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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Blackhawks’

We signed Jose Mijares to a minor league deal with an invitation to attend Spring Training.  We also signed Grady Sizemore to a one-year deal plus a considerable amount of incentives.  Things are shaping up.

The B’s lost to the Blackhawks, 2-3, in a shootout, and beat the Kings, 3-2, and Flyers, 6-1.  As far as the Pats are concerned, we’re done.  The season is officially over.  We will not be advancing to the Super Bowl.  The Broncos, however, are another matter, since they beat us, 26-16.  We couldn’t run the ball, and the defense was porous.  It just felt like something was off.  I mean, granted, we were just really lucky this year; I guess the whole idea of a team fighting an uphill battle at every turn was a common theme in Boston.  Anyway, we were fortunate to have come this far, and it’s a real testament to the team to have accomplished that.  We’ve won a lot of critical games this year, many of them close ones.  And then it just ended.  So we’re out of the Super Bowl.  It’s awful, and it hurts.  But we can still be proud.

Boston.com Photo
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I say this every single time the relief corps loses games for us.  Granted, all else being equal, we still would have lost because Dempster gave up one more run than we scored by the time he left, but still.  The relief corps did just as much damage as he did, which is basically the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to do.  I mean, they’re called relievers for a reason.  They are supposed to provide relief.  They are not supposed to make the situation even worse.

Dempster put us in a hole before we even sent a batter to the plate.  With one out in the first, he gave up a solo shot.  He then gave up two consecutive singles, made worse by a missed catch by Iglesias, and allowed another run thanks to a sac fly.  He later gave up a third run thanks to a single-single combination.  All told, he lasted six innings.

Even with his mediocrity, we would have been better off.  The relief corps matched his damage in the seventh.  En route to securing the inning’s first two outs, Breslow gave up two singles, one run, and one double.  He was replaced by Wilson, who allowed two runs on another double.

Morales pitched the eighth, and Beato pitched the ninth.

Papi doubled to lead off the second and scored on a single by Gomes.  We more or less repeated that performance in the fourth, except that it was Salty who doubled then.

At the time, those runs tied the game at two.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t do any better than that, and we ended up losing, 6-2.

In other news, the Blackhawks managed to pull even with a 6-5 sudden-death win.

Boston Globe Staff/Yoon S. Byun

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Last night’s contest wasn’t a slugfest, but it came down to long balls anyway.  It was a real nailbiter, but ultimately whoever scores more runs, wins.  That usually does have something to do with putting runners on base.

Aceves’s start could not have been more phenomenal.  Six innings of one-run ball.  Only four hits.  Four walks, seven strikeouts, and that run was the result of basically only one mistake.  He gave up a solo shot in his last inning.  Other than that, he was almost untouchable.

All of which is to say that Aceves held his own in what amounted to a pitcher’s duel.  Not bad for someone who’s not seeing regular pitching time.  With two out in the third, Ellsbury singled and then Nava jacked one to right for a home run.

So the only difference between us and them was the fact that someone happened to be on base when we hit our homer.  But hey, if that’s all it takes, then that’s all it takes.

Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara all saw action, and Bailey got the save.  And we won, 2-1.

In other news, the B’s fought hard in the series opener but ended up losing, 4-3, in sudden death.

AP Photo

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Just so you know, this is not going to be a happy post.

First of all, it’s pretty much unofficially official.  Theo is going to take over the Cubs.  It’s a five-year deal, and the only thing left is for the two clubs to agree on compensation since Theo is technically entering the last year of his contract with us.  The deal is currently worth twenty million dollars, which reportedly includes said compensation.  As of late, Theo’s title within the Cubs organization is unclear, but it supposedly is something higher up.

The bottom line is that he’s leaving us, so we’ll have to find a first-base coach, a manager, and a general manager.  Here’s an understatement: this offseason, we’ve got some serious work to do.  With any luck, we won’t actually have to find a general manager and will instead be looking for an assistant general manager; I wouldn’t mind having Ben Cherington take the helm.  That’s where it looks like we’re headed, anyway.  He’s been included in all club dealings so far during the offseason.  He’s been Theo’s right-hand man for years, and the two of them started with Larry Lucchino in San Diego anyway.  It obviously won’t be the same, but it’ll be pretty close.

