Not quite Yankee Stadium, but Tropicana Field was plenty nasty. I’m pretty sure that Red Sox fans were in the minority. Nobody seemed to be able to pitch in game 1, least of all Chris Smith. We kept waiting for Casey to come in to pinch-hit, and he never did. The fact that the Rays get their last suspended player back tomorrow really irks me, but on the bright side, Iwamura’s return means I don’t have to hear Willy Aybar’s intro music three times a game. (Speaking of intro music, can anyone give me a title and artist for the song that plays at the Trop when Dioner Navarro comes up to bat? It’d be much appreciated.) Last time, Pap said that this wasn’t over. I hope Jason Bartlett leads off the bottom of the ninth tomorrow. After the game, we got absolutely soaked trudging back to our car. We’ll show up earlier tomorrow, and I may be making a sign. (Note at publishing time: I didn’t.) Also, I managed to hear the three-beat prompt without chanting “Yankees Suck”, something I’d never been able to do. I chanted “Tampa Sucks” instead. The new evil empire, indeed. In other news, on Saturday, a no-hitter wasn’t pitched, Jered Weaver going six no-hit innings before departing for a pinch-hitter and Jose Arredondo following up with two perfect innings of relief as the Angels lost 1-0 at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers’ lone run scored in the fifth inning when Weaver made an error to allow a Matt Kemp to reach and his catcher threw the ball away attempting to throw out Kemp stealing second, putting him in place to score on a sac fly. Also losing 1-0 were the A’s, despite seven hits and a two-hit complete game effort by Justin Duchscherer. Marlins backup catcher Matt Treanor made the top spot on that day’s SportsCenter with a barehanded catch of Brandon Webb’s bunt attempt followed by a throw to second base to turn a double play.
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.
Is it possible to get thrown out of a game that’s already over? It
didn’t quite happen, but all-time ejections leader Bobby Cox was out to
argue as trail runner Gregor Blanco was called out at home plate on
Yunel Escobar’s two-out RBI single in the tenth; had Blanco been safe,
the game would’ve been tied at four, the Phillies having scored twice
in the top of the inning. Shane Victorino drove in the first of the
Phils’ two tenth-inning runs with a triple, scored the other on a Chase
Utley double, and threw Blanco out to save the game. Also in the
Phillies’ area of MLB.com: future “Excuse me?” All-Star Devaris
Strange-Gordon, selected in the fourth round of the draft by the
Dodgers, son of tonight’s winning pitcher, Tom Gordon, much beloved in
Boston (as memorialized in a Stephen King book) for saving 46 games in
1998 and for spectacularly failing to record a single out in the eighth
inning of the fifth game of the 2004 ALCS.
Meanwhile, the Rockies climbed the ladder in the eighth inning, as four
consecutive batters combined for a cycle in ascending order: Ryan
Spilborghs with the single, Todd Helton with the double (driving in
Jonathan Herrera, who had singled ahead of Spilborghs to start the
inning), Garret Atkins tripled to chase Guillermo Mota without a single
out to his credit, and Brad Hawpe greeted Brian Shouse with a home run.
The Rockies run an “E-Mentoring” program, and because tonight’s
featured school, Columbine Elementary, picked Brad Hawpe to homer
tonight and he did, the students get tickets to a September game. Yes,
I was actually listening to the Rockies’ broadcast. I got hungry, okay?
I can choose any game I want to to listen to in the car, and this was more interesting than
Mets-Padres, Cubs-Dodgers, or A’s-Angels. Atkins’s triple tied the game
at 4-4, and Brian Fuentes recorded the save to give the Rox their first
three-game winning streak since mid-May–the first game back from
interleague weekend was the third win in their last one.
In residual Rays-Red Sox news, eight suspensions totalling thirty-eight
games were handed out, led by the three ejected players–7 games for
Crisp, 6 for Shields, and 5 for Gomes. Pitchers Jon Lester and Edwin
Jackson also got five apiece–Lester for hitting a batter after the
warnings had been issued, Jackson for his role in the brawl. Also
ejected for their roles in the brawl were Rays outfielder Carl Crawford
(4 games), Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura, and Red Sox first
baseman Sean Casey (3 games apiece). Ironically, the player initially
responsible for getting these teams riled up got no suspension at
all–Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, who angered Coco Crisp by blocking
second base on a (successful) stolen base attempt in the sixth inning
of Wednesday’s game. In follow-up action, the Rays ended their
three-game losing streak by following in Cleveland’s footsteps and
pounding the sh*t out of the Rangers, tripling their hosts’ output over
each of the following three stretches: the first seven innings (3-1),
the eighth inning (3-1), and the ninth inning (6-2). The Red Sox didn’t
fare quite so well, as Seattle scored in five different innings en
route to an 8-0 victory; Felix Hernandez has yet to allow a run in two
career starts at Fenway Park, the other start being Daisuke’s first
home start last year, at which point Hernandez stole the show by
carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Speaking of ejections, I’m now listening to the Cubs-Dodgers game, and
apparently Jeff Kent was ejected. Apparently he was arguing a called
third strike to end the fifth inning. LA leads 2-0 after 5.
And speaking of Cleveland, Paul Byrd recorded his 100th career win as the
Native Americans Indians beat the Detroit Tigers for the 1,000th time in franchise history (opposite 1,022 losses).