Oh Captain, My Captain

A quick message for Theo: BRING BACK TEK!

You knew it was coming. The Prince of Darkness AKA Scott Boras wants a four year deal for Tek. He’s too old for four, but he won’t take two. Here’s what you do, Sox. You offer him two years with two additional option years. I realize that he’s like an automatic out at the plate. I realize that he’s expensive (mostly due to greed on Boras’s behalf) but I’m worried about the team without him. If he retired, they’d be fine, but if he was playing somewhere else, like Detroit, it would end badly. I realize the Boston mantra is generally “out with the old” but this is not Nomar or Manny or anyone, this is Tek. This is the CAPTAIN. He is the leader, and I’d rather have us bite the bullet on a two year deal with options or a three year deal and keep the soul of this team.

Intangibles are important. Look at the change in the locker room pre- and post-Manny. They were a totally different team after the trade. But that wasn’t just Manny being gone. They played for each other, not just with each other. Even if we brought back healthy vets like Lowell, you’d still be losing the rock of the team in Varitek.

Besides, its not like there is a stellar crop of catchers out there.

On to more free-agents-to-be.

Casey and Kotsay are both free-agents. I feel like we should keep one of them as backups, they both have decent bats (Casey more than Kotsay) and play good defense (Kotsay more than Casey). I’d rather keep Kotsay, as much as I love Casey, because he can play infield and outfield. Of course, with a healthy JD Drew, Jason Bay, Ellsbury, and possibility of Crisp returning, will we need it? (answer: yes. You never know who is going to get hurt. it’s always better to be prepared).

Alex Cora is up for free-agency, and I don’t think we’ll keep him if we can’t dump Lugo off on someone. That’s a shame because he’s a decent back-up we can groom to become a really great manager. Have you ever heard this guy talk about baseball? He is so smart! And Tito loves him. Personally, I’d rather have a Lowrie-Cora infield than a Lowrie-Lugo one. Yipes! I’d like to keep Cora (if we can) and shift the infield around. Have Pedroia play short, Youk play second, and Lowell at third, picking up Texiera to play 1st. Then we can have great back-ups in Cora and Lowrie so the guys can have a day off on occasion.

Timlin and Schill are both up, but guys, you need to retire. Do it now when you can go out with people still loving you. Don’t do a Brett Farve. You’re done. Go play golf and look at your shiny World Series rings.

Byrd and Lopez I have mixed feelings about. If we can keep them for a bargain, good, if not…eh.

Up for arbitration:

Paps. We need to get him a raise and an option deal. I wouldn’t tie him
up for years because of shoulder injuries/etc. but he’s a great closer.
Maybe give him the same option Wake has? Or something similar.

Cash. Wake is back and he will likely be too. Tek can catch Wake, but
if we get a new catcher (shudder) we’ll need Cash and his experience
with the knuckle-ball.

Pedroia. Give him a long-term deal (with a raise). This kid is for real, and he’s young. Lock him up.

Lester. Same as Pedroia. In about three years, Lester could be the best pitcher in baseball. Period.

Youk. This one is a no-brainer. Give the man a raise and lock him up for a few more years.

So that’s my picks for the off-season. We need a pitcher. Maybe another bat. And bid on CC to raise the price for the Yankees. (he he)

Comeback and Sunday’s Game LIVE!

What a comeback last night. Whew. Scary. Live blog time!

Holy cow. What a match-up today. Halladay (on short rest) vs southpaw ace Lester.

Crap. Home run Toronto. Lester is throwing rockets but his control is off. Good thing we have game-manager extraordinare behind the plate (thank goodness for Tek!)

Batter up.

Single Jacoby! Yay! Here comes MVP Dustin Pedroia! (What? I can hope, can’t I?)
Steal Jacoby and Sac-bunt for Dustin, Jacoby to third and here comes big Papi. All we need is a single or sac-fly. I tell you what, Dustin does it all, home runs, sac-flies, doubles, triples, bunts…Papi’s out at first but Jacoby scores, tie game.

Youuuuuuuukkkkk. After a long at-bat, Youk hits a bat-shattering single. Mikey up.

Okay, I get that Toronto really wants to win, but pitching Halladay on three days rest is really not a good move, especially in September. Mike is out at first, and we go to commercial.

Overbay is up. And Lester got him. And the Yankees are leading the Rays 6-3 in the bottom of the 2nd (wow). Say it with me everyone. “Let’s go Yankees!”

Okay, count is full on Rolen and Lester walks him. He is really not finding the strike zone right now.  Wacko chopper, nice stop Pedroia and a bang-bang play. He’s out.

