April 30, 2007

Yet Another Contest - Big Papi Bio

When will David Ortiz collect his first walk-off hit of 2007?

Guess correctly and win a copy of "Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits". The Red Sox schedule is here.


1. The game must be played at Fenway Park -- don't choose any road games.

2. Post your guess in comments. There are no tiebreakers, so don't pick a game/date that has already been chosen.

3. Enter before the end of May. One game per person.

4. What else? To avoid problems with times of posts, you can't pick a game once it has started.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book. I posted an excerpt back on March 27.

List of Entries:
0501 - john
0502 - benjamin
0503 - jere
0511 - tim
0512 - joegray
0513 - kristin
0514 - thatdietcokegirl
0515 - uubuntu
0516 - ray
0517 - william
0518 - pandyora
0519 - ed
0520 - danie
0528 - jeff
0529 - phrenile
0530 - drew
0601 - woti
0602 - devine
0603 - pokerwolf
0612 - jeffrey
0613 - l-girl
0614 - blackjack
0615 - 9casey
0616 - kylie
0617 - r da silvan
0629 - odawg
0630 - pity da fool
0701 - israel
0702 - jackie
0703 - aaron
0704 - mattysox
0705 - zenslinger
0712 - piney
0714 - mike
0715 - brian the red
0716 - David McCormack
0717 - gregg
0718 - conrey
0719 - jazzpiano8
0720 - JohnC
0721 - hokiebird90
0722 - john
0731 - isis
0801 - mikeT9485
0802 - D
0813 - sean
0814 - AHop
0815 - the leprechaun
0817A - aaron
0817B - exsubmariner
0818 - ODawg
0819 - angry steve
0831 - Joe Grav
0901 - 9casey
0902 - miket9485
0903 - soxgirl
0904 - the omnipotent q
0905 - jake
0910 - L-girl
0911 - a little night musing
0912 - Brian the Red
0914 - tim
0915 - Pokerwolf
0916 - Dirty Water
0925 - HBrett
0926 - little jerry
0927 - Ajax
0928 - jennifer s
0929 - pvt pyle
0930 - dan

Jeter: "It's Unfair And It Should Stop"

Cap'n Intangibles demands people stop picking on his manager.

Bill Madden of the Daily News thinks the off-day today could be "anxious if not downright apocalyptic", adding:
There is no point in belaboring the fact that the Yankees could have signed Okajima this offseason but chose to pass. His five scoreless innings of three-hit, eight-strikeout relief against the Yankees in these two back-to-back lost weekends against the Red Sox will doubtless be put on the heads of Brian Cashman and his baseball evaluators when the blame starts emanating out of Tampa.
Good times.

April 29, 2007

RIP: Josh Hancock ... & Random Notes

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock, 29, was killed early Sunday morning when his SUV slammed into the back of a flatbed tow truck. Hancock made his major league debut with the Red Sox in September 2002. He was traded a few months later to the Phillies for Jeremy Giambi. (Comments from Varitek and Youkilis.)

Tonight's game between the Cardinals and Cubs has been postponed.
Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki pulled off the 13th unassisted triple play in major league history this afternoon against Atlanta. In the 7th inning, Tulowitzki caught Chipper Jones's line drive behind second base, stepped on the bag to double up Kelly Johnson, and tagged Edgar Renteria coming in from first for the third out. The Rockies won 9-7 in 11.

Career home runs against the Yankees:
Jimmie Foxx 70
Ted Williams 62
Hank Greenberg 53
Carl Yastrzemski 52
Manny Ramirez 50
After his white-hot start, Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-11 in the weekend series against the Red Sox (he's 3 for his last 18). ESPN's Rob Neyer notes that Slappy has had similar hot streaks to his torrid April:
August 11 to September 8, 2002: 16 HR, 33 RBI
July 5 to August 5, 2005: 16 HR, 30 RBI
Aprl 2 to 29, 2007: 14 HR, 34 RBI
The Red Sox's four-game lead in the East is the largest lead at the end of April in team history. In three previous seasons -- 1904, 1918, 2004 -- the Sox had a three-game lead. Those were good years: 3 pennants and 2 championships. There was no World Series in 1904 when John McGraw's New York Giants refused to play.

Squealing on Gary Thorne is one thing. Jose Melendez has an even bigger scoop: the locker room conversation between Schilling and Mirabelli before 2004 ALCS Game 6.

G24: Red Sox 7, Yankees 4

One eye on work, one eye on the game.

Flo went into the third deck in right in the first, Coco tripled and scored in the third, Cora bopped a two-run home run to right-center in the fifth, then tripled and scored in the seventh, and Ortiz singled and Manny crushed a bomb to right (his 50th against the Yankees) in the eighth. (box)

Sexy Lips did well (5-3-3-2-2, 84) except for a three-batter stretch in the third: two walks and a Malphabet HR. Okajima was superb for two innings (K, single, K, 1-3 -- K, 3U, K) -- his 11th straight scoreless appearance. Timlin allowed a solo shot to Jeter in the eighth before Papelbon finished it off.

Maybe the Bot was a little rusty, as Giambi opened the ninth with a double. It was lights out after that, as Shemp struck out, Posada grounded to second, and Cano grounded to Youkilis.

Our #5 outdueled their ace and we got the 2 out of 3 we wanted. We lead the East by 4 over Toronto. New York is 9-14, 6.5 GB.


Julian Tavarez (8.36) / Chien-Ming Wang (5.68), 1 PM

Lugo, SS
Youkilis, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Hinske, RF
Lowell, 3B
Varitek, C
Crisp, CF
Cora, 2B
Boston's 3-4-5 today have great numbers against Wang:

Ortiz: 8-for-17 (.471) with 5 RBI.
Ramirez: 9-for-13 (.692) with 2 home runs and 5 RBI.
Hinske: 10-for-16 (.625) with two homers.

This is Wang's second start of the season. Last Tuesday, he gave up nine hits and four runs in 6.1 innings to Tampa Bay. ... The Daily News is a little too happy about the Yankees' win yesterday. Front page: "FINALLY".

No matter how Sexy Lips pitches today, he may lose his spot his the rotation, as Jon Lester moves closer to Fenway. ... Bobby Abreu is 9-for-24 (.375) against Tavarez, including three doubles and three home runs.

April 28, 2007

G23: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1

No support for Wakefield -- again -- who had to fight his way out of a jam in every one of the six innings in which he pitched today. He allowed a two-run home run to Posada in the fourth and an RBI double by Cabrera in the sixth. His line: 5.2-5-3-6-3, 118.

Youkilis singled twice and walked. One of those hits opened the 8th and he later came around to score the Sox's only run. Yook, as the potential tying run, made the last out, popping to Cano at second.

Lowell had an RBI single and a double, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. He also made two more errors at third base. ... Manny did not hit a fair ball all day -- two walks and two strikeouts.

Rivera got his first save of the year -- in the Yankees' 22nd game.


1st Inning: Lugo lined the first pitch of the game off Karstens's right knee. He crumbled to the ground, but stayed in. Youkilis lined a single to left on a 3-1 pitch and Torre came out to get him. Igawa -- the guy the Yankees pulled from the rotation before this series -- is coming in.

Either Kartsens is really hurt or Torre is just bringing in the lefty to face Ortiz.


Tim Wakefield (2.08) / Jeff Karstens (14.54), 4 PM

Is it wise to gloat on April 28? Who cares! It's fun!

The Yankees have lost seven straight games for the first time since 2000. Looking at the standings this morning, only two teams have a worse record: Kansas City (7-16) and Washington (8-15).

Johnny Damon: "Every game is a must win for us now, even though it's April." ... Is it time for the P word?

They have not lost seven in a row in April since 1989 (the glory days of Don Slaught, Alvaro Espinoza, Andy Hawkins and Dale Mohorcic). One of my favorite Yankee Stadium memories from that time was a couple of loudmouths giving Mohorcic the business as he imploded on the mound, screaming out a perversion of his last name: "More Horseshit! More Horseshit!" It was hilarious, it drowned out everything else in the park and it went on for quite a while. (The 1989 Yankees lost seven in a row again that year, in mid-July.)

