Saturday, April 5, 2008

All You Can Eat

Oakland Coliseum has opened a section of the upper deck behind home plate for a new "all you can eat" promotion. When I was at the game in Oakland on Tuesday a guy who must have been pushing 4 bills asked the beer vendor where the section was. I think the A's are going to continue to be a low budget team when guys like that eat up all of their concession profits. Home Run Derby has a funny story about getting caught on camera when you are sitting in the section, check it out. Below is the local news story about the new A's promotion.


El Gordo Will Stay With The PawSox

Terry Francona announced that Bartolo Colon is staying put in Pawtucket for two more starts before a possible call-up. The Red Sox want Colon to get above 100 pitches in an outing before they start him in the majors. Judging by the bullpen's performance the last 2 games that might be a very good idea. It would be nice if the starters could go through 7 and bring the game to Okajima and Paps. Francona spoke with reporters about his plan for Colon: "I think the plan is to certainly get him up here and play for us. We're going to keep him on a five-day plan and try to get him to 100." This means Buchholz will have at least one more start with Boston, most likely in a high pressure game against the Yankees.


Game 6 Recap 4/5 at Toronto

Pitching: Buchholz pitched better than he has recently going 5 innings giving up 3 earned runs with 7 K's and 2 walks. Not a dominant performance but not bad either. After Buchholz it got ugly fast. Snyder walked the first 2 batters he faced before getting an out that advanced the runners. Corey came in and stunk up the joint giving up 4 earned runs on 4 hits including a home run in 1/3 of an inning. Tavarez came in and only gave up 1 hit the rest of the way but the game was long over before he took the hill. Another bad outing for the Sox pen and a so-so outing for Clay.

Offense: Pedroia and Drew were both 2-4 but there was not much after that. Ortiz and Crisp were both 0-4. The Red Sox did manage 8 hits but could never get a big rally going.

Game Notes:
Kyle Snyder was designated for assignment to make room for Josh Beckett after the game. After the 10-2 loss the Red Sox are now 3-3 on the season. All things considered it could be much worse; Boston has a chance of ending the multi-country road trip with a winning record with their ace on the mound tomorrow. Rush front man Geddy Lee was in attendance at today's game. With the continued disaster that has been the Red Sox bullpen, we may see Clay Buchholz staying with the team as a relief pitcher if el Gordo is brought up. Box score here.


Sox Bullpen Implodes in the 6th

Clay Buchholz had an ok outing keeping the Sox within 2 of the Jays before the bullpen was lit up. Snyder walked the first two batters he faced and both scored when Corey came in and gave up a base hit. The hit parade continued off of Corey giving up several hits including a home run to Frank Thomas. The Jays batted around in the 6th and scored 6 runs.


Sox Lineup for 4/5

Tito continues to tweak the lineup; today going with Lugo in the lead-off spot. Crisp gets the start over Jacoby and is batting 9th, Sean Casey is in at 1st giving Youk the day off.

SS Lugo
2B Pedroia
DH Ortiz
LF Ramirez
3B Lowell
RF Drew
C Varitek
1B Casey
CF Crisp

SP Buchholz


Game 6 Preview 4/5 at Toronto

Clay Buchholz will get his first start for Boston this year today against the Jays. He had a very difficult spring with an ERA of 10.03 This will most likely be his only start with the Red Sox for a while unless he can prove he is ready to be in the majors. He has been leaving pitches up in the strike zone and has not been able to put together a string of good innings this season. Buchholz did face the Jays last season going 4 2/3 innings giving up 5 hits and 2 runs (1 earned).

Sean Casey is scheduled to get his first start of the season at first base. Casey had the following to say about today's game: "It'll be good to get out there and get a start in, see a few pitches and get some consistent at-bats. I told Terry I'll be ready whenever he needs me."

The Red Sox will be facing Jesse Litsch who is 2-1 against Boston including a win against Buchholz last season. Ellsbury went 2-4 against Litsch last season and should get the start. J.D. Drew and Lowell each have hit a home run off of Litsch.

The Rogers Centre should have more Sox fans today and the annoying white towels should be gone. Game time 1:07 Eastern on NESN and WRKO. Lineups coming soon.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Game 5 Recap 4/4 at Toronto

Pitching: Wakefield pitched well for most of the game only giving up 3 hits until the 6th inning. Jays batters seemed to adjust to the knuckler late in the game and managed a 3 run rally. Tito stuck with Wake and it payed off with a double play ball. The Sox bullpen was not good. They quickly gave the lead back to the Jays in the 7th and let them add another run in the 8th. Aardsma was charged with the loss and he may be sent down when Beckett is activated on Sunday. Corey faced one batter and struck him out.

