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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Roberts’

We played a two-game series against the Rays and got swept.

Tuesday’s game began auspiciously with us paying tribute to the 2004 team.  But it didn’t end well.  Buchholz pitched as decently as any of our other starters this year, but in terms of the way he’s been pitching lately, his start was mediocre at best.  He gave up five runs, four earned, on eight hits over six innings while walking two and striking out five.  In the second, he gave up two walks followed by a home run that score three.  And in the sixth, he gave up two straight singles and then another single two batters later that scored two runs, one of which was made possible by Nava’s fielding error, hence the unearned run.  Atchison pitched the seventh and to one batter in the eighth, Miller pitched the rest of the eighth, and Padilla pitched the ninth.

We got on the board in the second; we started the inning with two back-to-back singles followed by a flyout, and Valencia batted in our first run with a single.  We started the third with a strikeout and then hit two back-to-back singles again.  This inning possibly did us in, because if we’d been able to take full advantage of our opportunity there, it’s possible that perhaps we could have won in the end.  But a caught-stealing at third basically put a damper on things.  Pedroia doubled after that, and we scored on a balk.  And that was it.  The final score was 2-5.

On Wednesday, Lester pitched six innings and allowed three runs on four hits while walking one and striking out five.  He was solid for most of it but unraveled at the end.  All three runs were scored via the home run.  He gave up a single in the fifth followed by two consecutive home runs.  Mortensen came on for the seventh and gave up a single, and then Hill came on and gave up another single; three at-bats later, Hill gave up an RBI double.  Melancon finished the seventh and pitched the eighth, and Breslow pitched the ninth.

We had actually scored first; Salty walked and scored on a single by Nava in the second.  And then Pedroia walked to lead off the sixth, stole second, moved to third on a single by Ross, and scored on a sac fly by Loney.  The final score was 2-4.

Wednesday’s game actually began auspiciously as well with us announcing the All-Fenway team comprised of our greats throughout our long and illustrious history, with plenty of old faces and plenty of new.  The starting lineup included Carlton Fisk, Jimmie Foxx, Pedroia, Wade Boggs, Nomar, Ted Williams, Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Jonathan Papelbon, Papi, and Terry Francona.  The first reserves included Jason Varitek, Mo Vaughn, Bobby Doerr, Mike Lowell, Johnny Pesky, Yaz, Dom DiMaggio, Trot Nixon, Roger Clemens, Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield, Dennis Eckersley, Dick Radatz, and Joe Cronin.  The second reserves included Rich Gedman, George Scott, Jerry Remy, Frank Malzone, Rico Petrocelli, Jim Rice, Reggie Smith, Tony Conigliaro, Babe Ruth, Smoky Joe Wood, Curt Schilling, Bill Lee, Jim Lonborg, and Dick Williams.  And, last but not least, the pinch hitter was Bernie Carbo and the pinch runner was none other than Dave Roberts.

Why before Wednesday’s game? Because Wednesday’s game was our last home game of the year.  It would have been nice to win it.  Instead we will finish the season with our worst record at home since 1965 and our first losing record at home since 1997: 34-47.  Now Fenway will soon be covered with snow, silent in the long, cold winter that lies ahead with only the bitter memory of losing as an aftertaste.

Sports Then And Now

 

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Our winning streak against the Yanks was snapped on the first night of the series.  John Smoltz effectively proved once and for all that he’s no longer got it.  In fact, he’s got so little of it that he was officially released.  Finally.  Anyway, we eventually got swept.  The series lasted four games, and we lost all four.  Two were shutouts.  The first was Junichi Tazawa’s first Major League decision; it was a loss in fifteen innings.  Just saying the phrase “fifteen innings” makes me feel very lucky not to be a reliever.  On the whole, I don’t really think I can even describe my rage and despair.  Let’s just say that wasn’t the Red Sox team we’d been seeing up to this point.  And that it was painful.  Really painful.  Really, really painful.  Between that and us dropping our two previous games with Tampa Bay, we’d lost six in a row to our division rivals.  Great.  But it gets better.

