Friday, August 31, 2007

Sox Lose, Division Lead at 5 Games

Well, at least they got some hits. Two of them, even. After being no-hit through six innings yesterday, the Red Sox had become the first team in forty years to be no-hit for at least the first five innings of consecutive games. Not exactly an impressive accomplishment. But, even after a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Sox still have a five game lead, with twenty-eight to play. So, if the Sox go 14-14 the rest of the way, the Yankees would have to go 19-9 just to TIE. You still have to like Boston's chances.

Another reason to like their chances was the performance by Curt Schilling yesterday. He allowed only two runs (on six hits) in seven innings of work. He permitted two solo home runs to Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, but not much else. His velocity could have been better, but his location was good (88 pitches, 57 strikes), and he got results. The 3.48 ERA/1.06 WHIP Schilling we have seen in August will fit quite nicely into the Sox' playoff rotation.

The Sox offense shouldn't bear all the blame for the loss, however. In a bold move, NESN/The Boston Globe flew Amalie Benjamin down to New York for the final game. Obviously, this was done in the hopes of preventing a sweep, and it was a move that had to be made. (It should have been made to START the series, but we've already been over that.) Benjamin's pre-game NESN appearance was a huge positive, but then Nick Cafardo was assigned Extra Bases Blogging duties for the game. IN. EXPLICABLE. The Red Sox are playing .434 ball with Cafardo on the EBB, including a woeful .406 against divisional opponents. Sure, it was preferable to have Benjamin, instead of Cafardo, on the game story, but which game story would you rather read? Benjamin, on a Sox loss, or Cafardo, on a Sox win? (If you chose the first option, you might be a fan of good writing, but you still got the wrong answer.)

Not that I am blameless for the Sox' loss. As per usual, I was watching the Red Sox on NESN, with the Phillies-Mets battle taking place on the desktop computer, next to the TV. Usually, I try to positively influence the results through my own behaviors. Typically, this involves positioning the bobbleheads so that they can best help their respective teams, and then rearranging them, according to game situations. But it also involves positioning myself to best help the teams. It is quite a delicate balance. For example, on Tuesday night, when Phillies 1B Ryan Howard hit a blast that fell just short of a home run, I writhed on the floor in anguish. As I writhed, Jason Varitek hit a game-tying home run. What do you do in that situation? Well, I considered the fact that the Phillies trailed in the divisional race, and got up off the floor. The Phillies went on to win, but the Sox did not. On Thursday, I was just unable to find the correct combination to help both teams. The Phillies bullpen kept on blowing leads when I tried to help the Sox. So, I had to revert back to the conditions that the Phillies were succeeding with, and hope for the best for Boston. If the Phillies had won their game in less than four hours, and Benjamin had been assigned to the EBB, things may have gone differently for the Sox. (Plus, getting more than two hits would also have been helpful.) It's going to get real tricky when the Sox and Phillies face each other in the Series.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sox Lose First Two in New York

So. Wednesday. Well, I went to Target, my top #1 favorite retail establishment. Love that place. But, how come every time I go there another customer asks me where something is? Yes, I am aware that I propel myself through the store WITH AUTHORITY, but does my soccer shirt with the big shamrock on it indicate that I'm there to help YOU? Geesh. Ask one of the four store associates shooting the shit in Menswear where to find...Oh. Sports blog. Sorry about that.

OK. Did I ever tell you about that catch I made playing whiffleball when I was eight? I was really more of a kickball kid, but, one bright summer day, we were playing with one of those big red FLINSTONES CLUB-type bats, and I was positioned in CF, two feet behind 2B. Where the scouting reports indicated I should be positioned. The batter SLAMMED a high line drive, and I LEAPT immediately, and grasped the oversized whiffleball between my miniature hands. It may well have been the greatest...Oh. Major sports.

What was up with the Texas Rangers announcers calling the game from the bleachers last night? Section 50, as they mentioned about 50 times. They couldn't even see what was going on half the time. How did that make sense? Was it all a set up so that guy from the baseball glove company could come on, give the announcers baseball gloves, say "You bet!" fifty times, and hype his company that sells "not only gloves, but catcher's equipment, and football helmets!"? Maybe the car-racing segments with the Red Sox have made me cynical...Wait. Red Sox. Guess I should blog about them. Seeing as this is a Red Sox/Phillies blog.

