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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “major league debuts”

Get Up Everybody and Sing

Yesterday was Roberto Clemente Day, a day to celebrate not only a great baseball player but a self-sacrificing humanitarian. Pittsburgh beat writers would spell out his Spanish accent when quoting him, but Clemente rose above such petty bigotry. He lost his life when a plane delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims crashed. Clemente said, “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” I know Clemente wasn’t part of the “We Are Family” team, but I thought his achievements should be celebrated. Rusney Castillo made his major league debut in center field. He had four at bats: a ground out to Russell Martin in the second, a single in the fourth with two down and a man on, a fly ball out to center to lead off the seventh, and another ground out to start off the ninth. It wasn’t an electrifying premiere, but he has been bouncing around from team to team while trying to adjust to a whole new world. It will take time for him to learns the ins and outs of the show. Castillo displayed fielding prowess in the fifth inning....

Archer Vice

Chris Archer lasted only four innings. Last night he had just three opportunities to showboat after striking out Red Sox batters. Archer allowed 10 hits and 7 earned runs. In the first inning Archer couldn’t field Mookie Betts’s comebacker, which loaded the bases. It wouldn’t be the worst situation for Archer in this game with the bases jammed. The Red Sox batted around in both the first and second inning, the first time since the second game of a doubleheader on August 14, 1962. Betts came up with ducks on the pond and sent the ball over the left field fences for his first major league grand slam. The rookie converted outfielder provided the fireworks rather than any incidents between Archer and David Ortiz. The designated hitter went 1-for-5 and was not hit by a pitch. Archer hit Daniel Nava with a slider in the second inning but it was with a full count, two men on, and two men out. That set the stage for Betts’s blast. Carlos Rivero was in the minor leagues for nine years before setting foot on a major league field. Unfortunately that field was Tropicana, but to Rivero even the most ramshackle of major...

Dance Along the Edge

What happened? A good question to ask of this game. Actually, not just this game, but the entire season. In the middle game of the series the Red Sox had five extra base hits, including three home runs. Even with David Ortiz back in the lineup and where, other than Fenway, he has hit the most home runs in his career (37) Boston’s offense limped out of the series finale with a loss. Ortiz was responsible for one of the two runs the visitors scored: a run on his looping single to right in the sixth. The other run came when Brock Holt scored on a wild pitch to Mike Napoli. Napoli didn’t replicate his 451-foot bomb. A helpful fan provided a visual aid for the slugger. The only heights anyone representing the 617 attained were first base coach Arnie Beyeler and Gary Striewski when they did the EdgeWalk. Here’s Beyeler making shaka almost as good as a local like Shane Victorino. He learned it from his time as coach of the West Oahu CaneFires in the now sadly defunct Hawaii Winter League. Edwin Escobar made his major league debut in the eighth and had a perfect frame. It included...

Yoenis Together

Two weary teams took the field for an afternoon game after a 19-inning marathon. They were scoreless until the eighth inning. Yoenis Cespedes sent Joe Smith’s side-arm offering over the left field fences for a three-run homer. It is hopefully the first of many home runs for Cespedes in a Red Sox uniform. Your browser does not support iframes. David Ortiz hugged the outfielder after the shot. If Cespedes’s scores helped avoid another extra-innings affair he deserved that embrace and more. How fitting it is that the surname “Céspedes” comes from the Spanish word for peat or turf, “cesped.” Dan Butler made his major league debut. He didn’t get a hit but he did work a walk and was on the receiving end of one of Rubby De La Rosa’s better outings this season. Someone needs to tell the new guy that beards are so last season. Mike Trout countered in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run. But the home team found themselves in a fine kettle of fish with a revivified Edward Mujica and dominant Koji Uehara on the mound. Game 117: August 10, 2014 Boston Red Sox52-65 3 W: Rubby De La Rosa (4-4)H:...

Fledgling Takes Flight

Remember this face. If Aaron Sanchez lives up to his potential he will frustrate Red Sox batters for years to come. In his major league debut Sanchez got all six hitters he faced out. He punctuated his performance with a strikeout of Stephen Drew. It doesn’t look like Sanchez will recreate Clay Buchholz’s feat of tossing a no-hitter in his second start because the Blue Jays rookie has been shifted into a relief role. It seems like yesterday that Buchholz, the Red Sox’s pitching phenomenon of seven years ago, made his debut. After battling multiple injuries Buchholz is still trying to recapture his past brilliance. He recovered from a comebacker off Munenori Kawasaki’s bat that glanced off his glove and into his face to pitch for six innings. Your browser does not support iframes. But Buchholz couldn’t keep the three-run lead that David Ortiz gave him in the first frame. Ortiz’s home run was a monstrous blast off Roberto Alomar’s name in the Level of Excellence. Your browser does not support iframes. As the sun that fuels the Jamaican summer gives way in the evening, Ortiz’s bat can’t plate runs in every at bat. R.A. Dickey struck Ortiz out in...