We took three of four from Detroit, including our win on August 12.  The one where Youk charged the mound.  Basically, it all started when Brad Penny beaned somebody the night before.  Then Youk was beaned but just took first base.  Junichi Tazawa started the next game and retaliated by hitting Miguel Cabrera on the hand.  He left the game at his next at-bat.  (That’s when the whole retaliation thing gets sticky, especially when you’ve got an inexperienced kid on the mound.  Tazawa went on to get the win, by the way.) Rick Porcello responded by going up and in on V-Mart, who wasn’t very happy.  But then when Youk came to bat, Porcello did in fact hit him on the back.  Youk snapped, charged the mound, threw his helmet at the kid, and tackled him to the ground.  Both benches cleared and the bullpen came out.  It was ugly.  Youk and Porcello were both tossed.  Now, this is a difficult situation to interpret.  The key here is to determine whether Porcello hit Youk on purpose.  If he did, Youk at least had a motivating reason for his actions.  (That’s not to say he’s excused for it; that’s to say we know why he did it.) If he doesn’t, Youk doesn’t.  So let’s look at the big picture.  The retaliation was going back and fourth; beaning attempts were made by both sides.  It looked like Porcello tried to get V-Mart and didn’t but was successful in his attempt on Youk, who for some reason always takes more of his fair share of hit-by-pitches.  On the other hand, when you analyze the pitch, it appears that the ball may have simply gotten away from Porcello.  After the brawl, Jim Leyland had a long conversation with Tito, perhaps explaining that his young arm didn’t do it on purpose.  Then again, that’s tough to buy when the kid fired on V-Mart and missed.  Either way, Youk will serve his time.  That’ll hurt, but luckily no injuries were sustained.

After Youk was thrown out, Lowell came in.  He’s been spending more and more time on the bench lately now that we have V-Mart, which is highly unfortunate.  And when he came in, he showed why.  Two balls hit well out of the park are pretty good proof he’s still got it, I’d say.

Tito was ejected in the same game.  He argued a close call at first.  Yeah.  That was quite the game.

We re-acquired Alex Gonzalez.  His fielding percentage in 2006 was a franchise-record-breaking .985.  If only he’d consistently batted a third of that.

Tim Wakefield completed a rehab outing with the PawSox and is making good progress.  Kottaras caught him.

Brian Anderson saw action in a Boston uniform, and Josh Reddick was sent down to the PawSox to take his place.  Anderson, a good defender, will replace Drew, who’s currently dealing with a sore groin (again) and isn’t expected to start until tonight.

Jed Lowrie and Rocco Baldelli are both on the fifteen-day disabled list.  Jason Bay is luckily off, which means that Youk doesn’t have to continue playing left field.  Jerry Remy says he’s got a date in mind for returning this season, and I’m looking forward to it.  Not that Eck and Dave Roberts haven’t been doing a great job.  They have.  But Remdawg’s been missed.  He says his leave of absence was lengthened by depression, but I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we hope he gets well soon.

There was one more thing I wanted to add.  One more very important thing I wanted to address.  What was it again? Oh, yeah.  We’re seven and a half games behind the Yankees in second place.  Only three ahead of the Rays, who are currently in third.  We’re half a game out of the Wild Card behind the Rangers.  In short, this is a complete and total disaster.  What we are witnessing here is a breakdown of the team as a whole.  Something’s gone horribly wrong.  We need hitting and pitching, when just a short time ago it seemed we had adequate or surplus amounts of both.  It’s absolutely excruciating to see a team so stacked fall so far from such high potential.  I mean, this state of affairs can not continue.  It’s pretty much impossible for this team to sustain such a low level of performance when its key members are healthy.  We are in an extremely sizable hole right now.  There can be no doubt about that.  But we’ve dug ourselves out of worse.  We’re capable.  That’s all I’m saying.  That, and I would just like to state again that it’s painful.  Really painful.  Really, really painful.  It’s like watching a catastrophe in slow motion.  At this rate, it will be a catastrophe in slow motion.  It’s starting to feel sickeningly like 2006.  Nuff ced.  Honestly, I can’t even talk about it.

Frank Galasso

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Cutting to the chase yet again, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were both revealed to be on the list of the roughly one hundred baseball players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drug use in 2003.  Neither will be punished by the league because suspensions were only introduced in 2004.  But this season just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it.

Isn’t it funny how the New York Times is always the one to break these stories? And with a decidedly anti-Red Sox bent, too.  “Now, players with Boston’s championship teams of 2004 and 2007 have also been linked to doping.” Like we couldn’t figure that out from the headline.  And isn’t it funny how, out of one hundred-plus names, these were the only two that were leaked? To a New York newspaper? On the front page? Mere moments before game time? When David Ortiz was scheduled to be in the lineup? It’s just strange, is all I’m saying.

