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Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Crawford (Carl)”

Showdown at Chavez Ravine

Two division-leading teams entered Dodger Stadium last night but only one left. Boston’s loss and Tampa Bay’s win over the Yankees leave the AL East tied, but the Red Sox are two behind in the loss column. The Red Sox lineup hit like pitchers last night. Only Dustin Pedroia and Stephen Drew tallied hits. John Lackey managed to foul off a ball, which Dennis Eckersley would count as “styling.” Carl Crawford is the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter because it is much easier to do so on the West Coast. He started the fourth inning with a line drive single to right and had a chance to tell David Ortiz how much he wanted to beat the Red Sox. “That was just a bad experience,” the outfielder said. “I definitely felt like I had a chance to get a fresh start. With a new team, new atmosphere, new environment.” Because that isn’t what he got when he went from the Rays to the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez had a footrace to first in the fourth inning that Pedroia nearly won. There couldn’t be two more different players than this pair. Pedroia is boisterous, obstreperous, and spirited while Gonzalez is...

Roller Coaster

Like the season this game was a roller coaster. Just look at the win probability chart for the contest from Baseball Reference. The graphic from FanGraphs reverses the teams’ halves so it is condensed mirror image. Such are my thoughts about the impending trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. I truly thought acquiring Gonzalez would complement David Ortiz much as Manny Ramirez did. I wasn’t as keen on Crawford, thinking that a smart organization like the Rays must be sensing his decline, but in no way did I think he was at the end of his run. Beckett helped win 2007 and called Joba Chamberlain a c*** but seemed to have gone astray when Mike Lowell retired. Nick Punto was signed as a good veteran clubhouse presence, but see how well that worked out this season. After 2004 I remember grinning along with Ramirez as he said that the team has to turn the page after that success so that they could achieve more. He mimed the action making it all the more memorable. With Theo Epstein at the helm I thought there was a chance at a Belichickean dynasty. Epstein resigned...

Caricature

Red Sox baserunning was a mockery of the game. Pedro Ciriaco led off the inning promisingly enough with a double lined to right. The extra base hit knocked Ubaldo Jimenez out of the game, leaving Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford to face southpaw Tony Sipp. Sipp struck out Ellsbury on four pitches. Crawford knocked a ground ball to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Ciriaco took too large of a lead off the keystone sack and then failed to keep Cleveland’s infielders in the rundown long enough. Cabrera tagged out Ciriaco and then fired to second to get the sliding Crawford. In this game the best accomplishment by someone from the Boston area was this sign. While caricatures usually embellish its subjects’ flaws, this artist tactfully rendered Don and Jerry’s hairlines. The creator also evoked the Red Sox typeface without aping it exactly, avoiding any infringement. Game 113: August 9, 2012 Boston Red Sox55-58 3 L: Felix Doubront (10-6) 2B: Pedro Ciriaco (5)HR: Adrian Gonzalez (12) Cleveland Indians52-60 5 W: Ubaldo Jimenez (9-11)H: Tony Sipp (12), Vinnie Pestano (23)S: Chris Perez (30)2B: Michael Brantley (34), Asdrubal Cabrera (25)HR: Jason Donald (1)...

The Trouble with Doubles

The Red Sox overcame their recent wretched performance against the worst team in the AL Central and defeated the best team in the AL West. For reals, stop staring at me as if I were crazy. Seriously, Boston totally demolished the Rangers. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez hit a combined eight doubles, with seven of them coming off rookie sensation Yu Darvish. Fine, don’t believe me. I guess you won’t believe that Aaron Cook kept one of the most potent offenses in the majors to a single run and struck out Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli while doing so. Game 110: August 6, 2012 Texas Rangers63-45 2 L: Yu Darvish (11-8)2B: Michael Young (18), Nelson Cruz – 2 (29)HR: Adrian Beltre (19) Boston Red Sox55-55 9 W: Aaron Cook (3-5) 2B: Dustin Pedroia – 3 (22), Jacoby Ellsbury – 2 (10), Carl Crawford – 2 (4), Adrian Gonzalez (30)...

Youk Can Put It On the Board – Yes!

It was the best of both worlds. The faithful gathered at Fenway got to cheer for a former favorite but also celebrated a win against a division leader. Kevin Youkilis laced a single up the middle in the first. Adam Dunn followed by pounding the ball into the infield and grounding out to second. Pedro Ciriaco fielded it well despite being screened by Youkilis but Adrian Gonzalez threw galley-west to Will Middlebrooks, who was stationed between second and third because of the shift. Youkilis scored because no one was manning third. Poetry. The Red Sox bats responded immediately. Like Youkilis before him Carl Crawford singled up the middle. David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez combined for a pair of singles to push Crawford across the plate for the tie. It wasn’t Gonzalez’s most impressive hit of the evening, however. In the eighth he clouted a three-run homer into the Monster seats. Unfortunately Ortiz kept up with this team’s trend of the year: on the very game a player returns he hobbled himself badly enough to be removed from the game. Early exams indicate that Ortiz will not be going on the disabled list because of this particular injury, an Achilles tendon...

Hugger-mugger

I knew if I waited long enough to recap the last game of the first half of the season yet another clubhouse drama would emerge. Gordon Edes came out with a dirty laundry list today, with most of the items . Some of the highlights: [Gary] Tuck keeps his communication with Valentine to a minimum. He is known to walk past the manager without so much as a hello. David Ortiz publicly stated his support recently for the manager, but another respected player on the team said privately that it was all for show. That same player has gone weeks without speaking to Valentine and said that the manager does not have the support of “anyone” in the clubhouse. That is likely an exaggeration -- another veteran told a friend he has come around on the manager after initially being shocked at his hire -- but Valentine told associates that he knows he is being bad-mouthed in the clubhouse and is at a loss to understand why. Valentine went out to the mound in Chicago for a visit with his pitcher, and all the infielders joined him for the conference except star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who remained at his...

It Is Designed to Break Your Heart

There’s nothing I could say here that hasn’t been stated in a manner infinitely more analytical, anguished, and eloquent elsewhere. Nate Silver neatly dissects the Red Sox’s epic collapse in September. He also concisely computes the dual, dueling improbabilities of the Yankees blowing a seven-run lead and the Red Sox losing last night’s game when they were one strike away from victory: one chance in 278 million. Jay Caspian Kang eschews calculating probabilities in favor of reveling in the reborn despair over the Olde Towne Team. Kang rhapsodizes, “We get to go back to our favorite pastime: complaining about this shitty team and its shitty GM and what the fuck is wrong with Crawford and did you hear what this guy told me about what John Lackey did when he was at that bar in the Back Bay?” Finally, Chad Finn performs an autopsy on the deceased team in a measured manner. Finn usually doesn’t call for heads but appeals to a rabid fan base to adopt cooler ones. However, in this column Finn urges John Lackey to “pack up the sneer and the sacks of unearned cash and just go away.” That surly starter was Finn’s only call for...

Deranged

Canada, which some liken to a quasi-American state that thinks it’s a country, defeated Texas, an actual American state that entertains the same delusion. Ontario-born Erik Bedard notched his first victory in a Red Sox uniform and it came against one of the more formidable offenses in the league. The southpaw pitched for six innings for a quality start: 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Yoshinori Tateyama’s name can be broken down to: 義 yoshi: righteousness, justice, morality, honor, loyalty, meaning 紀 nori: chronicle, account, narrative, history, annals, geologic period 建 tate: build 山 yama: mountain My hackneyed translation is “Righteous Chronicle of Mountain Building,” with the mountain being Red Sox runs. Tateyama took over from Colby Lewis in the fourth with the score tied 3-3, Dustin Pedroia on first base, and one down. The reliever missed the zone and his backstop’s glove, allowing Pedroia to take second on a passed ball. With first base open Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked to get to Kevin Youkilis, whose commercial is driving NESN viewers insane. Youkilis popped a ball into the stands that hit an empty tray atop a vendor’s head. A fan in a tie-dyed t-shirt caught...

You Got What I Need

Kevin Youkilis found a profitable way to spend his time during his disabled list stint. A-list movie stars only let such commercials run on continents other than North America. Perhaps the MLBPA should intervene. While Youk still has what the Red Sox need, Jacoby Ellsbury’s return was like a spark that lit the Red Sox lineup like a string of firecrackers. All along the batting order bats were cracking: Carl Crawford went 2-for-3 with a two-run double, a sacrifice fly, and a two-run home run. Adding to the Red Sox pyrotechnics were Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s eighth inning shot was particularly methodical. Darren O’Day thought he evaded the slugger’s implacable bat when Gonzalez pulled the ball foul. Gonzalez converted the very next four-seamer into a four-bagger, causing the Rangers reliever to bellow a four-letter word. Texas native Josh Beckett, like Abilene-born John Lackey the night before, enjoyed embarrassingly extravagant run support. The Red Sox scored in every inning but the third and ninth. As in Lackey’s start, every starting position player had at least one hit. Tim Wakefield was seen desperately trying to bottle the excess runs, like Henry Ford capturing Thomas Edison’s last breath in a test tube....

