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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

KR: Yankees are no cinch when postseason begins

Kenny Boy might just have gotten this one right:

The 2009 Yankees are not much different statistically from the 2005, '06 and '07 Joe Torre teams that got knocked out in the first round.

Those clubs all ranked first or second in the American League in runs, pitched average to slightly below-average and defended with minimal proficiency.

These Yankees, true to form, rank first in the league runs and eighth in ERA. They play better defense, thanks in large part to the addition of first baseman Mark Teixeira, improvement of shortstop Derek Jeter and use of Brett Gardner in center field. But if the Yankees go deep into the postseason, it might be due more to inferior first-round competition than actual superiority.

That is not a knock — the Yankees, who host the Red Sox this weekend (Saturday, MLB on FOX, 4 p.m.) would earn the right to play the AL Central "champion" by holding off the Sox for the division title.

Securing the top seed would give the Yankees a clear advantage. Neither the Tigers nor Twins is close to the same level as the '05 Angels, '06 Tigers and '07 Indians, all of which won at least 95 games in the regular season before defeating the Yankees in the first round.

The prevailing theory is that the Tigers would stand a puncher's chance with right-hander Justin Verlander pitching Game 1. Verlander, though, would face a powerhouse lineup while Yankees lefty CC Sabathia — a pitcher of similar merit — would face the feeble Tigers.

A doomsday scenario with Sabathia losing Game 1 and right-hander A.J. Burnett botching Game 2 is not out of the question. But more likely, the Yankees will win the series easily enough to set up their rotation for the ALCS, while the Red Sox and Angels stage a more spirited struggle that leaves the winner depleted for the next round.

Then again, this is the postseason.

Anything is possible. Nothing is guaranteed.

"We've gone in with 100-win teams and gotten knocked out in the first round," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says, referring specifically to the 2002 club that won 103 games and lost to the Angels.

How will A.J. Burnett handle the postseason? (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

"Those teams felt comfortable and confident. We were the favorites, the odds-on favorites in Vegas. We had good teams and got knocked out early.

"When you're in that position, you dissect yourself — 'this is where we weren't good enough' and all that. But I can tell you being part of it: Our players were prepared. Our players were confident. And we got beat."

The biggest difference with these Yankees, one rival GM says, is the power at the top of their rotation, the swing-and-miss stuff of Sabathia and Burnett.

Burnett ranks fourth in the league in strikeout rate, Sabathia 10th and Andy Pettitte 16th. While no pitcher on the '07 Yankees ranked in the top 20, the two teams before that were not exactly helpless. Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson ranked in the top 11 in strikeout rate in '06, Johnson and Mussina in the top seven in '05.

Sabathia, though, is something different — a Yankees ace in his prime. Burnett — the good Burnett — arguably is the Yankees' best No. 2 starter in years. The Yankees spent a combined $243.5 million on the two free agents last offseason in large part to improve their postseason chances. If Sabathia and Burnett fail ... don't even ask.

Cashman attributes Burnett's turnaround in his last two starts to improved mechanics, and perhaps now A.J. Enigma will get on a roll. Still, Burnett has never pitched in the postseason. Until proven otherwise, he is a coin flip.

Sabathia is quite the opposite; never mind his 7.92 ERA in five postseason starts. He was geeked up and worn down in 2007, his first postseason with the Indians. A year ago, his one start for the Brewers in the playoffs was his fourth straight on three days' rest — and he was utterly masterful down the stretch, pitching in the near-equivalent of postseason games.

Sabathia will enter the playoffs having thrown fewer innings in the regular season than he did in '07 and '08. He is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in four September starts, his best month as a Yankee. He should be the least of the club's problems.

The Yankees' real challenge, one way or another, figures to come in the ALCS.

The Red Sox have torched Burnett for 20 runs in 20 1/3 innings this season, an 8.85 ERA. Sabathia has pitched well against the Sox, Pettitte decently. Right-hander Joba Chamberlain, the expected Game 4 starter, has posted a 5.06 ERA in three starts against the Sox, failing to complete six innings in any of them.

Granted, the sample sizes are small, but the Yankees' starters' ERAs against the Angels are even more disturbing: Burnett 4.26, Chamberlain 5.40, Sabathia 6.08, Pettitte 7.88.

