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Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Royals”

Vote Royals

John Farrell is not shy with his use of challenges. After just one out in the game he asked Tom Hallion’s crew to take a closer look at Mookie Betts’s play at first where the center fielder was called out. The out call was reversed but the Red Sox didn’t capitalize on the call as David Ortiz grounded into an inning-ending double play. But in the second inning the Red Sox offense came alive. Mike Napoli, Blake Swihart, and Betts all drove in runs to build a five-run lead. Eduardo Rodriguez used that cushion well by holding the Royals to a single run in six and one-third inning of work. But the Red Sox’s Rodriguez wasn’t the one who made baseball headlines. Instead it was New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, who homered off Justin Verlander for his 3,000th hit. Zach Hample, the season ticket-holder who caught the milestone piece of memorabilia, said he was keeping it. Hample said he has returned the first home run balls of Mike Trout and Didi Gregorious but that “this is something more special.” If Trout continues the path he is blazing, perhaps Hample will regret giving up that particular ball. Even though Major League...

Let Me Be Your Ruler

This blue man troupe is more scary than inspiring. They look as if they should be participating in anti-establishment protests, not rooting for the Royals. “Jason Vargas, you pitch well or you’ll find your bank account depleted, the funds diverted to the Kansas City Costume Company.” This Red Sox fan had a fantastic sign where he would change out the name depending on who was at bat. He needed to look a little closer at Christian Vazquez’s surname, however. The Red Sox fell behind in the second inning when Eric Hosmer barely cleared the center field wall for a three-run homer. Jarrod Dyson tacked on another run with an RBI ground out to Mookie Betts, who played second base again. The Red Sox came roaring back in the third inning. Xander Bogaerts sent the ball to the left field seats to score three runs. With the score 4-3 in the Royals’ favor Daniel Nava stepped into the box in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two out. Nava clouted the ball over Lorenzo Cain’s head and gave his team an 8-4 advantage. The series finale was a topsy-turvy affair where the last-place team bested the playoff contender. Mike...

No Postcode Envy

Well, perhaps a little envy exists for the Royals, who are battling for the AL Central pennant against the Detroit Tigers. Kansas City looked like anything but a team poised for the playoffs; the defense gave up two runs because of errors. Will Middlebrooks scored in the second inning when Eric Hosmer let Christian Vazquez’s grounder slip between his legs into right field. Vazquez led off the fourth inning and reached first because Alcides Escobar couldn’t get a handle on Vazquez’s ground ball. Mookie Betts singled to Mike Moustakas, who threw poorly to Hosmer. Vazquez took third on the error but was thrown out at home by Moustakas. In prior games this sort of nascent rally would be staunched easily but David Ortiz ripped a single up the middle to plate Betts and give his team a two-run lead. In the eighth frame Jemile Weeks tallied his first double of the season. It was a clutch clout that Hosmer couldn’t nab before it escaped down the right field line. Middlebrooks and Vazquez, who both worked walks, scored on the scorcher. Even though the Red Sox have the worst record in the AL East they can surprise with a win against...

Maple Syrup, Sugar Cain

Three young fans held signs cheering on Boston and the three franchises currently in season. While they didn’t get to enjoy an on-field victory at Fenway, the Bruins beat the Florida Panthers and the games were played in a city at peace. To match this trio of signs there was nearly a triple play, the sweetest of plays. In the ninth Alex Wilson took the mound and ceded consecutive singles to Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur. Salvador Perez grounded out to Will Middlebrooks who immediately relayed to Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia’s throw was affected by Francoeur’s slide into second. Mike Napoli had to dig out the ball and by that time Perez was just safe. Vermont’s biggest export is maple syrup and its second seems to be team mascots. Fenway was invaded by mascots from the Green Mountain State. Skip, the derpy woodchuck, represented the Vermont Mountaineers, a collegiate summer baseball team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Rather more menacing was Rally from the University of Vermont Catamounts. He has a Twitter account (not maintained by the university) where he last tweeted, “I’m out having a great time, stopping at all the campus block parties going on. Come out...

