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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Uehara (Koji)”


Clay Buchholz twirled another gem: seven innings, six hits, two runs (neither earned), one walk, and three strikeouts. Even better for an American League pitcher in a National League park: he didn’t injure himself in his three plate appearances. He was his own worst enemy in the sixth inning. Buchholz got the first two outs in six pitches but then surrendered a single to Cameron Maybin, walked Nick Markakis, and gave up another single to Juan Uribe. With the bases loaded A.J. Pierzynski tapped the ball to Buchholz. The starter gathered it and had to motion to David Ortiz to get to first base. He must have thought he lost too much time even though it was Pierzynski running to first and flipped the ball to Ortiz with his glove. The ball flew beyond Ortiz’s reach and Maybin and Markakis scored. The visitors prevailed despite Buchholz’s error. No single hitter dominated but nearly everyone played a part in advancing and scoring runners. A ratio of 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position isn’t remarkable but it is a sight better than a goose egg. Koji Uehara tallied his 14th save with a pristine ninth inning. He struck out former teammate Jonny...


Xander Bogaerts thought he was throwing the ball to a regular-sized second baseman in the third inning. The flip went high and what could have been a double play to end the inning turned into two men on with one down. The Rangers scored with the next batter; Adrian Beltre scorched the ball up the middle and Shin-Soo Choo tied the game 2-2. The Red Sox managed to take the lead in the sixth inning when Bogaerts drove in Hanley Ramirez. But they squandered opportunities like Mookie Betts’s one-out walk and stolen base in the seventh inning. With a slim one-run lead Boston called upon Koji Uehara. Rookie Hanser Alberto shot the ball towards Pablo Sandoval who uncharacteristically let it slip by him. Alberto advanced on a sacrifice bunt and ground out. With a runner at third, Prince Fielder in the box, and Josh Hamilton on deck John Farrell called for the intentional walk. By the look on Hamilton’s face you can see how this game ended. If the Red Sox keep losing there may be some not-so happy endings for players, coaches, or front office personnel in the near future. Game 51: May 31, 2015 Boston Red Sox22-29 3...

National Disaster

The Nationals defense and pitching collapsed in the seventh inning. Hanley Ramirez reached on Ian Desmond’s fielding error. Matt Thornton hit Shane Victorino but briefly collected himself to induce a fly ball out off Mike Napoli’s bat. John Farrell pulled Daniel Nava in favor of Allen Craig and Matt Williams countered by relieving Thornton with Blake Treinen. Treinen hit Craig with the first pitch he threw. Ryan Hanigan tapped the ball back up the middle and most people scoring the game would have automatically marked the play “1-2,” as Treinen could have easily gotten Ramirez out at home. But Treinen bobbled the ball and hastily threw it past Wilson Ramos. By the time the dust settled the Red Sox tied the score 7-7. Brock Holt grounded out to Desmond and this time he fielded it well enough to throw Holt out at first base, but Craig scored to give the local nine the lead. Your browser does not support iframes. Edward Mujica continued his dominance from the seventh inning, striking out Danny Espinosa to tally the first out of the eighth inning. Junicihi Tazawa allowed a single but escaped the frame otherwise unscathed. Koji Uehara made a triumphant return with...

We’ve Cracked the Code

Allen Webster continued in Clay Buchholz’s winning ways and the Kansas City defense carried on their ineffective fielding in Friday evening’s contest. Webster faltered in the fourth by allowing a leadoff walk to to Alex Gordon and then a home run to Eric Hosmer, but those were the only runs the home team could muster. Webster may not be the most imposing pitcher on the mound but he has turned his game around in September. In August he had two outings where he gave up six earned runs. In this non-contending year John Farrell had the time to stick with Webster and see if the starter could live up to his promise. With a successful run in September he could cement his spot in the 2015 starting rotation. But someone please set him up with Pedro Martinez to learn about mound presence. Webster could use some meat on his bones, too. Kansas City-style barbecue could help with that. Thank you, Henry Perry, the Barbecue King, and to Charlie and Arthur Bryant, who carried on Perry’s tradition of tomato and molasses-based sauce. Yordano Ventura is a Dominican-born rookie from whom Webster could take a few lessons from in terms of confidence....

