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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lester continues to dominate Orioles


With last night's 4-0 win over Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Jon Lester improved to an unbelievable 8-0 lifetime against the Birds in 10 career starts.

The Red Sox (47-29) continue to get outstanding pitching from everyone on the roster: starters, relievers and the closer. Lester (7-6) allowed just five hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking none.

It seems like a million years ago (2006) when he struggled so much to find the strike zone. Can we agree that Jon Lester is the AL's best left-hander and the second-best in baseball behind Johan Santana (who is starting to show signs of slowing down)?

Manny Delcarmen got the first two outs in the eighth before Hideki Okajima recorded the final out in the frame. Ramon Ramirez had two outs in the ninth but couldn't finish the job as two Orioles reached base.

This meant that Jonathan Papelbon came into a save situation and came through in an abbreviated outing for his 19th save; Jason Bay made a sliding catch on Baltimore rookie Matt Wieters to end it.

That was Papelbon's 132nd career save for the Red Sox, which ties him with Bob Stanley for the franchise record.

Boston manager flip-flopped a slumping Dustin Pedroia (2 walks, steal) with J.D. Drew at the top of the lineup and it paid off. Drew led off the game with a triple and scored when Pedroia hit a single up the middle.

Jason Varitek's RBI single in the fourth scored Jacoby Ellsbury (2 steals) and two batters later, Varitek came home on Drew's two-run homer.

John Smoltz makes his second start for the Red Sox tonight against Milton, MA native Rich Hill.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thanks for playing Nationals


Another night in DC: another Red Sox win and another new attendance record at Nationals Park. Boston beat Washington 6-4 last night behind the power of David Ortiz and Jason Varitek.

Anderson Hernandez gave the Nationals (20-49) a 1-0 lead in the second with an RBI single.

From there, the Red Sox (44-27) reeled off six straight runs to take command of the game. Ortiz had the biggest blow, a three-run moonshot to center in the fourth gave Boston a 3-1 lead.

In the fifth, Dustin Pedroia (2 hits) had an RBI single which scored Nick Green (who was almost impaled earlier by an exploding bat, really).

One inning later, Varitek hit a two-run shot of his own to the second deck in right, that also scored Ortiz to give the Sox a 6-1 lead.

Much like Brad Penny the night before, Boston pitcher Jon Lester (6-6) was not great (especially for his high standards) but he gave his team six consistent innings. He gave up three runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

The Nationals made it somewhat interesting as Josh Willingham hit a two-run double in the sixth and Cristian Guzman (2 hits, walk) added an RBI triple in the seventh.

Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 17th save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth, a rarity for him these days.

Boston looks for the sweep tonight and even more importantly, we get our first glimpse of John Smoltz. He'll be limited to 85-90 pitches (so probably 5 or 6 innings) but who knows what to expect from the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DC has a baseball team?



The Red Sox made their first trip to see the Washington Nationals in our nation's capital and game one last night was a complete success. Up 4-3 in the eighth, Boston (43-27) exploded for six runs en route to a comfortable 11-3 win.

As expected, Red Sox fans filled the stands at Nationals Park, accounting for a record sellout. The three-game set is supposed to be the only sold-out series of the season for the hapless Nationals (20-48).

The Sox banged out 17 hits, led by Jason Bay (4-for-6, 3 runs, 3 RBIs), Jacoby Ellsbury (4-for-4 including his first two-triple game with 3 RBIs, a walk and steal), Dustin Pedroia (3 hits, 2 runs) and Kevin Youkilis (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBIs).

Boston starter Brad Penny was far from great but it didn't matter. He lasted 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with three runs and six strikeouts.

Manny Delcarmen (2-1) got the win in relief even though he only recorded one out.

Adam Dunn gave Washington a lead in the first with an RBI double which scored Ryan Zimmerman (2 hits, 2 runs).

Bay added to his AL-leading RBI totals with a solo homer in the second to tie it at one.

Ellsbury's first triple, in the fourth, scored Bay to make it 2-1 Red Sox.

Zimmerman scored on a Penny wild pitch in the fourth to tie it at two.

Youkilis' RBI single in the fifth scored Pedroia but a pair of bum ex-Sox tied it up as Willie Harris hit an RBI double in the sixth which plated Josh Bard.