Good as the Yankees' offense is, the team's recent postseason history only reinforces the importance of dominant starting pitching. The Yankees this season average 5.67 runs per game. From '05 to '07, they averaged 5.47, 5.74 and 5.98, respectively — and a lot of good it did them in October.

Another first-round knockout would be even more deflating than the past three, considering how much money the Yankees spent last offseason, how much better they are than the Tigers and Twins. Each postseason is different. Billy Beane was correct to call it a "crapshoot." But this time, the Yankees' first-round opponent will be close to a gimme.

The Yankees can't lose, can they?

Red Sox's chances of signing Wagner in doubt

Ken Rosenthal chimes in on the topic of the Sox placing a waiver claim on former Met's closer Billy Wagner. Wagner, one of the great closers of all time, pitched in his 1st game in over a year and a half, after undergoing Tommy John surgery. After pitching 1 scoreless inning and registering 2 K's against Atlanta on August 20th, he was promptly placed up for grabs. Mets fans know this is not the first time that one of their players has been hung out just to see how much he's worth, and so should Kenny boy. While everything in this post of his may appear to be true, reading him does to my eyes and brain what fingernails on a chalkboard do to my ears.

Beanballs are a part of the game, but senseless

KR gets it right about beanballs in this piece, but he uses Red Sox incidents more than any other team in his post.

The ugliest brawl I ever saw was a 20-minute donnybrook between the Orioles and Mariners on June 6, 1993. The benches emptied after Mike Mussina hit Bill Haselman in the left shoulder and Haselman charged the mound. That night, writing for The Baltimore Sun, I praised the Orioles, saying they had shown admirable fight.

Maybe the dumbest thing I have ever written.

KR, almost everything you write is the dumbest thing you have ever written. How about this gem:

All of the parties involved need injections of common sense, the way players once needed injections of ... well, you know.

No, Kenny-boy, we don't know. What injections did players once need?

Ken Rosenthal Wastes No Time Tying Papi & RSN to the Whipping Post

Pseudo-journalist for Fox wasted no time at all to lash out at David Ortiz and all of Red Sox fans with harsh words before Ortiz even had a chance to respond to the allegations that his is on 'the list.'

Rosenthal: Black cloud over Boston
Rosenthal: Black cloud over Boston

MLB.com: "Yanks back on top, where they belong"

Huh? Since when does MLB have the gall to declare that the Yankees are back on top, "where they belong"? Maybe they are in 1st place in the AL East at the moment, but when I saw that headline, the impression I got was that the Yankees are the only team to ever deserve to be in 1st place, not just this week, or this month, but for all time. They may have clinched the AL East title this year, but they have not won the American League Pennant yet. They still have two post-season series and then a World Series to get through before they can say they are at the top.

The Yankees have not won a World Series this century and it's been 6 years since they even went to the World Series. The Red Sox have won 2 of the last 5 World Series. Since 2003, the Red Sox have been to the playoffs five times, reaching the ALCS four times, and are on the verge of playing in the postseason again. They have come back from a 0-3 deficit to beat them in 2004. They have won all 8 World Series games that they have played in since 2004. These facts certainly justify the Red Sox being worthy of belonging "at the top."

I'm really surprised at the bias of MLB when they make this declaration. I think the Red Sox deserve to be in 1st place. I'm sure there are some Giants, Royals and Pirates fans that may think their team should be on top. MLB should stick to reporting the news. Say they are in 1st place and have clinched the AL East, but let the bloggers do the opining.

Read the full article here.

Clay's Royal Performance

Clay Buchholz is becoming the pitcher that the Red Sox thought he would be right before our eyes. Tonight in Kansas City he put on a royal performance, shutting out the Royals for 6.2 innings, scattering 5 hits, walking none, and striking out 8. OK, he did hit one Royal, but otherwise he has become a solid candidate for starter #3 in the post-season. R2 came in the 7th to finish off that inning on 2 pitches, but fell apart in the 8th, and surrendered 3 runs before being lifted for Saito, who finished the game. Buchholz is now 7-3, with a 3.21 ERA.

On the other side of the plate, the Sox unleashed a barrage of 15 hits, including multi-hit games by 6 starters, and plated 10 of them. Alex Gonzalez went 2 for 5, scoring twice and raising his batting average to .241, which is 31 points higher than when he arrived in Boston. While the Sox were doing all that scoring, Zack Greinke was ejected for impersonating the home plate umpire. Manager Trey Hillman followed Greinke to the clubhouse a short while later.

