Some time in April I was at a game with Kelly O’Connor where we were talking about the people right there at the game as well as people ranting on Twitter who were complaining about what a terrible signing Carl Crawford was for the Red Sox.
While having to admit that he (along with about 80% of the team at the time) was struggling, we both wondered the same things: Why were fans acting like Crawford was a rookie the team through a crazy contract at OR why were they acting as if they had never seen Crawford play before he got to Boston?
That it wasn’t obvious to people that he was having a bad month still boggles my mind. May has been a bit of a different month for Crawford. He has three game-winning hits. It’s still slow-going for Crawford but all signs, including his knack for getting hits when the team really needs them, are pointing his his returning to form. He might not have Adrian Gonzalez numbers but it’s far too early to decide signing him was a bad idea. Here’s to many more walk-off hits for Carl Crawford.
On the one hand, their ability to win these close games is impressive. On the other, I’m getting tired of every game being a nail-biter. During this six-game winning streak, the only “blow out” game played was the 6-0 win against the Yankees. The other two Yankees games were won by one and two runs and the last three games the Red Sox played were won by one run. I’d like a piling on of Red Sox runs this weekend. My fingernails need some time to grow back.
It occurs to me that I don’t know all that much about this year’s Chicago Cubs. Unfortunate given they’ll be in town all weekend. So let’s catch up a little bit.
The Cubs are currently at 19-23, putting them 5th in the NL Central and 5.5 games out of first. The pitchers we’ll see this weekend? Doug Davis, Carlos Zambrano and old friend Matt Garza (going up against Jon Lester, Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield…again I ask for many Red Sox runs).
Davis had elbow tendon surgery last year and has only one start this season since he went on the DL last July. In that one start, he pitched five innings, struck out six and gave up one run on four hits (he also got the loss).
Zambrano had a ten-game winning streak on the road until the Cubs lost his last outing. He has pitched against the Red Sox only one time, when the Sox visited Chicago in 2005, and the Sox took him for four runs on five hits in five innings. Repeating history would be nice here, fellas.
We all know Matt Garza. Feels like he was the bane of the team’s existence for way too long. If the Red Sox can get to him early and shake him up, could be a fun night for baseball. The Garza/Wakefield game is the game we’ll be live chatting this week…Sunday at 8pm once again. If memory serves, we have good luck with Garza starts that take place during live chats. More of that, please.
Old friend Carlos Pena is with the Chicago Cubs this season and Alfonso Soriano, once a hated rival (wow, that was so long ago) will be back too. Honestly, I have not much about the Cubs. Pay they very little mind until about September usually. But they aren’t a team I dislike, so at the very least having them back for this historic series will be fun (especially on Saturday when both teams wear their throwback uniforms).
Jose Iglesias and Michael Bowden will get sent back to Pawtucket for this series. In even sadder news, Hideki Okajima has been designated for assignment. Among many other more serious things, what that means is the only original “pirate” in the bullpen now is Jonathan Papelbon – and he was never one of the bullpen band…one of my favorite eras in Red Sox bullpen history is truly over.
Whither Kyle Snyder??? (Seriously…dude seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.)
If you’re looking for information on the Cubs, I’d like to suggest checking out Julie DiCaro’s blog “A League of Her Own“. She can get you caught up to speed on the enemy. (I can’t even type that without chuckling. I have a difficult time considering the Cubs the enemy.)
A nine-game winning streak sounds nice, doesn’t it?
While I prefer an old-fashioned win within nine innings, there’s no denying that walkoffs are fun. Especially so when the hit is by someone getting beaten up about his lack of production thus far and the run is scored by a rookie. Sometimes the game ends like a storybook and I can’t complain about that.
The Red Sox now sit 3.5 games out of first place with Baltimore and Toronto both behind them at 5.5 games out. Their next seven games are against American League East teams (two in Toronto, three in New York and then Baltimore comes to Boston for a two game series) and if they could get hot and, you know, win a bunch in a row…it’s a whole new season in May.
