Sunday, August 31

The Sox are winning series, but that's not enough to catch these Rays

*ITM Note: This post is not a result of the Red Sox loss today....

The Red Sox have taken two out of three from the Yankees, Bluejays and now the Whitesox, they finally had a good road trip (10-6), and their pitching has been solid......yet they remain 5.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, 6 games in the all-important loss column.

Now I'm not ready to concede the AL East, not on the last day of August with a favorable schedule when compared with the Rays, but I'm just coming to the understanding that it is more than the Ray's young confidence, they're a damn good team that has been showing resiliency every night. When Crawford, Longoria and Percival all went down with injuries most everyone expected a drop in the standings....it hasn't happened. They continue to have players step up and their confidence has not faltered. Of late, Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli have help the Rays expand their lead on a Red Sox team that is playing good baseball. I'm not even surpries anymore, it's crazy, but I just assume the Rays are going to win. Somehow Rocco is still only 26 years old and showing signs of his "old" self...like the Red Sox, if this team can get healthy, look out. I would have felt much more confident in the Sox ability to come back and win the division if we were 2.5 or 3 games out going into September, but 5.5 with 27 games to go will be difficult.


A Red Sox AL East division championship will only happen if the Red Sox are able to catch fire and win 20 of their remaining games (possible), and/or the Rays severely stumble down the final stretch (doesn't seem as likely). While I don't like stressing over the Rays, Whitesox and Twins, I will still be happy if and when the Red Sox clinch a playoff spot. As we all know, anything can happen in October and if Boston is able to get even just a few players back (namely Beckett and Lowell), I'll feel great about going into playoffs as the AL East Champs or the Wildcard team, so long as we get there.


It's going to be a fun/stressful/interesting September....

Saturday, August 30

Jason Bay: Making the National Media Eat Their Words With Every Game


"The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me"....that's right Manny, we don't, we deserve a player like Jason Bay. The 29 year old has come into Boston and produced, more importantly, he plays the game right and is the furthest thing from a clubhouse distraction there is. Maybe LA deserves a player like him too.


Remember the outcry after the trade? The national media could not believe the Red Sox and Theo made this trade, here are some the quotes I remember....


"The Red Sox can't make the playoffs without Manny."


"David Ortiz won't hit a thing without a player like Manny behind him."


"They traded Manny for some guy from Pittsburgh most people have never heard of!"


"They've effectively thrown this season away by getting rid of a hall of fame left fielder"


"Manny will propel the Dodgers into the playoffs and make them relevant again in LA"


I'm still waiting for the all-knowing national media to readdress their analysis. Most writers in Boston understood the reasons behind the trade and knew we were getting a good all around player back for an aging pain in the ass who would likely shut it down for the rest of the year. What no one expected, is that Jason Bay would be this good. The Red Sox are 17-8 since "trading away our chances to make the playoffs", while Manny's Dodgers are sinking by the second out in Hollywood. Not only did the national media underestimate Jason Bay's ability and overrate Manny's, they failed to realize something all of us here in Boston have known all year, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are studs. Bay, Youk and Dusty have kept their team's October hopes alive through consistent all around play. Youk and Dusty's MVP considerations is a entirely different blog rant, but for now, let it be known that they better see some serious votes.

Just so we're all clear, Manny is playing with "peace of mind" and the hopes of getting a ridiculous contract out in LA. We all knew he would rake out there...but we didn't expect Bay's numbers to look like this in comparison:

Manny:

Since Trade (92 at bats)

.380 average, 6 taters, 13 runs, 21 rbi

LA's record: 11-15



Jason Bay:

Since Trade (95 at bats)

.347 average, 4 taters, 22 runs, 24 rbi

Boston's Record: 17-8


....and did I mention he makes 13 million less than Manny????


The numbers don't lie so I'll quote my own blog post from August 1st (only becuase i love to quote myself when i'm right):

"As much the national scene doesn't like this deal for the Sox, I'm ok with it. I will miss Manny diving to cutting off random throws from the outfield and high-fiving fans....but he simply had to go."

"In the end, did we give up a sure fire hall of famer? Absolutely. Will Manny rake out in LA? Most likely. Is Manny at 36, and 37 THAT much better than Jason Bay at 29 and 30? No"



Friday, August 29

Beckett's test come back clean....thank god

Breaking news indicates that Josh Beckett's tests with Dr. James Andrews have come back clean. Although he was put on the 15 day DL earlier today, it is retroactive to August 18th and Beckett is "expected to" start on September 5th against Texas. Red Sox Nation can let out a small, guarded sigh of relief with this news, but it is still a up hill mental battle Beckett has to face going forward.

Regardless, this team might be resilient enough to get to the playoffs without Josh Becket, but getting to the World Series is simply not possible without one of the best "big game" pitchers of all time (reference his stats from the playoffs in 2003 and 2007...just unreal).


In prep for tonight's big game in the Fens....here is Boston's lineup...
1. Mark Kotsay, RF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. David Ortiz, DH

4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

5. Jason Bay, LF

6. Jed Lowrie, 3B

7. Coco Crisp, CF

8. Alex Cora, SS

9. Jason Varitek, C-


- Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP


Go Sox.

Thursday, August 28

Sox let sweep slip away in New York


I sat in my cubicle today thinking "sweep, sweep, sweep" and through 7 innings we had it in the bag, the Red Sox would exit Yankee Stadium for the last time riding high and leave their rivals utterly beaten. It all sounded so good, and then they let it slip away.


The Red Sox lost this afternoon 3-2 after Jason Giambi hit a 2 run homer to tie the game in the 7th, and ultimately won the game in the bottom of the 9th with a bases loaded single off of Cinco Ocho. Jon Lester bounced back from a rare bad outing to give the Red Sox 6 and 2/3rds great innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 earned run while striking out 8 Yankees. That should have been good enough to win, but Mike Mussina limited the Red Sox to only 2 runs and pinch hitter Jason Giambi provided all the offense for the Yanks off of Boston's bullpen. Oki Doki let up Giambi's game-tying, 2 run home run in the 7th, Tito went to Masterson in the 9th who loaded the bases (via a single, an intentional walk and another walk). Papelbon was called in to try to get the Sox out of a tough jam and let up a game winning single by Giambi.....highlights show the pitch as being an 0-2 fastball left over the middle of the plate....why he didn't try to waste a splitter low and away i'm not sure.


A disappointing loss? Yes. A reason to think the Yankees are still in the playoff chase? No way. In the end, the Red Sox did exactly what they had to, taking two out of three in New York. The first two games went so well that we all naturally feel a little let down, but it's time to move on. The Yankees are done, over, stop thinking about them. Refocus your thoughts and scoreboard watching on Tampa, the Whitesox and Minnesota. Was this a big series in New York? Absolutely. Is this weekend's series against the Whitesox even bigger? Yep, so get ready.

The NY Media isn't exactly happy...

Not sure if any of you will get a chance to read it, but if you have a moment, check out Tyler Kepner's article from the NY Times today.....here is an excerpt....

"The grand slam exploded like a gunshot Wednesday night, tearing out the guts of even the most naïve believers in the 2008 Yankees."

"The eighth-inning bullet by Dustin Pedroia was like the opening scene of a documentary, many years from now, capturing the thud of finality to something once so special. The question for the Yankees is what starts next: a glorious renaissance or a painful fall from grace?"

I can't get enough of reading these articles....also, for those of you like me who need more of it, check out The Post.

Wednesday, August 27

Sox, Bay dominate the Yankees in game two

I didn't last long at the sports bar...too many people eat and too loud to really pay close attention to every detail of such an important game. Besides, I felt like too many people were more concerned with what the specials were than the game, not my kind of place in the end.

The Red Sox received 6 solid innings from Paul Byrd and broke the game open in the 8th inning, going on to win game two 11-2 in a romp of the men in pinstripes.



I have to interject the post game wrap up here with a general comment.....After watching game two, I must admit that something feels different about this series. Perhaps it is the fact that the Yankees are all but out of the playoff race and as a result the fans just are not as into it. Or maybe the Stadium doesn't have the same electric feeling because the fans have turned on their team. Regardless, something is different and it certainly feels like the Red Sox are capitalizing on a team that has lost it's edge. The Red Sox are one win away from leaving Yankee Stadium for the last time by delivering the crushing blow that ends New York's season. I can't wait.



