Game Seventeen Thread – Red Sox (7-9, 4th, 3GB) vs. Orioles (4/18/14)

Welcome back (RLRS Photo).

Welcome back (RLRS Photo).

First Pitch – 7:10 PM

Pitchers: John Lackey (2-1, 3.86) vs. Chris Tillman (1-1, 0.84)

Notes: Per Alex Speier’s Twitter account the Sox have DFAd Ryan Roberts and called up Brock Holt!. Holt! will start and bat ninth tonight.

Minor League Pitchers;
Pawtucket – Allen Webster (Buffalo – TOR)
Portland – Keith Couch/Miguel Pena (New Britain – MIN)
Salem – Brian Johnson (Winston –Salem – CHA)
Greenville – Mario Alcantara (Savannah – NYM)

This Day in 2004 – New York 7 – Boston 3
WP: Paul Quantrill, LP: Derek Lowe

What I remember about this game is listening on the radio as I built a closet in my new house. Gary Sheffield doubled on a check swing when the ball just floated over Bill Mueller’s head (according to Joe Castiglione) and my screwdriver slipped and gave me a pretty impressive gash on my wrist. The scar is still there. Plus I drafted Gary Sheffield as the shortstop on my 1991 fantasy team and he hit .194. I was so pissed about that I didn’t even have to look it up.

I hate Gary Sheffield.

Come chat before, during and after the game about baseball, playoff beards and whatever barneys your rubble.

How To Handle a “Scandal”

Just another day of making RLRS writers swoon (RLRS Photo).

Just another day of making RLRS writers swoon (RLRS Photo).

Finding reasons to like Xander Bogaerts  is pretty easy.  He keeps adding to the list though not just with his great play but his behavior.  If you missed it Bogaerts tweeted out a picture of a scantily clad woman on his Twitter account.  When made aware of the situation he immediately deleted his account then took responsibility for it saying;


Once I found out, I had to do the right thing and correct it. One thing’s for sure: I don’t want any distraction on the team or for me,” Bogaerts said. “No one’s perfect, you know? Be a man and just face the situation. Once I found out, I took it out.

This is not a spectacular apology or anything but I like that the guy was smart enough to just deal with it rather than try and blame a “friend playing a prank” or something like that.

Like Dustin Pedroia I get the sense that Bogaerts “gets it.”  He’s human so he will make his mistakes but rooting for him is awfully easy so far, even when he bounces routine throws to Mike Carp.

Redefining “Remarkable”

Replay has had its hiccups but it is just a start (RLRS Photo).

Replay has had its hiccups but it is just a start (RLRS Photo).

The big talking point early in the baseball season has been the “remarkable” instant replay system and some of the hiccups that it has had. As a pretty strong opponent to instant replay there is a part of me that is chuckling at this but I think to consign it to the “failure” bin on the basis of two weeks of baseball is a mistake.

The important thing that I have seen so far in favor of replay is there have been no glaring missed calls that badly impacted a game. In that respect replay is working as advertised; the Jorge Orta type calls are being eliminated. While I noted that I am opposed to replay that is a positive.

There are three things that I think need to be fixed. I believe that it is in baseball’s interest to change these pronto rather than waiting for the end of the season. There is no hard and fast rule that a mistake cannot be corrected in-season.

Manager Delays

This is the single biggest flaw in the system right now and one that was entirely predictable. Rather than speeding up the game replay is creating a system where managers come out of the dugout then work on their tan waiting for a thumbs up or down from their Instant Replay Video Coach. In the Phillies’ game the other night Ryne Sandberg literally just stood in front of the ump and waited for Larry Bowa to give him the high sign.

Resolution – Make it against the rules for a manager to leave the dugout to dispute a call.  Every other major sport functions well without the head coach berating the officials face to face and baseball will as well.  Personally I enjoy arguments but rather than speeding the game up by eliminating arguments replay is creating more frequent delays by having managers come out and stall.

In truth the best solution is to just eliminate the challenge system but I suspect that is a non-starter so I am trying to stay in some sense of reality.

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Game Sixteen Thread – Red Sox (6-9, 5th, 3 GB) at White Sox (4/17/14)

Jackie Bradley leads the Red Sox in OPS against middle infielders (RLRS Photo).

Jackie Bradley leads the Red Sox in OPS against middle infielders (RLRS Photo).

First Pitch – 8:10 PM

Pitchers:  Jon Lester (1-2, 2.57) vs. Chris Sale (3-0, 1.78)

Notes:  Baseball-Reference now includes FIP in their standard pitching stats.  When did this happen?

Minor League Pitchers;
Pawtucket – Rubby De La Rosa/Chris Hernandez (Rochester – MIN)
Portland – Keith Couch (New Britain – MIN)
Salem – Corey Littrell (Carolina – CLE)
Greenville – Teddy Stankiewicz (Savannah – NYM)

This Day in 2004 – Yankees 2 – Red Sox 5
WP: Curt Schilling, LP: Mike Mussina

Big Schill was not at his sharpest issuing what would be a season high four free passes but he was good enough thanks in part to a couple of double plays.  The Sox scored just one of their five runs on a base hit in play.  The other four were scored on a walk (Jason Varitek), HBP (Bill Mueller), ground out (Gabe Kapler) and a home run (Manny Ramirez).  Johnny Damon’s RBI double came in the 8th.

Come chat before, during and after the game about baseball, functioning on three hours sleep and whatever ruffles your feathers.

Late Night With The Sox

Hooray! (RLRS Photo).

Hooray! (RLRS Photo).