The first thing I’d like to say is that the tests in 2003 were called for by Bud Selig to determine the percentage of baseball players who were using.  The results were supposed to be destroyed.  They weren’t; they were supposed to remain anonymous.  And that’s the kicker.  You can’t just release only a handful of the one-hundred-plus names on the list; it’s completely unfair.  If you release some, you have to release all.  Not doing so allows unclean players to masquerade as clean and point fingers to the unclean when really they’re all in the same boat.  And it’s deceiving; it makes it easy for people to forget that at that time this was prolific.  Furthermore, according to Nomar, because the test was anonymous and only for the purposes of determining whether testing was necessary, many players intentionally refused to be tested, thereby allowing themselves to be associated with positive results, in order to push the number of positive players over the top, which would force Bud Selig to implement tests.  This is definitely something to be kept in mind when future revelations of names are made.  Unless that’s not altogether true.  And in this day and age, you can’t be too sure.  Either way, the point is that, as it stands now, the list totally irrelevant.  Just sayin’.

Usually in these situations, the logic of choice would be that of superficial fairness.  Yes, it looks like Manny Ramirez was possibly David Ortiz were taking steroids at the time.  (I’ll explain the “possibly” in a moment.) Just like Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez.  And that by taking steroids, Manny and Papi actually evened the playing field.  The Yankees had cheaters on their team.  We had cheaters on our team.  So we still won, and we were still the better team.  Plain and simple.

But I’m not going to employ that logic, because I am a member of Red Sox Nation, and I root for a team that deserves more than just the cheap, dirty, easy way out.  When the first news of Manny Ramirez broke, I said that neither the 2004 nor the 2007 World Series victories are tainted, and I stand by that.  Yes, it looks like Manny Ramirez and possibly David Ortiz were taking steroids at the time.  But they were only two on a team of forty.  To taint those two victories is to besmirch the rest of the team without due cause.  True, they played an enormous part in both, but without the team they would’ve gotten nowhere.  David Ortiz hit walk-off home runs in the 2004 playoffs. In order for those home runs to win the game, other runs had to have been scored and plated by other players.  Like Mark Bellhorn, Bill Mueller, Pokey Reese, Trot Nixon, Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts, and Kevin Millar, to name a few.  What about them? They played more of a part in those wins than just two guys.  So when Yankee fans, or anyone else for that matter, try to void 2004, they’re just grasping.  Men don’t win championships.  Teams win championships.  And I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are not about  to let the superficial fan or the weak of heart slander two entire teams of upstanding ballplayers.

Now, that begs the question of who else on the 2004 team tested positive, but we have to work with the information available.  And I can guarantee you right now that every member of that team did not dope.  Doping had to have been an isolated incident, done on an individual basis.  It wasn’t something that ran rampant in the clubhouse.  We didn’t have a trainer injecting people or a supplier doling out pills.  The clubhouse, then, was clean, and as a team, we won honorably.  As a team, we were clean because we did not condone this behavior.  And we still don’t.

And now we get to discuss the “possibly.” David Ortiz admitted that, when he was a young man in the Dominican Republic just breaking into the game of baseball, he’d started buy protein shakes without really knowing for sure what they contained.  It’s possible that they contained PEDs and he just didn’t bother to check.  There’s no excuse for that.  But there is a difference between that and the actions of Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds.  It’s possible that he tested positive in 2003, figured it must have something to do with an ingredient in the shake, and stopped drinking them, which coincides with the fact that starting in 2004 he tested clean, a fact we have records to prove.  And the plausibility of this possibility is actually confirmed by the fact that Bronson Arroyo has publicly stated that he was taking androstenedione and amphetamines.  He stopped taking the andro because he found out it was laced with the steroid Winstrol due to “lax production standards.” Apparently, back then, it wasn’t that rare to take something without bothering to check what was in it.  (Arroyo stopped taking the andro in 2004 and the greenies in 2006, when each was respectively banned.) Manny Ramirez is another matter entirely, but we can’t pass judgment on David Ortiz.  Not yet anyway.  Not after he issued a public statement through the Red Sox during which he said he knows nothing, wants to find out all he can, and will explain the situation to the public as soon as he has more information.  This is not the usual skulking off that guilty users practice.  He’s being responsible; the first thing he did was confirm with the Players Association that the report is true.  This is exactly in the style of Big Papi, always open with the media and up-front with the fans.  We owe him our patience while he figures this whole thing out.

