Tagged: Red Sox

Offense 101

If I were to ever find myself in a position of teaching baseball offense to someone, I think I would use last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game as a model for my class.

Baseball is a game where scoring is pretty unpredictable. It’s very hard to know when there’s going to be a shutout,  or when, like last night, a team is going to score 20 runs. Offense can sometimes be misinterpreted due to this. Just because a team loses 2-1, it doesn’t mean that their offense wasn’t working. They clearly weren’t at their best, but who’s saying they didn’t leave the bases loaded in every inning? They failed to produce, but I think that loading the bases still counts for some sort of offense.

Because games like that (stranding the bases loaded so much) are rare, I would probably choose a clear offensive game for any example in my “class”.

Last night, was an unbelieveably clear, offensive game. Our starter, Brad Penny, left the game after 4 innings, already having allowed 8 runs. There is an ongoing problem with Penny that was clearly shown here. I’ll let you take a guess as to what this problem is with the help of this stat- He threw 89 pitches through 4 innings last night.

Yeah, Mr. Penny throws far too many pitches and therefore wears himself out ridiculously soon in the game. Sorry, but this is not the guy we want starting off a series like this.

Brad Penny wiped sweat from his face after the third run scored for the Yankees.

Our relievers didn’t fare much better against the torrent of hits the Yankees were bringing upon us. Michael Bowden came in and let up 7 runs in 2 innings, even worse (if you can believe it) than Penny had done.

Surprisingly, Takashi Saito, one of our relievers that has really struggled this season, produced one of the few really good innings in the game, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out one.

The lead just kept building, even as our offense began to FINALLY produce. We scored 10 runs in the last 5 innings of the game, but the Yankees, already leading 6-1 before this point, scored 14 runs to match that. While 14-10 might have been a decent game for us, because of those early innings, the score was actually 20-11. Yes, 20 runs. The most the Yankees have ever scored against us.

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira celebrated at the plate after both scored on a single by Jorge Posada in the first.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Yankees have one of the best offenses I’ve ever seen live. And as much as I wish it wasn’t true, they are (right now) just about the best possible example on how to run a baseball offense. They can hit (23 hits in the game), they hustle (8 doubles and a triple), they score (20 runs), and they wear a pitcher down (see “Brad Penny”).

Now before I get carried away, I’m going to have to stop getting so enthralled by the Yankee offense. And what can do this for me? A little Red Sox offense, please…

Kevin Youkillis welcomed Ellsbury home as he scored a ball hit by Victor Martinez in the first.

The Red Sox offense wasn’t so bad. Against most other teams, 11 runs wins a game. Lowell went 3-5, Pedroia went 2-5, and Ortiz went 2-4. Our offense was not nonexistent. It was just dwarfed by the superior offense of the Bronx Bombers. That pretty much spells out what we need to do tonight. We have to turn up the bats, crank off some hits, and outhit, outrun, and outscore the Yankees. I’m pretty sure that’ll lead to a win.

All this is not to say that the game didn’t have it’s bright points. Jerry Remy was back in the booth after an ongoing struggle with depression and lung cancer. Remy is my favorite broadcaster of all time, without a doubt, and I can’t even say how happy I am to see the man doing well and back doing what he is so good at.

Jerry Remy waved to the crowd from the broadcast booth after a standing ovation in the third inning.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one overjoyed to see the RemDawg back in business.

Ryan Drohan, John Porter, Jake Munroe, and Brian Brolin, all from the Roy Moore Lobster Company in Rockport, went beyond sign making in paying tribute to Jerry Remy. And the back of the shirts spelled D-A-W-G.

At the end of the night, about the only thing left standing at Fenway was this sign welcoming back broadcaster Jerry Remy.

Lorriann Watson, from Clinton, Maine, wanted to make sure Dennis Eckersley got a shout in with all the Jerry Remy hoopla going on. Missing from Watson's sign was any acknowledgment of the color commentary work done by Frank Viola during Remy's absence.

Not sure if we mentioned that there were a few signs welcoming back Jerry Remy at Fenway Park on Friday night. The crew from Randolph brought this one along.

There were so many 'Welcome back Jerry Remy' signs that this young fan resorted to neon green in order to stand out in the crowd.