That is, if you like the job Theo did.  Sure, he made some huge mistakes.  Eric Gagne and Dice-K were the most notable of those; if Jenks doesn’t recover properly he’ll be another, and if Crawford and Lackey don’t turn it around they’ll be a third and fourth.  But I would argue that his good so epically and completely eclipsed his bad that this discussion isn’t even necessary.  His drafting and farming decisions were legendary and include Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youk, and Lester.  He is the youngest general manager to be hired, and he is the youngest general manager ever to win a World Series.  After almost delivering us in 2003, his first season, he lifted us out of the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 and reminded us that we weren’t dreaming in 2007.  His acquisition of Gonzalez was absolutely masterful.  He brought sabermetrics to Boston and made it feel at home here.  He wasn’t just a professional removed from everything; he was a baseball guy and, worth noting, a Red Sox fan.  He’s from Boston, specifically Brookline about two miles from Fenway Park, and that’s something Chicago will never change.  Chicago’s dysfunction as an organization goes well beyond any single position that Theo could possibly fill.  Make no mistake; he won’t simply waltz in there and have them winning World Series left and right.  If he could do that in Chicago, we would have been winning every single World Series title since his takeover of our team, and clearly that didn’t happen.  And if it didn’t happen here, it’s not going to happen there.  But that’s neither here nor there.

This is about what Theo did for this city in his nine memorable years here.  He brought a new approach to the game and put the pieces in place for us to win.  He established a winning culture here.  He’s a genius and will be sorely, sorely missed.  Here’s to you, Theo.  Here’s to everything you’ve done for us and for the game of baseball.  Here’s to the good, the bad, and the ugly, and here’s to smiling through all of it because, all along, in Theo we trusted.  We know that other fans in other places rooting for other teams will be trusting in you from now on.  But we also know that you can take the general manager out of Boston but you can’t take Boston out of the general manager.  We just hope that the great things you’ll accomplish will not be at our expense.

Secondly, all of the pieces to the devastation puzzle are now coming to light.  It’s an ugly story.  Here goes.

It wasn’t one pitcher responsible for the beer-drinking between starts.  First of all, it wasn’t just drinking beer; it was also ordering in fried chicken and playing video games.  Secondly, it wasn’t just one pitcher; it was three.  Beckett, Lackey, and Lester.  I never thought I’d see Lester on that list, although I should point out that the degree to which he actually participated in these goings-on is highly speculative, and it’s possible that he wasn’t really a mainstay.  Apparently they not only drank beer but ordered fried chicken and played video games, all at the expense of working out, and they were starting to get more players involved.  All I know is that when we needed them to deliver most, they didn’t, which is unusual for them so something must have been going on.  We knew they were health, so that should have tipped us off, but I never thought I’d see the day when such people would actually knowingly put on pounds and thereby sabotage everything the team worked for.  It’s sacrilegious. Pedroia probably couldn’t believe his eyes and must have been seething.

Meanwhile, Tito was losing influence with both old and new guys, he was having health issues, and he was living in a hotel due to marital issues.  He insists that the former wasn’t due to the latter two, but I’m also sure that Beckett, Lackey, and Lester insisted that their very visible extra fat and subsequent tanking wasn’t due to their clubhouse habits either.  I’m actually inclined to believe Tito, though; he’s focused, dedicated, and committed, and we can’t just assume that he doesn’t know how to handle personal issues in his life and balance them with his job.

