This one goes to Eleven

Not a phrase you want to hear when referring to runners stranded in scoring position.

That’s right. Of the SEVENTEEN runners stranded by the Sox last night, ELEVEN were in scoring position.

Yes, Kim was terrible. He shouldn’t have allowed 4 runs to score, and the blame is also partially on his shoulders. But the lead should have been much greater than 2 runs, and somebody should have been in there mopping up, not closing.

And again, it seems like even Mr. Positive Head Cheerleader is getting annoyed with the fatalism:

Before the game Kevin Millar criticized the media. “It baffles me the way the media and the fans want to bash the Red Sox in August,” he said. His biggest complaints were about the talk shows on radio and TV. YANTZ

Now if you’ve read this site on a regular basis, you know that I’m not really a typical pessimistic type fan. But games like last night and the night before are what feeds the negative beast. Even I feel like I’ve been kicked in the sack today.

But hey; it’s still only two games out, right? A win tonight and it is only one. This team needs to turn it around pretty quickly if they want to do anything, however. I mean, you can only say “There is a lot of baseball left” for so long…

When I’m out walking I strut my stuff yeah I’m so strung out

The Red Sox clubhouse was practically empty when catcher Jason Varitek emerged from a room in back and walked to his locker.

“I just got done watching the video of my at-bats and puked,” he said. HEUSCHKEL

Hell, even rah-rah boy was down in the dumps after that one..

“This is a big loss,” Kevin Millar said.

I did not see or hear one second of this game. The first one all year where that has been the case. I was at a AA game, and periodically called a buddy of mine for updates. The first 3 calls were chipper and upbeat. Starting with the 4th call, I heard melencholy on the other line….

“Not good”, said my friend as I called during the top of the 7th inning. And the prognosis never changed.

When he told me that Lowe was pulled after 6 innings of brilliant work, I was in shock. A blister?

Asked if he had continued if it would have affected him down the line, Lowe – who will win a Cy Young before he wins a Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery – answered rather cryptically, “You don’t know. Obviously you guys don’t want to talk about the game. I will just talk about the blister all night. I don’t know. Hearsay is pretty easy.” JACOBS

Bob Ryan’s column today is a must read regarding Lowe’s skin problem.

Between Lowe and Saurbeck; is there anybody that will shoulder responsibility?

“I thought the 3-2 pitch [to Chavez] caught the plate,” Sauerbeck said. “I just thought it was just an inch in. I thought the 3-1 pitch to Durazo was a strike. But it doesn’t matter what I think. They were called balls.”

Sauerbeck hadn’t pitched since last Wednesday in Oakland.

“I don’t want to use that as an excuse,” Sauerbeck said. “I know throughout my career I’m not very good on a lot of rest. Usually I’m good on no rest. The bad side was that I had a lot of rest tonight. The good side is tomorrow I’ll have no rest and should be good to go.”

For someone who doesn’t want to make excuses, I count 3 right there, pal.

Well, at least for the time being, my focus is now completely on the wild card. I’m not entertaining thoughts of the divisoin anymore until the Sox are in a comfortable position in the wild card race. Hence; the standings on the front page will only have wild card contenders for the time being.

Off Day Reads

Since there is no game (and as of this writing the Yanks are spanking the Royals who have missed some opportunities to this point), I thought I’d send you some interesting reads.

How bad has Todd Walker been? Patrickover at House that Dewey Built will tell you.

What will the Sox do with Nomar? Tim, the newly converted Sox fan gives his 2 cents.

Ed is happy the West Coast trip is over, and is happy to see boyhood crush Tatum O’Neil on Sex in the City

Greg uses the film Adaptation (which I’ve yet to see) to frame his thoughts on the state of the Sox.

And me…well, I’m just lazy because apparantly, I don’t have an original thought.

Under

So with a day to think about it, the Sox fall 5 games back in the east, and into a tie for the wildcard. Freddy Garcia pitched very well (was that the first time all year?), and Burkett nearly matched his performance.

