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Posts Tagged ‘Carlton Fisk’

We celebrated the fifth anniversary of our complete and total decimation of the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS on Tuesday.  Just thinking about that 10-3 final score gives me goosebumps.  That was the greatest day in the history of New England for all of a week before we won it all.  World champions.  I said this at the time, and I say it every year, because it’s true: it never gets old.  No matter how many wins anyone else may be able to rack up, none of them will ever measure up to 2004.  Ever.  And no defeat will ever be as painful as the one the Yankees experienced.  There’s a reason why it’s called the greatest comeback in the history of baseball.  And I wouldn’t have wanted to get to the big stage any other way.

Meanwhile, Tim Bogar and Brad Mills interviewed for the Astros’ managerial job.  That’s not something I want to hear.  Mills has been our bench coach for the past six seasons, and he’s done a great job.  Obviously I’m rooting for his success, but I just hope that success is achieved in Boston, not in Houston.

And supposedly we’re chasing Adrian Gonzalez via trade.  This could get very interesting, very quickly.  At twenty-seven years of age, he hit forty home runs, batted in ninety-nine RBIs this year, led the Major Leagues in walks, and finished the season with a .407 on-base percentage.  But wait; the plot thickens.  One of our assistant GMs, Jed Hoyer, is about to become the Padres’ GM.  (This leaves Ben Cherington as our only assistant GM.  The decision is likely to be announced in the next few days.  Bud Selig doesn’t want clubs making such major announcements during the World Series, so it’ll happen beforehand, especially since Hoyer will need to get his personnel in place and prepare for the GMs meeting starting on November 9.) So if one of them lands the job, our options become wide-open, and the road to the trade just got re-paved.  The important question here is who is on the block.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Mike Lowell and prospects; Youk would then move to third permanently while Gonzalez plays first.  But I don’t know if the Padres would bite.  I think it’s safe to say Youk won’t be going anywhere; he’s too good at the plate and in the field.  And I don’t think Pedroia even enters into this discussion.  So I think Lowell, prospects, and bench players are up for grabs.

Speaking of Pedroia, check this out.  During his MVP season, he swung at the first pitch fifteen percent of the time.  This past year, that stat was down to seven percent.  Furthermore, during his MVP season he hit .306 with eight doubles and two dingers on the first pitch.  This past year, he hit .167 with four hits, period.  And if you don’t consider his one-pitch at-bats, his numbers from the two season are almost exactly the same.  But there’s a trade-off.  With more patience came twenty-four more walks and a comparable on-base percentage despite the thirty-point drop in average.  And while we’re on the subject of examining the season via stats, the only Red Sox catcher since 1954 who’s had a better average in September than Victor Martinez is Carlton Fisk.  Just to give you an idea of how ridiculously awesome V-Mart is.  Youk has had the highest OPS in the American League since 2008.  (It’s .960, a full ten points higher than A-Rod’s.  I’m just sayin’.) Jacoby Ellsbury is one of only six since 1915 to bat over .300 with forty-five extra-base hits and seventy steals; the other five are Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Willie Wilson, Tim Raines, and Kenny Lofton.  David Ortiz hit more home runs than anyone in the AL since June 6, but only six of those were hit with runners in scoring position and struggled immensely against lefties.  In three of his past four seasons, Jason Bay has experienced a slump starting sometime in June and ending sometime in July that lasts for about a month.

Saito cleared waivers on Monday, but mutual interest in his return has been expressed.  Why not? He finished the year with a 2.43 ERA, the eighth-lowest in the Majors for a reliever with forty-plus appearances.  Wakefield had surgery at Mass General on Wednesday to repair a herniated disk in his back.  The surgery was successful, he’ll begin rehab immediately, and expect him to be pitching before Spring Training.

