Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

We're all better with a little learning

Travis Denker knocked in the winning run for the PawSox in the 14th inning last night. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ in April 2009 and used with permission.

Red Sox win handily in Baltimore. PawSox have to claw out a win in Pawtucket in fourteen freaking innings. Both games were so different but ended the same way…with me happy. And, some days, it’s all about me…if I’m happy, everyone is happy (at least, everyone around me!). The only sour note of the night came out of Buffalo where my man Kyle Snyder had a rough night, giving up two hits and two earned runs – including a home run, in just over an inning pitched. The Bisons drop another (this one in extra innings) and it bums me out to see Kyle (and the team) struggle.

Triple-A rookie Tobi Stoner threw six shutout innings in his first home start and the Bisons built a 5-0 lead through seven. Then came the most epic bullpen meltdown in Coca-Cola Field’s 22 seasons — four relievers combined to get torched for 12 runs and 15 hits in the final three frames.

With closer Elmer Dessens gone to the New York Mets, there was no relief for the crowd of about 1,200 (5,358 tickets were sold). Kyle Snyder and Jon Switzer gave up three runs in the eighth. Eddie Kunz gave up four runs in the ninth as Charlotte pulled even at 7-7 and Tim McNab yielded five after a 16-minute rain delay in the 10th.

Ouch. Guess it wasn’t a good night for pitching around the International League North.

Michael Bowden also struggled in Pawtucket. He couldn’t make it through five innings and in those four plus innings he gave up eight hits and four earned runs (including two home runs). Let’s just chalk it up to having a bad night. Old friend Javier Lopez also pitched an inning and gave up one hit, struck out one and didn’t give up any runs. Good with bad, right?

I’ll be heading to Pawtucket Tuesday night to see Enrique Gonzalez pitch against the Syracuse Chiefs. It’s been a while since I’ve hit McCoy and I’m really looking forward to it. I won’t be taking a camera – it’s strictly a fun night out with friends – but I’m hoping to bring back news of a great game and another win!

On Wednesday the baseball gods have blessed us with an afternoon game! The final game in this Sox/Orioles series is at 1:35pm – and I’ll be live blogging it – Josh Beckett v Brad Bergesen. I’m looking forward to it as it’s been a while since I got to live blog an afternoon game. But before we get there we have to deal with the next game: John Smoltz going up against Rich Hill at 7:05 Tuesday night. I won’t be around for the game but intend to get the most out of my technology to keep up with what’s going on.

Congrats go out to Jonathan Papelbon. Who might make me uneasy most every time he takes the mound but you still can’t deny he’s a damn fine pitcher. Monday night he got his 132nd save (which ties him for the Red Sox save record with Bob Stanley). As much as he makes me reach for the Tums, I really do hope he gets his 500th save with the Red Sox.

And I leave you with this random bit of information. Maybe you already knew it…it’s news to me. Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan? The cousin AND Godson of one Lou Pinella. Small world, huh? I guess now we know where Dave gets his hot-headedness from.

Tonight John Smoltz is going to show us that the first inning of his last outing was an aberration*.


(* I wanted to make sure I spelled aberration correctly, so I looked it up. Next to the spelling was this sentence: “In 1918, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, but the success turned out to be an aberration, and the Red Sox have not won a World Series since.” I think it’s time that updated their entries!)

June 30, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

It's too high to get over

Jonathan Van Every in happier days. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ and used with permission.

I only watched Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN intermittently last night so I missed Joe Morgan’s jab at the Red Sox. I found out about it thanks to Ken Tremendous and Twitter:

@KenTremendous – Morgan: “Boston has stumbled a little in the last couple days.” Actual, measurable reality: Boston is 6-2 since last Saturday, 17-7 in June.

And let’s add to that Boston being 11-7 in interleague games, just for fun. Then Yankees (the AL team Morgan was covering when he brought up the Sox) are 10-8 in interleague this year. Since last Saturday, the Yanks are 5-3 and they’re 14-11 in June.

Let’s keep going. Yankees and Red Sox each played in 8 series in June. The Yankees won five out of their eight (only sweeping the Mets in this last series) and the Red Sox won 7 out of their 8 series and they swept 2 of them (including the Yankees).

