April 30, 2010

G23: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4 (10)

Red Sox - 010 001 110 0 - 4  8  2
Orioles - 200 100 010 1 - 5 9 0

Example
John Lackey / David Hernandez
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, C
Youkilis, 1B
Drew, RF
Ortiz, DH
Beltre, 3B
Hermida, LF
McDonald, CF
Lackey (7-10-3-2-3, 111) beat the Birds last Saturday, while Hernandez (5-4-3-3-1, 97) took a ND at Fenway on Sunday.

The Red Sox have won seven of their last nine games. ... What spot in the batting order has the best on-base percentage so far this year? #8. And the worst? #3. (Interesting lineup optimization post here.)

ESPN Makes You Dumber

Daniel Moroz (Beyond the Box Score) was watching Baseball Tonight
during the marathon Boston-Toronto game, and the hosts were opining on the causes for Josh Beckett's struggles so far in 2010 - notably in that 13-12 game, where he gave up 8 runs in just 3 innings pitched. Bobby Valentine suggested that Beckett has three quality pitches - a mid 90s fastball, a curve, and a change-up - but that he's fallen in love with a mediocre cutter and that's hurting him. Not one to take claims made by people on TV at face value, I thought I'd check it out.
And what did Moroz find?

For one thing, Beckett has allowed exactly ZERO hits off his cutter this year. In fact, batters are swinging and missing it more often than they did last year.

This data is easily available and it's free.

So you have baseball reporters with absolutely no interest in accurate information and media outlets content to present easily disproved statements as fact -- both during BT and its regular game broadcasts -- and people still wonder why more and more serious fans are relying solely on blogs and alternate sources of information?

Lars Anderson Up To Pawtucket

Lars Anderson, 22, has been promoted to Pawtucket. In 17 games for Portland this month, Anderson batted .355 with a 1.086 OPS.

Last year, lefties hit Daniel Bard much better than righties (.866 OPS vs .545). But Bard has been working on his changeup to lefties and those numbers have changed dramatically. So far this season, LHB are 2-for-25 with a .259 OPS. In Toronto, Bard faced three left-handed pinch-hitters in the eighth inning on Wednesday -- each one was the potential tying run -- and struck out all three.

Alan Embree talks about being back in Boston.

Jonathan Papelbon, on the rejuvenating effect of a sweep in Toronto, giving the Red Sox seven wins in their last nine games:
[I]t was good for us to get out of Boston, kind of clear our heads a little bit, get on the road here and win that first game of the series. That was a battle back and forth. [It] set the tone, and we were able to come back and win two close games.
Dustin Pedroia: "We run-prevented the [heck] of them."

The Hatred Index: Sox #2, Yankees #5

According to an Internet algorithm developed by Nielsen Co. that "measures positive and negative reactions on the Internet", the Yankees are the fifth-most hated team in baseball.

Cleveland, the Red Sox, the Reds and the Astros are allegedly more despised than the MFY.

(It may make some sense, however: "The company's computers counted the number of times that a particular team was connected to both positive words like "love" and negative words like "hate." ... So the end result actually works if you consider that the Indians were a 65-win team in 2009 ... Heck, Indians message boards probably sealed the top spot over just a few weeks last summer with their understandably negative reactions to the trades of Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.")

April 29, 2010

Book Review: Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

This isn't really a review.

On September 28, 1960, John Updike went to Fenway Park "with the open heart of a fan" for what was likely Ted Williams's last game on the field he had called home for 21 years.

Updike spent the next five days writing his thoughts on Williams and that afternoon's game -- and his essay was published under the title "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" in the October 20, 1960, issue of The New Yorker.

It is one of the finest essays ever written on the national game. Its first sentence is the source of the oft-quoted description of Fenway Park as a "lyric little bandbox".

Before his death in January 2009, Updike worked with The Library of America on a special edition of the essay for the 50th anniversary of the game. The 64-page hardcover edition is now available ($15 US). (The LoA sent me a paperback copy of the uncorrected proofs.) In addition to the essay, Updike wrote a short introduction. His eight-page afterward draws on other TSW essays he wrote in 1986 and 2002.

It is a modest package -- any consideration about buying it will likely depend on whether you feel it's worth the sticker price (in that respect it's a lot like David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water") -- yet there is no denying the sheer beauty of the writing.
The afternoon grew so glowering that in the sixth inning the arc lights were turned on - always a wan sight in the daytime, like the burning headlights of a funeral procession. Aided by the gloom, Fisher was slicing through the Sox rookies, and Williams did not come to bat in the seventh. He was second up in the eighth. This was almost certainly his last time to come to the plate in Fenway Park, and instead of merely cheering, as we had at his three previous appearances, we stood, all of us, and applauded. I had never before heard pure applause in a ballpark. No calling, no whistling, just an ocean of handclaps, minute after minute, burst after burst, crowding and running together in continuous succession like the pushes of surf at the edge of the sand. It was a somber and considered tumult. There was not a boo in it. It seemed to renew itself out of a shifting set of memories as the Kid, the Marine, the veteran of feuds and failures and injuries, the friend of children, and the enduring old pro evolved down the bright tunnel of twenty-two summers toward this moment. At last, the umpire signaled for Fisher to pitch; with the other players, he had been frozen in position. Only Williams had moved during the ovation, switching his bat impatiently, ignoring everything except his cherished task. Fisher wound up, and the applause sank into a hush.

April 28, 2010

G22: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 0

Red Sox   - 000 001 100 - 2  8  0
Blue Jays - 000 000 000 - 0 2 0
Lester (7-1-0-2-11, 119) and Darnell McDonald (doubled and scored the first run, drove in the second one with a single) led Boston (11-11) to a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays.
Example
Jon Lester / Brett Cecil
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Drew, RF
Varitek, C
Beltre, 3B
Hall, LF
McDonald, CF
Lester and Cecil faced each other back on August 20, 2009; Boston won 8-1.

David Ortiz will be on the bench for the 4th time in eight games. Victor Martinez will be the DH, with Jason Varitek (who hit 2 dongs off Cecil last May 20) behind the plate.

Some of Peter Abraham's game notes: Red Sox relievers have pitched 71 innings; in the AL, only the Tigers (72.2) have thrown more. Adrian Beltre is 8 of his last 17, Dustin Pedroia is 8 of 19, and J.D. Drew is 7 of 23. Victor Martinez hasn't had an extra-base hit since April 15 (almost two weeks).

14 of 21 Games Decided By 1 or 2 Runs

The Red Sox have won six of their last eight games -- and every victory has been by a single run. That hasn't happened since May 30 to June 9, 1943.

Boston may be 6-2 since April 20, but they have outscored their opponents by only two runs (47-45) in those games. Overall, they have scored 97 and allowed 114 (most in the AL) for an expected record of 9-12 (actual record: 10-11). Those six one-run wins are the most in MLB.

Eight of the Red Sox's 10 wins have been by one or two runs -- and more than half of their losses (six of 11) have been by similarly slim margins....

Clay Buchholz calmly worked out of trouble in the eighth inning last night. ... Batters are swinging and missing at a huge number of Buchholz's pitches, including a whopping 15.2% of pitches thrown inside the strike zone.

Brandon Puffer Redux?: Fabio Castro returned to Pawtucket after spending one night in the Sox bullpen and another lefty, Alan Embree, will join the team today. Infielder Kevin Frandsen was DFA'd to make room on the 40-man roster.

