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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Tigers”

Future in Flux

With the season a little more than a third of the way through this edition of the Red Sox has shown that it is unlikely that they will catch lightning in a bottle a second year in a row. The offense is anemic. The starting rotation has pitched well enough but hasn’t had the requisite run support. The bullpen has been outstanding but not without a few rough patches (we’re looking at you, Chris Capuano and Edward Mujica). Perhaps Boston’s near future is somewhat bleak but the team made investments for the long term in the first-year player draft. They selected a shortstop, Michael Chavis, in the first round. Perhaps with this pick Xander Bogaerts will start hitting even more. Chavis projects to be a second or third baseman. This has to be the best phone call Michael Chavis has ever answered. #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/zYVVw6biIJ— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) June 6, 2014 With their compensation pick the Red Sox drafted another Michael, this one with the surname Kopech. Like so many pitchers he hails from Texas. He can hit 99 MPH with his fastball and has the apt Twitter alias K.O. pech. Greatest moment of my life @KopechDad pic.twitter.com/MzCTfjT7s7— K.O. pech...

The Maim Game

Papelbon, Papelbon, bo-ba-pelbon Banana-fana, fo-fa-felon Fee-fi-mo-apelbon What the f*ck was that? Clay Buchholz pitched a sterling eight innings and watched the dint of his efforts get hammered into a shape unrecognizable by Jonathan Papelbon. Buchholz left two runners on base, none out, and MVP-candidate Miguel Cabrera at the dish for the closer, so it wasn’t an easy save. But for Papelbon, lately there have been no easy saves. Cabrera’s inevitable double plated two runners. Papelbon struck out Brennan Boesch, formerly a candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year but slumping of late. Jhonny Peralta, acquired from the Indians, has proved to be a spark plug for the Tigers. The infielder singled up the middle to plate Don Kelly, who Jim Leyland pinch ran for Cabrera. As ill-advised as it was for Terry Francona to send Buchholz to the mount to attempt to notch the novelty of a complete shutout, it was still smarter than Leyland pulling Cabrera. He must have had supreme confidence two things: Papelbon blowing the lead and Boston’s offense unable to make up the deficit. Then again, the Red Sox batters failed to get an extra base hit over the course of eight innings, why would...

A Coke and a Smile

The Red Sox got the leadoff hitter on base seven out of nine innings but grounded into three double plays. The home team also ran into a couple of outs, one ill-advised and another unlucky. In the seventh inning with Adrian Beltre on first, none out, and the score 4-0 in favor of the Tigers, Bill Hall tried to stretch a single to left into a double and was hosed at second. In the bottom frame of the next inning Victor Martinez knocked a long single off the left field wall. Beltre followed him with a bloop to shallow right that looked catchable enough that Martinez couldn’t commit to taking second. The ball dropped just out of reach of Brennan Boesch’s glove and the catcher was erased from the basepaths. Despite Hall’s gaffe his team halved the deficit in the seventh thanks to Ryan Kalish’s first major league run batted in. In the same play he knocked over his first major league umpire when his shattered bat hit Dan Iassogna. He scored his first major league run on Darnell McDonald’s double in the seventh. In his premier major league at bat in the third Kalish led off with a single...

Frame Thy Fearful Symmetry

I had foreseen the inevitability of David Ortiz’s grand slam. The set-up was all too perfect: the score was 6-1 in favor of the visitors, an erratic closer walked three batters in succession, and the personification of clutch crouched in the box. However, I had also envisaged the local nine coming up short in the bottom of the ninth. It was the story of 2010 writ small: inconsistent pitching allowing just enough runs so that the sputtering offense couldn’t overcome the deficit. To be sure there are individual flashes of brilliance like Ortiz’s grand slam, a number of near no-hitters and perfect games, and a treasure chest of defensive gems. From the start of 2010 the team was never at full strength and yet they were within a stone’s throw of leading the AL East for most of the season. The losses of Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez to injury were almost contemporaneous with their team coming within a half-game of first place in the division. Since then the Red Sox have not been able to keep pace with the Yankees or Rays. In an odd season one of the most bizarre plays unfolded in the first. Martinez dropped strike...

