Friday, July 30, 2010

I apologize in advance....

So sorry to tell you, but posting will be erratic for the next 5-6 days. I'm leaving on a whirlwind visit to Hartford, Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey, and internet access will probably be rather unpredictable.

I was hoping to check out a Phillies game, but they seem to be at Washington while I'm there, and I haven't seen CitiField yet, but the Mets are in Atlanta. Perhaps I'll try to re-visit the shopping mall that they refer to as the new Yankee Stadium.

Regardless, plan on a nice long post by Wednesday evening - and GO SOX!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Finally some good news

Led by Marco Scutaro's grand slam, the Sox defeated the Angels yesterday, 7-3.

The Red Sox completed a sweep of the Angels yesterday afternoon in Anaheim, their first sweep since June 18-20 when when they swept the Dodgers at Fenway Park. The Sox have not swept a series on the road since they victimized the Rays at the Trop, May 24-26.

An encouraging sign, to be sure, especially since they managed to do it on the West coast, at the tail end of an absolutely brutal roadtrip. The local nine managed to salvage a 6-4 record in the last 10 games, and will head home to the friendly confines of Fenway Park to face the likes of the Tigers and Indians before taking to the road once again.

After a well-deserved offday today, the Sox take the field at a normal hour tomorrow, when Jon Lester takes on Mr. [Not] Perfect Game himself, Armando Galarraga. Galarraga has a 4.50 ERA, and has been pretty unimpressive of late, notching just one win since his near-perfect game on June second.

The way Lester has been pitching, I'm not too worried, and the bats seem to have hit their stride, too. Here's hoping the Yanks and Rays can lose some games so we can gain some ground.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lackey not lacking

Angelic no more.

Lackey put up one of his best efforts of the season last night against his former team out in Anaheim. The big righty threw 124 pitches in 7.1 innings, giving up just two runs, and notched his tenth win of the season, finally looking like that third ace we were promised back in the offseason.

Somehow, the Sox haven't lost to the Angels this season, despite having well-documented issues beating most everyone else over the course of the schedule. Perhaps it's a timing issue, since the Sox played the Halos in May, before they lost too many people to the DL, and then again now, when they're starting to see some reinforcements.

Lackey has been much maligned this season for performing at a level that was lower than advertised. Where was that guy who screamed at his manager for trying to take him out in the 2009 playoffs? And why were we paying his salary to THIS guy?

Last night, Lackey sent a message to Red Sox Nation. Unfortunately, many of them were likely asleep, but they'll catch it this morning on talk radio, or SportsCenter, or Quick Pitch. THIS is the John Lackey we were all hoping for, and he's finally arrived. I can't wait to see what he'll do with the rest of the season.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Calling for the win

I lied to all of you this morning. It was unintentional, but I'm sorry nonetheless. Joel Pineiro will not be pitching against Clay Buchholz this evening. In a flurry of unforeseen circumstances, Dan Haren was traded to the Angels from the D-Backs late last night, and will jump right into the middle of things by taking the mound tonight.

The twenty-nine-year-old pitcher is 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA this season in the NL West, but was 1-2 against the American League this season, including a loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 17th. Haren went just 5.2 innings, and allowed seven hits, three walks, and six runs, four of which were earned.

Haren has been mediocre thus far this season, but will a change of scene be just what the doctor ordered?

It's possible that Haren will be nervous and disoriented in a new city, but it's just as likely that he'll be eager to prove himself and spot on. Clay Buchholz is a mystery of his own: will we get the Clay of last Wednesday, when he lasted just four innings and gave up five runs? Or will we see the pre-DL Clay, the guy with 7-2 record, and 2.45 ERA?

Will we get good Clay or bad Clay?

Victor Martinez is finally back behind the dish, and Clay does enjoy throwing to him, so I'm expecting big things from both of them tonight. I'm calling for the WIN, and I'm confident Clay will deliver.

Digging in

The Red Sox seemed determined to lose the last two games in Seattle, wasting a great start by Jon Lester Saturday night and a decent one from Daisuke Matsuzaka yesterday.

6+ innings, 1ER is a HOF-worthy day for Daisuke.

Meanwhile, the Yankees and Rays are only gaining more ground, as the Sox' struggle to stay afloat until everyone is healthy only gets harder. The bats have been all but nonexistent lately, bad news when they're headed to Anaheim for a three game set.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel: they'll play three at home against the Tigers and four against the Indians before heading to New York for a four game set.

