At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Archive for the ‘Clay Buchholz’ Category

Desparately seeking Buchholz…and a few good Sox

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 2, 2013

Buch is 9-0 and needed.

Buch is 9-0 and needed.

Welcome to the penthouse, my former outhouse colleagues.  The air is fresher, the bar is better stocked, and “the women all have long legs and brains”.  (Ron Shelton, Bull Durham.)

Dogs are sleeping with cats, Rush Limbaugh has a woody for Hillary and the last place Red Sox are 50 – 34.  The good guys are owners of the best record in the AL, perched atop the Eastern Division, with Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester a combined 17 -4.  What’s more, Papi, Ellsbury and the Muddy Chicken are back from injuries and rocking classic offensive stats.

Of course, the closer role is an unmitigated train wreck.  Ryan Hanrahan, the closer designate, is out for the year, just as last year’s designate, Andrew Bailey, was lost for that season.  But the Sox have found the bullpen to be just good enough in 2013 if they re-designate as they go, from Hanrahan to Bailey to Uehara.

(Did you know that Uehara was traded by Baltimore to Texas for Tommy Hunter AND home run basher Chris Davis in 2011?  Can you say Bronson Arroyo for Willy Mo Pena ?)

With big Sox stars raking it and new role players like Iglesias, Victorino and Gomes adding mojo to the effort, with 50 wins and the top spot…..I SHOULD FEEL GOOD !

But I don’t.

Our Sox are riding the coat tails of an 18-8 April and a 5-1 record that closed out June.  Factor out the 5 excellent weeks of play and the Sox are 27 – 25.

You can sense there is a vulnerable underbelly.  And it isn’t the offense.

Through 84 games, the Sox have scored just (11) eleven runs more than the hapless Valentine Men of last year.

What has been different then is the starting pitching.  It has made all the difference.

In April, the month of all wonderful pitching months, Sox hurlers started 26 games and delivered 15 quality starts, plus 8 more quality-cusp starts in which they yielded 3, 2, 1, or 0 runs and went 5 to 5 2/3 IP. 

Rounded for simplicity, the Sox starters gave million dollar performances in 23 of 26 starts.  With a 3.22 ERA.  It’s amazing that the Sox managed to lose 8 times.

We are only as good as our starting pitching and once that factor is proficient, we are only as championship viable as our bullpen.

The 1969 Mets batted just .242, had only one starter who hit .300 and one who hit more than 14 home runs.  9 other NL teams scored more than Hodges boys that year.  The Orioles, champs of the AL, scored 132 more runs in the regular season than the Mets, but superior pitching triumphed in the 1969 World Series.

And it always will.  Which is what has me worried.  Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 8.  Lester hasn’t pitched well since June 6.  Lackey has been far better than his 5-5 record indicates.  But the Sox won’t make the post-season with a rotation of Doubront, Webster, Dempster, Lackey and Lester.

The Orioles have a ton of offense, a brilliant manager and underdog mojo.  The Blue Jays are fully capable of blowing by everyone if they keep their pitching going.

First place feels great.

But we are just 3 laps into a 6 lap race.

Bring us more pitching.  Bring us a starter, a swing and a closer backup.  Bring back a healthy Buchholz.

Bring it now, Mr. Cherrington.

Go Sox.

Advertisements

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

Red Sox are Dead Sox at the moment

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 10, 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fenway Park looks better every year.  More of the old wooden seats have been replaced.  The paint is fresh.  The foundation has been capped.  It is cleaner and wider under the grandstand than it has ever been.  Even the new water efficient men’s rooms add a flush of class.

As I and daughter #1 settled into our roof box seats in sec. 25, the high tech glamour of two new high-definition video boards stared us in the face.  These new screens are about 2.5 times wider than a jumbo billboard on the highway.  They flank the Centerfield jumbotron.  The one on the right is part video screen, part stationary advertising board.

It is almost overkill.  The batter/pitcher data on the new CF video board is a little redundant of what is on the others. Together it all looms as an enormous IT miracle dominating the background of a 99 year old ballpark.

Still, with all the flashy videos and R & B tunes, the media mix includes The Whaler’s Brass Bonanza and real old time organ music.

It is not Yankee Stadium, thank God, where morons push the sound system volume up to 12, and the Steinbrenners have long affected an ambience so constantly loud that it offends the senses.

…………….

Just occurred to me:  Chances are small that the team will ever be nicknamed the Fred Sox as there are no Freds that are top prospects in the Boston farm system.  But we do have future stars named Jose, Anthony, Felix, Josh, Drake, Will, Yamaico, Kolbrin, Stolmy and Lars. Work with it !

………………

Daughter #1 and I rolled the dice by parking on a street in Brookline and walking to Fenway.  If the Brookline cops were kind, they wouldn’t leave a present on our windshield.

#1 rolls with the punches no matter what.  She is serene and laid back.  Being our only offspring that actually played baseball, she appreciates the game in person, although she can be caught watching a game on TV about as often as she can be found reading a newspaper.

Our ride to the park was at times conversant, at other times quiet.  I did learn two important things from her.  When a rapper says “ish” this is code for “sh*t”.  And when a rapper says “HAM” it means “Hard As A Mother*****r!”.

So, the next time a rapper asks you to “get your ish out of here” you should gather your things and move at once.  And the next time a rapper exclaims, “I’m coming at you HAM !” it would be best to lock the car doors and drive away quickly.

……………………

Jim Calhoun, program builder and Head Coach of the 2011 National Champion UConn Huskies wore a home white jersey, standing with wife, Pat, near the on-deck circle 30 minutes before game time.  The ever-loquacious Calhoun chatted up everyone who strode up.  Some may call him difficult and hard nosed, but he seems to never shut out the public.

When it came time to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Calhoun didn’t cower.  He elected to climb the mound.  So many chicken out and throw from in front of the bump.  Calhoun employed an old-school wind-up, evoking Robin Roberts or Frank Lary.  His missile reached Terry Francona, though a lunge to the left was needed.  The old bird, who turns 69 in May, acquitted himself nicely.  A lifelong Red Sox fan who turned down a first pitch offer in 1999 from the Yankees, Calhoun smiled and hugged Francona, then strode off and faded away.

……………

#1 and I settled in to watch Clay Buchholz fulfill his potential as a man with 5 pitches, a man who won 17 games with a 2.33 ERA last year, a young horse in the race for the 2011 Cy Young Award.

Brett Gardner led off and was humbled.  The man with 5 pitches threw nothing but fastballs that varied between 91 and 95 mph.  Gardener grounded to Pedroia, 4-3.  Then Clay failed to finish off Jeter with 2-strikes, walking him.  But Jeter soon erased himself, arriving at second on a steal attempt a split second after Saltalamacchia’s throw.  Next, Teixeira whiffed on a 2-2 fastball.

It was a great start.  But it was the only inning in which Buch would face the minimum 3 batters.  In fact, he would face 22 batters and get just 11 of them out.

Buchholz would yield 5 runs in 3.2 IP’s.  Cano & Chavez owned him.  Catcher Russell Martin, a guy who would have looked mighty good in Salty’s roster spot, took Clay yard.

Martin would also later homer off Alfredo Aceves, who also served a tater to Cano.  In between Buchholz and Aceves, Doubront allowed a 4-bagger by Granderson.

Buch, Doubront & Aceves allowed 9 runs in 7 innings.  It wasn’t until 44-year-old Tim Wakefield shut the Yankees out the last 2 innings that order was restored.

The 9 – 4 Yankee win spoiled 3-for-4 days at the plate by both Pedroia and Lowrie.

The day was a reflection of the startling status of the heralded 2011 Red Sox starting rotation.  After 8 games, Lester-Lackie-Buchholz-Beckett-Matsuzaka have contributed exactly ONE quality start.

It takes a multitude of quality players that can be effective in small and large roles to win 95 games or more.

It won’t begin to happen for this team until priority #1, starting pitching, gathers itself and delivers.

……………..

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, RED SOX | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

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 »

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 »

Red Sox Ace: Tim Wakefield at the all star break

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 13, 2008

There has been much debate about which Red Sox starter is the Ace in Beantown:  Wakefield, Beckett, Lester or Matsuzaka.

 

UM….I guess Wakfefield doesn’t fit into the discussion too much.  That 68 mph flutter ball and his advancing age does NOT get much love.

 

Well…….. 

 

The “Ace” is an imaginary designation which doesn’t mean much beyond bestowing extra praise and pressure on a player.

 

But for the fun of it, I’ll take a shot at it.

 

Let’s start by looking at the starting staff overall – and then focusing on just the four guys who have made 71 of the team’s 96 starts.

 

The team ERA for all Sox starting pitchers is a combined 3.77 before the man from Tokyo makes the Sox’s last pre-All Star break start today.

 

3.77 ? 

 

Soxaholics, let us not ever, ever complain about our starters this year.    Heck, we’ve had stretches of the inverted — 7.33.

 

Our motto used to be, “We’re good, we’ve got enough pitching.”.  

The Yankees motto was, “You can never have enough pitching.”.

 

Wow.

 

Our world is upside down.  Cats sleeping with dogs.  Hank Steinbrenner admitting he’s brash.  The Rays and Cubs in first place.

 

The Sox are just one small step from pitching dominance akin the Orioles of the late sixties-early seventies.

 

Dear God, grant us one decent middle reliever, load him up with a nasty sinker, a change and a slider, and make his name Justin Masterson.

 

This season is making me dizzy.

 

But  — back to the question at hand — who is the Ace ?

 

Wakefield’s made 19 starts, 13 quality starts, with a 3.60 ERA.  Team 9W-10L.

 

Beckett’s made 17 starts, 11 quality starts, with a 3.93 ERA.  Team 10W-7L.

 

Lester’s made 20 starts, 11 quality start, with a 3.38 ERA. Team 13W-7L.

 

Matsuzaka’s made 15 starts, 10 quality starts, with a 2.84 ERA. Team 12W-3L.

