Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sox-Dodgers Update

The 2 Kevins (Cash and Youk) have each enjoyed the dimensions of the Coliseum and have a home run. Ellsbury has 2 hits and is 1-2 on stolen base attempts. Wake is pitching well, Sox lead 5-1. As much as I hate the wave, seeing 100,000 + doing it (including members of the Dodgers and Red Sox) is pretty impressive.

UPDATE: The local L.A. station even broadcasts 1 inning in black and white to get some nostalgia for 1958 when the Dodgers first played at the Coliseum. Players on both teams look like they are having fun. Sox push across 2 more runs, Wake comes out in the 6th. Boston leads 7-1

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Tonight's Lineup

Here it is:
Julio Lugo 6
Dustin Pedroia 4
David Ortiz DH
Mike Lowell 5
Kevin Youkilis 3
Coco Crisp 8
Jacoby Ellsbury 9
Bobby Kielty 7
Kevin Cash 2

We don't get to see Manny try to play the screen in left.

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Get Ready For Some Bucky F'n Dent Style Home Runs

Click on the picture for a diagram of the Coliseum dimensions for tonights game from the L.A. Times. With Wake on the mound it may be a high scoring one. I hope the wind in not blowing out.

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Saturday Sox Roundup

The Red Sox lost 3-1 to the Dodgers in an exhibition game last night in L.A.

Colon pitched very well but was sent to AAA after the game. The Red Sox want him to get more in shape and get his pitch count up in the minors before rejoining the team. The Red Sox also save money if he starts the season in the minors. He is proving to be a good pickup for Boston.

Mike Timlin is headed to the 15 day DL for his finger injury retroactive to March 20.

Tek's bat has all but disappeared. In the last 3 games he is 0-11 with 9 K's. He has barely been able to get a foul tip lately. Let's hope he can get some quality at bats before Tuesday to work this out.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Hank's Mom Can't Pitch

Legends Field, the Yankee Spring Training site, was renamed Steinbrenner Field today. The cover of the new George M Steinbrenner sign got did not come off smoothly because Hank could not figure out how to pull it off: "I kept telling Hank, 'You're pulling too hard. You're pulling too hard,'" Hal Steinbrenner said. Hank's Mom Joan Steinbrenner (George's wife) had the honor of throwing out the first pitch. Her pitch barely made it 6 feet before rolling to Posada. To further disgrace the field, the Yankees lost to the Pirates (perhaps the worst team in baseball) 5-2. You can watch the entire ceremony here if you can stomach it.

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Red Sox-Dodgers Update

Tek is batting second in the order tonight and both Ellsbury and Crisp are in the field (Ellsbury is in right for Drew). Pedroia flew out first pitch swinging. Tek struck out on 3 pitches in his first at bat and still looked uncomfortable at the plate. Thanks to the wonders of the internet I am able to watch the game on a feed from ESPN Taiwan since it is not on NESN. Big Papi drew a walk before Manny K'd. El Gordo heads to the mound.....
-Colon gets the lead-off batter to pop up and K's the next two batters to go 3 up 3 down in the first.
-Why are there only about 15,000 in the stands tonight when there are going to be 100,000+ tomorrow? Doesn't make sense to me.
-Ellsbury and Coco both K in the second....does anyone want to play center?
-Ground out, backwards K, and gets a weak grounder to Youk but he couldn't handle the throw to ruin his perfect game in the 2nd before getting another K for the 3rd out....Bartolo is cruising with no hits, no walks and 4 K's through 2.
-Sox go in order in the 3rd...Tek K's again...still no hits for either team.
-El Gordo gets a fly out and pop up, before giving up a seeing eye single for the first hit of the game...Dodger Stadium is starting to fill up...I forgot about LA fans. Grounder to Lugo ends the 3rd inning...Colon is looking great; painting the corners and staying ahead in the count.
-Papi, Manny, and Lowell all fly out in the 4th.
-Colon gives up a double down the line, followed by a run scoring double in the gap by Jeff Kent in the bottom of the 4th. He retires the next 2 batters, walks one and gets Pierre out on a bunt attempt. Dodgers lead 1-0.
-Jacoby gets a 1 out single for the first hit for Boston. Coco walks and Lugo gets a single to load them up for Cora who is batting for Pedroia. Cora gets an RBI on a grounder to the right side to tie the game 1-1. Tek K's for the 3rd time...the phones at WEEI start to ring off the hook for callers demanding Kevin Cash to be the starting catcher.
-Tavarez replaces Colon in the bottom of the 5. Colon pitched 4 innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 earned run. Overall a very solid outing. Tavarez gives up one hit but no damage done in the 5th.
-Casey bats for Papi and gets a single, Manny gets HBP, Lowrie bats for Youk and GIDP. "Let's Go Red Sox" chant can be heard in L.A. Lars Anderson grounds out in his first at bat for the 3rd out.
-All reserves in...wrap-up in the am.


