One Fine Day in Boston!

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WOW! What a day for the city of Boston… It was a sports spectacle. It began early for millions with the “Original” Marathon taking place throughout the city. The race was won in 2:08 respectively for the men and 2:30 for the women. The morning continued with the Red Sox entertaining a large Patriot’s Day crowd with a true Boston Massacre of the Orioles to complete the sweep. Finally, the Celtics with their backs against the wall, down 0-1 to the Bulls, pulled off Game 2 with a buzzer-beater from Ray Allen!…. Whew….

Now, we are on the MLB BLOG network so I think that it is only fair that I spend at least a few more lines on my Red Sox. My last blog spoke about the Sox slow start. They were 2-6 at the time and struggling at the plate, mostly by keeping runners on. Today the Sox sit at 7-6 and out of last place. They are winners of 5 in a row and an outstanding sweep of the Orioles. I would be lying if I said that this series was more important than most Sox fans wanted to admit. All of the BBTN (Baseball Tonight) analysts continue to remain calm about the early season surprises in baseball this year, but last year proved how significant a good start is. Mostly because with good starts come bad ones as well. Last year Tampa Bay got off to a great start and never gave it up. So with the Sox off to the worst start since the ’99 campaign, Red Sox fans around the world were already beginning to worry.

Ortiz.jpgThe latter part of last week and this weekend settled the souls of the Fenway Faithful. The Red Sox, for the first time this season, began running on all cylinders. From top to bottom, the lineup was potent, consistent and best of all… intimidating. Orioles pitching had no match for Boston hitters. By the same token, Red Sox pitching held their own and kept balls in the park. I am sure the feeling is mutual when I see how comfortable Ellsbury and Ortiz looked at the plate. BBTN guys were already talking about what options Boston had in the market for another big bat to compensate for a struggling Ortiz. Both Holiday and Cabrera were in the clouds…

With Minnesota going into Boston tomorrow and struggling, let us all hope that the Boston bats remain hot and consistent. But for now let us enjoy what the day has brought to those in Boston and fans alike. An amazing performance by thousands of great athletes to begin the day, a slaughter at Fenway and RAY with a shot to lift the Celtics… One fine day indeed. 

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Slow Start

Well Red Sox fans…. the Sox have began the season in last place heading into tonight. We are currently 2-4, and stuck in dead last in our division. Fortunately for the team, the Yanks and Rays are only one game up. To everyone’s surprise, it’s the Orioles and the Jays who lead up the division.

Granted, the Sox have had two difficult series to start the season. Both teams we played (Angels and Rays) were amonst the elite teams in 2008. In addition, the games we have lost (except for the 7-2 loss to Tampa) have all been close. Let’s hope they get on track before they really fall behind…. 

The Red Sox stay on the West Coast tonight to face the Athletic’s who are 0-3 at home to begin their season. And, with Lester taking the mound, the A’s have not had good luck against left-handed pitching thus far.

Boston certainly needs Ortiz and Jacoby to step up and get into some kind of a groove. It pleases me to watch Youk, Tek, Lowell and Bay all rocketing off big flies early, but if we can’t get Ortiz and Jacoby going…. (sigh). I was thinking of calling Francona and asking him to change the lineup card tonight and bat Jacoby ninth and try Jed at the top. Or maybe placing him in the 7-spot. It will give us some speed near the bottom part of the order….

When it comes to our men at the mound… I am not worried. All five boys look great. I think we can give up on letting some homeruns go, but I would rather get them out of the park now than in October. Come on Sox… I want you to be in tip-top shape when I travel up there to catch a game. 

Round 1

Last season the Rays surprised us all with a remarkable season filled with young talent and excellent pitching from top to bottom. Unfortunately for us Sox fans, this led to our demise in a thrilling seven-game defeat in October. The Rays were simply meant for a Cinderella story last year. In doing so, they also have changed the tide in the AL East, becoming a true contender. The Bronx Bombers were pushed aside and had to enjoy the show from the sidelines as the Sox and Rays battled it out all season. The Sox and Rays now have their own rivalry to contend for, which makes for exciting basball. Who will reign this year… In a division that clearly sets itself apart as the Elite division in baseball.

Few things have changed in the two teams since last season. Some minor acquisitions, but nothing major. Niether team really had the need for major overhauls. Unlike the Yankees, who plunged into the market head first, the Sox and Rays mearly had some cleaning up to do. So as the season begins, we can safely say that the heavyweight bout that concluded last season has simply stayed on course for a 2009 collision.

So it is only fitting that they should meet for “Round 1” of a season long fight. The first series took place in Boston this week. Game one was commanded by a rejuvenated Beckett. He held the Rays in check by adding boost to his fastball…clocking in at 95! The Sox were able to manufacture five runs for him, including Varitek’s first homer of the season. Let’s hope it’s the look of things to come… The Sox won the game 5-3. Game two was quite the opposite as Lester took the mound and was hammered early in the game for 5 runs. The Sox never recovered and lost 7-2. The rubber-match was plagued by three early homeruns given up by Dice-K. The Sox never bounced back and lost 4-3, despite Tek’s second homer of the season late in the game.

Round 1 is in the books… The Rays looked more powerful in Fenway making the long-ball their best friend. The Sox on the other hand could not answer. The season looks to be exciting as these two teams continue to improve. The Sox will need much help from Ortiz, who doesn’t look quite as strong as he once was. Jacoby may be another concern for the Sox as his hitting has not come around since the ’07 World Series. Other than that, our Sawx look real serious this year. They will surely contend for the AL East title, and hopefully, a World Series.    

Happy New Year!

The Braves and the W.S. Champs, the Phillies, got our baseball new year started on Sunday night. The excitement of baseball filled the air. Our new year is quite differant than that of the calander one. Our grasses turn green, our weather is warmer and we all come out to play. For anyone near the game… it means it’s time for baseball. What will the year bring??? We start this year with large free-agent moves, big trades, a declining economy, player drama and the unfortunate death of Angel’s pitcher Nick Adenhart.

The season is sure to be filled with various headlines and stories than none of us expect…. Will there be another story like Josh Hamilton’s of Texas; Maybe another race to .400; Or will we have another story like that of the Rays of ’08… Let’s hope not for the sake of Red Sox Nation. What we can hope for is baseball. And that is surely what we will get… at least 6 months of it.

So I welcome everyone back to the game. The year didn’t end in such a happy ending for my Sawx, but I am positive that we are looking at a great year! That is the great thing about another year. New beginnings, new faces, new uniforms and new ambitions. All of our teams, whether they finished dead last or up front, are in fact contenders. Even if for the first day of the Season, we are all undefeated. As the first week reaches it’s middle point, none of us are more than three games back (haha!)… Yes we are all contenders at this point. So let’s enjoy baseball for what it is. Let’s not worry about mid-season trades, injuries or even a meltdown by our relief pitchers. It’s a new year everybody. And baseball is back and I could not be happier.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Nick’s family and the entire Angel’s organization…. He will surely be missed… 

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believe.jpgAfter a clobbering in Game 4 it was unimaginable for me to come and sit in front of the screen and proceed ro write a blog. The air had been kicked out of me. I was watching the Red Sox go down in flames as they were toasted with a second consecutive loss in a steaming fashion. The Rays had demolished the ball and Red Sox that night leading an entire Nation to believe that we may be on our last leg. ESPN, Basball Tonight… they were all talking about a Phills- Rays World Series and how the big market teams–the Sox and the Dodgers would not be in the Big Show.

That was two nights ago and already forgotten. But not before the Rays continued to the slug-fest. Through the first 6 innings of this game the Rays had already put 7 runs on the board and part of Red Sox Nation had already departed our beloved Fenway. Those people will certainly feel the guilt that Jimmy Fallon felt in Fever Pitch for going to a party with Barrymore and therefore missing a epic comeback against the Yanks. Tonight was just as magical…

Down 7 in the 7th with 2 outs and with two strikes magic struck… Pedroia had an at-bat that brought back the ghost of Dave Roberts. It simply opened the flood-gates for the sleeping Sox’ hitters. Ortiz followed with a big fly and all of a sudden it was 7-4;Pap came back for another frame and shut ’em down; Drew has a de javu moment of ’07 and homers to bring us within one; Then Coco, a game 5 change, does the only thing that made sense…drive in the tieing run.

So at this point Fenway sounds like every seat is in the house is occupied and the Rays now look like a dog with it’s tail tucked between it’s legs. As the 9th inning continues and Bay is controversally walked, Drew approaches the plate with a chance to send us to Game 6 just as he did last year. He comes through. 