 

I go by quality starts, i.e., a start in which the pitcher goes 5 to 7 innings, hangs up a game ERA that is below 4.00, and thus gives his team a good chance to win.

 

Immediately, Tim Wakefield becomes the default Ace.  He’s got the most quality starts, a very respectable ERA, and you can throw out the team 9W-10L record when he starts because wins and losses do not reflect the quality of pitching.  W’s and L’s are all about the team performance.

 

Besides, if we went by wins and losses only, we’d have to evaluate who Julio Lugo has screwed more with his poor fielding.  The guy has almost as many errors as he does RBI.

 

And, if we were going by W’s, Matsuzaka walks away as the Ace by virtue of his 12W-3L team record.  The team just consistently outscores the competition when Matsuzaka is walking the tightrope, getting out of jam after jam.

 

Run support per start is very close among these 4 guys — Matsuzaka at 5.33 Runs per start, Beckett at 5.82,  Lester 5.1,  and Wake 5.2.

 

And that closeness in average run support is matched by closeness in percent-of-quality starts among Wake, Beckett and Dice Kay.  (Range:  65% to 68% quality.)

 

 

Translation:  You get about the same chance of a quality start whether it is Wake, Beckett or Matsuzaka who starts. 

 

So, there is no real Ace.   

 

My hair-splitting & inconsequential vote at the break for Sox Ace thus goes to the 41 year old (turns 42 on Aug. 2) senior citizen of the staff.   He’s the most boring starter, throwing the 68 mph knuckler 85% of the time, mixing it w an 80 mph slow, uh, I mean, fastball.  He gets my vote by virtue of having accumulated 2 more quality starts than anyone else.

 

Had Matsuzaka not missed 4 starts he may have eclipsed Wake in quality starts. 

 

In the long run, this Race to Be Ace may turn out in Matsuzaka’s favor.  It’s a long season and we’re only 59.8% done.

 

Then again, Dice Kay’s high pitch counts could produce a fatigued arm by Labor day.

 

What do you think ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Matsuzaka, RED SOX, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »

CLAY BUCHHOLZ THE DOMINATOR

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 27, 2008

A heartbreaking loss with a breathtaking silver lining.  (April 26, 2008)

Buchholz now has pitched 3 games this season in which he looks like Cy Young.

Consider —  he has 5 starts.  He got an F in the Bronx, a C in the Sky Dome, and THREE A+’s against Texas at Home, Tampa on the road, and the Yankees at home.

In those three A+ games, his ERA is 1.35 over 20 innings, w 3 ER and 18 K’s.

Buchholz is growing into a DOMINATOR.  A guy who can shut you down and put together long streaks of 1-2-3 innings.  Godfather Schilling must be proud.

The kid didn’t get a LOSS last night.

Francona made the wrong call by not pulling Clay after 21 outs and 95 pitches.

All we can ask of Beckett-Matsuzaka-Wake-Lester-Buch is that they complete 6 innings and contain the opposition to 1,2 or 3 runs.

The kid was a STAR last night; the hitters didn’t come through.

Posted in BASEBALL, Clay Buchholz, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

Buchholz or Ellsbury for Santana ?

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 24, 2007

The Sox are in the hunt for Johan Santana.  The Twins want two young, cheap, excellent-upside players plus two minor league prospects.  And now, Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, and Jacoby Ellsbury, and possibly Coco Crisp are in the discussion.  I’d really like to see Theo pull the trigger on this one.  Give Jon Lester a plane ticket.  Lester doesn’t get better with every start, he seems to get worse.  He puts men on and struggles to have a clean inning.   And, give Clay Buchholz a plane ticket, too, because a no-hitter doesn’t make Buchholz a solid major leaguer.  Plenty of kids have had a big day in the spotlight.  Remember Anibal Sanchez, who pitched a no-hitter in his 5th MLB start, then whoops, tore his labrum.  Remember Bud Smith, who pitched a no-no for the Cards in 2000 at the age of 21, and pitched his final MLB game at the age of 22 ?  AJ Burnett was 24 when he no-hit the Padres, but he’s 58W-54L since, with 8 trips to the D.L. in 7 years.  Eric Milton, Jose Jimenez, the list goes on.   Meanwhile, Santana brings a career winning pct. of .679, a 3.33 career ERA, and four sub-3.00 ERA seasons.  He strikes out many and walks few.   He has had just one stint on the D.L .- 6 years ago.  At age 28, he could give his next team a great 5 year run as a #1 starter.  I like a rotation of Beckett, Santana, Schilling, Wakefield and Matsuzaka.   Holy Smokes !  Don’t you ?  Schill, sadly, is not expected to be here in 2009.  Send Lester, Buchholz plus two prospects for Santana.  Just lock up Johan for 5 years before the trade gets done.  And if they insist on Ellsbury in a package w Lester and prospects, do it !  Red Sox fans deserve a long, long extension of this heady era of Soxcess, and Santana will help extend it.

Posted in BASEBALL, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, RED SOX | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »