Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Boston Red Sox Are 2009 American League Wild Card Champions...A Must Jeff Jacobs Read

It took a little help from their Texas Rangers friends but the Boston Red Sox are the official American League Wild Card Champions and will play in the postseason despite losing to the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 8-7. A furious five run eighth inning Boston comeback made the game as close as it could get but the Sox fell short and lost their fifth contest in a row. They will open play next week against the California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels on the left coast.

Clay Buchholz was floured and battered, shaked and baked for seven runs on eight hits, giving up five (!!) home runs to the Blue Jays. He ended up sticking around for only five full innings and was followed by Ramirez, Saito, Wagner and Papelbon. Saito was the only one of that quartet to surrender a run. That plated runner was the deciding tally but thanks to the Rangers, who cares? I know that this team will regroup and resume their winning ways...soon.

After the game finished, many players awaited the end of the Angels-Rangers game in the clubhouse, for their fate was in that game's outcome. A celebration was nearing and everyone knew it. At night's (or morning's) end, nobody was disappointed. Here's Dustin "Pedey" Pedroia...

“Anytime you make the playoffs, it’s a great accomplishment,” Pedroia said. “It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you’re in. Now we just have to go out there, play well and win a championship.”

Leftfielder supreme and probable free agent Jason Bay had this to say about October play...

“It’s a little different waiting around for another game to end but at the same time, anytime you get to the playoffs, ultimately that’s where you want to be,” outfielder Jason Bay said. “I don’t see how this would ever get old. I was on a team where this would have been a luxury, going to the playoffs,” said Bay, the former Pittsburgh Pirate. “You construct a team, you put it a certain way, a lot of things still have to go right. Four teams from each league get to go to the playoffs. That says a lot about our team that we really care about where we’re going,” he said. “Most of the team is here, 99 percent. It says a lot about the character of this team.”

They care, you care, I care. That's the beauty of Red Sox Nation and Boston Red Sox baseball. That's all I can say, right from my heart.

OK, this is important. I hope you can click on this post's title for a column penned by the Hartford Courant's very own Jeff Jacobs. I've said it before and I'll say it again...RIGHT NOW. He's one of the finest sports columnists I have ever read. His piece today brought a copious amount of tears to my eyes. Does it have anything to do with the Boston Red Sox? Hell no. But read it you must and feel your heartstrings pulling at your soul. Thanks Jeff. Simply click on the title of this post and as always, BE WELL. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Red Sox Lose But Clinch Wild Card Tie...Toronto 11 Boston 5...Happy 90th Birthday, Johnny Pesky..With Love

All I can say is "Thank you, Texas Rangers." They lost once again to lower Boston's magic number to win the AL wild card to one, essentially clinching a tie. Clay Buchholz will try to get his team into the playoffs tonight shortly after 7 pm EDT. He's the guy who can do it. That would be so fitting. He's been clutch and is a superstar in the making.

Last night with the Toronto Blue Jays in town, Sox pitcher Michael Bowden was called on to start in Josh Beckett's place. Beckett's upper back tightened up on the short plane ride from the Big Apple and when it had not improved by yesterday morning, Boston manager Terry Francona correctly did not want to take any chances. He'll make his final start of the regular season on Friday. Francona explains...

“He’s been feeling it,” Francona said. “Again, this time of year, guys feel a lot. On the plane he tried to get comfortable and couldn’t. He thought he could wake up, take a hot shower and go about his business. When that didn’t happen he called me, and it wasn’t a real difficult decision.

Good move, Tito. Better safe than lose him for the playoffs. He'll be the number two starter behind Jon Lester in the first round against the Halos. Toronto hitters battered and bruised Bowden and scored four times in the very first inning. He was only able to go three innings and gave up seven (!!) runs on seven hits. Jones, Richardson and Delcarmen followed him before the rains (more like a 9:33pm DELUGE) came, forcing the game to be called after seven innings. The team found out about the Ranger's loss a little later. Bowden was clearly displeased with his outing...

“I wasn’t throwing pitches when I needed to. I was getting ahead of some guys, and other pitches I was leaving up in the zone. I wasn’t throwing with conviction. I was given an opportunity today to start and I did everything except take advantage of it. I let the team down. It’s a terrible feeling.’’

Don't take it so hard, Michael. You had little time to get ready for your start and you were pitching on short rest. He last pitched Friday night against the pinstripers. Tonight's another night, a festive (I hope) one at Fenway Park. Clay Buchholz will try to pitch the Boston Red Sox into the 2009 AL playoffs, facing the LA Angels, who the Texas Rangers will play tonight shortly after 10pm EDT. It all comes around, doesn't it? Clay's mound opponent will be Mr. Romero, whose record is a respectable 12-9. Boston doesn't need anbody's help...all they have to do is WIN. And win they will. GO SOX!

Jon Lester's workout went well and his knee feels fine, so there was SOME good news yesterday. Mikey Lowell received another shot of cortisone and lubricant in his troublesome hip but will be ready to go by week's end. We need his beautiful and potent bat in the lineup.

Well, that's it for this Tuesday, the second to last day of September. Click on the title of this post for more Red Sox news and as always, BE WELL. Your comments would be great. I'll answer every one of 'em. See ya. I hope the champagne will be flowing in the clubhouse tonight at good old Fenway.

Happy 90th birthday wishes go out to our very own Johnny Pesky. We love you, Johnny. We always will. Always and forever.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yankees Clinch But Red Sox Magic Number Down To Two...NYY 4 Boston 2

The good news for the Boston Red Sox was that the Tampa Bay Rays rallied to defeat the Texas Rangers by a score of 7-6, reducing their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to two. The Red Sox have seven games remaining, all at Fenway Park, to do just that. Count on it. The bad news was that Boston lost and was swept by the New York Yankees. The final score was 4-2. Paul Byrd started and was serviceably good but Pettitte, Bruney, Coke and Rivera held the team from New England to only two runs. New York was clearly the best team (by far) in the American League since the middle of May. Jonathon Papelbon obviously agrees. Here he is...

“I think they have the best team in the American League East,’’ closer Jonathan Papelbon said. “Sure. Facts are facts. I think there’s a little sense of pride in trying to win the division every year. But realistically, the point is getting in and getting hot.’’

Paps is right and his teammate, Jason Bay, agrees...

“As of right now, obviously they’re the better team,’’ left fielder Jason Bay said. “Once the postseason starts, everything else is kind of thrown out the window.’’

Kevin Youkilis was asked if it hurt to watch the on the field celebration at game's end. For the record, it didn't bother me...we all knew it was coming. If the Sox were not heading into postseason play, well, that's a horse of a different color. Here's Youk...

“I don’t care,’’ Kevin Youkilis said. “I want to get into the playoffs. Once we get there, it’s a whole other game.’’

Youk is exactly right and with their four top shelf starters, all hale and healthy, anything can and will happen in October. Jon Lester has responded well to treatment for the leg bruise he suffered on Saturday and will make his last start on schedule. Boston, with a win and a Rangers loss, could clinch the wild card as soon as tonight. That their last seven games are at Fenway has to help. I'd like to do this today or tomorrow so that Boston manager Terry "Tito" Francona can selectively limit his pitchers' innings to get them ready for next week's postseason play against the California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels. Phew, what a mouthful! Here are the pitching matchups for the three game Toronto series...

9/28/2009 Tor 7:10 PM ET NESN Beckett (16-6) vs. Richmond (7-10)
9/29/2009 Tor 7:10 PM ET NESN Buchholz (7-3) vs. Romero (12-9)
9/30/2009 Tor 7:10 PM ET NESN Wakefield (11-4) vs. Halladay (16-10)

Maybe the "B Boys" can take care of business and make postseason play official. They're the two guys you'd want to pitch the next two games...that's for sure.

That's a wrap for this still-dark Monday, the start of the last three days of September. The leaves here in north central Connecticut have started to change to their brilliant autumn hues and there is a refreshing chill to the air as the humidity has moved out and the northwest breezes have brought cool Canadian air into the atmosphere. This is my favorite time of the year and I'm ready to spend it with my favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. I hope you feel the same. Oh, I almost on this post's title for more on the Red Sox and as always, BE WELL.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

AL East Title Goes To The Yankees...

Yes it's true. Yes, it is.

More first thing Monday morning. It was another sweep for the pinstripers. That's all she (or he) wrote.

Bye for now.

Too Much CC For Red Sox...NYY 3 Boston 0

Seven innings pitched, six hits, one earned run, three whiffs and five walks...that's a good outing by anyone's standards. But it wasn't good enough yesterday at the new Yankee Stadium as the Boston Red Sox played the New York Yankees for the second to last time in this 2009 regular season. The stats were those of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who danced into and then quickly out of trouble throughout his stint. But he was facing Yankee starter CC Sabathia, who has been at the top of his game in this latter part of the summer. He usually is untouchable in August and September and this year has been absolutely no exception.

It was a zero zero tie going into the bottom of the sixth when Daisuke left a pitch that was meant to be inside right over the plate. BOOM. Cano clubbed it into the stands. Here's his manager, Terry "Tito" Francona...

