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April 24, 2015

Squid Heads

The Rays’ likability has increased tremendously with the departure of Joe Maddon and the addition of Kevin Cash and Rocco Baldelli. Please, please, please Chris Archer start another brawl so we can hate you all again. The Red Sox need to pay for all the hard slides into second, right? Right?

Steven Souza, Jr. would be a great candidate to spark a basebrawl. He had no qualms about complaining to James Hoye about the calls he was getting and he’s a rookie. Someone needs to introduce a 95 MPH fastball to his ribs.

The Rays battled in the ninth for a walk-off win and there seemed to be more Red Sox fans in attendance than Rays fans. They really dressed for the occasion.

Fish head fish heads,
Roly poly fish heads,
Eat them up yum

They can’t play baseball
They won’t wear sweaters
They’re not good dancers
They don’t play drums

Hmm, okay, perhaps they do from time to time play drums.

Game 16: April 23, 2015
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Anthony Varvaro (0-1)
2B: Pablo Sandoval (2)
WinTampa Bay Rays
2 L: Chris Archer (2-2)
2B: Evan Longoria (5)

Tup of Joe

“Tup” is a rather vulgar word in British English but I don’t think I have readers across the pond. If I did, I don’t think they’d be scandalized by its use. For indeed, Joe Kelly was well and truly tupped in this game.

The Rays gained an early lead in the bottom of the first but Kelly contained them until the sixth inning. Kelly surrendered four straight singles and then walked Logan Forsythe with the bases loaded. Craig Breslow tried to stop the bleeding but rather ripped off the bandages (or plasters). Brandon Guyer lined a game-tying single to center, erasing the Red Sox’s four-run advantage.

One bright spot was David Ortiz’s fifth-inning blast. The Red Sox icon has amassed 469 home runs and 1,538 RBIs. He surpassed Chipper Jones for 32nd place in home runs and pulled ahead of Joe DiMaggio for 46th in runs batted in. But I’m sure Dustin Pedroia reminded Ortiz that so far this season he has four circuit clouts while the designated hitter only has three.

It is funny how the game can turn so quickly. I got onto a plane with the score 5-1. Thinking the lead safe and not wanting to pay for WiFi I entertained the thought of Boston not having dropped a series thus far in 2015 with a victory in this contest. When I switched my phone out of airplane mode the scores updated and mood deflated.

Game 15: April 22, 2015
Boston Red Sox
5 BS: Craig Breslow (1)
L: Edward Mujica (1-1)
2B: Mike Napoli (1), Ryan Hanigan (1)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (4), David Ortiz (3)
WinTampa Bay Rays
7 W: Brad Boxberger (1-1)
H: Kevin Jepsen (4)
S: Steve Geltz (1)
2B: Steven Souza Jr. (3)
HR: Souza (4), Jake Elmore (1)

Party in the U.S.A.

This team was constructed to bash its way to victories, not rely on pitching excellence to triumph in close games. Perhaps Wade Miley was tired about hearing how the Red Sox pitching staff had no aces?

Miley was visibly angry when John Farrell pulled the pitcher in the sixth inning with two outs on the board. Miley had allowed Brandon Guyer a single and then proceeded to load the bases by walking Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria. While I appreciated the passion that Miley displayed, Farrell’s decision to bring in Alexi Ogando to get Desmond Jennings out was the right one.

Jennings grounded into a force play, an outcome you could foresee with his three-year splits against left- and right-handed hurlers: .273/.359/.454 compared to .238/.309/.371.

What you might not have imagined was Pablo Sandoval’s leaping snare of Steven Souza, Jr.’s liner. Forget Kung Fu Panda, he’s Air Panda.

There are many storylines to weave with Ryan Hanigan: player with local connections as an Andover High School graduate, former Rays catcher, horse breeder, and dog fancier. But most importantly for this game was his single in the third inning as it was the catalyst for the only run of the evening.

