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July 24, 2014

Fledgling Takes Flight

Remember this face. If Aaron Sanchez lives up to his potential he will frustrate Red Sox batters for years to come.

In his major league debut Sanchez got all six hitters he faced out. He punctuated his performance with a strikeout of Stephen Drew. It doesn’t look like Sanchez will recreate Clay Buchholz’s feat of tossing a no-hitter in his second start because the Blue Jays rookie has been shifted into a relief role.

It seems like yesterday that Buchholz, the Red Sox’s pitching phenomenon of seven years ago, made his debut. After battling multiple injuries Buchholz is still trying to recapture his past brilliance. He recovered from a comebacker off Munenori Kawasaki’s bat that glanced off his glove and into his face to pitch for six innings.

But Buchholz couldn’t keep the three-run lead that David Ortiz gave him in the first frame. Ortiz’s home run was a monstrous blast off Roberto Alomar’s name in the Level of Excellence.

As the sun that fuels the Jamaican summer gives way in the evening, Ortiz’s bat can’t plate runs in every at bat. R.A. Dickey struck Ortiz out in the fifth on a foul tip.

The Red Sox have been erratic as the flight of a knuckleball. The euphoria generated by their recent hot streak has dissipated into the somber reality that this is the bridge year that was supposed to happen last year.

Game 101: July 23, 2014
Boston Red Sox
47-54
4 L: Clay Buchholz (5-6)
2B: Daniel Nava (8), Xander Bogaerts (18)
HR: David Ortiz (24)
WinToronto Blue Jays
53-49
6 W: R.A. Dickey (8-10)
H: Aaron Sanchez (1)
S: Casey Janssen (15)
2B: Jose Bautista (18), Josh Thole (3)
3B: Ryan Goins (1)
HR: Bautista (18)

July 23, 2014

Getting Peeved

This vendor has what the Red Sox needed: balance. One night they win in a rout (7-for-13 with runners in scoring position) and the next evening they go 1-for-9 in such situations.

Jake Peavy had zero margin of error to work with and forced a throw in the third inning. Anthony Gose worked a walk with one man down and then swiped second base with Jose Reyes at the dish. Reyes popped out to Pedroia so Peavy only had to get Melky Cabrera out to end the frame.

Cabrera knocked the ball back at Peavy so hard it ricocheted off of the pitcher to foul territory. Peavy dashed after the ball and tried to force the ball into Mike Napoli’s glove. The ball got by Napoli and Gose scored. Cabrera pushed his luck by trying to get to second base and was tagged by Stephen Drew.

David Ortiz and Drew continued their respective power surges with circuit clouts but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Blue Jays’ late-game outburst. This loss combined with the Rays’ victory against the Cardinals put the Red Sox back in last place. At this point the Red Sox should trade Peavy so that he can maintain some semblance of sanity.

Speaking of crazy, Fenway is hosting a soccer match. Liverpool would be content with a score of three in their game against AS Roma tonight.

Game 100: July 22, 2014
Boston Red Sox
47-53
7 L: Jake Peavy (1-9)
2B: David Ortiz (20), David Ross (6)
HR: Ortiz (23), Stephen Drew (4)
WinToronto Blue Jays
52-49
3 W: J.A. Happ (8-5)
S: Brett Cecil (4)
2B: Dioner Navarro (14), Melky Cabrera (23), Jose Reyes (21)
HR: Reyes (8), Navarro (7)

July 22, 2014

Yazterday

Yesterday
All our troubles haunted us on every play
Now it looks as if they’ve gone away
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Suddenly
It’s hard to believe what’s on TV
In the stands there is a sad Geddy Lee
Oh, the baseball gods heard our plea

Why Hutchison had to go
We all know, his arm was frayed
We scored a touchdown and we long for yesterday

Yesterday
Baseball was such an easy game to play
And now we hear Jake Peavy loudly say
“Save some runs for me against the Jays”
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Congratulations to David Ortiz for tying and then surpassing Carl Yastrzemski’s home run total. Ortiz’s 453 homers puts him in 36th place.