I’m not sure you can call that win a defining victory but it feels like it was awfully important. With the talented Chris Sale looming Thursday night a sweep at the hands of the weak White Sox felt very possible.  Losing this game feels like it might have really sent the Sox into a tailspin.

The kids were in the middle of it again. Xander Bogaerts reached base five times (2 BB, 2 HBP, RBI single) but it was Jackie Bradley‘s game winning double that was the decisive blow.

As the game progressed I found myself thinking of two games, both bad. The first is the gold standard for killer extra inning losses, the 17 inning loss to winning “pitcher” Chris Davis and the Orioles in 2012. The other was a 19 inning game in Chicago the Sunday before the All Star Break in 2006. Both games were somewhat emblematic of the way those seasons went.

The Sox did not make it easy but did not allow this game to go that way.  With this win the Sox can continue to say they have not had a four game losing streak since 2012 though losing 3 out of 4 needs to stop.

Maybe the biggest takeaway is Andrew Miller. I am not a huge Miller fan. While he has paralyzing stuff I like control pitchers coming out of the bullpen but Miller was electric. The Sox have built a bit of an odd modern bullpen featuring very little in the way of those 96-97 MPH behemoths that so many teams seem to have. Miller provides a different style weapon and if he keeps throwing like this he should be bumped up the priority list.

I think Edward Mujica deserved a better fate. Jordan Danks did well to work the walk and Tyler Flowers‘ RBI single probably would have been a game ending ground out with Stephen Drew out there.

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Game Fifteen Thread – Red Sox (5-9, 5th, 3 GB) at White Sox (4/16/14)

We are getting a reminder that even the best players typically don't just step in and dominate (RLRS Photo).

We are getting a reminder that even the best players typically don’t just step in and dominate (RLRS Photo).

First Pitch – 8:10 PM

Pitchers:  Clay Buchholz (0-1, 6.97) vs. John Danks (1-0, 4.15)

Notes:  The Sox are 27th in batting average and 26th in OPS with runners in scoring position right now.

Minor League Pitchers;
Pawtucket – Brandon Workman (Rochester – MIN)
Portland – Keith Couch (Binghamton – NYM)
Salem – Luis Diaz/Justin Haley (Carolina – CLE)
Greenville – Pat Light (Charleston – NYY)

This Day in 2004 – Yankees 2 – Red Sox 6
WP: Tim Wakefield, LP: Javier Vazquez

One of the most memorable regular season games I have ever attended.  The attention on this one was unbelievable and it was electric in the ballpark.  The game started at 8PM because Fox wanted to give it national TV coverage for the first matchup after the wild 2003 ALCS.  I believe this made it the first national televised weekday baseball game on a network since Monday Night Baseball went off the air.

Alex Rodriguez made his Fenway debut as a Yankee and was booed lustily.  My father turned to me as we booed during his second at bat and said “I can’t believe how easy it was to start hating this jerk.”

Bill Mueller (3 for 3) and Manny Ramirez got the Sox going with solo homers in the first and an error by Derek Jeter plated two more runs.  Personal catcher to the stars Doug Mirabelli went 2 for 3 with a double and a booming home run.  Wake pitched well and while a dropped fly ball by Manny in the 8th brought the tie run to the plate Alan Embree fanned Hideki Matsui to end the threat.

Kenny Lofton grounded out for the cycle in the game.  He grounded to short in the first, to third in the second, to second in the fifth, to first in the seventh (throw to second for the out) and to the pitcher in the ninth.  It bothers me that while I needed to look up the specifics I knew off the top of my head that he went 0 for 5 with groundouts to all five infield positions.

Come chat before, during and after the game about baseball, why thin crust is better than deep dish and whatever bigs your hurt.

Mike Napoli Only Somewhat Injured

"So I'm thinking some of my verse to the Paris Review" (RLRS Photo).

“So I’m submitting some of my verse to the Paris Review” (RLRS Photo).

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli left the game last night with a gruesome-looking injury to the ring finger on his left hand. In Napoli’s own words, “I saw my finger sideways.” There’s art and beauty in that sentence, along with the obvious pain.

But Rob Bradford reports that it was just dislocated, and Napoli was able to get it re-set. He says that he is in pain, but does not expect to miss too much time. Any injury to the hands is going to sideline a hitter, so I would not expect Napoli to be in the lineup, particularly in the Chicago chill. (It’s expected to warm all the way up to the mid-40s for tonight’s game.)

The Red Sox appear to have dodged a few injury bullets in the last few days. Hopefully soon some of that luck will start to appear on the field for a club that’s now lost back-to-back one run games.

Watching The Sox

The new NESN Zone is part of the Fenway experience (RLRS Photo).

The new NESN Zone is part of the Fenway experience (RLRS Photo).

In an odd turn of events there was no more controversial area of discussion during spring training this year than the Red Sox’ own little TV network. With a World Champion team returning and little in the way of position battles (though Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley gave us one) there was not a lot to worry about.

A couple of weeks into the season and I know some of you have elected to ignore the NESN broadcasts. For many of us NESN is the only option. With that in mind I wanted to take a quick look at the quality of the NESN broadcasts so far this season.

Pre and Post Game Shows – Tom Caron remains his steady Eddie self. Caron may not be the most dynamic guy in the world but he seems to enjoy himself and is comfortable with the rotating cast of characters that take a seat on the set with him.

Dennis Eckersley (good) and Jim Rice (not so much) remain the commentators they are. Tim Wakefield in the limited time I have seen him so far this year seems to be improving considerably. He won’t be Eck but he looks a lot more comfortable on camera than he has been in the past.

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