Tuesday, May 31, 2011


And, in more exciting news, so are the Red Sox.  Despite the fact that the local nine only managed to split yesterday's doubleheader, they're still tied for first place in the AL East.  After that brutal beginning, who would have thought we'd recover by Memorial Day?

Admittedly, we owe some thanks to the Yankees and the Rays (and all of their successful opponents, of course) for dragging their feet out of the gate, as well.  Somehow, we've survived injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka, and John Lackey, and while Lackey looks to be on his way back soonish, there are whispers of Tommy John surgery for Matsuzaka.

Tito claims that surgery is not a possibility, but there's also no word as to when the enigma will be returning.  Luckily, Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield have been performing admirably in the meantime.  Each of these "placeholders" have notched two wins already this season, and it will be interesting to see who gets pushed into the bullpen when Lackey makes his (hopefully) triumphant return.

My bet is on Aceves, since he's the more conventional hurler, and Wakefield has made it known in recent years how he feels about the bullpen.  We all know about Tito's loyalty to his veterans, and Wake is the capital-"V" veteran of this team.

Whatever happens, I'm just SO HAPPY to be back home where I can watch EVERY Red Sox game on NESN on my very own TV, where I don't have to fight with the internet of MLB.tv, and where I can't go anywhere without seeing somebody wearing a Sox hat. Home sweet home, indeed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flirting with .500

Just when you think they're going to turn it around for good, and reach .500 for the first time since Opening day in Texas, they go and hand in a heartbreaker like last night's.  Jonny Lester wasn't himself last night,and he would be the first to say so, admitting that he let his emotions get to him during a first inning where he gave up three runs and the calls just weren't going his way.

Red Sox pitching gave up three home runs in last night's game, and the bats just couldn't keep up, despite homers from Adrian Gonzalez (2), and David Ortiz.  This was not the way the Sox wanted to open the series, with a loss, and Lester only able to pitch 5.1 innings, meaning that the bullpen was more heavily taxed than they would have hoped.

Tonight we have John Lackey going against Jesse Litch, before the Sox head south to New York for a three-game set.  There's an off-day in between, and the rotation has been shuffled so that Clay Buchholz,Josh Beckett, and Lester will pitch against the Bronx Bombers, and Daisuke Matsuzaka won't go until we face the Orioles next week.

Someday the Red Sox will get back to .500.... Maybe it will be this Friday.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jon Lester is a BOSS.

The offense exploded for seven runs last night, as Jon Lester notched his fourth win of the young season.  The game seemed to go off without a hitch, and everything went as if scripted by Theo during the offseason: the starter threw 7 fantastic innings, and handed the ball off to the bullpen who finished the job.  All the while the lineup was performing well, as everyone but JD Drew and Dustin Pedroia had at least one hit.

So how good was Lester? Since MLB.tv seems to hate me in Argentina, I didn't actually get to watch him pitch, but the stat line is quite impressive.  Lester went seven full innings, scattered six hits, gave up just a single run (a homer from Trumbo), one walk, and eleven strikeouts. Yes, eleven strikeouts.

Peter Abraham of the Globe stated in the Extra Bases blog that Lester could be among the best of his generation, and I can't find many reasons to disagree.  The man is only 27 years old, and he owns a career winning percentage of of .714 (65-26).

Despite traditionally struggling mightily in April, Lester managed to win three games last month, and continued his dominance last night.  It's right about now that I'm wishing I had managed to draft him for my fantasy team - that was a failure on my part.

I suspect this isthe year that Lester finally gets his due, even among the more casual fans.  Of course, even the Cy Young winner can get ignored when he pitches for a small-market team (somewhere, King Felix weeps).  But Lester looks to be building a strong resume for the award (though it's very early), and the Red Sox are anything but small-market.  More than one sports periodical picked Jon Lester as the 2011 AL Cy Young winner, and he's not taking any prisoners along the way.

I'm guessing he's also really fun to watch during this stretch - it's too bad MLB.tv won't let me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

No offense?

Not last night. The Red Sox lineup came through in a big way during last night's game against Jered Weaver and the Angels, scoring nine runs, six of them in the bottom of the seventh inning, to assure Clay Buchholz of his second win of the season.

The Red Sox were 11-for-36 on the game, with two walks and seven strikeouts, and they extended their prodigious winning streak to TWO GAMES.

All sarcasm aside, last night's game was a gem, complete with a grinding battle pitting Dustin Pedroia against Weaver to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning (essentially guaranteeing the win for Buchholz, as the Sox did not trail after the fifth).  Pedey fouled off nine pitches in a 13-pitch at bat, before shooting a single back up the middle to score Carl Crawford from third.


Pedroia is one of the only players I have ever seen who can literally WILL himself to win: to win at-bats, to win ballgames, and even to win honors like ROY or MVP.  The man clearly has a lot of talent, and as much as I make fun of "intangibles" in this space, Pedey might be the King of them (sorry, Jetes).

Pedroia also went on to walk in the seventh inning, and come around to score on Adrian Gonzalez's 3-RBI double (Youkilis would then double to score Gonzalez, and David Ortiz bashed his second homer, scoring Youk).

This team seems to be back on track, or at least headed that way, as Adrian Gonzalez has 18 RBIs on the season, and Carl Crawford is 4-for-8 in May - hopefully a glimmer of things to come.  Now, the pitching needs to get back on a roll, perhaps jump-started by Clay Buchholz's performance last night. Despite putting ten men on base on eight hits and two walks in 6.2 innings, Buch gave up just two runs - pulling a "quality start" out of a start that was slightly less than quality.

I was concerned last night about Buch, since he was going against the previously 6-0, .99 ERA Jered Weaver, but, like the day before, my worries were for naught.  Tonight the Sox have Jon Lester facing off against Dan Haren - I don't think I should worry too much, but if this team has taught me anything, it's that games aren't played on paper.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Futbol faux pas in Buenos Aires

I committed a capital offense in the eyes of the sports fans in my homestay this weekend.  To be fair, I had no idea what I was doing, but ignorance is no excuse.  Let me explain: Saturday afternoon, I went to La Boca, a neighborhood known for its futbol team, Boca Juniors, and I purchased some shorts with their logo as a souvenir (their colors are also the same as Trinity's).

When I got home, I put the shorts on and went up to dinner with my giant homestay family (besides the two parents in their sixties, there are 13 foreign students living in the house, and about 7 of us show up to dinner every night).  My host mother asked me what I had done that day, and I told her, in my broken Spanish, that I had done some shopping in La Boca (also a renowned tourist destination).  She asked what I had purchased, and I proudly indicated the shorts.

Big mistake.  She gasped (a bit dramatically, I thought at the time), and hurriedly told me that my rather gruff host father was a fan of the rival team, River Plate.  essentially, it's like someone walked into my house sporting a Yankees hat, and telling me that they just liked the color.

Boca Juniors and River Plate have a rivalry similar to Red Sox/Yankees, except it's even more intense, since they are both located within the city limits of Buenos Aires - imagine the Red Sox and Yankees residing in the same town (somewhere in Connecticut maybe), and how that would intensify the rivalry.

I promised my host mother I wouldn't wear the Boca Juniors paraphernalia in the house anymore, she agreed to hide my logos from my host father, and it was a happy ending for all.

[Sorry this had only a tangential connection to baseball and the Red Sox; I'm working with what I've got.]

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wakefield and Crawford: Sox heroes of the day

Despite missing most of today's game because I was slightly lost in Buenos Aires, I couldn't be happier right now.  While I was lost and confused, I had the best ice cream of my life, and I returned to my homestay to find the Red Sox tied in the 8th inning, that Tim Wakefield had tossed 5.2 innings of shutout ball, and that my internet was actually fast enough to stream the rest of the game.

I couldn't be happier for Wake, who really deserved to get the win.  Alas, Bobby Jenks came in and gave up two runs, so a "W" just wasn't in the cards today.  Nevertheless, Wakefield certainly deserved the ovation he reportedly got when leaving the mound this afternoon.  After last year, when he was often sarcastic and passive-aggressive about his reduced role, Wakefield has taken things in stride this year.  He's mopped up more than a few games at this point, and was ready and very able to take the ball for the spot start this afternoon.

The Red Sox certainly needed a performance like Wake's today.  When I realized that he was going against King Felix, I was extremely worried, and had even conceded the game in my head; what business does a 44-year-old knuckleballer have beating the reigning AL Cy Young winner? (Yes, I know Papelbon is TECHNICALLY credited with the win, but it's a moral victory for Wake.)

This win brings the Red Sox to 12-15, last in the AL East, and 5 games behind the streaking Yankees.  The victory was much needed, and brought some much needed spotlight to Carl Crawford, who knocked in Jed Lowrie to win in the bottom of the ninth.  In a quick interview with Heidi Watney after the game, Crawford acknowledged how nice it was to do something to win the game, and how much the Red Sox - and he - needed some success.

Thankfully the Angels come to town starting tomorrow - hopefully the Red Sox can start a long winning streak against them, juts like they did out in Anaheim last week.  Clay Buchholz gets the ball tomorrow... hopefully he's recovered from his "internal issues" enough to notch a quality start.