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Archive for August, 2008

Michael Bowden impresses with Win #1

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 31, 2008

Aug. 30, 2008

Fenway Park

 

All of this on Ted Williams’ birthday.

 

 

Michael Bowden took the mound today for his first MLB start backed by a makeshift Sox line-up featuring the “strongest 160-pound man in Baseball” batting cleanup.

 

Ellsbury (CF), Lowrie (3rd), Ortiz (DH), Pedroia (2nd), Kotsay (RF), Bay (LF), Tek (C), Bailey (1b) and Cora (ss).

 

Pedroia would reach safely for the 10th AB in a row and hear the MVP chant. 

 

 

Bowden did not have it easy.

 

He faced a ChiSox starting 9 that already poled 185 HR this year. 

 

The 3-4-5 hitters, Quentin, Dye and Thome, have 96 HR between them. 

 

Add to that the sensational rookie Alexei Ramirez (.310/15/60), a still potent 38-yr-old Junior Griffey, and a few other clutch performers, and this was no team of pushovers facing Mr. Bowden.

 

Bowden was as advertised in terms of a powerful, condensed pitching motion.  After walking Cabrera on 5 pitches to start the game, he fired four 92 MPH fastballs to Pierzynski, inducing a 1-3 double play.  5 fastballs later, he grounded Quentin out to third to record his first MLB inning, facing the minimum 3 batters.

 

Bowden would put up only 5 innings this night.   He wouldn’t go unmolested.  But he limited the damage, showing great character and composure in tight spots.

 

In the second, he worked his fastball and a 77 mph cutter to get 2 strikes on Jermaine Dye, but with the crowd calling for the rookie’s first MLB strikeout, Dye smashed the ball 390 ft. to the Garage Door area in dead center.  It had HR distance but hit the CF wall 10 ft below the fans in Bleacher 36.  Two batters later, Bowden gave up his first run in the majors when Alexei Ramirez stroked a 2-2 fastball on a line before Bay in left and turned on the speed to register a double and an RBI.

 

With the crowd still waiting for his first K, Mr. Bowden then fed Nick Swisher a fastball and three 78 mph Cutters, striking Swisher out on a cutter in the dirt.   Swisher, a very good player, looked like a bad one.

 

The 2nd inning damage was 1 run.  Ramirez was stranded on second.  Bowden kept his cool.

 

Bowden gave up one more run this day.  That run almost never scored because Joe Crede, the runner, almost produced an out instead of a triple.  Crede led off the 3rd by smacking the 8th pitch Bowden hurled 379 ft to the base of the left center wall. There, Ellsbury caught up with it, and on the ball’s descent, tipped the fly up not once but twice before it fell for a triple.  He stuck his glove out at the end and just missed it.  Not an easy catch potentially.  A great try by the centerfielder.

 

Crede, who could have been out, trotted in two batters later on Pierzynski’s ground out to Pedroia.  1 run.

 

Bowden fired fastball after fastball over the course of his outing.  He threw about 60 fastballs out of 89 total pitches. 

 

Power Against Power

 

Bowden disarmed Carlos Quentin, holding the MVP candidate to personal O-for-three before leaving. 

 

Bowden displayed his intangibles in the fifth.  After yielding two singles to Cabrera and Pierzynski, and with Dye on deck, he fed the power hitting Quentin four 92 mph fastballs, two of them partially over the plate, two of them not. 

 

On the second pitch, with a 1-0 count, two ducks on the pond, Bowden was not afraid to pound another fastball in letter high to the White Sox slugger.

 

Power against power. 

 

Quentin couldn’t catch up to it. 

 

Bowden did not get Quentin to chase the pitches out of the zone, but he did make him fly out to Bay on the last pitch.   Then he stranded two ChiSox when the slugger Dye flew out to Bay on a ball with HR height to the track.

 

Bowden never looked to be in serious trouble.  He surely put runners on base, yielding 4 hits in the 4th and the 5th, but no one scored.

