May 31, 2012

G51: Tigers 7, Red Sox 3

Tigers  - 003 010 012 - 7 14  0
Red Sox - 021 000 000 - 3  7  2
Miguel Cabrera's fifth-inning single scored Quintin Berry and snapped a 3-3 tie, as the Tigers avoided a four-game sweep. The Tigers later put the game on ice with three runs off the bullpen, highlighted by a triple from Prince Fielder.

After Ryan Sweeney gunned down Delmon Young trying to score on a fly ball to right in the top of the second, Boston got on the board. Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered (#10) over the Red Sox bullpen, Sweeney singled, and (two outs later) Scott Podsednik doubled to straightaway center.

Unfortunately, the Tigers came right back against Beckett (7-10-4-1-1, 102). Don Kelly singled and Danny Worth doubled. Berry (3-for-5, 2 runs, 2 steals) singled in one run and Brennan Boesch's sac fly tied the game. Fielder's single scored Berry for a 3-2 Detroit lead.

Boston tied the game in its half of the third when Kevin Youkilis doubled with two outs and scored on Salty's single.

Mike Aviles singled to begin the fourth - and that was the last Red Sox hit of the night. The next 19 batters managed only one walk (by Nick Punto, in the seventh).

Detroit padded its lead when Young (3-for-5) homered off Franklin Morales in the eighth. In the ninth, facing Rich Hill, Cabrera singled with two outs and stole second, Fielder tripled, and Young singled.
Example
Max Scherzer / Josh Beckett
Podsednik, CF
Nava, LF
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Sweeney, RF
Aviles, SS
Punto, 2B
A decision on whether to put Dustin Pedroia on the disabled list is expected by Monday, so the Red Sox will apparently play with a two-man bench until then. Bobby Valentine says Pedroia is day-to-day, but he is not allowed to swing a bat until the swelling around his right thumb subsides.

Despite having 12 men on the disabled list (and Pedroia could be #13), they have won 14 of their last 19 games. This is the only American League game on the schedule tonight.
            W   L   GB    RS   RA  DIFF
Orioles    29  22  ---   230  222  +  8
Rays       29  22  ---   216  206  + 10
Yankees    27  23  1.5   226  212  + 14
Blue Jays  27  24  2.0   249  223  + 26
Red Sox    26  24  2.5   265  243  + 22

Double Snowmen

May 30, 2012 - Seattle at Texas
Mariners  - 0 8 8  1 0 0  0 4 0 - 21 20  1
Rangers   - 0 0 0  0 0 5  2 0 1 -  8 13  1
Seattle became the seventh major league team to score at least eight runs in consecutive innings. Only four of those games have occurred since 1900:

May 2, 1901 - Boston at Philadelphia
Americans -  2 9 10  0 0 0  0 0 2 - 23 21  4
Athletics -  2 0  2  1 2 0  0 0 5 - 12 18  3
July 29, 1928 - New York at Cleveland
Yankees   -  1 0 1  1 0 0  0 0 3 -  6 15  3
Cleveland -  8 9 1  0 0 6  0 0 x - 24 27  1
May 5, 2001 - Los Angeles at Chicago
Dodgers   -  0 0 0  0 0 1  0 0 0 -  1  6  3
Cubs      -  0 0 0  4 0 0  8 8 x - 20 18  0
(Thanks to Elias.)

May 30, 2012

G50: Red Sox 6, Tigers 4

Tigers  - 102 000 100 - 4 12  0
Red Sox - 000 400 11x - 6 12  0
Adrian Gonzalez's second ground-rule double of the night scored Daniel Nava, snapping a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning. Kevin Youkilis offered a bit of padding with an eighth-inning solo home run and Alfredo Aceves, appearing in his fourth straight game, picked up the save. Aceves has thrown 68 pitches in the last four games.

The Red Sox - 14-5 over their last 19 games - may still be in fifth place, but they are only 2.5 GB the Orioles.

Lester (6.2-10-4-0-7, 120) had a rough first three innings. He allowed three singles and a run in the first, and a double and triple and two runs in the third. But he found a groove, and kept the Tigers at bay while his mates took the lead in the fourth.

Smyly (6-8-4-0-4, 86) set down 10 of the first 11 Boston batters, but had trouble with the middle of the order the second time through. With two outs in the fourth, Gonzalez doubled to right-center and David Ortiz - after getting something out of his eye - homered (#11) to dead center. Youkilis singled and Will Middlebrooks smoked a line drive over the Wall in left for a two-run homer (#6), giving the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the seventh, Lester started to crumble. Alex Avila singled off the Wall and was called out trying for a double (replays on Fox Detroit showed Avila was safe). Gerald Laird followed with a hard-hit double to left-center. Bobby Valentine came out to the mound, but left Lester (at 116 pitches) in the game. It was a gamble, and it paid off, as Lester struck out Quintin Berry. Valentine then brought in Matt Albers. Andy Dirks reached on an infield single to third; Laird had to stay put at second. Miguel Cabrera (4-for-5, 3 doubles) lifted a pop-up down the right field line. Gonzalez tried to make a sliding basket catch near the foul line, but could not hold onto the ball, and Laird scored, tying the game at 4-4. After intentionally walking Prince Fielder to load the bases, Albers got a ground ball for the third out.

In the home half of the seventh, Kelly Shoppach and Nick Punto both struck out before Nava walked, Mike Aviles singled, and Gonzalez doubled, giving the Sox a 5-4 lead.
Example
Drew Smyly / Jon Lester
Nava, LF
Aviles, SS
Gonzalez, RF
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Byrd, CF
Shoppach, C
Punto, 2B
Can the Red Sox raise their record to two games over .500? Gotta keep thinking big...

To do so, they have to beat "Guy" Smyly, who is in only his second professional season, having rocketed through A+, AA, and AAA last year. He got off to a fantastic start this year, but his last three starts - 12 runs in 14.2 innings - are more in line with a 22-year-old rookie finding his way through the league(s). Smyly, a lefty, has a very respectable 3.14 ERA and appears to be on a pitch limit of 90-100.

Also: Lars Anderson hit an absolute moon shot last night that sailed into Pawtucket's electronic video board in right-center, smashing several lights.

Pedroia Has Torn Muscle In Thumb, Hopes To Avoid DL

Dustin Pedroia has a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb and is hoping a padded brace will enable him to swing a bat. If not, he will be on the disabled list for three to four weeks.
Right now we're waiting to see how I feel the next couple of days. My swelling has gone down, the bruising in my thumb has gone down, so we'll just wait and see if I could play. If I can protect it when I hit, we'll be all right. Hopefully, I heal quick and I can get back out there and soon as I can. My ligaments and tendons are fine. It's the only muscle in the thumb. I have to wait for it to calm down and see if I can hit with a splint or a brace or something. ... If I can't do it, I think it's three or four weeks.
Over the last two weeks, since May 14, Pedroia hit only .232/.267/.250, and 12 of his 13 hits during that time were singles.

Michael Silverman, Herald:
One scout who has been following Pedroia said it has been obvious that something has not been right the way the right-handed hitter keeps flaring balls to right field. You need the right thumb to pull the ball and roll the right hand over and Pedroia has not been doing that, the scout said.
The Red Sox's medical staff and an independent doctor in Arizona all agreed that Pedroia did not suffer any ligament or tendon damage and will not require surgery.

Scott Lauber, Herald:
Pedroia has been coping with discomfort for about three weeks after being jammed on an inside fastball. He had been using extra padding on his thumb and even changed his grip during batting practice. The situation was aggravated on a swing earlier in Monday's game, not on the diving stop that Pedroia made in the fifth inning, a play that preceded his exit from the game.
Silverman says that he believes that
both the team and Pedroia realize that after the attempt is made and due diligence is conducted, cooler heads will prevail and make the wise decision that playing through this particular injury would be foolhardy.

Schadenfreude 130 (A Continuing Series)

May 29


May 30



May 29, 2012

G49: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3

Tigers  - 000 011 100 - 3  9  1
Red Sox - 010 310 10x - 6 11  0
25-24!  One game over .500, and only 3.5 GB in the AL East.