Next stop for the Sox is da Bronx, with Jon Lester facing Joba Chamberlain. Chamberlain is in the middle of a serious slump, not unlike Beckett’s recent woes. Let’s hope Chamberlain doesn’t snap out of it just yet. Sabathia follows against Dice-K. Sabathia is due for a loss, as the Yanks have won the 10 games that he has started. Mystery man Paul Byrd goes up against Andy Pettitte in the 3rd match. Pettitte has been nursing a fatigued left shoulder.

Sox Win 10-3 BOX SCORE

MA Men

Thanks to Joyce from the Bay Area RSN Meet-up group for sending me the link to this video uploaded to funnyordie.com by former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre.

NOTE- Salty language alert! NSFW! (Not safe for workplace.)

That’s more like it

Commander Kick Ass was tagged for 12 hits and a free pass in his 6 innings of work while striking out 7, but scattered them enough to allow only 2 Royals to plate. The bullpen dance card tonight included Okajima, Wagner, and Papelbon. Combined they pitched 3 scoreless innings surrendering 2 walks and striking out 3 of those pesky Royals.

Offensively, the Sox also had 12 hits as did the Royals, but managed 7 more runs. Papi went 2 for 4 including his 25th tater of the season. Pedroia, Drew, and Gonzalez all had 2 hit games.

Sox Win 9-2 BOX SCORE 

Red Sox 12 
Royals 12 

It was happening

Paul Byrd pitched 5.2 scoreless innings tonight against the lowly Royals. Unfortunately, he pitched 6.2 innings total. The 5.2 scoreless came after the 1st inning that he pitched, in which he allowed 5 runs to plate. 5 friggin’ Royals ferkrinoutlowd! And what happened to the Sox bats?! Oh, Zack Greinke was pitching. He allowed only 2 hits, but he left after the 6th inning and the Sox managed no hits off the Royal bullpen.


Yeesh. Well, it was happening.

Nick Green's dead leg

Nick Green had been experiencing problems with his leg for a couple of days when he was sent in to pinch hit against the Angels last week. He hadn't said anything to Tito or the trainers, as he hadn't been playing much with the arrival of Alex Gonzalez. He thought that the dead leg symptoms might go away, but you could see him struggling during the at bat in question. Fortunately he was able to draw a base on balls, which sent in the tying run in the game that the Sox battled back 3 times to beat the Angels.

The Boston Herald is reporting that the Sox have sent Green back to Boston to have his leg examined by the team physician. Chris Woodward has been called up to replace him as an infield reserve, but the Boston bullpen will remain short 1 pitcher during Green's abscence. Green is tied with Jonathan Van Every for having the lowest ERA of all of Boston's pitchers this season.

According to an unverified report, Green will also be getting a better haircut in Boston, too.

From Boston.com:

When Nick Green tried to give himself a haircut yesterday before the game, it led to one the season’s most ribald moments. Green inadvertently shaved his head in one spot and he asked Rocco Baldelli for help. Baldelli cracked up and invited the rest of the team over. Eventually, Ramirez completed a new haircut for Green. When Green joined the team for stretching, Varitek removed Green’s hat and revealed the final result, a short and choppy coif. Green laughed while the Sox applauded . . .

Book review: Theology

In two words: Don’t bother. There’s very little in this biography of Theo Epstein that we haven’t already read in newspapers and Internet blogs. John Frascella landed this job with Cambridge House to write this puff piece despite the objections by Theo Epstein and the Red Sox. Cambridge House already had the project on the shelf when Frascella interviewed there, before landing this assignment.

Matt O’Donnell had an opportunity to interview Frascella last month about his book.

There are a few glimpses into Theo’s private life, from childhood to the present, but most of the book is just rehashing Theo’s involvement with the Orioles, Padres, and Red Sox. Frascella is an informed baseball fan, but his writing style wavers to and fro; from writing like a formal sports writer to informal blog style writing, from informed to dumb down. It's not a bad book, but in my opinion, it's nothing special, either.

If you must know the few details of Theo's private life, save your $15 and get it from the library.

No post season for Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa was placed on the 60 day DL today by the Boston Red Sox. Boston.com reports that he has a mild groin strain and will be replaced on the roster by infielder Chris Woodward.

Does this make room for Paul Byrd on the post season roster? We'll see how Theo and Tito deal with the post season pitching plans.

Meanwhile, in Seattle...