Castro is listed at 5-7 and before the game he stood back-to-back with Dustin Pedroia. When FY was told he was a little bit taller, he called Castro "my favorite [reliever] of all time".

Tim Wakefield threw a bullpen session yesterday and will likely not pitch in relief until Friday, at the earliest. ... Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury both took swings at a batting tee on Tuesday; Cameron might do some light running by the end of the week.

The Red Sox tied a franchise record for most runs scored in a one-run victory in which they did not hit a home run. That's slicing it a bit thin, but there you go. It happened twice before: May 5, 1934 against the Browns and May 18, 1950 against the Tigers. Both of those games were also 13-12 scores!

That 1950 team scored a 1,027 runs -- 113 more than the second-best team. They averaged 6.7 runs per game; check out the scores on June 7 and 8!

Monday night was also the first time the Sox had as many as 18 hits without a dong homer since beating Toronto (also at Skydome) 11-9 on July 27, 1999.

The UZR fielding stat was tweaked recently to deal with odd outfield configurations, like Fenway Park and Jason Bay's 2009 performance in left field vastly improved. Instead of costing the team 13.8 runs, Bay actually saved the team 1.9 runs. Jacoby Ellsbury also improved, but not as much, from -18.3 to -10.2.

April 27, 2010

G21: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1

Red Sox   - 010 000 010 - 2  7  1
Blue Jays - 100 000 000 - 1 7 0
Buchholz (8-7-1-2-4, career-high 117 pitches) with a perfect ninth for the save from Ramon Ramirez. It was a hell of a performance from HH -- "gutsy" was the word everyone was using -- since it was known before the game began that Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon were all unavailable.

A bases loaded, four-pitch walk to Mike Lowell (batting for David Ortiz) in the eighth -- from fresh-into-the-game Kevin Gregg -- gave the Red Sox the lead. Jeremy Hermida's single scored Ortiz in the second.
Example
Clay Buchholz / Shaun Marcum

Laptop makes his 4th start of the year.
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, C
Youkilis, 1B
Drew, RF
Ortiz, DH
Beltre, 3B
Hermida, LF
McDonald, CF
Bullpen move: Fabio Castro up, Scott Atchison down.

SSS Stuff: Among Jays with more than 10 PA against Buchholz, Lyle Overbay (6-for-14) and Adam Lind (5-for-14, 2 HR) have done well, while Aaron Hill (4-for-17) Vernon Wells (2-for-12) have not.

Adrian Beltre is 6-for-13 against Marcum with a 1.610 OPS, Victor Martinez is 4-for-8 (3 doubles, one HR), Dustin Pedroia is 1-for-13, and David Ortiz is 2-for-14.

Various B-Ref notes on last night's rollercoaster:
Since 1920 (excluding 1940-1951, for which we do not have detailed box scores), this was just the 13th game in which both starting pitchers went no more than 3 innings and allowed at least 7 earned runs ...

If you add in allowing at least 8 hits, the #2 game between the Rangers and Angels [September 19, 2008] is the only other one in addition to yesterday's that qualifies. ...

The Red Sox are the first team this year to boast five different players with at least 3 hits in the same game ...
Last night's announced crowd of 13,847 was the smallest crowd to watch the Red Sox play a game anywhere (non-exhibition) since May 20, 2004 (12,401 in Tampa Bay).

Ryan Westmoreland was released from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Saturday, though he will continue to have physical and occupational therapy there.

Happy 122nd Birthday to Lore Bader!

Crazy Night At Skydome

The pitching lines for last night's starters were very similar:
Beckett: 3-9-8-3-3, 83 - 21 BF
Eveland: 3-8-7-3-3, 82 - 20 BF
For Eveland, it was a typical outing against the Red Sox. Before tonight, he had allowed 22 hits and 8 walks in 9.1 innings over three starts. Now it's 30 hits and 11 walks -- 41 baserunners! -- in 12.1 innings.

It was another putrid start from Beckett, who has an ERA of 7.22 after five starts*. John Tomase points out that Beckett has allowed 5+ runs in 30 of his 127 Red Sox starts, roughly one in four.

*: After five starts last April, his ERA was also 7.22. Then something clicked and Beckett had a stretch of 18 starts, over which his ERA was 2.17.

Pitches seen by team, by innings:
Red Sox   - 21 12 38  43 21 36  20 11 11 - 213
Blue Jays - 14 19 39 34 15 19 10 25 11 - 186
154 pitches in those two innings! 33 batters, 15 runs, 12 hits.

Five Red Sox batters had three hits: Marco Scutaro, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek, and Adrian Beltre. Scutaro scored four times and Varitek knocked in four runs. Youkilis was on base five times. The first four hitters in the order - Scutaro, FY, Yook, Mike Lowell - each batted in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. Boston was 11-for-20 with RATS.

It's rare that you see anything of note on the big video screen at a game, but early in the game, I read that Youkilis has the 3rd highest OPS among all hitters since the start of 2008. I checked it out and it's true:
A Pujols 1.105
M Ramirez 1.006
K Youkilis .956
J Mauer .950
A Rodriguez .948
Round about the fourth or fifth inning, the drunk guy a section away from us was yelling "Fortier! Fortier!" Maybe he was just babbling -- earlier, after bumping into my arm during a bottleneck in the aisle (I was on the end of the row), he had referred to me twice as Pedroia. I don't know why. It wasn't until maybe the 7th or 8th time he yelled it out that I realized he was referring to Scott Atchison -- #48!

After looking at some video from 2007 and 2008, Manny Declarmen discovered he had shortened his motion, causing a loss of velocity. He retired all six batters he faced last night; opponents are 2-for-32 (.062) this year, though he has walked six men in 10.1 innings.

Also: Lefty Fabio Castro will be called up from Pawtucket today as a fresh arm in the pen; Atchison will be sent down. ... If Alan Embree is not called up by his contract's Friday deadline, he will exercise the opt-out clause. ... The Red Sox signed former Cuban catcher Adalberto Ibarra, 22, to a major league contract worth $3 million over five years.

Elsewhere: Is Ryan Howard's new 5/125 extension (which doesn't even kick in until 2012) baseball's newest "worst contract"? (Jayson Stark writes that only last year the Phillies "balked at any deal longer than three years because they were nervous about how a man with this humongous a frame was going to age".)

April 26, 2010

G20: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 12

Red Sox   - 104 314 000 - 13 18  0
Blue Jays - 006 211 020 - 12 16 0
That was an entertaining evening ... and all wrapped up in a crisp 4:03!
Example
Josh Beckett / Dana Eveland

We will be at Skydome tonight, so a win would be most appreciated.
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Lowell, 3B
Drew, RF
Varitek, C
Beltre, 3B
Hall, LF
McDonald, CF
I'm fairly certain that Marco Scutaro is now playing the role last filled by Eric Hinske -- the ex-Blue Jays player now in Boston who gets booed like crazy in Toronto, his mere appearance setting off a cascade of displeasure all out of sensible proportion and completely devoid of humour. (At least the days of hearing ever-so-witty comments about Manny's hair are behind me ...)

Daisuke Matsuzaka threw about 70 pitches to Jeremy Hermida, Jonathan Van Every, and coaching assistant Eno Guerrero in a simulated game under the dome this afternoon.