Then, apparently, the team accused the brass of caring about money more than results when they scheduled the doubleheader in response to Hurricane Irene.  Then the veterans on the team, including Tek, started pulling back on leadership.  Wake exacerbated this problem by calling for a return next year so he could break the all-time wins record; neither the time nor the place when you’re days away from playoff elimination.  And Youk, as you can imagine, was more of a clubhouse pain than usual, which we all knew but didn’t feel because all of these other issues weren’t present before.  At least, if they were, we didn’t know about them to this extent.  Youk was the only player to call Ellsbury out for his time on the DL last year due to his rib injuries.  And it’s obviously admirable and dirt-doggish indeed that he played through his injuries this year, but doing so apparently brought the worst out of him socially in the clubhouse.  And when you’re hanging on by a thread in the standings, that is so not something you need.  Gonzalez, of all people, joined in the pettiness by complaining about the late-season schedule.  I honestly thought he would be much more Pedroia-like than that.

Ellsbury, by the way, is officially the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year.  I can’t think of anyone who would deserve it more.  He earned every last bit of that honor this past year, so hats most definitely off to him.

Add to that the fact that the signing of Crawford was largely a push from Theo over which the brass was divided.  If you ask me, I would have said it was the other way around.  Crawford’s strengths, both in practice and in numbers, aren’t that compatible with sabermetrics, the philosophy used to build the team.  So I thought that we would all find out that it was Theo who was against it, and it was the brass who was pushing him to sign Crawford because of the wow factor of bringing in a star or something.

All in all, the team this year turned out to be one big, dysfunctional family on every front.  Nobody, from the players to the brass, was spared.  Everyone who had issues let them loose at exactly the wrong time and in exactly the wrong ways.  Players on whom you depended to carry your team through the stretch in the clubhouse either withdrew or sunk to the level of the players you never thought would sink to that level in the first place.  It seems like it was just an awful atmosphere completely non-conducive to anything positive or constructive.  Obviously you’ve got to consider sources of this information when you read stories about this, but I guess now that we know the end story, we saw the signs all along.  That’s true of Theo’s departure as well.  At the time to us on the outside, all of the signs were too subtle for us to keep putting two and two and two and two together to come with what is clearly a very elaborate set of social circumstances that spiraled out of control and led to our painful and epic downfall.

Organization chemistry, both in the clubhouse and in the front office, is a very difficult thing to fix and cultivate.  It’s organically grown, and you either have it or you don’t.  You can’t force it.  Now Papi is claiming that he’s seriously considering free agency as a way to escape all the drama.  It’s all been meshing so well recently; how, in such a short time, could we become “that team” with all the drama? It’s like a soap opera.  Seriously.

John Henry even drove down to 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday completely on his own because he felt like he had some records to set straight.  He said that Crawford was not signed to boost NESN ratings, although he confirmed that he did oppose it but ultimately approved it because baseball operations were for Theo and Larry to govern.  Henry also implied a confirmation that Theo is going to Chicago while saying that he wishes that Theo would stay.  He said that, during the season, he let the brass know that he was all in favor of picking up Tito’s options and that the only time he thought that that maybe wasn’t such a good idea was when Tito told the brass that he didn’t want to come back.

Significant changes to the organization could potentially be afoot, and that’s either good or bad.  There’s no way to know who’s on the radar or what we should expect.  There’s nothing to do.  No amount of speculation would ever shed any light because this organization keeps everything under wraps, as is appropriate and right even if it is annoying for us fans hanging in the breeze.

The whole situation is crushing.  Make absolutely no mistake whatsoever about that.  It’s crushing.  It’s devastatingly epically crushing in every conceivable sense.  We’ll get through it because we’re Sox fans and we always do, but it’s just so remarkably and epically depressing and crushing.  I can’t even believe that this whole situation is happening.

Ultimately the big question is short and sweet and simple but revealing of the trepidation that’s currently racking all of us.

What’s next?

Also, Scott Williamson is auctioning off his 2004 World Series ring.  Why in the world would you ever do that? That’s completely sacrilegious.

In other news, the Pats summarily disposed of the Jets, 30-21.  Would I have preferred a blowout? Obviously.  But hey, that score is a lot better than the score we put up against them the last time we played them last season, so I’ll take it.  And the Bruins, since beginning their season on October 6, have beaten Philly, Colorado, and Chicago and have been beaten by Tampa Bay and Carolina.

