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May 21, 2015

Run Aground

The Red Sox batters left 12 runners on base as a team and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Rangers outfielders played Fenway as it it were their home park. Delino DeShields in particular handled the left field wall well. He robbed Hanley Ramirez of a hit in the second inning with a spectacular catch near the Monster.

Ramirez seems to be reading line drives better and running smarter routes. He made a few catches that he wouldn’t have made in April. But in the seventh Ramirez bobbled Leonys Martin’s hit after gathering it. Mookie Betts backed up the play and nearly got it back to Brock Holt at third base in time. Rather than rely on his fielders again Joe Kelly struck out the next two batters to keep Martin from scoring.

The Boston squad had baserunners in every inning but the first and they only scored when Xander Bogaerts homered in the fifth. Betts dashed for a double with one out in the ninth, sparking a slight hope for a last-minute victory. But the local nine lost the game just as Betts lost his helmet.

Game 39: May 19, 2015
WinTexas Rangers
17-23
2 W: Phil Klein (1-0)
H: Alex Claudio (3), Tanner Scheppers (4), Ross Ohlendorf (2)
S: Shawn Tolleson (1)
2B: Leonys Martin (6), Delino DeShields (5)
HR: Robinson Chirinos (4)
Boston Red Sox
19-21
1 L: Joe Kelly (1-3)
2B: Daniel Nava (2), Mookie Betts (9)
HR: Xander Bogaerts (2)

May 20, 2015

Endangered Species

Pablo Sandoval collapsed into a heap when Sam Freeman’s 95 MPH fastball found his knee. Freeman had best watch out: the penalty for poaching pandas is 20 years imprisonment. Even luckier for him: this was reduced from the death penalty in 1997. Sandoval is day-to-day as the result of this injury.

If you’re a fan of “Breaking Bad” you know what $80 million in stacks of bills looks like. Here’s what $95 million in a pile looks like.

Besides a panda another rarity came to light in the third inning. Xander Bogaerts found himself in left field backing up Hanley Ramirez when Prince Fielder’s ricocheting fly ball got away from Ramirez. After Bogaerts ran it down and turned around to get it back to the infield it was funny to think that this is one of the longest throws he is likely to make in-game.

Bogaerts was part of an unusual event in the fourth frame. His fly ball to left hit off the ladder that steadfastly sticks to the Green Monster. Though its purpose has since become extinct it remains on the wall as a charming anachronism.

Ramirez should render extinct the awkward slide he exhibited in the fifth inning. The left fielder was ruled safe despite his halting approach to the keystone sack. Ramirez came up limping as Elvis Andrus convinced his manager to challenge the call. The Rangers lost the challenge and ultimately the game.

Game 39: May 19, 2015
Texas Rangers
16-23
3 L: Yovani Gallardo (3-6)
2B: Prince Fielder (9), Kyle Blanks (4)
3B: Robinson Chirinos (1)
HR: Leonys Martin (2)
WinBoston Red Sox
19-20
4 W: Wade Miley (3-4)
H: Junichi Tazawa (8)
S: Koji Uehara (10)
2B: Dustin Pedroia – 2 (7), Hanley Ramirez – 2 (3)
HR: Mike Napoli (4), David Ortiz (6)

May 18, 2015

Scoreless in Seattle

James Paxton extended his scoreless innings streak to 20⅔ by blanking the Red Sox for eight frames. Only Brock Holt managed an extra base hit off the emergent ace, and he was stranded after his seventh-inning double.

Blake Swihart grounded out to short to end the incipient rally. I wouldn’t blame the rookie catcher for going 1-for-3 with three left on base. He had a lot on his plate having to catch knuckleballer Steven Wright. The oversized glove Swihart used didn’t help with a passed ball in the second inning that led to the Mariners’ first run.

Swihart did catch Justin Ruggiano stealing in the seventh inning. The inning-ending out took the bat out of Robinson Cano’s hands.

Xander Bogaerts slid head-first even though Logan Morrison wasn’t near the bag and Paxton failed to cover first anyway. Baseball players: do not do this except to avoid a tag. It only slows you down and increases your injury risk.

Game 38: May 17, 2015
Boston Red Sox
18-20
0 L: Steven Wright (1-1)
2B: Brock Holt (5)
WinSeattle Mariners
17-20
5 W: James Paxton (2-2)
2B: Justin Ruggiano (3)
HR: Brad Miller (5), Kyle Seager (5)

Tribute

The actual Boston Royal Giants and Seattle Steelheads never faced each other but the present-day Red Sox and Mariners recreated a tableau of Negro League glory Saturday evening.

Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz represented the sluggers of the bygone era well with solo circuit clouts in the second and third innings respectively. Even more amazing is that they hit their homers off Felix Hernandez, who went into this game with a 1.85 ERA and ended at 2.30. I liked that the teams went the extra mile and had Negro League-specific batting helmets.

Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-5 with two runners in scoring position left on base. But he and the rest of the infielders played solidly behind ground ball pitcher Rick Porcello. The only way the Red Sox starter was in the same league as Hernandez was their lucrative contracts.

Hernandez lasted six innings with seven hits, four earned runs, four walks, and five strikeouts. At the beginning of his final frame he seemed to tweak his left ankle. The visitors took advantage of Hernandez’s injury and tacked on two insurance runs.

Brad Miller was responsible for both of the Mariners’ runs with his solo homers in the first and fifth innings.

The followers in the Kings Court didn’t have a lot to cheer about in this game. Of these two Boston fans only one seemed to know what to expect in this part of Safeco Field.

Game 37: May 16, 2015
WinBoston Red Sox
18-19
4 W: Rick Porcello (4-2)
H: Tommy Layne (1), Junichi Tazawa (7)
S: Koji Uehara (9)
2B: Blake Swihart (3)
HR: Pablo Sandoval (5), David Ortiz (5)
Seattle Mariners
16-20
2 L: Felix Hernandez (6-1)
2B: Dustin Ackley (4)
HR: Brad Miller – 2 (4)

May 16, 2015

Layne Change

Clay Buchholz threw for eight near-brilliant innings; the only blemish on his line was a home run surrendered to Seth Smith in the sixth. He struck out 11 batters, walked none, and allowed just three hits.

Tommy Layne was to hold the line in the ninth and did fairly well: he notched two outs but gave up a single to Brad Miller. John Farrell pulled Layne in favor of Junichi Tazawa to face Nelson Cruz. Cruz worked the count full then laced the ball into deep left.

The Mariners celebrated the victory like they won the pennant. The phrase “act like you’ve been there before comes to mind,” but since this is Seattle it’s more “Gatorade showers are so cliché, we hoist people over our shoulders and do water baths now.”

Note to the Mariners marketing crew: fedoras are so eight years ago. You need to update to porkpie or newsboy cap nights. Excellent call on Negro Leagues Night planned for Saturday night, however.

Game 36: May 15, 2015
Boston Red Sox
17-19
1 L: Tommy Layne (0-1)
3B: Xander Bogaerts (3)
WinSeattle Mariners
16-19
2 W: Tom Wilhelmsen (1-0)
2B: Robinson Cano (12)
HR: Seth Smith (3)

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