May 31, 2008

G58: Red Sox 6, Orioles 3

Red Sox - 002 001 210 - 6  9  0
Orioles - 020 010 000 - 3 9 2
Manny Ramirez hit his 500th career home run -- a bomb to right-center off Chad Bradford -- in the seventh inning.

David Ortiz left the game during his ninth inning at-bat after injuring his left hand during a swing. Sean Casey finished the at-bat. In comments, ish reports: "sprained wrist. day to day. X-Rays negative."

***

Jon Lester (3.55, 121 ERA+) / Garrett Olson (4.09, 102 ERA+)

Fairly Useless Info: Lugo is 4-for-8 against Olson. ... Adam Jones is 4-for-5 against Lester. ... In the last six games, Red Sox pitchers have a 2.47 ERA, with opponents hitting .229/.279/.318. ... The Red Sox are 20-2 in games where they lead after four innings.
6 PM: White Sox at Rays
7 PM: Yankees at Twins
Tampa Bay's magic number for clinching the East is 106.

Red Sox Steal 6 Bases For First Time

The Red Sox had never stolen six bases in one game before last night.

A list of the seven games since 1956 in which Boston stole five bases is here.

Jacoby Ellsbury pilfered three bags -- the first Sock to do so since Jerry Remy swiped four (a club record) on June 14, 1980 -- and only the third Boston player to steal at least three in a game since 1956. Reggie Smith did it on August 29, 1967 (running in the 2nd, 4th and 20th innings).

J.D. Drew did not play last night because of vertigo he first experienced in his hotel room on Friday morning. Drew: "I had it a little bit last year, but nothing like this. ... I can stand still, but sudden movements make me dizzy." (The ProJo says Coco Crisp had vertigo earlier this season.)

Although Daisuke Matsuzaka was put on 15-day disabled list with a mild rotator cuff and deltoid muscle strain in his right shoulder, Terry Francona said the MRI showed "no structural changes".

The bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings last night. MDC: "It seemed almost like last year ... Whoever got the ball went in and got the job done." ... In this article on the Sox pen, Amalie Benjamin uses BABIP!

Kevin Youkilis's 13th inning single last night snapped an 0-for-18 streak.

May 30, 2008

G57: Red Sox 5, Orioles 2 (13)

Red Sox - 200 000 000 000 3 - 5  10  2
Orioles - 010 100 000 000 0 - 2 8 4
After losing five of six games on the west coast, Boston won a Friday night nail-biter at Camden Yards.

Terry Francona played with fire yet again, avoiding a rested Jonathan Papelbon when the game was on the line.

Tito was pro-active in choosing Hideki Okajima over Manny Delcarmen for a tie-game in the 7th inning. I liked his choice of MDC for the ninth. Craig Hansen, called in with one on and one out in the 10th, not only shut the door, but pitched a perfect 11th. Francona put his trust in the kids, and they came through.

The Red Sox rallied in the top of the 12th -- a two-out walk to Julio Lugo and a single and stolen base from Jacoby Ellsbury (he stole three tonight) -- but they could not score. Since Boston did not have a lead, and there was no immediate opportunity for a save -- Francona brought in Mike Timlin rather than his best pitcher.

As we have seen at least twice this season, this move has backfired. And when Nick Markakis doubled with one out in the 12th, it looked like Francona would get burned again. Aubrey Huff was walked intentionally and Kevin Millar grounded to shortstop. Lugo bobbled the ball, but it stayed in front of him. He threw high to first, Kevin Youkilis pulled it down, and Millar was nipped -- but only because of the grand piano on his back.

The runners moved to second and third, so Luke Scott was also put on base. Ramon Hernandez, who had failed to drive in the winning run from second against Hansen in the 10th, flew out to left to end the 12th. During that entire 21-pitch inning, Francona was happy to have Bot sit on his ass in the pen, content to trust the game to Timlin. After a Jamesian decision to go with Jeemer in the 7th, Francona acted Gumpian in the 12th. It was the wrong move, but Tito and the Red Sox dodged the bullet.

The Red Sox sent eight men to the plate in the 13th, as a couple of hits, a walk, two Baltimore infield errors and a double steal from Youkilis and Mike Lowell (!) equaled three runs. With a save now up for grabs, Papelbon made quick work of the Birds.

Cliff Floyd's solo home run gave Tampa a 2-1 walkoff win over the White Sox, so the Red Sox remain 1 GB. The Yankees beat the Twins 6-5 to move up into fourth place.

***

Josh Beckett (4.43, 97 ERA+) / Daniel Cabrera (3.70, 113 ERA+)

I hate off days. With my work schedule (Fri/Sat/Sun), I get four nights at home -- and I'd like to see the Red Sox every night. But the team's off days fall generally on Monday or Thursday. I can often follow the game at work, but it's never guaranteed.

SoSH: While noting that the Red Sox faced a number of good starters in Oakland and Seattle, their batting numbers are still depressing:
14 runs in 6 games
No runs in 45 of 54 innings
.169 batting average
.252 on-base percentage
More strikeouts (45) than hits & walks (43)
Only 1 hit in one game and 2 hits in another
Youkilis, Varitek, Crisp and Cash went a combined 0-for-40
AL East: Tampa lost to the White Sox last night, so we are 1 GB. Those teams play again tonight at the Trop, while the LPY are in Minnesota.

Dice To DL

Bradford:
Daisuke Matsuzaka has been placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 28 with a mild strain of the right rotator cuff along with a deltoid muscle issue. Jeff Bailey's contract has been purchased and is with the team in Baltimore.

MRI For Matsuzaka

Daisuke Matsuzaka's start on Tuesday was cut short because of shoulder fatigue. He will under a precautionary MRI today.

As far as the rotation, Amalie Benjamin reports:
Tim Wakefield could start on normal rest Monday in Baltimore. Justin Masterson's Triple A debut was moved up from Saturday to [Thursday against the Scranton Yankees] in Pawtucket, which would put him in line to start for Boston Tuesday. He could be slotted into the rotation against the Rays. Monday's starter, initially listed as Matsuzaka, was changed to "TBA" yesterday.
Gordon Edes adds:
Given how cautiously the Sox are with their pitchers, it seems a virtual certainty that Matsuzaka misses at least one start; it remains to be seen whether the injury warrants a trip to the disabled list.
The Red Sox have called up Jeff "Gumball" Bailey from Pawtucket, though he may not be activated for the Orioles series. That depends on what the Sox decide to do with Dice.

May 29, 2008

Something Else #10: Minutemen

I've blogged about singer/guitarist D. Boon before. The Minutemen are one of my favourite bands and Double Nickles on the Dime, their 45-song double-album from 1984, is permanently in my Desert Island Top 5.

I downloaded three (!) new Minutemen shows yesterday, so this Musical Off-Day will feature the eclectic San Pedro, California, trio.

I'm including one of the previously uncirculated shows here -- from The Channel in Boston on April 21, 1985. (I saw them the previous night in Providence, Rhode Island, having driven down from northern Vermont). The real gem is a college radio set from November 30, 1985, less than one month before Boon, 27, would be killed in an car accident.

Buy the We Jam Econo DVD.

May 28, 2008

G56: Mariners 1, Red Sox 0

Red Sox  - 000 000 000 - 0  2  1
Mariners - 001 000 00x - 1 5 0
Bedard (7-2-0-3-8, 109) bested Wakefield (8-5-1-0-8, 96) in a quick 2:11 duel.

Betancourt donged to left in the third for the only run of the night. Boston's two hits came in the fourth inning, as Manny and Lowell rapped consecutive one-out singles. Casey followed that outburst with a 1-4-6-3 GIDP.

Facing Putz in the ninth, Manny drew a four-pitch walk with one out. After Lowell hacked on a 1-0 offering and popped out to short, Casey walked. But Crisp looked at two strikes, then grounded weakly to second.

