Marathon Morning: Red Sox Sweep The Orioles With A Twelve Run Rout

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Its a good morning when you have a
baseball game at 11 and you have nothing to do. Its even better when
you get to see a young guy pull off a show-stopping performance on Patriots Day of all days. All while thousands of people ran in the 113th Boston Marathon.

Justin
Masterson, usually the long reliever/all around lights
out pitcher from the bull pen, got his first start of 2009. In 5
innings he struck out 3, walked 2, and allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits. Not a bad outing, considering he did all that
on just 84 pitches. And thanks to the Red Sox very strong bull pen,
that one run was the only one allowed all game.

The bats got going in the first, when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double. A single from Dustin Pedroia scored the speedy Ellsbury, and a ground out from Baldelli brought in Dustin, putting the Sox up by two.

In the second, Jason Varitek continued with his seemingly rejuvenated
swing (its only a few weeks into the season, but I remain optimistic)
and launched a solo shot into the monster seats, where fans were
alternating between watching the game, and watching the marathon
runners make their way through Kenmore Square.

The Orioles scored in the third, and it remained close until the bottom of the sixth. Another RBI single for Pedroia and a triple from David Ortiz made it 6-1, Red Sox.

The bull pen held the Orioles to a scoreless top half of the seventh,
and then the Red Sox really got started. The Orioles faced 12 Red Sox
batters, Mike Lowell had an RBI double and an RBI single in the inning.
Also with RBI singles in the seventh were Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Youkilis.

The
best part of today? With the exception of Ortiz, who’s average is up to
.196, the rest of the team is now hitting above .220. Pedroia got
moving, so did Ellsbury, and Ortiz had a good day with two hits, two
RBI, and a run scored.

Lefty pitcher Hunter Jones made his major league debut, and pitched a scoreless 9th for the Red Sox, while Rocco Baldelli left the game in the fourth with a mild hamstring strain, and Orioles third-basemen Ryan Freel left the game in the third after being hit by a pick-off attempt from Masterson. He went to the hospital as a precaution, but there is no news yet on when he will return to the Orioles line up.

The
Sox now have a five game winning streak, are back over .500, and have
now won their 66th Patriot’s Day game, which started with a 21-gun
salute from the Minutemen, and ended with a 12-run salute from the Red
Sox.

Red Sox Spring Training Analysis (Part 2)

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A few days ago, I posted an article analyzing the Red Sox and using
my stats love to predict the 2009 season based on spring training. You
can read that article here, if you haven’t.This is the second in what will be a series of articles.

Today I’m going to look at the question marks of the Red Sox, Mike Lowell, Jed Lowrie, and Kevin Youkilis.

We’ll start with Mike Lowell, who had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.

In Spring Training 2007, Mike hit .170 with 9 hits, 3 homers, and 8 RBI.

In his World Series MVP 2007 Season, he hit .324 with 191 hits, 21 dingers, and 120 RBI.

In Spring Training 2008, he batted .237 with 9 hits, 2 home runs, and 5 RBI

2008 was a down year for Mike, mostly due to his hip issue. He hit .274 with 115 hits, 17 homers, and 73 RBI.

So,
how does he bounce back? He’s looked good so far in spring training,
and the hip doesn’t seem to be bothering him. In spring training this
year, Lowell has hit .286 with 9 hits, 3 home runs and 4 RBI.

My
prediction for the 2009 season? I think he bounces back to good form,
maybe not the year he had in 2007, but pretty good. I think Mike will
hit around .275-.290 (I give him a wide margin because of the injury)
with about 150 hits, between 94-100 RBI and probably around 18-20 home
runs.

Next we’ll look at the Jed Lowrie.
He’ll be the short stop on opening day, but he’ll have to fight to keep
the job when Julio Lugo comes back, because the Red Sox don’t want nine
million dollars riding the bench.

Lowrie is difficult because he is young, and we don’t know what to expect from him yet.

In
2008, he batted .098 with 4 hits and 3 RBI in spring training, then hit
.258 with 67 hits, 2 homers, and 46 RBI in 81 games with the Red Sox
last year.

So then we have to ask
ourselves, how much does spring training really matter? Can it be used
to predict a player’s performance? The answer is no. It can give a some
insight to what a player might do, but the law of averages does not
take into account injuries, slumps, and hot streaks.

That
being said, Jed Lowrie is a sort of dark horse in 2009. In spring
training so far, he’s batted .408 with 20 hits, 2 home runs, and 11
RBI.

So how will Jed do in 2009?
Good question. I’m going to predict he’ll hit around .260-.280, with
maybe 80-90 hits. However, if his spring training is any indication of
how he’ll do this year, he could do much better. It will definitely be
exciting to watch.

Next we move on to Kevin Youkilis.

Last year was the first year that Youk didn’t slump a little after the All-Star break. The question is, at 29, can Youk
repeat last year’s stats or will they take a little dip? Again, this is
where all the stats in the world can’t predict the answer.

In
2007, Youk hit .375, with 18 hits and 5 RBI in spring training, and
.288 with 152 hits, 16 homers, and 83 RBI in the regular season.

2008 was Youk’s year. He finished 3rd in the AL MVP race and had a career year in terms of hitting.

In spring training, he hit .297 with 11 hits, 3 home runs, and 8 RBI.

During the regular season, Youk hit .312 with 1678 hits, 29 homers, and 115 RBI.

In 2009, Youk played in the World Baseball Classic, which skews his stats a little.

In the WBC, Youk hit .182 with 4 hits, 3 homers, 9 RBI, and 6 walks.

In spring training, Youk has hit .208 with 5 hits, 1 home run, 3 RBI and 4 walks.

So what does Kevin Youkilis regular season look like? If he doesn’t slump after the All-Star break, I think Youk can hit around .285-.300, with 95-100 RBI and 20-25 homers. Of course, his OBP will be high, as usual, because he’s a tough out, and he should be pretty good protection for Ortiz this year.

That’s all the analysis for today. Next I’ll look at J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, and the pitching staff.

Pink Hats, The Youk Fu, Picture Day and a Changeup

There’s a lot to cover today, and since Spring training has officially started, we finally have news! On a funny note, Manny rejected another massively huge offer from the Dodgers. That’s his fourth offer he’s declined due to either: not enough money or not enough years. Really, at this point, Boras should be telling him to take anything because no one is going to pay as much as he wants for as many years as he wants because we know that Manny doesn’t play unless its a contract year. Enough said.

Next on the list, the now-infamous and controversial pink hats. I’ve actually had several emails/comments/etc about the pink hats, either for or against. So here’s the new plan: a poll. Its at the end of the article, so select your answer and we will get a clear picture of how Red Sox Nation (or any baseball fans, really) feel about the pink hats.

Moving on.

A few days ago was Red Sox Photo Day. Probably one of the most ridiculous things in all of baseball, photo day never ceases to produce a few funny pictures.While we haven’t seen all the pictures yet, here’s the first few. We get a glimpse at the “Youk Fu” (to be explained later), we realize that the team as a whole is not particularly photogenic, and we see that Terry Francona looks a little like Ben Kinglsley. Click on the photos to seem them larger.

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Here they are, from left to right, top to bottom:
Row 1: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, RHP Michael Bowden, 1B/DH David Ortiz, OF Jason Bay, RHP 
           Josh Beckett
Row 2: U Mark Kotsay, OF J.D. Drew, LHP Jon Lester, 3B Mike Lowell, SS Julio Lugo
Row 3: 2B Dustin Pedroia, RHP John Smoltz, RHP Brad Penny, RHP Jonathan Papelbon,
           LHP Hideki Okajima
Row 4: RHP Junichi Tazawa, C Jason Varitek, RHP Tim Wakefield, 1B Kevin Youkilis,
           Skipper Terry Francona
Along with being picture day, it also seemed to be father’s day, with Little Papi and Little Lugo hanging out. Here are some super cute pics that made me go “awwwwwww”

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Aren’t they just too cute?
A few final things to address: The Youk Fu. I would try to explain, but I’ll just let Kevin Youkilis do it for me.

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/x8hxiv
The Youk Fu
by beisbolct

Guess the goatee is out…

Finally, lets take a look at the pitching staff. While Wake was a little rusty in his start, Beckett, Saito, Lester…they’ve all be sharp. Lester has even worked on his changeup a little more and if he continues to progress it through Spring training, he’ll have a very dangerous pitch added to his already ace-like repertiore.