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Opening Day is today! We made it! Finally! These next few hours of waiting are going to be tough, but after that long, cold, hard winter, baseball is finally here! Too bad we have to spend Opening Day in Texas, though.  We’ll be waiting another week for our home opener against the Yanks on April 8.  Meanwhile, we’ve got some decimating to do.  This season is going to be epic; I can feel it.  So we should start it on an appropriately epic note.  Lester has the ball.  Hopefully the start of his April badness will be sufficiently delayed so as to win us this one.  We’re facing Wilson.  Wilson is a southpaw, so Drew is sitting in favor of Cameron, and Youk and Gonzalez are switching places in the order.  So it’ll be Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Youk, Gonzalez, Papi, Cameron, Salty, and Scutaro.  That’s not the lineup we’ll be using for most of our games, but it’s one that’ll give us a good indication already of what we can expect.

Here’s the last of Spring Training.  The Orioles beat us on Sunday, 4-3.  Drew hit a two-run shot, Matt Albers allowed a run, and Papi was hit in the foot but appears to be fine.  Meanwhile, Lester made his final start of spring in a game against our minor leaguers.  He gave up five runs, four earned, on nine hits while walking none and striking out five over five innings.  Fifty of his seventy-seven pitches were strikes.  And that is absolutely no indication whatsoever of how this afternoon will go.

Lackey pitched a simulated game of sorts on Monday with Salty; the weather was iffy, so Tito didn’t bring him along to play the Jays.  The game was played, though, and we won, 3-2.

Our last game ever at City of Palms Park was totally anticlimactic.  We tied the Rays, 1-1, on Tuesday courtesy of Adrian Gonzalez’s solo shot.  Buchholz allowed one run on one hit over four innings with two walks and three strikeouts.  Forty-four of his seventy-eight pitches were strikes.  It was our fifteenth sellout in sixteen games this spring and the conclusion of our nineteenth Spring Training in that park.  You could say that many of our future stars and both of our championships were made there.  So here’s to City of Palms Park, the Fenway of spring.

The bullpen competition is officially over: Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes are in, and Alfredo Aceves and Okajima are out.  They’ve been optioned to Pawtucket.  Interestingly, that wouldn’t have been an option for Albers or Reyes; they don’t have options and would have had to clear waivers, which probably would have meant that we wouldn’t have been able to keep them.  Either way, it’ll be strange having Okajima in the organization but not on the roster.  Although of the other two are better, the other two are better, and that’s that.  So the twenty-five-man roster is officially set.  Lowrie is our infield utility man, and Cameron is our outfield utility man; those were really the only other question marks, and I don’t think the answers are that surprising.  Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got ourselves a ball club!

So that’s it.  There’s nothing more we can do to prepare.  We’re ready.  We’re set.  And we’re going all the way to Soxtober this year.  It’s going to be epic.  Other than that, there’s nothing more to say.  I repeat: Opening Day has finally arrived! I’m so psyched, I can’t even believe it.  For all intents and purposes, we are about to witness the start of a championship season.  I am so ready.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Flyers, shut out the Blackhawks, and lost to the Leafs in overtime.  Oh, and we clinched a playoff spot.  No big deal.  All in a day’s work for us this year.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene

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Making sense of the Beltre deal.  Which is not at all as easy as it sounds.

Let’s review, shall we?

Stage One: Theo Epstein looks to trade Mike Lowell to the Rangers for catching prospect Max Ramirez.  This makes sense.  Mike Lowell had a tough year last year, and it’s only going to get tougher.  It’s true that he showed flashes brilliance in the field, but that was in Anaheim, where the weather is nice and warm.  Not so in Boston.  In Boston, it’s either freezing cold or scorching hot.  Lowell would’ve flourished in Texas, with its mild climate and considerably less pressure-cooker-like atmosphere, and the Rangers’ catching prospect would’ve been put to good use in our system, where he would’ve been groomed to give Tek some days off.