The Yankees lead MLB with 124 runs scored, but have allowed 117 runs, 6th worst in MLB. Their expected W-L record is 11-10, but they are 8-13. Why? Cliff Corcoran at Bronx Banter says it comes from "losing close and winning big". Only three of the Yankees' 13 losses have been by more than two runs. (Boston's expected W-L record based on 117 RS and 77 RA is 15-7, which is also its actual record.)

Here are some pitching stats and the rank among all 30 MLB teams:
              Red Sox         Yankees
Team ERA 3.25 3rd 5.15 28th
Starter ERA 3.63 8th 5.94 19th
Bullpen ERA 2.28 2nd 4.13 21st

Team BAA .229 4th .264 22nd
Starter BAA .235 5th .305 29th
Bullpen BAA .215 7th .199 3rd

Team OBP .293 2nd .349 25th
Starter OBP .292 3rd .372 29th
Bullpen OBP .294 4th .321 11th

Team SLG .358 4th .422 23rd
Starter SLG .367 4th .492 29th
Bullpen SLG .335 6th .328 5th

Team WHIP 1.18 2nd 1.51 26th
Team K/BB 2.64 3rd 1.23 30th
SV-OPP 8 of 8 0 of 7
Yes, the Yankee bullpen has blown all seven of its save opportunities this month, while the Red Sox have successfully converted all eight of their chances.

Wakefield is 6th in the ERA and opponents are hitting only .204 (20 hits in 26 innings) against him. Karstens gave up seven runs to the Red Sox last Saturday in his first start of the season.

Julio Lugo, on the Rivalry:
I didn't know it was going to be this intense. Every game seems like a World Series game. I heard about it, but being here I know what it is really about now.
This is when you find out how good a team is. People ask you in spring training, 'How good is this team?' You don't know. It's easy to say you're a good team when you win six or seven in a row, but this is when you find out. It's how you bounce back.

Former Mets Employee Sold Steroids To Dozens Of Players

Kirk Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse employee, has admitted in federal court that between 1995 and 2005 he sold a smorgasbord of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs to "dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players and associates, on teams throughout Major League Baseball," according to Scott Schools, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco.

According to Newsday, a search of Radomski's Long Island home
yielded "shipping records, financial records, correspondence, and contact lists that detailed Radomski's distribution of drugs to professional ballplayers," officials said. Among the records were evidence of more than 20 occasions in which major league players issued checks to Radomski between 2003-05 for between $200 to $3,500. The names of the players were blacked out in the search warrant.

Lester Doing Well On And Off Field

Jon Lester made his fourth rehab start last night. Pitching for Pawtucket against Buffalo, Lester threw 84 pitches in five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and no walks. He struck out six, topping 94 on both his first and last pitch of the night. Only one Buffalo batter reached second base. Lester is scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Lester went in for his three-month checkup at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. "Everything was normal. I just go three months at a time. As far as I know, the first year [checkups are] every three months. ... I don't know what the progression is. I just know in five years, they consider you cured."

Longest Losing Streak In 7 Years Has Steinbrenner "Very Displeased"

Johnny Damon said "There's going to be panic soon if the winning doesn't start." Derek Jeter doesn't agree:
"If you're pushing the panic button now," Jeter said, "you're in for a long season."

Although Jeter and his teammates insist that it's too early to go into crisis mode, does George Steinbrenner agree? Or will a dismal weekend showing lead to major changes within the organization?

"Now that's a different question."
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg says stop picking on the manager: "I think Joe Torre ... could manage anything. He could manage a company. He could manage a baseball team. He's a great manager."

After Friday night's loss, Torre held a team meeting. One Yankee said: "Enough is enough; that was basically his message. There wasn't a whole lot to it, but he got his point across."

John Harper, Daily News:
For a long time, in fact, there wasn't a player to be found in the postgame clubhouse, as many Yankees sat in the players' lounge and either did some soul-searching or just tried to wait out reporters waiting to ask questions.

When players did emerge, they spoke quietly about continuing to fight and digging down deep, about how one win could give them some momentum and make everything seem okay again.
George King, Post:
A seven-game losing streak has George Steinbrenner so concerned he is wondering if replacing Joe Torre is the answer. ...

Yesterday, the word out of Tampa was that Steinbrenner "was very displeased" about the way his high-priced stable of talent is underachieving and was thinking about a change.

And that was before the Red Sox punished the last-place Yankees, 11-4, in front of 55,005 at Yankee Stadium last night.
Hopefully, we have bottomed out. This was the worst game we played all week.

April 27, 2007

G22: Red Sox 11, Yankees 4

I agree with Jerry Remy. I can't wait to read the New York papers tomorrow morning. (box)

Once again, Matsuzaka had a one really rough inning, but battled through it and did not let it affect him afterwards. Through the first three frames, he had allowed two singles and a walk on 42 pitches. He had a 2-0 lead (thanks to a two-run HR by Youkilis), but he walked the first three Yankees to begin the fourth (though a called third strike should have been called on leadoff batter Alex Rodriguez). All three of those runners scored, as did a fourth baserunner. Dice-K threw 41 pitches to nine batters in the inning.

Down 4-2, Boston stormed right back against Pettitte. With one out, Lugo walked and stole second (he finished with a fantastic night: single, double, home run, stolen base, 2 walks, 3 RBI, 3 runs scored). Youkilis and Ortiz both singled, cutting the lead to 4-3. After Drew struck out, Lowell walked to force in the tying run and a wild pitch scored Ortiz, giving Boston a 5-4 lead.

After the long fourth, Dice shed his long sleeves and retired the side in both the fifth (Rodriguez K, Giambi 6-3, Matsui F8) and sixth (Posada 3U, Cano K, Mientkiewicz 3U) innings.

The Sox added a run in the sixth on Lugo's solo home run (which he initially thought was a single off the left field wall), a run in the eighth on doubles from Pedroia and Lugo, and four runs in the ninth off Mariano Rivera.

Rivera had not pitched since Monday and came into the game with his team trailing 7-4. He quickly dispatched Drew on strikes, but surrendered singles to Lowell (13-game hitting streak!), Varitek and Crisp. Then he walked Pedroia and was pulled. His ERA rose from 7.11 to 12.15.

Mike Myers walked Lugo to force in a run, Youkilis's grounder scored another one, and Ortiz knocked home run #11 with an opposite field slice to left.

Boston improves its MLB-best record to 15-7. Toronto and Baltimote both lost, so we lead the Jays by 4 and the Orioles by 4.5. New York has lost seven games in a row and, at 8-13, is 6.5 games out of first place.


Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.00) / Andy Pettitte (1.78), 7 PM


Lugo, SS Damon, CF
Youkilis, 1B Jeter, SS
Ortiz, DH Abreu, RF
Ramirez, LF Rodriguez, 3B
Drew, RF Giambi, DH
Lowell, 3B Matsui, LF
Varitek, C Posada, C
Crisp, CF Cano, 2B
Pedroia, 2B Mientkiewicz, 1B
This will be the first regular season meeting between Matsuzaka and Matsui (the Globe has a nice graphic of all previous Dice v Shemp ABs).

Season Series So Far
0420: Red Sox 7, Yankees 6
0421: Red Sox 7, Yankees 5
0422: Red Sox 7, Yankees 6
The Yankees have lost six in a row and are in the AL East basement. They have also pulled Kei Igawa from the rotation and will go with Jeff Karstens and his 14.54 ERA on Saturday afternoon.

Johnny Damon: "There's going to be panic soon if the winning doesn't start." ... New York starters are averaging 4.9 innings per appearance, worst in the majors.

Bob Klapisch, ESPN: "The manager's decision to use Rivera in the eighth inning last Friday at Fenway also stunned observers. "Five outs? In April?" one executive asked incredulously." ... Four Yankee relievers are on a pace to appear in more than 100 games.

David Ortiz is 53-for-163 (.325), with 14 homers and 26 RBIs in the Bronx.

Red Sox Against Pettitte


Ramirez 62 25 .403 .449 .661 1.111
Ortiz 25 9 .360 .429 .600 1.029
Drew 11 6 .545 .583 1.182 1.765
Varitek 39 15 .385 .419 .538 .957
Pena is 3-for-8, Crisp 1-for-7, Lugo 4-for-11, Lowell 1-for-4, Youkilis 1-for-2, Hinske 1-for-7.