Broxton’s Britches

Journey man starter Bruce Chen notched his first win against the Red Sox. That’s all you really need to know about this game. That, and the fact that Jonathan Broxton’s legs are the size of giant sequoias. Dennis Eckersley came through with a few great sound bites, as usual. On umpires: They are shy with strike three. [wimpy noise] On Broxton: No slide steps involved with this guy. On Carl Beane: Everybody’s waiting for the voice that isn’t going to be there. Game 30: May 9, 2012 Boston Red Sox12-18 3 L: Jon Lester (1-3) 2B: Adrian Gonzalez (8), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (6) Kansas City Royals11-19 4 W: Bruce Chen (1-4)H: Aaron Crow (6)S: Jonathan Broxton (7) 2B: Brayan Pena (6), Irving Falu (1), Alcides Escobar (10), Alex Gordon (8), Chris Getz (5)...

Will to Power

Not the band from the 1980s that feloniously combined “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “Freebird” but rather “der Wille zur Macht,” the Nietzschean concept of striving to attain the highest position. From “The Will to Power” comes this excerpt: “My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (--its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension.” Will Middlebrooks mastered space, time, and Royals pitchers last night. With elegant intervals Middlebrooks home runs have landed thus: a grand slam in Sunday’s debacle, a three-run shot to right in the first inning, and a two-run circuit clout in the eighth that dinged the left field foul pole. If Middlebrooks’s ambition is to render Kevin Youkilis redundant he seems to have the bat to do so. The rookie’s defense is still raw, however, as witnessed by his throwing error in the third that allowed Jarrod Dyson to score and Alex Gordon to advance to third. The Royals inched to within a run of the visitors in that inning but never gained the advantage. Felix Doubront lasted 6⅓ innings and had to be relieved by Vicente Padilla. The...

Eight is Enough

Josh Kantor, Fenway’s organist, has added “And She Was” by the Talking Heads to his repertoire since I last visited. He played “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees; I would pay extra to hear him play “Everyday is Like Sunday” by the Smiths. One of my favorites and I think his too is “Day After Day” by Badfinger. It always reminds me of the NBA commercial about Kevin Garnett’s trade to the Celtics. At random times throughout the game a “Beat L.A.!” chant would erupt in the stands. I hadn’t been to Fenway yet in 2010, so I checked out the renovations. The new concession space behind home plate is a tremendous addition. I don’t think the new bathrooms downstairs from the concourse behind home plate are ideal, but I like how the bridge to get to them has a television as well as a view of the ground floor concourse and one of the exits. If the 2012 All-Star game isn’t held at Fenway it will be Bud Selig’s greatest failure since turning a blind eye to steroids. I tried a chicken burrito from the third base deck, one of the new concession stand offerings. It was surprisingly well...

A Memorable Day

Along with the Stars and Stripes the New Hampshire flag flew above Fenway. A plaque near the third base deck describing the significance of the bridge between Fenway and the Jeano Building. The new concession stands behind home plate....

One-Run Humdrum

It’s not like the Red Sox went into the tenth trailing 1-0 and won with a stunning grand slam off the bat of their star slugger. However, the celebration in the wake of such an electrifying event could have dire consequences; just ask the Angels’ Kendry Morales. You’ll have to wait until he gets out of surgery for his broken lower left leg, an injury he sustained landed awkwardly on home plate and into a circle of his teammates. As tense as a run-of-the-mill one-run game like the one between Boston and Kansas City can be, it was nothing compared to Roy Halladay’s perfect outing against the Marlins which he won 1-0. In the outing prior to his perfecto Halladay was battered by the Red Sox for 8 hits and 6 earned runs. Halladay rebounded from that poor start with the 20th perfect game in MLB history. The 20-day gap between Dallas Braden’s and Halladay’s achievements was the shortest period of time between perfect games ever. No legs were broken in the Phillies’ celebratory mob. The April version of this Red Sox team wouldn’t have won this game. An Adrian Beltre fielding error or Marco Scutaro throwing gaffe would have...

