May 31, 2005

Stalk Of The Town

After Saturday's 17-1 rout in New York, Rebecca and Jere headed off to the Red Sox' hotel. Both filed reports, but Rebecca's blog has all the pics.

G50: Orioles 8, Red Sox 1

Bronson Arroyo: "They hit every pitch like they knew it was coming. I don't think they took more than two or three where they were baffled ... It was like BP out there. ... Every guy, it just seemed like they laid off balls an inch or two off the plate and just hammered anything on the plate."

Arroyo faced 18 batters in 2.2 innings and allowed 10 hits and two walks. Boston's fate was sealed when Arroyo got ahead of .169-hitting David Newhan 0-2, then nibbled until the count was full, and finally gave up a grand slam down the right field line. That gave the Birds a 7-0 lead -- they could have had more, but Trot Nixon and Manny Ramirez both threw runners out at the plate.

Arroyo has allowed 13 earned runs in his last three starts (15.2 innings). ... Kevin Youkilis played the last two inning at second base. ... Johnny Damon extended his AL-leading multi-hit games total to 24. ... Birthday boy Ramirez's RBI single in the eighth (he turned 33) kept Boston from being shutout for the first time since September 12, 2004, at Seattle. Only the Sox and the Reds have not been blanked this year. ... John Halama's 4.1 innings last night was the game's lone bright spot, as well as the team's longest relief stint this season.

Baltimore Sun: Game story, notebook and column on Tejada. ... Rodrigo Lopez continues to be a thorn in Boston's side.

Curt Schilling tried out a new shoe during a bullpen session yesterday afternoon. He threw about 50 pitches in 15 minutes and was pleased afterwards. He hopes to return before the All-Star Game (July 12).

Globe blogger Eric Wilbur: "Mike Lupica writes the now-mandatory daily column in the Manhattan tabloids reasoning why a Clemens-to-NY trade makes sense for everybody, keeping in mind that "everybody" lives in a radius of Larchmont to Hoboken."

Can Opener. Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd pitched six innings in his Can-Am League debut. The 45-year-old Brockton Rox pitcher allowed two earned runs and seven hits, walked one and struck four. ... Juan Pedro Villaman, the Red Sox play-by-play man on the Spanish Beisbol Network since 1995, died early Monday morning in an accident on Interstate 93, while driving back from New York City. He was 46.

Wade Miller / Daniel Cabrera at 7:00.

May 30, 2005

The Mel Hall Game

If you are a somewhat older Red Sox fan, you probably know what game I'm referring to: Yankee Stadium, Memorial Day, May 27, 1991.

Back then, good tickets were always available and my partner Laura and I were were sitting in the back of the main grandstand on the third base side.
Red Sox         Yankees
Burks cf RKelly cf
Quintana 1b Sax 2b
Boggs 3b Mattingly 1b
Clark dh Maas dh
Greenwell lf Hall lf
Brunansky rf Nokes c
Pena c Barfield rf
Reed 2b Espinoza ss
Rivera ss PKelly 3b

Darwin p Eiland p
The Red Sox scored first. Jack Clark's grounder was bobbled by Pat Kelly for an error. Mike Greenwell singled to right center and he and Clark advanced to second and third when Roberto Kelly booted the ball for another error. Tom Brunansky's fly ball to the track in right brought in the game's first run.

At this point, an apparently tipsy Red Sox fan in the section across the aisle from us started yelling to any person in a Yankee hat he could see, "One run! That's it! That's all we need!" He kept this up as Tony Pena tripled and Jody Reed doubled. Boston now led 3-0 and this guy kept insisting -– loudly -– that the game was over. "Might as well go home!" After awhile, fans of both teams were laughing at him.

Boston scored single runs in the fourth and fifth and led 5-0. As I recall, the drunk guy got quiet after the third inning or so. I don't think he actually went to sleep, but I don't remember him yelling anything for several innings.

The Yankees got solo home runs from Jesse Barfield (in the 5th) and Mel Hall and Barfield again (in the 7th) to cut the lead to 5-3. After that second Barfield homer, Jeff Gray relieved Danny Darwin. Gray got out of the inning and retired the Yankees in order in the eighth, and turned the ball over to closer Jeff Reardon.

I remember not being particularly secure in seeing Reardon come into the game. I have scanned the bottom of the ninth portion of my scorecard.

Hensley Meulens, who took over for Don Mattingly at first base in the sixth inning (why?), fouled off the first pitch, took a ball, then singled through the hole between third and short into left field. Kevin Maas took a strike, fouled a pitch off and then hit a hard shot right back at Reardon. The Sox pitcher knocked it down, but had no play. Hall was next and he lined a 2-2 pitch three or four rows deep in the right field stands for game-winning home run. New York 6-5.

After Maas got the infield hit, the ending seemed almost inevitable. Naturally, the crowd went berserk. Back then, the Yankees often played "Shout!" after victories, so everyone was jumping around, high-fiving, punching the air, etc. I was shaking my head at the obviousness of it all.

Our drunk friend was also standing and watching the celebration. He was taking a fair amount of ribbing. Suddenly, Laura danced across the aisle, laughing, and started pointing her fingers at him in time to the music. Hence, my little "L very happy" note on the scorecard.

Afterwards, she was pretty surprised she had done it; it was more impulse than anything else and it was certainly more light-hearted than obnoxious. People in the nearby rows were amused, as was the Sox fan. He broke a smile, maybe even laughed a little. It's never wise to say a game is in the bag in the top of the second inning.

It was a loss, but it was still one of the funnier experiences I've had at Yankee Stadium. As often happens with incidents like this, "There's one! That's all we need!" has lived on in our house for the last 14 years.

G49: Red Sox 7, Yankees 2

David Ortiz -- 4-for-34 (.118) against Mike Mussina before last night -- turned the tables on the Yankee starter he jokingly referred to as his Daddy. Sunday night, Papi's Daddy cried Uncle.

Ortizzle pounded two long home runs -- one 10 rows deep in the third deck in right and another into the black section beyond center field -- and drove in four of Boston's seven runs. Ortiz is hitting .481 (13-for-27) with three homers in six games at Yankee Stadium this season. Johnny Damon: "You never see Papi run so fast as when he plays the Yankees. He sprints to the plate when we come here." ... In his last 21 games, Ortiz is hitting .341 (29-for-85) with five homers and 19 RBI.

After four innings last night, the 2-3-4 trio of Edgar Renteria, Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were 9-for-9 with three home runs, five runs scored and five RBI. Renteria banged out four hits, ending up 10-for-12 in the Bronx series and 16-for-24, .667, on the road trip, raising his average from .239 to .295.

Renteria and Wells switched uniform numbers before the game. Edgar: "We were thinking about doing it and about three or four days ago [Wells] said, 'We'll do it.' I said, 'All right, that's my lucky number.'" ... Wells: "I was going bad, Edgar was going bad and Edgar wanted to swap. I wrote down a number and Edgar met it." ... According to Newsday, it was in the five-figure range.

Damon suggested Wells switch to No. 333, as did Theo Epstein, in an interview earlier this month: "There's a lot of white space there."

Boston handed Wells a 2-0 lead in the first inning and it took only 10 pitches for the portly portsider to cough it up. Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield hit solo home runs (sandwiched around a fly out) and when Alex Rodriguez singled, things were looking bleak. But Wells got Jorge Posada to hit into an inning-ending double play, and he fell into a magnificent groove for the rest of the game.

Wells's pitch count for the next three innings: 4-8-7. It was that quick bottom of the second that was the game's turning point. Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams and Russ Johnson all flew out on a total of four pitches. That meant Mussina, after having thrown 23 pitches, was forced to head back out to the mound. He surrendered solo home runs to Renteria and Ortiz to start the inning and the Red Sox never looked back.

Wells: "He was struggling. You want to go out and get a 1-2-3 and not give him a breather. You just try to suck the life right out of 'em." ... Mussina was gone after only three innings and 83 pitches. Wells threw 85 pitches in eight innings -- and finished with 94 (67 for strikes).

In the bottom of the ninth, after Wells allowed a one-out single to Sheffield, Terry Francona popped out of the dugout. I often criticize Tito for having a slow hook with his starters, but this time, I thought he was a little premature. With a five-run lead, I would have given Wells the chance to finish the game. Francona: "I didn't know if he was going to give [the ball] to me. I said, 'We can go fight later but you have to give it to me now.'"

As we saw this weekend, the Yankee pitchers are quite adept at putting runners on base. New York has allowed 13.41 runners per nine innings, better than only the Devil Rays (14.52) and Royals (13.80).

Bob Klapisch, Bergen Record:
If the weekend series taught the Bombers anything, it's the gulf that separates them from the Red Sox is still dishearteningly wide. In scoring 24 runs and 41 hits in the last two games, the Sox essentially told the Yankees: Welcome to last October. ... [Pavano and Mussina] threw what amounted to batting practice and erased a whole month's swagger.
Ken Davidoff, Newsday:
[I]t became very easy to second-guess Joe Torre last night. He never should have lifted Billy Crystal, the game's ceremonial first-pitch honoree, for Mike Mussina. ... Our bet is, come July 14 at Fenway Park when these teams next meet, the Yankees will reside in second place in the American League East, behind the Red Sox; the Orioles will occupy their rightful, ordained spot in third place.
Curt Schilling undergoes evaluations on his right ankle today. And although he hasn't pitched in five weeks, his ERA rose yesterday from 7.13 to 8.15. Back on April 18, Ramirez was charged with an error on a fly ball hit by Toronto's Orlando Hudson. After the Blue Jays appealed, MLB ruled the play a hit, changing two unearned runs to earned.