It's Not About The Sock

The reaction of many fans (Red Sox, Yankees, and everyone else) and media members to the Thorne/Mirabelli/Sock controversy of the past two days can be summed up thusly: "Arrgg, not the sock again! Enough already!"

But this is not about the sock. That simply happened to be the subject matter of Gary Thorne's lie. Here is the reason why I posted the MASN transcript and emailed Gordon Edes:
Does an announcer bear any responsibility for what he or she says on the air?
Debating whether blood seeped out of Curt Schilling's ankle and stained his sock on two separate nights in October 2004 may be silly, but the idea that Thorne should not have to answer for what comes out of his mouth is not.

If you've been reading this blog for even a short amount of time, you'll know that one of my greatest annoyances is announcers that spew whatever shit pops into their heads and are never called on it. Granted, most of the stuff we are subjected to -- from Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan, John Kruk, Michael Kay, and the whole long list of them -- is simple stupidity.

When they spout information about Fenway Park that is at least 20 years out of date (as Morgan often does, calling it a home run paradise) or have no idea of new players on the team's roster (meaning they haven't bothered to even look at the local sportspage that morning), they show both their ignorance and disdain for their audience. We are left asking why are these people blessed with plum broadcasting jobs when they show no desire to actually do their jobs?

Thorne and Palmer were saying moronic things about Schilling (and the Sox) all night: he's a ground ball pitcher, he broke the news about asking for his 2008 option to be picked up on his blog, that an option for 2008 even exists. Two people wearing B hats pulled at random out of the stands would have known more about the Red Sox. But the Mirabelli comment was different. That was more than just being dumb.

Searching for "Thorne" on this blog, I see he has annoyed me many times before. This is a good example, as is this paragraph from June 10, 2004:
ESPN's Gary Thorne said the entire Red Sox organization has NO idea where BH Kim is -- "He may be in Korea, he may be in the US, they have no idea." Does Thorne know he's just making shit up -- and being exposed as an unprepared idiot by the tens of thousands of fans who actually know which end is up -- and does he (or his employer) care?
We should be glad that Thorne was forced to accept responsibility for what he said on the air. It doesn't matter whether he was talking about fake blood, a corked bat, or a player's sexual orientation. It comes down to this:

Should an announcer be free to say whatever he wants with no consequences whatsoever?

Another Blogger Weighs In On Thorne, Sock

Ignorance Has Its Privileges
Gary Thorne overheard something and then misreported what he overheard. Not only did he misreport it, he misinterpreted what he misreported. ... [E]ven after [Mirabelli spoke to Thorne] Thorne still covered his ass by lying about the conversation and twisting it in a way that absolved him from blame. ...

If you have the nuts, or the guts, grab an orthopedic surgeon, have them suture your ankle skin down to the tissue covering the bone in your ankle joint, then walk around for 4 hours. After that go find a mound, throw a hundred or so pitches, run over, cover first a few times. When you're done check that ankle and see if it bleeds. It will.

April 26, 2007

AOL: It Was a Blog That Broke Sockgate

Matt Watson at AOL Sportsblog:
You've read about it all day, but there it is: Gary Thorne's confident revelation that Curt Schilling used paint on his sock. (Big ups to A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripes Territory for the video.) ...

While the debate surrounding this issue will rightly center around Thorne's comments, I think it's also worthwhile to take a moment to point out how his comments snowballed into a national story. Yes, there were probably hundreds of thousands of viewers who heard him, but it was the astute ears of a blogger over at The Joy of Sox who transcribed the comments and brought them to the attention of several reporters ...

Gorden Edes, if you don't recall, took the story and ran with it, writing the definitive introduction to the controversy that the rest of the mainstream media has built on. But realize, it was a blogger who broke this.

The season isn't even a month old and bloggers have been responsible for raising the question of what's on Francisco Rodriguez's cap, alerting us to an arcane rule prohibiting Torii Hunter's gift of Dom Perignon to the Royals and now making Thorne public enemy No. 1 in the city of Boston. The old guard best tread lightly, because the bloggers are watching.
At 5 PM Thursday, it was the top story at Yahoo!:

Thorne Offers An Excuse

Gary Thorne, after having the entire day to think about it, offers his explanation:
He [Mirabelli] said one thing, and I heard something else. I reported what I heard and what I honestly felt was said. Having talked with him today, there's no doubt in my mind that's not what he said [and] that's not what he meant. He explained why in the context of the sarcasm and the jabbing that goes on in the clubhouse, [and] that I understand. I took it as something serious, and it wasn't. ...

I didn't say something I didn't believe. I would never do that. I feel bad the whole thing happened because I don't want to disparage him or Schilling or Terry or anybody else. I wasn't looking for a story. I didn't want something to come out of this. But when it came today, I was flabbergasted by it.
Mirabelli, who initially said he had no idea who Thorne even was, described the initial incident:
As he was walking away, [Thorne] asked me, 'How about the bloody sock?' And this was a year later, after the World Series. And he said that I said, 'Yeah, we got a lot of publicity out of that.' And that was it. That was all that he could recall me saying. And he said that he just assumed that's what I meant, that it was all a publicity stunt. By no means was that what I meant. ... It's hard to get that meaning out of those words he told me, but that's what he went with.
(Jeff Goldberg has the entire text of Mirabelli's statement; Steven Krasner has more Thorne quotes.)

When you listen to what Thorne said on the air -- and especially how he said it -- his explanation makes no sense. He made no attempt to tell his audience that he had been speaking with Mirabelli; he presented Mirabelli's "confession" as if it had been widely reported long before last night and was common knowledge among all baseball fans.

For an experienced broadcaster like Thorne, who has done plenty of national broadcasts for ESPN, to think that (a) the sock incident had been exposed as a hoax or (b) he could toss off an unfounded accusation about such a famous incident -- and not have it become a big story -- well, he's got to be dumber than a blob of pine tar.

But what else could he say, really? Thorne could have offered what I think would have been an honest answer: that what he said was wrong, completely uncalled for, and totally unsupported by any evidence. But the logical follow-up question would have been a bit trickier to answer:
So why did you say it?
and then
If Mirabelli told you this back in 2005 and you believed he was serious, why did you sit on this blockbuster of a story for two years before announcing it in the most ho-hum manner during the 5th inning of a mid-week broadcast in April?
Thorne gave a pathetic excuse, one that comes nowhere near explaining what he said and how he said it. Obviously, he hopes this whole incident blows over and is forgotten in a week or so. It probably will, but he has to know he screwed up in a big way.

With any luck, perhaps all announcers will now realize they should stick a bit closer to the facts.

G21: Red Sox 5, Orioles 2

Beckett goes eight (8-8-2-0-3, 100), Papelbot finishes up (P6, 3U, BB, K on 13 pitches), and Wily Mo Pena follows a BBI to Varitek with a grand slam in the top of the eighth. And what would have been a very bitter 2-1 loss (the Red Sox worked 8 walks off Baltimore's first 4 pitchers) becomes a happy 5-2 win. (box)

Lowell doubles and extends his hitting streak to 12 games, Youkils walks twice and singles, Manny walks twice, Ortiz singled and walked, and Pena doubles in addition to his salami.

Got the NESN feed tonight. Don and Jerry mentioned Thorne in the early innings, but thought the whole thing was silly and the sooner it was over, the better. Perhaps, but Thorne should be held accountable for the words that come out of his mouth during a baseball telecast -- or at least be expected to explain his comments.


Josh Beckett (2.55) / Adam Loewen (3.72), 7 PM

If Beckett gets credit for the win tonight, he'll join Babe Ruth (1917) and Pedro Martinez (2005) as the only Red Sox pitchers to win their first five starts.

Loewen is Canadian, but he's not getting any JoS love tonight. He's walked 19 hitters in 19.1 innings, including seven in 5.2 innings last Saturday. His BBs have increased with every start: 3, 4, 5, 7.

Mike Lowell has an 11-game hitting streak. The streak is more than 10 games, so it's proper to mention it. Anything less than 10 -- like when an announcer informs us about Jones's "modest four-game hitting streak" -- is not worthy of discussion.

Is Coco Crisp headed for the disabled list? Tito says Crisp will rest and will have the medical staff look at him "when we get to New York. We have to find out if it's a bruise or a strain. I'm not sure if it makes that much difference in the treatment. Hopefully, we'll try to get him ready for Yankee Stadium."