If they manage to put in a good showing for the next week-and-a-half, key contributors should be back soon. Victor Martinez might return for this series, while Dustin Pedroia has been spotted taking batting practice and fielding ground balls (albeit in his ubiquitous boot), and Jacoby (D-) Ellsbury has finally begun what is sure to be a lengthy rehab assignment.

Clay Buchholz makes his second start after returning from the DL tonight, against old frield Joel Pineiro. On paper, it looks like a sure thing, but nothing is for certain the way the Red Sox have played lately, and especially since Buchholz was less than impressive last time out. Time will tell, but you know I'll be panicking until it's over.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Getting the ball rolling

THIS was the John Lackey I expected when we signed him...

Despite a meltdown of monster proportions in the ninth inning, the Red Sox put their fifty-fourth win in the book late last night against the Mariners. Somehow, the Sox gave up five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, resulting in closer Jonathan Papelbon's fourth blown save of the 2010 season.

The game took thirteen full innings, and the unlikely heroes included Hideki Okajima, Eric Patterson, and Ramon Ramirez.... What!?? Are the injured players back YET?

In all seriousness, the Sox need to keep winning, in any way they can. Their 54- 42 record would be good for first place in the AL Central, and second in the AL West, but they're SEVEN games behind the first place Yankees in the East and four behind the second-place Rays for the Wild Card.

I'm hoping last night's dramatic win galvanizes the Red Sox: the players should take inspiration from the great start from John Lackey and the clutch hitting of Patterson (I still can't wrap my head around that one), and I know that Theo Epstein is hard at work on a trade to bolster the moribund bullpen that managed to squander a five-run lead in the ninth.

I'm not ready to give up. There are sixty-six left to play, and players are starting to trickle off of the disabled list and back into the clubhouse, which can only mean good things for the Sox. I don't know that I'm holding out for the division title, but I think the Wild Card is within reach... However, it's unfortunately very possible that the Sox could win 95 games and miss the playoffs - but those are the breaks of the AL East.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Relax - Laser Show.

Love, love, LOVE.

Instead of dwelling on yesterday's loss, please enjoy this video of Pedey defending Papi at the beginning of the season. I'm sure Dustin would have similar sentiments about the state of the Sox if you asked him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You can NEVER have too much pitching...

Remember this guy? Best attitude in baseball.

And ain't that the truth. The Red Sox hurlers were not spared when the injury bug attacked, as they lost starters Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Clay Buchholz for differing amounts of time, leaving the likes of Felix Dubrount and Scott Atchison to spot start.

For a team that has such a wealth of pitching on the 40-man roster, this week will mark the first time that Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch all within seven days. However, after this week, Wakefield will likely be heading off to join the bullpen band, as he's generally the odd man out when the rotation gets overcrowded.

Of course, Wake has made it clear that he's less than fond of the 'pen, which is understandable since he's not getting any younger and getting up and getting warm is more difficult now than it was, say, ten years ago. Unfortunately, he's been pretty inconsistent this season, and the only player with MORE consistency issues is Daisuke, who has been consistently bad in the first inning, which effectively eliminates the 'pen from the realm of possibility.

The importance of the return of a full, heralded rotation absolutely can not be overstated, and the impending return of players like Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jed Lowrie (remember him?) could be the catalyst this team needs.

The Yankees got roughed up by the Angels last night, while the Rays lost - in embarrassing fashion - to the Orioles, so the Sox didn't lose any ground last night, despite losing a heartbreaker to the A's. Today's game is bright and early, at 3:35pm, so i'll actually be awake for the final out. Today is the first day of the rest of this season, ladies and gentlemen... I can feel it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The rough run of luck experienced by the Red Sox this season is not about to get better; I don't think there could be a worse time for this team to have an extended stay on the West Coast.

Meanwhile, the Yankees play two against the Angels, four against the Royals, and four against the Indians, for a combined record of 129-151. The Rays will play the next three against the Orioles, the Indians (tough stretch for them), and the scuffling Tigers, with a combined record of 116-160.

The Red Sox will be playing a stretch of nine away games, all on the West Coast, against teams with a combined record of 132-149, the A's, Mariners, and Angels. The Red Sox MUST WIN a good portion of these games if they hope to be within crying distance of the playoffs when the reinforcements start to pour in.

