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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Cronin’

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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See, this is good.  This is what we should be doing.  That’s what I call building on momentum.  We won, and then we won again.  So it can’t really be so impossible to win multiple times in a row, can it? I mean, that was awesome.  It was a slugfest, and we left Minnesota in the dust.  The team made it look so easy, like we’ve been playing that way all season so far.  This better not be the latest episode in our grand motif of inconsistency.

For now, at least, we can celebrate this one.  The final score was 11-2.  We posted eighteen hits to their six; eight of our eighteen hits were for extra bases.  Two of those were home runs, and six of them were doubles.  And we went six for sixteen with runners in scoring position.

Aviles started things off in the first with a double with two strikes; not a bad way to battle back and start the game.  Then Sweeney singled him in.  After Pedroia grounded out, Gonzalez and Papi hit back-to-back singles which resulted in another run.  Then Youk singled, making that three in a row, and Gonzalez scored on Ross’s groundout.

Beckett didn’t seem like he was going to uphold his end of the bargain; he loaded the bases in a hurry in the bottom of the first while securing only one run.  Then he proceeded to walk in a run on ten pitches to Joe Mauer.  That’s three consecutive bases on balls.  I have to tell you, at that moment I got really scared that it was going to be a repeat of our performance against the Yankees when we dropped our eight run lead, except this time the blame would fall squarely on Beckett.  Beckett’s exchange with home plate umpire Adrian Johnson probably didn’t help the situation at all.  There were angry stares, and then Beckett said words, and then Johnson said words, and then Bobby V. had to intervene.  It clearly could have been a lot worse.

Fortunately, that fear turned out to be moot.  Beckett’s very next inning was one-two-three, and we went back to scoring; Gonzalez led off the third with a walk, and then Papi tore a homer to right on a cutter.  It was so fierce that Jerry Remy said that he couldn’t even see the ball when he was going out.  Papi knew it as soon as the ball connected with the bat that there was no way it was staying inside the park.

Beckett got into a bit of a jam in the third when he had runners on second and third with one out, but he secured a lineout followed by a flyout to end it made possible by a very Ellsbury-esque diving and sliding catch by Byrd.  Not a bad way to begin his time in Boston, especially since he started out on the play with the absolute wrong read on the ball.

Aviles led off the fourth with a solo shot to left on a full-count fastball right down the pipe that he just crushed.  It was a fair ball by inches, literally.  Then Sweeney doubled and scored on a single by Gonzalez.

Beckett had a one-two-three fourth.  Byrd led off the bottom of the inning with a single.  Shoppach struck out swinging, and then Aviles hit an RBI double.  Then Sweeney struck out swinging, and Pedroia and Gonzalez hit back-to-back RBI doubles.

Beckett allowed his last run of the night in the fifth on a pair of doubles.  Both teams went down in order in the next two innings.  Then, in the eighth, a single and two five-pitch walks loaded the bases for McDonald, who score two by grounding into a force out.

So that was basically it.  Papi, Youk, Byrd, and Sweeney each had two hits, one of which for Sweeney was a double.  Papi’s twenty-eight hits so far this month are the most in the ball club since Joe Cronin hit thirty in April 1937.  Aviles went four for five with two doubles and a home run – those four hits being a new career high – and Gonzalez was a perfect three for three at the plate with one double.  Beckett pitched up the win and allowed only two runs on five hits while walking three and striking out five in six innings.  He threw exactly one hundred pitches; his best pitches for strikes were his changeup, cutter, and four-seam, and he also threw in a few two-seams and curveballs.  He threw thirty-seven pitches in the first inning, which is a higher inning total than even Dice-K would throw (I’ve used that comparison a lot, but firstly, if I shouldn’t use this comparison then he should pitch better, and secondly, thirty-seven pitches is really exorbitant), but he obviously settled down considerably after that first inning.  Indeed, his first inning was essentially his one bad inning, but as we know he escaped with the minimal damage of only one run.  Atchison pitched in the seventh and eighth, and Albers pitched the ninth.

Well, I’m obviously thrilled with the win, but I wonder if it’ll actually take us somewhere this time.  What are the chances we play like that again today?