Thorne Watch: I think I actually want the MASN feed tonight so I can hear what Gary Thorne has to say for himself tonight (assuming Doug Mirabelli hasn't totally kicked his ass during BP).

Red Sox Issue Statement On Thorne

President/CEO Larry Lucchino:
In regards to the remarks made on Wednesday by Baltimore Orioles announcer Gary Thorne, the Red Sox will not respond to or dignify these insinuations with extensive comment. Such gossip occurred in 2004 and we will not participate in further comment other than to remind everyone that we remain steadfastly proud of the courageous efforts by a seriously injured Curt Schilling -- efforts that helped lead the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series Championship.

Thorne Video (Updated)

Bruce Allen writes:
Thorne's chat today on USA Today has been canceled. Thorne was scheduled to be a guest on the NESN pregame tonight. We'll see if he makes that appearance.

The Baltimore Sun reports that
... Thorne's comments came during the bottom of the fifth inning. When MASN replayed the game this morning, the telecast skipped over the bottom of the fifth with an announcement that it was jumping ahead because of time constraints.
Cute. ... Jere has the 35-second clip here.

Gordon Edes also spoke with Dr. Bill Morgan, the man who performed the procedure on Schilling. ... Edes will be on XM radio at 1:25 and ESPN's Outside the Lines at 2:00 talking about this. Can any of my unemployed readers tune in and report back?

Credit Check - JoS Had Sock Scoop

Gordon Edes writes about Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne's on-air comments about Curt Schilling's bloody sock last night -- indeed, the statements and the various reactions Edes received from Schilling, Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, Terry Francona, Doug Mirabelli and Kevin Millar make up a large portion of his game story -- but Edes doesn't say where he first heard about Thorne's offensive comments:

An email from me.

At 8:56 pm, just after the end of the fifth inning, when the comments were made, I typed up a close approximation of what Thorne said with the request: "Please ask Schilling and/or Mirabelli about this tonight." I sent it to a handful of Boston sportswriters.

Edes responded 19 minutes later -- and he was the only writer to get back to me. We ended up exchanging several emails and speaking by phone a couple of times over the next three hours. Just before midnight, I send Edes an exact transcription of Thorne's and Palmer's on-air comments, which I got as soon as the game was archived at MLB.com (fortunately, it was the Orioles' feed and not NESN).

Thorne's comments have also been a topic on sports radio today. According to some SoSHers, Mike and Mike were talking with SI's Tim Kurkjian about it early this morning.

I know this all may sound like selfish whining. I'm glad that Edes picked up on the tip and thought it was worthy of following up -- not letting Thorne's idiocy disappear into the ether -- but a simple tip of the hat, a half-sentence of recognition (even in what is a strict news story), would have been nice.

UPDATE: Joy of Sox cited by Baltimore Sun blogger Rick Maese, Art Martone's Providence Journal blog, Boston Dirt Dogs, the Globe's Eric Wilbur, Masslive.com, AOL Sports, Media Nation, Universal Hub and Two Cents And A Schilling.

April 25, 2007

O's Announcer Matter-Of-Factly Says Mirabelli Confessed Schilling Put Red Paint On His Sock In 2004 ALCS/WS -- No Blood -- All Done For PR

12:15 AM UPDATE! Here is my transcript from the game (broadcast by Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and archived at MLB.com), with Bako batting in the bottom of the 5th:
Jim Palmer: He's 40 years old. He asked the Red Sox to pick up an option for next year. And Theo Epstein said we're not in the business of picking up options for 41-year old pitchers, but if you pitch well, we'd love to have you back.

Gary Thorne: 0-2 delivery in the dirt.

Palmer: Of course, he announced it on his blog.

Thorne: Oh yeah. Well nothing's done by Curt Schilling unless it's on his blog.

Palmer: Well, there's a great line here. It says "No mere sports reporter could hope to be as authoritative on the subject as Schilling himself. For the avid fan, reading Schilling on Schilling may offer the sort of enlightment an art historian might expect if a diary were to suddenly be discovered in which Rembrandt set down self-critical evaluations of every brush stroke shortly after removing his smock and cleaning his brushes." That was an editorial in the Globe ...

Thorne: And there was no puncutation in that by the way.

Palmer: No, no.

Thorne: Bako's got a 1-2 count here.

Palmer (laughs): Well, 2 strikes, 2 outs, I had to get it in there in a hurry.

Thorne: It's good.

Palmer: But the Globe's just talking, I mean that's Curt.

Thorne: Well, the press hates him in Boston --

Palmer: Yeah.

Thorne: -- because he doesn't cooperate. 1-2 delivery and that one's taken in the dirt. The great story we were talking about the other night was that famous red stocking that he wore when they finally won, the blood on his stocking. Nah. It was painted. Doug Mirabelli confessed up to it after. It was all for PR. Two ball, two strike count.

Palmer: Yeah, that was the 2004 World Series.

Thorne: Yeah.

Palmer: That second appearance.

Thorne: 2 and 2, 2 down. Orioles struggling here just trying to get somebody on and get something going against him. He wanted that call, didn't get it, did a little jump step, 3-2 count.

Thorne says "It was all for PR" in such a tired voice, as though naturally everything is done for PR and we should be able to see through this shit right away. That "Nah" is equally dismissive, the equivalent of asking "you didn't really believe that was blood, did you?"

What the hell were they talking about "the other night"?


Slander? Call your lawyer, Curt! It's lawsuit time!

In the bottom of the 5th inning of tonight's game, Gary Thorne was talking about Schilling and how "the press hates him up in Boston" because he does not cooperate with them and talks to the fans directly via his blog.

Then Thorne rambled for a bit before mentioning Schilling's performance during the 2004 ALCS and World Series. And in a matter-of-fact tone, as if this was common knowledge to all baseball fans, but he has to say it because he's talking about 2004, Thorne starts talking about "the bloody stocking", saying "Of course, it came out later, Doug Mirabelli admitted that it was paint on the stocking -- he confessed that it was all done for PR."

I'd love to get the exact quote, but there is no mistaking what Gary Thorne said. And sidekick Jim Palmer -- who earlier had said it was Nolan Ryan who delivered the straight talk to Schilling to get his career back on track (whereas everyone in the rest of the world knows it was Roger Clemens) -- said absolutely nothing.

G20: Red Sox 6, Orioles 1

Curt Schilling (3.81) / Daniel Cabrera (4.10), 7 PM

Cabrera walked a staggering 5.34 batters per nine innings last year. In four starts this year, he has walked only seven batters (and struck out 26). ... Cabrera has pitched 33 innings (in eight starts) against the Red Sox in his career -- he first faced them in mid-2005 -- allowing 43 hits, 32 walks, and getting pounded to the tune of a 9.27 ERA.

Schilling pitching only four innings on Opening Day, but he has gone at least seven innings in his past three starts.

Lineup: Coco Crisp is out of the lineup again, so Wily Mo Pena returns to CF. Alex Cora -- 9-for-16 against Cabrera gets the nod over Dustin Pedroia.

Pawtucket was rained out tonight, so Jon Lester will pitch on Friday.

Don Orsillo Drinking Game

Laura and I came up with this a couple of years ago. Before every night game, we'd pick three of Don's catch phrases. When he would say one of them, we'd drink.
"Down by way of the K"
"Gets the bad news"
"Not enamored of the call"
"Full bore"
"Carves one foul"
"In through the back door"
"Wall ball"
"Canvas Alley"
"Fisted to shallow right"
Choosing which three is sometimes tough. If Pedro was pitching, we'd choose at least one strikeout reference. Also if he hadn't used one phrase in a while, we'd think he might be due. (I once joked about keeping a scorecard of his comments -- hmm, he's used "full bore" only 3 times in the last 15 games -- though never actually followed through on that particular bit of insanity.)

Don clearly loves to say "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim", but it is advised to include this one only if we are not playing the Angels. He also loves certain players' names and will almost always refer to the player by his entire name, e.g., Coco Crisp.

Other possibile drink chances:

When Don repeats something Remy just said
Remy rags on a fan in luxury boxes for dropping a foul ball
Remy tells long story about Wally's activities
Whenever Remy pimps his website or tries to sell his crap
Don mentions "a modest 3-game hitting streak"

Anything else?