Lester is up 0-2 on McDonald. Come on Jon, just one more strike and we’re good. McDonald is battling. Lester really needs to get some control down, because he’s thrown WAY too many pitches for it to only be the 2nd inning. Swing and a miss, he’s out. Commercial time.

Back to the game. JBay is up. Bottom of the third, Yankees up 6-3 bottom of the third. Oh! JBay hits a double. Yay for JBay! Here comes the Captain. Come on Tek! We love Tek. Whatever he can do to get JBay to third or to score, he’ll do it. And you can talk about how his average is down – good eye Tek! – we need that man behind the plate as long as we can because that man is a beastly fabulous leader. Good job, Captain, sac-single to get JBay to third.

Cora is up and the infield is in. I have a feeling we’re in for a pitchers duel. Both pitchers are up over 30 pitches in the 2nd. The ‘pens will be getting some work tonight. Okay, I think the TBS is in love with Halladay, because they are fawning all over him. Yes, he is a great pitcher, but come on!

Oh, Cora out on strikes. Coco is up. I’d recognize that batting stance anywhere. Oh, and announcers, its impossible to take the Fenway crowd completely out of the game, you underestimate the fan-base.

Coco hits a 2-out RBI single and Ellsbury is up. He has caught fire again, and I am hoping he  can make a big push for Rookie of the Year. Bunt, but they got him. Inning over.

Lester seems to be getting things under control…big hit but Coco is there…1 out. Come on Lester, get them up. Liner back, Lester misses, Pedroia scoops it up and gets the out at first. 2 down. Next up, Alex Rios. Lester gets ahead 1-2. Lets close this one out with a K, lefty. Rips one…they try for it but its in the alley. Double for Rios. Next batter. He pops up and Cora gets it. Inning over.

Dustin is up. I love him, he doesn’t think any pitcher should be able to get him out, and he goes up knowing he’s going to get a hit. That’s the kind of batter I like. Fly out, out 1. That’s okay, here comes Papi. 2-2 on Papi, and he is really not happy with himself. And he strikes out swinging. Top of the 5th and the Yanks are still beating the Rays. Remember that old adage “I root for the Red Sox and anyone playing the Yankees”? Well, things sure have changed.

Youk’s up, down 0-2. Seems like Halladay has found his zone, but Youk is battling. Hit to third, out at fist.

While the Jays are up, here’s a score update: Yankees lead TB 6-3, Os lead Twins 5-0. Good things for the AL East and good things for the AL Wild Card.

Nice catch by Ellsbury for the second out. Wow, what a play by Lowell and Youk! Three out.

Three-up, three down. Crap. Anyone else think the strike zone on this guy is a little off? Oh well, at least he’s consistent.

Batista against JLes, Ellsbury has the catch. You gotta love the Sox outfeild right now. Coco and Ellsbury are speed demons and can move all over to catch the ball. And Jason Bay isn’t exactly slow either. Line out to Mikey and its 2 out. Lester is 2-2 on Batista, got him.

Okay, back to the game with 2 outs in the fifth.  Jacoby up. Come on buddy, get  a rally going.  At least stop the Halladay streak of retiring batters. Nope.  Took a swing at a bad one and struck out.

Bring on the 6th.

I have a theory about the TBS annoucers. I think they are biased, they clearly want Toronto to win this game. Now, in a nationally broadcast game, where there are many more Red Sox fans. Grounder to Pedroia, out at first. Grounder to Mikey and out at first. Liner and foul. 0-2. They are really swinging  at Lester. Swing and a miss and Lester has taken out 8 in a row.

Dustin is up to start. Lets break the Halladay streak. He’s thrown 85 pitches, they have to be getting close to pulling him. Pedroia hits it to third, thrown out at first. And here comes Papi. Yankees still beating the Rays, bottom of the 6th. Papi’s wrist is still kind of bothering him, but he won’t rest until the Sox are done for the season, because that is how Papi plays. Full count. Fly out. Youk is up, Halladay is behind 3-0 on him.  A few pitches later and its full count. Infield ground ball, out at first.

Lester is looking pretty good. Got his sixth K. Dang, Mikey couldn’t make a play, but good stop anyway. I don’t care if Halladay has retured 13 batters and Lester only retired 9. Scoreboard!

Walked him. Two on. Come on Lester! Masterson is warming up in the ‘pen, I love watching him pitch!

DP for Cora, DP and Youk, inning over.

Mikey is up. Halladay is at 105 pitches, full count on Lowell. Base hit Mikey. Lets get a rally started! Bay-man is up, popped out. Bring on the Captain, base hit for Tek! Cora is up and takes one high, ball 1. Hits it, Tek’s out at 2nd, but they can’t get the double play on Cora. Coco is up to bat. Line to left, drops down for a hit and Mikey is in. Coco gets his second 2-out RBI. Jacoby is up. Pops out. Inning done, but another run to pad the lead. Yay!

