April 2008

Game 2 of 18 — Sox and the Yanks

Beckett vs. Mussina today. The Texas flame thrower vs. the old pro who now gets by more on finesse than in his heyday. It should be a good one. The Red Sox offense is definitely do for a breakout.

Here’s an interesting nugget: J.D. Drw hit his third homer of 2007 on June 8 in Arizona. He hit his third of 2008 last night at Fenway. I forecast a very big year for the right fielder. Yes, I know he got off to a good start last year. But there is just something about him that seems so much more relaxed this year.

It sounds like it will be another day or two before Alex Cora resumes game action. He got a twinge in his elbow a few days ago and is easing his way back into baseball activities.

The slump of Big Papi continues to be a big topic of conversation. The lefty slugger is hitting .077 (3-for-39) with one homer and three RBIs.

“If David goes the whole year and hits under a hundred, we’re
probably going to lose some games,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “You understand my point here. David’s built
up a lot of trust. Especially with me. The hope is that he’ll make somebody pay
for this. I’ve said it probably a million times. Good hitters, as cold as they
get, they get just as hot. I wish I could tell you why and maybe have it be
consistent. You can’t always do that. Guys get to their level. It will be fun
to watch. I hope it starts today.”

Any thought to sitting Ortiz for a day to let him get things right?

I”f I ever felt that way, I would do it regardless,” Francona said. “As hard
as that would be to do —  I don’t feel that way right now. If I did, I would do
it. but I don’t feel that way.”

How about Ortiz’s knee? Is that an issue?

“I think he has his legs. My point is, I think his legs
feel better then they did last year but I don’t think his base is where it will
be,” Francona said. “There’s a little movement there. It happens. You get your legs moving and
your head is moving, and you’re not seeing the ball. it all kind of coincides
and goes hand in hand. But he’s going to take some good swings. And then it’s
going to slow down again. And that’s going to be good news for us. Right now, I
bet you it’s not looking real slow.”

On to this afternoon’s lineups:

Damon LF
Cabrera CF
Abreu RF
A-Rod 3B
Giambi 1B
Posada C
Cano 2B
Molina C
Alberto Gonzalez SS

Mussina SP

Red Sox
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Ramirez LF
Youkilis 3B
Drew RF
Varitek C
Casey 1B
Lugo SS

Beckett SP

More later,


Red Sox and Yankees — Game 1 of 18

Here we go again. The greatest rivalry in sports begins anew on this rainy Friday night at Fenway.

How bizarre is a Red Sox-Yankees game with no Derek Jeter or Joe Torre? Jeter probably won’t play this weekend with his quad injury. And Jorge Posada is DH-ing and won’t catch all weekend.

Francona was pretty funny talking about Jeter, and how he should take his time with the injury:

“I think that’s very sensible on his part [to sit out]. I’m always
worried about him. It’s a long year. I may go seek him out and tell him he
needs to be careful. You can never be too careful.”

“If you’re a Boston fan, you certainly
don’t want to see him have something to do with the outcome of a game. if
you’re a baseball fan it’s hard not to like him. I’ve seen him play since he
was a kid in the fall league. If anything, he seems like he respects the game
more now than he did then. And I had a lot of regard for him then. That’s why I
think he needs to take care of that quad. It will be good for him.” 

ere are tonight’s lineups for both teams:

Cabrera CF
Cano 2B
Abreu RF
A-Rod 3B
Matsui LF
Posada DH
Gimabi 1B
Molina C
Gonzalez (Alberto) SS

Wang SP

Red Sox

Crisp CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Ramirez LF
Youkilis 1B
Drew RF
Varitek C
Casey 1B
Lugo SS

Buchholz SP

Lowell to DL; Youk at hot corner

Mike Lowell was examined at Mass. General and shortly thereafter, placed on the DL with a left thumb sprain. It didn’t help matters that Alex Cora felt a twinge in his elbow during warmups. In other words, the Red Sox had little choice but to get Jed Lowrie to Boston in time for tonight’s game and place him on the active roster.

The ball sure did find Youk early tonight and he made every play. Also, it says something about Sean Casey that he raked that single Wednesday about five seconds after being told he was coming into the game.

Timlin to be activated tomorrow or later tonight. Who will go? Corey, Lopez or Aardsma?

Here is tonight’s lineup:

Lugo SS
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Ramirez LF
Youkilis 3B
Drew RF
Crisp CF
Casey 1B
Cash C

Wakefield SP

More later.

Wednesday Night Baseball

Mike Lowell left the game and was replaced by the mighty Casey, who promptly bashed a single up the middle. Lowell has a sprained left thumb, suffered on a diving stop of Pudge Rodriguez. X-Rays negative. He’s day to day.

Timlin wrapped up his rehab assignment at Pawtucket tonight. He fired a scoreless sixth inning, reeling off 10 pitches, seven of which were for strikes.

Lester was rolling tonight. Now the Tigers are rolling over him. Because I wasn’t in Toronto, tomorrow will mark the first Red Sox game I’ve seen this season started by someone other than Dice-K or Lester.

The Return of Bill Buckner

For a team that went 86 years without winning a World Series, you can’t beat this “ring thing”. Today marked the second time in four years the Sox opened up their Fenway slate with a ring ceremony.

Sure, it wasn’t as emotional as last time, but I don’t think it’s getting old either. It was a great moment when Bill Buckner came on to the field to throw out the first pitch. I’ve always thought that Buckner was never a big goat here in Boston. It’s always been a myth perpetuated by the national media that Buckner was some scorned figure in Boston.

That has quite simply never been the case. The big culprits in the minds of Red Sox followers were John McNamara, Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley. Buckner? The game was all but lost by the time he made the error. If anything, he was just a symbol of the type of collapse it was.

Once the game started, Dice-K went to work. He looked very impressive. He fired 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and left to a big ovation. Delcarmen pitched a clean eighth, which was a good sign.

In musical news, Aerosmith legend Steven Tyler sang God Bless America in the bottom of the seventh. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Neil Diamond sang Sweet Caroline on the jumbotron screen. No, he was not live and in the flesh. But Neil did announce that he will be playing live at Fenway on Aug. 23 as part of his 2008 World Tour.

More later,


Matinee baseball

Just got back from the clubhouse. Another day, another lineup.

As predicted yesterday, Pedroia is back in the leadoff spot. Youkilis back in the No. 2 hole. Drew is making his 2008 debut, playing right field.

Coco Crisp is starting in center against the hard-throwing Rich Harden. Ellsbury is out.

Cora is playing short in place of Lugo. Sean Casey will get a start this weekend in Toronto.

If the Red Sox get a save situation today, Jonathan Papelbon will not pitch — not after getting extended last night. Look for today’s closer to be either Okajima or Delcarmen.

More later.


The re-opener

Opening Day, Part Deux,  tonight at the McFee Coliseum in Oakland. In case you care, I saw one of the great baseball games of my life from this press box. Game 3 of Yankees-A’s Division Series 2001. Jeter made the behind the back throw to the plate to cut down Jeremy Giambi, who never slid. Mike Mussina pitched a gem. Posada went deep in a 1-0 game in what was a series turning win for the Yankees. Zito pitched incredibly well for the A’s that day but one mistake haunted him.

Another great game in this stadium: Game 5 of the 2003 Division Series where it was the Red Sox turning the table on the A’s. There was the Johnny Damon-Damian Jackson crash, but also a drama-filled save by Derek Lowe, who reverted back to his old role for a night and threw perhaps the nastiest sinker of his entire career right by Terrence Long.

Anyway, I’ll stop digressing. Josh Beckett did great in his last Minor League outing. As manager Terry Francona said today, “Beckett will more likely than not, start Sunday in Toronto.” That means he will face Roy Halladay in a marquee matchup.

One other news item: Ellsbury will lead off tonight. The main reason is that with Drew not playing, they can hit Youkilis sixth so they’ll have a little more thump in the middle of the lineup.

Look for Pedroia-Youkilis to be the 1-2 punch again on Wednesday.


MLB 2008

First of all, I did a terrible job last year urging you all to make predictions and promising that I would compile the results and announce who was most accurate. I still have not gained enough hours in the day to go through last year’s list.

But I will start anew with my own predictions for 2008:

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Tigers
AL West: Mariners
Wild Card: Blue Jays

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Padres

American League champ: Red Sox
National League champ: Mets
World Series champ: Red Sox

AL MVP: Manny Ramirez
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
AL Rookie of Year: Evan Longoria
AL Comeback player: Keith Foulke
AL Manager of Year: John Gibbons

NL MVP: Ryan Howard
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana
NL Rookie of Year: Cameron Maybin
NL Comeback player: Andruw Jones
NL Manager of Year: Joe Torre

What are your thoughts? Not that I will ever have time to tabulate the results. See, at least I’m honest this year!!