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Posts Tagged ‘Craig Hansen’

Wow.  Just, wow.  Hugeness this week.  Trust me, there is epicness to discuss.

Beltre and Felipe Lopez both declined arbitration, but there is still hope for the former.  We all know that the A’s are offering Beltre a sweet deal, but he’s taking his equally sweet time in signing it.  He stated publicly that he wants to return to Boston, so he’s waiting to see what Theo’s got.

It turns out that what Theo’s got is a seriously awesome replacement.  Adrian Gonzalez, welcome to Boston! Finally! He went to Boston yesterday for a physical to make sure his right shoulder is on track after his surgery, and he passed.  We’ll be sending Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, outfielder Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later to the Padres, which fortunately shouldn’t hurt our farm system too much because last year’s draft was so successful.  Although it’ll be rough to see them all go.  The important thing to keep in mind about prospects is that you never know.  They could be awesome like Hanley Ramirez.  Or they could be terrible like Craig Hansen.  We already know what Adrian Gonzalez is capable of at the Major League level.

There’s room for a contract extension; Gonzalez is entering the last year of his current deal and we already acquired permission from Major League Baseball to hammer out a new one by this afternoon.  That didn’t happen, so Theo might wait to watch his shoulder in the spring, and of course there are the luxury tax implications.  But he won’t be giving up all those top prospects if he weren’t assured that an extension could be worked out, which would give us stability at all three bags.  Given Gonzalez’s age, anything from five to eight years can be considered feasible.  We offered six, but he wanted eight.  So there you go.

But one thing’s for sure: celebration is indeed in order.  Gonzalez will succeed in Boston.  His lefty swing was practically built exclusively for Fenway Park, and he was able to excel in a quintessential pitcher’s park.  Seriously.  Most of his fly balls in Petco would’ve been out in Fenway.  That’s why I’m convinced that he’ll get over his National League-ness in a hurry.  By the way, he’s got two Gold Gloves at first.  And he started almost every single game for about the last five years.  Without DHing once.  So here’s to you, Theo.  Two years later, you finally closed the deal.  And the fact that the Padres’ general manager and assistant general manager of scouting and player development both used to work with Theo is the icing on the cake that didn’t necessarily work to our advantage since they basically knew our farm system inside-out.  Gonzalez will play first and replace V-Mart’s bat, we’ll move Youk to third, and Beltre, who’s older anyway, will now probably sign with the A’s.  The deal is done on principle.  All they need to do is announce it on Monday at Fenway and that’s it.  The Adrian Gonzalez Era in Boston has begun!

One more thing.  Fundamentally this deal was not about New York; it’s about us, our team, our organization, and our hunger.  But while we’re on the subject, I would just like to point out that, not only is Adrian Gonzalez the answer to Mark Teixeira, but we now have a young infield that’s locked and entering its prime while the Yanks have guys on the downward slope of their careers.  I’m just saying.  I would advise New York to be afraid.  Very afraid.

Tek signed a one-year deal with two million dollars plus incentives; those rumors about him going to the Dodgers couldn’t have been more wrong.  They started circulating because the Dodgers had to decide whether to tender Russell Martin, who’s awesome except for injuries.  We didn’t tender Okajima, given his poor performance last season, but we already tendered Paps and will be making offers to Ellsbury and Taylor Buchholz.  Rumor has it that we made an offer to Mariano Rivera before he signed a two-year deal with the Yanks.  The Yanks seem to be avenging this action by showing interest in Carl Crawford to drive up his price.  I honestly don’t think the offer to Rivera was serious.  And I honestly don’t think New York’s interest in Crawford is serious.  Unless they don’t get Cliff Lee.  If Lee stays in Texas, New York might seriously start looking at Crawford because they could always deal Brett Gardner for a starter.

Pedroia’s foot is almost at one hundred percent.  He’s been cleared to jog and will be ready for Spring Training.  We have officially met with both Crawford and Werth, who, according to Dwight Evans, is the best right fielder in baseball and similar to himself.  This is Dwight Evans, people.  That’s seriously high praise.