Jason "our new Yankee killer" Bay had another big night, going 2 for 4 with a triple and 4 RBI. Bay now has 24 rbi since joining the Red Sox.....since going Hollywood that guy from Washington Heights has 21 (the same amount of rbi Jed Lowrie has in the month of August as well!) He may not have Manny's name, but Bay is putting up "Manny numbers".

Dusty Pedrioa continues to make an effort to gather MVP consideration, going 3 for 5, hitting a nail in the coffin grand slam an 8th inning which saw the Red Sox plate 7 runs. "I never write the Yankees off until the season's over and the standings are set," Pedroia said. That might be the right thing to say, but a sweep of the series would all but crush any playoff hopes for the Yanks.

While A-rod went 2 for 4 with an rbi and made a few nice plays in the field....he was cheered for the two hits, but ultimately booed in his last plate appearance. The Red Sox go for the sweep with Jon Lester taking the mound against Mike Mussina in an afternoon game.

Game two...

Paul Byrd takes the mound for game two in the Bronx tonight as the Sox look to continue on what has been a successful road trip thus far (5-2). This will be Byrd's first experience of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, but I think he'll be ready for it. All the Sox expect is for Byrd to keep them in the game for 5 or 6 innings (similar to Wakefield last night).

Me, I'll be taking in the game from a local sports bar i've been dying to get to....a bar review and a postgame report will be following the game for sure.....until then, go Sox.

Tuesday, August 26

Sox take game one in New York

This was the game most sports analyst had the Yankees winning in the series. Wakefield coming off the DL, Pettitte pitching well, and a hot Yankees team was supposed to combine in a good start to the series for the Bronx Bombers. By the end of the night, A-rod was being booed and "let's go Red Sox" chants could be heard on the TV.

Timely hits allowed the Red Sox to initially trade runs with the Yankees and ultimately go ahead for good as they came away with a 7-3 win. While neither Tim Wakefield nor Manny Delcarmen were particularly good, they held the Yankees at bay and kept the Sox in a position to win the game. (In the end, that is all we can ask from Wakefield)

The Red Sox used a balanced hitting attack and smart base running to consistently push across runs through the middle innings. Jason Bay picked up where that guy from Washington Heights left off, going 2 for 4 and driving in 2 runs in his first expierence of the Red Sox/Yankee rivilary. Every hitter in the lineup had at least 1 hit (save for Dusty...weird).

On a separate note, I find the booing of A-rod to be quite obnoxious and annoying by Yankee fans. Believe me, I am certainly not a fan of their third basemen, but he has been in their lineup day in and day out, trying to bring his team back into a playoff race (perhaps trying too hard) and they boo him after failed attempts at the plate and successful plays in the field just the same. Quite simply, he is giving it his all but not performing up to his insanely high standards, and getting killed for it. If he was dogging it down the line, sitting out with a "fake injury", or bad mouthing the fans then go ahead and boo him, but booing a guy who is hitting well over .300 with 28 taters and 78 rbi isn't what true baseball fans are about.

Anyways, back to the game, combine tonight's victory against the Yankees with a Tampa Bay loss, and the Sox are now 3.5 games behind in the division race, and 6 games ahead of the fading Yankees in the Wild Card.

ITM Note: In AL Central action, The Whitesox won 8-3 over Baltimore and the Twins are in a late night matchup against the Mariners.

It was a good start to an important and potentially symbolic series in the Bronx. Certainly New Yorkers don't want to remember the last time the Red Sox played in "The Stadium" as the time the Sox buried their playoff chances. Until tomorrow....

Pregame notes...

I'm settled in and ready for the start of an important Red Sox/Yankees series. Many have said this is a sweep or die series for the Yankees, but I think it is more important for the Red Sox to play well. Win two out of three and the Yanks are basically out of it and they can hopefully expand the Wild Card lead.......here is some news coming out of the clubhouse this evening....

-Good news for once...Mike Lowell worked out today and felt good, he will likely hit off a tee tomorrow. Accordion to him he feels "much better" and is "really bored". You might see him playing this weekend.

-More good news? Is it Christmas? Josh Beckett threw a 50 pitch side session and reportedly felt fine, he is a go for his start against Chicago on Friday night (the start of another big series).

-...and then there's Drew......JD Drew saw a spine specialist this morning in New York and it looks more and more likely that he will be going to the 15 day DL, in fact, the Sox will probably announce it before today's game begins. It will be retroactive to last Monday.

- Sean Casey's strained neck feels better but Jeff Bailey will start in his place.

That said, let's play some baseball, here are the lineups

Red Sox

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Jed Lowrie, SS
7. Coco Crisp, CF
8. Jeff Bailey, 1B
9. Kevin Cash, C-

- Tim Wakefield, SP

Yankees

1. Johnny Damon, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Xavier Nady, LF
7. Hideki Matsui, DH
8. Robinson Cano, 2B
9. Jose Molina, C-

- Andy Pettitte, SP

Monday, August 25

The word on the street in NYC....

With the Sox going to Yankee stadium this week for a big series I thought it would be good to discuss a few of the topics with a good friend of mine living in NYC. Joe is someone who lives, eats, sleeps and stresses about the Red Sox just like me, but does so right in the middle of Manhattan, true enemy territory…..

ITM: Joe, the Red Sox are coming to town, the Yanks are somehow still in the race, but team ownership seems ready to ditch this season for the new ballpark and 2009….do most New Yorkers share this opinion?

NY Joe: Obviously real fans aren't going to waive the white flag yet, but a quick scan of the NY dailies will tell anyone that there isn't much hope around here at the moment---not that people are dogging the Yanks; it's that they're hardly talking about them at all. As a Red Sox fan, my suspicion is that really it's some sort of huge Truman Show conspiracy going on where the entire city went to a Joe Girardi press conference where he revealed that Jeter drank some magic potion and Ian Kennedy grew a pair and Robinson Cano opened up the Wikipedia page on baseball and remembered what he was supposed to be on the field for---and that at the end of the conference, Girardi told everyone, "but listen, don't tell that kid Joe about any of this, because it's gonna be funny as hell to see the look on his face when he realizes we're gonna win it all again." But of course, it's possible that's just the usual Sox fan assumption. Absent that scenario, it does seem like a lot of people have given up. Fortunately, they had the Olympics to talk about for the past couple weeks instead. Now the US Open is starting up and that's a surprisingly big deal in the city---sort of a homecoming weekend type thing after people flee this place for August.

These are the main Yankees subjects right now that I'm hearing: 1) People love, love Xavier Nady ; 2) People feel really sorry for Melky---the guy was well-loved, for all his faults ; 3) There's a s*#tstorm brewing around Girardi. The buzz right now aside from the uninspired on-field managing is that he doesn't understand the distinction between not disclosing everything to the press and flat out lying. It's getting fans upset, and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets less slack than some expect at the end of the season ; 4) And, obviously, Joba. He's apparently throwing up to 45 pitches in sessions now, but just moved beyond fast-ball changeup stuff. There's a lot of debate now about when and how he comes back---the starter experiment might be done for '08.

ITM: Are the Yanks hyping this series up at all since it is the last time Boston will play at Yankee Stadium? We’ve heard some of that talk here in Beantown, but not too much, thank god.

NY Joe: No, I actually haven't heard anyone bring that angle up coming out of New York. Probably by tomorrow the series will get some steam going, but so far there's hardly any indication that the Sox are in town. That's something that really mystifies me, too, since a good series puts them squarely in Wild Card contention, yet my non-baseball-fan neighbor said that he wouldn't have had any clue that the Sox were in town except the doorman’s claim that Francona walked by our building today. Me and Tito---ships passing in the night. As to the farewell to Yankee Stadium generally: there is definitely rising anxiety about moving to the new ballpark and abandoning the old ghosts. That and people are pretty worried about how expensive it's going to be. The Mets recently made a big to-do about how the big-seat ticket prices at their new Citi Field are significantly lower than the sort of astronomical numbers we're hearing about the new Yankee park. But the Steinbrenners points out that these high-roller tickets are going to keep the cheap seats more affordable than they will be at Citi.

ITM: Is there any sincere concern about the Bluejays passing the Yanks?

NY Joe: I haven't heard anybody talking about it. I'm not sure you get any lower than not making the playoffs in the minds of Yankees fans---that's sort of their attention cellar. There seems to be a faint memory of chiding us a couple years back when we sunk below the Jays, but really the only one talking about it around here is my Canadian girlfriend, and even she's more focused on Jason Bay right now as far as the compatriot scene goes. Also, she asks like every week whether Justin Morneau is a free agent and whether we're gonna sign him or what. She loves that guy. I don't have the heart to tell her that he wasn't actually born in Quebec.