I also believe in mascots wearing pants. Good job, Ace.

And I believe in Brock Holt playing like a brockstar. Advertisers are really getting their money’s worth when the Red Sox play in front of their signs. Between Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Holt they must have recouped their marketing budget.

Game 99: July 21, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
47-52
14 W: John Lackey (11-6)
2B: Mike Napoli (15), Jackie Bradley Jr. (18), Brock Holt (19)
HR: Stephen Drew (3), David Ortiz – 2 (22), Napoli (12)
Toronto Blue Jays
51-49
1 L: Drew Hutchison (6-9)
2B: Erik Kratz (3), Juan Francisco (12)

July 20, 2014

Sweep the Leg

The Red Sox wrapped up the series sweep with a leisurely Sunday day game. Jon Lester pitched splendidly and had a six-run lead to work with by the fourth inning.

Lester also had spectacular defense behind him. Lester could have been in trouble late in the eighth inning were it not for his infielders. Lorenzo Cain led off with a four-pitch walk and Omar Infante gave his a ball a ticket to center field. But Stephen Drew stopped the trip short with a diving grab and quickly flipped to Dustin Pedroia. Cain didn’t even try to break up a double play because he was taking a path to try to get to third base.

Lester most likely expressed his catcher preference as he has been paired with David Ross this season rather than A.J. Pierzynski. Ross launched his sixth homer of the season in the fourth inning. Pierzynski had four homers in 145 more at bats than Ross. Pierzynski may have Ross beat in zingers directed at umpires. He was ejected on June 4 by Quinn Wolcott for saying, “Give me a new ball. One you can see.”

Toeing the rubber opposite Lester was Dominican-born Royals starter Yordano Ventura. The rookie starter has drawn comparisons to his idol Pedro Martinez. So many young pitchers were dubbed “the next Pedro” but fell far short of their namesake’s mastery. Ventura does not have a change-up on par with Martinez, but who in history did? Ventura has raw power but his fastball seems to lack movement. Until he puts some finish on his heater and perfects his off-speed offering the only thing he will share with Martinez is his diminutive frame.

Game 98: July 20, 2014
Kansas City Royals
48-49
0 L: Yordano Ventura (7-8)
2B: Alcides Escobar (25)
WinBoston Red Sox
46-52
6 W: Jon Lester (10-5)
2B: Daniel Nava (7), Shane Victorino (6)
HR: David Ross (6)

Gomes Away From Gomes

Jonny Gomes didn’t have the best evening in left field on Saturday. In the fourth he and Brock Holt collided as they attempted to catch Mike Moustakas’s can of corn. It was especially frustrating as Rubby De La Rosa had just induced a double play ball off Billy Butler’s bat.

At the time of the collision Gary Striewski was interviewing Steve Carell. Carell’s reaction was slightly more subdued than his character’s response to a distasteful suggestion.

In the fifth inning Gomes couldn’t find Omar Infante’s fly ball in the dusky sky. Again De La Rosa had two outs under his belt and had to face another batter to get out of the inning. The starter dispatched Eric Hosmer in five pitches.

Mookie Betts’s cup of coffee emptied when Shane Victorino became healthy. The rookie’s call-up gave the Red Sox a shot of energy but that spirit didn’t depart with Betts. Victorino went 1-for-3 in his return to Fenway.

I don’t know which was more impressive: Mike Napoli’s sixth-inning moonshot.

Or Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s display of his powerful arm during warm-ups.

Game 97: July 19, 2014
Kansas City Royals
48-48
1 L: David Duffy (5-10)
2B: Omar Infante (12)
3B: Jarrod Dyson (3)
WinBoston Red Sox
45-52
2 W: Rubby De La Rosa (3-2)
H: Andrew Miller (11)
S: Koji Uehara (20)
HR: Mike Napoli (11)

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