Last night marked Boston's league-leading 30th road game in 49 games. They come home for the Orioles and Angels, before heading to St. Louis. All three of those teams currently lead their respective divisions. Pitching the Baltimore (16-7 in April, 14-12 in May) series:
Monday: Bronson Arroyo (3.19) / Rodrigo Lopez (4.41), 7:00
Tuesday: Wade Miller (6.16) / Daniel Cabrera (5.30), 7:00
Wednesday: Tim Wakefield (4.48) / Sidney Ponson (5.66), 7:00
Thursday: Matt Clement (3.06) vs. Hayden Penn (1.93), 1:00

May 29, 2005

Save Your Pennies

The complete ALCS and World Series games on 11 discs, with extras (though, sadly, it's unlikely they've dubbed WEEI over the Fox audio). Due out July 26.

But did they have to put "what curse?" on the cover? Wankers.

Tossed Salads and Fire Hoses

The New York Times offers some perspective:
The Yankees and Boston Red Sox franchises have played each other for 103 years. Including the postseason, the Red Sox have won 877 times. In none of the first 876 did they beat the Yankees as badly as they did yesterday in the Bronx.
Yesterday's 17-1 win was Boston's largest margin of victory over the Yankees, surpassing a 15-1 win at Fenway Park on September 1, 1990.

The 17 runs were also the most the Red Sox have ever scored against New York, breaking the old mark of 16 (August 12, 1937, at Fenway). The Yankees allowed the most hits since giving up a franchise-record 28 on September 29, 1928, in a 19-10 loss at Detroit. Boston fell one hit shy of tying its record of 28 hits, set on June 8, 1950, against the St. Louis Browns, and on June 27, 2003, when Carl Pavano started for the Marlins.

The rout had some New York sportswriters writing some loopy leads. Here are two from today's Post:
George King: "There never has been a New York restaurant with a salad as expensive as the one tossed by the Yankees yesterday."

Jay Greenberg: "The Boston Fire Department can't possibly possess a hose as powerful as Matt Clement's right arm."
The Herald's Howard Bryant had his eye on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard:
Trot Nixon singled, his name appeared on the screen for two more batters. Jay Payton made it 14-0, and the scoreboard said 7-1. At 4:22, the clock said 8:22. Moments later, the big board said the score was 0-0. ... Even Bob Sheppard, one of the most legendary public address men in history, was fatigued by the onslaught, referring to Sox rookie catcher Kelly Shoppach as "Mike Shoppach."
From the Globe:
A reporter joked with Shoppach, saying Sheppard might have had a classmate 50 years ago named Mike Shoppach. "No," Shoppach said, "there's no other Shoppachs, only my family. I'm not kidding. There's like eight in the country, and they're all related to me." And none named Mike.
Hopefully, Sheppard will get it right tonight, when Shoppach makes his first start. ... Alex Rodriguez has not made an out in the series. He walked three times and was hit by a pitch on Friday and had a single, double and walk before leaving Saturday's game.

Kevin Millar, the only position player not to play yesterday, will likely start tonight. He's hit .429 (12-for-28) with a .500 OBP against Mike Mussina, while Olerud is at .321, .373. ... Edgar Renteria is 12-for-19 (.632) on the current road trip and has raised his batting average 42 points in less than a week.

We know that Jason Varitek has hit a home run on May 20 in five straight seasons. But Elias reports that Lou Gehrig hit a home run on June 8 for seven straight seasons, from 1932-38.

Wells / Mussina at 8:00.

May 28, 2005

G48: Red Sox 17, Yankees 1

Hey Now! I wish I had been home to enjoy this one.

Boston banged out 27 hits, one shy of the team's all-time record. Carl Pavano allowed 11 of those hits in his 3.2 innings. The Sox scored seven times in the fifth inning, thanks to Edgar Renteria's grand slam and Trot Nixon's three-run blast, to put the game on ice (5-0 to 12-0). After that, both teams substituted freely.

Kelly Shoppach made his major league debut, catching the final three innings and getting hit by a pitch in his one plate appearance.

Very Cool Fact: Every one of the nine Red Sox in the starting lineup had at least two hits. I wonder how many times that has happened before?

Tito: "I'm never going to second-guess Dale. Never. I think he's an awesome coach."

The first step is to admit you have a problem. And Terry Francona is in denial.
I don't think we ran into outs. They made plays. We strung some hits together, we just didn't have much to show for it. ... The ball to left field, Dale was bringing him all the way. I was bringing him from the dugout. I'm never going to second-guess Dale. Never. Especially here [at Yankee Stadium]. ... I think he's an awesome coach.
Obviously, you've got a second baseman going out to left who hasn't made a lot of throws. But we've got the lead there, you've got one of the greatest pitchers on the mound there who makes his living getting out of jams. Sometimes you push the envelope there. The other one, I made a big mistake. I thought the ball rolled farther out into center field than it did. I'd take that one back. The other one, we have a good base runner in Bellhorn at second base [perhaps, but slow], you're trying to add on, we're on the road, we haven't scored a lot of runs lately, we're trying to put more pressure on them.
Bob Ryan, Globe:
[H]ow many times do you think a team ends an inning in the middle of the game with five straight hits? ... Oh, but it gets better. The Yankees opened their half of the sixth trailing, 3-1. Five batters later they led, 6-3, and there still was no one out. This means in the sixth inning 10 men reached base consecutively, five for the world champs and five for the Evil Empire. The only difference was that the world champs had one additional run on the scoreboard, and the Evil Empire had five.
David Wells:
I've never seen anything like that. Five straight hits? We should've been up 5-1.
MLB has a nice feature on Anibal Sanchez. ... Kelly Shoppach will likely make his first big league start Sunday night. ... Bronson Arroyo and Mike Timlin have tried the new colored contact lenses which are designed to filter light. Only Timlin has worn the lenses in a game.

Clement / Pavano at 1:20.

May 27, 2005

G47: Yankees 6, Red Sox 3

Pop quiz.

Question: You are a fan of a baseball team, let's call them the "Red Sox." They lead another team -- the "Yankees" -- 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning. With one of the Yankees' best pitchers on the mound, the Red Sox do this with one out:

"Payton" doubles to left field.

"Bellhorn" singles to center field.

"Damon" singles to right field.

"Renteria" singles to left field.

"Ortiz" singles to the second baseman in shallow center field.

How many runs do you think the Red Sox have scored? And how many outs do you think there are?

Answer: One run -- and three outs. The inning is over.

Five consecutive hits and yet the Red Sox make more outs than runs scored? Can that be? ... Oh, it be. Because Dale Sveum is coaching third base for the Red Sox. And he is the flat-out, hands-down worst man for the job.

And he's like a Supreme Court judge out there, incapable of losing his job. He's a got a fucking lifetime appointment. No matter what he does -- defile and kill young boys on the mound -- his manager will defend him.

On Renteria's hit, the speedy Bellhorn was waved home. Tony Womack had the ball in shallow left before Bellhorn had touched third base. He was so dead, he couldn't even execute a decent slide. ... Then, three pitches later, on Ortiz's grounder behind second base, Robinson Cano threw out Damon, who Sveum waved around from second. On what was basically an infield hit.

If Sveum (who pulled this kind of shit all last season) uses any common sense whatsoever, the Red Sox have the bases loaded with Ortiz, Ramirez and Varitek coming up against Randy Johnson, who is over 100 pitches, has walked a season-high four batters and has been throwing 91-92, tops, all night. ... But that's not how we do things in Red Sox Land.

Adding injury to insult, in the bottom of the sixth, after Wakefield walks Bernie Williams and allows a two-run home run to Cano and a single to Derek Jeter, Terry Francona brings in Alan Embree. This is the same Embree who was used (along with Jeremi Gonzalez and Mike Myers) Thursday night when Boston was down by seven runs to Toronto, presumably so the better arms in the pen could be used in New York.

Embree gives up a single to Womack and a looooong, three-run bomb into the upper deck in left to Gary Sheffield. 6-3 Yankees -- and that's how it ended.

A few good things: Edgar Renteria three hits for the second straight game, Jay Payton had a single and a double (and a nice first inning catch on Jeter). Jason Varitek homered off Johnson in the fifth, putting the first two runs on the board, but struck out against Mariano Rivera in the ninth (when he should/could have walked).

Did I say I was no longer fuming after losses? ... Well, I'm fuming, baby!


On Tuesday, it was reported that Curt Schilling may not pitch until the end of July. Tony Massarotti: "While the Sox are holding out some hope that Schilling could return sooner, the club is not likely to take any chances by rushing him." Sources told Mazz that Schilling would be out "anywhere from 2-12 weeks, an extremely broad range [but] it is now becoming apparent that his rehab will skew closer to the maximum." ... Schilling hasn't offered any comment on his possible return.

The other big story this week was that Keith Foulke flew to Alabama on Monday to have his arm examined at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham. Initially, on Tuesday, both Foulke and Terry Francona adamantly denied the story (Tito: "The part about the doctor is so inaccurate that it's a shame. It's just wrong." Foulke: "I did not see a doctor. I went down to get some barbecue.")

