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September 15, 2014

Let Me Be Your Ruler

This blue man troupe is more scary than inspiring. They look as if they should be participating in anti-establishment protests, not rooting for the Royals. “Jason Vargas, you pitch well or you’ll find your bank account depleted, the funds diverted to the Kansas City Costume Company.”

This Red Sox fan had a fantastic sign where he would change out the name depending on who was at bat. He needed to look a little closer at Christian Vazquez’s surname, however.

The Red Sox fell behind in the second inning when Eric Hosmer barely cleared the center field wall for a three-run homer. Jarrod Dyson tacked on another run with an RBI ground out to Mookie Betts, who played second base again.

The Red Sox came roaring back in the third inning. Xander Bogaerts sent the ball to the left field seats to score three runs. With the score 4-3 in the Royals’ favor Daniel Nava stepped into the box in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two out. Nava clouted the ball over Lorenzo Cain’s head and gave his team an 8-4 advantage.

The series finale was a topsy-turvy affair where the last-place team bested the playoff contender. Mike Moustakas, a Gold Glove finalist, made multiple errors that led to Red Sox runs. If the Royals do make the playoffs, their pitching and defense has to right itself to be successful.

Game 150: September 14, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
66-84
8 W: Joe Kelly (4-4)
HR: Xander Bogaerts (12), Daniel Nava ()
Kansas City Royals
81-67
4 L: Jason Vargas (11-9)
BS: Aaron (3)
2B: Alex Gordon (31)
HR: Eric Hosmer (8)

Tigers on a Gold Leash

The Royals finally displayed why they are contending for a playoff spot in Saturday’s game. Jeremy Guthrie went eight innings and only allowed three hits while striking out two and walking one. The sole run the Red Sox scored came by way of Mike Moustakas’s error in the third inning.

Mookie Betts reached first when Moustakas played his grounder to the side. Betts dashed to third base when David Ortiz singled to right and Yoenis Cespedes lofted the ball to center field to plate the Red Sox second baseman.

Yes, for the first time in his major league career Betts started at second base. Despite not playing the infield for a few months his skills hadn’t diminished. He made a nifty play on Alex Gordon’s sharp grounder in the sixth inning.

Matt Barnes didn’t have as good an outing as his Fenway debut. In one inning he gave up three hits, two earned runs, and a walk. On the plus side, he struck out the side and has eclectic taste in music.

Lorenzo Cain scored both times he reached base. He even had a laugh at his own expense when he got himself stuck behind the tarp attempting to catch Daniel Nava’s foul ball. The Royals won’t be so happy if they find themselves any further behind the Tigers in the AL Central or the Mariners in the wild card race.

Game 149: September 13, 2014
Boston Red Sox
65-84
1 L: Rubby De La Rosa (4-7)
No extra base hits
WinKansas City Royals
81-66
7 W: Jeremy Guthrie (11-11)
2B: Alcides Escobar (31), Lorenzo Cain (27), Salvador Perez (27), Alex Gordon (30)

September 13, 2014

We’ve Cracked the Code

Allen Webster continued in Clay Buchholz’s winning ways and the Kansas City defense carried on their ineffective fielding in Friday evening’s contest. Webster faltered in the fourth by allowing a leadoff walk to to Alex Gordon and then a home run to Eric Hosmer, but those were the only runs the home team could muster.

Webster may not be the most imposing pitcher on the mound but he has turned his game around in September. In August he had two outings where he gave up six earned runs. In this non-contending year John Farrell had the time to stick with Webster and see if the starter could live up to his promise. With a successful run in September he could cement his spot in the 2015 starting rotation. But someone please set him up with Pedro Martinez to learn about mound presence.

Webster could use some meat on his bones, too. Kansas City-style barbecue could help with that. Thank you, Henry Perry, the Barbecue King, and to Charlie and Arthur Bryant, who carried on Perry’s tradition of tomato and molasses-based sauce.

Yordano Ventura is a Dominican-born rookie from whom Webster could take a few lessons from in terms of confidence. But that self-assuredness probably comes from his ability to deliver high-90s heat. In the seventh inning he snagged a screaming comebacker off Xander Bogaerts’s bat. It’s amazing either one of them had the reflexes to react in that volley.

Jemile Weeks batting ninth and transitioning over to Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot has worked out well. Weeks has been atypically productive and last night went 2-for-3 (two doubles) with two runs scored and a walk. Betts was 2-for-4 with a run batted in and a run scored.

Koji Uehara made his return in the eighth inning and had a perfect frame. Despite his recent troubles and Edward Mujica’s saves I would still prefer to see Uehara in the closer’s role in 2015.

Game 148: September 12, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
65-83
4 W: Allen Webster (4-3)
H: Tommy Layne (7), Burke Badenhop (11), Koji Uehara (1)
S: Edward Mujica (6)
2B: Jemile Weeks – 2 (3), Mookie Betts (8)
Kansas City Royals
80-66
2 L: Yordana Ventura (12-10)
HR: Eric Hosmer (7)

September 12, 2014

No Postcode Envy

Well, perhaps a little envy exists for the Royals, who are battling for the AL Central pennant against the Detroit Tigers. Kansas City looked like anything but a team poised for the playoffs; the defense gave up two runs because of errors.

Will Middlebrooks scored in the second inning when Eric Hosmer let Christian Vazquez’s grounder slip between his legs into right field.

Vazquez led off the fourth inning and reached first because Alcides Escobar couldn’t get a handle on Vazquez’s ground ball. Mookie Betts singled to Mike Moustakas, who threw poorly to Hosmer. Vazquez took third on the error but was thrown out at home by Moustakas. In prior games this sort of nascent rally would be staunched easily but David Ortiz ripped a single up the middle to plate Betts and give his team a two-run lead.

In the eighth frame Jemile Weeks tallied his first double of the season. It was a clutch clout that Hosmer couldn’t nab before it escaped down the right field line. Middlebrooks and Vazquez, who both worked walks, scored on the scorcher.

Even though the Red Sox have the worst record in the AL East they can surprise with a win against a division leader like the Royals when Clay Buchholz pitches as well as he has been. Tigers and Athletics fans, address your thank you cards to 4 Yawkey Way.

Game 147: September 11, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
64-83
6 W: Clay Buchholz (8-8)
H: Tommy Layne (6), Junichi Tazawa (16)
S: Edward Mujica (5)
2B: Will Middlebrooks (9), Jemile Weeks (1)
3B: Yoenix Cespedes (6)
Kansas City Royals
80-65
3 L: Liam Hendriks (1-2)
2B: Nori Aoki (19), Lorenzo Cain (26)

September 11, 2014

Mr. Jones and Me

It’s better to give than receive. Just as Ryan gave Reese a baseball a few weeks ago these two girls gave away a ball they got from the ball attendant.

Brandon Workman was also feeling generous and gave the Orioles batters hits by the bushel. Baltimore batted around and more in the third inning. Adam Jones knocked in two runs single-handedly in the frame with a slicing liner down the left field line. Jones went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. He was only bettered by Ryan Flaherty’s 4-for-5 showing, also with two runs driven in and a run.

Wei-Yin Chen was not so altruistic. He didn’t give up a hit or walk until the sixth inning. The catcher did it. Dan Butler doubled off the Green Monster, just to the right of the Jimmy Fund logo, to break up Chen’s perfect game. It was his first hit in the big leagues.

NESN showed off its 4k cameras and how they cover all the action on the infield even if the camera operators are not trained on the play. It would have been ideal to see the little things Dustin Pedroia does to support his team defensively, but he was not in the lineup.

Jemile Weeks filled in for Pedroia at second base as the regular starter underwent a first dorsal compartment release and a tenosynovectomy. Pedroia’s left wrist had been out of sorts since the home opener. A tenosynovectomy involves removing the inflamed parts of the tendon sheath. I remember this plagued Nomar Garciaparra in the latter part of his career and reduced his production from a Hall of Famer to the hall of what could have been. I hope someone speaks to Pedroia about pushing too hard during recovery that could negatively impact his career and uses Garciaparra as an example.

Game 146: September 10, 2014
WinBaltimore Orioles
86-59
10 W: Wei-Yin Chen (15-4)
S: Darren O’Day (3)
2B: Adam Jones – 2 (28), Steve Pearce (23), Nelson Cruz (27), Kelly Johnson (12), Ryan Flaherty (11)
HR: Caleb Joseph (9)
Boston Red Sox
63-83
6 L: Brandon Workman (1-9)
2B: Dan Butler – 2 (2), David Ortiz (27), Xander Bogaerts (27), Daniel Nava (18)
HR: Xander Bogaerts (11), Carlos Rivero (1)

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