Lester Goes For PawSox Tonight

Jon Lester starts for Pawtucket tonight in Rochester. He is also scheduled for a May 1 start against Indianapolis. Then ... Unknown. The Courant says Lester could rejoin the Red Sox and start against the Twins in Minnesota on Sunday, May 6.

In three starts for Greenville (A), Lester allowed three runs and 11 hits in 13 innings, with two walks and 15 strikeouts.

The bat Jason Varitek used to hit the last of the four consecutive home runs on Sunday was sent to the Hall of Fame. ESPN, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan dropped the ball when reporting on the four home runs on Sunday. ... Last night's official attendance was 37,161 -- the largest crowd since World War II.

Chaw Watch: How is Terry Francona doing in his nearly-annual attempt to quit chewing tobacco?
Terrible. I'm miserable. ... There are about six players who want me to start doing it again. I guess I'm getting a little crabby. Hanging in, but barely. ... It's amazing how something that ugly can taste that good. ... I've made it through April 24, but I haven't made it through April 25.
Alex Rodriguez on exercising his option to become a free agent at the end of this season:
I want to stay in New York, no matter what. ... Last year when it got ugly, I kept saying I loved New York. I kept saying it this winter. I love New York. It's the greatest place for me to play. ... I have never been a guy who runs away from bad things.
Looking past the Orioles to the weekend. In the Bronx:
Friday: Daisuke Matsuzaka / Jeff Karstens
Saturday: Tim Wakefield / Kei Igawa
Sunday: Julian Tavarez / Chien-Ming Wang
Jere posts the standings:
First place: Us
Second through fourth: Bunch of other teams
Definitely last place: Yankees

Overbay: "I Don't Play Dirty"

Alex Cora was pissed off at Lyle Overbay's hands-up slide (Cora called it a "tackle") in a game in Toronto last week.

Cora said:
That's something I really don't like about the game ... He couldn't even reach the bag. It was double play anyway, I thought [by rule]. I don't mind if you go in hard, but [you have to be able to] touch the bag.

(Thanks to SG for the picture.) Last night, Overbay was finally asked about it:
I thought he was mad because I went out of the baseline, but I've got to take him out because that's the go-ahead run if he's safe at first. ... I'll do it again. ... I don't play dirty. ... He jumped up and I was going to get hit by his leg in the face, so I put 'em up ... I didn't do what Miguel Cairo did [Sunday] by trying to sweep [Julio Lugo's] legs. Nobody said anything about that.
And here's Cairo's slide, thanks to commenter phrenile:

April 24, 2007

G19: Blue Jays 10, Red Sox 3

What an ugly friggin' mess. One base runner after the third inning and four errors in the field. Nuf Ced.

Some "highlights" from BuffyVision:

Rogers Sportsnet has the Boston starter's last name spelled on-screen as "Tavaras". (Hey, you got 5 of 7 letters correct, take a bow.) ... Buffy calls Red Sox president Larry "Loo-cheee-no".

In the fifth, Lyle Overbay doubles off the top of the scoreboard in left, prompting Rance Mulliniks to say: "This is where the friendly confines of Wrigley Field really help you."

In concluson, I better have NESN tomorrow night against the Orioles or I'll be really pissed (if for no other reason than for Laura and I to play the Don Orsillo Drinking Game for the first time this season).

Oh, and the Yankees are in last place. Huzzah!


Lineup: It turns out Coco is not starting, as Super Genius is in CF and hitting 8th. Eric Hinske (he of the .615 OBP) is playing first and hitting #2.


Roy Halladay (2.37) / Julian Tavarez (6.75), 7 PM

Halladay (7.1-6-2-3-2, 95) and Tavarez (5.1-6-3-0-4, 82, on 11 days rest) faced each other last Thursday. Boston rallied with 2 runs in the 8th and 2 more in the 9th and won 5-3.

Coco Crisp, 6-for-18 against Halladay, will probably play tonight. ... Alex Rios is 7-for-9 against Sexy Lips.

Slappy Watch: The Yankees lost last night in Tampa, but Alex Rodriguez hit two more home runs. He has 14, tying Albert Pujols's record for April, set last year. Slappy also has 34 RBI -- double what the #2 guys (Giambi and Ortiz, 17) in the AL have. (Jeff Francoeur leads the NL with 22). The April RBI record is 35, set in 1998 by Juan Gonzalez. The Yankees have six games left to play in April, three of them against the Red Sox.

April 23, 2007

David Halberstam Killed In Car Crash

David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who chronicled the Vietnam War generation, civil rights and the world of sports, was killed in a car crash Monday [south of San Francisco], his wife and local authorities said. He was 73.
Halberstam was the author of Summer of '49 and October 1964.

G18: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 3

Bah. Not our night.

Bad things: Hill singled, doubled twice and homered, scored three and knocked in two. Wells doubled, tripled, walked, stole a base, and scored three runs. McDonald doubled twice, singled and reached on an error. Thomas belted a two-run home run, singled and walked. Wakefield (6-8-4-3-2-5, 100).

Good things: Mirabelli and Lowell both singled twice and walked. Pedroia whacked a two-run double. ... Orioles lost, so we remain 1.5 GA. And Tampa 10, Yankees 8, dropping New York into 4th.


Tomo Ohka (7.02) / Tim Wakefield (1.35), 7 PM

Ohka limited the Red Sox to four runs on four hits in 6.1 innings on Wednesday.

Wakefield has allowed only one earned run in each of his three starts this season. His 1.35 ERA leads the American League.
            W   L    GB   RS  RA   EXP
Boston 12 5 -- 89 53 12- 5
Baltimore 11 7 1.5 87 76 10- 8
New York 8 9 4.0 108 84 10- 7
Toronto 8 10 4.5 82 82 9- 9
Tampa Bay 7 11 5.5 92 114 7-11
EXP is the team's expected record considering its runs scored and runs allowed. ...Both Boston and Baltimore are 8-2 in their last 10 games.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

Four consecutive home runs:

June 8, 1961: Braves vs. Reds, 7th inning:
Milwaukee   002 000 510 -   8 13 2
Cincinnati 011 314 00x - 10 14 0
Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron off Jim Maloney; Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas off Marshall Bridges. After Thomas homered, Joe Torre grounded out to third.

July 31, 1963: Indians vs. Angels, 6th inning:
Los Angeles 100 000 400 -  5 11 2
Cleveland 005 004 00x - 9 13 1
Woodie Held, Pedro Ramos, Tito Francona, Larry Brown off Paul Foytack. All came with two outs. Ramos was the opposing pitcher.

May 2, 1964: Twins vs. Athletics, 11th inning:
Minnesota    002 000 001 04 -  7 11 0
Kansas City 000 000 201 00 - 3 8 0
Tony Oliva and Bob Allison off Dan Pfister; Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew off Vern Handrahan.

September 18, 2006: Dodgers vs. Padres, 9th inning:
San Diego    400 000 023 1 -  10 15 0
Los Angeles 112 000 014 2 - 11 19 2
Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew off Jon Adkins; Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson off Trevor Hoffman. The last three came on consecutive pitches. After Anderson's HR, Julio Lugo flied out to left. Nomar Garciaparra won the game in the bottom of the 10th with a two-run homer off Rudy Seanez.

April 22, 2007: Red Sox vs. Yankees, 3rd inning:
New York  201 011 010 - 6  9 0 
Boston 004 000 30x - 7 11 0
Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek off Chase Wright.


The last time three consecutive Red Sox batters hit home runs was May 31, 1980 (Tony Perez, Carlton Fisk, Butch Hobson) against the Brewers. Boston lost that game 19-8.

Red Sox hitters have hit four home runs in an inning 10 times (last time was July 23, 2002 against Tampa Bay). Boston scored 10 runs in the 3rd inning enroute to a 22-4 win in the first game of a doubleheader. The Sox blew a 4-0 lead in the 9th inning of the nigthcap and lost 5-4. FU, Gump.