However, the next day, in his weekly WEEI interview, Larry Lucchino acknowledged that Foulke had, in fact, made the trip to the ASMI. ... The Herald also noted that pitching coach Dave Wallace may have gone with Foulke.

Now the closer's Alabama getaway is being reported as fact. In today's Herald, Michael Silverman wrote: "On the subject of Keith Foulke, who went to Birmingham, Ala., Monday to get a mechanical tune-up at the American Sports Medicine Institute, Francona said because of an agreement he had with Foulke, he could not elaborate on his whereabouts...." Tito still denied that Foulke was checked out by doctors.

I'm not sure what the big deal with keeping this a secret is. Clearly, Foulke has been pitching like crap far too often, and it would be in everybody's best interest if he got himself checked out, explored every possible malady, etc. Maybe A-Rod can recommend a shrink.

Francona says Kevin Millar will start tonight against Randy Johnson, but John Olerud might play on either Saturday or Sunday. Something has to be done with Millar. His batting average is .231 (.211 on the road and .162 against LHP) and after almost two months, he has only eight extra-base hits. Which means his OBP on-base percentage (.333) is higher than his slugging percentage (.314).

He doesn't strike me as the middle infielder type, but Kevin Youkilis has been taking grounders at second base. ... The Red Sox hit only .235 (23-for-98) in the Blue Jays series, but Edgar Renteria went 6-for-12, raising his average to .257.

Yankees analysis from Cliff Corcoran: Taking Stock and Second Place. In New York:
Friday: Wakefield (4.24) / Johnson (3.94), 7:00
Saturday: Clement (3.34) / Pavano (3.69), 1:20
Sunday: Wells (6.81) / Mussina (3.38), 8:00

No Red Sox Content (But Still Pretty Neat)

A very cool development: Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz dissed my partner Laura in today's paper.

Writing about the newly declassified FBI documents that show the US military trashed many Korans, Kurtz links to Laura's blog, specifically this entry. ... Actually, I think this is only online, though (attention readers in the DC area) if it is in the actual print copy, I'd pay cash money for a copy.

G46: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 1

After Wednesday's loss, Johnny Damon said the Red Sox were "a really bad team right now. We need to win [Thursday]. It's a must win. ... We have to start doing something or it could be a long summer."

They didn't do much. Wade Miller allowed six first-inning runs (as the Jays hit for the cycle, as they did against David Wells on Tuesday) and Boston lost 8-1. Looking only at the box score, Jeremi Gonzalez apparently pitched four solid innings, saving the bullpen for this weekend. And Kevin Millar and Edgar Renteria each went 3-for-4, though Millar was also picked off second to end the eighth inning.

Bottom line: Swept by the Jays while the Yankees (15-2 since May 6) were sweeping Detroit. And so the Sox are now in sole possession of fourth place, with nobody but the lowly Devil Rays (well) below them. ... So how "must" is tonight's game at Yankee Stadium? And considering the respective teams' performance in the past three weeks, how (much more) insufferable will the YES announcers be?

Moves: John Olerud and catcher Kelly Shoppach will join the team in New York. Shawn Wooten was DFA'd and Jeremi Gonzalez was sent back to Pawtucket.

IYI: We took the house in Port Credit (outside of Toronto) -- and will move at the end of August. ... Listening to the beginning of the game on the car radio (590 AM), we heard more static than human voices. Tried again a little later and heard "3-0" through the snow. Ugh. Saw some of the "highlights" in the Buffalo airport, waiting to fly back home, so I'm not in any hurry to rewind my VCR tape.

Going through the papers for the past few days, so I may some overview of the various controversies (Foulke, Schilling) this evening.

If you're scoreboard watching, the Twins play in Toronto and the Orioles host the Tigers. ... Wakefield / Johnson at 7:00.

May 26, 2005

G45: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 1

The last 11 games:
Hmm, those last nine make a particularly shitty palindrome.

Last night, the Red Sox made Ted Lilly (8.82 ERA and .340 OBA) look like Lefty Grove. Lilly allowed only one hit in the first 6.1 innings (a hard line drive to center by Renteria), then gave up three consecutive singles that led to Boston's only run. Too many at-bats looked like the team was anxious to get out of town. Varitek's ugly hack at a pitch up and away to strike out in the 4th is replaying in my head, and Vinnie Chulk, in relief of Lilly, retired four batters on only six pitches. However, it was not getaway day; they finish up the series tonight.

Coming back from his suspension, Bronson Arroyo wasn't sharp. He didn't walk anybody (and had only one three-ball count in six innings), but left too many breaking balls up in the zone. He allowed six hits, three singles and three doubles. ... A HBP, a Millar error, a passed ball and a routine single gave Toronto two runs in the first and back-to-back doubles to start the second made the score 3-0. Once again, the opposition's #9 hitter acted like a cleanup man -- Russ Adams doubled and tripled and scored two runs.

Memo to Tito: Kevin Youkilis should replace Kevin Millar at first base more often. A lot more often. Why? (A) His batting average and on-base percentage are both about 130 points higher than Cabin's and (B) He's able to bend over to catch balls in the dirt. ...

And now Boston, Toronto and New York all have the same number of victories.
Orioles 29 16 --
Red Sox 25 20 4.0
Blue Jays 25 21 4.5
Yankees 25 21 4.5
Devil Rays 17 30 13.0
We're flying to Toronto this afternoon to check out what may be our next home, so I hope to hear some of the game on the radio driving back to the airport in Buffalo. ... Miller / Chacin at 7:00.

May 25, 2005

Wild-Card Laurels

The Red Sox are still cursed. At least according to Murray Chass of the New York Times, who is (a) clearly desperate for material for his twice-weekly columns and (b) still unable to deal with the fact that the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series (shortly after the 2004 Yankees completed the biggest choke in sports history).

Chass's Tuesday column is one of the worst pieces of journalism from an apparent professional I've seen in years. It is headlined: "Exorcism Is Not Complete Until Red Sox Win the A.L. East":
The one thing the Red Sox have not done in this era of the renewed rivalry is finish ahead of the Yankees in the American League East, winning the division championship, of course. For the Red Sox to finish second while the Yankees place third would be an empty achievement. Being the division champion is what it is all about for the Red Sox this season, whether they admit it or not. Which is a roundabout way of saying the Red Sox have blown it.
Yeah, I still get misty-eyed when I think about that 1995 Red Sox team that won the East. Man, those were the days. ... And Boston has blown the 2005 East already? If so, what does that say about his beloved Yankees? I also like how Chass dates the "renewed rivalry" from 1996, so he can forget about the Yankees winning the 1995 wild card.
Eighteen days ago, the Red Sox were six and a half games ahead of the Yankees. ... [T]he Red Sox should have taken off and left the Yankees in the dust. ... [B]ut then George Steinbrenner stirred his troops and the Red Sox were unable to match the Yankees' torrid play. The Yankees have won 12 of the 14 games they have played since they trailed by six and a half games; the Red Sox have won 8 of 14. The distance between them shrank to two and a half games, which it remains only days ahead of Boston's next visit to Yankee Stadium.
Check out how Chass gives Steinbrenner credit for the Yankees' "torrid" winning streak. So Boston went 8-6 and New York is still only tied for third place, but all that means is bad things for the Red Sox.
[The Red Sox] can live on their wild-card laurels of last season, but ... the Red Sox need to win the division title. Nothing less will do. The Red Sox have finished second for seven successive seasons and missed the playoffs three of those seasons. The Yankees have done it the smart, safe way most of the past decade. They took no chances on another second-place team squeezing past them into the playoffs, finishing first the last seven years and eight of the last nine.
2004 -- our "wild-card laurels"!! I live in New York, but I seem to have missed all the coverage of the Yankees' 2004 AL East championship parade through the Canyon of Heroes. ... Can anyone send me some links to that? Murray?
But have you seen Boston's pitching? David Wells, who had pitched poorly before, returned from the disabled list last week, and Oakland battered him for seven runs in an inning and two-thirds. Randy Johnson was not nearly that bad against the Mets.
Chass avoids any mention of Arroyo, Clement or Miller. And it appears that the nicest thing Chass can say about the Unit is that he's not as shitty as Wells. ... While noting the first-place Orioles, Chass closes:
The Red Sox, on the other hand, better get hot and stay hot. Otherwise, it is just another second-place finish for them.
SoSHer Rick Walker bottlecap calls Chass's column "the last inarticulate grunts of a dead language."

G44: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 6

... in which Reed Johnson accounts for Toronto's last five runs, including a walk-off bomb off Alan Embree in the bottom of the ninth.

Re Tito's bullpen management: Why not Mantei after the four-pitch walk to McDonald? ... Embree (who may have been a bit rusty, not having pitched since last Tuesday) is more than a LOOGY, so his job description includes getting righties out. Francona was probably keeping Embree in to pitch to Hinske, but the Hombre never got past Johnson.

This game made crystal clear what winning the World Series has done to me. It makes the frustration, annoyance and post-loss fuming much less intense. I still watch every game, keep score, talk back to the players, etc., but when the game is over -- speaking of losses only -- I don't keep replaying parts in my head, agonizing about what should have been done or what could have been.

