Red Sox Spring Training Analysis (Part 3)

This is the third and final stats-drive spring training analysis, mostly
because spring training is now over. If you haven’t read the first two
articles, check them out:
Part 1 and Part 2.

Today we’re going to look at J.D. Drew and Jason Bay, then take a quick look at the Red Sox pitching staff. 

We’ll
start with the oft-injured J.D. Drew. I think he’s going to have a
great year, because he’s under no pressure to carry the team like he
did last June. He’ll bat 5th, in between Youkilis and Bay, which is a
great place for him. J.D. Drew has come up with some of the most clutch
hits in the history of baseball, no pitcher is going to walk Youkilis
to get to Drew, and similarly, no pitcher would willingly walk Drew to
get to Bay.

Drew’s back will be the
main concern this season, but with capable back-ups, Francona will have
an easy time giving Drew the rest he needs. Think about it, when Drew
came back from his back issues for the playoffs, he hit some seriously
clutch hits and helped the Red Sox reach game 7 of the ALCS.

In
2007, Drew hit .321 with 13 hits, 1 home run, and 7 RBI in spring
training, then hit .270 with 126 hits, 11 homers, and 64 RBI. Of
course, Drew’s biggest contribution in 2007 was the 14 million dollar
two out Grand Slam in the ALCS , which we all remember fondly as the
day Boston fans officially forgave J.D. Drew. 

In
2008, Drew’s Spring Training posted frighteningly similar numbers: .321
average, 9 hits, 1 home run, and 5 RBI. for the 2008 season, where he
was absolutely on fire the month of June and then kind of…fizzled,
Drew hit .280 with 103 hits, 19 dingers, and 64 RBI.

I’m
beginning to wonder if a good spring is bad for Drew’s regular season,
which fills me with hope, because his 2009 spring training numbers are
down. He hit .265 with 9 hits and 1 RBI. 

So
what’s the projection for Drew this season? It’s difficult to say,
honestly, because we never know how many at-bats he’ll get or how much
his back will bother him.

My
projection is he’ll hit somewhere in the .270-.290 range with maybe 15
home runs, it could go higher if he is rested when he starts slumping.

Next we’ll look at Jason Bay.

Jason had a monster season last year, coming off an injury-dampened 2007. How will he look in his first full year as a Red Sox?

In
2008 spring training, Bay hit .231 with 9 hits and 5 RBI. He hit .286
with 165 hits, 31 homers, and 101 RBI during the regular season.

This spring, including his brief stint at the World Baseball Classic, Bay hit .285 with 12 hits, 4 home runs, and 11 RBI.

So
what’s the projection for 2009? Can Jason Bay replace Manny’s bat in
the line-up? No. But he can get pretty close. I’d look for Bay to have
another 30+ home run season, and bat around .280-.300. That could be
overly optimistic, but I have faith in him

.

The pitching staff
might be the strength of this Red Sox team, despite a talented line-up.
With three aces, four if Smoltz or Penny come back with a good bit of
their past form, and one of the best bull pens in the league, the Sox
are looking to make another run at the post-season.

In
this I’m going to look at the (current) starting five: Beckett, Lester,
Dice-K, Wakefield, and Penny. Then, in honor of the stellar ‘pen, we’ll
look at Papelbon to close things out.

Beckett is slated to
start opening day at Fenway against the Rays, so what should we expect
from him? Will he be good but not great like last year, or lights out
like he was in 2007? I’m banking on 2007, since he was never really
healthy in 2008.

My projection for
the 2009 season is that Beckett will be on form again, pitch about 200
innings, with 70-75 earned runs, 40-45 walks, and 185-190 strikeouts.
I’d look for him to post an ERA around 3.15-3.25.

Next
we have Jon Lester, who emerged as one of the game’s elite southpaws
last season, and should continue to build on that in 2009.

The
only concern facing Lester this year is the number of innings he threw
last year. He pitched 210 innings, and was clearly gassed by game 7 of
the ALCS.

While
I don’t expect him to pitch that many innings again, I project he will
throw about 190-200, with 70-75 earned runs, 60 walks, and 155-160
strike outs. I’d look for him to post an ERA of about 3.18-3.28.