Twist the Sinews of Thy Heart

Window pane plaid did not become Tom Caron, but fortunately the Jim Rice-like threads did not come with Rice’s lesser broadcasting talents. Caron hosted the Barrington Marlins for NESN’s Little League Sunday and he asked Jerry Remy if he had any advice for the kids. Remy quipped that the major league Marlins don’t pay much so try not to play for them. John Lackey didn’t lack for heart but fell short in execution. To save the bullpen he pitched for a season-high 123 pitches in a losing effort. Over 7 innings Lackey allowed 9 hits, 5 earned runs, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts. He surrendered only one extra base hit, but it was to light-hitting shortstop Ramon Santiago for a two-run homer. It was Santiago’s first circuit clout of 2010. Boston’s offense never quite clicked. Jonathan Van Every and Jeremy Hermida paired up for doubles in the third to plate a run, but it was the only run the visitors scored. The Red Sox were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Remy remarked that the Red Sox came out a little flat. I think it’s because the heart (and mouth) of the team, Dustin Pedroia, was out of the lineup...

Eponymous Boesch

Rookie outfielder Brennan Boesch powered the Tigers’ comeback with a 4-for-6 showing, turning what was a garden of earthly delights for the Red Sox into a patch of hellish horrors. With the score 6-1 in the sixth and victory seemingly in Jon Lester’s talented left hand, Boesch knocked in two runs with a bases-clearing triple to the right-center gap. Brandon Inge sacrificed Boesch and Detroit was back in the game, 6-4. In the eighth the Tigers clawed their way to a tie. Hideki Okajima allowed a leadoff homer to Magglio Ordonez. Miguel Cabrera walked in an impressive eight-pitch at bat and advanced to second on Boesch’s ground ball single past a diving Dustin Pedroia. Inge smoked a double to left to plate Cabrera for the tying run. The visitors squandered a scoring chance in the eleventh inning. Kevin Youkilis, who reached base five times on bases on balls, walked to start the inning. David Ortiz dropped a single into shallow left that Adam Everett gave up on and Johnny Damon failed to catch in a head-first slide. With two on and none out Adrian Beltre struck out swinging and J.D. Drew grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Drew otherwise had...

Detroit Rocked City

Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz put on a laser show in the first inning, firing home runs over the vastness of Comerica Park. Hit Tracker listed Pedroia’s two-run homer at a respectable 391 feet but Ortiz’s three-run blast measured a whopping 459 feet. Max Scherzer’s mis-matched eyes weren’t the result of exposure to the Red Sox batters’ spectacle of light but simply heterochromia. Brennan Boesch was so dazzled by the Red Sox second baseman’s display he ran into the outfield fence chasing it down; the rookie was rudely awakened to the fact that the dimensions of Fifth Third Field aren’t quite the same as its big league counterpart. Get up Everybody’s gonna move their feet Get down Everybody’s gonna leave their seat You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City In case there was any doubt about Ortiz’s first-inning four-bagger, the designated hitter sent a souvenir to the right field stands to lead off the fourth inning for an encore. Clay Buchholz weathered a rocky first inning. He allowed leadoff batter and Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Jackson to reach on a free pass and allowed a two-run single off Boesch’s bat for a run to score. The...


Game 114: August 13, 2009 Tigers2W: Justin Verlander (13-6)S: Fernando Rodney (24)60-54, 1 game winning streak Red Sox0L: Clay Buchholz (1-3)65-49, 1 game losing streak Highlights: “Verlander” supposedly means “dweller by or on the pasture land” but after yesterday I suspect it might mean “showoff.” He flashed triple-digit stuff in the eighth inning against Jason Bay. Only seven men reached base: 4 hits, 1 walk, and 2 hit by pitches. Chris Woodward was twice Verlander’s victim, but his plunkings caused no strife. The Red Sox were just happy someone got on base somehow. Clay Buchholz pitched better than John Smoltz ever did this season, going 7 innings with 5 hits, 1 earned (homer by Ryan Raburn), 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Why did they wait so long to end the Smoltz Experiment? His five losses could have been wins for Buchholz, a huge swing given the 6½ game gap between the Red Sox and the Yankees.The getaway game time gave Theo Epstein time to work the phones to shore up the shortstop spot. While Alex Gonzalez’s bat won’t help bridge that half-dozen game chasm, he will fill the defensive hole at short. Nick Green’s cannon can make the bang-bang play...