That devilish Tampa team beat the Rangers 5-3, so we drop to 1.5 GB. New York topped Baltimore (our next stop, Friday) 4-2, and remain 6 GB in the cellar.

***

Tim Wakefield (5.19, 83 ERA+) / Erik Bedard (4.70, 84 ERA+)

Tampa battles Kason Gabbard and the Rangers this afternoon (live box). Orioles host the Yankees at 7 PM.

Clemens Claims McNamee Inflicting Emotional Distress

Houston Chronicle, May 27, 2008:
Roger Clemens upped the ante of his defamation lawsuit against an ex-trainer by accusing him in court papers Tuesday of intentionally inflicting Clemens with emotional distress. ...

Joe Roden, a Clemens attorney who works with Rusty Hardin, said they added to the suit because "that's what McNamee has done, he has intentionally taken a shot at Roger Clemens. Every good lawyer will tell you, you bring every claim covered by the facts." ...
Keep fightin', Rog! You're doin' great!

***

Fat Billy is also texting pitching advice to Joba Chamberlain.

Lugo's Ejection

Seam McAdam reports on Julio Lugo's ejection:
Lugo had been shouting "Check! Check!" from his shortstop position, indicating he wanted help from Hernandez on the pitch. After Hernandez ruled that Ibanez had held up, Lugo said the umpire was staring at him. When Lugo asked what he was staring at, Hernandez ejected him.
McAdam offers a possible back story:
In April of 2007, with the Sox playing the Orioles in Baltimore, Lugo asked for time to step out of the batter's box. The request, routinely granted by umpires in almost every circumstance ... was denied by Hernandez, the home-plate umpire at the time, and a pitch by Daniel Cabrera called a strike.

At the time, Lugo said of Hernandez: "He's just hard to talk to. Personally, that guy, there's something wrong with him."
Art Martone wonders:
[I]t couldn't be that Hernandez still remembers that. Could it?
***

Art also notes a John Sterling blunder over the weekend, adding:
[W]hen he begins trotting out his catch phrases ("Robbie Cano! Doncha know!") for the wrong guy, it sort of like setting off fireworks at the wrong time. All you can do is laugh.

Matsuzaka: Shoulder Fatigue

Dausike Matsuzaka quotes, from the Herald, Globe and redsox.com:
Even before I went up on the mound, I felt things were a little off in the bullpen. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a discomfort, but I wasn't at my best even before going in to the game. After pitching the third inning, I definitely felt there was something wrong. ...

I had a similar experience probably in my second or third year of my professional career where before the game I just felt that things weren't 100 percent. I had a similar feeling, so I had a conversation with the coaching staff at the time. I think at that time I ended up starting the game. But today with so much season left, and such a long way to go in this long season, I thought it would be best to come out of the game at that point. ...

Since, as I've already mentioned, this is something I have experienced in the past, I'm not overly concerned about the situation right now.
Dice knew that there was "definitely" something wrong after the third inning -- and Francona/Farrell sent him out to pitch the fourth and warm up for the fifth. I don't like that.

Dice's next scheduled start is Monday night in Baltimore.

May 27, 2008

G55: Mariners 4, Red Sox 3

Red Sox  - 000 003 000 - 3  7  1
Mariners - 201 000 001 - 4 8 1
Once again, the Red Sox rely on Timlin in a tie game in the ninth inning when Papelbon is presumably available. And once again, that decision ends in a quick loss.

Brad Mills was calling the shots, after Terry Francona was ejected (along with Lugo) in the fifth inning, shortly after Matsuzaka left with a possible hip injury. In the ninth, Balentien reached on an infield single that Cora could not field in the hole. Balentien moved to second on Cairo's bunt and took third on Reed's grounder to second. After Ichiro was walked intentionally, Lopez lined a game-winning single past Lowell at third down the left field line.

... Timlin -- never a good decision.

(Although, honestly, Old Yeller did alright, all things considered. If Cora makes the play in the hole, everything might have been fine and the game might have gone to the 10th.)

Dice allowed three early runs before Manny tied the game with his 499th career dong.

***

Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.40, 180 ERA+) / Miguel Batista (6.47, 61 ERA+)

Clay Buchholz could come off the disabled list on Wednesday, but he'll make at least one more start for Pawtucket -- Friday against Durham.

Jon Lester was named the AL Player of the Week. (His father has been diagnosed with lymphoma.) ... Julian Tavarez has signed with the Brewers.

Lugo - He's Going To Get Worse

A week or so ago, I read MR's open letter to Julio Lugo at the Fire Brand of the American League blog:
"I have been a Red Sox fan since birth. ... I want to think happy thoughts about everyone in a Sox uniform because they bring joy to my life.

Mr. Lugo, you do everything in your power to sh—t on my efforts to be a nice person. ... you make it hard to enjoy watching baseball. You make me pound angrily on my computer and yell obscenities in the presence of church going women and soft eared children. ..."
Now, I'm no stranger to irrational (or rational) disgust for various ballplayers -- and I won't be joining Lugo's Fan Club anytime soon -- but this venom (and MR is far from alone) seemed out of proportion to Lugo's actual 2008 performance.

So I went off to check.

So far this season, Lugo is getting on base at a higher percentage (.357) than David Ortiz (.355), Dustin Pedroia (.328), Mike Lowell (.324) and Coco Crisp (.316). His batting average (.289) is only .001 lower than J.D. Drew, identical to Pedroia, and higher than Lowell (.276), Jason Varitek (.275) and Crisp (.287).

However, those numbers are fairly empty and unproductive, as Lugo is doing most of his hitting when no one is on base.
          AVG   OBP   SLG
Empty .337 .375 .410
Men On .227 .338 .242
RISP .182 .309 .182
With runners on second and/or third, Lugo is slugging a mighty .182. His slugging percentage for the season is .336 -- bringing his OPS+ down to a roster-worst 88.

Looking at more progressive stats, we see how hollow the average and on-base numbers are. Lugo's Equivalent Average (EQA) is .254 -- below league average and the worst mark on the team. He has contributed only .2 of a run over what a replacement level hitter (i.e., a generic easily-available player from AAA) would have done so far this year. The Hardball Times credits Lugo with 1 Win Share -- the same total as Justin Masterson.

Lugo is also striking out more often than in any season since 2004 -- and hitting many more groundballs.
      GB/FB     LD%     GB%     FB%
2002 1.54 20.6% 48.1% 31.3%
2003 1.59 20.5% 48.8% 30.6%
2004 1.53 17.8% 49.7% 32.5%
2005 1.59 21.6% 48.1% 30.3%
2006 1.39 19.7% 46.7% 33.6%
2007 1.26 16.7% 46.4% 36.8%
2008 3.30 14.7% 65.5% 19.8%
Lugo's percentage of fly balls has fallen through the floor. And after grounding into nine double plays in each of 2006 and 2007, he's already hit into seven this season.

Fangraphs uses a stat called Win Probability Added (WPA), which is "the difference in win expectancy between the start of the play and the end of the play. That difference is then credited/debited to the batter and the pitcher". Again, Lugo is dead last on the team (that also includes every member of the pitching staff).

We all know Lugo has made 12 errors; no other shortstop has more than eight and only three have more than six. ESPN's fielding stats have Lugo with the worst range and worst zone rating of any shortstop in baseball.

So why will Lugo get worse? His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .347. (Fangraphs has his BABIP at .352.) Lugo's BABIP over the past three years and his career:
2005   - .325
2006 - .311
2007 - .262
Career - .313
Lugo definitely had some bad luck last year. His current .347/.352 mark will surely drop. As hard as it may be to believe, Lugo has been lucky at the plate this year. That luck is not likely to last.

Verb Of The Day

Jeterate.

