Duel in the desert

What baseball enthusiast doesn’t love this matchup? The guy who has a monster-like 6-foot-10 presence pitching against a guy who was known as the Monster during his years as a legend in Japan.

Just wait until Matsuzaka digs in against Unit at the plate. Before the game, Tito jokingly asked Dice-K if he wanted to hit cleanup. "Against Randy Johnson, no, no", was Dice-K’s response.

Randy Johnson seems to be regaining some of his aura back out here in Arizona. As Francona said, he still makes you switch your lineup.

No Ortiz, no J.D. Drew. Randy Johnson is that nasty against lefties. That slider coming from that near 7-foot-frame with that funky arm angle, there’s just no way to get a good look at it.

Matsuzaka was good in Oakland; I think he’ll be extra revved up today. He’s got his bats ready. And speaking of his bats, Rob Bradford of bradfordfiles fame pulled out this juicy nugget yesterday: That bat that Drew used to have his breakout two-homer, seven-RBI performance Friday night? You know who’s bat that was? Dice-K’s bat. Apparently, J.D. liked the feel of Matsuzaka’s lumber.

Anyway, the roof is closed And with the temperature outside a crisp 100 degrees, I’m eternally grateful.

Ian.

48 Comments

I wouldn’y hype johnson up so much. He has great numbers thanks to the NL, where his stuff doesn’t get slapped around. I expect the Sox to light him up tonight whether he is now healthy or not. Though i’m sure he is still intimidating.

spoken like a true fan of the NYY

lol You got that right. But can you really disagree with me? The guy had a 5era last year and unlike Beckett, he doesn’t have a prime ahead of him. Now he’s in a weak hitting division in a weak hitting league and he’s performing well, is anybody surprised? The fact of the matter is, it is now interleague play, which means those lineups that made him look washed up are now going to face him again, so why would anybody expect him to be dominant?

Wow. That jab was a little sharp, wasn’t it Ian? Especially at Vince, who is one of the nicest Yankees fans I’ve ever encountered. Tough to infer tone in a typed post, so I’ll assume you meant it playfully.

It’ll be interesting to see how Matsuzaka does at the plate. Do pitchers have to hit in Japan?

And in response to rsjones’ comments from yesterday, I agree that the Yankees are really looking like they’re going to make the rest of the season interesting. Lots of folks have been saying that NY just needed to get a few things in order, and it looks like they have done just that. While I’d love nothing more than to see the Sox turn up the heat again and run away with the pennant, it sure looks like the Yankees have a shot at making a race of it.

I expect to see nothing less than this from Matsuzaka at the plate today…

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Z3-uZrDn0OA

Ian,

Would you do me a favor? Next time you run into Joe Castiglione will you please tell him that Matsuzaka is not pronounced “Matsu SAH ka” but “Matsu ZAH ka.” He alone seems to be the only one that I’ve heard mispronounce Dice-K’s name.

I know it’s just a little thing, and I think he’s a great broadcaster and all, but it’s getting to be sort of annoying.

All you National league fans are right… there is so much strategy involved in intentially walking the #8 hitter to face the pitcher. Nothing like ending a rally like that. It’s good for baseball, it’s good for TV. I’m just so disappointed I don’t get to see it every night in the AL. Wake me up when something happens.

Hard to duel with one hand tied behind your back — meaning the top of the order. How can the sabermetric happy Red Sox leave Lugo and Crisp 1 & 2 when they have Youkilis and Pedroia wasted further down? They’re starting almost every game with only 25 outs left before they have a real chance of getting people on base. With the season nearly half over, Lugo’s and Crisp’s batting averages are more than a slump. Past time to make a change.

Our offense is truly putrid at this point. Really need some NL pushovers back at Fenway. I’m not even going to comment on Lugo and Crisp at the top of the order. All I can say is Miguel Tejada? Michael Young?

Dice-K has good stuff. Why doesn’t he throw it? He’s throwing harder than the Unit but continues to throw off speed stuff he can’t control, and that rolling slider that has “HIT ME” written all over it. Walks, pitching from behind in the count, and 3-2 counts are killing him.

Rayman, forget about Tejada and Young…. I’ll take Gozalez or Cabrera. How can a GM like Epstein make so many mistakes at what is arguably the most important defensive position on the field.

