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Posts Tagged ‘Todd Tichenor’

If there is one thing I absolutely can not and will not stand for, it’s being in second place behind New York.  Good thing we won’t be in this position for long.  New York is not actually that good, and we are not actually that bad, so the fact that we are in this position doesn’t reveal anything because firstly it’s early in the season, secondly it’s only temporary, and thirdly it’s only by half a game.  Like I said, we know how the Skankees play; they enjoy a few hot streaks in the first half of the season, have a mediocre second half, surge to the forefront in September, and peter out in October.  The other thing that’s more applicable to the way we got into this is that there is no shame in losing to Toronto.  They were in first place not  too long ago, before we ousted them and they helped, so we lost to a worthy opponent.  There’s never any shame there.  So, yes, it’s true that we don’t have to worry about this particular standings situation in the long run, and it’s true that we have nothing to defend, but the fact that it’s New York still make it irritating.  Very irritating.

And in large part we have Wake to thank for that, surprising as it may seem.  We lost, 3-6, so the run support argument doesn’t work that well here.  Wakefield gave up five runs in the fifth inning.  That seems to be the trend lately, and I have to say I’m not a fan.  I don’t like our pitchers throwing beautifully through half the game and then blow it completely in just one frame.  Wake threw 4.2 innings, gave up all six runs on nine hits, walked four, and struck out five.  Bard and Saito stopped the damage, but it was too late.  Bard did have time to strike out five in a row, though, which rocked.

Ellsbury went two for five with two RBIs on a double, Bay went two for four, and Lugo went two for three.  And then Drew had what could be described as the ultimate hitter’s at-bat in the seventh inning.  The bases were empty, but there was only one out and he worked a hitter’s count: three and one.  What a perfect time for a home run, right? So what does JD Drew do? He hits a home run over the center field wall! And he’s right on schedule; we’re days away from the month of June  which, judging by last season, has the potential to bring out his best.  Pedroia missed a catch.  Didn’t really know that was possible.  Hey, I didn’t think it would be possible for the Yanks to give up fourteen runs in a single inning and twenty-two runs in a single game, but you learn new things everyday.

For George Kottaras, a native of Ontario, Canada, this was his first trip home.  He had a chance to catch up with his mother and even hit a double in the fourth to boot.  By the way, ever wonder what happened to Doug Mirabelli? Apparently he’s selling real estate in Michigan.

I’m very psyched to report that Tito is one hundred percent.  Fully healthy.  In Minnesota when he confronted Todd Tichenor his blood pressure shot up to the point where he felt very weak coming off the field.  He went to his office and couldn’t slow his heart down.  He thought he was going to pass out.  So doctors and medical techs looked at him, and eventually he calmed down and got over it.  He’s fifty, takes blood thinners, and has had medical issues in the past though so it was definitely a concern.  But I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we’re very happy to hear he’s back on track.

So there you have it.  We’re again done in by one horrendous inning.  And during that inning Wakefield looked like his old self, not the ace who’s been largely lights-out thus far.  A five-run fifth was not something I was prepared to see, but it’s something that, coming from him, felt all too familiar.  Luckily, that seems to be the anomaly, rather than the other way around.  Here’s to hoping it stays that way.  As far as tonight is concerned, it’ll be Penny at Brian Tallet, who’s nursing an ERA of 4.31.  Penny’s got an ERA of 5.96, but as we all know that’s very deceiving because he’s five and one and pitches way better than that.  But there is a bright side to all of this: in this series, Roy Halladay is not scheduled to pitch.  And that, my friends, is most definitely something to smile about.

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That was Beckett’s 100th career start in a Red Sox uniform, and he did not disappoint.  After pitcher’s milestones like this I sometimes think of Mike Timlin’s 1000th appearance, and that isn’t something he’ll want to remember at all.  But this was nothing like that.  This is something Beckett will recall for years.  This, my friends, was a gem.  Plain and simple.  Seven full innings, only tree hits, only one run on a solo shot by Joe Crede in the second, four walks, eight strikeouts.  He started the game with four consecutive K’s, had a one-two-three fifth, and retired eleven in a row before walking Morneau in the sixth.  He tied his second-highest K count by throwing 69 of 111 pitches for strikes.  Like the Twins actually expected to beat Beckett anyway.  Please, with the way he’s been pitching? No chance.  If the Twins were going to do anything, it would’ve been in the fourth; after Crede hit his jack, Beckett gave up back-to-back walks.  But he stayed with it, regained his control, and was air-tight for the rest of his outing.  If doesn’t prove he’s back, I don’t know what does.  Okajima got a hold, and Paps got a save, and this time it wasn’t half bad.  Brian Buscher struck out via swing and a miss to end it.

