Wednesday, April 29, 2015

10 home runs so far, for Hanley Ramirez - and it's not even May

His 10 home runs prior to May 1 is pretty impressive.  David Ortiz did it once, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

imagine the Red Sox playing a game at Fenway Park without even one fan in attendance?

Wednesday afternoon's game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox in Baltimore will be closed to the public, the Orioles have announced. The unprecedented action follows the postponements of Monday's and Tuesday's games against the White Sox until May 28 amid unrest in Baltimore.

Major League Baseball believes this is the first time that a game has been closed to the public, a league source says. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Red Sox Relatives


Family lineage sometimes seems to play a big role in baseball - Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. and Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds come to mind.  On the Red Sox, not that long ago we had Pedro Martinez and Ramon Martinez.

Each year, for many years, the Red Sox Media Guide has offered a list of "relatives who played for the Red Sox."  It's always fun to see family connections crop up.  We've seen several sets of brothers (there have been 10 other brother combos, including Tony and Billy Conigliaro, J. D. Drew and Stephen Drew, and Wes and Rick Ferrell.)  There have been six father/son combinations, including Haywood and Marc Sullivan, and Smoky Joe Wood and his son Joe Wood.  We've seen a grandfather/son combination, and four uncle/nephew ones -- the most recent being Terry Shumpert and his nephew Mookie Betts.

And there have been some family relationships that haven't been that close, but still very much count -- the 2004 World Champion Red Sox had two cousins: Sandy Martinez and Anastacio Martinez.

This year, the newest Red Sox offer two more Red Sox relatives entries, involving Rick Porcello and Anthony Varvaro. Rick is part of a grandfather/son combination, tying him to Sam Dente of the 1947 Red Sox.  Anthony is related to the man who hit perhaps the most famous home run in baseball history.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is the grandson of infielder Sam Dente, whose first year in the majors was with the 1947 Red Sox. Dente hit .232 in 46 games. He later played for the Browns, Senators, White Sox, and Indians, hitting .252 over the course of nine seasons, and had a .958 fielding percentage in 2,579 career chances (unfortunately leading the league in errors both in 1949 and 1950.)  Porcello was a first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers (27th selection overall) in the 2007 draft. He pitched from 2009 through 2014 for the Tigers, with a 76-63 (4.30 ERA) record, three years in a row pitching in the postseason (2011-13), with a similar 4.41 ERA and a record of 0-2. Just after the 2015 season began, he signed a four-year contract to pitch for the Red Sox. 

Sam Dente came from his mother's side of the family.  Rick had never spent a lot of time with his grandfather because they lived far away. But, he explained, "When we were younger, my mother and father talked about it.  And we had some of his memorabilia and stuff around the house. I had two brothers and all three of us kind of grew up having pride in the fact that our granddad played in the big leagues."

Anthony Varvaro, who came to the Red Sox in a December 2014 trade with the Atlanta Braves, is married to Kerry Ann Thomson. Her last name is the giveaway. The man who hit the "shot heard 'round the world" to win the 1951 pennant for the New York Giants was her great-uncle, Bobby Thomson. In other words, her grandfather's brother.  Bobby Thomson was born in Scotland, but grew up in Staten Island -- hence his moniker, "The Staten Island Scot." Both Bobby Thomson and Anthony Varvaro attended the same high school on Staten Island, Curtis High School.  That's where Anthony and his future wife met; they began going out in high school.  Varvaro and Bobby Thomson first met when Anthony was about 17.

In Bobby Thomson's last year -- 1960 -- he appeared in 40 games for the Red Sox. "He was well aware that I was playing minor-league ball," Anthony says, "but beyond that, there really wasn't that much. I wasn't aware that he'd played for the Sox until I got here."

There's another major-league relatives connection through marriage among the first-year players on this year's Red Sox, this one also involving a member of the pitching staff. Joe Kelly met his wife Ashley in college in California. Her father, as it happens, is former (1992-94) Minnesota Twins catcher Derek Parks. Thus, Joe is Parks' son-in-law. The former catcher and pitcher never worked out together. "He hung it up," Joe says.  "We talk about pitching and stuff like that sometimes. We don’t really get too much in depth. We each kind of do our own thing.  But he's awesome about baseball.  He's a big Yankees fan now, though.  So I kind of beat up on him."

Monday, April 20, 2015

winning a series

The Red Sox have played four series so far.  Somehow, with a little help here and there, they've won two games in every series.  That's why they're on top of the AL East. 

A win's a win.  Today, the Orioles committed three errors, leading to five unearned runs.  The Red Sox won, 7-1.  That counterbalanced some shortcomings of the Sox in other games.

But any time you can win two games in a series, you should probably feel good.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

OK, it's not everyday you see a team come from behind, score three runs without a hit, and win the game

April 14, 2015: A three-run, come-from-behind, game-winning rally.  Entering the bottom of the seventh, the Red Sox were down 7-5 against the visiting Washington Nationals. The first Sox batter reached on an error. There followed a hit batsman, then an out, and then yet another hit batsman, loading the bases.  Next came an error by the pitcher, who fielded but then threw the ball away wildly trying to cut down the runner at home. Two runs scored, tying the game.  A groundout scored the go-ahead run. And the Sox won, 8-7. 

Nice to see Koji back in good form, too.

Love the "walk-up" music for both Tazawa and Uehara.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's hard to imagine a young player making a bigger impression in the very first inning of a team's home opener

First, Mookie Betts made a leaping highlight-reel catch robbing Bryce Harper of a home run in the top of the first.

Then he led off in the bottom of the first and walked. He stole second base, popped right up with the second baseman still holding the ball not six inches away -- and tore off to third base, stealing third as well. He knew that with David Ortiz at the plate and a heavy Ortiz shift on, there was nobody at third base. He saw no one was covering the bag and he made it safely.  He soon scored the first run of the game.

As it happened,  he came up again in the second inning, with two runners on base. I said to the guy next to me, "All he needs to do now is hit a home run...."  And, BOOM!, home run - a no-doubter that would be a home run in any park, high up in the Monster Seats.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

only 17 pitchers used in last night's game

The Red Sox used nine; the Yankees used eight.

Loved seeing Miley pick off Headley in the bottom of the fifth.

Loved seeing Leon cut down Gardner trying to steal in the bottom of the eighth.  Loved seeing Wright pick off Gardner in the bottom of the 17th.

Loved seeing the Red Sox take an early lead. Loved seeing them build it to 3-0. Loved Ortiz hitting yet another extra-inning homer to win the game.  Oops.  Did not love another Yankee going deep on another Red Sox knuckleballer in extras. Fortunately, just a one-run homer.

Loved seeing the Red Sox take the lead THREE TIMES in extra innings.  Especially loved them holding it the third time.  That would quite a double play by Bogaerts and Pedroia in the bottom of the 19th.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sox win it in 19

It just COULDN'T be that the Red Sox would blow four leads in one game - finally, it's over! And a win is a win.

How fortuitous they had kept Wright even after deciding Joe Kelly was going to start ... in about 11 hours.

and just for fun, can you name the TWO natives of Kingston, Jamaica on the 2015 Red Sox?

Justin Masterson and Chili Davis

who has more base hits and more RBIs -- David Ortiz, or Justin Masterson?

Who has more base hits and more RBIs for the Red Sox so far this season?  David Ortiz, or Justin Masterson?

You already know the answer, since there'd be no reason to pose the question otherwise.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A "rooftop garden" on top of Fenway Park!!!

“Fenway Farms” Presented by Stop & Shop, Dole, Sage Fruit, and Aramark to Grow Vegetables and Herbs Used in Ballpark Fare

BOSTON, MA – The Red Sox have created a rooftop garden behind the Gate A Fenway Park fa├žade that will grow vegetables and herbs throughout the baseball season. Produce and herbs grown in “Fenway Farms,” presented by Stop & Shop, Dole, Sage Fruit, and Fenway Park concessionaire Aramark, will be used in food products prepared at the ballpark this season, including the restaurant in the EMC Club. 