Good thing Cora sacrificed so we can bring up Lugo and Crisp. Julio delivers as usual.

………..How pathetic!

I can’t believe Lugo right now. He is probably our worst layer. ITs like a tie between him and crisp. I think Lugo shuld take a cuple of mental days off after tongith. 0-4???

You can put that inning on Francona. Sac bunt to bring up the two worst hitters in the American League? Really, really bad move there. Brutal strategy there. Aren’t you supposed to play for the win on the road (not the tie). Maybe a hit and run with Cora and Pedroia? We all know the only thing Lugo is good for is a ground out with a man on third. That could have been possible.

I was defending Lugo and Crisp, but on a night like this we need more than just potential and ability. Eventually they have to deliver. So count me in as disgusted with them both. Where is Cabrera?

OO boy dat was just a horrible throw by timlin. There goes our chances to get back from the 1 run deficit. Now we’ll have to somehow comback from 3, maybe 4 down.

It’s been 2 and 1/2 years since Timlin has impressed me. I’m talking about the days of Scott Williamson here.

I understand the guy has built a reputation as a horse on the mound, but at some point the Sox have to just let him retire, especially considering the way in which both Okajima and Donnelly have taken over the set-up man role. It’s like Francona and Co. are in denial that he is no longer valuable to the team.

As sad as it is, I’d rather see JC Romero pitching for the Red Sox than Mike Timlin.

Very sloppy game tonight. Dice K pitched well enough to win, but his 1 bad inning came again and his walks turned into runs. Can the red sox do something when he’s in the bad inning? Like talk to him or calm him down or sometin? Bad outing by the bullpen and Timlin was not impressive. Kinda ironic dat coco was the one dat gets out when we needed him the most tonight. Lugo took an o-fer and his avg. is about .210. When r the red sox gunna realize dat Lugo is reeli struggling and can’t hit. We shuld put Youk at leadoff and honestly, i’d rather have Dusty hitting 2nd. Lugo and Coco shuld hit 8th and 9th. 3 errors on the night?? Ridiculous.

And I realize that the Sox offense has bailed Dice-K out of some subpar outings, but the offense has also completely abandoned him when he’s turned in above-average performances.

Toronto (4/17)

6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K

Oakland (6/5)

7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

Arizona (6/10)

6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 K

I’d rather see Timlin in there getting beat up but at least throwing strikes than JC Romero giving the game away with walks. Let’s give Timlin a couple outings before we throw him to the wolves.

Francona is a players’ manager, so he’ll stick with Lugo and Crisp until Theo tells him otherwise. He stuck with Pedroia and it paid off. All we can do is hope. However, Lugo has no history of being anything more than an average hitter, and below average fielder. Can’t see what prompted the Sox to bet so hot for him. Let’s just hope he turns it around. If he winds up hitting .260 for the season, that means over .300 from here on out. That wouldn’t be so bad.

I’m definitely not basing my comments on Timlin off of today’s performance, although that didn’t help. I have felt this way about him for the past 2 and 1/2 years. Back in ’03-’04, he could throw in the mid-90’s and had a devastating sinker. Now it seems like he is always leaving the ball up and never gets that big double play ball when he needs it.

True, Romero had control issues but his 3.15 ERA suggested that he could wriggle his way in and out of trouble. Not a great thing to be able to do, I know, but it’s better than Timlin, who just gets hit hard while Francona sits around and watches it all unfold.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw Tito come out of the dugout and pull Timlin from a situation before the game was completely out of hand. It’s like the Red Sox feel as if they owe Timlin something so they have to keep trying to bring him back.

Sorry for this sudden outburst of criticism for Timln, it’s just frustration boiling over from a poor game defensively and offensively.

From what I can see, Timlin gave up a base hit and that’s it. A bad throw to first does not make him a bad pitcher.

As for Romero, he may have bailed himself out of trouble sometimes but more likely it was guys behind him pitching well and not allowing his inherited runners to score. Whatever the case, he walked close to a batter per inning which is ridiculous. I think they did the right thing letting him go.

How much longer do we have to watch Coco? There has got to be a limit. His defense can’t make up for his offense forever.