Stage Two: The deal is called on account of Mike Lowell’s right thumb.  To emphasize, it was the thumb, not the hip.  Let me repeat: thumb, problem; hip, not so much.  This makes sense.  From Lowell’s performance toward the end of last season, it was clear that his hip was no longer a big issue.  (That is to say, it’s still an issue but not a focus.) Given the right atmosphere, environment, and amount of days off, all signs pointed to a fairly productive year, both at the plate and in the field.  This, however, was with the understanding that Lowell’s thumb was sprained, not injured.  After he failed the physical, what Texas basically had on their hands was a choice between keeping tMax Ramirez or trading him for a third baseman who, in addition to a well-established health concern, would need surgery.  And that wasn’t a gamble Texas was willing to make.  From their perspective, they didn’t want to chance having to start someone at the hot corner who was slated to make multiple trips to the DL, not to mention the fact that the hip affects Lowell’s defense more than his offense.  The thumb would affect Lowell’s defense as well as his offense.  Simply put, no thumb, no swing, no runs, no deal.

Stage Three: Mike Lowell’s surgery is a success.  Red Sox players, staff, fans, and writers welcome Mike Lowell back into the fold.  Red Sox Nation is urged to table our wishes for infielders named Adrian.  Lou Merloni writes a column urging us to separate Mike Lowell from the Edgar Renterias of the baseball world.  As in, when did Mike Lowell reach that point where he was dragging us down to the point where exploring other options became a necessity at all costs? (I mean that literally.  Moving Lowell would necessitate us eating a big chunk of his salary.) I mean, teams routinely field much worse than Mike Lowell.  Presumably, with additional days off in the form of Youk-Lowell shifting to Kotchman-Youk, Lowell would be able to minimize the effects of his hip on his range and maximize his plate appearances.  Recovery from his surgery is fairly brief, and only one or two weeks of Spring Training would be missed.  So not the end of the world.

Stage Four: In complete defiance of Scott Boras’s obsession with long-term contracts, Theo Epstein signs Adrian Beltre to a one-year deal.  Let’s walk through it. The deal is worth nine million dollars with a player option worth six million that will increase to ten million if he makes 640 plate appearances.  The deal was contingent on a physical, which Beltre passed, despite last season’s left shoulder issues.  The deal was a product of interest that’s been expressed since November.  And the deal is very consistent with Theo’s commitment to a major defensive upgrade.  He is expected to bat in the bottom third of the lineup.  (Ellsbury, Pedroia, V-Mart, Youk, Papi, Drew, Cameron, Beltre, Scutaro.  Bang.)

Stage Five: Theo Epstein trades Casey Kotchman to the Mariners for utility man Bill Hall, a prospect to be named later, and cash.  Kotchman is happy to reunite with good friend Chone Figgins.  Lou Merloni writes a column in which he changes his mind, citing the flexibility and ability that a one-year deal with Beltre gives us.

Before we get to the confusing part, let’s take a moment to celebrate what we’re getting.  Beltre put up barely decent numbers at Safeco and Dodger Stadium, so coming to a park that’s friendly to right-handed power hitters promises a nice statistical boost.  Home numbers: .253 average, .311 on-base percentage, .416 slugging percentage.  Road numbers: .287, .338, .488, respectively.  Now, check out the similarity between that latter series and Lowell’s career stats: .280, .343, .468, respectively.  And just to leave no stone unturned, in 162 games Lowell hits on average forty doubles, twenty-three home runs, and ninety-eight RBIs.  Compare that to Beltre’s average thirty-nine doubles, twenty-six homers and ninety-nine RBIs in 162 road games.  Coincidence? I think not.  Also, the deal, coupled with the Kotchman transaction, will have minimal impact on our finances.  And it kept Boras off our backs because, after said statistical boost, Beltre’s marketing value will increase substantially.  The brevity of the contract keeps the Major League option open for our top prospects.  So our defense goes through the roof, our pitching is way too solid for words, our offense will in all likelihood defy expectations, our top prospects stay in our organization, and we maintain flexibility, both financially and baseball-wise.