The pictures go on…

It is great to see so much love and happiness in the stands for Remy. He deserves it!

Also, in the 1st inning, Jacoby Ellsbury stole 2nd base to tie Tommy Harper’s Red Sox record of stolen bases in a season, at 54.

Ellsbury stole second base in the first inning to tie Tommy Harper's Red Sox record of 54 stolen bases in a season, as the ball bounced in front of Robinson Cano.

Jacoby is an ABSOLUTE speedster!

We know what we have to do. We can’t let this lead keep growing bigger and bigger. Now is the time to win! I still believe that we are as good as the Yankees, let’s prove it! So tonight, let’s duplicate the Yankees’ success and lead an offensive outburst of our own! GO SOX!! 

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Dare I say… “SWEEP!”

An article today in the New York Times said, referring to the Yankees, “The team that the Red Sox outclassed in recent years is now surging. The Red Sox are not.”

I would agree with this statement about a week ago. But now, as the Red Sox are fresh off a sweep over the Toronto Blue Jays, I have to say that I beg to differ. If anything at all, the Red Sox are surging. And what better time to be surging than heading into a series with the Yankees.

Let’s review the Toronto series. We came into it with the mindset that taking 2/3 games in this series would be a success. While our current Wild-Card rivals, the Rangers, were over in Minnesota fighting in a slightly more difficult series, we could expect to take at least one game against Toronto, a pretty weak team at this stage in the season. However, while we could have played this series with the mindset that we are pretty much ensured at least one game and that we didn’t need to play hard, our boys still played like they meant it.

Our offense was on fire, outscoring the Jays 24-11 in the series, and our pitching was very good as well, holding the Jays to 1 run in each of the last 2 games.

As well as our excellent play, we even saw a little bit of fun in the dugout. Forget the depressed faces of the past few series, we were happy to be winning again. Even some of our more quiet stars shone, and everyone was happy to see this.

J.D. Drew was congratulated in the Red Sox dugout. He had four hits on the day.

I have to say that I am very happy and very proud with the way we played this past series, it seems that we have regained our offensive prowess and are ready to beat our rivals.

In other baseball news, a dead body was found yesterday on the Texas ranch owned by Chipper Jones’ family. Jones’ father says that “the man had entered the country from Mexico illegally and that the extreme heat and drought would have made it difficult for him to survive without food or water.” I found this a kind of wierd story and thought I should mention it…

We enjoyed the luxury of bringing out our own brooms against Toronto, but we have the most crucial series of the year thus far coming up. Let’s get out there and win!!

The Red Sox celebrated their win and three-game sweep of the Blue Jays.

My MVP

I figure I should make this another relatively quick entry, just because I am on vacation and I want to enjoy the outdoors a little. So here we go…

This morning, due to my struggling to figure out what to blog about, I decided to check out espn.com for some inspiration. I was hardly inspired by the centerpiece article on Brett Favre’s signing with the Minnesota Vikings, but that is a long story that many others have complained about already, so I will leave it untouched upon in this blog.

I did, however, notice a link at the bottom of the page, titled “Joe Mauer vs. Mark Teixeira.” It also happened to be a poll. As some of you may have discovered by now, I like polls. I enjoy voting on them as well as seeing the results of other peoples’ votes. So you can imagine my joy when I noticed this poll about one of my favorite baseball topics: the MVP race.

As my main rooting interest (the Red Sox) lies in the American League, I would say that I have a little more expertice on the goings on in the AL than in the NL. Therefore, I was even more thrilled that the poll concerned the AL MVP race. At this point in the season, the MVP race is usually narrowed down to 2-4 players that really deserve it and have a chance at winning. In the AL this year, the race is roughly down to 2 players: Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer. While others are certainly close to them, these two are the front runners and it will most likely stay that way.

As with all awards races, there is constant debate over who of the two deserves the award more, who is better, etc. I like these discussions, because they really get me thinking and they allow me to apply a lot of baseball knowledge (as well as learn new things) in the process.

When I got to the poll, it was as simple as can be: “Who gets your American League MVP vote?”- Mauer, Teixeira, other.

I paused for a minute after reading this, carefully thinking over my answer. For this I had to rethink the criteria of an MVP. According to wikipedia.org, the MVP award was originally created to “honor the baseball player who is of greatest all-round service to his club and credit to the sport during each season; to recognize and reward uncommon skill and ability when exercised by a player for the best interests of his team, and to perpetuate his memory.”

Of course, the main idea of this quote is the part about being the greatest all-round service to your club. The player who is of most service to his club is, therefore, the “most valuable” player in the league.

When you run both Teixeira and Mauer through these criteria, both match that main idea. Teixeira has led his team to the best record in the MLB, and Mauer has carried his team to still be relatively in the running for the Wild-Card. However, a common accusation of both of these players (particularly Mauer, I think) is that each may not even be the most valuable player on his own team. Mauer’s teammate Justin Morneau won the MVP award in 2006, and has remained among the leagues top players since then. Teixeira is on one of the most star-studded lineups in baseball, including 2 time MVP Alex Rodriguez, and likely the best hitting shortstop of all time, Derek Jeter.

However, I believe that this season, both Mauer and Teixeira have been more valuable to their teams than any of their teammates, so those accusations can be forgotten in this argument.

The next criteria- “uncommon skill and ability.” Of course both of these players have uncommon skill and ability, as they are both even in the MVP race. This one isn’t even worth contemplating for very long.

And finally, these skills are “exercised for the best interests of his team.” I think that both of these players have used their skills to help their team. Both teams are in the hunt for the playoffs, and both have respectable records. While the Yankees have a very good all around team, Teixeira has been the main reason for their passing of my Red Sox in early August. Mauer has been playing as good as ever, and although his team has been great at times, he is largely the reason they are still in the chase.

After contemplating all of this (and remarkably, I didn’t really bring stats into all that much of it), I decided to vote for who I felt deserved the award most, and that was Mark Teixeira. While Mauer is one heck of a player and could very well win the award, I think that Teixeira deserves it, because he has led his team to take the league (and the Red Sox) by storm. If the Yankees end up going far in the playoffs (let’s pray they don’t!), it should be even more enforced that Teixeira is the MVP.

After I voted, I found that nearly 70% of people had in fact voted for Mauer. I can see why they would do so. However, I’m standing by my decision. What do you think?

Thanks for reading.

 

At least we know it’s possible…

When all hope seemed lost for Red Sox fans, a little bit of light has begun to shine in the past 2 days. As we entered a series against our Wild-Card rivals, the Texas Rangers, our whole team was flushed with confidence and we felt that we could take these guys by storm and regain our position as the top Wild-Card team. Three days later, that has not happened. In fact, we are a game behind the Rangers in this race, after barely winning 1 game in the series on a remarkable 9th inning comeback.

However, in these last 2 days, while we have not shown strength in any way, the Yankees have shown weakness. They have lost two games straight, and have left us a half game closer to first place then we were after the Rangers series. I think that while it is hardly a solution to rely on an other team’s failures, we will take what we can get for now. 

The Yankees have been terrifying teams all over the AL for the past few weeks, with a dynamite offense and some timely pitching. It’s good to see that this team, is in fact, human. Even this guy was held to one hit in the 2nd loss.

How much more reassurance do we need?

Even more exciting is the fact that the Yankees lost those two games against teams that are even less of a threat than us. The Mariners, who beat the Yanks 10-3, are 5.5 games behind us in the Wild Card race, and the A’s who beat them 3-0, are 13.5 games behind us.

This certainly gives Red Sox fans hope, but we will have to start winning before I am totally convinced that we can wreak havoc at Fenway in our upcoming series with the Bronx Bombers.

In other baseball news, top pick of the MLB draft, Stephen Strasburg, has finally signed with the Nationals, and it certainly came down to the wire. Less than 2 minutes before the deadline last night, Strasburg finally came to terms for a 4 year, $15 million dollar contract. It was a record-breaking contract, surpassing the $10.5 million Mark Prior signed for in 2001. Why did the deal take so long to come to, and why did the Nationals finally agree to offer so much? Two words: Scott Boras. ‘Nuff said.