I haven’t been highlighting other blogs lately so I’ll make up for it today with a handful:
The Platoon Advantage has some interesting numbers if you’re wondering about Joe West and his crew being a bit quick on the draw when it comes to tossing folks out of a game.
Not a blog, but on Twitter NESN’s Jeff Howe claims that Joe West got his Friday night at Abe & Louie’s.
Tim Britton over at the Providence Journal’s Sox Blog has pictorial evidence of Alfredo Aceves’ second balk of the series last night. Tito has promised to get Aceves “…to quit doing that”.
Alex Speier has the story of Jose Iglesias, his decision at 18 to leave Cuba and how he feels about it. Really amazing stuff.
(Speaking of Iglesias) Also not a blog but most likely the coolest thing you’ll look at all day: Kelly O’Connor was at last night’s game and got some fantastic photos of the walk-off and the celebrating.
And a reminder: Take the Baseball Miscellany quiz for a chance to win the book it’s named after!
Friend of the blog (and me!) John in the comments from yesterday’s post:
Can’t remember if Bobby Jenks was a bargain but I sure hope he was.
I found it amusing that he mentioned this because last night I realized that Bobby Jenks has quickly become this year’s player that I have a (relatively) irrational dislike toward. So I have that to keep me warm.
Regardless of Jenks’ ability to drive me crazy even if he pitches well (which he didn’t last night) watching that game from start to finish was mostly fun and definitely exciting. My favorite bits of the night were Jed Lowrie still hitting the ball and Jonathan Papelbon recording his third save in as many games. Papelbon was on last night and was just a ton of fun to watch, wasn’t he?
I know I promised a giveaway yesterday and then bailed and my apologies for not explaining it last night. A few good Red Sox fans brought it to my attention that holding a giveaway on not only a holiday weekend but ANY weekend might be creating a smaller window of opportunity for regular readers of the blog. So I’m switching the day and WEDNESDAYS will be giveaway day (when I have something to give away…which I do this week!). And this week, in addition to Wednesday being giveaway day, it’ll also be the first Live Chat of 2011. I’ll keep you all updated but right now Wednesdays look like the solid choice.
Kind of grateful for the 9:05 game tonight as today holds a lot in store unrelated to baseball. I hope it isn’t as gray and chilly out where you are as it is where I am. Have a great Saturday, folks!
Random stats that shouldn’t annoy me as much as they do because I know it’s a ‘small sample size’ and you can dig out other stats that better judge a pitcher in the long run: In 9 games Bobby Jenks has a 7.36 ERA and has given up 7 runs in 7.1 innings while opposing batters are hitting .290 against him. I certainly don’t blame Jenks for the early struggles of the Red Sox but it sure frustrates me to watch him pitch right now.
Blog suggestion for the day: The Red Sox have “We Won’t Rest” as their slogan on their official website but we have been inundated with the “We’re all in” commercials as well. The White Sox have “All In” as their slogan on their official website. All the other teams have original slogans or none at all and it annoyed me that box Sox teams were stuck with sharing (even if it isn’t reflected online). Earlier this year Jere at A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory covered, as he does every year, all the slogans on all the MLB sites . It’s an interesting read that he updates as the slogans change. (“This is Twins Territory” “This is Reds Country“…MLB really needs folks with new ideas. There are only 30 teams, it can’t be that difficult to come up with unique slogans for each one.)
So I watch the entire Bruins/Canadiens game last night and figure the adrenaline will have me good through the Red Sox/Angels game.
No such luck.
I did make it through the seventh inning but then found myself slipping soundly into sleep. The last thing I did before nodding off for the night was hit “record” on the dvr…and how glad am I that I did that?
It isn’t often you can record a game and watch it without knowing what happened, but this time I got to do just that. I didn’t go online or look at my cell phone or even leave my bedroom this morning. I just turned on the television which was still on NESN and started watching the game where I left off. (The fact that NESN still airs the dreadful Dennis and Callahan show live also helped since they weren’t talking about baseball they were discussing Andrew Ference flipping off the Montreal fans.) It is fair to say I was quite pleased with the outcome.