Game 113: August 12, 2009 Tigers2L: Zach Miner (5-3)59-54, 3 game losing streak Red Sox8W: Josh Beckett (14-4)65-48, 3 game winning streak Highlights: Jerry Remy continued the trope of celebrity sufferers of depression visiting the broadcast booth that Joe Pantoliano started a few weeks ago. Who can blame him? He had an arduous recovery from lung cancer surgery and news that his son Jared was fired from his Fenway security post because of steroids recently surfaced. The elder Remy hadn’t been watching NESN games because his doctor recommended that he stay away from things that might further depress him, like Don Orsillo. Despite the ribbing, Remy, Orsillo, and Dennis Eckersley were clearly delighted to be together in the booth as evidenced by their giddy giggling. The fans at Fenway applauded the analyst in the middle of the second. Second inning visit, second baseman — nice touch. If you ever miss Hanley Ramirez, just watch a Josh Beckett start. Like the one he had Wednesday evening, a seven-inning jewel in which he carried a perfect game 3⅔ innings and a no-hitter until the fifth inning. Carlos Guillen abruptly shattered the no-no and the shutout with a thunderous swing on the first...


Game 112: August 11, 2009 Tigers5L: Chris Lambert (0-1)59-53, 2 game losing streak Red Sox7W: Junichi Tazawa (1-1)H: Fernando Cabrera (1)H: Takashi Saito (2)64-48, 2 game winning streak Highlights: Tazawa made his Fenway debut and after a rough first inning settled into a solid five-inning outing with 1 earned run, 2 base on balls, and 6 strike outs. Despite his skillful start Tazawa wasn’t the headlining act of last night’s show. When Miguel Cabrera got hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out I thought the damage would have been worse if the Tigers first baseman got the chance to swing the bat.Then Nick Green failed to turn the double play on Carlos Guillen’s grounder with the ducks on the pond. A high throw pulled Dustin Pedroia off the second base bag and allowed Placido Polanco to cross the plate. The inning continued with Magglio Ordonez driving in a run on a fielder’s choice, a walk by Alex Avila, and Cabrera scoring on Brandon Inge’s liner to left.Hit by pitch or three-run home run, by the middle of the inning the results were the same.After Pedroia grounded into a double play in the bottom of the second...


Game 111: August 10, 2009 Tigers5L: Zach Miner (5-2)59-52, 1 game losing streak Red Sox6BS: Manny Delcarmen (2)W: Ramon Ramirez (6-3)S: Jonathan Papelbon (28)63-48, 1 game winning streak Highlights: The Bad Fan award goes the folks near home plate who got in Victor Martinez’s way on Marcus Thames’s pop up in foul territory. Although Martinez held on to get the second out of the first inning, he should not have had to reach through a thicket of outstretched arms to do so. So this is what a win feels like. What working the count looks like. What scoring runs in multiple innings looks like. What recovering from a bad relief outing looks like. What a clean save looks like. The local nine got reacquainted with Fenway and with their former selves, snapping their six-game losing streak.Brad Penny pitched he usually does: competent but not spectacular. He’ll give up 4 to 6 runs a game; it’s up to the batters to get 5 to 7 runs with Penny on the bump.Dustin Pedroia ignited his team with a two-run homer in the first. So inspiring was Pedroia’s circuit clout it even helped Nick Green clear the left field wall to kick off...


Game 54: June 4, 2009 Red Sox6W: Tim Wakefield (7-3)H: Justin Masterson (2)H: Hideki Okajima (9)S: Jonathan Papelbon (14)32-22, 4 game winning streak Tigers3L: Dontrelle Willis (1-3)28-24, 3 game losing streak Highlights: Jim Leyland told the Red Sox radio team about how Ted Williams tried to give him hitting advice: “Just look for the little red dot as the ball comes in.” It’s just that simple. Maybe that is why David Ortiz is going to get his eyes checked. Behind every big inning is a beleaguered pitcher, none moreso than Dontrelle Willis. His impressive debut season in 2003 and his breakout performance in 2005 seem a lifetime ago.Back then his riotous delivery flummoxed batters and caught the imagination of most baseball fans. Aficionados of this sport love quirky, and Willis’s unorthodox approach epitomized odd.But when one’s genius is driven by one’s unconventionality, there aren’t many people to turn to get advice. Would James Joyce go to your AP English teacher for writing tips? Or Jonas Salk to the local CVS pharmacist for a consult? So Willis flounders in a purgatory from which only he may free himself.Willis did not allow a hit in today’s game but started the third by...


