Posts Tagged ‘Ben Sheets’

I will tell you right now what John Lackey needs to do.  John Lackey needs to go up to every member of last night’s starting lineup, shake his hand, and thank him profusely for providing heaps of insurance.  Especially V-Mart, but we’ll get to that later, because that was the highlight yesterday.  It sure wasn’t Lackey.  John Lackey allowed a season-high twelve hits in six innings last night.  I give credit where credit is due, so I’ll admit that it was impressive that somehow only four runs scored on those twelve hits, so Lackey may have gotten the win, but that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for some big bats.

In addition to those four runs on twelve hits, he walked two and struck out four.  The offensive bailout has been a theme.  He’s six and three with a 4.95 ERA, which means that he’s allowing runs but somehow he’s getting those wins.

In the fourth, the A’s loaded the bases with nobody out, but Lackey got out of it.  But that valiant effort was sandwiched between a two-run homer in the third and another two runs in the fifth.  Not surprisingly, he needed twenty-two and twenty-six pitches to get through those bookend innings and then another game-high twenty six to get through his last.  He started off promising with an efficient, ten-pitch first, but ended up firing a grand total of 116, mostly cutters and fastballs.  His fastball and slider were outstanding, his curveball was decent, his changeup was mediocre, and his cutter, not coincidentally his pitch of choice last night, was really just not that great.  He only threw it for strikes half the time.  His whole strike zone shifted to the left.  His release point, which was pretty loose, didn’t help either.

I think I’m going to write this season off.  We’ve seen this plenty of times before.  It’s a commonly known fact that a player in a Boston uniform is only as good as his sophomore season in said uniform.  I think we should wait until we see what he’s got next year before judging the signing.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t expect him to pitch well this year.  I very much expect him to pitch well this year.  I’m just saying that we don’t have to worry about him here in the long run because I have a feeling he’ll right himself eventually.  Is the meantime a cause for concern? Yes.  But that’s a separate issue, one that the offense, luckily, is currently taking care of.

And speaking of the offense, let’s delve into that, shall we? The final score was 9-4, so we scored more than twice their runs with only one more hit.  Beltre got us on the board with two out in the fifth with a three-run shot into the Monster seats.  And when I say a shot, I mean a shot.  That was what Pedroia might call a laser.  That, ladies and gentlemen, was a hard-hit ball.  A lesson to all the pitchers out there: don’t hang your curveballs.  In his last thirteen games, Beltre is batting a hot .451 with four dingers and sixteen RBIs.  He loves two-strike counts.  He’s going all out with the power.  It’s awesome.

In the sixth, Pedroia got warmed up by grounding into a double play, allowing Hall to score and McDonald to move to third.  Then V-Mart came up and smacked a ground-rule double, the first of many, to score him.  In the seventh, Drew scored on Hall’s triple.

Then we have the eighth.  V-Mart hit another ground-rule double to score Pedroia, and Youk singled him in and then promptly scored on Drew’s single.

Pedroia’s double in the eighth snapped his hitless streak at seventeen at-bats.  Plus, he snared Cust’s potential line drive in the second with a backhanded diving stop.  Only Pedroia makes plays like that.  Youk went two for four.  Beltre went three for five.

But Victor Martinez went five for five! Perfect at the plate with four doubles! A single right up the middle to center field.  Then a double off the scoreboard.  Another double off the wall with a swing so powerful he almost tripped over it.  A third double into the triangle out in center.  And his fourth down the right field line, just fair by inches.  That was one of his best performances at the plate, ever.  When V-Mart told Lackey before he tossed his final pitch that he should hang in there because he’d take care of him, he wasn’t kidding.  If there was a hole, V-Mart found it.  If there was a good swing to be made, he made it.  And he made history, too.  He was the first Major League catcher to hit four doubles in one game since Sandy Alomar did it for the Indians on June 6, 1997, also at Fenway.  And he was the first in a Boston uniform to do it since Rick Miller on May 11, 1981 in Toronto.  He’s had sixteen hits in his last thirty-one at-bats, improving his average to .279.  If he continues at this rate, it won’t be long before he hits that .300 mark.

Delcarmen and Bard each got a hold.  Nelson didn’t get a save.  Too much of a blowout.

Cameron was out with soreness.  Hopefully his performance on Sunday didn’t take too much out of him.

