Tagged: Dustin Pedroia

Passed Ball at the All-Star Game

Well, well, looks like I actually got a comment for once! Yeah, for the most part, this is just an extension of me having fun. Still, after utterly failing at last year’s All-Star Game–writing a potential entry on paper, but never typing it up–things are going to be different this year. We have a wireless network in the house now, so I can be typing it up as I watch. Here’s hoping it’s half as surreal as the last one.

As we continue our pregame coverage, I found out from Sirius/XM’s “The Show” that in last week’s appearance, Chone Figgins said that if he made the All-Star team, he’d do the Ozzie Smith somersault–apparently he was a big Ozzie fan. Now, thanks to the sudden scratch of Evan Longoria, Figgins is in–even though we still have two third basemen, even without Longoria, while we only have one second baseman thanks to Joe Maddon’s weird decision to replace Dustin Pedroia with a fourth first baseman. Good thing Inge, Figgins and Zobrist are all kind of utility guys…Inge has never played second, but that’s okay because we need to save him in case we need a third catcher. Oh, right, so anyway, be on the lookout for Chone Figgins to attempt to do a tribute to Ozzie Smith in tonight’s game!

Blackout

Paul Lukas must be going ballistic. In the tradition of hockey games and Penn State football, the White Sox have asked their fans to dress in one color, and for a team called the White Sox, it’s only natural that they should all be dressed in…black! Here’s hoping they don’t get burned… The Twins have so much intrigue on this game. The pennant race isn’t the only race still alive. A flashback to last year: After 162 games, Ryan Howard led the National League in RBIs with 136. Right behind him with 135 was Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies, who had an extra game. Holliday tied Howard with an RBI single in the fifth inning of Game 163 and took the crown with an RBI triple in the 13th. Back to the present: Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers leads the AL with 130 RBIs. Justin Morneau has 129. Deja vu? Holliday, incidentally, also won the NL batting title last year. Currently, the AL batting lead belongs to Joe Mauer of the Twins. It would take 7 hitless at-bats, plus two hitless at-bats for every hit (1 for 10, 2 for 13, etc.) for him to lose it, at which point my glowing prediction about Dustin Pedroia will come to pass sooner than I expected.