Mike Lowell:
I haven't been a part of anything like that, not even Little League. It was total disbelief in the dugout. Usually four straight hitters don't square up for base hits, let alone home runs. The dugout was going crazy.
What are the odds, the chance of being part of this twice? I was the second guy in both of 'em. I told Coco after Lowell hit his that we were one away from Los Angeles, and it happened.
Man, I couldn't believe it. Every time the ball was hit, it sounded really well [struck]. I was like 'Dang, is this really happening?' It was crazy, but it definitely boosted our team.
I've neither seen nor heard of such a thing taking place. It was the most I could do to control my own excitement.
It was Lowell's 12th career multi-HR game:
I love this atmosphere. It gets a little overdone with the hype. I mean, this is April 22. But it's definitely a different atmosphere in the ballpark when these two teams go at it.
A scout at Fenway Park on Matsuzaka:
About 65 percent of his performance tonight was average and about 35 percent was above average. He made some really good pitches to Alex Rodriguez, but for the most part [it was] a pretty mixed performance. He struggled early, as he's been wont to do. But he does battle you.
In addition to his great catch in the 8th inning, Pedroia got two hits, raising his average from .158 to .190. He had been in a 1-for-28 slump.

Wily Mo Pena started in center because Coco Crisp had tightness in his left oblique. ... Robinson Cano's single off Hideki Okajima was the first hit Okajima had allowed in 23 AB. ... Jon Lester talks: Projo, Globe, Herald, redsox.com.

Last night was also Terry Francona's 48th birthday.

The Herald's Steve Buckley spoke with Paul Foytack, now 76, the only other pitcher to give up four consecutive homers:
I guess the only thing that would have been better would have been if he had given up five in a row, because then I'd be off the hook. Actually, I'm going to send that kid a note. I'm going to tell him to hang in there. It must be tough for him. I was at the end of my career when I did it. He's just starting out. ... If my memory is correct, Held hit his home run off the left-field foul pole, and Francona hit his off the right-field foul pole. And giving up a home run to Ramos, a pitcher, really hurt.
Foytack watched some of last night's game:
But I turned it off when I saw that guy with the baggy pants in left field. I don't know why they let guys dress like that. But, hey, it's none of my business.
Then he went outside, shook his fist at the sky and chased some kids off his lawn.

Monday Morning Newsstand

And some words from the Gotham papers.

If you missed last night's Home Run Derby, here it is.

April 22, 2007

G17: Red Sox 7, Yankees 6

With 2 outs in the bottom of the third, and the Yankees ahead 3-0, Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek hit consecutive home runs.

Four taters -- back-to-back-to-back-to-back -- in the span of 10 pitches! It's the first time in team history that has been done. It was also the second home run of the young season for all four batters.

Six innings later ... SWEEP! Trailing 5-4, Boston takes the lead on Lowell's second home run of the game, a three-run job in the 7th.

The Yankees get another run, but Papelbon nails it down: Damon (bsbffb) flies to left, Jeter (cbs) strikes out swinging, Abreu (bbcbf) walks, and Slappy (sf) hits into a force play.

(During Jeter's AB, all four pitches were clocked at 95 during live action. But when ESPN ran its K-Zone replay of the AB, the speeds suddenly jumped to 98-98-99-98. WTF ESPN?)

Boston improves its MLB-best record to 12-5 -- Sox have won 9 of the last 11 -- while New York drops to 8-9 (4 GB).


Chase Wright (4.11, 1.600) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.70, 1.100), 8 PM

This is Dice-K's 4th start.
            IP  H ER BB   K  PIT
0405 at KC 7 6 1 1 10 108 Sox win 4-1
0411 vs Sea 7 8 3 1 4 103 Sox lose 3-0
0417 at Tor 6 3 2 3 10 105 Sox lose 2-1
20 17 6 5 24 316 2.70 ERA
In his 3 starts, his teammates have scored a mere 5 runs.

A sweep of the Yankees at Fenway? It could happen tonight, for the first time since 1990 -- when it happened twice!
0604  Red Sox  5, Yankees 3
0605 Red Sox 9, Yankees 8
0606 Red Sox 4, Yankees 1 (Boddicker 2-hitter)
0607 Red Sox 3, Yankees 0 (Harris 1-hitter)

0831 Red Sox 7, Yankees 3
0901 Red Sox 15, Yankees 1
0902 Red Sox 7, Yankees 1
Laura and I were at the August 31 game [cough]Luis Alicea[cough], sitting deep in the right field grandstand with tickets that I choked and paid way too much for on the street.


Yankees Ready For Matsuzaka - Herald
Dice-K Joins In Rivalry - Herald
Matsuzaka Is Set To Dive In - Globe
Dice Adds Some Spice - Newsday
The Dice Man Cometh - Daily News
Bombers Ready For Matsuzaka - Daily News

Slice It Thin, But Not Too Thin

Josh Beckett entered yesterday's game as the third Red Sox pitcher to win his first three outings in a season while allowing no more than one run and striking out at least five in each start. Babe Ruth (1916) and Roger Clemens (1991) are the other two.

Hideki Okajima facing Giambi:
I heard [the crowd] going crazy. I got the power from the crowd, but at the same time, I wasn't too conscious about that. I was concentrating purely on how I was going to get the out. ... When I'm facing a batter, I don't think of who he is, or what his name is. I perform what I have to offer. I do my pitching.
Kevin Youkilis:
We're getting wins. I don't think we've played great. This team is definitely capable of playing better. We were talking about that, a couple of the guys. ... I mean, Manny Ramírez hasn't even started hitting.
Alex Cora called Ortiz "Shakespeare": "He hits home runs, he writes books - it's his day."

Joel Sherman, New York Post:
Win or lose [tonight], the Yanks leave Boston for Tampa, where George Steinbrenner is certain to be waiting with some questions, notably for GM Brian Cashman and Joe Torre. Here are some: How come the new strength and conditioning guys can't keep the players on the field? How come two roster spots are being used for first base with the end result being almost zero production? Who thought Nieves as a backup catcher was a good idea? And what happened to all those plans to limit Mariano Rivera to three-out saves? ...

Obviously, it is just April. Hideki Matsui is due back tomorrow, Chien-Ming Wang the next day and Mike Mussina next week. But disturbing cracks and deficiencies have arisen, all of which would be made exponentially worse if Rivera does not regain the magic in his cutter. Before the game yesterday, Rivera was searching for that. He was watching on a computer a frame-by-frame break down of his Friday night breakdown. ... At the first sign of Fenway trouble, Torre ditched all the offseason planning that Rivera would not be used in the eighth inning. Torre's greatest asset as a manager is his serenity, but you could see the sweat here. ...
I love MFY panic. Especially less than 20 games in.

During the Jackie Robinson tributes last week (the Red Sox wear 42 tonight), one repeated lament was the tiny percentage of black players in the major leagues. In today's Globe, Nick Cafardo notes: "The Devil Rays have the most African-American players (5) among major league teams."

Is this bad? No. It just is. No one is denying black players a chance to play. ... But according to whoever keeps these lists, the Red Sox have only one: Coco Crisp. So David Ortiz is not black. Wily Mo Pena is not black. ... Hoooooo-kay.

Blinded By The Light

New York Post:
A none-too-bright Mets fan was busted after allegedly pointing a high-powered flashlight into the eyes of opposing players from the stands at Shea Stadium.

Frank Martinez, 40, of The Bronx, was accused of blinding pitcher Tim Hudson from a seat behind home plate Friday night, using a small Streamline flashlight. ... Martinez also allegedly aimed the light at shortstop Edgar Renteria and second-base umpire Paul Emmel ...

Security ejected the dim bulb from the stadium and cops charged him with interference with a professional sporting event and reckless endangerment.
From a book that should be on your shelf:
Five thousand fans were at Fenway Park on Saturday, July 6, [1918,] for the first game of the Red Sox's important series against first-place Cleveland. Early in the game, [catcher] Steve O'Neill of the Indians was at the plate when he called time and pointed to a blinding glare coming from the right field pavilion. A police officer investigated and confiscated a hand mirror being manipulated by an overzealous Red Sox fan.
P.S. from the Post:
Former Bronx neighbors of Martinez, an exterminator, said the was thrown out of his Ericson Place apartment because of his Mets fanaticism.

"He was a psycho. He used to scream for no reason," said Abigail Torres. She said when the team would play he would shout "M! E! T! S!" at the top of his lungs and later at about 3 a.m. he would go into the hallway and do it again, over and over.
Good thing he wasn't a Diamondbacks fan.