[No idea if Ish will have the thread at the alt site. You could always comment here in a vacuum and I'll post them when I get home!]

Skydome in IJ

[Charles Tavis had] been on design teams for stadia and civic centers and grandstands and micological-looking superdomes. He'd admit up-front that he'd been a far better team-player engineer than out there up-front stage-center in the architectural limelight. He'd apologize profusely when you had no idea what that sentence meant and say maybe the obfuscation had been unconsciously deliberate, out of some kind of embarrassment over his first and last limelighted architectural supervision, up in Ontario, before the rise of O.N.A.N.ite Interdependence, when he'd designed the Toronto Blue Jays' novel and much-ballyhooed SkyDome ballpark-and-hotel complex. Because Tavis had been the one to take the lion's share of the heat when it turned out that Blue Jays' spectators in the stands, many of them innocent children wearing caps and pounding their little fists into the gloves they'd brought with hopes of nothing more exotic than a speared foul ball, that spectators at a distressing number of different points all along both foul-lines could see right into the windows of guests having various and sometimes exotic sex in the hotel bedrooms over the center-field wall. The bulk of the call for Tavis's rolling head had come, he'd tell you, when the cameraman in charge of the SkyDome's Instant-Replay-Video Scoreboard, disgruntled or professionally suicidal or both, started training his camera on the bedrooms windows and routing the resultant multi-limbed coital images up onto the 75-meter Scoreboard screen, etc. Sometimes in slow motion and with multiple replays, etc. Tavis will admit his reluctance to talk about it, still, after all this time.
Infinite Jest, 516-17

There have been several incidents, but "multi-limbed coital images" have not been shown on the big video screen.

Wakefield Switches To Pen

Daisuke Matsuzaka will start in Baltimore on Saturday and Tim Wakefield will be in the bullpen. Wakefield did not have much to say about it after yesterday's loss to the Orioles.
What are your thoughts on going to the bullpen?

"I don't have any."

Are you concerned at all about the transition to relief pitching?

"No."
Francona:
[T]his is not us turning him into a reliever. This is us putting him in the bullpen until he starts again. ... [W]e feel for various reasons, he's the guy that can handle this.
Wakefield's last regular season relief appearance? June 9, 2004, against the Padres.

But his actual last time out of the Red Sox bullpen was on October 18, 2004, for the 12th, 13th, and 14th innings of 2004 ALCS Game 5.

April 25, 2010

G19: Orioles 7, Red Sox 6 (10)

Orioles - 010 000 300 3 - 7 14  0
Red Sox - 000 004 000 2 - 6 13 1
More crappy performances by several members of the bullpen: Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison and Scott Schoeneweis were the culprits today.

I'm unclear why Terry Francona opted for Atchison over Manny Delcarmen to start the 10th. Down by three, the Red Sox rallied in the bottom of the 10th, but Darnell McDonald and Marco Scutaro could not bring in the tying run from second.
Example
David Hernandez / Tim Wakefield

Very similar stats this year for the two starters:

IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP

Hernandez 17.1 20 10 9 7 13 4.67 1.618
Wakefield 18.1 23 14 13 7 11 6.38 1.636
Lineup:
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, C
Youkilis, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Drew, RF
Beltre, 3B
Hermida, LF
Van Every, CF

Charting Papelbon's Performance

There are several threads at SoSH about individual pitchers and how they are doing (Buchholz, Lester, the bullpen), using pfx data.

Here are some recent comments from the Papelbon thread:
redsahx
Repeating myself somewhat from another thread, but I think what we've been seeing is Papelbon adjusting his approach for the long haul. As impressive as he was from 06-08, it's not realistic to expect him to be able to look that dominant and blow away hitter after hitter year after year without his arm falling off. He can still reach back for something extra if he needs it, but I'm guessing he's determined that he needs to find more ways to get guys out in order to last.

mabrowndog
Found this Baseball Prospectus chart interesting. Heading into tonight's game, the hitters Papelbon had faced so far this season had compiled the highest weighted aggregate OPS in the American League for 2010.
Collectively the 38 batters had put up a .275/.362/.457/.819 overall line. Paps has held them to .133/.316/.233/.549, and he's done it while working under a 1.864 average leverage index, the 12th highest among 92 AL relievers. So yeah, I'm going to cut him a little bit of slack on the 8:5 K/BB ratio.

paulftodd
The thing is, it's not the good hitters (based on 2009 stats) that are getting to him. Against those who had an OPS under 800 last year, they have a 689 OPS in 21 PA with 3K and 4 BB (assuming my calculations are correct). ... In any event, the OPS 800+ guys from last year have an 083 BA, so maybe that's his strategy, getting the bad hitters out has become boring for him ... He is kind of like the Dice-K of closers at this point, getting the job done, but not looking very good doing it.

Sprowl
Here is Papelbon's movement chart from the closer's latest volatile performance [Saturday night]. None of his offspeed pitches, slider or sinker, really dropped relative to gravity, yet the two sinkers did get swinging strikes -- mostly due to their location off the outside corner and inside below the knees, respectively. I also thought that the subjective impression of the slider was positive: it seemed to float, then dive, although the movement figures don't reflect that impression. Papelbon's fastball in 2010 has been unimpressive -- the first three Orioles looked for high fastballs early in the count, got them, and hit them -- but his breaking pitches have been good, even when thrown for strikes. An old cliche has it that the hardest pitch to hit is a major-league slider, not because of the absolute movement but because the illusion of a floating or darting pitch is the hardest for the hitter's brain to process effectively in time to translate it into hand-eye co-ordination. I would expect Papelbon to experiment more with the slider and splitter as it becomes apparent that he doesn't have his old velocity, and that good location, while important, isn't enough by itself when the hitters have a good scouting report, especially one that says: gear up for the high fastball early in the count.

April 24, 2010

G18: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6

Orioles - 020 001 003 - 6 17  0
Red Sox - 000 010 60x - 7 9 1
Another game that was a bit more difficult than it ought to have been. A pair of three-run homers -- Marco Scutaro and Kevin Youkilis -- gave the Sox a 7-3 lead in the seventh, but Ramon Ramirez and Jonathan Papelbon nearly tossed it away.

Ram2 stranded two Birds in the eighth, but with one out in the ninth, he allowed a long home run to Adam Jones and a double to Nick Markakis. Papelbon came in and was hit for three straight singles, by Miguel Tejada, Matt Weiters, and Luke Scott, which put the potential tying run on second. Bot recovered and struck out both Ty Wigginton (who had been 4-for-4) and Rhyne Hughes (who singled twice in his major league debut).

Jason Varitek hit his 4th dong of the year in the fifth.
Example
Brian Matusz / John Lackey
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Lowell, 3B
Varitek, C
Hall, RF
Hermida, LF
McDonald, CF
In addition to their horrible 2-15 start to 2010, the Orioles are 1-14 at Fenway Park dating back to July 2008. ... However, lefty Matusz has been the winning pitcher in both of their victories.

Van Every Returns To Red Sox

Jonathan Van Every is back.

The Red Sox traded a PTBNL to Pittsburgh for the outfielder who played in 18 games with Boston in 2008-09, including one stint on the mound. JVE will wear #44.

To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Santo Luis was designated for assignment. The team also optioned Josh Reddick to Pawtucket.