Now that we know the Yankees can be beat, and by teams that are less of a threat than us (sorry A’s and Mariners fans!), we have hope. Time to crank out a few wins of our own to compliment a few Yankee losses. Let’s get ‘er done!

Thanks for reading.

P.S.

As some of you know, I am currently in Maine with limited internet access, so this had to be a quick entry, Hopefully I can write a few more this week. I’ll respond to any comments as soon as I can. Thanks!

Return of “The Comeback”

 Maybe the boys did some recommended reading…

comeback.jpg…because the comeback was alive and well in Arlington, Texas last night. It is something us Red Sox fans haven’t seen for a while. The last few weeks for us have been depressing, as our guys have struggled to hit when we needed it and we just haven’t been able to come through on several wins we really needed.

Heading into what everyone knew would be an exciting and decisive series with the Rangers, our hopes were high. We knew that beating Texas would be tough, but we were confident we had what it took.

Jon Lester took the mound for us in the first game of the series yesterday. He was facing Kevin Millwood, who has been decent this year. Lester has been our #2 pitcher for most of the season, so we expected him to bring it to set the tone for the rest of the series. One of our problems has been good starting pitching in the last few weeks. Aside from bright points whenever Beckett pitches, we have been unable to really decide things with the quality of our starters.  

Texas got on the scoreboard very quickly, scoring on a 2-run homer by Michael Young as only the 2nd batter. We struggled to even it up until the 6th, making legitimate threats in the 2nd and 4th innings. Finally, Ortiz homered and drove in 2 runs, and just like that, we were back in the game.

 

Mike Lowell (left) and David Ortiz

A few innings later, going into the 9th inning, the score was 4-2 Rangers, and thus the stage was set for a comeback.

We started off by rallying for one run off of hits by Ortiz, Varitek, and Ellsbury. We were only down one run at this point. Things were starting to change course. With men on 1st and 2nd, Francona made the decision to put pitcher Clay Buchholz in as a pinch runner for V-Tek on 2nd. Pedroia then hit a long fly ball to left field. The ball bounced off the wall as left-fielder David Murphy missed his attempt to leap and catch it. This is where things got interesting. Buchholz, standing on 2nd, thought the ball had been caught. Ellsbury had seen the play and was sprinting from first, so Buchholz quickly rounded third and, sliding headfirst into home, was called out. The baserunning blunder by Buchholz had cost us an out, and things didn’t look so good.  

With 2 outs (the other from a Woodward strikeout), Victor Martinez came up with men on 2nd and 3rd. It was a grim situation. Martinez fought through a grueling 7 pitch at bat before he found one he liked, and doubled to deep right field, scoring both runs! The score was 5-4 Red Sox!

In my opinion, this was one of those times when you really get to know your team. If the Red Sox had just figured they were going to win, and just stopped trying right there, two things may have happened. First, we may have actually won anyway. Maybe Texas wouldn’t have had enough energy left either, and we would have shut them down in the bottom of the 9th. But we also may have lost. Our defense might have come out and started playing without much enthusiasm. After maybe an error, a few missed plays, Texas may have been right back in this game. 

However, we didn’t settle for either of those outcomes. We stayed in the game and rallied for 3 more runs. A 6-run inning!! I learned something valuable about the 2009 Boston Red Sox in that inning: We have what it takes to win.

 All in all, it was a happy night in Red Sox Nation. To top it all off, earlier during the day we acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who played for us in 2006. As many of you probably know, we have been in dire need of a shortstop these past few weeks. Although the acquisition is meant only to be a short-term solution for our shortstop woes, let’s hope Gonzalez is the missing piece of the puzzle for this team to succeed. Welcome back, Alex!

So far so good in this Rangers series. Keep up the good work, boys!

 

Thanks for reading. (sorry about the wierd font change, not sure why that happened!)

 

p.s. Tomorrow I’m traveling up to Maine. I don’t know if I’ll be able to blog tomorrow, but I should be able to get in at least 2 or 3 entries during this next week.

The Meter Tells the Tale

parking meter.jpgSometimes when I’m walking by parking meters in the city, I like to look at the time remaining and wonder about the people parked there. What are they doing as the time ticks away, what kind of people are they?

