Denied

In a game where it appeared that the Sox would not be denied; they finally were. Two valiant comebacks; and a third denied.

“Mendoza didn’t lose the game, I did,” said Nixon, who left 12 runners on base despite going 2-for-7. “… You want to be in the position to win the game, but I wasn’t successful.”

Way to shift some of the blame (and you DID strand a small army), but I think I’ll place the blame on Mendoza here. I’m finally tired of his “4 very good outings in a row and then blow it in a close game” pattern. Coincidentally; it was at about this time last year when I finally gave up on Tony Clark.

Still; even though they didn’t win; last night was another great example of why the 2003 Sox are a damned exciting team to watch.

So the Astros come to town tonight; the return of Jimy and Jeff. Bagwell and I went to the same high school in the town over from lovely Portland, CT. Unless you have been living in a cave; you know Bagwell’s history with the Sox; and you probably know that he was a die hard fan growing up. There is a nice interview in the print edition of the Hartford Courant about Bagwell; but I can’t seem to find it online. Gorden Edes does have a nice article as well.

Bagwell, who starred at the University of Hartford, was playing in a college all-star game in Fenway Park on the day of the draft.

”I called my father,” Bagwell said, ”and asked him, `Anything yet?’ He said no. I said, `Oh, man,’ and started to drive home, a two-hour drive.

”By the time I got to the house, the entire house was filled with people. My dad came out with a Red Sox jersey and hat. My grandparents were crying.

”That was the only team I had anything to do with my whole time growing up. That’s all we did, watch the Red Sox, talk about the Red Sox. I was Yaz. I used to hold my bat like him, but righthanded. He was tough, though, because he changed every year. He was my idol growing up. I remember watching Roger [Clemens] when he first came up. I was in high school. Now he’s a friend of mine. It’s funny how that works.

”It was a dream come true for me. Then, when I got traded, everybody was crushed.”

And I didn’t know about this; if only the injury was worse!

”I told my wife [Ericka], `Honey, would you be upset if I asked for a trade to see if I can get into the American League [where he could DH]?’ She said, `Give it some time, see what happens.’ I felt like I couldn’t help, I couldn’t get any better. All I could do was hit. But it got better as the spring went on.”

Bagwell instead of Giambi and Ortiz would have been fine with me…

But Thirteen is….

Pedro looked decent through 3; had some long rests. Then Burkett comes out like a hero and keeps the pen completely out of it.

And to top it off, the Yanks were no hit by 6 pitchers. Beautiful.

7 runs is not enough

The way this pitching staff is currently assembled, scoring 7 or 8 runs is not enough. That is the reality. The Sox are near or at the top of most offensive categories in the AL, but have won only 16 of their last 34. This game was lost when Grady left a gassed Seanez (47 pitches) out there to face the best hitter in the NL in Pujols. Getting out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth evidently was not enough, so Grady chose to leave Seanez out there to hang.

Great comeback from a 7th inning 7-2 hole, but not quite enough. Frustration at the pen should not include Lyon. The first four men Lyon faced in the ninth had averages of .389, .300, .297, and .330 and a combined 49 home runs.

Tonight we get to look forward to a two inning threat induced rehab start by Pedro (“”I made a vow to myself when I left the minor leagues that I would never go back,”) and then 7 innings of clown car shenanigans. Good to see Pedro making some decisions for the Sox management…

Interleague back in Boston

So with a 1/2 game difference in the standings, the Sox and the Yanks face the same teams this week; the Cardinals and the Astros. I’m guessing the Sox have a SLIGHT advantage as they don’t face Oswalt; but other than that, it’s pretty even.

I’m sure the stories of focus will be ‘Cardinals first games here since dashing the Impossible Dream’ and when the Astros get here, it’ll be all Jimy/Jeff, all the time…

Kim makes his Sox debut at Fenway tonight…his only victory as a starter in Arizona this year was vs. the Cardinals..let’s hope that helps just a teensy bit..