ITM note: Keep that as ammunition for a later, unrelated disagreement between the two of you. Break it out when she least expects it and when you’re in the most trouble, it’ll throw her off so badly that you’ll win by default…just a thought.


ITM: Do you think Yankee fans/ownership are ready to admit that the Sox have had just as many, if not more injuries than the Bronx Bombers this year and they are not the only ones with issues? (This is one topic that particularly annoys me)

NY Joe: They seem to think they have a monopoly on the injury card this year, despite the Sox and the Rays own battles. As far as the Sox, I've heard people acknowledge the Beckett situation, but probably only because he's missing the start against them. Not a peep about Lowell's absence or anyone asking me where the hell J.D. Drew's been. Though to be fair, maybe they don't ask about Drew because the default assumption is that he's injured. Maybe they'd only think to ask me what was up if he was in the lineup and not complaining about something or other. And speaking of injuries, I liked a line I read somewhere this morning (might have even been Cafardo) that Carl Pavano has now officially beat Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes to recording his first win in 2008. What would Yankees fans have thought if you told them that was how this season was going to play out?

ITM Note: They probably would have turned it into a story about the Pinstripes giving Pavano Wolverine-like healing power and they all topped 15 wins on their way to the World Series.


ITM: Did you see the javelin thrower from Paraguay in the Olympics? Wow. Any chance the Sox and Yankees sign her?

NY Joe: Paraguay's landlocked, I know, which for some reason I think gives us the edge over the Yanks in the bidding war.

ITM Note: I don’t know what the hell that means, but I completely agree.

ITM: What’s the sense on the Rays? Is everyone there still blindly hoping/expecting them to fade like most people here?

NY Joe: Nope, I'd say they've made believers out of a lot of New Yorkers. Plus what hope the fans here do have is on the Wild Card, so they'd like, I think, to see the Rays keep up their end of it so that if the Yanks do make a run, it can be to bring the Sox down a notch. That said, no one's looking forward to the remaining Rays' series.

ITM: Last one...Please tell me people in NY don’t actually think they can still win the division…

NY Joe: Of course they do. They're just keeping it a secret from me so that I soar with hubris, then when I'm flying nearest to the gods, they'll watch me tumble to a watery death like Icarus. At least as far as I can tell that's what's going on.

ITM Note: Not sure if I know what that means either....but good work.

Dustin Pedrioa: 170 pounds of mouth

I read this article a few weeks back but kept forgetting to post it, it's a great piece by Jeff Bradly from ESPN the Magazine. Read the article, and then remember that this guy might get a few MVP votes this year.....



170 POUNDS OF MOUTH


As Boston's relentless agitator, Dustin Pedroia dishes out a never-ending stream of smack. Good thing he can back it up.

by Jeff Bradley

This is just one of 162. Every day is pretty much the same. It's not quite 4 o'clock, three hours before the first pitch at Fenway Park, and Dustin Pedroia is in the Red Sox dugout, ranting. "No one's going to separate us," he says to backup catcher Kevin Cash. "I'm telling you, when we win the World Series, I'll high-five everyone, but then you and me are going into the outfield, and we're going to have a fistfight. And no one's going to separate us!"

Although Pedroia keeps a straight face, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek cannot. Cash just looks straight ahead and with a slight smile says, "That's fine by me, man."

There's not going to be any fistfight. Not even a shouting match (at least not a two-way shouting match). Pedroia has no real beef with Cash. His only problem right now is that it's quiet. And that's got to change. You've no doubt heard the expression "Manny being Manny." Well, this is Pedie being Pedie. He's a little loudmouth punk. And in a clubhouse full of superstars, he's also the guy who energizes the defending champs—with a never-ending stream of smack.

MANNY RAMIREZ THINKS PEDROIA IS CRAZY. "PEDIE NEVER SHUTS UP, MAN. BUT THAT'S WHY WE LOVE HIM. HE MAKES US ALL LAUGH."

From a distance, you might take the 24-year-old second baseman seriously, think he's bragging on himself and tearing others down. That would be a mistake. "C'mon, I'm like 5'2" 115," Pedroia says. "And this game's tough. I try to bring a loose attitude and make sure everyone's having fun. Hang around our team long enough, and you'll see that most of the jokes are on me."
Across the field, former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar steps out of the Orioles' dugout. "There he is," Pedroia says, "the only opposing player who gets his own song played for him when he comes to the plate at Fenway." It's a country hit, "My Town" by Montgomery Gentry, and it was Millar's intro during much of his time in Boston, from 2003 to '05. (The Sox finally stopped playing it for Millar after last season.) "I'm telling you, if they play that song tonight, I'm stopping the game. I'm going up to the booth and fighting the guy at the controls. Enough already."

Now Pedroia hops up the dugout steps and shouts in Millar's direction: "Hey, 2004 was like 20 years ago! And all you did was walk! Mariano let four fly! It was not, like, some 12-pitch at-bat!" Pedroia imitates Millar's stance in that critical Game 4 moment against the Yankees, with the Red Sox three outs away from elimination. He mimics the way Millar steps in the bucket. He does it four times. "Ball 1, Ball 2, Ball 3, Ball 4," he says. "That's all you did." Millar isn't even paying attention. "I've been hearing that for over a year," the veteran says when the story is relayed. "He says, 'You were Manny and Papi's teammate, and all you did was walk.' "
A little while later, when Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts appears, Pedroia pounds his own chest and shouts, "The strongest 160-pound player in the league, right here!" Roberts swats at the air like he's trying to shoo away a gnat as Pedroia repeats, "Right here!"

"Yeah, he's one of a kind," Roberts says. "He and I work out at the same place in Arizona in the off-season, and I've seen him call out NFL players during Ping-Pong games, asking them when they're starting Jenny Craig. He told Brady Quinn, who is a monster, a physical specimen, 'I'm going to rip this ball right off your throat.' He's a piece of work."On and on it goes. Day after day, in these pregame hours, Pedroia stirs the pot, dishing out threats and insults and mixing in bold predictions about his performance at the plate. He has already texted Millar, "Did you bring your glasses for the laser show tonight?"

Pedroia's confidence reached new heights this summer, when he was voted an All-Star starter.
To his teammates, Pedroia is more than just an All-Star second baseman; he's also a mascot. "Pedie never shuts up, man," Manny Ramírez says with a smile. "He's a little crazy. But that's why we love him. He talks big and makes us all laugh." Adds first baseman Sean Casey, "Oh yeah, he's nuts. He'll say before the game, 'I'm going to hit four freaking rockets tonight, watch.' Then he'll make an out his first time up against, like, Roy Halladay throwing 97 with sick movement, and he'll come back to the dugout and say, 'This guy's got nothing. He freaking sucks. I should've killed that pitch!' "

Terry Francona says Pedroia has been spewing like this since May 2007, a month into his Rookie of the Year season—around the time that he began to erase a .182 April. (He's hit .327 since then.) "Once he got going, his personality started to come out," the manager says. "He held it back until he felt established, and maybe that held him back a bit too. But it probably wouldn't have gone over too well if he'd acted that way from the start."In fact, Pedroia annoyed plenty of minor leaguers on his way to the Show. "He acted way too cocky, way too big league for my taste," says one former Triple-A teammate. "And I have to admit, I took some pleasure when he started off so badly. But I guess he's proved he belongs. You can't argue with the success the little SOB has had."Generously listed at 5'9", 180 pounds (he's closer to 5'8", 170), Pedroia looks a little impish wearing his cap pulled low and sporting a scruffy, on-again, off-again beard that never seems like more than an idea. Sitting on the dugout bench, he strikes a more subdued tone for the moment. "I know everyone at the major league level is really good," he says. "And I have respect for them. I just don't want it in my head, or anyone else's, that we can't get a hit off a guy, so I'm not one to be praising a pitcher. I'd rather everyone believe we'll hit the guy."
It's a philosophy he developed at Arizona State. During Pedroia's sophomore year, coach Pat Murphy asked him about a pitcher's slider, and the kid responded, "It's so nasty!" Pedroia was already one of the Sun Devils' best hitters, so Murphy told him, "Never let your teammates hear you say anything like that." From that point on, the better a pitcher threw the ball, the more Pedroia said he sucked. Once, after ripping a leadoff single off Wichita State's Mike Pelfrey (now with the Mets), Pedroia shouted at the pitcher as he rounded first, "Ninety-eight coming in, 102 going out!"