Apparantly the Sox got their Pedro bats and Burkett bats mixed up. And the pattern in which Burkett gives up runs is indeed odd.

“It was a disappointing inning,” Burkett said. “My season, it seems I’ve given up all my runs in one inning. It’s unbelievable how many times it’s happened.”

Eleven times in his 23 starts, Burkett has given up all his runs in one inning. HEUSCHKEL

Now the Sox need to turn it around at home. Almost as strange as Burkett’s ‘all but one inning’ shutouts is how this team hits on the road compared to at home.

Nomar
.208
Varitek
.100
Ortiz
.100
Nixon
.176
Millar
.190

That’s tough. The whole team hit .213 on the trip with 55Ks. Granted, part of that is due to the fact that they faced excellent pitching…but it is a trend over the course of the year.

AVG
SLG
OBP
RANK
HOME
.323
.542
.395
1
AWAY
.261
.458
.324
4

In the 38 games remaining, 23 of them are at home. Hopefully, the Sox can use that to their advantage to gain some footing in the race(s?) that they are in to make the playoffs. And just as importantly, this is a trend that can’t really continue if this team DOES make the playoffs…because unless they win the East, they won’t have home field advantage in any round…unless it is the big one, thanks to Hank Blaylock. But a team with these current home/away splits is going to have a hard time beating anybody in a playoff series when the other team has the home field advantage.

Meanwhile, down in Baltimore last weekend, the Mighty Mighty O’s rolled right over. Yes; they could have just as easily won 3 of those games (Moose spun a beauty yesterday)…but the fact is, they didn’t. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the O’s had the lead going into the 7th inning (or later). And they couldn’t put any of them away. There is a small measure of satisfaction that the Yankee pen was awful in all of those games…but not enough satisfaction to wipe out the memory of 2-7 vs. the O’s.

Off today (Yanks play KC, Oakland is off), Mulder vs. Lowe tomorrow night.

Over or Under

With a win today, the Sox have a chance to finish this road trip above .500. With a loss, they dip below.

I only paid half attention to the game yesterday, but it seems that Pedro was very good against the M’s again. And this without Nomar or Damon in the lineup.

What I DID see, however, was the end of the Yankee game. Unbelivable. The O’s 3rd base coach and Jack Cust should be ashamed of themselves. This is the worst 3 game winning streak I have ever seen…the Yanks have pulled all 3 out of the fire.

Burkett/Garcia this afternoon…

Jeff Gazpacho-pan

Well, I’m glad I went to bed after the Ichiro grand slam. I only wish I did so before that inning. Or before 10:00. All of those runs should be credited to Todd Walker.

What else is there to say?

I’m off to a cookout to hopefully enjoy Pedro today.

Big Mo

No, not Vaughn. And not Rivera. I’m talking MO-mentum here, people. Hopefully the last two games is an indicator of some headed the Sox way.

Damian Jackson walked across the Red Sox clubhouse and knocked over a large bag full of bats. He picked up another bag and dumped about 25 bats on the floor, interrupting a card game going on a few feet away.

“Waking up the bats,” Jackson said before the game as four stunned teammates looked on. HEUSCHKEL

Well, it really didn’t work until the 9th inning, but hopefully there are signs that Manny is coming out of his funk. And the Sox got big plays from several players…Embree stranding 2nd and 3rd with none out…Kapler’s catch and followup hit…Manny’s homer…Mueller’s hits…just an all around team effort.

So they are back in the Wild Card lead; unfortunately the Yanks pulled away from the Big O Machine last night after a shaky start to that game.

An funny quote from the Courant’s Yankee notebook from Hitchcock on the fact that he found out he is pitching Saturday:

Sterling Hitchcock got the word he would start Saturday night and was mildly surprised.

“I thought we might go out and get [Bartolo] Colon or somebody for the one start,” he quipped.

Tonight, the only late game of the Seattle series (thank God) gives us Soup Pan vs. Jamie Moyer.