Not that that’s going to help anyone.  Not even Werth himself.  Werth is now officially out of the picture and off the deep end.  He signed a deal for seven years and 126 million dollars.  With the Washington Nationals.  I’m not kidding.  That tells me two things: one, he’s not hungry, and two, he’s essentially a fool.  He’s not going to win a ring with the Nats, and seven years from now, when his contract is up, he won’t be starter material, which is obviously something that the Nationals don’t care about.  So his ring with the Phillies will be the last of his career as a starter.  If he wanted security, he sure got it.  He knows where he’ll be for the majority of the next decade, and he’s getting a whole heap of money for it.  To be honest with you, he would have been great in a Boston uniform, but I wouldn’t want someone only interested in money and years to play for us.  Especially not someone who would ever seriously consider both money and years with the Nationals.  I mean, they’re the Nationals.  Not only are they National League, they’re the worst in the National League; in fact, they’re the worst in the Major Leagues.

But wait; it gets better.  He says he’s been considering signing with the Nats since hiring Scott Boras as his agent last season.  Let me get this straight: he hired Scott Boras to get him a deal with the Washington Nationals.  That’s ridiculous.  Why would you hire Scott Boras to cut a deal with the Nationals? Jayson Werth doesn’t need an agent to negotiate a deal with the Washington Nationals; Jayson Werth can walk up to the Washington Nationals, write down a year amount and a dollar amount on a piece of paper, hand it to whoever is spearheading the process, and receive a “yes” to everything in five seconds flat.  He says he’s impressed with the Nats’ acquisition of young talent? Give me a break.  Nobody expects all that young talent to stay there; as soon as they’re able, they’re writing one-way tickets into free agency and out of town.  And then he went on this tangent in which he basically implied that he only signed with the Nationals because they assured him that they’d continue to acquire the talent necessary to compete and win, because that is very important to him.  Oh, sure.  If it’s that important to him, he would not have signed with the Nationals.  So they present their future plans to him and he asks questions about the team.  Great.  Now let’s see the Nationals follow that plan, the young talent stay put, and Werth stay in shape long enough to merit his salary at the end of his contract.  I don’t think so.

We signed starter Brandon Duckworth to a minor league deal.  He was part of the Billy Wagner trade.  We are supposedly interested in reliever Matt Guerrier.

Oh, and I fully expect Mike Cameron to morph into some sort of hitting specialist against lefties, being that many of the AL East’s elite pitchers are lefties and some of our middle bats struggled against lefties last season.  The only potential hindrance to that expectation is playing time.  Cameron has the potential to get rolling, but he can’t get rolling if he never gets going.

The Spring Training schedule is out.  We’re opening with an exhibition doubleheader with Boston College followed by Northeastern.  March features competition with Minnesota, Atlanta, Philly, both New York teams, Florida, Baltimore, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Toronto, and Houston.

On Saturday, Sox Pax and tickets for twenty-one games in April and May will go on sale.

Get psyched.  The Winter Meetings are starting on Monday, and they’re going to be very interesting.  And by interesting I also mean hectic, since most of the important offseason deadlines have moved up.  Theo has his work cut out for him; we have a bat to replace V-Mart, but we’ll need another, preferably a righty, to replace Beltre since he’ll sign elsewhere, and relievers.  Good ones.  We’ve already made a splash; the key is to fill the club’s needs without removing all of our flexibility for next year.

In other news, the Bruins dropped Sunday’s game to the Thrashers, 1-4.  But then we shut out the Flyers, three-zip, and completely decimated the Lightning, 8-1.  Krejci and Ryder each racked up three points.  It was awesome.  If this were baseball, that would be considered a slugfest.  Then we lost in a shootout to the Leafs, but at least we get a point.  The Pats take on the Jets tomorrow.

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That’s all, folks.  The regular season is over for the Boston Red Sox.  After all the injuries and trades and predictions and speculations, the second season is finally here.  And we’re in.  Granted, we’re not as solidly in as we’d like to be.  We had to get in with the Wild Card and the Yankees just took two of three from us, but nonetheless we’re in.  And we’re playing the Angels in the ALDS, something we’re very comfortable with.  So I say bring it on.  I want to see us turn it up and show the league what we’ve got.