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As usual in these situations, I’m going to cut to the completely unjustifiable chase.  We’re not getting the All-Star Game in 2012.  Kansas City is getting it.  I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock before I continue, because believe me, this was one seriously twisted shock.  Okay.  Apparently, Kauffman Stadium recently completed major renovations.  How nice for Kauffman Stadium.  It’s brand-new, nice and clean, and very fan-friendly.  Congratulations, Kansas City; now Kauffman Stadium is just like every other ballpark that completes major renovations.

Just to review, the reason why we wanted the All-Star Game in 2012 is because Fenway Park will turn one hundred years old.  The oldest ballpark still in use in the United States of America will commemorate a century of baseball.  America’s Most Beloved Ballpark will celebrate its one hundredth birthday.  Think about what Fenway Park has seen in that time.  It’s seen the Royal Rooters, Tris Speaker, Duffy’s Cliff.  It’s seen Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski.  It’s seen Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz, 2004, and 2007.  It’s seen a team of royalty followed by a team that committed cruel and unusual losses year after year after year, followed by royalty’s return.  If there is a structure in this country that embodies the history of the game of baseball within its very foundation, it’s Fenway Park.

And Fenway Park was denied.  Why? I have no idea.  What, they can give it to New York because it’s the last year of Yankee Stadium but they can’t recognize that America’s Most Beloved, and oldest, Ballpark will turn a century old? I mean, okay, so Kansas City hasn’t had the All-Star game in forty years and Fenway last had it thirteen years ago, in 1999 when none other than the Splendid Splinter threw out the first pitch.  But Fenway only turns one hundred years old once in a lifetime.  Kansas City could’ve gotten it in 2013.  In fact, it would’ve been okay by me if Kansas City had it every year for another forty years if only we could have it this one time.  Something just doesn’t seem right here.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are extremely and profoundly disappointed and extremely and profoundly confused.

Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young.  I’ll be very interested to see how he pitches next year.  I don’t think he’ll be as effective.  But I do think Josh Beckett is in line to have a break-out season so dominant that not even CC Sabathia can squeeze past him in the Cy Young voting.  Tim Lincecum won it for the NL, becoming its first repeat winner since Randy Johnson.  Andrew Bailey of Oakland and Chris Coghlan of Florida were the Rookies of the Year.  Mike Scoscia and Jim Tracy of Colorado were the Managers of the Year.  I don’t think I would’ve picked Mike Scoscia.  In my mind, there were three managers this year who faced significant uphill battles and who powered through them: Terry Francona, and then Ron Gardenhire and Ron Washington.  Terry Francona managed us through a lack of shortstop, the entry of a new starting catcher, a decline in the playing time of the team’s captain, a very public steroid scandal, and the worst slump in the career of the figure at the heard of said steroid scandal.  True, every manager deals with things behind closed doors, but what makes Tito’s job so difficult is that those doors are never closed completely.  It’s the nature of sports in Boston.  Gardenhire took the Twins from zero to one-game-playoff winners without Joe Mauer in the first month of the season, Justin Morneau in the last month, or a particularly effective bullpen.  And Washington almost made it to the playoffs this year without big-name talent.  All I’m saying is that, if the award goes to a Manager of the Year within the Angels organization, it should have gone to Torii Hunter, not Scoscia.  He was the real force in that clubhouse.  MVPs will be announced tomorrow.

Again, not much in the way of business yet.  Jason Bay rejected a four-year, sixty-million-dollar offer in favor of testing the free agent market for the first time in his career.  He’s Theo’s priority, though, and I still say he’ll end up back in Boston.  The Cards have already stated that they’re not interested, preferring Matt Holliday instead.  But I think this has the potential to be one of those long, drawn-out negotiations.  By the way, let’s not forget that Jermaine Dye is also a free agent.

We released George Kottaras, who has been claimed by the Brewers.  PawSox manager Ron Johnson will be our new bench coach.  We’re reportedly interested in Adrian Beltre, and we claimed reliever Robert Manuel off waivers.  Before the offseason is done, we’ll probably re-sign Alex Gonzalez and add a low-risk, high-potential starter.  Remember: in an economy like this, you do not need to, nor should you, empty your pockets to win a World Series, no matter what the Evil Empire might assume is the best practice.

Congratulations to John Henry on winning the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.  Again, corporate social responsibility in this day and age is the way to go.  Unfortunately, though, ticket prices are up this year.  About half the seats were increased by two dollars, including the infield grandstand, right field boxes, and lower bleachers.  The field and loge boxes and Green Monster seats and standing room were increased by five dollars.  The outfield grandstand and upper bleachers weren’t increased.  Whenever you hear about price increases or decreases for tickets at Fenway, remember to always take them with a grain of salt.  Obviously we’d prefer a price freeze, but how many of us really purchase our Fenway tickets at face value anyway? I’m just saying.

So, as per usual this early in the offseason, we have more wait-and-seeing ahead.  Theo never reveals the tricks he has up his sleeve, so that’s really all we can do.

The Bruins suffered a particularly painful loss to the Islanders, 4-1.  I’d rather not talk about it.  We did best Atlanta in a shootout, though, and we eked out a win against the Sabres in sudden death.  That last one was particularly heartening, being that the Sabres are first in the division.  For now.  We’re only two points behind.  And now for the grand finale, let’s discuss Bill Belichick’s oh-so-positive judgment call on Sunday.  In the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, the Pats had the ball on their 28.  Tom Brady’s pass was incomplete.  With two minutes and eight seconds left on the clock, Belichick decided to go for it.  But Kevin Faulk fumbled the ball, and suddenly it was fourth and two.  Needless to say, we lost, 35-34, to the Colts, who are still undefeated.  I mean, it’s a tough call.  Belichick made the same decision against Atlanta and we won.  Then again, we had the lead, we had the time, and we had an opponent that wasn’t Indianapolis.  It was just bad.  It was just really, really bad.

Sawxblog/Derek Hixon

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This is the best time of year, and with the Yankees series this weekend, it feels like it’s October already.  This could be it.  After last night’s win, we reduced our magic number to three.  We could clinch in Yankee Stadium and celebrate on New York soil, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is absolutely, positively, without a doubt something to smile about.

But let’s talk about last night first.  The final score was 10-3.  Buchholz was brilliant and was not responsible for any of those runs.  Six and two-thirds shutout innings pitched.  No walks.  Eight strikeouts.  If he didn’t allow five hits, he would’ve been on his way to a perfect game.  But even with the five hits, that outing was absolutely brilliant.  You can’t even get an outing like that out of some veterans, let alone some young upstart who had a horrible season last year.  But he’s on the rise.  All of his outings this year have been at least decent, and this was his sixth straight quality start.  He’ll be starting in October.  Just watch.

It was Ramirez who was responsible for the runs.  All three of them.  He recorded only two outs but gave up three runs on three hits, partly the courtesy of Billy Butler, who hit a two-run shot off him in the eighth.  In some ways, this is more concerning than if Buchholz had given up the runs, because this is a star of the bullpen we’re talking about.  We all know the importance of the bullpen in the postseason.  Now more than ever, they need to hold it together.  Especially Ramirez and Delcarmen, who haven’t been at their best lately.  Saito wasn’t great either; he pitched the rest of the game and allowed two hits and a walk.

Ellsbury went three for six with an RBI and two steals.  Pedroia went two for five with a double and an RBI.  Martinez went two for five with a walk.  Bay was hitless but walked.  Ortiz had a fantastic night, going three for five with a double, a walk, and three RBIs, one of which came on a leadoff homer in the fourth that he absolutely crushed.  Lowell hit and walked twice.  Kotchman and Gonzalez both went two for four with a double and a walk.  Gonzalez also stole.  Reddick walked twice.  So every single member of the starting lineup reached base at least once.

Needless to say, this was not Kansas City’s best work, but with five errors and two ejections, it was pretty entertaining.  Zack Greinke was ejected in the third for heckling home plate umpire Greg Gibson.  Then Anthony Lerew knocked Lowell’s helmet off in the fourth with a curveball, so Gibson warned Lerew and both benches.  Trey Hillman came out and had the liveliest exchange with an umpire that I’ve seen in a while, and he got tossed.  And the words continued even after that.  I’d say this particular crew was pretty sensitive.  I don’t think Lerew was trying to hit Lowell on purpose.  If you’re going to hit a batter on purpose, you do it with a fastball, not an off-speed pitch that’s notoriously difficult to control.

Congratulations to Terry Francona for recording his 561st win last night! With that win, he surpassed Mike Higgins to reach second place on the Red Sox all-time list, right behind Joe Cronin.  That’s heady company!

And so it begins.  Lester will take on Joba Champerlain in the Bronx tonight at 7:00PM.  There’s really nothing else to say, is there.  Except perhaps the always-appropriate, “Go Sox!” Let’s dominate.

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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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