Jason Varitek was solely responsible for our first two runs, and the long ball was solely responsible for plating them.  The captain hit two leadoff home runs last night, one in the fifth and one in the seventh.  Both of them were beautiful swings.  Both were never going to stay inside the park.  And both are reasons why it’s realistic to consider Varitek in the All-Star voting this year.  That second homer ended up in the second tier of seats.  Power.

Ellsbury snapped his hitting streak at twenty-two games.  During the streak, he batted .340.  Pedroia was batting .462 heading into last night but then went hitless in the final game of the series.  Jason Bay got the day off.  Hey, if he’s eighth in the Majors in runs, sixth in home runs, second in RBIs, and sixth in walks, he earned it.  Drew went hitless but almost had himself a triple in the sixth, had Span not outran it and hauled it in for an out.  Youk had a hit and a beautiful diving catch on a right-handed line drive.  That’s a tough play for a first baseman to make, and it almost looked like the ball took him off his feet, but he made the catch and ended the inning.  Ortiz didn’t do well.  In the sixth he struck out swinging and was furious.  Early in the at-bat, he broke his bat and got a new one, and after the at-bat, he broke that one across his knee in the dugout.  So we know he has strength and power; all he has to do is use it on a baseball.  As angry and frustrated as we are about his slump, you better believe he’s that much more angry and frustrated.  And it’s not just the lack of home runs.  During the first month or so of the season, he wasn’t seeing the fastball.  He’d be late or get under it or something.

And then we have our third run scored by Bailey in the seventh.  Pedroia hit a sac fly to Kubel, who threw the ball to Redmond at home, but home plate umpire Todd Tichenor called Bailey safe.  Redmond disagreed so he got in Tichenor’s face, at which point Tichenor threw him and Gardenhire, who came out to protest, out of the game.  To be fair, Redmond didn’t swear or touch the umpire, but he was livid and you could see it.  Same with Gardenhire, which was unusual because he’s so mild-mannered.  Then in our half of the frame, Beckett was noticeably frustrated that a close pitch that’d been called mostly for a strike earlier had been called a ball.  Beckett was showing a little bit of body language, so Tek turned around to talk to Tichenor and keep Beckett out of it, at which point Tichenor threw him and Francona, who came out to protest, out of the game.  Wow.  You don’t see that too often.  It was like Tichenor was hitting for the circuit in umpire terms.  And I have to say it was completely uncalled for to toss either Tek or Francona.  Tek wasn’t expressing himself angrily; not only was there no swearing or touching, but there wasn’t even harsh language, angry gestures, or unsportsmanlike conduct.  There was a conspicuous difference between Redmond’s and Tek’s behavior, and his ejection of Tek disregarded that completely.  As for Francona, he came out to defend his catcher who shouldn’t have been ejected in the first place.  There was no way he wasn’t going out there to say something about this absurd action.  So that was just ridiculous.  It was a farce.

I’ll say something about Anthony Swarzak.  I give him credit for limiting us to three runs and, for six frames, seriously engaging Beckett in a pitcher’s duel in only his second career start.  Ultimately we won but from the way we were playing, that was to be expected.  We made Swarzak work, and that’s key because he’s a young guy who hasn’t reached his maximum endurance.  Long at-bats made him throw more pitches, which tired him out and which allowed us to see more of him and adapt to him quickly and effectively.  It’s the classic situation of not having much luck against a starter, so you wear him out and wait him out, and eventually he’ll break, you’ll figure him out, and/or you’ll get into the bullpen.  The other thing is that he had to watch Beckett every half-inning from the dugout.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.  For a young kid to watch a pitcher like that work can put incredible pressure on him to match that pitcher fastball for fastball.  And that just wasn’t going to happen.

Ron Coomer partnered with Don Orsillo in the booth last night.  Apparently Coomer played for Tito when he managed Double-A which, according to the good man himself, makes him feel old.  Small world.  Tito even managed Michael Jordan in 1994.

And just like that, we’ve played our last game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.  It’s been a great ride.  Next year, the Twins will have a new park, outdoors, with real grass.  I’m a purist in that regard, because I’m not a fan of turf.  When someone slides into a base, I want to see dirt stains, and when an outfielder dives for a catch, I want to see grass stains.  But leaving an old park is a difficult thing to do.  Especially when you’ve played well there, and that goes for the Twins and Red Sox.  Unfortunately for the Twins and fortunately for the Red Sox, our last contest in the Metrodome ended with us showing them who’s boss.  Not that I’m complaining.

Chris O’Meara
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