Boston third baseman Mike Lowell says that when Pedroia homered to lead off the bottom of the first inning in Game 1 of last year's World Series, the Sox couldn't wait for him to return to the dugout, "because it meant he could come back and tell us how hard he hit that ball." Adds hitting coach Dave Magadan: "His confidence radiates through our clubhouse. He never really gets down on himself, and he makes everyone feel so at ease. That's rare for a young player."
GROWING UP, HE FACED DOUBTS AT EVERY LEVEL: TOO SMALL, TOO SLOW, TOO BIG OF A SWING. IT'S ALMOST AS IF PEOPLE COULDN'T BELIEVE WHAT THEY WERE SEEING.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein attributes Pedroia's attitude to the doubts he faced at every level, going back to his Little League days in Woodland, Calif., a small town about 25 minutes northwest of Sacramento. He was too small and too slow and had too big a swing. It's almost as if people couldn't believe what they were seeing: that Pedroia was always the best player on his team. "I love to read and hear that people are doubting his ability," says Epstein, "because what usually follows is that he goes out and, as he says, hits some lasers."

When drafting players, the Sox target guys with the mental makeup to handle Boston. Pedroia, a second-round pick in 2004, reads what's written about him in newspapers and online, but he's hardly intimidated by media heat. "I want to know who's good at what they do and who's not," he says. And he doesn't forget a slight. During spring training in 2007, the Boston Globe quoted anonymous scouts as saying that his swing was too long, that he'd struggle in the big leagues if he didn't make adjustments. Pedroia still gets animated when the subject comes up. "All I've got to say is, a .317 season later, is my swing still too long? You look at my swing closely and you'll see, while it may be violent, it's very short to the ball."

The key to Pedroia's stroke, and the thing that sets him apart (along with his perpetually dirty uniform), is superior hand-eye coordination. "He has a way of manipulating the barrel of the bat and getting it to the baseball quickly," Magadan says. "He hits as many balls on the sweet spot as any hitter in the league." Defensively, while his range may be average, Pedroia has exceptional hands (he made just six errors last season, and his .990 fielding percentage was fourth best among AL second basemen) and a knack for making big plays—such as his diving, up-the-middle stab that saved Clay Buchholz's no-hitter last September. Pedroia was a shortstop at ASU, and Murphy believes he could play that position in the majors. "His arm wasn't a classic shortstop's arm, but he got rid of the ball in a nanosecond," Murphy says.

Pedroia capped his Rookie of the Year season by helping the Sox win their second Series in four years.

It hasn't taken much longer than that for Pedroia to find his comfort zone with the Sox. The insults about the other team's ace? That's just his way of saying, Let's not be afraid of this guy. The proclamations that he's going to hit four ropes? Translation: If I can do it, then it should be easy for studs like you. (Murphy says Pedroia once wore a sleeveless shirt in college to show off his lack of biceps.) Challenging teammates to make-believe fistfights? Let's roll, boys. Whatever it takes. "He has definitely added life to our team," Varitek says. "It's hardly ever quiet around here, that's for sure."

And while opposing players were muttering about Pedroia's cockiness this time last year, now he has earned some respect. "I think he'll always rub some people the wrong way, because that's the way the game is, and some people take themselves really seriously," Roberts says. "But for me, he's got cocky arrogance that I can't hate. First of all, he's got the game to back it up. And second, if you're around him for any time at all, you see he's not serious. He's just having fun. I didn't even know he was a baseball player when I first met him working out in Arizona, and he was jawing at me from the get-go."

Meanwhile, Millar has just received a text from Pedroia: "I'm the real 15!" Millar wore the number in Boston before Pedroia—and yes, he's laughing.

"That guy is a baseball player," Millar says. "A great defensive player. A tough out. And he has very little natural ability. When you think of the amount of swagger he's got, at 5'3", how can you not love a guy like that?"

Over in the Red Sox dugout, Pedroia is in Youkilis' face: "Dude, when I was in high school, I was really good-looking." Youkilis cracks up. "No," Pedroia says, standing up. "I'm telling you." Clearly, these are fighting words.

Every day is pretty much the same."

Sunday, August 24

Lowrie homers in the 11th, Sox win in Toronto

The much anticipated match up between Dice-K and AJ Burnett lived up to it's hype....as a long, dragged out game that ultimately lasted almost 4 hours long. Red Sox third basemen Jed Lowrie had been struggling at the plate all day, going into his at bat in the 11th inning at 0 for 4 on the day, but in a sign of further maturity, he was not upset or flustered. He stood in the box, cool, calm and collective as always, and the 24 year old blasted a solo tater to right center, giving the Sox the lead for good. Lowrie rounded the bases like he's hit 11th inning home runs hundreds of times, he plays the game right and at a maturity level of a 34 year old (save for Manny and a few others). I know that Lugo suffered a setback, but luckily for Red Sox fans Lowrie has made sure that Lugo's recovery doesn't factor into their plans for this season, or next. (and I didn't even mention Lowrie's throw to nail Matt Stairs at home plate trying to score on a Rod Barajas double)

Manny Delcarmen was brought in for the bottom of the 11th after Cinco Ocho held the Jays scoreless for two innings while using only 16 pitches (ITM note: I wanted Pap to come back out for the 11th, I'll be honest, after Delcarmen walked the first batter, I was close to letting the fiancee put Will and Grace on). Delcarmen would throw close to 30 pitches, but secured the 6-5 victory for the Sox.

The Sox were trailing early, but Dustin Pedrioa took a big swing at a high and outside Burnett offering over the wall for a three run home run. Toronto would come back to take a 5-4 lead but Coco Crisp made sure that didn't last for long as he hit a solo shot of his own to tie it at 5. It would stay tied until Lowrie's tater in the 11th as the Sox bullpen (Masterson, Oki, Papelbon and Delcarmen) was able to hold the Jays at Bay for 4 straight innings.


ITM notes:

-Dice K went 5 innings giving up 8 hits and 5 earned runs while walking 1 in the no decision. Dice-K had won his last 4 straight starts.

-JD Drew missed his sixth consecutive game his sore back. Tito said he still hopes Drew won't need to go on the DL

-David Pauley has joined the Red Sox. Pauley was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket when David Aardsma was placed on the 15-day DL with a sore groin.



Scoreboard watching:
-In what was a weird ending, the White Sox beat the Rays this afternoon.

-The Yankees won a back and forth battle with the O's 8-7

-The Sox are now 4.5 games behind the Rays (5 in the loss column) and are a half game ahead of the White Sox in the Wild Card race.

-The Yanks are 9.5 behind the Rays (10 in the loss column) and 5 back in the Wild Card.

Saturday, August 23

If Toronto had 55 games left and not 35...i'd be really concerned


The Bluejays put a big hurt on the Red Sox and Jon Lester this afternoon. In a 11-0 loss, Jon Lester was hit surprisingly hard, giving up 8 hits and 7 earned runs in only 2 and a third innings. The bullpen didn't fare much better as Toronto's hot offense continues to just punish Red Sox pitching. They have now won 7 out of 10 games against Boston this season and are 7 games behind the Sox in the wild card with 8 more head to head match ups to go.

Vernon Wells may be starting to return to his all-star form of 2006, he went 4-5, smashing two home runs and made two beautiful plays in center field. He and the rest of this Toronto team has really responded to the coaching change and are playing good baseball. If this was late July and not late August, I would be sincerely concerned that they could ride the hot streak back into playoff consideration. While I'm not ready to completely rule them out, (if they continue their dominance against Boston, the mere fact that they have 8 games against the Sox to go could make it interesting), there simply might not be enough games for their comeback to be completed.

The Red Sox, who had started this road trip 3-1 and were swinging the bats well, were unable to get themselves back in the game. In the first two innings they went 0-5 with runners in scoring position, they missed out of some great opportunities early in the game and before they knew it they were completely out of contention this afternoon.

All we can hope for now is a way that both Tampa and the Whitesox lose when they face each other this evening.

ITM Note: Carl Pavano goes for the Yanks tonight in his first start since the end of the Vietnam war, maybe he actually start earning his money. Should be interesting to watch.

Friday, August 22

Bryd gets first Sox win, Tek has officially caught fire

Paul Bryd did exactly what the Red Sox signed him to do...eat up innings and keep this potent lineup in the game. Bryd's tendency to give up the long ball continued against a Toronto team that is playing very well under their new manager, but he was good enough to hold Toronto at bay and ensure the Red Sox would not have to sweat out another high scoring game on both sides.