Sox have won their last five out of six games. For folks saying it’s too soon to get excited about it, I submit that what we have been waiting for since the first week of the season is a reason to get excited…a spark in the team that shows they’re as good on the field as they are on paper…and we are getting that right now. So enjoy it, people!
I’ll be back later today with another giveaway just in time for Easter weekend!
Random stat that delights the heck out of me (courtesy of Gary Marbry at WEEI.com): In the last six games the combined ERA for the Red Sox starters is 1.37. (Over the first 12 games it was 6.71.) This is exactly what we were hoping for when the season began!
Blog suggestion for the day: Ben at Over the Monster gives us good news about Kevin Youkilis!
Okay, so we’ve seen the team (finally) win their first game, then we saw them win a series (or two) and now, with the same game, we’ve seen them win a game on the road and all five starting pitchers have at least one “w” under their belt. Add to this there being no “When will Papi hit his first home run” and all we have left to deal with from the media is “When will Carl Crawford become Carl Crawford?”. I’d say we’re doing all right.
This has been the longest 17-game stretch I can remember. I’m worn out and I’m not even playing. And now we have three late night games to look forward to (tonight and tomorrow at 10:05 and Saturday at 9:05). If they can bring us wins, I won’t complain about how sleepy I am!
I watched some of yesterday’s game on my cell phone while I was in church. Bobby Jenks caused me to think bad thoughts while there but at least it all ended well.
Random stat that probably doesn’t mean anything but makes me happy: Jonathan Papelbon currently sports a 2.84 ERA and has 3 saves this year.
Blog suggestion for the day: The Josh Beckett Foundation seems to be making the blog rounds, asking for help in promoting their good work. I’m always more than happy to help out but instead of giving you a duplicate post of what is said here, I send you to Denton at Surviving Grady for the info on how to support the Foundation, help out Children’s Hospital AND win a tricked-out Jeep Wrangler.
It’s funny how when it felt like the team would lose 1-0 I didn’t mind so much but when they ended up losing 5-0 it annoyed me.
Lackey pitched well last night. That’s all I’m going to focus on.
Today is a 3:35pm game. I was hoping to live blog/chat it but I won’t be able to. Live chats will start up in earnest next week on either Tuesday or Wednesday depending on my schedule. I’ll make a more definite decision at some point before/by the weekend.
Red at Surviving Grady had a post yesterday about the standing ovation Carl Crawford got on Patriots’ Day when he hit his double. It was amazing how you could genuinely feel that it wasn’t a mock cheer or ovation, people were so very happy for him (and for us, I suppose). I’m pleased that the feeling made its way to Crawford:
“It felt good,’’ Crawford said. “Fans were really supportive. Teammates have been supportive. Everybody around me has been supportive. It felt real good to feel the support like that.’’
So quit the bitching and stop booing this man, people who are doing so. Positive reinforcement will always get better results than negative.
It’s slow going right now, folks, but the Red Sox are heading in the right direction. 4.5 games out of first place on April 20th isn’t insurmountable.
(Also here’s a reminder that the Postcard Shower is still on! They Sox are on a road trip and it’ll be great for them to all come back to the showering of support!)
Random stat that doesn’t mean anything but probably scares some folks: The only team in MLB right now with a worse record than the Red Sox is the New York Mets (the Sox are 5-11 and the Mets are 5-12)
Blog suggestion for the day: Jen at Baseball Heavy is always entertaining and if you’re interested in finding out what’s going on with the PawSox she’s a great source of information!
At midnight I began watching the replay of Saturday’s game (having watched most of it in real time) and fell asleep with it on. It was one of those restless sleeps where I was half asleep but could still hear the rain outside as well as the television and when Jed Lowrie hit his home run, I dreamed that they revealed his picture on a box of Wheaties at Fenway Park during a rain delay.
