August 2009

Wild Win North of the Border

I wasn’t in Toronto, but I was keeping tabs on that game tonight and it was a wild one. David Ortiz went deep, so that means the Red Sox must have won. They are now 16-2 when the big man goes deep. It’s a good sign that he is starting to swing the bat again. The whole dynamic of the offense is different when Ortiz is the caliber of hitter he was in June and July, rather than April and May and the first half of August.

Speaking of getting locked in again, Jason Bay clubs another one tonight. His hot streaks can last a long time, as we witnessed earlier this year, so that’s big.

Beckett was due for an outing like this. I wonder if it is a coincidence that it comes on a night Jason Varitek was not behind the plate.

Hearty congratulations to the Pedroia family on the birth of son Dylan. I’m sure Dustin will be explaining the art of a laser show to his young boy in no time.

All for now.

Hope all is well.

Ian.

Wakefield completes rehab outing

Tim Wakefield threw 3 2/3 innings on 60 pitches — 40 for strikes — in a medical rehabilitation start for Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out three versus just one walk, allowing two earned runs, three hits and two earned runs.

Wakefield was pitching to catcher George Kottaras. It isn’t known what Wakefield’s next step will be as he continues to return from back trouble that landed him on the disabled list on July 21.

Beckett building another notch in Cy candidacy

I’m figuring the Josh Beckett for Cy Young talk is going to start shortly. This guy has been nothing short of nasty all season, with the exception of April. Each time out, he eats a ton of innings and barely allows any runs.

Mike Lowell is hot, real hot with the bat, and Jason Bay is trending that way. Just like guys seem to get cold at once, they seem to get hot at the same time too.

The two guys they need to get going now are Ortiz and Varitek.

Play Ball

Taprp coming off the field here at 10:31 p.m. It’s amazing how baseball works sometimes. Mike Lowell was supposed to have the night off, but Youk loses his temper and his helmet and gets thrown out of the game after being hit by a pitch. Next thing you know, Lowell is in the game and hits not one, but two home runs.

The last Sox player to hit two home runs off the bench? Joe Foy on June 9, 1967 against the Washington Senators.

Tazawa is in line to get the win. He settled down nicely after a rocky first which was prolonged by Nick Green’s error.

One of the most encouraging signs of the night was the absolute rocket that Jason Bay hit.

I’m sure the Red Sox will lose Youkilis for five to seven games once the league comes out with punishment. But the Red Sox are fortunate to be deep at the corners with Martinez, Kotchman and Lowell.

Knuckling back in

Good news on the injury front today. Tim Wakefield will pitch on the road at Gwinnett County for Triple-A Pawtucket. He should come back into the rotation right after that, meaning he could start as early as Aug. 20 at Toronto, or perhaps at home against the Yankees over the weekend.

Dice-K also took a positive step today, throwing his first bullpen since going on the DL. Matsuzaka will throw again on Friday, and then on Monday, and presumably start facing hitters after that.

Mike Lowell is not in tonight’s lineup, as he is the odd man out a second night in a row.

The agony of defeat

Considering all the circumstances, you can’t have a tougher loss then the Red Sox had tonight.

31 innings without a run for the Red Sox. Nothing short of unbelievable. It was the longest drought since 1974, when they went 34 innings without scoring.

Then Victor Martinez hits what looks like the most clutch hit of the season, a two-run shot to left with one out in the eighth.

And Daniel Bard, one out from handing off to Jonathan Papelbon for the saves, gives up boom-boom to Damon and Teixeira.

Gutwrenching. We find out what teams are made of when they go through adversity, so we will certainly find out what the 2009 Red Sox are made of over the final 50 games.

Another day, another duel

So nothing could live up to Beckett-Burnett? Well, not so fast. Sabathia and Buchholz is pretty good theater so far today. CC has a no-no through five. Buchholz might be coming of age in front of our very eyes.

Still no word on a starter for Tuesday, but I’m guessing Tazawa.

That was one of the best games I’ve seen in a long time last night. If it was a playoff game, that game would be rehashed for years.

Where do you rank that catch by J.D.? Just a fantastic game. It was fun to be there for it.

In the context of the rivalry from 2003-09 — call it the Epstein-Cashman era — it was second only to July 1, 2004 in terms of regular season games. July 24, 2004 definitely had drama, and a brawl and a walkoff, but it wasn’t a GREAT game. It was more of a slugfest.

Poor Youk in left today. He’s getting exposed.

A blinking contest between Beckett, Burnett

Who will blink first? Great pitcher’s duel thus far between two former Florida Marlins gunslingers, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett.

It was an interesting day all-around for the Red Sox, with a notable addition (Junichi Tazawa) and subtraction (John Smoltz).

General manager Theo Epstein held court before the game, and had some good insight on the trying events of the last few days.

“We’re certainly day to day with a lot of things, if not inning to inning and pitch to pitch,” Epstein said. “Last night, we made Verizon a lot of money with the cellphones giving everything that was going on. Trying to find a way to field a full roster today and make things work. I don’t think it’s a time to make definitive statements, other then to say things will stabilize. It’s not going to stay like this and we’re going to get through it as an organization. We can’t have any firm commitments because we have to see how things shake out.”

How is Paul Byrd doing and when can he help?

“He was throwing and working out consistently, expecting a call in June or July from a club and then stopped throwing about two weeks ago,” Epstein said. “When we first called him a few days ago, he started again and was able to throw two innings against a college team. He reported today down in Fort Myers and threw. He’s got some work to do to get in game condition and to get his arm into shape. He’s probably about three weeks away from being able to help.”

It seems like the Red Sox will have three starters — Wakefield, Dice-K and Byrd — all ready to help around the same time. Wake could be a bit sooner, but he still has weakness in his calf.

M*A*S*H Unit Gains a Shortstop

Add Jed Lowrie to the walking wounded. The shortstop, who has been sharing the position with Jed Lowrie, had to leave Thursday’s game in the bottom of the fourth inning with what the club described as an “irritated left forearm”.

I’m not sure yet if that is of any relation to Lowrie’s left wrist, which was surgically repaired in April.

Lowrie has not been hitting at all since he returned from the disabled list the second game after the All-Star break.

Overall this season, Lowrie is hitting .143. He has 17 strikeouts in 56 at-bats.

Rivalry Weekend starts early

Thursday here in New York, though I have to say it feels like Friday. Big four-game set begins in the Bronx tonight, with Kevin Youkilis starting in left field. This is the first time Youk has started in the outfield since 2006, when he started 17 games.

The reason, of course, is that Jason Bay is unavailable and might be for the entire series. Bay has hamstring woes. In addition, Rocco Baldelli fouled a ball off his left leg yesterday and was placed on the disabled list. Josh Reddick, back in the Minors for all of a day, will resurface in time for tonight’s game.

Greg Bouris from the Players Association confirmed that David Ortiz will address his situation on Saturday. Obviously Ortiz will meet with reps from the PA while he is in New York.

Smoltz vs. Joba tonight. Talk about a big spot for Smoltz.

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