OK. Not very concerned about the Sox after their losses to the Yankees the last two nights. But more than a bit, well, pissed off.

  • Hate when they lose to the Yankees. Clemens didn't seem to have his good stuff, and the Sox should have been the hell out of him. Damon. Hate when that guy does things to beat the Red Sox. (I do, however, like when that noodle-armed dumbass slides into first base. Idiot!)
  • Why was Josh Beckett allowed to throw so many pitches? Yes, it was a gutty effort by Joshua. But throwing that many pitches is not a good plan. Plus, the Sox have the greatest bullpen since the Saucier-Reed-McGraw Phillies. Okajima. The Serge Protector. Jonathan Robert Papelbon. Use these guys, Francona!
  • Why did we have Gordon, Moe, and Curly in the pregame? Edes is good, but it's tough to beat the Yankees with that lineup. After resting Benjamin last week in Tampa Bay, she's well-rested for the New York series. Remember that Bruins coach who ignored the goalie assignments I emailed to him? How's he doing these days? I shouldn't have to tell you that, against the Yankees, Edes-Benjamin-Malloy need to be your Big Three.
  • How does that truck driver on Sox Appeal NOT pick the second contestant? Geez, that was almost as short-sighted as keeping Beckett in for all those pitches!

This stuff makes me miss my blissful days as a Kickball Prodigy. But the Sox have Schilling going today, and will, hopefully, salvage the last game of the series. Boston still has a good-sized lead (7 games, with a win today), so it's all good. The Boston Globe must have gotten my strongly-worded e-mail last night, because Benjamin was back for the pre-game. But NESN may have muted the beneficial effects of her appearance, by playing that W. B. Mason commercial with the choir right after Amalie's interview. When the W. B. guy pulls out that tambourine, I want to...

OK. I'm, obviously, having some anger management concerns. After the game, I'm going to have to head down to the Dog Park with my Michael Vick cards, and get myself under control. Perhaps I'll bump into Bachelorette #2...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Streaking Bosox Attack Bombers

The Red Sox' streak was in jeopardy. With two outs in the top of the 9th in Chicago, David Ortiz lofted a fairly routine fly ball to left field. It should have been over, as White Sox LF Josh Fields pursued the final Red Sox out of the game. But then the miraculous happened. The ball dropped, and the Red Sox went on to reach double digits for the 4th consecutive game.

That was about it for suspense in the Red Sox' four-game sweep of the White Sox. Boston destroyed Chicago, outscoring them 46-7 in the four games. It was even more pleasant and relaxing than the three game series in Tampa Bay that had preceded it. And that Tampa series was pretty damn relaxing. With a three game set in NY on tap, the Red Sox are well-positioned to knock the Yankees (currently EIGHT games behind!) out of the divisional race.

Soxian blog posts, in these parts, have been as absent as Douglas Mirabelli in the past week or so. Between MLB Extra Innings and working to be able to keep my chocolate milk reserves sufficient, my vices have seriously cut into my blogging time. A new addiction to Gameday Press Pass, and some inopportune connectivity issues have also combined to reduce my output. A particularly brilliant Sox post, which took amost as long as the Nicole Richie's 82 minute jail term to construct, disappeared into the Blogger Void. Surprising insights gleaned from an interview with a Papelbon bobblehead were lost forever. Or at least until the inevitable "re-imagining."

Many of the components of the Sox' impressive success over the past week have been chronicled throughout the blogosphere. But there are some that have been missed, as well as some that could never be chronicled enough.

  • Jonathan Papelbon hasn't pitched much recently, but when he has, the results have been Papelbonian. Since July began, he has been averaging 1.58 K/batter. Yes, Paps has been striking out each batter he's faced more than one and a half times per AB. Plus, his Scrabbling and Friendly's Scooping have made him the obvious heir apparent to Dennis Eckersley on NESN. When Paps retires from pitching. In about thirty years.