There was one thing that impressed me about yesterday’s fiasco. That was Manny, not being Manny. He actually got angry at an umpire and had something to say. And unbelievably, I think Manny was right. His foul ball did hit the ground. Then, on a ball Coco had to chase to the wall, he hustled over, knowing Coco’s arm, and took the cutoff and got it to third base. Uncharacteristically, he is running out ground balls harder, sliding and diving into bases, and playing pretty good defense. His production is down a little (probably has nothing to do with the number 1 and 2 hitters), but he’s creeping up on .300. Way to go Manny!

Ian, next time you see dave magadan, will you please suggest to him to suggest to Lugo and Coco to CHOKE UP ON THE BAT??? I’m no coach (no kidding, he says), but you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that these two are quick and taking too long of a swing. Just put the darned thing in play, hit to the opposite field and use your speed. coco especially. I swear, if he did nothing but choke up like half a hand, I’ll bet he’d gain 30 points in his average.

How long do I have to undergo this torture of Coco at the plate? This has to end. There has to be a limit for being patient with a player. His defense doesn’t make-up for his disgusting performance at the plate day after day.

The Sox have a very good chance of sweeping the next 2 series Vs Rockies & Giants at Home. They should take advantage. Also the Braves are slumping and r without Chipper and maybe Smoltz. Also they are really really struggling at home. Sox should take advantage Vs Braves as well. If we going to San Deigo & Seattle with some momentum we should do very well there.

As painful as it may be… I don’t mind sticking with Lugo and Crisp a little longer… but NOT at the top of the lineup. Put them down at the # 8 and 9 slot. Give us a chance to put up a big number in the first inning with Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, and Manny.

I makes sense to move Lugo to 9th spot. I checked the stats and he has excellant numbers batting ninth. Crisp will move to 8th. Youk leads off and Pedroia at 2nd. Should work?

My patience is definitely wearing thin with Lugo, so I would not be opposed to dropping him down in the lineup. But the problem with bunching him and Crisp together is that then our 8-9 hitters are our biggest stolen base threats and I don’t think the Sox are the type of team who double steal consistently.

With that being said, it’d be a miracle if both Crisp and Lugo got on base within the same game, let alone the same inning, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to banish them both to the bottom of the order.

Personally, I think this lineup could fare better than the current one:

Crisp

Youkilis

Ortiz

Ramirez

Drew

Lowell

Varitek

Lugo

Pedroia

Youkilis is a contact hitter who rarely strikes out, so hit-and-run’s would both open up holes in the infield for Youk but also allow Crisp to go from 1st to 3rd on a base hit. I can’t remember the last time Papi/Manny had runners in scoring position in the 1st inning.

I know that Crisp didn’t work out as the leadoff hitter last year, but he was not as awful as Lugo is this year. Putting Youk in the leadoff spot does not give us any speed on the basepaths at the top of the order, and even though it worked last year, that was because the Sox didn’t have the luxury of two speedy players to divide up through the lineup. The same goes for Pedroia in the leadoff spot, plus he’s been coming back down to earth a bit lately so no sense in adding pressure.

I’m with Kumar on moving Lugo down in the order, but like Zachary said, we’re not the type of team that double steals consistently enough.

However, the Yankees game VS. the Pirates when Clemens was pitching, I saw a couple of double steals, so if the Yankees can do it, I’m sure the Red Sox could. Plus didn’t Tito come from managing a NL team before he came to the Red Sox? I could see it being pulled off perfectly.

That being said, I’ll take Zacahary’s line up, but I’ll swap Coco and Youk’s position in it simply because Coco hasn’t been getting on base as much. Obviously, the lead off hitter needs to get on base and Coco hasn’t been doing that as of late.

Again, I’m with Arnie and I’ll defend our “slumping speedsters” but eventually it’ll get to me and this road trip to the desert didn’t help their cause any.

What is the chance that coco is traded before the deadline? I think he is player most likely to be traded than Lugo coz of his contract. Any chance of getting Aaron Rowand for Coco, JC Romero(still 9 days left to trade him) and one more reliever from the minors.

