Last night the Red Sox were glad to be back in Boston as we beat the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in the comfort of Fenway. Our bats came alive, as Nick Green, Jason Bay, and Dustin Pedroia all hit homeruns. Pedroia crossed home in the first inning, putting us on the board early.
It was especially nice to see Bay hit his shot, as just a few days ago he was out with an injury. Overall, it was a nice, not-too-stressful win. It feels good to be back in the swing of things, and I feel like that game was a decent first step to rebounding nicely from the Yankee series.
The win over Detroit came with an added bonus: a 5-4 win for the Blue Jays over the Yankees. That means that we’re one game closer to first place in the AL East, only 5 1/2 games back right now. Things aren’t so bad in Beantown, Sox fans!
Another good piece of Boston sports news, Tom Brady has told reporters that he’s ready to play on Thursday in the Patriots’ preseason opener vs. the Eagles. Today he said, “I’m ready. I think everybody is ready. We’ve had a good camp. I think guys have really been working hard, trying to do what Coach Belichick has asked.”
Also of note in baseball last night, Troy Tulowitzki hit for the cycle and Jason Bartlett came within a single from hitting for it as well.
Although several players have hit for the cycle this year, I found Tulowitzki’s especially awesome because he had accomplished 3/4 of it (all but the triple) by the end of the 4th inning. Usually players get the 4 hits more spread out in the game, because a player doesn’t always hit 3 times in 4 innings.
Jason Bartlett’s effort was a little hearbreaking, because he came within a single of the cycle, which is usually the easiest part of it to accomplish. It’s always annoying to see a player come so close to something special like the cycle, even when you’re not a fan of them.
All I can say is that we’ve been through the storm, and now we have to keep fighting until the end of the season.
It was an absolutely perfect day for a baseball game. The sun wasn’t glaring and the air was calm and not humid. Large, slowly drifting clouds swept lazily across the clear blue sky. It was not only perfect for a baseball game, it was also a perfect day to celebrate the 4th of July.
The Red Sox would take on the Seattle Mariners at 1:05 PM, and I had plans to sit back and watch the game with my old friend visiting from overseas. We were driving back from meeting him in Brookline when my dad got a call. Our neighbor, a season ticket holder, had just found out about some plans that would interfere with him attending the game at Fenway. My friend and I suddenly had tickets to the Red Sox game. Here we were, in Brookline, driving along at a leisurely pace and just enjoying the day. All of a sudden it was a mad rush to get the tickets back at home, and race back out to the ballpark. It was 12:30.
We arrived at Fenway before the first pitch, and got to our seats in less than a minute. It was a lot easier finding them than it had been for me in the past. A cool breeze was flowing through the stands when we sat down, and it continued through the game. We sat down with a great view of the field, in section 23. Section 23 is behind home plate about 30 or so rows back and to the left a little from a fan’s point of view. I was overjoyed to be back in Fenway, as it was my first game this year.
Here is a view from the section we were in (I didn’t take this picture):
Then, abruptly, the game started. The pitching matchup was Brad Penny vs. Garrett Olson. Nick Green was taking a well earned day off after his clutch double last night nearly won the game for us. Julio Lugo was in his place in the lineup.
The game began hopefully for Penny, as he struck out the first two batters he faced. Then Jose Lopez hit a long single off the center field wall, and there was life for the Mariners. However, the inning ended without damage. However, it took Penny 15 pitches to get through the first, a first sign that he would throw 100+ pitches once again in this one.
In the 2nd, Jason Varitek connected with an Olson pitch and went deep over the monster for a 2 run homerun, putting the Sox on the board first. I thought it was cool that Tek’s walk up song was “Kryptonite,” by 3 Doors Down, a song that mentions Superman. Varitek is almost like a Superman figure for the Sox: tough, team captain, leader, enforcer, etc. He also came to the rescue like Superman today, giving the Sox their only runs in the game.
The atmosphere in Fenway was terrific. At one point we got the wave to go around 6 or 7 times.
Everyone was on their feet after the V-Tek homerun, aside from a few Mariners fans sitting behind us. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Papelbon today, and I love watching him pitch, but I did see Masterson come in for relief. I realized that my own pitching motion (I pitched a few times last year for my team) was very similar to Masterson’s, so it was cool to see him.
One of my alltime favorite songs, a 4th of July classic, played on the speakers during the game:
Yeah, you know it. “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago.