Okay, I’m gonna shut it down so I can go and get ready to watch the Patriots game. This has been fun, but I’ll blog later. 

Red Sox Blank Rays, Close In On AL East

jles.pngRed Sox 3 Rays 0. Lester pitched into the 8th, allowing 0 runs on 6 hits, striking out 9 and walking 3. Paps came in and got a 4 out save allowing 1 hit and striking out 3. With this win, the Red Sox pull into within a half game of the AL East-leading Rays and move up to 7 games in front of the idle Twins for the Wild Card.

Not really the best night for the bats, considering the Sox had 9 hits and only 3 runs, all of those coming in the bottom of the 1st.  Lester  pitched 7+ innings of shut-out baseball, and Jackson pitched  6 shut-out innings. Fortunately for the Sox, that early jump proved to be enough to win the game.

Tonight the Red Sox made baseball history, breaking the streak for most consecutive home sell-outs with 456, beating the Cleveland Indian’s streak of 455. In honor of that, we will look at the 15 greatest moments at Fenway since May 15th, 2003 (when the sell-outs started).

Why 15? Well, 456 is reasons is way too many to cover in one blog, but 4+5+6=15, which is a much more manageable (not to mention readable!) amount.

15. April 22, 2007: Home Run Bonananza The Sox tie a major league record high 4 HR’s   back to back to back to back home runs in the third to help the Sox onto their first sweep     of the Yankees in Fenway since 1990. Hitting HRs were Manny, JD Drew, Lowell and     Varitek.

14. August 1 2008: A Brand New Bay Jason Bay makes his debut after the down-to-the-wire trade which sent Manny to LA and a few prospects to Pittsburgh. He has a great night,    
hitting well and making a spectacular catch, even scoring the winning run on Jed Lowrie’s
single in the 12th. This is not so great because of the game itself, but the fact that energy     returned to the Red Sox as they played like a completely different team after ridding    
themselves of Manny being Manny and his dramatic unhappiness.

13. October 25, 2007: Schill’s Last Game: In the last home appearance of the Red Sox in    
the 07 World Series, Schil and crew hang on to win a 2-1 pitcher’s duel with the Rockies.
12. July 2, 2007 Ellsbury Scores from Second on a Wild Pitch: Three days into his major league tenure, Jacoby Ellsbury did the nearly
impossible. He scored on a wild pitch from    
second base. Texas reliever
Willie Eyre hit catcher Gerald Laird in the leg with a pitch,
and Ellsbury was gone. He never
stopped, never thought twice as third base coach waved     him

11. October 5, 2007 Manny’s First Walk-Off Home Run: Manny knocks a three-run shot out of the park to give the Boston Red Sox a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League
    Division Series, beating the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) 6-3.

10. September 21, 2006 David Ortiz hits Red Sox Record Home Runs: David Ortiz    
cemented himself in the Boston record books by hitting 54 home runs in a single season in
2006. It was his 51st, on this date, that put him past Jimmie Foxx’s single-season record,
and made him (officially) Boston’s Home Run King.

9. April 5, 2007 Dice-K’s Debut: Dike K strikes out ten in his major league debut and gives Sox fans a preview of all the Ks that are to come.
arodtek fight.jpg8. July 24, 2004 The Fight: A-Rod is hit
by a Bronson Arroyo pitch and proceeds to jaw about it all the way down the first base line. He and Varitek have words, and bam! A-Rod gets a face full of angry catcher’s mit. A bench-clearing brawl later, Tek, A-Rod, Kenny Lofton, Gabe Kapler and Tito were all ejected.

7. September 28, 2007 Red Sox vs.    Twins: A Red Sox win and a Yankee’s     loss gives Boston’s its first division title     in 12 years. Dice-K racks up the K’s     and bows to the fans, while Papelbon    
dances barefoot and thousands of fans hang around for almost an hour to see     the results of the Yankee’s game.
6. May 13, 2007 The Mother’s Day Miracle: Bottom of the 9th, the Red Sox are down 5-0 to  the Baltimore Orioles, Julio grounds out, then Coco singles on a throwing error by Ramon     Hernandez and Papi scores him. Mo Pena somehow manages a single that moves David     to third. After both JD Drew and Youk manage a walk, scoring Papi,  Tek comes up and     doubles, scoring both Drew and Mo. Hinske walks, and Youk is out at home (its very close, though).  Back up to bat is Lugo, who made the first out of the inning. He reaches on a throwing error and Hinske and Tek score to win the game.

5. October 20, 2007 JD Drew’s clutch Grand Slam in game 6 of the ALCS: the Sox down to the Indians 3 games to 2, proved to be the straw that broke the Indians’ back and    propelled the Sox to their second World Series win in four years. It was the shot that was heard ’round Boston and will probably always be known as the 14
million dollar grand-slam,     simply because with the bases loaded and
no out, Fausto Carmona had struck out Manny     and gotten Lowell to
pop out, very few people had faith in the then-struggling outfielder.

September 1, 2007 Clay Buchholz’s No-Hitter: In his second Major League start, rookie pitcher Clay Buchholz tossed the 17th no-hitter in Red Sox history, striking out 9, walking     three and hitting one batter in the 10-0 defeat of the Baltimore Orioles. Why is this ranked     behind Lester’s? Keep reading.

3. May 19, 2008 Jon Lester’s No-Hitter: The reason behind this being ahead of Buchholz’s no-no is because not only was it the first Red Sox lefty no-no since 1956, it was also a     record for Jason Varitek, who has now caught 4 no-hitters, more than any other catching.     Aided by a spectacular catch by Ellsbury and some heads-up infield plays, the Sox beat     the Royals 7-0.

2. October 18, 2004 ALCS Game 5: After going 12 innings the night before, the epic game 5
outdid it by going 14, ending when Big Papi’s single brought in Damon for the win. The Sox     would go on to Yankee stadium for the Bloody Sock game, and as the 26th team in playoff history to
face a 3-0 series deficit, become the first to force a Game Seven.

1. October 17 2004  ALCS Game 4:  The Sox go 12 innings, with a walk-off homer in the 12th. But they never would have gotten there if Dave Roberts hadn’t stolen 2nd and scored     on Bill Mueller’s single, tying the game 4-4 in the 9th. This sparked the Sox comeback,     down 3 games to none, to win it in seven take their first World Series in 86 years.

So there you go, 15 great moments from the sell-out period of Fenway park. Next up: A big time pitching show-down as Rays ace Kazmir takes on Sox stud Dice-K. Should be a great game, with the AL East being given to the winner. (If only for a day) So put on your best Papelbon glare and watch the game!

Picture 11.png 

Take A Deep Breath…And Let It Out

I have some staggering stats for you following last night’s down-to-the-wire game.

455. Fenway has sold out 455 consecutive times. Tying the Indians record for most consecutive sell-outs. When they return home after the brief trip to Texas, they will break the record.

.621: That’s Dustin Pedroia’s batting average over the past 7 days.

3.79: that’s the ERA for the starting pitchers. Not bad when your team has average 5.3 runs a game. Look for the ERA to get lower as we roll into September and October. (Especially if Beckett returns to his dominance, and Lester gets his power under control.)

97. That’s how fast Lester threw one pitch against the Orioles. He claims to have never gone higher than 96 in his career. If he can get a fastball that fast under control, he will be the ace of the AL.

44: Stolen bases for Jacoby Ellsbury, who has struggled to get on base all year. Imagine how much larger that number would be if he could get on base more often…

110 and 191. That’s how many times Dustin Pedroia has scored and how many hits he has this season. Those are both Major Leage Leading Stats.

2. That’s how many players the Red Sox have who are in the running for MVP, some might even say that they are the front-runners.

and finally…

3. That’s the games back we are on Tampa Bay, who still have one more
night with the Yankees, who have now won 6 straight road games. We still lead the Wild Card, but I would love to retake the East just in time for the playoffs.

Now, back to the game.

Dice-K did well, not one of his stronger outings, but not bad either. We just could not get any offense going.

Except for Dustin, who looks like he could get a hit in his sleep.  The bottom half of the order produced too, at least, a little.

Youk was again out, and Jason Bay had the day off, so already the bats are just a little bit weaker.

The Sox started to come back, then stalled, leaving the score at 4-2 Orioles.

Then Papi got a free pass. Dustin got a double, and Kotsay hit a wall-bouncing triple to score them both, tying the game in the bottom of the 8th.

yaypedey.jpgThe Sox held the Orioles, who threatened with two men on in the 9th, but could not deliver, and then the bottom of the order came up. Cora singled, then Crisp singled on a wack-a-doodle bunt that 99% of the time rolls foul, but didn’t, then Jacoby, who popped out in the 7th with the bases loaded and 2 outs, stepped up and bunted. Cora dived into third, the ball was overthrown, so he got up and scored, meeting his teammates at home, ecstatic to have come back and finished the sweep, something that had been unable to do against the White Sox and against the Yankees.

Yay. And Crisp was running his heart out, not realizing that Cora was the winning run and the game was over.

That might be the weirdest walk-off win I have ever seen, on a sac-bunt and a throwing error.

We have the night off. Good. I’m tired and I need to watch the season opener for FOOTBALL!!!! Yay.

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