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September 1, 2014

Artful Clay

Clay Buchholz returned to his heyday on Sunday. He twirled all nine innings and held the Rays to three hits. Buchholz didn’t allow anyone to reach on base on balls and struck out six. In the seventh inning he made a leaping grab of the ball off of James Loney’s bat to end the frame.

This was the dominance that Buchholz was capable of at his best. Jon Lester has left the door open for a return to the Red Sox but Ben Cherington may not offer him the contract length he feels he deserves. If so, Buchholz seems poised to anchor the rotation for the 2015 if he can reproduce this pitching performance.

Kevin Kiermaier displayed Jackie Bradley, Jr.-like qualities in center field.

The center fielder robbed Daniel Nava of a hit in the sixth inning. The ball seemed destined to slice away from Kiermaier’s glove but he made the last second adjustment to reel it in.

Mookie Betts hasn’t matched Bradley’s defensive prowess in center but he has overshadowed his predecessor’s offensive production. With Dustin Pedroia on the bench with a concussion Betts has moved up into the two-hole. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a run batted in.

Game 136: August 31, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
3 W: Clay Buchholz (6-8)
2B: Xander Bogaerts (23), Mookie Betts (5)
Tampa Bay Rays
0 L: Alex Cobb (9-7)
2B: Matt Joyce (23)

One-Hit Wonders

For the third time this season the Red Sox were held to a single hit. This is the first time this has happened since the 1992 season, another dreadful season where the squad ended in last place in the division.

Will Middlebrooks broke up Jake Odorizzi’s no-hitter with a leadoff line drive to center field in the fourth frame. He came into the game when Dustin Pedroia departed in the second inning.

Pedroia was covering second base when Logan Forsythe’s elbow found his skull. Slow motion replays seemed to show that there was intent, but at regular speed it appeared it was a pure reaction play. Nothing has been said since the incident that has further inflamed these teams’ already tense relationship so the matter is all but settled.

In order to boost attendance at the Trop the Rays now host cosplay conventions simultaneously with games. The force must be incredibly strong in this Jedi. He can shoulder his lightsaber as if it were a fishing pole.

Star Wars nights are so de rigueur these days. Call me when there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy extravaganza. This cart should be manned by Nova Corps and girls with raccoon ears, not an illogical mix of stormtroopers and scout troopers (yeah, I went there).

Game 135: August 30, 2014
Boston Red Sox
0 L: Allen Webster (3-3)
No extra base hits
WinTampa Bay Rays
7 W: Jake Odorizzi (10-11)
2B: James Loney (25), Ryan Hanigan (8)

August 30, 2014

Archer Vice

Chris Archer lasted only four innings. Last night he had just three opportunities to showboat after striking out Red Sox batters. Archer allowed 10 hits and 7 earned runs. In the first inning Archer couldn’t field Mookie Betts’s comebacker, which loaded the bases. It wouldn’t be the worst situation for Archer in this game with the bases jammed.

The Red Sox batted around in both the first and second inning, the first time since the second game of a doubleheader on August 14, 1962. Betts came up with ducks on the pond and sent the ball over the left field fences for his first major league grand slam.

The rookie converted outfielder provided the fireworks rather than any incidents between Archer and David Ortiz. The designated hitter went 1-for-5 and was not hit by a pitch. Archer hit Daniel Nava with a slider in the second inning but it was with a full count, two men on, and two men out. That set the stage for Betts’s blast.

Carlos Rivero was in the minor leagues for nine years before setting foot on a major league field. Unfortunately that field was Tropicana, but to Rivero even the most ramshackle of major league stadiums must seem like Wrigley Field. He pinch hit for Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning and worked a walk.

U2 sang:

Walk on
Walk on

Hard to know what it is
If you never had one

Soon there’ll be so many September call-ups trying to make the majors their home.