Today is Jed’s 27th birthday. Along with other good things coming to him, I hope he gets another start. It’s tough for me to watch Marco Scutaro get pushed out of his position but it’s also tough to watch Marco struggle knowing a productive Jed is on the bench.
“This is back to back games where Beckett is right on target”…so said Jerry Remy. Beckett had his second great game in a row. This time striking out nine and only giving up three hits and one earned run in seven innings. He and Jonathan Papelbon now share ERAs of 1.80.
It was a good win (and for the cynical, prior to yesterday, Beckett’s ERA against Toronto over the last three years was 11.80 with a total of zero wins. It’s fair to say, he has trouble against the Blue Jays) and here’s hoping it is the first of many. I’ll take a 10-game winning streak, sure.
The Red Sox are 3-10 and 5 games out of first place. The Minnesota Twins are 4-10, the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets are 4-11 and the Houston Astros are 5-10. Seattle is the farthest back in their division at 6.5 game out. I mention all this because the Red Sox might hold the worst record in baseball, right now, but they certainly aren’t the only team struggling. Heck, this week alone the Mets have had two doubleheaders and lost them both. Joe Nathan, closer for the Twins, has blown two saves in a row to the Tampa Bay Rays. Misery is spreading across MLB but it can’t last forever, right?
One win at a time works for me.
A shout out to Kristin F who was the first person to email me the correct answer to Friday’s contest question. She has a copy of Remembering Fenway Park coming her way! Thanks to every one for joining in! There will be another contest coming up soon!
Random stat that probably doesn’t mean anything but sounds great (with thanks to Bruce Allen over at Boston Sports Media Watch): In 2001, the Oakland A’s started 2-10 going 9-18 and didn’t get over .500 for good until July 8th and went on to win 102 games.
Blog suggestion for the day: Beth over at Cursed to First relays the Legend of Jed Lowrie.
I am not one who usually throws praise in the direction of Jon Lester, but he gets props today for not only pitching a great game but, in not yet picking up a win, for not throwing his team under the bus. * One would not have blamed him had he busted out with “Good GOD why can’t these guys score some freaking RUNS?!?” in last night’s post-game press conference. I have no doubt Crabby’s good pitching will be rewarded this season but it has to be frustrating to watch good outings go for naught.
Goodness knows we’re all frustrated.
I had an conversation with someone last night who told me that I was lying to myself and those around me when I say that I’m not worried about this team. I’m not lying…I’m not worried. But as I posted online earlier, this team is wearing me out. Although, that’s probably not entirely accurate. The reaction to this team are what is wearing me out. While I completely understand frustration I don’t understand blaming one or two people for the failings of an entire team. (The next “get rid of so and so” message I read will be my millionth.)
If you believe the team is going to go 2-160, I suggest you find another team to root for or another sport to enjoy. There are rough patches in every season for every team. It really is difficult watching the team struggle so early and for so long but the team is not going to lose every game for the rest of the season so, no, I’m not lying when I say I’m not worried. (But man, a couple of wins in a row…wouldn’t that be nice?)
As I often do when I need to ignore what is going on with my own team, I look to the rest of the league. Last night, Josh Hamilton broke his arm while sliding into home. Here’s what he said about it:
“It was a stupid play,” Hamilton told The Associated Press. “The whole time the ball was in the air, [third base coach Dave Anderson] was yelling, ‘Go, there’s no one at home,’ and I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this, something is going to happen.’ But I listened to my coach.”
Much like I had to admit sympathy for Lester, I feel some for Hamilton. While not my favorite player, breaking your arm in April and putting yourself out of commission for a couple of months is a lousy way to being the season and I wish him a speedy recovery. What I don’t like is how quickly he took to placing the blame somewhere else. I wasn’t watching the game but I know third base coaches will make as many bad decisions as good when it comes to sending a runner. So if people want to criticize Dave Anderson for his decision to send Hamilton, I take no issue with that. My problem comes when you, as a member of the same team as your coach, decide it’s okay to go public with your displeasure in his decision and, essentially, blame him for the fact that you got injured. Dave Anderson didn’t make a head-first slide into home, Josh Hamilton did. The only one responsible for that decision is Hamilton. Quotes like this one, when given a chance to say something like “I blurted that out in the heat of my frustration” do nothing to endear Hamilton to me:
I threw him under the bus by telling the truth about what happened.