In other news, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt fired his wife, Jamie, from her position as CEO of the organization.  Ouch.  Now she’s amassing an army of investors in an effort to possibly buy out her husband.  Ouch times two.  This could potentially ruin the team; when the organization’s top officials are preoccupied with marriage and ownership disputes, it’s harder to focus on free agency, harder to allocate funds to the right players, and therefore harder to be good.  Not that I’m complaining; Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez blew it this year and I’m looking forward to the Dodgers dropping down in the standings.

That’s a wrap for this week.  Not too much goes on until the stove gets hot, but this is when Theo gets his winter game plan together.  If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that he’ll be making some serious moves.  After a postseason finish like ours, that’s really the only thing you can do.

The Pats crushed the Titans last weekend.  Seriously.  The final score was 59-0.  It was ridiculous.  The Bruins, on the other hand, could do better.  We lost to Phoenix, shut out Dallas, lost a shootout to the Flyers, and won a shootout to the Senators.  We traded Chuck Kobasew to the Wild for right winger Craig Weller, still in the AHL; rights to forward Alex Fallstrom, a freshman at Harvard; and a second-round draft pick in 2011.  So it could be a while before we see a return on this move, but it freed cap space in preparation for next offseason, when Tuukka Rask, Blake Wheeler, and Marc Savard all hit the free agent market.  And make no mistake: Peter Chiarelli was sending a message.  If you underperform, you’re gone, because we can use the financial flexibility of a trade to make us more competitive than you’re making us right now.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis
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The only pitcher who did not give up a run on his watch was Bard.  Excluding Buchholz, the other five were abysmal.  You read right.  It took us seven pitchers to lose by one run, but again, Buchholz really had nothing to do with it.  He pitched five and two-thirds, but he never goes deep into games anyway.  He gave up two runs on nine hits with two walks and five strikeouts.  That’s an out shy of a quality start.  So he did a good job.  He wasn’t the problem.

The offense wasn’t the problem either; we lost, 9-8.  No home runs but you don’t need one when you score eight runs.  Ellsbury went two for six with a run, an RBI, and a steal.  Pedroia hit, scored, and is batting around .400 in his last eighteen games or so.  Youk went three for five, including a two-RBI double.  Huge night.  He’s back.  Ortiz and Bay both collected RBIs.  Drew went three for five, including two doubles, with an RBI and two runs, also a huge night.  Lowell went two for two with an RBI double.  Even Kottaras went two for three with a run and two walks.

Point being that this one falls squarely on the shoulders of the bullpen.  Buchholz delivered a quality start (minus the out, but still).  The offense lit up Oakland pitching.  What more could the bullpen want? At that point, you send in your relievers trusting they’ll keep the lead intact.  You have no reason to expect something like what happened last night.

We were cruising.  The five-run third was awesome.  Ramirez came in after five and a third and recorded three outs but gave up a run.  Okajima came in for two outs but threw twenty-nine pitches and gave up a run.  Bard pitched two outs and managed to emerge unscathed.  But it didn’t stop there.  Jonathan Papelbon, in his third blown save of the year, recorded three outs, gave up three runs, and was just generally very sloppy.  That was the first time he’d ever blown a three-run lead.  Ever.  To his credit, he only threw twenty-one pitches; it could’ve been easily much more.  And to be fair only two of those runs were earned; thank you, Nick Green, with the two throwing errors.  But wait; there’s more.  Delcarmen pitched an out shy of two innings, gave up two runs, and took the loss, but only after Takashi Saito allowed Adam Kennedy to hit an RBI single.  We scored a run in the bottom of the frame but couldn’t come up with another.  It was awful.  Like watching a wreck in progress.  And the saddest part is that this was one of those things that Tito just couldn’t fix.  He emptied the bullpen; there was nobody else left to send out.  So what could he do? Send out Masterson and have nobody available for tomorrow? He tried everything and pitched everyone he could.  Even the best bullpen in the Majors isn’t bottomless, and he ran out of pitchers.  There was nothing to be done except sit back, try to relax, and take the loss.  Which luckily coincided with a Yankees loss.  We’ve been lucky that way.