This was the most difficult and the most gratifying (barring the ’04 ALCS) game I have ever watched. It was dragging for about three hours. I really wanted it to end so I could go to the gym. But I knew I should stay in watch just in case. Once again, with the Sox down 7 in the 7th we do what we do.

See everyone on Saturday.  

Rays Slug for 9 at Fenway

rays win.jpgWhat a game it was yesterday. It was so bad, in fact that I wasn’t upset after a while. I just accepted that they are swinging the bats better than we are. We only had maybe two or three players in the lineup that were putting a decent smack on the ball. That will simply not get it done in October. There were a couple innings were we had a chance at a rally, but we continue to leave men on base. Of course, it didn’t help that we were consistently behind in the count and we always began an inning with an out.

As far as out pitching… Let’s say we struggled. Lester just didn’t have his stuff last night. He cutter was non-existent and we was leaving his fastball high in the zone, ultimately leading to some big homeruns. So that is 2 games, 2 losses, 2 ace pitchers… What’s next?

The Sox had already predetermined that Wake would pitch tonight’s game. I am sure that they didn’t expect to be down 2-1 in the series. Either way, the Sox don’t really have a choice. It would be silly to bring Dice-K off of short rest. In the event that he loses tonight, we would only have Wake to put on the mound…. That would be a mistake.

So, Red Sox faithful, let’s hope that we see the best of Tim Wakefield tonight. The kind of performance that will be talked about after the Sox win the Series. It will be this game that turned the ALCS around. Wake pitches a shutout, Dice-K wins at Fenway, and Beckett redeems himself by closing out the series in Tampa and stunning the crowd.

Hey don’t bash me just yet. Need I remind everyone that it is October and the Sox hunger for positions like these. Anything can happen. It all starts tonight. 

Beckett Struggles… Again

If anyone thought the game was going to go the way it went last night, you are simply lying to yourself. Just as the announces kept saying, “This game has it all.” Anything that could have happened in the game it did. We had two Aces struggle, tons of long-balls, misplayed fly balls, bad plate calling, past balls, oh and a walk off sac fly to win the game for the Rays.

But lets not let Beckett off so easy. This is twice in a row that Beckett struggles that ultimately causes us the game. If it wasn’t for all the big at bats, we would have been smashed. Beckett’s has simply lost his dominance. He doesn’t look the same out there. His fastball is weak, his breaking pitch doesn’t break, and his cutter can’t cut through air. What is happening with Beckett? Is it that time of the month. Well I have news for Beckett… It’s October pal, we can’t have that sh*t. We need him to pitch the way he is capable.

theo and beckett.jpgHe also needs to know when he has had enough. He scapegoated his pitching performance based on the Boston bats. That is not fair to the rest of the team. Tito should have known better. This is not the first time Tito has done this. He loves for our pitchers to get to that dreaded 5th inning to have a chance at the win. But despite someone’s composure and past results, as a manager, you need o pull them and let the bullpen work. Our bullpen has been great this postseason. Why not have the faith and use them?

It gets worse. Our bullpen is holding their own; matching everything Tampa is throwing at us. Pap throws 18 balls and gets pulled… Why not let him get as batter or two in the 11th? We had 2,3,4 hitters in the 12th… No. We decide to go to Timlin. He hasn’t pitched in like 16 days, and wasn’t even on the roster last week. Why didn’t we go with Paul Byrd? Once again, he has playoff experience! He has been here before. Despite the bad plate calling, Timlin should not have been in there because he was not ready which showed itself on the field.

So this loss is probably owed more to egos than to poor play. We left Beckett in to get him a possible win, or maybe to boost his confidence going into Game 6, or maybe because he wanted to stay in and that was that. We put in Timlin because he is a long-time Red Sox period. Terry Francona is smarter than that. He has easily outcoached Scocia and was out coaching Maddon until the 11th.

Maybe I’m being greedy… wanting 2 wins coming back to Fenway. It is unusual. The norm is what happened to the Dodgers. You are to protect your home field in the playoffs. We were able to steal one and we now have the upper hand. But now the Rays have a bit of momentum and we had the chance of shutting it down completely. We have to hope for a GREAT game in Boston on Monday night. We need to get the point accross that we will win it here. We will not return to Tampa and that last night was simply a fluke.