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...

Broken Fenway

The Red Sox seemed to have this game all tied up in a bow. Quite fitting as it was Bow Tie Night to benefit the Red Sox Foundation. To say Koji Uehara had an off night would be an understatement. The Mariners mounted a five-run comeback in the ninth inning. All of the runs came with two outs. Brock Holt almost put an end to the onslaught by snaring Dustin Ackley’s bloop single. It was an impossibly well-placed ball in shallow left field. Chris Denorfia and Austin Jackson scored to put Seattle ahead 4-3. Cespedes’s stunning three-run homer was erased. Xander Bogaerts getting hit by a pitch to the earflap was for naught. Mookie Betts’s fourth inning heroics on Robinson Cano’s fly ball were forgotten. In successful seasons Fenway was the place where the local nine would manufacture wins. This long homestand has been a slog rather than a success. These fans broke Fenway, and the team that plays in it is in similar disrepair. Game 128: August 22, 2014 Seattle Mariners69-58 5 W: Dominic Leone (6-2)S: Fernando Rodney (37) 2B: Robinson Cano (29), Austin Jackson (29) Boston Red Sox56-72 3 H: Burke Badenhop (9), Tommy Layne (4)BS, L: Koji...

The World According to Papi

I’m thinking the statue that is eventually erected in honor of David Ortiz should look like this. Although the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge stance does have its appeal, too. Ortiz had a spectacular showing in what ended up as a three-run victory against the Astros. Ortiz smacked his 400th home run in a Red Sox uniform in the third inning. He jolted another one in the fifth inning to bring his team within a run of the visitors. For good measure Ortiz drove in two runs in the bottom of the eighth with an opposite-field double. The Red Sox stormed back after Ortiz’s second four-bagger. Daniel Nava knocked in Yoenis Cespedes with a line drive to left to tie the game 6-6. Jackie Bradley, Jr. made solid contact on a fly ball to deep center field to sacrifice in Mike Napoli for the lead. Cespedes seemed to be at ease in Fenway but you can tell he is sometimes bewildered by the lack of foul territory in Boston’s lyric bandbox. In the sixth inning Robbie Grossman sent the ball to the left field line and Cespedes nearly overran it. The fielder had to reach back behind him to make the...

Magic Carp

Anyone who plays Pokemon will get this title. You know, Magikarp? The useless fish that turns into powerful dragon called Gyarados at level 20? Sorry, “Carp Diem” was taken. Much like that flailing piscine Pokemon the Red Sox were powerless against Jose Quintana. The 25-year old Colombian starter carried a perfect game into the sixth frame. Stephen Drew led off the inning with a seven-pitch base on balls. David Ross followed with a walk of his own. Ross now has 9 walks on the season in 114 plate appearances, the same number as A.J. Pierzynski had. Pierzynski enjoyed 274 plate appearances. Just saying. Jackie Bradley, Jr. broke up the no-hitter and tied the game with a ground ball single to right. Perhaps his defensive success is giving him more confidence at the dish. Brock Holt’s magic touch from the previous game’s walk-off win didn’t carry into this game. He and Dustin Pedroia grounded out without advancing the runners. One of David Ortiz’s many blasts to deep center finally landed some place other in a White Sox outfielder’s glove. His shot clanged off the wall, plating Ross and Bradley and gaining a two-run advantage for the local nine. All-Star Koji Uehara,...

Abad Ending

Coco Crisp was immortalized as a garden gnome. Mike Napoli entered the history books as the first Red Sox player since 1967 to steal home and homer in a game. Rico Petrocelli did the same on September 9 against the Yankees. Your browser does not support iframes. Koji Uehara showed that he was a mere mortal by blowing a save. The ninth frame started off uneventfully with Alberto Callaspo’s ground out to first. Stephen Vogt somehow deciphered Uehara’s splitter and clouted his second home of the season to bring his team within a run. Uehara handled Nick Punto in two pitches; the infielder popped out to Jonathan Herrera. Bob Melvin sent in John Jaso to hit for Craig Gentry. Jason evened the score 6-6 with a blast into the stairs in right field. Prior to this game Uehara had surrendered three home runs in 33 games. David Ortiz is used to saving closers. He used to do that for Jonathan Papelbon all the time. The Red Sox designated hitter lined a homer over the center field fences. Fernando Abad must have been wondering why Melvin had him pitch to a slugger known for clutch hits. Your browser does not support...


I think the Twins and Red Sox batters are solar-powered with a 10-inning charging cycle. They may be able to spray a few doubles here and there before being fully energized as displayed by Daniel Nava’s ground-rule double in the fifth, but it wasn’t until extra innings that any runs scored. The Red Sox pitching and defense kept their team in the game. John Lackey pitched nine innings with a sparkling line: 3 hits, 1 walk, and 9 strikeouts. For just the second time this season Koji Uehara surrendered a home run. Danny Santana’s bunt attempt was foiled by Dustin Pedroia’s quick glove and flip in the sixth inning. Pedroia was on the receiving end of Nava’s eighth inning assist that erased Eduardo Escobar from the basepaths. Chris Parmelee’s go-ahead home run barely cleared the bullpen wall. Even Brock Holt couldn’t catch it before it landed in the Red Sox bullpen. I wonder if Shane Victorino or Grady Sizemore could have gloved it? Victorino’s return may be the offensive shot in the arm Boston needs. Sizemore proved he wasn’t the cure and was designated for assignment on Tuesday and officially released today. Ben Cherington made the move sooner rather than...

Home Cooking

Josh Tomlin looked like a young, right-handed Randy Johnson. He didn’t pitch like one: 5⅔ innings pitched, 9 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. David Ortiz clouted a two-run homer to dead center in the fifth inning. He drove in Jackie Bradley, Jr., who had led off the stanza with a single lined to right field. These signs are dog-eared because of how often they are raised to celebrate the designated hitter’s clutch hits. Bradley made a stunning play in the seventh inning. His counterpart Michael Bourn lofted the ball to the warning track in deep left-center. Bradley made the grab on the run and used the wall to stop his momentum. Just steps from the wall Bradley fired to Mike Napoli; the throw made it to Napoli’s glove in one bounce. Napoli did have to step a few steps away from the sack to make the catch but he was back in time to double off Mike Aviles. Bradley wasn’t alone with outstanding defensive gems. The ball girl on the first base side snared Brantley’s foul ball with aplomb. Grady Sizemore similarly used the right field wall on his grab of Aviles’s foul ball to end...

Sweet and Breslow

Baseball players can combine the elegance of a prima ballerina and the power of a kung fu warrior in a single play. Mike Napoli pirouetted to change course after he gathered Roger Bernadina’s batted ball and then fired down the baseline to double off Ryan Ludwick. Even Dustin Pedroia, purveyor of highlight reel-caliber twin killings himself, acknowledged Napoli’s defensive gem. Baseball players can also drop a catch, a routine catch they have made a thousand times, for no reason at all. Or trip and fall on an uneventful trot between first and second base. To be charitable to Brandon Phillips, perhaps he was distracted by the sight of A.J. Pierzynski sprawling on the basepath. Cincinnati secured an early lead in the third inning. Chris Heisey led off the frame with a line drive double off the left field wall. In NL fashion Zack Cozart sacrificed Heisey to second with a bunt to Will Middlebrooks. Skip Schumaker defied senior circuit conventions, his own limitations, and gravity with a two-run shot into the visitors’ bullpen. The Red Sox rallied in the sixth with David Ortiz’s line drive single arced to right to plate Jonathan Herrera and Mike Napoli’s double to the opposite...

Coming Up Empty

Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts’s collision allowing Evan Longoria to reach second base to start the sixth inning summed up the Boston squad’s current situation. It is a team with talented parts that haven’t quite synchronized with each other yet. Poetically that gaffe was followed up by a two-run home run off the bat of Sean Rodriguez that brought his team within a run of the home club. The Red Sox held that 5-4 leading going into the eighth inning but Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara both uncharacteristically surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs. Across town the Bruins forced the opening game of their series against the Canadiens into double overtime. As Tazawa and Uehara came up short against a despised rival so did Tuuka Rask. P.K. Subban scored twice on the Bruins netminder, including the Canadiens’ winning goal in the 4-3 nail-biter. “I was [expletive] tonight -- when you suck, you suck,” said Rask. It wasn’t how the two Boston teams played yesterday but what happened in the aftermath. Racial epithets directed at Subban littered Twitter after the Bruins’ loss. We all should put on this mask of shame. Game 29: May 1, 2014 Tampa Bay Rays13-16 6 W:...

Falling for Sizemore

David Ross said it best: “[Sizemore’s] been a big pickup for us,… and he’s easy on the eyes.” Some baseball girls’ hearts are swayed by twinkling eyes, a charming smile, and boyish good looks, but for Red Sox ladies the three-run, go-ahead home run is the bare minimum. Sizemore came through in the sixth inning with one out and two on. Adding to the allure was securing the win against a despised divisional rival. He almost made the alternate blue uniforms bearable. Sizemore’s presence has made most fans forget Jacoby Ellsbury. This young man harbors some lingering resentment, however. Get used to it, kid. Scott Boras represents not only Ellsbury but Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts. Jon Lester turned in his third straight quality start and finally tallied his first win. Junichi Tazawa took over in the seventh when Lester got into a jam, allowing Kelly Johnson to single in Ichiro Suzuki. With Brian Roberts at third, two out, and a reinvigorated Yankee Stadium crowd clamoring for their captain, Tazawa toed the rubber against Derek Jeter. Tazawa had been in tougher spots, like in the ALCS against Miguel Cabrera. Jeter flied out harmlessly to right field. The Red Sox...

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...

Holding On

David Ortiz rallied his teammates and delivered a speech akin to General George S. Patton’s speech to the Third Army. The events that followed in the game were like Patton Oswalt’s “Parks and Recreation” filibuster. Oswalt mashed up Star Wars, the Avengers, and a myriad of other fandoms in his diatribe. John Farrell cobbled together a World Series victory with a last-minute lineup and a melange of arms. Ortiz laid the groundwork in the fifth inning with a double scorched to the right-center gap. “Let’s go! ¡Vámonos!” he exhorted from the keystone sack. Jonny Gomes, who filled in for late scratch Shane Victorino, worked a walk after falling behind Lance Lynn in the count and Xander Bogaerts’s five-pitch at bat also granted him a free pass. With the bases loaded, Stephen Drew got enough loft on the ball and sacrificed in Ortiz to tie the game. Your browser does not support iframes. Clay Buchholz was throwing like Tom Brady. Despite his fastball hovering around 88 MPH, the starter gutted out 4 innings and only surrendered one unearned run. No one would be surprised if some point in the future Buchholz’s and Brady’s injuries are revealed to be much worse than...