May 26, 2008

G54: Red Sox 5, Mariners 3

Red Sox  - 000 100 040 - 5  9  1
Mariners - 000 001 002 - 3 8 0
Hell of a pitchers duel for seven innings. Both Colon and Hernandez worked quickly and threw few pitches. The game was 1:29 old at the seventh inning stretch.

David Ortiz homered to dead center in the fourth to put Boston on the board. Seattle tied it in the sixth: Ichiro Suzuki singled, Jose Lopez was hit by a pitch, Jose Vidro bunted the two runners over and Ichiro scored on a grounder to second from Raul Ibanez.

The Red Sox broke through against Felix in the eighth: Sean Casey singled, Julio Lugo forced him at second, Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to second, Dustin Pedroia doubled to deep left (2-1), Ortiz was walked intentionally, Manny Ramirez singled over Jeremy Reed's head in right field (3-1), Mike Lowell singled (4-1), J.D. Drew dropped a bunt down that died on the third base grass, Jason Varitek walked (5-1) -- and then Hernandez was pulled.

Colon: 7-5-1-1-4, 84.

***

Bartolo Colon (3.60, 120 ERA+) / Felix Hernandez (3.34, 118 ERA+)

RIP: Former Red Sox pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, 33, "died on Sunday after apparently being struck by lightning in Punta Palma, Zulia, Venezuela". Gonzalez pitched in 28 games for the 2005 Red Sox.
Afternoon: Orioles 6, Yankees 1
7 PM: Rangers at Rays

May 25, 2008

Buchholz Makes PawSox Start

Clay Buchholz pitched four innings in a rehab start for Pawtucket today, allowing three hits, two walks and one run. He struck out three and threw 63 pitches (38 strikes/25 balls).
1st: BB/CS, 5-3, K
2nd: P6, BB, F9, SB, PF2
3rd: F8, 3B, 1B/9-6, 4-3
4th: K, F7, K
The PawSox won the game 11-4.

(In his last three games with Pawtucket, Brandon Moss is 6-for-11. Chris Carter is 10-for-his-last 15.)

G53: Athletics 6, Red Sox 3

Red Sox   - 100 020 000 - 3   7  3
Athletics - 101 200 20x - 6 11 0
Johnny Vander Meer's record remains safe. Jack Hannahan singled on Lester's fourth pitch of the afternoon, one of seven hits Oakland collected off of the Sox lefty in five innings. The A's also received two walks.

Boston cut the A's 4-1 lead to 4-3 in the fifth, after Blanton walked the bases full and Manny Ramirez (3-for-4) wrapped a hard single to center.

Optimism was in the air, but with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Javy Lopez was called upon to retire Jack Cust with a man on base. Cust drove Lopez's first pitch over the wall in left-center for a two-run dong. And that was the ball game.

Tampa's 5-4 walk-off win over the Orioles puts the Rays in first place in the East. Boston is now .5 GB.

***

Jon Lester (3.41, 128 ERA+) / Joe Blanton (3.87, 99 ERA+)

Gordon Edes, re Lester's last start:
Brian Rowley is an optometrist who lives in Santaquin, Utah, about 20 miles south of Provo. He has been to two Red Sox games in his life. The first was Clay Buchholz's no-hitter last Sept. 1 ... The second was Jon Lester's no-hitter Monday night.

May 24, 2008

G52: Athletics 3, Red Sox 0

Red Sox   - 000 000 000 - 0  1  0
Athletics - 010 000 11x - 3 9 0
Duchscherer was senational (8-1-0-0-4, 101) (again), retiring the first 15 Red Sox before plunking Jason Varitek to start the sixth.

Boston's lone hit was a clean line drive single to center from David Ortiz with one out in the seventh. Neither Varitek nor Ortiz advanced past first base.

Beckett (7-7-2-0-9, 107) had a rough first two innings, but settled down after that, at one point setting down 11 straight A's. MDC pitched a shaky eighth, giving up two singles, a walk, a stolen base, and a run on 22 pitches.

There was no need to rush this game along, as it was played in a tidy 2:17.

***

Josh Beckett (4.67, 93 ERA+) / Justin Duchscherer (2.67, 144 ERA+)

In four games against Boston, Frank Thomas is 7-for-16 with three homers and 10 RBI.

Also: Mariners/Yankees at 1 and Orioles/Rays at 6.

A Matter Of Time

MLB is trying to speed up the time of games.

It's an old story. For at least 90 years, baseball executives have complained that the games are dragging on and something must be done. Here is a short sample from New York Times:
March 19, 1928
Barnard Orders Snappier Games; American League Bars Dawdling; President Instructs Umpires To Keep Players On Move And Pitchers Will Have Twenty Seconds To Deliver Ball ... Umpire To Keep Resin Supply. Game Will Be Speeded Up. Players Barred From Stands.
By James R. Harrison
St. Petersburg, Fla. -- The day of the long and dawdling ball game in the American League has passed forever, if E.S. Barnard, new President of the junior circuit, has anything to say about it.

February 17, 1929
Speedier Baseball Games The Aim Of League Officials; Long-Drawn-Out Affairs, Due To The Players' Tactics, Are Annoying To The Fans ...

August 4, 1957
"As the baseball season rolls along, the days grow shorter and the ball games get longer. And, as with the weather, no end of talk seems able to do anything about it. The increasing length of time it takes to play a nine-inning contest has been bedeviling baseball's legislators for years."

November 28, 1967
Baseball Strengthens Ban On Spitball Pitch And Seeks To Speed Up Games ...
By Joseph Durso
Mexico City -- Professional baseball took steps today to eliminate the spitball and the 3-hour ballgame.
In the sixth inning of last night's game, J.D. Drew called time to go to the on-deck circle and get some pine tar for his bat. Plate umpire Tim Tschida said no, deciding to enforce Rule 6.02(b), which forbids such activity. Boston hitting coach Dave Magadan mouthed off from the dugout and was ejected.

Kevin Youkilis was not impressed:
They're trying to speed up the game? For what reason? ... If they want to speed up the game, why don't they stop having commercials, that would do it. ...

So guys can't get pine tar but pitchers can still get rosin? There's nothing you can do to speed up the game. It seems like they're blaming the hitters again but it's not the hitter's fault. This whole speeding up the game is just stupid -- the game of baseball is a game of no time. Why do we need to speed it up?
Cutting down on television commercials between innings would certainly shorten the times of games. Anyone think Bud Selig will make a serious effort to shorten the time between innings of playoff and World Series games?

If the umpires are going to now start enforcing the rule book -- what a concept! -- calling the actual strike zone would definitely move the game along, since batters would now have to swing at pitches in the top third of the true strike zone, almost all of which are currently called balls.

Tavarez Changes His Mind, Is Free Agent

A few days ago, Julian Tavarez, after clearing waivers, accepted an assignment to Pawtucket. He was supposed to report to the PawSox on Thursday, but he has told the team he changed his mind and will instead be a free agent.

Also: Curt Schilling threw long-toss from a distance of 140 feet yesterday: "In my mind, two weeks from today I'll throw a bullpen."

More Red Sox Stuff Buried in New Yankee Stadium?

Newsday, May 19, 2008:
Keith Olbermann reported on MSNBC's "Countdown" Monday night that the worker, Gino Castignoli, has told friends he also buried a scorecard from the 2004 American League Championship Series, in which the Red Sox famously recovered from a three-games-to-none deficit to beat the Yankees for the pennant.

"And he isn't telling anybody where," Olbermann said. "That could pose a problem. The new park is pretty big." ...
Back in April, I quoted a SoSHer's comment that there is apparently a ton of Red Sox stuff buried in the new stadium ("I've got so much shit buried in there, they'd have to tear it down to the ground to find it all").

SI: The Mighty Rays

Neat cover on Sports Illustrated this week:

though it seems the magazine was forced to commit the error of putting Jeter's name on the back of his home jersey so people would know who it was -- not that a generic Yankee player wouldn't have served the same purpose.