The Sox made a good start of the trip last night as they defeated Oakland, 2-1, on the back of a strong outing by Daisuke Matsuzaka. Marco Scutaro was even featured on SportsCenter's Top Plays for an impressive grab after the ball was deflected off of Matsuzaka. This was the kind of game I envisioned when Theo dropped the much-analyzed "run-prevention" phrase last offseason (except for the piecemeal, 4A lineup card).

Somehow, I still believe in this team. I think they can do it, and I look forward to watching them. The talent is there. The hitting is there. And the determination sure as hell is there. I'm not looking forward to this string of late-night games, but I'll do my best to stay awake and send good vibes westward.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

All hail Kevin Youkilis!

Kevin Youkilis is an amazingly effective ballplayer. He has impressive stats, year after year, and yet he's criminally overlooked. Last night Youkilis almost singlehandedly won the game for the Red Sox, driving in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth off of Cliff Lee, and then driving in the winning run in the bottom of the eleventh with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.

Of all the games in this series, last night's was the one I was ready to concede: Cliff Lee is anything but easy to beat, and he had the added motivation of wanting to win his first start in a Rangers uniform. Lee came all too close, getting one out away from a complete game victory when he was thwarted by Youkilis.

Youk often comes through in the clutch, but he's so consistently good that no one seems to notice when he's great. Famously snubbed for this year's All-Star Game, Youkilis shrugged it off, though Red Sox Nation was ready to back him up if indignation was the path he chose; causing a stir has never been his style.

Fiercely competitive (though quieter about it than some of his teammates), Youkilis just wants the Red Sox to win games, and he does everything he can to make sure that happens as often as possible. Every at-bat is a battle, just as every defensive chance is life-or-death, and more often than not, Youkilis comes through.

Here's hoping the dramatic win from last night spurs the Sox to even greater heights (a win streak would be nice) so they can stay alive until some reinforcements arrive.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good Vibrations

I'm not entirely sure why, but I have a good feeling about the second half of the season. I suppose my philosophy is somewhere along the lines of "what [more] have we got to lose?"

I think Big Papi said it best in his blog: "Injuries were killing us, and the clubhouse is a hospital right now, you know what I'm saying? You have to be walking carefully in there just in case. Everybody is getting hurt so easy and in a way you wouldn't even expect."

Seriously. All these people injured with incidents like fouling a ball off their own foot; colliding with a teammate; running to second base; sports hernias; freak back problems; colliding with that teammate again... the list goes on. (I wonder if Beltre has collision insurance?) I half-expected to see a press release with something like "Kevin Youkilis strangled by own goatee, placed on 60 day DL," or "Adrian Beltre collides with himself, placed on permanent DL."

One man wrecking crew.

This team has had an extraordinary run of poor luck, and it's just got to turn around soon. The All-Star Break couldn't have come at a better time, and even though the American League finally lost it (thanks, Girardi), I couldn't be happier with the events of the last few days. Papi wins the Home Run Derby, Girardi loses the All-Star Game and thus makes the Yankees look bad, and our injured troops got a few days more to rest.

Tim Wakefield goes tonight against Tommy Hunter of the Texas Rangers. Here's hoping Wake continues that march toward the title of winningest Sox pitcher by pitching a gem to start of the second half in proper fashion.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zero to Hero!

Okay, so maybe Big Papi was never a zero... but he sure came close this April, scuffling is such an epic manner that some Boston-area scribes were calling for his release. David Ortiz took that criticism and made it his motivation, getting hot in May and staying that way, leading to his sixth All-Star selection, and fourth time in the Home Run Derby.

The guys on MLBNetwork called David "the Susan Lucci of the Home Run Derby," referring to the All My Children star who has been oft-nominated for an Emmy, but won just once (she's 1-for-21). Papi's success rate is now much higher, as he's batting .250 in Derby wins after a 32 homer performance last night.

One subplot was that David chose Yankees' bench coach Tony Pena as his pitcher, though no one seemed to think it was a big deal. Pena, there accompanying Joe Girardi, AL Manager, and pitching to Nick Swisher in the derby, didn't bat an eyelash at pitching to the Red Sox slugger. The boys from ESPN summed it up well when they surmised "This isn't a Red Sox/Yankees thing; this is a Dominican thing."

Things sure worked out for the proud people of the Dominican republic, as the final round saw two of their own battling it out for top honors, as Ortiz went up against former Red Sox farmhand and current Marlins superstar Hanley Ramirez (who says the Sox can't produce power?). Ramirez told ESPN's Erin Andrews that Papi "was like a father figure" to him in his days in the Sox system, mentoring him and giving advice to a young player with obvious talent but questionable work ethic.

For his part, Papi confirmed that Ramirez was "like a son" to him, that he always knew Hanley would be a superstar: “I wish Hanley would be playing on our team, like he was supposed to,’’ said the slugger, while acknowledging that the trade had worked out for both sides. David even went so far as to come out and advise the young Ramirez in the middle of the final round, bearing a towel, a sports drink, and his trademarked smile.

The encouragement wasn't enough for the young short stop to eke out a win against Papi, but he put up a strong showing. If there are baseball gods, they couldn't have scripted this better. David Ortiz was counted out on April 31, 2010, and some had written him off even earlier. But Papi knew better - and he proved that he's far from done, illustrating the wise words of Torii Hunter: “You have to know what’s in his heart and you have to understand how much pride he has. He’s too young to be done.’’

Zero to Home Run Derby Hero, indeed.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Staggering to the break...

Most years, I dislike the All Star Break: I watch the game, and the derby, but only to fill the void until my Red Sox take the field again. This year, the break felt like it would never come, and in the last week it's been as if the Sox could barely limp to the (more than) half-way point.

If you had told me on April 20th that by July 13th, the Red Sox would have had lengthy stretches without Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Victor Marinez, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron, Jeremy Hermida, Jason Varitek, Clay Buchholz, and Manny Delcarmen, many of them concurrently, I would have assumed we'd be in fourth place, or maybe even dead last.

Dear god, why? [click to enlarge]

As it is, we stand in third place in the AL East, five games behind the Yankees and three behind the Rays for the Wild Card. Not exactly where I'd like to be, under ideal conditions, but let's be honest: this season has been an injury nightmare.

You know that adage about never having too much pitching? Apparently you can never have to much catching... or too many outfielders... or too many infielders... and the list goes on.

If the Red Sox can tread water just a bit longer, and if Theo Epstein can get some bullpen help - stat! - reinforcements should be coming in droves: Beckett needs just one more rehab start, after today's successful PawSox outing, and Buchholz should be ready after the break. The others will return sometime in the next month or so, and besides the beaten-to-death drama surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury, this spate of injuries hasn't hurt morale like it could have.

When October rolls around, if the Sox manage to stay in it, all of New England should buy Terry Francona a drink. The man has somehow managed to stay competitive for months, despite having his Opening Day lineup for just over a week of the season, and fielding a 4A type team for much of it, all in the most competitive division in baseball.

My hero with my future husband.

The Sox managed to end the first half on a strong note, winning a 3-2 match up in Toronto, off a strong start from Daisuke Matsuzaka (what?!), and will send six players to the All-Star Game, albeit no starters, and at least three are currently on the DL. Still, I know they all plan to enjoy the festivities, and so do I.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I love you, Nolan Ryan

I know that Jon Daniels is technically the GM of the Texas Rangers, but you just know President Nolan Ryan has a hand in everything, especially a pitching acquisition like Cliff Lee. As you all doubtless know, the New York Yankees were thisclose to a deal with the Mariners that would have Lee in pinstripes if the Rangers hadn't made an irresistible offer.

Apparently, the inclusion of first baseman Justin Smoak made the deal too good to trun down, and thwarted New York's aspiration to acquire Lee in the bargain. I mean, it makes perfect sense when you think about it: the Yankees have a teamwide policy of "if you can't beat'em, sign'em." It includes players such as CC Sabathia, Johnny Damon, and AJ Burnett, and it almost included Cliff Lee.

And thank god it didn't...

As a Red Sox fan, you've got to love the Texas Rangers for preventing a pitching rotation of Lee, Sabathia, Burnett, and Andy Pettitte in the Bronx - they won last year with just three capable starters, and the thought of them adding Lee makes me a little ill. Of course, it's very possible that Lee will head to the Bronx via free agency next winter, but for now I'll rejoice that the Rangers have staved off the inevitable, at least temporarily.

However, this gives Texas an even more formidable team, since they were good enough for first place in the American League West, albeit with an identical record to the thrid place Red Sox. Those same Sox have an upcoming series against the Rangers, and depending on the All-Star Game, we may or may not be seeing Lee, but since it's a four game set, I'm going with "may."

Hopefully the Red Sox can get back on track by then, and start regaining some ground in their divisional battle - every win counts, after all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Viva el Papi!

You want to know my first reaction when I heard Papi was competing in Monday's homerun derby? Dismay. Panic. The urge to call 911. With the injury bug following this team, and yearly claims that the derby "messes with players' swings," I was sure David was taking a risk.

And maybe he is, but why not? He bowed out after the first round in 2004, made it to the semis in 2005, and placed fourth in 2006, the last year he competed. If past performance is any indication, Ortiz's swing will be just fine, so long as he can avoid the kind of freak accidents that have been befalling this team [seriously, when was the last time foul balls and rampaging third basemen have been responsible for the lion's share of a team's injuries?].

I know Papi is a longshot to win, but he HAS been raking lately, and I'd hate to be like the Yankees, barring a player from participating by making up a phantom injury - and who needs phantom injuries when you have so many real ones?

In all seriousness, I'm glad Ortiz has a chance to partake in the festivities in Anaheim... And since State Farm sponsors the Home Run Derby, do you think we can get some insurance on Papi?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hey now, you're an All-Star

When I saw the list of starters for the 2010 All-Star Game, I was disappointed, but not surprised. I've been following the vote, and it's been a popularity contest as usual. Of course, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Evan Longoria, and Ichiro Suzuki are all deserving, but I'm so OVER the Derek Jeter Admiration Tour I could scream.

The list of reserves was much more to my liking, as it included six Red Sox players, all of whom are extremely deserving of the nod, in my humble opinion. Of course, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz will not be able to play on July 13, as they'll both be on the disabled list, but my guess is that they'll both make the trip.

Other Red Sox include David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Victor Martinez, and Adrian Beltre, with Kevin Youkilis an option for the "Final Vote" fan selection. Youk's competition for this roster spot is pretty stiff: the Yankees' Nick Swisher currently leads the voting.

Honestly, I don't mind Nick Swisher. He has an engaging and fun personality, and if he didn't play in pinstripes I might even like him. But this is war. The Yanks already have six players, including two starters, in the ASG, and I want the Sox to have more. Also, Youkilis has been unbelievable this season. It's a testament to how incredibly consistent Youk has been that his .299 batting average, .416 OBP, and 17 home runs haven't stood out more.

The Greek God of Walks has gotten himself some versatility.

[In contrast, Swisher has a .293 BA, .373 OBP, and 13 home runs. It's ironic that both Youkilis and Swisher were once highly coveted by the GM of the Oakland A's, Billy Beane. Beane's obsession with the two is well-documented in the best-selling book, Moneyball.]

Kevin Youkilis deserves to go to Anaheim. He's overlooked entirely too often, even in a place as baseball-crazy as Boston. There's no limit to how many times you can vote, so vote often, and VOTE YOUK!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I believe I can fly...

Wiley Red Sox veteran Tim Wakefield is a study in determination. After a long career spanning eighteen major league seasons, the man could conduct a seminar on what it takes to stick around, and he's not ready to throw in the towel on this team.

As the 2010 Red Sox Injury Tour continues, with Jason Varitek (broken foot) and Manny Delcarmen (sore arm) the latest victims, the Sox keep scratching out wins. After last night's 3-2 whirlwind of a contest (total game time: 2:07), Wake had this to say:

“I think we showed you tonight that we’re resilient, that we believe in each other... We’ve got to keep grinding it out until some of these guys get healthy and get back on the field.’’

If anyone has the right to speculate on resilience, it's Wakefield, who has stuck around so long he claimed the club record for most starts in a Red Sox uniform last night, taking the title from Roger Clemens.

So how realistic is Wake's prognosis? Is it possible that the Sox can continue to survive without Josh Beckett, Manny Delcarmen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Varitek. It's quite a list, and you could almost field an entire team from the carnage, but there is definitely some hope.

This team is not going to go quietly: Dustin Pedroia is in the dugout daily, and he's even been spotted taking grounders on his knees, and his spirit has to be keeping his teammates motivated. Many of the above players are due back relatively soon, and if Clay Buchholz can come back from his knee strain at a high performance level, I think the pitching can carry this team.

That said, I'll do my best to not miss any more games, because of all the injuries this season, the only time I was able to watch the game in which it happened was when Beltre took out Ellsbury. Obviously, the baseball gods want me watching, and I read them loud and clear. If injured Sox are my punishment for not prioritizing my team enough, I'll become a baseball hermit.

Because I can't take too much more of this.