I know I should be used to Joe Morgan (or Tim McCarver or anyone else on television) saying ridiculous things. What really tears me is that he says these things just as filler for his having to do actual research for his job – and no one questions him. No one bothers to say, “Gee, Joe, the Red Sox aren’t stumbling at all. Just because the Yankees are playing well on a day when the Red Sox happened to lose doesn’t mean you have to bring up the Red Sox in a negative light!”.

How can you look at anything the Red Sox have done in June and say they’re stumbling? Would I have liked them to sweep every series? Sure, you bet. But winning them is good enough. Would I have preferred they stay ahead of the Yankees by winning on the same days the Yanks do? Of course. But, again, the series wins seem to help that all even out in the end.

I hate when someone feels obligated to stir things up just for the sake of it. When Mr. Tremendous entertained us at “Fire Joe Morgan” at least there was SOMEONE willing to call the Hall of Famer out on his ridiculousness. Now we have no one. Now, Joe Morgan will be allowed to say insipid, untrue statements every Sunday night and sit there happily in his ignorance while baseball fans everywhere bang their heads against their televisions.

On a more serious note, pvs to Jonathan Van Every. He had his knee surgery last week and it turned out to be more serious than they expected – so now he’s out for the rest of the season.

Van Every had exploratory surgery last week to repair damage to his left knee. The hope was that the problem was a meniscal tear, which would have kept Van Every out for a month. But the damage was more extensive than anticipated, and a more significant operation was performed.

Without getting into medical specifics, Johnson said that the procedure should likely keep Van Every out for the rest of the year.

Never news you want to read. Van Every, as just about all Sox fans will remember, hit a game-winning home run in April against the Indians and followed that up the next night by pitching an inning of relief against the Rays. (He then went back to Pawtucket, where during his first game back he hit a ninth-inning grand slam to tie the game and help the PawSox eventually win.) He’s a personal favorite of mine (and a fan favorite as well, it seems!) and as someone who has plans to hit Pawtucket a few more times this year, I’m really disappointed I won’t be able to see him play. The recovery process will be long but I hope it brings him back next year stronger than ever.

Interleague…she is over!!! Tonight the Red Sox are in Baltimore (feels like home!) with Crabcakes pitching against Jason Berken at 7:05. Here’s hoping he pitches at LEAST as well as Brad Penny did on Sunday (another shout out to Penny. It isn’t his fault the offense didn’t come through for him!) and that the offense DOES come through this time around.

Hey, if you see Harmon Killebrew today wish him a happy 73rd birthday!

June 29, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Pibb and Red Vines equals crazy delicious

Tim Wakefield in Detroit earlier this month. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ and used with permission.

It’s been a long weekend and my brain is fried. I admit it. So I’m letting other folks do most of the heavy lifting today. Lazy Sunday, indeed.

Alex Speier says everything you need to know about Tim Wakefield here:

With the shutout performance, Wakefield became one of just three pitchers in the American League this year to reach double digits in victories. But that accomplishment was less impressive than one that attests to his place in Red Sox franchise history.

Wakefield’s 382nd start since signing with Boston in 1995 tied him with Roger Clemens for the most starts ever by a Red Sox pitcher.

So Wake’s next start (scheduled for Friday, July 3, at Fenway – a game I will most likely not be at but as of 10:00am today the Red Sox had tickets on sale for) will be the one that marks the most starts ever by a Sox pitcher. Only fitting that someone with Wake’s character and popularity would leave Clemens in the dust. It’s quite a milestone and Wake should be proud. I know I am.

But wait! Alex has more good news for us:

He now has 174 wins, third most in franchise history. He is 18 wins shy of Cy Young and Clemens for the most victories in Sox history. That mark must now be considered attainable by the end of 2010, particularly given how rapidly Wakefield is accumulating victories this year.

He also goes on to remind us that, if Wake can keep up the winning, he has a good shot at hitting 20 wins this year – something he’s never achieved. I know the dreams they are pipe dreams but Wake in the ASG and in the running for Cy Young the year he turns 43 would definitely be something to behold.

Shout out to “Tru” for this tidbit about Wake from the Providence Journal:

Wakefield had been bothered by back and shoulder injuries the last few years, and after Saturday’s game he admitted exactly what he’s been dealing with.

“It’s a torn labrum in my shoulder,” he said. “If I had [surgery during the offseason] I would have been out for a full year. So it doesn’t make any sense, especially [for] somebody my age. Even the doctors say it’s not worth doing it because if I’m out a year, I don’t know if I could come back.”

When he finally decides to permanently stop throwing his knuckleball and call it a career, he might have the procedure done then.

Are you kidding me with this? I didn’t think I could respect/adore Wake any more than I do…I was wrong! (Thanks for the trip from Tru in the comments!)

Continue reading

June 28, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

So Let Love Take Us Through The Hours

Jason Varitek in Washington this week. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ and used with permission.

4pm Sox games on Saturdays mess me up. I’m a late sleeper on the weekend so between getting up late and wanting to be around for the game, I have to cram a lot into a short period of time before the game starts. No complaints, though! It opens up the evening and gives me a chance to get right back into baseball mode.

Beckett was great last night. The Braves must just hate him, huh? Reports of his pitching from the third inning on with stomach cramps just makes his performance that much more impressive. I’d like to give Jonathan Papelbon a kick for blowing the shutout by giving up a home run to David freaking Ross. But, aside from that, it was all good last night.

Nick Green continues to impress. Sure I know he’s playing over his head right now and we should all be worried that we don’t have a solid shortstop but I really don’t feel that way so I’m just enjoying what we have in the moment. So far it all looks good.

The beautiful day outside coupled with my late sleeping has left me eager to get out from under the laptop and go enjoy a couple of hours of the nice weather before I hunker down for a ball game. So I’m off.

Tim Wakefield goes for win number 10 today against Javier Vasquez. Let’s do it for Wake, fellas!

June 27, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Have fun 'til the music's all gone

It’s been a while since I put up a shot of Kyle Snyder! Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ in May 2009 and used with permission.

Last night could have been so much worse. True, the Red Sox lost and also true that John Smoltz got lit up in the first inning – but the Sox still won the series and Smoltz DIDN’T get lit up for the rest of his time in there. I’m encouraged if moderately disappointed that the Yanks pulled up a game in the East. Oh well. Small steps!

Reading this morning, I happened upon a great headline: Elbert steals show from Manny. It seems that, since it was rainy, Manny Ramirez sat out his last scheduled start with the Albuquerque Isotopes. Over 15,000 fans, most hoping to see Manny, weren’t disappointed (according to this story) because Isotopes pitcher Scott Elbert threw a one-hitter in six innings (the game was shortened because of the rain) while striking out seven. Congratulations to Elbert!

It disgusts me that someone banned from MLB for 50 games for using a PED is allowed to play in the minors to get himself back into shape. Why suspend him at all, then? Many of MLB’s rules are a joke. This is one of them.

Speaking of jokes in MLB: If you are like me and don’t start voting for the All Star Game players in April, good for you! NOW is the time to vote, though! At the risk of outing myself as a total homer (as if I haven’t already done that!) I’m suggesting that, at the very least, you all go out and vote for Kevin Youkilis. Sure it’s petty of me, but I want to see him kick Mark Teixeira’s butt in voting. It pleases me that Evan Longoria has a hefty lead over Alex Rodriguez.

Okay, here it is, my All Star ballot for 2009:

1st Base: Kevin Youkilis (Mark Texeira currently leads over Youk)

2nd Base: Dustin Pedroia (Ian Kinsler currently leads over Pedie – I could live with that one)

3rd Base: Evan Longoria (I love Mike Lowell but Longoria really deserves to be there. Lowell IS in fourth place in the voting, though.)

SS: Jason Bartlett (Derek Jeter currently leads. Thus proving Yankees fans can be total homers as well.)

C: Joe Mauer (Who currently leads over Jason Varitek. Again, I love Tek but Mauer should definitely be the one in there.)