Game 53: June 3, 2009 Red Sox10W: Josh Beckett (6-2)31-22, 3 game winning streak Tigers5L: Armando Galarraga (3-6)28-23, 2 game losing streak Highlights: Kevin Youkilis was cleated by Josh Anderson in the eighth. As the camera got a close-up of Youkilis writhing on the ground in pain, Don Orsillo taunted Dennis Eckersley: “What’s he saying, Eck?” Eckersley wasn’t falling for it, though. “I’m not going there any more,” the pitcher said resolutely. Where Dennis Eckersley will go is saying “no-hitter” right in the middle of one in the making. While I wouldn’t engage in jinxing, I don’t get incensed if others do, particularly someone in the broadcast booth. They have to call the game, after all.Eckersley was clearly excited about Josh Beckett’s pitching. He’s usually boisterous, but from the fifth inning on you could not stop him, you could only hope to contain him. Eck can’t help it, it’s a chemical imbalance.Beckett had the Detroit hitters completely off balance. He was painting with his fastball and touching up with his breaking pitches. The potential perfect game fell by the wayside early with Placido Polanco’s one-out base on balls in the first. After that baserunner another Tiger didn’t touch a bag...

Risu [栗鼠]

Game 52: June 2, 2009 Red Sox5W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-3)30-22, 2 game winning streak Tigers1L: Rick Porcello (6-4)28-22, 1 game losing streak Highlights: Terry Francona tallied his 500th win as a Red Sox manager, joining Hall of Famer Joe Cronin and Mike “Pinky” Higgins. Aside from this accomplishment, I’d rather not associate Francona with these men as his predecessors were key in keeping the Red Sox segregated. In the wake of initiating a new generation to futile, furious devotion to the Boston club with the 2003 ALCS debacle, the owners and Theo Epstein rid themselves of Grady Little and hired Francona. That the spectacled skipper would helm not one but two World Championship teams is the hushed prayers and half-remembered fever dreams. And yet it happened. Congratulations, Tito. Risu [栗鼠] means “squirrel” in Japanese. All right, everyone got their chuckles at my expense last night. “Look at that fat squirrel get run ragged by the grounds crew,” everyone said. Video of me made theh highlight reels on “MLB Tonight” and “SportsCenter.” Well, what tens of thousands of fans mocking me and the television audience didn’t know is that you can thank me for Justin Verlander’s renaissance. That’s right. You think...


Game 37: May 8, 2008 Red Sox 5 W: Josh Beckett (4-2) 23-14, 1 game winning streak Tigers 1 L: Justin Verlander (1-6) 15-21, 1 game losing streak Highlights: A pair of young aces faced off and Beckett emerged supreme. Verlander continued his puzzling decline; already he has as many losses as he did last year while his ERA has ballooned northwards of six. The usual bullpen suspects rested their arms, giving way to Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen. The visiting duo held the Tigers at bay to secure the game and the series. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester should closely observe Josh Beckett when he pitches. They will see the successful result of not bullheadedly going after strikeouts and having unflagging confidence in one’s arsenal. Beckett put on a seven-inning clinic replete with eight strikeouts and no walks. The six hits allowed were all singles, and the Tigers were only able to score once by stringing three of them together in the fourth. The Red Sox’s hottest hitter, Kevin Youkilis, batted in Manny Ramirez’s spot and emulated the Dominican slugger with a 1-for-2 showing with two walks. The corner infielder smacked his seventh home run of the season...


Game 36: May 7, 2008 Red Sox 9 H: Hideki Okajima (7)BS, L: Jonathan Papelbon (1, 2-1) 22-14, 1 game losing streak Tigers 10 H: Bobby Seay (2)H: Zach Miner (2)BS: Francisco Cruceta (1)W: Todd Jones (1-0) 15-20, 1 game winning streak Highlights: Outstanding outings by Kevin Youkilis (two homers with three runs batted in) and Mike Lowell (a game-tying four-bagger in the seventh) kept Boston in contention despite lamentable showings by Clay Buchholz and Julian Tavarez. Is the nightlife in Detroit particularly compelling? I only ask because of the lack of coordination by a pair of players. In the first inning Jed Lowrie tripped on this way towards to first when running out a ground ball to result in a double play. Buchholz slipped when pursuing Gary Sheffield’s infield grounder and touched the ball just before it crossed the foul like, rendering it fair. Buchholz also balked for the first time in his major league career in the first inning. Buchholz and Tavarez combined for five innings, 14 hits, and eight earned runs. On the positive side, there was only a single base on balls relinquished. Buchholz gave Miguel Cabrera a free pass in the third amongst the...