But there’s no guarantee that we’ll be lucky like that forever.  The best way to ensure contention and even a division lead is not to win.  It’s to win consistently.  With few pitchers, to keep the bullpen healthy and rested.  Otherwise, you get yourself into all kinds of difficult situations.  Take tonight, for example.  It’s Brett Anderson at Brad Penny.  Because the bullpen was spent last night, Brad Penny will have to go deep tonight, whether he gives up a slew of runs to get there or not, because the bullpen needs a day off.  But we know that Penny can’t pitch past the sixth, so it’ll be interesting to see how Tito approaches it.  Does he put in three relievers to lessen the workload of each, or does he put Masterson in to pitch all three? Again, I’m not a fan of the latter because it would be keeping him in a state of limbo between reliever and starter.  It’s a tough call.  We’ll see what happens.

We traded Mark Kotsay to the White Sox for Brett Anderson.

Last but definitely not least, yesterday we held the ceremony to retire Jim Rice’s No. 14.  It now hangs on the right field roof deck between Ted Williams’s No. 9 and Carlton Fisk’s No. 27.  Johnny Pesky, his mentor whom he calls his personal hitting coach, unveiled it.  Heady company, but Rice deserves it.  And the 2009 team presented him with a signed replica of the mounted number.  And he thanked us, the greatest fans in baseball.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say you’re welcome, the pleasure is ours.  Rice spent his entire, sixteen-year career in a Boston uniform.  He ended his career with a .298 batting average with 382 home runs and 1,451 runs batted in.  He was an eight-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger, and the 1978 American League MVP.  Here’s to you, Jim.  We knew you’d get it.

MLB.com

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Wake really needed this one.  He knew it, the team new it, we knew it.  But he ended up with a no-decision.  It was good and bad.  When he pitched well, he pitched really well.  The knuckleball was dancing and everything.  But when he pitched badly, he really pitched badly.  But that’s how it works.  Sometimes it moves, sometimes it doesn’t, and it fluctuates even within a game.  So you never know, really.  Compared to some of the outings he’s had in the past, this was excellent, but compared to the way he’s been pitching lately, you scratch your head and wonder where this came from.  He pitched eight innings but gave up five runs on ten hits.  He struck out three and didn’t walk anybody, but three of the runs he gave up were due entirely to the long ball.  So good and bad as always with Wake.

In theory, this complicates his All-Star fate.  If he won last night, it would’ve been a lock.  He would’ve already been packing his bags.  In practice, it might not be as bad.  For one thing, he didn’t actually lose.  We were tied, 5-5, through ten.  After Wakefield left, Delcarmen and Paps held the fort.  Then Ramon Ramirez allowed two runs in the top of the eleventh, and we only scored one in the bottom.  So the final was 7-6.  Ramirez took the loss, as he should.  And it’s not like the Mariners lit Wakefield up.  There was no slugfest, really.  So it wasn’t great but it could’ve been a whole lot worse.

And the rest of the team knew exactly how important this was and put up a fight until the bitter end.  Even if Felix Hernandez’s changeup alone is ninety miles per hour, which is just obscsene.  For some reason, it looked like every other ball was heading for the Fisk pole.  Drew went two for six with a solo homer in the seventh.  First pitch he saw in that at-bat and he went for it.  Boy, did he go for it.  A ninety-six mile-per-hour fastball and it ended up over center field.  Drew has made constructive contact on the first pitch twenty-seven times this year, and for those he’s batting .308 with three home runs.  Pedroia hit and scored.  Ortiz walked and scored.  Bay hit, walked, scored, and plated one for an RBI.  And he’s a United States citizen.  Congratulations! Great timing, too, with the Fourth of July.  Kotsay went two for five with a run, and he’s turning out to be quite the player.  The key is his versatility; he plays outfield, he plays first base, and he’s really maximizing his playing time and getting more hits.  He improves every time he’s out there.  Ellsbury hit and stole, as usual.  Green went two for two, plated two, and walked once.  And George Kottaras, who lately proves every time he plays that Theo Epstein was absolutely right to tap him for the job, went two for five.  He hit a solo home run in the eleventh inning.  He was responsible for that late-game run.  And you have to give him a lot of credit for that.