Daniel Nava's three-run, opposite-field double with two outs in the fourth inning - off a 100-mph fastball - was the big blow against Verlander (6-10-5-1-7, 105), who allowed 10 hits for the first time in 50 starts, dating back to September 2, 2010. It was also only the third time in his last 63 starts that Verlander allowed as many as five runs.

After Nava's double, the Tigers tried to inch closer, but the Red Sox simply put more runs on the board.

Jhonny Peralta hit a solo home run off Bard (5.1-5-2-2-4, 94) in the fifth. Bard ended that inning by striking out Miguel Cabrera with two men on. In the home half, David Ortiz doubled home Adrian Gonzalez to give the Red Sox a 5-1 lead. (Ortiz doubled and scored in the second.)

Prince Fielder launched a bomb to right-center to open the sixth. Detroit then put two more runners on base, but Scott Atchison retired Ramon Santiago on a bloop liner to second to hold the lead at 5-2. Fielder singled home a run in the seventh, but Ortiz answered that with his 11th home run of the year, a line drive that just cleared the Wall in left.

Rain delayed the game in the eighth inning for 38 minutes. Afterwards, Alfredo Aceves issued a one-out walk in the ninth, and nailed down the save.
Example
Justin Verlander / Daniel Bard
Nava, LF
Sweeney, RF
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Aviles, SS
Podsednik, CF
Punto, 2B
Bard, on the pitching match-up:
I'm excited about it. Pretty cool. I don't have to stand in the box against him, which I'm happy about. Offensively, we're swinging it good for the most part lately. Hopefully they can give me three or four runs and we can win with that.
For the seventh time this season, the Red Sox will try to get over .500:
 W- L     THEN...
.0- 0  -  lost 2-3
10-10  -  lost 1-4
11-11  -  lost 3-5
21-21  -  lost 1-4
22-22  -  lost 4-7
23-23  -  lost 3-4
24-24  - 
Tonight, it's .510 or bust!

May 28, 2012

G48: Red Sox 7, Tigers 4

Tigers  - 010 010 002 - 4  7  0
Red Sox - 131 001 01x - 7 13  0
A swinging strike 3 by Mike Aviles should have ended the second inning with the score 1-1. But first base umpire Bill Welke ruled that the Aviles's bat had touched the ball and that the ball had hit the ground before Gerald Laird caught it.

Welke was dead wrong on both counts (Tigers manager Jim Leyland and third-base coach Gene Lamont were both ejected), and the Red Sox took full advantage of his gift, scoring three times before the inning ended a second time, enabling them to coast to victory.

Allowed another crack at Fister (5-11-6-1-2, 89) Aviles lined a single to left-center, bringing home Ryan Sweeney (3-for-4). Daniel Nava scored Aviles with a double to dead center and Pedroia knocked in Nava with a hard hit single of Prince Fielder's glove at first base. 4-1, Boston!

From that point, it was a relaxing, care-free afternoon. Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered in the third, Will Middlebrooks added an RBI-single in the sixth, and Aviles doubled in another run in the eighth.

After the game, Welke admitted that he blew the call:
What looks crystal clear [on video] didn't look crystal clear from the first-base line.
Leyland:
There shouldn't have been a second-inning rally. There's three outs. I've been in the game a long time. When the catcher catches the ball and it's strike three, you're out. It's that simple, isn't it? ... You guys [reporters] have to write something and hold people accountable. You know what, we're all accountable in this business. ... There should not have been a rally in that inning. ... A ridiculous [expletive] call, not just a bad call or a maybe call but a [expletive] ridiculous call. Write the [expletive] thing. That's all. I protect the umpires more than anybody, but [expletive], it's a ridiculous [expletive] call.
Doubront (6-4-2-1-6, 95) turned in a stellar performance, allowing two solo homers. Scott Atchison struck out four Tigers in two innings of work. Alfredo Aceves allowed a two-run dnog to Jhonny Peralta in the ninth, but that only delayed the celebration by a few minutes. Once again, the Red Sox are at .500 (24-24).

Dustin Pedroia jammed his right thumb diving for a ground ball in the top of the fifth and was pulled from the game. There was no immediate word on how serious the injury is.
Example
Doug Fister / Felix Doubront
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, RF
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Sweeney, CF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Aviles, SS
Ryan Sweeney may return to the lineup today. He suffered a concussion making a diving catch against the Phillies on May 19. Sweeney's return may end Adrian Gonzalez's time in right field, and re-open the debate of whether Will Middlebrooks should be in Boston or Pawtucket. (Kevin Youkilis is 6-for-16 (.375) since coming off the DL.)

The Red Sox - 11-5 since May 10 and 23-24 overall - host the Tigers for a four-game series. This is the latest the Red Sox have been under .500 since August 23, 1996. After starting the year 9-3, Detroit has gone 14-21. The Tigers are in third place in the AL Central, 3 GB Cleveland.

May 27, 2012

G47: Rays 4, Red Sox 3

Rays    - 000 100 102 - 4  9  0
Red Sox - 000 000 300 - 3  7  1
Alfredo Aceves blew his first save opportunity since April 21, as Sean Rodriguez hit a two-run homer with one out in the top of the ninth.

Buchholz (7-8-2-1-6, 111) turned in his best start of the season. Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run dong for Boston. Gonzalez also batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, but grounded out to shortstop.

The Red Sox went in order in the ninth. ... Kevin Youkilis and Scott Podsednik each had two hits.
Example
Jeremy Hellickson / Clay Buchholz

May 26, 2012

G46: Red Sox 3, Rays 2

Rays    - 000 000 200 - 2  4  0
Red Sox - 000 001 002 - 3  9  1
Pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run home run off Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth gave the Red Sox their first walk-off win of the season.

With Boston down 2-1, Daniel Nava started the ninth with a walk. Nick Punto bunted him to second and then Saltalamacchia batted for Marlon Byrd. Salty blasted an 0-1 pitch over the Red Sox bullpen in right-center.

Josh Beckett (7-4-2-0-5, 91) allowed only one base runner through the first six innings.

Daisuke Matsuzaka for Pawtucket: 5-1-0-1-2, 56.
Example
David Price / Josh Beckett

The Rays comment on the Luke Scott HBP. Joe Maddon:
I'm kind of curious regarding who put out the hit, because I know it wasn't one of their players. By the way their players reacted to the entire situation, I knew it did not come from them. It's kind of incompetent behavior ... [T]he people that were incensed obviously they're the ones that were probably behind the effort, the really weak, cowardly effort on their part. Did I say that strongly enough? Did I make my point?

May 25, 2012

G45: Rays 7, Red Sox 4

Rays    - 004 300 000 - 7  8  1
Red Sox - 100 012 000 - 4  4  1

Lester (4-6-7-3-4, 81) gave up three home runs. Matt Joyce hit a grand slam with two outs in the third and Elliot Johnson and Carlos Pena went back-to-back in the fourth. (In his first nine starts this season, Lester had allowed a total of four homers.)

Kevin Youkilis singled home Mike Aviles to give Boston an early 1-0 lead. Down 7-1, Scott Podsednik singled to start the bottom of the fifth, stole second, and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's double.

Although Boston cut the lead to 7-4 in the sixth - Marlon Byrd and Aviles had the RBIs - the Red Sox went in order in each of the final three innings, failing to hit even one ball out of the infield.

Franklin Morales hit Luke Scott with a pitch with two out in the top of the ninth. Scott took about four or five steps towards the mound, and the benches and bullpens emptied. Words were yelled, but no punches were thrown.
Example
Alex Cobb / Jon Lester
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Youkilis, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Nava, LF
Byrd, RF
Podsednik, CF
The Red Sox have won 10 of their last 13 games and Bobby Valentine says that if they keep playing well, "we're going to win a championship".

Laugh if you want, but Gordon Edes points out that since April 21, when Boston blew a nine-run lead to the Yankees,
the club is 18-12, the third-best record in the American League in that span, behind just the Baltimore Orioles (20-10) and Tampa Bay Rays (19-11). That's a winning percentage of .600. Overall, the Sox are now 22-22. If the Sox maintain that .600 pace, they would go 71-47 over their final 118 games, leaving them with a total of 93 wins.
Pawtucket: Darnell McDonald begins a rehab assignment tonight. Daisuke Matsuzaka will start on Saturday. I guess that issue with his neck wasn't all that serious!

May 23, 2012

Help A Veteran Get A PTSD Service Dog

Jeremy Brockway was a corporal in the United States Marine Corps. During his time in Iraq, he witnessed and participated in many traumatizing incidents. Although Brockway was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and severe depression, the military prepared to send him back to Iraq.

Knowing that he would likely not survive another deployment, Jeremy and his wife, Ashlea, sought refuge in Canada. You can a lot more about Jeremy's background and his slow process of healing here.

The Brockways are currently trying to raise funds to adopt a PTSD service dog named Buddha to help Jeremy cope with everyday life.

My partner, Laura, interviewed Ashlea about what Buddha is trained to do:
One of the major issues with PTSD is that people have a hard time being grounded - knowing that they are here, in the present, that they're safe, without their mind taking them back to the traumatizing experience. This dog will be trained in something called "deep pressure therapy". He'll push up against Jeremy's legs, pretty much all the time. When they're walking outside in public, or when they're home together, he will be pushing on Jeremy, and that physical feeling will help Jeremy focus and be present, help ground him.

Buddha will sleep in the same room as Jeremy. If Jeremy starts to have a night terror, Buddha will help to wake Jeremy, and then he'll crawl up onto Jeremy and provide the deep pressure therapy - and be there for support, so Jeremy can pet Buddha to help himself calm down.

Out in public, Jeremy can feel overwhelmed. And if you're overwhelmed and in a crowd, everything can go blurry, and you can start to have a panic attack. Buddha will be trained with a one-word command, to find a route out of the crowd, and lead Jeremy to a place that's quiet, so Jeremy can get refocused and calm down. ...

Jeremy has often said, "It's going to take a miracle to make me better. Only a miracle will get me out of this." After the first time we met Buddha, Jeremy told me that maybe this dog is his miracle. That really had an impact on me. It made me think this is what Jeremy needs and will respond to.
If you have been around dogs of any kind, you know how comforting and calming and loving they can be. I hope you'll help Jeremy with whatever you can. Any amount, even $5, will bring Buddha a little closer to the Brockway family. Thank you very much.

G44: Red Sox 6, Orioles 5

Red Sox - 011 003 010 - 6 13  0
Orioles - 110 002 010 - 5  7  0
Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, and Kelly Shoppach - the lower third of the batting order - all homered in the later innings this afternoon as the Red Sox took two of three from the first-place Orioles. Boston has won 10 of its last 13 games.

With two outs in the top of the sixth, Nava clubbed a home run to right-center, snapping a 2-2 tie. After Podsednik singled, Shoppach went deep into the left field bleachers.

Baltimore came right back with a two-out rally of its own, though, as Andrew Miller surrendered a two-run shot to Nick Johnson, who had also homered earlier in the game off Bard (5.1-5-2-4-2, 91).

Podsednik -- in his first MLB start since September 9, 2010 -- homered to right in the top of the eighth, giving the Red Sox a 6-4 lead.

Vicente Padilla walked Nick Markakis to start the bottom of the eighth and gave up a double to Adam Jones. Padilla fanned Chris Davis, but the Orioles still had the potential tying runs on second and third. Wilson Betemit hit a pop-up to shallow right-center. Che-Hsuan Lin, who had pinch-run for Kevin Youkilis and relieved Adrian Gonzalez in right field, raced in and made a diving head-first catch, turning what might have been a game-tying hit into a sacrifice fly that cut Boston's lead to 6-5.

Alfredo Aceves came in for a four-our save. He struck out Johnson to end the eighth and got three weak groundouts in the ninth.

The Red Sox finished their 20-games-in-20-days stretch with an 11-9 record. They are off tomorrow before hosting the Rays on Friday night.
Example
Daniel Bard / Jake Arrieta
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, RF
Youkilis, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, LF
Podsednik, CF
Shoppach, C

Ortiz And Leadership

David Ortiz, May 21, 2012:
I was reading an article [that] talked about the leaders people call "leaders" in this town. Basically, it seems like no matter what you do, it's not good enough. And you can only call leaders the guys who are out diving for balls on the field or calling pitches behind the plate? No. 1, I don't agree with that. And No. 2, what I do I don't do for people to know. I do it for my teammates, to get to know things better. I don't give a [expletive] about anybody knowing what we talk about, No. 1. And No. 2, I don't give a [expletive] what they call leaders. ...

What they call leaders is not what a leader is all about. They need to go to the dictionary and find out what the word "leader" means. You know what I'm saying? The leaders they call leaders are the ones who get in front of the crowd and try to lead them. But that's not the case here. I'm the kind of [expletive] who worries about winning games. I'm a winner. I hate losing. But what I do, I don't do for everybody to know. I do it for us to get better, and the trash talking out there to stop. ...

I don't give a [expletive] if they want to call me a leader. I don't give a [expletive] if they want to call me a captain. I don't give a [expletive] if they call me either of them. Because you know what? I always say I came to play this game and one day I'm going to be gone. And as long as I play, I'm going to try to do good. I'm going to try to do whatever it takes to win ballgames. ...

I don't get no respect. Not from the media. Not from the front office. What I do is never the right thing. It's always hiding, for somebody to find out. ...

Somebody wrote, "Why didn't he do it earlier?" Earlier? When am I going to do it, in spring training? What did I do wrong? Seriously, what did I do wrong? You hit 54 home runs, then hit 35, it's not good enough. How many people hit 35? Never good enough, bro. That's why I don't care. What I care about is the respect of my teammates, the [expletives] who know that we need to play the game better, worry about what we got to do, and that's about it. They respect that. We talked and then we go about our business afterward. I don't care about anything else. ...

We're playing better, we're winning, everybody is going about their business. And it's still May. Not late, like [some critics] want to say.
Ortiz made his surprising comments to Gordon Edes of ESPN after Monday's game in Baltimore. Edes explained that Ortiz was angry at comments made that afternoon by Tony Massarotti, a writer for the Globe and co-host (with Michael Felger) of a sports radio show. Mazz worked with Ortiz on a biography, Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits.

In an article on the show's website, Massarotti said:
The fact that it's Ortiz I'm happy to hear, I said to you at the end of last year I thought it was time to cut bait with him too. So thus far he has played very well, in fact he played well defensively in the time he got in the field over the weekend and if he is now taking it upon himself to assume leadership of this team I give him all the credit in the world for it.
During the show, Massarotti said that Ortiz
was the right guy [to call the meeting]. I have always wondered whether or not he would really do this sort of thing. He's always been more the kind to put his arm around someone, pull them aside, "Hey what's bothering you." Very empathetic, sympathetic, calm. He's not the kind of guy to start flipping stuff over. If in this one he was pissed off? Good. Someone in there needed to get pissed off a long time ago.
Nick Cafardo, writing in today's Globe, called Ortiz's outburst an "awkward, strange response" to the topic of leadership and respect, and noted that Ortiz
gave me an earful about the media being too tough on Josh Beckett in the reaction to his golf outing. After Beckett pitched another outstanding game Sunday in Philadelphia, Ortiz said, "They said Beckett was a cancer. What are they going to say now?"

It really bothered him that people had turned on Beckett, and part of that goes back two years ago when people were saying that Ortiz was done, based on a bad April. He hasn't forgotten that.
General manager Ben Cherington:
He's stepped up and been a true leader on and off the field. From the first day of spring training, he's played hard. He reported in great shape. He's run balls out. He's done what he needs to do in the field. He's done what he needed to do off the field and in the clubhouse. He's been a huge part of our team, the main reason why we've gotten through some tough patches early in the season. We're certainly happy he's on our side. ... There are moments during a season, especially in a place like this, you get frustrated. We were coming off a big win that he was a part of. Maybe it was something about the way the question was asked he didn't like. I feel good about our relationship with David. We support him and have a lot of respect for him.
Daniel Bard:
He's a leader, whether he likes it or not. Everyone listens to him and respects him because of what he's done. . . . Very few guys like to call team meetings, since it's not a positive thing. It's not fun to tell your teammates to pick it up, but sometimes it's needed. What better guy to do it?
There is no need for Ortiz to toss the post-game spread to make his points. His comments to the team when its backs were to the wall during the 2007 ALCS
Listen, we're not just a good team. We're a great team. And don't you fucking forget that. And let's go play one at a time and go prove that. Because let me tell you something ... There's a reason why you wear this Red Sox uniform. ... Because you're a bad motherfucker.
are part of his legacy in Boston. But last October, Ortiz made statements that indicated he had checked out and refused to deal with the deteriorating atmosphere in the clubhouse as the team's playoff chances disappeared. And it is those comments that give a perception of a lack of leadership.
I am nobody to determine who was doing the right thing and who wasn't. I'm another player, I'm not a boss. I'm nobody's babysitter. We have rules and they need to be followed. This case, I did what I needed to complete the rules. If others weren't, it's the bosses job to let them know what's up.
Ortiz said there was "too much drama" surrounding the Red Sox and admitted, "I don't know if I want to be part of this drama for next year." He even said that he would consider playing for the hated Yankees.

I wrote at the time:
As long as Ortiz is on the roster, the Red Sox are his team. And yet he checked out. By his own admission, he didn't care beyond punching his time card and working his shift.
While these comments were made when Ortiz was a free agent and unsure if he was in the Red Sox's plans for 2012, they did not show him in a good light. And they are a part of his history in Boston, alongside his bushel of big hits in 2004 and his inspirational words in 2007.

May 22, 2012

G43: Orioles 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 100 000 - 1  2  0
Orioles - 020 000 02x - 4  7  0
Brian Matusz (6.1-2-1-1-9, 101) outpitched Felix Doubront (6-4-2-2-9, 108), and the Red Sox did not get a hit after the fourth inning. Each side struck out 12 times.

Steve Tolleson's two-run homer put Baltimore on the board in the second. Kevin Youkilis, in his return to the Boston lineup, hit his third home run of the season in the fourth. Wilson Betemit added a two-run dong of his own in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Boston's other hit was a second-inning single by Adrian Gonzalez. The Red Sox also drew two walks, by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Daniel Nava.

At one point - from the fifth into the eighth - eight of Boston's 10 outs came by strikeout.

The loss, coupled with New York's 3-2 win over the Royals, dropped the Red Sox (21-22) back into the AL East basement.
Example
Felix Doubront / Brian Matusz
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, RF
Youkilis, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Nava, LF
Byrd, CF
            W   L   GB    RS   RA  DIFF   EXP
Orioles    27  16  ---   199  187  + 12  23-20
Rays       25  18  2.0   184  174  + 10  23-20
Blue Jays  24  19  3.0   206  167  + 39  26-17
Red Sox    21  21  5.5   229  210  + 19  23-19
Yankees    21  21  5.5   189  188  +  1  21-21
For the first time since April 16, the Red Sox are not in fifth place. Having won nine of their last 11 games, the Red Sox are now tied for fourth with the slumping Yankees. Boston has not been higher than fourth in the standings all season.

Baseball and the F Word - Want some fuckin gifs of players and umpires swearing? Well, shit, it's your goddamn lucky day. (thanks, matt)

The Hurt Parade

Cody Ross became the sixth Red Sox outfielder on the disabled list yesterday, joining the hurt parade because of a non-displaced fractured navicular bone in his left foot.

Ben Cherington:
It's a small fracture, it's non-displaced. It should heal without any sort of surgical intervention. We just have to let it heal and we'll get him back as soon as we can. ... Six to eight weeks is sort of a general framework.
Cherington added that Jacoby Ellsbury could return to the lineup in early July, with Carl Crawford coming back later in the month.

Ryan Sweeney had some more concussion tests before last night game and then felt fatigue after taking batting practice. Bobby Valentine said that Sweeney might go on the special seven-day disabled list for players who have suffered head injuries.

Che-Hsuan Lin was called up and played right field last night (and got his first major league hit and run scored), but he may be sent down if Kevin Youkilis is activated tonight. Yook played seven innings with Pawtucket on Saturday, had Sunday off, and played against last night. (Will Middlebrooks may stay with the Red Sox when Youkilis returns, if Adrian Gonzalez is cool with playing the outfield now and again.)

Daisuke Matsuzaka's rehab has been put on hold as the right-hander received an injection because of pain in his right trapezius (neck) muscle. Because he will be shut down for at least seven days, the Red Sox can re-start Matsuzaka's 30-day rehab clock.
The same area maybe flared up about three weeks ago. The same symptoms seemed to clear up, but they came back again. It restricts my movement. ... My rehab, so far, has been going really well. It is a setback, and it's a little disappointing, but hopefully the shot takes care of it ...
Aaron Cook was supposed to start a rehab assignment with the PawSox tonight, but his left knee laceration has been slow to heal.
One corner of the cut's not healing as much as the doctors wanted it to heal. They want to make sure it's completely closed.
Since April 23, the bullpen has a 1.59 ERA. Alfredo Aceves has converted eight consecutive save opportunities and Vicente Padilla has stranded all 15 runners he has inherited.

Padilla:
It seems like I'm more concentrated on making pitches more aggressively with the fastball when there are inherited runners. ... The game's on the line right there. You can't give up any runs. I must concentrate better.
Three factoids from the Globe's Peter Abraham:
Aceves has converted eight save chances in a row ...

No reliever in the AL has stranded more runners without allowing one to score than Padilla.

[Andrew] Miller has retired 23 of the 28 batters he has faced.
Since May 11, the Red Sox are 9-2 and the pitching staff has a 2.69 ERA. The bats have gone .283/.333/.507, with 30 doubles and 18 home runs. Boston has scored 5.6 runs per game in that time.

Schadenfreude 129 (A Continuing Series)


Kevin Kernan, Post, May 15:
There have been too many excuses and not enough wins for the Yankees.

It’s time to make a move and there is only one way that will happen, the Yankees must out-slug their opponents. ... The Yankees are 20-8 when hitting at least one home run and 0-7 in games they have failed to hit a home run. It's home run or bust right now.
The Yankees homered in four of their next seven games, but went 1-6. ... Derek Jeter is batting .212 (7-for-33) over his last eight games.

Mike Lupica, Daily News, May 19:
[The Yankees] reach the first weekend of interleague play a bit closer to last place than first place ... with questions about their starting rotation, questions about their depth and questions about their age. It's a lot of questions for the best damned pinstriped team money can buy. ...

[Y]ou wonder how different things would look for now if two corner infielders in whom they have invested a total of nearly half a billion dollars in long-term contracts start looking like the dangerous run producers they are paid to be and used to be. ...

Alex Rodriguez has now hit a total of 21 home runs in his last 137 games, which means from the start of an injury-shortened 2011 all the way to Saturday's loss against the Reds. Teixeira? He still got to his power and RBI numbers last season, but in his Yankee years, his batting average has gone from .292 to .256 to .248 in 2011 to the .228 he is hitting right now. ...

They are still supposed to be the heart of a great batting order, not the faces of bad contracts with the New York Yankees. Good news, though. We've got them locked up practically forever.
Roger Rubin, Daily News, May 19:
Hot-hitting Joey Votto mashed a three-run home run off [Ivan] Nova in the fifth inning [on Saturday], the big blow in what became a 6-5 loss before 45,302 at the Stadium. The Bombers' long-dormant offense finally stirred in the ninth inning, scoring two runs and getting the tying and winning runs into scoring position, but Curtis Granderson grounded out to first to end the game.

The Yankees have lost four of five, scoring just 13 runs over that span. They were 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position — both hits coming in the ninth — but have only five hits in their last 55 at-bats in those situations. ...

Girardi believes that the Yankees' inability to deliver clutch hits is wearing on his team.

"I'm sure guys think about it," Girardi said. "They're asked about it every day. ... I'm sure it's in their minds."
Ken Davidoff, Post, May 19:
[Saturday] brought more missed opportunities with runners in scoring position and another home-team loss at Yankee Stadium, so we welcome you to the Great Bronx Drought of 2012. ...

While this game signified progress, the trouble in clutch situations still makes Yankees baseball feel like a Deadball Era production ...
Tim Smith, Daily News, May 20:
Warning track power. Forty games into the season and that is what [Alex] Rodriguez has now. His homerless streak stretched to 40 at-bats. ...

Rodriguez has hit five home runs and has driven in 15 runs with a quarter of the season gone. That would put him on pace to be ahead of where he was last year, when he was plagued by a variety of injuries and finished with 16 homers and 62 RBI in 99 games. That is not what the Yankees are paying $30 million for.
Kevin Kernan, Post, May 21:
Alex Rodriguez gave it his best A-Rod pose. He was sure his eighth-inning drive to left off reliever Logan Ondrusek was over the fence for a two-run home run.

He gave his bat that little home run flip as he looked into the Yankees dugout in triumph. ...

As Rodriguez approached first base, he looked out to left to expect to see the ball flying over the wall. Instead, the ball landed in the glove of Chris Heisey.

Stunned, A-Rod let out a curse as he approached first base. This was once again warning-track power on a day the wind was blowing in at Yankee Stadium. ...

Rodriguez was not around after the game to answer questions. ...

If there is no power from A-Rod, the Yankees have no chance. That's the message from the warning track.
Bill Madden, Daily News, May 21:
While Joe Girardi's troops are clearly not playing up to their paychecks, it is probably too soon to suggest we could be witnessing a redux of 1965 here, when the core of the '50s-'60s dynasty ... suddenly all got old at once and the team went into deep decline. But if nothing else, the two out of three losses to the Reds — and especially Sunday's in which CC Sabathia could not hold a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, has to be very unsettling for the Yankee high command. ...

[T]his was precisely the kind of game for which the Yankees are paying Sabathia $23 million a year — a must-win game, if only to restore some of the lost psyche over these past couple of weeks in which the hitters, many of them earning the same lofty salaries, were a collective 5-for-their-last-55 with runners in scoring position and .231 overall, 22nd in the majors. ...

For now, there's just this: Coming to town for three games beginning Monday are the Kansas City Royals, possessors of one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. The Yankees should consider them yet another wake-up call.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News, May 22:
It was raining in the Bronx Monday night, but the Yankees' drought extended yet another day.

The Royals handed the Yankees a 6-0 loss in front of a wet, cold and increasingly impatient crowd at Yankee Stadium, as the Bombers' ineptitude with runners in scoring position continued.

The Yankees were 0-for-13 in those situations, the most glaring failure coming in a bases-loaded, no-out rally in the third that produced no runs.

In their past nine games, the Yankees are 6-for-72 with RISP, a paltry .083 average, going 2-7 during that stretch. ...

Russell Martin and Derek Jeter singled to open the third, then Curtis Granderson walked to load the bases with nobody out for a prime scoring opportunity.

The Yankees failed to break out of their situational slump, as Paulino caught Cano looking at a slider for strike three, fanned A-Rod on a 96 mph fastball and got Ibanez to fly out to deep left, stranding all three runners as the sparse Stadium crowd let the Bombers hear it for another wasted opportunity.
Tim Smith, Daily News, May 22:
So Joe Girardi thought sliding Mark Teixeira from the No. 5 slot down to No. 7 in the batting order before the game against Kansas City on Monday night might somehow jump-start the slumping slugger and perhaps jolt the other slumbering Bombers. ...

What else you got? ...

There are no easy answers for the Yankees. They're stuck. There is no one in the minors to call up to heat up those frozen bats.
Ken Davidoff, Post, May 22:
Your number of the day at Yankee Stadium was zero.

Zero runs for the home team. Zero hits with runners in scoring position.

Zero games above .500. Zero games out of last place.

Have these Yankees zeroed out?

That's three straight losses and six out of their last seven ... In all, they went 0-for-13 (with two walks) with runners in scoring position, continuing their run of incompetence to six hits in 72 at-bats. ...

"We saw the ball well," Curtis Granderson said. "We just weren't able to put good swings on it."

Said Jeter: "We hit a lot of balls hard."

Don't get too worked up over quotes like these. What are they supposed to say? "We're choking like the 2004 Yankees!"?

May 21, 2012

G42: Red Sox 8, Orioles 6

Red Sox - 002 003 210 - 8 14  0
Orioles - 004 100 010 - 6  9  0

Tonight's come-from-behind win was truly a team effort. Every member of the starting lineup got at least one hit (Will Middlebrooks led the way with three, and Che-Hsuan Lin got the first hit of his career) and eight of the nine starters scored a run. The Red Sox have won nine of their last 11 games.

After the Red Sox wiped out a three-run deficit and tacked on some insurance, the bullpen trio of Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla, and Alfredo Aceves held the line. Padilla and Aceves were both working for the third game in a row.

Clay Buchholz (5.1-6-5-4-2, 94) retired the first six Orioles, but he imploded in the third, allowing three singles and three walks (two of which came with the bases loaded) before recording an out.

David Ortiz began the comeback in the sixth with a mammoth home run to right-center. Adrian Gonzalez doubled, but he had to stay put as Middlebrooks reached on an infield single to shortstop. A grounder to the right side moved the runners up and Evil Bert scored on Daniel Nava's sac fly. WMB took third on the sac and his gyrations along the third base line caused Tommy Hunter to balk him home, tying the game at 5-5.

Buchholz left in the sixth with one out and two Orioles on base, but Miller got two quick outs on only three pitches.

With one out in the top of the seventh, Mike Aviles singled to left, Dustin Pedroia doubled to right, and Ortiz was walked intentionally to load the bases. Gonzalez's fly out to left scored a run and Middlebrooks's hard single to center scored another, giving the Red Sox a 7-5 lead.

Lin grounded a single to left with two down in the eighth, went to second as Aviles reached on a strikeout-wild pitch, and scored on Pedroia's single.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Orioles singled three times off Rich Hill in the bottom of the eighth, cutting the lead to 7-6, but Padilla stranded two runners by getting a popup to shallow left and a strikeout of Nick Johnson. (Padilla has stranded all 15 inherited runners this season.)

Aceves got three groundballs in the ninth. The win improved the Red Sox's record to 21-21; it's only the third time they have been at .500 this year. Boston is now tied for fourth place with the Yankees, who were shutout by the Royals 6-0.
Example
Clay Buchholz / Tommy Hunter
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Nava, LF
Byrd, CF
Lin, RF
I'm not sure if Games 42-44 can be termed as big games in a 162-game season, but this feels like an important series to me. A Red Sox sweep would put the team only 3.5 games out of first.

After "Heated" Team Meeting On May 11, Red Sox Are 8-2

Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports:
If the Red Sox rally to make the postseason, they might look back to a players-only meeting on May 11 as a turning point.

The night before, right-hander Josh Beckett had allowed seven runs in 2.1 innings and the Sox had lost to the Indians at Fenway Park 8-3.

Designated hitter David Ortiz, the team's longest-tenured member, called the meeting, and apparently it was a doozy.

"Heated," was the adjective one player used.

The hitters challenged the pitchers to "step it up," according to two sources. The overall theme was that each player needed to take responsibility.

The effect was immediate, and positive.

The Red Sox won their next five games, and since the meeting have won seven of nine overall.
Each of the starters - Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, and Josh Beckett - picked up a victory in those five consecutive wins, games in which the pitching staff allowed 5, 1, 1, 1, and 0 runs.

Beckett has pitched 14.2 innings since the meeting, allowing only one run, while striking out 14 batters.

Mike Aviles, on Ortiz:
He's a leader, he's a leader. And when you have a leader like that call a meeting (he) basically says, "Let's go, let's step this up and get where we need to be." You look at this locker room, there's a lot of talent in here. There's no reason we can't win. None whatsoever. I just feel like when you have your leaders talking and letting everybody know, when we all get together, we're playing like a team now. That's the way it should be. A lot of talent here. No reason not to win.

May 20, 2012

G41: Red Sox 5, Phillies 1

Red Sox  - 113 000 000 - 5  9  1
Phillies - 000 000 010 - 1  7  0
Mike Aviles led off the game with a home run for the second consecutive day, Jarrod Saltalamacchia crushed a three-run bomb in the third, and Josh Beckett (7.2-7-1-2-5, 103) stymied the Phillies. The Red Sox have won eight of their last 10 games, outscoring their opponents 56-25.

Aviles drove in Boston's second run, as well, singling home Marlon Byrd in the second inning. Aviles and Adrian Gonzalez each had two hits.

The only other Red Sox player to hit two consecutive leadoff home runs? Outfielder Harry Hooper, who did it in both games of a May 30, 1913 doubleheader.

Beckett got into a little trouble in the eighth, leaving with the score 5-1 and runners at first and second and two outs. Vicente Padilla, who threw 31 pitches yesterday, came in and after walking Hunter Pence to load the bases, got Ty Wigginton to ground out harmlessly to second. Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect ninth on only nine pitches.

While the Red Sox (20-21) remain in last place, they are only one game behind the fourth-place Yankees (21-20). Boston can make up some serious ground in the East over the next three days, as they play the Orioles (27-15) in Baltimore.
Example
Josh Beckett / Cliff Lee
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, 1B
Gonzalez, RF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Nava, LF
Byrd, CF
Beckett, P
The Red Sox have optioned first baseman Mauro Gomez back to Pawtucket and recalled outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin.

May 19, 2012

Thoughts Prompted By The Red Sox Foundation's Association With "Run To Home Base"

On Sunday, the Red Sox Foundation will hold its annual fundraiser for Run to Home Base. I wrote about this event back in June 2010, and I am reposting those thoughts today:
Thoughts Prompted By The Red Sox Foundation's Association With "Run To Home Base"

In May, the Red Sox Foundation, along with Massachusetts General Hospital, was promoting the Run to Home Base program, which is raising money to "provide much needed services to local veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan ... with combat stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injuries".

It's hard to find fault with the group's mission statement:
Raising money for combat stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injury is the core mission of the Run to Home Base 9K. ... This program includes four components: confidential clinical care, outreach to veteran's families who are affected by these "signature wounds" of war, innovative research and educational programs for health providers, clergy, social workers and others. ... Our mission is to help these veterans obtain the care they need and deserve.
A RAND Corporation study from two years ago -- "Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery" -- estimated that 300,000 US troops are suffering from major depression or post traumatic stress from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 have had possible traumatic brain injuries. Only about half of those men and women have sought treatment.

The Red Sox's involvement in Run To Home Base is a very good thing and will help a lot of people. However, the team often glorifies the military, with fly-overs on Opening Day, singing God Bless America, or having a former soldier throw out the first pitch, after being thanked for "protecting our way of life". For the past week or two, the Red Sox's website has featured an Army recruitment ad ("When Opportunity Calls") with Jon Lester.*

* Expressing support for the military is the default setting for mainstream society, part of our normal discourse. However, speaking out against military activities -- or simply mentioning a few facts -- well, that's injecting politics into the world of sports, and could we please just focus on the game for a few hours, Mr. Bleeding Heart? I cannot begin to tell you how much this pisses me off.

There is also the issue of why any money needs to be raised for these veterans at all. Does the US military not have the cash on hand to properly care for the men and women it sends halfway around the world to do its conquering and killing? Apparently not. From years-long shortages in essential body armour to a lack of drinking water (in the desert!) to non-existent care once they return home -- or actually billing soldiers injured in the line of duty -- it is an incontestable fact that the US's treatment of its soldiers is inhumane and criminal.

And it is a story as old as the country itself. The United States has never given a shit about its veterans. They are like tissues -- use 'em up and throw them away.

NPR reports that tens of thousands of US soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are receiving little or no treatment. Many of the military's tests miss close to half of all brain injuries. And relevant information is often not put the soldier's permanent medical file -- oops! -- which makes it next to impossible to get any treatment months or years later.

In 2009, retired Army psychiatrist Charles Hoge wrote about the "illusory demands" of traumatic brain injuries in the New England Journal of Medicine and he worried that the military would be hobbled by the price for unnecessary treatment. One VA psychologist ordered her staff to not diagnose anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder so the Army could save some money.

Michelle Dyarman, a former major in the Army reserves, was involved in two roadside bomb attacks and a Humvee accident in Iraq in 2005. Dyarman was the first person in her Pennsylvania family to attend college, but she now struggles to read the newspaper. She often cannot remember the address of the farmhouse where she grew up. Her father reminds her to turn the oven on before cooking. She has been fighting with the Army for five years to first get them to acknowledge her injury and then to get treatment.
I always put the military first, even before my family and friends. ... I served my country. Now what's my country doing for me?
In 2008, the US was spending $12 billion every month in Iraq. That amount has apparently dropped to about $7.3 billion per month. (And well over $1 trillion has been "lost".) Think of how much help US veterans could get with even a fraction of those billions -- of course, if the US hadn't decided "Let's take over this part of the world to enrich ourselves!", they wouldn't be injured (or dead).

I've got an idea: Maybe the US could take some of the hundreds of millions of dollars it openly admits it is giving to the Taliban and use that to care for the men and women it sent into war.

Can anyone argue with that? Or am I being too political?

G40: Red Sox 7, Phillies 5

Red Sox  - 120 220 000 - 7 11  1
Phillies - 001 300 010 - 5 15  2
The Red Sox hit four home runs and the bullpen - the best in MLB over the last two months - held the lead as they won the second game of the three-game series. The Phillies left six men on base over the final three innings, including the bases loaded in the eighth.

Mike Aviles began the game with a home run (#7) to left-center. In the second, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3-for-4) singled and Ryan Sweeney doubled; Salty then scored on an error by pitcher Joe Blanton and Sweeney came home on a double play.

Will Middlebrooks (#5) and Saltalamacchia (#6) hit back-to-back home runs to kick off the fourth, and give Boston a 5-1 lead. Lester quickly gave back three runs, however, allowing an RBI single to Hector Luna and a two-run dong to Freddy Galvis.

David Ortiz hit a two-run bomb to center (#9) in the fifth to make it 7-4. That's how the score stood until the eighth, but the Phillies threatened in every inning.

5th: John Mayberry and Shane Victorino both singled with no outs, but Pence hit into a 6-4-3 double play and Ruiz struck out.

6th: With one out, Lester gave up two singles, but pinch-hitter Placido Polanco hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

7th: Vicente Padilla relieved Lester (6-8-4-1-3, 90) and allowed two singles with one out (Mayberry and Victorino, again). He fanned Pence on a nasty curve for the second out and caught a break when Sweeney made a highlight-reel catch, diving flat out towards the wall in deep right-center and hauling in Ruiz's bid for extra bases.

8th: Padilla allowed two singles and a fly ball to deep center advanced the runners to second and third with one out. Rich Hill came in and retired Juan Pierre on a weak grounder to first, and the runners had to hold. Bobby Valentine then called on Alfredo Aceves. Jimmy Rollins beat out an infield hit to shortstop and a run scored, making it 7-5. Aceves walked Mayberry on four pitches to load the bases, but Victorino was hacking, and popped up the first pitch to Aviles.

9th: Pence singled, but Ruiz lined out to shortstop and Aviles turned it into a huge double play. Ty Wigginton singled to center. Aceves struck out Luna to save the win.
Example
Jon Lester / Joe Blanton
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, 1B
Gonzalez, RF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Sweeney, CF
Nava, LF
Lester, P

May 18, 2012

G39: Phillies 6, Red Sox 4

Red Sox  - 001 101 010 - 4  8  0
Phillies - 400 010 01x - 6  6  0
Daniel Bard (5-3-5-5-3, 94) walked three of the first four batters he faced tonight, and allowed four first-inning runs. He threw 32 pitches in the inning, and put the Red Sox in a deep hole.

They chipped away against Hamels (7-6-3-1-9, 113), though. Mike Aviles homered in the third, and Cody Ross doubled and scored in the fourth and then homered in the sixth. Adrian Gonzalez went deep off Chad Qualls in the eighth. But Boston was never able to get any sort of sustained rally going against the Phillies.

Trailing by two runs and facing Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning, Kelly Shoppach reached on an infield hit. He took second when Daniel Nava grounded to first and went to third on Marlon Byrd's grounder to shortstop. Bobby Valentine was ejected for arguing that Byrd was safe because Jimmy Rollins's throw pulled John Mayberry Jr.'s foot off the bag. Replays from numerous angles were inconclusive. Papelbon then struck out Nick Punto on three pitches to end the game.
Example
Daniel Bard / Cole Hamels
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Ross, RF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Nava, LF
Byrd, CF
Bard, P
The scourge of inter-league play is upon us once again, as the Red Sox visit Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies for three games.

Bard allowed only one run in six innings in his last start, Sunday against Cleveland. When he could not command his fastball, he had to rely more heavily on his secondary pitches.
It forced me to use the changeup and use the breaking ball. That's what kept me in the game and kept them off-balance just enough.
Bard has a 3.00 ERA over the first five innings of his starts and a 10.29 ERA thereafter.

Over his last six starts (42 innings), Hamels has a 1.93 ERA. His season ERA is 2.28 ERA, just barely out of the Top 10 in the National League.

Papelbon is tied for the NL lead with 11 saves. He has allowed runs in only two of his 16 appearances.

May 17, 2012

G38: Red Sox 5, Rays 3

Red Sox - 111 000 020 - 5  7  1
Rays    - 001 100 010 - 3  8  0
Cody Ross drove in four of Boston's five runs. He walked with the bases loaded in the first, hit a solo home run to dead center in the third, and grounded a two-run single to center with two outs in the eighth, giving the Red Sox some much-needed insurance.

Doubront (5.2-6-2-4-7, 97) was pulled after putting runners at second and third in the sixth. Boston led 3-2, and Rich Hill preserved that lead by getting Luke Scott to fly to left.

After Boston took a 5-2 lead, Tampa scored a run in the bottom of the eighth and brought the potential tying run to the plate. But Alfredo Aceves got Luke Scott to ground out to second to end the inning. Scott stranded a total of seven runners, and he made the final outs of the first, fourth, sixth, and eighth innings. The Rays left 12 men on base.

Bobby Valentine played mix-and-match with the bullpen, using Hill (1 batter), Scott Atchison (1), Andrew Miller (1), Vicente Padilla (5), and Aceves (5).
I was going after this game tonight. I thought the guys really wanted this game and I was going to do everything we could to win it. ... Sometimes I'll take some future considerations. There weren't any future considerations tonight.
Marlon Byrd homered to lead off the second inning.
Example
Felix Doubront / Matt Moore
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, RF
Nava, LF
Byrd, CF
Shoppach, C
Doubront and Moore faced off on April 15, a game won by the Red Sox 6-4.

Will Middlebrooks has cooled down considerably:
First five games  .409  .435  1.000
Last eight games  .188  .235   .313

David Ortiz, on Adrian Gonzalez's power outage (two home runs in 168 PA): "My piƱata killer is going to be fine."

Last night, in his first rehab game, Kevin Youkilis doubled and walked in three plate appearances. He also scored a run.

May 16, 2012

G37: Rays 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 100 000 - 1  7  0
Rays    - 010 001 00x - 2  8  0
Tampa Bay scored its two runs on a balk by Clay Buchholz (5-6-2-1-5, 87) and a sacrifice fly to shallow right that Cody Ross lost in the ceiling and nearly overran. Boston could do very little with Hellickson (6-5-1-2-6, 104) and a trio of relievers, and saw its five-game winning streak come to an end.

In the bottom of the second, Carlos Pena singled and took second when Buchholz hit Luke Scott in the right foot with a pitch. Sean Rodriguez grounded into a double play and Pena went to third. After Will Rhymes walked, Buchholz balked with Jose Molina at the plate.

Buchholz:
The balk, in my head, I was going to go third to first, I came up and my back cleat sort of got caught, and I tried to spin around and throw to first. ... That clay out there, it sort of sticks, and if you don't pick your foot completely out of the clay, your cleats are stuck down in there.
Boston tied the game at 1-1 when Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled with two outs in the fourth and scored on Daniel Nava's single.

Buchholz ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing singles to the first two batters. With runners at first and third, Andrew Miller came in from the bullpen. Scott popped a 2-0 pitch to short right. Ross came in, but seemed to lose sight of the ball; he nearly overran it and when he reached back to catch it, Matt Joyce took off from third. Ross had to turn all the way around to make a throw, but it was too late.

Joyce:
I wasn't really planning on going until I saw Cody Ross kind of backpedal. The Trop can be tough sometimes for outfielders and infielders the same. It's hard to see the ball when you're not used to it. He started backpedaling, and as an outfielder, I know it's hard to get a lot on your throw and make a really good throw when you're on the heels of your feet.
Ross:
I was playing pretty deep and went in and gave Dustin a look, and when I looked back up, I lost it a little bit and gathered it and then tried to break my stride down and kind of tripped over myself and had to reach back and grab it. Just a lot of stuff going on on that play. It was awful.
Trailing by a run, Mike Aviles singled with one out in the seventh, but pinch-hitter Mauro Gomez grounded the first pitch he saw into an inning-ending double play. The strongest part of the order - Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez - went in order in the eighth. In the ninth, facing Fernando Rodney, Ross singled with two outs, but Nava grounded out to second.

Red Sox pitchers were called for three balks in the game (Buchholz, Matt Albers, Franklin Morales).
Example
Clay Buchholz / Jeremy Hellickson
Sweeney, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Ross, RF
Nava, LF
Aviles, SS
The Red Sox - winners of five straight - begin an eight-game road trip with a pair of games in Tampa Bay. Over their last four games, Boston has outscored its opponents 27-3.

Daniel Nava has reached base in 17 of his 24 plate appearances since joining the Red Sox. He's hitting .533/.708/1.000.

Adrian Gonzalez:
It doesn't matter what is ahead of us. The last five games we've played baseball the way you are supposed to play baseball. . . . We play like this, there are not many games we are going to lose.

Youkilis Begins Rehab Assignment Tonight

Kevin Youkilis begins a rehab assignment with Pawtucket tonight in Durham, North Carolina. He will be the PawSox's DH tonight against the Bulls, then play in the field on Thursday. Youkilis, whose strained lower back has kept him out of the lineup since April 28, could rejoin the team on Friday in Philadelphia.

Felix Doubront was hit near the right ear by a fly ball before Tuesday's game, but he says he is fine and will make his start tomorrow night.
The ball hit off the fungo and I didn't see the ball. [It] just came right to my ear, but I'm fine, I'm good.
Bobby Valentine, on Doubront:
Whenever anybody comes off the field you hold your breath. But he tested fine, he feels good, he knows where he is, he knows where he's going.
In anticipation of interleague play this weekend, Adrian Gonzalez was taking fly balls in right field and David Ortiz was working out at first base.

Beckett celebrated his 32nd birthday yesterday by throwing seven shutout innings. His nine strikeouts places him sixth on the team's all-time list (1,049).

Elsewhere: Jonathan Papelbon Reflects On Why He's No Longer A Red Sox ... Are The Phillies Misusing Jonathan Papelbon? ... Brett Lawrie, the Ump and the Human Element ... Yanks Place New Closer Robertson on DL

May 15, 2012

G36: Red Sox 5, Mariners 0

Mariners  - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Red Sox   - 001 210 01x - 5  9  0
Josh Beckett (7-4-0-2-9, 93) struck out six of the first nine Seattle batters and finished with a season-high nine strikeouts. Boston (17-19) has now won five consecutive games.

The only thing resembling a Mariners rally came in the fourth when two singles put runners on first and second with one out. Beckett then got a fly to left and a ground ball to second. Ichiro Suzuki was the lone Seattle runner to touch third base (and one of only two to make it to second), but that came with two outs in the sixth, and he was stranded there.

Rich Hill pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Alfredo Aceves tossed a perfect ninth. The Boston pitching staff has allowed only three runs over the last four games.

David Ortiz's eighth home run of the year, cranked to deep right-center in the third, was all the support Beckett & Co. would need. Ortiz also bunted for a single (!) and walked and scored twice. Mike Aviles had two doubles and two RBI; Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a single and a double, and Will Middlebrooks had an RBI single and a stolen base.
Example
Blake Beavan / Josh Beckett
Sweeney, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Ross, RF
Nava, LF
Aviles, SS
Afternoon baseball! And it's Tim Wakefield Day!
After this game, the Red Sox head out on an eight-game road trip to Tampa, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

May 14, 2012

G35: Red Sox 6, Mariners 1

Mariners  - 000 000 001 - 1  8  0
Red Sox   - 200 300 01x - 6  9  0
Lester (9-8-1-0-6, 119) went the distance as the Red Sox won their fourth consecutive game. It was Lester's first nine-inning complete game since June 27, 2010, against the Giants. (He threw an eight-inning CG this year, on April 11.)