Love for Sale

Who’s prepared to pay the price for a trip to paradise? Grass- and blood-stained Jonny Gomes is. The green smears are from his diving grab of Alexei Ramirez’s sinking line drive in the fourth inning. In the seventh Gomes was hit in the face by Tyler Flowers’s fly ball but still recovered in time to get Alejandro De Aza out at home. Love that’s only slightly soiled, love for sale. It is not coincidence that A.J. PIerzynski’s departure has altered the attitude in the clubhouse. Rob Bradford’s report stated that players went to management about Pierzynski’s lack of engagement with his pitchers. Pierzynski’s approach at the plate was in opposition to the Red Sox philosophy of seeing as many pitches as possible. His impatience at the plate, deteriorated offensive production, and lack of camaraderie are not missed. Being a catcher requires levels of sacrifice. You submit your body to countless hours crouching, ricochets, and, prior to the rule change, collisions. You spend time with your battery mates learning their strengths and the opposition’s weaknesses. Pierzynski wasn’t up for that commitment any longer. Old love, new love, every love but true love. Pierzynski’s replacement Christian Vazquez went 0-for-3 in his major...

All Betts Are In

Mookie Betts made his much-anticipated major league debut Sunday night. Like this team’s performance Betts’s first game was a mixed bag. He grounded into a double play in his first at bat. The second-inning twin killing ended a scoring opportunity. In the fourth inning Betts singled up the middle with two out. But again he ended the inning. This time he was caught stealing by Brian McCann and Derek Jeter. The team made sure to retrieve the ball he sent to Jacoby Ellsbury as a souvenir. Betts led the sixth off with a base on balls. He made reliever David Huff throw nine pitches in the effort. Huff ended up loading the bases, which prompted Joe Girardi to call Dellin Betances to the mound. Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly to center field plated Betts, giving the rookie his first major league run. Betts isn’t quite yet accustomed to the outfield. He sold out on Ichiro Suzuki’s line drive to right field in the fifth, resulting in a triple. Jackie Bradley, Jr. showed Betts how it was done in the bottom of the sixth. Carlos Beltran, who looks like he is getting dieting tips from Bartolo Colon, tried to score on Kelly...

Shiny Happy Helmet

An extremely shiny helmet in late August can only mean a late-season call-up at the plate. Xander Bogaerts made his highly anticipated major league debut. The strapping shortstop went went 0-for-3 out of the seven-hole with a strikeout and five left one base. Bogaerts made a smooth play on Marco Scutaro’s chopper to end the fifth. He gloved it on the hop and transitioned to his throwing hand with lightning speed. Mike Carp stretched to complete the play and Scutaro helped by sliding into the sack headfirst, but you could see Bogaerts’s defensive potential on the play. Shane Victorino clouted a solo homer in the third to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Later in the game Victorino helped the Giants score the tying run by making a catch of Buster Posey’s fly ball in deep right foul territory with Scutaro on third. Perhaps if Victorino had let it fall foul Junichi Tazawa could have gotten Posey out, but then again the Giants backstop could have just as easily gotten an extra base hit to drive in both Scutaro and Brandon Belt. While Bogaerts’s debut game was less than stellar, many a current star had their early struggles. Who...

Webster’s Pictionary

I imagine a game of guess what’s in the picture with rookie Allen Webster. The starting pitcher made his major league debut and while he didn’t win he displayed mid- to upper-90s heat and a menacing change-up. A muppet eating a girl’s head? A cybergoth? Oh, wait! It’s Wally! A Wally hat? Yes! Turkey Sandwich! Oh, wait, only guys on the 2011 Rangers know about that. Mike Napoli! The guy I threw one too many fastballs to. I mean, Kottaras. The left fielder that almost got punched by Lorenzo Cain. I mean, can you believe those two when they converged on Mike Carp’s fly ball? Do we need to get Dr. Phil in here to work on their communication skills? Then he jacked one off me. Fricking Gordon. Should I take it as a compliment that Mayor Menino called me Alex Webber? Game 18: April 21, 2013 ∙ 10 innings Kansas City Royals10-7 5 W: Kelvin Herrera (2-2)S: Greg Holland (5) 2B: Alex Gordon (5)HR: George Kottaras (1), Gordon (1), Billy Butler (3) Boston Red Sox12-6 4 H: Junichi Tazawa (4)BS: Koji Uehara (1)L: Andrew Miller (0-1) 2B: Mike Carp (3), Jacoby Ellsbury (4), Mike Napoli (8)HR: Napoli (3)...


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...


The Royals received an ill-gotten victory on Wednesday evening against the Yankees when the umpire crew failed to apply Kauffman Stadium’s ground rules to Billy Butler’s third inning fly ball to left. Even after Dana DeMuth, Kerwin Danley, Doug Eddings, and Chad Fairchild huddled in the review booth the home run call stood despite the first rule in Kansas City, “Foul poles -- above surrounding fenceline is a home run. Below surrounding fenceline is in play.” Goodness knows the Yankees never get calls in their favor. The Red Sox batters didn’t get any balls close enough to the fences for any controversial calls. When they knocked the balls to the outfield they tested the arms of the fielders and found that Alex Gordon and Melky Cabrera had cannons. Jason Varitek was hosed at second in the second by Gordon. Cabrera nicked Carl Crawford at home plate in the fourth inning for the final out, a particularly frustrating out as the score was knotted 3-3. Pedroia was another of Cabrera’s victims in the fifth inning but in the same play the infielder had successfully driven in the go-ahead run. Never doubt the Muddy Chicken. Ryan Lavarnway made his major league debut,...

Lost the Plot

Home plate umpire Marty Foster would have been the worst sporting official of the day had Jacqui Melksham not stepped on the pitch of Rudolf-Harbig Stadium (also known as Glücksgas Stadion) in Dresden, Germany. The 32-year old Australian official bungled a number of calls in the quarterfinal match between the United States and Brazil for the Women’s World Cup. Melksham failed to give Carli Lloyd a yellow card for a handball but then went out of her way to make up for the error. In the 65th minute Melksham ruled that a tackle of Marta by Rachel Buehler was worth a red card and also gave the Brazilians a penalty kick. Hope Solo made a tremendous save on Christiane’s kick, but Melksham had the Brazilians retake the penalty because a US player encroached into the box. By all accounts such a strict execution of the rule is rare. Solo was given a yellow card for arguing with the retake. Solo guessed wrong on Marta’s kick and the Brazilians equaled the score 1-1. Even though they were a player down it took the world’s best female player until the second minute of extra time to pull her team ahead. Marta made...

Lucky Number Seven

Seven-hole hitter Carl Crawford lined a single to former Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp in the seventh inning with two down, the count full, the bases loaded, and the score 6-5 in Oakland’s favor. Crawford’s hit wasn’t scorched and its lack of speed along with Crisp’s weak arm allowed even slow-running Adrian Gonzalez to score and Kevin Youkilis to break the tie a few seconds later. Perhaps Terry Francona’s vision of Crawford as a leadoff hitter has at last finally dissipated. The splits for this season so far indicate: 1st: 33 plate appearances, .094 BA, .121 OBP, .125 SLG6th: 30 plate appearances, .379 BA, .400 OBP, .793 SLG7th: 38 plate appearances, .286 BA, .324 OBP, .400 SLG8th: 103 plate appearances, .242 BA, .272 OBP, .343 SLG Sabermetricians will theorize about batting lineup optimization and Markov chains and field managers will obsess over handedness but in the end the player in the box is a person who doesn’t fit into formulae. Whatever makes Crawford comfortable in donning the number 13 might be the same thing that he thinks slows his reaction time or dulls his senses when he bats leadoff. Clay Buchholz paid tribute to rotation Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will be...

Feliz Cumpleaños

Twenty-nine years ago Adrian Gonzalez was born in San Diego, California. He shares the same birth city as a southpaw slugger of some repute in these parts, Ted Williams. The Red Sox first baseman has at last gotten into the habit of taking advantage of his easy opposite field stroke and homered off the stanchion in the bottom of the fifth. He hit his first opposite field four-bagger in the first game of the series. Dennis Eckersley admired the swing and one of the NESN cameramen caught Ron Gardenhire imitating the effortless motion. Perhaps the corner infielder will leave a legacy with the Red Sox reminiscent of the Splendid Splinter’s; even if he attained a fraction of Williams’s achievements Gonzalez may end up one of the team’s best players. Carl Crawford, inheritor of Williams’s legacy in left, is an altogether different type of lefty from Gonzalez and Williams. Crawford swipes rapidly from an open stance without as much load as Gonzalez, which means he has to generate power by the rotation of his upper body. Gonzalez starts from a balanced, closed stance and propagates his power from his legs, up through his core, and finally his upper body. It’s unlikely...