Offense: Cash had the only hit for the Red Sox until Lowell hit a Texas leaguer in the 7th. J.D. Drew hit a 3 run home run to tie up the game on a two strike count. Manny had the final hit (single) for the Sox in the 9th in a bad offensive night for the team. Marcum held the Sox to 3 hits in 7 innings and the pen just gave up one more.

Game Notes: Red Sox lost 6-3. Ellsbury started in center but Francona had Crisp pinch hit for him late. Blue Jays fans were given annoying white towels before the game. Roberto Alomar was honored by the Jays in a pre-game ceremony. Box score here.


Sox Pen Stinks It Up in Toronto

Aardsma, Lopez and Delcarmen were each tagged with an earned run in the 7th and 8th innings to give the Jays a 3 run lead. The pen gave up a walk and 4 hits and including a 2 out double to the Big Hurt. Sox lose 6-3


Wheels Come Off For Wake in the 6th

Tim Wakefield was pitching very well in the middle of a pitchers duel until the 6th inning. He gave up a home run and a few hits giving the Jay's a 3-0 lead going into the 7th. Ortiz walked and Lowell had a bloop single for Boston's second hit before J.D. came up with a big 3 run homer to tie it up.


Lineup for Game 5 4/4 vs. Toronto

Lineup from the Boston Herald. Jacoby gets the start but is not in the lead-off spot.


Cash and Buchholz Have Something to Prove In Toronto

With Bartolo lumbering towards the 5th spot in the rotation, Clay Buccholz will have his work cut out for him in Toronto on Saturday. If he stumbles he may have been given his last change to prove he should be in the rotation and the spot will belong to el Gordo. The same may be true of Kevin Cash tonight. Buster Olney wrote this in his blog today:
"Scouts and officials with other teams say the Red Sox have been actively making inquiries about catchers, which makes sense, because among AL contenders, their backup situation isn't strong. For example: Toronto has Gregg Zaun and Rod Barajas, the Indians have Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach, the Yankees have Jorge Posada and Jose Molina."
If Cash struggles at the plate or cannot handle the knuckleball his time with Boston may be limited.


Preview: Red Sox-Blue Jays 4/4

Tim Wakefield will take the hill tonight at Skydome/Rogers Centre or whatever you want to call it. Wake has a 6-4 career record at the Rogers Centre and a 15-10 record against Toronto. Last season he was 3-2 against the Jays with a 3.38 ERA. He usually pitches very well indoors and this spring he seemed to have no lingering shoulder issues. All signs point to another strong outing for a Sox starter. The Red Sox should be rested after a day off yesterday. (They couldn't even practice due to an event at Skydome) Youk and Tek have been swinging a hot bat and Big Papi has ended his drought. Manny is due for a big game tonight, he has 27 career home runs in Toronto.

The Red Sox will be facing Shaun Marcum who has a 2-1 lifetime record against Boston with a 2.77 ERA. Manny has 6 at bats against Marcum with 2 homers and a .500 average. Mike Lowell has also hit Marcum well going 4-10 against him.

Game time 7:15 Eastern on NESN and WRKO.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

El Gordo Pitches PawSox to Victory

Bartolo Colon pitched very well in his first start getting a win for the PawSox. He pitched 5 scoreless innings only giving up one hit while walking 2. He is putting the pressure on Clay Buchholz to pitch well in Toronto this weekend. The PawSox won the game 3-0. As for the offense, recent Red Sox players Bobby Kielty went 0-4 and Moss went 1-3. You can view the box score here.


Changes At Fenway

Take a look at the new additions to Fenway for the '08 season.


Hawk Attacks Girl At Fenway

A middle school girl was scratched above the eyebrow by a resident red-tailed hawk at Fenway Park. The girl was on a Fenway Park tour when the hawk flew at her. The hawk's nest was removed from an overhang above the pressbox. The Boston Globe reports that the girl is doing fine.


Youk Sets Record For Most Consecutive Games at 1st Without an Error

Yesterday Kevin Youkilis overtook Steve Garvey for the most consecutive games without an error at first base. Youk has gone 194 games without booting a ball. He has had 1,628 chances at first and is 73 chances away from breaking the record of most chances at first without an error. (currently held by Red Sox first baseman Stuffy McInnis from 1921-22). For those of you that were wondering, Youk was 7 years old when the ball rolled through Buckner's legs so he might have had it if he were in the game.


Tito Gets Respect From The Nation

You know that it is truly Red Sox Nation when papers in other states are writing about the Sox manager. Take the California's Contra Costa Times. They dedicate a long story to Terry Francona's likable personality and his on-the-field success.

Former Sox hurler Alan Embree told the Times, "he's personable to his players. ... When you walk in that day, he tries to relate to you. Every person has different problems and different wiring. To take that on is a huge responsibility, and it requires a lot of giving of yourself."

Tito say his approach is, "to try to make everybody feel important here. Look, I know there are going to be times where they're not happy with me. It's my job to give them bad news. But we've tried to build trust and let them know we care. That's always been important to me."

It's great to see Tito getting the props he deserves across the Nation.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Game 4 Recap vs. Oakland 4/2

Pitching: Jon Lester continued where Dice-K left off getting ahead of batters and went into the 7th inning giving up only 3 hits. The Sox pen was also excellent; Corey pitched 1 and a third getting 2 K's, and Delcarmen was perfect to finish it out. The Red Sox pitchers have only given up 6 hits and 1 run in the last 2 games. You cannot expect anything better than that.

Offense: Boston had a hard time pushing runs across the plate until Big Papi hit a long ball in the 7th. The hits were there: Pedroia, Youk, Papi, Tek, Crisp, and Cora had two hits apiece. The Red Sox were able to string together 5 consecutive hits in the 8th. Manny had a tough day at the plate striking out with bases loaded in the first and hitting into an inning ending double play with them loaded again in the 8th. Tek continued to stay hot with a home run that actually counted today.

Game Notes: The Red Sox took 3 of 4 against Oakland under difficult travel circumstances. Ellsbury came into the game late as a defensive replacement for Ramirez. Drew played his first game after being out for the first 3 with a back injury.

Up next: Wakefield pitchies inside (always a good thing) at Skydome on Friday in Toronto. Sox enjoy a much deserved day off tomorrow


Lester Shuts Down The A's...Big Papi Delivers the Offense

Jon Lester pitched very well today in Oakland going 6 2/3 shutout innings and only giving up 2 hits. Youk continued to hit well with a double in the 7th followed by a Big Papi 2 run homer. If you read the earlier post you would see that I predicted a homer for Ortiz in his second at bat today...he hit in his fourth. Sox lead 2-0 in the 7th.


Sox Leave 'em Loaded in the First

The Red Sox could not take advantage of a bases loaded no out situation in the first. Pedroia led off the game with a single followed by walks to Youk and Big Papi. Manny and Lowell both struck out and J.D. grounded out to end the inning.


Today's Lineup vs Oakland 4/2

2B-Dustin Pedroia
1B-Kevin Youkilis
DH-David Ortiz
LF-Manny Ramirez
3B-Mike Lowell
RF-J.D. Drew
C-Jason Varitek
CF-Coco Crisp
SS-Alex Cora

Drew is back in right after missing 3 games, he did take BP yesterday. Tito is going with Coco over Ellsbury in center, not my favorite choice but Francona usually makes the right decisions like moving Tek up in the order yesterday. Cora is in at short, he had a very strong spring and could bring some pop to the bottom of the order. Big Papi is due for a hit, Fenway West is predicting a home run in his second at bat.


Game 3 Recap

Pitching: Dice-K brought his A game, stayed ahead in the count and had hitters off balance all night. He was getting easy ground outs and weak foul balls and only had one mistake all night. Okajima got the job done but he walked the first batter he faced, not his best night but it worked. Papelbon was scary good last night. He was hitting 98 on the Coliseum gun and Oakland batters had no chance against him. Overall a dominant performance from Boston's arms.

Offense: Tek came out of his slump in a big way after Tito moved him up in the order. He was robbed of an extra base hit in the 5th by a web-gem catch and robbed of a homer later. Youk went 3-4 and had a big 2 out triple. Ellsbury was hitting the ball hard and was rewarded with an RBi when Youk got by Suzuki at the plate. Coco did not look good in the batter's box, he did have a nice bunt but it just showed that he is not confident in his bat right not. Papi also went 0-4. He was getting under the ball in BP and it continued during the game, he is due for a breakout soon. The Sox put together some timely hits and the bats looked healthy for the most part last night.

Game Notes: Julio Lugo deserves a major thank you for throwing me a ball during warm ups. Beers are not $8 at the Coliseum (ouch), hot dogs are $5 and were almost cold. Oakland fans get more annoying each year; many with standing room tickets keep moving and obstructing views and continually say F' Boston without watching the game or even knowing what is going on. Red Sox fans made up about 1/3 of the attendance. The Red Sox looked like the defending World Series Champs last night. I was lucky enough to be at game 4 of the World Series last season and at opening day this year (U.S.), the Red Sox have come through for me both times.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tek Shuts Me Up

Just when I was beginning to get on 'Tek's case (after all, he was looking lost at the plate), he comes through with a big 2 out hit in the 6th. It looked like a homer, Tito argued the case, but the umpires in Oakland ruled it a ground rule double. Nonetheless, Tek's hit drove in Youk to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. Nice work Tek. I'm glad to see the bat come alive.


Tek Can't Buy a Hit

Nothing seems to be going right for Jason Varitek. He finally makes a tiny bit of contact with a ball only to pop out in Oakland's massive foul territory. Tek is now 0-9 with six strikeouts on the season. Ouch.


Dice-K Needs A Good Start

Much like game one the Red Sox need to get on the board early and Dice-K needs to stay ahead in the count for the Sox to win. Boston did not play well in Japan but did come away with a win thanks mainly to Brandon Moss. Moss will not be with the team tonight when they face Blanton again. There can be no more excuses of jet lag or travel; Oakland players were in Japan too. Boston bats need to wake up tonight, Dice-K needs to pitch well, and the Red Sox need to begin their long defense of the World Series title. I think everyone would be happy with a split of the 2 games in Oakland but the Red Sox do not want to lose the first game and have the chance of heading to Toronto with a losing record. It is a long season but games in April count as much as games in September. Time for me to head to Oakland and watch it all unravel. I will be posting details and pictures from game 1 tomorrow. The game is on NESN and CSN Bay Area.


Red Sox Now 4th For Salary $

The Red Sox cut $10 million for their payroll and are now 4th in terms of salaries behind the Yankees, Mets, and Tigers. The Sox payroll is now $133,440,037.


Baseball By the Bay

The regular season resumes in the U.S. for the Red Sox in Oakland at 7:05 tonight. I will be heading out the the Coliseum in time for a little tailgating and to check out B.P. I was able to get seats on the Red Sox side (1st base in Oakland) on the second level a few rows back. I have mixed feelings about Oakland Coliseum, it has awful configurations with way too much foul territory. Two years ago the A's stopped selling tickets to the upper deck to try to make it a more exclusive ticket, before that they had promotions like $1 upper deck seats and $1 hot dogs on Wednesdays. Can you imagine that in Boston? However, the Oakland Coliseum is also where I was able to get a front row ticket to game 5 of the 2003 ALDS, one of the best Red Sox games in recent memory, one that would be remembered more fondly if not for the Grady Little/Aaron F. Boone ALCS that followed. Last year I was able to get tickets behind home plate to watch Schilling's near perfect game. When the A's move to Fremont for their baseball only stadium the ticket prices will go up and it will be harder to get good seats. As ugly as the stadium is now it makes for a bargain for fans and allows for Sox fans to buy up opening day tickets. Look for at least 1/3 of the Coliseum to be wearing red tonight. For the next 2 days Oakland will indeed be Fenway West.


New Team, Same Gagne

In case you missed it, former Red Sox disaster Eric Gagne made his first regular season appearance with the Brewers yesterday. The new $10 million closer gave up a hit, walk and a 3 run homer to blow the save. I guess he has not been able to find a steroids dealer since leaving L.A. It sure is nice that he is someone else's problem now.


Kielty Will Go To Pawtucket

Bobby Kielty is staying with the Red Sox in the hope that Coco gets traded and he can get some playing time as the 4th outfielder. Yesterday there was a chance he might leave the team to persue a full time gig with another team but that did not develop. For now Kielty will go the PawSox and wait it out but he has some new competition with Brandon Moss to be the next in line.

In other Sox news: Boston Dirt Dogs is running an April Fool's joke of Roger* returning to play for Boston this season, check it out.


Monday, March 31, 2008

J.D. Will Not Start On Tuesday

J.D. Drew says his back is ok and he is ready to return but Tito is going to keep him out of the lineup tomorrow. Coco will get the start in center and Ellsbury will be in right when Boston resumes the series with Oakland. Drew should be in the lineup for Wednesday's day game.


Red Sox Sign Another Japanese Pitcher

The Red Sox ties to the land of the rising sun have grown stronger with the addition of another Japanese Pitcher. Boston signed right-hander Terumasa Matsuo as a free agent today. When he pitched for the Kagawa Olive Guyners, Matsuo was MVP of his league and had a record 15-3 with 159 K's and a 1.72 ERA. These stats are impressive but he was playing in the equivalent to a single A minor league in Japan. Matsuo responded to the signing by saying the following: ''It still hasn't hit home yet but I want to try to play my best baseball.''


Opening Day

Clean up the grill, stock the fridge, and find a comfortable chair; baseball is back. The long winter wait is over, you can now head out to the ballpark for a great afternoon of fun or you can track your fantasy team stats on the ESPN crawler at the bar. Peter Gammons and Joe Castiglione's voices will be heard again. The outfield grass is the perfect hue of green, bunting adorns the infield walls, Yankee fans are getting rained on. There is joy in Mudville. Opening day should be a national holiday.


Clock is Ticking on Kielty

Bobby Kielty may not be with the Red Sox by day's end. He told the Red Sox he would report to Pawtucket but now if another team is offers him a spot in the show by the end of the day he may take it.. Kielty will only get playing time in the majors for Boston if/when Coco is traded. As long as Crisp remains on the team there is no room for him. Kiety said the following about the situation: “Boston has been pretty good about letting me explore options and see what’s out there, I don’t think there’s a set decision. We’ll see what happens in the next 24 hours. There’s definitely something out there. It’s just a matter of waiting and seeing what happens. I don’t want to go anywhere, but we’ll see. If there’s a big league job somewhere, I might have to take it.”

On a side note, Kielty had the only hit for the Red Sox in yesterday's exhibition game against the Dodgers.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Buchholz Struggles Again

Clay Buchholz did not get through 4 innings after giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits and 3 walks. His spring ERA of over 9 is actually going up after this outing. He will start a game against Toronto on Saturday but another start like this one and he is likely find himself in the pen or Pawtucket. Tek's struggles also continue, he is 0-2 but at least he has not K'd today. Sox have only managed one hit so far (Kielty) and are losing 8-0 in the 8th.


Clay's Big Day

The circus has left town but the Red Sox and Dodgers still have one more exhibition game to play, this time at Dodger Stadium in front of a much smaller crowd. In the final tuneup before the regular season resumes for Boston there will not be much pressure on most of the players. The two exceptions are Tek and Buchholz. Jason Varitek is in the middle of a bad slump and needs to get a hit or just make some solid contact to get his swing going before Tuesday. For Buchholz, this could be a make or break game; if he continues to struggle he may find himself joining el Gordo in Pawtucket for the start of the season. Buchholz has an ERA of 9.35 this spring and has not solidified his spot in the rotation. Tavarez and Snyder have not done much to earn the spot either but both have more experience in the majors. Buchholz was very hyped up in the off season and seen as an instant addition to the roster. Reports of his intensive training before camp had many fans thinking he could be the number 3 guy. Now Buchholz finds himself in the position where he has to go 4-5 solid innings today to earn a spot in the rotation, if he gets shelled again Tito will have a hard choice to make. Today's game is at 1:10 Pacific but is not on TV, you can listen to it on WEEI, XM, or Gameday Audio.


Wake's Looking Good

With Schilling sidelined, Dice-K and Buchholz looking like they still need to work things out, Beckett recovering from his back ailment, and El Gordo working in Pawtucket to build up his pitch count, one thing is certain, we need Tim Wakefield to pitch well in April.

Last night in L.A., Wake showed that he is ready to start the season. Wake pitched 5 innings giving up one run. His Spring ERA is down to 1.29.

Following the game, Tito and Kevin Cash spoke to the ProJo: "I thought Wake did a great job of not letting things get in the way of his preparation,'' Francona said. "He threw strikes and did well.''

"He's been really good every game since I've started catching him,'' said catcher Kevin Cash. "It's not easy to maintain your stuff every time out, but he has. He's definitely in a good spot with his mechanics.''


Theo's "Red Sox Way"

Jeff Goldberg in today's Hartford Courant looks back at what brought the Sox to their winning ways.

His article reminds Sox fans of some of the tough decisions that Theo made, parting ways with Pedro, Derek Lowe, and Orlando Cabrera. How many Sox fans thought moving Nomar was a good idea? Goldberg makes a good point that many Sox fans and the media focused on the players that struggled to replace them, Clement and Renteria. Meanwhile, the Sox were drafting extremely well and developing young talent.

Theo told Goldberg, "the only way to appease the perception police is to think short term. That gets you nowhere. We never want to back away from a difficult decision or taking a chance. ... If you're a slave to perception, you'll be scared of your shadow around here."



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