Let’s Go SOX!!

Experience and a Lil’ Bit of Magic Wins Game 1

It was a pitchers duel last night at The Trop as Dice-K and Shields battled it out what appeared to be all night. For Sox fans, we didn’t know what to expect from Dice-K… Was his pitch count going to be through the roof?… Was he gonna walk batter after batter? All of which allowing the Rays to score big innings… But on this night Dice-K was magical. He put men on base, and just like that, they disappeared as three outs were recorded.

dice-k.jpgIn and out of every inning Dice-K held the exact same facial expression. Pitch after pitch he threw the ball with precision and without fear. He kept Rays hitters on their toes, not giving in to anything they liked. On 3-1 and 2-0 counts is where he was simply perfect. Rays hitters expected the fastball out and over the plate and Dice-K did everything but. It was nerve-wrecking and exciting all in one.

With Dice-k pitching a magical performance, the Red Sox favored a lil’ better against Shields. He too was able to get out of some jams, but Sawx hitting was relentless. The Sox have become a team that plays baseball of old. They can manufacture runs with any part of the lineup. The Sox timely hitting allowed them to score the 2 runs that would ultimately be enough for the win. Mixed with check-swings and quickly sinking liners, it was the Red Sox that had their composure at the plate.

Last night the Red Sox, once again, got the message across that we are World Champions and to get through us teams will have to be near flawless. The Rays and experts alike thought home-field advantage would prove to be the ultimate differance. What everyone fails to recognize is that we are in October. The rules change, the teams change, the game changes. It takes more than a regular-season record to win ball games. The Red Sox have that something extra. Unlike the NL, the Red Sox have taken down the two best teams in the Majors. But the way I see it, the Red Sox have simply proved that they have been the best all along and that October baseball is a beast in itself.

Red Sox Rotation Set for Rays…

The pitching rotations are set for the series, at least until Game 4. Now after pondering this for a few days I am a little concerned about Wake going in Game 4. Lester, Beckett, Dice-K are all doing fine and coming off strong performances. Ok well maybe not Beckett, but we have to count on him bouncing back. But Wakefield? Why not Paul Byrd?

Wakefield just seems to give up huge hits and it always appears to snow-ball on him, turning a dreadful 2-3 run inning into a 4-5 run inning. Now during the regular season this may be okay. But now that the playoffs are in full swing and we have another shot at the World Series I thought that Wakefield may not be best option for us at this time.

Paul Byrd has post-season experience and has pitched very well for the Sox since the trade. He is a controlled pitcher that can get batters out in a number of ways. He usually does not count on one pitch (i.e. Wakefield). Besides the last time Wake appeared we were smashed. I think it was to the potent Rays team.

I guess we will have to wait and see. I am going to hope that the Red Sox have a dominating series that will allow the decision to pitch Wakefield not to matter. The Sox steal two in the Trop… We come home for Lester and take Game 3 in extra frames (again)… Wakefield gets on the mound in Game 4 and it is te ultimate offensive battle, producing more runs than any playoff game before it with Ortiz slamming one right inside the Pesky Pole to win it in the 9th 12-11. A series swept by the Red Sox. The Perfect Series in my eyes. I guess we will see how good my prediction capabilities are tonight. GO SOX!!

Reality Sinks In

Tonight the Phillies and the Dodgers got the LCS started. I personally found the game a bit bland. Maybe because I did not have the Red Sox to root for until tomorrow; Maybe because it was what it was… Boring. Either way the game was played and the Dodgers finally looked human. Cole Hammel kept the Phills in the game despite giving up some quick runs involving Manny’s near dinger. Cole kept his cool and all of a sudden the Phillies struck gold with two Players (Utley and Burrel) that had been ridiculed for not hitting lately.

Dodgers pitcher Lowe kept the ball low most of the night to most of the line-up. Unfortunatelyf for him, some didn’t sink and the Dodgers got a taste of reality. After coming into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams and then going on to dismantle the Cubbies, they simply looked like the pre-All-Star game team that we were all used to seeing.

This win definately changed the series for the better. Frankly, I thought the Dodger Blue was going to dominate the series from Game 1. It is now obvious that the Phanatics are here to play. The way they looked tonight, there is no doubt that they will come out even stronger tomorrow. The Boys in Blue need to get it together fast before this turns bloody, I mean Philly Red.