Archive for the ‘boston red sox’ Category
Friday, September 20th, 2013
Bryce Harper’s first inning three run home run was enough to push the Nationals past the Marlins, as Washington downed Miami 3-2 on Thursday night at Nationals’ Park. Harper’s blast with Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth on base kept the Nats slim hopes of a playoff spot alive, with the home towners five games behind Cincinnati in the Wild Card hunt.
Harper’s home run provided the only scoring for Washington, leaving the game in the hands of southpaw starter Gio Gonzalez and three relievers. Harper was all smiles in the dugout after his dinger as he joined four other Nationals (Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche) in hitting twenty home runs on the year.
“He’s only going to get better,” Nats manager Davey Johnson said of his young slugger. “I think when you go through a period where you have all this attention and you try to live up to hype you try to do too much. I think he’s getting over that. I think he’s back to enjoying the game, and that’s great to see.”
Harper’s three RBIs might not have been enough against the Marlins line-up, but Gio Gonzalez provided a steady outing (two earned runs in six complete innings, while scattering seven hits) in notching his 11th win on the season. A trio of Nationals’ relievers (Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano) then shut down Miami in the last three frames.
The two Marlins’ runs came off an Ed Lucas single that scored Donovan Solano in the first and a Justin Ruggiano double that scored Giancarlo Stanton in the 6th. The Washington win slapped righty Henderson Alvarez with the loss, his fifth on the season.
The Washington victory came at a small personal price for Denard Span, who went 0-4, thus ending his 29 game hitting streak, the longest in the major leagues this year. The crowd of nearly 26,000 fans, realizing the Nationals center fielder would not extend his streak, gave Span a standing ovation after his fourth at bat. He was greeted by his teammates in the dugout with high-fives.
“You gotta tip your cap to Joe DiMaggio because that’s a record that I don’t think will ever be broke,” left fielder Bryce Harper said of Span’s streak after the game. “Denard made a good run at it. I tip my cap to him and I think everyone in baseball did.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Back in March, new ESPN analyst Alex Cora questioned whether the Red Sox had made the right decision in signing former Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino, saying that Boston should have gone after someone younger and more athletic . . .
Sunday, September 1st, 2013
It might have been possible for the Washington Nationals to survive the 3-2 squeaker against the Mets on Friday, but it is going to be harder for Washington to keep its hope for a post-season slot alive after the Nats were routed by New York, 11-3 on Saturday. The Nationals now trail Cincinnati by 7.5 games in the N.L. Wild Card Race.
The hero for the New Yorkers on Saturday was Zack Wheeler, the young right handed hurler that has teamed with the now-injured Matt Harvey to give the Madoffs hope for the future. Wheeler tamed the suddenly hot Washington line-up by pitching into the 7th inning while holding the Nationals to five hits and two earned runs.
While the Nationals couldn’t get on track against New York’s rookie, Dan Haren had his worst outing of the year. Haren gave up nine hits and seven earned runs before being relieved in the third. Nearly everyone in the Mets’ line-up teed off against Washington’s pitching: Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, Josh Satin and Juan Lagares each had three hits in the game.
“We know that we’re running out of time,” center fielder Denard Span, who was 3-5 on the night, said. “Each game that goes by, it’s getting even more and more [important] for us to win. Tonight, just a terrible game. The type of loss like this came at the wrong time.”
Despite the Mets’ seventeen hit barrage, there was little praise for Washington’s in-division competitors. Haren claimed that he had good stuff and Denard Span pointed out that the Mets were lucky to have some hits fall in. But it’s also true that the Nationals didn’t hit when they needed to, spraying eleven hits but leaving fourteen on base.
“We know what we’re up against,” Haren said following the loss. “Everyone is pretty down in here right now. We’ll go home and get sleep and come back and try to win tomorrow and go from there. There’s no use being down about it too long.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The 2003 Seattle Mariners were a heck of a team. Jamie Moyer won 21 games for the Navigators, while Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro anchored a sold staff, including a steady bullpen. But Seattle’s greatest asset was its defense: the team committed just 65 errors in 162 games, an MLB record . . .
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
If there’s one thing that baseball card collectors enjoy doing, it’s going on and on about the worst baseball card in their collection. Actually, the word card should be plural: cards — for in every collection of tens of thousands of baseball cards (that’s not a large number for some), there are hundreds (and maybe hundreds of hundreds) of worst cards possible.