Royal Pain

Just as Tim Wakefield was chased from the game in the fourth inning by the pesky Royals Terry Francona was driven from his customary bench by the irksome Kevin Millar. Millar whooped and hollered over the phone to his MLB Network colleagues when Victor Martinez powered a two-run home run into the home team’s bullpen. The four-bagger granted the Red Sox a somewhat comfortable 5-2 lead. But no lead is safe in Fenway, and these days no lead is safe with Wakefield on the mound. Kansas City retaliated with no regard for human life in the top of the fourth, tying the game 5-5 on a wild pitch to Mitch Maier. Maier would take a base on balls to load the diamond and Yuniesky Betancourt improbably knocked the ball over the left field wall for a grand slam. Betancourt, the middle infielder who bats in the eight hole. The shortstop with the .392 career slugging percentage. The slick fielder who had 34 homers since 2005. In such a topsy-turvy game it stands to reason that the Red Sox’s best pitcher was a position player. Bill Hall pitched a perfect frame in the ninth and had one more out than Joe...


Kevin Millar’s NESN debut started with a raucous jaunt down memory lane. He ran down the Yankees’ 2004 roster to Boston’s and at nearly every position the Bronxers had their Hub counterparts outmatched. The chunky slugger’s highlights (think home runs, not foiling) were spliced with his immortal rally karaoke video set to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” The montage closed with, of course, his leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth against Mariano Rivera in Game 4. While Millar’s name is out of place with Hall of Famers like Dennis Eckersley, Peter Gammons, and Jim Rice, his jocular presence will lighten the show and be a constant reminder of one of the most-loved teams in Boston sports history. It was the leadoff walk that plagued Daisuke Matsuzaka. Three times out of five the starter allowed the first baserunner to reach on a base on balls. In the fifth Matsuzaka lost all semblance of control, walking five batters (one with the bases loaded to plate a run) and uncorking a wild pitch that allowed a run to score. Of the three runs the Royals scored off Matsuzaka, only one came on a hit. The disappointing start was reminiscent of...

Hall’s Well That Ends Well

Clay Buchholz’s first start of the season wasn’t particularly sharp: 5 innings pitched, 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, and 1 strikeout. The leadoff batter in each inning reached base so the slim starter was in damage control mode for most of the afternoon. Unlike the home team starter Gil Meche, Buchholz didn’t let his opposition get hits in bunches. The first Royals run crossed the plate when Bill Hall pursued a fly ball too far into the outfield, nearly running into Jacoby Ellsbury. Don’t blame Hall; he just thought it was time for his turn to take left. In the ninth Hall shifted from short to right and Marco Scutaro manned the hole. Hall’s versatility came into play later in the ninth when Ellsbury again crossed paths with an infielder. This time Adrian Beltre ran out hard, chasing Mitch Maier’s pop fly in foul territory while Ellsbury charged in, honing in on the same target. As Ellsbury slid Beltre’s knee hit the left fielder in the rib cage. Ellsbury was removed from the game, J.D. Drew (who was all limbered up thanks to Scutaro’s massage) took over in right, and Hill shifted from right to left. Terry...

Fountains of Pain

Kauffman Stadium is an aesthetic delight: the upper deck is an elegant crescent, the stadium lights are a dainty diadem, and the outfield fountains mirror its home city’s sobriquet: the City of Fountains. It was all the more stunning with Red Sox batters launching home runs into its stands. Five fans now have horsehide souvenirs, two of them particularly rare as they were hit off Zack Greinke. For the first time this season Terry Francona retooled the lineup, figuring that hardly anyone has success against Greinke so he might as well start anyone. Victor Martinez slotted in as designated hitter, Mike Lowell manned the hot corner, Jeremy Hermida fielded left, Jacoby Ellsbury slid over to center, and Jason Varitek took over as backstop. The newly active players seized the opportunity and ran with it. For Hermida and Varitek that meant running all the way to home plate — twice for the catcher. Lowell wasn’t as productive at the plate (1-for-4) but played his position well. The Red Sox bench players would likely be starters in other cities. Conventional wisdom says that a deep bench is a luxury, but for a team in the American League East whose ultimate goal is...

Sigh, Young Pitcher

Much of the Royals’ lineup is an amalgam of other teams’ discards: Scott Podsednik roams the left side the outfield and inexplicably bats second with his 340 OBP; Rick Ankiel patrols center field hoping the massive Crown Vision screen is securely anchored; and Jason Kendall calls the pitches behind the dish. Yet this collection of castoffs denied Tim Wakefield, the oldest pitcher to have ever made a start for the Red Sox, his first win of 2010. Boston confined all of its damage to a single inning. Kevin Youkilis led off the fourth with a single through the hole and David Ortiz advanced the runner to third with his opposite field double. Adrian Beltre continued to impress by grounding out to second to plate Youkilis and advance Ortiz. J.D. Drew outdid his teammates with an immense home run to dead center. The ball cleared three walls to land at the base of the Crown Vision, whose distinctive pointed bottom indicated, “Drew hit a massive bomb here.” Three runs seemed enough for a win because of Red Sox luck, a touch of defense, and Wakefield’s effectiveness. The Royals had a chance to score in the fourth but for Ankiel squandering his...


Game 152: September 24, 2009 Red Sox10W: Clay Buchholz (7-3)91-61, 2 game winning streak Royals3L: Anthony Lerew (0-1)63-90, 2 game losing streak Highlights: Zack Greinke heckled home plate umpire Greg Gibson’s strike zone in the third inning and was ejected by Gibson from the dugout. It’s good to see Greinke cured of his social anxiety disorder, but this probably isn’t what team psychologist Andrew Jacobs had in mind. Trey Hillman was justifiably upset by Greg Gibson’s warnings to the dugouts after Anthony Lerew’s sliders inside to Mike Lowell in the fourth. While the balls did fly towards Lowell’s head, had they been purpose pitches they wouldn’t have been thrown in the mid to high 70s. Gibson might point to the fact that David Ortiz had just homered to lead off the inning as Lerew’s motivation for revenge. But the game was 2-0 and there were no outs in the inning, far from the best situation to be meting out justice. Hillman nipped at Gibson’s heels and would have kept on delaying the game had not Tim McClelland, who stands at a hulking 6'6", not intervened. George Brett had tangled with McClelland before and prevailed in the notorious Pine Tar Game,...


Game 151: September 23, 2009 Red Sox9W: Josh Beckett (16-6)90-61, 1 game winning streak Royals2L: Luke Hochevar (7-11)63-89, 1 game losing streak Highlights: Beckett has all but recovered from his August abatement. He twirled six innings of two-run ball despite allowing 12 hits. Yuniesky Betancourt drove in the first run of the game in the fourth with a gapper to the wall in left-center in the fourth. David DeJesus followed with a bloop single to center to plate Betancourt. David DeJesus ran into the second out of the fourth trying to swipe second, so the next two singles by Mitch Maier and Billy Butler were harmless. Designated hitter Brayan Pena tapped out to second, staunching a big inning by the home team. My computer was plugged into a Cox Communications internet connection in a Laughlin, Nevada hotel room. It could barely keep up with all the Red Sox runs in the fifth inning. All I saw of Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-run triple was his figure frozen between second and third. MLB.tv Premium video will seize up but the audio continues apace, so I didn’t see Victor Martinez extend his hitting streak to 23 games but did hear Don Orsillo and Sean...


Game 150: September 22, 2009 Red Sox1L: Paul Byrd (1-2)89-61, 2 game losing streak Royals5W: Zack Greinke (15-8)S: Joakim Soria (28)63-88, 3 game winning streak Highlights: The Red Sox batters mustered only two hits against Greinke. One of them was Victor Martinez sixth inning single with one out, extending the catcher’s hitting streak to 21 games. He also drove in the visiting team’s only run of game with an RBI ground out to first, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury.Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is now up to 64 steals. Not to be outdone, Dustin Pedroia swiped his 19th bag, bringing him within one of his career high total of 20. The second baseman also walked twice and got the only other Red Sox hit of the game, a one-out double in first. Victor Martinez’s RBI was his 101st, second only to Jason Bay’s mark of 113. Manny Delcarmen had his first scoreless inning since September 16. He took the mound with ducks on the pond and two out and induced a fly ball out to center off the bat of Mark Teahen. In this game only individual accomplishments can be highlighted for Boston, which dropped its second game to the woebegone...


