculum vitae with another save Bard added...

Master and Servant

Indians pitcher Justin Masterson is such a nice guy that his former teammates didn’t want to score runs off of him. The Red Sox lineup nubbed grounder after grounder to Cleveland’s infield; by the end of his nine innings Masterson tallied 17 ground ball outs. Only Victor Martinez and J.D. Drew managed singles off the lanky starter. The other two baserunners, Kevin Youkilis and Jeremy Hermida, reached on bases on balls. I suspect Masterson bribed the Boston ballplayers with his wife Meryl’s Home Plate Cookies. Clay Buchholz wasn’t his ace self on the mound: 7 innings pitched, 3 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 walks, and 1 strikeout. Although he gave up a handful of runs the game was winnable until Boof Bonser and Joe Nelson took over in the eighth. Bonser, whose smartest career move was to legally change his name from the banal “John” to the memorable “Boof,” pitched to four batters and didn’t notch an out. Nelson allowed all of the runners he inherited score in a most grandiose fashion: a four-bagger with ducks on the pond lofted into right field by Travis Hafner. Who knows if or when Bonser or Nelson will ever work it out. But...

Error of His Ways

If Cleveland center fielder Trevor Crowe had not made a two-base error on Victor Martinez’s batted ball in the fourth, the three runs the visiting team tallied would not have been scored. Crowe robbed Marco Scutaro of base hits in the first and seventh with daring diving grabs, but the sophomore fielder, while talented, is still unseasoned in the field. In contrast, in the sixth ball hawk Mike Cameron glided to the wall with his back to home plate to convert Crowe’s deep fly ball to the warning track into the second out of the frame. Just as Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched better of late Tim Wakefield turned in a solid start: 7⅓ innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), no walks, and six strikeouts. It wasn’t exactly Stephen Strasburg (7 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, no walks, 14 strikeouts), but there hasn’t been as electrifying a pitching performance since Pedro Martinez circa 2000. In the middle of Victor Martinez’s fifth inning at bat NESN showed Victor Jr. taking batting practice before the game. Martinez’s namesake was not amongst the Red Sox 2010 draftees, but in the sixth round Kendrick Perkins was. Not the Celtics center, but a...

Recharged Battery

Whatever differences Daisuke Matsuzaka and Victor Martinez had were resolved in the catcher’s former stomping ground. With the rotation weakened by Josh Beckett’s departure, Matsuzaka realized he had to step up his game. As hot as Martinez’s bat has been, the backstop also has a lot of pride in his game calling behind the plate and his skill in this arena has been questioned. Matsuzaka had his best outing since his no-hit bid, an eight-inning performance in which he allowed just six baserunners (four by hit, two by bases on balls) and struck out five batters. An impressive 62.5% of Matsuzaka’s pitches were strikes. Martinez went 2-for-4 with a run batted in by sacrifice fly in the seventh. He displayed his powerful stroke in the fourth with a ringing double off the pseudo-Monster that inhabits Progressive Field’s left field but was stranded. Rare is the athlete who cottons to Cleveland, but Martinez was saddened to leave the only team he knew in last season’s deadline deal. He returned to meager applause but only because the Cleveland Indians’ attendance has declined precipitously from their 2007 playoff run. As distant as that seems, even deeper in the recesses of the club’s memory...


Game 162: October 4, 2009 Indians7L: Tomo Ohka (1-5)65-97, 5 game losing streak Red Sox12W: Michael Bowden (1-1)95-67, 4 game winning streak Highlights: Bowden, he of the bizarre delivery, attained his first major league win in 2009 in the last game of the regular season. He entered the game after Ramon Ramirez took over following Clay Buchholz’s disastrous five-run third inning. Boston countered with five runs in the sixth inning: Jed Lowrie lofted his first grand slam in the majors and J.D. Drew launched his second homer of the game. In his six seasons as Red Sox field manager Terry Francona has a record of 95 wins or better five times. “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” This line from the Grateful Dead song “Truckin’” is overused by a portly ESPN anchor, but it is an appropriate sentiment for 2009. January 8th: Rocco Baldelli inked $500,000 one-year contract. He wears 5, the first player to do so since Nomar Garciaparra. 9th: Brady Penny deal ($5M for one year with $3M in incentives) officially announced.Mark Kotsay re-signed to a one-year $1.5M contract. 10th: Takashi Saito signed for $1.5M with performance and roster bonuses. 12th: Jim Rice voted into the National...


Game 161: October 3, 2009 Indians6L: Aaron Laffey (7-9)65-96, 4 game losing streak Red Sox11W: Josh Beckett (17-6)94-67, 3 game winning streak Highlights: Beckett allowed four runs but none were by way of the longball. Cleveland is middle of the pack for team home runs, tied for 14th with the Cubs with 161 dingers, so it’s not a completely puny team. Commentators always say that managers would prefer that their pitchers give up grand slams than bases-loaded walks. When asked if he shared this opinion regarding the second-inning grand slam relinquished to former Indians catcher Victor Martinez, Eric Wedge said that he typically goes with a 3-iron instead of a 5-wood on drives of about 200 yards. He then quickly retracted his statement and said that since Carlos Carrasco was a young pitcher he could rebound from such a setback. When Wedge was informed that it was Aaron Laffey that surrendered the four-run circuit clout, the Cleveland skipper shrugged and continued to work on his sudoku. Martinez’s homer came two balls after he had popped a ball foul to the top of the Red Sox dugout stairs. Former Braves prospect and Red Sox jetsam Andy Marte gloved it but didn’t...