(Though Mueller's poor baserunning off third base and Ortiz's pseudo-slide into home -- both in the third inning (in which every batter reached base) -- could have changed the outcome of this one.)

Losses like this are annoying as hell -- even though there was no real head-scratching managerial boner this time around -- but I find that even ten minutes after EI shuts off (Good Night!), I've moved on. ... Which may be why I'm offering less analysis (compared to last year) and more media/blog recaps -- at least that's my impression from the inside.

Outside of allowing the cycle in the fourth inning, Wells did alright. ... Mueller was drilled in the left foot in the ninth and was in a lot of pain. He was putting weight on it walking through the dugout, so hopefully, it isn't serious.

Tito continues to hit Renteria in the #2 spot. Edgar went 2-for-4, including a triple leading off the eighth. Is Francona being stubborn, refusing to move Renteria down in the order so as not to be portrayed as kowtowing to the boo-birds and talk radio yahoos? Whether it's the right move or not -- I'd move him to #7 or so -- it seems like Francona's sticking with this lineup as a vote of confidence.

Though if Mueller is out for a day or two, Youkilis can hit second and Renteria can be moved down to #7, with Millar at #8 (... or #10 or #11).

Arroyo / Lilly at 7:00.

May 24, 2005

I've Hit The Big Time

Check out today's Soxaholix! ... Thanks to "Bostonist Joel" for the jpg (he writes about the Sox here).

When I try to print a page from the site, the pictures disappear and I'm left with boxes of text. Anyone know why?

How're We Doin'?

Ron Chimelis says the glass is half-full:
Their ace pitcher is hurt, and tonight's starter is iffy. Their cleanup hitter is batting .242. Their first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and closer have struggled. The Boston Red Sox are 25-18 and two games out of first place in the American League ... All things considered, that's not bad.
The Sox are clearly doing it at the plate. They have scored more runs than any other team except the Yankees, and are third in team batting average, first in on-base percentage (and first in walks) and third in slugging. Boston also has the best stolen base percentage in either league!

The good: Damon (.362, 3rd in AL; on base in 55 of last 113 PA (.487)), Varitek (.336 and .351 in last 19 games), Ortiz (AL-best 16 doubles) and Mueller (.419 (13-for-31) in last nine games).

The pitching staff is 9th in the AL in WHIP and 12th in ERA (ahead of only Tampa and Kansas City). ... The Red Sox starters are 9th in ERA, 9th in opponents batting average, 6th in opponents on-base, 6th in opponents slugging, and 6th in WHIP. ... One nice stat: Mike Timlin (0.86) hasn't allowed a run in his last 15 appearances.

Kevin Millar wants everyone to get off Renteria's back. "It's not cool to boo Edgar Renteria. If it's from a lack of effort, yes. The guy is going out there and playing as hard as he can and works as hard as everybody ..."

Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson says switching leagues is tough: "It's a different style of play. Pitchers pitch a little differently in the American League than they do in the National League. There's a lot more fastballs in the National League. ... There is a difference, going from smaller-market teams to big-market teams. ... Some players think they can handle it, but they realize that they may not be able to once they get there. Unfortunately that happens sometimes. I don't think that's the case with Edgar."

Millar suggests the fans boo him instead: "I suck. I'm not a good player. He is." ... Millar has a point. He does, in fact, suck. (Youkilis has been pretty sharp around first and John Olerud is now in Pawtucket, so Cabin better get hot.) ... The Herald's Gerry Callahan writes that "the fans will probably meet Millar halfway. They'll get on him now, as he suggested; they just won't leave Renteria alone. Unlike Satan, Boston fans have the ability to put more than one soul at a time through hell." ... Dave Heuschkel of the Courant notes: "One thing [Renteria] has been consistent with is ducking the media. In doing so, he has fueled speculation he really can't take the heat."

Curt Schilling called into WEEI yesterday to talk about his ankle. "We're working our butts off trying to find somebody out there to build me a shoe I can actually pitch in. There are issues now, and there have been since spring training, with some of the fine points of my mechanics. One of them is balance." ... Schilling also called Tony La Russa's comments about Renteria "absolutely, totally inappropriate." ... Much more at BDD.

Millar's left foot: "The swelling went all the way under my big toe, so it's almost like a sprain. ... I'm sure by [tonight] it will just be a little bruised." On Sunday, Millar put red Sharpie marks all over his sock and walked around saying, "'See, Schilling, anybody can do it!' It didn't get as much publicity as I thought it would." ... The Red Sox lost the Hall of Fame game to Detroit, 6-4. Anibel Sanchez pitched six innings, Dale Sveum singled and Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon coached third. Before the game, the trophy was brought through Cooperstown in a horsedrawn carriage.

Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement and Wells will pitch the Yankees series this weekend because ... in Toronto:
Tuesday: David Wells (6.75) / Dave Bush (4.73), 7:00
Wednesday: Bronson Arroyo (3.21) / Gustavo Chacin (3.71), 7:00
Thursday: Wade Miller (3.18) / Roy Halladay (2.84), 7:00

G43: Red Sox 5, Atlanta 2

Wherein Matt Clement throws a complete game four-hitter on Sunday afternoon/evening. It was his sixth career CG and his first since August 29, 2003 (44 starts ago). It was the the first time in his last 21 starts that Clement did not allow a walk.

More good news: Manny went to right field in all five plate appearances, hitting his 11th home run, two singles, a line drive to second and a fly ball to right.

The many men LOB are still frustrating. Case in point: Boston leaves two on in the 1st, three on in the 2nd and two more on in the 3rd. Then the first two guys Atlanta gets on base (in the 4th) both score.

No problem in the end though. The Sox ran up Smoltz's pitch count (by innings: 27-24-22-9-30) and scored three times of Colon in the 6th, thanks to Tiz's double into the left field corner and Manny's homer.

Red Sox in Toronto tonight.

May 22, 2005

Koo D'Etat

In Saturday's Yankees/Mets game:
In his second at-bat in the major leagues - against Randy Johnson, no less - [Mets reliever Dae Sung] Koo moved his bat so well that he whacked a double to the warning track. ... Johnson must have been flummoxed by giving up a double to Koo. When the Mets' Jose Reyes laid down a sacrifice bunt, Jorge Posada, the catcher, went out to field it, and Johnson left home plate unprotected. Koo spotted the opening and burst for home. Sliding, he poked his hand in the general direction of home plate as Posada dove with the ball. ...

The Mets greeted Koo in the dugout with newfound respect. Doug Mientkiewicz ... fanned Koo with a white towel. ... "I'm going to use him as a pinch-hitter tomorrow," [Mets manager Willie] Randolph said, clearly exaggerating, to placate the reporters who were having temporary Koo obsession.


Several beat writers are focused on the hitting slumps of Manny Ramirez and Edgar Renteria. ... David Heuschkel on Manny:
Of the nine regulars in the Red Sox lineup, Manny Ramirez [has] the lowest batting average 42 games into the season. His .229 average after going 1-for-5 Saturday is 87 points below his .316 career average coming into the season, and his .347 on-base percentage is 62 points lower. ... He has hit .181 (8-for-44) since he was beaned May 9 ... Over his last 24 games, Ramirez was hitting .202, dropping his average from .294.
However, Manny has hit 10 homers and driven in 36 runs, which puts him on pace for season totals of 40-137. ... After his 18-game hitting streak ended, Johnny Damon went ice cold on the road, but now that he's back home, he has reached base safely eight times in his last nine at bats coming into today's game. Damon has hit safely in 33 of his 39 games.

Tito gets letters. ... Garry Brown of the Springfield Republican writes about the joy of the 1-0 game. My favorite 1-0 game? August 23, 1989: Los Angeles 1, Montreal 0 (22 innings). I was lucky enough to be one of the 21,742 fans at the Big O.

G42: Atlanta 7, Red Sox 5

Having lots of work at your job so you can't write blog posts sucks. ... So does losing to a pitcher making his major league debut. And making four errors and leaving 10 guys on base. These LOB are killing me.

May 21, 2005

G41: Red Sox 4, Atlanta 3

Wade Miller looked great (6.1-3-1-2-5), Jason Varitek and Bill Mueller homered in the second inning and Keith Foulke dodged another ninth-inning bullet as Boston began interleague play with a win last night.

Edgar Renteria was booed as he made the third out with the bases loaded in both the fourth and sixth innings; in both cases, Johnny Damon was walked intentionally beforehand. Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, Mark Bellhorn all failed to hit the ball out of the infield.

Mueller, who came into the game 0-for-10 against Atlanta starter Tim Hudson, hit his first home run of the season off the Pesky Pole and then doubled in the fourth. Foulke allowed a double, triple and single in the ninth, as Atlanta scored two runs, but got a game-ending double play, nicely picked by Renteria.

One note: Rafael Furcal, Atlanta's leadoff hitter, began the game with an OBP of .267 (!!) (his 0-for-4 dropped it to .261).

Varitek has homered on May 20 for the last five years ("Weird ... very weird. Just circumstantial, I guess."):
2001 - at KC: 4-for-4, 3 HR, 7 RBI
2002 - v CWS: 3-for-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 3 RS
2003 - v NYY: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
2004 - at TB: 2-for-4, HR, RBI
2005 - v Atl: 2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI
Curt Schilling is no longer wearing the protective boot over his ailing right ankle. Schilling will wear a light brace and a normal shoe for a day or two. If he has no discomfort from that, he'll begin long-tossing and increasing his arm strength. The Sox have no timetable, but Red Sox medical director Thomas Gill didn't rule out a June return: "Very honestly, I'm not ruling him out for anything. It's a day-by-day thing."