There was only ONE headcase last night

As I settled in to play cards with some friends last evening, we had the Yankee game on TV. I made a comment that it was ‘headcase night’ for baseball games, as we would be watching Weaver in the Yankee game and then Lowe in the Sox game.

Well, Weaver didn’t fail to disappoint. He began the meltdown show in the first inning, and we were treated to a plethora of frustrated mannerisms from him througout the rest of the game.

Lowe, on the other hand, came up huge. His strikeout of Durazo with the bases loaded in the 5th might have been his most important pitch of 2003 to date. Not only did it kill an A’s rally that probably would have given them the lead…but he did so after starting out 3-0 on the guy. So not only did it save the game, hopefully it turns into just the confidence builder Lowe needs to come up big down the stretch for the Sox.

And while there has been much bandwagon jumping after the first two losses in Oakland, at least the team is keeping it in perspective:

We have an opportunity in front of us, not behind us,” said Jason Varitek, who had a three-run double in the sixth. “The opportunity is not behind us. The opportunity is in front of us. I understand [negativity] sells up there … but this team wants to win. We want to find a way to get it done.

“We have a fun opportunity in front of us despite losing a few games recently. We’re not getting blown out of the water. We’re not making fools of ourselves. We just haven’t won.” HEUSCHKEL

Afternoon game today; 3:30 ET start. Wakes vs. Lilly. Chance to even it up and regain the Wild Card lead.

Well, Duh! (part 2)

A direct quote from my 7/12/03 entry:

With Burkett’s propensity for terrible first innings, the joke has been made by everybody I know that Burkett should pitch an inning or two in the bullpen. Even my father-in-law (poor suffering Tigers fan that he is) has said to me on numerous occasions: “Burkett should warm up longer”.

Burkett won his fourth game in his last five decisions in part by dusting off an old trick. He warmed up before the game with bullpen coach Euclides Rojas posing as a batter. The preparation put Burkett on track to start a game for this first time this season by pitching two perfect innings, a stark turnound from his previous seven outings in which he was walloped for 15 runs in the first inning.

Guess he forgot to do that last night.

Sox did just enough to keep most tired fans awake for the whole game. Throw out the first inning, and we are a happy bunch. 2nd and 3rd with no out in the 8th and not capitalizing was a killer. And while it didn’t directly contribute to the loss, running Nixon based on an over the shoulder comment was very, very bush league.

All in all, it was a much better performance last night, though. Infield flashed some leather, and if Nomar’s bullet was 2 feet either way in the 8th inning, we may have gone to sleep happier…

Manny’s slump has to be a concern. Since tweaking his quad in Texas, he is 10 for 50 with ONE extra base hit (a home run) and 6 walks. That hurts.

Lowe vs. Mulder tonight. Not exactly the kind of matchup you want to see when trying to rebound from a couple losses.

Well, I made the right decision

I hate West Coast trips. I hate staying up until all hours of the night when a game is close, rendering myself virturally useless the next day. Memories of the 19 inning game in Seattle in 2000 or the long game in Texas in 2001 and how miserable and tired I was the next day come to mind…

So last night, at midnight, I think I did the right thing. I said “To hell with this; I’m going to bed”. Terrance Long’s homer hastened that decision, and I figured I’d just go to bed content that I wouldn’t be a zombie today and take a small amount of satisfaction that no ground was lost in the AL East race. Besides; maybe I’d wake up and see that some kind of miracle happend in the last 3 innings..

Well, when I grabbed the paper off the porch, I saw that it was not to be. No more scoring after I went to bed. In fact, no new A’s pitchers after I went to bed. Hudson throws a complete game gem, not allowing any Sox runners (all 3 of them, I believe) past first base.

Pedro was a off last night, but he did reach back and strand 3 runners in his last inning. But off or not, and impatient hitters or not; hats off to Hudson…he looked great last night.

On to Burkett vs. Zito tonight.