What? Does Hamilton remember how many people had his back not only when he was trying to come back from his addiction trouble but when he relapsed? “Telling the truth” is no excuse for being an ass, Josh. You weren’t telling the truth, you were placing blame on someone else because YOU made a dumb decision.
Ron Washington, someone I have criticized in the past as well and who happens to be the manager of the Rangers, isn’t blaming his third base coach and had some words for his outfielder:
“He’s got a right to feel what he feels, but I’m certainly not going to blame David,” Washington said. “I think Josh has to live with what he said.”
Well said, Ron.
And, finally, another installment of “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME? ~ The Johnny Damon Story:
This comes from the Sporting News (prepare for many blockquotes):
Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Johnny Damon admitted his only chance to reach the Hall of Fame is to reach the 3,000-hit plateau. And if that happens, he told the Boston Herald that he won’t don a Boston Red Sox hat on his Cooperstown plaque
“(Ending the curse) was big,” Damon told the Boston Herald. “I loved every minute of my time in Boston, but how things went down at the end definitely left sour feelings, and that’s why I can’t really embrace that.”
In reality, a player doesn’t choose his Hall of Fame cap. If called to the Hall, Damon almost certainly would go in as a Royal because he played there longer (six seasons) than with any other team.
So Johnny wants to make it clear that he doesn’t choo, choo, choose us even though he doesn’t have the option. If you don’t stop texting us, Johnny, we’re going to change our phone number.
Random stat that doesn’t mean anything but sounds great: in 1991, the Minnesota Twins won the World Series after a 2-9 start to their season.
Blog suggestion for the day: The above stat comes courtesy of Ted’s Army who gives us hope today when all things seem hopeless.
“We lost as a team. Every time we lose, we lose as a team.” ~ Adrian Gonzalez
Yes, indeed, Adrian.
We were fortunate enough to be sitting in an area last night that when the herd starting thinning the fans who decided to stay could move up and sit in the good seats with us. This meant that for the last couple of innings we were surrounded by good fans who were cheering on the team and yelling encouragements. Well, all except for two jackasses who used the opportunity to move up and insult any of the players in the on-deck circle. (We ended up behind the Red Sox on-deck circle for the game last night, which was not in the original plan, and reportedly we were shown on ESPN.)
The two jackasses were shut up quickly enough by a polite but large man who asked them if the seats they were in were actually theirs and who then suggested he could call security and find out. Like I said, we had a good crowd around us and after a game like last night’s, that makes a big difference.
If you watched the Red Sox win their first series against the Yankees you know that they have some power and talent that just isn’t consistently showing itself. The Red Sox could still very well win this series against the Rays, which is all they need to do. Keep winning the series and everything falls back into place. So if you were one of the asses who spent money to go to a baseball game and then used that time to boo your own team, then you got the game you deserved and I hope it’s the only game you are able to go to in person all season long.
It was definitely painful to watch the numbers keep moving up for the Rays, but games like that happen. At one point it went from painful to humorous. How do you stay at a blow out for almost the entire game and then decide the 11th run of the night was the final straw for you? The number of people who did just that (jumping up and waving their hands in disgust as they made their way to the exits) and it made for good entertainment.
I’m not a fan of claiming staying at a ball game is a badge of honor and there are many legitimate reasons why someone might have to leave a game early, but I don’t think right now is the time to be giving up on your team. I don’t care how famous they are, I don’t care how fabulous their personal lives are and I don’t care how much money they make…the team is struggling and needs support not abandonment. Support the team or jump on a train and become a fan of a New York, DC or Baltimore team. Maybe that will be more fun for you?
As an aside, last night Joe Maddon tweeted that Sam Fuld not staying on base and collecting his cycle showed integrity. Why? Near the end of a blowout game where it has become clear extra runs will be just that, what does it show integrity. I feel like that’s something you would say if the team lost, not when they’ve just pounded their opponent. Besides, I have a difficult time believing Sam was fully cognizant of the fact that if he pulled up he’d have the cycle. Even if he was, having the view I did made it seem obvious that he was just doing what was natural, running because he could. No need to make it more than it was, Joe. (Also, to give you an idea of the crowd around us by that time, many in our section were yelling for him to stop because they wanted the New Hampshire native to get the cycle. Like I said, the good crowd around us helped make the game less painful.)
Random stat that helped make the evening fun: Alfredo Aceves, in relieving Tim Wakefield (who relieved Daisuke Matsuzaka) went 2.2 innings, struck out 2 and gave up no hits nor any walks. I’ve now seen him pitch twice this season and both times came away happy that he’s with the team.
Blog suggestion for the day: In an effort to keep the fun in the game, Soxy Lady has, once again, taken on the task of compiling at-bat and entrance music for the Red Sox. Check it out (and help her fill in the gaps if you can!)
Raise your hand if you had John Lackey and Josh Beckett as the first two pitchers to get a Red Sox win.
Now put your hand down because you are a liar.
Where John Lackey got the win on Friday in spite of his pitching, Josh Beckett earned every bit of his “W” last night. 103 pitches over eight innings made me happy enough…but the two hits, ten strike outs and only walking one made me practically delirious. While Carl Crawford was the only Red Sox player who couldn’t get a hit off of the Yankees, Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez were the only Yankees who could hit the Red Sox last night. These are all things we should be happy about.
The Red Sox came into this home stand with a record of 0-6. They were facing the New York Yankees, including their ace CC Sabathia, and needed to at least win the series if not sweep to save any kind of face. The “lowly” Red Sox who were previously swept by a powerhouse Texas Rangers team and a supposedly mediocre Cleveland Indians team got nine hits off of CC. Nine. Last night, Boone Logan was the only Yankees pitcher to take the mound who didn’t give up a run. These things, they are all good.
For various reasons, I was up for most of the night. I passed the time by reading message boards, blogs and Twitter accounts and came out with this: Many people, some Red Sox fans, think that we would be silly in celebrating what happened this weekend. I say foo on you people. Are we supposed to whine about the team until they’re over .500? Do we not celebrate any wins until the team sweeps a series? We wanted and needed the Red Sox to win and they did…two out of three times…I’ll take it any day of the week. (Also, it appears many Yankees fans believe the home plate umpire last night was biased in favor of the Red Sox because MLB wants the Red Sox in the race. I actually read/heard this from handfuls of people from different forums, including email to me, and they were serious. I know it’s tough to lose to a team whose record prior to the series was a whopping zero wins, but this is just sad…especially in April.)
I will happily take the two wins and bring them to this next series. The Rays are struggling as the Sox are so both teams need to step it up tonight. Much to my surprise, I’ll be at tonight’s game thanks to a phone call offering up a seat. (Confession: I had no intentions of going to any games against the Rays this year because of Manny Ramirez. I didn’t want to have to deal with anger at people booing him, anger at people cheering him and my own confusion about what it all meant to me. Sadly, Manny fixed that for me so I don’t have to worry about it. More on Manny later.)
So bask for a little longer, folks and then come back ready for another series that will probably try our patience and test our fortitude.
Random stat that doesn’t mean anything so don’t let the Boston sports media freak you out today: From 2008-2010, Daisuke’s ERA against the Tampa Bay Rays is 6.00
Blog suggestion for the day: Allan over at Joy of Sox details the Clay Buchholz contract extension (which is much deserved and makes me very happy even if the timing of it is quite humorous!).