David Ortiz has some advice for Doug Mirabelli, who sprained his left wrist using one of Tiz's 34-oz bats on Wednesday: "Stay away from my bat. Little men should stick with little sticks." ... Boston has played 24 road games so far, the most of any team in baseball. The Red Sox play 24 of their last 36 games at home. ... Bronson Arroyo says he "used to go to school with a Mohawk with Ozzie Smith's name carved on the side of my head."

Wakefield / Kyle Davies (ML Debut) at 7:00.

May 20, 2005

Mirabelli on 15-Day DL

Doug Mirabelli sprained his left wrist in his last at-bat in Oakland. He came in for Varitek during the Wednesday blow-out and struck out swinging in the ninth inning.

Shawn Wooten was called up from Pawtucket (Kelly Shoppach tweaked his foot and is still a few days away from catching). Adam Stern moved to the 60-day DL.

Wells's Comments About Cleveland Hecklers

Following up on the comments to my post about David Wells complaining about Cleveland fans at Jacobs Field talking trash about his mother, I found the story that ran in the New York Times on October 12, 1998. The game in question was Game 5 of the 1998 ALCS. The series was tied 2-2.

From Jack Curry's article, which was headlined "Fine Pitching By Wells Is The Best Revenge":
The Yankees gift-wrapped a 3-0 lead for Wells during a lucky top of the first today, and were privately expecting him to take the cushion, run with it and usher them back to New York in command of the American League Championship Series. Give us a smooth ride this afternoon, Boomer, and it will be a smooth flight tonight, the Yankees silently asked their burly pitcher.

But there was nothing smooth about the bottom of the first for Wells. Later, he revealed the reason: Some Cleveland fans had screamed disparaging remarks about his mother, Euegnia Ann, as he warmed up in the center-field bullpen. Suddenly, Wells was thinking about his mother instead of Kenny Lofton, the Indians' leadoff hitter. The words seeped in and hurt. ...

Wells was unnerved as he thought about the woman who was known as Attitude Annie; the woman who died of heart disease on Jan. 4, 1997 at the age of 58, and the woman to whom he prays before each start.

"When you get a bunch of clowns out there that start talking about your mother and not knowing that my mom passed away, it really bothered me," Wells said. "What got me more was some kids out there started to do the same thing. I was in awe out there because I couldn't believe that could happen. ...

"I can deal with a lot of negative stuff out there, but when it involves my mom or any one of my family members, it really bothers me," Wells said. "So to those idiots out there, this one is for you."
Indeed, Wells was not focused on Lofton. The Cleveland center fielder hit a home run. Then Omar Vizquel singled, Travis Fryman singled, Vizquel stole third, Fryman went to second on a wild pitch and Manny Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly. Fryman stole third and Jim Thome walked before the inning ended. ... Wells settled down after that. New York won the game 5-3 and beat Cleveland in Game 6 to win the pennant.

And that is pretty much how I remember Wells's reaction. Another story in the Times, by beat writer Buster Olney, noted that Wells did not say anything to the fans as he warmed up before the game. So, outside of expressing his disgust and anger about it four or five hours later, there was no real reason for Wells to bring it up. Perhaps he made his comments in response to why he struggled in the first inning, I don't know. ... Nevertheless, players (especially pitchers in the bullpen and outfielders) hear a lot of comments from the stands -- and they don't usually make a habit of talking about those comments to the media after the game.

Sidenote: On October 4, 1997, exactly nine months after his mother's death, and one year before the game in question, Wells pitched Game 3 of the ALDS at Cleveland. The Yankees won 6-1. No one mentioned to the Times that Wells had been heckled (though I'm sure he was).

Second Sidenote: Wells saying he was "in awe" that kids could say such mean things is pretty hilarious, considering the stuff I have heard at Yankee Stadium during Red Sox games.

May 19, 2005

G40: Athletics 13, Red Sox 6

I don't like David Wells. Never have, never will. The media's image of him as some kind of metal-head, rebel biker is laughable. These are the same clowns who go on and on about how wild it is that Johnny Damon has long hair, or that Barry Zito meditates. Whenever I hear how Wells "marches to a different drummer" or "shoots from the hip," I remember his comments after a playoff start in Cleveland where he was very upset because while he was warming up, the Jacobs Field fans were -- cue whiny voice -- making fun of his mommy.

I didn't like Theo signing him for two years, even though it was largely an incentive-based contract. And so far this season, Wells has given me little reason to even consider changing my opinion.

Making his first start since April 25 yesterday afternoon in Oakland, Wells lasted 1.1 innings, allowing seven runs and nine hits on only 49 pitches. While several of the hits were grounders that just found their way through the infield, it was clear that Wells was fooling no one. The A's did not swing and miss on any of his 49 pitches.

Jeremi Gonzalez, who had been scheduled to start the game before Wells came off the disabled list, then allowed four of his first five batters to reach base, putting Boston in a 9-0 hole after two innings. Oakland was hitting .706 (12-for-17) after two trips through the order. (By the way, the A's swung and missed at only one of Gonzalez's 75 pitches.)

Wells will eat a lot of innings -- and anything else in his path, it seems -- but he's also been only league average in six of his last nine seasons. There is no reason to expect him to be anything other than a decent place holder at the back of the rotation, who will occasionally throw a good game. In six starts, he's has two non-shitty outings. His ERA is 6.75 and he has an opponents batting average of .346.

After the rout, the media wanted to know if Wells thought he should have made a rehab start? "I'm not going to answer any questions like that because obviously you guys think I should have. I know what I'm capable of doing. Because the game looked bad today, you guys are going to decide I needed one."

Seth Etherton held the Red Sox to four hits (including two solo homers) in seven innings. Boston rallied for four runs in the eighth, making the final score of 13-6 sound way closer than it really was. It was the first time Oakland had scored at least 10 runs in a game this season, making them the last team to do so.

Since his hitting streak ended at 18 games, Damon has gone 2-for-22. ... Cla Meredith was sent to Pawtucket to make room for Wells. ... Red Sox batters walked 11 times Tuesday. The team record is 15 against Washington July 7, 1949 and the White Sox May 7, 1992. ... Manny Ramirez is putting his 400th HR ball on eBay -- with the proceeds going to charity.

In Seattle, Jason Giambi took strike three with the bases loaded in the ninth inning as the Yankees lost 7-6, their first defeat in 11 games. Baltimore beat the Royals again, so Boston is still in second, though now 3.5 games behind. ... Day off today.

Probable Atlanta match-ups:
Friday: Wade Miller / Mike Hampton
Saturday: Tim Wakefield / Tim Hudson
Sunday: Matt Clement / John Smoltz
After that, it's back out on the road, first to Toronto, then to New York, where the Yankees are considering tweaking their rotation to throw Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano and Mike Mussina at the Sox. Bring it on.

May 18, 2005

"You Smell Real Good"

Great stuff on NESN last night. After the bottom of the third was over, EI did not go to commercial and the audio from the NESN booth was still on.
Remy: "Don't take this the wrong way, but you smell real good."

Orsillo: "Who, me?"
Remy starts talking about how Orsillo's eyes are beautiful and how nice his shoes look. Don is kind of egging him on. Remy said something like, "I'm going to hit the street later, working on my game." ... Practicing his pick-up lines on Don?

Was this just a coincedence or inspired by last night's between-innings entertainment?

G39: Red Sox 7, Athletics 5

The Oakland A's were like Henny Youngman last night: "Take this game -- please." The Red Sox seemed skeptical for awhile, before finally accepting the gift. Which was the polite thing to do.

Boston scored seven runs on only four hits. They drew 11 walks, including a career-high seven from Barry Zito in five innings. The only inning in which they did not get a walk was the seventh. Oakland also committed three errors, two of them coming in the eighth inning:
Cruz pitching; A's up 5-3.
Varitek hit by pitch.
Mueller walked.
Payton walked.
Rincon in to pitch.
Bellhorn struck out.
Damon safe on Hatteberg error at first, run scores.
Street in to pitch.
Renteria singled to right, Byrnes makes two-base error, three runs score.
Ortiz struck out.
Ramirez struck out.
Matt Clement was alright, although he faltered in the fifth and sixth inning. Jay Payton threw a runner out at the plate to end the fifth and Clement left with two on in the sixth. Matt Mantei allowed both of those inherited runners to score.

On the plus side, Alan Embree retired the five batters he faced and Keith Foulke look great in the ninth. He threw all fastballs to strike out Byrnes and after getting ahead of Chavez with fastballs, got him swinging and missing at a 71 mph changeup to end the game.

If I'm going to stay up until 1:33 am, it's good to see a win. Jere has a suggestion: "Why can't these west coast teams play their games at 4:00 PM local time? Don't they know we need our rest? How's this for a compromise--when the Red Sox are gonna lose, start the game two hours earlier? Please?" ... There are only two more late-night west coast games this season: August 18 and 19 in Anaheim.