April 23, 2010

G17: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3

Orioles - 000 000 210 - 3  9  2
Red Sox - 011 010 01x - 4 6 0
David Ortiz hit his first home run of the year, Adrian Beltre drew a bases-loaded walk (his second BB of the night!) to bring in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and Jonathan Papelbon struck out Julio Lugo with two men on for the final out of the game.
Example
Jeremy Guthrie / Jon Lester

Baltimore began the season by winning only one of their first 12 games. At 2-14, they are 10 GB. In their last 12 games, they have scored more than two runs only three times. As a team, they are hitting .225/.285/.358. That's a .643 OPS. As a comparison, Jason Varitek's OPS last year was .703.

Anything less than a three-game sweep will be a disappointment.

Lester (8.44 ERA, .313 opponents batting average): "I have to be better."
Scutaro, SS
Drew, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Martinez, C
Ortiz, DH
Beltre, 3B
Hermida, LF
Reddick, CF

More Drama With A-Rod

Oakland pitcher Dallas Braden was highly annoyed when, after Robinson Cano fouled a pitch off in the sixth inning yesterday, Alex Rodriguez cut across the diamond and stomped on the pitching mound (or maybe dragged his foot across Braden's foot's landing spot, though this clip doesn't show that) as he returned to first base.

"I don't care if I'm Cy Young or the 25th man on a roster; if I've got the ball in my hand and I'm out there on that mound, that's not your mound. You want to run across the mound? Go run laps in the bullpen. ... He should maybe watch his captain a little more often. ... I don't go over there and run laps at third base. I don't spit over there. I stay away. ... The guy was tasting himself too long to apologize. ... I was trying to convey to him that I'm still out there, the ball is in my hand, and it's my pitcher's mound."

Braden also alluded to the infamous slap play during Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS: "What was he doing? Was he trying to break up a double play at first?

April 22, 2010

Wakefield Moving To The Bullpen

Sean McAdam:
When Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to the Red Sox starting rotation next week, it will be Tim Wakefield - and not, as widely speculated, Clay Buchholz - who will be bumped to accommodate him.

The Red Sox announced Thursday afternoon that Matsuzaka, who completed his rehab assignment for Pawtucket Wednesday night, would rejoin the rotation sometime next week. ...

Wakefield hasn't pitched in relief for any stretch since 2004 and last worked out of the bullpen full-time in 2002. ...

Francona also dismissed a suggestion that the team might opt for a six-man rotation ...
In three starts, Wakefield has a 6.38 ERA, having allowed 23 hits and seven walks in 18.1 innings.

G16: Rangers 3, Red Sox 0

Rangers - 000 000 300 - 3  7  0
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0 6 2
Buchholz (6.2-6-3-1-10, 114) had allowed only three baserunners through the first six innings, but was hit hard to start the seventh. Two doubles and a single in the span of nine pitches put two Texas runs on the board. The 10 strikeouts was a career high.

Boston could do nothing with Wilson or the two Darrens (O'Day and Oliver). Only one Red Sox runner got to second base -- that was Victor Martinez (who had two singles and a walk) in the seventh inning.
Example
C.J. Wilson / Clay Buchholz

Buchholz has pitched quite poorly in his two starts this year. He has a 1.80 ERA, because only two of his seven runs allowed have been earned. In 10 innings, he has given up 10 hits and walked six batters. (And yet his 1.600 WHIP is second best among the starters, which is pretty clear evidence of how shitty the starters have been.)
Scutaro, SS
Drew, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Martinez, C
Lowell, DH
Beltre, 3B
McDonald, CF
Hall, LF
Happy 51st Birthday, Terry Francona!

Kevin Millar Retires

Cabin Mirror, author of perhaps the greatest quote in Red Sox history, has retired and is now part of the MLB Network.

The Boston Globe's game story for ALCS 4 is where The Quote first appeared:
The dream stays alive
Sox avert sweep as Ortiz homer sinks N.Y. in 12th

By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Staff | October 18, 2004

Carlton Fisk in 1975. David Ortiz in 2004. Twelfth inning both times.

Hold on to those tickets for this afternoon's fifth game of the 2004 American League Championship Series. The left-for-dead Red Sox are still breathing.

Down three games to none, and down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox last night rallied to tie the game against indomitable Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. They won it in the 12th inning at 1:22 this morning when Ortiz hit a Paul Quantrill 2-and-1 pitch into the Yankee bullpen to give the Red Sox a 6-4 Game 4 victory at Fenway Park. The game lasted 5 hours, 2 minutes, and many of those who stayed for the finish lingered even longer into the morning.

A lot of Bostonians will be sleepy and late for work today. No problem. New Englanders will be wide-eyed when Pedro Martinez gets the ball at 5:10 for the start of Game 5.

"Don't let us win tonight," Sox first baseman Kevin Millar had warned before Game 4. "This is a big game. They've got to win because if we win we've got Pedro coming back [today] and then Schilling will pitch Game 6 and then you can take that fraud stuff and put it to bed. Don't let the Sox win this game."

They did. This time it was the Yankees who coughed it up. ...

"Our mood was really good going into the game," said Francona. "It always is. This is the time of year when we can rest later. They can rest later."

No rest for New England. Game 5 later today.
Millar had a 12-year career, three of them with the Red Sox: 2003-05, .813 OPS in 432 games.


Walk-Off Set Up By Tag-Up

Julio Borbon, on Marco Scutaro tagging up and taking second on J.D. Drew's fly ball to center in the 12th inning last night:
I wasn't in a good position to make the throw. He caught me off-guard. That's on me. The throw wasn't all that bad, but if I was able to get behind it, he would have been out or it would have been closer.
Scutaro:
I knew the ball wasn't gone, but was kind of deep enough to try to take an extra base. It was one of those plays where it's do or die. ... [I]t's one of those plays where if you make it, everyone's happy. If you don't make it, a lot of people are going to be mad.
With two outs, first base was now open, so the Rangers walked Dustin Pedroia intentionally, bringing Kevin Youkilis to the plate.

Mike Lowell, on Scutaro's alertness and hustle:
Those are the little things that I don't think you can see in the box score, ever.
The "things that don't show up in the box score" has been a pet peeve of mine for awhile. For one reason, they are doing amazing things with box scores these days. And Scutaro's play *is* measured. And although he got 90 feet closer to home plate, the entire play - because of the increase in outs from one to two - dropped the Red Sox's chances of winning the game from 64.9% to 61.7%.

However, that decrease is likely charged to Drew's WPA. But Scutaro's play must be measured somehow. Maybe in the difference in the likelihood of scoring a run with a guy on first and two outs versus a guy on second with two outs? I'm going to try to find out.

* Post title lifted from Ian Browne
Example
The last time the Red Sox had back-to-back walkoff wins was in early 2008: April 29 (1-0; Yook single off Halladay) and April 30 (2-1; Varitek single), against Toronto.

The Boston bullpen has a 18.2 consecutive scoreless inning streak. Manny Delcarmen has some velocity back, hitting 95 regularly. Daniel Bard's slider looked especially nasty last night.

Darnell McDonald is the first Red Sox player to homer in his first two games with the team since Sam Horn (July 25-26, 1987). Good article on McDonald here.