OF: Jason Bay, JD Drew, Carl Crawford (This is my total homer pick with Drew – I admit it! I also could live a lifetime without another ASG where we get beaten to death with the wonderful story of how Josh Hamilton is an American hero. Unfortunately, for me, the top three vote-getters right now are Jay Bay, Ichiro Suzuki and Josh Hamilton.)

So go vote for the All Star Game, people. Time is running out.

Yesterday was a weird day. With the celebrity deaths, the abandoned live blog…it was a recipe for the night ending in a way that wouldn’t please me. Both the PawSox and the Bisons won their games on Thursday – so I’ll be happy for that and let the day go.

Today is a new day. Sox are in Atlanta…Beckett is on the mound…here’s hoping another win is hours away!

June 26, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

You say you will but you don't know when

Because there is no sense in re-inventing the wheel…and things were getting ugly with the Sox while I was liveblogging – the live blog has come down. Fear not! Rob Bradford is a live blogging fool HERE.

Thanks, again, to everyone who has been coming by, whether lurking or participating – I really appreciate it!

June 25, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , | Leave a comment

I'll never love you then at all the way I do today

PVs going out to Jonathan Van Every who is undergoing knee surgery this week. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ and used with permission.

If I never see another shattered bat in baseball I’ll be a happy woman. The idea that Nick Green could have been speared by that thing just wigs me out. He seemed to handle it happening to him a lot better than I did watching it happen to him.

But I have no real complaints. The Sox did what I wanted – won the series. This sets up tonight to be, relatively, stress-free for John Smoltz. Sure he might have some butterflies (although I have a difficult time imagining Smoltz with “butterflies”. Maybe vampire bats hopped up on Red Bull.) but tonight is kind of a no-lose situation. Yes, the team wants to sweep and pad their lead in the East…but how nice is it that they can bring Smoltz out for his first major league appearance this year against the Nationals and after a four game winning streak? I’m not conceding tonight’s game at all…I’m just saying a win will be fabulous and a loss will be workable. I’m better with a win but I’m really okay either way.

To say I’m worried about John Smoltz would be an exaggeration. He’s one of my all-time favorite pitchers (I’ve mentioned before how I sat in rainy Fenway to see him pitch while having an allergic reaction to all the clam chowder around me and didn’t leave until he did) and I was thrilled when the Red Sox got him. But I don’t think he’s going to amp it up this season and win 20 games for the Sox. I’m just happy that the team is in a position where they can afford to put him out there and hope for the best while knowing they have a backup plan in case of the worst.

Sox have won 15 games in June and lost 5. They’re 9-5 in Interleague play this year and they’ve won 7 of their last 10 games. They’re 5 games ahead of New York and Toronto (tied for second place) and things look pretty nice from this angle.

Speaking of Toronto, my guy Bronson got his butt kicked by them last night. I was torn. I like the AL East teams to lose and I always want Bronson to win, but having the Blue Jays keep in time with the Yankees is kind of sweet!

The live blogs are much more fun when the team is winning so it was nice we got another one last night! Thanks, again to everyone who stopped by (the contributors AND the lurkers!) and thank you for entertaining me while I do my “job”!

7:05 tonight: John Smoltz v Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann was born the year I graduated from high school. Smoltz was born the year before I was born. Hell, I’d be rooting for Smotlz tonight even if he wasn’t on the Red Sox.

Old dudes rule!

June 25, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , | Leave a comment

Feel the clouds that are not essential

Congratulations to Dusty Brown on making his Major League debut last night! Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ and used with permission.

When the Nationals tied it up in the sixth inning I had the thought that it doesn’t matter what the record of the opposing team is, they’re going to come to play and every game won’t be a cakewalk. I still was confident that the Sox would win but I wasn’t convinced it would be easy.

What did I know?

Four singles, two walks and a triple in the 8th inning sure made it look easy. 11 runs on 17 hits with Pedroia, Youkilis, Bay and Ellsbury all having a multiple hit game (Ellsbury and Bay with 4 – Pedroia with 3) and JD Drew and Brad Penny being the only two starters who didn’t have hits made things look easy when the game was over. It was a fun game to watch (and re-watch!) and getting the win with Penny starting gives me hope for, at the very least, a series win with Lester going tonight. I’m hoping Crabcakes gets the win tonight, leaving the door open for Smoltz to not “have” to win on Thursday.