So it’s no wonder that every once in awhile a writer pens his own opinion about the worst baseball card — as happened yesterday in the pages of Slate, when Josh Levin identified the 1996 Pinnacle Foil No. 289 as the worst card he’s ever seen. “First, Bob Hamelin’s enormous head takes up most of the frame,” Levin writes. “Second, the small portion of the card that is not consumed by Hamelin’s melon is filled by a placard.”
Levin makes the point that a “bad” baseball cards isn’t a card that we don’t like: those are easy to come by. Rather, a “bad baseball card is one in which errors of composition, design, or production conspire to turn a 2.5-by-3.5-inch piece of cardboard into a memorabilia crime scene.”
Levin goes on to argue that while the Pinnacle Foil No. 289 is bad, the worst cards come from the 1970s, when Topps had a monopoly on the “industry.” In true free market fashion, when Topps got competition their cards got better. They had to, particularly when Upper Deck started putting out beautiful collectables.
The problem with competition, particularly among baseball card aficianados, was that those who bought the cards could never keep up with the sheer number of cards available. The market was flooded with cards, diminishing their overall value. Then too, who the hell wants a flashy “hologram-and-foil-bedecked‘ pic of (say) Derek Bell?
Thursday, June 27th, 2013
It’s hard to define, but it’s true nevertheless — a little of the strut has gone out of Red Sox Nation, despite their 47-33 record and their 3.5 game lead over the struggling Yankees. The Red Sox have the best record in the American League (and are 25-25 at home), but don’t tell Red Sox fans — who actually seem disinterested.
Last night’s game might serve as an example: 34,632 fans showed up to watch the Sox snatch a 5-3 victory from the Colorado Rockies, their opponents in the 2007 World Series. This was as solid a victory as any the Red Sox have had: Boston banged out ten hits and starter John Lackey struck out twelve.
Once upon a time, Sox fans would have killed to get a seat for such a match-up, now they don’t even have to stand in line. There were empty seats at Fenway last night, which would have been unthinkable not that long ago.
Red Sox attendance is significantly off from last year (by some 162,000 fans), when the team stunk. Now, seats are selling at a discount. There’s no good explanation. “Attendance lags performance, sometimes by a lot,” experts say and they may be right — but this is the Nation. So what’s going on?
Our view is that these Red Sox, good as they are, are not perceived by the Boston faithful as nearly as exciting as the fiery “cowboy up” personalities of recent years (when the Sawx were not just good, but great), or as controversial as the beer swilling overweight Fenway bad boys of 2011. That is to say, the Red Sox are good, but they’re not interesting.
On second thought, the “820 straight sellouts streak” might have been a bit exaggerated. Baseball pundits laughed when it was announced earlier this year that the streak had ended, as it had been dependent for quite some time (they claimed) on giveaways of upwards of 800 seats per game.
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
Gio Gonzalez won for the first time since May 5 — and the Nationals supported him with an avalanche of runs, sparked by an Adam LaRoche three run home run, and Washington hung on to win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-5. Gonzalez notched his fourth win of the season.
Gonzalez was not at his most effective, giving up nine hits over 6.1 innings of work, but a five run third inning marked one of the few times that the lefty had the run support he needed to set down the opposition without too many problems. Washington’s runs came off of Arizona starter Trevor Cahill, who recorded his ninth loss on the year.
“To get up early like that, that’s really how our offense should operate,” right fielder Jayson Werth said after the victory. “That’s something we haven’t done this year and hopefully we can keep it going and play like that more often.” Werth was 2-2 on the night, which included two walks.
The Nationals offensive attack was led by Adam LaRoche, whose third inning three run home run just over the fence in left center field, seemed to give the home towners an insurmountable lead. It was LaRoche’s eleventh home run of the year, but his first in a month.
“As a team, I think we’re looking better,” LaRoche said. “We get 11 hits tonight and score some runs, so we’re slowly getting closer to what this offense can do.” After a terrible start to the season, LaRoche is now hitting .259 on the year.
Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
It was at the age of 16, when he was a sophomore at Fresno High School in California, that Dick Ellsworth thought he might be a big league pitcher. In that year, in 1956, the lanky (6-3, 180 pound) lefty started receiving Christmas cards from baseball scouts who were interested in signing him to a major league deal.
Whenever he received a card, Ellsworth later remembered, he’d call his Fresno High School teammate — Jim Maloney — to compare notes. This wasn’t bragging: Maloney, a then-talented pitcher and shortstop, was also receiving cards from major league scouts.
“It got so that I and Jim Maloney would compare cards,” Ellsworth told one reporter. “Either I would get hold of Jim or he would contact me and would say: ‘I just received a card from so-and-so; how about you?”‘ There was good reason for the interest — together, Ellsworth and Maloney constituted the best 1-2 pitching combination that any California prep school team had ever seen. Ever.
The day after he graduated, Ellsworth (and Maloney) cashed in: Ellsworth signed for $60,000 with the Chicago Cubs, while Maloney received his payday from the Cincinnati Reds. In an era that featured Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal and Don Drysdale, both Ellsworth and Maloney fashioned memorable, though not Hall of Fame careers.
Ellsworth was to have started his career in minors, but four days after signing he found himself on the mound at Comiskey Park in South Chicago, where pitching coach Freddy Fitzsimmons wanted to showcase his talent at the annual Cubs-White Sox charity face off.
Fitzsimmons wanted Ellsworth to throw a single inning, then ship him out to Fort Worth, in the minors. Instead, Ellsworth ended up pitching a four hit complete game shutout. At the age of 18, he’d arrived: or nearly so. The Cubs shipped him to Fort Worth, alright, but not for very long.
While Ellsworth’s debut came on June 22, 1958 the Cubs decided he needed a little more seasoning: he was a little wild and tended to overthrow with men on base. But in 1960, and at the age of 20, Ellsworth came up to the Cubs and stuck, ending the season with a 7-13 record and a 3.72 ERA.
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Dan Haren notched his fourth win, the home towners sprayed nine hits and the Washington bullpen held the Tigers scoreless in three relief innings, as the Nationals swept the two game Detroit mini-series by a score of 5-4 on Thursday.
While the Tigers outhit the Nationals (12-9), Washington was able to put runs on the board early in the game. The Nationals scored three in the first inning and two in the second — and that’s all the team would need to notch its fourth win in a row. Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano held the Kalines scoreless when Haren left after six complete.
The victim of the Nationals early run surge was Detroit righty Doug Fister, who entered the game with a snappy 2.48 earned run average. Fister, with Verlander, is considered one of Detroit’s elite shut down pitchers, but he gave up a lead-off double to Denard Span in the 1st and then three successive singles: to Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond.
Fister proved as ineffective in the second, hitting Span and walking Roger Bernadina before giving up two runs, courtesy of singles from (once again) Zimmerman and LaRoche. “It was probably his worst outing of the year,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said of Fister’s performance. “He’s pitched really good for quite a while now. You have to give him credit, he battled.”
Despite Fister’s troubles, the Tigers were able to rally against Haren in the 6th. The veteran righty walked Jhonny Peralta with one out and Omar Infante dropped a surprise bunt single to put two men on with two outs. Pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo then stepped to the plate and put a 2-1 Haren offering over the fence in left center.
The Tuiasosopo blast put Detroit back into the game, with a good shot at winning. But the Nationals’ bullpen, an otherwise worrisome unit so far this season, came on to shut down the Tigers. Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano each pitched effectively, with Soriano gaining his 12th save of the season.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Doug Fister was 3-12 with the Mariners in 2011 when the Seattle front office decided they’d seen enough. The swapped Fister to Detroit for Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush and Casper Wells. It was a steal — Fister went 8-1 the rest of the way, with a breathtaking 1.79 ERA . . .
But while the Fister theft was lopsided, it was (arguably) no more so than San Diego’s decision to trade first base prospect Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs six months later. While it’s a baseball given that you should never give up young pitching, new Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer decided his team needed Rizzo so badly that he was willing to part with uber prospect Andrew Cashner . . .
Friars’ fans will argue that the Rizzo-Cashner trade isn’t even close to being a Fister-like bust. After struggling all of last year, Cashner’s arm has finally come alive and the imposing (6-6, 220 pounds), Texan has regained his command. Exiled to the bullpen, Cashner emerged in only his second start of the season to throw 7.1 effective innings against the Marlins earlier this week . . .