Dustin Pedrioa got the Sox on board quickly in the first with a solo tater, he went on to go 2 for 4 with 3 rbi. But on the offensive end, the story of the night, check that, story of the week, has been Jason Varitek. Tek, who's bat finally got so bad that even the most die hard fans were questioning just what kind of net value the Sot out of him, has come out of his slump in a big way this week. He's hit a home run in each of the last three games and is batting well over .400 in his last 5 games. His confidence at the plate has gone up and you can tell he is currently seeing the ball very well right now. I think we all know how well respected Tek is as a catcher and game caller (the best in the league) but if he even hits .250 he has to be considered one of the most valuable catchers in the league.....which would also help him greatly in his contract negotiations that are coming up.

Unfortunately for the Sox, they were unable to make up any ground in the AL East as the Rays keep winning....this time thanks to Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli.

To update a previous mistake...the Yanks won 9-4 over Baltimore....not that it really matters. Anyone else notice that teams in the NL who are 10 games out of the division race don't even get mentioned?

More bad news for the Sox...

A few hours ago, JD Drew was in tonight's lineup and ready to go. Then the pain started to get worse. J.D. Drew just got back from Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and it has been reported that a doctor had told him, at least from a preliminary report, that he has a herniated disc (keep in mind the MRI results are not yet back).

His progress had been steadily improving, but all of a sudden the back was stiff when he woke up this morning, and he was having trouble walking around the clubhouse this afternoon. There is no official report on this yet, nor has he been put on the DL, but a trip to the 15 day DL is possible.

Beyond that, Josh Beckett reportedly threw some pitches and felt fine today, he is a go for his Tuesday start.

One thing is for sure, the Red Sox have a lot of injuries to work through and wins to earn if they want to make the playoffs.....that said, here is tonight's lineup:

1-Ellsbury-RF
2-Pedroia-2B
3-Ortiz-DH
4-Youkilis-1B
5-Bay-LF
6-Lowrie-3B
7-Varitek-C
8-Cora-SS
9-Crisp-CF

-Byrd-SP

Thursday, August 21

Insignificant info: Red Sox sign Reds Catcher David Ross

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the Red Sox have signed catcher David Ross to a minor-league contract, according to major-league sources. (AP)

David Ross drew interest from both the Red Sox and Phillies after getting released by the Reds. Ross will reportedly be sent to triple A Pawtucket at first and will likely be called up for the Sept. 1st when the rosters are expanded for the post season. In what is likely a "back up to the back up" role, Ross will fill in mainly to protect against possible injuries in September. He is NOT the long term solution for the Red Sox at catcher.

Ross hit 17 homers in 2007, and 21 homers in just 247 ABs in 2006. In what is a Red Sox Management dream, Ross sports a .381 OBP this season, despite only hitting .231 with 3 homers (in 52 games).

Wednesday, August 20

Tonight's lineup....no Tek or Drew

Here is tonight's lineup...it certainly has a different look given injuries and Tek's day off (with no game tomorrow Tito is getting him two days of rest).

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Jed Lowrie, SS
7. Jeff Bailey, 1B
8. Coco Crisp, CF
9. Kevin Cash,
C-- Clay Buchholz, SP


  • I've discussed Tek's absence with a few people and I appear to be in the minority on not liking his day off today. He is finally starting to swing a good bat and Tito takes him out of the lineup. I understand he needs the rest but he and Clay Buchholz both need the confidence. (insert Tito's saying of it's a marathon not a sprint here...but there is something about him and Clay both in dire need of getting on a role that makes me think he should be in there)

  • Looks like Julio Lugo will return by Sept. 1 given his progress from a quad injury.....you're right, who cares. Go Jed.

Go Sox.

Tuesday, August 19

Beckett scratched from next start, feels numbness in fingers

In what apparently has been an issue all season, Josh Beckett says there is numbness and tingling in his right ring and little fingers . Manager Terry Francona, who said Beckett would be scratched from his next start, indicated that it may have come from sleeping on his right arm on this weekend. “It’s just something I’ve been dealing with,” Josh said. “At some point, you’ve got to figure out what it is. It’s now what I want but at this juncture, it’s something that needs to happen.” The good news? (if possible) Beckett indicates that he is not feeling any pain. “I have some numbness in fingers I’m not used to having,” he said. “As far as pain goes, there’s pretty much no pain at all. It’s just that we’ve got to figure out what the hell it was … It’s something we’ve dealt with but I’ve never had to deal with it on that level.”

This is concerning on many levels, according to the Herald, the Red Sox trainer has been running multiple tests that seem to show it is not a aneurysm or related to poor circulation. Keep your fingers crossed for a positive outcome in yet another injury for the Red Sox.

Monday, August 18

Sox take home big 6-3 win in Baltimore

Manny Delcarmen let the Orioles back into the game (4-3) but the Red Sox and Big Papi came through when they needed to in the 9th to secure the 6-3 win. Cinco Ocho recorded 4 outs to seal the deal for the Sox.

While David Ortiz came through with an insurance supplying rbi double in the 9th but the story of the night was Jason Bay. Bay blasted two deep home runs to center while going 3 for 5 with 4 rbi for the winners. Jason's performance was needed in a lineup that was missing both JD Drew and Mike Lowell.

Jon Lester continues to be the true ace of this rotation this year. He stymied a previously hot Baltimore lineup going 7 innings, giving up only 4 hits and allowing 1 run on a home run to Aburey Huff.

Perhaps the only problem of the night for the Sox was Manny Delcarmen would could not be the 8th inning guy we all want him to be. He gave up two runs on 2/3rds of an inning while striking out one.

ITM note: The Rays are up 6-4 in the 9th against the Angels....nothing appears to be stopping them.

Tek hits a tater and the Sox go up 2-0

...no seriously, Jason Varitek followed up on Jason Bay's earlier solo shot in the inning with one of his own...weird right? That gives Tek a 3 game hitting streak and raises his average to .216...unfortunately for Red Sox Nation...this is news.

Sox are up 2-0 in the 3rd and with the Rays taking on the Angels this week, hope to make up some ground in the East. (Rays are currently up 2-1 in the 3rd)

ITM note:
-JD Drew is not in the lineup tonight as they wait to see how his back reacts to a few days of rest. A stint on the DL is unlikely, but we are talking about JD Drew here so no one knows for sure (see Nomar).
-Still no real word on Mike Lowell outside of the fact that he is still sore.
-Yanks are idle tonight.

Sunday, August 17

Sox spanked 15-4

This is one of those games you don't even want to talk about, just put it behind you. So I'll keep it short. Every Red Sox pitcher used was scored on (save for Cinco Ocho in the 9th). The "light hitting" Toronto lineup raked Boston pitching all afternoon to the tune of a 15-4 beating. Refer to posts below for any significant Red Sox related happenings.

The only bright spot was Jed Lowrie (and maybe Dustin Pedrioa's tater on his 25th birthday). The kid continues to make Tito's short stop decision a very easy one, going 3 for 3 with a rbi triple. He is now batting .318.


....what was that sound? that was Alex Rios hitting his 9th double off of Red Sox pitching.

Now all we can do is hope for a Rays loss tonight.

As if things weren't bad enough...

Josh Beckett getting shelled...check, The Red Sox bull pen being taxed before a road trip...check, being down 9-0 to an inferior Toronto lineup after 4 innings....check, another Red Sox coming out of the game with an injury...check.

Things can't get much worse for the Red Sox today (save for the Rays winning tonight), JD Drew has come out of the game with lower back stiffness. While this is likely just a precautionary move on Tito's part, with JD Drew you never know. At this point in the season and given our already injury-plagued lineups, we can hardly afford for JD Drew to miss much time. Maybe The Boss's son Hank should take a look at the Red Sox injuries this year and then reconsider his "no one has gone through the injuries we have" comment. Every team goes through injuries, this year they have hit many of the teams in the AL East particularly hard, but you don't see our management throwing in the towel on the team and the fans.



...did I just translate my current anger at the Red Sox and their injuries right into Yankee hatred?.....I think so....check.

Beckett gets lit up in the 1st

This is concerning. Josh Beckett missed his spots and flat out got crushed on all of his pitches in the first inning against a Toronto lineup that coming into the game wouldn't scare the teams playing in the little league world series right now. He hit a batter, the sox committed two fielding mishaps and Toronto took advantage of it.