After Dustin Pedroia drew a one-out walk in the first, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez hit RBI doubles to left field.

Daniel Nava hit a two-run homer in the fourth and, one out later, Kelly Shoppach crushed a solo shot over the Monster Seats. Marlon Byrd added a bases-loaded sac fly in the eighth.

Cody Ross singled and doubled in four trips. In addition to his home run, Nava walked twice.

Lester retired the first 11 Seattle batters and did not allow a runner to second base until the sixth. He faltered a bit in the seventh, allowing three singles, but was aided by a double play. In the ninth, he allowed a single, a double, and an RBI groundout, but Boston's lead was enough to not cause a bit of worry.

Pedroia went 0-for-3, and his 14-game hitting streak came to an end.

Runs allowed by the Red Sox pitching staff in their last three games: 1, 1, 1.
Example
Jason Vargas / Jon Lester
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, RF
Nava, LF
Byrd, CF
Shoppach, C
With their 12-1 win yesterday, the Red Sox scored 10+ runs for the ninth time this year. They are the second team in the last 81 years to score 10+ runs in nine of their first 34 games; the 1997 Rockies were the first. ... Boston is averaging 5.53 runs per game, but its median runs per game is only 4.0.

Seattle (16-20, 7.5 GB in the West) drops by Fenway Park for a quick two-game series. The Mariners are dead last in the American League with a .291 on-base percentage and second-to-last with a .235 team batting average.

May 13, 2012

G34: Red Sox 12, Cleveland 1

Cleveland - 001 000 000 -  1  7  0
Red Sox   - 401 001 60x - 12 12  0
Boston scored four times in the first inning after making two outs. David Ortiz walked and Adrian Gonzlaez doubled to the Wall in left. Will Middlebrooks's single scored Ortiz and Daniel Nava's double off the Wall scored Gonzalez. After Cody Ross was hit by a pitch, Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled in WMB and Nava.

Middlebrooks (2-for-3, three runs scored) hit a solo home run in the third. ... Dustin Pedroia doubled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. ... Nava was 2-for-2 with two doubles, two HBP, three runs scored, a stolen base, and three RBI. ... Gonzalez also doubled twice. ... Saltalamacchia capped a big seventh with a two-run dong; he finished with three hits and five RBI.

Daniel Bard (6-6-1-4-2, 97) allowed 10 baserunners in six innings, but was able to wiggle out of several jams. In the third, two walks and a single loaded the bases with one out. Bard walked in a run, but got Travis Hafner to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Bard also escaped a 2nd/3rd, 1 out jam in the fourth, as Casey Kotchman popped out to short right and Jack Hannahan lined to third. Kotchman ended the sixth inning by flying out with runners at first and third.

The bullpen continued to shine: Rich Hill struck out two in the seventh, Matt Albers pitches a perfect eighth, and Scott Atchison allowed a one-out double in the ninth.

Mauro Gomez, 27, made his major league debut for the Red Sox at first base in the eighth inning. He was called up to replace Darnell McDonald, who was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain. Gomez struck out in the eighth inning.
Example
Justin Masterson / Daniel Bard
Sweeney, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, LF
Ross, RF
Saltalamacchia, C
Aviles, SS
Someone misspelled Salty's name on this official lineup card.

May 12, 2012

G33: Red Sox 4, Cleveland 1

Cleveland - 000 001 000 - 1  3  0
Red Sox   - 002 101 00x - 4  8  0
Doubront (6-3-1-2-5, 109) was sharp, Dustin Pedroia (2-for-4) extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and the Red Sox won consecutive games for the first time since April 27/28.

Doubront did not allow a runner past first base until Lou Marson doubled to start the sixth; he later scored. Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla, and Alfredo Aceves each pitched a perfect inning of relief. Boston pitchers retired the last 11 Cleveland hitters (with only one of those outs leaving the infield).

In the third, Mike Aviles singled and scored on Pedroia's one-out double off the top of the Wall. Ortiz followed with an RBI double of his own, scoring Pedroia.

Daniel Nava (2-for-3) singled to lead off the fourth, took third on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's ground-rule double, and scored on Aviles's sac fly to left. Cody Ross blasted a long home run over everything in left in the sixth.

Example
Zach McAllister / Felix Doubront
Sweeney, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, LF
Ross, RF
Saltalamacchia, C
Aviles, SS
Since 1918, only three players have had at least eight extra-base hits and 11 RBI in their first eight major league games:
Mitchell Page, Oakland, 1977 - 8 XBH, 15 RBI
Alvin Davis, Seattle, 1984 - 9 XBH, 12 RBI
Will Middlebrooks, Boston, 2012 - 8 XBH, 11 RBI
The Red Sox have left 24 runners on base while splitting the first two games of the series.

Is Josh Beckett tipping his pitches? Bobby Valentine says maybe; Bob McClure says no.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for Pawtucket today. It's his fourth rehab outing since having TJ surgery. His next days to pitch are May 17 and 22 (which is also the last day of his rehab assignment).

Kevin Youkilis (lower back strain) has been playing catch, but has not begun swinging a bat.

The Red Sox signed outfielder Scott Podsednik, 36, from the Phillies. Podsednik, who was hitting .203 for Lehigh Valley (AAA), will play in Pawtucket.

May 11, 2012

G32: Red Sox 7, Cleveland 5

Cleveland - 100 000 301 - 5 12  0
Red Sox   - 220 030 00x - 7 12  1
Buchholz (6.1-8-4-3-0, 111) overcame a shaky first inning - two singles, one walk, and one HBP, all with two outs - and pitched into the seventh inning. It was easily his best outing of the year.

After Cleveland had taken a 1-0 lead, the Red Sox scored two quick runs of their own, as Will Middlebrooks doubled with the bases loaded, scoring Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. In the second, Pedroia cracked a two-run double of his own, and finished the night with three hits and three RBI.

Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times, on two doubles, two walks and a HBP. ... Daniel Nava and Cody Ross both walked twice and doubled. ... Six of Boston's 12 hits were doubles, and they drew a total of eight walks off a trio of Cleveland pitchers.

Trailing 7-1, Cleveland made things interesting in the seventh. With one out, Buchholz gave up two singles and walk, and left with the bases loaded. Rich Hill walked in a run, Middlebrooks's fielding error let in a second run, and Michael Brantley's single made it 7-4.

Vicente Padilla came in with runners at second and third and only one out, and doused the fire. Alfredo Aceves had a bumpy ninth, giving up a walk, two singles, and a run, but he prevailed, stranding the potential tying run at second base by retiring Johnny Damon on a fly ball to center.

Number of pitches for the first four Red Sox pitchers: Buchholz (111), Hill (11), Andrew Miller (11), Franklin Morales (11). Sadly, Padilla (9) and Aceves (29) did not continue the pattern.
Example
Ubaldo Jiminez / Clay Buchholz
Sweeney, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, LF
Ross, RF
Saltalamacchia, C
Punto, SS
There is only one pitcher in baseball history who has allowed five or more runs in each of his first six appearances in a season - and he is pitching for the Red Sox tonight. Over the past 100 years, no Red Sox pitcher has allowed more earned runs in his first six starts than Clay Buchholz has this season (33).

Buchholz has been, by far, the worst starting pitcher in baseball. He has the highest ERA (9.09) and worst WHIP (2.020). Opposing batters are hitting .343/.428/.613/1.041 against him; both righties and lefties have an OPS over 1.000. Buchholz has allowed 10 home runs, as many as he allowed last season, in 50 additional innings. For the rest of the season, if Buchholz can give us what John Lackey did in 2011, it will be a huge improvement.

And he leads the team with three wins, which should be more than enough reason for all of us to never, ever cite W-L records as a meaningful statistic again.

Since making it back to .500 (11-11) on April 30, the Red Sox have gone 1-8. ... They have also lost 11 of their last 12 home games.