The Yankees and Giants are the two teams that rightly keep players' names off both home and road shirts. (Are there others?) I have long wished the Red Sox would drop the names from their road uniforms.

(Tom Verducci's cover story here)

May 23, 2008

G51: Athletics 8, Red Sox 3

Red Sox   - 000 110 100 - 3  6  0
Athletics - 304 001 00x - 8 8 1
Four consecutive pitches from Wakefield with one out in the first inning -- Crosby double, called strike, Cust RBI single, Thomas 2-run dong -- put the Red Sox in an early hole.

Oakland got four more runs off Wake in the third. A walk and two singles brought in one run, then Ellis whacked a three-run dong to left, and it was Oakland 7-0.

Pedroia homered in the fourth. Ellsbury drove in Boston's other two runs: singling in Drew (who had doubled) in the fifth and Lugo (who had reached on an infield error) in the seventh.

Tampa Bay shut out Baltimore 2-0 to move back to 1.5 GB. The Yankees pounded Seattle 13-2, but remain locked in the basement.

***

Tim Wakefield (4.33, 99 ERA+) / Rich Harden (2.91, 131 ERA+)

Back on May 15, I noted (expected, hoped, etc.) that the Red Sox were going to "put an obscene beating on both the Brewers and Royals".

The team went 7-0, outscoring Milwaukee and Kansas City 49-28. That may not be obscene, but it'll do. The team batted .300/.377/.520 while holding its opponents to a .219/.312/.388 line.

Tonight starts a ten-game road trip with three in Oakland, three in Seattle and four in Baltimore. Then it's back to Fenway for a three-game AL East showdown with the Devil Rays.

As you can see by the schedule, the Sox have put together separate losing streaks of 3, 4 and 5 games as well as separate winning streaks of 4, 5, 6 and 7 games. All in the first 50 games of the season.

Bobblefoot

The St. Paul Saints are giving away 2,500 "bobblefoots" this Sunday.

According to the team's press release:
"Some of the most famous dance halls in the country include Radio City Music Hall in New York, the Fox Theater in Detroit and now the list includes a restroom at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. With so much fanfare around dancing, the St. Paul Saints will honor "tappers" during National Tap Dance Day.

"... The design is a bathroom stall, with a foot that peaks out of the bottom and "taps" up and down. The day coincides with National Tap Dance Day.

"While many people tap their foot because they are impatient, others may do it because they are nervous. It doesn't matter if your tapping style is done with a "wide stance" or is used as some sort of code, the Saints are asking all fans to tap to their heart's content on May 25."
The Saints' principal owner, Mike Veeck (son of Bill), is no stranger to unique promotions. My favourite was "Vasectomy Night" -- which ended up being cancelled -- or snipped from the schedule, if you prefer.

(thanks to uggabugga)

May 22, 2008

G50: Red Sox 11, Royals 8

Royals  - 100 020 230 -  8  13  1
Red Sox - 041 006 00x - 11 14 0
Dice again walked a small army of batters (5.2-6-2-6-7, 118), but wriggled out of several jams and stranded eight Royals over five innings.

J.D. Drew hit a grand slam to left in the second (after three straight singles to start the inning) and Mike Lowell did the same in the sixth (after Manny Ramirez was walked intentionally).

It was the first time two Red Sox hitters hit salami dongs since May 2, 1995 (John Valentin and Mo Vaughn, in consecutive innings, at New York).

Craig Hansen and David Aardsma pitched poorly in the seventh and eighth and Kansas City -- down 11-3 after six innings -- actually brought the tying run to the plate against Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

But Boston held on and finished up a perfect 7-0 homestand. The Red Sox are now a major-league best 31-19 - no other team has more than 28 victories.

On to Oakland ...

***

Brian Bannister (4.29, 99 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.15, 199 ERA+)

The Red Sox -- with the best record in baseball -- will try to finish up a 7-0 homestand. They are 20-5 at Fenway so far this season.

***

Rob Neyer and Jonah Keri look at five teams -- the Tigers, Rockies, Padres, Mariners and Yankees -- and discuss their chances of contending. ... Michael Salfino, SNY.tv: "[I]t's alarmingly easy to envision a scenario where this 2008 Yankees team is analogous to the 1964 club that ended a 15-year dynasty."

Manny's mouthguard ... Mel Parnell recalls his 1956 no-hitter ...
Three new Red Sox wines: Captain's Cabernet, Vintage Papi and Sauvignyoouuk Blanc. ... The Mindy McCready documentary (due out in July) will include "her side of the Roger Clemens story".

May 21, 2008

G49: Red Sox 6, Royals 3

Royals  - 001 010 001 - 3  7  0
Red Sox - 100 040 10x - 6 12 0
In his first major league start of the season, Colon did quite well (5-6-2-2-4, 74).

All 15 outs he recorded were in the infield -- eight grounders, four strikeouts and three popups. He allowed six singles, two of them to Joey Gathright, who scored the Royals' first two runs.

The pen also shone: Craig Hansen pitched a perfect sixth; Javier Lopez worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh; Manny Delcarmen had a 1-2-3 eighth; and Mike Timlin got two quick outs before allowing a walk and an RBI single in the ninth.

Jacoby Ellsbury was on base four times, with a home run to start the first, two singles and a walk; he also stole his 19th base. Dustin Pedroia had three singles, Jason Varitek homered, singled and walked (and is 8-for-15 during this homestand), and Julio Lugo singled twice.

***

Brett Tomko (5.32, 80 ERA+) / Bartolo Colon (2008 debut)

We are out tonight, so ThreadSox is the place to be.

My plan: tape the game, avoid all media, and watch when I get home as though it's a west coast game.

I-95 Watch: Chris Smith was returned to Pawtucket yesterday to make room for Justin Masterson, who was sent to Pawtucket (which was actually a promotion from Portland) after his start so Bartolo Colon could be brought up.

Also: Rays/A's at 3:30 and Orioles/LPY* at 7.

Masterson Shines Again

Justin Masterson had thoughts of matching Jon Lester with a no-hitter of his own, or even a perfect game, "but that was taken away in the first inning" when Alex Gordon doubled with two outs.

Masterson allowed only three hits in 6.1 innings -- all of them to Gordon. Only one Royal reached third base against him, a leadoff walk in the seventh inning which became the only Kansas City run of the night.

Sean McAdam sees Masterson as a possible bullpen asset later this season. ... Coco Crisp talks about being a part-time player.

Julian Tavarez accepted an assignment to Pawtucket over free agency. ... Curt Schilling threw from 100 feet Monday. ... Brandon Moss, who had his appendix removed on May 3, is 8-for-13 in three extended spring training games in Fort Myers.

Michael Silverman, Herald:
Francona acknowledged he will use Alex Cora as a late-inning substitute for shortstop Julio Lugo. The move is being made because the manager wants his best defensive team on the field and in close games. ... The move is not permanent, Francona stressed, but there are reasons why it has been made now, including Lugo's high number of errors (11, most in the majors), his recent concussion and Cora's defensive prowess.
More than a few SoSHers take issue with the final three words of that sentence.

Schadenfreude 48 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
The Yankees converted baseball's highest cathedral into the world's largest commode last night.

With everyone expecting the Dead Bat Society to get a jolt from Alex Rodriguez's return, the Yankees released an odor so toxic across The Bronx that Hazmat suits and nose plugs should have been given to those who walked into Yankee Stadium. ...

In their last 11 games the Yankees have scored 30 runs, are batting .232 (84-for-362) and .147 (10-for-68) with runners in scoring position.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Even Hank Steinbrenner was at a loss for words after the Yankees' latest debacle. ... "There's really not much to say." ...

Tuesday night marked a new low for a team that has seen more than its share of them during the first six weeks of the season.