Game 134: August 29, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
8 W: Anthony Ranaudo (3-0)
2B: Yoenis Cespedes (31)
HR: Mookie Betts (3)
Tampa Bay Rays
4 L: Chris Archer (8-7)
2B: Kevin Kiermaier (14)
HR: Brandon Guyer (3)

August 28, 2014

Dance Along the Edge

What happened? A good question to ask of this game. Actually, not just this game, but the entire season.

In the middle game of the series the Red Sox had five extra base hits, including three home runs. Even with David Ortiz back in the lineup and where, other than Fenway, he has hit the most home runs in his career (37) Boston’s offense limped out of the series finale with a loss. Ortiz was responsible for one of the two runs the visitors scored: a run on his looping single to right in the sixth. The other run came when Brock Holt scored on a wild pitch to Mike Napoli.

Napoli didn’t replicate his 451-foot bomb. A helpful fan provided a visual aid for the slugger.

The only heights anyone representing the 617 attained were first base coach Arnie Beyeler and Gary Striewski when they did the EdgeWalk. Here’s Beyeler making shaka almost as good as a local like Shane Victorino. He learned it from his time as coach of the West Oahu CaneFires in the now sadly defunct Hawaii Winter League.

Edwin Escobar made his major league debut in the eighth and had a perfect frame. It included inducing a fly ball out off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion. Escobar and Heath Hembree came to Boston by way of the Jake Peavy trade. With September call-ups days away many pitchers will be vying for a spot on 2015’s roster. Escobar’s debut was a small but successful step to staying in the show.

Game 133: August 27, 2014
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Tommy Layne (1-1)
BS: Junichi Tazawa (5)
No extra base hits
WinToronto Blue Jays
5 W: Marcus Stroman (8-5)
S: Brett Cecil (5)
2B: Edwin Encarnacion (24), Kevin Pillar (4)
HR: Jose Bautista (26), Danny Valencia (3)

The Numbers All Go to Eleven

When Brock Holt strikes out he still scores because he’s Brock Holt.

Holt scored on Dustin Pedroia’s first-inning home run. Pedroia’s moonshot was impressive as it reached the second deck but it wasn’t quite far enough to be the longest four-bagger of the evening.

The umpires got to test their interpretation of rule 7.13 early in the game. Will Middlebrooks arced the ball over Kevin Pillar’s head to the center field wall. Mike Napoli scored easily from second base. Allen Craig tried to follow him but was out at home. The officiating crew took a look at the play to ensure that Josh Thole didn’t block the plate before he had the ball and ruled that he didn’t. I think it’s because whenever Craig gets near any defender he seems to crumple. He must have watched a lot of Arjen Robben during the World Cup.

Napoli got hit in the helmet by R.A. Dickey in the fifth inning. Dickey’s knuckler is considerably slower than the Felix Hernandez change-up that found Xander Bogaerts’s earflap. Like Bogaerts, Napoli stayed in the game.

It was good that he could because he was a pivotal part of the Red Sox’s offensive onslaught in the eleventh inning. His three-run home run made the score 9-4.

Napoli’s home run found Manny Ramirez territory in left field. It bounced off chairs above Carlos Delgado’s name in the Level of Excellence.

Craig enjoyed his first circuit clout as a Red Sox player, but his didn’t reach the seats. It slipped behind the wall in left field to plate Daniel Nava and push the score to 11-4

At the time the home runs seemed like gilding the lily but Dioner Navarro and Danny Valencia’s doubles in the bottom of the 11th plated three runs. Without Napoli’s homer the local nine would have celebrated a walk-off win and secured a winning record.

Nothing like delivering a debilitating loss to a divisional foe.

Game 132: August 26, 2014 ∙ 11 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
11 W: Junichi Tazawa (3-3)
2B: Will Middlebrooks (8), Daniel Nava (15)
HR: Dustin Pedroia (7), Mike Napoli (16), Allen Craig (8)
Toronto Blue Jays
7 L: Casey Janssen (3-2)
2B: Jose Reyes (29), Adam Lind – 2 (19), Munenori Kawasaki (6), Kevin Pillar (4), Dioner Navarro (16), Danny Valencia (11)
HR: Jose Bautista (25)

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