Game 149: September 21, 2009 Red Sox9BS, L: Daniel Bard (3, 2-2)89-60, 1 game losing streak Royals12W: Yasuhiko Yabuta (2-1)H: Jamey Wright (12)S: Joakim Soria (27)62-88, 2 game winning streak Highlights: I’m on vacation in Nevada and the Red Sox relievers decided to take leave of their duties as well. From the Royals’ bullpen only Yasuhiko Yabuta allowed the Red Sox to score, and it was because of a wild pitch, not a hit. Yabuta’s family name is made up of two characters: 薮田. The first means thicket, brush, underbush, or grove and the second is the ubiquitous rice paddy ideogram. Yasuhiko [安彦] means peaceful boy or lad. Yasui, the adjective from which Yabuta’s given name is derived, is a difficult word for English speakers to learn because it has three different meanings depending on symbol and context: cheap, peaceful, or easy. Tim Wakefield must shoulder his share of the blame for this loss as well. With a 8-2 lead the knuckleballer let the Royals back into the game with a three-run homer authored by Mike Jacobs. Although the Royals have a similar win-loss record to the Orioles, the former played with ardor while the latter with apathy. Undaunted by...

Bōgyoritsu [防御率]

Game 148: September 20, 2009 Red Sox9W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-5)89-59, 3 game winning streak Orioles3L: Jason Berken (5-12)60-89, 4 game losing streak Highlights: The Japanese word for earned run average, bōgyoritsu [防御率], much better defines what this metric measures than its English equivalent. The first character means to defend, protect, or resist; the second symbolizes manipulate or govern, and the final glyph stands for ratio. Much like in America this statistic is posted when summarizing a pitcher’s effectiveness, but I can’t help but think that the group-oriented Japanese realize that ERA also recognize the contribution of defense to so-called pitching staff. Thanks to his 5⅓ inning outing with three earned runs Daisuke Matsuzaka’s ERA decreased from 7.02 to 6.80. To highlight the defensive contribution to the starter’s improvement, five of Matsuzaka’s outs were fielded by Alex Gonzalez, including a third-inning double play that erased the Orioles infield duo of Cesar Izturis and Brian Roberts. Matsuzaka tallied his second quality start in as many games as he had started since his return. The burning question of whether or not Matsuzaka can regain his former success seems to be answered, yet new concerns arise in its place. How remarkable has Victor Martinez...


Game 88: July 12, 2009 Royals0L: Bruce Chen (0-4)37-51, 3 game losing streak Red Sox6W: Josh Beckett (11-3)54-34, 3 game winning streak Highlights: In 2004, the Red Sox were 48-38 at the break with a .558 winning percentage; after the break they increased their win rate by 10% and went 50-26. They were 8-8 in the games after the All-Star game to the trade deadline, a mediocre showing that prompted the trade of Nomar Garciaparra. In 2007, Boston went 53-34 for a .609 winning percentage but dropped to .573 with a record of 43-32 after the Midsummer Classic. That season the Red Sox traded Joel Pineiro to the Cardinals for a player to be named later and acquired Eric Gagne to shore up the bullpen. As my grandpa would say in pidgin, “If no stay broke, no fix um.”The only weak spot that needs shoring up, in my opinion, is the hot corner due to Mike Lowell’s questionable hip. Kevin Youkilis fills in nicely, but that leaves Mark Kotsay, the Pawtucket first baseman du jour, and Rocco Baldelli (as a last resort) covering first base, a position that is a premium offensive spot for most teams.There’s no need to trade...


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