Mind you, I wouldn’t be disappointed with a sweep either! I’m enjoying the Sox being up five games in the East (thanks to the Yanks losing to the Braves last night) and I’m looking forward to the team upping that lead.

But one game at a time. Crabby goes against Craig Stammen tonight and I’ll be live blogging it. Come on by if you have the chance!

June 24, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

Through many April showers, I held your hand in mine.

I won’t complain about the rain because, as long as the Sox are out of town, I don’t really mind it. If it isn’t messing with the baseball schedule, I can stand some grayness and precipitation.

If there were to be something I was complaining about today, it’d be interleague play. I’m done with it. No offense to the Nationals or the Braves but enough. I can’t even pinpoint exactly why I don’t like it (Bud Selig just finding another way to bleed money from folks while messing with things comes to mind) but I don’t. I selfishly enjoy seeing teams I wouldn’t normally see at Fenway, admittedly, but I think if we’re stuck with interleague, at the very least, it goes on too long.

But it’s tough to really complain about anything today. I’m happy with where the Sox are. I’m happy with how they’re playing. Hell, I’m even happy with how they’re handling the Matsuzaka situation. So no more complaints.

Tonight Brad Penny goes up against John Lannan and the Nationals. Lannan was great against the Yankees in his last outing and, given how things worked out for them against the Yankees, I hope the Sox aren’t taking this team for granted. They might be 16 games back in their division but they’ve taken a series against the Yankees as well as one against the Dodgers. In the moment, this is a team to pay attention to and play hard against. Go for the “W”, Brad. Show us how happy you are that you won’t be traded any time soon.

I’ll be live blogging tomorrow night (Jon Lester v Craig Stammen – another Nationals pitcher who worked his magic against the Yanks) if you feel like stopping by!

I’ve been slacking when it comes to Kyle Snyder updates lately so here’s the skinny: He’s bouncing between coming out of the bullpen and getting in some spot starts. It doesn’t look like it has been easy making the adjustments but he still seems to be pitching relatively well. The Bisons are 24-43 on the season thus far and yesterday it was announced that they had released both Wily Mo Pena and Bobby Kielty. Tough times to be a Bisons fan (or player!) right now. I’m still hoping to catch another Bisons/PawSox game (or two) before the end of the season and get in another Kyle sighting (or two!).

But for now, I leave you with this video. Kyle discussing his feelings on autograph etiquette. Hey, I’ll take what I can get!

June 23, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

He thought it was an ivory boat

Nick Green after the Braves walked off! Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ and used with permission.

An off-day after a successful series (or in this case, TWO) is a lot more enjoyable than an off-day coming off of a loss. Granted, Jonathan Papelbon tried to do everything he could to ensure we had to endure an off-day after a loss, but Nick Green would have none of it.

Why is it so hard for a closer to come into a tie game and just get outs? Ben Collins at writes:

…it seems Papelbon struggles only when he feels he can get away with it.

Which is something many have noticed. It’s a mystery to me, although Paps blows it off. As much as I like Papelbon, I hope he focuses more on his pitching and less on talking about how much money he wants when this contract it up.

With Daisuke going back on the dl it has finally hit me how fortunate we, as fans, are this year. We have no reason to even blink. Let him go on the dl, get his strength back or figure out whatever the heck is wrong with him (there IS a nagging worry in the back of my mind that this is a Matt Clement thing where they’re missing the diagnosis but I’m not going to worry about that just yet) and bring him back when he’s ready. Meanwhile, the team has John Smoltz waiting to pitch on Thursday and if he turns out to be a bust, Clay Buchholz is waiting in Pawtucket for his next shot. Depth…it’s a good thing.

A walk-off win coupled with a Yankees loss to the Marlins puts the Sox four games ahead in the American League East. Sure it’s only June 22, but every game counts.

It’ll be nice to spend the off-day basking in the glow of a successful homestand.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment