Game 127 Thread – Red Sox (56-70, 5th, 17.5GB) vs. Angels (8/21/14)

The Cubs should have traded for Dave Mellor instead of Theo Epstein (RLRS Photo).

The Cubs should have traded for Dave Mellor instead of Theo Epstein (RLRS Photo).

First Pitch – 7:10 PM

Pitchers: El Lankador! (4-4, 3.79) vs. Matt Shoemaker (11-4, 3.84)

Notes: At 4PM today the first game to feature an upheld protest in 28 years will be resumed in Chicago. As you may already know the Cubs/Giants game was originally called due to a failing by the grounds crew to properly lay down the tarp. By all accounts the Cubs were originally willing to have the game suspended rather than called in their favor.

I was at a game in Miami in 1993 with a similar situation. A typical torrential Miami downpour lasted about 15 minutes. In the course of laying down the tarp one of the grounds crew guys fell under the tarp and they did not notice until they were done and there was a lump that was not the pitcher’s mound in the middle of the tarp. They removed the tarp and the 15 minute rain caused a 3 ½ hour rain delay but the game was resumed.

Minor League Pitchers;
Pawtucket – Henry Owens (Lehigh Valley – PHI)
Portland – Eduardo Rodriguez (Harrisburg – WAS)
Salem – Simon Mercedes (Winston-Salem – CHA)
Greenville – Ty Buttrey (Charleston – NYA)
Lowell – Jeffry Fernandez (Connecticut – DET)

This Day in 2004 – Red Sox 10 – White Sox 7
WP: Bronson Arroyo, LP: Josh Stewart, SV: Keith Foulke

Early fireworks had the good Sox up 7-5 after three. Things settled down after that and Boston held on for the win. Manny Ramirez homered and drove in five while Jason Varitek added two homers. Despite scoring ten runs in each game the Sox got little from David Ortiz who went 0 for 5 in back to back games for the second time in his career. He would not do so again until May of 2013.

In Boston the producers of the US adaptation of Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch” looked for “lifers, diehard fans in the box seats” for four speaking roles in the film. Because I know you want to know I was in the stands when they filmed the scene that involved Drew Barrymore running across the field to Jimmy Fallon.

Come chat before, during and after the game about baseball, chick flicks and whatever apples your pie.

This Team Does Not Suck

If we were seeing a lot of Jonathan Herrera then I would agree this is a bad team (RLRS Photo).

If we were seeing a lot of Jonathan Herrera then I would agree this is a bad team (RLRS Photo).

OK so saying a last place team that has lost four in a row is not a bad team seems silly but hear me out. I was thinking about this during the later stages of Wednesdays loss to the Angels.

I know bad teams. The 1993 Sox, yeah pretty bad, 2006, the last six weeks with that team were pretty gloomy, the 2011 Sox, they were pretty bad at the end, 2012…oh yeah, the 2012 team sucked.

This team does not suck though. I do not know what to make if this team. This team just seems incapable of arresting a slide. Whether we are talking about an in-game struggle like Clay Buchholz on Wednesday or yet another losing streak, when it goes bad it goes bad.

The biggest thing for me though is the way this team plays well enough to lose. The usual signs of a team better than its record; underperforming Pythagoras or struggling in one run games, are not there but it seems like every game they find a way to lose.  When I watch this team my feeling is not “oh they have no hope” it is more like “OK, when is it going to fall apart?”

And sure enough, it usually does.

I do not really have a point but at this point what is there to say? The Sox lost, again, David Ortiz is freakin’ awesome, Brock Holt is fun, Xander Bogaerts is disappointing and of course…how about that Edward Mujica!

Game Notes

- David Ortiz was credited with a stolen base of third on a double steal attempt that saw Daniel Nava called out at second. This was his first steal since July 21st of last year and just the second time in his career (with July 9, 2013 in Seattle) where he has homered and stolen a base in the the same game (Baseball-Reference).

His outfield play looks considerably improved to my untrained eye (RLRS Photo).

His outfield play looks considerably improved to my untrained eye (RLRS Photo).

- Despite being wary of his ability Mookie Betts looked very good in the outfield to me. Just a couple games into his return to the bigs and he looks like a completely different outfielder. Of course his natural speed helps him considerably as well but his reads were excellent.

- The Garrett Richards injury was unsettling. Here’s hoping he is OK. When a guy goes down like that with no contact it is hard not to think it is anything other than serious.

- The last update at the ballpark had the Jimmy Fund telethon around $2.5 million in donations. Well done NESN, WEEI and of course everyone who donated.

Game 126 Thread – Red Sox (56-69, 5th, 16.5 GB) vs. Angels (8/20/14)

"Christian Vazquez", "Sam Horn" and "fastest", not really a group of words you expect to see in the same sentence (RLRS Photo).

“Christian Vazquez”, “Sam Horn” and “fastest”, not really a group of words you expect to see in the same sentence (RLRS Photo).

First Pitch – 7:10 PM

Pitchers: Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.79) vs. Garrett Richards (13-4, 2.53)

Notes: I have been a Mookie Betts skeptic but I thought he looked appreciably better in center last night than in previous opportunities. He had a misplay on David Freese‘s triple but generally seemed to be doing a better job of reading and tracking fly balls.

Minor League Pitchers;
Pawtucket – Henry Owens (Lehigh – PHI)
Portland – Luis Diaz (Harrisburg – WAS)
Salem – Pat Light (Winston-Salem – CHA)
Greenville – Ty Buttrey (Charleston – NYA)
Lowell – Chandler Shepherd (Connecticut – DET)

This Day in 2004 – Red Sox 10 – White Sox 1
WP: Curt Schilling, LP: Mark Buehrle

Orlando Cabrera and Manny Ramirez each homered and had four RBI while six starters had two hits including Ricky Gutierrez. Baseball-Reference shows Harold Baines as the manager for the White Sox for this game but Ozzie Guillen was the manager all year in 2004. Was Ozzie suspended for this game and does BBRef make such adjustments?

Come chat before, during and after the game about baseball, charitable donations and whatever pinches your run.

Game 125 Thread – Red Sox (56-68, 5th, 15.5 GB) vs. Angels (8/19/14)

Napoli's bullet to center in the ninth gave the Sox hope last night but it settled in Mike Trout's mitt (RLRS Photo).

Napoli’s bullet to center in the ninth gave the Sox hope last night but it settled in Mike Trout’s mitt (RLRS Photo).

First Pitch – 7:10 PM

Pitchers: Allen Webster (3-1, 4.79) vs. Jered Weaver (13-7, 3.66)

Notes: The Red Sox, NESN and WEEI are teaming up once again for their annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. I do not think there is a single thing the Red Sox do that makes me prouder to be a fan.

Minor League Pitchers;
Pawtucket – Anthony Ranaudo (Lehigh – PHI)
Portland – Luis Diaz (Harrisburg – WAS)
Salem – Joe Gunkel (Winston-Salem – CHA)
Greenville – Daniel McGrath (Charleston – NYA)
Lowell – OFF DAY
Dominican – Emmanuel De Jesus – The DSL Sox can clinch a league title today.

This Day in 2004 – OFF DAY

It was a quiet day after a 7-3 homestand. The Sox were watching the progress of injured players Byung-Hyun Kim, Mark Bellhorn and Trot Nixon as well as recent signee Pedro Astacio. Off the field the Dropkick Murphys adaptation of “Tessie” was discussed in a Globe article. Lead singer Ken Casey said the original was “the worst thing I’ve ever heard…(b)ut who knows what was hip in 1903?”

Come chat before, during and after the game about baseball, bad versions of the national anthem and whatever hips your hop.

BP At Fenway

I got a pretty cool birthday gift yesterday; the opportunity to watch batting practice from the field.  Our excellent season ticket account manager Sarah Clark brought us into the ballpark at 4:30 (she even let me take my Diet Coke from outside!) and I parked myself with my brother on the first base side.  Here now a few photos from a fun afternoon;

Of course BP is not going to happen without a schedule.  I always wondered how this works…this is how.

BP Schedule

more interesting photos after the jump Continue reading

JBJ Out, Mookie In

Jackie watched from the sidelines as the Sox celebrated a division title a year ago (RLRS Photo).

Jackie watched from the sidelines as the Sox celebrated a division title a year ago (RLRS Photo).

The big story on Monday of course was the decision for the Sox to send Jackie Bradley down to Pawtucket and call up Mookie Betts. I touched on it a bit in the game thread but I want to weigh in on some of my concerns with this move.

1. Jackie Bradley does not need to play in AAA. JBJ has a pretty strong minor league track record. You can make a case that he could have used a little more time to develop but his performance at every level was good enough to suggest that he could hit.

There are two things for a player to do in the minors. One is to learn his craft and the other is to improve against increasingly challenging levels of talent. Bradley has a good enough approach at the plate and he has proven he can hit at A, AA and AAA. What he needs is continued reps against MLB pitching. With the Sox out of the race and 40 games left, get him 150 plate appearances.