Not-So Phantom Power

I thought the band name “Phantom Power” might refer to Jacoby Ellsbury but it’s actually an audio engineering concept that is beyond my humble ken. This article by Eddie Ciletti explains phantom power for those who are curious. There’s a “high energy contradance band” based on Boston called Phantom Power founded by Lissa Schneckenburger and Bruce Rosen, but this isn’t NESN’s house band. Another candidate is the indie band on MySpace that goes by the same name that counts Seo Taiji, David Bowie, and Green Day amongst their influences. It was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia and has a male lead singer so it is out of the running. I did find clips of Megan’s band on Tom Guilmette’s page, so click through and enjoy. The reason we got to hear about the band was that Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy had to fill the airwaves with chatter because of blowout in the home team’s favor, something that hasn’t happened in all too long a time. What I thought might be the storyline of the evening, the major league debuts of Lars Anderson and Robert Coello, turned out to be a disappointing footnote. Anderson went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and...

Blue Hot and Red

The Blue Jays certainly had their Wheaties, or, as they call it in Canada, Wheaties. The exchange rate for runs was far in favor with our northern neighbors. The bludgeoning by the Blue Jays was made worse with visits to the booth by Bill O’Reilly and Mitt Romney. They were part of a parade of celebrities who were there to raise money for the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, a great cause of course, but less polarizing people should have been selected. Perhaps the right-wingers were brought in to stem the red tide that dominates Friday games. The interview with Hyde Park native Maura Tierney was less coherent than a Julian Tavarez conversation. She had a charming moment when she refused to say the name of that team from the Bronx, calling their home field “You Know What Stadium.” Meredith Viera visited in the bottom of the fifth and jinxed a bases loaded, one-out situation with Victor Martinez in the box. The backstop tapped into a 5-3 inning-ending double play. Tierney and Viera threw out the first pitches half-way between the mound and home plate and their respective catchers were a yard or so from home plate. Yet their flimsy efforts were...

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...

Doubront-ain of Youth

With the Red Sox rotation down two starters the team has had to tap into their minor league resources. Felix Doubront, signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2004, started with perfect first and second innings. But before Doubront touched off a wave of Doubrontmania the Dodgers got to him in the third, led by Ronnie Belliard’s double and ending with a 3-3 tie at the end of the third. After five innings the rookie starter left with a fair line: 6 hits, 5 runs (3 earned), 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. The two unearned runs were the result of his own missed catch of a flip from Kevin Youkilis; he must appreciate the scoring rule that states that pitchers’ errors do not count toward earned run average. David Ortiz’s 15th homer of the season was his 274th with the Red Sox, coincidentally tying him with none other than Manny Ramirez for fifth in career circuit clouts with the club. Ramirez’s reception was surprisingly warm given the animosity many felt when he all but forced his way out of town two years ago. In those two years, however, Red Sox fans have seen two unsuccessful playoff campaigns....

Four Get Me Not

The Phillies scored more than two runs for the first time this series. Raul Ibanez plated two runs with his fourth-inning blast, a shot into the Phillies bullpen that had the relief corps scattering as if a grenade had been tossed near them. That’s why they don’t let pitchers catch pop-ups in the field. Tim Wakefield’s fourth-inning meltdown couldn’t be overcome by Boston’s offense even though they outhit Philadelphia nine to seven. The timeless one just didn’t get timely hits. Southpaw reliever Dustin Richardson made his major league debut, taking over from Wakefield in the eighth with Placido Polanco on second with one out. The former “Knight School” contestant was brought in to take advantage of the lefty-lefty match-up and induced ground ball outs from two of the more formidable bats in the league, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Sparkplug Daniel Nava didn’t have the chance to blast another grand slam, but he took advantage of a late-innings situation to trigger a rally. Facing off against Brad Lidge in the ninth with J.D. Drew on and two men out, Nava grounded a gutshot single to center to bring his team within two runs. But there were no other Red Sox...

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...


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