The Yankees won their 10th in a row as Carl Pavano threw 133 pitches in a complete game shutout. Apparently, Torre doesn't trust his bullpen with a 6-0 lead.

Wells / Etherton at 3:30.

May 17, 2005

Toast (Not Toast)

On May 7, I drafted a post: "Are The Yankees Toast?"
New York is 11-19 (.367) -- a 59-win pace. To finish with 95 victories -- the absolute minimum number of wins to even begin thinking about a playoff spot, in my opinion -- the Yankees need to go 84-48 the rest of the season. That is a .636 pace -- and right now, only four teams (Baltimore, St. Louis, the White Sox and Los Angeles) are playing that well.

Can this Yankees team, as currently comprised, play .636 ball -- starting now? No.
And several Yankee fans agreed.

Since then, the Yankees have played nine games and won them all, outscoring their opponents 71-33. They are 20-19 and still five games behind the Orioles, but to reach 95 wins now, they need to play at a .610 pace (75-48). A bit easier, but still not assured -- the Yankees of 1999, 2000 and 2001 didn't play that well.

Back on May 7, SG at RLYB suggested waiting until Memorial Day:
Joe Torre is beginning to show the flaws in his managerial style that were masked by tremendous roster depth and talent that were put in place by the front office from 1996-2004. ... His postgame interviews are indicative of a man who has no idea what to do. Torre is a fine manager when he doesn't have to think ...

The front office put this team in place with a plan, but it was a lousy plan. They expected players who had career years to repeat them, and they expected the ravages of age and injury to stay away. They did not fill their biggest hole on defense with a marquee player who was just entering his prime. ... Can this team still make the playoffs? Sure. Will they? I am pretty sure they will not at this point. If they are not around .500 by the end of May, I think they need to face the reality of the situation.
I closed my post by saying:
I don't think we have to wait that long. The New York Yankees will not make the 2005 post-season.
This winning streak will end -- and Tino Martinez will soon be playing like Lou Gehrig circa 1939 (and not 1927) -- so I'm not ready to retract that statement just yet.

G38: Athletics 6, Red Sox 4

LOB: 13.

The Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning and did not score (Bellhorn struck out, Damon struck out and Renteria flew out).

The Red Sox had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh and did not score (Varitek struck out and Youkilis grounded out).

The Red Sox had runners at first and second with one out in the eighth and did not score (Renteria struck out and Ortiz grounded to first).

The Red Sox ended the game with runners stranded at second and third.

Boston puts a lot of guys on base -- they lead all of MLB in Runs Created Per 27 Outs with 5.84 (and led everyone in 2004 by a huge margin) -- and because of that they will end up leaving a lot of guys on base, but knowing that doesn't make it any less frustrating. ... P.S. Oakland is 30th (dead last) in RC27 with 3.55.

Bronson Arroyo had one bad inning in seven. A single, double and hit batter loaded the bases and Mark Kotsay's triple to right brought all three runners in. Kotsay then scored on a ground out. Arroyo allowed four of his six hits in that frame. Mike Myers began the eighth by allowing two singles. Both of those runners eventually scored.

Edgar Renteria must be moved down in the order. It is unacceptable for a major league team's #2 hitter to have an on-base percentage of .296. And he's slugging .338. Slugging! He had one of the quietest ten-game hitting streaks recently (April 30 to May 14). (Right in the middle of it was the game he got hit on the hand trying to bunt; doesn't that count as a game played?) Renteria has been "better" in May (.280/.321/.300) -- though 13 of his 14 hits have been singles.

Bill Mueller (.378 OBP) isn't keen on batting high in the order and Trot Nixon (.450 OBP) was moved down because of his leg problems, but something has to be done. Mark Bellhorn isn't getting hits (.233), but his OBP is .333. How about Varitek at #2? Kevin Youkilis started at first base last night. I'd say put him at #2 -- with his small-sample size OBP of .515 -- but it's unlikely that he's taking over for Kevin Millar. Too bad.

Clement / Zito at 10:00.

May 16, 2005

G37: Mariners 5, Red Sox 4

What will Manny Ramirez do with the ball he hit for his 400th career home run? "I don't know, probably put it on eBay. I could see how much I could get. Probably $200."

Ramirez is the 13th player to reach 400 before his 33rd birthday. He hit it in his 5,695th at-bat. Only Mark McGwire (4,726), Babe Ruth (4,854), Killebrew (5,300) and Jim Thome (5,416) got there faster. ... But shouldn't plate appearances be the measure instead of at-bats?

Ramirez has a lifetime batting average of .314 with his 400 home runs and 1,304 RBI. The only five players with 400/1,300 and a higher average? Ted Williams (.344), Babe Ruth (.342), Lou Gehrig (.340), Stan Musial (.331) and Jimmie Foxx (.325). And Foxx is the only righthanded hitter on that short list.

I forgot to set my VCR yesterday, so I missed out of watching the game today, but it sounded several of the 11 hits Tim Wakefield allowed in seven innings were bloops and infield grounders. Five of the hits came in Seattle's four-run second inning. Following along on Gameday, it also looked like many of the Sox's fly outs were quite deep, including Ortiz in the 5th (right before Manny hit #400), Millar in the 7th and Ramirez in the 9th.

Stats about how a player has done against a certain team are usually pretty worthless -- especially a player with a long career -- but I did find it interesting that Wakefield has not beaten the Mariners since July 29, 1997. In that time, he has made five starts and had 10 relief appearances. The last time he got credit for a victory in Seattle was June 1, 1996.

Tony Massarotti on Trot Nixon: "[H]e has an undisclosed leg injury that is clearly affecting his ability to run. What is not known is the severity of the problem, though Nixon acknowledged yesterday he will need surgery after the season." Nixon says he hurt himself during the May 8 doubleheader but says that it is not related to last year's quadriceps problems.

Bronson Arroyo will drop his suspension appeal tomorrow, but because Boston has off-days on Thursday and Monday, they just skip his rotation spot. ... John Olerud went 3-for-4 as a DH on Saturday in an extended spring training game. ... David Wells is scheduled to throw on the side today and could be activated for a Wednesday start in place of Jeremi Gonzalez.

In Oakland:
Monday: Bronson Arroyo (2.91) / Kirk Saarloos (5.09), 10:00
Tuesday: Matt Clement (3.06) / Barry Zito (5.54), 10:00
Wednesday Jeremi Gonzalez (7.71) / Keiichi Yabu (2.55), 3:35

May 15, 2005

Refining The Batting Order

The Red Sox lead the AL in runs scored, but Terry Francona wants more balance in the batting order. Last night, he switched Ortiz to #3 and Ramirez to #4, moved Renteria up to #2 and Nixon down to #5, and dropped Millar to #6 and Varitek to #7. The lineup now goes L-R-L-R-L-R-S-S-S.

Francona: "I don't experiment. We don't make very many lineup changes. I've thought about it for a while. ... I don't know if I could give you one factor. ... If they decide to pitch around someone, somebody is going to get hurt."

Manny talks about his slump and his mother's poor health with Chris Snow. ... The Globe has a feature on Dale Sveum. ... Francona says Jeremi Gonzalez is still scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but the team's media notes list "TBA." Wells may get the ball that day. ... John Olerud and Robert Petagine are both making progress towards finding a seat on the bench. ... More on Red Sox pitcher Wes Ferrell's two consecutive game-winning home runs in July 1935.

Pokey Reese was presented his World Series ring before Friday night's game. "I sat at home and looked at it all night long. I must have looked at it until 2 in the morning. ... I couldn't believe the way [the fans] took me in. They made it a great situation. That's such a great place to play baseball. I don't have any bad memories at all."

Pedro Martinez will open a three-game series this Friday night against the Yankees. And he's annoyed at the attention. "I thought I ran away from all the garbage you guys write about. I thought once I left the Red Sox, it was over with. A game is a game and that's it. Tom Glavine against the Yankees. [Bullpen catcher Dave] Racaniello against the Yankees. It's the same. They're not Red Sox games."

G36: Red Sox 6, Mariners 3

Wade Miller and Ryan Franklin threw a ton of pitches over the first five innings last night.
Franklin 23 23 18 22 16 - 102
Miller 19 20 23 21 6 - 89
Seattle had only two hits off Miller and held a 1-0 lead. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove was nice enough to send Franklin out for the sixth. After David Ortiz popped up, Manny Ramirez hit his ninth home run of the season to tie the game. After Trot Nixon singled, Franklin was gone.

Miller came out for the sixth and had similar problems. He quickly retired Randy Winn and Adrian Beltre on ground balls, then surrendered back-to-back solo home runs to Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez, giving Seattle a 3-2 lead. After Bret Boone singled, Miller was relieved and Mike Myers, Matt Mantei, Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke allowed only two stray singles the rest of the way.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa got out of the Boston sixth, but allowed a leadoff single to Bill Mueller in the top of seventh. Ron Villone took over and Mark Bellhorn doubled Mueller home. Johnny Damon (whose 18-game hitting streak came to an end) grounded out, but Edgar Renteria singled to right (Dale Sveum held Bellhorn at third!) and Ortiz was hit by a pitch.

With the bases loaded, JJ Putz came in to pitch. He got Manny Ramirez to chase a high fastball (97 mph) for strike three and the second out, but Nixon belted an 0-1 fastball to deep right center for a grand slam. Hargrove might have been better off leaving the lefty Villone in to face Ramirez and Nixon, although he had allowed a double, single and an HBP in the span of four batters.

