Leftovers from a wild night at Fenway

Wow, was there ever a lot going on at Fenway last night! It was hard to include it all in the game coverage, so here are some leftovers.

Takashi Saito has pitched in a lot of non-pressure situations this season, not as a reflection of him, but because of how dominant the rest of the bullpen has been. Saito’s inning and a third of shutout relief wound up being crucial on Thursday, given Boston’s comeback win. It was Saito’s 100th career win when you combine his work in Japanese pro baseball, and his first with the Red Sox.

“There are many pitchers out there with better numbers than I have, but to put it very simply I am very happy today, more than anything I’m happy that I was able to get my first win as a member of the Red Sox,” said Saito.

As for Saito’s former teammate with the Dodgers and current teammate Brad Penny, he was stunningly electric last night. I would say Penny’s shoulder has come all the way back from the right shoulder woes of a year ago. His fastball was exploding into the upper 90s, as he fired six shutout innings against the Yankees.

“I would say my mechanics are getting a little better,” Penny said. “I’m staying behind the ball and driving off my back foot.”

Then there is Big Papi. The big man with the big swing and the even bigger slump is finally getting hot. He crushed that homer against Sabathia, staying on the ball perfectly and belting it like the Papi of Old instead of an Old Papi.

“When I hit the ball oppo like that, it’s a sign that I’m waiting for the ball good. I’m trying to stay through the ball. I’ve been feeling a lot better at the plate,” Ortiz said.

“That was a good swing,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “He’s getting better and better every day and that’s a huge sign for us.”

Then there is Nick Green, who has started the last five games and turned Julio Lugo invisible. The play he made in the ninth might have been a game-saver.

“Not too many shortstops make that play,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Papelbon actually told Green the play won them the game, though a lot of others think it was Pedroia’s 10-pitch walk.

Either way, the Red Sox seem to be rounding into form at just the right time, heading into a weekend series with the defending World Series champions.

“It’s not just that we’re getting momentum by winning games,” Papelbon said. “I think we’re gaining  momentum with our players .David is starting to feel it, Josh is starting to feel it, our bullpen is starting to feel it. We just have to stay on this wave and ride it out.”

96 Comments

Andy Chow,
Your post gave me an idea. Let’s see if we can remember to track the box scores for RISP comparisons. We can see how the Sox do compared to other teams. LOB can be misleading because the Sox seem always to have men on base and the law of averages would tell you they will leave a lot of them on.
I’ll try to remember to keep track of that.

Excellent article, Ian. Thank you. I think it’s a great way to appreciate the good that players like Saito, Penny, and Green have done. We all know what Papi did in the past and keep rooting for him to break out of his slump. We all know how valuable Youk, Bay, Pedroia, and Pap have been. But one thing that makes the Red Sox so special, and so different than other teams like the Yankees, for example, is the way they come together as a team. Sure, every player has his ups and downs, but these guys seem to stand behind each other like few other teams do, and I think that makes the ‘ups’ seem so much higher. This is a really special group of men -not to mention a talented one-, and in my totally biased opinion, they are the best team in the majors.

I hope Daisuke, Baldelli, and Smoltz get their moment in the sun too.

It’s hard to blog during Yankee games because I’m just so intent on watching the games. What a great series for the Sox!!!! To me, the most important factor was the continued dominance of Josh Beckett. He has really been “chuckin” it lately. His mechanics are just so good right now. Tim Wakefield continued to eat up innings and while he wasn’t spectacular, got the job done and got a win. Brad Penny was the best he’s been all year. There were a couple of uncharacteristic hiccups from the bullpen with Ramirez and Delcarmen, but those things are going to happen at some point. In both cases, at least they didn’t self destruct with walks and stupid stuff. Sometimes, good hitters are going to get hits, and that’s OK.

Andy, your RISP and LOB conclusion is right on. The Sox leave a lot of runners on base primarily because they get a lot of runners on base. If you consider a very good hitter will knock in a RISP one out of three times, because as we know baseball is predicated on failure rather than success (if you’re a pitcher). When you’re leaving RISP two of three times, or more likely more than 7 of 10 times, that seems like a lot, when it really isn’t.

Papi seems to be swinging better, but he’s still not close in my opinion. None of his home runs have been hit to right field, which tells me he’s still behind the good fastball. However, if he has conceded that and decided to drive the ball up the middle and the opposite way, I think that’s a good thing. He is strong enough to hit 25 HRs without ever pulling a ball. He’s catching up, but he’s not there yet.

Great play by Nick Green last night, but give Youk some kudos too on a great stretch to haul in the throw. Oh yeah, let’s not forget Rocco Baldelli’s catch in left center field on Cabrera’s fading line drive. Stick that one right in there with the game saving plays.

OK, the question of the day. Who is more of a boob on the bases, Nick Swisher or Julio Lugo? For the first time, I think Lugo has some real competition for honors here.

I’ve been wondering Ian, your entries here and your articles for mlb.com are excellent. I imagine you’ve noticed you have many readers, including quite a few of us who are regulars. The Red Sox fan base in Spanish-speaking countries is growing, but I really think your work translated to Spanish would help very much. That kind of fan increment, could be very valuable to the team in many ways. And I imagine that posting your work on ‘lasmayores.com’ could be arranged, given the proper translations. I would more than gladly be willing to help with translating your work, given the chance. Please let me know if there is any possibility of this, I am very interested.

Hey everyone,

I am so glad that everyone is noticing Green. Nick has taken it on the chin with bad base running and bad plays at short and has understandably struggled but wow he is turning into fire at short. He reminds me a little of Rick Burleson now able to get great range and make spectacular plays look easy. Now it’s Green and Lowrie. Lugo needed to be humbled. In a way, Lugo being there was good for Green for it really forced him to step up to the plate and push Lugo out of the starting spot. Right now, Lugo is a mammal watching from the dugout. That’s all he’s doing right now.
Great job by Penny. He’s really turning himself around. In fairness though he got lucky a few times thanks to stupid baserunning errors. How unbelievable it seems that major league players can’t run the bases. That’s like a Calculus student unable to add numbers together. Whatever happened to fundamentals.
I have to agree with Gary that David is still behind in the fastball but compared to what he was, this is a miracle. I’ll take it any day of the week.
Finally what to do with six pitchers and five spots and what to do with three shortstops (although Green really was never a shortstop but is one now). Somebodies gotta go.
Cheers..
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Check out my blog…if you haven’t lately. It means a lot when people comment.
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http://redsoxfunhouse.blogspot.com
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Gary,
Nick Swisher had a bad night…or two but Lugo does it every night but in fairness, Nick Green has done some incompetence on the bases too but the man is learning.

Arnie & Garry:
LOB stats can be and are misleading. I am irked by the LOB where you could score a run for an out and couldn’t do it in a close game and lost the game.
Pap gave credit to Green’s play for the win and rightfully do. Pedey’s 10 pitch walk was pivotal in the 8th inning. Let?s not forget Baldelli?s Ellsbury-like catch robbing Cabrera extra base hit when score was 3-1 NY.
Penny doesn?t want to pitch out of the pen and Beckett doesn?t want his rotation mate to be dealt away. Perhaps a 5 man rotation is in order?
What is wrong with Masterson? Anyone knows.

I meant 6 men rotationis in order.

Perhaps the Sox should disable Dice-K and send him down for further rehabbing. Believe me he needs one.

Yea, Dice-K and Lugo are the only two SOX ships that have not yet righted (or shown promising signs of course correction), while Smoltz, Lowrie, and Buckholtz have yet to set sail.

Just when it looks like Papi may be coming around he will probably sit for the next 3 games….dang it!!!! Go Sox!

cfarmham04,
Dice-K has talent. That’s the difference between him and Lugo. Lugo will always be a single A player pretending to be in the big leagues. Rested, Dice-K can be a force to be reckoned with but Lugo is a snowstorm on a sunny day.

Not sure on Dice-K, he has given us 2 years or pretty much the same, and now perhaps a down year or slow year. With our pen, maybe — but why not get a pitcher you can go 7 or 8?

