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Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Shoppach”

Beckett Blues

The Red Sox fell behind early behind Josh Beckett’s tepid pitching performance. Beckett was booed but his performance wasn’t the only reason last night’s game ended in defeat for the local nine. Offensively the Boston bats fell silent with no extra base hits and collectively they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. To add the home squad’s shortcomings home plate umpire Sam Holbrook missed a key call at home, but even without the ill-gotten run Toronto’s offensive outplayed the opposition. Cody Ross’s misplay of Colby Rasmus’s liner off the right field wall with one down in the first turned a double into a triple. Rasmus dashed home on Edwin Encarnacion’s grounder to Will Middlebrooks. The third baseman threw perfectly to Kelly Shoppach, who immaculately blocked the dish from any incursion by Rasmus. After a moment’s hesitation Holbrook called Rasmus safe. Bobby Valentine popped out of the dugout to question the call, and rightfully so as replays showed the Blue Jays outfielder didn’t touch home. While Ross had a part to play in the Rasmus debacle he ended the visitors’ half of the ninth nimbly. With runners at first and second and a run already in Ross charged Rasmus’s liner...

Why is Six Afraid of Seven?

Because seven-eight-nine hit home runs. The unlikely trio of Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, and Kelly Shoppach all managed to square up on Oriole pitchers’ offerings and knock them over the fences. Nava’s was from the left-handed side. The no-doubter found the right field seats near the scoreboard, but didn’t go over the scoreboard like a Papi shot. The respectable clout rendered the score 3-2 in the sixth. Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair gave Jake Arrieta a visit after Nava’s four-bagger but stayed with the starter. Podsednik singled with a scorching ground ball to right, a hit that prompted Buck Showalter to pull Arrieta in favor of Luis Ayala. Ayala tried to get Shoppach to bite on a slider but the backstop waited for a fastball. When Shoppach got the pitch he wanted he powered it over the W.B. Mason sign in left field to give his team a 5-2 lead and a lucky fan a souvenir. How fortunate is that person: a day game in the middle of the week with gorgeous weather and an official baseball. Perhaps not as fortunate as Podsednik, who saw past Darren O’Day’s sidearm delivery and got a hold of a hanging slider. The ball...

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

As if giving instructions to a cadre of tykes for a Red Sox Small Talk segment Bobby Valentine said in the postgame press conference, “Just for you younger reporters out there that was called a complete game. The starter starts it and…” Jon Lester pitched a complete game loss in Toronto a little over a month ago on April 11, so this time the innings invested paid off. It does help that the Seattle Mariners are a bunch of lambs (in Dennis Eckersley jargon). Lester chatted up a perfect game until fourth inning. With two down Ichiro Suzuki interrupted Lester’s flow with a comebacker that the hurler couldn’t get a handle on and Lester couldn’t seal the deal. He should post in Craigslist: “To the perfect game I carried into the 4th. Meet me in Chicago the weekend of June 15. I have an old friend to impress.” Unlike they did in Lester’s April effort the Red Sox lineup provided adequate run support. Even the bottom third of the order experienced a power surge in the fourth inning. Seven-hole hitter Daniel Nava dropped the ball in the front row of the Monster seats with Cody Ross on the basepaths. Sadly...

Will to Power

Not the band from the 1980s that feloniously combined “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “Freebird” but rather “der Wille zur Macht,” the Nietzschean concept of striving to attain the highest position. From “The Will to Power” comes this excerpt: “My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (--its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension.” Will Middlebrooks mastered space, time, and Royals pitchers last night. With elegant intervals Middlebrooks home runs have landed thus: a grand slam in Sunday’s debacle, a three-run shot to right in the first inning, and a two-run circuit clout in the eighth that dinged the left field foul pole. If Middlebrooks’s ambition is to render Kevin Youkilis redundant he seems to have the bat to do so. The rookie’s defense is still raw, however, as witnessed by his throwing error in the third that allowed Jarrod Dyson to score and Alex Gordon to advance to third. The Royals inched to within a run of the visitors in that inning but never gained the advantage. Felix Doubront lasted 6⅓ innings and had to be relieved by Vicente Padilla. The...

Brick by Brick

The Red Sox attempted to rebuild their championship franchise with a successful home opener. Josh Beckett contributed by not grooving fastballs down Broadway and every batter but Cody Ross had at least one hit. The lineup batted around in the eight-run eighth inning, only the second time Boston has done so this season. Kelly Shoppach stole a base for the first time in his career in the sixth inning with the score 4-2 in favor of the Red Sox, Mike Aviles at third, two out, and Ryan Sweeney (who is batting .429 and has an OBP of .478). I forgive Bobby Valentine for sending Shoppach in this situation because it resulted in the most hilarious slide ever. I thought I was watching a trailer for the upcoming Three Stooges movie rather than a baseball play. As the Bruins are busy defending their Stanley Cup championship other luminaries participated in this historic Opening Day ceremony. Recently retired Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek emerged from behind the left field wall-sized American flag to throw the first pitch out to Dwight Evans and Jim Rice. Johnny Pesky, who had to be assisted onto the field, opened the game with the customary shout of...


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