An error by Derek Jeter and a dismal outing by Mike Mussina put the Bombers in a huge hole before A-Rod could even pick up a bat, rendering his return worthless - unless you count his garbage-time two-run homer that allowed the Yankees to avoid the added humiliation of being shut out.
Larry Brooks, Post:
There are, however, no excuses for last night's beer-league chug of a 12-2 defeat to the Orioles in which Mike Mussina couldn't get out of the first inning; LaTroy Hawkins was ejected for throwing at Luke Scott's head in the sixth with the score 10-0; Johnny Damon played left field like an idiot; and in which the home team allowed eight unearned runs in the first two innings, six in the first following a Jeter two-out throwing error.
Filip Bondy, Daily News:
Lousy pitching...questionable hustle...bad karma ...a hopeless, early deficit. ...

"You hope this is as bad as it gets," Jeter said.

May 20, 2008

G48: Red Sox 2, Royals 1

Royals  - 000 000 100 - 1  5  0
Red Sox - 020 000 00x - 2 5 0
Masterson was superb yet again: 6.1-3-1-3-5, 91. ... Francona on post-game: Masterson promoted to Pawtucket!!

He allowed a two-out double in the first, a two-out HBP in the second, walks in the third and fourth that were quickly erased, a two-out double in the sixth -- but pitched out of trouble each time. (A leadoff walk in the seventh eventually scored.)

The Red Sox made their second inning rally -- Kevin Youkilis one-out single, J.D. Drew single, Jason Varitek BB, Julio Lugo sacrifice fly, Coco Crisp RBI double -- stand up.

Hideki Okajima had some trouble in the 8th: leadoff double, one-out walk, two-out walk. Jonathan Papelbon came on with the bases loaded and two outs -- and struck out Billy Butler. He then pitched a perfect 9th, a 3-1 grounder and two strikeouts.

***

A first inning throwing error by Derek Jeter allowed the Orioles to keep batting -- and they scored seven runs -- en route to a 12-2 victory over the Yankees. ... NYY = 7.5 GB.

***

Gil Meche (5.98, 71 ERA)+ / Justin Masterson (1.50, 286 ERA+)

Masterson's only other major league appearance was against the Angels at Fenway on April 24, 2008. Boston lost the game, but he put up an impressive 6-2-1-4-4, 95 line.

Tampa held off the A's in 13 innings last night to remain 1 GB. They play again at 10, while the last-place Yankees (6.5 GB) host the Orioles at 7.

Wicked Lester

Jon Lester:
When I walked the leadoff guy [in the ninth], I had to step back and tell myself I don't have to be too fine. Let them hit the ball, let them put it in play. Let the guys behind me make the plays. ...

The last at-bat? To be honest, I don't even remember. I do know that early in the at-bat he fouled off a good curveball and a good cutter. We'd be doing that all night, throwing the four-seam cutter in, then try to go with the four-seam fastball away.
Warming up before the game, Lester was a bit worried about the start:
Usually when you're in the bullpen you can figure out what you're going to have. You have a good curveball, a good changeup or whatever. Today I didn't have any. I didn't know what was going to happen.
John Farrell, who came within three outs of no-hitting the Royals on May 4, 1989, agreed: "It was probably the most erratic he was of any bullpen throughout this season."


Jason Varitek is the first catcher to be behind the plate for four no-hitters:
Hideo Nomo (April 4, 2001, at Orioles)
Derek Lowe (April 27, 2002 vs Devil Rays)
Clay Buchholz (September 1, 2007 vs Orioles)
Jon Lester (May 19, 2008 vs Royals)
Ray Schalk's Hall of Fame plaque says he caught four no-hit games, but MLB changed its definition of a no-hitter in 1991 and Schalk's total dropped to three.

Varitek had no idea the Royals were hitless until the eighth inning:
I looked up after the seventh and saw that he was around 100 pitches [97] and I was like, "He did his job". And then I glanced in the bullpen and saw nobody warming up and I said, "That's kind of weird". I looked back [at the scoreboard] and said, "Uh-oh!"
The Globe has pictures and post-game video. Red Sox Monster has video of the final out.

I often think about a possible no-hitter after a pitcher gets through the first two innings. Yet for some reason last night -- too much attention to game thread comments? -- but I didn't even notice that Kansas City had no hits until the end of the fifth inning.

May 19, 2008

G47: Red Sox 7, Royals 0

Royals  - 000 000 000 - 0  0  1
Red Sox - 005 002 00x - 7 5 1

JON LESTER PITCHES A NO-HITTER!!!



9-0-0-2-9, 130 -- and he was hitting his spots all night long!

It's the first no-hitter by a Red Sox left-hander since Mel Parnell did it against the White Sox on July 14, 1956.







***

Luke Hochevar (3.94, 108 ERA+) / Jon Lester (3.95, 109 ERA+)

MLB.com:
Hochevar wasn't at his sharpest last Wednesday night but he still managed to shut out the Tigers for six innings, giving up just four singles. He showed an ability to work out of jams ... This was his fifth start since being called up from Triple-A Omaha on April 20. In all but his first outing, he's pitched six or seven solid innings. With an effective sinker, he's been good at inducing ground balls...
Hochevar has never faced any hitter on the Red Sox. ... Seven Royals are a combined 4-for-27 (.148/.273/.148) against Lester.

Tampa visits Oakland at 10 PM. The Yankees have the day off.

UPDATE: Nice short Q&A with hitting coach Dave Magadan about how David Ortiz began hitting off a batting tee for the first time on May 1. Since then, he has hit .354 and has been spraying the ball all over the field.

Art Martone: Baseball Today

Providence Journal Sports Editor Art Martone's "Baseball Today" link-o-rama should be near the top of your list of must-visits every day. Here are some of the bits from this morning:
WELL, THAT EXPLAINS IT: We all know the Red Sox have won two World Series in the last four seasons and we all know the roles Ortiz and Manny Ramirez have played in hanging those two flags. Makes sense, then, that SI.com's Jon Heyman would rank the signings of Ortiz and Ramirez as two of the five greatest free-agent acquisitions of all time -- Ortiz at No. 1 and Ramirez No. 5. ...

UP IS DOWN, BLACK IS WHITE ... and a journalist -- in this case, the St. Petersburg Times' Gary Shelton -- is actually writing that the Rays are better than the Yankees ...

MEET THE MUSINGS MAN: I link to an item or two in Baseball Musings almost daily, so you know I'd in interested in Statistically Speaking's interview with David Pinto. His choices for the players he'd build his team around: Hanley Ramirez and Cole Hamels. ...

WHAT'S THE BIGGER ACHIEVEMENT? The fact that the Reds' Edinson Volquez has an Adjusted ERA as good as Bob Gibson's record 1.12 ERA in 1968, or the fact that a mainstream media outlet actually built a feature around Adjusted ERA? (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Schadenfreude 47 (A Continuing Series)

Peter Botte, Daily News:
The Mets and their embattled manager began the weekend as the local team embroiled in turmoil. The Yankees and their new skipper now clearly are the ones in chaos and in need of a soul-searching team meeting.


Filip Bondy, Daily News:
Funny how a wet, one-sided weekend can change everything. Willie Randolph entered the borough on Friday reeling and rationalizing. He was supposedly losing control of his clubhouse. Two games later, the Mets are one game out of first place, while things are Subway Serious for the last-place Yankees and their beleaguered manager. ...

The Mets and Randolph are done running back-page interference for Girardi and the Yanks, who are now a full six games back of Boston, with plenty of possible wild-card ambushes lurking in three divisions.

More to the point, the Yanks are doing almost nothing well. ...
Bondy mentions the Red Sox and a non-Yankee wild card possibility in the East. On May 19!
            W   L   PCT   GB   RS   RA
Boston 27 19 .587 --- 239 209
Tampa Bay 25 19 .568 1.0 201 176
Baltimore 23 20 .535 2.5 179 184
Toronto 23 23 .500 4.0 177 181
New York 20 24 .455 6.0 179 197
Note: The Mets have played three fewer games than the Yankees, but have scored 25 more runs.