’Cause Every Little Thing is Gonna Be All Right

On a team of ragged, bewhiskered veterans, rookie Xander Bogaerts’s modest goatee doesn’t command a lot of attention. But his inclusion in the bottom part of the order has been pivotal to Boston’s American League Championship. Where some seasoned players were hopelessly whiffing on Max Scherzer’s offerings Bogaerts stood patiently, working walks or extracting extra base hits. He led off the third inning with a base on balls and Jacoby Ellsbury followed his example. Unfortunately Shane Victorino popped out on a bunt attempt and Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double play to end the early threat. Before the inning-ending twin killing Pedroia mashed the ball over the Monster but replays showed that the ball was barely foul. The Red Sox didn’t have a baserunner again until Bogaerts batted in the fifth. Scherzer handily induced fly ball outs off the bats of Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew, using only five pitches between them. Bogaerts not only laced the ball to deep to center for a stand-up double but did so with the count full. As before Ellsbury followed Bogaerts’s example, this time with a line drive hit of his own. The center fielder notched a single to right to get the...

Five Alive

The Red Sox nearly allowed the local nine to score first. Tom Brookens sent but then tried to stop Miguel Cabrera too late on Jhonny Peralta’s two-out single to left field. Cabrera came in hard enough to knock off David Ross’s mask but instead of scoring the first run he was the third out. Your browser does not support iframes. Unlike every previous game in the series the Red Sox scored early in the game. Mike Napoli absolutely clobbered Anibal Sanchez’s 3-1 fastball into dead center for a solo home run in the second inning. Your browser does not support iframes. Next Jonny Gomes reached on Cabrera’s error on a grounder that took an unexpected bounce and went through the third baseman’s wickets. While much has been made of Cabrera’s defensive woes, I don’t think many third basemen would have been able to knock down that ball because of the bizarre bounce. I do believe that many would have been able to back up their own error; Cabrera needed Jose Iglesias to chase down the ball. Stephen Drew’s offensive dry spell continued with a three-pitch strikeout; he was 0-for-4 for the night. Xander Bogaerts’s addition to the lineup has given...

Light ’Em Up Up Up

Although John Lackey was visibly annoyed that a 17-minute power outage prevented him from taking the mound for the bottom of the second that frustration channeled itself into spectacular pitching. In the first inning Lackey gave up two singles but for his remaining 5⅔ innings he only surrendered a double to Jhonny Peralta in the sixth and a single to Victor Martinez in the seventh. Lackey outdueled Justin Verlander, of all pitchers. If there were a proposition bet on such an occurrence someone would be a billionaire. Verlander didn’t permit a hit until fifth inning when Jonny Gomes tapped a two-out single to Peralta. In the sixth Jacoby Ellsbury also managed a single off the Tigers’ ace but didn’t advance past second. Mike Napoli dispensed with single-base bleeders and bloops and bopped a one-out home to left field with the count full. It was the only run in a tense contest. Your browser does not support iframes. Craig Breslow was summoned in the bottom of the seventh to take care of the final out with Martinez, a runner he inherited from Lackey, on first. Alex Avila took a called strike but Breslow failed to get the next four pitches in...

Nine Pitchers Pitching

Eight bases on balls. Seven umpires umpiring. Six pitchers in the bullpen. No gold rings. Four catwalk rings. Three runs scored. Two saves for Koji Uehara. And an ALCS ticket for the Red Sox. Joe Maddon swapped out pitchers faster and more often than Lady Gaga changes costumes. Jeremy Hellickson, who had been a much-vaunted prospect in Tampa Bay’s system, was tapped to start the game. He began promisingly by sitting the first three batters without incident. In the second frame, however, the wheels came off quickly. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli walked on four pitches each and Daniel Nava lined a single to right field. Rather than seeing how the Tampa Bay “RAYS”ed hurler would perform with the bases loaded and none out Maddon pulled Hellickson in favor of Jamey Wright. Maddon proved what a brilliant tactic this was when Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out and Stephen Drew lined into an improbable double play. Just like he drew it up. Maddon’s luck ran out in the seventh inning. He would have preferred a shut down frame after his team had finally scored when David DeJesus drove in Yunel Escobar. But the Red Sox skipper made a move that, unlike Maddon’s...


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