Jason Varitek gave Boston the lead for good with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

The Sox went wild on a bunch of the Nationals terrible relievers in the eighth. Bay began the damage with a two-run single. Varitek added an RBI single and Ellsbury's second triple scored two. Nick Green ended the big inning with an RBI single.

Youkilis made it 11-3 in the ninth with an RBI double.

Jon Lester goes for Boston tonight.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nick Green, more than just a temporary solution?


Somehow between our month-long rain showers, the Red Sox and Atlanta Braves managed to wrap up their series at Fenway yesterday afternoon.

Nick Green made sure it was a memorable Father's Day for all the rich dads in attendance as he hit a walk-off home run on the first pitch he saw from Braves pitcher Jeff Bennett in the ninth. It wrapped around Pesky's Pole in right, traveling probably about 305 feet but the degree of difficulty with the swirling winds and mist made it much harder than usual.

Boston (42-27) won 6-5 to take two of three from Atlanta (32-36). Coupled with the Yankees' loss in Florida, the Sox have a four game lead in the AL East.

Brian McCann gave the Braves a 2-0 lead in the first with a two-run double off Boston starter Tim Wakefield.

Boston responded with three in the bottom of the first from a Jason Bay sacrifice fly and a two-run shot by David Ortiz over the Monster. Again, with the crazy weather, Papi truly crushed the ball to get it out.

George Kottaras added to the lead with a sacrifice fly in the fourth to give Boston a 4-2 lead.

Wakefield didn't factor into the decision but he gave the Red Sox 6.2 innings. He allowed four runs on nine hits with four strikeouts.

Gregor Blanco and Nate McLouth (2 hits, walk) with RBI singles in the seventh.

After some controversy, J.D. Drew gave his team a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh. He looked at a 1-2 pitch that was clearly a strike from Braves pitcher Eric O'Flaherty but umpire Bill Hohn called it a ball. O'Flaherty, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox all lost it and consequently were tossed. On the next pitch, Drew lined the single off the Monster that scored Kottaras.

Garret Anderson (2 hits) tied it up with an RBI single in the eighth off Hideki Okajima.

Jonathan Papelbon loaded the bases in the ninth with two walks and a hit but managed to strike Matt Diaz out. Papelbon earned the win (1-1) after Green's heroics.

The Sox are off today and they fly to our nation's capital to play the Nationals, starting tomorrow. Washington is the worst team in baseball so there should be plenty of Red Sox fans in attendance and John Smoltz makes his Red Sox debut on Thursday (Dice-K was placed on the DL).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Red Sox take care of Marlins on record-breaking night


The weather in New England has been garbage so far this "summer" but the Red Sox are playing like a team cruising in July or August. Last night in Fenway Park's 500th straight sellout, Boston beat the Florida Marlins, 6-1.

Everyone's favorite trade rumor, Brad Penny, picked up the 100th win of his career. In the first, Penny (6-2) was drilled by a ball hit right at his ample bosom but he recovered to get the out and go five innings. He gave up one unearned run (on Jacoby Ellsbury's first career error) on three hits with four walks and three runs.

Florida (32-35) took a 1-0 lead in the first when Hanley Ramirez scored after Ellsbury's error on Jorge Cantu's sinking liner to center.

The Sox (40-25) didn't waste much time as they grabbed the lead in the second with two runs. Rocco Baldelli (2 hits) singled home Mike Lowell and David Ortiz (double, three runs, two walks) later scored on Jason Varitek's double play grounder.

After a brief slump, Dustin Pedroia (3 hits, 3 runs, 2 steals) is back to his old tricks. He added to Boston's advantage with a two-run single in the fourth.

Ellsbury (2 walks, steal) made up for his fielding mistake in the seventh when he crushed a solo shot to right.

Pedroia wrapped it up with an RBI single in the eighth.

Justin Masterson (sixth), Hideki Okajima (seventh), Ramon Ramirez (eighth) and Jonathan Papelbon (ninth) combined for four scoreless innings after Penny had departed to the clubhouse for the comfort of his feedbag.