Believe it or not, that was the easy stuff.  Deep down, we all know the wins aren’t tainted.  We all know that, as both a team and a clubhouse, we’re clean and honorable.  We know it, we believe it, and it’s easy to explain why, and I’ve done that.  Now comes the hard part.   The part where you realize how painful it was to discover this, how frustrated you were to read it, especially on the front page of a New York newspaper.   I won’t lie; it hurt bad.   And if it comes to pass that he was ingesting PEDs a-la Bonds and A-Rod, I’ll be even more disappointed in David Ortiz.  But we’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it.  As it is, it stabs you right in the heart.  It makes you angry that he could be so ignorant and stupid as to get caught up in all of that, and it frustrates you even more because you know you can’t judge yet since you don’t have all the details.  And it makes you sad.  But what makes you even sadder is that there are people out there who’ll try to take away from you what you’ve rightfully earned, based on the mistakes of two misguided men.  Whether one of them acted with a certain intent or not.

If there’s one thing we have to take away from this, it’s that it’s wrong to let unclean players give the clean a bad name by hiding among them.  Similarly, it’s wrong to accuse the clean of being unclean just because a realistic outcome could maybe, possibly, sort of be construed to fit an anomalous behavior.  That’s slander.  When the press does it, it’s libel.  And it’s illegal.  Just to give you an idea of how grave an offense defamation can be.  Red Sox Nation is better than that.  The Royal Rooters raised us better than that.

I was very surprised to hear about this.  I know, I know, technically this shouldn’t have surprised me.  Maybe I relate too much to the pre-steroid era, or maybe I’m stubbornly non-cynical; I don’t know.  Whatever it is, there are things I do know.  I know that 2004 ended the Curse of the Bambino and that 2007 reminded us it wasn’t just a dream.  I know that the retired numbers hanging on the right field roof deck represent players who couldn’t be paid to look at a PED.  I know that the men wearing our uniforms now know what not to do.  Behavior like this doesn’t fly in Boston.  Never has.  Never will.  And finally, I know that when I look at a Red Sox jersey, at the World Series trophies, and the youth of the 2009 club, I’m looking at things and people I can respect.  Clubs like ours have learned from their predecessors’ mistakes, and the things they will achieve without the aid of PEDs will be even better than anything that could be achieved with them, because of their absence.

So, that’s that.  I’m not naive.  I just refuse be as cynical and detached as many other baseball fans and sports writers are being.  The situation’s awful, but it is what it is.  Hopefully, and I mean hopefully, this’ll be the last such issue I’ll have to address.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Who does Nick Green think he is? Julio Lugo? What was up with that? It’s bottom of the ninth, two out, nobody on, score tied at 2-2.  Ronny Cedeno hit a ball to Nick Green, who caught it and fired to Jeff Bailey at first.  Except that he threw high.  Really high.  Like at least five feet above Bailey’s head.  I mean the ball went out of the park and into the camera well.  So Cedeno ends up taking second base.  Then Franklin Gutierrez stroked a single through the gap in right field to plate Cedeno, and that was the end of it.  We lose, 2-3.  We had two errors on the day, both committed by Green.  There was that one and then a fielding error.  Unbelievable.  Just when Lugo actually starts to hit and look like maybe he can field after all, or at least start contributing runs to account for his own mistakes, he leaves the lineup and Green starts in with this.  That’s just what we need.  We could’ve just gone into extra innings and probably won it, but no, sir.  No, we had to lose this one in the bottom of the ninth and give up the series.  Well, that’s just wonderful.  Did I mention we’re now three games behind Toronto and only one and a half above New York? We have a three-game series against Toronto starting tomorrow night, and everyone better be in ship-shape, because that’ll be no time for any nonsense like this.

Varitek and Drew each had an RBI.  Tek hit a sac fly in the second.  Drew hit a solo shot, and when I say a shot I mean a shot.  Leading off the fourth inning, Vargas threw him a 2-0 fastball at the belt.  Why anyone would ever do that, I don’t know.  But I won’t complain, and neither will JD Drew.  The ball was gone.  I mean he clobbered it.  He buried it in the back of the lower tier center field seats, and that’s hard to do because Safeco Field is a pitcher’s park.  It’s not as hitter-friendly as it may look.  But Vargas had no chance.