Daisuke Matsuzaka's line for Pawtucket last night: 5.2-6-4-0-8, 99; one run was unearned. Dice has made three starts for the PawSox: 16.1 innings, 11 hits, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts, 4 runs/3 earned.

April 21, 2010

G15: Red Sox 8, Rangers 7 (12)

Rangers - 130 000 300 000 - 7  7  0
Red Sox - 014 110 000 001 - 8 9 1
Kevin Youkilis's two-out double off the wall in left-center scored Marco Scutaro with the winning run in the 12th inning. The hit - Yook's second double of the night - came after Texas walked Dustin Pedroia intentionally.

Three Dong Night: Mike Lowell hit a solo shot in the second, J.D. Drew wrapped a grand slam around the Pesky pole in the third, and Darnell McDonald launched one to dead center in the fourth. (Lowell's single drove in Youkilis in the fifth.)

Beckett had a rough night (7-6-7-5-4, 115; 6 ER), but in the middle of his outing retired 12 of 14 batters. After he departed, the pen (5-1-0-0-6) was superb.

Daniel Bard threw two perfect inning (K, 1-3, K; PF2, F9, K), Jonathan Papelbon was sharp in the 10th (needing only five pitches) and 11th (1B, 643DP, 5-3; K, 6-3, 5-3) and Hideki Okajima cruised through the 12th (K, K, 4-3).
Example
Matt Harrison / Josh Beckett

Vs the lefty:
Scutaro, SS
Drew, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Lowell, DH
Varitek, C
Beltre, 3B
McDonald, CF
Hall, LF

The Microwave

I wanted to be the hero tonight. ... I wanted to be a spark. I didn't think it was going to happen like this.
Darnell McDonald (after flying from Rochester to Boston, hiding out in a hotel room, and then not having any time for pre-game BP) became the first player to homer in his first Red Sox at-bat since Orlando Cabrera, on August 1, 2004. He's the first Sock to hit a pinch-hit home run in his first Boston at-bat since Curtis Pride in 1997.

The Elias Sports Bureau says McDonald -- nicknamed "The Microwave" by Dustin Pedroia* -- is the first Red Sox player in history to collect a game-ending RBI in his debut with the club. McDonald's ninth inning single also gave the Red Sox their first lead in 56 innings.

Vinnie Johnson of the Detroit Pistons was nicknamed "the Microwave" in 1984 by Danny Ainge of the Celtics for his ability to "heat up in a hurry". FY: "He's the microwave -- instant offense. There's no more Vinnie Johnson. Darnell McDonald. He's the Microwave, OK?" Okay.

McDonald, 31, debuted with the Orioles in 2004, played a bit with the Twins in 2007 and reemerged last year with the Reds; last night was his 69th major league game. "When hard work meets opportunity, things like this happen."

Jason Varitek:
We've been searching for a way to get this crowd involved in some of our games, and out of nowhere we did. I think the change of energy happened with the two-run home run when we finally woke up our crowd. That was a change of energy.
Terry Francona said it was a win the team needed "desperately".Jacoby Ellsbury'd DL trip was made retroactive to April 12, so he would be eligible to play on April 27. He is still having "wrenching pain" and has trouble breathing. "[W]hen I take that deep breath ... when I get my heart rate up, anything like that to really expand the chest. I just get that sharp, sharp pain in there."

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes what will likely be his final rehab start tonight for Pawtucket.

Odds And Ends

Stuff from the Baseball-Reference blog (and record book):

The modern major league record for most stolen bases in a game is 15 (Highlanders against the Browns on September 28, 1911 and Browns against the Tigers on October 1, 1916). In the years covered by B-Ref's Game Finder data base (1920-1939, 1952-now), it's the A's, with 12 steals against the Twins on August 1, 1976 (amazing linescore, too!).

Texas stole five bases in the fourth inning. Most steals in one inning: 8 (Senators against Cleveland, 1st inning, July 19, 1915; Phillies against Giants, 9th inning of first game, July 7, 1919).

B-ref's Andy K, on Cool Standings:
When the season started, they gave the Red Sox a 42.2 chance of making the playoffs. Before the beginning of the 4-game series vs. the Rays that just ended, they were at 31.8%. After the 4-game sweep they are all the way down to 14.7%.
Last night's win puts Boston at 15.1%.

In the last 30 years, here are the worst starts (after 13 games) by playoff teams:
1991 Twins: 4-9 (won division, 95 wins)
2000 Giants: 4-9 (won division, 97 wins)
2001 A's: 3-10 (wild card, 102 wins)
2007 Phillies: 3-10 (won division, 89 wins)
Oakland started 2-10 and still won 102 games, thanks in part to ending the season on a 29-4 run.

Ten players have been a single short of hitting for the cycle three times in their careers, including Babe Ruth and Ellis Burks. Gregg Jeffries had it happen twice within a 10-game period (August 29 and September 9, 1988)

April 20, 2010

G14: Red Sox 7, Rangers 6

Rangers - 101 310 000 - 6  8  1
Red Sox - 100 102 021 - 7 13 0
It was the worst of games, it was the best of games.

The first game of Tuesday's single-contest doubleheader was innings 1-5, in which the Rangers stole a whopping nine bases (five in the third inning alone), took five walks from Wakefield (who also hit a batter, balked, and threw two wild pitches), and outscored the Red Sox 6-2. It felt much more like 46-2.

Game Two was innings 6-9. Against a quartet of Texas relievers, Boston scored five runs - all of them driven in by the #9 hitter in the lineup: Josh Reddick and then Darnell McDonald, the two outfielders summoned from Pawtucket this afternoon when Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury were placed on the disabled list.

With two outs in the sixth, after singles by Victor Martinez (3-for-4) and Jeremy Hermida (solo dong in the fourth), Reddick hacked at Chris Ray's first pitch and lofted a pop-up down the left field line. Josh Hamilton ran over to the stands, but he overran the ball and had it drop behind him. The ball then caromed up into the seats, hit a fan in the head, and landed back on the field. However, the umpires, much to Texas manager Ron Washington's dismay, did not correctly rule it a ground-rule double, so the Red Sox got two runs on the play, instead of having Hermida stop at third. That cut Texas's lead to 6-4.

In the seventh, Boston loaded the bases after two were out on singles by Kevin Youkilis and Martinez and a walk to Mike Lowell (who pinch-hit for David Ortiz against the lefty Darren Oliver). Adrian Beltre grounded out to first to end the potential rally.

Jason Varitek (now hitting in Hermida's spot) doubled into the left field corner to begin the eighth and McDonald, pinch-hitting for Reddick, crushed a 2-2 slider from Oliver over the Wall for a two-run, game-tying dong!

Youkilis began the bottom of the ninth against Frank Francisco with a line drive off the pitcher's arm that caromed over by third; no play was made. Francisco's next pitch - to Bill Hall - was a passed ball, and Yook took second. Hall then bunted the Bearded One to third. After a big meeting at the mound, Lowell was walked intentionally. With runners at first and second, Beltre took a strike, then lunged at an outside pitch and popped it straight up. Texas 1B Chris Davis caught it for the second out.