Mookie Betts followed with a base on balls and Dustin Pedroia scorched the ball up the middle. Chris Archer tried to start the double play but Betts slid hard into Ryan Brett. Brett’s throw was off-target, allowing Hanigan to score and Pedroia to advance to second.

It was amusing to see balls hit up the middle right at Archer. He’s the sort of player that can’t stop himself from inciting controversy between the Rays and Red Sox. His temperament seems better suited to the 2015 Royals.

Game 14: April 21, 2015
WinBoston Red Sox
1 W: Wade Miley (1-1)
H: Alexi Ogando (2), Robbie Ross Jr. (2), Junichi Tazawa (3)
S: Koji Uehara (2)
2B: Shane Victorino (1)
Tampa Bay Rays
0 L: Chris Archer (2-2)
No extra base hits

April 21, 2015

Pay It Forward

This child should be an example to us all. Rather than keep the ball he got he gave it to a younger child.

The Baltimore Orioles took this lesson to heart and handed the Red Sox run after run. In the first inning Mookie Betts led off with a line drive single to first. He swiped second base. Ryan Lavarnway hated to see the young man have to steal so he gave Betts third base with a poor throw. David Ortiz sacrificed with a fly ball to right for the first run of the game.

The giving spirit continued in the third inning. Wei-Yin Chen allowed Xander Bogaerts to reach on a five-pitch walk. Bogaerts sprinted to third on Ryan Hanigan’s single lined to right. Chen bobbled Betts’s batted ball multiple times, allowing the center fielder to reach first and Bogaerts to score. The generous gaffe gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

Chen wasn’t out of gifts yet. He walked Allen Craig to load the bases and Mike Napoli to give the Red Sox an insurance run.

Manny Machado showed his own altruism by misplaying Shane Victorino’s grounder. A fan also interfered so only Betts and Craig scored as ruled by the umpiring crew.

The game was shortened to seven innings by rain. If only more games in the marathon that is the baseball season were curtailed like this one, particularly showdowns against division heavyweights like the Orioles.

The 2-2 series split is likely a harbinger for the 19 games these two squads will contest this season. Neither team is in top form yet, but when they are the pennant is at stake.

Game 13: April 20, 2015 ∙ 7 innings
Baltimore Orioles
1 L: Wei-Yin Chen (0-1)
2B: Ryan Flaherty (2), Jimmy Paredes (2)
3B: Travis Snider (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
7 W: Justin Masterson (2-0)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (3)

April 20, 2015

Fallen Umpires

Things were looking up in the bottom of the first. Hanley Ramirez launched a three-run jack into the Monster Seats to put his team ahead 3-2.

The celebration lasted until the fifth inning when Rick Porcello gave up a bushel of singles and a sacrifice fly to lose the lead. Adam Jones piled on in the sixth inning with a bases-clearing double that clanged off the far part of the left field wall.

Paul Emmel left the game with an undisclosed injury in the middle of the fourth inning. John Tumpane, who was at second base, replaced Emmel at home plate. With the switch there was a net loss of 11 years of major league umpiring experience behind the dish.

In the fifth inning David Ortiz took issue with third base umpire Jerry Meals’s ruling that he went around on a swing. Ortiz had done the same thing in the first inning and Emmel didn’t toss the designated hitter. Tumpane ejected Ortiz and the hitter made his displeasure known.

Pablo Sandoval played a part in the Orioles’ three-run onslaught in the sixth. Everth Cabrera bunted the ball down the third base line and it looked like it could go foul. Sandoval inexplicably scooped it up when it was still in fair territory.

I was hoping Sandoval would pull a Lenny Randle to perplex Meals.

Game 12: April 19, 2015
WinBaltimore Orioles
8 W: Miguel Gonzalez (2-1)
2B: Chris Davis (4), Adam Jones (3), Ryan Flaherty (1)
HR: Adam Jones (5), Flaherty (2)
Boston Red Sox
3 L: Rick Porcello (1-2)
2B: Pablo Sandoval (1)
HR: Hanley Ramirez (5)

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