We should definitely try to unload Coco to the National League. His average would probably jump 40 points overnight. Theo/Tito definitely have to wake up and do something. I still think Pedroia, Youk, Ortiz, Manny should be the top of the order. Youk has too much power to lead off… better to allow Pedroia to get on first. On Lugo, I just think we didn’t do our homework. So he put up mediocre numbers on the Devil Rays? They play ZERO meaningful games per year. Every year, from day 1, its clear they have no chance whatsoever to compete. He got a chance to contribute to a playoff team in LA and stunk worse than he is now. Maybe he just can’t handle the pressure? Perfect reason to dump in the #9 spot when he isn’t platooning with Cora (hint, hint).

I was there! it was good to see crisp actually hit ball. The amount of redsox fans was like 30-70 as a proportion.

Sorry to change the subject, but I’m kind of curious what folks thought of Edgar Renteria’s hard slide into second last night, as compared to A-Rod’s that got so much attention. Personally, I think Renteria’s was worse, since he went right for the dude’s face with his elbow. Both looked intentional to me, but Renteria’s looked much nastier, with more intent to injure or punish, as opposed to A-Rod’s which I honestly thought was intended to break up the DP.

Hope folks don’t think I’m trying to pick at old wounds. I just haven’t heard much hue and cry about Reneria’s, and I wondered if folks really thought there was much difference, or if it was simply because of who was involved in the respective incidents.

Lugo’s life time average is 272. coco’s is 277. Most players hit within 10 points of their life time average either way. So i gotta figure both have a lot of hits in their respective bats. So it makes sense to be patient. But as Yogi said, it’s getting late early. When are these guys going to produce? And why are both flopping here?

Remember Ken Griffey Jr. . . .he’s back. I was just speculating here but, couldn’t they trade for him without giving any “important”. We are in need of another righty in the line-up (isn’t he also switch). We could trade Pena, Crisp, and/or Hansen or Delcarmen it would be a blockbuster deal for Cincy, and a stealfor us.

If you would like to fill in the black or problems with this proposed )fantasty idea go right ahead.

I think Griffey could be a good idea.

The sleaziest thing about A-Rods slide is that he clearly went out of the way to throw the elbow after the slide was fully over. If you look at the angle from the first base line, he slid directly into second base. It would have been smarter to slide to his left of the bag so that it would be directly into Pedroia… but he didn’t do that. He slide straight into bag and then made a new move to the left to throw the elbow after the slide was over.

I believe if a baserunner slides in a straight direction… and can at least touch the bag (the rule), then I personally don’t mind if the spikes or elbows are up. Renterria appeared to slide hard and high in a straight direction. He did not make the cheesy left turn after the slide was over.

Let’s use Mike Lowell’s play to break up the double play. The fielder was directly in the base path… Lowell proceeded directly up the base path towards second and threw the shoulder. Perfectly clean and legal. If he veered purposely to the left or right with a fist, elbow, leg, etc.. than it would have been dirty and illegal… like for example, Reggie Jackson’s hip in that playoff game against the Dodgers.

rsjones, i’m not judging the idea, but first you have to know that Griffey Jr is a lefty ( and just a lefty ).

As for getting him, while he still has the sweetest swing in the bigs, i’m not sure about his health. He’s injury prone, and he’s 37. But he can sure hit a baseball ! :)

Griffey’s 37 years old. That’s all you need to say and that trade or him somehow coming to the Red Sox isn’t going to happen because of that.

Ginod42 brought up a good point. Over the course of the season most players will hit around 10 points (give or take) of their career average. Again, I don’t know why they’re flopping at the moment, but I’m still not sold that they WON’T have a pretty big second half.

I think Lugo should start trying to bunt his way on base because it’s painful to see him constantly “just miss” a pitch, pop it up to the infield, and get angry at himself on the jog down to first base.

I also think it’s important for the Red Sox to hit-and-run more with those struggling bats. I’m sure a multi-hit game for either player (Lugo or Crisp) would do wonders for their confidence, and it wouldn’t hurt if those happened to be some cheap grounders to a vacated position.

Also something completely underrated, in my mind, is Manny’s batting average right now. His numbers were completely horrendous in April, and then you turn around at the beginning of June and he’s hovering in the .300 neighborhood. The guy is an absolute machine and I can’t believe people ever complain that he’s not going to hit.

