Gentlemen, start your engines

The season-defining stretch begins tomorrow. In 21 days, we will know much about the 2003 Boston Red Sox. In the 19 games between now and then, the Sox face the A’s 7 times, Seattle 7 times, and the Yankees 3 times. With 2 thrown in against the Blue Jays. They start this gauntlet 3 games behind the Yankees for the East, and one game ahead of the A’s for the Wild Card. During this same period, the Yankees face Kansas City (6), Baltimore (8), the White Sox (3), and of course, Boston 3 times.

If Baltimore continues to play as well as they have of late (at least against Boston, but let’s give them a little credit..they are 16-9 since the break), this stretch could turn out to be almost as tough for the Yankees.

The A’s and M’s have it pretty good during the rest of August; besides Boston they both face Toronto (7), Baltimore(3), and Tampa Bay(3).

So what is it going to take to come out of this alive? Here is one man’s prediction:

If as of Sunday, August 31st, the Sox are 2.5 games or less behind the Yanks for the East, I will be pretty happy with the way things could turn out in 2003. For this to happen, the Sox need to go 4-3 vs. Seattle and Oakland, 2-1 vs. the Yanks, and split with Toronto. And it would help immensly if Baltimore stayed hot and took games away from all 3 of the Sox main competitors. The way I see it, Baltimore has a chance to help the Sox out in FIFTEEN GAMES in the next 21 days. So if you are a Sox fan, forget the A’s, M’s, and Y’s for the next 3 weeks (except when the Sox are playing them). You need to root your ass off for the Orioles to go at least 9-6 vs. those three teams over that period.

Yes, some of you might say “it is silly to root for other teams to help you; you need to get it done yourself!” And to those I say…true. However, if the O’s do well down this stretch, it takes the sting out of 2-5 over the past two weekends and shows everybody else that maybe the O’s aren’t as bad as people assume they are…

So…let’s go Sox! 11-8 during this 19 game stretch shouldn’t be too much to ask if you consider yourselves a playoff calibre team.

And Let’s Go O’s!

Back away from the ledge…

A nice win for the Sox last night…equal parts long ball and manufactured runs. Nice starting pitching, and just a little excitement from the closer. And fast, too. I was back home by 11:30, which is a record for me when going to a 7:00 game…

We sat about 10 yards from Theo last night…and it made me think yet again how cool he has it. It isn’t like he needs to scout anybody; he’s just sitting there watching the game, munching on popcorn and rooting (in a much more subdued manner than everybody else, mind you) for his favorite team.

So Suppan’s mulligan start today, let’s make it a 5-2 homestand, shall we? Let’s also hope that these O’s play the Yankees just as tough, seeing as how they have 15 or so games remaining this year.

Let’s Lose Two

Well, I’m sure that’s not what they said as they took the field yesterday afternoon, but that’s the way it went. A pitching meltdown in Game 1, and a power outage in Game 2.

What else is there to say about that? I guess the only bright spot is that Oakland lost as well, so the Sox only lost 1/2 game in the WC standings.

Sox need a couple good performances this weekend to build some momentum; because the defining stretch of the season starts Monday. I’ll be at the game tonight, say hi

Shrek? Esther? Just don’t call him late for the game..

I’ve heard some say he resembles Shrek. Myself, I believe he is the long lost son of the late Florida Evans of Good Times fame.

I prefer to think the latter because he is DY-NO-MITE!

Ortiz had another monster game last night; 2-3 with to BOMBS to right and right center. For those that don’t know; Ortiz’ last 12 hits have been for extra bases. He is absolutely killing the ball. Nomar and Tek with good nights again as well…this team REALLY loves to hit in Fenway.

Bob Ryan has a column on Ortiz today, and has this interesting tidbit:

At the time of the trade Ortiz had 11 doubles, 2 homers, and 19 RBIs. Since the trade Ortiz has had 20 doubles, 14 homers, and 41 RBIs. Opportunity? Motivation? Whatever. Facts are facts.

And let’s not take away from Burkett.