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Injury Update

J.D. Drew said he is feeling better but still has stiffness in his back and will most likely miss tonights game, his ultimate goal is to start on Tuesday.

Josh Beckett pitched great yesterday and should be ready to go for the Toronto series on April 6.

Mike Timlin has still not thrown after getting a cut on his finger and may head for the DL.

Coco is ok to play but Jacoby should get the start tonight.

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Saturday's Game Could Be The Most Attended Event In Team Sports History

When the Red Sox and Dodgers play this Saturday there is a chance the attendance could be the highest for any team sport event in history. The record attendance is 112,912 from a 1929 football game between USC and Notre Dame at Soldier Field in Chicago. The biggest crowd ever to see a baseball game was 93,103 when the Dodgers played the Yankees in an exhibition in 1959 at the L.A. Coliseum. If the Red Sox and Dodgers can break the attendance record it will be further proof that this is indeed Red Sox Nation, sorry Hank.

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Welcome to the Golden State

After arriving back in the good ol' U.S. of A yesterday the Sox had an optional workout in Los Angeles. Almost all of the regular players participated in the workout, missing were Manny and Coco. I do not think anyone really expected Manny to be there but Coco? Crisp has missed so much ball this spring you would expect him to be there. Boston will play 3 exhibition games against the Dodgers starting tonight at 7 pm Pacific. The middle game will take place at the LA Coliseum where the Dodgers first played before their stadium was built. Saturday will be a circus when you consider an exhibition game played in front of 100,000+ fans with the left field wall just 200' from home plate. We may get to see some interesting fielding by Manny. As I posted earlier, tonight and Sunday's games are important for determining the 5th starter; el Gordo pitches tonight and Buchholz will be on the hill Sunday. After the Dodger exhibition series the Sox head north to the Bay Area to resume the regular season against Oakland on Tuesday. I've got great seats to Tuesday's game so keep a lookout for some live posts from Oakland Coliseum next week.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beckett Dominates Minor League Game

Josh Beckett pitched 4 innings of a minor league game today only giving up one hit with no walks and 6 K's. Beckett threw a total of 47 pitches and did not feel any back pain in the outing. Tito spoke about Beckett today saying: "It's good because he's healthy. He's just trying to get ramped up for the season. Every thing's gone great there, so that's why there's not a lot of anxiety from that standpoint."

It looks like we have the best case scenario with the Beckett injury where he will have only missed 2 starts; one in Japan and one in Oakland. He should be activated and start in Toronto and be ready to throw 75 pitches. With Beckett back there should be less pressure on Dice-K to be the ace of the staff. Now, how about some good news from Schilling?

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AT&T Park is De-Bondsed

Scott Olster wrote an article in the S.F. Chronicle today about the lengths the Giants have gone to distance themselves from Barry Bonds. The Giants used Bonds to sell tickets during his record breaking home run season while fielding an inferior team. Once Bonds broke the record in front of his only supporters in the country, the Giants dropped him like a $5 chip in Vegas. The Giants are now going all out to remove any memory of Bonds from their ballpark. You now have a better chance of seeing a W-'04 bumper sticker in San Francisco than you do of seeing any signs of Barry at AT&T Park.

From the Chronicle: "The ballpark itself has been de-Bondsed. Gone are the huge cloth murals of Bonds and "756" that hung from the lighting towers flanking the centerfield scoreboard. Gone is the Bonds career-home-run "scoreboard."