The garden will change seasonally, but will include vegetables such as arugula, green beans, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, lettuce, pea shoots, sweet peppers, and tomatoes. Herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme will also be grown.

In addition to the number of environmental benefits, such as improved air quality and energy reduction (the garden will act as an insulator reducing heat and cooling needs to the building below), Fenway Park Farms will also serve as a teaching tool for area youth on the importance of healthy eating and the local environment. 

The rooftop garden is not the first time the club has stretched its horticultural hand beyond the Fenway Park grass. In June of 2008, the club planted tomatoes behind the mound in the bullpen for that season.

Two local companies from Somerville, Recover Green Roofs and Green City Growers, worked on the installation and planting of Fenway Farms. Recover Green Roofs installed the garden planters and irrigation system. Green City Growers planted the produce and herbs and will maintain the garden during its growing season. 

Rick Porcello's Red Sox debut -- and his grandfather

One unfortunate pitch cost him the game.  But what we saw is about what we can expect - how the Red Sox offense performs in his games is going to make the difference.  After yesterday's game he has a 4.50 ERA with the Red Sox. He pitched from 2009 through 2014 for the Tigers, with a 76-63 (4.30 ERA) record, three years in a row pitching in the postseason (2011-13), with a similar 4.41 ERA and a record of 0-2. 

It's of some note that he now joins the list of Red Sox players who also had relatives who played for the Sox.  Sam Dente (1947) was his grandfather.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

oh, yeah - they lose games, too

Sadly, the wind kept Hanley's ball down.  That would have made for a spectacular finish for tonight's game.  The Red Sox hadn't lost a game since September 28 last year!  But now they have, and reality starts to settle in.  There are 160 games left to play.

Mookie Betts = MLB

One of things I love about Mookie Betts is that his initials are MLB.  And that this was an intentional choice of his parents!

waiting for Game Two - the longest wait

Waiting for the second game of the season is always the longest wait.  First we wait six months for a game that counts (five months in good years, like 2004, 2007, and 2013) -- then we get a game, but then there's always a day off and we have to wait maybe 48 hours until the next game.  One of the great things about baseball is that there's a game (almost) every day, and you can organize your life around it (maybe that's pathetic, but I suspect most of us don't feel that way!

Monday, April 6, 2015

It took Hanley Ramirez 10 years, but he finally got his first hit for the Red Sox!

The young phenom had two plate appearances in 2005 and struck out both times. After the season, he was a big part of the trade that got Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox.

Now he's back with Boston.  And what a re-debut.

One might also assume that Dustin Pedroia's wrist problem has gone away.

Quite a day!  Five home runs. (Did someone say this team had improved offensively over last year?)  And a nearly-unhittable Clay Buchholz.  Yes, quite a day.

Opening Day stats - what does a win or loss portend?

I really should do a study of wins or losses versus rankings in the standings, but why bother?

The Sox are 55-58-1 all-time on Opening Day (excluding G2 of twinbills in 1903, 1948, 1982).

Now, what I was really curious about: in the years the Red Sox have won the pennant:

1903 - it was a doubleheader. Boston won first game, lost second.
1904 - lost
1912 - won (first three games)
1915 - lost
1916 - won (first four games)
1918 - won (first six games)
1946 - won (first five games)
1967 - won
1975 - won
1986 - lost (first two games)
2004 - lost
2007 - lost
2013 - won (first two games)

As I expected, ya can't draw conclusions from a win or a loss in the first game of the season.

That said, I'd rather have a win than a loss.  It still keeps alive the possibility of going 162-0!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Opening Day - and where's Cole Hamels?

Somewhat ironic, after all the rumors over the winter, that Cole Hamels is starting AGAINST the Red Sox on Opening Day.

The new season is upon us.  It's been a long winter, always longer if your team finished in last place.  The Patriots didn't finish last, of course. But the Red Sox need another "worst to first" season - wouldn't that be special?