Sean Casey joined Don Orsillo in the booth today, which was great.  Casey has quite the personality.  Affable guy.  Talkative.  And then Lenny Clarke came and made it interesting, as always.  So it was very entertaining.  After having fluid removed and an injection put into his right hip, Mikey Lowell says he feels great.  And he’s got a sense of humor about it too, which is what you want to see from someone chomping at the bit to get back in the field:

I figure we took the junk out and put good stuff in so we had a good oil change.

Dice-K is headed to Florida on Monday to start a Spring Training-esque strengthening program, which pretty much officially affirms that it’s all the World Baseball Classic’s fault.  If he’d participated in Spring Training with everyone else, he wouldn’t be having these problems.  Looks like the construction on the Twins’ new home, Target Field, is coming along nicely.  It’s actually got natural grass.  And a draft of next year’s schedule sees the Red Sox playing the Twins in their home opener.  I’d hate to see them lose their first game at the new field, but hey, we can’t help being that good.

Happy Fourth of July! And to celebrate Independence Day, Brad Penny will take the mound against Garrett Olson.  Penny’s turned out to be one of the most consistent pitchers on our staff.  With consistently short outings.  Which is another reason to appreciate Wakefield’s eight innings of work last night, even if we did end up going into extras, which was also a good thing because it showed we weren’t ready to lose.  Anyway, because Penny’s outings are short, he needs all the run support he can get, and Olson will probably help us out with that.  Should be a good game.

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Finally, Dice-K wins.  For the first time in 2009.  In June.  Although that’s more Bud Selig’s fault than it is anyone else’s.  Dice-K was put on the DL for strain and fatigue because he skipped Spring Training in favor of a hefty workload in the World Baseball Classic.  People say he didn’t have to participate, that he could’ve just said no, but the truth is that would’ve been impossible.  Honor is a very significant aspect of Japanese culture.  Dice-K is an icon in Japan.  It would’ve been almost a disgrace if he hadn’t represented his country.  I’m just glad he’s back.  And he was rewarded with a win for his best outing to date.  Short but sweet.  Five innings, but only one run on six hits with three walks and six K’s.  He improves to one and three.  An ERA of 7.17, but that’ll shrink as the season goes on.

We used four pitchers to cover the remaining four innings.  You might ask why we didn’t throw Masterson in there, being that he’s used to pitching many innings due to his training as a starter.  The answer is that, if he’s going to be an effective reliever, we can’t do that too often.  He needs to get used to pitching short workloads, he needs to get used to infrequent workloads (he worked two frames on Sunday), and he needs his rest because we can’t forget that he’s still young.  The four pitchers were Delcarmen, Okajima, Ramirez, and Papelbon.  And I’m telling you, Jonathan Papelbon wants to give every member of Red Sox Nation high blood pressure.  He pitched a great ninth; great as in no runs allowed.  But he did allow three hits while striking out three.  He’s lucky nobody scored.  Right now his ERA is 2.35, and that’s a little too high for my tastes.  He’s the best closer in all of Major League Baseball.  He’s perfectly capable of doling out three K’s without the three hits.  I’ve seen him do it too many times to count.  Why he didn’t do it last night is something I can’t explain, but instead he was engaged in an eleven-pitch at-bat with Josh Anderson with the bases loaded.  Anderson eventually struck out swinging, but the whole situation was just very strange.

