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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Blue Jays”

Blinded by the Plight

Dustin Pedroia’s look of horror as he failed to glove Kevin Pillar’s pop-up in the fourth was reminiscent of Red Sox fans’ rictus of torture throughout the 2015 season thus far. One of the few moments of delight has been Eduardo Rodriguez’s rookie campaign, but he had his first rough outing against the white-hot Blue Jays offense. Earlier in the fourth Edwin Encarnacion took out Xander Bogaerts with his slide into the keystone sack. John Farrell came out to argue with second base umpire Jeff Kellogg. Farrell seemed to be trying to get tossed but he failed, continuing the same theme as in so many things around the organization this season. For more proof of this team’s futility, see Chris Colabello’s fifth-inning RBI single. This increased Toronto’s lead to 7-0. It didn’t stop there, but as far as this game goes I will. Game 64: June 14, 2015 Toronto Blue Jays34-30 13 W: Marco Estrada (4-3) 2B: Russell Martin (12), Ryan Goins (8), Jose Reyes (9)HR: Goins (2), Danny Valencia (2) Boston Red Sox27-37 5 L: Eduardo Rodriguez (2-1) 3B: Pablo Sandoval (1)HR: David Ortiz (9)...

Challenging Times

The Red Sox should fire hitting coach Chili Davis. This is the first game this season that the squad had been shut out and obviously things need to be shaken up. As we can see the dismissal of Juan Nieves has turned around the pitching staff. Wade Miley went six innings with eight hits (including two homers) and four earned runs. He only walked one batter and struck out eight, on the somewhat positive side. The Red Sox were soundly beaten but they prevailed in challenges 2-1. In the third inning Xander Bogaerts was called out at first but replay showed he was safe by a hair. Mookie Betts smashed against the wall trying to catch Jose Bautista’s deep fly ball. Perhaps the collision caused the ball to drop back into the field for a triple rather than a home run. Bautista went on to score on Edwin Encarnacion’s single anyway, but Robbie Ross, Jr. doesn’t have a home run on his ledger. The Blue Jays won a challenge in the seventh when Allen Craig seemed to beat out Ryan Goins’s outstanding throw. The replay officials overturned the safe call. And that’s why Craig is headed for Pawtucket, not his...

Early Decision

All the scoring was finished by the second inning. Even Jon Lester, the opening day starter, has fallen into a familiar losing pattern: give up the lead early and depart after a handful of innings from having expended so many pitches. The only folks happy about this afternoon’s game were the Toronto Blue Jays (who took sole possession of first place in the American League East), their fan Geddy Lee, and this guy (who caught Xander Bogaerts’s second inning home run ball). With this loss the Boston squad has been swept in two consecutive series and extended their losing streak to seven games. The Red Sox face the last place Tampa Bay Rays next. Just two games in the loss column separate these two teams. Will the Red Sox keep ahead of the slowest swimmer or get caught by the Rays? Will I have to learn how to spell “Samardzija” without looking it up? Ben Cherington might look to discuss acquiring the standout starter from former colleagues Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to shore up the rotation. We learned how to spell “Mientkiewicz” in 2004 so this Serbian surname shouldn’t be so much of a challenge. Game 46: May 22,...

Bad News Hairs

The good news: Mike Napoli and his lush beard circled the bases in the ninth to tie the game 3-3. It was his first home run since July 24. Perhaps dropping him in the lineup did help him ease up at the plate. The bad news: Napoli was part of the defensive butchery on Rajai Davis’s run-scoring jaunt about the basepaths. Davis laced the ball towards Jon Lester’s plant leg and the pitcher’s calf knocked it down. Because of Davis’s speed Lester made a hasty underhand toss to Napoli. Shane Victorino retrieved the ball from the fences and tried to nail Davis at third. The ball ricocheted off Davis’s shoulders and bounced to the third base fences. Lester backed up the play at third but was no where near the redirected ball. Davis scored and somewhere a sad trombone tooted. These Boston fans made their Toronto hotel room a home away from home. Leafs fans must not have been happy to see the Bergeron jersey. Jerry Remy’s doppelgänger also made the trip to Hollywood North. Buenas noches, amigos! Game 122: August 14, 2013 ∙ 10 innings Boston Red Sox72-50 3 L: Brandon Workman (3-2) 2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 2 (30),...