Then
we have Daisuke Matsuzaka, the heart attack-inducing MVP of the World
Baseball Classic. Dice-K has looked good this spring, at the WBC and
with the Sox. While you should never count on him to eat innings, or
have a low number of walks, he’s just looking to have a break-out year.
I’d look for him to go about 176 innings, with 73 earned runs, 85-90
free passes, and 165-170 strike-outs. I’d look for him to post an ERA
around 3.45-3.65, but don’t discount him, it’s just as likely for that
ERA to settle out around 2.90-3.10.

Then
we have Tim Wakefield, the longest tenured Red Sox, and still pitching
strong. That’s mostly due to the fact he’s a knuckleballer, and thus
the pitching motion doesn’t wear on his shoulder like the normal
pitching motion.

So
will Wake look good again this year? Sure. He’s consistent. He should
eat about 186 innings, with 90-95 earned runs, 65-70 walks, and 115
strike outs. He should post an ERA of 3.85-4.00, but this won’t matter
as much if he can get the run support.

Tim Wakefield is going to give up two or three runs a game. His season record depends on how much run-support he gets.

Brad
Penny is the newest addition to the pitching staff, and like many of
the Red Sox additions, he’s coming off of an injury. Assuming he
recovers and gets back to some of his form, I’d look for Penny to go
between 170-190 innings, 75-80 earned runs, and post an ERA of
3.20-3.50. I have a wide range here because I’m not sure how Penny will
perform. It’s a sort of waiting game with him.

And now we’ll close this series off with one of the game’s elite closers, Jonathan Papelbon.

Paps
has posted great stats the past three years, with more than 30 saves in
2006, 2007, and 2008. I wouldn’t look for that to change at all. Last
year, Papelbon had 41 saves, I’d look for him to have between 40-45
saves this season and post an ERA of 2.60-2.80.

Papelbon
is the capstone of a stellar bull pen, and should have fewer four,
five, and six out saves this year because the road from the starter to
Papelbon is paved with pitchers like Takashi Saito, Justin Masterson,
lefty-specialist Javier Lopez, and many others.

With
that, I end my stats freak predictions. What’s my prediction for the
season? I think the Red Sox win the AL East, but it’s a tough road with
the Yankees and the Rays, so I think we’re in for a very exciting season.

No Freakin’ Way!

Sorry for the long hiatus, but midterms, projects and one nasty cold
have combined to keep me sleeping when not watching games or doing
homework. Notice how all of these things have to happen in the same
week? The Sox drop three games, I catch a monster cold, I have two midterms, a paper, and a project due and I have a massive shoot for the project that isn’t due for two weeks. On to the craziest comeback I’ve ever seen. Period.

So, the Sox were down by 7 heading into the 7th inning, and I was contemplating the merits of being a temporary Phillies fan.

And then Pedroia hit an RBI single and scores Lowrie. Finally, the Sox were on the board. Here I am thinking: at least we weren’t going to get shut out.

Pedroia Gets it Going
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=44765946,t=1,mt=video

Then Papi comes up, and with two men on, Papi swings…its going…going…THREE RUN SHOT! PAPI HITS A HOME RUN!!!!
At this point, I call my dad, who has gone to bed and tell him to put the game back on we’re only down by three runs and we’ve still got seven outs. Somehow, we can feel the momentum shifting our direction.

Papi’s 3-Run Shot
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=44765990,t=1,mt=video

Paps comes back for the top of the 8th and has a shut-down inning. And the momentum continues to shift. Then back come the Sox in the 8th. JBay gets on and bam! Mr. Clutch JD Drew comes up with a 2-run homer.

JD Drew’s 2-Run Homer
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=44766601,t=1,mt=video

Now the lead is down to one tiny little run. Then Mark Kotsay hits a towering 2-out RBI double and scores on a Coco Crisp single to tie the game. Even though Coco was thrown out at second (there were some weird throws in there, so he thought he could extend the single…) he is beyond excited, throwing his helmet and Fenway is going NUTS. PS…check out Mike Lowell when Kotsay doubles. I tell you what, he may not be playing, but he is still in the game.

Kotsay Doubles
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=44766080,t=1,mt=video

Coco Ties the Game
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=44766051,t=1,mt=video

In the 9th. Masterson is on and he gets into a little bit of trouble, but then gets Pena to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Key 463 Double Play
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=44766305,t=1,mt=video

So we head into the 9th, Pedroia, Papi and Youk up. (Pretty good order, huh?) Pedroia grounds out, Papi strikes out and its all up to Youk. He hits one to Longoria and I’m thinking extra innings, but it bounces off the glove of Pena and Youk is on 2nd. They give an intentional free pass to JBay and take on JD Drew. (AKA, Mr. Clutch) JD whacked a screaming liner passed Gross to score Youk and end the game.

JD walk off single
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=44764953,t=1,mt=video

And so the Red Sox staged the second greatest comeback in MLB postseason history (by one run) and force a trip back to St. Pete. The momentum shifted big time in the Sox favor, just like it did the Rays after the extra-innings victory in game 2. Here’s hoping they can keep it and head back to the Fall Classic! If not, whatever. This game was uh-mazing!

How To Ride The Red Sox Roller Coaster

Okay. I’m finally sitting down to do this after last night’s game. I reiterate how much I hate west-coast games and how excited I am that they are playing in the Fens tomorrow. I also gotta say, I usually don’t watch games with my dad. Being in school and all, you know, he’s not there. I’m home for the weekend so I got to watch it with him (its been about two years since we’ve watched a playoff game together). Watching with my dad truly highlighted the absolute difference in generations of fans. I’m from the generation where we don’t remember the heartaches as much. I mean, the first time I saw the Sox in the World Series, I was a month old and they lost (1986 WS). My mom eventually took me away from my dad, for fear that instead of the remote flying at the TV in frustration, it would be me. Of course, my dad would never actually throw me at the TV, but I digress…

So we’re watching the game, and I get nervous, turn my hat inside-out, change shirts, etc., but I don’t give up. I am an eternal optimist. The whole “Sox fans are all crazy pessimists” is a stereotype and you have to look at the ages of  these people. Those of us born in the past 20 years or so only remember a few bad years, like 2003. But we mostly remember 2004 and 2007. While we’ve heard all the stories of all the bad years, we didn’t live through it.

jbayhomer.jpgSo we’re watching the game, and my Dad is like a yo-yo. He can go from loving the Sox to needing a Prozac in 30 seconds or less. Two outs in the first, Drew is up to bat, Papi and Youk are on base. Dad is thinking of JD’s game 1. Then he hits a double and scores Papi. Next up, Jason Bay. At this point, Dad is just amazed, because the Red Sox never rally with 2 outs. Lets be honest, here, no one really does. So Bay steps up and launches a three-run shot, becoming the first Red Sox player ever to homer in his first two post-season games. (Think he’s enjoying his first trip into October?)

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After that, we watched (me nervously, my dad, angrily) as the Angels pecked away at our lead, until finally, in the eighth, its tied 5-5 on a sac-fly in the 8th (inherited runner from Masterson). Due to the day of rest, both Tito and Scioscia had the closers on in the 8th. Paps shuts down the inning, continuing to have a 0.00 ERA in the post-season (its only two games, but still…) At this point, I have changed my shirt to bring some good kharma and my Dad is close to giving up. And we both really, really, really want to strangle the rally monkey (seriously). So Papi hits a double and we come to Drew with one out in the ninth. JD’s  been fierce tonight, and me, the eternal optimist, have already said before this inning: one fo them could hit a home run, you know. My dad scoffed at this but a two-run dinger from JD Drew let me say “I told you so”. JD Drew hit a homer off of K-Rod, with the count 2-2. That just doesn’t happen. All of Red Sox nation is again celebrating JD Drew’s clutch homer (remember last year?) which immediately silenced the crowd and put away the monkeys (seriously, monkeys?).

jdhomer.jpg 

youkwow.jpgDown to the bottom of the ninth, Pap is back, and Hunter bunts, but is out on a good play by Youk. Then Matthews works Paps for quite a few pitches, and fouls one off. It’s going to land in the cameras, but Youk reaches in and grabs it for an amazing catch and the 2nd out of the 9th. Then Paps gets Kendrick to end the game and put Boston ahead in the series 2-0. So here’s to game 3, and for my father’s health (I seriously worry about his heart during the playoffs) I hope they blow the Angels out of the water.

In other news: I’m currently watching the Cubs continue to collapse. Its the middle of the 8th and they are down 3-1 to the Dodgers, two out, one guy on. My prediction is the Dodgers are about to achieve what the Brewers managed to avoid today: the sweep. Any one taking the ChiSox at home? I am. I have this feeling that series is going to go 4 or 5 games. Obviously, I’m gonna take the Sox at home to finish the sweep of the Halos. Maybe killing the rally monkey in the process…you know, maybe one time he bounces right into a black hole or something? Sorry. I have an inexplicable hatred for the Rally monkey. Not sure what that’s about, but…eh.

Hopefully on the playlist for tomorrow: Sweet Caroline, I’m Shipping Up To Boston, Dirty Water and Tessie. GO SOX!  

A Bay-utiful Morning For the Red Sox

Okay, yes, technically it was not morning for the Red Sox, but it was for me as I sat, bleary-eyed, surrounded by research paper sources and cans of diet coke, on my couch last night/this morning. And since the Sox are an east coast team, we’ll just say that very early this morning, the Sox took game one of the ALDS.

How did they do it? In that spectacular, down-to-the-wire, saved-by-great-plays, give-all-your-fans-a-heart-attack way that the Red Sox specialize in. The Angels scored first, capitalizing on an error by Lowrie which should have been out #3 but instead it lead to the Angel’s only run of the game. Since the Sox were scoreless, hitting atrociously with men on, I thought that was going to be the game. Not good for a young player’s psyche.

So we continue on, two outs in the top of the sixth, and Youk walks. So here comes Bay, who has struck out twice. At this point, I’m picking up my books so that when they go to the commercial for the middle of the innings, I’ll be all prepared to do homework. Then Bay just rips one, and it keeps going, and I’m standing up, trying desperately not to wake the rest of my house up (lame people who don’t like baseball and a Phillies fan who was done with it for the night) so I just did a happy dance and sat back down and called my dad. Its his fault I’m this crazy, anyway.
 
bay youk.png

(image courtesy of mlb.com)

Lester was sick. Lester was a beast. Lester proved what I’ve been believing all season, he is one of the best pitchers in the league. And of course, Jacoby had a beastly night. I mean, the catches, the hits, the stealing. I’m just waiting for him to score on a wild pitch. From second. JD Drew and Mikey were back in the lineup, and though they didn’t really produce, Mike hit a few that were well-hit balls but better defensive plays.

lester pitch.png

 

(image from mlb.com)

Oh, and something else historic happened last night. A second Angels player got a hit on Paps. The entire post-season roster is now 2 and 40 against the closer. I like that stat, I just want that big number to keep getting bigger.

Day off today, then again in La-La-Land for another late-night game. This one starts a whole 1/2 hour earlier, but since the next day is Saturday, who cares?

A final note: Jacoby Ellsbury, who had a stellar night including a great diving catch seen in the image below, has a new blog on MLBlogs, it’s called “Jacoby Ellsbury’s Postseason Blog” and you can read it here

ellsbury dive.png

(image from mlb.com)

Red Sox Clinch Playoff Spot Squeaking By the Indians

After dropping the first game against the Indians, the Red Sox rebounded to win two close ones against the Tribe.

wohoo youk.pngFirst after rocking Cliff Lee’s world in the 4th and 5th for 5 runs (note, on any other pitcher this would not be “rocking” but for Lee…oh yeah). Youk and Pedroia came up big with 2 RBIs each, and Bay drove in the game-winning run.Youk hit a 2-run homer in the fourth and Pedey came through with a 2-run double in the fifth. After Youk was intentionally walked in the 5th, Bay made the Indians pay with a 2-out RBI single.
 

paps celebrate.pngAfter Paps notched the save, the Sox celebrated. ESPN First Take wondered if the celebration was over the top. Uh, hello, I think the Indians would kill to be where we are. So would 30 other teams, it would do the accomplishment a disservice not to celebrate. Just because they are defending champs doesn’t mean they should treat this whole thing as ho-hum. I’m sure the Yankees would love to be in this position right now (PS, enjoy October golfing, A-Rod, I hear its fantastic!) Not only is this a huge accomplishment, because very few teams have managed to return to the post-season the next year after winning the World Series but also because of how absolutely banged up the Sox have been this year.
So congratulations Red Sox, you are going to the Post-Season! (And the Yankees aren’t for the first time in 13 years! Yay!)

bailey.pngNow on to last night’s game. They were clearly trying to get everyone ready for the post season, having clinched and no longer worrying about the Wild Card race. Obviously, we still want to win the East and avoid the Angels in the first round, but if we can do it by resting the big guys and getting some guys a tune-up. JD Drew was back in the line-up tonight for a three-inning tune up, then both Van Every and Bailey got some playing time (with Bailey ripping a triple in his first at-bat of the night and scoring the game-winning run of Kotsay’s double). In both nights, the bull pen was put to work, but they seem to be shutting it down and getting it done, Manny D even got the save instead of Paps.

Now, the only thing left to do is have the Rays lose the next four and the Sox win the next four. Unfortunately for us, that means one more game against the Indians and three against the Yankees in a series that, surprisingly, will not matter. Although I’m sure there will be a bit of taunting about the Red Sox win ending the Yankees 13 year post-season streak.

Next game is tonight, 7:05 Sowers vs. Lester.  Go Sox!

Add on: Here’s another great video from Cinco Ocho (otherwise known as Papelbon) Check out this video and many others here


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Sox Blank Jays, Yanks halt the Clinch

Okay. So all we needed was a Yankees
loss after Dice, Oki and Paps combined to shut out the Jays. But it was
the last game to ever be played at Yankee stadium, did you really think
they were going to lose?


Nope.


Lets honor the House That Ruth Built after the Sox Traded Him For
Goodness-Knows-Why with the top 5 Red Sox moments at Yankee Stadium (in
no particular order)




1. 10/19/2004 ALCS Game 6: The Bloody Sock. Schill pitches great, giving up only 1 run in  7 innings.

 

2. 10/17/2004 ALCS Game 4: Papi’s 2-run shot in the 12th to win the game and keep the Sox alive.



3. 10/20/2004 ALCS Game 7: Sox cruise by the Yanks 10-3 and go on to win their first World Series in 86 years.



4. 4/14/1967 Rookie Billy Rohr kicks
off his Major League career and the “Impossible Dream” season by coming
within one out of a no-hitter. A soft grounder blew the no-hitter, but
the Sox still got the shut-out.




5. 7/16/2008 All-Star Game. J.D. Drew
became MVP of the game going 2-4 and hitting the game-tying home run in
the 7th. The game went 15 innings, and featured 8 Red Sox players and
the skipper, Terry Francona. A long game, but a great send off for the
stadium. 🙂




That’s all I got. I’m going to bed. Bring on the Indians.

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
home.

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.

4.
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!

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Favorite Red Sox Moments of 2007/2008

First, check out these posters, made on the Despair, Inc. website:

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 (click images to see full-size)

And now on to my Top Red Sox Moments of 2007-2008
(these are my favorites so far, share yours in the comment section!)
10. Papelbon and Manny D’s Rain Delay video.(see #5)

9. Pedroia is the “Daddy” of Dancing (see #5)

8. Jacoby Ellsbury Stealing Bases (and a Taco!)

7. Jacoby Ellsbury Defense. He goes for it, 100%of the time. Here’s just one example:

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6. Grand Slams. From JD Drew’s 14-million dollar shot in 2007 to Youk and Pedroia’s firsts in 2008.

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5. Papelbon dancing. (no other description required)

4. Youk’s Wall-Ball Triple

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3. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis in the mix for AL MVP.

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2. Jon Lester throws a no-hitter

1. Winning the World Series

paps.jpgLike what you see? Have a different favorite? Let me know!

 

Out With A Bang

The Red Sox opened the last series they will ever play at the House That Ruth Built. And they opened it with style.

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Wake did more than I expected him to after coming back to the lineup, if you manage to scatter 8 hits over five innings with only three runs scoring means you’re either Dice-K or you’re doing pretty good.

All in all, Wake was solid. Manny, not so much, J-Mas (as we are starting to call him) was the beast of the bull pen that he has become. Can we discuss how perfect it was that both Wake and Masterson got the great and powerful A-Rod to hit into a double play? Wow. Did I mention he was 5-0 tonight? Not good for the #4 spot. Sorry, I can’t resist the chance to poke a little bit of fun at the Yankees. I’m a Sox fan, its in my genes.

I will say this, if only to kharmically balance out poking fun at A-Rod. Damon clearly still has Wake’s number. I guess he’s seen the knuckler in action enough to be able to hit off him. That’s my theory, anyways.

A couple of double-plays, a few good hits, and some good base-running later, we had a lead. Always good with the Sox, but with the Sox, doesn’t always mean much. The good news is this, in a game where we won 7-3, our big guys were having a little bit of an off night. We have no Mikey (who was struggling, but you can never count him out), we have no Drew, and Pedroia was a little off his game. That said, Papi had a Yankee-killing night, Bay and Bailey (yay new guy!) had a pair of RBIs each, Youk only had 1 hit, but it was an RBI. And Jacoby, back in the lead-off where he doesn’t do as well (lets face it, he has to grow into that spot) only had one hit, but it was a clutch 2-out RBI. 

pedey.jpgDP getting a little DP action.
And finally, we have this gem given to us by the ‘stash himself:

bay safe.jpgI can hear the New York fans screaming “Don’t worry about him! Throw the runner out at HOME!” Of course, probably with a few more explitives thrown in. A-Rod fields the ball, throws, but Bailey is too fast, he’s safe, all the Umps are doing that motion that looks like they’re flattening a sheet, you know, really emphatically to get all the wrinkles out, and Giambi isn’t looking. He’s not sure if Bailey is out or not. Of course, it didn’t help that the Sox runners were their faster ones (I love him, but I’m glad it was Coco not Big Papi running those bases)

Finally, lets talk injuries (and no, I don’t mean Brady’s mysterious bone-bruising that will magically disappear in September)
Beckett will be back in the line-up Friday, Mikey is working his way back in, JD wants to be back by the 2nd. Needless to say, once September comes a-knocking, its amazing how many players come off the DL, especially if their team is in or close to being in the post-season. Now, I’m not knocking the players and saying they’re faking it, I’m saying that Lowell will play through hip pain if it can secure him another shot at the World Series, and JD Drew will do everything in his power to make his back feel better in time to get to October. They will push and work hard and get  their way through rehab as fast as they can because, hey, its September, where one series can be the difference between going golfing in October or playing on for all the marbles.

I’m gonna say this now, baseball gods, do not be angered, it is not a prediction, merely an observation. If they Yankees do not win this series against the Wild Card Race leading Sox, then their chances at October are looking pretty slim. Merely for the fact that they only go head-to-head with the Sox once more this year, and a 7 or 8 game deficit is hard to make up in one month. Because then not only do you have to win pretty much every game, you have to pray that the Sox will lose games. They both have a similar (and tough) schedule coming up, but the Yanks have some serious road-tripping, while Boston stays mostly at home. All I know is that I hope and pray that the Sox win, the Yankees lose, and if Tampa Bay starts tanking, I wouldn’t mind that much either. 

Dice-K and Dustin: The Road Warriors

Okay. Dice-K wasn’t dicey. At least until the 8th. That was a switch. And the Sox are looking good on the road, I mean, its against the Mariners, but still. I’ll take what I can get. 

072308_dicek329__1216791268_2657.jpgSome really good things happened yesterday:

1. Dice-K went 7 1/3 and only let in 2 runs towards the end there…not too bad
2. Okajima looked good. It was like a flashback to last year, maybe he’s out of his slump?
3. Paps notched save #30. That’s the third year in a row he’s had a least 30 saves in a season. 
    And its only July. We’ve got a lot more baseball to play.
4. Tek had another hit. Do we dare to hope?
5. Mikey had a good day swinging the bat, possibly signifying that he’s coming out of his little mini-slump
6. Jacoby Ellsbury looked good. I mean, he didn’t have a great night for a lead-off man, but he looked good.
7. Manny and Dustin extended their game hit-streaks to 11 and 23, respectively.
8. This afternoon’s game will hopefully be the last one we play this season without Papi, who returns for Friday’s home stand against the Yanks.
9. JD Drew homered. That’s always a good thing.
10. The Rays lost. Actually, the Rays got spanked. Good stuff.

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So now that we’ve discussed the  10 good things that happened last night, lets talk about something magical. I  was watching the game, and there were a couple of balls hit to third, and I remember thinking: “okay, good, we got that out.” when in fact Mikey had barely begun to field the ball. The duo of Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis is the most comforting corner combination ever. They are both tremendous defensive players, and sometimes I feel like any ball hit to them is an automatic out. And obviously Dustin Pedroia is up there too, they’re all golden glove candidates (again in Mikey and Youk’s case) in my book. That should have been your All-Star infield: Youk, Pedroia, Jeter, Mikey. (A-Rod is WAY overrated. I mean, at least Jeter is good and a class-act, but A-Rod…eh. not so much.)

Clay B. is starting for the Sox this afternoon (what a weird time for a game, not that I’m complaining, because I’ve been up late every night this week watching the late night games. I mean, I know its a 1:40 game in Seattle, but 4:40 is just a bizarre time to start a game ) hopefully this start will be better than the last few, especially since the Sox are up against Felix Hernandez, which is quite scary (especially for righties).

What do we need?

We need a quality outing from Buchholz, good, clutch bats from the boys, and I want to see Paps out there in the 9th. And a Rays loss wouldn’t hurt either 🙂

Go Sox!!