We lost the first game of the double-header.  It was probably the only time this season that Dice-K’s Houdini routine backfired.  As usual he walked more than his fair share of batters but for some reason the Yankees finally figured out how to act with runners in scoring position.  But that was the least of our problems.  Jonathan Papelbon gave up three runs on four hits in the top of the ninth.  This is now how the best closer in the league should act.  And certainly not right before the playoffs.  That’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.  We’re going to need him in top form in October, and make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, that what we saw yesterday afternoon was not by any means his top form.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, I guess.  Anyway, the rest is history.  The final score was 6-2.

The nightcap was much more interesting.  Wakefield pitched five two-hit shutout innings, walked none, and struck out three.  Not a long outing, but definitely one of his more solid outings.  The problem lay in the relief.  Masterson came in and allowed a run on three hits.  Timlin actually pitched a perfect inning for once.  Aardsma came in and allowed two runs on three hits, strengthening the argument that he should be considered a last resort.  A glorified Craig Hansen, if you will.  And Hansack redeemed himself from his last outing with a perfect tenth inning.

RBIs for Carter and Van Every.  Two for Casey.  The only member of the lineup who had a multi-hit night was Alex Cora, who went two for four.  It was a real nailbiter.  It was tied at one until Sean Casey hit a single with the bases loaded in the eighth to score two runs.  Then the Yanks tied it back up in the top of the ninth, but we all know how it turned out.  The final score was 4-3, and it ended with a run in our half of the tenth inning.

I have to hand it to the Fenway Park grounds grew.  They worked really hard this weekend to keep everything in order and make sure the field is dry, so they definitely deserve a hearty “Thank you” for all of their good work.  Keep it up!

In other news, Mikey Lowell might not be playing in Game 1 of the ALDS, an oblique strain has moved Josh Beckett’s start to Game 3 in favor of Lester for Game 1, and JD Drew will be appearing in the postseason.  Dustin Pedroia will finish the season with a .326 bagging average, good for second in the American League.  But MVP is based on more than just stats, and he’s definitely the MVP in my book.  Johnny Pesky’s number was retired, making him the sixth Red Sox player to receive that honor.  His No. 6 now sits between Joe Cronin’s No. 2 and Yaz’s No. 8.  Congratulations to Mr. Red Sox!

Let’s face it: we’re always different in October.  In October, we get a second wind, and it’s all we need.  It’s almost like there’s some kind of reserve that we tap into in the postseason that makes our team have All-Star quality.  Even if we had a horrible season and only managed to snag the Wild Card by the skin of our teeth, we’d still be a formidable opponent because in October something just clicks.  That’s why it’s called Soxtober.  We own it.

The party starts on Wednesday at 10:00PM when Jon Lester takes on John Lackey on the West Coast.  Let’s go Red Sox!

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Already I like Jason Bay. I know it’s too early to make that claim, but from what I’ve seen I like his attitude and I like the fact that within hours of his arrival in Boston he’s immediately started to help the team. As for his adjustment to the American League, it’s off to a great start. He’s even learned to take his helmet off when entering the dugout after scoring a run, because if you don’t do that you’ll get pounded. Hard. He had another great night yesterday, going one for four with a walk. The “one” was a three-run shot he smoked off Eveland in the first, following the two-run shot by Youk. Together, those two swings gave us the first five of our twelve runs. We buried the A’s, 12-2, and it was good to see the offense finally waking up because thus far this homestand had been seriously lacking in that department. So in total that’s four RBIs for Youk (who hit another home run in the eighth), three each for Bay and Lowrie (who’s been on fire lately), and one each for Crisp and Varitek (who went two for three and seems to be coming out of his slump).

Mikey Lowell also had a great night, going two for four and scoring twice. But that isn’t even the best part. He was busy in the field all night, making every kind of catch he could possibly make: reaching catches, backhand catches, you name it. He really put that sore hip to the test, and it came through, which is a great sign.

Lester allowed a two-run homer in the first and that was it for the A’s. He pitched seven innings and gave up seven hits while issuing a walk and five strikeouts. Masterson finally had himself another good relief outing, and Smith, who was called up to take Craig Hansen’s place, took care of the ninth while lowering his ERA to 2.45. I’m telling you, if Chris Smith is Hansen’s replacement, we’re in good shape; Smith doesn’t give you something to be scared about, while inconsistency was Hansen’s middle name. So Lester improves to 10-3, and I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that it was a good thing Theo and Tito saw what the minor league coaches saw and decided not to trade him for Santana.

Dallas Braden at Dice-K this afternoon. I’m psyched.