Chicks also dig good pitching

6 hits, 1 run (1 hit, 0 runs in 3 innings of pen work). Lowe looking good on 3 days rest. Off day to rest the semi-heroic bullpen. More in the AM…

Oh; and the Yanks lose in spectacular fashion…if there was something to be done poorly, the Yanks did it tonight. Starters, relievers, fielders, baserunners….all with poor showings…

Chicks dig the long ball

HR: D Ortiz (3, 2nd inning off R Quevedo 0 on, 0 Out); M Ramirez (12, 4th inning off R Quevedo 1 on, 0 Out); B Mueller (4, 6th inning off J Durocher 0 on, 1 Out); K Millar (8, 7th inning off J Durocher 3 on, 2 Out); T Nixon (7, 9th inning off M Dejean 0 on, 1 Out); J Varitek (8, 9th inning off M Dejean 0 on, 1 Out)

“I want you, I NEED you…”

And last night was “there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you..”

Way to battle back; and while Burkett was frustrating, it’s amazing that he only gave up 4. Evidently he wasn’t happy with himself last night:

“I felt I was on the tribal council on “Survivor” the whole time,” Burkett said. “I was getting ready to be voted off at any time.”

Burkett said his stuff was as bad as it has been all season. He described his performance as emotionally draining. And it had nothing to do with pitching in front of family and friends from nearby Beaver where he grew up.

“I went to Plan G tonight,” Burkett said. “You’ve got Plan A and a Plan B. It seemed like I was running out of letters.” HEUSCHKEL

And for those who are going to look at the box score and say “That GD Mendoza blew it again”…just zip it. He had a solid first inning, and basically an unlucky 2nd one..

The Pirates didn’t exactly pound Ramiro Mendoza (1-2, 7.31 ERA) in the eighth. With one out, Jeff Reboulet hit a bleeder up the third base line for a hit. He stole second and moved to third on blooper to shallow center.

On a side note, not only does the Sosa incident get Manny talking; I guess Pedro is all fired up as well.

Globe boycott over today with the return of Ryan. Cloninger to take extended leave to fight cancer. Good luck to him…

Also from those Globe notes:

Sox principal owner John W. Henry, who serves on MLB’s scheduling committee, has this to say to his friend, George Steinbrenner, who has complained that the Sox play a lighter interleague schedule this year than the Yankees: ”Suck it up.” Henry added, ”I think if he were involved in the making of the schedule, he would realize how little flexibility there is. Everybody ends up with things they don’t like.”

And King of the Mulletts will be in the booth instead of Remy this weekend.

In the interest of full disclosure, I came up with the title of today’s post before I saw what Heuschkel’s game story in the Courant was called..

Quality starts

It begins and ends with starting pitching on this team. The runs will come. If even guys like Nixon and Varitek are bombing, the runs will come in truckloads. Two of the best starting pitching performances in weeks (even taking into account the quality of oppposition) are reason enough to exhale a bit. Now it’s time to sort out the arms in the pen. Establish roles and move forward. Enjoy tonight’s start by Burkett, because in my opinion, it could very well be his last for a while.

MANNY SPEAKS

Ok, I really don’t care that he is; I’m just mocking those who take such umbrage at the fact that certain stars won’t do their ‘duty’ and talk to the media…he didn’t have anything monumental to say; but if you really care, it is in Heuschkel’s notes along with a bit about Nomar’s triples…

Personally, I like the opening to his game recap:

PITTSBURGH — Pedro Martinez was joking about Sammy Sosa’s corked bat already being auctioned on e-Bay.

The Byung-Hyun Kim trade looks like a steal.

Manny Ramirez is talking – with a smile, no less.

Derek Lowe is cancer-free.

Everything seems to be swell again with the Red Sox. There’s no better way to end a five-game losing streak than to sweep a doubleheader and move into first place.

As an added bonus, the sure-fire Cy Young winner in April got seriously spanked last night…from Amore’s Yankees recap:

How long is it before a slump can no longer be considered a slump? How long before this must be considered a bad year for the Yankees?

It’s getting there. Though the Yankees fell only a half game behind the first-place Red Sox in the AL East, there is no way to take that seriously anymore, not if you’ve watched the Yankees play lately.

“This is more than just a bad stretch,” said Mussina, who has not won since May 7. “A couple of weeks, a month is a bad stretch. But we just haven’t been playing consistently since we got out of April. We’re just not the same team.”

Also an interesting tidbit in that article; the Yankees are 0-18 when trailing after the 6th inning…and they have come back to tie only once. Let’s hope it continues…