One thing you can’t argue is that the Red Sox have massive depth with pitching. They have several guys who could start but will likely be in the bull pen because they don’t need to start. So that makes the good bull pen even better. Then we have the consistent capstone himself in Papelbon, and I think with a pen this strong, he won’t have to come in for any 5-out saves or even 4-out saves, which will keep him full of gas just a little bit longer.

What can I say, I’m excited about this season. I think they have great chemistry in the clubhouse with guys like Papi, Pedroia, Papelbon, Tek, Lowell, and Youk. They all relax and goof off in the clubhouse, but when the game is on, so are they. And I don’t think we’ve seen the last of “Large Father” and “Pedroia Productions”. I’m sure Pap’s mom has a lot more embarrassing movies of her son that will make their way into the clubhouse this year.

A few final questions facing the Sox this year:
1. Will Jacoby steal his way back into America’s heart by winning another free taco?
2. How much Double Bubble will Tito go through on average a game?
3. Will Pedroia attack the next person who calls him a “little guy” “jockey”, etc?
4. Will the Youk Fu catch on as a national craze?

Finally, and, most importantly:

5. Will Pedroia ever beat Tito at Cribbage?

Here’s the poll:

Your Pink Hat Opinion

I have no opinion. I’m neutral.
They aren’t called the “Pink Sox” so why wear a pink hat
Real fans wear pink hats!
Only for special events, like cancer awareness days
They’re okay if your a girl
Other opinion.


View Results
Free Myspace Poll

 

Some Sox Beat the “Spring Training Rush”

Yesterday, the Red Sox minor league facility in Fort Myers was packed with veterans and newbies getting their workouts in.

Rocco Baldelli, Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Takashi Saito all arrived two days before pitchers and catchers were supossed to report to get their feet wet with a new team.

Co-aces Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were there as well, along with Kevin Youkilis. Lester and Beckett weren’t scheduled to report until tomorrow (thursday) and Youk wasn’t supposed to be in until Sunday, there they all were, the proverbial early birds just trying to get the worm.

Of course, this goes right along with Youk’s reputation as “Mr. Intensity”, and for me, means that baseball is back. And this is a good thing, because if I have to hear one more thing about Miss October (A-Rod) having juiced, I might scream.

There seem to be certain teams, certain locker room cultures across the league that seemed to condone the use of steroids at one time or another. And if you are in that culture, you’re probably going to do it. I’m not defending A-Rod, seriously, would I actually do that? But if he’s stopped, he’s stopped, and you don’t have to add an asterisk to any of his stats from those years because we will all do it in our minds, our own mental asterisks.

But with Spring Training officially starting tomorrow, we can move past the ugly and into what might be baseball’s most optimistic time. At this juncture, everyone thinks 2009 is going to be a great year, and for some teams, it will.

The Yankees made all the flashy moves this off-season, landing CC, Burnett, and Texiera. So that gives them a one-two-three punch of Sabathia, Burnett, and Wang. But who is their fourth starter? And their fifth? Joba made a splash last year, but he could turn into a Buchholz, he’s got fast stuff,  real rocket arm, but how many innings deep can he go? His technique makes him very injury prone, so the Yanks would be smart to keep his pitch count low. And now that everyone has seen Joba, they are going to start figuring him out. And who’s the other starter? Pettite?

And the Rays? The Rays are sort of the dark horse of the AL East. Either they caught lightening in a bottle last year and will be bottom of the barrel again this year, or they’ll still be competitive in the increasingly tough AL East. 

As for the Sox, I’m liking the rotation and the ‘pen. We’ve got Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, Smoltz, Penny, Wake…I’m not too sure what the rotation is going to look like, because you can never count out Masterson and Buchholz.

And while the Sox will miss quite possibly the greatest right-handed hitter of our time at Spring training, the Sox can make up for missing Manny with a meaty bunch of hitters. Pedroia, Youkilis, Drew, Ortiz, Bay, and Lowell, if they are healthy, make for a frightening batting order.

The focus this year, though, for the first time since 2000, will not be on “when will Manny show up”. The focus will be on the team, and their goal to win another World Series, and with the team we’ve got now, its a plausible goal.  

Off Season Rumblings

This off-season has been somewhat “quiet” in terms of the Red Sox. The moves of the teams in the AL East are all important because that might be the toughest division in the league. 

The Rays have made a few good moves, but are (mostly) sticking with what worked next year. 

The Yankees have found a problem and done what the Yankees do best: throw money at it. Why else do you think this was the first time in forever that they didn’t make the playoffs? That’s what the Yankees do. So as long as nothing happens to CC, Teixiera, or any of their other additions, they should be right back in the mix.

The Red Sox have been comparatively quiet. They got stung a little on the Teixiera deal, and right now they have no catcher, they made a few solid, cheep deals that should do nothing but help, and if they don’t, its not like they’ll have $10 million dollars on the bench with just one player out. 

They have a few loose ends to tie up, but they look to be in the mix for the AL East again this year. Pedroia and Youk will be back, Ellsbury and Lester can only get better, Beckett will be Beckett, Dice-K, despite his heart-attack inducing style, always does well, and who knows? Buchholz could be a lot better than he was last year, everyone seems to think so. 

First, they need to bring back Varitek. It looks like it’s probably going to happen because no one else wants him, and the Red Sox, despite their “we don’t care attitude” would love to have him back. I think, to, that if they bring him back, he’ll have something to prove, and maybe his bat will improve. I could be wrong, I’m no expert, but I like being hopeful. 

Finally, on that vein of hope, I have to say that I’m optimistic about Papi and Mike Lowell this season. I think Mike will be fine, and Big Papi will bounce back. Call me crazy, but with everyone healthy, the Red Sox are poised to be a big threat in the AL East, despite the Yankees trying to buy every free agent in sight. Think the fans are going to miss the ‘stash? 

So, my prediction is for one heck of a season, with the Rays, Yankees, and Sox coming down to the last few weeks to see who takes the crown and who takes the Wild Card. 

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
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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30 Days Has September…

…and I think the Sox will be there (knock on wood and cross my fingers, do not be angered baseball gods!)

Right now, the Sox are 5 games back of the Rays, and 3 games ahead of the ChiSox/Twins (tied for the lead in the AL Central and for 2nd in the Wild Card) the Yankees, in 3rd for the Wild Card at 7 games back, still wait, ready to ruin someone’s playoff hopes. I know that they are not likely to make it to October, but they are the Yankees, and you can never say never.

A few good things are happening this week: the return of Josh Beckett (hopefully to last year’s sept-oct form), the possible (likely) return of Mike Lowell, and later we might see JD Drew, Colon, and maybe even Buchholz. Also, the Red Sox play mostly at home (even though it is against mostly decent teams), while the Rays, Yankees, White Sox and Twins play mostly on the road (Yay!). This might not necessarily make much of a difference, but it is a lot harder to win on the road and it’s a lot harder for the Sox to lose at home (it happens, but our chances of winning double when we play at home).

I just want to say how proud I am of the way they’ve played this year. The Red Sox have been through the ringer this year (not as bad as ’06, but not good) We lost Manny; Big Papi, Mike Lowell, JD Drew, Dice-K, Wake and Beckett have all had stints on the DL. Youk and Ellsbury have missed a smattering of games with random minor injuries and illness, Ellsbury has been having a hard time batting in the number 1 spot (his bat is inconsistent),  Lowrie, Pedroia,  Bailey, Casey, Youk, Lowell, Lugo, and Cora have all put in time in the infield, with only Pedroia playing daily at his spot. And to top it all off, the Captain has been like an automatic out at the plate (though he is hitting much better recently)

That’s all the bad that’s been the summer months of the 2008 season. Now for the good:

 
pedroiarun.jpg-JD Drew being Mr. June and winning MVP of the All-Star game (where the Sox were well represented)

 -Dustin Pedroia (pictured). Building on a fantabulous rookie season, Dustin has become an RBI machine, with an astounding on-base percentage and playing like he’s at home in every stadium. Excellent fielding, fast runner, and very good at adapting to other situations, he should be a candidate for MVP.

    -Jacoby Ellsbury. Despite his struggles with the bat this season, that boy has wheels. He
    steals bases like a kid snagging candy from a 7-11. He makes great catches, mostly
    because he can make it from one area of the outfield to another in seconds and goes for it     every time.

    -Jason Bay. JBay fits in at Boston like he was meant to play here. He hits, he makes
    plays, and most importantly: we have a left-fielder who’s play gets him more headlines than
    his attitude and his antics. (Sorry Manny, I will always love you, but I am looking forward to
    Bay playing all of September)

    -Jon Lester. In the years to come, he just might be the best pitcher in baseball. He threw a     no-hitter, he’s beaten cancer, and according to Varitek, who is an excellent judge in
    pitchers, we’ve only begun to see what he can do.
 
    -Bailey, Lowrie, and all the other new additions: The Paw-Sox were beastly this year. And     every time the Sox called up a player to the Show, they’ve done well. Especially Bailey and     Lowrie. (Lowrie has finally made Sox fans secure in who was playing at short. We weren’t     worried about the errors.) Plus the players we’ve added over the season, everyone has         been pulling their weight.

    -Youk. Kevin Youkilis should be the AL MVP this year. He’s played first, he’s played third,     he’s been an RBI machine. He’s moved into Manny’s spot and taken on the burden of             hitting after Papi. But don’t tell him about the MVP, he would much rather have a ring.


Now, to recap the game.

bailey.jpg 
Byrd hung in there to get his third win, but the O’s hung around until the last inning, threatening to take over, but Paps hung in there to notch another save. It was not a good night for the bats. We left 12 men on base. 12. Despite back to back HRs by Tek and Bailey, the Sox had a hard time producing with men in scoring position.
A W is a W and on a night where the Rays were idle, it was a good  win to make up some ground on the AL East leading youngsters.

A good night for Boston, despite a shaky performance. That game should have been a blow-out. Up tonight is  Lester vs. Liz.  Last time the Sox took on Liz, they hammered him, scoring eight runs and knocking Liz out of the game in the 3rd. Lester has had a shakier month in August compared to some of the other months he’s pitched, but his version of shaky is losing 2 decisions in six starts, and having one game where he didn’t go 6+ innings. He bounced back after that particular start to hold the Yanks to just 2 runs, walking none and striking out 8. He is 2-0 against the O’s this season.

As September gets going, look for the Sox to call up some players and have all their injured men come back from the DL, ready to make a strong push for October.

MVP! MVP! MVP! (And Welcome, Michael Bowden)

I can’t help myself. Everyone is catching MVP fever. Especially Sox fans, because we have Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. I will suspend a recap of tonight’s game momentarily because I feel like pushing DP and Youk as the MVPs for the AL.

Let’s discuss.

Youkilis. He is a beastly hitter (the average is down, but he still scares pitchers. Actually, he kind of scares everybody.) He plays third, he plays first, and the play is SOLID. He loves the game and would rather have his team win a world series than win any special honors for himself. Yay!

Pedroia. Aside from lying about his height (5’9″? I don’t think so. He can’t be taller than 5’7″. Not that we mind.) he’s a solid second base-man and he is 8-8 in the past two games, hits on the road well, hits at home well, and leads the majors in batting average since June (with at least 220 at-bats).

pede.jpg

Okay, so this pic is horrible, but it was taken while the loveable Mr. Pedroia was making one of his many great catches for the night. (Note, the ChiSox easy “falling” catch is on replay for top play, but Pedroia’s crazy good grabs? Nowhere. Travesty!) He played out of his mind. And hey, Pedroia has gone two games in a row hitting perfectly.

Now seems to be the perfect time to transition to a game recap. Welcome to the majors, Michael Bowden. He pitched a solid 5, and the bull pen looked decent. I feel like I’m writing that phrase more and more these days…as opposed to “I hate our bull pen” or blogging about my fears of Lopez and Delcarmen (note, these feelings have not vanished, but they have decreased significantly)

bowden.jpg
Yay for a great rookie outing, backed by awesome offense. And how ’bout when they intentionally walked Tek???? I have never seen anyone throw the ball like that for an intentional walk. And our pitchers got the chiSox to ground into 3 double plays. Then Ellsbury (or Wheels, as we so fondly call him) went 5-3, and our young guys looked good on a night where most of the older vets were not playing (Youk sick, Lowell on the DL, brand new pitcher, etc.)  It was a good night overall. Next week (barring rain-outs) the Red Sox will break the consecutive sell-out mark. That, to me, is almost sweeter than this night could have been had the Rays not pulled a win out of their butts against the Orioles (if that comeback doesn’t highlight bullpen trouble, I don’t know what will.) Oh well. At least the Yankees lost.

In other news:
Cincinnatti WR Chad Jackson changed his name (officially) to Ocho Cinco. (His last name, anyway) Wack-a-doodle.

Goodnight, Sox Fans, see you tomorrow!