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Wow. Where should I start? We sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates so that we could get Jason Bay from the Pirates. Craig Hansen could throw hard but the truth is that he’s been inconsistent throughout his Major League career without showing signs of improvement. Brandon Moss was a good outfielder with a decent bat. We have four outfielders right now and could use a fifth. Last season we had Bobby Kielty. Now that Moss is gone, who’s going to fill that role? So that’s something that should probably be addressed.

As for Manny’s role in this, it’s complicated. Downsides: he’s Manny Ramirez. The combination of Ortiz and Ramirez strikes fear into the hearts of the best of pitchers, and for good reason. Even by himself Manny is a formidable opponent. His offensive production is through the roof, and his bat has been instrumental in our postseason success. He’s very well acquainted with Fenway’s left field. The angles and corners over there are not easy to play. We know that because we’ve watched opposing left fielders look like fools in there. Manny is an expert at reading the wall and judging which balls will be off the wall and which won’t. He gets rid of the ball very quickly, too. He also has an unheard-of work ethic, watching tape for hours, showing up before and after games to practice hitting, always developing drills and training and studying the game. Plus, the whole Manny being Manny aspect did have some positive features. He relaxed the clubhouse a bit, contributed his own character and flair to the team, and basically befriended the entire lineup and eased the pressure on everybody with his talents as a ballplayer. And he’s been a fixture in Boston for 7.5 years. That’s a long time.

Upsides: just look at his track record over the past month or so. In that span, he’s shoved a teammate, manhandled a 61-year-old traveling secretary, accused the principal owner of his team of being dishonest, removed himself from the lineup twice due to knee soreness undetectable by MRI, failed to run out long grounders that could’ve been turned into hits and possibly runs, and stated publicly that he’s tired of his team and that his team doesn’t deserve a player like him. These are not the Manny being Manny moments from past years. This isn’t Manny running on the field with an American flag to celebrate his becoming a citizen. This isn’t Manny doing his usual fooling around. This is big. This is a blatant lack of effort and a complete and total offense to teammates. And when something like this happens, it’s hard to ignore. As I said, since the Manny rumors have surfaced, the team’s performance has taken a nosedive, even at home. That doesn’t happen unless there’s a major distraction, and that’s what Manny had finally become: a distraction too intolerable for the current course of action that Terry Francona and the Red Sox front office had engaged in for years, which was basically looking the other way. No amount of slugging could take away the fact that he was disturbing the clubhouse. You can’t have a team full of do-or-die guys and then a guy like Manny. After a point you just can’t. As Curt Schilling said, you can’t have players like Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek, who play through pain and keep their soreness to themselves and live and die with every at-bat, and a player like Manny Ramirez, who’s one of the best there is but who toys with the team and takes himself out of the lineup just to prove a point. Not giving your all is something that doesn’t fly in Boston. In addition to all of this, Manny is aging, can not for the life of him run the bases, and is now in the National League, which means the only times he’d be able to do any damage against us is during Interleague and the World Series, if the Dodgers manage to get there.

You might say that the trade was a mistake because Jason Bay could never hope to fill Manny’s shoes. You might say the Red Sox should’ve sat tight and kept Manny. But at what cost? Either we lose games and keep someone who, while one of the best ballplayers in the Major Leagues, is an unhealthy distraction, or we win or lose games with a new guy who’s younger, faster, and having an offensively comparable season. Manny wasn’t going to play baseball in Boston forever. At the very least, he’d eventually have to retire. Sooner or later, we would’ve had to secure a future for our left field beyond him. We’ve just had to do it sooner than expected.

This trade has proven to be a disappointment for me. I am disappointed in Manny for not being able to keep his head on during a three-way pennant race. I am disappointed in Manny because of his flagrant misbehavior due to a contract dispute and whatever other baggage he might have. I am disappointed that he couldn’t just put himself aside for the sake his teammates, some of whom have been with him for the majority of his years in Boston, and help us win a World Series. Usually, when a veteran has played in a Red Sox uniform for the last time, I’m more sad than angry to see him go. But thanks to Manny Ramirez and his recent displays, I’m more angry than sad.