A red-hot Jon Lester is on the mound tonight as the Red Sox go for the sweep against the Marlins and struggling starter Ricky Nolasco.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oritz's mango salsa tastes great with Marlin


The Boston Red Sox are the best team in baseball. Yes, the Dodgers have a slightly better record but that doesn't mean much since they play in the National League (which is terrible) and the worst division in baseball, the horrid NL West.

Boston on the other hand, plays in the superior AL and the best division in baseball, the AL East with four competitive (over .500) teams out of five.

The Sox (39-25) demolished the Florida Marlins (32-34) last night, 8-2 at Fenway. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the strong first couple months for Boston has been that they've done it with slugger David Ortiz basically on life support.

Slowly but surely, Big Papi is starting to come around. He had a solo homer last night and added a two-run single later in the same inning. With John Smoltz coming to the rotation next week, this team is ready to make a serious bid for another World Series title.

Tim Wakefield improved to 9-3 with six workman like innings. He gave up two runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

In the second, Nick Green's (2 hits, 2 RBIs, run) infield single scored Jacoby Ellsbury (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 stolen bases) from second.

The Marlins tied it in the third as Chris Coghlan hit an RBI single.

In the bottom of the inning, Jason Bay gave the Sox the lead for good with an RBI single which scored J.D. Drew.

Florida starter Chris Volstad imploded in the fourth as the Red Sox poured on six runs. After Ortiz's homer, Green had an RBI double, George Kottaras (2 hits) added an RBI single, Bay walked with the bases loaded and Ortiz fittingly ended the frame's scoring with the two-run single.

Coghlan was the only guy playing for the Marlins as he notched an RBI double in the fifth, the last run of the game.

Brad Penny takes the ball tonight vs. the inconsistent but very talented Andrew Miller of the Marlins.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodnight and Good luck (not really) Yankees


8-0 in 2009. The Boston Red Sox continued their incredible stretch against the New York Yankees with a come-from-behind 4-3 win last night at Fenway.

Yankees ace CC Sabathia (5-4) threw 123 pitches over seven plus innings in a very impressive effort but New York (34-26) was done in by its sub par bullpen. I seem to remember saying back in April that the bullpen was the difference between these teams (pats self on back).

Brad Penny in a likely job audition for the Mets, Phillies, etc. was great as he threw six scoreless innings. Penny gave up six hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

David Ortiz continued to return to life as he hit an opposite field homer in the second to give Boston (36-24) a 1-0 lead. It was Big Papi's third bomb in the last five games.

Yanks rookie catcher Francisco Cervelli tied it with an RBI double in the seventh off Manny Delcarmen. Later in the inning, A-Rod delivered with a two-run double off Delcarmen to make it 3-1 New York.

In the eighth, the Red Sox do what they do best: wear out pitchers. It all started with Dustin Pedroia's 10-pitch at bat (resulting in a walk) against Sabathia that pushed him closer to leaving the game.

J.D. Drew singled home Nick Green to cut it to 3-2 Bombers. Jason Bay tied it with an RBI single which scored Pedroia and Mike Lowell got the job done with a sacrifice fly that brought home Drew.

Jonathan Papelbon got a 1-2-3 ninth for his 16th save and the Sox took a two-game lead in the AL East. The Yankees and Red Sox won't meet again until August 6th.

Starting tonight, Boston travels to Philly to meet the World Champion Phillies. Citizens Bank Park is a glorified little league park and the Phillies can crush the ball, plus they're one of the National League's best teams, so it should be a fun three game series.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Yankees can't buy a win against the Red Sox


It's a special time to be a Red Sox fan. With last night's exciting 6-5 win over the Yankees in the books, Boston improved to 7-0 against New York this season. After each win, all you can wonder is how much longer will this dominance last?

Red Sox (35-24) starter Tim Wakefield is 8-3 after six innings of work. He gave up three runs on eight hits, with three walks and two strikeouts.

For the second straight night, the Yankees (34-25) starter couldn't get out of the third inning. Chien-Ming Wang (0-4) is completely useless these days. He allowed four runs on six hits, with three walks and three strikeouts.

Jason Bay got the Sox on the board first with an RBI single in the first inning.

Jorge Posada (2 hits) tied it in the second with a solo homer.