 

He was aided by one double play, initiated by him self in the first.

 

 

More than a fastball

 

At the end of the day, Bowden had a fine first outing.  His fastball, 5 or 6 mph slower than Manny Delcarmen’s or Josh Beckett’s, had the movement needed to stay away from the heart of the plate and give the White Sox batters conniptions.  Although heavy on the heater, Bowden mixed in an effective Cutter (77 mph), Curve (78 mph), and a Change (85 mph).  He really made Swisher look bad with the curve in particular.

 

Licking His Chops

 

Young Alexei Ramirez stood on deck while Griffey made the last out in the 9th.   He was asked what he thought of the kid who started tonight.  Alexei smiled sweetly at the questioner in the second row.  He looked like a cat licking its whiskers after biting the mouse on it’s hind quarter, but somehow letting it get away.  He smirked, but said nothing.

 

Bowden gets an A+ for cool.  He gets an A+ for getting ahead in the count.  He gets an A for controlling the rythym of his outing.    

 

He gets a B- for overall performance though, unable to keep the able ChiSox batters off the bases. 

 

We’ll someday see how he does against the Ginger and Mary Anne’s in Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle.  

 

Ellsbury, Pedroia & Kotsay win it 8-2

 

Mr. Bowden owes thanks to the self-acknowledged “Strongest 160 pound Man in Baseball”, and a few other mates, for notching his first MLB victory on Ted Williams’  90th birthday, by a score of 8 – 2.

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Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Charlie Zink, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez, Matsuzaka, Michael Bowden, Mike Lowell, NESN, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield, Uncategorized, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

Josh Beckett — High & Flat

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 19, 2008

August 17,2008 Fenway

Field Box Dream Becomes Nightmare by Josh.

I was never so confident in the fact that the Sox would win a ball game.  Wake, Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester already have 55 quality starts between them.  With Wake on the DL, the other 3 would respond out of pride.  Starting with Josh on Sunday.

Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester.  The 3 strongest legs on the table.

Beckett is the strongest.

Ballplayers are almost universally taller and thinner than you think when seen up close.  This even applies to Sean Casey.  I kid you not. 

Viewed from a field box in the 4th row of Field Box 29 on Sunday, Beckett looked every bit of  the listed 6 ft. 3”, and a solid 190 to 200 lbs.

Even a bull has weak moments.  Weak moments, emotional moments, moments when you make a mistake and then reflexively repeat the mistake 30 times in less than 3 innings.

In one of the poorest outings of his career, Beckett chucked a 96 mph fastball time after time, mixing in several 78 mph curves and 90 mph changes.  The curves were pretty darn effective.  The Fastballs came in high and straight and came back at Beckett & his teammates as sharply as they went in. 

The Blue Jays batted .600 against Josh and .458 against Boston pitchers for the day.

**********

Beckett looked sharp at first.  He snapped the leather in Tek’s mitt facing Inglett, the first batsman of the day.  That snapping sound was sharp, almost painful.  He was pounding it.

Inglett didn’t succumb easily.  He fouled off 3 fastballs and 2 curves before striking out swinging.  He could see it coming in flat, he just couldn’t time it.

Scutaro then singled sharply by a leaping Cora in the hole.  Just missed it.


Rios doubled on the next straight 95mph fastball Josh threw.  The first of 4 doubles Rios would rifle on the day.

Wells walked.  Lind singled on another fastball.  Barajas was then HBP.  McDonald soon doubled in the 6th and last run of the inning.

Parade of Porkchops

With 1 on and 1 out in the 3rd, the Sox sent in Aardsma.

They altogether trotted out 7 relief pitchers to stop the bleeding. 

The first 6 relievers pitched woozily, like a bottle of cough syrup was being passed around the bullpen.

6 firemen in 6.2 IP yielded 14 hits, 3 walks and 7 Runs.

When the top of ninth arrived, intoxicated by success, Barajas and Overbay drooled from the on deck area as they watched Papelbon warm up.