... the Mariners beat the Yankees again today, taking 2 out of 3 in their series. Joba 'Headhunter' Chamberlain couldn't make it past the 3rd inning, getting shellacked to the tune of 3 IP, 6 H's, 7 ER's, 3 BB's, only 2 K's, and 1 HR. Chamberlain is now 8-6, with a 4.72 ERA.

With Seattle's win over the Yankees and the Sox beating the Orioles again today, the Sox are now only 5 games behind the Yankees, but only 4 games behind in the loss column.

I'm tellin' ya, it could still happen!

Yankees Beware

These are not the same Sox that you knocked around starting in game #9 of the season. After getting your collectives asses kicked 8 times in a row, you finally rise up and show some life like it was a pro wrestling smackdown. These Sox however, have won 9 of their last 10 games.

These Sox knocked the birds of Baltimore out of their nests for the 15th time in 17 contests between the 2 clubs this season. Jon Lester was good tonight, but not overpowering, and garnered his 14th win and team leading 22nd quality start, as the Sox beat the Orioles 11-5 at Fenway South. He allowed 10 hits in 6 innings, yet with all those hits, including 2 home runs, he kept the damage to 3 runs allowed. He did not issue any free passes.

Wagner, Saito, and Ramirez pitched 3 scoreless innings, allowing only 1 baserunner. Unfortunately, sandwiched in there was Manny Delcarmen's tough outing. He served up a phat meatball sandwich: 2 walks, 2 home runs, 0 outs. After a lights out April in which he tossed 13 scoreless innings, his ERA has been steadily rising ever since. I love a good home-town-boy-makes-good story, so I certainly hope he can correct his miscues before October. I'd hate to see him go. The Sox will certainly need the April MDC in about 2 & 1/2 weeks. Barring a '78esque implosion, the Sox will be squaring off against the Angels in the ALDS. They technically have not been eliminated from the AL East crown, but they are 7 games ahead of the reeling Rangers, the magic number down to 9 for the wild card slot. Let's not dismiss the fact that the Sox are 9 and 1 in their last 10 games, and have reduced the Yankees lead from 9 games to 6, but only 5 in the loss column. Yankees! You'd better not look over your shoulder lest you trip and fall! It still could happen, yaknow. Just sayin'....

OK, let's get back to tonight's game. Every starter had at least 1 hit, Pedroia and Ortiz 2 hits each, and Drew and Lowell 3 hits each, including a home run by Drew. Rookie Josh "Glenda" Reddick hit his 2nd home run of the season.

Alex Gonzalez made a 'Web Gem' worthy stab and turned a great 6-4-3 double play! I'm tellin' ya- sign this guy for the next 3 years!

Sox Win 11-5 BOX SCORE

No Brooms Tonight

Josh Beckett went 8 full tonight, allowing 7 hits and 3 runs while striking out 7 Halos. That and 2 home runs, 1 each by Ellsbury and Bay, were not enough to sweep the Angels out of Boston. Tied 3-3 going into the top of the 9th, Billy Wagner suffered his 1st loss in a Sox uni by a combination of Angel's small ball (sac bunt in the 9th) and Howie Kendrick going 3/4, including a HR, 2 RBI's, and 2 runs scored. Victor Martinez was back in the line up and connected for another hit.
I don't know much about the Angel's 2nd baseman, except that he's 26 yo, has a .304 average spanning his 4 season in the bigs so far, and has played 1st base for Ellay before moving over 1 base.

Sox Lose 3-4 BOX SCORE

Red Sox Win! Red Sox Win! Red Sox Win!

You're once, twice, three times...
No, that one won't work.

Three times a charm?
Naah, been done before.

Three's company?
No, not that one, either.

I'm wrackin' the ol' noggin tryin' to come up with some snappy title to this post about the Red Sox coming back 3 (three) times tonight, but not having much luck, so I'm going to type away and see if any lightbulbs flash on along the way.

Paul Byrd was adequate tonight. (I promise no aviary humor tonight.) He went 5+ innings allowing only 3 runs to score by the Angels. Well, there is the matter of the 9 hits he allowed, but as the final score would indicate, it's not how many hits you make, it's how many runs you score. Despite holding the Halos to 3 runs, he left the game on the short end of 3-0 deficit. Not to worry as the Sox scored 5 times in the bottom of the 6th (comeback #1) After Byrd handed over the ball to the bullpen, Saito came in and pitched 1 inning and allowed another run in. Next up was Ramirez who had nothin', nada, zippo, zilch tonight as he allowed 3 more Angels around the diamond while registering only 1 out. So now the Sox are down 7-5. (Around about that time the Bums from da Bronx tallied a comeback of their own, as they were down 2-4 and came back to beat Toronto 5-4.) The Sox scored twice in the 8th for comeback #2, tying the game, but not for long, as the Angels put another run up in the top of the 9th. (Are you following all this?) Down by 1 run in the bottom of the 9th, Ortiz draws a 2 out walk. Joey Gathright enters to run for Papi. J.D. Drew singles. Reddick had pinch hit earlier for 'Tek and scored one of the 8th inning runs, so now enter Dusty Brown at catcher. Enter Jed Lowrie to pinch hit for Brown before he even had a chance to step up to the plate. Lowrie singles. Nick Green coaxed a walk to load the bases. Next up, A-Gonz who singled to drive in Drew and win the game.

Earlier I said it's not how many hits, but how many runs that counts (Baseball 101.) The Sox had 13 of 'em tonight, but the Halos had 17. Thankfully, the Sox pitchers scattered them just barely enough to offset that lopsided statistic.

Now, about this shortstop dilemma. I commented on an earlier post about the possibility of a long term future for Alex Gonzalez in a Sox uni. The usually light hitting (yet vacuum like sweeping of just about any ball hit in between 2nd and 3rd bases) Gonzalez was hitting at a fugly .210 clip when he arrived for his 2nd tour of duty in Boston. He has lifted his batting average by a full 25 points in the past month. Since August 16th, he has 29 hits in 93 at-bats for a nice .312 average. He's only 32 years old. Both Lowell and Jeter are 35 years old, and are doing just fine, thank you very much. Theo would do well to lock him up for the next 3 years.

Despite winning 7 in a row, the Sox remain 6.5 games behind the Yanks, but only 5 behind in the loss column. Texas has lost 4 in a row, distancing themselves from the Red Sox in the Wild Card race by 6.5 games.

Sox Win 9-8 BOX SCORE

How does Tito pick his lineup?

Ortiz, Varitek, Martinez, Youkilis, Lowell, Kochman, Kotteras, Gonzalez, Lowrie, Green, and Pedroia are all involved in Tito’s daily ordeal of trying to come up with a line-up for the day. You could almost pull the whole outfield onto that list, as Youkilis has done some time in left field, but for this discussion we’ll stay with the DH and infield positions:

Ortiz~ DH, 1B
Varitek~ C
Martinez~ C, 1B
Youkilis~ 1B, 3B
Lowell~ 3B
Kochman~ 1B
Kotteras~ C
Gonzalez~ SS
Lowrie~ SS, 3B, 2B
Green~ SS, 2B, 3B, P
Pedroia~ 2B

You can see how many players and positions are involved, it’s downright incestuous. Actually, any one of them could fill the DH slot.
An unconfirmed source reports that Tito has used several methods of picking his line-up for the day: dart board, wheel of fortune, roll of the dice, pulling straws, NASA computers, tarot cards, tea leaves, astrology, palm readings, consult with a team of Jamesian statisticians, and rock/paper/scissors. The only exception to these rituals comes when Dustin Pedroia beats Tito at cribbage. Then Pedey gets to pick the line-up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jon Lester is God

As of right now, the Ace of the Boston starting rotation is Jon Lester. Beckett may have had that title, and he may well earn it back (as evidenced by his latest start), but right now it’s Lester.

He has been a formidable force in his last 19 starts. Going back to May 31st, he has won 10 and lost 2, while posting an absurdly low 2.02 ERA. In 11 of those starts, he allowed 1 earned run or less. No left hander has succeeded in Fenway Park as Lester has done since Mel Parnell stood on the Fenway mound back in the ‘50’s. The 2nd game of today’s double-header bears witness to this. Lester went 8 shutout innings and allowed only 2 hits, while striking out 7 to lead the Sox of a doubleheader sweep and a series sweep over the reeling Rays. Billy Wagner tossed a scoreless 9th inning.

Offensively, the Sox scored 4 runs on 7 hits. It was a relatively quiet day with the bats, but Jason Bay did mash hit 32nd tater of the year in the 8th inning. In Tito’s daily ‘pick the line up’ game (does he use a dart board?), he had Ortiz at DH, ‘Tek catching, Martinez at 1st, and Lowell at 3rd, while Youk had the day off.

3 Dead Rays
Sox Win 4-0 BOX SCORE

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R  H E
Rays 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  4  0
Red Sox 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 4  7 0

Rain Out

The Rays-Sox game has been postponed and will be made up as part of a double-header on Sunday. The game had actually gotten underway, Lester had thrown 23 pitches and had loaded the bases with only 1 out. Since this was the Ray’s last trip up north, it was decided to try and get the game in, but when the skies opened up, the umpires halted play. After a 2 & ½ hour rain delay, the umpires, Red Sox, and MLB decided to restart the game on Sunday. Both starting pitchers will start the 2nd game on Sunday.

The rain skirted NYC long enough for the Orioles-Yankees game to count- with the O’s on top 10-4 over the Yankees in the top of the 7th. In that game, Derek Jeter overtook Lou Gehrig in the 3rd inning for the franchise record of most hits.

Byrd flies again, Sox send O's to Road Kill Cafe

Paul Byrd regained the form he displayed in his 1st start again in tonight’s contest against the AL birds, the Orioles. He went 5 innings, scattering 6 hits, and allowing only 2 runs. He left the game with a 3-2 lead. Manny Delcarmen enters the game and promptly but uncharacteristically earned his 3rd blown save of the season: 1/3 IP, 2 H’s, 1 BB, and 2 runs. Tonight’s road crew of Ramirez, Wagner, Bard, and Papelbon followed and scraped the Orioles off the road to October. Wagner earned his 1st victory in a Sox uni, Bard earned hold #10, and Papelbon scored save #35.

Offensively the Sox were hot again, spanking 15 hits. Every Sox starter, save 1, had a hit today; 5 had multi-hit games, including 3/5 by Jason Bay. Mike Lowell stole a base, his 1st of the season. The Birds of Baltimore managed to climb back into the game after Paul Byrd left, going 1 up on the Sox in the top of the 6th inning. Pedroia knocked in a run in the bottom of that inning to even it back up at 4 each. In the bottom of the 7th, V-Mart came off the bench to hit a double to clear 3 Sox off the field and across home plate, effectively leaving the Orioles as road kill this season, as they have won only 1 game at Fenway since July 12, 2008.

Sox Win 7-4 BOX SCORE

It Still Could Happen

The Red Sox are 79-57 and the Yankees are 87-50 after today’s games. If the Sox go 19-7 and the Yankees go 10-15, that would leave the Sox at 98-64 and the Yankees at 97-65. It could happen, not bloody likely, but it still could happen. Just sayin’, ykwim?

(Must be the eternal optimist in me, or when I’m drinking beer- hoptimist.)

Why couldn't he pitch like that for the Sox? (part 2)

By now, all Sox fans probably know how John Smoltz has been tearing it up for the St. Louis Cardinals. He's not the only reclamation project the Sox tried this year.

After a rocky April, Brad Penny seemed to get into a groove, and by the end of May had a 5-1 won-loss record. He got even better in June, allowing only 11 runs in 5 starts, giving him a 3.17 ERA for the month. Despite throwing 6 innings of shutout ball on July 24th, his ERA for July nearly doubled over the previous month. August was even worse, 8.31 ERA.

The experiment didn't work for this NL pitcher, either, so the Sox let him go. What does he go out and do? After signing with the SF Giants, he pitched 8.1 innings of shutout ball against Philadephia, allowing only 5 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts.

Did the Sox let him go too early? Or is he just another NL pitcher that can't handle AL lumber?

That one didn't go well, either

Wake pitched today after missing a start, and pitched well, just not well enough. He allowed 3 runs in the 1st inning, but settled down to throw 4 scoreless frames before allowing 1 more in the 6th. He struck out 4 and 3 walked. No WP's or PB's, either. Martinez seems to be handling the knuckleball. Not a bad performance given that he was just injured again, but the big news was Chicago's Gavin Floyd had not just a no-no, but a perfecto through 5 innings. Nick Green broke that up with a single in the 6th. None of this perfect game BS against the Red Sox. They've never suffered through a perfect game and weren't about to let one in the books today. Floyd struck out 11 and didn't walk a single batter. Jason Bay hit a home run for the lonesome Red Sox run, and second of only 3 hits they could manage.

The damn Yankees are on a roll, beating Toronto today (grrrrr...........) The only good news today is that the Rangers lost and remain 2 GB the Red Sox in the wild card race.

Red Sox lose 1-5 BOX SCORE

Oh, do you mean *that* yurt?

The Sox took two out of three from the Rays in the giant yurt called Tropicana Field, as they took the rubber game tonight and beat the Rays 6-3. Buchholz went 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out three and walking only one. Wagner, Bard, and Pap were the clean-up crew tonight, striking out 5 and walking only 2 in the final 3 scoreless innings. The Sox banged out 12 hits led by Youk, who had a 3/5 night. Martinez and Bay each had multi-hit games, while Baldelli smacked a solo shot in his old home.

Those damn Yankees just keep chuggin’ along, thumping the Jays 10-5 tonight and are still 7.5 games ahead of the Sox for the division title. Texas was idle today and are now 3 GB the Sox, and the Rays are now 6 GB.

Sox Win 6-3 BOX SCORE

Red Sox September West Coast TV Schedule

Sat 5th @ CWS 1:05 PM Fox
Sun 6th @ CWS 11:05 AM TBS
Fri 25th @ NYY 4:05 PM TBS
Sun 27th @ NYY 10:05 AM ESPN

All times PDT

Posada can't count

Not once, but twice tonight did Jorge Posada lose the count while standing at home plate. In the 2nd inning, Posada looked at ball 4, but remained standing in the batter's box until the home plate umpire told him he had just earned a free pass. In the 5th inning, he looked at strike 2 and started walking back to the dugout, thinking he had just struck out.

Yurt? What yurt?

The Tampa Bay Rays home field advantage that has gripped the Sox over the past two seasons would not prevail as the Sox finally won a game in the giant yurt called Tropicana Field. (Is it still a 'field' if it's indoors?) Lester struck out 9 Rays in 6 innings and only allowed 2 runs. Wagner came in the 7th and got the side out in order, fanning two. Oki not so doki tonight, he faced 5 batters and they all got on, two of them scoring, closing the gap to 8-4. Enter Papelbon in a bases loaded, nobody out 8th inning. As he as done most of this season, he managed to get the next three batters out, stranding the three Rays Oki left out there. Pap came back to finish the 9th inning, earning his 33rd save.

The Sox knocked Sonnanstine out in the 5th inning before they even made an out, as the Sox built a 5-2 lead. Drew, Bay, and Youk all had home runs tonight. Four Sox had multi-hit games. They remain 6.5 GB the Yankees, but are 3.5 games ahead of Texas, and 6 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the wild card race.

Sox Win 8-4 BOX SCORE

Where Are They Now: Brad Penny

Brad Penny has cleared waivers and is about to be signed with the San Francisco Giants, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

Wake is not the only knuckleballer out there

Charlie Haeger of the LA Dodgers is 1-1, 1.93 ERA after recently being called up from AAA. He has pitched 14 innings in 2 the two games he has started since getting the call, allowing 8 H’s, 3 ER’s, 4 BB’s, while notching 9 K’s. He has only 48 major league innings spread out over 4 seasons with the White Sox, Padres, and now the Dodgers. Haeger also throws a change up, an occasional curveball and even a fastball on occasion.

Cancer Sucks

Much has been written this week on this and other blogs about cancer and The Jimmy Fund. I don't have much to add, except that it hits close to home with me.

My oldest brother, only 61 years old, has been stricken with lung cancer. He taught me how to play baseball. He learned to smoke from my grandfather who pretty much taught him how to build a house. He died from emphysema at age 72. They were close, he died when I was only 12. One would think that would be enough to scare him from smoking anymore, but no, it did not. After smoking for some 45 years or so, and a few attempts to quit, he finally, finally quit for good 2 years ago. But it was too little, too late. In November of last year, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and may have only to the end of this year.

We live about 2000 miles apart. We were both heavily involved in competition water skiing when we were younger. He moved to TN, I moved to CA. Neither of us are involved with water skiing any more. My politics went left, his went right. But he's still my brother. I was able to see him for the 1st time in 5 years last month, presumably the last. It was very sad to see him struggling to get up the stairs to the beach that we used to run up and down on as kids.

As Jerry Remy pointed out, I won't preach to anyone who already smokes. They have heard it all before. But for the impresssionable younger ones, please don't start. Smoking tobacco does nothing for you except make you want to smoke another one. That's what big tobacco wants. Maybe 50 years ago, it seemed to be cool to be smoking, but we know much more now.