“I think the answer that he’s back is that he got the bases loaded and got right out of that,’’ Francona said of the fifth inning. “Seems to be a comfort level there. All the things that happened, it comes down for him to a fastball that he tried to get in to Cano that stays in the middle, he hits it out. Against that lineup to give up the one, I thought was really a strong effort.’’

One bad pitch...but let me stress this. NOBODY would have beaten Sabathia yesterday in the Bronx. PERIOD. He was just great. But the Boston brass and all of Red Sox Nation were encouraged about the performance of Matsuzaka. He's back and will be a solid number four starter in the playoffs. No, not number three...that spot belongs to Mr. Buchholz. Here's Daisuke on THAT pitch and more...

“It’s always a goal of mine to battle hard and to try and hang on and not let them take the lead and give our offense a chance to get going, but I let them take the lead today,’’ Matsuzaka said through interpreter Masa Hoshino. “I usually don’t feel too many regrets over the actual pitches that I threw, but that one pitch today I am a little disappointed in.’’

The way that Sabathia and the Yankee bullpen threw, there was no beating them. They'll be tough in the playoffs, too. Let's hope Verlander and his Tigers can knock them off in the first round of the AL playoffs, but maybe this is a Yankees year. Hey, that's why they play the games. And there's one more tonight in the house that Ruth didn't build, with Andy Pettitte, who's been pitching well of late, ready to face Paul Byrd, who I think will get absolutely clobbered by the fourth inning. That's just my opinion...I hope I'm wrong. I can't shake that doomed feeling, though.

Enjoy the nationally televised game on ESPN and, better yet, ESPN HD, starting at the unusual Sunday starting time, at least for ESPN, of 1:05pm EDT. The Jewish holiday starts at sundown so that's why the game will not begin in primetime. You can click on this post's title for more on last night's battle and as always, BE WELL. See ya...soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yankees Pound Red Sox, Jon Lester Bruised But He's OK...NYY 9 Boston Red Sox 5

Just the sight of seeing Boston Red Sox starter Jon Lester, face red, writhing on the ground after being hit near the knee by a line drive rocket hit by Melky Cabrera sent shivers of terror through my spine. Literally!! Boston could not afford to lose a pitcher of Lester's ability at this point of the season and the sight and sound (sound, especially) was horrible. He was only able to pitch 2 1/3 innings and they weren't easy ones. The Bronx pinstripers worked him for 78 pitches. Anytime Jon's location was remotely near the center of the plate, the Yanks pounced on it. I'll be watching the NESN and NESN HD one hour game replay, which is on every day from 8am to 9am EST. Here's Lester's brief comment after X-Rays thankfully (!!) were deemed negatve...

“It hurt. I don’t know what other type of reaction you want. It hurt, hit off my knee, going about Mach 7.

Boston shortstop supreme Alex Gonzales had a "ringside" view of the entire play. He described what he saw...

“It’s very scary when a pitcher gets hit like that,’’ Gonzalez said after the Red Sox’ 9-5 loss to the Yankees. “The hitter hit the ball very well. Nobody wants to get hurt, especially in this moment, especially Lester, one of the best pitchers we have on the club. Thank God it’s nothing serious.’’

Thank God is exactly right, Gonzo. Lastly, here's the Boston skipper, who is sure to guide his team to another playoff appearance this year. Hit it, Tito...

“He’s going to be OK,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “When it first happened, I think it looked terrible, it sounded terrible, he was in a lot of pain. I think it caught enough meat or muscle where it wasn’t just a direct blow on that bone. I actually think from talking to Dr. Larry Ronan, our trainers, he might be right on turn. The fact that we’re even talking about that is good news.’’

Jones, Bowden, Delcarmen and Ramirez finished the game but let four more runs cross the plate. The only one of them who was unscored upon was Ramon Ramirez, who had been in a little slump. A loss is a loss, one game only. I never had any serious thoughts that MY team, the Boston Red Sox, would catch the New York Yankees to win the AL East crown, not this year. Does that make me any less of a fan or any less of a proud member of Red Sox Nation? Not on your life, or mine. I have loved this team for decades and will love them with all my heart until the day I leave this good earth. Yes, it would be nice if the Yankees clinch while they're playing some other team, but whatever happens will happen. That's all there is to it.

This afternoon at Yankee Stadium, it'll be Daisuke Matsuzaka, in his third post-injury start, versus Cy Young Award candidate CC Sabathia, who is always lights out in August and beyond. The odds for this nationall televised game by Fox and Fox HD heavily favor the pinstripers, but who cares about odds? I sense an upset. Remember I said that.

Hey, have a wonderful and terrific Saturday and, if it's in your plans, enjoy afternoon baseball from the house the Ruth never built. You can click on this post's title for more SI coverage of the Red Sox (SI has a new Red Sox team layout!) and as always, BE WELL. I thank you for stopping in and your comments are always welcome. See ya...soon. Go SOX. Pure and simple.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Claymotion & Bronx, Here We Come...Boston 10 Kansas City 3

The magic number for cliching a wild card spot in the 2009 postseason is down to three for the Boston Red Sox. Their resounding 10-3 win over the KC Royals coupled with another loss by the sliding and self-destructing Texas Rangers took two games off that number, which was five. Thanks must go to the stars of last night's contest, Big Papi David Ortiz, who had three base hits and, most of all, starter Clay Buchholz, who was feeling sick with a cold for the past few days. He commented on his "under the weather" status after he spun another beauty...

“I was expecting to have to battle through, especially after the first inning. (In the first) I threw some good pitches that got hit, and left some pitches up, and I was able to bounce back the next inning, and go on a pretty good roll. Even when I didn’t feel good in Triple A, I still thought I had a chance to go out there and win a game,’’ Buchholz said. “That’s what it’s coming to now. It’s a different ballgame up here, but obviously if you can go out and throw some pitches for strikes and get some outs in some big situations, all it’s going to do is help you, so I feel like I’m doing a better job of that.

Boy, is he! He pitched into the seventh inning and goose egged the Royals, whiffing eight and walking nobody. He is the best number three starter in the American League if not all of Major League Baseball, a rapidly maturing talent capable of beating anyone, anytime. Ramon Ramirez was brought in to finish the seventh, which he did, and take care of the eighth, which he did not. He gave up the three Royals runs. Takashi Saito came in and allowed two hits and one walk to finish the game. Clay was by far the best Red Sox pitcher of the night and I believe Sox skipper Terry Francona would have kept him in there for another inning or so had he been feeling 100%. Speaking of Tito, here he is with some well deserved praise for last night's starting pitcher...

“He pounded the zone with his other pitches and that gives him a lot of different looks,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Every five days, he has a chance to go out and be consistent. And he’s been consistently really good. He’s a pretty solid pitcher.”

I agree with every word the skipper uttered. The only weak part of the Red Sox starting rotation is the number five spot. If injuries prevent Timmy Wakefield from reclaiming that spot in 2010, Theo Epstein will do something about it in the off season. But right now Beckett, Lester, Buchholz and Matsuzaka look like the best starting quartet in all of baseball. Let's hope that continues right through October play. I believe it will...I always believe. It's called FAITH.

Now it's on to the Bronx to play the New York Yankees for the last time in the regular season and maybe (a BIG maybe) for the rest of this season. Here are the pitching matchups, which look good until Sunday comes around. I'm sorry, I don't have any faith in Mr. Paul Byrd. Here you go...

9/25/2009 at NYY 7:05 PM ET NESN Lester (14-7) vs. Chamberlain (8-6)
9/26/2009 at NYY 4:10 PM ET FOX Matsuzaka (3-5) vs. Sabathia (18-7)
9/27/2009 at NYY 1:05 PM ET ESPN Byrd (1-2) vs. Pettitte (13-7)

It would be SO nice to clinch the AL Wild Card berth at the place that Ruth didn't build, but we'll get it soon, that's for sure. Taking two of three from the pinstripers would be sweet indeed, though. GO SOX.

You can click on the title of this post for more on the excellent once again Buchholz start and for more on the weekend series with the pinstripers. Have a great weekend and as always, BE WELL. Your comments are eagerly anticipated and will always be answered. Thanks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Stopper Stops And The Lumber Awakens...Boston Red Sox 9 KC Royals 2

Though the Kanas City Royals collected twelve base hits Wednesday night in Kansas City, they were only able to plate two runners and the Boston Red Sox went on to a 9-2 victory, their first of this four game series. FINALLY. The Boston starter, Josh Beckett, pitched well in his early and late innings, but in the middle of his outing, it looked like his pitches flattened out. He did throw a ton of ground balls, some at his teammates and some not. The important thing is that KC scored only two runs on a night that Boston was good for a beautifully crooked nine. The 'pen was great, with Oki, Wags and Paps going a goose egg inning apiece. Big Papi clubbed his 25th tater of the season, a remarkable turnaround from his worse than dismal start to 2009 baseball. But it was a six run fifth that put this game away for the Good Guys. Here's our Big Papi, who we know and love...

“We have a lineup that works into really good counts with pitchers. We see a lot of pitches - that’s what makes us good,” said Ortiz. “When you see a lot of pitches, you get an idea what you want to do when you get to the plate. And that’s why after our second or third at-bat, our production gets even better, because we know what we’re dealing with.”

Here's Sox starter Josh Beckett on his hit-filled but very successful outing...

“I did a good job with the exception of three hits in the fourth inning,” said Beckett, who improved his record to 16-6. “This time of year, everything is based on results. Just giving us a chance to win, I feel like I did a good job of damage control with all the hits that piled up.”

Beckett is 16-6 with two more starts to go. Anyway anyone looks at those numbers, their conclusion would have to be that he's nearing the end of a great regular season. For six or seven starts, he was the best pitcher in all of major league baseball. Since then, there've been ups and downs, but last night was an UP, just when the Red Sox needed one. Thanks Josh. You're one of the "BIG FOUR" who will make up the postseason starting pitching rotation. No, Timmy won't be in there...either will (thankfully) Paul Byrd. It's Becks, Lester, Buchholz and Daisuke, live or die. LIVE WE WILL.

There's one more game to play with the pesky Royals tonight, the last of the season between the two clubs. It'll be an ailing (cold) Buchholz versus a healthy Hughes. Let's win it to gain a split when a split would not have been acceptable before this four game set started. And's Bronx time. The Boston pitching rotation for the three games in pinstripe land leave much to be desired (Byrd is slated) but we do what we have to do. Yes, we can. Faith.

As always be well and click on this post's title for more about the good night in KC. Thanks for stopping in once again and I promise to be here bright (unless the dawn has not shown its golden face) and early tomorrow morning, if not before. See ya.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Byrd Plucked By 5 Run Royal First...KC Royals 5 Boston Red Sox 1

This one was never close, not after Paul Byrd gave the KC Royals five runs in the very first inning and with Zack Geinke, a legitimate AL Cy Young Award candidate, on the mound. Greinke is now 4-0 with a 0.63 ERA over his last four starts and Tuesday night in Kansas City, we could all see why. Here's Jason Varitek's assessment of the young phenom...

“Greinke’s got four pitches, he changes the tilt of his fastball - two-seamer, four-seamer - he had good life to his four seamer today,” said Sox catcher Jason Varitek. “He actually threw a lot more changeups than he probably had, or we had seen or knew of, and he has a devastating slider.”

The Red Sox, who lost the game by a score of 5-1, only managed to collect two base hits. You just can't win a game with two safeties. Paul Byrd was uncharacteristically wild in that deflating and devasting first inning and his team just could not recover. It's as simple as that. Byrd did settle down nicely and pitched into the seventh inning but it was too little, too late. He said this after the game...

“I thought I had great stuff tonight, I just overthrew it a little bit in the first inning. I just couldn’t get the outs. Against Greinke, you don’t want to be down 5-0, it just deflates the team. I’m real frustrated with myself. I’m glad I came back and threw some innings and helped the bullpen out but that’s not my job. I’m here to get on the mound and give our team a chance to win, and tonight I didn’t do that.”

The Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, chimed in...

“So much of his game is not walking people,” Sox manager Terry Francona said. “That’s part of the reason why we got into trouble. We created some baserunners and got into trouble. But after that he was really good, better than we’ve seen in any of his starts.”

So what could have been a three win out of four game series for Boston has been anything but. The only good thing to come out of last night's MLB action was that the Texas Rangers lost again, keeping the AL wild card lead for Boston steady at seven games. It'll be nice to win a game starting tonight, with Beckett more than ready to face the 7-10 Hochevar. GO SOX, I said reluctantly positively. Why relunctantly positively?'s way too early in the morning on this more than warm Hump Day Wednesday. Where's that cold front when you need it?

You can click on the title of this post for more Sox news from SI and as always, BE WELL. I'll read and respond to every one of your soon-to-come (maybe?) comments, too. Thanks for stopping in as September is getting ready to turn into October and the first full day of Autumn is upon us. See ya.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Awful Awful...What A Waste! KC 12 Boston 9

Boy, oh boy, this one was downright U-G-L-Y. There are no other words that fit. The Boston Red Sox, with a hobbling Tim Wakefield bravely on the mound, blew a four run lead and imploded in the sixth inning, suffering a 12-9 loss. They could have gained a game on the losing Yankess, but noooooo. It was a rainy and wasted evening in Kansas City with maybe the worst pitching performance of the year by the Sox staff.

Timmy ended up gutting out 5 innings and left with a four run lead at 8-4. Boston added one run and Manny Delcarmen took over in the bottom of the sixth. ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. The Royals (the Royals??) plated six runners in the frame. An 11-9 score eventually turned into the final score, which was 12-9. Wakes is clearly hobbled and the incessant rain didn't help one bit. Here he is after the game...

“It’s brutal - gave the game away, bottom line,” said Wakefield. "I had a hard time gripping it and I didn’t have control of it,” said Wakefield. "I made a bad pitch to Jacobs that got them back into the game and then we lost it.”

At least Timmy had the guts to talk to the assembled media. Manny Delcarmen, who lately has been living "up" to his nickname of Little Manny, shunned them. Here's his bullpen teammate...

“He’s (Delcarmen) getting ahead of guys, he’s just having trouble putting them away,” said Bard of his bullpen mate. “He’s making good pitches early, but putting away big league hitters is a tough thing to do. He’s done it in the past and he’s going to find a way to get it done pretty soon, I think.”

In all, it was a night which I hope will quickly be forgotten on our way to October play. If Boston fails to make the postseason, falling short by one game, I certainly will think back to this Monday night in late September, a night in which the hopes of another AL East championship were still possible. Oh, the Yankees lost to the Halos last night. It's turn the page time. Turn the page with Byrd pitching? OY VEI. Don't get me wrong, Paul Byrd is a genuinely nice guy, he really is. Tonight, he'll be pitching against the Royals' best, Greinke. Anyway we look at it, it can't get any worse than it was last night. But we will survive...that I guarantee. After tonight, the BIG FOUR will pitch. That's exactly what they are. Can many (any) other teams say that? My answer is no!

Click on the title for more Sox stuff and as always, BE WELL. Thanks. Safe trip, BFW!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Red Sox Eyes On The AL East Prize? Boston 9 Baltimore 3

I know, I know, the title suggests premature thinking. The Boston Red Sox completed their three game sweep of the orange and black Baltimore Orioles with another resounding THUMPING, this time by a score of 9-3. THE SOX ARE HOT and are only four games behind the Bronx pinstripers in the loss column and eight games ahead of the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card race. Remember, the Sox and the Yanks spend this coming weekend together in "brotherly love" for three contests. Who knows what the future will bring? I sure don't.

Yesterday, Daisuke Matsuzaka took the hill for the team from Boston and again proved he's ready for anyone with a piece of lumber in his hands. He went 5 1/3 innings and surrendered eight hits while giving up three runs, walking only one and snuffing out five. Not bad, Mr. Matsuzaka. The Boston bullpen goose egged the Birdies from there with Ramirez, Okie and Saito collectively giving the wingless and grounded Birds only one harmless hit. The Orioles continue to be hapless and helpless while the Boston pitching solidifies into one irresistible and unbeatable mass. Here's the Red Sox skipper, Terry "Tito" Francona...

“It’s amazing how when the pitching is consistent,” said manager Terry Francona, “everything else has a way of working. Even when the bats aren’t alive on one night, your pitching still gives you a chance. Your bullpen’s not overworked - things like that. It gives you a chance every night to be a good team.”

And birthday boy Jason Bay, what say you??

“We live and die with those starters,” left fielder Jason Bay said. “It’s not meant as an excuse or a copout by the offense - I think any team will tell you the same. No matter who we’ve been running out there lately, we’ve been getting unbelievable starting pitching.”

Any way you look at it, my Constant Readers, the Boston Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball. They will continue their 2009 season in Kansas City tonight. Here are the all-important pitching matchups for the four game series which is followed by three games in the Bronx battlefield known as the "new" Yankee Stadium. Bah, humbug...

9/21/2009 at KC 8:10 PM ET NESN Wakefield (11-4) vs. DiNardo (0-1)
9/22/2009 at KC 8:10 PM ET NESN Byrd (1-1) vs. Greinke (14-8)
9/23/2009 at KC 8:10 PM ET NESN Beckett (15-6) vs. Hochevar (7-10)
9/24/2009 at KC 8:10 PM ET NESN Buchholz (6-3) vs. Hughes (0-1)

That's a wrap for yet another mid to late September Monday. Our team has been playing great and the only kink, the weak link, is Paul Byrd. HE WILL NOT BE NEEDED IN THE POSTSEASON, a soon-to-be fun time in October. I'll be there all the way, writing every single morning. Count on it.

Click on this post's title for more Sox happenings and as always, BE WELL. I want to give a shout out to Gary...he knows who he is. Thanks, Gary! Happy New Year to you and yours, too.

See you soon. If you'd like to leave a comment that will be replied to, well, I'm waiting! Bye.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Birdies Caput...Boston 9 Baltimore 3

The Boston Red Sox sweep the Batimore Orioles by a score of 9-3. They were victorious in 16 of their 18 2009 meetings. NOT BAD! BYE BYE BIRDIES. We'll miss you. With the Ranger's loss to the Halos, the magic number is now SEVEN. October, here we come. YES!!!

More on the game first thing in the morning. I hope your Sunday has been and is a terrific one. Kansas City, here we come...with an eight game Wild Card lead over the Strangers of Texas.

Red Sox Roast Birds Once Again...Boston 11 Baltimore 5...Wakefield To Go Monday

For the fifteenth time in seventeen 2009 meetings, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 11-5. The two teams will play for the last time (boo-hoo) this afternoon at Friendly Fenway. They will be missed. Sorely.

Jon Lester started for the home club but was not at his best. He had to grind and battle for six innings and the game was knotted at three when he departed. That's when Boston showed why it is the vastly superior team. They scored three runs in the seventh inning and five more crooked ones in the eighth to take complete control of this one, much to the delight of the Fenway Faithful and for all of us watching on NESN and NESN HD. Coupled with a rare Texas Rangers win, the AL Wild Card lead remains at seven for the Sox and their magic number is reduced to nine. Lester summed up his team's recent efforts...

“More than anything, we’re starting to play good baseball,’’ Lester said. “We’re starting to get results. I guess you could say we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We’ve had a ton of injuries. But it seems like now, balls that need to fall are falling and guys are driving the ball out of the ballpark when we need it. Hopefully we can keep going in this direction."

Jon is right. This Red Sox team is putting it all together at the exact right time. The Boston bullpen took over to pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth innings and only Little Manny Delcarmen was ineffective. With the huge lead, however, the Orioles never had a chance, not after the eighth. No way, no how, not in this life, not with this pitching staff. JD Drew had another productive night and he gave this personal assessment...

"I feel good. I've had ups and downs this year and went through some stuff right after the All-Star Break and kind of worked my way out of it, just trying to be consistent, take some good quality at-bats and regardless of the result, try to erase it and start over again the next day. So I think as long as you can finish out the year like that and carry it into the post season, we'll see what happens."

Oh yes, he's been great most of the time. Today, the finale, the last battle between the little orange team and the huge red one. Daisuke Matsuzaka, straight off an exhilarating start, will face the 5-11 Berken. Let's end the season series with a bang, a BIG one, and continue to reduce that magic number. The sooner it reaches zero, the better. Then Tito can selectively rest players before October play commences. It's all good!

Oh, one more Red Sox item. Tim Wakefield underwent strength tests yesterday and was deemed good to go for a Monday start, following Matsuzaka. He might not be able to scoot over to first base to cover the bag as he used to, but his arm is fine...better than Byrd, that's for darn sure.

Click on this post's title for more coverage of the Red Sox, Boston Globe style. Enjoy your Sunday and as always, BE WELL. Thanks for stopping in and your comments are always welcome and always answered. See ya. GO SOX.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Buchholz Sharp Once Again As Red Sox Ground Birds

The Boston Red Sox have taken a firm hold in the race to win the American League Wild Card playoff spot with yet another victory Friday night coupled with another Texas Rangers loss. Their lead is now seven games. They defeated the hapless Baltimore Orioles by a score of 3-1. It would be hard to fathom them blowing a post season spot considering how strong their starting rotation has been. Would you believe that they're just about the best in all of major league baseball? BELIEVE IT. Clay Buchholz is a big reason that last statement is true. The Sox have won the last seven times Buchholz has started. Eight of his last nine outings have been quality starts, and Buchholz has a 2.63 ERA during that run. Even better, Red Sox starters have allowed three runs or fewer in 11 straight games, their longest such streak since they reeled off 12 in June 2006. The Sox are 9-2 over the span (thanks Boston Herald). Even without his best stuff, Buchholz excelled. Here's the Boston manager, Terry "Tito" Francona, on his starter...

“Every five days, you send him out there, and you feel like you know what you’re going to get,’’ Francona said. “That’s part of him growing into this. It’s exciting. It’s really exciting.’’

You see, he's beoming automatic as he grows and matures and learns how to win even when he doesn't have his best stuff. That's exactly what he did last night in Maryland. The entire rotation, with the exception of Paul Byrd in the number five spot subbing for Timmy Wakefield, has been lights out. I know the jury is still out on Daisuke but he sure looked aces in his last start. Here's Pedey Pedroia, a very wise baseball guy and a fairly good player, too. One day, he might become a star (ha ha)...

“Our pitching, that’s the reason why we’ve been on a run,’’ second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “If we continue to pitch the way we are, I don’t think it matters if we’re at home or away or playing in Japan or anywhere. We’re going to win if we pitch the way we’ve been. The guys are stepping up their game at the right time. They’ve proved to us in the last month that we’ve got one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.’’

The bullpen was flawless over the last three innings with Papelbon finishing the game up and proving to all of Red Sox Nation that his back is fine. And that's just fine with me. Tonight at 7:05pm EDT, it'll be the always dependable Jon Lester versus Hernandez, who has a record of 4-8 and is eminently hittable. So GO SOX. Let's close out the Wild Card race as early as possible so that Tito can rest the right players at the right times to get ready for October. After all, we're out of off days. Only Mother Nature can provide them...we don't want that. What we want is to get through the rest of the regular season without any further injuries. Period.

Enjoy your weekend, click on this post's title for more Sox stuff from the Boston Globe and as always and forever, BE WELL. I'll see you can bet on it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In The Dirt Red Sox Loss...LAA 4 Boston 3

What could have been didn't happen Thursday night at Fenway Park as the LA Angels took advantage of a ball that skipped in the dirt between Jason Varitek's legs and rolled all the way to the backstop. That allowed the tying run to score in the seventh inning. The Halos scored the winning run in the ninth off Billy Wagner, his first surrendered run and loss in a Red Sox
uniform, and won the game by a score of 4-3. Beckett was once again sharp, going eight full and allowing those 3 runs on 7 hits, walking not a soul and blowing away 7. His curveball was electric all night long and last night he added to the growing reality that he's back to normal. The ball in question was swung at for strike 3 with the Sox holding a 3-2 lead in the seventh. It was called a passed ball because it DID dip into the dirt but Jason Varitek has excelled in his career with blocking such offerings instead of letting them get behind him. If a ball gets behind him, the runners obviously would advance. With a runner on third this time, the runner advanced to the plate, knotting the game at three. Here's Mr. Beckett...

“I don’t know if it hit a piece of dirt and just stayed down,” Beckett said. “Over the last four years, I can’t remember one time where Tek doesn’t block that ball. He’s so good at it. I just think it took kind of a wild hop and stayed down on him. I guess it’s frustrating, but there isn’t a son of a bitch alive I’d rather have back there,” said Sox starter Josh Beckett. Over the last four years, I can’t remember one time where that’s happened. I think it’s a freak deal. I’ve seen curveballs stay down like that before. Generally they hit the plate or just hit a soft piece of dirt or something. I’m quite sure that’s what happened, because usually my curveball bounces higher than that.”

Josh is right but the fact remains...this has happened in two straight games and three times in the past two weeks. Am I worried? Hell, no. The Wild Card lead over the Rangers shrinks just a little bit to 6 games. So what? With the way Boston victimized and beat the Angels on Wednesday (see post below), maybe this was poetic justice. The most important thing is this...Beckett is getting back to being vintage Beckett, someone we all missed for a few weeks earlier this summer.

Boston now goes to Baltimore, a club they have effectively handled this year, for a three game series. Then they travel to Kansas City to play the KC Royals, another "cake" series with a team they can and will take care of. Here are the Oriole pitching matchups, just for you, my Constant Readers...

9/18/2009 at Bal 7:05 PM ET NESN Buchholz (5-3) vs. Guthrie (10-14)
9/19/2009 at Bal 7:05 PM ET NESN Lester (13-7) vs. Hernandez (4-8)
9/20/2009 at Bal 1:35 PM ET NESN Matsuzaka (2-5) vs. Berken (5-11)

Let's sweep 'em. Click on the title for more on last night's frustrating but in no way threatening Red Sox loss and as always, BE WELL. I mean that. Your comments, except for BFW's, are sorely missed. BFW has always been there lately. Hey, thanks for stopping in to my little corner of the "Blue Nowhere." Y'all come on back.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Up & Down Wacky Red Sox Win...Boston 9 LA 8

Wednesday night's Red Sox-Angels game at Fenway Park was a wild and wacky affair. With the score tied at 7 after eight full innings, the Angels scored a run in the top of the ninth. Things were gloomy until the Red sox loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of that frame on the strength of two walks and a clutch Jed Lowrie single scorched down the third base line. Alex Gonzales ended it all with a shallow fly ball to left that Juan Rivera let fall right at his feet. I still say he might have caught it had he dived...I'm glad he didn't. Here's Jason Bay with his thoughts on the walk-off Sox win...

“They talk about team wins,” said outfielder Jason Bay. “I think that was every bit a team win. We got everybody in there. Unbelievable game. We haven’t had a game like that in a while, against a very good team, playoff-type atmosphere."

The wild card lead over the dead cold Texas Rangers is now a fat 6 1/2 games. October here we come? It certainly looks like it. But there are games to play, late September games that are vital. I must say that it would take a monumental collapse for Boston to blow it but stranger things have happened...NOT THIS YEAR.

Jonathon Papelbon was given the night off because he tweaked his back when he slipped while warming up. Here he is...

“This is just a one-day thing,” he said. “I’ll be good tomorrow. They’re going to give me the night instead of pushing the envelope.

Back injuries, no matter how slight they seem, scare me badly. Let's hope when he wakes up this morning he'll be feeling fine. He would have been in there in the ninth inning instead of Bard and the bottom of the ninth might not have been necessary
but all's well that ends well.

That's a wrap for this cool Thursday. Fall is coming, that's for sure. Click on the title of this post for all the details of the Sox win and as always, BE WELL.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Daisuke Matsuzaka Dazzles Red Sox Nation And All Of Fenway Park...Boston 4 Angels 1

Oh, what a difference three months of shoulder strengthening and conditioning can do. Tuesday night at Fenway Park, Daisuke Matsuzaka made a long delayed appearance and dazzled both the Fenway crowd and the Halos from LA. He was able to go six brilliant innings without giving up a run. He allowed only three hits, walked three and whiffed five. Here are two of the many comments from his teammates and his manager. First up is Big Papi David Ortiz, who launch a tater that looked more like a guided missle that rocketed out of the ballpark...

“Boy, I tell you, man, having Dice-K back and throwing the ball the way he did tonight is huge for us, especially, I was thinking about going to the playoffs right now,” said DH David Ortiz. "When you play good in September, it gets you in a good mood for October. We are right there, we’ve got Texas behind us. The best we’ve played, that’s what’s going to get us into the playoffs.”

And here's Boston skipper Terry Francona with more glowing words...

“That was a big shot in the arm for us,” said manager Terry Francona, “and I think we all feel like it’s realistic that he can come back in his next start and not necessarily match the numbers but be the same pitcher. That’s what we’re really shooting for, just to have some consistency out of what he’s throwing up there every time he starts.”

In a word, Daisuke was grrrrrreat and as Tito said, with Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz running on all cylinders, the addition of a hale and hearty Daisuke Matsuzaka provides a huge boost to this team and their future plans for October play. With yet another Texas Rangers loss, the AL wild card lead for the Sox has mushroomed to 5 1/2 games. Tonight at Fenway, these same two playoff opponents-to-be teams tussle again with Byrd set to go against Saunders. If the Red Sox win this one, Josh Beckett will toe the rubber going for the sweep on Thursday. One game at a time, however, because Saunders is one tough cookie and we never know what to expect from Byrd. Enjoy it and enjoy your Wednesday Hump Day. Click on this post's title for more Red Sox good news and as always, BE WELL. I mean it! See you later, alligator.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Register For ALDS...Halo's Come To Town

Just released details to register for tickets to the American League Division Series are just below, courtesy of the Boston Globe. GOOD LUCK!
"Registration for a random drawing for the opportunity to purchase tickets for any 2009 Red Sox postseason games at Fenway Park starts tomorrow at noon. Fans may register for the drawing online at The random drawing for tickets to any home American League Division Series games will take place on Monday, Sept. 21. Fans that are selected for the opportunity to purchase tickets for ALDS games will be notified via e-mail on or approximately Tuesday, Sept. 22. The e-mail will provide winners with instructions on how to purchase online between noon and 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.Fans that are selected for the opportunity to purchase tickets for ALDS games will be notified via e-mail on or approximately Tuesday, Sept. 22. The e-mail will provide winners with instructions on how to purchase online between noon and 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.
For fans who do not have internet access, or those not selected in the online random drawing, a limited number of tickets will be set aside for purchase by telephone (while supplies last) beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 at (888) RED-SOX6. No tickets will be available at the Fenway Park ticket office. There will be a one-game, two-ticket purchase limit for each winner selected."
The Red Sox have a nice 4 1/2 game lead for the AL wild card spot and second place Texas has the tougher remaining schedule. The Sox will start a three game series with the always-tough California LA Anaheim Angels tonight at Fenway. Here are the pitching matchups...

9/15/2009 LAA 7:10 PM ET NESN Matsuzaka (1-5) vs. Lackey (10-7)
9/16/2009 LAA 7:10 PM ET NESN Byrd (1-1) vs. Saunders (13-7)
9/17/2009 LAA 7:10 PM ET NESN Beckett (15-6) vs. Santana (7-8)

As you probably noticed, Matsuzaka and Byrd will go today and Wednesday. What seemed to be the strongest starting pitching rotation in the American League has been anything but. Except for Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, who, for the most part, have been great, Matsuzaka has been a shadow of his former self after the World Baseball Classic. Turn around time begins tonight...we hope. Tim Wakefield, after a huge first half, has struggled with leg and back injuries and John Smoltz was forced to go to the National league after being pummeled by AL hitters of all kinds. He's more suited to that lighter-hitting lineup of opponents. And last but not least, Clay Buchholz has begun to show his true potential over his past few starts. He is now a formidible number three starter. Jason Varitek had a few words to say about the revolving door that has been the 2009 Boston starting pitching rotation...

“It hasn’t been easy,’’ catcher Jason Varitek said. “That’s the truth. It hasn’t been easy. Somebody’s had bumps or there’s been different people in and out. We have had to endure a lot. But good teams always have to.’’

Make no mistake, the Boston Red Sox ARE a good team, a very good one. Watch for them in the postseason. Thanks for stopping in on this early Tuesday morning. You can click on this post's title for SI dot com's Sox coverage and as always, BE WELL. Come back soon and leave a comment if it suits you. I read every one of 'em.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Strong Pitching Carries Red Sox To 3-1 & 4-0 Victories Over The Reeling Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays, losers of nine (now 11) straight games, didn't stand a chance Sunday afternoon and evening as the Boston Red Sox took two from the Florida club. Clay Buchholz pitched the Sox to a 3-1 victory with a little help from a two run Dustin Pedroia tater in the bottom of the eighth inning in the noon game. And in the nightcap, Jon Lester continued his string of strong starts, leading his club to a 4-0 triumph. He allowed only two hits in eight wonderful innings and has established himself as one of the primiere lefthanders in all of baseball. Combined with Josh Beckett's terrific Friday night effort and Buchholz' Sunday matinee, the "Terrible Trio" held the Rays to a combined 2 runs, 11 hits and 16 strikeouts. What a combination seemingly made for October play. Their wild card lead over the Texas Rangers stands at a sturdy 4 games. Let's hear Big Papi David Ortiz talk, albeit briefly, about the twin wins...

“It was good to pull out these two games, especially the way we’re being chased in this wild card thing,” said designated hitter David Ortiz.

And Terry "Tito" Francona had this to say about Clay Buchholz...

“It’s exciting,” Francona said. “When he pitches well, it’s hard not to think about the future. I know we’re in the present, but he’s a young pitcher who's trying to establish himself as a winner. When he does that, it certainly makes the future appear a lot brighter. You can’t find pitching. We all talk about it, and you’ve got a guy right in your own backyard. We know he’s gone through all the ups and downs, but now it seems he’s understanding it, and that’s exciting.”

It's exciting to be a Boston Red Sox fan in the first place right now. They enjoy a day off today, the last one of the regular season, before beginning a three game Fenway set with the LA Angels. I'll have the pitching matchups early tomorrow morning. A four game AL wild card lead seems fairly comfortable right now, so relax and enjoy the day off! You can click on this post's title for more Red Sox coverage and as always, BE WELL. I hope your weekend was a great one. It sure was for the Sox.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Buchholz & Pedey Lead Red Sox To A 3-1 Victory Over Tampa Bay In Game 1

Game 2 will commence shortly after 5pm. It's beautiful in Boston, too. Let's go for another victory while it rains in Arlington.

Red Sox Shake & Bake Rays In A Rain-Shortened Game 9-1

Josh Beckett and rain falling from the skies helped the Boston Red Sox enjoy a five and one half inning rain-shortened 9-1 triumph. Let's hope Josh can keep it going like this. In all, he gave up one run, walked one and whiffed four in his five inning effort. It was his best start in a month and came at the exact right time. With Lester and Buchholz going strong, a normally dominant Beckett would make a formidible trio. Josh had this to say as the raindrops drifted to the ground...

“It was good,’’ Beckett said. “I feel like I did some things that I worked on in between starts and took it out there and executed it.’’

And here are the Red Sox pitching coach's thoughts on the Boston ace...

“I think the way he threw the ball tonight was consistent with the last four innings in Tampa and pretty much through the White Sox game,’’ said pitching coach John Farrell. “I wouldn’t single out the five-plus innings he threw tonight. I think it’s a continuation of what’s been happening. He’s commanding the bottom of the strike zone with his fastball more consistently,’’ Farrell said. “By leveraging the ball downhill, it also gives him the appropriate shape and finish to his curveball as well.’

All I know is he looked good, damn good. The Boston offense had a very potent third inning, scoring eight (!) times. From there, Beckett made it look easy. Here's our Youk...

“The biggest thing was to get some runs across for Josh,” Youkilis said. “It was good to get a win for him.”

There's a day-late day doubleheader sceduled for today with Buchholz ready to start the noon game and John Lester, who only threw 22 or 23 pitches on Friday before the deluge worsened, will toss the 5pm game. The weather at Fenway will be infinitely better than the last two games with NO chance of rain. Hey, that's what they said last night before I drifted off to sleep while watching a very wet Fenway Park. Coupled with a Texas Rangers loss, the wild card lead for Boston is now 3 games. Let's make it 4 1/2. TODAY.

I hope your Sunday will be a great one. Let's hope for two wins for the home team and as always, BE WELL. You can click on this post's title for more on the Red Sox from SI dot com. Thanks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Game That Never Should Have Begun...Matsuzaka To Start Tuesday

The umpires plain old blew it Friday night. Maybe it was bad information from the Red Sox weather service, who knows. After only 23 Jon Lester pitches, the umpire went out to Jon, spoke to him for a few moments and prompty called the game. I don't understand how the forecasters could completely misread their radar screens and not notice the wall of water heading northward from the ocean right to Fenway. It was the same wall of water that went through north central Connecticut on its trek. Jon, after speaking with the ump, threw the ball that was in his hand into the dirt by the dugout and walked off the field, his face fuming. Red Sox manager Terry "Tito" Francona said this about his ace lefty...

“I’m guessing he was frustrated because he probably thought he had lost his turn in the rotation,” said manager Terry Francona. “He looked forward to the fifth day so bad, and then he only throws 23 pitches. I don’t know. I didn’t see it. I jumped up and was starting to get a little wet, so I got out of there.”

And here's Jon himself explaining why he was so frustrated. P.S. I would have been, too...

“It’s frustrating to go out there,” Lester said. “Obviously I wasn’t dominating the inning, but you don’t want the rain to stop and you’re not able to get out of your own jam and somebody else gives up runs and you get a loss for pitching a third of an inning and throwing 20 pitches.

The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday with the first game beginning at noon and the second game scheduled for 5pm EDT. Josh Beckett will pitch the single game today and Buchholz and Lester, in that order, will hurl on Sunday. Every game is a must-win situation for Boston, who is locked in a wild card battle with the Texas Rangers. GO SOX.

It has been announced that Daisuke Matsuzaka will start Tuesday night's game against the Los Angeles Anaheim Angels. The club hopes he can go five good innings. He'll be needed for postseason play and his last minor league start was a good one, scoring AND velocity wise. It'll be good to see you, Daisuke. Real good.

That's it for this still dark Saturday morning. I haven't heard or seen the weather yet because the news here does not start until 6am EDT on the weekends, but I can tell you that it's still raining, a drizzly, ugly rain but rain the Sox could play in. Boston is 90 miles to the north and east and until a radar picture comes up in about 30 minutes or so, I'm clueless about anything happening that's not right on top of me...literally. I'll link the live radar to the title of this post so if you want to see what's going on rainwise, just click on that title link. See, I made it easy for you!

Have a terrific weekend and as always, BE WELL. I appreciate each and every one of you immensely.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Plus Eight Years

The Tampa Bay Rays, who still have a VERY slim chance to win the wild card (it would be a staggering long shot), invade Fenway Park for three games starting today. Here are the pitching matchups...

9/11/2009 TB 7:10 PM ET NESN Lester (12-7) vs. Shields (9-10)
9/12/2009 TB 7:10 PM ET NESN Beckett (14-6) vs. Davis (0-0)
9/13/2009 TB 1:35 PM ET NESN Buchholz (5-3) vs. Garza (7-9)

Today is September 11, 2009, eight years after terrorists killed many of our friends, neighbors and loved ones and brought down the World Trade Center. Take a moment at 8:42am EDT to look up at the sky and say a prayer for those who didn't make it and their loved ones. Will it make a difference? Oh yes. Thanks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bye Bye Birdies...Boston 7 Baltimore 5

Wouldn't it be nice to finish this 2009 season playing just one team? If they were the Baltimore Orioles, I'd say it would be fantastic! The Boston Red Sox again defeated the Birds from Maryland Wednesday night by a score of 7-5. They'll enjoy a day off today. It was supposed to be a day off yesterday for Victor Martinez but manager Terry Francona summoned him to pinch hit in the seventh inning of a 4-4 battle of nerves. He responded with a bases-clearing double. Paul Byrd started for the home club from Boston and lacked his characteristic control. He was clearly unhappy but he held the helpless Orioles to two runs on six hits. He walked three, which is unusual for him. He got the job done...just. The bullpen pitched the last four frames and was just OK, giving up three runs in all. But Victor Martinez' ringing well-hit double remedied everything. Here's what the game hero said afterwards...

“It feels pretty good, especially when you’re in the race and you play in front of these great fans. They really make you play and go out there and do your best,” said Martinez. “Every time I go to the plate, it’s just to put up good at-bats and be a tough out,” said Martinez. “When you’re in the race, it’s always interesting and every game means something, every play means something. So you know you’re really playing for something, so it’s great, it’s great.”

Wow, what a great attitude. What a great at bat! VMart has been a tremendous addition to the club and I do hope he'll sign a long-term contract before he files for free agency. I don't think he will, though. Hey, you never know. Here's the Red Sox manager, Terry "Tito" Francona, on Victor.

“He’s just a good hitter,” said Francona. “I think he enjoys that situation, for sure. I think he’d rather have been starting, but it’s nice on nights that he hasn’t started that he’s sitting there ready to hit.”

Yes, I'd say that he was ready to go while sitting on the bench. Coupled with the Texas Rangers win last night, the AL wild card lead is still stuck on two games, not enough for me...or ANY Red Sox fan. This year the Rangers have the arms to go with the lumber. They really do.

I'll be back first thing tomorrow morning with the pitching matchups for the weekend series with Tampa Bay at Fenway. You can click on the title of this post to go to SI dot com. From there, if you wish, scroll to the top and click on "Red Sox" to go to the team site. Thanks for sticking around and as always, BE WELL. GO SOX.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Taters Flew On Tuesday, All Over The Place...Boston 10 Baltimore 0

Boy, did they! The Boston Red Sox clubbed five home runs in the first three innings and six in all as they pounded the Baltimore Orioles into submission by a lopsided score of 10-1. In fact, believe it or not, Boston's first five base hits were all taters. Clay Buchholz shined on the mound and the combination of great pitching and the long ball was an unbeatable one. Clay is now a legitimate major league number three starter. He had his fastball, curve, slider and changeup working superbly last night and Sox manager Terry Francona spoke about that...

“They had to respect every pitch that he could throw for strikes,” Francona said. “He was able to pound his fastball in, expand the plate away with curveball, slider, changeup - that’s a nice mix.”

And here's Tito on the balanced Tuesday night offensive attack...

“The more balance we have, then the better guys are swinging because every night somebody’s not going to hit,” Francona said. “And if you have a balanced attack, it’s harder for pitchers to navigate through your lineup, and that’s the whole idea.”

Buchholz held the hapless Birdies hitless until the fourth and limited them to three safeties all night long. The recently arrived Michael Bowden put up more goose eggs in the eighth and the ninth. It was cetainly an enjoyable game to watch, especially with an ice cold beverage nearby.

Tonight at Fenway it'll be Berken and Byrd. Byrd was great in his first 2009 Boston start but was pummeled and burned alive in his second. I don't know what to expect but I do know this...Baltimore is throwing another rookie pitcher into the fray, just as they did last night. Crooked scoreboard numbers should abound and the baseballs will be flying to every nook and cranny of Fenway Park. Makes me think of an English Muffin loaded with butter and...oh well, never mind.

Thanks for stopping in on this Hump Day Wednesday as we begin the three day slide into the weekend. You can click on this post's title for more Sox news SI style and as always, BE WELL. I mean that. See ya...soon. Leave a comment if it suits you. It suits me!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Red Sox Stumble Their Way Out Of The Windy City...Chicago 5 Boston 1

Boy, it seems that the only games the Boston Red Sox win consistantly are those started by lefty Jon Lester. Sunday afternoon in Chicago, it was the slumping Josh Beckett's turn to take the hill and though he looked MUCH better, giving up three runs and allowing only six hits and NO home runs in 7 innings, the Sox could not solve the offerings of Mark Buehrle. They only scored a single run all day long in a 5-1 White Sox win. The White Sox? My goodness, at times this year Boston has made mediocre teams look like worldbeaters. But they've been playing great at home, as usual, and there are only 10 (!!) road games left before the postseason. 7 of those are against 2 of the 3 worst teams in the American League...must win games, dammit! Leftfielder Jason Bay had this to say of his team's road woes...

“I don’t think it’s that concerning, given the position we’re in,” left fielder Jason Bay said. “If we were looking up at some teams and had to make up some ground, yes. But we’re just kind of treading water on the road (34-37) and playing well at home (45-21). The position we’re in, most teams will take that.”

And Mike Lowell continued on the same theme...

“We were so encouraged by the last road trip (when the Sox went 4-2 against Texas and Toronto),” third baseman Mike Lowell said. “We felt good coming into today that we could at least finish on a good note. We’re disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world.”

It's back home to Fenway for an eight game homestand starting with two against the Orioles tonight and tomorrow night. An off day Thursday will be followed by a three game set with the Tampa Bay Rays. There's another off day on Monday...more needed rest for the weary. Here are the pitching matchups for the Birdie series...

9/8/2009 Bal 7:10 PM ET NESN Buchholz (4-3) vs. Hernandez (4-6)
9/9/2009 Bal 7:10 PM ET NESN Byrd (1-1) vs. Berken (4-11)

Oh, one other Sox note. After watching Tim Wakefield hobble to cover first base in his last start a few days ago, Terry Francona has decided to skip him entirely for the forseeable future, at least this entire homestand. That's too bad.

I hope every one of you had a terrific Labor Day weekend. It zipped by, didn't it? You can click on this post's title for more Red Sox news and as always, BE WELL. Your comments, every one of 'em, will be answered as promptly as I can. Thanks for being here.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Pedey's Grab And Lester's Pitching Pave The Way For The Red Sox...Boston 6 Chicago 1

It was only five minutes into Sunday afternoon's game between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox when Sox second baseman Dustin "Pedey" Pedroia made a game-saving play. There were men on first and second with nobody out when Paul Konerko popped the ball up the rightfield foul line, a place where so many balls drop in for a base hit. It looked that way until Pedey sped there and caught the ball with his back turned towards third base. He spun and threw the ball, all in one motion, to Gonzo who was covering second to double up Podsednik. What could have been a bases-loaded no out first inning jam turned sweet. Here's the Red Sox shortstop with his take on Pedey's game-saver...

“It was a big play, man,” said shortstop Alex Gonzalez. “It’s kind of tough for the runner and he made a good play. A double play like that can give the pitcher motivation and Dustin made it today.”

Way to go, Pedey. Jon Lester was again brilliant, motivation and all. He has allowed 3 runs or fewer in 17 of his last 18 starts. Is he our co-ace? Oh yeah, if not our ace, PERIOD. He set the Red Sox club record for strikeouts in a season by a lefthanded pitcher yesterday, by the way. Daniel Bard, the young and still maturing lefty reliever who Boston should NEVER trade, had this to say about Mr. Lester's outing...

“Did you expect anything different?” Bard said. “He does it every time out. It seems like he strikes out nine, 10, 11 every start. He just has overpowering stuff. From the left side, there aren’t many guys in this league that can compare to him. Hitters don’t see a lot of guys like that. The results have been pretty good.

Pretty good? I'd say unbelievably good. His future is so bright. By the way, Boston gained a game on the Yankees in the AL East standings, as if that mattered, but more importantly gained a game on Texas and the Rays in the wild card race. They have a three game lead over that team from Texas. I don't care how they do it but they MUST be playing ball in October. Every game counts and this afternoon, there is another one. Mark Buehrle will face Boston's forgotton ace, Josh Beckett. Will Josh find his groove? If he would and could maintain it for the remainder of the regular and post-season, the Red Sox are a lock to join the "October club," the eight teams who are talented enough to advance to the post-season. I expect nothing else. Absolutely nothing.

Happy Labor Day. Have a safe and healthy holiday Monday before the normal daily routine resumes yet again tomorrow. The Red Sox-White Sox game starts at 2:05pm EDT...go Josh. Click on this post's title for more on the Boston Red Sox and as always, BE WELL. Thanks.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Brilliant Lester Gives Boston Another Seven SHUTOUT Innings...Final 6-1

A Sunday in Chicago. The final score was Red Sox 6 White Sox 1. I'll have a full wrap first thing Labor Day Monday.

Enjoy your Sunday. I'm going back to the US Open on CBS and CBS HD.

The Red Sox Tread Water With Another Loss...Chicago WS 5 Boston 0

The Boston Red Sox had a chance to add a game to their American League wild card lead because Baltimore actually won a game (!!!) and beat Texas. The Sox, however, lost to the Chicago White Sox yet again by a score of 5-1 to keep their WC lead at 2. Tim Wakefield was able to go 6 innings but he gave up 4 big ones on 6 hits, walking 3 and whiffing 4. The other CWS run was surrendered by the recently struggling Hideki Okajima in the bottom of the 8th. Boston was only able to muster 3 hits...that won't add up to a victory too many times during the course of a season. You have to give the credit to White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, who was mesmerizing. But back to Wakefield...he was courageous to even go out to the mound and attempt to pitch. We who saw the game noticed that he was still in pain, he STILL was hobbled. Nick Green, the Boston shortstop, had this to say after the game...

“Watching him run over there (to first base), it was kind of painful to watch,” shortstop Nick Green said. “But it was admirable for him to go out there and pitch as well as he did.”

Pedey Pedroia summed up Timmy's effort...

“He battled,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of Wakefield. “That’s all we could ask, especially at this time of year.”

And the man himself, the beloved Timmah Wakefield, was honest in this personal assesment...

“It hurts to walk,” Wakefield said. “It is what it is. It’s basically about managing the pain, getting through it and being able to pitch. I tried to keep us in the game as long as possible. Unfortunately, Gavin Floyd pitched a great game.”

And so it goes. The wild card lead over the Rangers is still stuck on 2 games. Boston has 2 games left in Chicago and this afternoon it'll be Lester and Danks. If Boston can score a couple crooked numbers on their half of the scoreboard this afternoon, they should win today. Lester has been THAT good. Every game counts bigtime this time of year. GO JON.

I hope your Labor Day weekend is going along slendidly. Mine has been quiet without Nadia here, but somewhat peaceful, too. I like it. You can click on the title of this post for more on last night's 3 hit Red Sox effort and as always, BE WELL. Thanks for being here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A BYRD TURD...Chicago 12 Boston 2...Wakefield Goes Saturday

The title of this post fits perfectly. It was 7-0 ChiSox after 3 innings and 12-1 after 4. Boston starter Paul Byrd proved on Thursday night that his previous shutout outing might have been a fluke. The final score of this very forgettable contest was Chicago 12 Boston 2. By the start of the fifth inning, many of the Red Sox regulars were on the bench, resting for today's game. Here is pitcher Paul in his own write...

“Quite a difference, huh?’’ Byrd said. “It is tough. I was hoping to give our team a much better performance tonight. I don’t want to put this team in that situation. I want us to be in the game when I’m on the mound, so this is totally unacceptable for me. I shoulder the blame. I dropped the ball here. We’ll see if I can’t get it going my next time out there.’’

Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez put it best for most of us. Here are his post-game words...

"We’ll just turn the page and come back tomorrow and play our game,” he vowed.

That sounds good to me, Victor. In all, Byrd was only able to go 2 1/3 innings, giving up a whopping 7 runs on 10 (10!) hits. Tazawa was brought in to be an inning eater but HE allowed another 5 big ones. Delcarmen and Saito pitched the final two frames and establshed a brief sense of normalcy. As VMART suggested, it's time to turn the page. I know...I did that last night.

Tim Wakefield feels good enough after his cortisone shot to start today. Let's hope he gives Boston a shot in the arm because the AL wild card lead over Texas is again down to 2 games. He'll face Floyd with first pitch time at 4:10pm EDT. The contest will be televised by Fox and Fox HD. We need you again, Timmy.

To all my Constant Readers, have a wonderfully happy and healthy Labor Day weekend. You can click on this post's title for more on the Boston Red Sox and remember, BE WELL. Thanks for stopping in and leave a comment if it suits you. The page has been turned, at least for a day. Who knows about tomorrow? Not even the Shadow does. Or as John Lennon wrote and sang in 1966..."Tomorrow Never Knows."

Friday, September 04, 2009

Buchholz Settles Down And The Sox Bullpen is Flawless As The Red Sox Take Some Rubber Soul...Boston 6 Tampa Bay 3

Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz settled down after giving up 2 first inning runs and another in the fourth as he retired the last nine batters in his six inning stint. Boston beat Tampa Bay 6-3, taking the rubber game of the three game set and ballooning their AL wild card lead over TB to 6 games. They have a 3 game lead over the Rangers in the wild card race, too. In all, Clay gave up 6 runs and 6 hits while walking 3 and whiffing 3. The bullpen followed and was goose-egg perfect. Billy Wagner remained unscored upon in a Red Sox uniform as he struck out another 2 hitters. He's been so very unbelievable and if he could ever get used to being a 7th or 8th inning guy, I'd want him on the team next year. That's a big if, though. Bard and Papelbon followed with an inning each and Boston took the Tropitrouble series.

I didn't know this, but the league has some new rules to speed up the games. A pitcher must throw the first pitch of a half-inning no more than 2 minutes 20 seconds following the final out of the previous inning and pitchers are given 12 seconds to throw a pitch once a hitter is all set in the box. Last night, Jonathon Papelbon was fined for something like the fifth time this season alone for not adhering to the new policy. He said this after the game...

“It’s something I’ve got to get used to,’’ Papelbon said. “When I come in from the bullpen, I’ve got to speed it up. I felt pretty strong,’’ Papelbon said. “I’ve had a pretty heavy workload here lately, but I’ve been feeling good. Still strong. I think this is the time of the year where you know when to push the gas and let off.’

And here's the Boston Red Sox pitching coach, John Farrell...

“Any time you have changes or adjustments, there’s a period in which you have to get comfortable with it,’’ Farrell said. “So, if it’s a quicker tempo, a little bit more of a quicker pace to his overall game, that’s going to take some harnessing. The one thing he has shown repeatedly is that any adjustments that have been presented to him, he’s adapted very quickly and continued to pitch well. He hasn’t lost any power or any command of the strike zone,’’ Farrell said. “His command has improved as the season has gone on. I think he’s maintaining maybe deeper into the season than last year.’’

Farrell, sought after by a myriad of major league clubs looking for a manager, is exactly right. Paps has been improving his control and his statistics prove it. The Boston Red Sox still have the best bullpen in the American league... BY FAR. If (when) they win the wild card race and if Beckett can get back on track (he HAS to), watch out other teams. BEWARE.

Boston starts a four game set with the White Sox tonight at 8:11pm EDT. There's a chance Tim Wakefield will pitch on Saturday. Here are the pitching matchups as we approach the end of the first week of September...

9/4/2009 at CWS 8:11 PM ET NESN Byrd (1-0) vs. Garcia (0-2)
9/5/2009 at CWS 4:10 PM ET FOX Wakefield or Tazawa (2-3) vs. Floyd (10-9)
9/6/2009 at CWS 2:05 PM ET NESN Lester (11-7) vs. Danks (12-8)
9/7/2009 at CWS 2:05 PM ET NESN Beckett (14-5) vs. Buehrle (11-7)

That's it for this Friday, the start of the long labor day weekend. The summer sure flew by, that's for sure. You can click on this post's title for more Sox stuff and as always, BE WELL. I'll see you soon.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Will The REAL Josh Beckett Please Stand Up...And Pitch?? Tampa Bay 8 Boston 5

Josh Beckett is not right...pure and simple. Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays, he surrendered 5 (!) runs in the first 3 innings as Tampa Bay raced to a 5-1 lead. He settled down after that and posted goose eggs in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings and the Red Sox were able to tie it with 2 runs in the 4th and single runs in the 7th and 8th. But Tampa Bay scored 3 big ones in the bottom of the 8th to seal the deal. Those runs were charged to Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen. Saito finished the game but it was too much too early (allowed by Beckett) and too little too late for the Sox. It was a contest Boston did not want to lose because Texas won yet another game, as did the Yankees. The Sox lost ground to both. The wild card lead over the Rangers is now only 2 1/2 games. The Yankees are out of reach, at least for 2009. Ouch! Jason Bay had these words after the game's end...

“They play us tough and I think, selfishly, we knew that Tuesday night’s win was kind of a safety net,” Bay said. “We knew the worst we could do is leave here giving up one game in the standings. Everyone can say what they want, but that’s a good team and they always play us tough. This is a little reminder that it ain’t over yet, but we still like the spot we’re in.”

Why do the Sox like the spot they're in? They are entering an easy part of their schedule and feel that they're playing well. Josh Beckett did settle down for his final three innings and Lester and Buchholz have, for the most part, pitched well, especially Mr. Lester. None of us know about Paul Byrd, but for now, he's in the Boston rotation. So the wild card is in their hands and they think they can do it. So do I, by the way.

Tonight in the series finale, it'll be Buchholz versus Price. A win is a must...I can't put it any other way. The first pitch will be at the Tampa-usual 7:08pm EDT. Enjoy. I like the way Clay has been pitching in his recent starts.

You can click on this post's title for more on Josh and the Sox and as always, BE WELL. I'd love to read and respond to any and all of your comments. See you...soon. Have a terrific Thursday.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Lester And Ellsbury Fuel Red Sox Win...Boston 8 Tampa Bay 4

The bottom of the eighth inning seemed like it lasted for a day and a half, but in reality, it lasted 33 minutes. Hideki Okajima had come in to a 7-2 Boston Red Sox lead and could not record an out. Sure, the hits the Rays got were cheap bloopers but those safties made for a very nervous half hour plus for yours truly. Jonathon Papelbon was summoned to try to record the first six out save of his career...he did it with a little help from centerfielder extraordinaire Jacoby Ellsbury. Let me start at the beginning of the Tuesday night game at the bad luck (for Boston) Tropicana Dome.

Jon Lester was not as sharp as he has been earlier this season but he was more than up to the task. He went six full innings and allowed only 2 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 9 (!). He also set the Red Sox club record when he recorded his 191st KO of the season. Bruce Hurst had previously held the record with 190. Great job, Jon. Boston had no problems scoring runs against Sonnanstine and things were rolling, rolling rolling on. Billy Wagner, in his second Boston appearance, threw a perfect seventh. He's been a great addition. Tito Francona brought in the Darkman, Hideki Okajima, to put a goose egg up in the eighth but it was then that things b e g a n....t o.....slowwwwww........d o w n. He was not able to record an out and with the bases loaded, Tito turned to Paps. Good move, Terry. Jason Bartlett hit a low drive towards centerfield and Ellsbury. He made a tumbling catch that must be seen to be believed. That grab saved the whole darn game. Here's his manager, Terry Francona...

“I told Ellsbury when he came in, ‘If you miss that and it rolls, go right up that tunnel and right out with it,’ ” manager Terry Francona said. “It was a game-saver.”

He was kidding about running out of the tunnel but he was right about it being a game-saver. Here's our outfielding acrobat himself...

“That’s one of those plays where you have to catch it,’’ he said. “If it gets by me, it’s probably an inside the park home run, maybe at best a triple. It’s one of those plays where you have to make it. I got a good jump on the ball, and I knew I could make it off the bat, so I went for it. As I’m sliding, try to get my body in the position to throw the ball, thinking Pat Burrell’s I knew I could get to it,’’ he said. “You have to make that play in that situation.’’

And Paps indeed did it. Sometimes it seems he's his effective best when the bases are loaded. He sure was last night, with a little help from his centerfielder friend who is rapidly becoming the best defensive outfielder in the major leagues. Watch a replay of it if you can...your jaw will drop to the floor, much like mine last night.

The Boston Red Sox won again and they now have a 3 1/2 game wild card lead over the never-say-die Texas Rangers, who won a double-dip last night. It'll be Josh Beckett, looking to regain his light's out form, facing Matt Garza. Gametime will be at 7:08 pm EDT. Enjoy it. Oh, you can click on this post's title for more Sox news and as always, BE WELL. We await October baseball. No ifs, ands or buts.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Brad Penny Goes West...Timmy Has His Shot...Tropicana, Here We Come

First up, this news from Buster Olnay of ESPN dot com. Here's part of the release...
"Right-hander Brad Penny cleared waivers Monday and agreed to a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants on Monday. Penny, 31, was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA with the Red Sox this season and is 101-83 in his career. He will make a prorated minimum salary with the Giants and is expected to replace Joe Martinez in the Giants rotation."
Good luck to you, Brad. What the Red Sox did NOT need was a .500 pitcher and unfotunately, you fit that bill. Thanks for trying, though. I wish you success in the National League, a league "friendlier" to pitchers (or so they say).

In another piece of Sox news, pitcher Tim Wakefield received his cortisone shot for his ailing back on Monday and will be re-elvaluated in a couple of days. The hope is that he will be able to pitch next week. Good luck, Timmah. We sure need you on that mound every fifth day.

Last but certainly not least, Boston will start a three game series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. Here are the pitching matchups...

7:08 PM ET NESN Lester (10-7) vs. Sonnanstine (6-7)
7:08 PM ET ESPN Beckett (14-5) vs. Garza (7-9)
7:08 PM ET NESN Buchholz (3-3) vs. Price (7-6)

The Red Sox now have a full four game lead over the Rangers in the race for the AL wild card. Look for the "Good Guys" to be playing baseball in October. I feel it in my bones, and my bones rarely lie. Call me Bones, if you wish, not Dr. McCoy.

That's a wrap for this pre-dawn Tuesday morning. I hope the Sox can break out of their Tropicana troubles and take at least two of three from the pesky Rays. We have the pitchers slated who certainly can do it. So LET'S DO IT! GO SOX. You can click on this post's title for more on the Boston Red Sox and as always and forever, BE WELL.