Clearly, they expected the parade of porkchops to continue.

But Pap succeeded where Beckett, Aardsma, Timlin, Buchholz, Masterson and Okijima had not.

Pap K’d Barajas looking on a 2-2, 95 mph fastball.


Then he K’d Overbay looking on a 1-2 94 mph fastball.


Finally, leading with his heater for the third time, he induced a fly to centerfield to record the only inning of the day in which a Blue Jay did not reach base.

 

The Ides of August

The Sox looked tired.  Just like they looked in August 2007 when they went 16 W – 13 L and suffered through a lack of timely hitting.  That lacking, for some reason under the radar of the press, has been present for 3 seasons.  You can look it up.

They then went 16-11 in September 2007 despite dropping a 4 game set to Toronto,  and then recorded 11 W -3 L in the post-season.

They can do it again.  They will do it again.

 
 
 
 

 

 

Dejected Josh

Dejected Josh

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Josh Beckett, RED SOX, Ted Williams | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Youkilis Makes Dreams come True for Kids

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 19, 2008

  

Enza and Tom in FB 29

Enza and Tom in FB 29

Aug. 17, 2008

Fenway 

 

 

Youk’s fiancé, Enza Sambataro, leaned over the dugout wall and spoke with Kevin before the game started, chatting  in a certain way that couples do, and I soon said hello and congrats to her on their upcoming nuptials.
Enza was seated with a family including what appeared to be a Dad and two under-12 boys, one of whom wore the burden of a serious illness.
Later, a veteran usher told me that the infirmed child had brain cancer, though he couldn’t swear to it.
What I can swear to is that Youk gave that kid an autographed game used bat. 
More dramatically, Youk bashed a 3-1 fastball for a 4th inning HR.
He then flew around the bases and stopped at Field Box 29, reaching into the second row to high five that kid.
Youk homers, heads for Christian
“Buddy, that one was for you.”, he told the boy, Christian Meyer, who is being treated for brain cancer at Mass General.

This was a pretty touching scene, friends.  The wizened baseball bugs to my right side were stunned to see the beefy Youk stop dead in his trot to the dugout and reach out and touch that kid.
What middle-aged cynical fan hasn’t said, Gee, if it was me, I’d be thankful for every penney, and I’d give back to kids and community in spades.
Youk and Enza are giving back.  And Youk is pretty much doing what others say they’d do in his position.
Here is a telling quote from their web-site:
“I am living out my childhood dream, and it is due in no small part to the tremendous support of my family, friends and community.  Now I am in the position to foster safe, nurturing, healthy environments for today’s children, and I can’t imagine backing away from that opportunity.”
-Kevin Youkilis
If you have daughters or are just generally fashion inclined, you might invest $50 charitable dollars to attend their Fashion Show in Natick this Thursday, August 21.
Details for that event are on the above web-site.  There is also a charity Comedy event at Mohegan Sun and a charity Golf Tournament in Sterling, Mass. — coming up quickly.

All proceeds go to support Enza and Kevin’s chosen charities, Christopher’s Haven, The Italian Home For Children and Joslin Pediatric Health Services.

Payday is Friday for many of us.  Join me if you can in making a contribution on the web-site to help kids and show your Sox colors.  

"That one's for you, buddy !"

Youk: Buddy, that one was for you !

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Kevin Youkilis, Youkilis | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

THE RAIN, CHARLEY ZINK, AND YOUKALIS Sox 19, Rangers 17. Nuf ced ?

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 16, 2008

Tue., Aug. 12 at Fenway

 

 

A 10 run 1st inning with two 3-run HR’s by Ortiz. 

 

Are we done ?

 

Sox Rookie Knuckler savaged.  Cannot hold 10 run lead. 

 

You good now ?

 

1st inning:  Sox 10, Rangers 0.

3rd inning:  Sox 12, Rangers 2.

5th inning:  Sox 14, Rangers 10.

7th inning:  Sox 15, Rangers 16.

8th inning:  Sox 19, Rangers 16.

 

Do we need to go further?

 

**********

 

Rain threatened at 4 p.m.   The Fenway auto-receptionist informed callers “that the possibility of a rain delay or postponement was unknown, and that all ticket office personnel would be ignorant about game status, so hang up the damn phone, watch the road, or get back to work, but stop obsessing.  And get here early.  Our beer is still value priced at $7.50.”

 

Rain ?

 

Bullsheet.

 

The drive from Connecticut on the Mass Pike was balmy, except for a shower in Worcester.

 

Bright sunshine heated the Boston sidewalks on the hopeful walk from O’Leary’s on Beacon Street to Yawkey Way.

 

Endless HOPE.

 

Hoping to stay dry on the RF Roof.

 

Hoping Zink’s in the pink.  That Zink no stink.

 

Hoping the Manny-less Sox will hit, & that the Bullpen will be steady.

 

Hoping the home-heavy schedule will help propel Boston to the AL East Title.

 

**********

 

The Right Field Roof Boxes are fabulous – and old.  Installed in 1946, these seats (RF Roof sec. 21 to 43) are located in front of Conigliaro’s Corner, and in between the Budweiser Roof Deck and the Pavilion level seats.  Sitting in this section, I saw Dwight Evans crash a bullpen HR on-the-line in 1988.  The vantage point is virtually equal to the Monster seats and lower in cost at (just) $50.

 

Rodolfo, Fenway usher extraordinaire, escaped from Cuba in 1966.  Rodolfo is often asked if he is Italian because of his thick, possibly Mediterranean-sounding accent.  But he is Cuban, and proud of it.  He stands about 5’6”, a solid 180 lbs.. He leads RF Roof ticket holders to their appointed seats and shoos away random gawkers who freeload on the walkway at the back of his turf.  He is in charge.  He keeps the scene orderly and polite.  This 82-year-old fireplug could pass for late-60’s.

 

Rodolfo started as a Fenway usher in 1974 and never left.  He put in over 25 years in the Left Field and Home Plate Grandstand before moving to the Roof a few years ago.

 

Rodolfo has seen nearly every major event in Sox history over 34 years.  That includes Fisk’s Game 6 HR, Dent’s 1978 playoff game HR with the illegal bat, and the 2004 & 2007 World Series. 

 

Harper, Yaz, Fisk, Lynne, Rice, Tiant, Clemens, Boggs, Pedro, Manny, Nomar.  The only thing he missed was Yaz’s last game.  He chose to vacation in Hawaii instead.  Not a bad trade off.

 

Before the 2004 season, his faith waned.  He seriously doubted the Sox would ever win a World Championship.

 

I can’t blame him.

 

There is still a hole in my soul made by Aaron Boone.  And Little Lee’s words ring in my ears, “Take him out !  Take Pedro out !  What’s Grady doing !?”

 

Rodolfo didn’t lose faith completely and he didn’t quit his gig.  Thus, when 20 or more Fenway employees with 25+ years of service were honored last month, Rodolfo was among them.  Lunch, photos, and the presentation of a 2007 Championship ring to every one of these long term Sox staffers.

 

Rodolfo readily admits the old owners were not as generous.  They were cheap.  They didn’t care.

 

Present ownership is so much smarter than the old regime.  They know New England’s Soxaholism is limitless and gold-plated.  They know guys and gals like Rodolfo are like rubies and sapphires, smaller gems that complement their crown jewel, Fenway Park.

 

**********

 

 

Charlie Zink faced Ian Kinsler, the first opposing batter of his MLB career.  2 knucklers and a change induced a pop fly to Jason Bay, standing at the warning track in left.  Michael Young than fouled out to Youk near first. 

 

The 3rd out was recorded as Pedroia stabbed a sharp grounder.

 

running right and fired to first, beating by half a step the current AL RBI leader, Josh Hamilton.

