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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Red Sox debut”


The Oakland Athletics reached deep into their bag of tricks in their attempt to win the series opener at Fenway. In the seventh they called upon switch pitcher Pat Venditte to keep Oakland in the game and he pitched two excellent innings, allowing just one hit, walking none, and striking out Blake Swihart. It was particularly interesting how Venditte faced off against Swihart as the catcher is a switch hitter. Venditte indicated he was going to pitch right-handed which prompted Swihart to bat lefty, requiring a helmet change. Major League Baseball even has Official Baseball Rule 5.07(f) for Venditte: A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher's plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of...

One and Done

If you thought that the Red Sox have played a lot of close games this season you’d be right. The team has played an AL-high 50 one-run games this year and the results haven’t been as awful as I thought: 25-25. In 2013 Boston played 42 one-run games with a 21-21 mark. Baltimore ranks first in one-run wins with 27 and Boston is second. Raymond showed more excitement about this game than the reported 10,543 in attendance. These teams were nearly equal in futility. They split this 4-game weekend wraparound series. The Rays scored 15 runs in total and the Red Sox scored 14. Each team had a strangely symmetrical 28 hits and 25 runners left on base. Jemile Weeks made his Red Sox debut and didn’t cover himself in glory. He pinch ran for Christian Vazquez in the 10th inning but was picked off by Grant Balfour. The Rays capitalized on their extra-inning opportunity. John Farrell had Burke Badenhop intentionally walk two batters so that the onus was on the fielders rather than the pitcher to get the last outs. Matt Joyce lined the ball over Yoenis Cespedes with the bases loaded to plate the winning run. Joyce didn’t...

Two for the Price of One

Even though the probability of the Red Sox making the playoffs is zero according to Baseball Prospectus’s projections John Farrell managed the game as if it meant something. And that in itself means something. For the first six innings it looked as if Garrett Richards was going to no-hit the Red Sox. In the seventh inning Dustin Pedroia finally got a hold of a fastball and sent it up the middle for a single. Pitching from the stretch drastically altered Richards’s effectiveness. David Ortiz doubled in Pedroia to put the visitors within a run of the Angels. Yoenis Cespedes roped a single to left that advanced Ortiz to third base. Mike Napoli seemed to ground into an easy out but for Erick Aybar fumbling the ball. Ortiz tied the game on the miscue. Perhaps it was better for Richards to have lost his no-hitter on a clean hit rather than infield foibles, but he and Mike Scioscia probably weren’t thrilled with losing the lead thanks to errors. Howie Kendrick bobbled Daniel Nava’s grounder and the bases were loaded with none out. Xander Bogaerts skyed the ball to center and Cespedes tagged up from third to give his team the lead....

New Hire Orientation

Human Resources Representative: Welcome, welcome to the Red Sox organization! What you see before you is the New Hire packet with everything you need: identification card, a sheet with frequently-used phone numbers, an organizational chart, our Employee Handbook, and a map of the building. Are any of you familiar with this structure, the Fenway Park? Craig: I was here for a couple of times last October. Human Resources Representative: Oh, good, good! Maybe you can buddy up with the newer folks just in case they get lost. Now, do any of you have any questions before I take you through the Employee Handbook? Ranaudo: Is there any sort of personal grooming policy? Human Resources Representative: Other than the specific rules about which uniform to wear, which means these god-awful red jerseys on Fridays… oh goodness, you didn’t hear me say that about those uniforms. We’re not like those Yankees, oh no. Stephen Drew had to shave what little stubble he had when he went over to the visitors’ clubhouse. Ranaudo: Sweet! Human Resources Representative: Indeed! We also have a mentoring program where we pair you up with a long-established teammate with similar interests. For example our new right fielder...

Double Play Trouble

Home plate umpire Chris Conroy ruled that Ryan “Tatman” Roberts struck out on a foul tip the ninth with one on and none out. Replay showed that Conroy missed the call. John Farrell came out to argue the judgment but foul tips are not reviewable. This toga-wearing fan demonstrated what Chris Conroy was doing when he observed Joakim Soria’s pitch to Roberts. Thus ended Tatman’s Red Sox debut. While he didn’t get a hit he did walk twice. Like so many of the local nine he grounded into a double play to squelch a potential rally. His came in the fifth inning after A.J. Pierzynski led off with a single up the middle. The praying hands on his right arm didn’t help. It’s difficult to see what adorns Roberts’s left arm from this angle. This articles states the Japanese character for “family” is etched onto the left side of neck. Perhaps it’s time for Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa to unleash their inner bullpen prankster spirit animals. Dustin Pedroia grounded into two double plays. But if he can’t cut it in baseball, he can pursue his Plan B: NBA superstar. Game 8: April 8, 2014 Texas Rangers4-4 10 W: Martin...

Otanjōbi Omedetō Gozaimasu

「お誕生日おめでとうございます!」 Pronounced “otanjōbi omedetō gozaimasu,” this is a formal way of wishing Koji Uehara a happy birthday. The 39-year-old closer has earned this respect not just by being an elder but by showing he can dominate hitters in 2014 as he did in 2013. Uehara threw only seven pitches in this outing; he may not throw his age until his team’s first trip to Yankee Stadium next weekend.   1 Jonathan Schoop “saw” three of Uehara’s pitches; the way he flailed at the splitter in the dirt he might as well guest star as J.K. Simmons’s visually impaired buddy in that sitcom NBC keeps flogging. Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis saved themselves from that embarrassment by popping out to Will Middlebrooks, both on the second pitch. Speaking of embarrassing, Nelson Cruz made a bad break on David Ortiz’s looper to left in the third. Unlike many of Manny Ramirez’s shenanigans in left field Cruz’s mishap was unintentional. Jackie Bradley Jr. displayed speed and game awareness, taking off on contact to score from first on the Oriole’s foible. Cruz came close to tallying an assist in the fourth frame. He gathered David Ross’s grounder and fired to the plate as Xander...

Big Bang Series

The exhilaration of yesterday’s triumphant trip to the White House carried over into tonight’s game. David Ortiz has 40,000 retweets of his selfie with the President of the United States, surpassing the Instagram “likes” of Bill Nye and and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s snapshot with the leader of the free world. Ortiz was 0-for-7 against Ubaldo Jimenez until the third frame. What an honor! Thanks for the #selfie, @BarackObama pic.twitter.com/y5Ww74sEID— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) April 1, 2014 Ortiz clubbed his first home run of the season with Dustin Pedroia on base to give his team a 2-0 lead. Baltimore battled back with none other than Nelson Cruz, who homered in his second consecutive game. This time his four-bagger cleared the right field wall in the fourth inning with Chris Davis on base to tie the game 2-2. Mike Napoli was singled out by President Obama as the only athlete on his Council of Beards. That prestigious appointment proved motivating. Napoli untangled the tied game in the fifth inning with a blast to dead center, driving in Daniel Nava. Napoli tacked on two more runs in the seventh. Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were the Bash Brothers. I propose that Ortiz and Napoli...

Choking on the Splinters

Evan Meek took the mound in the eighth after Nelson Cruz put his team ahead 2-1 with a solo homer. The reliever did what every manager hates to see after securing the lead: give up a walk to start the frame. Meek might get a homework assignment from Buck Showalter. During spring training the Orioles skipper had minor leaguer Josh Hart write a report because Hart didn’t know who Frank Robinson was. If Meek researched about the percentage of times a lead runner scores he would find it’s 38% irrespective of reaching by a walk or single. Perhaps Meek was saved by his tenacious play on Mike Carp’s tapper. The reliever lost the handle on the ball at first but stuck with it and nailed Carp at first. Two players made their Red Sox debuts: Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski. Sizemore made his presence felt with a circuit clout in the fourth that tied the game. Pierzynski worked well with Jon Lester, guiding the southpaw through 7 innings with a line of 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts. Perhaps someday a Red Sox player will name Jean Cocteau’s “Orphée” as his favorite film, call Igor Stravinsky...

Fired Up

Jake Peavy made his Red Sox debut on his grandmother’s birthday. Her name was Dama Lolly and she recently passed away after fighting cancer. After his first win with his new team Peavy thanked fans on Twitter, saying “Tonight is just 1 win, but it's 1 I'll never forget!!” And neither will Red Sox fans. Since Josh Beckett was traded out of Boston there had been something of a lack of feverish outbursts on the mound. Peavy filled that void, yelling invectives at himself when he departed the mound between innings. Not that he had a lot to berate himself about: 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. One run came in the fourth on NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt’s home run. The other was in the eighth when Junichi Tazawa allowed Wil Nieves, a runner he inherited, to cross home on a single off Aaron Hill’s bat. Peavy not only covers for Clay Buchholz in the rotation but could also understudy at guitar. He may have played the hat tip card a bit early, though. In the eighth Jarrod Saltalamacchia lofted a two-run shot directly into Koji Uehara’s glove. Uehara returned the favor...


Brandon Workman made his first major league start and pitched serviceably: 6⅓ innings pitched, 2 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts. In fact, he had a no-hitter until Coco Crisp led off the seventh with an infield single that Dustin Pedroia desperately pounced on and relayed to first to no avail. Unfortunately for Workman the other hit he relinquished was a home run off Josh Donaldson’s bat with Crisp on base to knot the game 2-2. Bartolo Colon has rejuvenated himself to an All-Star echelon once again, but his name was found in records at Biogenesis, which is the Atlantic coast’s incarnation of BALCO. Obviously weight loss isn’t one of the benefits of Biogenesis’s services. The Athletics have opened the upper deck of Oracle Arena when Colon pitches because he can be seen from that height. Also, additional space was needed to house Larry Ellison’s ego. In addition to a governor of Red Sox Nation California has an Emperor. Rick Mello grew up in New England but now calls the Golden State home, or rather, his dominion. I wonder what Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, would have thought of this new...


There are some fresh faces on the roster. How better to acquaint oneself with the scrutiny of the Boston sports media than a season opener against the New York Yankees? While the Bronx’s lineup resembled the RailRiders, the Red Sox batters squared off against the formidable CC Sabathia. Shane Victorino was born and raised on the same island I grew up on. Maui no ka ’oi! (Maui is da bes!) He went 2-for-6 and added to Jose Iglesias’s two RBIs with two of his own in the second inning. I do wonder if he will get on base consistently enough to stay in the two-hole, but he managed hits off both a lefty and a righty. Mike Napoli had a rough go of it with an 0-for-5 line and two strikeouts. As such he is the Joey Fatone of the ensemble. Wrong “band”? Oh well, they all blend together. Jonny Gomes notched two hits from the seven-hole. It is less than ideal to have a designated hitter so far down the lineup, but until David Ortiz mends Gomes will have to shoulder the load. I have to think Kevin Youkilis looked over at Gomes’s beard with nostalgic yearning. Last but...

Bedard Off Dead

Erik Bedard missed a quality start by an inning with a solid if short line of 5 innings pitched, 7 hits, 3 earned runs, no walks, and 5 strikeouts. He departed the mound with the score 3-3 and handed the fate of his Red Sox debut game over to Franklin Morales. My friend observed that Morales wasn’t the answer. I countered that he was, if the question was, “Who is going to allow the go-ahead and insurance runs to score?” Justin Masterson’s lankiness was rivaled by Andrew Miller, who saw action out of the bullpen for the first time. In 2⅔ innings he allowed another pair of runs, effectively putting the game out of reach for the local nine. It is becoming clear that Miller is the answer to the question, “Name a first round draft pick bust by the Detroit Tigers.” Miller doesn’t even have a wife to bring cookies for Don and Jerry like Masterson does. Just another reason to miss the gangly starter. Of course the Red Sox lost and the Yankees have won the last seven games in a row, setting it up so the AL East titans enter their weekend series with identical 68-42 records....

Trader Woes

I went to bed thinking about what I would write about Rich Harden coming to the Red Sox only to wake up to discover that the deal fell through overnight. Rich Soften, as I have taken to call him, was to have come to Boston at the price of Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. With Adrian Gonzalez signed through 2018 Anderson is largely superfluous to the Red Sox’s future, but it doesn’t mean that he should be moved for an injury-prone starter. The Red Sox finally won a game against their alabaster counterparts with one of their signature double-digit run games. The visitors burned Philip Humber for four runs in the fifth, sparked by Carl Crawford’s leadoff ground ball single to right. Crawford’s presence on the basepaths disrupted the rapport between Humber and A.J. Pierzynski. The left fielder stole second and advanced to third on Pierzynski’s galley-west throw to second. Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove Crawford in with a humpback double to right-center. Josh Reddick dropped a perfect bunt that Humber reached but was unable to get in first in time for an out. Saltalamacchia advanced on the bunt single and scored on Marco Scutaro’s sacrifice fly. Jacoby...

Not Your Lackey

Even Tim McCarver, who has not had many opportunities to observe John Lackey, felt compelled to comment on how the starter reacted to being pulled after five and two-thirds innings. As Lackey moped from the mound he shot an unfriendly glance back at his manager. Many of Lackey’s teammates have seen him pull such a face. Marco Scutaro must have when he jammed his finger when fielding Johnny Damon’s grounder in the first, allowing the leadoff man to reach. Damon advanced to third on Ben Zobrist’s single to center and scored when Scutaro booted Casey Kotchman’s grounder up the middle. But it was Lackey who surrendered consecutive singles to Matt Joyce and B.J. Upton for two more runs in the first. Were it not for a 4-6-3 double play anchored by Scutaro, Lackey would have been in the showers without an inning to his name. The Red Sox answered immediately in the top of the second, not too challenging task as James Shields seems to be the Rays’ version of Lackey. Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked a one-out walk and Josh Reddick launched his third home run of the season to bring the visitors within a run. Shields unraveled further in the...

Miller’s Crossing

That wasn’t the man on stilts who plays catch with kids on Yawkey Way before games on the mound, that was Andrew Miller. People wondered why Miller, the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft, had trouble with his mechanics. It’s because it takes so long for his brain to send signals to his legs. Miller kept it together in his Red Sox debut until sixth inning. Chase Headley led off with a bloop single to right and Ryan Ludwick walked on five pitches. Miller bore down to strike out Jesus Guzman but surrendered a game-tying home run to Orlando Hudson. The Padres second baseman didn’t signal his own home run, unlike how he indicates his infield singles as safe. While he didn’t earn a win, Miller pitched no worse than a typical John Lackey outing and should see a few more starts with Clay Buchholz on the disabled list. This is a league that has Bruce Chen and Roderigo Lopez pitching regularly at the major league level. Someone with Miller’s pedigree may never break through that glass ceiling stopping him from being considered a major league regular precisely because his ceiling as a prospect was so high. Speaking of...

At the Old Ball Game

For this column Joanna was visited by her great-grandmother Eliza Manuel, a recent immigrant from the Philippines who yearned for a job as a baseball writer but was doubly unlikely to have such a career because of her ethnicity and her sex. Game 45: May 21, 2011 Chicago Cubs20-24 9 W: Sean Marshall (2-0) 2B: Aramis Ramirez (11), Reed Johnson (7), Jeff Baker (6), Starlin Castro (11) Boston Red Sox24-21 3 H: Dan Wheeler (1)H: Rich Hill (2)BS, L: Matt Albers (1, 0-2) HR: David Oritz (9)...

Pummeling the Plumage

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays silly, thereby causing silliness by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in the booth. When Kevin Youkilis launched his 18th homer of the season to lead off the fourth, making the score 11-0, Remy shouted, “Yeah, take that, you voters!” Nick Swisher used his Twitter account and celebrity endorsements to aid his All-Star campaign while Youkilis just let his bat speak. Only LeBron James’s free agency saga outstripped Swisher’s shameless self-promotion. In this social media era, 140-characters sound bites won out over statistics. If this game were a page on Facebook it would be “liked” by millions of Boston fans as their favorite baseball team’s four-game losing streak was snapped by an impressive offensive onslaught. What few Blue Jays fans there are (attendance at the game was 27,567 of 49,539 available seats) would bemoan the lack of a “dislike” button. The visiting hitters batted around in the third and loaded the bases three times thanks to bases on balls by Toronto’s pitchers. In six innings Jon Lester had half the earned runs that Brian Tallet allowed in a single inning. While Lester and Robert Manuel surrendered one homer each Tallet relinquished three circuit clouts...

Halfway Home

All three teams topping the American League East won yesterday so none of the troika gained an advantage. In addition to their half-game advantage over the Red Sox the Yankees have more starters on the All-Star roster. Here’s the breakdown for the AL East leadersYankees: Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera Reserve: Alex RodriguezRed Sox: Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester Reserves: Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz Injured: Dustin Pedroia, Victor MartinezRays: Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, David PriceSince Boston has 10, count ’em, 10 players on the disabled list, the fewer players who need to jet to Los Angeles during the Midsummer Classic the better as far as I am concerned. I can’t help think that Joe Girardi had nefarious thoughts when he appointed Buchholz and Lester even though they deserved to be on the roster. If all goes well this will be the first of many selections for the pair of aces. Clean-up hitter Kevin Youkilis leads his team in runs and is tied for second in runs batted in but also tops the list on hit by pitch. The Red Sox first baseman will be on the ballot for the fan selection. Girardi’s selection of Miguel Cabrera...

Welcome to Navaville

Population: 37,061. Founded: February 22, 1983. Expanded: June 12, 2010. Navaville was founded on the hopes and dreams of a pair of parents endlessly playing catch and throwing batting practice with their son and devotedly driving their kids to and from Little League. The verdant fields of this town are watered by the tears over years of disappointment of their child being overlooked because of his size even though he had the skills. The municipality’s boundaries were only limited by Becky and Don Nava’s belief in their son, and at 4:45 PM Daniel Nava extended the town’s borders 385 feet beyond its original borders. The former independent league player powered the first major league pitch he saw into the home bullpen with the bases loaded in the second inning. After the Red Sox secured the series with their second consecutive blowout victory, Nava likely contacted Erin Andrews, his long-time crush, to grant her the key to the city. She already tweeted her congratulations and said she wanted to meet him. Only one other player, Kevin Kouzmanoff, has hit a grand slam in his first major league at bat on the first pitch. Teammate Jeremy Hermida accomplished this feat as a...

Old McDonald From the Farm

What was the most memorable sound Darnell McDonald heard today? Torey Lovullo telling him to pack up his gear because they want him in Boston. While waiting to board a flight from Rochester to Boston, the amplified yet still indistinct voices of airport personnel counting off seating zones so achingly slow (The ticket says row 11 with an aisle seat, why is it Zone 4?). As the 1997 first-round draft pick made his way from triple-A to MLB for the fourth time in his career, what did he taste? Bitterness at first, perhaps, thinking of that week in July 2007 that the Twins gave him a shot and he went 1-for-10 over the course of four games. Or the sweetness of 2009 when he finally made a big league roster out of Spring Training. He had the opportunity to stay in the Reds system, but McDonald signed with the Red Sox instead. For a career minor leaguer even the off-brand airline snacks must taste like a meal from a Michelin-starred restaurant. Scents are supposed to evoke powerful memories, tied as it to a more primitive part of the brain, the limbic system. The smells from the sausage vendor’s cart near...


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