In the sixth, Rob Johnson bunted a ball off his hand, and he and Wladimir Balentien thought it was foul.  Turns out it was fair but Johnson never ran to reach base so Tek threw him out.  Meanwhile, Balentien, assuming it was foul, began his stroll to second base, only to see Lowell fire to Green who tagged him out.  And that’s what happens when you play us and you sleep on the job.  And then, in the seventh, Pedroia made one of his signature spectacular plays yet again.  Ichiro hits a line drive on the ground between Pedroia and Bailey, so Pedroia runs over, slides around to make the catch, and fires to Bailey to record the out.  No hesitation.  All precision.  The man is a beast.  Only Pedroia could’ve made this play; anyone else, and it’s an infield hit.  What a play.

It’s a terrible, terrible shame that Masterson had to accept a no decision on this, because it really was an excellent start.  6.1 innings, two runs on nine hits, six strikeouts, a solo shot to Russell Branyan to lead off the second, but no walks.  No walks whatsoever.  Delcarmen and Okajima pitched perfectly; Delcarmen’s ERA is back under 1.00 now.  And Ramon Ramirez had to take the loss that really should’ve gone to Green.  But it was an earned run, so what can you do.

David Ortiz is coming back tomorrow but probably won’t bat third.  Youk is playing a game today and tomorrow with the PawSox and should return Wednesday.

On a lighter note, I’d like to congratulate Dave Roberts on his first fan sign.  It was a couple that just got engaged in the fourth inning.  Of course, we all want Jerry Remy to make a speedy recovery and return, but I also have to say that Dave Roberts is doing an excellent job.

So we have an off day today and then we’re back in action tomorrow against Toronto, like I said.  And everyone better be at their best, like I said.  We have the potential here to get into first place.  We need to make the most of this series; we can’t let this series make the most of us.  This is huge.  I never  thought I’d say this, but this first series with Toronto is probably the most important of the series so far.  And I never thought I’d say this, but we’re lucky because Wakefield will be pitching in the first game.  So hopefully we’ll start the series off on a high note and go from there.

NESN.com

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Ladies and gentlemen, we are undefeated against the New York Yankees! And we inaugurated their new stadium in spectacular fashion, with a win of course.  I have to admit, I was a little sad to see the old one go, mainly because it echoed with memories of 2004, but I have no doubt that we’ll engage in plenty of epic performances at the Yankees’ expense on their new turf.  It’s the first time I’ve seen its interior, and I’ll say this: it’s an ugly park.  It’s an ugly, ugly, ugly park.  And they still have that ridiculous fence thing.  I don’t really know what that’s about, but to each his own I guess, even if it is an ugly park.

Either way, we rocked it.  6-4.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m looking forward to playing the Yankees not only because I love beating up on them but also because it’s starting to be a sure-fire win.  For us, they’re starting to be the new Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t dislike them any less, I’m just relieved to play them, from a standings perspective.  Because they’re just bad.

Lester was awesome.  Seven innings, three runs on six hits, two walks, and ten K’s to tie his career high in a single game.  That was definitely one of his best starts this season, if not the best.  And those three runs were the result of only two mistakes, a two run home run for Damon and a solo shot for Teixeira in the fifth.  They went back-to-back.  I was not pleased.  But Lester collected himself after that and did well.  And that was a start that shows you how mature he is.  He’s had some shaky ones lately, but on the road in our arch-rivals house he pulls himself together and dominates.  Although if I had to pick one moment that really revealed Lester’s maturity, I’d say that press conference he gave after he was diagnosed with cancer would be it.  A young man just diagnosed with cancer, and he faced the media and all their questions.  That’s brave.  And he was diagnosed and came back in less than a year.  That’s really brave, to say the least.

Ramon Ramirez no longer has an ERA of 0.00, either.  His is 0.59 after a mistake of his own, another solo shot for Teixeira in the eighth.  Papelbon gave up two hits but ultimately aced and got the save as usual.