Putz throws in the high 90s, but Trot likes fastballs. "[Putz] has a very live arm and I had a good hunch he was going to attack the zone with his fastball. The first pitch was a strike and I had a good feeling that he was going to come back with another fastball and he did."

Re Damon's hitting streak: He hit a hot shot that hit Beltre's glove at third in the fifth that was scored an error. I would have ruled it a hit, but the call could have gone either way. However, in the sixth, Boone was given credit for a single on a grounder to Renteria's right that was hit much slower than Damon's and was an easier chance. Renteria should have been given an error -- or Damon should have gotten a hit for his line drive. ... Just another reason why fielding percentage is meaningless.

The Yankees walloped Oakland 15-6, scoring all their runs in the first five innings. Baltimore beat the White Sox, so the Red Sox remain one game behind in the East. The third-place Blue Jays slipped to 4½ GB and the Yankees are 5½.

Wakefield / Meche at 4 pm

May 14, 2005

G35: Mariners 14, Red Sox 7

The Red Sox and Mariners traded runs for four innings last night and Seattle led 8-6. Then Boston stopped scoring, and the Mariners pounded John Halama and Cla Meredith. If you bothered to stay up until the end -- 1:27 am -- you got to see the Red Sox leave five runners on base in the last two innings, including ending the game with the bases loaded. Seattle won only its second game in May.

Jeremi Gonzalez finally showed us his Arrojo-ness (another former Tampa starter making his way through Boston) and Halama allowed four hits, two walks and five runs in the span of 12 batters.

Third base coach Dale Sveum reared his ugly head, causing Sox fans from coast to coast to drag out those voodoo dolls from last summer out of the closet. Back in 2004, Sveum learned Rocco Baldelli had a good throwing arm. This time, with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, Sveum send Jason Varitek from second on a sharp single to Ichiro Suzuki in right field. Varitek isn't Mirabelli, but he isn't Dave Roberts either. Tek was so dead, he never slid; Seattle catcher Wiki Gonzalez missed the tag and Varitek danced around trying to get to the plate before being tagged out.

Right after Sveum ran the Sox out of the inning, Gonzalez began the bottom of the third by allowing back-to-back home runs to Sexson and Ibanez. Boston retook the lead in the fourth on Trot Nixon's two-run homer, but Seattle chased Gonzalez and Beltre greeted Halama with a first-pitch, three-run bomb and the Mariners never looked back.

Johnny Damon singled twice, extending his hitting streak to 18 games. ... Wade Miller makes his second start tonight at 10pm.

May 13, 2005

News and Numbers

John Tomase of the Eagle Tribune says that 2005 "could have the makings of a lost season for [Curt] Schilling." This week, Schilling told the media he has no idea when he'll be able to pitch.

David Wells expects to be back in the rotation very soon. He tossed 46 pitches on Wednesday and will throw a simulated game in Seattle this afternoon. Wells is tentatively penciled in for a May 18 start. ... Bronson Arroyo will probably serve his six-game suspension after his start in Oakland next Monday. Because Boston has off-days Thursday and the following Monday, skipping Arroyo for one start shouldn't be a problem.
0513 at Seattle Gonzalez Pineiro
0514 at Seattle Miller Franklin
0515 at Seattle Wakefield Meche
0516 at Oakland Arroyo Saarloos
0517 at Oakland Clement Zito?
0518 at Oakland Wells? Harden?
0519 Off
0520 Atlanta Miller
0521 Atlanta Wakefield
0522 Atlanta Clement
0523 Off
0524 at Toronto Wells
0525 at Toronto Miller
0526 at Toronto Wakefield
0527 at Yankees Arroyo
0528 at Yankees Clement
0529 at Yankees Wells
Since Schilling and Wells have been out, the Red Sox are 10-3 with a team ERA of 3.38 and an opponents' batting average of only .228. In those 13 games, the starters have averaged 6.1 innings and are 8-1, 3.07. Overall this season, the trio of Arroyo, Matt Clement and Tim Wakefield is 12-1, 3.05, with 18 quality outings in 22 starts. Five of the six losses recorded by Sox starters so far this season are by Schilling and Wells.

In the pen, Mike Timlin (1.08) hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 relief appearances, Matt Mantei has held right-handed hitters to a .107 average (3-for-28) and has allowed two earned runs in his last 14 appearances and lefties are hitting only .083 (1-for-12) off Mike Myers.

More numbers: Boston leads the American League in runs (189) and on-base percentage (.361); they are second in slugging (.444) and third in batting average (.277). ... Damon leads the league at .383 and is hitting .468 over his 17-game hitting streak. ... Trot Nixon has walked 20 times in 29 games and his .420 OBP is only a hair behind Damon (.421). Jason Varitek is third on the team at .396. ... Mark Bellhorn has more strikeouts (38) than hits (21) and walks (15). ... The Red Sox are still perfect (8-for-8) in stolen bases: Damon 4, Edgar Renteria 2, Manny Ramirez 1 and Bellhorn 1.

Manny has eight home runs and leads the team with 29 RBI, but his low batting average is causing some writers to worry. He's batting only .241 this season (and .143 (4-for-28) in May), which you could chalk up to a small sample size, but he's also batting just .257 (94-for-366) since last year's All-Star break). He has been invisible (6-for-38, .158) against lefties this season. At BDD, Peter Gammons says Ramirez seems "as distracted as any time I can ever remember him. ... He just doesn't seem to be into the games at all."

Boston has won two games on walkoff home runs on consecutive days only one other time -- July 21 and 22, 1935 -- when pitcher/pinch hitter Wes Ferrell hit them both. This week's walkoff wins were only the sixth time a major league team has hit game-winning home runs in two straight games off the same pitcher. ... Since the A's took a 2-0 lead over Boston in the 2003 ALDS, they've gone 1-14 against the Sox. ... Orlando Cabrera got his World Series ring in Anaheim last Sunday.

Two Cubs Blogs: The Cubdom and Goat Riders of the Apocalypse.

In Seattle:
Tonight: Jeremi Gonzalez (4.22 ERA) / Joel Pineiro (5.66), 10 pm
Saturday: Wade Miller (3.60) / Ryan Franklin (4.50), 10 pm
Sunday: Tim Wakefield (3.18) / Gil Meche (5.14), 4 pm

110-Year-Old Fan Holds Trophy

Kathryn Gemme, one of the oldest Red Sox fans on the planet, got a chance to hold the World Series trophy yesterday in a ceremony at the Nemasket Healthcare Center in Middleborough.

Gemme was born in Chicopee Falls in 1894 and was 23 years old when Boston won the 1918 World Series (Babe Ruth was 24 that season). The Globe reports that "Gemme was listening to her radio when the Red Sox captured the World Series in 1918," but that is not true.

The first radio broadcast of a baseball game was on August 5, 1921 (Pirates/Phillies on Pittsburgh's KDKA). ... Other baseball/radio firsts:
October 5, 1921 - First World Series game broadcast (KDKA again)
October 1922 - Entire World Series broadcast.
October 10, 1923 - First World Series game heard on a nationwide radio network (also first World Series game played in Yankee Stadium).

May 11, 2005

G34: Red Sox 6, Athletics 5

Octavio D'oh-tel! For the second consecutive game, the Oakland closer was asked to save a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning.

First, there was last night:
Oakland leads 2-1.
Ramirez (bsbf) struck out looking.
Ortiz (bfbbs) walked.
Millar (bfbf) homered to left.
Red Sox win 3-2.
And then this afternoon:
Athletics led 5-4.
Ortiz (bsbffb) walked.
Millar (bfbb) flied out to left.
Varitek (bf) homered to right.
Red Sox win 6-5.

What made this victory (and the three-game series sweep) even sweeter was that it came after the A's had scored four times against Keith Foulke in the top of the 9th, the tying and go-ahead runs coming on a home run by the much-loathed Eric Byrnes.

It was a disheartening outing for Foulke, who looked sharp pitching to the first two batters. He struck out Durazo, walked Kielty, and got Hatteberg to hit into a force out. Then trouble began. Scutaro doubled to the gap in left-center for a double and Ginter singled to the same spot. Then Byrnes homered. Foulke walked Kotsay before getting Kendall to fly to right.

I have no idea what's going on with Foulke and barring any news in the papers tomorrow, I'm going to chalk it up to a bad outing and move on. In my mind, he struck Byrnes out -- and ended the game at 4-3 Sox -- on an inside 1-2 pitch that was called ball two.

Other offensive bright spots: Manny Ramirez hit a first-pitch home run in the third, the 398th tater of his career. NESN showed some old footage of his first major league home run, which came on September 3, 1993 at Yankee Stadium. Manny had made his debut only the night before (he went 0-for-4). There were a ton of people in the bleachers that night from Manny's Washington Heights neighborhood, yelling and waving signs and flags. I remember watching the game. Manny hit two home runs and a double in that game.

In addition to today's game-winning home run -- which was down the right field line -- Varitek also singled, doubled and walked. Ortiz singled, doubled and walked, Renteria and Mueller both singled twice and Damon doubled to extend his hitting streak to 17 games.