April 21, 2007

G16: Red Sox 7, Yankees 5

Yankees - 220 000 100 - 5 9 0
Red Sox - 220 300 00x - 7 13 1
Redsox.com wrap and box here.

Terry Francona had shown that he understands that he may need his closer in the 8th inning rather than hooking his wagon to a lesser arm and "saving" Papelbon for the 9th. But what would Tito do if the game was on the line in the 7th inning? Is he truly on board with Jamesian bullpen usage?

David Ortiz's three-run home run in the 4th inning gave Boston a 7-4 lead that Josh Beckett carried into the 7th. He needed only five pitches to retire Nieves and Cabrera, but he gave up a single to Jeter. Abreu was up and if he got on, it would bring Slappy to the plate as the potential tying run. (Okajim and Donnelly had been up for a little bit.) Beckett pitched carefully to Abreu, but walked him (bcbfbb).

I'm cool with leaving Beckett (at 102 pitches) in to face Slappy (2-for-12 against him with 0 HR and 3 K). Ball 1, then two low pitches, one called a strike, the other a ball. Then Rodriguez lined a single to right, bringing Abreu home.

There was no sign of Papelbon through any of this. If the Slappy AB wasn't the most important point of the game, then Giambi at the plate right now was.

And in came Okajima. Giambi (bsbc) struck out swinging.

Okajima got Cano to start the 8th, then Timlin retired Phelps and Thompson on pop-ups. Papelbon took the 9th: PH Damon (bcfbbf) 6-3, Cabrera (bbb) walked, Jeter (bscbb) struck out swinging (Snuffer hitting 98 a couple of times), Abreu (f) flied out to center.

So Francona did not go to his best arm at the highest-leverage moment in the game, but he did hand the ball to Okajima. I'm guessing, but it seems like Francona believes that Okajima is the 2nd best pitcher in the bullpen. He got the call to save the game last night and he was brought in with the tying runs aboard today.

He didn't use Papelbon until the 9th, but recent evidence shows that Tito understands and is applying intelligent and progressive thought to his bullpen choices. This makes me very happy.


Jeff Karstens (3.80 in 2006) / Josh Beckett (1.50, 0.833), 4 PM

Karstens comes off the disabled list (right elbow tightness) to make his 2007 debut.

Saturday Morning Newsstand

April 20, 2007

G15: Red Sox 7, Yankees 6

Yankees - 001 130 010 - 6 11 0
Red Sox - 000 200 05x - 7 13 0
Ho. Lee. Shit!

Two home runs from Rodriguez (he's the 1st AL player to hit 12 HR in a season's first 15 games (Mike Schmidt did it in 1976) (plus Slappy's got 30 (!) RBI)) put New York up 5-2 after five innings. The Yankees added a run in the 8th (Slappy doubled (he should have been rung up on the pitch before) and scored on Giambi's single).

So ... MFY 6-2, bottom of the 8th: Myers in to face Ortiz. Flo ripped a double that one-hopped the left-center field wall. Vizcaino in (perhaps Torre, with a 4-run lead, should have kept Myers in to face Manny and then the LH Drew). Vizcaino has walked six in only 9.1 innings so far this year and he stayed true to form by walking Manny.

Drew grounded out to second, moving the runners to second and third. Lowell grounded a single past Slappy, who dove to his left, and into left. Tizzle scored, 3-6. Vizcaino was pulled and in came Rivera. It was Fruitbat's first appearance since Sunday, when he surrendered a three-run, game-winning home run to Marco Scutaro in Oakland.

Varitek (whose first HR of the year in the 4th gave Boston two runs), took a ball, a strike, then fouled off three picthes, before lining a belt-high cutter out over the plate into right for a single. Manny scored, 4-6.

Crisp, who tumbled backwards over the bullpen wall trying to catch for Slappy's second home run back in the fifth, lined the ball down the right field line and into the corner. Lowell and Varitek both scored and Coco ended up on third with a triple! 6-6!

With the infield in, Cora singled to left center. Three batters and three hits and four runs in against Rivera. Cora's bloop hit actually hit the infield dirt behind Jeter before bouncing into left center. Crisp scored and Boston took a 7-6 lead! Unbelievable.

With Papelbon unavailble, Tito called on Okajima to face Jeter-Abreu-Slappy and close it out. I liked the choice, as the Oka-bot has been masterful this year. Jeter (bbc) grounded out second to first (tapping a splitter off the end of his bat). Abreu (bssbb) walked, though ball 3 could (should?) have been called strike 3. Okajima jams Slappy (cbbbc) with a fastball and he lofted a soft liner to Cora at second. Two outs. DH Kevin Thompson (who ran for Giambi in the 8th) (csffb) struck out swinging on a splitter in the dirt.

When asked in spring training about the media frenzy surrounding Matsuzaka, Okajima said: "I don't mind being a hero in the dark." Friday night, he was a hero in the blinding spotlight of The Rivalry.

And the day after the Yankees rally from being down 6-2 in the 9th inning and win 8-6, they blow a 6-2 lead in the 8th inning and lose 7-6.

The box says:

Rivera: .2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, blown save and loss, 8.44 ERA


Andy Pettitte (1.50, 1.222) / Curt Schilling (2.84, 1.053), 7 PM

Damon, CF Lugo, SS
Jeter, SS Youkilis, 1B
Abreu, RF Ortiz, DH
Rodriguez, 3B Ramirez, LF
Giambi, DH Drew, RF
Posada, C Lowell, 3B
Cano, 2B Varitek, C
Cabrera, LF Crisp, CF
Mientkiewicz, 1B Pedroia, 2B

This weekend, it's two rookies for New York: Jeff Karstens/Josh Beckett and Chase Wright/Daisuke Matsuzaka. ... Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano are all on the disabled list.

The Red Sox were 8-11 against the Yankees last year, 2-7 at Fenway.

Boston's starting rotation has a 2.61 ERA (1.94 in the last nine games). The Sox lead the AL with a 2.58 ERA and Tim Wakefield tops the AL with a 1.35 ERA. ... Jonathan Papelbon threw 20 pitches on Wednesday night and 26 yesterday afternoon. He will likely not be available for tonight's game.

The Yankees lead the league with 6.5 runs scored per game. They scored six times in the bottom of the ninth yesterday to sweep Cleveland. The game-winning hit was Alex Rodriguez's 10th home run of the season (he is the first AL player to hit 10 home runs in his first 14 games).

Gerry Callahan predicts that Boston's third baseman in 2008 will be Alex Rodriguez. But he also thinks Slappy McBluelips's lips are pink, so how prescient could he be?

April 19, 2007

G14: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3

It was a beautiful sunny day in Toronto, but the Skydome roof was closed. The Red Sox turned in a wonderful afternoon of baseball, spoiling the field trips of many groups of schoolkids.

Sexy Lips did well until the 6th, when he faced the top of the order for third time (5.1-6-3-0-4, 82), Coco had two bunt singles as the leadoff man (Lugo and Lowell started the day on the bench), Manny lined a game-tying two-run home run to right-center in the 8th, Alex Cora tripled home the go-ahead run in the top of the 9th, then scored the insurance run. And Snuffer, after a leadoff walk, took care of business, though Alex Rios battled for 10 pitches before flying to right to end the game.


Julian Tavarez (9.00, 2.750) / Roy Halladay (2.35, 1.000), 12:35 PM

Tavarez is making his first start in 12 days. In his last appearance at Skydome, September 22, 2006, Tavarez pitched a complete game (9-7-1-1-1, 99) victory. ... Alex Rios is 5-for-6 lifetime against Sexy Lips, including a triple, and Lyle Overbay is 4-for-12, with three doubles.

Last Friday, Halladay pitched a 10-inning CG against the Tigers (10-6-1-0-2), throwing only 107 pitches.

Sox v Halladay
         AB HR RBI BB SO   AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS
Lugo 38 1 2 3 5 .211 .268 .289 .558
Youkilis 16 0 0 4 3 .250 .400 .250 .650
Ramirez 68 4 10 7 16 .279 .347 .500 .847
Ortiz 67 7 21 3 9 .299 .338 .672 1.010
Lowell 8 1 4 1 0 .375 .444 .750 1.194
Varitek 56 1 9 6 14 .232 .306 .357 .664
Crisp 17 1 1 0 2 .294 .294 .471 .765
Pedroia 3 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000

Cora 12 1 2 1 3 .083 .154 .333 .487
Pena 4 0 2 0 1 .500 .500 .750 1.250
Hinske 3 0 0 0 2 .333 .333 .333 .667

Lester On His Way To Pawtucket

[I took pictures at Skydome last night. See them here.]