Lackey’s Back

The Red Sox could ill afford a short outing by John Lackey given Saturday’s 14-inning marathon. Lackey’s pitch limit was 90 pitches and he was able to stretch himself to 5⅔ innings with a line of a 3 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. The Red Sox lineup came through for the returning starter. In the power department Carl Crawford clouted a three-run homer into the Red Sox bullpen in the second and Adrian Gonzalez lofted a two-run longball into the Monster seats in the fourth. From the speed side Jacoby Ellsbury singled in the sixth, advanced on two wild pitches, and crossed home on Dustin Pedroia’s single. Kevin Kouzmanoff’s third inning blast to dead center had cameraman Mike Porta momentarily abandoning his equipment as the ball ricocheted about the camera hut. The resulting footage of Gonzalez’s feet wasn’t as stirring as Lou Gerard’s shot of Carlton Fisk in Game Six of the 1975 World Series, but it did provide a moment of levity in what could have been an augury of Lackey’s devolution. But if there’s any team a pitcher would choose to face after coming off the disabled list it would be the Athletics. Their...

Just Like They Drew It Up

The Red Sox wrote their first non-linear game story, a pastiche of 14 innings covering three storylines: Josh Beckett’s dominance, Jason Varitek’s and Jonathan Papelbon’s unraveling, and Alfredo Aceves’s perseverance. The first five innings of the game were a taut pitchers’ duel between Beckett and Trevor Cahill. As any good writer would, Beckett created tension when he hit David DeJesus in the foot and walked Ryan Sweeney on four pitches to begin the sixth. Cahill’s club, representing the young up and comers, tied the game with Josh Willingham’s two-run double. The local nine battled back in the bottom of the sixth with a three-run barrage sparked by Jacoby Ellsbury’s patented leadoff single/stolen base combination. Dustin Pedroia drove in the go-ahead run and Kevin Youkilis plated Pedroia with a double that eluded Willingham’s pursuit multiple times as it caromed around the left field corner. Carl Crawford, a pivotal character in late and close games, knocked a gutshot single for the third run. Beckett and Matt Albers added minor twists by allowing a run and an out between them in the seventh, but in a feel-good touch rookie Tommy Hottovy took the mound and induced an inning-ending double play. The traditional dramatic...

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...

Waking Up in First Place

Last night two Tims on Boston teams carried their teams to victory. In the Motor City Wakefield pitched seven solid innings, giving up just five hits with the rest of his line remarkably symmetrical. He had two of each of the categories of earned runs, walks, and strikeouts. Only Jhonny Peralta managed an extra base hit off the knuckleballer, a soaring shot to left-center that kicked off the second inning. Wakefield’s win was powered by the resurgence of Carl Crawford, a Houston native who has heated up along with the weather. Ron Gant of the MLB Network opined that Crawford started hitting better because the weather is more like what he is familiar with growing up in Texas and playing in St. Petersburg. The left fielder clubbed a two-run homer in the third inning, topping off a rally sparked by Jacoby Ellsbury’s leadoff four-bagger. Kevin Youkilis contributed with a two-run double that whizzed through the gap in right-center all the way to the wall, no mean feat in the vastness of Comerica Park. Back in the Hub the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t strike once with Tim Thomas between the pipes. The Bruins goalie had his second shutout of this playoff...

Two Touchdowns and a Safety

With no end to the NFL lockout in sight the 14-2 outcome to this game might be as close to a football score that sports fans will get this year. Cleveland all but lost before one of its players saw a pitch from Jon Lester. Dustin Pedroia scored a safety (two-run homer with Jacoby Ellsbury on base) and Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Cameron, Drew Sutton, and Pedroia (again?) each tacked on extra points in the top of the first. Ray Lewis was right about malfeasance rising without football: the way Mitch Talbot and Frank Herrmann pitched was criminal. Talbot’s line: 3 innings pitched, 12 hits, 8 earned runs, 2 walks, and 1 strikeout. Herrmann’s: 2⅓ innings pitched, 6 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout. But hey, neither one allowed many bases on balls, right? Of the starting nine for the Red Sox only Jed Lowrie didn’t pad his hit totals. Even without hits he scored twice; once in the first after he reached on a fielder’s choice and again in the sixth after a walk. Every single Red Sox batter who started the game notched a run. It’s hard to write about a blowout in a...