Varitek walked on four pitches to load the bases for McDonald. (Since Hall at third was the only runner that mattered, Texas may have been pitching around the Cactus.) McDonald hit an 0-1 pitch to deep left. NESN's cameras had me (and likely thousands of others) totally truped, thinking the kid had hit a grand slam (capping a 6-RBI night), but the ball was not deep enough. Hamilton leapt near the out-of-town scores, but the ball struck the tin high above his glove. It was a single, Yook scored, the Red Sox won, and the entire team mobbed McDonald in the infield.In the 3rd picture, the ball,having hit off the wall, is falling by the "38" under the 2 Outs in NESN's score bar.

It's only one game, the team remains in fourth place at 5-9, but this win has got to do wonders for the players' attitudes. In the fifth, when Texas stole its ninth base -- tying the 1913 Senators for the most SB in a game against Boston -- I was imagining how many they would end the game with: 10, 12, 15?

Instead, the night ended with a celebration worthy of a pennant-clinching victory. And why not? The Red Sox have played like dogshit since beating the Yankees on Opening Night. Maybe a comeback like this -- after being humiliated by Tampa and being utterly incapable of stopping Texas from running the bases at will in the early innings -- will break the team out of its collective slump, get it loose and playing baseball like we expect it to.

Also: In the team's first AB tonight w/RATS ended the 0-for-32 drought. With runners on first and second in the first inning, Martinez singled to center. With that streak over, we can now concentrate on building a winning streak.
Example
Colby Lewis / Tim Wakefield
Scutaro, SS
Drew, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Martinez, C
Ortiz, DH
Beltre, 3B
Hermida, LF
Reddick, CF
Reddick is hitting .179/.200/.359 for Pawtucket this year. He played 27 games for the Red Sox in 2009: .169/.210/.339.

Peter Abraham looks closer at who is at fault for the woeful 0-for-32-w/RATS* stat:
0-for-7: Hermida
0-for-5: Beltre, Scutaro
0-for-3: Martinez, Youkilis
0-for-2: Hall, Ortiz
0-for-1: Cameron, Drew, Lowell, Pedroia, Varitek
*: I must stop using the highly inaccurate term "scoring position". So how about Runners At Third and/or Second?

Early Doors

In addition to getting off to their worst 13-game start since 1996, the Red Sox are 1-6 at Fenway Park. They have not begun a season so poorly at home in 78 years (1932, 1-9).
W
LLL
WW
L
W
LLLLL
They have lost six straight games at home for first time since June 1994, their starters' ERA is 5.18, they have a .249 team batting average and a .313 OBP (both 9th best in the AL), they are 11th in runs scored, and they have not had a hit with runners at second and/or third base since last Wednesday (0-for-their-last-32 and 17-for-100 overall).

What else? Only one team in baseball is further out of first place - the club directly below them in the AL East.

If you want to panic, go ahead. You won't be alone. Even Joe Posnanski is on your side: "It's never too early" to panic. But a wise man at SoSH thinks: "It's early doors. If you panic now, you'll have no panic left in you for when it really is a good time to panic."

I do not believe Jon Lester is an 8.44 ERA pitcher; Victor Martinez's .241 OBP is an accurate measure of his ability to get on base; Clay Buchholz will walk 5.5 men per nine innings; J.D. Drew is an under .500-OPS hitter (.255 OBP/.244 SLG); or David Ortiz will strike out 243 times this year (mainly because he won't get enough ABs to do so).

There is little worse than a team-wide slump that encompassing every single facet of the game. Yet, teams have gone through bad patches of a dozen or so games without sabotaging their seasons.
                             REC   ERA   OPS   RS   RA
June 19 to July 4, 2004: 4-10 3.98 .781 4.7 5.0
July 6 to July 19, 2007: 3- 8 4.56 .779 4.1 4.8
April 4 to April 19, 2010: 4- 9 4.58 .738 3.8 5.3
The 2010 numbers are a bit worse, but you get the point. Just last year, Boston began the season 2-6, then won 11 in a row.

Even Gloom-and-Doomer Steve Buckley admits that it is more realistic to check how the team is doing in late May than it is to push the panic button with more than 92% of the season still to play. (Of course, that common sense did not stop Buckley from writing a "it's getting late early" column even before Monday's loss, but that's another matter.)

P.S. There was another 2009 team that went 4-9 early in the season (April 24 to May 7). They stumbled through another 4-9 skid from June 9 to 23 and as I recall, their season turned out alright.

Cameron On DL With Abdominal Tear; Reddick Up

Mike Cameron has an abdominal tear near the attachment site of the abdominal muscle and the pelvis, "a type of sports hernia" according to Amalie Benjamin. So Cameron is now on the disabled list and Josh Reddick (.179/.200/.359 in nine games). is on his way from Pawtucket.

AB:
It appears likely that Cameron will be out for longer than 15 days. The injury is likely the same one that caused Cameron's groin injury in spring training, which means that it has lingered for more than a month, according to the source. The team wants to make sure that it is fully healed, though there isn't yet a sense of when that might happen, and it is possible that it could eventually require surgery.
Meanwhile, Jacoby Ellsbury (who has been out since April 11) has made minimal progress. He is still having discomfort when breathing:
It's one of those things where it's right there in my chest. I can't really do too much. I don't know how long it's going to be.
Since the club's estimates of Ellsbury's return have been very wrong and with no other available outfielders, Bill Hall was sent out yesterday to play his first game in center field since 2007. "Coming into the season, center field was probably the last place I thought I'd have to go and play." He did not play CF at all in spring training.

If Ellsbury is DL'd, the likely replacement would be Darnell McDonald (.341/.372/.683 in 10 games).

April 19, 2010

G13: Rays 8, Red Sox 2

Rays    - 105 200 000 - 8 12  0
Red Sox - 000 000 200 - 2 5 1
Lackey (3.1-9-8-1-3, 79) allowed 10 of his 19 batters to reach base, and eight of them scored.

The Red Sox had no chance in this one, though they did get at least one runner to second base in three of the first four innings. Jeremy Hermida hit a two-run home run to right, following Bill Hall's single (his first hit of the season), but because the baserunner was on first, Boston's hitless streak with runners in scoring position remains alive: 0 for their last 32.

Red Sox radio made a huge deal of the fact that this was the first time the Rays have ever swept a four-game series at Fenway Park. Of course, the Rays have played only 12 full seasons (so our dog Cody is older than the Rays franchise!).

A quick run through B-Ref gives me these as the only four-game series Tampa Bay has played in Boston:
Sep. 21-23, 1998:      L W L L
Apr. 16-19, 1999: W L W W
Jun. 25-28, 2001: L L W W
Jul. 23-25, 2002: L W W L
Sep. 15-18, 2003: L L W L
Aug. 9-12, 2004: W L L L
Aug. 29-Sep. 1, 2005: L L L L
May 25-28, 2006: L L L L
Apr. 16-19, 2010: W W W W
They lost the first game in six of the previous eight series, and in the other two, they dropped the second game. So they had never had any realistic shot at a four-game sweep until now.
Example
Jeff Neimann / John Lackey

Not only have the Red Sox lost four straight games, they are 0-for-25 with runners in scoring position in those losses.

In five games since last Tuesday, they are 2-for-36 (.056) w/RISP.
Example
It's Cody Day.

She's been with us 11 years.
The girl knows how to relax.

April 18, 2010

Don't Fight It

G12: Rays 7, Red Sox 1

Rays    - 022 003 000 - 7  7  0
Red Sox - 000 000 001 - 1 5 1
Garza (8-4-0-2-5, 115) did not allow a hit until there were two outs in the fifth (and the batter, Adrian Beltre, was a dead duck at second trying stupidly to stretch his hit into a double).