Boston jumped ahead 3-1 in the home half of the second after George Kottaras' (2 hits) RBI double and Dustin Pedroia's RBI ground-rule double that was misplayed by Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher.

Mike Lowell hit a solo shot just over the Monster in the third.

Melly Cabrera cut it to 4-2 with an RBI single in the fourth before Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run shot.

New York chipped away at the lead as Robinson Cano brought home a run in the fifth with a ground out while Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira (4 hits) hit back-to-back solo homers in the seventh off Sox reliever Ramon Ramirez.

No worries though as Hideki Okajima got a hold, with four important outs (including three strikeouts) and Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 15th save.

Boston looks for the sweep tonight as Brad Penny (who will likely be dealt soon with John Smoltz and Clay Buchholz knocking at the door) takes on C.C. Sabathia.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When Big Pop-Up is hitting bombs, you know it's going well


For whatever reason, we own the New York Yankees (for now). The Red Sox (34-24) shutout the Yankees (34-24) 7-0 last night at Fenway to improve to 6-0 against the Bronx Bombers this season. With the win, Boston also tied New York atop the AL East standings.

Going into last night's series opener, it looked like it had all the makings of a pitchers' duel but only Josh Beckett (7-2) lived up to his side of the bargain.

Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett (4-3), he of the frequent DL trips, only lasted 2.2 innings. He gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits with five walks and a strikeouts.

Beckett was nearly unhittable as he continued his recent hot streak. He threw six shutout innings of one-hit ball with eight strikeouts and two walks.

David Ortiz and Nick Green led the Sox offense. Ortiz opened the scoring with a two-run blast to deep center in the second, his third homer of the season. The Fenway faithful treated him to his third curtain call of the season afterwards. Enough already.

Green had an RBI double in the third and a solo homer in the seventh. He still can't play good defense but Green is a solid hitter. With Jed Lowrie getting closer to returning, Boston's revolving door of shortstops doesn't seem to have an end in sight.

The Sox scored its other runs on a two-run double by J.D. Drew in the second and Mike Lowell's RBI single in the fourth. Kevin Youkilis added two hits, a run and a walk.

Boston's top-ranked bullpen had another stellar night. Manny Delcarmen (4 outs), Ramon Ramirez (2 outs) and Daniel Bard (3 outs) combined to pitch three shutout innings.

Tim Wakefield opposes Chien-Ming Wang tonight.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Whatchu talkin' about (Dontrelle) Willis?


Remember when Dontrelle Willis was one of the best young talents in baseball? The D-Train won the 2005 NL Cy Young award as a Marlin and with a great personality, he seemed poised to be around for a while.

Dontrelle hasn't become a drunk or drug addict (as far as I know) but he has completely lost his abilities as an elite pitcher. Since he was traded to the Tigers along with Miguel Cabrera, his stay in Detroit has been nothing short of a disaster. Willis was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but unlike Zach Grienke, he hasn't comeback and been better than ever.

In yesterday afternoon's series finale, Willis only lasted 2.1 innings as the Red Sox (32-22) swept the Tigers (28-24) with a 6-3 win at Comerica Park.

Dontrelle (1-3) unraveled, walking five men who all came around to score. He left a game in which he didn't give up a hit. Yikes.

Boston is pretty much the last team that a wild pitcher wants to face. As it has been well documented under the Theo Epstein regime, the Sox work counts and make pitchers throw strikes.

Tim Wakefield (7-3) was the main beneficiary of the Sox's patience. He was down 3-0 after two but suddenly had a 6-3 lead in the third and cruised to the win. He went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 14th save as Boston salvaged the trip with a 6-4 record.

In the second inning, the Tigers took a 2-0 lead after a two-run single by Brandon Inge. Adam Everett scored Inge with a ground out.

Then the Sox pushed across all of its runs in the third. J.D. Drew (4 walks) and Kevin Youkilis walked with the bases loaded and Jason Bay delivered a two-run double. Mike Lowell's ground out scored Youk and Rocco Baldelli hit an RBI single which scored Bay.