The leftfield fence now features a long green blank between the ads for Chevron and Bud Lite. Last season, that space was devoted to Bonds - first a mural of Bonds and three other Giants' legends, and then a "Road to History" mural featuring a photo of Bonds and a highway sign with his name and team logo.

It makes sense that those temporary tributes would be removed. But for the last few years the Giants milked Bonds' home-run-record chase for all it was worth, and now not even a simple "756" sign or some other visible nod to the man and the record?

There is a small sign urging fans to "Remember '51," the year of Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard Round the World." But nothing to help them remember 756.

Bonds has been erased. Even the grass he killed in left field has grown back.

I asked team president Peter Magowan if management considered some kind of visible tribute to Bonds and his record.

"No," Magowan said, eloquently."

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Jim Rice Enters The Blogosphere

Jim Rice did not make the Hall this year but he now has his own blog called "ask 14" in association with Sullivan Tire. Rice will field a question from readers each day and give his insight on the Sox or baseball in general. Each person who submits a question will be entered into a $200 drawing from Sullivan Tire. Rice will continue to work with NESN and will appear in a Sullivan Tire commercial this year.

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A-Rod Steroid Rumors Cause Distraction for Yankees

Following reports from Jose Canseco's forthcoming book that alleges that Canseco introduced A-Rod to a steroids dealer, the media has begun asking A-Rod and the Yankees front office questions. So far A-Rod is staying silent, but Girardi and Cashman have had to address the issue.

Cashman told the AP, "He's been through so much over so long. He's fine. You don't predict the future on this stuff, but I would think that this is something that isn't an issue for him. I've got a lot of other things to be worried about more than Alex Rodriguez, to be honest. You'd like to think he'd be the least of our worries."

Girardi also commented that the issue won't be a distraction for A-Rod or the Yankees.

Here's my question for A-Rod and the Yankees. When does talking to the media over and over again about how an issue isn't a distraction confirm that it is indeed a distraction?

video

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And The 5th Starter Is.........

With less than a week before the new start of the regular season the 5th spot in the rotation is still up in the air. The Red Sox wanted Clay Buchholz to be there from the start but he has not pitched well this spring with an ERA over 9. When they aquired Colon they thought he would take a month or two to get his speed up to major league level but he was able to do that much more quickly. The next two games in L.A. will help determine who will win the spot. Bartolo "el Gordo" Colon will fly out to meet the team in L.A. today (hopefully he doesn't get a middle seat) He will start Friday's game exhibition game against the Dodgers. If he pitches well he could very well be named the 5th starter. Clay Buchholz pitches Sunday against the Dodgers in a game where he must pitch well or he will start the season out of the rotation. Colon has an incentive clause in his contract if he starts the team in the majors so to save money Boston will try to go with Buchholz, but if Clay has another bad outing and Colon pitches well; Bartolo gets the spot. Don't forget if they both stink it up Tavarez is lurking in the background and would be happy to go back to the rotation.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Making Sense Of the Outfield

One thing is for certain; Manny is the starting left fielder. After that things start to get a little muddy. Fans and Sox management want Jacoby in center but they still have Coco to contend with. For now it looks like Coco and Ellsbury will platoon in center so Boston can showcase Crisp's abilities and prove the injury is behind him. Teams like Chicago and Oakland are still interested in trading for Coco but a trade does not appear imminent. The Red Sox will try to get Ellsbury into more games when Coco starts by having him pinch run or as a late inning defensive replacement for Manny. J.D. Drew now has the mysterious back spasms that seem to be attacking Red Sox players this year, the injury is minor but it has already caused him to miss two games and the long flight back from Japan will not be much help. Drew believes he will be back by April 1st. Brandon Moss had a great spring in the outfield for Boston and was the opening day hero but there is no room for him on the roster so he was sent down to Pawtucket today. Bobby Kielty is on a non guaranteed contract but has won a spot on the team as the 5th outfielder. Kielty had a leg injury late during spring training and was not 100% in Tokyo, that is why you saw Moss in right. It will be a few months before Jacoby is the everyday center fielder and may be just as long before we see Moss back in Boston.