Jon Lester will start for Greenville (A) on Friday, travel to Boston for a Sunday side session, then be moved up to Pawtucket. He may pitch on Wednesday April 25 in Rochester.

Red Sox pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs in each of the last eight games. That matches a similar streak from May 11-19, 1994. In 1988, Boston pitchers had a streak of 11 such games. ... Also, the starters have earned the decision in each of the first 13 games, the first time that has happened since 1918.

Coco Crisp (.136):
Everybody's not going to hit .400. There are some guys hitting .400 right now. They're not going to hit .400 the whole year. There's a lot of guys hitting in the .100s, they're not going to hit there. It's going to kind of balance out. Obviously, you'd like to start up near the .400s and slowly come down -- or stay up there -- instead of going uphill, but who is last can become first.
Portland (AA) has had 7 of its 10 home games (and 9 of 14 games overall) postponed because of inclement weather.

The Yankees are still not sure who will be pitching for them in Boston this weekend (LOOGY Mike Myers has volunteered to start), but Friday night's matchup will be Curt Schilling/Andy Pettitte.

Doug Mirabelli on Wakefield's knuckleball last night:
His knuckleball was unbelievable. It's been like that every start he's had. It's almost scary back there. It's moving a lot more than normal. I don't know where it's going to go.
When Lyle Overbay walked on four pitches in the 4th inning, Mirabelli could not catch any of the pitches cleanly.

David Ortiz's 7th inning home run was the 178th of his Red Sox career. He's tied with Nomar for 10th on the team's all-time list.

April 18, 2007

G13: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1

Tomo Ohka held the Red Sox hitless for 4.2 innings (bats confiscated at the border?). Then a trio of solo home runs: Lowell in the 5th, Mirabelli in the 6th and Ortiz in the 7th. Mirabelli (or whoever has kidnapped him and is wearing his uniform) added an RBI single after hits from Drew and Lowell. Belly's slugging .833! (Box)

Wakefield (7-4-1-3-4, 99) pitched well. Slowest pitch, according to the pitch tracker at Skydome? A 59 mph curve to Thomas (on a 3-0 count) in the 4th. Two batters later, Wake threw Hill a 3-0 fastball that hit 77. Hill fouled it off.

That 4th inning was the Annoying Wild Wakefield spot that often appears during a start. He'll be crusing along, then suddenly lose all ability to throw strikes. You only hope the other team doesn't score a bunch of runs and that Wakefield clicks back into his groove ASAP. With two outs, Wakefield walked three Jays in a row: Thomas (bbbcb), Overbay (bbbb) and Hill (bbbfb). 14 pitches, 12 balls. He then recovered and got Philips swinging (cbcs).

Donnelly zipped through the 8th on nine pitches (F8, P3, K). More nice work from the pen. Snuffer allowed a hit and a walk with one out to tease the home fans before slamming the door.
94 fastball, ball 1
94 fastball, called strike 1
94 fastball, foul strike 2
96 fastball, called strike 3

94 fastball, called strike 1
84 slider, ball 1
94 fastball, ball 2
93 fastball, ground single into CF

96 fastball, ball 1
95 fastball, ball 2
94 fastball, called strike 1
94 fastball, ball 3
94 fastball, called strike 2
95 fastball, ball 4

95 fastball, swinging strike 1
94 fastball, swinging strike 2
96 fastball, swinging strike 3

95 fastball, foul strike 1
96 fastball, swinging strike 2
95 fastball, ball 1
87 splitter, swinging strike 3
At 9:31, we were back in first.


Tim Wakefield (1.38, 0.923) / Tomo Ohka (7.84, 1.742), 7 PM

(Numbers are pitcher's ERA and WHIP (walks + hits per inning))

This is Ohka's first appearance against the Red Sox. Ohka's Yokohama Bay Stars contract was purchased by the Red Sox in November 1998, and he made his major league debut against the Marlins on July 19, 1999.

In that debut, Ohka started and pitched only 1+ inning and allowed five runs (two earned). Mike Lowell and Kevin Millar were in the Florida lineup. Our 3-4 punch? Brian Daubach and Mike Stanley. And the fifth and final pitcher in for the Sox that day? Tim Wakefield.

Ohka was part of the mid-2001 trade with the Expos that brought Ugueth Urbina to Boston.

Tickets For Tonight

For any Ontario readers: I have 4 extra tickets for tonight's game at Skydome. Email me if you would like to go. Very nice seats, at half-price ($20).

Also: I took some so-so pictures at last night's game. Jere has them up at his blog. He's trying to get fans in away cities to take pix at Sox away and email them to him to post (volunteer if you can). It's a cool idea, even if the pictures (mine included) all tend to look the same (BP, faraway shots of ABs, etc.) I'm sending him pictures from tonight and Thursday afternoon too.

Kantoku Shou

In Japanese baseball, a player who pitches a shutout or hits a couple of home runs might receive an envelope of money from his manager after the game. The tradition is called "kantoku show", which literally means "manager prize".

The dough usually comes from management, but Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa said he often got cash ($1,000 or so) straight from his manager's wallet. "It's like you're the horse and they put a carrot in front of you and you try to go for it. It's like bait."

Not every team does it, but Hideki Okajima says he received money when he played for Yomiuri. "If the system exists and it helps the team's motivation, I think it's better to have it. The harder you work, the better you perform. And you get to see an actual physical award for that."

Terry Francona had never heard of kantoku show. "You're kidding me. That's not happening here ... It should be the other way around. If I manage a good game, he should give me something."

The New York Times reported:
In addition to fight money, players in Japan often receive performance-based gifts from sponsors, sometimes in the form of cash. The gifts can range from the mundane to the luxurious.
Daisuke Matsuzaka did not receive money when he pitched for the Seibu Lions, but often received stuffed animals and sets of towels from various sponsors. "As the winning pitcher for the Lions, I'd receive a case with two dozen cans of coffee. I like coffee but not really from a can. I just gave it away to people."

Stuffed animals? "Hell of a game, Daisuke, here's a Beanie Baby."

No Support (Yet), But Matsuzaka Justifying The Hype

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who last night felt he had the best grip on the ball of any of the 3 starts, has a 2.70 ERA. He has been given a total of five runs of support, so his record is a 1-2.
             IP   H  ER  BB   K   SOX
0405 at KC 7 6 1 1 10 4-1
0411 vs Sea 7 8 3 1 4 0-1
0417 at Tor 6 3 2 3 10 1-2
Totals 20 17 6 5 24
John Farrell:
He was dominant throughout except losing his release point for those four batters [three walks and Overbay's hit]. The perplexing thing is he walked three batters that inning and then he came back, got locked in and threw only six balls the next two innings.
He also threw only six balls in the first two innings. Dice's play-by-play:
1: P9   K  43
2: K K 8
3: P4 K 1B L8
4: K 1B BB 1B BB BB K 8
5: K K K
6: K 43 P9
Dice will face the Yankees in each of his next two starts, Sunday night at Fenway and next Thursday in the Bronx.

Matsuzaka is the first rookie since Fernando Valenzuela to strike out at least 10 batters in two of his first three starts. He is the fourth Red Sox pitcher to have at least two 10-strikeout games in his rookie season: Dave Morehead (1963), Roger Clemens (1984) and Aaron Sele (1993) each had three.

Blue Jay hitters discuss Matsuzaka. ... Video of some of Matsuzaka's post-game interview.

Hideki Okajima used his changeup to strike out the side in the seventh. He has 8 K in 6.2 innings. ... Jon Lester had to throw a 75-pitch side session on Monday after Greenville manager Gabe Kapler made a mistake with Saturday's lineup card, making Lester ineligible to pitch.

Coco Crisp, David Ortiz and DeMarlo Hale will wear Jackie Robinson's #42 on Sunday night against the Yankees.

RSN Watch: Tim Roy and his two kids left their house in Kittery Point, Maine, at 4 AM on Tuesday, so they could make the drive to Toronto, take a quick nap and get to Skydome for the game.