Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slowly (Oh So Slowly)

Game 156 - Red Sox

Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 5 (6)
Record: 91-65

Careful. Careful. That's it. Just a little more to the right. Back it up...back it up. Aaaaand...almost there.

The Sox are treating the season's final week like a gang of furniture movers carrying a Louis XIV armoire up a narrow flight of stairs. Tito's nursing starters, coddling relievers, resting the weary, and generally behaving like things are in the bag. Fortunately, Texas is playing along nicely.

But recent misery in this very space tells us not to count any chickens before they've seen the light of day. So a clinch tonight would be nice.

And then we can commence the babysoft treatment.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Whistling in the Dark

Games 153 through 155 - Red Sox

Yankees 9, Red Sox 5
Yankees 3, Red Sox 0
Yankees 4, Red Sox 2
Record: 91-64

Let the record show that I watched a total of approximately 10 pitches from this game, all Saturday, and all while the college football games that were the primary focus of my attention were on commercial breaks. Let the record further show that I'm the better for it, in terms of both my blood pressure and my marital/parental status.

The Sox started the season 8-0 against the Yankees and ended it on a 1-9 streak. And that means exactly squadoosh starting next week. Terry Francona's studied indifference (or impression thereof, in any case) to the Sox' fate in New York this weekend is all the cue those of us inclined to step out on ledges after the sweep should need. Brian Anderson got meaningful at-bats against the Yankees. Jason Varitek played in 2 of the 3 games. Jed Lowrie made an appearance. Rocco Baldelli started a game. Okay, man, we get it.

May Jon Lester's leg heal and Josh Beckett's redass return. And, while we're at it, how 'bout clinching the Wild Card here soon so all this whistling past the graveyard doesn't come back to haunt me.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Games 150 through 152 - Red Sox

Royals 5, Red Sox 1
Red Sox 9, Royals 2
Red Sox 10, Royals 3
Record: 91-61

The Sox awoke from their Greinke and Manny-induced coma to salvage a split against the suddenly frisky Royals and endow this weekend's series in the Bronx with at least a scintilla of intrigue.

Clay Buchholz' 10th consecutive 'quality start' (and 7th straight outing allowing 2 runs or fewer) paced the Sox last night and lowered his ERA to 3.21. Fingers, toes, and other appendages crossed, but if this is the guy the Sox get in October, no team in either league has a better 1-2-3 in the rotation.

The playoff-clinching Magic Number is now 3, while the Sox trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games in the division race. It's still a longshot, for sure, and it doesn't matter all that much, but it'd be nice to make the other guys sweat a little. After the first 2 games of the Royals series, a rabid Yankee-fan friend of mine posted the following on his Facebook page, "Do(n't) hear too much chatter from the "Nation" about making a run at AL East title...how bout them Royals?". My gleeful retort, "maybe the yanks can put the 2009 al east champs banner right next to the one from 2004". He still hasn't responded. Odd.

Almost as odd as a 3-game set in late September with the Yankees that doesn't feel like Armageddeon crossed with Normandy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Game 149 - Red Sox

Royals 12, Red Sox 9
Record: 89-50

Yeah, all that stuff I said about catching the Yankees? The lesson, as always...wait a minute. That lesson's wrong. This one's not my fault. The Sox had 6-0 and 8-2 leads on the Royals on a night the Yankees lost, and you want to blame this one on me? Oh, hell no.

Let's put blame where blame is due, friends. And blame is due Manny Delcarmen, for whom the bell is beginning to toll as his ERA rises. Delcarmen ended June allowing 2.03 earned runs per 9 innings. After his 3 1/3 innings of 8 ER shitshow in September (which followed his increasingly mediocre July and August efforts), the Beantown local carries a 4.34 ERA. More importantly, his confidence in his ability to get outs appears to be on par with mine. We already have one Ebby Calvin on this team, so Delcarmen may get saddled with an even worse moniker: 26th man on the postseason roster. (Which is only 25 men deep, for our math-challenged friends.)

Magic number for the postseason is still 7. But it's good that we're finding out now who we can count on in October.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dream On

Games 145 through 148 - Red Sox

Angels 4, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 3, Orioles 1
Red Sox 11, Orioles 5
Red Sox 9, Orioles 3
Record: 89-59

In the early years of this blog, we spent a good deal of pixels and more than a little angst whining about the Baltimore Orioles and their (perceived, almost certainly, as we were rarely inclined then as now towards actual 'research') prediliction for playing the Red Sox tough while rolling over against the Yankees. I come here today to mend fences with the beleagured Birds and their fair-weather fan base.

The Sox are 16-2 (!) against the bedraggled Baltimoreans in 2009. Woeful is hardly strong enough a descriptor for the remains of the franchise that Peter Angelos has so systematically dismantled. I feel for you, Charm City, but not so much that I'm asking to give any of the wins back.

Daisuke Matsuzaka's now 2-0 in the early days of his 'comeback', while the Sox as a whole are 30 games over .500 for the first time this season and dangerously close to worrying about nothing more than staying healthy and getting the postseason pitching rotation in order. Hell, there's a real, live Magic Number in our lives today. (It's 7, thanks to the Rangers' 2-7 homestand.)

But here's the thing. As much as it doesn't matter, and as far-fetched as this thought may seem to be, the Sox are only 5 games behind the Yankees. And I'd much rather face Detroit in the first round of the playoffs than Los Angeles. Not for nothing, but if the Sox get within the margin of error before this weekend's series with the Yankees, Joe Girardi's mind grapes are gonna be more scrambled than one of those whackjob tea partiers who still believe Obama's from another planet.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

Games 134 through 144 - Red Sox

White Sox 12, Red Sox 2
White Sox 5, Red Sox 1
Red Sox 6, White Sox 1
White Sox 5, Red Sox 1
Red Sox 10, Orioles 0
Red Sox 7, Orioles 5
Red Sox 9, Rays 1 (6)
Red Sox 3, Rays 1
Red Sox 4, Rays 0
Red Sox 4, Angels 1
Red Sox 9, Angels 8
Record: 86-58

Last night's Sox/Angels game was so good that it jarred me out of my malaise and inspired me to blog again. For now.

The Sox came back unce, tice, fee tines (a mady) to top the Halos, taking advantage of both the Angels' generosity and that of the men in blue to steal a very unlikely one. The win was the Sox' 7th consecutive triumph, giving them a 6 1/2 game advantage over the suddenly reeling Rangers in the Wild Card race. (I'd describe that lead as comfortable, except that I've watched the Mets play in September for a few years now. Sorry, dude.)

Yesterday's game notwithstanding, the winning streak has been the product of outstanding pitching. The Sox gave up a total of 8 runs in the 6 wins prior to last night's, getting stellar starts from all comers, including (and hugely importantly) Daisuke Matsuzaka. The confounding Japanese hurler's return from his poor conditioning was far more impressive than anyone had a right to expect, to the point where he even kept his pitch count at near-normal levels in going 6 2/3 shutout innings.

If (see Kipling, Rudyard and Nuts, Candy Buts for the obvious caveat here) the Sox get a facsimile of this Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz last several outings are indicators of future performance, I'll line these Sox up against anyone in the postseason. If, you foul mistress.

Now back to your regularly scheduled indifference.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Suck My Kiss

Games 132 & 133 - Red Sox

Rays 8, Red Sox 5
Red Sox 6, Rays 3
Record: 78-54

John Smoltz is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and 21 Ks in 17 innings for the Cardinals. Brad Penny pitched 8 innings of scoreless 5-hit baseball against the Phillies in his first start for San Francisco. The two combined for a 9-14 record, 6.24 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 171 2/3 innings for the Sox.

Stuff your small sample size in a sock, pal. That's gruesome testimony to the imbalance between the American and National Leagues. And Exhibit A for the reason the Sox find themselves staring up at the Yankees as September rolls around.

Bygones. The Sox won a series in Tampa. Praise the Lord and pass Josh Beckett some greenies.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happy Hour Again

Games 126 through 131 - Red Sox

Red Sox 3, White Sox 2
White Sox 9, Red Sox 4
Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5
Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2
Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 0
Red Sox 8, Rays 4
Record: 77-54

As both the season and this blog (apparently) wind down and the air cools, the Sox suddenly find themselves on the list of the hottest teams in the league. Winners of 7 out of 8 and 11 of 14 and, more importantly, of 1 in a row in Tampa - praise the Lord and Jonathan Papelbon - the good guys are hitting the ball all over the yard with their new and improved (Now, featuring more Victor Martinez!) lineup. At the same time, Clay Buchholz is starting to look like an actual major league pitcher, while new guy Billy Wagner is proving that he's still one.

The focus from this fan's perspective has been admittedly diffused and refracted - combination of the long season and real-world demands. And sure, I'd prefer the Sox be winning the division and the Yankees spending September recovering from a team-wide gonorreah outbreak. But beggars can't be choosers. The Sox have a great shot at their 6th postseason berth in 7 years. Can't really ask for more than that.

I think fans of the other New York team might agree.