Nick Greens play in the 9th was great – but I still have concerns about his ability to play everyday. I think get a reliable Shortstop is necessary.

And I have to agree – I know that Papi will probably sit against the Phillies this weekend and it is a bummer since he is just starting to find his swing.

The evening after the morning after the night before, over here!

1st things 1st – Ian, you’re doing a great job here, &, if I may say so, I reckon that could be your best post yet.

2nd – it’s fascinating reading the posts from Browniepoints Nation! I realise that when I watch sport, I’m very much a glass-half-full guy (though in my work, I vacillate between positivity & negativity). So I’m really struck by how critical you guys are – but not destructively critical (excepting certain Nut-ty players). But I’m guessing the players are even more critical of themselves…

Garry – I love reading your posts – I learn so much. I absolutely agree with you about Beckett. I guess we all feared at the beginning of this season that 2007 was his peak, & 2008 wasn’t an exception, but the start of his decline. But, from what I’ve seen, he’s pitching better than ever right now – literally.

I have a couple of questions to ask as a relative outsider: (1) How are the fixtures organised? I’m guessing neutrality is not the overriding concern! (2) It seems to me that the Sox are in the midst of a tough run – Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Phillies – all League Leaders when we’ve played them. Does anyone keep tabs on the ‘fairness’ of fixture distribution? &, more significantly at this stage, is anyone in a position to comment on whether or not the Sox have indeed had a predominance of games against ‘league leaders’? &, if so, whether it would be correct to say that we are where we are having played predominantly ‘stronger’ rather than ‘weaker’ teams?

Wrong. Papi plays and Lowell rests.

Red Sox
1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
2. J.D. Drew, RF
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. Jason Bay, LF
5. David Ortiz, 1B
6. Jason Varitek, C
7. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
8. Nick Green, SS
– Jon Lester, LHP

I went to a website and got all the box scores for April and checked each game’s RISP numbers. Then I figured out the batting average for the month of April. Friggin’ tedious, but worth it. The Sox BA w/RISP in April was .300. Pretty good I’d say. However, when we watch the games, we remember the 70 percent of the time when they fail more than we remember the 30 percent when they succeed. I’ll get back to you with May’s numbers. Recall that April was not a great month for the Sox. May’s numbers could be better. Gotta run, gotta run!!

I don’t know if I really like Big Papi playing first.

Not to worry, Papi’s done well at 1st for the Sox. He’ll be fine.

Kotsay will be there defensively in late innings.

Looks like Lugo may be officially out. Not sure starting Green for 6 straight games can mean anything else. I really didn’t think the SOX management had in them to do this. And I actually feel sort of sorry for the guy, he did give it his all, and never complained (though we did bitterly). He just doesn’t seem to be good enough for this team.

007Chow — dumb question, but where are you getting the line-ups for the games? I have looked before, but didn’t find the link.

I feel sorry for Dave. Who is he going to satirize now?

OK. Update on Sox’ batting average with RISP. One correction: April was NOT a bad month. The 11 game win streak occurred in April. My bad, I had thought the win streak was in May.
In May, Andy Chow has a legitimate complaint. Sox BA w/RISP was a paltry .230. The combined April and May BA was .260 with RISP. I’ll check June later.

Ian, we were here just biting our nails about the game!!!
Hey All!!! Well it’s Friday and I’m just about out the door to bowl. I’ll check in later (I’ll be watching the game between frames in the bar at the lanes I tip the bartender nicely and he makes sure its on the BIG SCREEN). Again… I’m going with the no pregame cheer thing (seems to be working just like the line up change is) again. So I will just say..
Go Sox!!
See y’all later….

Arnie,

No worries. Lugo has plenty of material to work with. The Lugo radio show always will have material!
.
http://redsoxfunhouse.blogspot.com

According to the Boston Globe, Ortiz does first, Youk at third and Ellsbury is at center.

Hey somebody out there!

Hi All! Let’s go Red Sox! Okay – not a great first inning – let’s go Lester!

Julia,
How are you. Check my blog out. I’m dependent on you!
Don’t worry Julia. Sox have never seen this guy before.

