The Jacoby Ellsbury of 2008 seems like a completely different player from the beast that hit .353 in September and .438 in the World Series. Despite an impressive 32 stolen bases, Ellsbury is only hitting .266 this season. On Wednesday night, he looked like the Jacoby of 2007. Ellsbury went 3-4 with a 2-out three-run homer off of Royals reliver Ron Mahay. Jason Bay continued to be a run machine, scoring two runs and going 2-5. Jed Lowrie and JD Drew drove in 2 runs each, and David Ortiz drove in another.
Wakefield tossed 6 stellar innings, racking up 6 k’s and giving up only 1 earned run. With the win Wake improves to 7-8 on the season. Scoreless innings from Delcarmen, Masterson, and Papelbon shut the door on the Sox second consecutive win.
Youkilis left the game after bing hit on the hand by a pitch by Hochevar in the first inning. The Sox say it’s just a contusion, and the Youkilis could be back in the lineup on Friday night. Dustin Pedroia was given the game off so he could get 2 in a row with the off-day Thursday. Jed Lowrie’s consistent production raises questions about what to do when Julio Lugo comes off of the disabled list.
With Tampa Bay, Boston, and New York all winning last night, the picture in the AL Pennant Race remains the same.
The third inning of yesterday’s Cubs-Astros game had more offense than most entire games do. Houston fired first, with a Lance Berman RBI double and a Carlos Lee 3-run homer. The Cubs answered with a monster offensive surge. Mark DeRosa hit a monster grand slam, Cubs hurler Jason Marquis helped his own cause with an RBI double, and Alfonso Soriano capped the frame with a 3-run homer.
Marquis ended a 4-game losing streak, tossing 6 1/3 innings before being lifted for Sean Marshall in the 7th. Marshall struck out one and only allowed one hit in an inning and a third. Jeff Samardija pitched a perfect ninth, striking out one and looking like a possibilty as the Cubs closer of the future.
Offense was the story in Tuesday night’s game as well. The teams scored a combined 18 runs on 26 hits. Cubs closer Kerry Wood returned from the DL and only gave up 1 hit pitching in the 8th inning.
Tonight the Royals host the Sox for the rubber game of their three game series. Tim Wakefield 6-8, 3.77 ERA) gets the start against Luke Hochevar (6-9, 5.42 ERA). Wakefield continues to get the short end of the stick lately; in 6 of the games this season in which he left with the lead he has ended up with a loss or a no decision. Wakefield is 6-4 with a 3.45 ERA in his career at Kauffman Stadium. Hochevar was has struggled this season and suffered a loss in his last start against the White Sox.
First pitch is at 8:10PM on NESN and WRKO 680 AM.
August 5th, 2008. This was the first day that instant replay was to be tested in the MLB. Just like clockwork, Shane Victorino hit a shot that seemed to have gone left of the foul pole. The umpires got together, discussed what they saw, and called the shot fair. Instant replays on TV clearly showed the ball sailing foul. So why didn’t the umps use the new instant replay system?
The instant replay system test is merely a “watch and wait” deal to see how accurate the camera systems would be. The umpires cannot see anything on the replay cameras until the game is over. Umps will not use any sort of camera system until a plan to smoothly integrate them into the game is hatched.
Phillies starter Jamie Moyer was 10-0 in 10 starts at the Marlins, but got the tough luck loss giving up two runs across five innings. Florida pounded the Phils bullpen for 6 runs in the last three innings of the game to seal the victory, and gain a game on the NL East leading Phils.
Tonight the Royals host the Sox for game two of their three game set. #2 AL CY Young vote getter Josh Beckett (9-8, 4.15 ERA) is matched up against #2 AL Rookie of the Year vote getter Brian Bannister( 7-9, 5.33 ERA). Beckett has never lost more than three games in a row, and is looking to keep it that way with a win tonight. Bannister is in a similar situation, having lost his last three descisions.
First pitch is at 8:10PM on NESN and WRKO 680 AM.
Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz strung his winless streak to four games on Monday night. Clay was the victim of a rough inning again, giving up three in the bottom of the third (including an RBI walk). Jason Bay continued his run producing streak, going 1-for-5 with an RBI single, but it was not enough to beat Gil Meche and the suddenly hot Royals.
The Sox managed to get a run back in the 9th inning, but All-Star Closer Joakim Soria held off the Sox to rack up his 32nd save. With the Rays and Yankees losing as well, the Sox are still 3 games back in the AL East, and are only 1.5 games ahead of the White Sox in the Wild Card race.
On a positive note, the Sox bullpen continued their scoreless streak, with solid innings from Justin Masterson and Javier Lopez.
Things took a turn for the worse last night in Texas for the New York Yankees. The Yankees who just opened a 10 game road trip, lost the game to the Rangers on a 9th inning grand slam by Marlon Byrd. The loss came after starter Joba Chamberlain was forced to leave the game in the 5th inning due to shoulder tightness. Losing Joba could be a big blow to the Yankees chances in the AL East. Already without starter Chien Ming Wang the Yankees have been relying on the arms of Joba, Mussina and Pettite. Joba is headed back to New York for further tests and will likely miss at least one turn in the rotation.
The Yankees’ loss last night was also particularly frustrating considering they had battled back to tie the game at 5-5 in the 8th inning. The Yankees also missed an opportunity to pick up a game on the 1st place Rays and 2nd place Red Sox. The Yankees and Rangers will be back at it tonight with Andy Pettite facing off against Matt Harrison.
After a dismal 3-game set against the AL-best Angels, the Boston Red Sox rebounded against the Oakland Athletics. Friday night was the debut of the Sox’ new left fielder, Jason Bay. Runs were hard to come by in the Justin Duchscherer vs Tim Wakefield matchup. Bay made an immediate impact, scoring the Sox’ lone run in the first 9 innings on a Jed Lowrie double.
After 7 solid innings from Wakefield and Delcarmen the Sox hit a snag. Hideki Okajima continued to his struggles, allowing a 2-out home run to A’s slugger Jack Cust. A scoreless 9th and shutdown pitching from both teams sent the game into extras. The Sox threatened twice – loading the bases but blowing the opportunity both times. In the bottom of the 12th, the Sox finally delivered. Jason Bay hit a monster triple off of Alan Embree that nearly cleared the wall. Jed Lowrie came through again and drove in Bay for the walk off win.
The complexion of Saturday’s game was completely different. The A’s scored two runs off of John Lester in the first, and fell asleep for the rest of the game. Kevin Youkilis launched two homers, and Jason Bay got his first in a Sox uniform. A’s starter Dana Eveland was chased after 2 innings and 9 runs. Lester went 7 strong, and the Sox got clean innings from Justin Masterson and Chris Smith to close it out. Interim shortstop Jed Lowrie showed up big again, hitting a bases-clearing double.
Bay and Lowrie continued to shine in the final game of the series. Bay scored two runs, and Lowrie drove 2 in. The two seem to be proficient run producers next to each other in the lineup. On the heels of one of his best pithcing performances in Boston, Daisuke found himself struggling at times. He scattered 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings. Hideki Okajima calmed down and pitched a solid 7th. Papelbon pitched a perfect 9th to notch his 31st save.
One of the highlights of the occasionally rain-soaked game was a crowd-pleasing stolen base by David Ortiz. After noticing that Santiago Casilla was not checking on him at first, Ortiz took advantage, motoring to second base.
The Sox remain two games behind the AL East-leading Rays, and lead the AL Wild Card race by 1.5 games over the Chicago White Sox.
The ‘Manny Being Manny’ circus will no longer be a part of the everyday talks in Boston as the 36-year old left-fielder was traded right before yesterday’s 4pm deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three team blockbuster deal.
Throughout the day, talks circled around a three team negotiation that would send Manny Ramirez out of Boston but these discussions appeared to be dormant around 2pm and dead by 3:30pm. The original teams involved in the talks were rumored to be Boston, Pittsburgh and Florida but apparently Florida dropped out of the negotiations in the mid afternoon hours which allowed for the Los Angeles Dodgers to jump in.
The three teams worked quickly and were able to pull off a last minute deal which sends Ramirez to the Dodgers. Boston relief pitcher Craig Hansen and OF prospect Brandon Moss go to the Pittsburgh Pirates as well as LA’s 3B Andy LaRoche and pitching prospect Bryan Morris. In return, the Pirates send OF Jason Bay to Boston to fill Ramirez’s spot in left field.
With the deal done, all three organizations feel like they are winners in the trade. LA fills the void of a power bat in their line up with Ramirez and hopefully takes some pressure off of Andruw Jones who has struggled in the clean up spot all season long. Pittsburgh receives four young prospects and no longer has to worry about the large contract that Bay was carrying for next season. Boston receives a younger outfielder that has proven himself in the National League as a dependable hitter with a great lifetime on base percentage, and rids themselves of all of the drama surrounding Ramirez in the clubhouse.
One person who is very excited about the trade is Dodgers manager, former Yankees skipper as well, Joe Torre.
“When a player like Manny becomes available, I don’t think there’s a manager in baseball who wouldn’t say they’re interested,” said Torre, whose Yankees teams went toe-to-toe with Ramirez for years. “Manny’s certainly not a simple personality, that’s for sure. He’s complex. But I’ve seen him when he competes.
Torre saw Ramirez compete many times in the Red Sox vs. Yankees games and knows just what kind of raw hitting talent and power he possesses every time he swings the bat.
Former teammates of Ramirez are also happy to see that he will be joining them on the West Coast for the final two months of the season.
“It’s nice to see we’ve done something like this, to make a push for the next two months,” said Nomar Garciaparra who played with Ramirez in Boston from 2000 until he was traded in 2004. “He’ll be just fine. Manny is really a simple person. He works extremely hard. He just wants to play baseball and go home and be with his family. How can you not respect and love a guy like that?”
Another familiar face, Derek Lowe, knows that his new teammate can be a little goofy at times but he believes his career numbers allow for his antics to take place occasionally.
“I think people for some reason think he’s lazy and a bad teammate and that he doesn’t care,” Lowe said. “He’s none of the above. Does he do some goofy things? Absolutely. He does do some goofy things. But as far as preparation and knowing the game and wanting to win, there’s no way you put up those numbers year in and year out unless you’re a special talent and work at it. And he does both.”
Ramirez hit his 500th home run earlier this season, was batting .299 and led the Red Sox with 20 homers and 68 RBIs. He is one of only eight players to hit at least 20 homers in 14 consecutive seasons.
So now that the deal is officially in the books, let’s take a look at the winners, losers and everything in between from this move.
Big Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers – They get one of baseballs best power hitters for almost nothing, AND they don’t even have to pay him because part of the agreement was the Red Sox will pick up the remaining $7 million dollars owed in this year’s contract.
Winner: Boston Red Sox – Finally the adventures in left field, the Fenway Park clubhouse and media room will be coming to an end. The charismatic Ramirez is out of town and the Sox welcome a clean cut player in Bay to their organization. He may not hit for the same power numbers as Ramirez but he runs and fields better, hustles more, and most importantly, he cares.
Not a Winner Yet, But Definitely Not a Loser: Pittsburgh Pirates – Whenever you trade a proven player for prospects you’re not going to be looked at as a winner right away but there’s always that chance that the prospects become stars. They may have traded away Bay but five years ago Bay was traded to them as a prospect and look how he turned out. Give Moss and LaRoche a few years and they could be everyday players that can produce some pretty decent numbers.
Very Happy: The guys who work behind the Green Monster – Finally they can do their job in peace without Ramirez poking his head inside there every other pitch.
Not so Happy: David Ortiz – For his entire time with the Red Sox he’s had the protection of Ramirez’s bat either right in front of behind him in the lineup. Now with the slugger out of town the power hitting lefty may not be seeing as many good pitches and his walks will increase but extra base hits may drop.
Ecstatic – New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays – The most feared hitter in Boston’s lineup is out of town and they no longer have to worry about seeing him again unless they face him in the World Series. Over the years in Boston, Ramirez compiled 55 homeruns against New York and 38 against Tampa Bay so with him out of the league these two franchises couldn’t be any happier.
The fact that Manny’s not going to be in left field tonight at Fenway Park may take some time getting used to for Red Sox fans. Some will miss the tossing of his glove 10 feet over his head in between pitches, or the ridiculous underhand throws into second base after casually jogging down hits in the corner, random dives to cutoff balls thrown by his own outfield teammates, or even the occasional homerun pose after he makes solid contact with a ball that ends up staying in the yard and forces him to bust hard all the way into second for a double.
That was just Manny being Manny, and as much of a distraction as he’d become, its something that the fans of Red Sox nation will miss. That and not to mention his bat in our lineup, but this is not the first trade that GM Theo Epstein has made at the deadline that fans did not understand right away; ex. Nomar in 2004, but hopefully it pans out as the others did and the Sox find themselves back in the post-season.
Manny’s time in Boston will not be forgotten. Now that it’s all said and done with, the only thing that the Fenway Faithful can do is say thank you for his 7 ½ years of service. He was a big part of not one, but two World Series Championship clubs and over the years provided that flair that reminded fans that baseball is a sport that can still be fun, even if he sometimes acted like a 36-year old going on five.
See ya later Manny.
The Milwaukee Brewers entered their 4-game series with the Chicago Cubs on a 7-game winning streak. The Cubs had barely managed to salvage one of three games from the Marlins. The streaking Brewers not only had sole possession of second place in the NL Central, but also also of the first place spot in the NL Wildcard race. Chicago made a bold statement over the next four games.
A solid outing from Ted Lily, as well as a dominant 9th inning from Carlos Marmol helped to snag the Cubs their first win. In the second game, the Cubbies’ offense unloaded on Ben sheets in the 6th inning, scoring 5 runs for a dominant Carlos Zambrano. Chicago racked up 7 runs on 15 runs, and Jeff Samardija picked up his first career save. The third game of the series had a similar story – outstanding pitching from Ryan Dempster, productive offense. The Cubs cruised to a win again. Former Athletic Rich Harden stymied the Brew Crew in the final game of the series, striking out 9 in 7 innings while only giving up 1 run on 6 hits and a walk. May pickup Jim Edmonds hit two homers (one of them being a grand slam that broke the game open), while Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano contributed dingers of their own.
After the sweep, the Brewers found themselved tied with the St Louis Cardinals for both second place in the NL Central as well as NL Wild Card. Both teams sit 5 games behind the Cubs with 2 months to go in the season.