Second Wind

The Red Sox chased Chien-Ming Wang from the game when he had just five outs to his name. He walked David Ortiz and Mike Carp to start the second inning and then surrendered run-scoring singles to Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Jose Bautista made a mess of Stephen Drew’s fly ball and another run scored. Another pair of singles by Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury brought the score to 5-0. Wang was fortunate that Shane Victorino grounded into a double play but the respite was brief. Dustin Pedroia went la luna with Iglesias on base and Red Sox scored all the runs they needed for the win. The only concern was that Jon Lester left the game in the eighth with a limp, but it doesn’t seem like his jammed hip should be a lingering issue. Game 81: June 27, 2013 Toronto Blue Jays39-39 4 L: Chien-Ming Wang (1-1) 2B: Maicer Izturis (10) Boston Red Sox48-33 7 W: John Lackey (8-4)S: Koji Uehara (3)2B: Stephen Drew (13), Shane Victorino (9), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (19)HR: Dustin Pedroia (5)...

Died, Fried, Laid to the Side

The saying I used for the title of this post was supposed to be “fired, dyed, and laid to the side” and refer to tortured hairstyles, but I reworked it to refer to this delectable array of meat. This was one of the few points of enjoyment in yesterday’s game. While getting shellacked by the potent Blue Jays lineup the Red Sox nearly lost one of their key players. Shane Victorino went all out after Emilio Bonifacio’s fourth-inning circuit clout. Victorino’s glove careened into the bullpen and the outfielder lay on the grass for a few minutes. He stayed in the game despite the collision. Perhaps he was floored because Bonifacio actually hit a home run. Melky Cabrera invented emo eyeblack. I guess this is his way of expressing the isolation and longing he experienced during his 50-game suspension. Game 38: May 12, 2013 Toronto Blue Jays15-24 12 W: Chad Jenkins (1-0) 2B: Emilio Bonifacio (8), Melky Cabrera (5)HR: Jose Bautista 2 (9), Bonifacio (1), Edwin Encarnacion (11), Brett Lawrie (4) Boston Red Sox22-16 4 L: Ryan Dempster (2-4) 2B: Dustin Pedroia (8), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (10), Mike Napoli (17)HR: Napoli (7), Pedro Ciriaco (1)...

Tearing It Up

Was Don Orsillo trying to photograph the area where Mike Napoli’s home runs landed? Or if Red Sox wins (leading the league with 20) represented 100 feet in height the imaginary apex of that accomplishment? Oh, he was just being a tourist? It’s better when Don is the subject of photos, such as this one in a giant hot dog, not taking them. Dick Hayhurst accused Clay Buchholz of loading the ball with Crisco. Seems to me that Brad Lincoln may have indulged in something given the results of one of his pitches. Will Hayhurst call out Joel Hanrahan next? The closer celebrated his 100th career save and fourth of the season. Given Andrew Bailey’s injury history and Hanrahan’s inconsistency, this is a two-person committee of closers I can get behind. Brett Lawrie scored Toronto’s only run but he had an issue on the defensive side. In the ninth his throw to first pulled Adam Lind away from the runner. Lind tried to tag Dustin Pedroia on the run but seemed to forget the second baseman is not as tall as other players and only touched air. Game 28: May 2, 2013 Boston Red Sox20-8 3 W: Ryan Dempster (2-2)H:...

Hub Hat Trick

No Argonauts gear? How about some Raptors swag? I don’t blame him for not wearing Toronto Rock gear because of the lame nickname and well, it’s lacrosse. Toronto FC is pretty nifty, though. Sorry about all the losing our teams gave yours, kid. The Red Sox capped off an evening that saw the Celtics salvage some Boston pride by fending off the Knicks for another game. Tell the Westboro Baptist Church to reschedule the picket on the Cs’ funeral. The Bruins handily put away the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 in the first game of their playoff series. That’s what you get for having an ungrammatical moniker. But hey, I guess Toronto Rock. Mike Napoli started the season off slow with the first half of April a disappointing .220/.235/.420 and two home runs. Since then he turned the heat up to a simmer and last night reached a full roiling boil. Dustin Pedroia tweeted to his followers that Napoli needs a new nickname. My suggestion was “Florida Fencebuster,” inspired by his two-homer showing, his birth state, and my love of old time baseball slang. Huzzah! Game 27: May 1, 2013 Boston Red Sox19-8 10 W: Clay Buchholz (6-0) 2B: David Ortiz...


Unassuming Mike Carp clouted his first home run of the season in the fourth. Unfortunately he didn’t recreate his little league performance of a three-homer game. Edwin Encarnacion nearly did, however, and both his home runs came with a man on base. Encarnacion’s runs also were in response to Red Sox rallies. The two-run difference in the game boiled down to Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throwing error in the third. With the bases loaded and none out the backstop had the notion to pick Jose Bautista off first base. His throw went galley-west into right and Brett Lawrie and Rajai Davis made their way across the plate. Salty just got momentarily distracted. You would too if giant pizzas floated in your peripheral vision. A strong April is nothing to sniff at and neither is any game against a divisional opponent. Even Hub sports fans can agree the more important Boston-Toronto match-up is happening on an even faster surface than AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D. Go Bruins! Game 26: April 30, 2013 Boston Red Sox18-8 7 BS, L: Junichi Tazawa (2, 2-1) 2B: David Ortiz (6)HR: Ortiz (3), Mike Carp (1), Jonny Gomes (1) Toronto Blue Jays10-17 9 H: Aaron Loup (4)BS, W: Steve...

Eye Black Blues

With the ubiquity of camera phones even regular people at any moment can have their actions tweeted about and their awkward expressions photographed and facebooked. So a major league baseball player should expect even more scrutiny. Brett Lawrie couldn’t avoid NESN microphones picking up his shouted expletive when he struck out to lead off the sixth inning. Yunel Escobar brazenly sported an anti-gay slur on his eye black stickers and is now serving a three-game suspension during which he will lose about $83,000, or as Mitt Romney would call it, chump change. Escobar fell back on the typical defenses saying that he has gay friends. “The person who decorates my house is gay, the person who cuts my hair is gay.” Thankfully he will also go to sensitivity training. The money will go to You Can Play project, which works for equal treatment of athletes regardless of sexual orientation, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Photo courtesy @james_in_to. Game 147: September 16, 2012 Boston Red Sox66-81 0 L: Jon Lester (9-12) 2B: Ryan Lavarnway (5) Toronto Blue Jays66-79 5 W: Brandon Lyon (3-2)H: Darren Oliver (15)2B: Omar Vizquel (3), Brett Lawrie (23)HR: Adeiny Hechavarria (2)...

Yank Aaron

Aaron Laffey hadn’t started a major league game since June of 2010, when he was pressed into the starter’s role for the Cleveland Indians. My friend and I were talking about Laffey’s paltry major league resume and laughed about how the Red Sox lineup would pummel him. But then I remembered: this is exactly the sort of less than replacement level player that somehow shows up Boston from time to time. Sure enough, Laffey lasted six innings, allowed only three hits, walked a pair of batters, and struck out two extremely hot hitters, Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks. Daisuke Matsuzaka had a laborious 24-pitch first inning. Brett Lawrie led off with a liner starched to center. Colby Rasmus beat out Mike Aviles’s throw to first and Lawrie advanced to third on the play. Matsuzaka battled against Jose Bautista and induced a pop out to his backstop. Rather than wait around for his pitch Edwin Encarnacion swung at the first he saw and plated Lawrie with a single to third. Middlebrooks rushed his throw to first and sent the ball towards the tarp, which allowed the both runners to get into scoring position. But then Matsuzaka had Kelly Johnson fly out...