  • While there has been some criticism that key players have been rested too often, keeping Amalie Benjamin out of the Tampa Bay series will pay dividends in the stretch run. Her paragraph count is already at a single-season career high, and she has used a lot of words in each of her articles this month. While they might have swept the Devil Rays with her, the right long-term decision was made.

  • (Nick Cafardo + Jim Rice+ TC)<<< (Eck + TC) Hopefully, that unfortunate NESN postgame combo won't be seen again.

  • NESN also needs to get some editing action on that scrolling bottom line of theirs. Spelling errors galore, game schedule/pitching matchups often a day behind, the only thing worse is that big graphic they show for games against the "Devils Rays." (OK, that Nick Cafardo thing: also worse.)

  • Not Jason has pitched well for Texas, and David Murphy's 5 for 7 effort in the 30-3 game was about a week's worth of hits for J. D. Drew. But Eric Serge Gagne is getting his Sox' act together, and The Serge Protector will be a huge factor in the playoffs. "Huge" in a POSITIVE RESULTS way, not just in a bulky physique way. Still like the trade. Pour maintenant.

  • A lot of Bobby Kielty Love going on right now. He has been a great pickup so far, but don't expect this level of success to be sustained too far into the 2020's. By 2024, he'll probably be a platoon player. His defense has been superb- he's made some catches that I don't really think Wily Mo Pena would have made. Plus Pena would likely have done structural damage to Friendly Fenway in the attempts.

  • The acquisition of minor-league 1B Chris Carter in the Wily Mo Pena deal might not help the Sox too much on the field, as he is one of the few baseball-playing humans with less ability on defense than WMP. Despite his lack of skill with the glove, the screenwriting and producing aptitudes Carter displayed with the X-Files might be able to save Sox Appeal. Storylines with more aliens would certainly be a step in the right direction.
The Red Sox have their top three starting pitchers primed and ready. Two of three in New York is a definite possibility. But it's not who wins or loses- it's who takes the worse beating that counts.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Youth Movement

Incredible. Just incredible. Today was a truly memorable day in Massachusetts history. Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz picks up his first major league win. Theo Epstein finds someone willing to trade for Wily Mo Pena. The Jimmy Fund raises in excess of $3.5 million. The memorable moments weren't confined to Boston, as the Walpole Little League squad defeated Hamilton, Ohio in South Williamsport, PA, on a game-winning home run-saving catch by Walpole CF Mike Rando. They weren't even confined to the United States, as we also had Pawtucket C Kevin Cash hurtling through Macdonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa, valiantly attempting to get to Boston in time for the second game of the doubleheader. In that second game, the Sox rallied from a deficit with four runs in the bottom of the eight inning, and The Serge Protector closed the door on the Angels in the 9th, completing the doubleheader sweep. (OK, that part about Eric Gagne getting the save in the second game didn't actually happen. But I didn't want to ruin a really positive paragraph.)

The Sox won the first game, 8-4, as Buchholz held the Angels to three earned runs in his six inning stint. Double H allowed eight hits, three walks, and struck out five. Not a bad debut. HH gave up an unearned run in the top of the first, but the Sox supported the 23 yr. old rookie by responding with SIX runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. The lead stood up, with Hideki Okajima (1.2 scoreless innings) and Jonathan Robert Papelbon (1.1 scoreless innings, two strikeouts, 29th save) finishing things off. David Ortiz (2 for 5) and Dustin Pedroia (2 for 5) each homered, and J. D. Drew was 3 for 5, raising his average to .263. Possibly the only negative was an injury to C Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli was placed on the DL, necessitating the recall (and sprint through Canada) of Pawtucket backstop Kevin Cash. HH, as planned, was sent back to Pawtucket after the game, with OF Jacoby Ellsbury promoted. The Sox also announced the trade of Wily Mo Pena to the Washington Nationals, for a player to be named. (I am hoping it will be Chad Cordero. That way, after Serge is re-signed, the Sox can have THREE closers next season. Not including Okajima, who could close for many teams.)

In the second game, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett pitched extremely well, allowing only one earned run in seven innings. Beckett (3.15 ERA) had eight strikeouts, permitted only five hits and one walk, striking out eight. But the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner was outdueled by Angels SP Ervin Santana, who surrendered only four hits and a run in six and a third innings. After Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen allowed two runs in the top of the eight, the Sox trailed 4-1. With the Angels' top three relievers (Justin Speier, Scot Shields, and Francisco Rodriguez) all ready for action, it didn't look good for the Sox.

It didn't look good, that is, until the Sox loaded the bases. With David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez coming to the plate. The two sluggers each doubled, giving the Sox a 5-4 lead. As Papelbon had already pitched the first game, Eric Serge Gagne was called on to save the second one. Serge failed to protect the lead, allowing three runs, on three hits, in his inning of work. He couldn't get his changeup over, and had great difficulty locating his fastball. (As a Red Sox, Gagne has a 15.00 ERA, and a 2.83 WHIP. He is making me long for the halcyon days of J.C. Romero and Joel Piniero.) The Sox could not come back in the bottom of the ninth, and fell, 7-5. It was a pretty crushing defeat. (Thanks, Serge.)

Despite the unfortunate loss in the second game, it was still an incredible day. Tom Caron performed brilliantly in a marathon effort, and Amalie Benjamin turned in two spotless performances on NESN, and some strong Extra Bases-blogging. They were overshadowed, however, by the Jimmy Fund Crew. It's amazing that only $3.5 million plus was raised, considering their efforts. There was just one incredible testimonial after another. So many remarkable, courageous stories. Jordan Leandre, a seven-year old patient at the Dana Farber Cancer, sang the National Anthem before the second game. Last time he sang the anthem at Fenway, he was in a wheelchair. This time he was on his feet, and ready to race around the bases after he finished singing. He got a rousing standing ovation as he circled the bases, and was enveloped by members of the 1967 Red Sox team at home plate. (The 1967 team is known for donating a full share of their World Series winnings.)

Lexi Alden, the 11 yr. old cancer survivor last seen kissing all the Sox players in Baltimore, after a very vocal interview with Tina Cervasio, also made an appearance. This time, with Tom Caron and Jim Rice at the NESN table outside Fenway, she was given her own microphone. Not that she needed it, as she was probably heard quite clearly in Baltimore. Awesome. There were just so many courageous guests who shared their stories with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in the broadcast booth. In summation, if you didn't donate to The Jimmy Fund today, it's quite possible that you have no soul. (But it is not too late for you. Also, check out the website, as there is quite a lot of interesting stuff there.)

The Sox face the Angels in the third game of the series on Saturday night. Curt Schilling (6-5, 4.06) starts for the Sox against Jered Weaver (8-5, 3.85). It will take a lot to top Friday. Like a Schilling no-hitter, perhaps. Or a scoreless inning from The Serge Protector. Both are, probably, equally likely.

A Sweep is in the Air...

You can just feel that a Sox sweep is on the way today. Clay Buchholz, with the 12K/9IP ratio, makes his debut in the first game. No way he loses his debut. In the second game, 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner Josh Beckett gets the start. Even the least couth baseball fan has to admit that the Angels' chances of even escaping today's action with a split are not so good.

That tough series last weekend in Baltimore is all but forgotten, as the Sox rallied to win 2.9 of their 3 games against Tampa this week. (Unfortunately, current MLB rules only recognize 2.0 of those victories, but the Sox' lead over the Yankees is back up to 5.5 games. With help from the Tigers and Orioles.)

As would be expected when a team wins 96.667% of a series, the Sox had a bunch of impressive performances. Tim Wakefield no-hit the Rays through six innings in the first game, leaving after completing eight shutout innings (two hits allowed). Jonathan Robert Papelbon pitched the 9th, picking up his 28th save in the 3-0 victory. Jon Lester, making his first start at Fenway since successfully defeating cancer, pitched seven dominating innings in the second game, allowing only two hits. Red Sox team hypnotists performed well, as Eric Serge Gagne contributed a scoreless ninth inning. Serge picked up the win when the Sox staged an incredible comeback in the bottom of the 9th. Mike Lowell hit a solo blast, and Captain Jason Varitek scored the winning run on a Coco Crisp single. Jason currently ranks second on my list of All-time Favorite Jasons, behind this Jason, who is even more well-known for his leadership skills.

The Sox would have won the third game of the series as well, but the U.S. Military got involved. Devil Rays' starter Andy Sonnanstine entered the game with a 1-8 record and a 6.35 ERA, having lost his last eight decisions. But, after a few "tweaks" by military doctors, followed by an aerial escort to the game, Sonnanstine was an effective pitcher. At least for a day. Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka further buried my fantasy team, allowing six runs in six innings (including eight hits and three walks, which were quite WHIP-damaging). The Sox staged a miraculous comeback from 6-0 to 6-5, including a huge ninth-inning double by Julio Lugo (in a remarkable 11 pitch AB), but fell just short. Tom Caron and Amalie Benjamin performed well in the pregame, Daniel Malloy (up from Lowell for a spot start) did well on the Extra Bases Blog, and Sox Appeal was moved back until AFTER the postgame show. But it was not enough to overcome the large deficit.

Caron, Tina Cervasio, and Benjamin all turned in sterling pregame performances today, and the Heather Mitts Under Armour commercial was played twice prior to the first pitch. So you can go ahead and put your money on the Sox in the first game. Or, alternatively, you can send your money to the Jimmy Fund. Also a smart move. Either way, don't miss Double H's first MLB victory today.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sox lose two of three in Baltimore...

Four games. After losing two of three in Baltimore, the Red Sox' lead over the MFYs (23-8 in last 31 games) has been whittled down to four games. Not that I'm concerned. The MFYs have a brutal schedule (eight games with Detroit, three with the Angels) coming right up, and the Sox will (hopefully) fatten up on the Devil Rays the next few days. By the time the MFYs come into town for a three game series at the end of the month, the Sox' lead should be back up over eight games. Hopefully. OK. I am a bit concerned. I'd feel a lot better if the Sox' lead was still in double digits, instead of merely hoping it will get up there again.

The weekend could have, should have, gone so much better for the Sox. They easily could have won all three games. Everything was lining up so well for them going into the series. Their top three starting pitchers (Matsuzaka, Beckett, and Schilling) on tap. The home field advantage of Camden Yards. A new Friendly's Scoop (with Kevin Millar!) premiering before the first game. Dennis Eckersley returning to action on NESN, and Amalie Benjamin returning to action on NESN and the Extra Bases Blog. The best bullpen in All of the Land. The Orioles should not have been a problem.

The Sox' Big Three starters did extremely well. Matsuzaka held the Orioles to one measly run in seven innings. Beckett came within one strike of a complete game shutout on Saturday, and allowed only two runs in his 8.2 inning effort Saturday. Schilling permitted only one unearned run in six innings on Sunday (zero walks and zero strikeouts). Top. Notch.

Yet the Sox only managed one win. Who was to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they shall be held accountable. But if you are looking for the guilty, you need only look at Eric Serge Gagne. On Friday night, he came into the bottom of the eighth to protect a 5-1 lead. By the time the inning had mercifully ended, Hideki Okajima was leaving the mound with the score tied. Gagne had only retired one batter, and was responsible for the four runs that tied the game. The Orioles completed the comeback with a Nick Markakis sacrifice fly off Okajima in the 9th. On Sunday, Gagne was called into the game in the eighth, in relief of Okajima, and allowed a game-tying home run to Miguel Tejeda. The Orioles won in the 10th, on a Kevin Millar three-run walkoff homer.

Gagne finished the series with one inning pitched, five runs allowed, two leads blown. His ERA with Boston is now 15.75, with seven runs allowed in four innings. (Merde.) Perhaps he's not cut out for the 8th inning role. What to do? Well, Gagne is only successful in the 9th inning, and Jonathan Robert Papelbon is successful in all innings that are mathematically conceivable. The solution is obvious. Gagne needs to be hypnotized before each eighth inning performance, so he thinks he is going for the save in the 9th. Perhaps LMontro can help find the hypnotist. L has plenty of contacts.

The Saturday afternoon game, that was magnifique. Well, 99.8% of it, anyway. Josh Beckett was dominating in winning his 15th game. He threw 81 of 115 pitches for strikes, with zero walks allowed (eight strikeouts). He got to within one out of the complete game, before allowing two RBI hits. After Manny Delcarmen came in and issued a walk, Jonathan Papelbon came in for the final out (27th save).

The Saturday matchup would have been a great game to have attended: a ninety degree afternoon with approximately 42,358 (total attendance: 49,242) Red Sox fans filling one of MLBs finest ballparks (Camden Yards), and Beckett the Ace starting. I'm sure I was there, in person, in at least one parallel universe. (Hopefully, not in the first row of the upper deck, though. That was scary shit.) Having to endure that craptacular FOX broadcast, instead, was not so great. Now, it's never an optimal situation when there's a Sox telecast without Eck and Amalie directly involved. But when FOX or ESPN (Joe Morgan!) is on the scene, you just know you're going to need to be proactive with the mute button. There were a couple of gems on Saturday. When it was revealed that "the Sox would concede a run for the double play", and the Sox immediately followed by turning a double play. Which ended the inning, as there had been one out already. (Yikes.) Also, there was the flourish with which the game-ending strikeout by Josh Beckett, completing his complete game shutout, was called. Except that the ball was obviously fouled off, and the Orioles proceeded to score two runs, knocking Beckett from the game. These sorts of mistakes are only OK if Orsillo and RemDawg make them.

The Sox have a three game series at home against the 45-72 Devil Rays this week. The Sox are 5-1 against the Rays, who have the lowest winning percentage in MLB, at .385. (On the plus side, the Rays do have several cartoon heroes on the active roster.) That winning percentage would drop to .375 with a Sox series sweep. The Boston bullpen will have to perform a bit better for that to happen. I'm going to do my part, and help LMontro find that hypnotist.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Red Sox back at home

The Red Sox only managed to win one of the three games against the Los Angeles Angels contested in the middle of the night. With Tom Caron, Amalie Benjamin, and Dennis Eckersley all out of the lineup for the entire series, the Sox did well to win even one game. Curt Schilling (6 IP, 4 ER) returned to action with a mediocre start, with Tim Wakefield (4 IP, 6 ER) and Jon Lester (3.1 IP, 5 ER) following with much less than mediocre performances. Brandon Moss (1 for 7) was forced into the lineup, even batting cleanup for most of one game after a Manny Ramirez ejection, and Wily Mo Pena (.100 BA in August) got more PT than anyone would like to see. The starting outfield of Pena-Drew-Moss from left to right in the third game was most disconcerting. But the Sox managed to outlast the Angels in that third game, a four hour plus battle that felt like it lasted several days. The Sox bullpen (i.e. the best bullpen EVER!) led the way in the Wednesday night victory, with Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima, Eric Gagne, and Jonathan Papelbon pitching brilliantly. Which is what they do.

The Sox should do a lot better this weekend. They have the home field fan advantage of Camden Yards in Baltimore. The Orioles have to face Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, and Curt Schilling. Dennis Eckersley and Amalie Benjamin are back in the lineup, and Eric Frede has handled the Tom Caron role ably. As long as Frede remembers to thank Tina AND Amalie after their pregame efforts, and NESN doesn't beat us to death with that W. B. Mason commercial, the Sox have a good shot at a sweep. Well, unless that Bedard guy gets in the way tonight.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Moose on the Loose

The Red Sox overcame a great deal of adversity this past weekend, in winning two of three games in Seattle. First off, the Mariners are kind of a good team, and have had a lot of home success (nine wins in a row) against Boston in recent years. Secondly, the Red Sox still have Wily Mo Pena on their team. Not good, that. Thirdly, the new Friendly's Scoop was overdue- the Sox are a .500 team in games played with an overdue Scoop. Additionally, NESN had to make the trip west without All-Stars Tom Caron, Dennis Eckersley, and Amalie Benjamin. While Eric Frede and Gordon Edes are more than capable, you just can't replace the kind of numbers Caron, Eckersley, and Benjamin put up. Frede and Edes did enough to help get the Sox out of there with two wins. Well done!

There were some moose-related concerns that need to be addressed. Prior to the bottom of the fifth inning in Sunday's 9-2 Sox victory, the Mariner Moose almost knocked Sox CF Coco Crisp out of the game, with an unprovoked ATV attack. Fortunately, the nimble outfielder was able to dodge out of the way before a career-ending injury was sustained. Strangely, outside of a scathing verbal attack from Red Sox Pitching Coach John Farrell, there wasn't much of a response from Boston. Considering that Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon are both experienced in "handling" such matters, it is surprising that Fenway doesn't have a new addition. Perhaps hanging in front of the entrance to the visitor's clubhouse. (THAT would be rather intimidating.) Hopefully, Wally the Green Monster will have a proportional response at the ready for the Mariners' next visit to Boston.

In other moosian news, NESN aired clips of a Papelbonian Moose Hunting expedition that took place during the offseason. It was certainly a positive that, instead of car racing people, we were treated to Papelbonian content. You just can't lose with any sort of Papelbonian content. (Well, you usually can't lose.)

I'll be the first one to admit I was excited by the prospect of seeing some clips of Papelbon hunting. What's cooler that slaughtering wild animals? I mean, besides slaughtering them with crossbows and whatnot? The poetry and the romance of the kill! It doesn't get much better than that. Well, next time, I think I'd rather watch the car racing people. First off, Papelbon was operating the camera. From his inability to hold the camera steady, it was obvious that he had been holding it for an extended period of time. Apparently, there are no "pitch counts" in hunting. Then, the Jewel of the Boston Red Sox organization crossed over a seemingly bottomless chasm on a rickety, old rope bridge. Yikes! Couldn't we assign someone more, um, expendable, to go across that bridge? (See Pena, Wily Mo.)

Next, there was a chasm in the road, making it unpassable. Unpassable, for those with fewer than 35 saves in 2006, perhaps. Papelbon and Co. just got some big logs, stuck them in the road chasm, and drove right on over it. (Though, not without some difficulty.) That was too much for this viewer, as I couldn't watch any more. If the Red Sox can't put some language in Hunter Boy's contract preventing him from such dangerous undertakings (and this danger was all BEFORE he started trying to kill half-ton wild animals!), they shouldn't televise them. We'd be better off watching the Sox Appeal episode with all the car racing people. MUCH less disconcerting.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sox Win Two of Three from O's

Two out of three at home against the Orioles? Not bad. Especially after losing the first game to Bedard, and having to bring Batshit back from the bullpen to make a spot start. A 66-42 record and an unassailable lead over the MFY's? We'll take it!

However, there are a few issues that need to be addressed. Douglas Mirabelli. Three for three with two runs batted in during Wake's Thursday start. You're not quite in Gabor Paul Bako II territory yet with the bat, but those contributions on offense were quite timely. That little prob you had with the tagging up and the (not actually) scoring from third base, we're going to go ahead and overlook that. But chasing after foul pops, with your catcher's mask in hand, that's a bit disconcerting. Can't you chuck that thing out of your way, hand it to the home plate ump, drop kick it into the visitor's dugout, or something? It really bothers us. Perhaps even more than the sub-.400 slugging percentage.

NESN. Wednesday night. Immediately following the game, instead of quality time with Batshit and Terry, we got... Sox Appeal?! What the shithell was that all about? Seriously, couldn't you have broadcast that AFTER the postgame show? Was it necessary to hold us captive like that, as we waited anxiously for Batshit's Pearls O' Wisdom? Sure, many of us were able to escape to the Magical Realm of MLB Extra Innings until the danger was gone, but what of those among us who could not? The MLB Extra Innings-poor? What of them? Were they doomed to watch ESPN on the Bonds Channel? Anyways, over lunch at Bertucci's with TC and KT on Friday, I was assured that such a thing would never be allowed to happen again. But it was rather egregious that it was allowed to happen once. If this (egregiousity?) does occur again, rest assured that the full might of this blog will be wielded against those who have wronged us. Those car-racing people better not come back, either. Our smoting power is without limit.

Eric Gagne made his Soxian debut on Wednesday, and it was a succesful one, as he retired the side in order. (No, we are not counting that bloopy "double" that should have been caught, or the run that scored as a result. Gagne's Soxian ERA is still 0.) But there should be some concern about the paucity of save chances that will be available for Gagne, after Papelbon has had his fill. We need to keep Eric Serge happy. Sure, paying him cash money, in advance, for all the saves he probably would have gotten in Texas was a good start. But we need to create save chances for Gagne, aussi. Unfortunately, the way the roster is currently constructed, there don't seem to be any relievers able to turn a huge lead into a save situation. With the exiles of Messrs. Romero and Piniero to The Land That the DH Forgot, there just isn't anyone to fill this crucial role. Theo has made a huge mistake. Almost as huge as Garrett not picking the hot actuary.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Quatre-vingt-trois. That's the number new Red Sox setup man Eric Serge Gagne will be wearing. (Parce que Le Schill est trente-huit.) A great acquistion by the Sox. I would have preferred a power bat (Jermaine Dye?) but not at the price of Delcarmen and Masterson for a three month rental. While Not Jason Gabbard did well in Boston, he really wasn't in the Sox' long-term plans. Nor was AAA OF David Murphy. GM Theo Epstein managed to fortify an area that was already a strength without mortgaging the future. Well done, Theo!

As brilliant as the Gagne acquisition was, even more brilliant is the manner in which they will divide up the save opportunities. Determining the night's closer with a pre-game Scrabble match between Gagne and Jonathan Papelbon is yet another masterstroke by Manager Terry Francona. While preliminary plans are for the Scrabble board to be displayed in the bottom corner of the screen during the NESN pre-game show, it likely won't be long before the Scrabble match is broadcast live. The smack talk will be flying between the two competitve relief aces! Also, as per the terms of Gagne's trade to the Sox, half of the matches will be contested in French. That may prove to be a bit difficile for Papelbon, but it should help further increase Soxian coverage among the French-speaking media. The only loser in this whole scenario is Papelbon Clone, who, barring an injury to his Donor, will be relegated to the bench. Which is probably good, considering his performance in Tampa last Saturday.

The game against the Orioles was a bit of a letdown after the success of the afternoon's dealings. The Beckett-Bedard pitcher's duel didn't pan out, as Beckett was largely ineffective. Bedard, on the other hand, was quite effective (despite excessive walkage) in the Orioles' 5-3 win. David Ortiz (3 for 4, all three of the Sox' RBI, three of the Sox' four total hits) hit a pair of home runs, but it wasn't enough. Wily Mo Pena made an acrobatic catch on a ball that probably could have been caught with a little less drama, and the bumbling RF might have had a play on the home run by Orioles 2B Brian Roberts, on Josh Beckett's very first pitch. Unfortunately, Pena was baffled by the curvature of the right field wall, and was unable to doing anything useful. Pena's RF counterpart, Nick Markakis, handled his position a little better, reaching into the stands down the right field line to make an outstanding catch on a foul ball. It was a remarkable play, but the Sox fans in the area probably could have made things a bit more difficult for the Baltimore outfielder. Beckett fell to 13-5 with the loss (3.41 ERA). He was rather restrained afterwards, only damaging one water cooler, and utilizing 74 (5 unique) swears in his post-game press availability.

The Sox face the Orioles again Wednesday night, in what could be Gagne's first appearance in a Red Sox uniform. Unfortunately, as a result of the Gabbard trade, Batshit Tavarez will get the start for Boston. (I'm a little confused as to why Schilling wasn't held out of his Tuesday Pawtucket rehab start, in order to start for the Sox on Wednesday.) While it is quite amusing to watch Batshit's antics, the Sox really need a win tonight. They can't be losing in front of Gagne and the French-speaking media. But if they can keep the game close into the later innings, the Sox' bullpen superiority should lead them to victory. Especially if the Heather Mitts Under Armour commercial is played more than that (4 unique swears deleted) Foxwoods commercial. The Sox just don't lose under those circumstances.