« June 29, 2008
June 30, 2008
Baseball Today: Monday, June 30
SURPRISE! The marketing folks who brought you "September To Remember" and "Soxtober" last year have been flooding the NESN airwaves with their newest creation -- "Division Collision" -- in anticipation of this week's back-to-back series against the Rays and Yankees. But first there was the little matter of a weekend in Houston, and the Red Sox aren't exactly heading to St. Petersburg with a full head of steam. After a routine 6-1 win in Friday night's opener that gave no hint of the struggles to come, the Sox blew leads of 4-0 and 9-6 in losing to the Astros, 11-10, Saturday night, then were betrayed by Hideki Okajima -- yet again -- and their own offensive inefficiency in a 3-2 loss on Sunday afternoon in which Miguel Tejada (above, looking as stunned as anyone in the park) scored the winning run on a two-out, eighth-inning single off Okajima by old friend Mark Loretta. Sean McAdam provides all the details.
So when the Division Collision finally begins tonight, after a week of hype, it'll be the Red Sox chasing the Rays and not the other way around. Surprise, indeed.
OKIE-DOKIE . . . NOT! Okajima's weekend of discontent began Friday night when, entrusted with a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning, he gave up a two-out homer to Reggie Abercrombie followed by a hard line single off the left-field scoreboard by Tejada, which prompted Terry Francona to summon Jonathan Papelbon for a four-out save. Yesterday they had to do something -- bring in Okajima with a runner on base -- they hadn't done since since he'd surrendered the grand slam to Jay Payton back in May. It was a low-leverage situation (Tejada on first, one out), but Okajima promptly wild-pitched Tejada to second. Then, after recording the second out, he surrendered the game-winning hit to Loretta. Rob Bradford of the Boston Herald reports that "[since] returning from a sore wrist that sidelined him in mid-May, Okajima hasn’t been able to finish off his go-to pitch" -- the split-fingered fastball -- "on a consistent basis." It was a flat splitter that Loretta hit for the game-winner yesterday, and one of his Astros teammates described it as "a batting-practice fastball."
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER: McAdam wrote Saturday that, in light of Okajima's struggles, the Sox are, for the second time in as many years, casting covetous eyes at Colorado's Brian Fuentes. Fuentes, however, is looking a little like the one-eyebrow, wart-covered gal in the peanut commercial these days after he destroyed a miraculous Rockies' comeback Saturday night in Detroit by allowing two runs in the bottom of the ninth (Denver Post); Colorado had scored four runs in the top of the ninth, three of them after two were out, to take a 6-5 lead. It had the Rocky Mountain News' Sam Adams advocating the Rox dump Fuentes on anyone "looking for save-blowers." Even so, MLB.com reports Colorado's asking price for Fuentes is two quality prospects.
ALTERCATION: McAdam broke the news last night that Manny Ramirez was involved in an argument with Jack McCormick Saturday over ticket allotment that resulted in Ramirez' pushing the Sox' traveling secretary to the floor. McAdam reports Ramirez later apologized, McCormick accepted the apology, and all sides -- Terry Francona included -- say there are no problems.
CURSES? The blog Center Field thinks it's a case of The Curse of the Astros claiming another victim. But old friend Dan Lamothe of Red Sox Monster isn't going there.
HE WAS A CONTEST-WINNER, AFTER ALL: ShysterBall's Craig Calcaterra thinks of George Costanza every time he sees the phrase "traveling secretary."
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH: Loretta calls the Sox "as good a team as we've played all year" (Houston Chronicle), but, of course, he may be biased; he spent 2006 in Boston and often calls it his best year in baseball.
IT'S 'GO' TIME: The Sox have no time to mope over their disappointing Texas weekend because now it's on to central Florida for a three-game series with their newest rival. Steven Krasner recaps the three previous series between the teams this year, and the Sox players told McAdam they're going to The Trop to play baseball, not to resume hostilities. Maybe they are, but the Tampa Bay fans -- if their comments on this St. Petersburg Times blog are any indication -- are ready to rumble.
YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN: Like their Red Sox brethren, the Rays players say what's past is past and these next three nights will all be about baseball. (Tampa Tribune)
THE UPPER HAND: And so far, the baseball has been all good for the Rays. They enter the series in first place after yesterday's 4-3 win over the Pirates (Tampa Tribune) and now they're ready for what the St. Petersburg Times is calling "potentially the biggest series ever played at Tropicana Field." More good news: Closer Troy Percival looks like he's back to 100 percent after being sidelined with a chronic hamstring injury. (St. Petersburg Times)
PINCH ME: In first place? At the end of June? A big series at The Trop? Finally, writes the blog DRays Bay, "it feels good to be a Rays fan."
PINCH ME TWICE: Another sign the Rays are in contention: They plan to be buyers, not sellers, at this year's trading deadline. (St. Petersburg Times)
ONE BATTLE TAMPA BAY IS ALREADY WINNING: Chad Finn writes that while he admires Jacoby Ellsbury as much as anybody, there's no way Ellsbury deserves the Rookie of the Year award over Evan Longoria. Besides, Ellsbury has hardly looked like a Rookie of the Year candidate lately. (Boston Globe)
REALITY INTRUDES: On a (far) more serious note, the Boston Herald reports black and Latin players on the Red Sox, two of whom were mentioned by name, were the targets of threats in this upcoming series in a letter mailed to the team with a Memphis, Tenn., postmark. Security teams from MLB and the Red Sox are with the club in St. Petersburg, and the FBI, along with the police departments in St. Petersburg, Boston, Memphis and Baltimore, have been apprised. The suspect is believed to be a Baltimore native living in Memphis.
IN OR OUT? That's the question the Boston Herald's John Tomase posed to a number of Hall of Fame pitchers regarding the Hall candidacy of Curt Schilling.
TAKING OVER THE TOWN: The Mets are the second team in New York, and that's not the boast of some braggart Yankees fans; that's according to according to none other than Mets manager Jerry Manuel. (New York Daily News) So he had to be pleased that the team WFAN's Steve Somers insists on calling "the Metropolitans" won the Subway Series from the Yankees for only the second time in 12 years with a 3-1 victory yesterday. (New York Post) Of course, Alex Rodriguez almost pulled it out for the Yanks, but his ninth-inning drive to left fell just short. (New York Post) The New York Daily News' Bill Madden says that if you're thinking these teams will meet again in October, well, forget it.
GROW UP: That's what many in New York are telling -- or screaming at -- Jose Reyes after his Little League-like, on-field tantrum in the wake of an error he made against the Yankees yesterday (New York Daily News) The LoHud Mets Blog's John Delcos says the reason Reyes acts like this is because the Mets let him, and have never moved to curb his behavior.
TALKING THE TALK: Another great interview on It Is About The Money, Stupid, this one with Yankee pitcher Darrell Rasner.
SEE YOU SOON . . . MAYBE: The Yankees have optioned Ian Kennedy to Class A Tampa and say he'll have have to earn his way back to New York. (LoHud Yankees Blog)
GOOD PLACE FOR HIM: Joe Posnanski's suggestion that the Royals sign Barry Bonds is drawing plenty of commentary on joeposnanski.com. That's the place for such talk, thinks Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, because his opinion is there's no way the Yankees should sign Bonds, as some are suggesting.
IF WE HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN . . . who would be in the first class of Hall of Famers? That's Posnanski's question and he gets some interesting answers.
YOU HAVE TO STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT: Baseball Musings' David Pinto thinks Billy Beane may have waited too long to pull the trigger on a Joe Blanton trade and that the haul the A's may get for Blanton won't be anywhere near as big as it would have been a few months ago.
MY MOMENT IN THE SUN: In light of the Dodgers' beating the Angels Saturday night despite being no-hit, the Los Angeles Times tracked down the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter and lose: Ex-Red Sox lefty Matt Young, who pulled the trick in while pitching for the Sox against Cleveland in 1992. Young remembers it well.
THEY MADE IT: There were times when it seemed impossible, but yesterday's victory over the Rockies got the Tigers back to .500. (Detroit News)
BEATS THE ALTERNATIVE: "Let's face it," writes the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's David Andriesen, "the San Diego Padres stink. Not only that, they stink in the National League, which is considerably stinkier than stinking in the . . . American League." Still, he adds, sweeping a team that stinks is better than losing to them, so the Mariners are content after yesterday's 9-2 win, which completed a weekend three-spot in San Diego.
LOCAL BOYS: Rocco Baldelli is finished with the Vero Beach portion of his rehab and the Rays are studying baseball's rules to see what the next step should be (Tampa Tribune) . . . Paul Konerko is still in too much pain to begin a rehab assignment. (Chicago Tribune)
MEDICAL REPORT: Chipper Jones is headed to the disabled list (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . So is Magglio Ordonez (Detroit News) . . . And Michael Cuddyer (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) . . . And Lastings Milledge (mlb.com) . . . The Marlins' Dan Uggla will be sidelined a few days because of a sprained left ankle (Miami Herald) . . . Juan Pierre will have an MRI on his left knee. (Los Angeles Times)
HERE AND THERE: The Cubs will be without Aramis Ramirez the next three days as he returns to the Dominican Republic to tend to a family matter (Chicago Sun-Times) . . . Jay Gibbons is alive and well and playing in the Atlantic League (Baltimore Sun) . . . The Cubs are looking for pitching (Chicago Tribune) . . . The Mets and the Yankees are both interested in Freddy Garcia (nj.com) . . . Could Juan Rivera be headed from the Angels to the Dodgers? (Los Angeles Times)
OLD FRIENDS: The Brewers have activated Eric Gagne (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) . . . Tony Armas Jr. is headed back to the Mets. (New York Daily News)
-- ART MARTONE
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