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Daisuke Matsuzaka had another fine start off the disabled list Friday night, as he allowed just two runs on five hits and three walks in six innings pitched. He struck out seven hitters and managed to keep his pitch count relatively low, so maybe he’s starting to salvage his season. The effort helped Dice-K earn his fourth win of the year, and his recent good stretch lowered his season ERA to 5.87, which considering where he was, is a tremendous improvement.
With the Sox up 2-0 in the third inning, Victor Martinez hit an RBI single, and Jason Bay hit a critical RBI double to give the Sox a 4-0 lead. The Sox added two more in the seventh inning, just in case the Indians decided they wanted to try and win that game. Bay finished 2-4 with one RBI, and V-Mart also finished 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Read below for the full live blog…
This is a meaningless game, with figuratively nothing at stake. Unlike all those other IMPORTANT sport games where millionaires run around in short pants to give the unwashed masses three hours of distraction.
Tonight, the local nine tunes up for the playoffs, having already backed in a couple of nights ago.
For da Sawx, Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw his customary 108 pitches over 5.1 innings against Jeremy Sowers of the Cleveland Native Americans.
— Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP
Looks like the Varsity is starting tonight for the Red Sox. There, paying customers, enjoy the bone they’ve thrown you. I wonder if Cleveland will do the same, or if they’ll bust out a AA lineup? Will we see Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee tonight?
— Jeremy Sowers, LHP
Find some reading material, make a list of chores to do, grab the remote and find something interesting to use as a backup channel, because Dice K is ready to pitch.
The Red Sox are wearing their red shirts tonight, which makes some of them resemble a certain famous red-shirted celebrity.
Michael Brantley steps in. I must admit, I have no idea who he is. He lines a base hit to right, just past Pedroia, and slides in to second with a standup double.
Journeyman Jamey Carroll is next. Matsuzaka gets ahead 0-2, then Carroll fouls off about 10 pitches, then Matsuzaka misses with a couple of leisurely paced pitches. Then Carroll fouls off a few more. Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a snickers. Finally, Dice K fans him, looking, for the first out.
Shin Soo “Big League” Choo steps in, sporting his little-league-style double-ear batting helmet. After about six minutes and four pitches, it’s a 2-2 count to Shin Soo “Ah” Choo. Eventually, he flies out to Rocco in right.
Jhonny Pherltha follows by quickly grounding out to Youkilis to end the inning. Sweet! 0-0 in the first.
Ellsbury stands in against soft-tossing lefty Jeremy Sours. Ellsbury flares one to right that drops in, and just like Brantley did, he hustles to second for a double. Since he’s close to 70 stolen bases on the season, he’ll probably try to steal third here to add a meaningless bag to his total. Sure enough, he takes off, and the throw from Shoppach sails past Peralta for a run-scoring throwing error!
Pedroia follows by grounding out to first base for the first out.
Victor Martinez gets to face his old team. He gets ahead 2-0, but then Sowers gets him to ground out to Valbuena for the second out, bringing up Youkilis. Youks falls behind 1-2, then hits a foul tip that’s caught by Shoppach to end the inning. 1-0 Red Sox after 1.
Travis Hafner leads off the 2nd by hitting one in the right-center gap. Baldelli gets a bit of a late break, (probably surfing the web on his iphone while waiting for Dice K to get on with it) but he comes sliding over to make a nice backhanded grab.
Former Sox draft pick Matt LaPorta follows by popping out to Pedroia for the second out.
Some guy named Valbuena is next. Apparently, Luis Adan Valbuena of Caja Seca Zulia, Venezuela is a major league second baseman for the Cleveland Indians.
In the time it took me to look that up, Dice K blew him away with a sinking fastball for the third out. 1-0 good guys in the second.
Jason Bay leads it off for Boston. He hits a chopper to Pehralthah at third, and Jhonny thrhows him out at fhirst for the first ohut.
Just in case anyone’s paying attention to this meaningless game, I will reward you with a picture of a man boxing a kangaroo.
Mike Lowell is DH-ing tonight, and he is the next batter in the order. He pops out to Milton Brantley in center for the second out, bringing up Rico Baldy. Rocco pops out to LaPorta on the first pitch to end the quick inning. Still 1-0 Boston after 2.
Knowing that Matsuzaka was pitching tonight, I planned on cooking and eating dinner between his pitches. (Well between several of his pitches, I probably wouldn’t get the whole thing done between just two pitches. Maybe.) But that second inning went pretty quickly, foiling my plans for the moment. Will this inning be similar, and ruin everything? I guess we’ll find out now. The third inning: this time it counts!
Former Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach leads off. Matsuzaka continues to take about 3 minutes per pitch, but he gets Shoppach to ground out to Gonzalez.
Some chap named Trevor Crowe is the next batter. After only one minute (two pitches) Dice K gets him to fly out to Ellsbury. That brings up the top of the order, personified by Michael Brantley. Matsuzaka works relatively quickly, and gets him to fly out to left. That will retire the side. (Probably not literally retire them though.) 1-0 Sawx in the third.
Since this game is so trivial, I should ask some trivia questions. That way we’ll all have something to occupy ourselves between Matsuzaka’s pitches.
Here’s one: which starting pitching matchup featured the most total letters in the names of the opposing pitchers? Hint, it’s not tonight’s matchup, though Daisuke Matsuzaka (16 letters) vs. Jeremy Sowers (12 letters) registers an impressive 28 combined letters. Feel free to post your answers in the comment section. After no one bothers to respond, I’ll post the answer in a couple of innings.
Jason Varitek leads off, sporting a .209 batting average. He boosts that number a bit by belting a double off the wall in left field, possibly the hardest he’s hit a ball in a month or so.
Ellsbury works the count full, then takes ball four, well high and inside, to load the bases for Pedroia. He smacks a fly ball to center, and Varitek tags up and easily scores to put the Sox up 2-0.
Victor Martinez is up with two on and one out. Sowers now seems to be locked in a slowness contest with Matsuzaka, and is determined to win. He eventually throws a pitch, and Martinez hits a sinking liner to right. Big League Choo comes charging in, dives, and catches it! But the umps say he caught it off a bounce, and since this game isn’t being played under 1861 rules, that means it’s a hit. Gonzalez was running all the way, and scores easily. Lame-duck Tribe manager Eric Wedge comes out to half-heartedly protest, but the call will stand– base hit, RBI, etc.
Ellsbury’s on second, Martinez on first with one out for Youkilis. Ellsbury continues to try for his 70th stolen base, so he can get to a round number and thus be more impressive, but he’s gunned down by Shoppach. Wait, is that legal for a catcher to throw out a base-stealer? I watch the Red Sox, so I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
Full count now to Youkilis. Sowers bounces the next one in the dirt, for ball four.
Bay up now with an RBI opportunity. He’s got 116 on the season, so he’s probably trying to get to an even 120, because round numbers are really important, somehow. He adds RBI #117, ripping a shot down the left field line for a double to score Martinez.
Lowell is next. He rips a deep, Millaresque foul into the left field seats, then fouls off a few more, just to make sure this game doesn’t proceed too quickly. He lunges for the next pitch and hits a weak flyout to Brantley to end the inning. 4-0 Sox after 3.
Matsuzaka faces Jamey Carroll to start the 4th. Carroll skies out to Bay in left for the first out.
Chin Shoe Chew is next, and Matsuzaka dispatches him with aplomb, getting him to wave bye-bye at a sweeping breaking ball. That brings up Jhonny Peralta, and Dice K blows him away on 3 pitches, the finisher another sweet curveball. That’s 12 in a row retired by Matsuzaka, who is ruining my dinner plans by dominating the Cleveland Native Americans. 4-0 Boston in the 4th.
Some gent named Jess Todd is now pitching for Cleveland. That’s two first names, one male and one female. He currently sports an 8.66 ERA.
Baldelli leads off, with a new wide stance. He hits a slow bounder to Peralta, who makes a nice grab and throws on the run, but his one-hop throw is dropped by LaPorta at first, and Baldelli is safe. Official scorer ruling? Error on Peralta. Really? If he had just not thrown it, Baldelli would still be on first. And if LaPorta had caught it, Baldelli would be out. For trying and succeeding except for someone else’s mistake, Peralta gets an error.
