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There are several things that CAN be done indoors that just shouldn’t be. It might be possible to do things like camp out, or drive, or fish or have a cookout indoors, but why even bother? It’s just wrong.
Add baseball to that list. It’s POSSIBLE to play it indoors, as the Red Sox will do tonight in Tampa’s chamber of horrors, but it just kind of mars the whole experience.
Pitching will be Josh “Boom-Boom” Beckett, who has allowed 20 runs– including an amazing TEN home runs– in his last 18 1/3 innings pitched. Pitching for the Devil Rays (that’s right, the Devil Rays, that’s their name) will be Red Sox Killer Matt Garza, who is 5-1, 2.93 lifetime against the Sox, and who knocked Boston out of the playoffs in Game 7 of the ALCS last year.
Garza has basically stunk against everyone except the Red Sox this year, and is making his fifth start of the season against Boston tonight. No wonder I’m so sick of him. Not a great match-up for the Sox tonight, but we’ll still lead Texas by 3.5 in the wild card standings after tonight’s inevitable 7-2 defeat.
The Wikipedia page for the name Garza is quite interesting, featuring not just Matt Garza, but such luminaries as Los Lonely Boys, murderer and drug dealer Juan Garza, Mexican javelin-thrower (hey, it’s better then being a javelin catcher) Juan de la Garza, and one of the fattest people on earth, Manuel Uribe Garza.
Ellsbury steps in, and makes Garza work, getting the count full and fouling off a couple before being called out on strikes by crappy home plate umpire Joe West.
Pedroia follows by quickly bouncing out to Iwamura for the second out. Victor Martinez, playing first base tonight, is next. He takes a close 2-2 pitch for ball 3. Somewhere, Eck just yelled “I gotta have that!” but unfortunately Eckersley is not broadcasting the game tonight– we get Dave Roberts, who is a far, far better pinch runner than he is an announcer.
No worries for Los Lonely Boy, though, as Martinez also rolls out to Iwamura to end the inning. No score after half an inning.
Jason Bartlett leads off for the Devil Rays, who are basically trying to keep their fading postseason hopes alive with a win tonight. But Boom-Boom Beckett gets off to a nice start, blowing away Bartlett for the first out. Screw you Bartlett, AND your book of familiar quotations!
Carl Crawford is up next. And he joins the most popular club around these days– by blasting a shot over the wall in left for yet another home run off Josh Beckett.
Beckett battles back to whiff Ben Zobrist for the second out. At this point, it’s probably easier to make a list of those people who HAVEN’T yet hit a home run off Beckett this month. I’ll have to get to work on that list between innings.
And it’s now between innings, as Beckett gets Carlos Pena swinging to end the first. Hey, he “struck out the side,” except for that one guy who belted a home run. 1-0 Tampa after 1.
Youkilis starts things by ripping a shot to left center that one-hops the wall for a double.
Now let’s see, who HASN’T hit a home run off Beckett this month? (Yet?) Okay, well Beckett himself hasn’t. And none of his teammates have either, as far as I can tell. So that narrows it down a bit. I haven’t, and neither has my new baby son. (Give him time, and we’ll see!) On he other hand, neither has anyone in the Hall of Fame, because they are all retired.
Ortiz flies out routinely, bringing up Jason Bay. Garza falls behind 3-1. Hmm, man in scoring position, one out, hitters count– this might be the worst inning Garza’s pitched against the Sox this year.
Bay continues Garza’s misery by cracking a fast-ball to right field, where it bounces off the wall! Youkilis scores easily, and Bay steams all the way to third with a triple, as center-fielder BJ Upton takes his time and nonchalantly retrieves the ball.
Drew pops out weakly and quickly, and Varitek is next, with the chance to put the Sox in front. He works the count full, then, as everyone knew he would, he whiffs, chasing a high heater well out of the zone. Sox lead 1-1 in the second.
Desperate Housewife Evan Longoria is next, and he’s hit approximately 87 home runs and 957 RBIs against Boston this year. In a moral victory, Beckett gets him to line a base hit.
Greg Zaun quickly follows by cracking another hit, and Longoria races to third. As if the zillion home runs weren’t bad enough, it’s NOT a good sign that Greg Zaun is cracking shots off Beckett.
The Devil Ray hitters are in such a hurry to get up there against Beckett and add to their hitting stats that I’m having trouble keeping up. Iwamura dashes to the plate and cracks ANOTHER hit, scoring Longoria. 3-1 Devil Rays now.
John Farrell comes out to the mound to suggest that maybe Beckett should stop giving up tremendous shots to any random guy with a bat. BJ Upton steps in, and for some insane reason, tries to BUNT, but fouls it off. But he tries again, and this time the safety squeeze is fair, rolling to the charging Victor Martinez. He grabs it and fires to the plate to try to get the slow-footed Zaun, but he’s too late and it’s yet another run scored. 4-1 Tampa. Wow, how bad is Upton that he was determined to bunt against a guy who can’t get anyone out? And how bad is Beckett, letting a guy that psyched out knock in the run? Everyone out there is bad.
Upton safe at first. Bartlett is next, unless this is some guy from out of the crowd who wants a chance to hit against Beckett. No, it’s Bartlett, and he pops out to shallow right. An out! Huzzah! That should temporarily quiet the minority of fans in the embarrassingly small crowd who actually cheer for the Devil Rays instead of the Red Sox, and who have been clanging their stupid, cliched, gimmicky cowbells all inning.
Carl Crawford is next, and he, like most of North America, has homered off Beckett recently. This time his shot down the line goes foul, just missing the pole. Improvement baby! Things are looking up for Beckett.
And they continue to not suck for a minute, as Crawford bounces out to Youkilis for the second out.
Ben Zobrist is next. Can Beckett get him out and survive this inning, or will he inevitably belt a three-run homer? For now, Beckett survives, getting Zobrist to fly out routinely and end the inning. But Tampa’s comfortably ahead now, 4-1 after 2.
Alex Gonzalez leads off. He still hasn’t walked in his 2009 Red Sox career, and he continues to not walk, fouling out here for the first out. Ellsbury must have liked what he saw, because he hurriedly fouls out as well.
Pedroia is next, and it doesn’t take long for him to fly out to Crawford to end the inning. Still 4-1 Devil Rays, in the third.
What are these numbers: 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 2 1 3?
Too long for a phone number, you’ve got twos and threes in there, so it can’t be computer code. Is it the National Debt? Some kind of crypto-code puzzle? Nope, those are the runs the other teams have scored in each of Josh Beckett’s last 24 innings pitched. Ghastly like Rick Astley.
Beckett starts the third by fanning Carlos Pena. You know, between all the crushed bombs, Beckett’s looked pretty good. And he continues to do so, whiffing Pat Burrell next.
Desperate Longoria is next, and he grounds one to Youkilis, Beckett starts to walk off the field, but not so fast– Youks bobbles it, then throws it way wide of first. Longoria is safe, and holds first despite the overthrow.
Blond-mulleted Greg Zaun is next. Not only does he have a 1970s haircut, he’s not wearing any batting gloves, and wearing his stirrup socks very low with lots of color showing– very old school for the old-timer who has been in the majors way longer than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have.
Zaun hits a pop foul down the third base line, but in play, and Beckett starts walking off the mound– but not so fast, as Youkilis stumbles and bumbles like he’s wearing violin cases on his feet, and doesn’t even come close to catching the popup. Everyone out there sucks tonight, have I pointed that out yet? Youks is bumbling, Beckett’s been getting slammed, and some of the Devil Rays are so bad that they haven’t even hit home runs off Beckett. Yet.
Zaun fouls off about 37 more pitches. Beckett looks like he’d like to stab someone with that big dumb shark tooth necklace he wears. Finally Zaun puts the ball in play– a sharp grounder down the first base line, a double that scores Longoria with yet another run. Where’s Brad Penny now that we need him? Oh yeah, pitching 8 shutout innings tonight, that’s where. That would now be 19 innings pitched, exactly one run allowed by John Smoltz and Brad Penny since the Red Sox cut them, compared to the 2 million runs allowed by Beckett in the last couple of weeks. What the hell, baseball?
Iwamura is next– “Iwamura” obviously being the Japanese word for “pest.” Recently re-promotified pitcher Junichi Tazawa starts to warm up in the bullpen. If he gets in, can another Nick Green pitching performance be far behind?
Luckily, neither Tazawa nor Green will be needed in this inning at least, as Eewamoorah whiffs to end it. Beckett didn’t actually pitch badly that time, too bad Youks was determined that Tampa should score and did what it took to make sure they did. 5-1 bad guys after 3.
As was inevitable, Garza’s settled down now with the lead. Martinez steps in to start the inning, and draws a walk, to get the tying run into the on-double-deck- circle, if there actually was such a thing, and it’s kind of too bad that there isn’t.
Youk is next, and he pops a foul over near the seats behind first base. Pena races over, and in the spirit of fellowship, misses it, the ball bouncing off his glove near the railing. New life for Youkilis! For some reason, this prompts a pitcher-catcher conference on the mound. Will tonight’s game last as long as last night’s marathon? Possibly, if Devil Rays manager Joe “Seven Pitching Changes in One Game” Maddon has his way.
Perhaps Zaun also wanted to reward Youkilis, and told Garza to give up a double to left, because that’s what he does. Martinez holds third, and the Sox have two men in scoring position. Let’s hope this time it goes better than it usually does in Tampa.
Ortiz steps in. With this stupid shift on, he could bunt down the third base line and knock in a run, advance the other runner and quite possibly be safe at first himself. But he doesn’t bother with that, Big Papi doesn’t do bunting.
This time it makes very little difference, as he grounds out to Pena, scoring the run and advancing Youkilis to third. No chance of beating that out, but at least the Sox get a second run off Garza!
Bay is next, with a man on third and one out, just like Drew had in the second inning. And exactly like Drew, Bay pops out quickly and meekly, not scoring the run, this one caught in foul ground for the second out.
Drew himself is next, with a chance to get the Sox back into the game for a minute. He works the count to 2-2 and fouls one off, then takes ball three, then fouls off another, building the drama. Garza up to 72 pitches now, so maybe we can get him out of the game early, which would help the Sox score the 13 runs they’re likely to need to win this game.
And Drew does his part, grounding a single right to where the shortstop should have been standing, but wasn’t, due to Maddon’s “I Will Outsmart Myself” shift. Youkilis scores, making it 5-3.
Varitek is next. Maybe Tampa will try a shift where all the fielders go sit in the stands, so Varitek might have a chance at getting a hit. It wouldn’t have made much difference if they had, because Varitek draws a walk.
Tying runs on base, but two outs and light-hitting Alex Gonzalez stands in to inevitably make the last out.
And he does, hitting a liner, but right at Crawford in left for the inning-ending out. 5-3 Tampa in the 4th.
1 0 1 0 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 2 1 3 1
BJ Upton starts the inning by lofting a foul fly into the right field corner. JD Drew comes trotting over, and makes the grab, not nonchalantly, but with just enough chalant to get the job done.
Jason Bartlett follows by smacking a grounder between short and third. Gonzalez ranges over and grabs it, and tries the Derek Jeter Jump Throw (TM) but it’s way late. Infield hit for Bartlett.
Dave Roberts points out that when Tampa gets runners on base, they get proactive and really start pushing the envelope. Do they also think outside the box? Work well with others? Are they people persons who are self-starters who are able to self-actualize a new paradigm? Is Roberts announcing a ballgame or interviewing for a marketing job?
Carl Crawford flies out routinely to Drew for the second out. Ben Zobrist follows by grounding meekly to Victor Martinez, who tags him to retire the side. (Not literally– they don’t have to all retire from baseball now, unfortunately.) And Josh Beckett has now pitched a scoreless inning! He’s still losing though, 5-3 Tampa after 4.
Garza starts the inning by hitting Jacoby Ellsbury with a pitch. It’s a shame that this is by far Garza’s worst game of the year against the Sox, and we have Beckett facing him, yet we’re still losing.
Pedroia is next, and he flies out fairly deeply to center field for the first out.
Victor Martinez steps in. On the third pitch, Ellsbury takes off for second, and slides in safely as the throw gets away from Bartlett. Ellsbury has to hold, as the play is backed up by the pesky Iwamura.
Martinez ends up popping up on a very hittable high fastball, and makes the second out.
Youkilis works the count full, then walks, on what must be Los Lonely Boy’s 187th pitch of the night. Still no action in the Tampa bullpen.
Ortiz is next, and he un-Papily pops out to shallow left on the first pitch to non-clutchly end the inning. Still 5-3 Tampa.
1 0 1 0 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 2 1 3 1 ZERO!
Pena leads off, and Beckett whiffs him on a 92-mph darting… fastball? Could that have been a slider? Either way, Pena’s out. And soon, so is Pat Burrell, called out looking. And Beckett completes his first 1-2-3 inning of the night by getting Longoria to fly out easily to left. 5-3 bad guys after 5.
Jason Bay leads off the Boston 6th. It’s too bad that Matt Garza doesn’t weigh as much as Manuel Uribe Garza. If he did, then maybe Jason Bay wouldn’t have whiffed. But he did.
Drew follows by nonchalantly flying out to left, short of the track. Garza hanging in there, looks like he’ll finish at least 6 innings tonight.
But he grooves a Manuel Uribe Garza-style fat pitch to Varitek! Varitek swings, connects… and flies out to Upton on the warning track. Inning over. Still 5-3 Devil Rays.
1 0 1 0 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 2 1 3 1 0 0
Old School Burnout Greg Zaun leads off for the Devil Rays. Beckett now up to 90 pitches– seems like he’s thrown a lot more than that already. Beckett gets Zaun to chase a diving breaking ball, and fans him for the first out. He’s now retired 6 hitters in a row. Too bad the game didn’t start at 8:30 tonight.
Iwamura is next. Orsillo points out that Iwamura has only hit 14 major league home runs, but in a typically annoying Devil-Rayish way, 5 of those have come against Boston. He doesn’t hit one this time though, instead flying out routinely to left.
Upton follows by crushing a full-count pitch to deep left, but he was ahead of it, and it’s foul. He’s not ahead of the next one, belting it to center. Ellsbury races over, lunges and catches it, then falls on his face but hangs on to the ball to end the inning! That should be enough for Beckett. At least he can finish on a high note, thanks to Ellsbury’s fine running catch. 5-3 bad guys after 6.
The world’s fattest man, M. Garza, is still in there, after 104 pitches, showing no respect for the offensive abilities of Alex Gonzalez, who leads off the 7th. Gonzalez must take offense, because he belts one to the left-center gap. The ball one-hops the wall for a double!
The top of the order is due up for the Sox, and still Garza stays out there. After starting Ellsbury with a 1-1 count, he’s up to 109 pitches. I guess Maddon’s going to stick with his Sox-Killer, rather than try middle relievers like Choate and Shouse. Or Shoate and Chouse, or Twist and Shout, or whoever he’s got out there.
Ellsbury hangs in there until the count is full, then smashes a liner to right. But Zobrist comes running over to grab it. Gonzalez doesn’t tag up, choosing instead to play it halfway, in case the ball got down for a hit. Roberts points out on NESN that he should’ve got to third on that.
Next, Pedroia lofts a deep fly to the right field corner, but Zobrist comes running over, reaches up and grabs it for the out. Gonzalez tags and moves to third this time. If he had done it last time, that fly would’ve scored the run. But he didn’t, and it didn’t.
Victor Martinez is next. In the Tampa bullpen, Brian Shouse has stopped throwing, but Randy Choate and Brad Chadford are throwing. Los Lonely Garza still battles on, though.
Martinez grounds one through the right side for a single! Gonzalez scores. Where’s your dumb shift now Joe Maddon?
His hair newly dyed Elvis-black, Maddon finally comes out of the dugout and calls for Chad Bradford to come into the game to face Youkilis. Pitching change.
Brad Chadford into the game. Russ Springer and Randy Choate continue to warm up for Tampa. How many nondescript journeyman middle relievers do these guys have anyway? Where’s Craig Lefferts? Where’s Brian Bohannon?
Youilis greets Chadford by ripping a deep fly to right. But that man, Zobrist, races back and grabs it on the warning track, his third running catch of the inning, ferchrissake, to end the threat. 5-4 bad guys, only 6 outs left.
Ramon Ramirez now on to pitch against the top of the Devil Ray lineup. Bartlett starts the inning by fouling out to V-Mart by the Devil Ray dugout. Crawford is next, and Ramirez fans him on a darting slider.
Zobrist is next, after those three running catches. He’ll probably do something annoying. Not this time– he fouls out to Youkilis, who makes the catch this time to end the 1-2-3 inning. Still 5-4 bad guys after 7.
Randol Doyle Choate is in to face Ortiz. Seriously, how many journeymen retreads do they have?
Ortiz draws a walk. Tying run on base in the 8th– do we pinch-run for the lead-footed Ortiz? Dave Roberts, come down out of the broadcast booth and run for Ortiz, that’d be a win-win. Actually, it’s going to be newest Red Sox Joey Gathright in to pinch run.
Maddon stops dying his hair long enough to come out of the dugout and change pitchers yet again.
Russ Springer is now in to face Jason Bay. Any other unathletic journeymen relievers still out there in the bullpen? Todd Forwirth? Gar Finvold? Mike Stanton? Mark Clear? Tony Fossas? Doesn’t matter, as Bay fans. But The Next Dave Roberts, Joey Gathright, swipes second on the play!
Tying run in scoring position, one out. Maddon comes out again to change pitchers, probably thinking that the clock will run out if he keeps stalling for time. Next time, he’ll probably take the ball from the pitcher and then kneel on the mound until the game ends.
The man with the worst name for a pitcher this side of Homer Bailey or Bob Walk– Grant Balfour– comes in to face JD Drew.
