June 2006

Home Sweet Home

Fenway Park? Do we all remember Fenway Park? If it seems like the Red Sox have barely played there lately, it’s because they haven’t. And now they come home for just four games in three days, before packing up those suitcases again.

I, for one, am extremely intrigued by what is ahead for the weekend. Getting to see Jon Lester is going to be a lot of fun. I had a similar feeling last year leading into Papelbon’s MLB debut — that start against the Twins in July 31.

For the first time in decades, there is a buzz in the Red Sox organization being generated by the kids. This is great. Let’s hope Lester hits the ground running like Papelbon did last year.

What a big-time performance by Schilling to close out the Yankees series. This guy, as I said in my pre-game post, just loves the challenge. Many pitchers would bury their heads in the sand after giving up three homers in the first five innings. Schilling? It just makes him more determined. He is 9-2 and he doesn’t even feel as if he’s pitched like he’s capable of. I think he’s en route to AL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Foulke’s back is a clear concern, and so is Timlin’s shoulder. This is why I’m really intrigued to see what Hansen is going to do once Francona gets him into a game. The Red Sox have still been searching for their identity this season and I have a feeling the kids are going to help develop it.

talk to you from Fenway,

Ian.

Can Schill brighten a dreary day?

I wrote that headline when i thought there was going to be a game. But it’s been canceled. Makeup will probably be in September.

First of all, apologies for going roughly 72 hours between posts. Let’s just say that these trips to New York are a little time consuming from a work standpoint, especially when the draft falls right in the middle of it.

Monday night you can shake off if you’re the Red Sox. It’s just one of those nights where Beckett was leaving the ball right over the middle of the plate and the Yankees acted as if they were hitting off a tee. Last night was different. That was gutwrenching. What can you say about Pauley? I didn’t see a performance like that coming. I doubt any of you did either. That was special stuff.

Now, if only he could have fielded a grounder, and if only Melky Cabrera didn’t make the best catch of his life to bring back what would have been a game-tying homer in the 8th. If last night’s game was October, we’d be hearing about it for weeks. It had that type of feel to it.

Down 2-0 what is now a 3-game set, the Red Sox have the man they want on the mound in Schilling. Nobody loves a challenge like this more. I’d be shocked if he didn’t come up big Thursday night. Even though Big Unit isn’t the Big Unit of old, you still don’t want to lose the two games  games of a e series with him pitching the finale, so you know Schilling will be revved up beyond belief.

More later,

Ian.

It's a Sunday Afternoon in … Detroit

OK, so it’s not quite a Sunday afternoon in New York, but I don’t dislike Detroit as much as many of my cohorts on the beat. I have relatives here in a nice suburban town called West Bloomfield, so it’s always nice to catch up with them and get some good eats and hang out with my cousin.

As for today’s big rubber match. The Red Sox will rest a couple of regulars. Mike Lowell and Mark Loretta are both out of the lineup and not surprising when you consider the day game after the night game and the fact that both players are battling nagging injuries.

Youkilis will hit second and play third base. J.T. Snow is batting seventh and playing first and Alex Cora is No. 9 at second base. Aside from that, it’s a regular lineup.

By the way, count Curt Schilling among those who has enormous respect for what the Yankees are doing with all their injuries. The ace pointed out the Yankees have as much payroll injured or on the DL as many teams do on their entire active roster, which is also why Schilling thinks that Torre is a runaway for AL Manager of the Year at this stage. It’s hard to argue that right now.

In other news, the reason Keith Foulke hasn’t been used this weekend is because his back has been acting up a little. If you recall, Foulke battles back woes every year at some point, so this is nothing alarming.

Tough loss last night. Was I the only one having Deja Vu when Ortiz stepped to the plate with a chance to be a hero against Fernando Rodney in the eighth inning? One of the most dramatic moments in Ortiz’s run to the MVP last year (well, what should have been his run to the MVP until the vote came out in favor of A-Rod) was when he went deep off Rodney to tie a game with one out in the ninth. Ortiz then belted a three-run shot in the 10th. Alas, this time he hit a medium-range flyball to center.

Anyway, let’s see what Clement has today. It should be very, very interesting. And the Tigers have a kid in righty Zach Miner making his Major League debut. Those are always fun to watch.

C ya,

Ian.

Crazy game, isn't it?

So let me get this straight. David Ortiz clocks a pitch some 425 feet to left-center field. It’s a homer at any park in America, except this one. Just a long out here in Motown. Ortiz sarcastically shouted as he walked toward the shower late last night, "No Pop, No Pop." In actuality, Papi has plenty of pop.

One inning later, Kevin Youkilis lofts a most innocent looking flyball that nobody in the press box or dugout seemed to think would be a home run. And it plops over the wall. Game-winning, two-run jack. That’s baseball in a nutshell. That’s part of what it makes it so great on a night like Friday if you’re the Red Sox and so utterly frustrating if you’re the Tigers.

When you win a game with two outs in the ninth, that can spark you to a pretty good run. Let’s see if that’s the case with these Red Sox.

Nothing out of the ordinary about tonight’s lineup except that it’s probably the strongest one they’ve had behind Wakefield this season.

Crisp CF
Loretta 2B
Ortiz DH
Ramirez LF
Nixon RF
Lowell 3B
Youkilis 1B
Mirabelli C
Cora SS.

There wasn’t a whole lot of intriguing pre-game news. But it’s certainly good news that Mike Timlin will resume throwing off the mound on Monday. Expect him to be activated in time for Saturday’s doubleheader.

David Wells has not resuming throwing yet, which might make a start next Sunday against the Rangers a stretch, but we’ll see.

Later,

Ian.

Pauley for Tuesday

So much for my debate question. The matter has been settled. Manager Terry Francona said earlier today that David Pauley will take the ball on Tuesday in New York.

I’m a little surprised. I figured they might have one of the young lefties take the ball in the Bronx. This will probably be it for Pauley, as I’m thinking Wells will return for a Sunday home start against Texas.

In other news, Lowell is back in the lineup tonight so i guess his hamstring is fine.

Here is the lineup.

Crisp CF
Loretta 2B
Ortiz DH
Ramirez LF
Varitek C
Lowell 3B
Youkilis 1B
Nixon RF
Gonzalez SS

Schilling SP

I love the pitching matchup tonight. Schilling and Kenny Rogers. This is the first time I’ve been in Detroit for a while when there was actually a buzz in this town about the Tigers. It’s good to see. This has always been a good baseball town when the team is playing well, which is why it hasn’t been a good baseball town for a long, long time.

There’s something subtle about this park. It’s not one of the more glamorous new yards, but I think that it gets the job done.

Later,

Ian.

Tuesday in the Bronx

I know we are jumping ahead of the game by a few days here, but it’s a real interesting dilemma the Red Sox have on their hands for Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Who should pitch that game?

I doubt it’s going to be David Pauley.

That said, the choices seem to be: Jon Lester, Craig Hansen, Abe Alvarez or Lenny DiNardo (would be eligible to come off DL for that start).

My gut would be to throw Hansen out there and see what he’s got.

What does everyone else think?

Ian.

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