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Breakdown of Game 2 vs Oakland

Pitching: Jon Lester had a good first inning before he ran into trouble in the second. He once again had control problems that would lead to a run. He had 3 walks and 4 earned runs in just 4 innings and gave up a home run. A typical start for Lester of late; good stuff at times but erratic. The pen looked pretty good, especially Aardsma who struck out 3 in 1.2 innings of work. Lopez and Delcarmen also pitched well before Corey entered the game and gave up another run.

Offense: Harden was pitching very well and it was tough for the Sox to get much going. Manny had the only RBI with a solo shot. Big Papi is still hitless in '08 but his swings did not look bad; his timing is slightly off but not a big concern. Tek looked lost at the plate going 0-4 with 3 K's, he wasn't even close on most swings, this may take a while to come around. Sean Casey's first at bat as a Red Sox: GIDP. Pedroia was 0-4 in the lead-off spot. Not much positive here.

Game Notes: Red Sox retreads Keith Foulke and Alan Embree both pitched well for Oakland in the 8th and 9th giving up just one hit.

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Sayonara

The Red Sox lost to Oakland 5-1 this morning in the last game in Tokyo. As Manny took strike three in the top of the 8th I knew this one was not going to end well. My wife said, "This is going to put you in a bad mood isn't it?" She was right, Red Sox loses usually do put me in a bad mood but I usually get over it by the time the lineups are announced for the next game. One of the great things about baseball is you do not have to live with a loss very long because another game is at most two days away. This loss is going to hurt more thanks to Bud's asinine idea of opening the season in Japan. Now we have to live with all of the negatives until the Sox take the field on April 1st. We have to deal with the things we have been thinking but have been afraid to admit; the Sox may not be as good as we think they are. The starting pitching had been bad all spring but those games did not count. Now as the rubber meets the road the rotation has stumbled out of the gate. While other teams get to enjoy a regular opening day on Monday we will have to continue to reflect on Lester or Dice-K's first outing. To put things in perspective it is March 26 and splitting a series on the road is never bad but it is going to be a long six days until we hear "play ball!" in Oakland.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jon Lester Can Make The Japan Trip Worth It

If Jon Lester can pitch the Sox to a victory tonight all of the hassle and problems with starting the season in Japan will disappear. With a win in game 2 against Oakland the Red Sox will come back to the States with a 2-0 record (4-0 for the Japan trip) and some time to let the minor injuries heal before the season resumes April 1. Boston had a difficult spring with injuries to Schilling, Beckett, Crisp, Lugo, and now J.D. Luckily must of the injuries are minor and the Red Sox should be healthy for the regular season. Jon Lester's game 4 performance in the World Series brought him full circle from the cancer diagnosis, to treatment, back to the minors, and finally on the biggest stage of all. Tonight's game is nothing when you look at the pressure he has faced in the past 2 years but he has the chance to pick up his team and set the tone for the season. Starting pitching is the biggest question mark going into '08, Lester can give a positive spin to answer the pitching question, from the long flight back right up until April 1.

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Stray-Rod Strikes Again

Alex Rodriguez has been accused of more infidelity by Jose Canseco. Joe Lavin who received and advance copy of Canseco's book included the following in his review: "Canseco claims that A-Rod was trying to sleep with Canseco's wife. Apparently, even after Canseco had been nice enough to help A-Rod find a friendly steroids supplier, A-Rod kept calling Canseco's wife.

And, in case there's any further confusion about Canseco's true feelings, he ends the chapter by saying:

So A-Rod, if you're reading this book, and if I'm not getting through to you, let's get clear on one thing: I hate your f***ing guts."

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Boycott Directv

I used to have Directv but after years of terrible customer service I canceled my account. They double billed me every month for 6 months and I had to stay on the phone for hours each time to get it fixed. When I moved they missed 2 appointments to install and when I canceled they charged me with an early termination fee. Their customer service is a bureaucratic hell. Yesterday they dropped the feed causing millions of Sox fans to miss the opener. If you do not have Directv please take my advice and never sign up.