The AL West leaders, the Texas Rangers, come to Fenway for three this weekend, followed by three with the Yankees, who are currently tied with the Red Sox atop the AL East.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

There's only one legit pro team in Detroit and it ain't the Tigers


How shitty is the American League this year? Even in the beginning of June, all signs are pointing to the Red Sox and Yankees being the only two powerhouse teams that will probably meet once again in the ALCS.

The Rangers lead the West and the Tigers lead the Central but as we've seen the last two nights, Detroit is not particularly good. Granted, we have been lucky to miss the rejuvenated Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson (who's been outstanding this season).

Boston (31-22) won 10-5 last night in a game where Josh Beckett (6-2) no-hit Detroit (28-23) until there were two outs in the seventh and Curtis Granderson (2 hits, 3 RBIs) singled to right.

Beckett's stuff was filthy. He lasted 7.2 innings and gave up only three unearned runs. He allowed just two hits, two walks and struck out nine in a 119-pitch outing that was almost as manly as the picture of him above.

The Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when J.D. Drew hit his 200th home run of his career, a two-run shot that scored Dustin Pedroia (2 runs, 2 hits).

Boston added two more in the fifth including an RBI double by Nick Green.

With six more runs in the eighth, the Sox put it away. Kevin Youkilis (2 hits, walk) started the barrage with an RBI double. Then David Ortiz and Jason Varitek both followed with two-run doubles of their own.

Detroit made it somewhat interesting in the eighth and ninth as they scored five in the eighth and had the tying run on deck in the ninth. Granderson had the big hit, a bases-clearing triple.

Tim Wakefield faces Dontrelle Willis this afternoon as Boston goes for its first road sweep (in a series over two games) of the season, in the last game of this long road trip.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dice-K, the best five inning pitcher I know


It only took until the start of June but Dice-K finally got his first win of the season in last night's 5-1 decision over the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Sure I should be easy on Matsuzaka (1-3), he did miss some time on the DL but other than that, he had been terrible.

Last night, he went five innings, allowing one run on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts. In a sign that Dice-K might be feeling like himself again, he put a bunch of runners on but somehow stranded them.

The Red Sox (30-22) won their second in a row as they did enough against Tigers (28-22) rookie pitcher Rick Porcello.

Boston jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the first when J.D. Drew (2 hits, run) singled home Dustin Pedroia (hit, walk).

Stud Miguel Cabrera singled in Clete Thomas in the bottom of the first to temporarily tie it up for Detroit Rock City.

Jason Bay provided the winning hit as he hit a two-run shot to left off Porcello with Drew on base.

The Sox added two more in the sixth off reliever Ryan Perry. Pedroia walked with the bases loaded and Kevin Youkilis brought home a run when he was hit by a pitch.

Jonathan Papelbon made it interesting in a non-save appearance in the ninth. He gave up three straight hits then proceeded to strikeout the next three hitters. It took 35 pitches so he probably won't be available. Just like Terry Francona drew it up. Tito actually earned his 500th career win with Boston as well.

Josh Beckett goes tonight against struggling Armando Galarraga.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's time for Lester to be lights out


After losing two straight to the free-falling Blue Jays, it was time for the Red Sox to get their act together yesterday in the series finale at the Rogers Centre.

Behind Jon Lester's (4-5) career-high 12 strikeouts and four homers by a new-look lineup, Boston (29-22) salvaged one game before departing for Motown.

Josh Beckett has apparently started to find his game and after three decent (yesterday being great) starts in a row, hopefully Lester is up to his old tricks which would allow the Sox to have that 1-2 combination they rode last season to one game away from the World Series.

Lester allowed just one run on three hits with three walks.

Kevin Youkilis (hitting third) hit a solo shot in the first. Toronto (29-24) answered in the bottom of the first as Vernon Wells' sacrifice fly scored Marco Scutaro.

From there, Boston scored seven consecutive runs. New leadoff hitter (for the day at least), Dustin Pedroia hit a three-run bomb off Toronto starter Ricky Romero. It was Pedroia's first homer since Opening Day and it went off the foul pole in left.

Mike Lowell doubled in Youk in the fifth and J.D. Drew hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth before Youk and Jason Bay went back-to-back.

After an off-day today, the Sox start a three-game set with the AL Central-leading Tigers tomorrow night.