They went around…and around…and around…and around…

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A real football score at Fenway
last night–Papi alone drove in a touchdown in the first inning with a pair of
three-run homers as the Sox took a 10-0 lead after one inning. With run support
like that, you’d think it would be all too easy for Charlie Zink to pick up a
win in his major league debut…and you’d be wrong. After allowing 10 runs (4
earned) in the first, Texas starter Scott Feldman remarkably came back out, got
through the second without allowing a run, and got the first two outs of the
third before being removed for Josh Rupe with the bases loaded. Rupe proceeded
to walk the first two batters he faced to restore the Sox’ ten-run lead at
12-2. Zink recorded his second perfect inning of the night in the fourth, but
things began to unravel in the fifth. One out, 12-6 now, runner on first, and
there’s a fly ball to centerfield, Crisp going back, leaping up, makes the
catch…no, he dropped it! Runners on second and third now. Crisp tries to
convince the umps that he caught the ball and dropped it on the transfer.
Replays do appear to show him attempting to transfer the ball at the time of
the drop, but it wasn’t in his glove for very long, either…perhaps we should
defer to the NFL rulebook. A receiver must retain possession of the ball
throughout the course of going to the ground…yeah, I’m going to have to say no
catch. Call it an E-8…What do you mean it’s a base hit! He “doubled” right into
Crisp’s glove! There’s no way you can rule that a hit…this is bullsh**. Anyway,
that’s the night for Zink, 12-6 as Javier Lopez comes on with one out in the
fifth. Something similar happened with David Pauley’s debut, if I remember
correctly–left with a lead but too early to get the win. Lopez picks up an out
and allows an inherited runner to score on a base hit, and then David Aardsma
comes on. He proceeds to give up a three-run homer to Ian Kinsler, and it’s 12-10 after 4½. Papi leads off the bottom of the fifth and
appears to hit his third home run of the game, a career first, to straightaway
center. Umpires say otherwise, ruling fan interference and sending him back to
second base. No matter as Kevin Youkilis follows with a no-doubt-about-it home
run to make the score 14-10. So, despite the rain that fell in the second
inning, we’ve made it to five, and this game will be official. Are we sure
that’s a good thing, though? Aardsma returns for the sixth, leaving with the
score 14-11 and two runners on base. Sadly, by the rules of the game, he’d be
the one getting the win if this score holds up. Manny Delcarmen fails to make
it so and is charged with a blown save, as the Rangers batter him around to
take a 15-14 lead, and despite a less-than-inspiring performance, Rupe is now
in line for the win. Warner Madrigal, who sounds more like one of my made-up
players in Dream than an actual major leaguer, pitches a hitless sixth,
the only blemish a walk, for his first hold of the year. Delcarmen comes back
out and is charged with another run, leaving with one out and one on in favor
of Hideki Okajima. Okajima loads the bases with a walk and a hit batsman but
manages to keep the score at 16-14, and Jamey Wright gives up an unearned run,
the result of his own error, in the process of picking up a hold in the seventh.
Okajima shuts the Rangers down in the eighth, and on for the next hold is Frank
Francisco. Crisp leads off and makes an out, and Jacoby Ellsbury, a late
scratch from the starting lineup with a bruised tailbone (result of being hit
by a John Danks pitch the previous night) comes in to pinch-hit for Kevin Cash.
He draws a walk, and Drew flies out to right for the second out. Up comes
Dustin Pedroia…long fly ball to left, will it stay fair? Yes! Off the wall for
a double, as Jacoby motors home with the tying run! 16-16 with two outs in the
eighth! Now, in that long first inning, David Ortiz had a pair of three-run
homers. Kevin Youkilis, batting right behind him, had a pair of strikeouts.
First base is open. You know what the smart move is. It’s the wrong one,
though, as Youk hits his second homer of the night, a three-run shot
over the Monster to give the Sox a 19-16 lead. “A good year,” I said, “we won
the World Series.” Now Papelbon comes on, and my father begs him “not to make
this exciting”, something I try in vain to explain to him is impossible. Yes,
it’s a three-run lead in the ninth with the closer on the mound, but the
circumstances that led to it make it impossible for it to be “boring”. Besides,
it’s Papelbon. Watching him work is never “boring”. I would’ve used the word
“tense” rather than “exciting”, because the game has been exciting, and
Papelbon is an exciting player to watch–as are most dominant closers.
Unfortunately, semantics don’t matter when Papelbon isn’t being lights-out. One
double, one error–Youk’s second of the night, at as many positions–and the
tying run is at the plate, 19-17 the score. Have the Sox ever won a game by the
score of 19-18? Well, it didn’t happen here, as Pap finished it out, 19-17 the
final. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, a see-saw game is going on. The Yanks led
first, 1-0, but the Twins took a 2-1 lead, only to see it go to 3-2 Yanks. The
Twins tied it at three, but the Yanks scored next, twice, and then once more to
make it 6-3. By the time the postgame show started on NESN, however, it was
6-6. I later found out that Delmon Young’s home run off of Mariano Rivera was
the first Mo had ever allowed to a Minnesota Twin–in his fourteenth
professional season, all of them in the American League, with two ALDS meetings
with the Twins thrown in for good measure (’03, ’04). A-Rod and Nady homered
in a three-run twelfth, though; 9-6 the final.
Continuing the theme of ways that I’m right and Dad’s wrong, late in the game
he dismissed the idea that anything significant would’ve happened in the Tampa
Bay-Oakland game as of yet. I told him that the A’s had taken a 2-0 lead on a
home run by Bobby Crosby. “Too early to mean anything.” No, the 10-0
first-inning lead the Red Sox had was too early to mean anything; the postgame
update showed the Oakland lead cut to 2-1 in the top of the fourth, but that
eventually became the final as the Rays lose a game that was more fútbol
than football and the Sox get back to within three games. Are those injuries
hurting yet?

 

Zink was sent back to the minors
after the game to make room for the Red Sox’ newest acquisition, pitcher Paul
Byrd, traded from the Native Americans Indians for either cash or a PTBN.
Cleveland fans seemed happy enough to get rid of him, but although his ERA is
around 4.5 and his record is 7-10, he’s 4-0 since the All-Star Break, which is
good enough for me. Besides, we don’t need an ace; we just need someone to fill
in for Wake and/or be better than the struggling Buchholz. I heard that Byrd
will be pitching in Buchholz’s spot in the rotation, but with Zink back at
Pawtucket, you’ve got to figure that Buchholz is just being held back a few
days, till Wake’s next turn in the rotation. On to the constant drama that is
the National League.

