After nearly sweeping the Tigers in Detroit, the Boston Red Sox came into Minnesota with high hopes to continue a successful road trip against the Twins. Four games and three losses later, the Sox are back at square one and reeling to try and salvage a winning trip now with only two games remaining in Baltimore.
After a Jonathan Papelbon blown save on Friday, a 9th inning rally falling short on Sunday and a 12-hit effort gone to waste on Monday, the Red Sox leave the Twin city shaking their heads, knowing that they could have again easily swept the four game series, but this time walk away with three more games in the loss column.
Last nights defeat came at the hands of 34-year old pitcher Livan Hernandez, who looks to be not only 30 lbs overweight, but hasn’t seen a fastball touch the mid 90’s since the mid 90’s. The Sox clobbered him for 10 hits over 6 innings, but could only muster 3 runs, all of which came on Manny Ramirez’s 498 career homerun in the first inning.
“It’s tough, but you have to give the Twins credit,” Ramirez said. “They have a great bullpen that pitched great, and you have to tip your hat to them.”
Clay Buchholtz saw control problems early on in this one and didn’t make it out of the 5th inning, surrendering 8 hits, 5 walks and all 7 runs in only 4 1/3 innings. Up to this point in the season Buchholtz is 2-3 on the year and been the most inconsistent starter in the rotation, showing spots of brilliance and at other times looking like the rookie he is.
“I don’t know what anybody can tell me,” Buchholz said. “It’s sort of in my hands right now. I was leaving pitches up, and they got hit. That’s what happens.”
Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young all chipped in with two hits a piece in the winning effort for the Twins.
“Everybody’s starting to swing the bats, and it’ll be fun around here when we start to see everyone get going,” said Craig Monroe, who belted a two-run double in a game changing three-run 5h inning.
The Twins improve to 20-17 on the year, which currently is tops in the AL Central by 1.5 games over the Cleveland Indians. After the series, the Red Sox record falls to 24-17, still good enough for best in the AL East where they lead the Tampa Bay Rays by half a game.
Josh Beckett returns to the mound for the Red Sox tonight to try and get them back in the win column. Beckett has logged two wins in a row, and looks to make it three going up against Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie who is 1-3 on the season with a 4.32 ERA has had some success in the past vs. Boston logging 20 2/3 career innings against the Sox with a 2.61 ERA. His most notable performance against Boston came last season on Mother’s Day at Fenway Park when he held the Sox to only 3 hits and 1 unearned run over 8 1/3 innings before he was pulled from the game, only to watch his bullpen blow a 5-0 lead in what is now referred to as “the Mother’s Day Miracle”.
Wednesday’s match up will feature Jon Lester pitching against Daniel Cabrera. Lester is coming off of a no decision while Cabrera hurled a complete game 3-hitter in his last outing for the win.
Following the Baltimore series the Sox will return to Fenway for a 7-game homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals. Tickets are still available for both series!
A week ago the inaugural game for the 2008 season was played in Tokyo, Japan between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. While the two teams enjoyed the trip and media hype, the rest of Major League Baseball could only watch and wait for their first regular season games. Well after yesterday, the wait is over and baseball is back in season! Thirteen games graced ballparks across the country and fans returned from their winter hibernations, awaking to the sounds of sausage and beer vendors roaming the stands. For 26 teams yesterday was a new slate, a fresh start and chance to show everyone that this is their year.
It’s too early to make any predictions, but the only thing that really matters right now is that its baseball season and fans couldn’t be happier.
AL Round Up
The last opening day at Yankee Stadium will have to wait at least one more day due to rainstorms in the Bronx, NY that forced the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays to postpone yesterday’s scheduled afternoon game. The Yankees have already announced that 2008 will be their final season in the 76 year old stadium, and at years end will be moving to a brand new park that has cost the team over 1 billion dollars to construct.
In Detroit, the Kansas City Royals spoiled the Tigers home opener with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings. Tony Pena Jr.’s tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the 11th would prove to be the game winning hit for the Royals. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and a stolen base in the win. Justin Verlander pitched the first six innings for the Tigers allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits over 6 innings. He stuck out 6 batters and walked one in the performance and came away with a no decision. Right-handed pitcher Leo Nunez threw two hitless innings of relief and picked up the victory. Over the off-season the Tigers were one of the teams who hit the market hard for new players and currently have a pay-roll of $138 million dollars compared to the Royals $57 million.
C.C. Sabathia struggled in his opening day performance but the Cleveland Indians were still able to hold on for a 10-8 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Jacobs Field. Chicago 1B Jim Thome welcomed Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, back home with two monster home runs to center field in his first two plate appearances. Still, the Sox could not overcome a 7 run 2nd inning by the tribe that was led by a Franklin Gutierrez three-run homer and a solo shot by Grady Sizemore. Gutierrez went 3-3 on the day. The knock out punch for the Indians came in the bottom of the 8th inning when Casey Blake hit a two-out double with the bases loaded to break a 7-7 tie. Octavio Dotel took the loss for the White Sox while Rafael Betancourt logged the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless work.
With ace pitcher Scott Kazmir on the 15-day DL to start the season, the Tampa Bay Rays handed the ball to James Shields to open the year and it turned out to be a great move. Shields pitched 7 strong innings and picked up the win in Tampa Bay’s 6-2 opening day victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. After allowing two runs on a Kevin Millar 2 RBI double in the 1st inning, Shields settled down and did not allow another run in his outing. The Rays received three hits from C Dioner Navarro and a solo home run from OF Eric Hinske. Jeremy Guthrie suffered the loss for Baltimore, allowing all 6 runs (5 earned) over 5 1/3 innings while scattering nine hits and 1 walk.
The Seattle Mariners have high hopes for the 2008 season, and a lot of that is based on the off-season acquisition of new ace pitched Erik Bedard. In his first outing with his new team, Bedard pitched 5 innings while allowing 1 run on 3 hits that helped lift the Mariners past the Texas Rangers 5-2 last night. Bedard struggled at times finding the plate and throwing strikes, and in return walked 4 batters. 2B Jose Lopez went 2-4 and had 2 RBI’s in the win for Seattle. In the losing effort, SS Michael Young went yard in the 1st inning off Bedard and losing pitcher Kevin Millwood pitched well allowing only 2 unearned runs on 4 hits through 6 innings.
Torri Hunter returned to Minnesota for his debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim only to be welcomed with an 0-4 performance at the plate and a 3-2 loss from his former Minnesota Twins. Livan Hernandez hurled 7 innings for to earn the win allowing 7 hits and 2 runs. Hunter’s replacement in CF for the Twins, Carlos Gomez, scored two runs in the game, including the eventual game winner in the 5th on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single. Joe Nathan pitched the 9th inning and earned the save, striking out Hunter during his effort.
Its official, Johan Santana is now a member of the New York Mets.
On Tuesday Jan. 29, 2008 the Minnesota Twins dealt the former Cy-Young Award winner to the Mets in exchange for four minor league prospects. Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey will join the Twins farm system while Santana will instantly become a superstar in the Big Apple.
When you look at this trade, there are really four winners when all is said and done with. The big winner is of course, the Mets. Mets GM Omar Minaya has not been afraid to dish out the cash when the talent is available. We saw this when he signed Carlos Beltran to a long-term deal, and we see it again with the $140 million he will be spending to keep Santana in town for a while.
With this trade, the Mets skyrocket in the NL power rankings and are the favorite in the NL East without question. Santana has averaged 18 wins over the past four seasons, so if you add that onto last years win total of 88 games, it’s very possible that the Mets could win over 100 games in the 2008 MLB campaign.
The next frontrunner in this trade, believe it or not, is the Minnesota Twins. By getting rid of Santana, they free up a lot of money that they can now use to shop the free agent market with. The organization also gains four young prospects, two of which already have some big league experience. Minnesota also made sure to send their former ace to the National League, which means he can’t hurt them during the regular season, except in the rare occasion of an inter-league match up.
So, who else could possibly be a winner in this trade? That’s simple, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
Immediately following the 2007 World Series Championship, the talks began to stir about what AL East powerhouse would land Santana to make their starting rotation the best in baseball. Both teams were very interested, offering different packages that included young and talented players of the likes of Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Phil Hughes, and Melky Cabrera. The two teams were serious about acquiring Santana, but at the same time wanted to make sure their offer was just a little better then the others.
With Santana going to a National League team, both Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and Yankees GM Brian Cashman can breathe a sigh of relief. So can all American League left-handed hitters for that matter.
Besides Santana, the Mets starting rotation features another former Cy Young Award winner in Pedro Martinez, and one of the all-time greatest performing pitchers in October in Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. The combination of power (Santana), finesse (Martinez), and experience (Hernandez) puts the trio among the leagues toughest 1, 2, 3 pitching rotations.
Regardless of how Santana pitches, it will be an exciting year of baseball in New York, and for the first time in a long time it looks like that the Mets are the clear favorite in their respected division, while the Yankees are not.
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While everyone’s eyes, ears, and …. imaginations have been focused on where Johan Santana would end up, the American League hot stove has been quietly churning. Here is a quick recap of some moves to date. (more)
The Mets have been suspiciously quiet this offseason. The only real move of note is trading Lastings Milledge for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church. Sources close to the Mets seem to believe that Omar Minaya is holding out for a 4-1 type deal for Johan Santana to be worked out.