The poor performance in the first caused the Sox to get David Ardsma up in the pen...an early sign that Tito and Farrel saw something wrong or Beckett could be injured to some extent. As a manager, you don't usually get a reliever up in the bullpen in the first when your ace is out there, it shows the pitcher you have no confidence in him.

Buchholz's shoulder was also tapped in the dugout to go get ready. He was scheduled to pitch today but was pushed back with Friday's rain out. Let's hope Beckett can settle down and we can get some runs back.

Saturday, August 16

Bring back the Rangers!

Roy Halladay must have read my previous post....he wants in on some Cy-Young consideration as well.....and why not? He shut down a previously white hot Red Sox lineup last night, leading his team to a 4-1 victory in a game that lasted only 2 hours an 18 minutes. I'm pretty sure the Red Sox had single innings that lasted longer than that against Texas. Last night's game plays into the old phrase that good pitching will beat good hitting.... Halladay threw his 8th complete game of the season (far and away the league leader in CG's), scattering 7 hits and only allowing a solo shot to Pedrioa in the 9th. For me anyway, I had a bad feeling in my stomach when we didn't score in the 1st (our only real chance for runs). Halladay gets into his rhythms, he works quickly and receives good defense behind him. The Sox never capitalized on any chances to disrupt that rhythm.

Paul Byrd's debut for the Sox wasn't a bad one, in fact, he kept the Red Sox in a game that they easily could have been counted out of early. By going 7 1/3rd, allowing 4 runs on two homeruns, he didn't dazzle the Bluejays, but his old school windup and ability to throw strikes has me optimistic about what he can bring to the team down the stretch. If he is able to be a reliable, 4th, and eventual 5th starter and keep us in games, that is all we can ask for. He is most definitely not a clubhouse issue as he is a free spirited guy who likes to joke around and have fun. Last night he showed us some solid pitching but was simply outmatched by a guy who even at 14-9 will still get a lot of Cy-Young votes as his other numbers are simply that good (2.65 era, 159 k's, 1.03 WHIP). The bad news is that Byrd will face the Blue Jays for the third straight time in Toronto next week (with the possibility of starting against Halladay yet again). NESN's Tom Caron pointed out through Elias research that it's the first time in 50 years a pitcher will make three consecutive starts against the same team. Not an easy way to start for a new team, but Byrd is just happy to be on a contender.



ITM Divisional Watch:

-The Red Sox remain 3.5 games behind the Rays as Tampa lost to Texas 3-0.

-The Yankees got lucky in the 13th to beat the Royals....Arod continues to be in a tremendous slump. (The guys from the Bronx remain 9.5 behind the Rays and 6.5 game behind the Sox for the wildcard)

Red Sox players in the mix for possible hardware

As the games become more and more important and the Red Sox are making a run for the postseason, two players are just now beginning to be looked at for awards....


Kevin Youkilis
He's a gold glove first baseman who has catapulted his game to another level this year, and has done so at a time when his team needed him the most. While we all thought Youk was a good, solid player, no one expected these kinds of numbers out of him. At .322 his batting average is second in the AL only to his teammate Dustin Pedrioa, his 22 taters are a career high, he is 6th in the AL with 83 rbi, 3rd in slugging at .574, 3rd in OPS at .963 and 8th in OBP at .388....and oh yeah, he's the best defensive first basemen in the league. Youk is putting up MVP-like numbers for a Red Sox team that desperately needed some protection behind David Ortiz. Perhaps the most significant aspect of his numbers is that he's been essential in Boston's recent post season push without Manny Ramirez. Boston (71-51) was scoring 4.94 runs per game, seventh-best in baseball, before Ramirez was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31st. However, since then, with the help of Youkilis, their offense has taken off, the Red Sox are averaging 7.23 runs through 13 games in August, with Youkilis hitting .417, 4 taters, and 14 rbi in that time.

I'm not saying Youk should win the AL MVP award (that will likely go to Carlos Quentin), but he deserves more attention than he is currently receiving (where is the East Coast bias when you need it?).






Dice-K:Like Youkilis, Dice-K has gone from good to great this season. At times he can be one of the most frustrating pitchers to watch (he still walks too many people), but I've never seen a pitcher who can get out of jams and buckle down under pressure to get out of innings like Dice-K. He seems to know when he has to throw strikes and gets it done start after start. Dice-K's value to this club jumps exponentially when you consider the injuries and struggles this pitching staff has had all year (Dice-K included). At 14-2, his winning percentage stands second best only to Cliff Lee of the Indians (17-2), his 2.74 era is 3rd in the AL and he is, his overall record is 4th in the AL and he has registered over 100 strike outs while missing 3 or 4 starts due to injury. Dice-K's most value might come from his road numbers: 6-0 and 2.06 era for a team that is still somehow 28-35 on the road.


Again, this award is likely not going to go to Dice-K (it's going to Cliff Lee...not K-Rod), but he should receive a lot of 2nd and 3rd place votes.

Friday, August 15

Game Postponed

Tonight's Sox game has been postponed and is rescheduled for September 13th (kinda mad it's not tomorrow....could have been a great rainy Saturday).

...and the Jimmy Fund just went over 4 million dollars raised, good work all around.

Pregame notes:

The tarp is still on the field and we could be looking at a double header tomorrow. I'm about a 10 min walk away form Fenway and scene out my window doesn't look good. The forecast calls for an unsettled evening of weather, but the game could sneak in. If there is a game tonight, here is the Red Sox (71-51) lineup: (note Jacoby back in the lead off spot)

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. J.D. Drew, RF
6. Jason Bay, LF
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. Sean Casey, 1B
9. Jason Varitek, C

SP- Paul Byrd, RHP

ITM notes:
-The Yanks are looking more and more desperate, making multiple moves today to try to bring up some fresh legs with high OBP numbers from the minors. Stick a fork in them.
-No word on the Rays Troy Percival who was injured last night. It could be another significant blow to their AL East division hopes.
-The Jimmy Fund Telethon is having their annual fundraiser, hoping to get to 4 million dollars, such a good charity to help.

Thursday, August 14

Groundhog day at Fenway

It was much of the same at Fenway Park. This time however, Dice-K made sure there were no comebacks and less screaming in my apartment. The Sox lineup continues to hit everything...and nearly everyone is swinging a hot bat. Too many highlights to discuss all of them, but first the offense: It's safe to say David Ortiz is seeing some good pitches because of the rest of the lineup's success (thanks especially to Youk). He is just too good of a hitter not to put the bat on the ball, and will carry this team into the playoffs. Jed Lowrie, with 29 rbi, has the second most rbi for a short stop after the all star break (Johnny Peralta is first). Those 29 rbi are also equal to Coco Crisp's season total.

And now the pitching: Dice-K continues a new and promising trend of going deep into games. He has issued less walks and is getting more outs earlier in counts, thus allowing him to go 7 or 8 innings. As good as he's been this season, I still feel as though he's not getting the proper support for a possible Cy-Young award. At 14-2, and with a 2.74 era and 103 k's his numbers match up well with nearly anyone else in the AL. His run support is high, but the numbers above don't lie, he's been damn good.



The Red Sox go from facing the team with the worst ERA to playing the team with the best, Toronto, which had a league-high 3.64 ERA entering Thursday. It will be a good test to see how good this lineup really is with some tough pitching match ups.



Misc ITM Comments:


- The Dodgers left fielder believes he gets his power from his hair.....if he wasn't a million dollar baseball player he would either be dead or in a mental institution for sure.


-Why are the Yankees still being shown by the national media as being "in it" within the AL East race? They are 9.5 games out, if it was any other team they would not be discussed. In fact, that is the exact case with the NL West, they are only showing the Dodgers and Arizona. Annoying.
(pic source: AP)

Safe to say this lineup is clicking...

That guy from Washington Heights is gone...and the Red Sox offense has never been better. They are currently up 9-0 after two innings and contributions are coming from all over the lineup. The inning was highlighted by David Ortiz's 3 run tater to right. Youkilis is 2 for 2 and as Remey put it "is so hot right now that pitchers must pitch to Ortiz.....and how money is Jed Lowrie??

Everything is clicking against a dreadful Texas lineup, but then again, these are the teams we're supposed to beat. Sure hope the Sox can hold this league.


...and in a crazy game, the Rays just won 7-6 in 12 innings. Stupid.

