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April 16, 2014

Bogey

There were only two things that weren’t annoying about last night’s contest between the two Sox teams. One was Chicago players, like Dayan Viciedo below, wearing B strong t-shirts to memorialize the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. The other was the donning of 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who 67 years ago broke the color barrier in baseball.

Robin Ventura contested Cory Blaser’s call that Jose Abreu was out at first in the second inning. After the review the call stood even though there was at least one angle that showed Mike Napoli took his foot off the bag. The missed called proved particularly costly as Adam Dunn clouted a home run right after.

As if the ailments and injuries of Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia, and Koji Uehara weren’t enough, Napoli dislocated his left ring finger when he slid into second base in the ninth. His sacrifice was for naught as the Red Sox failed to score with two runners on in the top of the ninth. Mike Carp came in as pinch hitter. The replacement first baseman tapped the first pitch out to reliever Daniel Webb for Boston’s final out.

A.J. Pierzynski received a fine ovation from fans of the Pale Hose in his second inning at bat. By the time the ninth rolled around he was wearing out his welcome. He caught Donnie Veal’s pitch between his elbow in ribs, which could be interpreted as not making an effort to get out of the way of the ball.

Chris Capuano inherited a two on, two-out situation from Burke Badenhop and loaded the bases by walking Alexei Ramirez. With the bases loaded Marcus Semien grounded to Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop threw short to Carp, who couldn’t pick the throw.

Badenhop was deservedly tagged with the loss. Webb got the win for Chicago with a single pitch.

Game 14: April 15, 2014
Boston Red Sox
5-9
1 L: Burke Badenhop (0-2)
HR: Daniel Nava (2)
WinChicago White Sox
8-6
2 W: Daniel Webb (1-0)
2B: Dayan Viciedo (4)
HR: Adam Dunn (3)

April 14, 2014

Replay Dismay

John Farrell went from calm dissent against replay to outright animosity. “It’s hard to have any faith in the system,” he said. “As much as they’re trying to help the human element, it seems like it’s added the human element at a different level.”

Farrell was ejected in the fourth inning for questioning the umpire crew’s reversal of a call. With runners at first and third Francisco Cervelli knocked the ball to Ryan Roberts who tossed the ball to Jonathan Herrera to start the double play. Cervelli appeared to touch the first base bag at the same time Mike Napoli received the ball from Herrera, so much so that first base umpire Bob Davidson called a double play.

Cervelli injured himself on the play. The game stopped for the injury and in the meantime Joe Girardi challenged the call. The double play was reversed. Brian McCann scored and Ichiro Suzuki replaced Cervelli on the basepaths. The score was updated to 3-1. In the eighth inning Suzuki made a remarkable catch on David Ortiz’s fly ball to right, so instead of a double play the reversal doubly benefitted the home team.

The Sports Lip Reader deciphered Farrell’s comments upon his ejection: “Go shove it up your ass!” and “Way to f*** that up too!

John Hirshbeck’s crew did get the double play call in the first correct. Jacoby Ellsbury attempted to tag up on Alfonso Soriano’s fly ball out to Jackie Bradley, Jr. Ryan Roberts tagged Ellsbury out at third before Carlos Beltran touched home. The Yankees center fielder seemed amazed that his counterpart could get the ball past second base with accuracy.

We got a glimpse of the Yankees’ spray charts. Here’s why nearly every player gets some sort of shift put on when he’s at bat.

Here’s the Yankee Stadium organist, Paul Cartier. He replaced Eddie Layton, who passed away the day after Christmas in 2004. Pedro Martinez isn’t pitching any longer so Cartier can’t start a rousing rendition of the ubiquitous Stade Fasciste chant “Who's Your Daddy?” He didn’t even go for a few bars of “Hit the Road Jack” when Farrell was ejected.

Game 13: April 13, 2014
Boston Red Sox
5-8
2 L: Felix Doubront (1-2)
2B: Mike Napoli (2)
HR: Napoli (3)
WinNew York Yankees
7-6
3 W: Ivan Nova (2-1)
H: Matt Thornton (4), David Phelps (2)
S: Shawn Kelly (3)
2B: Jacoby Ellsbury (4), Brian McCann (1), Carlos Beltran (5)
HR: Beltran (3)

April 13, 2014

Catch As Catch Can

A.J. Pierzynski made an early impact on this game, tying it 2-2 in the second inning with his home run blast into the second deck. But it was the Yankees’ backstop, Brian McCann, that powered his offense to victory.

McCann clobbered a two-run shot in the fourth to break the tie and added another two runs in the bottom of the sixth (below). He didn’t have occasion, however, to go toe-to-toe with Pierzynski after his counterpart’s home run as he did with Carlos Gomez.

John Farrell is 0-for-2 in challenges. I found Umpire Ejection Fantasy League Portal a handy place to research challenges and ejections. Multiple angles showed that Xander Bogaerts was applying the tag on Dean Anna when he took his foot off the sack for a fraction of a second. MLB admitted that they were in error on the call.

Farrell’s reaction was rather mildly worded: “It certainly raises questions on if they are getting the same feed we are, the consistency of the system. So, it makes you scratch your head a little bit on why he was called safe.” The Red Sox skipper definitely took a page out of Bill Belichick’s playbook.

I can’t decide if MLB officials bungled the replay system more than Alfonso Soriano botched plays in right field. Soriano played Dustin Pedroia’s liner in the fourth into a double and misjudged Bogaerts’s slicing line drive in the sixth (below).

David Ortiz made Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update with a sketch spoofing his selfie with President Obama. “You like Sam? You should meet his son. Who is Sam’s son? He’s the son of Sam.”

Game 12: April 12, 2014
Boston Red Sox
5-7
4 L: John Lackey (2-1)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (3)
HR: A.J. Pierzynski (1)
WinNew York Yankees
6-6
7 W: Hiroki Kuroda (2-1)
H: Matt Thornton (3), Dellin Betances (2), Adam Warren (4)
S: Shawn Kelly (2)
2B: Carlos Beltran (4)
HR: Beltran (2), Brian McCann – 2 (2), Alfonso Soriano (3), Kelly Johnson (3)

April 12, 2014

Falling for Sizemore

David Ross said it best: “[Sizemore’s] been a big pickup for us,… and he’s easy on the eyes.”

Some baseball girls’ hearts are swayed by twinkling eyes, a charming smile, and boyish good looks, but for Red Sox ladies the three-run, go-ahead home run is the bare minimum. Sizemore came through in the sixth inning with one out and two on. Adding to the allure was securing the win against a despised divisional rival. He almost made the alternate blue uniforms bearable.

Sizemore’s presence has made most fans forget Jacoby Ellsbury. This young man harbors some lingering resentment, however. Get used to it, kid. Scott Boras represents not only Ellsbury but Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts.

Jon Lester turned in his third straight quality start and finally tallied his first win. Junichi Tazawa took over in the seventh when Lester got into a jam, allowing Kelly Johnson to single in Ichiro Suzuki.

With Brian Roberts at third, two out, and a reinvigorated Yankee Stadium crowd clamoring for their captain, Tazawa toed the rubber against Derek Jeter. Tazawa had been in tougher spots, like in the ALCS against Miguel Cabrera. Jeter flied out harmlessly to right field.

The Red Sox Nation’s hearts were set aflutter at the sight of Koji Uehara in the bullpen, unavailable in a save opportunity. Edward Mujica debuted in Fenway to the tune of 4 runs in two-thirds of an inning. Such an outing did not inspire confidence, so it was doubly disconcerting to see that John Farrell tapped him for the ninth.

Mujica got through the bottom half of the ninth cleanly. Uehara is one of the truly irreplaceable pitchers so the Red Sox staff is treating his shoulder stiffness with extreme caution. But perhaps like Sizemore filling in for Shane Victorino, Mujica can take over closing responsibilities until Uehara is whole again.

Game 11: April 11, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
5-6
4 W: Jon Lester (1-2)
H: Junichi Tazawa (2)
S: Edward Mujica (1)
2B: David Ross (1)
HR: Jonny Gomes (1), Grady Sizemore (2)
New York Yankees
5-6
2 L: CC Sabathia (1-2)
HR: Alfonso Soriano (2)

April 10, 2014

You Can’t Spell Pineda Without Pine

Pine tar, that is. Michael Pineda carried a no-hitter into the fifth. Xander Bogaerts broke up the string with a single laced into left field. Coincidentally (?) Pineda no longer had the conspicuous patch of pine tar from the fifth inning forward. In the post-game interview Pineda said it was dirt and that no one spoke to him about it.

Speaking of dirty game-playing, Henry Kissinger is a fan of the Yankees. Perhaps Samantha Power, Ambassador to the United Nations and Red Sox fan, was trying to turn him away from the dark side.

Don Orsillo finally uncovered something interesting: Jimmy Hoffa’s resting place.

The Red Sox have three more games to bury the Yankees as David Ortiz’s jersey was entombed in Stade Fasciste’s foundations.

Game 10: April 10, 2014
Boston Red Sox
4-6
1 L: Clay Buchholz (0-1)
2B: David Ortiz (3)
HR: Daniel Nava (1)
WinNew York Yankees
5-5
4 W: Michael Pineda (0-1)
H: Cesar Cabral (1)
S: David Phelps (1)
2B: Derek Jeter (2)
HR: Dean Anna (1)

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