August 2008

If it ain't broke …

Yes, on the heels of last night’s eight-run assault, Dustin Pedroia is once again hitting cleanup.

Youk and Coco are still out sick. Josh Beckett, who thinks he had food poisoning, rallied from his sickness to play catch today.

All systems appear to be go for Beckett’s start Friday in Texas.

MIchael Bowden, on the heels of his first Major League win, was sent back to Pawtucket this morning. He will work out of the bullpen for the PawSox on Friday, and be back with the Red Sox shortly thereafter. Terry Francona left the door open for Bowden to pitch in relief or a starter the rest of the way.

Speaking of Tito, he admits to being a little dazed and confused when he ran out to argue Pedroia being safe at second last night.

“I go out there, I look up last night, I haven’t been so
embarrassed in years. I could not figure out what the hell Ozzie was doing out
there. That was the damndest thing. I wanted to go out through the Monster, I didn’t’
want to go  back to the dugout because I knew
what was awaiting. Kevin Cash is just screaming, lay off the Red Bull. And
Millsy is just wearing me out. I could have sworn I thought Pedroia threw his
arms up, like he was [mad]. And I put my head down. I put my head down and I go,
why is Ozzie helping me? I didn’t know what to do. Petey’s like, get out of
here.”

And tonight's cleanup hitter?

Would you believe Dustin Pedroia? No, it’s not a misprint.

I’d like nominations for another smaller cleanup man in the history of baseball.

The move was the result of Kevin Youkilis being sick, and Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew on the DL.

“I’ll never hear the end of this from Pedroia or Ortiz,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Pedroia said it’s long overdue and Ortiz says he’s retiring.”

The last Red Sox second baseman to hit cleanup was one Carlos Baerga in the forgettable season of 2002.

Ian.

Last time at Yankee Stadium

This, barring a miracle, will be the last day I ever sit within the confines of legendary Yankee Stadium.

I hope nobody mines that I’m going to be a little self-indulgent today and give you my personal top seven moments in this truly-historic ballyard in the Bronx.

Without further ado, here are SEVEN to savor.

1. October 20, 2004: Game 7 American League Championship Series, Red Sox 10, Yankees 3: Johnny Damon belts two homers, including a grand slam. The Red Sox become the first team to ever come back from 3-0 and exorcise, oh, I don’t know, an entire lifetime of misery against the Yankees.

2. October 16, 2003: Game 7 American League Championship Series. A few terms of quick reference. Pedro Martinez. Grady Little. Pitch Count. You know the rest. Without this epic loss, the next year isn’t quite as surreal.

3. October 19, 2004: Game 6 ALCS: Curt Schilling and the bloody sock. A-Rod knocks the ball right out of Arroyo’s hand. Foulke strikes out Tony Clark with the game on the line. The umpires get Bellhorn’s home run call right. The stage is set for history.

4. September 10, 1999: I’ve seen two no-hitters live, but this was the best game I’ve ever seen pitched. It was Pedro Martinez at his best at a time the Yankees were at their best. Pedro fired a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts and had the Yankees fans cheering for him when the night was over. “That performance was better than my perfect game,” David Cone told the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan. Who could argue?

5. May 28, 2000: Pedro vs. Roger. By far the best duel between arguably the two best pitchers in the history of the Red Sox. It was a Sunday Night ESPN Game and it was scoreless until the ninth when Trot Nixon won over Red Sox fans forever by belting a two-run homer to break a scoreless tie. Pedro went the distance.

6. July 1, 2004: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4, 13 innings. Maybe the best regular-season baseball game I’ve ever seen. Derek Jeter diving into the stands and scraping apart his face is the lasting memory. But there were plenty of other moments from this one.

7. October 31, Nov. 1, 2001: Yankees-Diamondbacks, Game 4 and 5 of the World Series. Because this is a Red Sox blog, I listed this last. But in truth, this should be top two or three. Yankees, on consecutive days, two runs down, in the bottom of the ninth, only to get game-trying homers off your pal B.K. Kim. Tino Martinez hit the Game 4 shot, and Derek Jeter hit a walkoff off Kim in extra innings. The next day, it was Scott Brosius with two outs in the ninth and Soriano with a walkoff single in extras. Curt Schilling’s friends Mystique and Aura were definitely in the building in this one.

And there you have it.

The Thrill of Victory

As we wait for Mark Kotsay to try and navigate the airport and the New York traffic to make it to Yankee Stadium in time for tonight’s game — do you think he will get the Doug Mirabelli police escort? — I just wanted to share the Boston media’s thrilling 9-7 victory over our New York counterparts today. The game — the last ever media game at Yankee Stadium — was a comeback special and lasted eight innings.

Down 7-1 to New York, the Boston bats rallied furiously. Trailing 7-4 entering our final at-bat, we came up with five runs. The winning run came home when a gimpy Jeff Goldberg of the Hartford Courant – torn left meniscus and thoroughly messed up ACL — somehow made a mad dash to score on a wild pitch.

Great rally. Without question, the MVP of the game was Katz Nagao, the Japanese right-hander who throws everything but the kitchen sink. Katz came out of the bullpen to fire four shutout innings to earn the win. And he added a ground-rule double for good measure.

One of the best parts of the game was that Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record and ESPN.com could be there. Klapisch, who has played semi-pro ball for years, recently had a terrible injury in one of his leagues.

In the words of Klapisch’s recent column, “the ball sliced open my cornea, completely detached my retina, ruptured
several areas of the eye socket and broke nearly every bone on the
right side of my face.”

Slowly but surely, Bob is gaining back vision in the eye and even spoke of playing in next year’s media game. Apologies to your doctor, Bob, if you didn’t want me to put that on my blog!! Anyway, I don’t doubt that he will be back on the field.

Back to this year’s game, Uri Berenguer, the Red Sox’s spanish broadcaster, had a terrific game, belting two hits and playing solid defense at second base. And our third star had to be Goldberg, just fighting his way down that last 90 feet. Great stuff!

I’m looking forward to the game at Fenway on Sept. 26.

Amazing how when you win you don’t think of individual stats. This is the first time in this blog I’ve mentioned my 0-for-2 performance, which included a strikeout against Tyler Kepner of the NY Times — I took a good cut on the first pitch but fouled it straight back and another foul back on the second pitch before whiffing on the deuce — and a groundout to second base against my MLB.com counterpart Bryan Hoch.

The play of the day was made by Jack Curry of the NY Times, who dove into the third base stands Derek Jeter style to make a great catch. Of course, Jack made the play from third instead of short, but he was still mighty impressive.

All in all, just a great day. And once again, kudos go out to our catcher Mike Petraglia, who is the glue to our team. Though I’ve only been playing in these games since 2004, Petraglia  — who is a multi-media force for both MLB.com and WEEI.com — has caught every Boston-New York media game since 1995.

Anyway, a great time was had by all.

Yankee Stadium — for the last time

Let’s face it, there’s not going to be a Red Sox-Yankees ALCS this year. So three more games between the Red Sox and Yankees at Yankee Stadium, then on to the new digs next year.

But the retrospectives will be left to the media and the fans. The Red Sox need to win baseball games right now. The Yankees need to win them even more.

As for the news of today, J.D. Drew went the DL before today’s game. And just as quickly as that piece of paperwork was completed, the Red Sox were reportedly close to landing a replacement. It appears Mark Kotsay could  be coming to the Red Sox in a trade with the Braves. Kotsay was scratched from the lineup and reports surfaced that a trade was close to  done, with just some paperwork left.

Like Drew, Kotsay is a left-handed hitter who can play right field and center. He doesn’t have the same power as Drew, but he is similarly strong with fundamentals and a very good outfielder.

Josh Beckett is good to go for Friday. Mike Lowell will start hitting off a tee tomorrow.

In the meantime, check out a pretty good story by Alex Speier of WEEI.com on how the new Yankee Stadium could impact the rivalry.

Talk to you in a bit.

 Ian.

Beckett pushed back again

As a lot of us sort of suspected, Josh Beckett won’t pitch Tuesday against the Yankees. Instead, it appears as though Wake will make his return that night, and the latest on Beckett is that he’s penciled in for Friday against the White Sox.

Also, it came to light today that numbness in two of the fingers is not the only symptom for Beckett. He also has some inflammation in the elbow. As most of you faithful readers have probably noticed, I’ve been wondering all year about Beckett, suspecting that there must have been a reason for his dip from last season. This would explain a lot.

J.D. Drew is out of the lineup again with that ailing back. It wouldn’t shock me if he goes on the DL. I’m sure Theo is hammering the phones trying to find a productive bat. Brian Giles would have looked pretty good right now, eh?

Ian.

Buchholz to Double-A

Immediately after the game, Clay Buchholz was optioned to Double-A Portland. This can’t come as a surprise to anyone. Even Buchholz admitted he knew he was done if he didn’t pitch well tonight.

With the off-days coming up Thursday and Monday, the Red Sox won’t need that spot in the rotation for a while. For now, they should be able to get by with Beckett, Lester, Dice-K and Byrd with Wake filling out the rotation as early as next week.

Here comes Cora? Nope

Yes, I do believe Alex Cora might have pitched the bottom of the eighth for the Red Sox, becoming the first Boston position player to pitch in a game since David McCarty on Oct. 3, 2004. That was also at Camden Yards. That would have been fun. But the Red Sox chipped the deficit to 11-6 in the top of the eighth and then Okajima came back to pitch the bottom of the inning.

Dice-K could have the shortest 20 ever

If Daisuke Matsuzaka can win five more games this season and finish with 20, he will set a record.

The pitchers in Major League history who won 20 games with the fewest amount of innings?

Red Sox crack PR man Henry Mahegan was kind enough to dig up the list for me.

Bob Grim: 20-6 for 1954 Yankees in 199 innings.
Pedro Martinez: 20-4 for 2002 Red Sox in 199 1/3 innings.
Josh Beckett: 20-7 for 2007 Red Sox in 200 2/3 innings.
Tim Hudson: 20-6 for 2000 Oakland Athletics in 200 1/3 innings.

At most, Dice-K has seven starts left this season. He is currently at 126 2/3 innings. You do the math. He has no prayer at reaching Grim’s 199 innings or even coming close to it.

So yes, if you feel like Dice-K’s season has been bizarre, I couldn’t agree more.

Lugo suffers setback

Put that shortstop controversy on hold for now. Julio Lugo had a setback today, re-pulling the quad that he tore in early July.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com first posted the story about 20 minutes ago. I just spoke to Lugo, who was pretty dejected.

More details later.

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