The offense was beautiful.  Only two members of the lineup failed to reach base, Varitek and (ironically) Youkilis.  In fact, in the second inning, Youk had a repeat performance of a ball skipping off his glove.  It was a rushed double play situation, Green threw him the ball to get Cano at first, and it skipped off his glove and Cano was safe.  No error, but still.  Anyway, the other seven batters batted or walked their way on, or both.  Ellsbury went two for five with a walk and a steal, Pedroia went one for four with a walk, Drew went one for two with two walks, Bay went three for five, Lowell went two for four with a walk, and Green walked.  As far as RBIs are concerned, Lowell and Bay each had two.  Lowell absolutely crushed a ball into the left field bleachers in the second inning for one of his, and Bay hit a two-run shot out in the seventh for his sixth home run of the season.  But guess who else had a good night.  None other than Big Papi! Two for three with two walks and an RBI.  This could be it.  He could be coming back.  I said maybe a mental break would be a good idea, but you never know.  Different guys in different slumps at different times need different things.  Last year he needed a mental break, maybe this year all he needed was the high-pressure, adrenaline rush of our first game in the Bronx.  I mean on Saturday Tampa Bay walked Pedroia to get to Ortiz.  That can’t be good for his psyche.  But last night certainly will be.  Let’s see what happens.

Jerry Remy’s still out, but of all his substitutes I liked last night’s broadcast team of Don, Eck, and Dave Roberts best.  They did a good job.

Girardi was ejected last night, by the way.  Apparently he didn’t appreciate the fact that home plate umpire Jerry Meals called a third strike on Derek Jeter in the fifth.  I have news for you: it happens.  Even Jeter does strike out sometimes, as hard as that may be for you to believe.  Johnny Damon chided us for almost letting Jason Varitek walk, substantiating this with a statement that in Boston we don’t keep our guys but in New York they do.  I really have nothing to say to that.  It’s so completely and obviously wrong and untrue that I can’t dignify it with a response.  Us let people walk while New York keeps people there? Alternate universe! I think somebody has a chip on his shoulder.  And finally, people started leaving the stadium in droves during the rain delay and stadium personnel wouldn’t let them back in.  The gates were closed in their faces.  This is the kind of operation the New York Yankees run.  Honestly, that’s low, even for them.  Fans drive, they fly, they take the train, they pay money to see a ballgame and you just don’t let them back in even though they have tickets? Seriously? Yeah, that speaks for itself too, I think.

So I’d say that was a very nice Boston welcome to New York’s new grounds.  Establishes early on who’s boss.  Doesn’t give the Yankees any ideas about shedding the past just because they’ve built a new house which, incidentally, is a lot like the team: they spent millions of dollars on things they don’t need.  So we did good work, and tonight it continues.  Beckett at Chamberlain.  Let’s sweep this one, too.

AP Photo

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That’s the only way I can describe last night.  I experienced pain when I watched that.  I honestly felt like I was in some strange alternate universe.  Garza was making a bid for a perfect game into the sixth.  It was a very surreal experience, like an especially bad nightmare, only worse, because it was real.  Awful.  Just awful.  Beckett took the loss, and rightly so.  Only 4.2 innings and he gives up seven runs on ten hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.  One home run, the first of Michel Hernandez’s Major League career, and an ERA of 7.22.  All I have to say to Hernandez is that he should enjoy it, because he won’t be hitting another homer off Beckett anytime soon.  But seriously.  He reached one hundred pitches in the fifth.  I don’t know who this guy is or what he’s doing wearing Number 19, but he isn’t Josh Beckett.  I know Josh Beckett.  Josh Beckett would never pitch this way.  Which brings me to my next point: I have no idea what’s going on with him.  We know he’s healthy.  That was his problem last year, that and the long balls, but this year he’s fine and in great shape.  So I don’t know.  He started the game fine, had a fourteen-pitch, one-two-three first inning, but it all went downhill from there.  But whatever it is, he needs to take care of it.  Now.  Right now.

But wait, it gets worse.  Hunter Jones gave up his first run of the year.  Fine.  It happens.  We knew the 0.00 ERA wouldn’t last for ever.  One bad pitch and Evan Longoria hit it out.  Saito had a perfect seventh.  So for all intents and purposes we cruised until the eighth, when Javy Lopez gave up five runs.  Five.  On four hits and a walk with no strikeouts.  He didn’t even finish the inning.  Then Jonathan Van Every came on to pitch the rest of the eighth and got us out of it.  Incidentally, he has a 0.00 ERA.  And now I get to explain why we, unlike the Yankees, have nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of.  It’s one thing to throw your outfielder on the mound when your starter has an ERA above 20.00 because your bullpen has an ERA above 5.00 and is the shallowest in the league.  It’s quite another to have multiple relievers with ERAs under 2.00, including two that’re still 0.00, who’ve been working long shifts lately and who need a rest.  Van Every got two outs.  That was it.  We’re not talking about an inning of work to bail out an abysmal starter.  We’re talking about giving the best relievers in the game a break during a blowout.  So, no, Van Every is not Nick Swisher, because our bullpen is actually functional, thank you very much.  (Technically, saying that our bullpen is “functional” is the understatement of the century, but you know what I mean.)

I’ll say this about being on the receiving end of a bid for a perfect game or no-hitter.  It makes losing less painful, because the only thing you’re focused on is ending that bid, is getting a walk and then a hit.  So it takes the edge off of losing, because as long as you end the bid, you’re happy, and everything else just seems like icing on the cake.  And for that, we thank Jacoby Ellsbury, who jammed a ball back to Garza, who couldn’t come up with it.  Jason Bartlett tried to throw him out at first, just like everyone else in the league, but as we know there’s no way he doesn’t beat that out.  So a masterful infield hit for Ellsbury, and a great hustle down the line to end it.  Two batters later, Ortiz was his first walk.  I mean we knew all along that Garza wouldn’t actually be able to fully contain a lineup like ours.  It just doesn’t happen.  Unfortunately we’ve been in this situation before, like last year with the Angels, but we always get out of it somehow.

By the way, Pedroia was safe.  Ortiz walked with nobody on base because the umpire ruled that Pedroia was the second out in a double play.  Let me tell you something.  Pedroia was safe by a mile.  It was so good to see Tito go out there, because it doesn’t matter what the score is.  If a guy hustles, he deserves a fair call.

So that’s pretty much it for last night.  As you  can imagine, the box score is really boring.  Very one-sided.  All these stats for Tampa Bay and for us, nothing.  I’m telling you, it was painful.  Lowell’s hitting streak stopped at thirteen games.  Dave Roberts will be joining NESN, which I’m psyched about.  Jerry Remy was sick yesterday so Buck Martinez filled in, which was interesting.  Turns out that, not only did Van Every hit his first career home run off his former team, but he hit it off his former roommate.  Apparently he received congratulatory text messages from the Tribe but wants to give Jensen Lewis some time to cool off a little bit.  I’d say that’s wise, because that was a monster of a home run.  And last but not least, A-Rod was probably on steroids as early as high school and HGH in 2004 with the Yankees.  And he tipped his friends on opposing teams to pitches.  It’s sad that these things don’t surprise me anymore.  Seems like A-Rod always manages to come up with a new low.

We need a win.  A win would be nice.  We’re tied for first, but I think we could use a little something to break that tie.  And to maintain our good record.  And to improve.  And to make sure we don’t fall behind.  Yes, I think a win would be very nice indeed.

In other news, it’s go time at the TD Banknorth Garden tonight.  Round Two, Game 1, 7:30PM.  Let’s do it.

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That was the theme of the past two days.  The game on Tuesday was rained out and postponed to yesterday, making yesterday a double-header against the Twins.  And since the series was only two games to begin with, we basically crammed the whole series into twenty-four hours.  And we didn’t even finish the first game; it was called after seven innings due to the weather.  I mean from Minnesota’s standpoint there really wasn’t a point in finishing it because we were up, 10-1, at that point, but still.  If we were meant to score five more runs in that game, I would’ve liked to see those five runs.  But the nightcap stayed dry after being delayed an hour, and all in all it was a phenomenal day.  We swept the doubleheader and showed the Twins who’s boss, and the Bruins knocked the Canadiens completely out of the playoffs.  A four-game sweep and a burial in Montreal yesterday by a final score of 4-1.

I’m getting ahead of myself here.  First, let’s talk about Wakefield and the gem he pitched in the first game.  He went the whole seven innings, allowed one run on five hits with a walk and four K’s.  He became the oldest pitcher in baseball history to pitch back-to-back complete games.  I’m telling you, the man’s still got it.  Year in and year out we question how much he has left, and he never ceases to amaze us.  His ERA is 2.45.  Tim Wakefield’s ERA is 2.45.  That’s ridiculous.  Somehow, he just keeps getting better and better.  And the offense had an absolute field day.  Youk hit a two-run shot into the right field seats in the first, Green hit a two-run shot into the Monster in the second, and Lowell hit a two-run shot also into the Monster in the third.  Ellsbury went two for four, extending his hitting streak to eight games.  Papi went two for four, including a double.  Drew went three for three with a walk.  Lowell would finish the night three for four, and Green two for four.  So all in all we teed off.  Ellsbury stole, got caught, and was picked off.  Green made an error.  And because it was such a masterful event, I’m going to repeat that the final score was 10-1.  So as you can see the Twins were pretty much done.  “Blame It On the Rain,” as Milli Vanilli says, but if I were in a Minnesota uniform I’d be loathing Tim Wakefield all the way back to Minneapolis.

And those were just the afternoon festivities.  We rocked the nightcap, too.  For starters, Dave Roberts threw out the first pitch.  I’m telling you, whenever I remember that moment I start to lose it.  It all started with that one stolen base.  Pickoff attempt, pickoff attempt, pickoff attempt, he runs, he’s safe, we win seven straight, the curse is broken.  Just like that.  And it all started with that one stolen base.  Penny was on, a relief after his previous start against Baltimore.  Two earned runs on six hits with a walk and two K’s in six innings (the third run was the courtesy of another error by Green).  Justin Morneau hit a solo shot in the fourth.  After that, the relief came in and was perfect as usual.  Ramon Ramirez still has an ERA of 0.00 after pitching just over nine impeccable innings, Okajima was solid with a strikeout, and Paps came out to get some work in, because with all the runs we’ve been scoring he’s gotten a little bored lately.  And he was perfect, of course.  As far as the offense was concerned, it wasn’t so much teeing off as it was walking and making Francisco Liriano pay for it.  Liriano gave up seven runs in four frames.  And many of those were the result of walks.  If there’s one thing opposing pitchers know about us, it’s that if you walk our batters, chances are we’ll score some runs.  So that was not an outing you’d want out of your Number One starter.  Which is why he doesn’t pitch for Boston.  Jeff Bailey was added to the roster after Baldelli was placed on the fifteen-day DL with a left hamstring strain, and Lowell had the game off, so Youk moved to third and Bailey played first, and Bailey’s only hit of the night and first at-bat of the year was a three-run homer that probably had the skin taken off the ball.  Papi doubled again, and it seems like he’s hitting for extra bases consistently now, a trend I’d love to see continue.  Green had the only multi-hit performance, finishing his night at two for three.  Ellsbury, Drew, Bailey, and Bay, who leads the American League in walks, each logged a base on balls.  Pedroia was caught and picked off.

Did I mention that yesterday was Terry Francona’s fiftieth birthday? I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I wish a very happy birthday to one of the greatest managers in the game!

So we extend our winning streak to seven games, tying New York for second only one and a half games out of first.  That won’t last long.  We get the day off today and are facing New York tomorrow night at home.  It’s going to be Chamberlain at Lester, and quite frankly if Lester stays vintage we should make quick work of the Yankees.  I’m so psyched.

And last but most certainly not least, in other news the Bruins swept Montreal in four games.  We win the Stanley Cup quarterfinal for the first time in ten years.  We fell to the Habs last year, in 2004, and in 2002, but not this year.  This year we completely dominated them.  They stood no chance whatsoever.  Sweeps are hard to come by in hockey but we basically just finished a textbook model for how to do it.  Michael Ryder, former Canadien, scored twice and assisted David Krejci.  Phil Kessel shot out of the penalty box in the second period, got the puck, and put it in the net pretty much immediately.  Timmy Thomas made twenty-six saves.  It was awesome, unbelievable, and very satisfying.  But we’ve still got work to do.  Round Two coming up.  How sweep it is.

So just to recap, in a single day we sweep a series and a doubleheader, get two solid starts out of our Number Four and Five guys, let the offense go to town, welcome back the man whose stolen base started it all in 2004, extend our winning streak to seven days, advance in the standings, celebrate the birthday of our brilliant manager, sweep the Stanley Cup quarterfinal, bury our arch-rivals underneath a mountain of goals, eliminate them from the playoffs completely in their house, and advance to Round Two with all the momentum in the world.  I would say that that is one seriously good day.  All in a day’s work in Boston.  Even in the rain.

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