Two blasts by David Ortiz weren’t enough to salvage this rain-drenched series opener. The sky opened up with two out and Yunel Escobar on second in the seventh inning. Perhaps it was in mourning for Kevin Youkilis (spelled “Youklis” whoever wrote up the White Sox’s lineup card) or for the Red Sox, who had just fallen behind by two more runs thanks to Jose Bautista’s line drive two-run shot into the Monster seats. At least one person was happy. Make that two. Game 73: June 25, 2012 Toronto Blue Jays38-35 9 W: Henderson Alvarez (4-6)H: Jason Frasor (9)S: Casey Janssen (8) 2B: Edwin Encarnacion (14), Ben Francisco – 2 (4)HR: Colby Rasmus (14), J.P. Arencibia (10), Jose Bautista (24) Boston Red Sox38-35 6 L: Felix Doubront (8-4) 2B: Cody Ross (13), Will Middlebrooks (11)3B: Dustin Pedroia (2)HR: David Ortiz – 2 (20)...

Fifth-Inning Fusillade

Twenty-nine year old Mike McCoy is the Blue Jays’ attempt to build a Bill Hall of their own. The utility man has played every outfield position and every infield spot except catcher and first baseman. Results are at times spectacular; his third inning web gem had him sliding on the warning track in left, snaring Yamaico Navarro’s fly ball on the backhand, and turning in time to stop his momentum with his back against the wall perpendicular to the Green Monster. Navarro got the better of McCoy in the fifth inning when his grounder slipped by the defender’s glove. The Red Sox shortstop reached third on McCoy’s gaffe and a run scored. The shaky defense unnerved Shaun Marcum. He threw three consecutive balls to Ryan Kalish and likely would have walked him if Kalish hadn’t gotten under a low and away fastball. J.D. Drew exploited Marcum’s weakness with a two-run jack over the Red Sox bullpen. While Boston is still mathematically alive, tagging Toronto with their 74th loss has eliminated the Blue Jays from the playoff picture. Jon Lester had four each of hits, walks, and strikeouts over seven innings. His pitching was not dominant but when Lester needed a...

Decrying Ryan

It’s easy to be sighing about Ryan Kalish. Him boneheadedly getting picked off first base immediately preceded Victor Martinez’s triple off the left field wall. Had Kalish been on base he would have scored the tying run. The seeds of this loss were planted much earlier in the game, however. Adrian Beltre ill-advisedly fired across the diamond after fielding John McDonald’s grounder. The throwing error allowed Adam Lind to score and McDonald to reach second. Then Josh Beckett and any other Red Sox infielder failed to cover home plate on Jose Molina’s bunt down the first base line. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia abandoned home plate to field the ball and the defense didn’t rotate behind him. While the infielders were pinned to their bases and Beckett stood idly by McDonald scored from second. The Red Sox were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Key outs in scoring opportunities included Marco Scutaro’s strikeout with the bases loaded in the second, Saltalamacchia’s rally-killing pop out with two runners on in the sixth, and David Ortiz’s whiff with two runners on in the seventh. Martinez buffed up his positional resume by turning two nifty plays in the fourth. With the bases loaded he deftly...

Winging It

John Lackey invented a new word with his performance in this game: lackeyluster. Terry Francona was slow to pull Lackey in the fifth as the Blue Jays scored runs in bunches. The skipper could have tried to keep the gap manageable, especially since at that point the Orioles were leading the Yankees at Camden Yards. But the visitors’ lead ballooned to four runs with Lackey on the mound and his replacement, Michael Bowden, allowed one more run to score. Bowden permitted runs to score in both mundane and imaginative ways. In the sixth inning with Fred Lewis at third Bowden bounced a pitch to Jose Bautista off the dirt into the screen behind home for a run to score. That was the safest place for baseballs this season when they are thrown to Bautista; to end the at bat the right fielder blasted his 48th homer of the season over the left field wall. Bautista topped George Bell for the most home runs by a Blue Jay in a season. The Red Sox rallied in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings. Victor Martinez swatted his second longball of the game to bring his team within four runs. The...