May 18, 2008

Lance Berkman

In his last 14 games (not including today), he is 32-for-53. That's a .604 batting average. .604!

Berkman started the season off a little slow, but since the 10th game of the season (April 9), he's hitting .434/.513/.868 -- for an 1.381 OPS.

For the season, Berkman is batting .399. Chipper Jones leads the NL at .412.

G46: Red Sox 11, Brewers 7

Brewers - 200 202 010 -  7   8  1
Red Sox - 102 321 20x - 11 15 0
A three-game sweep -- in under 25 hours!

Beckett (7-6-6-1-9, 107) allowed four home runs (Ryan Braun tagged his curveball twice), but his teammates battered a quintet of Brewers. The biggest bats:
Ortiz: 2 home runs, double, 2 runs, 4 RBI
Pedroia: 2 singles, home run, walk, 3 runs, 2 RBI
Youkilis: 2 singles, home run, 2 runs, 2 RBI
Bad news: Ellsbury was caught stealing on a fourth inning pitchout, ending his stealing streak at 24.

***

Carlos Villanueva (6.00, 71 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (4.21, 101 ERA+)

News for the week, from Benjamin:
Justin Masterson will be brought up on Tuesday, swapped with Chris Smith (who came up today). Then Masterson will return to the minors after the game, and Bartolo Colon will come up to the big league club and will pitch on Wednesday. ...

Monday:    Jon Lester /Luke Hochevar
Tuesday: Justin Masterson / Gil Meche
Wednesday: Bartolo Colon / Brett Tomko
Thursday: Daisuke Matsuzaka / Brian Bannister

RHP Chris Smith Added To Pen

The Red Sox will have an extra arm in the bullpen tomorrow, as they call up right-handed pitcher Chris Smith from Pawtucket and send outfielder Jonathan Van Every back down.

Sox Prospects on Smith:
Average fastball with power breaking curve. ... Throws off-speed pitches for strikes, often at unexpected counts. Pounds the strike zone with great command, doesn't walk many batters. Also has an effective knuckle-curve.
Smith, who turned 27 last month, has pitched in 10 games for the PawSox this season -- four starts and six relief appearances:
         G   IP    H   BB    K    ERA   AVG
Start 4 21 14 6 18 1.71 .187
Relief 6 10 7 1 10 0.90 .189
10 31 21 7 28 1.45 .188
Van Every played in one game.

May 17, 2008

G45: Red Sox 7, Brewers 6

Brewers - 000 003 300 - 6  9  4
Red Sox - 202 010 20x - 7 6 3
After Mike Lowell gives the Sox an early lead -- two-run double in the 1st, two-run dong in the 3rd -- the Brewers battle back. The leads changes hands twice in a sloppy 7th inning (two errors on each side), before Mike Timlin pitches a tidy eight-pitch 9th to nail down the Saturday sweep.

***

David Bush (6.06, 70 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (4.25, 100 ERA+)

Game 2!
Current AL East

Tampa Bay 25 18 .581 --
Boston 25 19 .568 .5

G44: Red Sox 5, Brewers 3

Brewers - 000 000 201 - 3   9  1
Red Sox - 130 000 01x - 5 11 1
Dice was strong (6.2-7-2-2-6, 103, both runs unearned) and David Ortiz belted a three-run home run to left-center in the second inning. The pen saw some nice work from Manny Delcarmen (1.1 IP, ending the 7th and taking the 8th, allowing only a one-out single).

Ortiz also scored in the first, on a bases-loaded walk to J.D. Drew. Doubles from Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury brought in the fifth run in the eighth.

Matsuzaka worked quickly through the first 4.2 innings, throwing only 58 pitches to 16 batters. But with two outs in the fifth, he allowed a single to Bill Hall, hit Jason Kendall and walked Rickie Weeks to load the bases before getting the final out.

A two-out error at third from Kevin Youkilis kept the seventh inning alive for Milwaukee and Mike Cameron followed with a two-run dong to left. Papelbon allowed a solo shot to Ryan Braun in the ninth.

The Red Sox had plenty of chances to add to their run total.
4th - runner on second, no outs
5th - runners on first and second, no outs
6th - runners on first and third, no outs
7th - runners on first and second, no outs
None of those runners scored. In fact, only one of those seven runners advanced even one base; the man on first in the 6th ended up at second.

***

Jeff Suppan (4.63, 92 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.45, 174 ERA+)

Game 1 of today's afternoon-night doubleheader.

Okajima Has Sore Left Wrist

With three games scheduled in the next two days, the Red Sox have announced that Hideki Okajima has a sore left wrist and will be put on the shelf for a few days. (Jeemer discussed his inherited runner troubles here.)

This news comes in addition to the Red Sox needing a spot starter for Tuesday -- and possibly Wednesday, unless one of today's starters, Daisuke Matsuzaka or Tim Wakefield, returns after three days rest.

But with a short-handed bullpen, the Red Sox need both starters to go deep into the games today. It would also be helpful if Mike Timlin, Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen (who has worked only twice in the last 10 games and only three innings this month) would pitch well.

More On The Bronx Thongers

NYDN:
Derek Jeter agreed that Giambi's thong works, although "it's so uncomfortable running around the bases." ...

Asked if the thong got washed between wearings, [Jorge Posada] gave a cringe-worthy answer. "Ask Jason," said Posada. "Jason is a little strange."

May 16, 2008

Ellsbury on First, Second Base Open

During a recent game thread, a question arose: How many times has Jacoby Ellsbury reached first base with second base open and then attempted to steal?

Looking through my scorecards, I found 23 occasions so far this season (0412 = April 12, etc.):
Game 12 0412 - Leadoff single in 1st, 0-0;
SB on 2nd pitch to Pedroia

Game 13 0413 - Leadoff walk in 1st, 0-0,
SB on 2nd pitch to Pedroia

Game 17 0417 - Leadoff HBP in top 1st,
SB on 1st pitch to Pedroia
HBP in 3rd, 1 out, Sox 1-0,
SB on 1st pitch to Pedroia

Game 20 0420 - Walk in 3rd, 1 out, Tex 2-0,
SB on 2nd pitch to Lowrie
Single in 8th, 2 outs, Tex 5-2,
no attempt

Game 21 0421 - Leadoff walk in 3rd, 0-0,
SB on 1st pitch to Pedroia
Single in 4th, 2 outs, Sox 2-0
SB on 3rd pitch to Pedroia

Game 22 0422 - Single in 8th, 1 out, 6-6,
no attempt

Game 23 0423 - Single in 3rd, Cash on 3B, 0 out,
LAA 3-1, no attempt

Game 24 0424 - Single in 9th, 1 out, LAA 7-3,
no attempt

Game 26 0426 - Leadoff single in top 1st,
no attempt

Game 31 0502 - Single in 4th, 2 outs, Sox 3-0,
SB on 2nd pitch to Pedroia

Game 32 0503 - Leadoff single in 1st, 0-0,
no attempt
Walk in 2nd, 1 out, Sox 3-2,
no attempt, but took 2nd on WP

Game 33 0504 - Leadoff single in 1st, 0-0,
no attempt

Game 36 0507 - FC in 5th, Varitek on 3rd, 1 out,
Det 5-2, SB on 2nd pitch to Lowrie
Leadoff single in 7th, Det 8-5,
SB on 2nd pitch to Lowrie

Game 37 0508 - Leadoff single in 5th, Sox 3-1,
no attempt

Game 38 0509 - FC in 5th, 1 out, Sox 6-5,
SB on 1st pitch to Pedroia
Single in 8th, 2 outs, Sox 6-5,
no attempt

Game 42 0513 - Walk in 8th, 1 out, Bal 5-3,
no attempt

Game 43 0514 - Leadoff single in top 1st,
SB on 1st pitch to Pedroia
Single in 3rd, 1 out, Sox 1-0,
no attempt
In 12 of those 23 situations, Ellsbury has attempted to steal second base -- and he has been successful all 12 times. I have no idea how this rate (52%) compares to other base stealers. ... I should also note that in some of the other 11 situations, stealing would not usually be done.

However, Ellsbury has 15 (not 12) stolen bases so far this year. The other three pilfered bags came as part of double steals, one in Game 20 and two in Game 33.

There were also six times in which the next batter put the first pitch into play, giving Ellsbury no chance to steal:
Game  1 0325 - Leadoff single in 7th; Sox 3-2;
Lugo 1st pitch GIDP

Game 9 0409 - FC in 9th; 2 outs; Det 7-2;
Cora 1st pitch single

Game 12 0412 - Single in 6th; 1 out; NY 2-1;
Pedroia 1st pitch double

Game 36 0507 - Leadoff single in top 1st;
Lowrie 1st pitch GIDP

Game 40 0511 - Leadoff HBP in 3rd; Min 5-0;
Pedroia HBP on 1st pitch

Game 43 0514 - Single in 5th; Van Every on 3B,
2 outs, Sox 2-0, Pedroia 5-3 on
1st pitch to end inning
In summary, when Lyndon has been on first and second is open, he's tried to steal about half of the time. And almost always on the first or second pitch.

Ellsbury is also 24-for-24 in steal attempts to begin his career. The major league record is 27, set by Tim Raines.

G44: Brewers at Red Sox, PPD

After a rain delay of about 1:45, tonight's game was postponed. Extra Bases says it
will be played tomorrow in the second game of a split doubleheader (separate admission). First game at 3:55 p.m, second game at 8:35 p.m. If you've got tickets for last night's game, they are good for the night game.
The Mets/Yankees game was also rained out.

***

Jeff Suppan (4.63, 92 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.45, 174 ERA+)

Michael Silverman takes a look at Matsuzaka's performance. While Dice's ERA and opponents' batting average and slugging percentage are much improved from last season -- 2.45 (5th in the AL), .170 (2nd) and .220 (2nd), respectively -- his strikeout-to-walk ratio has dropped, as has his innings pitched and K/9.

Dice has more walks (30) than hits allowed (28) while posting a 6-0 record. Jayson Stark informs us that
The only starting pitcher since 1900 to finish at least six games over .500 in a season with more walks than hits, according to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia: Tommy Byrne of the 1949 Yankees (15-7 despite an insane 179-125 walk-hit ratio).

The only starting pitchers in the last 50 years who were even one game over .500 while allowing more walks than hits (with as many starts as Dice-K):
Nolan Ryan    1977 (19-16, 204 BB, 198 H)
Randy Johnson 1991 (13-10, 152 BB, 151 H)
Bobby Witt 1986 (11- 9, 143 BB, 130 H)
Ken Wright 1973 ( 6- 5, 82 BB, 60 H)
***

W L PCT GB

Devil Rays 24 17 .585 ---
Red Sox 24 19 .558 1.0
Orioles 21 19 .525 2.5
Blue Jays 21 22 .488 4.0
Yankees 20 22 .476 4.5
Mets (Santana) at Yankees (Rasner), 7 PM
&
Rays (Sonnanstine) at Cardinals (Looper), 8:15 PM

Tuesday's Starter?

With Clay Buchholz on the disabled list, the Red Sox need a starting pitcher for Tuesday evening against the Royals.

Bartolo Colon pitched a one-hitter for Pawtucket in the first game of a Thursday doubleheader (box), throwing 64 pitches in six innings, 45 for strikes. In three starts for the PawSox, Colon has allowed six hits and one run in 14 innings (0.64 ERA), walking one and striking out 11.

The Globe's Gordon Edes thinks Colon will get the nod, but Michael Silverman of the Herald disagrees, saying David Pauley (who went 5-5-0-1-2, 75 in the second game of Pawtucket's doubleheader) or Charlie Zink are stronger possibilities.

Zink is starting tonight however, so a lengthy start from him would likely cross him off the list. Another possibility is Justin Masterson, who had a rough outing last night for Portland (6-9-7-2-3).

Lou Merloni, the newest NESN analyst, on playing in Boston:
When I was there, everything was coming to a head. This team needed to win a World Series fast and it did, the next year [2004]. But it was difficult, it was taking over people's lives. ... It made me laugh when Lugo was talking about the negativity in this town. This guy's got no clue what negativity is. No matter how bad it is right now, the true Red Sox fan sits back and says, "They won a World Series in '04 and '07. It's changed."
Mockery starts his job on May 27.

Giambi's Thong


Jason Giambi reveals that, to end a batting slump, he wears a gold lamé, tiger-striped thong. He adds that he has shared the thong with many teammates, including Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon, Robin Ventura and Robinson Cano:
All of them wore it and got hits. The thong works every time.
Giambi did not say whether any Yankees have worn one of these.

Also: A short history of players who wear glasses.

Interview: Manny's High-Five Partner

After Manny Ramirez's once-in-a-lifetime play on Wednesday afternoon, I looked forward to reading the article from whichever Boston reporter trekked out to left field to interview the fan who had been high-fived by Manny.

Amazingly, the next day, there was nothing. However, Manny's high-five partner left a comment on this blog after the game, so I emailed him.

Here are some of the comments from R. Dunning, a 24-year-old Red Sox fan from Edmond, Oklahoma. On top of everything else, it was the first (and obviously, only, so far) major league baseball game he has attended!
I am from Oklahoma, but became a Sox fan in the 2004 season, before the series win. My best friend at college at Oklahoma State University has always been a huge Sox fan, his family came from NE. He got me watching the Sox in 2003 a bit and I really started following them in '04. ...

I made a trip up to Fenway a couple summers ago and it was the experience of a lifetime. I didn't get to see a game, but I went on the tour and got to go on the field. I was just stunned to be standing where Manny does. Got to see "Manny's clubhouse" door on the monster. lol ... It was just an amazing experience. Dang near in tears.

I'd never been to a major league game before and my mom got me tickets to the game in Baltimore as a gift before I leave this Summer to ship off for ARMY NG training in South Dakota. ...

Anyways, at the game Manny was having fun with the Boston fans in the area. Talking as usual, joking and pointing to the Boston fans near the foul pole. Also, kinda shaking off the hecklers, which were near me. Funny enough I was sitting next to all Orioles fans other than my mom and dad. Maybe that's why he came to me, he knew I was right in the middle of all of them. :) ...

The play happened in an instant and I barely realized I had high-fived him when he came up the wall. When he caught the ball I did the point that he always does, and you can see that in some of the videos.

Then he came up. Pretty awesome. The only people around me that realized it were the couple next to me, whose husband was listening to the radio broadcast.


When he came out the next inning he just looked my way and smiled. Nothing really dramatic. I wish he'd come up and talked to me! I guess a high five will have to do. ... Anyways, I've got something to take back with me to Oklahoma and last forever. I'm now part of a Manny being Manny moment. lol...

Ack -- While getting this ready, I found out there is a much better interview with R. here. So consider mine the appetizer before the main course.

May 15, 2008

Something Else #9 - Replacements / Springsteen

Taking three out of four in Detroit was good, but then things went completely off the rails in Minnesota and Baltimore. Poor relief pitching and cold late-inning bats = several very frustrating losses.

But now the Red Sox are back at Fenway. And before they put an obscene beating on both the Brewers and Royals, we need to clear our heads with some rock and roll.

First, we have 44 tracks recorded by the Replacements for their 1981 debut album -- Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash. Peter Jesperson, the band's former manager, on hearing the band's demo in 1980: "I could hardly believe my ears ... It sounded like a wild reinterpretation of the fundamentals of rock-like Chuck Berry, the Stones and the Sex Pistols all rolled into one." When you visit me on my desert island, this will be one of my 10 albums. Inspirational lyric: "I hate music / It's got too many notes". (Note: The first four Mats albums -- Sorry Ma, Stink, Hootenanny and Let It Be -- have been remastered and reissued by Rhino with several bonus tracks each.)