For the team, that would be our eleventh hit in fourteen games.  And it was a good one.  If there is a team in this league that’s on a roll, it’s us.  We’re five games out of first, but by taking it one game at a time and building on our momentum, we’ll be at the top soon enough.  Dice-K will hopefully help us get there when he takes on Sheets tonight.  But with him, you really never know.  I’ve never meant that statement about a pitcher more than I do when I make it about him.  When he takes the hill, you really just don’t know what you’re going to get.  Hopefully, we’ll get the Dice-K who almost threw a no-no.  But you never know.  Hold on to your hats.

AP Photo

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We now have more to deal with this offseason than we bargained for.  We all expected Theo to have his hands full with fixing this team, which obviously has holes in it.  That’s hard enough.  But in addition to that the front office and coaching staff just took two huge hits.

Brad Mills is now the manager of the Houston Astros.  Congratulations and good wishes for success, though not at our expense.  To be honest, Mills achieving success at our expense isn’t likely.  Mills will have his hands full down there, because the Astros haven’t exactly been World Series material year in and year out.  But I will say that after spending time in the dugout with Tito, Mills will have learned from the best.  Still, I don’t expect the Astros to suddenly become some sort of threat.  Of course, now we have to find a new bench coach, one who’s as good or better than Mills.

It’s finally official: Jed Hoyer is now the general manager of the San Diego Padres.  Congratulations and good wishes for success, though not at our expense.  That leaves Ben Cherington as our sole assistant GM, but I think he can handle it.  More importantly, this has profoundly positive implications for a possible Adrian Gonzalez trade.

Speaking of player additions, I wouldn’t be too surprised if our front office attempts to do business with Ben Sheets.  As Theo said, it would be a low-price, low-risk move that could pay off big dividends down the road.  And if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.  No harm done.  Besides, it’s not like Sheets can afford to be as proud as he used to be.  After all the injuries he’s had, he’d be lucky to be in uniform for a contender next year.

Dean Jones, Jr. of the Baltimore Sun says that John Henry is the best owner in Major League Baseball.  Can’t say I disagree.  Pedro Martinez and his ego took advantage of a second visit to the World Series stage when he revisited the Don Zimmer incident.  He agreed with Zimmer that it was Zimmer’s fault.  Also can’t say I disagree.  Speaking of the World Series, the Yanks lead it two to one.  Let me just say that the region of New England will not be very happy with the city of Philadelphia if the Phillies fail to decimate.

And that’s a perfect segue into some extremely disturbing developments.  On Wednesday, Red Sox Nation and I visited the Boston Globe to read Tony Massarotti’s column, just like we always do.  But we were in for a profoundly rude surprise.  Mazz urged Red Sox Nation to root for the Yankees in the World Series because apparently a Yankees win would reinstate New England’s competitive fire.  I literally had to do a double-take.  Tony Massarotti, one of New England’s most trusted sports writers, was recommending the ultimate crime.  The ultimate blasphemy.  The ultimate act of treachery and betrayal.  First of all, let me take this opportunity to affirm in writing that I will not, nor have I ever, nor will I ever, root for the New York Yankees.  It is impossible for me to do so.  I am a Red Sox fan.  I loathe the New York Yankees with every fiber of my being and will in no way and at no time even consider the possibility of remotely supporting their organization.  And I think I can safely say that Red Sox Nation wholeheartedly agrees with me on this one.  You should have seen the comments on this column.  There were hundreds of them.  I assure you that you would be hard-pressed to find one that agrees with him.  Secondly, I was not aware of the fact that we lacked competitive fire.  We’re Red Sox Nation.  We’re the greatest fans in all of baseball.  You don’t get much more competitive fire than that.  So Mazz insults us, he insults our history, and he insults our loyalty.  I’m not sure Red Sox Nation and I will be able to read his columns in quite the same way again.

Furthermore, an article appeared yesterday in the New York Times by lifelong Red Sox fan Joe Nocera.  Same story.  He urged Red Sox Nation to root for the Yankees because they’re the underdogs.  Let me say something right now.  The New York Yankees are never underdogs.  How can a team be an underdog if they attempt to buy a championship every single year? What, they don’t win a World Series in eight years and all of a sudden they’re the victims of the rest of the league? There is a huge difference between a drought of eight years and a drought of eighty-six years.  And this article offends me personally because the author is a Red Sox fan behind enemy lines.  The New York chapter of Red Sox Nation has more fight than any other, and now he’s suddenly okay with the Yankees winning a twenty-seventh title? This is incredibly insulting.  Remember where you come from.  Remember the Royal Rooters.  Remember those eighty-six years.  And never forget 2004.

Nico Savidge of the Daily Cardinal wrote an article with the headline, “Yankees represent everything wrong with baseball.” I couldn’t agree more.  I suggest that both Mazz and Nocera read this as a reality check.  Let’s not forget that the Yankees are the Evil Empire, a business crushing opponents with its oversized wallet.  And don’t even get me started on the steroids, the ticket prices, and the broadcasters.  Seriously.

And that brings us to Tuesday.  On Tuesday of this past week, we celebrated the five-year anniversary of the 2004 World Series victory of the Boston Red Sox.  That was the greatest day in the history of the franchise.  It vindicated a Nation and set an entire region of the United States of America free.  I can’t even begin to describe the elation of that victory.  There’s only one way to sum it up:

“Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it: the Boston Red Sox are world champions!”

Red Sox fans around the world were glued to their television sets on the night of October 27, 2004.  Generations of diehards achieved peace with that final out.  No victory meant more to a fan base than this victory meant to us.  And that’s why, even though this October didn’t turn out as we’d planned, five years later we’re still on top of the world.

The Patriots defeated the Buccaneers, 35-7.  We get a bye this week.  The Bruins lost to the Devils and shut out the Oilers yesterday.  With Lucic and Savard both on the injured reserve, I’m just glad we’re still putting W’s on the board.

The Onion

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Wow. Dustin Pedroia is on an absolute roll. He is clearly the best second baseman in the league. Clearly. And if he doesn’t get MVP I’d say there’s something seriously wrong with this picture. We’re talking CC-over-Beckett-for-Cy-Young wrong. Pedroia the Destroyah’s latest honor is his first career Silver Slugger award. He’s the fourth player in Red Sox history to win a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in the same season; Dwight Evans, Ellis Burks, and Tek were the first three. We’ve had a player on the Silver Slugger team in each of the past eight seasons. Unfortunately, Aubrey Huff of the Orioles snapped Ortiz’s four-season Silver Slugger streak. Understandable, though, considering his injury-ridden season this year. Anyway, the MVPs are announced on Tuesday, and I fully expect Dustin to win it.

Jon Lester won the Hutch Award for courage from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Jacoby Ellsbury won the James Bell Legacy Award for steals. He led the American League and broke the rookie record with fifty. Dice-K placed fourth in the Cy Young voting. True, his outings this year were on the short side, but I thought he would’ve done a lot better. The winner was obviously Cliff Lee, followed by Roy Halladay and Francisco Rodriguez. Dice-K’s 18-3 record was good for fourth in the American League in wins, his 2.90 ERA was good for third, and his .211 opponent’s average was good for first. He truly perfected his Houdini strategy; opponents finished the season 0 for 14 with the bases loaded. The only drawback? His 94 walks led the American League. That and his short outings did him in.

Baseball Insider of USA Today evaluated all thirty Major League Baseball teams in nine categories over the past five years and ranked us number one overall. I have to say I’m not surprised. I mean look at what we’ve done over the past five years: four postseason appearances and two World Series titles. Not to mention our successes in the regular season, in the offseason, in the front office, and in the farms. So it’s true. It is absolutely true. We are the team to beat, and we are in the process of becoming the team of the decade.

The two-week exclusive negotiation period between Tek and the Sox is over. Theo had some discussions with Scott Boras, but obviously as I said the length of the deal is likely proving to be an issue. Big Papi has stated that he wants another slugger on the team; in my opinion, that would be Teixeira. I would say that Matt Holliday could be an option, but he’s already been traded to the A’s. Of all the teams, it had to be the A’s. Every team has a few teams that, for whatever reason, they just can’t handle. For us, it’s the Jays in September, lately the Rays, and the A’s. The A’s sweep us at least once a season. So of all the teams to which he could’ve been traded, it had to be Oakland. That’s great. That’s just great. As far as the rest of the free agent market is concerned, we’re also probably looking into Ben Sheets, AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe, Sean Casey, and Alex Cora. Rumor has it that we might even be interested in Rocco Baldelli.

In other news, the New York Jets defeated the Pats on Thursday to secure first place. They won it by a score of 34-31 with a field goal in overtime. But I think the Boston sports highlight of the week had to be Thursday’s game between the Bruins and the Habs. We completely crushed them, literally and physically. Our 6-1 rout ended our twelve-game losing streak against the Canadiens. And the fight between Milan Lucic and Mike Komisarek was absolutely epic. I mean that was a great hockey fight. Complete and total domination. Lucic clearly won that one. We did lose to the Rangers in overtime last night, but on the upside we’ve won eight of our last ten, and our 24 points is good for first place.

MLB Photo

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