Burkett (9-5, 4.80 ERA) is 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA in five starts in the second half. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 outings, going 6-2 with a 3.36 ERA. HEUSHCKEL

So the suspense over who is going to get cut to make room for Casey Fossum is all for naught…the Sox have come up with another ‘injury’ for Mendoza. Is there a team that abuses the disabled list more than the Sox? I’m surprised they haven’t lobbied MLB to add a medical ‘he sucks’ category.

Doubleheader today. I wonder if the weather clears up in time for the 1:00 start. Today is the makeup game from Opening Day…

And here I thought…

…I missed all the good stuff.

Last night, I went to the Rock Cats game, and I brought my transistor to listen to the Sox game. I had just put the bud in my ear for the first time when I heard Manny’s single and then Ortiz’ subsequent at bat. It sounded like pure fun…Manny continually running on fouled off pitches, then the players visibly joking around with eachother. With the score 2-0, I turned off the radio so I could check later.

When we were listening on the way home, we were 3 minutes from our house when Johnny Damon made his catch. “You are going to be seeing that one for YEARS” shouted Trupiano…I sat in the car, not believing I was missing all of this.

Then I get home and see the 8th and 9th innings…superb. Some might grumble that Pedro was still out there, but with the way his luck has gone this year, he deserved to finish it out himself. And in August, a starter shouldn’t have a problem throwing 120 pitches every once in a while. The fact that he was faster in the 9th then the entire game (and possibly the entire year) says something about this guy’s will to win, in my opinion.

And even better was during the top of the 9th, I was able to switch back and forth between NESN and YES simultaneously watching the Sox win and the Yanks lose. Too bad the A’s won.

Big decision tomorrow. I know who I’m rooting for:

Little has lost faith (in) Mendoza (7.07). The team could put him on the disabled list or release him.

“I want to stay here,” Mendoza said. “I want to help the team. Every time I go to the mound I try my best.” … HEUSCHKEL

And regarding the trade the Yanks and the M’s made yesterday…a national radio show this morning was talking about how it makes the Yankees ‘invincible’. I’m not so sure about that; in fact, I’m not even so sure it improves the team greatly. And I understand that half of MLB gets put on waivers right away and a team has to be prepared to take on a player that they put a claim on. However, I don’t really understand why Epstein wouldn’t at least claim Benitez. If the Yanks let him go (which would be highly unlikely), then you have a replacement for Jones/Mendoza. If the Yanks pull him back (which would be VERY likely if the Sox were the ones to claim him), then they can’t make a deal with anybody but the Sox…and what are the odds of that happening?

Burkett goes for the sweep tonight vs. Ortiz.

An inauspicious debut?

Well, the good news is that they won.

So what was the deal with Suppan? Nerves? Too much rest? Sucks vs. the AL?

“As a starting pitcher, you have to do everything you can to keep focused to be ready for that next start,” Suppan said. “I felt like there was a lot of things going into this game that were a little distracting. There was the long layoff and things like that, coming back and playing at Fenway again for the Red Sox. I just felt like I was little bit off.” HEUSCHKEL

Sounds like the run of the mill excuses, but I suppose a good start on Sunday can earn Suppan a mulligan for last night. Nice job by the Sox taking the lead against one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the game right now.

Now let’s have Pedro put to rest the ‘controversy’ over his trip to the Pan Am games by giving the Sox their first series victory after dropping the last 2.

It appears boston.com has redesigned their site…not sure what I think of it yet. I don’t have a permalink for them; but here is the Sox page.

Oh; and how is THIS for arrogance:

“We want to welcome all those Connecticut Yankees who don’t want to be in King George’s court,” Werner told the audience at the Old State House. Senator and Red Sox fan Christopher J. Dodd, a Democrat, was also on hand.

The Yankees’ response: “God is a Yankee fan, so we don’t need the senator,” said Lonn Trost, the team’s chief operating officer. KERBER

Singing the praises of Theo

Not much news following the off day. There are some whose panties are in a twist because Pedro went to the Pan Am games, yet very little mention of the fact that Burkett goes home after just about every start.