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Manny Wins 1 Million Yen


Manny Ramirez was named the MVP of the opener in Japan and was awarded the prize of 1 Million Yen. ($10,000) Manny grabbed the big check and filled in his name with a sharpie saying, “That’s going to be some gas money.” Did I mention that I got Manny in the fantasy draft last night? (thanks for the 4 RBI's)

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Moss and Manny Help Sox Steal A Victory

The Red Sox are 1-0 but for much of the night (or morning) it looked like they were headed for an opening day loss.

Pitching: The Red Sox pitching was not good. Dice-K got into trouble in the first and second and took too long to settle down; he had to leave in the 5th with 95 pitches. Mr. Celery did not do much better; he gave up a 2 run homer to give the A's the lead. Lopez, Corey and Okajima were the saviors of the staff going 2.2 scoreless innings, Oki picked up the win. Papelbon recorded a save but only because the A's made a base running error. He very easily could have had the loss in this game giving up 3 hits and a walk in the bottom of the 10th.

Defense: Who needs Coco's defense when Jacoby can make plays like he did in center. (Be sure to watch Ellsbury's catch) Dice-K also made a good barehanded play in the first.

Offense: Brandon Moss stepped up big time after getting the start when J.D. was scratched late with a back injury. Moss had an RBI double and hit the game tying home run in the 8th. Manny was being Manny with 2 doubles and 4 RBI's. Papi was o-4 but he did draw an intentional walk and scored a run. Pedroia and Lugo each had 2 hits.

There were some things to be concerned with in the game particularly Dice-K and Papelbon's performances but overall the Sox gutted one out to come from behind and win 6-5 in 10 innings. Boston is on top of the AL East with the best record in baseball, right where they belong. The game will be rebroadcast today on ESPN 2 at 1:30 Eastern.

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Dice-K Struggles in the First

As I posted earlier, Dice-K needs to pitch well in the first and the Sox need to win the inning to win the game. Mark Ellis hit a 1 out home run to put the A's on top 1-0. Dice-K walked the next batter, beaned Jack Cust, and threw a wild pitch allowing both runners to advance, followed by another walk to load the bases. Matsusaka made a nice play in the field when Crosby hit a weak grounder on the third base side getting the runner at first but allowing another run to score. He did get a stikeout to end the inning. Pedroia led off for the Sox with a single and advanced to second on a fielder's choice before Ortiz popped up and Manny fouled out. Manny just missed hitting a home run in the top of the first. (foul ball)

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J.D. Drew Out of Lineup

J.D. Drew was scratched minutes before the first pitch in Tokyo due to a bad back. Drew was replaced with Moss. J.D. was finally able to get something going at the plate this spring and looked like he was going to be the player Boston hoped they had signed last year. Moss replaced Drew today. Moss has also been impressive a the plate this spring.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

What To Watch For In Game 1

The start of another season is hours away....are you ready? Oakland will be the home team in Tokyo with Joe Blanton on the mound. Blanton did not pitch well against the Red Sox last year getting 1 loss and 2 no decisions in 3 starts with an ERA of 4.66. Dice-K will be under a tremendous amount of pressure pitching against his home fans for the defending World Series champs. The Red Sox need to get on the board in the top of the first to take away some of this pressure. Boston should do well since Youk has been swinging a hot bat and Ortiz hits .417 and Manny hits .667 against Blanton. Dice-K can have some rough starts with high pitch counts in the first before he settles down. He needs to limit base runners and stay focused in the bottom of the first. If the Red Sox can win the first inning of game one they will win the game.

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Want Free Furniture? Better Hope for a Sweep.

Jordan's Furniture is offering rebates on furniture purchased if the Sox win the World Series again. Last year people who bought furniture by the deadline were rewarded when Boston won last October but there is another layer to the offer this year; the Sox have to sweep. The Red Sox are 8-0 in the World Series this century but some insurance company is betting the streak ends this year.

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Draft Day

There are few days that are as much fun as draft day for fantasy baseball. I must admit that I suck at fantasy baseball; I think this is due to the fact that I never truly embrace what it takes to win. I do not draft players I do not like no matter how good they are. You could give me the first 10 picks of the draft and A-Rod would not end up on my team. The fun of fantasy baseball is rooting for your guys in games you did not care about before, therefore, no Yankees will ever be on my roster. In our league there is also the Mets curse; once a Mets player ends up on your roster you will not win the championship, which always seems to prove true. When my catcher was injured last season I picked up Paul Lo Duca off of waivers, my team went from second to 7th in three weeks before I dropped him. With a few Sox fans in my league Papi and Beckett and even Jacoby will go early. Being in the Bay Area, I usually draft at least one member of the A's and Giants so I have something to care about when I go to one of their games but it looks like both teams are going to be bad this year. Quick, name 3 players on the A's or Giants...not that easy. There should be plenty of them around in the later rounds. Feel free to leave any advice to keep me from finishing in the usual 5th place.

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Sean Casey Be Out For First 2 Games

Sean Casey will miss the first two games of the season against Oakland with a stiff neck. He developed the problem on the 18 hour flight to Tokyo. Not a big problem for the Sox but it is always nice to have a good bat on the bench.

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Ellsbury Not Going to Lead-Off

Jacoby Ellsbury won't be the Sox lead-off hitter for tomorrow's opener, or other games early in the season. Tito doesn't want to have the young hitter at the top of the order early in the season. He told the AP that it would put Ellsbury at risk.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beckett On DL To Start The Season?

Josh Beckett pitched 2 innings in an intrasquad game in Florida today without any problems. However, 2 AAA intrasquad innings are a far cry from a major league start. When asked if he might be on the DL when the Sox return to the U.S. he responded by saying:
"Absolutely, I think that's possible, I think that's been a possibility the whole time. I don't know. I think that's kind of what everybody was preparing for. ... There's just no sense in going out there and trying to kill yourself to get back to that April 1 start when really you've only thrown seven innings. I probably need 14 more innings down here, and then I'll be prepared."
It is beginning to sound like a mid April return for Beckett at this point, home opener perhaps?

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Youk Discusses Japanese Baseball

Youk has revived his blog and has several posts from Japan. Today he wrote about baseball in Japan:

Hanshin threw their best pitchers at us. They're good players and it was a close game. I don't know if all the hitters on that team could hit consistently at the Major League level. That would probably be tough. They don't like the hard heat.

It's just a little different, because, I think, the pitchers here also pitch different. I was watching a baseball game here today and they use a lot of offspeed pitches. They use their fastball a little bit, but they really focus on the offspeed stuff.

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Sox Crush Yomiuri 9-2

Wakefield loves pitching indoors and the Tokyo Dome was no exception. Wake pitched 5 2/3 innings only giving up 1 earned run while striking out 3. He had no control issues; only walking one batter. Cash did well catching the knuckler and went 1-3 at the plate. Drew powered the Sox with a grand slam, his second HR in 2 games. (not bad for a guy who only hit 11 last season) Moss went 2-2 with 2 RBI's and Lowrie had a homer. Sox won the game 9-2.

video
BostonABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Pedroia, 2B3000202.000
Youkilis, 1B3020012.667
1-Moss, PR-1B21220001.000
Ortiz, DH3000035.000
a-Brown, PH-DH2000003.000
Ramirez, LF3010023.333
2-Ellsbury, PR-LF2100011.000
Lowell, 3B2010110.500
3-Lowrie, PR-3B2211010.500
Drew, RF3114011.333
Kielty, RF11101001.000
Crisp, CF5111012.200
Lugo, SS3010001.333
Cora, SS2111001.500
Cash, C3110221.333
Totals39913961322

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Timlin Going on the DL?

The Boston Herald is reporting that Mike Timlin won't pitch against the A's on Tuesday or Wednesday. The Herald says there is a chance that the Sox will put Timlin on the DL to start the season.


Timlin has two stitches in his finger, and the Sox want to be cautious with him. According to the Herald, another reason for a possible DL move is to give the Sox more time to figure out the final bullpen roster spot. Bryan Corey, David Aardsma and Javier Lopez are battling for the final spot.

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