Please talk to your kids at an early age about smoking. Teenagers may want as much autonomy as possible from parents, but at the same time, they learn more from us than we realize.

Please donate whatever you are able to a very worthy cause.

Cancer sucks.


Alex Gonzalez is a veritable vacuum cleaner at short stop, that we all now, but much has been made of his slight average and power. Watching him hit and reading his line in the box scores wasn’t making sense of what I had been reading about him, so I did a little research and found out that being in a Sox uni really agrees with him while standing at the dish.

According to last night’s box score his BA is .221 at the end of the game. A little bit of digging reveals that his BA at Cincinnati this year was a pitiful .210, but since arriving at Boston his BA has risen to .221, a nice increase in only 13 games with the Sox. His 2009 statistics in Boston are looking good right now. Since his arrival in Boston, he is 13/47 for a .277 BA, (that’s an average of 1 hit per game so far, they should all be so lucky), 2 doubles, 3 home runs, .511 slugging, and a .787 OPS.

He’s only 32 yo, so as long as he continues to scoop up everything in sight (0 errors so far with Boston, and only 6 in 126 games with the Reds), and he continues to hit at .277 or better, he seems to be a good fit for that shortstop sinkhole that Theo has not been able to fill.

OK, Beckett is scaring me now, but Sox still win

This is his 3rd $#!+ start in a row! He’s looking like last year’s model that went 12-10, with a 4.03 ERA, not the robo-hurler who was mowing down the AL for most of the 2009 campaign. Is he hiding an injury? Is he tipping his pitches? What? Anyone? Bueller? Beckett’s line tonight: 5 innings, 5 hits (2 were round-trippers), 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 5 walks; all this despite striking out 9 Jays. He was saved however, by Jason Bay’s 29th HR of the season, which tied up the game by the end of the 5th inning. Casey Kotchman pinch hit for A-Gonz in the 8th inning, grounded out, but drove in the game winning run. Tonight’s bullpen crew of Saito, Bard, Okajima, and Papelbon throttled the Jays for the remainder of the game.

Sox Win 6-5 BOX SCORE

Things go better with Coke

Despite his 12 K’s, Burnett was out of the game after 6 innings and 105 pitches, on the short end of a 3-2 score. Burnett is winless in his last 6 starts and his ERA is up to 4.10. Any baseball fan can tell you that being up by 1 run over the Yankees in the 7th inning means virtually nothing, except when Phil ‘the real thing’ Coke enters the game. Red Sox fans will gladly have a Coke and a smile! Coke adds life! Coke is it! Coke promptly gave up another 3 runs (Coke... after Coke ... after Coke) in only 2/3 IP. The Rangers scored once more and the Yankees lose, 7-2.

Bob Ryan (Boston Globe) on Tim Wakefield

This from Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe on Tim Wakefield:

"Dan Duquette’s long-ago gift to the Red Sox that keeps on giving."

Red Sox Haiku (almost?)

Papi provides flair

hits second of pair just fair

not supposed to rhyme

Thanks to RedSox.com for the first two lines

Wake's back! Papi, two!

Tim Wakefield pitched a great game tonight, his first since July 8th, but unfortunately did not get the win. Wake went 7 strong innings, allowing 6 hits and 1 run, walking 1 and striking 3 White Sox out. This was the first time Martinez had ever caught a knuckleballer in a game. He had caught a couple of Wake’s bullpen sessions under the supervision of Gary Tuck, the bullpen coach. There were no wild pitches in tonight’s game, and while Martinez did have an error, it was on a throw, not a passed ball.

Wake allowed a run in the 1st, but David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz homered in the bottom of the 2nd to even things up. Alex Gonzalez, of slight power and average, hit his 5th HR of the season to give the Sox the go ahead run in the 5th. He went 2/3 for the night, raising his average to .219. Ramon Ramirez gave up a HR in the top of the 8th for only his 3rd BS of the season. Enter Big Papi in the bottom of the 9th as we hark back to 2004 and the days of seemingly endless Big Papi walk-off HR’s and other greatest hits. He launched his 2nd HR of the night around the Pesky Pole, giving him 22 HR’s and 77 RBI’s so far in the 2009 campaign.

Sox Win 3-2 BOX SCORE

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
White Sox 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 7 0
Red Sox 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 7 1