|Rob Gronkowski vs Seattle Secondary is Clash of Titans||Connelly’s Top Ten: The Countdown is on!||NBA All-Star Game Starters Announced, Illustrate Flawed Selection Process||Video: Bill Belichick Deflate-Gate Press Conference|
Clay Buchholz, 0-0, 0.00 at Ricky Romero, 7-3, 3.00
Tonight, Clay Buchholz makes his long-awaited return to the Red Sox, while Julio Lugo makes his long-awaited departure from the team. As fun as it might be to mock Lugo, it’s important to remember that he was the starting shortstop on a Sox team that won the World Series. There haven’t been many of those. He also hit .385 in that Series. It hasn’t worked out for him or the team this year, but part of the reason for that is despite working out and bulking up before the season, he got hurt in spring training and tried to come back too soon. It’s time for him to move on, but his era here wasn’t as bad as some make it out to be. So adios, Coolio. Thanks for being part of that 2007 championship.
Clay Buckles, RHP
Other roster moves: Master Aaron Bates has been sent back down to Pawtucket, while returning for Boston tonight is Mike Lowell, apparently back from hip replacement surgery or some other old person issue. It’s still not yet clear if he’ll be riding around the bases on a Rascal scooter or not. He is definitely at the ballpark, though, apparently already having finished the early bird special at the Sizzler.
Looks like the J’s will be wearing their classic, Rance-Mulliniks-era powder-blue 70′s uniforms tonight. Whenever I see those uniforms, I’m reminded of longtime Blue Jay Garth Iorg (pronounced /ˈɔrdʒ/) and his National League brother Dane. Let’s take an impromptu poll:
Anyway, the game’s about to start, as JD Drew steps into the box. Jim Kaat is the color man tonight, a big improvement over some of the previous characters.
Drew draws a leadoff walk. Pedroia follows by bouncing a one-hopper to Kelly Gruber at third, who gets the lead runner on the force at second, but GlenAaron Hill’s throw to first is too late to get Pedroia.
One on, one out for Youkilis, and he promptly belts a deep fly to left that soars over the 375-foot sign for a home run! 2-0 good guys.
Ortiz is next, and he smacks a grounder up the middle that hits Romero and knocks him down! He crawls over to the ball and picks it up, but by that time even Ortiz is able to reach first with the infield single. Kaat: “Romero thought about throwing it, but instead just ate the baseball.” This is in fact a bald-faced lie, as Romero did NOT eat the baseball. He might possibly have licked it, but he definitely didn’t eat it.
Bay follows by fanning on a change-up. Lowell is up with one on and two out. He cracks a grounder up the middle too, but this time Romero is able to snag it in self-defense and throw out Lowell to end the inning.
2-0 Boston after half an inning.
Marco Scutaro will lead off for the Blue J’s. Buchholz gets ahead 1-2, then misses high with a 95-mph fastball. Scutaro grounds one to shortstop, where NotLugo backhands it and easily, un-Lugoishly throws out Scutaro.
Hill is next for Toronto. Kaat points out that Vernon Wells is out sick tonight for Toronto. Is he sick of sucking? The Red Sox also made a lte lineup change in centerfield, taking Ellsbury out of the lineup and replacing him with Rico Baldi. No reason was given for the change. Possibly the Sox just realized that Romero is a lefty?
Buchholz hitting the mid-90s with the fastball so far. He gets Hill to bounce out to Green again for the second out.
Adam “Fred” Lind follows, and Buchholz starts him with another 95-mph heater. Lind also grounds to Green at SS, and he makes yet another routine play for the out. 2-0 Sox after 1.
Varitek starts the second for the Sox. He works the count to 3-2, then takes ball 4 for the leadoff walk, the second leadoff walk in two innings for Romero.
Baldelli comes up. and his third-strike foul tip is snagged by Barajas for the out.
Greenzo, so far on pace to break the all-time record with 27 assists in tonight’s game, whiffs swinging on a breaking ball for the second out. Romero suddenly looking competent here.
Could we maybe play Green in the field but let Lugo hit? They could wear the same uniform number with the name Lugreen or Greengo on the back, no one would notice.
And Romero blows away Drew, fanning him for the third out. Still 2-0 in the second.
Rolen leads off. Kaat, clearly not having watched the Red Sox play yet this season, claims that Lowell is one of the top fielding third basemen in the game.
Gene “Anyone For” Tenace is the hitting coach for the Jays. For some reason, the announcers find this interesting. Rolen grounds out to Lowell, not Green. Green’s only on pace for 21 assists tonight now, as Buchholz has started by inducing 4 straight groundouts.
Overbay changes all that, lining a fastball into center for a base hit. There goes the no-hitter for Buchholz.
The Rogers Skydome music people start blasting “charge” over the loudspeakers as Rios steps in. Really? Charge, in the second inning, after your first hit of the night? Really?
Buchholz starting to miss with the curveball now, as one lands in the dirt. But that’s okay, as he fans Rios on a darting changeup. Good to see, as Buchholz had troubles pitching from the stretch last year. Though he seemed to have trouble pitching from the mound too.
Jose Bautista follows with a chopper down the third baseline. Lowell grabs it, well behind the bag, straddling the line, but his throw bounces and pulls Youkilis off the bag. Lowell’s charged with an error for his effort.
2 on and 2 out for Barajas. Buchholz gets a called strike on a curve, then misses with another. Barajas ridiculously chases a fastball in the dirt, then fans on a nice changeup to end the inning. Still 2-0.
Pedroia leads off. Will Romero issue his third straight leadoff walk, or will he continue to blow hitters away, as he suddenly started to do last inning?
Pedroia starts things by flaring a little base hit to center. Youks is next, and Romero fans him, his fourth K in 5 batters.
As Ortiz steps up, the Jays infielders start walking all over the place. Third baseman Scott Rolen is standing basically on second base. Maybe Pedroia could steal second and third on one pitch.
But he doesn’t, as Ortiz whiffs on a breaking ball for the second out. That now makes 5 whiffs out of the last 6 batters.
Bay is next, and he works the count full. Then Romero decides to end this foolishness and blows him away with a fastball. Suddenly he’s Nolan Ryan. But it’s still 2-0 Boston.
David Dellucci leads off for Toronto. Isn’t he the guy from X-Files? Anyway, he pops out to left.
Scutaro steps in and fouls off the first pitch, Buchholz getting ahead in the count again. Most of the Blue Jays are wearing gray undershirts tonight with their v-neck uniforms, rather than ungainly chest hair, as their 1970s predecessors did with these jerseys. Scutaro draws a walk. A good fielding shortstop who gets on base, Scutaro would look much better in a Red Sox uniform than this powder blue thing.
All-Star GlenAaron Hill is next. The announcers are talking about the Red Sox possibly trading for Roy Halladay. Sounds great, let’s have Buchholz beat Toronto tonight, then tomorrow we’ll trade him as part of the Halladay deal, then Sunday Halladay will pitch for Boston and beat the Jays. Agreed?
Hill cracks one up the middle, but Pedroia lunges and backhands it, then flips to Green, whose throw to first beats Hill to complete the double play. Inning over, nice defense. 2-0 Boston after 3.
Lowell starts the fourth by belting a shot to left that one hops the wall. Unfortunately, he’s still slower than Mirabelli swimming in molasses in January, and has to hold first with a single as Dellucci gets it in quickly. Mike, we love you, but maybe you really should look into getting one of those Rascals.
Varitek follows with a four-pitch walk, as first-inning Romero has suddenly returned. But then he gets Baldelli to bounce a tailor-made DP grounder to Scutaro, and suddenly this promising inning is not so promising. Lowell does take third on the play, where could possibly score on a double.
Green is next, and Romero hits the bottom of the handle of the bat for a foul strike. If a pitcher could do that on purpose, he could start every hitter 0-2. Looks like it also hit Green’s hand, and now the trainer is out to look at him. Not good, as Lowrie is still not on the roster. If Green has to come out, I have no idea who would play shortstop. Youkilis? Kotsay? Wakefield?
Green stays in the game, luckily. Then he fans yet again, determined to find some way to make us miss Lugo. 2-0 Boston in the 4th.
Lind leads off, and Buchholz keeps firing fastball in the mid-90s, getting ahead 1-2. But Lind gets hold of a changeup and belts it into the left-center-field gap for a double.
Rolen follows by grounding one up the middle. Buchholz grabs it, and happily finds Lind running to third for some reason. Trying not to snicker, he tosses to Lowell for the easy out. Terrible baserunning by Lind, thanks.
The laughter doesn’t last though as Overbay belts one in the gap that bounces over the wall for an automatic double.
Runners on second and third for Rios, and he smacks a fly to center that Baldelli has easily, but both runners tag up, Rolen scoring.
Bautista is next, with the tying run at third. He cracks a liner, but it’s right at Pedroia, who grabs it to end the threat. 2-1 Boston now after 4.
The top of the order is up for Boston, and Drew bounces out on the first pitch. Pedroia follows by fouling off about 10 pitches, battling to work the count full. He fouls off another one. Who will get tired of this first? Looks like it’s Romero, as he walks him on the 12th pitch of the at-bat. That would be fouor walks and 7 Ks for Romero in 4 and 1/3 innings. He’s up near 85 pitches now.
Youkilis takes the first three pitches for balls. (Of course they’re balls, he’s not pitching potatoes or grapefruits.) After a called strike, Youks draws another walk.
Ortiz is up to face the shift again. This time, Rolen has to stay nearer to third, with a man on second base. Red Sox fans chanting “Let’s go Red Sox,” to the irritation of their Canadian hosts, who respond with chants of “Pipe down ya hosers, eh?”
Ortiz drives one to deep left, Dellucci goes back to the track and reaches up, but the ball hits the top of the fence! Pedroia scores easily, and Youkilis chugs around from first to score too. Romero hops up and down on the mound in frustration. He’s only going to be more frustrated now, as Cito Gaston is out there to yank him from the game. Pitching change, 4-1 Sox.
American Shawn Camp is in to pitch for Toronto against Canadian Jason Bay. Bay grounds to Rolen for the second out, and then Lowell bounces out to Scutaro to end the inning. 4-1 good guys in the 5th.
Rod Barahahahas is up for Tranna. Buchholz gets him to ground out to Lowell. In NY, Curtis Granderson rips a home run to put the Tigers up 3-1 on the Jankees. But now NY adds a run of their own. Tampa is tied 1-1 in their game.
Dellucci chops one to second, and Pedroia handles it easily, bringing up Scutaro. Kaat points out that this could be a big batter for Buchholz. I hope not, as he walks him. Power-hitting Aaron “Blueberry” Hill is next. Buchholz fans him, getting him to swing and miss at a nice sweeping curve for the third out. 4-1 Sox after 5.
Varitek leads off, and Camp saws his bat, getting him to roll out to Hill. Baldelli follows with a sinking liner to left, but Dellucci comes sliding in to make the catch for the second out. Green follows with a routine flyout to right to end the very quick inning. Shawn Camp is dominating the Sox hitters. 4-1 in the 6th.
Buchholz starts the inning at 83 pitches. Daniel Bard starts to warm up in the Sox bullpen as Adam Lind steps in to face Buchholz, and fouls off a couple pitches, working the count to 2-2. Lind then hits a one-hopper to Youkilis, who snatches it up and trots to first. Rolen is next, and Buchholz gets ahead with a curve for a called strike. Throwing that pitch for called strikes is important to Buchholz’s success. He gets Rolen to swing and miss at a change for strike 2, then pops him up on another curve. Pedroia catches it for the second out.
Buchholz is looking good so far as he mixes in more offspeed stuff here in the 6th. Overbay steps in and suddenly Buchholz throws three straight out of the zone, then comes back to fill the count with two called strikes. The next pitch is a fastball, and Overball lines it right back at Buchholz, who ducks out of the way as the ball rockets into center for Overbay’s third hit of the night.
Rios is next, and he is most likely the last hitter Buchholz will face tonight. Let’s see what he’s got left in the tank to go after him with. He falls behind 3-1, and is working slowly now. He misses with another pitch, walking Rios, and that is going to be it for him. Francona comes out to take the ball. Pitching change.
Buchholz pitched well tonight, but only lasted 5 and 2/3 innings, and will need some help from the bullpen to get out of this jam. He walked three and fanned three, not ideal numbers, but if Daniel Bard can get an out here, the Sox will be really pleased with Buchholz’s performance.
The Immortal Bard is in to fire 100-mph heaters at Bautista. But he can’t do it! His fastball tops out at a mere 99 mph, when he blows away Bautista to end the rally. 4-1 Sox after 6.
Drew leads off by chopping the second pitch weakly down the first base line, and Overbay fields it and tags him out.
Pedroia belts a liner to left. Dellucci runs back, leaps up while running away from the plate, reaches up and snares it, then falls to the turf. Great catch.
Youkilis is next. Shawn Camp is muttering to himself on the mound for some reason, possibly to mock the Red Sox feeble attempts to hit him. Youks can’t do anything about it other than to fly out routinely to center. 4-1 Sox.
Barajas leads off and flies out quickly to Drew. Dellucci is next. With two strikes, he flails at a pitch in the dirt that hits him in the foot! He stands at the plate rasing and lowering his aching foot, as the ball gets past Varitek. Varitek tracks it down and throws to first to get the apparently disinterested Dellucci.
Scutaro is nexxt, and he battles Bard, fouling off some tough fastballs. Then Bard drops a breaking ball in there, and Scutaro is called out on strikes, surely thinking that it’s not fair to do that to him after those heaters. 4-1 Boston after 7.
Jeremy “Honda” Accardo and his bright blue glove take over from Camp, who must be tired of punking out the Red Sox hitters. Ortiz leads off against him, and is promptly called out on strikes.
For some reason, Toronto has put no-hit shortstop John McDonald in left field. Apparently Dellucci was injured on the weird play where he didn’t run.
Accardo whiffs Jason Bay for the second out, as the Toronto bullpen remains unhittable.
Lowell’s had enough of all this, and smacks a single to right center, bringing up Varitek. The Cap’n grounds out to Scutaro to end the inning. Still 4-1 in the 8th.
Looks like the Immortal Bard is done for the night. Farewell, fair cruelty. I dote on his very absence.
Okajima is in to pitch now. He’ll face the heart of Toronto’s lineup: Hill, Lind and Rolen. Delcarmen is throwing up in the bullpen. Wait, no, he’s not throwing up, he’s just throwing practice pitches.
Hill smacks one pretty well to right, but Drew is right there to handle it easily. Lind follows by grounding a turf-burner right at Pedroia, who throws him out. Two down and no one on for Rolen. Has Okajima always been a blonde? Not to start vicious rumors, but I suspect he might be dying his hair, as it is now sort of orange-ish.
Rolen cracks a drive down the left field line for a double. The hot-hitting Overbay is next, with the tying run on deck. Overbay smacks a hot grounder, but it’s right at Youkilis, who grabs it and trots to first to end the inning. 4-1 Boston after 8.
The Yankees have come back to take a 5-3 lead on Detroit after 7, on a three-run home run by Horseface Tex-whatever. That’s just the sort of thing those jerks would do, isn’t it?
Begoggled Brandon League takes over on the mound for the J’s, to face Baldy, Green and Drew, in that order. League gets Baldelli to chase a breaking ball at his ankles for strike three for the first out, then Green grounds weakly to Hill for out #2, as the Toronto bullpen continues its dominance. League blows a high 98-mph fastball past Drew to quickly end the inning. 4-1 Sox going into the bottom of the 9th.
Ginger Okajima is out, and Papelbon is in for the 9th. He’ll face Rios, Bautista and Barajas.
Rios starts by skying a high flyball down the right field line toward the corner. Drew gets there in plenty of time to make the catch.
Papelbon gets ahead of Bautista 1-2, then gets him to also hit a routine flyout to Drew. 2 down and no one on in the 9th for Rod Barajas. And he hacks at Papelbon’s first pitch, hitting a grounder right to Green. Green fields it and throws him out, and the Sox win! 4-1 the final.
Quite a calm, relaxing inning from Papelbon, thanks. And it’s been a nice, neat win for the Sox to start the second half. Not much drama, but that’s fine, as long as we win.