Then we have one of the most famous Bruce Springsteen concerts of all time: February 5, 1975 at the Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. This show was broadcast on WMMR and at the time was the longest (2.5 hours) of Springsteen's career. It has been bootlegged many times -- on vinyl as "You Can Trust Your Car To The Man Who Wears The Star" and then on CD as "The Saint, The Incident, & The Main Point Shuffle". This remastered version is titled "The Prodigal Son At The Main Point". Notes: This was at the same time Bruce was writing and recording the Born To Run album, so there's an early version of "Thunder Road" called "Wings For Wheels" and "She's The One" has a lot of lyrics that would later become part of "Backstreets". Also, Suki Lahav plays violin and adds backing vocals.

May 14, 2008

The Ultimate Manny Moment

Manny Ramirez -- the only player in baseball history to high-five a fan while in the middle of turning a double play!!!

And then he celebrates with his teammate in center field -- who is making his major league debut!


Gowanus Baseball has screenshots of the play in a post entitled "The Five Stages of Being Awesome, by Manny Ramirez".

The catch itself was stunning -- what happened afterwards is the stuff of legend.

Looking for video ...

G43: Orioles 6, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 100 110 000 - 3 12  0
Orioles - 000 002 40x - 6 8 0
In each of the last three games, the Red Sox have taken a 3-0 lead, then gone on to lose the game.

It happened against this afternoon. Boston led 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth when the Orioles scored twice against Lester. In the seventh, Javier Lopez got the first two outs, then gave up a sngle to Freddie Bynum. Craig Hansen came in and allowed a single to Guillermo Quiroz and a nine-pitch walk to Brian Roberts to load the bases.

Hideki Okajima came in and Jay Payton lined his second pitch into the left field stands for a grand slam. Jeemer has inherited 14 runners this season -- and he's let 11 of them score. Last year, he allowed only four of 28 inherited runners to score.

The team is obviously frustrated, having lost four in a row and five out of their last six games. Manny Ramirez beat out an infield hit with two outs in the eighth, but was called out at first. He slammed his helmet on the ground and was yelling, but was not ejected. In the ninth, after Mike Lowell singled, Kevin Youkilis grounded into a double play. He also barked at the umpire once he was called out.

Manny turned in the Play Of The Season: With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Nick Markakis was on second and Aubrey Huff was on first. Boston led 1-0. Kevin Millar crushed Lester's first pitch to deep left. Manny sprinted back, reached up and caught the ball over his shoulder, took two steps to the wall and leapt up against it to brace himself, high-fived a fan in the first row, then came down, turned and threw the ball in to Pedroia, who fired to Youkilis to double off Huff and end the inning.

NESN later showed several of Manny's teammates -- Lowell and Ellsbury among them -- gathered around one of the cameras by the dugout, crouching down to look very carefully at the replay and laughing. I can't wait to read (or hear) Manny's post-game comments on this play. Also, I hope at least one writer headed out to find that fan.

***

Jon Lester (4.06, 107 ERA+) / Daniel Cabrera (3.54, 119 ERA+)

The last time Cabrera faced the Red Sox (September 7, 2007), Coco Crisp was dancing off third base, Cabrera balked him home, then threw a pitch behind Dustin Pedroia's head. FY:
The guy's an idiot. ... I was upset they took him out of the game. He's good to hit. He's 9-15. The guy [stinks].
Boston (and Lester) won that game 4-0.

Buchholz To DL; Van Every Called Up

Clay Buchholz was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken nail on his right middle finger.

The Globe reports that the DL move
is due to a concern that 1) Buchholz' tender middle finger as a result of a torn fingernail, needs to heal; and 2) the possibility he could alter his delivery and injure a shoulder or an elbow if he pitched with it. ...

Buchholz said he ripped the nail across the top of his right middle finger while throwing a 2-seam fastball warm-up pitch before the start of the second inning of his last start. He said he didn't tell anyone about it, hoping to be able to get through the game. ...
With J.D. Drew's wrist hurting, the Red Sox called up outfielder Jonathan Van Every, who will make his major league debut in center field today.

Schadenfreude 46 (A Continuing Series)



With the Yankees (19-21) one half-game out of the AL East cellar, Mr. Hankee is not pleased:
We've got to forget about all the injuries and start playing our butts off. ... These players are being paid a lot of money and they had better decide for themselves to earn that money. ... I'm not saying they are not giving the effort, but they need to be playing harder. ...

This is going to get turned around. If it's not turned around this year, then it will be turned around next year, by force if we have too.
I guess the honeymoon for Joe Girardi is over. Less than three months ago, Hank claimed that Girardi would be "one of the greatest managers in the history of the game".

May 13, 2008

G42: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 300 000 010 - 4  9  2
Orioles - 014 000 00x - 5 11 2
For the second game in a row, the bats struck for three runs in the first, then fell silent.

The Red Sox began the game: Crisp single, Pedroia L6, Ortiz double, Manny single/1-0, Lowell E5/2-0, Youkilis F8, Drew E3/3-0.

But Beckett struggled. After retiring the first five Orioles, he allowed three straight singles to cut the lead to 3-1. He gave up two singles to start the third inning, then got two strikeouts, but Millar singled for one run and Scott followed with a three-run dong -- and it was 5-3 Birds.

Boston did little with Guthrie until the seventh when Casey and Pedroia singled. Baltimore went to the pen. Walker walked Flo and the bases were loaded with no one out for Manny. Johnson came in and won a 10-pitch battle, getting Ramirez to tap into a 1-2-3 DP. Lowell then flied to left to end the threat.

The Red Sox rallied again in the eighth. With one out, Ellsbury and Varitek walked. Cora's single to right scored Lyndon to make it 5-4. But with Sherrill on the mound, Casey flied to left and Pedroia grounded to first. In the ninth, Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell went down in order.

In Florida, Tampa beat the Rivera and the Yankees 2-1 in 11 innings, to move into first place. ... We are .5 GB. ... New York is 19-21.

Back at 'em with an afternoon game tomorrow.

***

Josh Beckett (3.70, 118 ERA+) / Jeremy Guthrie (4.32, 98 ERA+)

Terry Francona's mother-in-law passed away last night, so Brad Mills will manage the two games at Camden Yards.

Since May 3, Kevin Youkilis is hitting .421 (in 43 plate appearances). His 16 hits in that time: 5 singles, 5 doubles and 6 home runs -- for a 1.026 slugging percentage. (And one stolen base!)

***

Tampa (.5 GB) hosts the Yankees (Wang/Jackson) at 7.

Rich Gossage, on Joba's 8th-inning fist pump-athons:
That's just not the Yankee way ... Let everyone else do that stuff, but not a Yankee. What I don't understand is, the kid's got the greatest mentor in the world in Mariano ... you'd think it wouldn't happen on that team.

Davidoff On New 1918 Red Sox Book

Newsday baseball columnist Ken Davidoff, on "When Boston Still Had The Babe: The 1918 World Champion Red Sox":
What amazed me is just how different these players' worlds were. ... These guys would play exhibition games on off days, just to make a few extra bucks. They would play minor-league ball for years and years after their time in the majors, because it's not like they saved enough money to retire comfortably. ... There was so little power in the game. There were no people of color in the game, either.

I am a complete sucker for this kind of stuff. I love that there are people willing to invest so much time and effort to learn about players from the past, both distant and recent. If you're like me, I recommend this book (or, you could wait for the Mets and/or Dodgers books that are coming).
I wrote three bios for the book -- Babe Ruth, Carl Mays and Walt Kinney -- as well as the book's introduction. Although the post says the book is out in June, but it's available now.