Cleveland Steoreotypes on a Roll

It’s 2011, the world hasn’t ended, the United States has an African-American president, and Cleveland’s professional baseball team still uses “Indians” as its nickname and has Chief Wahoo as its mascot. Other teams have mascots that are animals (Tigers, Orioles), items of clothing (the two Sox), and occupations or types of people (Brewers, Pirates, Dodgers). Only Atlanta and Cleveland stubbornly cling to mascots that denigrate Native Americans. Rather than tinkering with the postseason Bud Selig should do something that is truly in the best interests of baseball and force Larry Dolan and John Malone of Liberty Mutual to finally change their teams’ names. It wouldn’t hurt for them to establish a scholarship fund for people who will use their education to help Native American organizations (and I’m not talking about casinos) while they fundamentally change the face of their franchises. When Cleveland swept the Red Sox in the second series of the season it was thought to be a fluke. Since then the squad has established itself with the best record in the majors, reaching the 30-win mark before any other club. Justin Masterson, who looks like he is growing a playoff beard along with the Bruins, pitched well enough...

Take That Left at Alburquerque

Is the price the Red Sox have to pay for a winning streak the decimation of the rotation? First John Lackey and then Daisuke Matsuzaka were shelved and tonight Josh Beckett was pulled after six innings and 83 pitches due to neck stiffness. By the time Beckett left the mound the offense had established a 2-1 lead against the formidable Justin Verlander. The Tigers ace’s near Johnny Vander Meer was well in his rear view mirror, something he needed to see J.D. Drew’s tie-breaking, two-out longball drift into the right field stands in the fourth inning. David Ortiz clubbed an insurance run into the bleachers behind the bullpen in the seventh. With Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon in the offing the homer seemed to be a little extra something but probably unnecessary, like tonsils or the appendix. But one should never look a gift Teixeira in the mouth. Bard, perhaps worn down from last night’s outing and intervening rain delay, surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in the form of consecutive homers by Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera must have been excited to be in Fenway since it now offers hard liquor. Papelbon wasn’t his sharpest either. He pitched...

Going to Church

As Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save in the eighth inning the Celtics failed to break their 86-86 tie with the Heat and the game went to overtime. Paul Pierce’s layup failed to drop and yet another Twins hitter, this time Jason Kubel, dropped a cheap hit into shallow center. Denard Span scored from second on Kubel’s single, where Span waited by benefit of a balk by Alfred Aceves. In the bottom of the seventh Span had Ellsburied Jacoby himself with a dashing, diving grab. Across town the Celtics were outscored 12 to 4 in overtime. Jason Varitek reached on a throwing error by Luke Hughes with two out in the ninth. Darnell McDonald pinch ran for his captain but was picked off by Jose Mijares. Both teams failed to get the job done in regulation and had to do their best to further stretch their strained resources and garner a win. Where Boston’s basketball team failed the Red Sox succeeded. Hideki Okajima pitched a gutty two innings, surviving two hits and two walks to hold Minnesota scoreless. Two of Okajima’s three strikeouts came with runners in scoring position. As Okajima was clutch on the mound Carl Crawford was in...

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...

It’s 3 a.m.

I must have been listening to bad music while bad things went down at Fenway. Actually, Edwin McCain and Eminem also have songs entitled “3 a.m.” and both of them are better than Matchbox Twenty’s effort. The sampling of McCain’s lyrics below and his poignant performance makes me think of Carl Crawford, his struggles, and his seeming turnaround.It’s 3:00 a.m. I’m awake and my heart is still dreaming It’s 3:00 a.m. Outside I hear the souls still screaming It’s been so long you know since my head’s been this clear Just like a ship lost in the night I just don’t know which way I should steer But I’ll keep chasing my dreams And only you can make them real I pour my heart out every night But do you know the way that I feel There were a few souls, warmed by free hot chocolate or coffee, screaming from the Fenway stands. They screamed in elation as Jed Lowrie scored on a wild pitch from rookie closer Jordan Walden to bring the local nine within a run. That fervor increased when Crawford doubled to center and Jacoby Ellsbury drove Crawford in with a soft liner to right to tie...

Storybook Beginning

Remarkably the Red Sox managed to score against Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. Keep in mind that this is the same team that was blanked by Doug Fister. The home team threatened in the first inning by loading the bases but continued the trend in this series by failing to hit with runners in scoring position. They did capitalize on Hernandez’s second time through the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the third with a single up the middle and Dustin Pedroia lined another single to left. David Ortiz knocked the horsehide high off the left field wall to plate two runs. Peter Gammons had asked Pedroia what he thought of Andre Ethier’s hitting streak as the two are best friends and former Arizona State teammates. With his usual cockiness Pedroia said he’ll have a longer one. It’s definitely time for a sandwich for the Laser Show. Bobby Jenks took one for the team today, blowing a two-run lead to set up a dramatic comeback. He took the mound in the sixth with two out and one on. Tim Wakefield was in line for his 180th win with the Old Towne team. Jenks surrendered a soft liner to left off the...


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