Anyway, Varitek follows by popping out weakly to third. This must have been a devastating blow to Baldelli, because he’s now being led off the field by the trainer, apparently having hurt himself craning his neck to watch that popout. Way to go, Varitek.
Overmatched rookie Josh Reddick goes in to run for the oft-injured Baldelli. Axel Gonzalez is next, and he belts the first pitch right at Peralta, who grabs it and fires to first, doubling off Reddick and suddenly ending the inning. Still 4-0 Boston after 4.
Hafner leads off the 5th by cracking a shot over the head of Reddick, newly established in right field. Hafner galumphs to second with a leadoff double. So much for the 12 in a row retired by Matsuzaka, sorry I jinxed you Dice.
Laporta follows by lining a shot right to Youkilis, who gloves it for the out.
Famed veteran Luis Valbuena is next. Matsuzaka fires one behind the batter, about 23 feet from the strike zone, and Hafner lugs his way to third on the wild pitch. Valbuena swings at an ankle-high curve and bloops it into shallow right for an RBI single.
One on, one out for Kelly Shoppach. Why is everyone on Cleveland’s team either named after a girl (Kelly, Jess, Jamey Carroll) or after candy? (Jeremy the Sowers Patch Kid, Shin Shoo “Big League” Choo.) I hereby cast aspersions upon their masculinity.
Valbuena steals second easily, with no throw from the feeble-armed Varitek. To be fair, many stolen bases are allowed directly by the Red Sox pitching staff, most of whom might as well pitch from the windup with runners on base, since everyone is halfway to second before they release the pitch anyway.
Trevor Crowe, star of “Gladiator,” steps in and grounds a base hit past the diving Pedroia. Valbuena scores easily from second. This inning has kind of gone to heck in a ham basket, ruining what had been a terrific start from Matsuzaka.
Michael Brantley is up again. He hits a high chopper to Martinez at first. V-Mart goes to second to get the force on Crowe, but there’s no chance for the double play.
Jamey Carroll steps in with runners on the corners and two outs. Matsuzaka hems and haws, and pauses to think, and stares off into space, and eventually works the count full. The next pitch is ball four, a walk for Carroll to load the bases. Pitching coach John Farrell, (possibly the next manager of these Indians) comes out to tell Dice K to knock it off and end the inning already.
Masuzaka is having one of “those” innings again. Bases loaded, two out for Big League Choo. Dice gets ahead 0-2, then Choo fouls off a nice breaking ball to stay alive. Matsuzaka misses with a couple of pitches, checks his watch, does some meditation, scans the morning paper, makes a few calls, then whiffs Choo to end the inning. 4-3 Sox in the 5th.
Oh yeah, the answer to that trivia question: on May 29, 1996, starting pitchers Jason Isringhausen (17 letters) and William Vanlandingham (86 letters) faced off in the long-name championship of the world. I don’t know who won, and don’t much care, and neither does anyone else, that’s why it’s trivia. But it was probably Isringhausen, as he had a much better career.
Top of the order for the Sox, and Ellsbury flies out to center for the first out. Pedroia is a wee little copycat, and also flies out to center, bringing up Victor Martinez.
Word is that Baldelli is out with a left hip flexor strain, which sounds like some made-up condition that no one really has.
In the dugout, Francona has picked up a bat, and should probably go out there and hit, because he could hit this jive turkey, Mary Jess Todd Lincoln or whoever he is, at least as well as the Sox lineup has.
Martinez proves that I am full of it, by lining a base hit.
You know, since baseball managers have to wear uniforms (and they do, or else Yankee Bob Watson will send a thug into the dugout in the middle of the game to harass and threaten them) they should be allowed to put themselves into the game to bat. To keep teams from abusing that, just make a rule that any manager who has been retired for at least 7 years can put himself in the game if he wants. Come on, it’d be fun.
Well, in games that actually count tonight, the Tigers are losing and the Twins are winning, so we still have a pennant race somewhere.