But in light of Lowell’s remainder with us, the fourth and fifth stages of this saga aren’t easy to explain.  After Lowell-to-Texas failed, everyone more or less accepted the fact that Lowell would be the face of Fenway’s third base in 2010.  That thought process was fueled by the fact that we’ve had our foot in Beltre’s door since November; we wanted to trade Lowell to make room for Beltre, so as soon as Lowell wasn’t going anywhere, it seemed pretty obvious that neither was Beltre.  Then we suddenly signed Beltre and made room for him by shipping Kotchman across the country.  What’s unclear to me is the effect this will have on Lowell’s role.  Will playing time be split fifty-fifty, sixty-forty, or eighty-twenty? It’s a Crisp-y situation; once it became apparent that Ellsbury was about to start in center field, Coco Crisp was allowed to walk, and rightly so.  Coco Crisp is a starter, not a benchwarmer.  Same with Lowell, but also with Beltre.  What do you do when you have two starters, one of whom was explicitly acquired to replace the other before the other left the picture, a state of affairs that received extra emphasis when Kotchman was shipped off? With all eyes on Beltre, what is Lowell’s fate in 2010?

That’s actually a fairly easy question to answer.  We’ll either move him or we won’t.  If we don’t, he’d contribute in the field when he’s called upon and wouldn’t when he isn’t.  And he’d see a good amount of time at the plate as a pinch-hitter.  The upside of this is that it builds in much-needed rest time for Lowell and gives us a considerable upgrade in defense and age in Beltre.  And one thing that we can’t altogether rule out if we keep Lowell is the possibility that Beltre may turn out to be a chip for Adrian Gonzalez come the trading deadline.  It would be swapping one corner infielder for another, but Youk’s versatility would allow us to do that.  Besides, when you’re talking about someone like Adrian Gonzalez, you trade first and maneuver later.

Our last piece of big news is our outfield situation.  Ellsbury has officially been moved to left in order to make more room for Cameron in center.  This is way better than having Ellsbury in center than Cameron in left, even though having Ellsbury in left is a complete waste of his talents.  Whatever; when Cameron leaves Boston, Ellsbury goes back to center.  Meanwhile, it’s a wise choice.  Cameron’s only start in left was in 2000, and he hasn’t been in either corner since that nasty collision he had with Carlos Beltran back in ’05.  Meanwhile, Ellsbury is young, skilled, adaptable, and flexible.  He’s so good that he could handle any of the three outfield positions.  In fact, the relative ease of playing left as opposed to center decreases his risk of injury, and the decrease in covered territory could translate to an increased application of his abilities to the basepaths.  Basically, it comes down to the fact that Ellsbury would be infinitely better in left than Cameron but would be less better, though still better, than Cameron in center, while Cameron’s performance in left would presumably be abysmal to his performance in center.

Loose ends for the week: Josh Beckett will be gold this year because he’s up for contract, Papi will be feeling the offensive pressure (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it means a really good workout regimen), and Randy Johnson finally retired.  Also, congratulations to three New Haven County, Connecticut communities that successfully pressured Cablevision into adding NESN to its basic lineup in those markets.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Rangers, beat the Sens, got smoked by the Blackhawks, and lost to the Rangers again.  The Patriots continue to power through the loss of Wes Welker as the postseason starts tomorrow with a confrontation with the Ravens.

Fire Brand of the American League

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When one of your aces goes down, that’s what you need, you need your backup to step up and hold the fort so that you can get in, score runs, and get out.  And that’s exactly what Masterson did.  Now, he’s a young guy yet, so the length of his start was an issue.  Terry Francona was thinking four, maybe five innings, but Masterson pitched five and a third.  One run on four his with two walks and three K’s.  The sinker was on.  It was beautiful.  And that, my friends, is why he needs to come out of the bullpen and enter the rotation.  He’s a starter by trade.  He has all the skills and gifts of a starter.  And not only that, he has all the trappings of a great starter.  He can and will excel as a member of the rotation in the future; they’re not going to keep him in the bullpen forever.  But in the meantime it just seems like such a waste.

The relief corps continues to be top-notch, right down to Hideki Okajima.  Delcarmen, Okajima, Lopez, and Hunter Jones were spic-and-span through four.  But it was really our offensive performance that stole the show.  We swept the four-game series with Baltimore and went out with a pretty significant bang, absolutely burying the Orioles with twelve runs and fifteen hits.  With the exception of Nick Green, every member of the starting lineup either had a hit, an RBI, or both.  Jacoby Ellsbury went three for six with an RBI and a stolen base.  Basically, he did everything he does best.  I don’t want to jinx it and say he’s back yet but he’s getting there.  Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah went four for six with three (count ’em: three) RBIs.  Ortiz went two for four with two RBIs, and guess what? Those two hits were for extra bases! A double and a two-out, stand-up triple for Big Papi.  With that triple he tied Joe Cronin for tenth place on the Red Sox all-time RBI list with 737.  Again, I really don’t want to jinx this, but if he keeps this up we’re golden; our first three batters collected nine hits on the day.  Youk went one for two with three walks, something he was always good at.  Baldelli had RBI.  Bay was perfect at the plate with an RBI.  Mikey Lowell was two for five with two RBIs.  And Jason Varitek.  The captain.  Two for five with a solo home run in the second that he crushed into the Monster seats.  I mean there was no way that ball was staying anywhere near the field.  The man made contact, and it was out.  It was one of those swings where the ball meets the bat, you hear the crack, and you know Tek will take a jog around the bases.  An excellent piece of hitting.  And did I mention it’s his third of the year?

It looks like Jed Lowrie will opt to have surgery on his wrist, but it won’t be season-ending.  He should be back by the All-Star break.  All I want is for him to do what’s best for his long-term health.  He’s the future of Boston at shortstop, and in the meantime Nick Green’s been doing great and we’ll have Julio Lugo waiting in the wings, so he should take his time and get himself right.

So we continue our climb to the top of the AL East.  Our four-game sweep of the O’s puts our record at seven and six and ties us for second place with the Yankees, just two and a half games out of first.  That’ll all change this weekend, starting on Friday, when we play New York for the first time this year.  And we’ll be at home.  The one thing I’m sad about is that Girardi decided to push back Wang’s next start, so we won’t get to face him.  See, I think that’s completely unfair.  Everyone else in the league gets to tee off against him and we don’t? Completely unfair.  At least we won’t have to face Nick Swisher, because then I’d really be scared.  But in the meantime, we have the Twins to contend with.  I’m not worried.  Right now, we’re playing the best baseball we’ve played since the season started.  We’re on a five-game winning streak and our lineup’s getting hot.  Baker at Wakefield.  I’m psyched.  Seriously.

In other news, the Bruins continued their total domination of the Canadiens yesterday with a 4-2 victory in Montreal.  For the past few years, the Bell Centre has had the best attendance in the National Hockey League but was beaten this season by the Chicago Blackhawks.  Let me just paint a picture for you.  With between five and ten minutes left in the game, the Habs fans start leaving.  They just get up and start walking out of the arena.  So they boo the American national anthem, and then they get up and they leave when they don’t like what they see.  I come from Red Sox Nation, and we do things differently in Boston, but even objectively speaking, what kind of fans are those? And I would also like to point out that what Gregory Stewart did to Patrice Bergeron wasn’t just roughing, it was reckless force.  I mean he was covering Bergeron’s face with his glove, almost choking the man, while the referees stand by and just watch.  Eventually, they come in and interfere.  But I mean really.  Anyway, the point is we’re up three-zip in the series, which should be in the bag at this point.  If we can win against the Habs in their house with some key guys missing, then we’re deeper than deep and we have what it takes to go all the way.  Game four tomorrow in Montreal at 7:00PM.  Can’t wait!

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