With something like this, we’ve got to trust. Nomar was traded right in the middle of the 2004 season for Orlando Cabrera, someone new who like Jason Bay had to adjust to his teammates and his new city. But he did it and then helped us win a World Series, in historic and spectacular fashion to boot. There’s no reason to think that the same thing won’t happen here. Perhaps the clubhouse needed some sort of invigorating force. One thing’s for sure: we can finally move forward. Red Sox Nation and I will no doubt feel like something’s missing when we look to left field and see no dreadlocks, no big smile, no ridiculousness going on. And we’ll all feel like we’ve lost something valuable the first time we see Manny Ramirez dressed in a Dodgers uniform. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss the man. I was a huge fan of Manny Ramirez, and he did so much for our team and therefore Boston. There was always that knowledge when he came to the plate that with one swing he could win us a ballgame, that since he was young it was clear that he was born to play ball. He was one of the greats. He could’ve been even greater. But I guess we have to let this one go.

I still say Manny had no idea how good he had it. He’s going to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fans in Los Angeles are very different from the fans in Boston. The fans in LA like to see spectacles like Manny high-fiving a fan before throwing a caught ball back into play. So in that sense he’ll be happy. But fans in LA also tend to leave the stadium at around the seventh inning. Let’s face it; Manny was an icon in Boston. For 7.5 years he’s been loved by a city, a region, and a Nation. He’s won two championships and hit five hundred home runs wearing Red Sox letters. Will he really be happy going from baseball god to guy in left field who does funny stuff for fans who leave during the seventh inning?

Well, he’ll have to be. He wanted out, and now he’s out. He’s Joe Torre’s problem now. That’ll be interesting. I can’t wait to see how Torre handles Manny’s first episode. He’ll also be reunited with Nomar, Derek Lowe, and Bill Mueller, who works in the organization. In the meantime, I’m anxious to check out the new guy and see how quickly he can make the adjustment.

By the way, the Yankees landed Pudge Rodriguez for Kyle Farnsworth. The Yankees could’ve used the extra pitcher, but instead they wanted the 38-year-old catcher who’s batting .295 with five homers and 32 RBIs. I’m just saying.

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How perfect would a win have been yesterday? The Rays and Yanks both lost. That could’ve been the first step to sealing the deal. Instead, Dice-K of all people exits after allowing two home runs, and we now find ourselves with an Angels issue. The Angels have never bothered us before. They bother the Yankees, sure, but not Boston. After yesterday’s loss, we’ve lost six in a row to the Angels. I guess we can only beat ’em if we meet in the ALDS. But the postseason is a whole different ballgame. (Wow, that was corny.)

And things were going so well for Dice-K until the sixth. He was pulling out all the stops, retiring batters left and right, using all his pitches, elevating his fastball, basically doing what he’s been doing all season. Until the sixth inning, when he allowed a two-run shot and a three-run shot. Those were only the sixth and seventh home runs he’s allowed so far. He left without recording an out in the sixth, which means that overall he allowed six runs on seven hits over five innings pitched. Masterson came in for relief and allowed another run. So basically that amounts to a six-run inning for the Angels and a really strong argument for why Masterson should not be transferred to the bullpen.

We put up a good fight, though. Hansen and Lopez provided perfect late relief, and we scored three more runs, including Manny’s shot to the Monster in the ninth. He actually had three RBIs on the night. Lowrie and Ellsbury, who’s finding his way on base more and more, each had one. Ortiz again went two for four, and Drew, who’s been in a quiet struggle lately, went two for three. We out-hit the Angels, 11-9 and committed no errors. There’s a refreshing statistic.

Let’s face it; Manny Ramirez isn’t getting out of the news any time soon. And something occurred to me last night while I was watching the game. What Manny did was inexcusable, especially from a teammate’s point of view, and it’s clear that something has to be done. It’s also clear that he won’t be traded, but how can you just get rid of him at the end of the season? Suppose you found a team willing to take him on. Who are you going to replace him with? Pujols? Holliday? Very good hitters and defensive players but not the same. The one-two punch of Ortiz and Ramirez has been tested and it always works. Who are you going to find that hits that many home runs and collects that many RBIs, while being one of the most dedicated students of hitting in the game, while being just about the best defensive player of Fenway’s left field? Let’s not kid ourselves; hearing Manny ask to leave Boston is nothing new. After further consideration of this whole ugly controversy, I highly doubt that it’ll be that easy for the club to let Manny walk away after 2008. Nobody else will be able to pay him or put up with him, and when it’s all said and done we need him in the lineup. We don’t have anyone from the farms ready to shoulder the responsibility of filling Manny Ramirez’s shoes, so we’d have to find something out there of comparable value. If Manny plays well and the clubhouse climate is nice and smooth, it’s possible that he and the front office might be able to work something out. If they don’t, it’ll probably be the biggest black eye of Scott Boras’s career, because he’ll have to find Manny a contract bigger and longer than his present one while trying to assure the interested party that his client won’t act up in the future. Something tells me that won’t be easy.