Youkilis grounds out to Valbuena to end the inning. 4-2 Boston after 5.
Matsuzaka stays in the game, and gets Peralta to ground out to Pedroia on a broken-bat bouncer for the first out.
Hafner is next. He started that rather distasteful 5th inning with a double, so hopefully Dice will get him out this time.
But no dice, he walks.
Want another puzzling trivia question for this trivial game? How about this one: which Hall of Fame pitcher for the Indians was never charged with an error in a major league game? Post your answer in the comment section if you like.
Billy Wagner and Ramon Ramirez are warming up the bullpen now, as Matt LaPorta steps in. Dice K chumps him out, getting him to flail at a diving breaking ball for the second out, bringing up Valbuena. Matsuzaka gets ahead 0-2, then misses, then gives up a soft base hit to center on a curve that was low, out of the zone.
Two on and two out for Shoppach. He takes the first two for balls (which they are, he isn’t throwing a potato out there) then Dice battles back with two called strikes. He rears back, does his pause-and-rock thing, then fires a fastball that Shoppach can’t catch up to, fanning him to end the inning. Six innings, 2 runs, 7 Ks for Matsuzaka tonight, a nice performance from a guy who looked a month ago like he wouldn’t help us at any point this season. 4-2 Sox in the 6th.
Bay leads off the 6th against the seemingly unhittable Todd Jess, or Jodd Tessie, or Bo Geste, or Jess Todd, or whoever. Bay flares an opposite-field single to right on a good pitch that sank out of the zone.
As someone named Tony Sipp starts to warm up in the bullpen, Lowell steps in and cracks a single up the middle. Two on, no one out, and Wedge is coming out to yank Todd, which sounds dirty, but only means that it’s a pitching change.
Sipp comes in to face pinch hitter Brian Anderson, batting for Josh Reddick. Jess Todd, Tony Sipp, Brian Anderson, Josh Reddick– the stars are out tonight at Fenway folks! Seriously, no one other than baseball obsessed internetters has heard of each of these guys before tonight.
Sipp gets Anderson to hit a 30-foot-high humpback-liner right to Peralta. Bay, apparently so bored he wanted to go back in the dugout immediately, was way off the base and easily doubled off by Cleveland. Suddenly two outs and a man on first for Varitek, who is hitting a pathetic .155 since the All-Star break. He meekly fans on an 84-mph fastball to end the inning. 4-2 Sox after 6.
Billy Wagner takes over for Matsuzaka. The first man to face him is Trevor Crowe, who is blown away on a high fastball for the first out.
Brantley is next, and it takes Wagner three pitches to dispatch him on a borderline called strike. This must have irked Francona, because he’s out there to pull Wagner from the game, with a sudden, unexpected pitching change.
Ramon Ramirez is in to face Jamey Carroll. He promptly bounces one up the middle. Pedroia ranges over and gloves it, but his throw on the run is too late to get Carroll.
Chin Chew Zoo is up, with a man on and two out. Ramirez walks him, bringing up Jhonny Peralta, with the tying runs suddenly on base. He works the count to 2-2. Ramirez just misses with a slider for ball three. Now the runners will be moving on the pitch.
That doesn’t matter, though, as Ramirez whiffs Peralta, getting him to chase a breaking ball in the dirt. Still 4-2 Sox in the 7th.
At any rate, Gonzalez whiffs for the first out. Ellsbury follows with a little bouncer toward first. LaPorta comes gallantly charging in and boots it, and Ellsbury’s safe at first.
Pedroia faces the lefty Sipp. He works the count full, then takes a close pitch for ball four. Ellsbury was running on the pitch, and had the base stolen, but it won’t count due to the walk.
Sipp in a little bit of a jam here. (There’s got to be a bad Sipp pun that I can throw in there, but I can’t think of one right now.) Two on and one out for Martinez. He shoots a little bloop to left, but Crowe flies in to make the grab. That’s it for Sipp, though, as Wedge pulls him from the game. Pitching change.
Ex-Yankee Jose Veras is in to face Youkilis. Two on and two out. Youkilis drills his first pitch to deep center. It caroms off the wall for a double, scoring Ellsbury and Pedroia to break the game open!