A Boston runner would not touch second base again until the eighth.

Meanwhile, Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton each hit two-run homers off Lester (6-7-7-3-5, 104), and Ben Zobrist poked a two-run single.

The Red Sox (4-8) have not played this poorly through a season's first 12 games since the 1996 team opened 2-10. (That club was also 2-12 and 3-15 in the early going.)
Example
Matt Garza / Jon Lester
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Drew, RF
Beltre, 3B
Hermida, LF
Varitek, C
Cameron, CF
4 GB. As Peter Abraham says, "It's a good time to be a negative fan."
Example
Linescore of the (Yester)Day:
Mets      - 000 000 000 000 000 000 11 - 2  9  2
Cardinals - 000 000 000 000 000 000 10 - 1 15 0
Joe Mather pinch-hit in the bottom of the 10th inning, and stayed in to play center field, third base, and pitch (he allowed the two Mets runs).

April 17, 2010

G11: Rays 6, Red Sox 5

Rays    - 400 001 100 - 6  5  0
Red Sox - 000 010 400 - 5 11 2
With two outs in the seventh, Scutaro singled, Pedroia homered, Martinez singled, and Youkilis homered -- and it looked like the diehards who stuck around cold, damp Fenway might be rewarded.

But no. In the eighth, Lowell led off with a single and Mike Cameron walked, but Jeremy Hermida struck out and Scutaro popped to right. And Pedroia, Martinez, and Youkilis went in order on only nine pitches in the ninth.

An error by Cameron on an easy fly ball should have ended the top of the first. Instead, it left the door open for Tampa to torment Buchholz for 44 pitches and four unearned runs.
Example
James Shields / Clay Buchholz

Small Game James at Fenway: 0-6 in six starts, 8.04 ERA and a 1.893 WHIP, having allowed 43 hits and 10 walks in 28 innings.

Dustin Pedroia (.455/.500/.636), J.D. Drew (.417/.481/.833), and David Ortiz (.391/.481/.870) have fun facing Shields.

Current members of the Rays are hitting only .222/.300/.286 against Buchholz (in 70 plate appearances).
Example
* following end of Friday's suspended game.

April 16, 2010

G10: Rays 3, Red Sox 1 (12)

Rays    - 001 000 000 002 - 3  5  1
Red Sox - 000 010 000 000 - 1 5 1
The Red Sox loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th on two singles and an infield error, but could not score (Ortiz FC/3-2, Beltre GIDP/5-3).

Then less than 10 minutes later, Pat Burrell hit a two-run home run off Manny Delcarmen. Jason Varitek doubled with one out in the bottom of the 12th, but Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro could not advance him.
Example
Friday's suspended game will be resumed tonight at 7 PM, and the regularly scheduled game will follow.

David Ortiz wanted to keep playing: "I was ready for a walk-off."

It is the Red Sox's first suspended since May 3, 1996 (Blue Jays at Fenway Park). The Rays had never had a regular-season game suspended.

Carl Crawford stole his 28th consecutive base against the Red Sox. Boston has not thrown him out since September 21, 2005. The Red Sox have thrown out only one of 17 attempted base stealers. Why don't teams run six, eight, ten times a game? It must be one of those "unwritten rules".
Example
After a rain delay of a little more than an hour (10:21 to 11:24), tonight's game has been suspended with the Red Sox due to bat in the bottom of the ninth.

The Rays scored an unearned run off Beckett (7-4-1-1-8, 106) and Jason Varitek (!) tied the game with a solo home run in the fifth.
Example
Wade Davis / Josh Beckett

Tampa Bay is 6-3, tied for second place with the Yankees, 0.5 GB the Blue Jays. The Red Sox (4-5) are 2.5 GB.

Alex Speier takes an in-depth look at several of the Red Sox's current problems. Since that was posted, it has been reported Mike Cameron has a kidney stone (which are no fun) and Jacoby Ellsbury will not be able to play tonight.

Until Game Time: The All-Color Team, including Jimmy Lavender and Preston Purple.

Stones: Plundered My Soul

UPDATE: Bits of six more songs: "Pass The Wine", "I Ain't Signifying", "Dancing In The Light", "So Divine (Aladdin Story)", "Following The River", and "Title 5". Going to have to take some time and compare these to any existing boots.

Alright, NOW I'm droolin'!
Example
Set to be released tomorrow, you can hear it today:



This is pretty damn good! Since this is brand new to me, I have to regard this as a new Stones tune, not a tinkered-with (and to what extent?) Exile-era track. I'm at work, there is work to do, and I've listened to this three times in a row. (I may need to rethink some of this.)

Dice Strong In Buffalo; No Appendicitis For Cameron

Driving to the Buffalo airport yesterday*, I noticed the lights were on at (ugh) Coca-Cola Field; the highway goes right past the outfield. On the return, everything was dark. It turns out the Paw Sox were there in the afternoon and Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched six scoreless innings.

Dice allowed three hits and no walks, with two strikeouts (86 pitches, 57 strikes). He pitched econo in the fourth and fifth innings, needing a total of only 13 pitches!

With 11 scoreless AAA innings, he feels he is ready for Boston:
I think I've thrown enough pitches at this point to be ready to pitch in the big leagues. ... I'm confident. ... I feel ready. Beyond that point, I really have to leave the decision up to the powers that be.
And the PTB have given no updated timetable for his return.

Mike Cameron does not have was appendicitis. He was scratched from yesterday's lineup about an hour before the game because of discomfort in his lower abdomen (which he first noticed on Wednesday).

Jacoby Ellsbury said he was at about 10% when trying to hit balls off a tee. "I still can't really take a deep breath without getting a sharp pain [in the lower chest area]. ... I don't want to make any predictions on what's going on."

Brad Mills got his first win of the season as manager of the Astros. After an 0-8 start, Houston beat the Cardinals 5-1 yesterday.

*: More fun and games at the border.

Trouble In The Outfield

Gordon Edes tweets:
Cameron not going home with team being checked for cause of abdominal pain Checking for appendicit[is]

Ellsbury also to see doctor in Boston Friday can't take deep breath without sharp pain

Sox facing possibility of two outfielders headed to DL
And J.D. Drew's neck has been bothering him recently.

Possible Pawtucket callup Josh Reddick is struggling so badly at the plate that he was benched on Thursday for what Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo called "a mental health day".

What else? David Ortiz is being sued by Jay-Z.

April 15, 2010

Beltre: 69 PA Since His Last Walk

Adrian Beltre has not walked in his last 69 plate appearances -- his final 35 trips to the plate for Seattle in 2009 and all 34 of his PAs this year.

In fact, a quick look at my scorecards for 2010 has Beltre getting to three balls in a PA only twice: in the first inning yesterday and the eighth inning today.

Beltre's batting average is .303, but because he has hit one sacrifice fly, his on-base percentage is lower: .294.

G9: Twins 8, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  6  3
Twins - 010 032 20x - 8 15 0
Liriano (7-4-0-2-8, 96) had a fantastic slider the Sox batters could not lay off and Wakefield and Scott Schoeneweis melted in the middle innings.

Dustin Pedroia had three of Boston's six hits. Only three Red Sox runners got past second base -- and just one of those came after the second inning.
Example
Tim Wakefield / Francisco Liriano

Mike Lowell will DH today, with David Ortiz (.154/.241/.269, and at least two strikeouts in each of his last five games) getting the afternoon off against a lefty. Flo:
[People] have no idea how badly you're struggling mentally, and how bad you try to do your stuff. ... So when people come out and start to try to bury your ass, it hurts.
Jacoby Ellsbury will also not play today. Terry Francona says
the soreness is getting a little more centrally isolated, which is good. He's still having a little trouble rotating. ... As much as we love having him out there, it's not a good thing to go too quick.
Ortiz has had a terrible start to the season, but J.D. Drew (.167/.259/.292) and Victor Martinez (.229/.270/.400) are not much better. Martinez's slugging is helped out by having three doubles and a dong among his eight hits. OPS+-wise, only Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis are truly above average.

Adrian Beltre (.345 average) and Mike Cameron (.217) have reached base the same number of times (10). Beltre has not walked in 30 plate appearances. And speaking of 30 plate appearances, Marco Scutaro did not strike out in his first 29 trips to the dish, before fanning in the eighth inning yesterday.

Through eight games:
         W-L  RS  RA   PA   H  2B  HR  BB  AVG  OBP  SLG   TB
Yankees 5-3 46 36 328 78 20 9 42 .278 .376 .459 129
Red Sox 4-4 41 37 312 78 23 10 25 .281 .344 .478 133
Boof Bonser will have his shoulder examined on Friday.
Example
I'm liking Peter Abraham, who notes that Congress wants MLB to ban smokeless tobacco:
Well that is excellent news. Because if Congress has nothing better to do than worry about ballplayers dipping tobacco, every person must have a job, all diseases are cured, every homeless person is off the streets and we're not waging war anywhere in the world.
Henry Waxman (D-CA):
We don't let baseball players go stand out there in the field and drink beer.
For me, seeing Youkilis go over by the foul line and take a long pull off a tall boy in a brown bag would be pretty cool.

April 14, 2010

G8: Red Sox 6, Twins 3

Red Sox - 110 010 030 - 6 10  0
Twins - 002 000 010 - 3 9 0
Jeremy Hermida's three-run, opposite-field double off Jesse Crain with two outs in the eighth was big hit of the day.

Marco Scutaro, Dustin Pedroia, and Victor Martinez each had two hits; FY hit his 4th dong of the young season, in the fifth, making him 8-for-his-last-13 at that point. David Ortiz smacked a line drive double to left in the ninth, ending the day on a high note after two strikeouts, a walk, and an outfield fly.

In the Boston eighth, Yook singled and one out later, Adrian Beltre ripped a double down the left field line. Drew was intentionally walked to load the bases for Hermida, who had grounded out to second twice and lined to short.

Although Lackey (6.2-7-2-4-2, 107) had four walks (three of them to Denard Span), he was never in much trouble outside of the third. Bot's control was shaky in the ninth (he franked Span and Justin Morneau), but stranded them at second and third.
Example
John Lackey / Kevin Slowey

Jacoby Ellsbury is not in the lineup.

The Deadball Red Sox are 2nd in the AL in slugging percentage (.479, .003 behind the Yankees), 4th in batting average, and 5th in OBP (despite being last in walks).

The Red Sox have been the visiting team in the first official game at five ballparks. They have lost all five games.
1901  Oriole Park, Baltimore        Lost 10-6
1909 Shibe Park, Philadelphia Lost 8-1
1911 Griffith Stadium, Washington Lost 8-5
1923 Yankee Stadium, New York Lost 4-1
2010 Target Field, Minneapolis Lost 5-2
Casey Kelly (2-3-1-1-2, 45) made his AA debut on Monday; the run was unearned. ... Boof Bonser allowed nine runs in two innings for Pawtucket last night; in two starts, he has allowed 16 baserunners in 6.1 innings.

Is John Tomase suggesting the Blue Jays might be an AL East threat this year?

April 13, 2010

Those Ad-Free Days At Fenway

Thomas Grillo, Herald:
The pitches at Fenway Park don't just come from the mound.

Ads surround the ballfield, causing some to long for the days when they could watch a game without being bombarded by signs. ...

Many Sox fans recall a time when the only sign at Fenway Park was the Jimmy Fund billboard in right field. They say the proliferation of ads has turned the park back into a commercial zone. ...
Really?

Ortiz Still Struggling, Denies Wrist Injury

David Ortiz denied a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune stating that "friends" of Ortiz say his left wrist is hurting.
Don't pay attention to that crap. I'm fine. If I'd have been raking, they wouldn't be saying that.
After not playing on Saturday, Ortiz struck out four times on Sunday, although he was ahead in the count every time up, including 3-0 and 3-1. He fanned two more times yesterday. In 24 plate appearances, Ortiz is hitting .136 and has 10 strikeouts in his last four games.

Dave Magadan says that Ortiz is
for the most part he's getting himself in decent hitters' counts. He just needs to start taking advantage of it. ... When you're a little unsure of the strike zone and have a fear of recognizing the pitches you tend to get a lot of check swings. ... There are some mechanical issues we're still trying to iron out. I think when you are working on things mechanically, your focus isn't 100 percent on the pitches. ... [R]ight now he's probably 70-30 focused.
Also: Opponents have stolen 12 bases in 13 attempts against the Red Sox, including 11 of 12 against Victor Martinez.

April 12, 2010

G7: Twins 5, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 100 010 - 2  7  0
Twins - 210 100 10x - 5 12 0
Lester (5-9-4-3-5, 107) was off from the start, facing eight batters in the first inning (three singles, two walks) and five more in the second, throwing 58 pitches in the two innings. He ended up going through the order three times in his five innings.

A day after Clay Buchholz allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in all five of his innings, Lester put the first hitter on base in three of his five innings; all three scored.

Back-to-back doubles by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz (off Pavano (6-4-1-1-4, 95)) gave Boston a run in the fourth. Flo's hit was to deep left and it was a fly that Delmon Young got twisted around on and tried to catch with his back to the infield; the ball hit off the heel of his glove.

The other run scored when Jeremy Hermida doubled, took third on Marco Scutaro's single, and scored on Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly to right.

Ortiz continued to look very bad at the plate, striking out twice and fouling out in his three other trips to the plate. Don and Jerry said earlier in the game that it sounds like Tito is already thinking about benching him -- and the fact that Ellsbury sat this one out was the only reason he was in there today.
Example
Jon Lester / Carl Pavano

The Red Sox will help the Twins christen their new outdoor ball park this afternoon. Amalie Benjamin has some photos from the press box.

Lester was meh (5-5-4-3-4, 94) against the MFY last week, while Pavano had a 7-6-1-0-6, 102 line against the Angels. As expected, Jacoby Ellsbury has the day off.
Example
Peter Abraham notes that his Kansas City cab driver told him "the government has Nazi scientists from World War II locked up on military bases in the desert working on advanced weapons". Hahaha, what a nut! ... What's that you say? The CIA admits, at length on its own freakin' website, that it did recruit Nazi scientists after the war while letting others escape and resettle in South America, and then covered up that information for decades? Gee, it sounds more like a fact, Peter.
Example
L is in New jersey for the week. We had another delay at the border, though it was much shorter this time.