Balfour falls behind 3-1, then misses again, thereby granting ball four. Get it, yeah-yeah-yeah, etc., etc.
Two on and one out, and Casey Kotchman comes out to pinch-hit for Varitek. The count goes full, and then once again, Grant Balfour grants ball four. I am sure I’m the only one who actually finds that funny, but what can I say, I do.
In a bold change of strategy, Joe Maddon comes lumbering out of the Tampa dugout to change pitchers. Bradford, Choate, Springer, Balfour, JP Howell– the parade continues.
Nick Green is now in to run for Kotchman, but no one is going to pinch hit for Alex Gonzalez. Hmm. Okay. This is pretty obviously the biggest at-bat of the game, yet our worst hitter is going to bat, rather than say, Mike Lowell?
JP Howell then throws one past the catcher for a game-tying wild pitch! The run scores, the game is tied! Unfortunately, Gonzalez is still a poor hitter, and he soon whiffs for the second out, failing to deliver the go-ahead runs.
Ellsbury is next, to face Mr. Howell, the whirling, heaving lefty. Howell bounces another one in there, but this time Zaun blocks the 55-footer, keeping the runners on base. But on the next pitch, Ellsbury waves woefully at a breaking ball, fanning for the third out. Game tied at 5!
Carlos Pena leads off for the Devil Rays by cracking a liner in the gap that one-hops the wall for a double. Pat Burrell follows by lining a base hit to right, scoring Pena, and suddenly we’re losing again. It took four pitching changes and about an hour and a half for us to score the tying run last inning, now Tampa retakes the lead on four pitches in about 30 seconds.
Now Francona is out to make a mid-inning pitching change, as this game slows down even more. No worries, the chances of playing the bottom of the 9th inning just plummeted.
Manny Delcarmen comes in to face Eva Longoria. And Longoria hits the first pitch about 7000 feet, instantly making the score 8-5 Devil Rays, his 97th home run against Boston this season. That took five pitches for Tampa’s season to go from basically over to back alive again.
Orsillo is really second-guessing Francona now, which is unusual for him. He must be bored with the Dave Roberts bland-o-rama. I also wonder why Lowell didn’t pinch hit for Gonzalez, but at least mine was a first-guess.
Zaun follows by quickly smacking a double to left. Pitching coach John Farrell comes out for a conference. Yeah, that’ll help. Fix him like you fixed Smoltz, Penny and Beckett.
Eewamoorah works the count full, then almost falls down as he whiffs for the first out. Now Francona tries to steal a page from the Joe Maddon stall-for-time playbook, coming out to yank MDC after he finally got an out.
Takashi Saito is in to face Upton, who golfs one to deep left. Bay races back, but the ball sails over him, off the wall for a double. But the million-year-old Zaun held up, thinking that the ball might be caught! Now, emulating the baserunning skills of Clay Buchholz, he comes barreling toward the plate as the ball arrives! George Kottaras is playing catcher now, for some reason, and he blocks the plate long enough to get horrible home plate ump Joe West to call out the obviously safe Zaun!
Two outs now, and the Sox only down by three. Bartlett up next. Saito’s first pitch gets away from Kottaras, and Upton takes off for third! But the rookie catcher’s throw just beats him, Youkilis slapping on a lunging tag for the third out. 8-5 Tampa after 8, all of a sudden.
This game sure is starting to look like the first game in Tampa last month, when the Sox had several chances to win, but blew them all and lost in extra innings.
Hyperventilating spaz JP Howell is back on the mound for the 9th. Pedroia starts the inning by hitting a fly ball to right. Gabe Gross is out there instead of Zobrist, but he makes the catch for the first out.
Victor Martinez follows with a walk. And guess what Joe Maddon does? He decides to change pitchers in the middle of an inning yet again.
Dan Wheeler comes in to face Youks, who hits a tapper in front of the mound. Wheeler is over on it quickly and fires to first, just barely in time to get Youkilis for the second out.
Lowell comes out to pinch hit for pinch runner Joey Gathright. Now we use Lowell? Anyway, he flies out routinely to left on the first pitch, ending the game.
A routine flyout would have been a lot more helpful back when Gonzalez was up with the bases loaded, but in the end it probably doesn’t matter. Those 3 runs in about 30 seconds would’ve won the game anyway.
Well, the Sox can still win this series tomorrow, and Tampa’s parade of relief pitchers must surely have weakened their bullpen, so there’s that. Still, it’s a frustrating loss, as Texas just won again, cutting the lead to 2.5 over them, and the Devil Rays are still alive.