Jason Bay follows by belting a sinking liner to left. Crowe comes soaring in, dives, and makes a great catch to end the inning! But the Sox push the lead to 6-2 after 7.
Hafner leads off by rolling one to the right of Martinez. Victor fields it and flips to Ramirez for the out.
LaPorta pops one up to shallow left, behind third. Youkilis backs up, stumbles around, and drops the easy popup. Luckily, Gonzalez was hustling over. He grabs the ball off the ground and fires to second, where Pedroia slaps the tag on LaPorta, who kept running to second for some reason and was out by 10 feet. LaPorta continues to have a comically bad night.
Luis Valbuena splings a hit into the right field corner. Brian Anderson lets it get away from him, and Valbuena scoots around to third. He rounds the bag, but holds up, not trying for the inside-the-park homer. Ah, he should have, why not?
Francona is out of the dugout to take the ball away from Ramirez. Pitching change.
Daniel Bard, his ERA now up to 3.45, is in to face Shoppach.
Shoppach crungles a sharp grounder between third and short. Youkilis lunges/dives and grabs it! He gets up and throws out Shoppach, saving a run and ending the inning. That more than makes up for the error. 6-2 Sox in the 8th.
Billy-goat-bearded flame-thrower Kerry Wood is in to pitch for the Tribe. Apparently auditioning for the role of Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, he drills the bullpen catcher in the face with a pitch while warming up, then follows that by knocking down Lowell a blazing fastball right next to his head, and then walks him on four pitches.
Kottaras will run for Lowell. Yes, the backup catcher is much faster than Lowell.
Brian Anderson steps in the batter’s box tentatively, knowing that the next 96-mph pitch might end up pretty much anywhere in a 10-foot vicinity of where’s he’s standing. Wood tricks him by throwing one in the strike zone, fanning him on a pitch over the heart of the plate.
That brings up Varitek. He quickly skies out to Choo in right for the second out.
Gonzalez is next. Wild Thing Wood drills him in the wrist with a fastball. He’d better not be hurt, because we don’t have any other shortstop in the organization that we can trust for the playoffs.
The trainer comes out to take a look, and Gonzalez comes out of the game. Oh, great. Lowrie will run for him.
Ellsbury is up next. He should stand as far away from the plate as possible, and maybe wear a suit of armor, the way Wood is throwing.
Wood just misses hitting him in the leg with a 1-1 slider. This guy’s a menace. Wild Thing Wood ends up walking Ellsbury, loading the bases with two out for Pedroia.
Pedroia rolls one to the right of Valbuena. The shortstop grabs it and throws him out to end the inning before anyone else gets hurt. 6-2 Boston going into the 9th.
Trivia question answer: the Indians Hall of Fame pitcher who was never charged with an error in his major league career: Satchel Paige.
Takashi Saito is in to finish this one off. Trevor Crowe is the first batter to face him. Crowe spungoes a shot to deep center! Ellsbury races back and grabs it in front of the scoreboard, a nice running catch.
That brings up Brantley. He quickly fouls out to Youkilis for the second out.
Jamey Carroll is the last hope for the Indians. On a 2-2 pitch, Saito just misses with a 94-mph fastball. Carroll clongs the next pitch to deep left, hitting the top of the scoreboard. Bay whips it in quickly to hold him to a single.
Shin Stew Shoe is the next last hope for the Indians. Carroll steals second on Defensive Indifference. More plays should be officially scored with terms like that. Defensive Indifference, Baserunning Laziness, Offensive Over-aggressiveness, Managerial Insanity, Pure Shitluckitude– these should all be official scoring terms.
Big League Choo hits a routine fly to Bay in left, and Bay catches it to end the game. Sox win the meaningless 3-hour-and-26-minute-long game by a final score of 6-2.
So. Well. We didn’t lose, and that’s always fun. And only two Sox players were hurt enough to have to leave the game.
Some real positives: 93rd win of the year, and that’s pretty good. Matsuzaka gets the win, and looked good doing it.
Soon the games will count extra-much, so get ready for that! Good night folks.