There is a nice article in the Courant about Theo. It is somewhat interesting because Cashman puts forth his opinion:

“I’m not dealing with him as a GM because we’re rivals,” Cashman said. “I don’t pick the phone up and say, `What are you looking to do?’ It doesn’t matter what either one of us is looking to do. We’re not looking to help each other at all. If we could, we’d screw each other probably.

“But at the end of the day, I sit back in my city and reflect on the moves that he makes. You don’t always have that feeling or opinion of other clubs when they make their moves. So far, with every move he’s made, I’m like, `That’s a good move. It makes a lot of sense. I understand exactly where it’s going. It’s very logical and, unfortunately, they’re better because of it.’ I’ve had that opinion of every move they’ve made.” HEUSCHKEL

Suppan’s 2nd tour starts tonight. Can’t be worse than Mendoza starting…

Well, it wasn’t ALL bad…

A fantastic weekend in Baltimore; except for the fact that the Sox dropped two of three…

Friday night we were 4 rows from the field, directly behind the left fielder. Unfortunately for him, that fielder was Giambi…and some of us Sox fans weren’t very happy with him after the 8th inning. We weren’t happy with the lineup, and especially unhappy that Giambi wasn’t PH for…but we didn’t know that Mueller had a tooth infection.

Saturday was a long day. Hung out at ESPNZone (saw Millar and Walker having lunch), then a nice outdoor corner bar called Max’s. The game was obviously forgettable. I asked one of Baltimore’s finest to put a bullet in Mendoza, but he would not oblige.

Sunday was very nice. We got to the park for BP, and watched the Sox warm up and hit. As we headed to our seats, we agreed that if BP was any indicator, Ortiz and Nixon were locked in. And that turned out to be dead on. We stayed for the whole delay…got to meet Remy and Bob Ryan, had a good time watching the Sox horse around in the dugout during the delay. They were having a blast, throwing the fans sunflower seeds, baseballs, etc.

The crowds were UNBELIEVABLE. Had to be 60% Sox fans at all the games. And even with everything that has happened since it opened, Saturday’s game was the 2nd largest crowd in Camden Yards history. I got the impression during the delay that the Sox were having a good time with it, and really appreciated the support all weekend. Too bad they couldn’t translate that into the ‘W’ column.

Bats asleep

The Red Sox offense continued it’s mini-slump last night as old nemesis Pat Hentgen all but shut them down. If you look at the numbers, Hentgen has pitched pretty well over the last month or so, but there is no way he should have dominated the Sox lineup like he did. Yet another terrific starting pitching performance (this one by John Burkett) was wasted with lack of run support.

What is there to say after losing 3 straight to teams at the lower end of the standings content to merely play out the string? I’d start off with raising some questions about Grady’s lineup, the lack of patience exhibited at the plate, and how the team looked flat as it got outplayed in almost every facet of the game.

The Yankees lost in extras to the A’s, so we stayed within 3.5 of the divisional lead, but slipped to .5 ahead in the WC. As much as I hate to discuss WC standings, it is definitely going to have to be watched.

I guess I’m happy…

I didn’t watch this game.

I haven’t looked at a boxscore, I only know what I saw glancing at gamecast and chat. And all I have to say is that I hope THIS extra innings loss in Texas doesn’t kill the team like the extra inning loss in 2002 did.

Now to make this road trip truly successful, IMO, they have to sweep in Baltimore. I’ll be at all 3 games. If you are in Baltimore, and want to have a drink or 7, feel free to drop me a line.

Oh, by the way…I love the Sox trade today. Makes them better, IMO, and when you look at the bottom line of Sanchez for Suppan and Saurbeck, you really can’t complain too much.

As I log off for the night, Yanks are tied at 1 in the 8th with 2 men on base…I hope to wake up and see a loss to take some of the sting out of another Pedro squander by the Sox.

Unless I feel inspired to add links and the likes in the morning, this will be my last post until Monday…maybe Hoss will drop a note or two on the front page.