The final score was 5-1, so there’s more of that run support we’d been looking for last week.  Pedroia had himself a walk, hit, and RBI, Drew went two for five with an RBI, Youk plated a man, Lowell failed to reach base, and Tek and Ellsbury were each perfect at the plate.  Tek scored, and Ellsbury stole and had yet another infield hit, his thirteenth of the season which puts him easily in the American League top five in that category.  Jason Bay jacked a breaking ball over the bullpen in left and into the seats for his sixteenth of the year.  Speaking of which, he and Youk are both leading in the All-Star voting.  Obviously, Pedroia, Lowell, and Tek are all legitimate candidates.

A word about Tek.  He’s one of only sixteen catchers to hit a double-digit amount of jacks in ten season.  He’s the first Red Sox catcher in thirty years (since Carlton Fisk) to have two multi-jack games in ten days or less.  In fact, his nine multi-jack games are two behind Fisk’s eleven.  Tek has hit ten jacks this year, three behind his total for all of last season, and it’s only June.  His offense is clearly better from the right side of the plate than from the left; in fact, the disparities between the two on-base percentages (.325 and .375) and slugging percentages (.472 and .714) are considerable.  Overall, he’s .337 and .532.  But it’s getting better.  He hit about half of his jacks from the left, his unnatural side, and talking about overall, there’s no question he’s doing exponentially better at the plate this season than he did last season.  In 2008, ten percent of his fly balls ended up out of the park.  In 2009, that’s almost doubled, and that’s where most of the improvement is coming from.  He’s getting roughly teh same amount of ground balls, fly balls, bases on balls, and line drives.  It’s the home runs that’ve elevated his offense to another level.  He still has a lot of work to do; he’s nursing the lowest batting average of his career on balls in play right now because he seems to be hitting into gloves instead of into gaps, but those balls will fall in eventually.  And let’s not forget that this reawakening of his is occurring when he’s thirty-seven years old.  That definitely says something.  So I think an All-Star appearance is definitely a possibility.

And a word about Nick Green.  He’s gotten the nod to start over Lugo for the past three games.  Why not when he’s batting .290 as opposed to Lugo’s .276.

And finally a word about the lineup generally.  The changes are working.  It all started on Sunday when we faced Romero, who’s a lefty.  Ellsbury came into that contest with a .268 on-base percentage against lefties, so Terry Francona dropped him to eighth, moved Pedroia to leadoff, and put Drew in second and Youk in third.  That last move was actually perfect, because Youk came in batting .348 in that spot.  and it’s not like we could’ve afforded to cover for that stat of Ellsbury’s, being that we hadn’t scored more than three runs in our previous five games.  Changes needed to be made.  But it was unclear to me that Terry would stick with them, being that Porcello is a righty.  But hey, if it works, it works.  Ortiz is still batting sixth, but with a twist: if you watch his batting stance, you’ll see that he taps his bat on his left shoulder before he swings.  That’s something new.  It’s part of some adjustments he and Dave Magadan are currently working on.  The purpose of this one is to put his swing on a flatter plain.  And since he’s started it, he’s been hitting the ball noticeably harder.  So we’ll see how that goes.

We activated Mark Kotsay yesterday.  And Moneyball by Michael Lewis is being made into a movie.  I’m psyched.  Great book.

Tonight it’s Beckett at Armando Galarraga.  If he pitches the way he’s been pitching, I don’t think there’ll be too much to worry about.

The Future Blog of the Red Sox

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And just like that, with one swing of the bat, Big Papi’s home run drought is over.  Done.  Finished.  Concluded.  Terminated.  I’m so psyched, I could think of a hundred more synonyms for that but the point is the man hit his first home run of 2009! And this thing was huge.  Fifth inning.  Man on third.  Two men out.  Ortiz at the plate.  The count one and one.  Belt-high fastball over the middle.  The ball ended up in the center field camera well right by the 420 mark.  Over the pitcher! Over the outfield! Over the center field wall! It was out of the park by inches, but it was out.  And it’s no small feat to hit the ball that far, either.  The ball was out! It was so out it wasn’t even funny.  Red Sox Nation and David Ortiz exhaled as one.  I was watching that and I was doing the Carlton Fisk home run wave.  And let me tell you.  That was a classic Big Papi swing.  It was huge.  It was powerful.  It was precise.  And it was all over it.  I mean it was all he could do not to take the skin off the ball.  And what a welcome from the teammates and the fans afterwards.  He got a standing ovation, followed by a curtain call, followed by another standing ovation in the sixth.  And we’ve been with him every step of the way; there are many reasons why we’re called the Fenway Faithful, and this is definitely one of them.  Anyway he is one happy camper right now.  No doubt about that.  One very happy camper.  And I don’t even have to say anything about how crazy Fenway went after that.  It had all the trappings of a walkoff in October.  Gives you the chills.

But the key now will be to keep him on track.  He’s hit his first dinger of the year so we know he’s back, but he still has to be careful to go easy on himself.  He can’t expect that, just because he’s hit his first, he’s suddenly going to be slugging all over the place.  If that happens, nobody will be complaining, but he has to take it slow.  So it’s just as important now, perhaps even more important now, to keep the tension and pressure at a minimum.  That’s why I’m going to make the bold statement that the swing he took in the sixth, his next at-bat after the home run, was perhaps even more heartening than the home run itself.  He swung and missed on a changeup, but that wasn’t the point.  That swing retained all the elements of the classic Big Papi swing that propelled the ball out of the park: the power, the precision, the bat speed, the follow-through, the huge torque on the bat.  It was all there.  He was going after it like he wanted to bury it.  And that’s what you like to see from him.  That’s how you know he’s back.  Even if it was a swing and a miss.

And that home run of his was nearly worth three runs.  With one out, Ellsbury walked.  Then Pedroia smacked a double, and Ellsbury tried to score from first, but they gunned him down at the plate.  The throw hit Barajas perfectly, and he extended his arm to make the tag as Ellsbury went into the slide for home.  Pedroia took third on the throw.  Hey, it happens to the best of us, and Ellsbury was busy setting a record last night anyway.  He handled twelve fly balls, tying a Major League record for most putouts in a nine-inning game for a center fielder.  He shares the record with Earl Clark of the Boston Braves (May 10, 1929 against the Reds) and Lyman Bostock of the Minnesota Twins (May 25, 1977 against us).  But Ellsbury set a new franchise record for putouts by any outfielder in a game of any length.  That’s what I like about the kid; whether it’s at the plate or in the field or on the paths or all three, he gets it done somehow.

But the rest of the offense was awesome, too.  Fireworks.  Literally.  All but one of our runs were scored via the long ball.  Jack number one was a solo shot by Tek to lead off the third.  Jack number two was a solo shot by Tek to lead off the fifth.  So that’s two home runs in a single game for the captain.  It’s amazing what a different hitter he is this year than he was last year.  I mean in the seventh inning they intentionally walked him in favor of Lugo with the bases loaded.  That says a lot, about both guys.  Jack number three was that monster shot by Big Papi in the fifth.  Jack number four was a two-run, two-out homer by Jason Bay that completely cleared the Green Monster seats in the fifth.  Jack number five was a solo shot by Mikey Lowell in the fifth.  So four jacks in that one inning alone, two of which were back-to-back into or over the Monster.  It was ridiculous.  It was absolutely insane.  And it all started with that walk to Ellsbury.  You have to feel bad for Brett Cecil; it was only the kid’s third Major League start, and if I’m Toronto’s manager, I’m pulling him before Youk comes to bat.  He’s going to remember that fifth inning forever, and there’s no telling how much that messed with his psyche.  You just don’t do that.  That’s bad management right there.  So, yeah, you feel bad for the kid because of the five jacks, until you remember the five jacks.

And let’s not forget about the pitching.  Brad Penny was solid through two outs into the seventh inning.  Two runs (both coming in the seventh) on nine hits, a walk, and two strikeouts.  And let’s not forget all those flyouts.  Ninety-six pitches in total.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Dlecarmen, Okajima, and Saito were all perfect as usual.  Daniel Bard gave up a run in his Fenway Park debut.  And that was a great time for him to take the mound; a big lead takes pressure off a kid.  The final score was 8-3.  Penny picks up the win and improves to 4-1.

Last night, Tek and Lowell welcomed Boy, an eleven-year-old diehard Sox fan from Holland who’s suffering from a brain tumor.  Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boy flew from Holland to hang out with his two favorite players.  Lowell even gave him his bat, and Tek took him and his family on a personal tour of the batting cages.  What a great story.  Just another of the many reasons why it’s good to be a member of Red Sox Nation.  We do more than most if not all other Major League teams for our community.

So with that win we’ll at least win this series.  Toronto is hanging onto first place by the skin of its teeth, trying to preserve a one-and-a-half-game lead which hopefully after tonight will shrink to just a half-game lead.  We’ve been playing some of our best baseball against them, which is a good sign, because if they’re able to keep this up down the stretch, we’re going to have to deal with them on more than one occasion.  The Yanks are two and a half games back, and the Rays are six and a half games back.  The Orioles, of course, are at the bottom with a nine-and-a-half-game deficit.  So all is almost as it should be.  As soon as we take first place, then everything will be good to go.  Robert Ray at Lester, and this would be a great time for Lester to remember who he is.

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Lowell concluded this homestand in style with a grand slam for his tenth home run of the season. Nice going, Mikey! Quite a few grand slams have been hit this season. Ortiz hit one to break out of his slump, ironically at around the time the Ortiz jersey was excavated from the foundation of the new Yankee Stadium. What that means is that the Yankees’ brass trooped all the way down there and had the extra effort expended to dig it up for nothing. Why? Because David Ortiz snapped out of it and then proceeded to wreak his usual havoc on opposing pitchers. So, in reality, it was a lose-lose situation for the Yankees. I love it when that happens. Then, of course, Lowell and Drew each hit grand slams in the same game against Kansas City, to name just a few offensive highlights of 2008.

Youk and Drew each drilled a two-run home run as well last night, and Lugo also produced an RBI. And a fielding error. Surprise, surprise. It’s funny; last year, he didn’t make an excessive amount of errors, but his average was down, and this year he’s hitting but he’s already made more than half the team’s errors. Luckily, we have Cora for the later innings and Lowrie for the later years.

Drew is batting .324 with a .562 slugging percentage and a .430 OBP. That’s good for an OPS of .992. Can you believe that? I would not want to be pitching to this man. JD Drew is stepping up, folks, and that’s alright with me. He’s got ten home runs, 37 RBIs, and 34 walks so far. As for his defensive ability, he has recorded 88 outs and four assists and accumulated a .979 fielding percentage and an .829 zone rating. Mainstay in Boston? You could say so.

Jon Lester pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking one with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Delcarmen and Timlin relieved yesterday and combined for three strikeouts, no hits, and no walks. Like I said, he does have his moments.

And now we’re off to Cincinnati for the first time since the 1975 World Series. (There’s a great video of Carlton Fisk’s home run in “Golden Moments.”) The Reds are currently in last place in the NL Central division. I’m glad we’re playing them before Philly; it’ll give the Red Sox a chance to adjust to the fact that they’re away. Before every road trip, I always hope that the Sox’ll snap out of their road struggles once and for all, but I guess patience is the key.

Speaking of the NL Central division, has anyone noticed that the Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball and are currently at .642? They’re 43-24. We’re at .609 and are 42-27. Not that far behind, and it’s still early. At this point, the most important thing is to get through the injuries, keep everyone healthy, and remember who we are on the road: defending champions of the world for the second time in the last four years.

Jon Lester, 6/12/2008

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