Game 35: May 6, 2008 Red Sox 5 W: Tim Wakefield (3-1) 22-13, 5 game winning streak Tigers 0 L: Nate Robertson (1-4) 14-20, 5 game losing streak Highlights: Wakefield turned in a brilliant eight-inning performance and Mike Timlin turned in a scoreless ninth to reduce his ERA to 11.05. It was the first combined shutout by pitchers older than 40. Not only did the knuckleballer strike out six but he had no walks, wild pitches, or passed balls. Just as Tim Wakefield demonstrates parsimony with time in his outings my column will be frugal with words. Kevin Cash continued to play a stellar backstop to Wakefield’s knuckler and contributed with the bat as well. The backup catcher went 3-for-4 with a run batted in on his second-inning double. The Red Sox tacked on two more runs on consecutive homers by Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Ramirez’s shot ensconced itself in the center field shrubbery while Ortiz’s was fought over about a dozen rows up in the right field stands. Ramirez hit his home run off a rookie Tiger’s first pitch of his major league career. Would it be too terrible of a joke to get the ball out...

Shikyū [四球]

Game 34: May 5, 2008 Red Sox 6 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-0)H: Craig Hansen (1)H: Hideki Okajima (6)S: Jonathan Papelbon (10) 21-13, 4 game winning streak Tigers 3 L: Jeremy Bonderman (2-3) 14-19, 4 game losing streak Highlights: Matsuzaka issued a career-high eight walks in last night’s game. The Japanese word for base on balls is shikyū [四球], which translates literally to four balls. Shi is a homonym for the Japanese word for death; in fact, the word for dead ball is pronounced the same but uses the characters 死球. One would think with so many walks that Matsuzaka wouldn’t come out ahead, but he notched his fifth win to continue to lead the Red Sox staff in victories Perhaps Daisuke Matsuzaka persevered because was Boys’ Day(端午の節句, tango no sekku). On Boys’ Day windsocks in the shape of carp (鯉のぼり, koinobori) are displayed. Koi means carp in Japanese and is also a homonym for the Japanese word for love. When the carp is portrayed swimming upstream, however, it calls to mind the Chinese myth of a carp swimming up the Yellow River jumping over the Dragon Gate to be transformed into a dragon. So inspired by this imagery the...


Game 10: April 10, 2008 Tigers 6 L: Nate Robertson (0-1) 1-8, 2 game losing streak Red Sox 12 W: Tim Wakefield (1-0)H: Manny Delcarmen (1)H: Hideki Okajima (1)S: Jonathan Papelbon (3) 5-5, 2 game winning streak Highlights: The bullpen guys are a tight-knit group. Even this season they continue to pound out rhythms from their dwelling near the bleachers. But are they so bound to one another that Julian Tavarez would allow three runs in the eighth to score so Papelbon could get his third save of the season? I wouldn’t put it past “dumb like a fox” Tavarez. The Bruins took over NESN because they squeaked into the playoffs, so I was forced to watch the game in non-HD format. Even without high definition, however, I did have an issue with second base umpire Greg Gibson’s call of Coco Crisp’s hit in the fourth inning. The replay showed that the ball bounced in the fair territory beyond first then hit the foul pole. After hitting the foul pole, it wasn’t touched by a fan, so the ball should not have been called dead because the foul pole is an extension of the foul line. Instead, Crisp was...


Game 9: April 9, 2008 Tigers 7 W: Jeremy Bonderman (1-1)H: Bobby Seay (1)H: Francis Beltran (1) 1-7, 1 game winning streak Red Sox 2 L: Jon Lester (1-1) 4-5, 1 game losing streak Highlights: It had to happen sometime, but unfortunately it happened to the Red Sox. The Tigers garnered their first victory of the season, allowing the 1988 Orioles to continue to hold the record for the worst start to a major league season with 21 straight losses. To add to the indignity, Mike Lowell was placed on the 15-day disabled list for a sprained left thumb, an injury that occurred on the first play of the game. Lowell tumbled after a grounder off the bat of Ivan Rodriguez but still managed to throw out the runner and stay on the field until the end of the top of the second. The Red Sox brain trust was further depleted when Alex Cora, while practicing to take over at the hot corner, felt a twinge in his elbow. Jed Lowrie was called up to fill the vacancy. Rather than stew about Edgar Renteria’s post-Boston resurgence or the two homers that Marcus Thames and and Carlos Guillen managed to...


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