 

Then, in the bottom of the first, powered by TWO 3-run HR’s by the Large Father, the Sox established a 10 – 0 lead.

 

Sox fans across the RF Roofboxes high-fived and screamed as Ump Laz Diaz twirled his pointer, indicating that Papi should touch them all for the second time in the same inning.

 

Fat dumb and satisfied, the Fenway Faithful prepared to start The Wave, swill more beer, and dance to Dirty Water.

 

It would be a short night.

 

Not.

 

**********

 

Charlie Zink pitched a clean first and a clean fourth.  He was constantly in trouble otherwise.

 

He recorded his first K (swinging) on a 1 and 2 count to Milton Bradley. 

 

He gave up his first hit to Marlon Byrd in the 2nd, a sharp grounder between Pedroia & Youk. 

 

Dustin could not reach it.

 

The Rangers hit “Z” sharply and with regularity in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th.

 

There was not much mystery to Charlie.  He gave up 7 singles, 3 doubles, and 1 walk while securing

 

7 outs in those 3 innings.  He never made it out of the 5th.

 

So much for HOPE. 

 

Zink not in the pink.  Zink stink. 

 

Sorry, Charlie.

 

Then, before you could say “Rudy Seanez is back with his little red gasoline can”, David Aardsma and Manny Del Carmon yielded 7 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk, and a Youkilis error – all in just 1-and-two-thirds-innings of mischief. 

 

Counting the run given up by Javier Lopez while he passed the baton from Zink to Aardsma,  fortune was reversed — AT THE END OF 6 COMPLETE, SOX 14 – RANGERS 15 !!!!

 

The fans who were dancing a jig earlier were now perplexed and deflated.

 

**********

 

 

Fortunately, Okajima came in and shut the Rangers down for 2.1 IP, providing the solid bridge to Pap.

 

God Bless Okajima.  In 14 appearances since June 29, he has yielded one earned run.  He’s been rock solid.

 

He got us through the top of the 8th

 

Then in our half of that inning, Ellsbury Walked

 

Pedroia doubled.

 

Ortiz walked.

 

Youkalis homered.

 

Big Bang Bop – Sox 19 – Rangers 16.

 

Pap in.  Rangers score one.  Game over.

 

**********

 

36 runs tied an AL record for most runs scored in a game, originally set in 1950 between the Sox and the A’s.

 

**********

 

Fans from California and Ohio were abundant.  Folks are stopping by to take in the Fenway atmosphere as they pass through on business and on premeditated Boston-NYC Baseball pilgrimages.

 

**********

 

I continue to see evidence that the Sox are cleaning & painting the infrastructure  — perhaps even replacing seats — during road trips.  The Firm’s rehabilitative efforts are silent and unrelenting.

 

**********

 

I’m getting concerned about Tampa Bay.  The Rays have lost Percival, Crawford and Longoria.  And they continue to win !

 

**********

 

First team to 90 wins has the advantage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Charlie Zink, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jim Rice, RED SOX, Texas Rangers, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

DRAGGING MANNY THROUGH THE DIRT ON JASON BAY DAY

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008

 

Jayson acknoweledges the crowd during first AB

Jayson acknoweledges the crowd during first AB

It was Jason Bay Day.  His First Day of Issue as a Red Sox Rock Star.

 

Let’s have a hearty welcome for This Lion of British Columbia. 

 

This Gonzagian.  This Cape Cod Leaguer.

 

The Man Who Really Makes It The Bay State. 

 

He was greeted warmly on his first day at Fenway, while Manny was dragged through the dirt.

 

***

 

Mark, the life-long, 50-something lifetime Sox fan from Springfield leaned forward in his chair at O’Learys and said, “The bottom line is that Manny makes $20 Million per year and should act like he wants to play the game.  Period.”  Mark is a reserved person, with a serene quality that’s appropriate for a thinker, designer, architect, all of which he is.

 

His wife, Sue was exhausted from walking in Boston’s toxic humidity on this blue sky & sunny day, Jason Bay’s First Day. 