Now we just need to get some baserunners on in front of him so he can jack up that RBI total.

How about this lineup:

Pedroia

Drew

Youkilis

Oriz

Ramirez

Lowell

Crisp

Varitek

Lugo

There’s a total lack of speed at the top of the lineup if you make the switch to Pedroia. You’re not going to get those first to third on a single or a run on a double with Pedroia or Youklis.

Coco and Lugo are needed up top to put pressure on the opposing pitcher. Perhaps some short term adjustment to support Crisp and Lugo back to their normal productive at-bats. Moving Ortiz and Manny down in the order reduces the quantity of at bats they’ll have over the season. That’s not something you want to do.

Get some batting coaching sessions for Coco and Lugo is what’s needed. It seems to have worked for Drew this weekend.

Pedroia shouldn’t lead off because he has zero speed. My mom could outrun him. So don’t even go there. 2nd, maybe.
Really, Lugo or Crisp should lead off, it’s just so dang FRUSTRATING that neither one can seem to get it together. Wouldn’t mind so much if they took turns slumping but why in God’s name do they have to s/u/c/k simultaneously??? Are they both head jobs that can’t handle Fenway, and the Nations’ expectations? I find that hard to believe. You have to have some mental toughness to make it to the majors and then to do as well as they have. So what gives here? Dr. Phil, you out there? A little help!

Oh, hey, since there’s no game tonite and the blog is in a little bit of a bad mood what with Coco and Lugo driving us batty(sorry, bad pun) I just want to relate a little Papi story. You all know how Papi spits on his batting gloves and smacks his hands together. Well, I cook a lot in our restaurant and now we are required to wear latex gloves all the time. Someone on a cruise ship got about 200 people sick so now our local health dept. says “Wear the gloves, no exception.” So being a puerile bunch we put the gloves on with exaggerated snapping and popping, evil chuckles, and comments like, “Juan, you ready for the doctor?” in hilarious Spanish accents. Anyhow, I now find myself smacking my hands together like Papi all the time(no, I don’t spit!). I put on the gloves, step away from the prep table-SMACK!–go back to work. Put down my french-knife -SMACK!- go get a saute pan. I’ve got to cut it out, I’m starting to annoy myself, let alone my staff.

Just a little RSN story on a slow nite.

No Ken Griffey Jr. Please, please, please no Ken Griffey Jr. The guy is injury prone, and not worth surrendering a top prospect like Buchholz, Bowden or Ellsbury, which is what would take to acquire him.

As for Lugo and Crisp, I just wrote a post about them. It is frustrating to watch them consistently underperform. I agree that Pedroia should not hit leadoff. I wouldn’t mind Kevin Youkilis in the leadoff spot, even though he is not a typical leadoff hitter. The bottom line is we need production at the top of the lineup, and if Lugo doesn’t start getting on base, he should be moved to the bottom of the order with Crisp. Of course, then you weaken the bottom of the order with Lugo eighth and Crisp ninth. I do like Pedroia batting second, though.

Jeff

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

Helton will be in the building tonight, I wonder how many at-bats it will take for him to slap his first double off of the Monster. I’m guessing no more than two.

Wake should be good tonight with the dense air that is in the area tonight. The knuckler should be dancing.

Here’s the lineup, in order, I think there should be:

Ortiz

Mirabelli

Crisp

Lugo

Cora

Lowell

Pena

Youkilis

Ramirez

With the shift defense, Ortiz can really bunt his way on. Mirabelli’s high strikeout total will replicate the success we had when Bellhorn batted second in 2004 and let’s not forget we won the World Series that year. Lugo has a high RBI total and so should be able to drive in Ortiz batting in the cleanup spot. Pena in the seven hole gives us an extra strikeout option should Mirabelli not be doing the job. And with Youkilis’s high on base percentage and Manny’s ability to drive the ball, we should really see a lot more punch down at the bottom of the order, while not sacrificing the talent-laden trio, and spine of the line-up, of Crisp-Lugo-Cora.

Hilarious!!!

I forgot that Papi had the 50-steal ability. Coco shuld provide us some great power. Pena’s strikeouts will also help opposing starters not waste too many pitches.

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