 

Two teams with streaks of six
games, both victorious last night. One was the Milwaukee Brewers, extending
their winning streak to seven games with a 5-2 victory over San Diego–oddly
enough, a streak that did begin right after the Parra-Fielder dugout
scuffle. The other was the Cincinnati Reds, Edinson Volquez picking up his
fourteenth win as the Reds handed Jeff Karstens his first NL loss, 5-1 the
final. The win gave the Brewers a four-game lead in the wild card as St. Louis
lost to Florida, 4-3, in a game lengthened by rain delays, and they closed to
just three games behind the Cubs, who got hit even worse by the southeastern
rains, postponed completely in Atlanta. The Braves and Cubs will play a
doubleheader today. Out west, the Dodgers rallied to a walkoff win in the ninth,
4-3 over the Phillies as Andre Ethier drove in Russell Martin with the winning
run, and remained a game behind the Diamondbacks, victorious at Coors by a 4-2
score. Back east, the Mets blew another late-game lead, Ryan Langerhans with a
pinch-hit solo homer, his first long ball of the year, in the seventh to tie
the game at 3-3. But nobody blew a save; starter Johan Santana was still in the
game. He picked up the win when a 1-2 pitch from Saul Rivera was ruled to have
grazed the helmet of Damion Easley, forcing in a run, and Joe Smith and Pedro
Feliciano each pitched scoreless innings to preserve the 4-3 lead, something
the Mets have struggled with in the absence of Billy Wagner. The Mets now stand
at just a game behind the Phillies; Marlins are 1½ back. But the hottest team
in baseball right now (with the possible exception of the Los Angeles Angels of
Anaheim, who never seem to lose) is the Houston Astros, 13-3 since July 27 and
above .500 for the first time since June 11 following a 12-4 win over San Francisco
last night. Don’t look now, but they’re just 8½ behind the Brewers in the wild
card race–a deficit they’ve (almost) covered in much less time than what
they’ve got to work with here. (See: September 2006. Actually, just the second
half of it.) Their pitching might not be what it was then, but I wouldn’t count
them out of it just yet. You don’t mess with Texas.

 

…Say, I wonder if Roger Clemens is
still available to them. Luring him out of retirement worked for them before,
right? (See: 2004 and 2005)

Team of destiny?

By now you’ve no doubt noticed that the Tampa Bay Rays have
already equaled last year’s win total and stand just four wins shy of their
franchise record with 41 games remaining. (And this after a loss, too.) XM’s
Baseball This Morning provided a nice list of parallels between the ’08 Rays
and the ’69 Miracle Mets. First off: The ’08 Rays have a 24-year-old ace in
Scott Kazmir. The ’69 Mets had a 24-year-old ace, Tom Seaver. The ’67 Mets were
61-101, ditto the ’06 Devil Rays. The Mets’ manager in 1969 was Gil Hodges, who
has three letters in his first name and six in his last name, just like current
Rays manager Joe Maddon. What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing, of course,
but the Rays are a very good team without a doubt. Remains to be seen if
they can get past the Angels in the playoffs, assuming that that’s who they
play. The Red Sox’ traditional postseason dominance of the Angels can only go
so far, and with Boston’s horrible road record, I’m not so confident in their
chances as a wild card team–especially not against a team with the road record
to nullify their home field advantage when they do have. Modified predictions
for ALDS: Angels sweep Red Sox, Rays beat White Sox in 4.

 

Raul Ibañez set a new Seattle record for RBIs in an inning
with 6 in the seventh inning against Minnesota, part of a ten-run offensive by
the Mariners that inning. Ibañez’s grand slam proved key to the Mariners’
comeback win. Also hitting a grand slam yesterday was Marlon Byrd of the Texas
Rangers, after the Yankees rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the
ninth, providing a 9-5 walkoff win in the regulation nine. Oakland lost their
seventh game in a row and is just 2-14 since the All-Star Break. Furthermore,
they had been playing only .500 ball leading into the break and are 9-23 since
their high-water mark of nine games over .500 on June 28th. The
Angels won last night on a bases-loaded walk, the same method Tampa Bay used to
win the previous day by an equal 6-5 score.

 

Milwaukee continues to reel, falling for the seventh time in
their last nine games as they were shut down by a Cincinnati team that was
coming off of a sweep at the hands of the league-worst Washington Nationals.
The game was more notable for the fight that transpired in the dugout between
Prince Fielder and Manny Parra. The Cubs also lost, 2-0 in a rain-shortened
game against the scorching Houston Astros (7-1 over their last eight), so
Milwaukee remains five games back, now just half a game up on the idle Cards in
the wild card race.

 

Yeah, yeah, I did it again. Two days worth of writing for
this entry. Tampa Bay got that win, passing last year’s mark with 40 games to
go. Also, I feel a lot better about the Red Sox now. They continue to get
production up and down the lineup, as Youk had his fourth straight game with an
XBH, Pedroia’s now got the longest road hitting streak by a Red Sox since 1913,
Lowrie continued his hot streak with another triple and more RBIs, Bay went 4
for 5, and even Jacoby got into the act, with two hits and two stolen bases–the
first steals in over a month. I really love this team. Where else do you see
the number four starter win Pitcher of the Month? Oh, right, Cleveland
(actually, that was the number 5, at least when it happened, back in April. 15
wins and an All-Star start can change that designation quickly). With win 15 on
Monday night, Lee leads the AL and was briefly tied for the major league lead,
but NL leader Brandon Webb picked up his 16th last night to retake
sole possession of the overall lead. Many happy returns, with Mike Hampton
picking up his first win since 2005, Chris Carpenter making his first home
start since Opening Day 2007 in an eventual 11-inning Cardinal win, and Francisco
Fausto Carmona returning for the Indians, though I’ve already mentioned that
the Indians didn’t win last night, being the Rays’ opponents. (Another
reference to XM Radio on the morning commute there. Really blew that one.)
Interesting play in last night’s Red Sox-Royals game. One of Jason Bay’s four
hits had just barely enough distance and height to clear the wall if
uncontested, but of course, it was contested. Royals centerfielder Mitch
Maier managed to get a glove on it but couldn’t make the catch, instead weakly
knocking the ball away. The ball continued to roll on top of the outfield
wall
for 10-20 seconds before left fielder Ross Gload batted it down and
threw in, limiting Bay to a double. Nevertheless, it was a wholly inexplicable
turn of events. Chris Waters had a phenomenal debut, shutting out the Angels
for eight innings, and the Tigers continued to struggle as they continued to
have trouble closing out games, blowing a 6-1 lead at the halfway point with a
run allowed in the bottom of the fifth, two more in the sixth and one each in
the seventh and eighth and wasting a two-run top of the 14th by
allowing four runs in the bottom of the inning, the last three on a Nick
Swisher home run.

 

Put it off another day…I really, REALLY despise the Tampa
Bay Rays. I wasn’t really paying that much attention to yesterday’s afternoon
games while they were in progress, but I knew that there were some going on,
including Rays-Indians. No sooner do I find the game on my radio… “WAAAAAAAAY
BACK!!! THIS GAME IS TIED!!!” I’m not going to do the whole quote, but yeah. I
then found out that the first two batters of the inning doubled. Disgusting…and
it only got worse. The infield single was disappointing, the four-pitch walk
was horrifying, and the three-run homer was, by that point, almost
predictable–I say almost because I was actually expecting the following batter
to get a grand slam instead. I’m watching the very beginning of SportsCenter
right now, and baseball is nowhere in sight–Brett Favre got traded, and the
entire rundown of seven topics is Favre-related. (I think it froze up again, though,
because this isn’t the top one any more. It may not even be one of the seven,
which would be really disturbing.) More media circus here in Jersey, too–the
Jets ended up winning out over the Buccaneers. (That’s a bit of a shame,
really; not only do I hate both “New York” football teams, Brett Favre would
probably be an upgrade for the Bucs–who do they have, Jeff Garcia? Garcia was
good for us when McNabb went down in ’06, but I’d rather have Favre
there–remember, the Bucs are in the same division as the Carolina Panthers,
whose ’09 first-round draft pick the Eagles picked up in a draft-day trade. So
improving the Bucs helps my favorite team.) Oh, wait, I was wrong about it
freezing up; we’ve returned from the first break and four of the seven are still
on the rundown. The end of SportsCenter was also all Favre…which detracts from
a different kind of Buc. I swear, good accomplishments on bad teams get
no attention at all–the next five on the rundown are “Indians-Rays”, “Walk-off
HR”, “Yankees-Rangers”, “Joba Chamberlain”, and “Red Sox-Royals”. In a way, it
makes sense–the Rays are a division leader and had an incredible comeback win,
the Yankees are in the same division and have a major starter who will be
missing some time, and the Sox are also in that division and leading the wild
card. Unfortunately, after that, it’s even more football coverage–about to fill
up the rundown again. Okay, so what’s the rule–you have to carry the
no-hitter into the ninth to get mentioned by the halfway point? Remember last
week’s entry, when John Lackey’s 8⅓ no-hit innings against the Red Sox got the
top story on SC (and brought the rest of the AL East to the top), even with
plenty of Favre news to go around, and Doug Davis, his cancer-survivor status
and his 7⅔ perfect innings couldn’t get in until after the second
commercial break? Guess what–it happened again, except this time it doesn’t
seem like this one will beat the third break. Eight NFL pieces in this
block, followed by…the NL East: Padres-Mets, then Marlins-Phillies. Hello? 7⅔
perfect innings!!!
This time the Diamondbacks were on the other side of the
ball, unable to get a baserunner until there were two outs in the eighth. Two
more pieces appear on the rundown, and they’re Tigers-White Sox and
Twins-Mariners. We’ve hit the third commercial break, and they’ve told us to
stick around for highlights of the Cubs’ eight-run third against the
Astros–they often tell us to “stick around” for something that we’ll still be
“sticking around” for at the next commercial break, like yesterday with
the surreal play from the Red Sox-Royals game. We’re back, and the next one is,
rather cryptically, “Images”. I’m guessing it’s more Brett Favre. The clock by
the rundown says 11:37, and I might be wrong about the “Images” because the
next one is Dodgers-Cardinals. Will this be it? NO! The next one is
Astros-Cubs, so the following one should be Brewers-Reds…and it is…PGA
Championship. Man, and I was sure that they were going for the NL
Central thing. They go for the second-in-the-West Dodgers versus
second-in-the-wild-card, third-in-the Central Cards, and then follow up with
the Central’s leader…and doesn’t go to the Brew Crew next? Bad editing,
guys…Twins-M’s took us into the fourth commercial, and “End of an Era” followed
“PGA Championship”, followed by even more Favre. I am not going to
finish this entry until SportsCenter gets to the biggest accomplishment of the
night…I mean, you’ve got this 25-year-old, recently acquired…Ah, there’s
“Images”. Image of the week–Manny arriving in LA, Favre arriving and leaving
Green Bay, Carl Edwards celebrating a win, or US cyclists wearing black masks
in Beijing. Manny won out in the poll. “Headlines” and “Legends” follow
“Favre’s Best”…wait…at 11:47, “Headlines” could be that bit I saw…IT IS! The
next one after “Legends” is “Long, Strange Trip”, which was the final
segment–and, yep, there’s “Top Stories” again. Oh, look, “Favre’s Best” is the
daily top 10–they’re taking all of them from Favre’s career highlights instead
of the day’s plays. So, we’ve now got SportsCenter all wrapped up, and so many
games left uncovered. Brewers-Reds, A’s-Jays, Orioles-Angels, Braves-Giants,
Nats-Rockies (okay, that one got rained out; doubleheader today), and, of
course…Pirates-Diamondbacks. If a large-market team kept an opponent of the
bases–or was kept off the bases–for so much as six innings complete,
it’d probably be the top story. Jeff Karstens retires the first twenty-three
Diamondbacks he faces, and it doesn’t get on SportsCenter at all. Come on, near
perfect game? Against a division leader? Still a complete-game shutout–unlike
the Lackey game, which wasn’t a shutout, or the Davis game, which wasn’t a complete game?
Opposing a sure-fire Hall of Famer–“the ugly guy”, as my mom calls him. (Randy
Johnson may not be pretty, but he throws a mean fastball.) ESPN, you disgust
me.

Instant classic

Note: This was originally written to run yesterday. The appropriate changes have been made.

Been a few days since I updated, so in backlogged news, let me congratulate the Kansas City Royals on their remarkable comeback against the Giants, trailing 10-3 in the middle of the fifth, and also congratulate King Felix on his grand slam, the first by an American League pitcher since the DH rule was implemented. The M’s were brilliant again Tuesday night, crushing the Mets 11-0. The other New York team didn’t fare much better, losing 12-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, two late runs making the final margin only remotely respectable. Now, for an instant classic. Like most Red Sox games as of late, it began with a rain delay. When things resumed, it was time for the festivities, for June 24, 2008 was designated as Jerry Remy day, celebrating twenty years of the Remdawg in the NESN booth. Remy made all the right moves, making a plug for Jim Rice to be inducted into Cooperstown next year, and received a shiny new Ford Mustang. The game started out on the right foot, as Justin Masterson set the D-Backs down in order in the top of the first and Dustin Pedroia homered into the Monster seats to give the Sox the 1-0 lead after one, but Masterson didn’t have it and gave it back before getting a single out, falling behind 4-1 after a three-run homer by Chad Tracy in the bottom of the third–Tracy also had the RBI in the second. As the game wore on, numerous guests visited Don and Remy in the booth, and Tom Werner and John Henry had a humorous list of “Top Ten Reasons why we had Jerry Remy Day”. The number one reason was “we wanted to have something with Jerry’s name on it that he wasn’t selling on his website.” I could probably recall most of the others for you, but that’s not the point, and I’m sure NESN.com probably has it archived anyway. Anyway, comedian Lenny Clarke arrived in the top of the eighth, and after directing more on-field traffic than Julian Tavarez, he left by imploring the Sox to score some runs, a tough task seeing as how they’d only had two hits since the three in the first inning. They listened. Julio Lugo led off with a single, Jacoby Ellsbury followed in kind, and after Diamondbacks starter Doug Davis was pulled (if Lester was starting for the Sox, it would’ve set a new record for most cancer survivors on a single pitching mound), Dustin Pedroia lined one just over the glove of Orlando Hudson to drive in the second run of the game. J.D. Drew, no longer the hottest thing in all of baseball, struck out, and Manny hit a sharp grounder to third, too tricky a hop to turn a double play–second and third, two outs, Mike Lowell coming to the plate. The Diamondbacks stuck with the reliever they had out there, Chad Qualls. The graphic appeared on screen that Mike was 1 for 1 off of Qualls in his career and that that hit was an RBI double, and I remarked that a double would be fine right now. A minute or so later, I was pleading with a ball to keep heading back, back, and it did, bouncing off the Wall for a two-run double. Am I good at this or what? Jason Varitek, who ended the longest hitless streak of his career with a double in Monday’s game, followed with a single to give the Sox a 5-4 lead, and as the unexpected starting first baseman, Brandon Moss, came to the plate, the cameras showed Kevin Youkilis in the dugout seemingly trying to convince his manager and bench coach that he could go in for defensive purposes for the ninth. (In a bizarre fluke, Youk was hit in the eye by a ball that took a bad bounce during between-inning warmups in Monday’s game and had to be removed, and Moss made a crucial mistake in the seventh inning of that game, repeatedly bobbling a ball hit to him with runners at second and third and one out until the only play he had was to tag the batter-runner–so no error was charged, but the run scored, leading to the Diamondbacks’ 2-1 win. Presumably Sean Casey is serving his suspension from the Rays brawl.) Moss singled to extend the inning and chased Qualls from the game, and Coco Crisp became the ninth Sox batter of the inning. Reliever Tony Peña induced a fly-out. Despite having a black eye and being bothered by wateriness that kept him out of the starting lineup, Youkilis came on for the ninth, and although he again walked a batter, Pap nailed down the save this time. Four runs in the eighth inning to win by a score of 5-4, on Jerry Remy Day–this, in my opinion, is an instant classic. The oodles of special guests, the exciting matter in which they won, and the fact that on a day honoring the Sox’ former second baseman, Dustin Pedroia homered and had the first RBI of the Sox’ rally with a single, makes this a NESN classic, a near shoo-in for the All-Star Break marathon of first-half games. Let’s see, they need three games for that marathon…I’m thinking Lester’s no-hitter, this game, and…hmm…oh, right, of course; Manny’s 500th home run game. It’s a shame that those games are blocked out in my market.

 

Final note: While both New York teams were embarrassed immensely, neither was the most lopsided defeat of the day. Cincinnati lost to Toronto by the score of 14-1. Also embarrassing: The Marlins’ eighth-inning collapse. After scoring in the bottom of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie, giving Scott Olsen, who’d been pinch-hit for, a chance to pick up his first win since May 9, they found themselves with the bases loaded and no one out. A beautiful play allowed them to get the first out 5-2, and after an at-bat so long I was able to see an entire half-inning of the Sox game before it ended, they got the second out 3-2, preserving the lead that was also 3-2. Then they walked in the tying run, following another half-inning of the Sox game. Then they walked in the go-ahead run. Then in the ninth, they found themselves with a runner at third, two outs, and Carl Crawford up, and they intentionally walked him to get to Longoria, only to end up walking him as well to load the bases. What followed was a two-run single, important because the game that had at one point seemed so far ahead of the Sox game was still going on when the latter had ended, Troy Percival having already allowed one run in with runners at first and third and two outs. The bases would be loaded by a walk to Dan Uggla after I’d begun watching, but that’s all that would happen as the Rays won 6-4 to remain just one game behind the Red Sox.

 

Bad blood boiling

You knew it was only a matter of time now that they’re both contenders.
The Rays and Red Sox went at it today, rekindling an ongoing blood feud
from years past. In yesterday’s game, Coco Crisp felt that Tampa SS
Jason Bartlett blocked the bag with his leg on Crisp’s steal in the
sixth inning, and retaliated by sliding into second hard in the eighth,
hitting Akinori Iwamura in the process. In today’s game, Coco charged
the mound after being hit by a pitch from starter James Shields in the
second inning, getting in a few glancing blows before being restrained
by Rays catcher Dioner Navarro, who tackled him. In the ensuing
benches-clearing brawl, Rays DH Jonny Gomes then jumped on top of Crisp
and Navarro and threw a few punches at Crisp, which was sufficient to
get Gomes ejected in addition to Crisp and Shields. Gomes was suspended
at the start of the season as the result of a brawl in a spring training
game with the Yankees under similar circumstances. Four days after Rays
prospect Eliot Johnson barrelled into Yankees catching prospect
Francisco Cervelli at home plate, Shelley Duncan slid into second base
with spikes high after alluding to possible retaliation before the
game, spiking Iwamura in the thigh, and Gomes charged in from his place
in right field, ramming into Duncan. Now, there are two possibilities.
One is that Gomes is just volatile (you can make your own assumptions
as to why this might be). The other is that he’s unusually protective
of his second baseman…Iwamura was also hit by a pitch in the game, as
were Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia. Youkilis, who
entered the game after Jacoby Ellsbury left with a wrist injury in the
fourth inning, also got into a shouting match in the dugout with
teammate Manny Ramirez, the starting DH on this night; Manny also had
to leave the game in the seventh, appearing to have his knee buckle
during an at-bat in which he would eventually walk. Manny also hit his
503rd career home run in the game. Chris Carter made his major league
debut pinch-running for the ejected Crisp in the second, scoring on
Dustin Pedroia’s sac fly, and went 2 for 3.

The Native Americans Indians and Rangers combined for
sixty-five runs over the first three games of their series in Texas.
Generally, we call that bad pitching, but these are two highly
offensive-minded teams and Texas is a hitter’s ballpark, so we’ll let
it slide. Wait…Cleveland’s not an offensive-minded club! And yet they
won two of the first three, a real surprise considering the fact that
they’re poorly suited to the slugfest, their best slugger is on the DL,
and road teams have just been generally bad this year. Go figure.

The $126 million reliever

YOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUK!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Red Sox broke out of their slump with a 1-0 walkoff win over
Toronto yesterday, Kevin Youkilis driving in the winning run. It was
the fourth consecutive complete game for Roy Halladay and the third
consecutive loss. Halladay’s the last of a dying breed, the pitcher who
has no need for a bullpen. The game finished in a tidy 2:18, and it
wasn’t just Halladay’s quickness on the mound that supplied this. I had
been flipping in and out of American Idol, and when I missed
the entire top of the fifth I just assumed that Jon Lester still had
his no-hitter intact, the inning was over so quickly. Uh, no. Leadoff
single on a 1-0, followed by a first-pitch GIDP. Jonathan Papelbon
picked up the win in relief, and Dustin Pedroia made a game-saving play
in the top of the ninth to rival even his brilliant play in Clay
Buchholz’s no-hitter last year. (Speaking of American Idol, David Archuleta did a great rendition of Fenway Park staple “Sweet Caroline”.)

I think the Red Sox have created a monster, however. This morning, on
my regular trip to Dunkin Donuts, I saw a man with a shirt that said on
the front–get this–North Nation, on the back adding “NHHS–Go Lions!” with the appropriate drawing of a lion. That’s a high school
team, talking about a Nation. (I later found out from listening to
discussions that the man was a coach at North.) And as a Voorhees
graduate, I was none too happy to see this. Although, I think on this
particular day, I’ll let it slide.
North and Voorhees are sister schools and have all of the markings of a
“sibling rivalry”, but we both truly hate Central. Previously unbeaten.
Is there any sport that the Red Devils are bad at?

Boston fans absolutely hate Roger Clemens, started even before he left
Boston, yet he has more wins with the Red Sox than with his other three
teams combined. This would create quite the awkward moment if he were
ever to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Luckily, that will probably
never happen, as his laundry list of sins continues to grow. Though he
denies that his relations with former country star Mindy McCready were
sexual, she says otherwise. So, unless everyone in the world is out to get the Rocket and he’s the only
truthful person in the world, we can now add adultery and statutory
rape to his rap sheet (McCready was 15 at the time; Roger was 28.) If
they can keep Pete Rose out of the Hall for gambling, they can
certainly keep Roger out for, well, everything.

A differentiation between two similar words:

Zito: Highest paid reliever in major league history.
Ziti: Popular type of pasta, and what likely fills the heads of the
Giants executives that okayed the Barry Zito deal. $126 million for
seven years, an average of $18 million a year (but it’s mostly
backloaded, so his salary actually increases each year), and after
having the worst year of his career last year and going 0-6 in April
this year, he’s been moved to the bullpen. Worst. Contract. EVER. At
least Carl Pavano was kind enough to go on the DL for most of his time
in pinstripes and spare the Yankees from the embarassing and lopsided losses that result from having Carl Pavano as your starter. And no, linking those two games never gets old.

Greg Maddux again failed to win his 350th game yesterday, putting his
next start on…Sunday. YES!!!!!!!!!!!! Sunday is the ideal day,
because the only night game is the ESPN game, which still starts at a
reasonable hour for East Coasters, and there are no blacked-out FOX
games. Still, since not everyone is as lucky as I am to have DirecTV…please
let somebody national be carrying this game. C’mon, TBS, Maddux was a
force on the Braves for years! You’d do this for him…right? (goes to
check)…Crud. TBS has Mets-Diamondbacks, and ESPN has Cubs-Cards. You
disappoint me, Turner!

Follow-up on a story from yesterday:
• The White Sox announced that their suspended game from Monday night,
tied 3-3 with Baltimore after 11 innings when it was halted by rain,
will be resumed before the two teams meet on Aug. 25.

A choice week in the White Sox schedule:

Fri, Aug 22 Tampa Bay 8:11 PM    
Sat, Aug 23 Tampa Bay 7:05 PM    
Sun, Aug 24 Tampa Bay 2:05 PM    
Mon, Aug 25 @ Baltimore 7:05 PM    
Tue, Aug 26 @ Baltimore 7:05 PM    
Wed, Aug 27 @ Baltimore 7:05 PM    

No off-day, obviously, and they’re in Baltimore. Again, can we contact
Elias, see if a game has ever been played at two different ballparks?
Speaking of unlikely situations, how can a run simultaneously be
considered earned and unearned? I read this in a book of strange
baseball questions yesterday. Say that a player reaches on an error
with two outs. By the rules of baseball, that run and all runs that
follow in the inning are unearned. Now, immediately following this
reached-on-error, a new pitcher enters the game, and promptly gives up
a home run. The previous pitcher is charged with one unearned run for
the inherited runner that scores, and the team is charged with unearned
runs for both runs, but the reliever is charged with an earned run for
the homer that he allowed, and with good reason! The run represented by
the player that hit the homer is therefore both earned (for the
reliever) and unearned (for the reliever’s team). How strange is that?!