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Posts Tagged ‘Tris Speaker’

Quite literally, it was an evening of milestones and breakout performances.  It’s funny how there are players on our roster who we don’t really get to know as well as some others until that one big game when we remember how much of an asset they are.  I would say that David Ross is such a player.  We acquired him due to his awesome skills as a backup catcher.  But offense-wise, there were probably many people who, around Spring Training, were thinking of him as just the other Ross.  I’m pretty sure that that will no longer be a problem.

We scored in each of the first five innings.  Ellsbury hit a deflected single to open the first and scored on a double by Pedroia.  With two out in the second, Ross went way deep.  Like, beyond the Monster deep.  Get-a-ninety-two-mile-per-hour-two-seam-and-crush-it deep.  Put-us-on-top-by-two deep.

Pedroia doubled off the Monster and scored on a double by Napoli in the third.  And then the fourth happened, and it was awesome.  Middlebrooks and Ross smacked back-to-back jacks.  Middlebrooks’s at-bat was a real battle.  He took his first three pitches for balls, took the fourth for a strike, and then fouled off the others until he got one he liked.  A lot.  It was a changeup, and it found its way beyond the Monster in no time.  And then Ross took two balls and gave a repeat performance.  It was epic.  You see something like that, and you do a complete double-take.  Actually, in this particular instance, you do two double-takes.  First you think you might be seeing a replay of Middlebrooks’s home run.  Then you realize it’s Ross at the bat, so you think you might be seeing a replay of Ross’s earlier home run.  And by the time he’s taking his own sweet time to round first, you realize that it’s the real deal and you just scored two runs on two swings.

Pedroia grounded out to start off the fifth.  And then Papi wanted in.  On a 2-2 count, he got a four-seam clocked at ninety-four that was basically a straight shot to the plate.  Big mistake.  Yet again, he let the ball find the deepest part of the park.  It was his second homer in as many days.  This one just barely got out, but out is out.  And even though we didn’t score in the sixth, it’s of course worth mentioning that Ellsbury stole his two hundredth base.  That total puts him in heady Sox company; he’s the third since Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker did it, and he’s leading the Majors with eleven so far.

And just in case we needed a little extra, we added some insurance in the eighth.  Middlebrooks, Ross, and Ciriaco hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, Ellsbury lined into a double play, but Ross did score on a single by Gomes.  Napoli has set two club records for this month, which by the way isn’t even over yet; his seventeen extra-base hits and twelve doubles are both monster stats for April.  Ross was officially the man of the hour with the two homers as well as the first four-hit performance of his career.

Dempster, who’s been an unfortunate stranger to run support until yesterday, held down the fort from the mound.  Two runs on four hits while walking three and, taking a page from Buchholz’s book, striking out ten over six innings.  He gave up a double to lead off the third, which turned into a run on a groundout.  He gave up another double to lead off the fifth, which turned into a run on a sac fly, which itself could have been trouble had it not been for Gomes’s phenomenal diving catch in the classic Ellsbury style.

Anyway, let’s talk about his K’s.  There were the two swinging strikes in the first, one ending with a four-seam and the other ending with a slider.  Then there were the two that began the second, both ending with sliders.  There were the two in the fourth, one swinging on a splitter and the other looking on a four-seam.  There was the one in the fifth, ending with a swing on a splitter.  And last but not least, there were the two in the sixth, one swinging on a slider and the other looking on a slider and requiring all of three pitches.

Mortensen came in for the seventh.  He hit a batter and gave up a single made worse when Napoli missed a catch.  He finally recorded the first out of the inning, but Tazawa came in after that.  He gave up a sac fly that allowed one of his inherited runners to score.  And then he gave up a single of his own before ending the inning.  Uehara pitched the eighth, and Wilson pitched the ninth.  The final score was 7-3.  All in all, I’d say it went well.

AP Photo
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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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