 

Sue was running on empty, had said little from her perch on O’Leary’s oak chair.  But the Manny discussion roused her.   “That’s right !  He should just shut up and play !”.

 

Nothing raises the emotions of educated & proper New Englanders like being abandoned by the object of their love.

 

You heard about Casper Milktoast, the mild mannered Dentist from Everett who drilled his lover’s eyeballs out of their sockets after learning that girlfriend had been trysting in wine country ?  Same thing.  Exact same thing. 

Content and in love one minute.  Out of sorts the next.

 

Such was life with our Manny.

 

On this day, Fri., August 1, Jason Bay Day, there was a lovely ballgame.  Played first under a stunning blue sky, then under warm and gleaming Fenway lights, it was a classic.  A tale of few runs, stranded runners, stalwart pitchers, and minor details.

 

Hey !  Did anyone notice that the bedrock in the bleachers has been sandblasted and sealed ?  Gone are the mustard stains of 1973, when Yastrzemski hit the wall and I dropped my hot dog.

 

And the bleacher seats in section 43 are ALL NEW.  A little wider than the old model, smooth and supple.  I pity those poor bastards squeezed into the tight blue wood grandstand seats that saw Ted Williams play.

 

***

 

On Jason Bay Day, BoSox Ace Tim Wakefield mixed his variable-speed knuckler with a curve and a not-so-fast fastball ball.  37,832 watched Wake strike out, ground out and pop up the A’s with ease.  Then he put two men on in the top of the 7th, when the other Manny, he of South Boston, came in to finish.

 

It was Wake’s 16th Quality Start.  He leads the starting staff in these. 

Tim has delivered a QS in 70% of his mound appearances.  Which also leads the team.

 

Justin Duchscherer, who the Sox once traded to get Doug Mirabelli, was equal to Wakefield.  He gave up one run over six easy innings, stranding 7 Red Sox runners.  He was masterful, although he did hit Jason Bay with a pitch on Jason Bay day.

 

***

 

Jason entered the Rock Star strata during the lineup announcement, when his name was met with lusty cheering.  That emotion was heard again repeatedly when he made a sliding catch, a running catch, walked, was HBP, tripled in the 12th.

 

Bay scored the only two Red Sox runs of the game, the second of which ended the game when he crossed home plate on Jed Lowrie’s chopper single.

 

Every time he stepped on the field, every time his name was mentioned, the love & cheers of thousands poured out into this peaceful, harmonious night.

 

He took a ball.   Cheers !

He took a strike.  Bullsheet !

He is hit by a pitch.  AWLLRIGHTJASON,WAYTOGETHIM !

 

***

The A’s were vanquished in the 12th  when Bay tripled and Lowrie drove him in.

 

But the defeat of the night occurred when two small boys walked down the bleacher stairs of sec. 43, side-by-side, rope in hand, dragging the jersey of Manny Ramirez, former Red Sox player, over the sandblasted bedrock, through the recently deposited dirt and spit and kettle corn of the Fenway Park bleachers.

 

And that was a poignant comment.

 

What ?  You didn’t like playing for us here in Boston ?  You made $20 Million a year and won two World Championships while we held you in our heart, cherishing your cartoonish child-like nature as much as your freakish hitting ability ?

 

You couldn’t make that work ?

 

Well, screw you Manny Ramirez.  You broke our hearts.  Screw you, and the Dodgers, too.

 

We don’t need you.  No siree, not on this peaceful, harmonious night.

 

***

Ever the marketing savants, the Sox offered Jason Bay Jersey T-Shirts for sale.  They sold DOZENS on Jason Bay Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

FOR THE RECORD

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008

 

Fri., July 25    Joba outduels Beckett  1-0

 

Sat. July 26    Wake’s first bad outing since May 18, Yanks win 10-3

 

Sun. July 27   Lester cruises over Ponson, 9-2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Fred Lynn, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jim Rice, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »