Running Diary: ALDS Game 3

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Greetings everyone! Welcome to the ALDS Game 3 Running Diary! I tried a different tactic for blogging the Red Sox this season; instead of starting out strong and fading towards the end of the year, I’ve decided to show up for the last, most important game of the season. Seems fair, right? In truth, I moved to New York in March to start a new job, and haven’t been able to get back in the swing of things from a blogging standpoint. Of course, I’ve still been following the team (even though I’ve been out of state). It’s been the best worst season that I can remember, all capped off with an extremely disappointing postseason…What better time for a good ol’ fashioned live blog?

Doug Fister (yikes) is about to take the mound, let’s get this thing rolling!

2:40 – George Springer lines the second pitch of the game for a single. The third pitch scoots by Sandy Leon for a passed ball. I should probably stop watching now.

2:42 – My buddy Nick, who’s at the game, texts me: “Cleveland’s top scout is in front of us. Has lots of Houston papers. Also Fenway is maybe 75% full right now.” Awesome!

2:42 – Josh Reddick lines one to center and the Astros lead 1-0. WE’RE OFF TO A HOT START FOLKS!

2:44 – Play by play guy Joe Davis mentions that the Red Sox official Twitter account tweeted that there were still tickets available prior to the game. I saw that tweet, and it bummed me out more than being outscored 16-4 in the first two games. I get that the weather is crappy, and that the series seems over. But a Red Sox playoff ticket used to be the toughest ticket in town, and now they can’t even sell out a home postseason game. It doesn’t help that in last year’s home playoff game vs. Cleveland was especially quiet. Not great for the narrative that Red Sox fans are the most intense in baseball.

2:48 – Carlos Correa rips a hanging curveball over the fence in CF, 3-0 Astros. It’s the 7th first inning HR the Sox have allowed this series. Yep, time to start drinking.

2:53 – A nice play by Xander Bogaerts and Fister is out of the inning. More from Fenway Park Liason Nick: “Whoever is sitting in the owners’ seats near the dugout just gave Fister a standing O off of the field. What game are they watching?”

2:56 – Brad Peacock, who’s come out of nowhere to be one of the Astros’ most consistent starters this year, gets Bogaerts to ground out. Fun Fact: X is now 3-22 with 3 singles and 7 strikeouts since last year’s ALDS. He’s gone from one of the most promising Red Sox prospects ever to one of their more disappointing stars in recent memory, and it genuinely pains me to say that.

3:03 – Dustin Pedroia grounds a single up the middle, but Andrew Benintendi flies to right and Mookie Betts strikes out after a long at-bat. The crowd murmurs their disapproval. Glad everyone is fired up this afternoon!

3:05 – Just saw this tweet from ProJo Sox beat writer Tim Britton:

That doesn’t make me feel much better. To go a step further, The Sox haven’t led  a postseason game since the 3rd inning of Game 1 of last season’s ALDS.

3:08 – Fister allows back to back singles to Carlos Beltran and Yasael Gurriel. Joe Kelly is up in the pen, and it’s hard to imagine this experiment going on for much longer.

3:10 – Brian McCann flies out to center, and here comes John Farrell with the hook.  Farrell has been much maligned for a bevy of questionable moves over the last 2+ seasons, but it’s hard to pin this one on him. I don’t know who else he’s supposed to turn to at this point…every arm has failed him.

3:13 – Joe Kelly enters, and his second pitch sneaks by Leon, allowing the runners to advance. This is turning into a disaster fast. Now that I’ve defended Farrell a bit, I have to ask: HOW IS CHRISTIAN VAZQUEZ NOT IN THIS GAME?

3:19 – Josh Reddick hits a towering fly ball to right field…Mookie ranges over to the warning track, then the fence…AND REACHES INTO THE CROWD TO STEAL THREE RUNS FROM THE ASTROS! I’m begging you baseball gods, please let that be a turning point for this season.

That closes the book on Doug Fister, by the way. A quick rundown of the last six Red Sox postseason starts:

Rick Porcello: 4.1 IP, 5 ER
David Price: 3.1 IP, 5 ER
Clay Buchholz: 4.0 IP, 2  ER
Chris Sale: 5.0 IP, 7 ER
Drew Pomeranz: 2.0 IP, 4 ER
Doug Fister: 1.1 IP, 3 ER

Yeesh.

3:29 – The Sox load the bases with two singles and a walk, then Leon lines a single to left to get Boston on the board! I always liked you Sandy! Bases still juiced, nobody out…Are the Red Sox back???

3:35 – Jackie Bradley Jr. strikes out, Bogaerts hits into a fielder’s choice at home (0-11!) and Pedroia flies out to left. The Red Sox only get 1 run after loading the bases with no outs.

3:41 – SECRET WEAPON DAVID PRICE IS UP IN THE PEN! SOUND THE ALARM!!!! Should he have been starting this game in the first place? Perhaps, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk I suppose.

3:57 – After two straight strikeouts by Peacock, Mitch Moreland launches a two out double to deep center. Then Hanley Ramirez lines a rope juuuuust over the glove of Marwin Gonzalez in left for a two-bagger of his own to cut the deficit in half. ‘Stro’s manager AJ Hinch pulls his starter after just 2.2 innings. Remember when the notoriously-hot-in-October Hanley was benched in favor of a one-legged Eduardo Nunez? Hopefully Farrell does.

4:02 – RAFAEL DEVERS IS OUT HERE SAVING SEASONS LIKE IT’S NO ONE’S BUSINESS! 4-3 RED SOX!

Cue the broadcast team talking about last year’s Super Bowl…which I can 100% get behind. It’s the first lead the Red Sox have had in 45 postseason innings.

4:10 – Price enters the game for Boston…there’s been a ton of talk entering the playoffs about him being the Sox gamechanger out of the pen. Let’s see how this goes now that they finally have a lead.

4:14 – AJ Pierzynski talking about getting on the wrong side of the Boston Media is a 1000000000 out of 10 on the Bill Simmons Unintentional Comedy Scale. That is all.

4:17 – It’s a scoreless 4th from Price, and the crowd is alive! Price has obviously been through the ringer during his first two years in Boston, from underperforming last year, to a poor showing in the 2016 ALDS, to an elbow injury this season, to the debacle in July with Dennis Eckersley. But, as guys like John Lackey can attest to, Boston fans can have a short memory…if you produce in October.

4:45 – Both teams exchange scoreless frames, including Price working out of a mini-jam in the top of the 5th. We’re halfway home, though I’m not sure how much longer Farrell is planning on leaving his $217 million man out there for. He’s already at 32 pitches, though the bottom third of Houston’s order is due up for the 6th. Either way, I can’t say I’m especially looking forward to piecing together the last four innings here. Some insurance runs would be nice.

4:49 – Right on cue, Hanley rips a missile off of the Green Monster to lead off the bottom of the 5th. He’s now 5-9 this series, and 3-3 today. Ramirez was the single most disappointing member of the lineup this season, hitting .242/.320/.429 after an awesome 2016 campaign. But’s he’s been money in the playoffs, slashing .333/.417/.540 over 18 postseason games coming into today. If the Sox want to have any hope of coming back in this series beyond today, they’ll need him to be October Hanley, and not 2017 April through September Hanley.

4:57 – A double play snuffs out any momentum that Ramirez’ wall-ball single generated, and Price comes out for the top of the 6th. Meanwhile, Pierzynski is still blabbering on about friction with the media. The only thing worse than the Astros sweeping us would be listening to Pierzynski and David Cone (both of whom had less-than-stellar seasonlong stints with the Sox) while it happens.

5:02 – Another scoreless inning for Price giving me flashbacks to the 2008 ALCS, but in a good way.

5:07 – I love JBJ. I’d give my life for him. The guy is most effortlessly great center-fielder I’ve seen in a Red Sox uniform. But when he goes cold at the plate, he goes cold enough to deserve his own Mr. Freeze pun:

Anyways, Lance McCullers retires the side in order…As great as Price has been today McCullers has been able to match him, and keep the Houston deficit razor thin.

5:13 – Are Imagine Dragons good? I know we’re in the middle of a massively important ALDS game, but I feel like asking some tough questions. While we’re on a tangent, today’s beer is Sam Adams Harvest Hefe, which is their cinnamon-y/nutmeg-y/pumpkin-y beer. Actually pretty good, if that’s something anyone is interested in.

5:16 – Altuve’s ALDS stats just flashed on the screen: 7-10, 3 HR, 4 RBI. He may be 3’4″, but he’s freaking terrifying. Price walks him, and seems to be tiring….just in time for the meat of Houston’s order…

5:18 – Addison Reed is warming up. I can smell the 2 run HR coming from a mile away.

5:23 – FUCK YEAH DAVID PRICE! What a gutsy relief performance with the season on the line. Still not ruling out a meltdown from Reed, but that was #24’s Lackey moment right there, and damn was it special. Also, Pierzynski should not be allowed to comment on any of the defensive nuances of the catching position, seeing as he was the worst defensive catcher I have ever seen in a Red Sox uniform.

5:32 – Mookie singles to left after a Benintendi walk, and that’ll do it for McCullers. His performance is going to get overshadowed by Price’s if Boston can hold on, but he was almost as impressive. Chris Devinski enters, and Moreland lines a fastball up the gut to load the bases for HANLEY. FREAKING. RAMIREZ. Let’s see if the Sox have better luck with the bases loaded and  no outs this time around…

5:39 – 2-RUN DOUBLE FOR HANLEY! 6-3 BOSTON! A 4-4 DAY FOR EL TRECE! WE’RE BACK IN BUSINESS! CUE THE BRETT FAVRE WRANGLER COMMERCIAL!

Houston, you ain’t seen nothing yet!!

5:43 – And Devers with a bloop single to score another run, to make it 7-3! Not the best outing for Devinski, and more insurance for Reed. As our fearless leader John Farrell would say…LET’S FUCKING HAVE IT.

5:53 – And now Reddick Canseco’s a JBJ fly ball over the wall in right for a 3 run dinger! 10-3 Sox, and we’re rolling now.

Looks like we’re getting a Game 4 at the very least.

5:55 – Bogaerts flies out to left, he’s 0-5 today. Just want to keep everyone a bit grounded.

6:03 – Meanwhile, on Twitter:

6:17 – Reed and Carson Smith shut it down, and that’s the ballgame. Sox take Game 3 10-3. Hey Astros…

 

Rick Porcello gets the ball in Game 4, which means this afternoon was closer to prolonging inevitable doom than the start of a bonafide comeback. But for a team that was facing back to back sweeps in the ALDS, to show any measure of grit and fortitude means the world. Like Kevin Malone said, “It’s just nice to win one.” Porcello is still technically the reigning AL Cy Young award winner, and anything is possible (despite how bad he’s been this year.

We’ll see how things play out tomorrow, though I will say this: I’ve seen the Red Sox come back from worse odds. Houston already made the biggest mistake they could have made…they let us win today.

 

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Spring Training Reality Check

Miami Marlins v Boston Red Sox

We’re doing this again, aren’t we? We do this every year. Spring comes around, and the collective eyes of Sox Nation overlooks the real issues because were so excited for what could happen in October. The problem is getting to October. The Red Sox have only done that twice over the last six years! We’re going to accept that in Boston? Oh, how quickly we forget what has happened over the last few years just because they won 93 games last year. Can we look at what’s really going on down at JetBlue Park?

This is the first year without David Ortiz being a cog in the lineup. That is a massive hole to fill, but I don’t know if the Sox truly understand the locker room presence he had. Ortiz was a huge personality that held together a team of different backgrounds. Don’t tell me it was a coincidence that it was Ortiz’s last year and Hanley Ramirez just so happened to hold his shit together for 147 games (his highest since 2012). The numbers he put up will obviously be hard to replicate, but losing his leadership might be a tougher task to replace.

Is everyone’s arm going to explode by the end of the season? David Price basically starred death in the eyes earlier by going to see Dr. James Andrews, yet somehow avoided surgery. I still believe his arm is a ticking time bomb that even Jack Bauer can’t stop from going off. Drew Pomeranz left Sunday’s game with arm soreness. He says he’s fine, but I still don’t think it is a good sign he couldn’t pitch through a little tightness. Tyler Thornburg, the guy they paid a steep price for in the offseason, is having shoulder issues because he hasn’t responded well to the Red Sox conditioning program. I am having Daisuke flashbacks as we speak. Oh, what about the other setup guy who basically missed the entire season last year? You might remember Carson Smith, whose arm actually did explode last year. He only just began throwing off the mound last week.

Speaking of pitching, our depth sucks. Besides Price, Chris Sale, and Rick Porcello, we have Eduardo Rodriguez who can’t seem to get it together all at once (he’ll be a stud once he does), a Tim Wakefield wanna be, and Kelly Olynyk Henry Owens. If those three don’t instill confidence, that’s ok because we have Kyle Kendrick  and Brian Johnson ready for those spot starts! Don’t remember Kyle Kendrick? That’s because he hasn’t made a major league start in 2 YEARS! (Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it…oh no…I MISS CLAY)

Here are some question marks about the everyday lineup:

  • Can we expect Mookie Betts to do what he did last year again? I’m not banking on it. Love the player, love the snarl he has, but he was historic last year and I’m not sure we can expect it again. He’ll have a good season, but just not just as good as he was last year
  • Are we going to get first half Xander Bogaerts or second half? Let’s hope it is first half. Seeing the power rise last year was great, so let’s hope we can get a mix of average and power this year not just one or the other
  • Should we be expecting Andrew Benintendi to really be the number 3 hitter? That’s a lot to ask in his first full season. I’m for it, but also would make it a short leash early. Definitely do not want to do anything to ruin his progression
  • Fat Ass Pablo Sandoval is apparently less fat now. What happens when he goes through a slump and all that’ll cheer him up is Wendy’s? I don’t care what shape he is in, just hit .270 and play above average defense. After the last two years though, how can anyone expect that?
  • Who the hell is our catcher? Out of the trio of Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and Sandy Leon, somebody needs to finally step up and become the catcher of the future.
  • Without Ortiz’s bat for the first time in well over a decade, this team is going to have to score runs in a different fashion. I hope they understand that. There’s no Ortiz to smash a two-run home run in the first to open up the game. How they replace the activity will be at the top of my list as the season unfolds

I feel that these issues are being overlooked because the Sox had a good season last year, but each one could become a huge problem. All of these questions could make or break this season. The Red Sox have not won a playoff game since ’13. That is unacceptable in Boston. With the acquisition of Sale, along with current contract situations, the Sox have given themselves a pseudo-three year window to win. Now, I am not expecting them to go 3-for-3 in championships, but they have to be competing for one in each of those years. I hope that with all these questions, this isn’t a wasted year. I don’t want to get into predictions just yet, but if this team doesn’t make the ALCS, it’ll be a major disappointment.

Let’s go around the MLB with some thoughts as the season gets close to opening:

  1. The World Baseball Classic has great drama. I wish we had more of this during the regular season. Why not a midseason tournament? Take the top 6 teams in each league, winner get’s automatic playoff berth? I don’t know, we need something like that. Is it perfect? No, but I don’t see you trying.
  2. Bryce Harper has had a ridiculous spring. He’s going to get paid in 2018, but this year and next will determine just how much. Keep an eye on him having another MVP year for that paper.
  3. Speaking of Washington, I love them this year. Expect them to be their with the Cubs in the end. We deserve an NL Championship Series that includes Rizzo, Bryant, Lester, Arrieta, Harper, Scherzer, Zimmerman, etc. I need a moment
  4. The marriage between the Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton has to start deteriorating soon right? It could be this year. The team is about to be sold and will probably blow again. I really hope his talent isn’t wasted down there in one of the armpits of America.
  5.  Look for Christian Yelich to have a monster year. This kid is the real deal, and could be a sneaky good candidate for NL MVP.


 

Friday Update: Dombrowski Chooses Today Over Tomorrow

drewpom

 

When Dave Dombrowski was named Red Sox President of Baseball Operations last August, the prevailing notion was that the administrative change was a step in the right direction. Dombrowski has had a long history of building contending teams as a baseball executive, and there was no reason why he wouldn’t be able to replicate his Florida and Detroit success with a team that had more resources than many, if not all, of its competitors. Yet beneath the surface layer of cheers, there were dissenting whispers bringing up the dark side of a Dombrowski reign. “Oh, you like your prospects and organizational depth?”those whisperers said. “Well don’t get used to them. They don’t call him Dealin’ Dave for nothing”. We were warned. This is what Dombrowski does; he cashes in minor league assets for major league talent (leaving the farm system cupboard completely bare), crafts a playoff team full of All-Stars, forgets about the bullpen, and condemns the team to a cycle of near-misses in October. Continue reading

Series Recap: Red Sox @ Orioles, 5/30-6/2

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
With a 2-2 split against the rival Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox displayed every theme from the season so far.  We saw impressive pitching from unlikely sources, catastrophic pitching from seasoned veterans, and insane hitting on both ends.  While much of the series was disappointing and frustrating to watch, Mookie Betts and Steven Wright stood out with star performances-hopefully keeping both on track for All Star selections. Continue reading

Series Recap: Red Sox @/vs. Braves 4/25-4/28

Bradley catch

The Red Sox handled the struggling Braves in impressive fashion, going 3-1 on the dual stadium series.  If not for Clay Buchholz’ weak start, the Sox might’ve swept the series; keeping their five game winning streak alive.  In the set, Steven Wright solidified himself as a legitimate front-end rotation pitcher, while Rick Porcello and David Price were able to hush the haters with strong performances.  As for the offense, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw, and Hanley Ramirez were able all able to put in huge contributions to continue this remarkable offense. Continue reading