Game 159: October 1, 2009 Indians0L: Carlos Carrasco (0-4)65-94, 2 game losing streak Red Sox3W: Jon Lester (15-8)H: Daniel Bard (13)H: Billy Wagner (5)S: Jonathan Papelbon (38)92-67, 1 game winning streak Highlights: A win, a very palpable win. MLB.com now has a Game Pulse section on its Gameday Wrap tab which tracks the amount of Twitter traffic tagged with #redsox and #indians. Eric Wedge tweets from the Cleveland dugout: @terryfrancona do u need new bench coach if Millsy takes my job? Call me. @AmalieBenjamin any word on openings with Os or Stros? I def won’t miss visitors clubhouse at Fenway--so small Always glaze over when the umps tell me the ground rules here, esp Randa“zzz”o Damn Ellsbury is fast, just looked down to check email and suddenly he’s on third Shoulda had Carlos join the club and plunk Youk Marte Mota & Shoppach for Crisp, Bard the catcher & Riske then Crisp flipped for Ramirez. Advantage: Push @MShapiroIndiansGM Masterson Hagadone & Price for VMart. Advantage: Theo (yeah, I said it!) Another VMart extra base hit... and it’s me that gets canned and not Shapiro for trading him How did Papi get around on that? And Youk was safe at third?...


Game 29: May 7, 2009 Indians3L: Jeremy Sowers (0-1)11-18, 1 game losing streak Red Sox13W: Tim Wakefield (4-1)18-11, 1 game winning streak Highlights: This was the last game Dom DiMaggio watched before he passed away. He witnessed the only professional team he played on tie the record for runs scored before recording an out. Rest in peace, Professor. The Red Sox went into the bottom of the sixth trailing 2-1. They say things can go south very quickly with Tim Wakefield pitching, but last night that truism applied to all of Cleveland’s arms.Jason Bay knocked in the tying run with a gapper between left and center. Then the freshly activated Rocco Baldelli lined a shot over Luis Valbuena for the go-ahead run plus an insurance run.After that the Indians hurlers passed out runs like banks gave away subprime mortgages in 2005. Jeremy Sowers pitched to six batters and Masa Kobayashi five; neither of them notched a single out. Matt Herges eventually got his team out of the inning, but not before Bay, with two runners on, smashed his eighth homer of the season.The oddest hit of the inning was Nick Green’s. He earned his single by outrunning Valbuena to the...


Game 28: May 6, 2009 Indians9W: Carl Pavano (2-3)S: Aaron Laffey (1)11-17, 1 game winning streak Red Sox2L: Justin Masterson (2-2)17-11, 1 game losing streak Highlights: I must have missed the announcement about the medical breakthrough that allows doctors to surgically excise suck from pitchers. Pavano seems to have underwent the procedure. The Red Sox should see about having Brad Penny submit to the same operation. For the entirety of the game I was on a train wending its way across the Eastern Seaboard. The tracks from Penn Station to South Station carried me from the empire and its possessions back home to the nation.One of my friends sent me text updates on the game. I felt my mobile phone vibrate and I opened it excitedly, hoping to read about yet another Jason Bay homer. Instead, it was a fifth inning update about Victor Martinez’s two-run double. My phone battery was running low at that point and I was worried about missing a home team comeback.I didn’t need to fret.I also don’t worry about Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension. It is tempting to look for some sort of parable that somehow makes cohesive narrative of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. A few...


Game 21: April 29, 2009 ∙ 10 innings Red Sox6W: Hideki Okajima (2-0)S: Jonathan Papelbon (6)14-7, 1 game winning streak Indians5H: Rafael Perez (2)H: Rafael Betancourt (3)BS, L: Jensen Lewis (3, 2-3)8-14, 1 game losing streak Highlights: Everyman. Variant form: everyman. Noun: An ordinary person, representative of the human race. The clock is ticking for Jonathan Van Every. He was drafted in the 29th round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Indians. As the 876th overall pick, it was unlikely Van Every would have made it into a major league stadium as anything other than a spectator. He kicked around the Cleveland system for seven years, the most precious years of his baseball career piling up like the grains of sand in an hourglass.If you haven’t made the bigs by the time the team that drafted you no longer holds your rights, it’s usually time to polish the resume and see if the interview suit fits. This is where Van Every found himself at the end of the 2007 season. But instead of packing away his baseball gear, he signed with the Red Sox as a minor league free agent on December 1.He had a solid year in 2008...


Game 20: April 28, 2009 Red Sox8BS: Takashi Saito (1)L: Javier Lopez (0-2)13-7, 1 game losing streak Indians9W: Kerry Wood (1-1)8-13, 1 game winning streak Highlights: In the entry under scapegoat, there is a cross reference: see Lopez, Javier. As hideous as his game- and streak-ending error was, it paled in comparison to Brad Penny’s performance: 2⅔ innings, 7 hits, 7 runs, 4 earned, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 1 home run, and he lost the lead three times. Amazingly enough, Anthony Reyes’s line was worse. This is a family blog, however, so I won’t expose the tender sensibilities of the young and impressionable to his line. As early as 2004 William Safire was calling for the obsoletion of the penny. That year the 26-year old Brad Penny pitched between Florida and Los Angeles as he, Hee Seop Choi, and Bill Murphy were traded to the Dodgers for Juan Encarnacion, Paul Lo Duca, and Guillermo Mota. In the first inning of his second start in Dodger blue Penny injured his arm. He rehabbed and returned in September for just three more innings before he found himself on the disabled list again. For the Dodgers that season he started three games and...


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