Something interesting to keep in mind. Most teams get a nice little vacation during the All-Star break. The aces and starters get a rest, and they come back ready to go when the break is over. But the Red Sox sent seven men to the All-Star Game. That’s more than any other American League team. Technically, we’re exhausted, because we haven’t had the rest that other teams had. Prices to pay for being the best: going to Japan and throwing off your game, and going without a break all season long. It’s a compliment and an honor, but right now I’m thinking a little time off might have done us some good.

Tonight it’s Lackey at Buchholz. We’ll need this one. At this point, we need every one. Who knows? Maybe Clay will finally show what got him the no-no last season.

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That’s the only word I can think of to describe Manny’s recent behavior. I’m usually the first to defend the dude, and I’m a huge Manny fan, but this is the last straw. Seriously. So he wants a contract. So do a lot of people. You don’t take yourself out of the lineup right before the biggest game of the year to send the front office a message. By doing that, you do send the front office a message. But it isn’t very flattering.

We lost last night’s contest, 1-0. Josh Beckett pitched an absolute gem. One run on nine hits, all singles. Javy Lopez was brilliant as usual, Manny Delcarmen pitched cleanly for a change but left with a muscle cramp (he’s since stated that he’s fine), and Hideki Okajima pitched the rest of the eighth and the ninth in ’07 fashion. Unfortunately, Joba Chamberlain held us to three hits, all singles, and pitched seven shutout innings. And whatever opportunity we tried to start with Farnsworth on the mound didn’t last long. By the way, Mikey Lowell should have walked. I’m not in the habit of complaining about bad calls because hey, it happens, but that was just ridiculous.

Joba went after Kevin Youkilis as usual. Beckett was prepared to charge but the home plate umpire warned both benches and no retaliation followed. Although it makes you wonder. Joba went after Youk’s head twice in a row last season, and now this. What’s the kid’s problem, anyway?

The Manny controversy completely overshadowed Big Papi’s comeback, which in my book was a pretty obnoxious side effect of the whole affair. Big Papi did nothing spectacular in his first Major League game in six weeks. Too bad; we could’ve used something. Anything. We could’ve used Manny for sure. He’s obscenely successful against the Yankees, and with him in the lineup the batting order would’ve been restored. It would’ve been more like today’s order, with Pedroia and Youk, the on-base guys, leading off, followed by Papi with Ramirez batting clean-up, followed by Lowell and Drew. Ellsbury, as is customary for one in a slump, would’ve batted ninth. Instead, Ramirez proclaimed his inability to play due to some sort of sore right knee minutes after Tito filled out the card, and Ellsbury had to lead off. Which, naturally, created all sorts of disasters in the later innings when we could’ve mounted a rally. Not even a big rally. All we needed were two runs to win it. The biggest game of the year thus far, and the MVP of the 2004 World Series couldn’t show. (By the way, Manny was sent to Mass. General for MRIs of both knees. They came back clean.)

As for today’s outing, it was just as ugly. We lost by seven runs. The final score was 10-3. Wakefield, who’s been having an excellent year, took the loss after allowing six runs on eight hits over about five innings pitched. Masterson came in to relieve him and gave the Yankees three solid hits in a row (I know; I was shocked, too). In the sixth inning, the Yankees scored four runs. In our half of the sixth, JD Drew showed his colors and smoked one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen. This ball landed in Williamsburg. This ball went over the visiting bullpen wall, over the bullpen itself, past the beginning of the bleachers, and finally landed about ten rows back. That has to be, what, at least 420 feet. Absolutely scorched. It was Drew’s nineteenth of the season, and that’s already eight more than his total for ’07. So much for slowing down once Ortiz took back the No. 3 spot.

Lopez was perfect again, and Hansen issued three walks and allowed three runs. Timlin, ironically, was perfect. Pedroia saw his nine-game hitting streak snap today. Ortiz went two for four, though, and Cash showed that wonderful arm of his, throwing Cano out at second on a steal attempt. And there you have it.

The current situation is that we’re tied with New York in the loss column. Tied with New York. Ugh. And if Tampa Bay wins today we’ll be even further out. Let’s face it; our lineup is excellent. We’re stacked through at least the No. 5 spot. But when our lineup falls asleep, we sink in the standings. One can not live in pitching alone, especially if the race for first place suddenly includes a third-place team that’s just won its eighth game in a row. And Manny isn’t helping the situation. What Manny has done has offended the front office, it’s offended the management, but most of all it’s offended the players. Even John Sterling had to admit that the Boston Red Sox team is comprised of some of the most classiest ballplayers in the game, dirt dogs who play through pain for the good of the group. And when a very prominent member of that group decides to take a day off and essentially toy with the organization and the fans, it’s offensive. It’s very offensive. And it doesn’t exactly score you any positive points.

We need wins. We need wins now. Something in the lineup has to click, and we have to consistently pair runs with quality starts. This is a bleak situation we’re in. We’ve been in worse. But we could be in so much better. The long-term goal? Get to Soxtober and win the World Series. We’ve definitely got the manpower to achieve that. The short term goal? Don’t let New York sweep us in our house.

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If you’re going to go into extra innings, you may as well do it before a day off. And with a series against New York coming up, I’d say that’s mighty wise. We won it in twelve with six pitchers to complete a sweep of the Seattle Mariners. Personally, I’d have been much happier if we took two in this series and two in the previous instead of a sweep followed by a sweep, but at this point I’ll take what I can get. We’re still 0.5 games out. We’ll get there. It’s just a matter of time.

So Buchholz turned in a decent effort. Sort of. He pitched just over five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, but all three runs were scored with the long ball: a solo homer by Ibanez in the fourth and a two-run homer by Vidro in the sixth. On the bright side, he walked only two, struck out seven, and managed to lower his ERA from 5.88 to 5.81. A little-known fact: dude has a lightning-fast pickoff move. Ichiro had no chance.

Masterson made an appearance in relief and was perfect. Surprise, surprise. No runs, hits, or walks and three strikeouts in 2.2 innings. It kills me to see him in relief. It just kills me. It’s such a waste. Buchholz is the one who allowed three runs on two homers. Let him relieve. In a rare moment of brilliance, Okie and Delcarmen were both perfect. Okie being brilliant is surprising me less and less lately, though, which is a good sign. It isn’t too late for him to come around, and perhaps he will. Delcarmen, on the other hand, still scares me. Pap got the win and improves his record to 4-3, and Craig Hansen got the save, his second of the season and of his career.

So the pitching in yesterday’s contest was a little Twilight Zone-esque, no? You had Masterson relieving. You had Okajima and Delcarmen pitching perfectly. You had Buchholz faltering. You had Papelbon winning and Hansen saving. That has to be one of the weirdest, most counterintuitive sequences of pitching I’ve ever seen.

The offense was a very nice example of the fact that you win when you have contributions from up and down the lineup. Youk, Crisp, and Casey each had an RBI, and Lowell had two. We scored three in the twelfth and made no errors (no errors!). Pedroia earned a steal (his tenth of the season) and a caught-stealing (his first of the season) while batting .321.

Manny Ramirez was out with a sore knee. I’m a big Manny fan, and I love the guy, but right now he’s a little exasperating. It’s not like we don’t need him in the lineup against New York. Terry Francona was pretty good-humored about it, though:

“…jaywalking, if you do it right, you won’t hurt your knee.”

Manny being Manny. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, I guess. In the long run it’s always more good than bad. But lately the bad’s been ugly.

Smile, Red Sox Nation; we’re goin’ home! Finally, some consistency. We’re 24-32 away but 36-11 at home, and now would be a bad time for a meltdown at Fenway. Josh Beckett opposite Joba Chamberlain Friday night. Should be fun. The Stud versus The Kid Who’s Out of the Stud’s League.

By the way, did you know Dice-K is undefeated on the road?

AP Photo

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