Dazzler in the Downpour

The day may have been a murky day marred by two rain delays but Clay Buchholz’s supreme skill outshone the showers. “Buch-nasty” (as he was dubbed by Mike Cameron) pitched only six innings but that was with a 1 hour, 44 minute delay of first pitch and a 59-minute rain delay called in the top of the third. While he allowed five hits and three bases on balls he struck out seven and didn’t allow any extra base hits. Both relievers, Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront, also stifled the Blue Jays batters, allowing just three baserunners between them. Jose Molina represented the final out of the game but was hit by a pitch with the count 0-2. The Blue Jays catcher seemed to want to make something of it, but if he thinks anyone let alone a rookie would intentionally plunk him in such a situation he needs to book some time with a therapist to discuss his persecution complex. It’s not like the name “Overbay” was on the back of his jersey. Replacing Jacoby Ellsbury in the speed department was David Ortiz. The fleet-footed designated hitter sprinted around the horn while Vernon Wells and Fred Lewis chased after the...

These Go to Eleven

Daisuke Matsuzaka and Victor Martinez seemed to be working together much better than they did during Matsuzaka’s streak of troubles. The battery fought through the Blue Jays’ three-run rally in the sixth to turn in two shutout, 1-2-3 innings, keeping the score knotted 4-4. Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon combined for three scoreless innings to get to the home half of the eleventh. Jed Lowrie, when not re-reading political theory classics introduced to him as a political science major at Stanford such as On the Social Contract or A Theory of Justice, hits game-winning home runs in extra-innings games in his spare time. No offense to Lowrie, but if you put him in street clothes he would be high on the list of least likely to be identified as a professional athlete. Like other political science majors, he should be bringing a senator some coffee or toiling away on an obscure blog. But Lowrie can swing a bat, throw leather around the diamond, and avoid slipping on home plate after launching a walk-off four-bagger and thereby suffering a season-ending injury, so he can avoid lackey tasks and carpal tunnel syndrome for a while. He’ll still have to deal with dirty...

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...

Jonathan Papel-pas-bon

I wanted to press “delete” on the DVR and pretend today’s game didn’t happen. I didn’t want to see the gut-wrenching loss or the the Blue Jays’ throwbacks. At least newcomer Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a nifty hitting debut. In the middle game of the series he came in as a defensive replacement for Victor Martinez but didn’t bat. The backstop made the day game start, doubling twice in his four at bats. He also threw out Aaron Hill in the second inning on the Toronto second baseman’s steal attempt, perhaps dispelling the lingering doubts about his defensive shortcomings. My morbid curiosity got the better of me. I needed visual verification that John Lackey could carry a game into the ninth. After Jose Bautista’s gajillionth home run this season was struck I pressed stop. I imagined I was Terry Francona and I called on Daniel Bard, not Jonathan Papelbon, to finish the game. Boston won 5-3.Game 116: August 12, 2010Red Sox 66-505BS, L: Jonathan Papelbon (6, 4-5)2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 2 (2), J.D. Drew (22) 3B: Darnell McDonald (2) HR: Jed Lowrie (1), David Ortiz (25)Blue Jays 60-546L: Shaun Marcum (10-6)2B: Yunel Escobar (16), Fred Lewis (29), Adam Lind (19), Vernon...

Do It All Hall

Bill Hall helped turn both of Boston’s double plays and homered twice into the second deck. The utility man started off the season ice cold; April’s statistics were a disappointing .192 batting average, .364 on-base percentage, and .231 slugging percentage. Thus far in August Hall has .286 batting average and on-base percentage but sports a .629 slugging rate. Nearly everyone in the Red Sox lineup was mashing. Even without Hall’s four RBIs his team would have prevailed. The Blue Jays had no extra base hits and scored their first and only run in the first inning thanks to Travis Snider reaching on Mike Lowell’s error. Snider advanced to second on Yunel Escobar’s sacrifice bunt, got to third on a passed ball to Jose Bautista, and scored on Bautista’s sac fly to right. Clay Buchholz didn’t allow a Toronto batter past second for the rest of the game. His line wasn’t dazzling (8 innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts), but being able to get to the eighth without having to use any of the reliable relievers was a boon to the team. Dustin Richardson gave up back-to-back singles in the bottom of the ninth to bottom of...


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