In what has become almost de rigeur, the Red Sox starter -- Matt Clement this time -- shone. Clement pitched seven innings and allowed five hits, one walk and one run. ... The Red Sox left the bases loaded twice today (fifth and eighth innings), which would have stung if not for the comeback.

Baltimore beat the Twins so the Red Sox stay 1½ games behind. Toronto (4 GB) and the Yankees (7 GB) also won. ... Boston's next game is Friday night at 10 pm in Seattle, which means we'll go almost 54 hours without some Red Sox baseball.

G33: Red Sox 3, Athletics 2

Right after the game, Kevin Millar said all he has to keep doing is driving in more runs than he's letting in with his glove and he'll be alright. That's a dubious measure of success, but Millar did get the last laugh with a two-run, game-winning, home run last night off Octavio Dotel.

Millar's two errors probably didn't lead to any more Oakland runs that would have scored anyway, but he looked pretty bad anyway, making an ill-advised, off-balanced throw home that skipped away from Jason Varitek in the first inning, not bothering to have his foot on the bag on a fielder's choice in the seventh, and missing a tag on a runner, also in the seventh. The umpire, however, gave the Sox a a gift on that last play, and called the runner out.

Arroyo was the shit once again -- 6.2 innings, three hits, one earned run. ... Johnny Damon singled twice and tripled, extending his hitting streak to 16 games.

In the ninth, Boston trailed 2-1. Manny Ramirez struck out looking, but David Ortiz walked. Millar was seeing only fastballs from Dotel (not so smart!) and he hammered the fifth one on a line over the Wall.

May 10, 2005

G32: Red Sox 13, Athletics 5

Boston scored its first four runs last night without getting an RBI. It got me wondering what the most runs a team scored without a player getting an RBI. Anyone?

The Red Sox scored five times in the fourth and seven more in the seventh (Millar hit a home run!). ... Manny Ramirez was hit in the back of the helmet in the first inning, but he's in tonight's lineup.

May 9, 2005

Manny Ramirez, August 1991

From the New York Times of August 18, 1991, when Manny was playing for Cleveland's minor league team in Burlington, North Carolina.

May 8, 2005

G31: Mariners 6, Red Sox 4

Good news: In his first major league game since last June 25, Wade Miller (five innings, three hits, one walk, two runs, 92 pitches) pitched very well.

At SoSH, Rough Carrigan: "Miller just K'd Adrian Beltre [to end the first inning] with a 92 mph fastball on the black after freezing him with the nice big and still hard breaking 77 mph curve. ... Wow. Miller strikes out Ibanez [second out in the second inning] with a 77 mph hook for strike 2 and then a 2 seam 88 mph fastball running away from the lefty for strike 3."

The game wasn't on EI, but all the NESN-watchers were flipping out at Miller's curve. OilCanShotTupac: "The descriptions of these Miller curveballs are almost pornographic. Wish I could see them." ... We should get the chance to see Miller open the series in Seattle on Friday night.

David Ortiz hit two doubles and one home run, and collected three RBI; his one out was a very deep fly ball to right. Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon each had two hits.

Bad News: Terry Francona's brain short-circuited in the seventh inning. With the game tied 2-2, John Halama had a runner at second base, two outs and Randy Winn coming up. Francona decided to pull Halama -- who had last pitched in his start on Tuesday and presumably could have been thrown more than 25 pitches -- and bring in Cla Meredith for his major league debut (first name pronounced "Clay").

Meredith walked Winn. He also walked Adrian Beltre, loading the bases. I fully expected Francona to pull Meredith at this point. He did not. Richie Sexson belted a grand slam (though it was wind-blown down the right field line by the pole). Seattle led 6-2. Francona then left Meredith out on the hill to give up a double to Raul Ibanez before retiring Bret Boone on a fly to center. Boston rallied in the bottom half of the inning, scoring twice, but it wasn't good enough.

I suppose a person could rationalize bringing Meredith in to face Winn. There were two outs -- all he needed to do was get one more. I don't agree with the move and would argue there were at least four or five better choices in the bullpen, but it's somewhat defensible. After the two walks (eight balls in 11 pitches), however, there was no excuse for leaving him in. It isn't March anymore. These games count.

So did Francona not want Winn to face the lefty Halama (or Embree, who was also warming up)? I guess not, though Winn's stats so far this year would indicate keeping a lefty in was the better move. And Embree ended up facing Winn anyway, an inning later, in the exact same situation -- man on second, two outs (though the score was no longer tied). Embree got Winn to fly to shallow right, then set down Beltre, Sexson and Ibanez in the ninth, putting an exclamation point on Francona's error.

In Review: Tito used Myers, Mantei, Timlin and Foulke to preserve a three-run lead in Game 1, but in a tie game with the go-ahead runner at second in Game 2, he decided to use a 21-year-old rookie, on the roster in Blaine Neal's spot (he was DFA'd), in his first big league appearance. ... SoSHer 5belongstogeorge says 7:14 pm was "the instant Tito's World Championship Exemption For Stupid @#%$ ran out."

Seattle heads to New York and the A's, who just played a series with the Yankees, come to Fenway.

G30: Red Sox 6, Mariners 3

Ho-hum -- another win. Kevin Millar's three-run double off the Wall in the first inning gave Jeremi Gonzalez some early support this afternoon. He pitched into the sixth inning and got credit for his first Red Sox victory. It was Boston's fifth straight win and seventh in eight games.

Terry Francona used five pitchers, which might seem odd considering that the outcome was never in doubt and Wade Miller is pitching the second game tonight. However, Friday's night contest was rained out none of the four relievers threw that many pitches (Foulke 14, Timlin 12 and Myers and Mantei 7 each).

There was a strong wind blowing in from left field, which likely kept Millar's double out of the Monster seats. It also knocked down two rockets from Doug Mirabelli.

Saturday in New York, Mike Mussina threw a complete game shutout against Oakland and Yankee radio guy John Sterling and Daily News writer Sam Borden agreed this afternoon that Mussina was now "back on track." It was hilarious. A few key hits, two nice starts, a diving catch or two, and suddenly weeks, months and years of decline are wiped away.

Regarding Mussina, I'm skeptical. First, Torre let Mussina throw 131 pitches. New York had a 5-0 lead after eight innings. Mussina was at 109 pitches at the time (and threw 115 in his last start). Oakland has the third worst AL team batting average, the worst slugging percentage and the worst OPS. Did Torre really have no confidence in anyone in his pen to hold a five-run lead against the noodle-bat A's for one inning?

You could say Torre wanted to give Mussina the shot to finish it out, but knowing how hard Torre works the few pitchers he trusts, that might not be the smartest thing to do on May 7 to a 36-year-old guy with diminishing velocity. ... The Yankees won again this afternoon, 6-0. Torre didn't let Kevin Brown get the CG.

Wade Miller / Ryan Franklin in Game 2 at 5:00. Manny Ramirez, who was hit in the left thigh with a pitch in the first inning of Game 1 and was replaced by Jay Payton in the fourth, was not in the initial lineup.

May 7, 2005

G29: Red Sox 7, Mariners 2

David Ortiz is glad to be home: "Fenway, I miss you." Tiz doubled off the Wall in his first at-bat and homered down the right field line in his second at-bat. Boston battered Jamie Moyer early and often, scoring three times in the second and third innings, and beat Seattle 7-2.

Matt Clement pitched seven magnificent innings, allowing only five hits and no earned runs. Unlike his last start in Texas, Clement's control was sharp last night. He went to a three-ball count only three times (Raul Ibanez in the first and third and Miguel Olivo in the 7th). His only walk was to Olivo, the 26th batter he faced.

Clement: "During that Texas start, I finally just said, 'The heck with this,' and threw the ball like I'm used to throwing. I think I was more worried about mechanics and what I was doing, it was causing me to get behind in counts. In the middle of that Texas start, I kind of found a couple of keys to go with and I felt like I threw the ball a lot more free and easy at the end of that start and again today."

Both Johnny Damon and Edgar Renteria got the night off -- and Manny Ramirez went 0-for-4 with a walk -- but the offense rolled on without them. Moyer retired the Red Sox on only seven pitches in the first inning, but Boston made him work after that. He threw 36 pitches in the second (as the Sox batted around) and 29 more before being relieved with two outs in the third.

Bill Mueller drove in four runs -- indeed, Jay Payton, Mueller and Ramon Vazquez (the 7-8-9 hitters) drove in six of Boston's seven runs. Ortiz got the other RBI on his solo home run.

Last night in the Bronx, the Yankees lost to Oakland 6-3. In the 10th, the A's batted around against Mariano Rivera, scoring three runs without hitting the ball out of the infield. Three Yankee errors (including two on one play by Tino Martinez) in that inning helped send New York to its fourth straight loss. The Yankees (11-19) are off to their worst start since 1966. ... And George Steinbrenner is pissed at Mel Stottlemyre: "Our pitchers are not improving. That's what a pitching coach is supposed to do - make your pitchers improve ... We're just not getting the pitching. I don't know whether we have to think of some changes there or what." ... Once today's Kentucky Derby is over, Steinbrenner can turn his full attention to his baseball team.

Jeremi Gonzalez / Joel Pineiro at 7:00. The threat of rain tonight is so strong that the Red Sox have a tenative plan for a doubleheader tomorrow if tonight's game is washed out. The games would be at noon and 5:00.