Friday, June 29, 2007

I'M GOING TO BOSTON!! (also, Red Sox win)

I'm going to Boston to see the Red Sox play the Rangers on Saturday night! As a result, I won't be blogging either Saturday or most of Sunday. Check back Sunday night or Monday though for more exciting FPE and hopefully some pictures from the game.

In more pertinent news, the Red Sox held on to beat the Rangers 2-1 tonight behind some terrific pitching. Wakefield gave up one run through 6.2 innings, but when he allowed consecutive runners on, Francona went to his bullpen for.... (drum roll)... Manny Delcarmen? Yes! Manny Delcarmen came into the game. He did his typical Manny Delcarmen thing by walking the first guy he faced (to load the bases), and then striking Sammy Sosa out on a full count 97mph fastball.

If Delcarmen can just figure out where his fastball is going he's going to be a hell of a pitcher. Of course, he's 25 and hasn't figured it out yet, so who knows if he ever will. I was pretty surprised that Francona brought him into protect a one run lead with runners on base, but at the same time it was pretty interesting too. Probably like Francona, I was thinking, "Lets see how the kid does." And he did OK. I don't know how I feel about the precedent that this sets, but I like that Francona showed some confidence in a guy who has such impressive stuff. I like it even more that Delcarmen came through.

After that Okajima came into the game and he was his typical self (1-2-3 inning). Yawn.

Then came Papelbon.

Paps struck out the first guy on three pitches (fast, split, fast). He fell behind the next guy 2-0 before getting him to line hard to J.D. Drew in right field. The ball was crushed, but Drew got a good jump on it and caught it at the warning track.

Then, after a long at-bat, Kenny Lofton hit a roller to the right side and barely beat Papelbon to the bag. Pap's immediate reaction was to start screaming at the first base ump for missing the call (which he probably didn't, but the replay wasn't conclusive). Fortunately, Dustin Pedroia grabbed him and pulled him away, because judging by the expression on the umpire's face, it looked like Paps was about to make a quick exit from the game.

On a side note, this is a disturbing trend with the Red Sox. I've seen Big Papi get on the umpires a lot this season, even getting himself thrown out of a game. I'm all for competitiveness, and obviously both Ortiz and Papelbon care a lot whether the Red Sox win or not (as do I; otherwise I wouldn't waste my time writing this blog). But, it crosses the line when a player threatens the team's welfare by being hot-headed with the umpires. Both Ortiz and Papelbon need to cool it down a bit.

Papelbon, probably still seething from what he thought was an incorrect call at first, went to 3-1 on the next hitter before hitting him in the wrist. After that he seemed to channel his anger a bit at Michael Young whom he struck out to end the game.

Papelbon looked alternately super and lousy last night. He looked good when he threw his fastball, sometimes when he threw the split, and lousy when he threw anything else. He threw a couple off speed pitches that were real hangers just waiting to be crushed (one to Young and one to Lofton), but fortunately for Papelbon, they were fouled off.

Speaking of Michael Young, I was surprised to see tonight that he really isn't a very good shortstop. Either that or he just had a bad night, but it looked more like the first and less like the second.

There were at least three times tonight when a good shortstop would have completed double plays against the Red Sox, but Young failed each time. The first was on a deep hard hit grounder by Wily Mo Pena, which resulted in a Red Sox run. The second was on a come-backer to the pitcher who turned and made a perfect throw to Young covering second, but Young couldn't get the ball to first in time as Youk beat it out. The third was when Young double clutched on a grounder in the second inning. Thats not too good for a guy who is signed until 2013 and due to be paid $85M over that time period. I know he's mostly paid for his hitting, but if he can't field now (and the numbers back me up on this), what are the Rangers going to do with him in 2013?

Also of note, NESN put up a graphic showing how Tim Wakefield has some of the smallest run support in the big leagues. Shortly after posting this information, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one down. As luck would have it Doug Mirabelli was the hitter. He K'd on three straight fastballs down the middle, which made me think, "Ah, now I know why Wake gets no run support." I know Mirabelli can catch the knuckler, but what are we going to do about the guy at the plate? He's terrible. He's actually worse than Julio Lugo. You didn't know that was possible, did you?

AL East: The Yankees won, while the O's and Rays lost. The Blue Jays are still playing (losing 2-1 as of this writing). As of now, the Red Sox lead the division by 10.0 games over Toronto, 11.0 games over New York, 14.5 over Baltimore, and 16.0 over Tampa

Tomorrow (Saturday): Josh Beckett takes the mound
trying to win the series for Boston. The Rangers will send Robinson Tejada to oppose him. Game time 7:05pm. Look for the screaming guy in the Red Sox hat; thats me!

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