I think that a parking meter ticking away can sometimes be a good metaphor for a baseball team struggling to stay in the race in late summer. Every opportunity a team gets, they must take, whether it is the chance to to move a 1/2 game up the standings or to sign a veteran that just might have that one little skill a team needs to keep the push going. As the time ticks away on the season, fewer and fewer opportunities like these will arise, and it will become more and more important for a team to capitalize on them.

Today, I believe, the Red Sox had an opportunity. We were one game from sweeping the Tigers, which would have been huge heading into a must-win series against our current wild card rivals, the Rangers. There was also, of course an opportunity involving our own division. The Yankees, with baseball’s best record and going strong, are beginning a road series against the Mariners today.

The Yankees, like most teams (including the Red Sox), are stronger at home than away, probably even enforced by how hitter-friendly the new Yankee Stadium is. This is one of the only two series between our next meeting with the Yankees at Fenway, and it is important for us to gain ground on them before we face them. If the Yankees win today, we are back to where we started after their sweep of us, and we have missed out on what could prove to be an important opportunity. If they lose, we are fortunate and things remain the same as they were this morning.

It is a missed opportunity because of the grim afternoon game we suffered through today. Hope was abuzz in the air before the game, the prospects of a sweep alive in many of our players’ faces. Dustin Pedroia looked happy to be enjoying a day off, and he too seemed excited for the possibilities of this game.

Dustin Pedroia enjoyed a rare day off in the dugout.

The Tigers went up 1-0 fairly early on an infield single. They scored once more on a Ryan Raburn homer in the 7th. Clay Buchholz, our starter, pitched a decent game, going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs, only 1 earned. He has definitely showed talent this year, and has definitely been unlucky enough to be given some unfavorable matchups, as well as a fair share of close game losses. His 1-3 record doesn’t really tell the whole story, in my opinion.

Tonight there is reason for excitement for Red Sox fans, as well as baseball fans. I am sure many people in Boston will be tuning in to the Yankees-Mariners game to see how it’s going for us. I am not always one to wish a loss upon another team, but tonight would be the night to do so. Sorry, Jane and others!

There is also excitement in Houston tonight, as Kazuo Matsui needs just one hit to get his 2,000th pro hit. Only 566 have come in the MLB (the others in Japanese pro baseball), but it is a monumental achievement nonetheless. Good luck to him in reaching this goal!

I hope that the missed opportunity for the Red Sox today will turn into a lesson for the team in the future, so that we can turn any upcoming opportunities like it into sucess!

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

Familiar Face in Philly

Last night marked the return of one of the great pitchers of all time- Pedro Martinez. In an eventful game, he got the win vs. the Cubs in his first outing in nearly a year.

But first things first. The Red Sox beat the Tigers 8-2 to complete the sweep. Our ace Josh Beckett was on the mound and once again he delivered a strong performance, going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs. He’s become almost automatic when on the mound, as he has gone 7-1 in his last 10 starts and gone 7 or more innings in all but one of them. I think he is definitely in the top 4 pitchers in the AL right now, and possibly behind only Greinke and Halladay.

The other guy acquired in that trade with Florida back in 2006 also shined last night- Mike Lowell. He hit a homerun in the 2nd inning and didn’t look back from there, going 3-4.

Mike Lowell was congratulated by teammates after he hit a solo home run in the second inning.

We have made great progress in recovering from the Yankee series, almost completing a sweep of our own now! I have faith that we can ride this hot streak through this series and into what will be an important one against our wild card foes, the Rangers.

Now on to the Pedro news. Martinez started against the Cubs, throwing 5 good innings, with 3 runs and 7 hits allowed (in the same game, Shane Victorino was hit by a beer cup from an unruly fan, check out mlb.com for video) I, for one, am happy to see Pedro back in the game. Last year, before his father died, he asked Pedro to continue playing the game of baseball. It is heartwarming to see Pedro back in the game and still going strong because of this. I was always a big fan of him, even though he had his occasional issues.

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Pedro Martinez delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009, at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Since Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, two other legends trying to return to the scene, have already made their sorry exits from this season (and probably the game), it is good to see that the one legend closest to Boston fans’ hearts still has a chance. And we had some good memories, didn’t we Pedro?

 

pedro.jpg

Thanks for reading.