2. Mookie Betts is not ready. I know I am in the minority here but the Sox are pushing Betts in my view. On Monday night he still looked unsure in the outfield. At the plate he looks like a player capable of great things but I would like to see a little up and down in the minors first. Just as we are seeing Xander Bogaerts struggle with the ability to adjust I would like to see some of that from Betts. In fairness Betts did have struggles early in his minor league tenure so you can made a credible case that he has shown that ability.

Mookie Betts is not an outfielder yet.  Reps in Pawtucket would be useful. (RLRS Photo).

Mookie Betts is not an outfielder yet. Reps in Pawtucket would be useful. (RLRS Photo).

3. Jackie Bradley actually does not suck. Look, I have questions about how the various WAR calculations account for defense but the numbers and the eye tests certainly agree that Bradley is an elite defender. Both FanGraphs (1.6) and Baseball-Reference (1.5) have him similarly rated in WAR. Even if you discount that by a half a win apiece for overstating defensive impact that is not a bad player.

The problem with Bradley is not that he has not hit it is that the rest of the Red Sox have not hit either. A struggling JBJ with last year’s lineup actually fits in rather nicely. You let the glove man do his thing and carry it with your other bats.

OK I get it. He needs to work on the swing. I did not see the broadcast but Chad Finn tweeted some comments that Jerry Remy made. Evidently Remy was noting some mechanical issues with Bradley and suggested that it might have been beneficial to do this sooner as they are easier things to work on in the minors. That makes a lot of sense to me.

The Sox also get some benefit here. As I understand it because of the timing if Bradley comes back up at or around the September 1 roster expansion date they do not use up an option on him.

I can understand the arguments and look, he has been awful at the plate. Still I think this is a mistake as I do not feel it is what he needs to improve as a player and I also feel it will harm Mookie Betts’ development.

Game 124 Thread – Red Sox (56-67, 5th, 14.5GB) vs. Angels (8/18/14)

His exemplary work out of the bullpen in the post-season last year may be a sign of the future (RLRS Photo).

His exemplary work out of the bullpen in the post-season last year may be a sign of the future (RLRS Photo).

First Pitch – 7:10 PM

Pitchers: Brandon Workman (1-6, 4.46) vs. C.J. Wilson (9-8, 4.71)

Notes: Alex Speier tweeted yesterday that all of Jose Altuve‘s hits should be measured in Smoots.

Well, using Wikipedia and ESPN’s Home Run Tracker and a calculator I can tell you that his 2nd inning grand slam traveled 68.597 Smoots.

Minor League Pitchers;
Pawtucket – Edwin Escobar (Scranton Wilkes-Barre – NYA)
Portland – OFF DAY
Salem – OFF DAY
Greenville – OFF DAY
Lowell – OFF DAY

This Day in 2004 – Blue Jays 4 – Red Sox 6
WP: Tim Wakefield, LP: Miguel Batista

The Sox used a four run first inning to give Wake a little cushion. The Blue Jays rallied in the ninth against Keith Foulke who had entered in a non-save situation but Frank Catalanotto‘s bid for a go ahead home run came up a bit short in deep center.

Come chat before, during and after the game about baseball, getting older and whatever midlifes your crisis.

When the neighborhood is not the neighborhood

Very harsh to call this his "gaffe," redsox.com (RLRS Photo).

Very harsh to call this his “gaffe,” redsox.com (RLRS Photo).

I guess it does not matter that much whether the Sox win or lose right now. I guess that if the Sox can lose enough games to have a protected top-ten pick in the June draft, that’s a good thing. But regardless I do not like losing.

A double-play started by Xander Bogaerts at shortstop was overturned on review because Bogaerts released the ball to first before stepping on second. The rule in MLB’s new replay system is that the neighborhood play, where the pivot man in the double play gets an out at second by standing very close to the bag but not on it, is not reviewable. This is presumably done for reasons of player safety, as there would be a lot more lower leg injuries if the pivot man had to plant right where the runner is sliding.

But after consultation with the office in New York, the play was called reviewable and then overturned. As Steven Petrella explains for RedSox.com:

Plays like that are often not reviewable, but because this was a race to the bag between Bogaerts and Marc Krauss instead of a throw to second that Bogaerts needed to field — a “neighborhood play,” which means a player just needs to be near the bag while turning two so he can safely avoid a sliding runner — Porter could challenge it.

I see the point that a race to the bag needs to be won by either the fielder or the runner. It seems to me though, that in this case most of the same injury prevention issues apply. We will see what happens with Farrell’s protest.