Johnny Damon is sitting tonight against the Mets because his “eyes are twitching” and he felt a fluttering sensation when he dropped the ball last night.

I will Dave – I was teaching all day & I’m just getting time to check out blogs. Last night I didn’t get much of a chance.

ORTIZ!!!! WHOO HOOO! I just hope his fielding is okay!

Loved the Ortiz dream Dave!

Thanks Julia,
Believe it or not, I wrote it with just ONE writing and checked spelling. It just came out of my head and I couldn’t believe how easy the plot came out. It was weird…one of those times when the story just comes out of your head. Wish all the blog entries were that easy (LOL)

Good evening!!! Julia, I laughed at your mention of Johnny Damon’s twitching eyes. Seriously… Strikes me as hilarious! Speaking of strikes – Bring ‘em on, Lester!!!!!!!

Okay – nice recovery but Ortiz at first? They say he might only be there for tonight.

Dave – the Ortiz dream one was great! Sometimes they just come out like that. That was the case for me when I wrote “And on the 8th Day God Created Baseball”.

Hi Wendy – I know -Damon’s eyes? That just sounds too suspect!

Okay – was that just two really good plays at first by Big Papi???

Julia — then there are the other eighteen that are bears to write and you JUST KNOW that it’s not working out no matter what you do. Those kill me!

Decent swing by Pedroia but his timing is REALLY off. He’s in a slump.

I know Dave – you know “what” you want to write, you just can’t figure out “how” to write it! It drives me crazy!

Dusty is in a slump – maybe Ortiz can help him! lol!

Bring out the oxygen tank for Ortiz! okay – that run was a riot!

YOUK!!!!! WHOOO HOOOO!! He should be in first place in the All-Star voting!

DREW!!!! WHOOO HOOOOO!!!!!!

Doc Halliday left the Blue Jays game injured.

Lester is having a GREAT game! Let’s get some more runs for him!

9 Ks Lester! I love talking to myself – no one to disagree with me! LOL!

GO RED SOX!!

Let’s get some more runs!

Guys – we needed some runs! Come on Lester – HOLD THEM!!!

I’d say – “I bet the Yankees are glad they didn’t have to face Lester” but all are other guys beat them too! LOL!!!

I’d say – “I bet the Yankees are glad they didn’t have to face Lester” but all are other guys beat them too! LOL!!!

Hey Julia,
Just took a run with my daughter. Serious comedy of errors. She’s eight and had a tear in her play dress that we noticed well into the walk. Sure enough it was in a spot where we had to do something so we borrowed safety pins from one of the homes on the way.
On the way back she did what I call heartbreak hill and made it. You should have seen the look on her face. Running her heart out and she made it. I was so proud of her.
Oh ya game on too!

You know Julia,
I LOVE the Mets tonight! LOL)

With Lester done and a one run lead, who can pitch. Can Papelbon manage it tonight? That’s a lot to ask of him. The bullpen got well used at Fenway. Be interesting to see.

Oh man tight game.

Hi Dave – owwww cute story about your daughter! You have to take time with the kids! I missed most of last nights game dealing with our 14 year old.

I too am LOVING the Mets tonight; subway series are great.

I don’t know who will come in tonight. Not sure Pap can.

This is one time automatic out Jason is not working for me.

Well Julia, I had a comedy of errors today. Took the day off to take my daughters canoeing. Sure enough my five year old is crabby and tired and we cancel the trip. Then I try to return a package and lose a letter in the process to somebody. Then I try to buy a new watch that’s defective. All the time my five year old was entirely crabby until about 5:00 pm. Oh well.

hmmm…OKie. We’ll see.

Ouch! Not a good day Dave! lol! Hope tomorrow is better.

OKIE!!!! Don’t walk him!

Okay – Is Okie acting like Dice-K??? DO NOT LIKE IT!!!

Just GREAT Okie!!! UGH!!!!!

JBAY!!!! We have to re-sign this guy NOW!!!!

OKIE!!!! GET HIM OUT!

THANK YOU OKIE!!

Rant * Grant time? Okay!

SCORE SOME RUNS RED SOX!!!!

Dave Roberts says that Pap probably won’t be in.

Oh no….they think Ramon will be in in the 9th…..

UGH!!! Boys! You’re suppose to be scoring RUNS!!!!!

Nice Walk Rocco!!!

That had to hurt Dusty! Don’t do it again!

DAMN!!! Okay boys – WE HAVE TO HOLD THEM!!!

YES!!!!! One out!!!! Two more boys! 14 Ks for Red Sox pitching so far!!

DAMN!!!! Game is tied!!!!! RAMON!!!!!!!! UGH!!!!

And we have extra innings! sigh…..WIN IT BOYS!!!

Ramon has thrown a few gopher balls in his last appearances. I know Tito wants to rest Paps– but you still want to win ballgames with your best. All right- let’s wake up and get some runs!!!!
D–n Yanks pulled ahead pf the Mets!!!

Check in much later. Hopefully good news. I wondered about Bard but he’s too young and inexperienced. Tough night.

Youk is hit – Masterson is warming up.

Sox look totally lifeless at the plate!!!! C’mon–wake up and let’s win this game!!!

Yes they do. Playing the Yankees takes a lot out of them.

Good job Masterson!

Just great! ugh!!!

Be back Later!

What’s with our pitchers hitting batters with two strikes on them???

Yanks don’t look too tired– seven runs with four HRs. Let’s hope the Mets beat them tonoght!!! C’mon SOX!!!!!!

Let’s go SOX!!! Let’s get something started!!! We need some runs!!!!

The Sox almost look like they are waiting for the shoe to drop so that they can pack up and go home. They are totally out of it. Let’s hold the Phil’s as long as we can.

This conservative managment sure back-fired — trying to save all these arms — and you have to use them all now. I might have figured that with Dice-K pitcher tomorrow, you (a) might not need a closer :) , and/or (b) will probably need your whole pen anyway — so send Taicho or Paps in tonight — and get this one over with. Its one thing to go three games in a row all season, and another to do it once or twice or thrice a season, aaarggh.

Hey Guys I’m Home!!! COME ON SOX.
WOOOOOOO-WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!
IDOBELIEVEIDOBELIEVEIDOIDOIDOIDOBELIEVE!!!!!!!!

way to go mikey!!!! aflac!!! INSURANCE!!!! COME ON SOX!!!!!

I can’t belive the mets!! yanks have two on and two out. A-rod hits a pop up to 2nd base and the second baseman drops the ball. the yanks win!!!

Ok, I have new found respect for Lugo — his high-five with Green (the man that is winning your job) — you gotta admit — that is was pretty classy of him.

COME ON DANIEL BARD!!!!!!!!!!! GET EM OUT BUBBA!!!!

WOOOOOO-FREAKIN-WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
GOOD JOB REDSOX!!!!! BIG WIN!!!!

Good job Bard!!! Let’s keep it going tomorrow!! I can’t get over that Yank-Mets game. The Mets gave it to them. We could have picked up a game!!

Good effort by Sox. Too many of the posters on here are on the glass half empty syndrome. Lester pitched a hell of a game but we still came though and got the win!! GO SOX.

OKintheok…. THAT IS ONE THING YOU CAN NEVER EVER SAY REGARDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just call me Pollyana!!!! I have the rose colored glasses to prove it…. and my glass is ALWAYS half FULL…
but Okintheok.. you are right on that!! Some do have that outlook, but thats what makes this the Nation… Good/bad.. positive/not so positive…. But we are ALL OF THE SAME NATION!!!

ps… I wasnt able to catch all of the game, just bits and pieces, but Lester is just getting better and better and more solid… Good Job Jon!!!

I agree, ok, too much negativity. But on the other hand, I like to wallow in the woe-is-us mentality of Sox fandom. But you wait and see, the Sox are going to rule this year. Consider all the negatives: the starting pitching began the year very poorly, Papi has struggled, Lugo (need I say more?), Dice-K has been a disaster, the Yankees have been playing their behinds off, and the Sox are two games up!!!! Yay!!!

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