Pregame notes/lineup

While the Rays battle out a close one, keep your eye on the score board while watching tonight's game......for now, here are the lineups...

1. J.D.Drew RF
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
3. David Ortiz DH
4. Kevin Youkilis 1B
5. Jason Bay LF
6. Jed Lowrie 3B
7. Jason Varitek
8. Coco Crisp CF
9. Alex Cora SS

SP -- Daisuke Matsuzaka

Not sure how many of you feel, but I'm in favor of this lineup over the Sean Casey one on a day to day basis. However, I also believe you have to continue to use mix up the lineups in order to keep everyone fresh. Both Casey and Cora are not full time players, they are the kind of players whose numbers would severely decline should they be used in an everyday lineup.

Go Sox!

Youk, Sox, keep pace with Rays


The most consistent pitcher of the season for the Red Sox didn't disappoint last night. Jon Lester went 7 1/3 giving up 3 runs while striking out 6. The game was slightly more interesting than it needed to be (thanks to Mike Timlin), but the story of the night, and perhaps the season continues to be Kevin Youkilis. Now faced with a lineup without both that guy from Washington Heights and Mike Lowell, Youkilis has taken his game to another level. A level most of us didn't think was attainable for him. Going 3-4 last night with 2 rbi and 3 runs scored helped the Red Sox (winners 8-4) keep pace with the Rays who won 3-2 in late night action. The Sox will certainly need this type of production to continue from both Youkilis and Jason Bay while Lowell's injuries heal.


Games like last night's remind us that Kevin Youkilis is not in the normal "second half slump" we expect to see. In fact, I think it's time to get some serious print going for him as an MVP candidate. In seven games batting fourth since Ramirez left, Youkilis is 10-for-25 with two home runs, five doubles and eight rbi. Youk's 22 homers are six more than the career high he set last year, his 83 RBIs match his best total, and he's only two points behind the AL batting leader (someone named Damon). Youk deserves some MVP votes if he keeps this up, pass it on.

Wednesday, August 13

Pregame notes

Lowell headed to the DL
As many of us feared, Mike Lowell is headed to the 15 DL because of an oblique injury suffered during last night's game. Lowell said last night that after he felt it pull during his at bat, between that and his hip injury, he was scared to swing at another pitch. That's concerning. It is everyone's hope that a few weeks of rest will allow Lowell to come back in September at 100 percent...or as close as his body will let him get to 100 percent in the short term. For now, get used to seeing Youk at third and Casey at first....fine for the short term, but will not lead us through the playoffs to another world series for sure.

Tonight's lineup:
1. J.D. Drew, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Jed Lowrie, SS
7. Sean Casey, 1B
8. Jason Varitek, C
9. Coco Crisp, CF

Jon Lester -- SP

Lugo Update (unfortunately):
According to reports, Julio Lugo completed several "baseball activities" yesterday which included taking ground balls at short. He is still about a week or more away from a possible return, at which time all eyes will be on Tito. My personal opinion? If Tito trots out Lugo as a starter I will personally tackle Lugo in an attempt to re tear his quad.

Go sox

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times at Fenway

video

A 10 run first inning means I can keep the game on but focus on the massive amounts of grad school work I have on my plate, right? Apparently not. In one of the craziest games I've seen, the Sox blew two different 10 run leads but came back in the 8th to win a 19-17 football, I mean baseball game. There were simply too many plays to go over all of them but here are some take-away highlights:

-Concerned about our 3-4 hitters without that guy from Washington Heights? Last night Papi/Youk were a combined 5-9, blasting 4 taters, with 11 rbi and 6 runs scored.

-Pedrioa just continues to hit, blasting 5 hits in 6 at bats.

-Rookie Charlie Zink (on three days rest) only went 4 1/3, allowing 8 runs on 11 hits.

-The 36 total runs ties an AL record for most runs in a game.

-Frank Catalanotto is forever a Red Sox killer.

-Youkilis should see some MVP votes this year (totally seroius here, but this is for a later post).

While my voice is horse this morning from all the yelling I did last night (and I'm sure my neighbors hate me), I'm still debating if I should be happy or upset with this win. If you watched the postgame you heard a lot of players say this was an uplifting victory for Boston. I'm not so sold, while I agree a loss in this game would have been devastating, and this win shows we have heart, but it also shows how poor our relief is. Simply put, the Sox pen' could not hold the powerful Texas lineup at bay, none of them could. There was no consistency and the Rangers took advantage of Zink's early exit. As good as Youk's 8th inning tater (and his near sprint around the bases) felt, the game should have NEVER got to that point. Sure, a great team wins the close ones, but great teams can also put teams away with two separate 10 run leads. So as good as this win felt and crazy as it was to watch, there are a lot of concerns to be had as a result

ITM notes:

-In late night action the Rays lost a close 2-1 game to Oakland, moving the Sox to within 3 games of the East Division lead. The Rays also said Carl Crawford had surgery on his finger and is expected to be out 6-8 weeks.

-Mariano Rivera blew his first save opportunity since September of 2007 but the Yanks came back via the homer in the 12th to win it 9-6. They remain 5 games behind the Sox and 8 behind the Rays.

(Video courtesy of NECN.com)

Tuesday, August 12

Breaking news: Sox acquire RHP Paul Byrd


News is just breaking that the Sox have acquired right handed pitcher Paul Byrd from Cleveland for a player to be named later or cash. It is speculated that Byrd will take over Clay Buchholz's spot in the rotation as the young pitcher has been struggling all season.

Byrd tossed a complete-game victory over Toronto Saturday. For the year he is 7-10 with a 4.53 ERA in 22 starts for the Tribe. Not great numbers right?...but since the All-Star break, the 37-year-old right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA, the best such mark in the American League and second only to Arizona’s Randy Johnson (really, Randy Johnson is still alive?) in the majors.

Not sure if it is all that relevant or not, but Byrd has been linked to HGH in the past, including a report that he purchased 25K worth of HGH a few years back.

Monday, August 11

Cinco Ocho closes it out

Papelbon took the mound with a few extra runs of insurance and didn't disappoint. A 1-2-3 9th secured the victory for Josh Beckett who had everything working for him. Beckett pitched very well going 8 complete giving up only 1 run on 4 hits. The win moves the Red Sox 4 behind the idle Rays, and 5 ahead of the losing Yankees. Considering how well Danks was pitching, this win was a steal for the Sox.

Lowrie provides some insurance in the 9th

Jed Lowrie continues to impress and has given the Red Sox a three run lead (4-1) in the 9th. His two run double gave Boston a little breathing room. Jacoby's single to drive in Lowrie pushes it to 5-1 and should lead to a less stressful bottom of the 9th for cinco ocho.....should.

Sox bats finally wake up (a little) in the 7th

The Sox broke up both the no hitter and shutout in the 7th scoring two runs on two hits and two walks. Youk broke up the no-no attempt via a seeing-eye liner over Orlando Cabrera's head. Mike Lowell then walked, Jason Bay struck out (his swing has looked bad lately), but JD Drew came up with a big two run double to make it 2-1. Beckett now toes the rubber with the lead...

Sox bats lifeless through 6

The Red Sox are again showing their inconsistent nature at the plate tonight. Through 6 full innings, the Sox have no hits and only one ball has been hit hard (pedrioa's line drive out in the 1st). John Danks has had them fooled all night, he had retired 17 in a row before hitting Ellsbury in the back.....which was quickly followed by a dribbler to second by Coco. This is just another case of the Sox making a good pitcher look great. It's too bad they are wasting a good performance from Josh Beckett.

No fire, no emotion thus far tonight. So frustrated.

Tonight's lineup

Good news/bad news with tonight's lineup. Youk is back and batting third, but David Ortiz has the night off as the Red Sox wrap up their four-game series in Chicago. So far there has been no reason reported for Ortiz's absence.

It is likely that he just needs a blow and give his wrist a little rest with no day off this week. Tonight's Red Sox lineup:

1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. Mike Lowell, 3B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. J.D. Drew, DH
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. Jason Varitek, C
9. Jacoby Ellsbury, RF
- -Josh Beckett, SP

go sox!

The most overpaid "professional" athlete in history


With the Red Sox struggling lately I figured it would be a good time to explore a topic outside of RSN. I’m not sure how it really came to me last night, but I started thinking about overpaid athletes. One could argue they are all overpaid, but within reason some of the local players which fall into that category include: Vin Baker, Brian Scalabrene, Edgar Renteria, and Julio Lugo. Now I’m sure we all think those deals were bad, but consider them against what I believe to be the worst all time, one that is happening right in front of us:

Enter those beloved Dodgers and Andruw Jones. Now I’m not blindly accusing anyone of anything, but if there is ever a case of numbers that would make you question if someone was juicing or not, Jones would be it (save for Brady Anderson). Never an average hitter, Jones enjoyed amazing years in 2005 and 2006, hitting .263 respectively, but blasting 51 and 41 homeruns while driving in 128 and 129. His contract year in 2007 was a bust by most people’s high standards; he hit only .222, hit 28 homeruns and had 98 rbi. He did so while being criticized in Atlanta. Despite his bad season the Dodgers took the bait, offering him 36.5 million dollars over a two year deal….that’s right, over 18 million a year. Since then, Jones has been a complete and utter failure. He has been widely accused of losing passion for the game.

Regardless of what has happened, the fact remains, he is the most overpaid player in sports history, ever, no argument. 18+ million for ending with a .166 batting average, 2 home runs and 12 rbi with 68 strike outs in 187 at bats on the day he was benched by Joe Torre. Torre said Jones would only be used as a spot starter effective immediately. An 18 million dollar spot starter who is in the coach’s doghouse? Unreal. He is on pace to have the worst season by an outfielder in the history of baseball. Read that again and tell me if you would be ready to pay him 18 dollars to mow your lawn. He should be forced to pay the Dodgers back, I wonder if Manny could give him some tips of finding that “peace of mind”.

Sunday, August 10

White Sox homer their way past Buchholz, Boston

Boston, who had won six of eight, jumped ahead early on Mike Lowell's three-run homer, but the still struggling Clay Buchholz (2-8) couldn't hold it. The young rookie is now 0-6 in his last eight starts and is still trying to find a win for his first time since May 2, after a Whitesox team that leads the majors in homers, used just that to secure an important victory. Buchholz, in his shortest start of the season, lasted only 3 innings. He allowed seven hits, five runs and three taters (on 74 pitches). Buchholz's continual struggles are concerning and have many of us peering through the local papers to see how Bartolo Colon is doing down in Rhode Island. While a 5th starter may not be essential in the playoffs, the Sox need end of the rotation help in its hopes to merely get there. With the team's announcement that Tim Wakefield is going on the 15 day DL, Buchholz's inability to effectively mix his pitches are moving in from simply being a nuisance to hurting the team in a significant portion of the season.

Carlos Quentin is a name everyone should get used to. So long as Ozzie doesn't completely lose it and the Whitesox tank the rest of the season, Quentin will most definitley get a lot of MVP votes (but that is a post for later in the season).


PS: The Rays just pasted the Seattle 11-3 without Crawford or Longoria. They received solid pitching from Edwin Jackson. Who, you ask? Exactly. This team is for real.


PPS: Youk missed today's game with a sore shoulder but is considered day to day, nothing to worry about here (let's hope....knock on wood...knock now).

Saturday, August 9

As if Manny hasn't said enough


Perhaps because it is from the joke of a paper called the New York Post, but an article in today's paper is causing a stir from LA to Boston. See the direct text below, courtesy of the NYPost:


"Having successfully orchestrated his divorce from Boston and his landing in with the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez would like to make life miserable for the Red Sox during the next few seasons. According to people who have spoken to the eccentric outfielder since he was dealt to L.A. on July 31, Ramirez wants to sign a free-agent deal with the YankeesNew York Yankees this offseason and get 19 chances a year to punish Boston. "


"He wants to play for the Yankees so he can get at the Red Sox," a close friend of Ramirez's told The Post. "


Now I'm not ready to put much stock in this report, but I certainly would not be surprised to see the Yankees overpay for another aging, formerly elite player who will turn some heads initially and sell t-shirts, but ultimately fades down the stretch (for example: way too many to name).


Check out the full article from the Post here

Dice-k masterful in 6-2 win

Dice-K threw an economical 106 pitches while giving Boston his deepest outing of the year, going 8 innings, giving up 4 hits, 1 run, while striking out 4. The lineup woke up after last night's "night off" to score 4 runs in the 8th inning to put the game away. David Ortiz had a breakout night going 3 for 4 while driving in 3. Jacoby Ellsbury also continued swinging a hot bat with a solo homerun in the 8th inning. Unfortunately for Chicago, this game was especially costly as Jose` Contreras ruptured his left achilles tendon after covering the first base bag. Contreras, who just came off the DL will need surgery and is certainly out for the season. Considering he is listed at 36 years old but is likely closer to 40, his career is in fact now in question. So much for Ozzie's guarantee (Guillen was quoted as saying "if Jose pitches the way he can, he won't lose another game this season, bye bye Twins"....idiot).

Say what you want about Dice-k's frustrating pitching style, but he will be receiving some Cy Young votes come October. He is 13-2, sports a 2.90 era, 98 strike outs. Opponents are hitting a mere .209 against him and the Sox are 16-4 in games Dice-K starts. They say great pitchers can win anywhere and perhaps the most important number for the Sox however are Dice-K's numbers on the road: 6-0 with a 2.10 era. Considering how poorly this team has played away from Fenway, ponder how much worse it would be without Dice-K's numbers. Overall, a good win tonight, now let's root for Seattle....

Where is the consistency?

Since when is Mark Buehrle (9-10) , Roger Clemens? In what could be a playoff preview the Red Sox lost 5-3 to the Chicago Whitesox last night. Perhaps the most frustrating part is that for 7 innings, Buehrle struck out 8 and quieted Boston's lineup. The only noise Boston was able to make came from their smallest player. Dustin "dusty" Pedrioa hit a three run home run in the 8th to make it a 4-3 game and I'm thinking "we could steal this game if we wake up." Insert Manny Delcarmen's pitch to Carlos Quentin that sailed over the left field wall. All the momentum the Sox had died with that pitch and I knew it was over.

Jon Lester did not pitch like his normal dominant self of late, but he certainly kept the Sox in the game and gave them a good chance to win. The road struggles continue for the Sox. In order to get into the playoffs they are going to have to figure out how to play well away from Fenway, and soon. Take a look at the home/away splits:


At Fenway
40-16, 314 runs, 543 hits, 57 hrs, 298 rbi, .291 Avg, .370 OBP, .465 SLG, .835 OPS


Away
26-34, 265 runs, 567 hits, 66 hrs, 251 rbi, .267 Avg, .341 OBP, .418 SLG, .760 OPS



The Sox have yet to prove they can win on the road, especially against playoff caliber teams. The next two games are important for self confidence and league respect. While the Yankees continued to get raked by the Angels last night (10-5), the Rays beat up on the lifeless Mariners (5-3) to take a 3.5 game lead in the division.

Friday, August 8

Big weekend series on the Southside


The Sox pitchers have been getting solid run support and effective pitching both from it's starters and bullpen of late. The true post trade deadline test comes this weekend as they face a good Chicago Whitesox team on top of the AL Central division. It may be too much to expect a the Sox to win 3 out of 4 in a big series, especially one conducted away from Fenway....but if it's going to happen, this might be the occurrence. The Sox have the advantage on paper with Lester, Dice-K, Buchholtz and Beckett going up against Buehrle, Contreras, Flyod and Danks. The only argument Southside fans could get away with is Flyod, who has been surprisingly effective this season. Tonight's game features Jon Lester, who, admit it, has exceeded your expectations. Not only is Lester 7-0 with a 2.56 ERA in 10 starts, but he's won his last three outings, allowing four runs in 21 1-3 innings over that span. "Straight cash homie" (Randy Moss)

Here's to a great weekend of important baseball games. With the Yanks matching up against the Angels and the Rays coming off back to back loses, this weekend is ripe with playoff implications.

Go sox.


Tonight's lineup:

1. Drew (don't like him here)
2. Dusty (i've been calling him that all year, it's sticking. Use it.)
3. Ortiz (any minute now, look out)
4. Youkilis (somehow still underrated)
5. Lowell (get better buddy)
6. Bay (the new mayor of Boston, sure beats mumbles)
7. Lowrie (kinda in man love with the way you're playing lately)
8. Tek (do something at the plate....anything!)
9. Coco (Mr. Crisp, I know Jacoby Ellsbury...and you sir, are no Jacoby Ellsbury)...but seriously, why is he not in tonight? Take a hot bat finally finding it's way out?...why Tito...por que adesso?
(image source: bostondirtdogs)
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