Okay, back to the game. The Mariners finally tied the game up in the 5th when, after singling to begin the inning, Chris Woodward was bunted over by Ronny Cedeno and later scored.
The inning before, I had sensed trouble with Penny. In the 4th he had walked two straight batters with 2 men out, to put himself in a jam that really shouldn’t have even happened.
Penny was taken out of the game in the 7th with the game tied 2-2. Both Masterson and Hideki Okajima pitched strong, and we got through the 7th and 8th innings without damage. Takashi Saito came in to keep the game in our hands and send it to extras. He promptly walked three men to load the bases with only 1 out. Chris Woodward hit a bloop single in to shallow right field a little behind first base. Pedroia came on strong and reached for it but it dropped just inches from his glove, scoring a run. Saito barely got out of the inning after that, and the Sox were silenced in our half of the 9th.
When will these late inning troubles end?! Our past 4 games have all been decided in the late innings, one of them in extras. We have lost 3 of these 4, and won the one game by only 1 run. Even worse, Takashi Saito has taken the loss in 2 of those 3 games, raising his ERA from 2.96 on June 28 to 3.45 today.
We have got to find a more reliable guy then Saito, or at least get him out of this funk. Let’s get the job done in the late innings. Go Sox!
Final Box Score:
Thanks for reading and happy 4th of July!
All stats from mlb.com
He said it first:
“It’s not easy being green.” Kermit the Frog sure thought so, but is it really so true? Watching this guy, though, it doesn’t seem so true.
He makes it look easy being Green. Nick Green, that is. After his walkoff homerun (he’s watching it sail out in the picture above) today gave us the win against the Braves, I began to realize that he’s making quite the name for himself here in Boston. But how did all of this really start, and why?
Being a fantasy baseball owner, I went straight to the stats. Us fantasy owners are used to staring at numbers all day, in fact a huge column of numbers under a strange stat like “BsR” (base runs), has ceased to intimidate me the way it used too. I guess it’s one of the few benefits of wasting your life worrying about how many hits Nolan Reimold got today. Anyways, by looking at Green’s stats I found, as expected, that he’s been on a quite a tear recently. In the past 10 days he’s batting a nice .343 with 2 homers and six RBIs. His season average is now a very respectable .293. But how? and especially, why now?
A week ago on June 14, Nick Green got subbed in for Pedroia, who was in the middle of a huge 4-36 slump. This year, Lugo, our only other main shortstop since Lowrie has been on the DL, had gotten almost 20 less starts than Green. So with all the opportunity, Green has been producing all year long. He looks like the man who will earn the starting shortstop spot for about 66-75% of the time until Lowrie returns (he’s currently playing in Pawtucket and still recovering from a wrist injury).
So we know that this guy has some real talent and is putting it to great use for us so far. He’s the main man to go to for the shortstop position and his seasonal stats don’t entirely reflect his stats in certain hot periods (maybe he’s sort of streaky, but whatever). However, the underlying question still remains: why is Nick Green, who didn’t get a single big league at bat last year and went 0-7 the entire year in ’07, and batted .184 the whole season with Tampa Bay in ’06 suddenly playing so well for us this year. I’ll need a little help from you sabermetricians out there on this one, but I have a few theories.
1. The opportunity this year is great for Green. Last year Lowrie became the star and earned his starting spot at shortstop for this year. However, he had barely played for a school week this year before he was placed on the DL. Green was thrust in to the picture by being called up from AAA on April 14. He’s already played in 52 games this year, more than many so-called utility players like he was supposed to be. So an opportunity this great would give anyone the chance to shine. Maybe Green just capitilized on it better than others.
2. He’s doing better in certain situations (the type of stats usually filed under “splits”). In 2006, the last year he had regular major league at bats, he batted .200 against right handed pitchers and .150 vs. lefties, a number that has turned into .273 this year. So he’s still not great against lefties, but he has really improved in those departments.
3. He’s also changed in the way he hits the ball (where and how, or ground/fly stats). This year he’s hitting 42.8% on the fly and 32.1% on the ground, while striking out 22% of the time. I have yet to find those stats for ’06, when I do I’ll be sure to notify anyone who’s interested. Either way, if there are any differences in those from this year and ’06, maybe it means he’s tinkered with his swing or is trying different things that have turned out to work well.
Those are my theories, maybe they have a little truth to them!
Either way, so far a little Green has gone a long way for the Sox. Keep it up Nick!
-Thanks to espn.com and redsoxstats.com for the stats used in this entry…