|Connelly’s Top Ten: Sox Done / Celtics 50 Wins – One Playoff Round / Belichick Contract Extension||Yoan Moncada and the Red Sox||Connelly’s Top Ten: David OverPriced, Sunday Bird, Complete Games (Or Not)||Two Red Sox Players Considered Serious MVP Candidates|
For more from Dan’s live blog, see below for details.
(Yeah, it’ll probably be one of those three. They’re definitely leaving Anaheim after the game.)
Josh Beckett, 17-6, 3.86
vs. Jered “Sigourney” Weaver, 16-8, 3.75
How can you tell Jared Weaver from Sigourney Weaver? Well, one of them is thin, rich, long-haired, effeminate, and works in L.A. The other one’s named Sigourney.
The game doesn’t start for another 5 hours, but in the meantime, I’ll probably complain here about the Yankees inevitable pummeling of the Twins, so check for updates on that if you’re masochistic.
Yankees vs. Twins update: No score in the first inning. As of this writing, the Yankees remain evil.
Fans of horrible umpiring should be excited, because the Red Sox tonight get C.B. Bucknor as home plate ump. Bucknor’s a two-time winner of the Worst Umpire in baseball poll, and showed why last night, with two calls that were comically horrendous, which seems to be close to his per-game average.
Yankee update: still no score in the 6th inning. Nick Blackburn just allowed his first hit of the night, then retired the side to end the 5th. A.J. Burnett has shaved off his Cletus mustache, but for some reason has had vertical stripes shaved into the hair on the sides of his head. He continues to look like a total goober.
The Red Sox game will be on TBS, after the end of this game. (Unless TBS suddenly decides to air the Steve Harvey Show again instead.)
Yankees Update: The Twins take the lead in the top of the sixth, as Brendan Harris triples in Delmon Young! But in the bottom half, the Yanks have two on with one out and Mark Teixierieiria up. Blackburn gets Teix, but Alex Rodriguez gets literally the biggest hit of his Hall of Fame career, a game-tying single.
Neither team scores in the 7th, though the Twins manage to leave another runner on base. They’ve left a runner on base in every inning so far.
Still nil-nil in the 8th.
Update: Nick Punto just singled in a run in the 8th to give the Twins the lead, 2-1. Now the Twinkies add a bloop RBI hit off Mariano Rivera to make it 3-1 in the to of the 8th. Gonna be interesting to see how they blow this.
The Yankees don’t score in the bottom of the 8th, so it’s still 3-1 Twins in the 9th.
Update: Joe Nathan came in to protect the two run lead, and of course immediately gave up a base hit and then a home run to Slappy Rodriguez. Yeah, that’s a real surprise. Nathan, you should grab your throat when you’re choking really bad, so maybe someone can give you the Heimlich.
3-3 in the 9th.
And the horrible Chip Caray bloviates: “Makes you wonder if the ghosts have crossed the street.” Which ghosts would those be, the ghosts of the team that pulled the biggest choke job in the history of the sport in 2004?
Nathan finally gets out of the inning. 3-3 in extra innings.
Now the Red Sox game is ready to start over on TNT. I implore you to turn to that channel, unless you want to see a Yankee walk off win.
Luckily, we get Don Orsillo for the play-by-play. Unluckily, we get Buck Martinez doing the commentary. Not only does his voice sound like Ross Perot on quaaludes, he insists on pronouncing David Ortiz’s last name like this: OR’-teez. Not Or-TEEZ’, like everyone else ever. Why don’t you just scrape your fingernails down a chalkboard while you’re at it? If Martinez is allowed to intentionally mispronounce Ortiz, then I am allowed to intentionally spell his name Bunk MART’-in-ez.
Chone Figgins, 3B
Bob Abreu, RF
Toriiii Hunter CF
Vlad Guerrero, DH
Kendry Morales, 1B
Juan Rivera, LF
Maicer Izturis, 2B
Mike Napoli, C
Erick Aybar, SS
Ellsbury starts things with a long at-bat, but on the 7th pitch he gets rung up for strike 3 by the horrible C.B. Bucknor. I don’t care if it did look like a strike, Bucknor’s always wrong.
Pedroia grounds out to third on the second pitch he sees, and Martinez follows with a flyout to center. Yikes, will this team ever score again? They’re starting to look like they did in that New York series in August. No score in the first.
Shaun Figgins leads off. He battles Beckett, making him throw a lot of pitches and working the count full, before he grounds out to Gonzalez at SS.
Abreu is next. He’s walked in his last 47 plate appearances against Boston. This time, he cracks a smart grounder toward right field, but Pedroia dives over and snags it, then bounces up and throws him out. Sweet play for the second out.
Hunter follows with a routine groundout to Lowell to quickly end the inning. No score after 1.
Youkilis flies out to Torii Hunter for the first out. Next is David OR’-teez. He also hits a routine flyout, this one to Rivera in left. And Bay follows by fanning on a pitch in the dirt, as the hitless wonders go down in order again. Jered Weaver has a PERFECT GAME going! No score in the second.
Vladimir Guerrero starts the inning by flying out to Ellsbury. Morales follows with a grounder to Youkilis, who fields and steps on the base. Juan Rivera is next, and Beckett blows him away, catching him looking at a 95-mph fastball over the plate for the third out. No score after 2.
Lowell starts the third. The Red Sox have now gone 19 consecutive postseason innings without scoring a run. Lowell does his part to keep that going, reaching out and popping out weakly on a bad pitch on the second pitch of his at-bat.
I have no problem giving the other team credit when they play well, but this is really some pathetic hitting from this team.
JD Drew follows with a little roller down the first base line. Weaver runs over and grabs it, then tags out Drew as before he can get to the bag. Hey ask C.B. Bucknor for help on that call, maybe he’ll overrule the call and call him safe.
Alex Gonzalez at least works the count full before he flies out weakly to Hunter to end the inning. That’s 20 straight scoreless postseason innings for the Sox and their suddenly horrible offense. Still a PERFECT GAME FOR JERED WEAVER! 0-0 in the third.
Yankees update: The Twins pitcher threw away a pickoff attempt in the bottom of the tenth, allowing NY to get a runner to third with one out, but they couldn’t score him. Still tied. The inevitable nauseating walkoff hasn’t happened yet.
Maicer (pronounced Micer) Izturis starts the third inning for the California Angels. (They still play in California, so that’s what they’re called in my book.) Micer is an interesting name, probably better suited for a cat than a second baseman.
Micer works the count full, then pops out to Bay in left.
Napoli is next. Mikey Naples hits a bloop to shallow right. Drew comes running in and makes a nice running basket catch for the second out.
Erick Aybar (pronounced I-bar) is the next hitter. Beckett shows a nice curve, but it’s ruled a ball by the odious Bucknor. I-bar then clangs a single to left in front of Bay, the first baserunner of the night.
Sean Figgins steps in. After I-bar steals second and third, the Angels will have a man on third with two out. Beckett throws to first, to try to keep the runner close, then shakes off a couple of pitch signals. I-bar doesn’t run, but Beckett misses high with a cutter, and the count goes to 3-1. Figgins skies out to Bay on the next pitch to end the threat. Nil-nil after 3.
Update: The Twins load the bases with no one out, but somehow don’t score. 17 left on base for the Twinkies so far. Is it worse to get runners on base every inning but not score, like the Twins; or worse to never get any runners on base like the Red Sox? Either way, you lose.
Ellsbury leads off by cracking a shot to deep center. Hunter speeds back and looks like he’s got it, but it sails over his head and bounces off the wall! Ellsbury speeds around to third with the leadoff stand-up triple, the first hit of the night for the Sox.
Pedroia comes up with a golden RBI opportunity, but he squanders it by grounding to Figgins. Chone holds the runner and throws out Pedroia.
Victor Martinez will try to pick him up. (Not literally, though he easily could lift wee Dustin.) And Martinez comes through with a base hit to center, scoring Ellsbury with the first Boston run of the postseason.
Youkilis is up, man on first with one out. He hits a pop fly to shallow left center. Aybar comes rushing out, Rivera comes running in, and they might collide. No, Hunter glides in and makes the catch, saving a collison and getting the out.
Update: The Yankees just won. What a surprise. Nice work, Byun-Hyung Nathan.
Ortiz is next. Thankfully Orsillo does the talking so far. That’s it, Don, don’t let Bunk MART’-in-ez mispronounce his name again. But Bunk won’t be denied. He butts in– but wait! Martinez just said Ortiz twice in a row, but he pronounced it correctly BOTH times!
It doesn’t help though, as Ortiz whiffs, missing badly on a high 93-mph fastball. 1-0 Sox in the 4th.
Now TNT is going to cut away from the game to show the movie “Hitch,” in its entirety. Great, I don’t remember which channel is TBS. Why can’t the playoffs be on a competent, non-bush league network?
Former Home Run Derby Champion Bobby Abroo leads off with a base hit. Hunter, last night’s hero, up with a man on and no one out. Beckett stumbles on his next pitch and misses the zone badly, then misses again with no stumble.
Beckett’s pace has really slowed here. He throws a strike, then walks around the mound a bit, then Hunter steps out and looks for a sign, and the game slows to a crawl.
Beckett finally throws another pitch, and Hunter scalds a line shot to the left side– Lowell lunges and snags it, all Brooks Robinsonally, a great play to save a double!
Vlad steps in. On the next pitch, Abreu breaks for second, and Guerrero hits a bouncer right where Pedroia had been standing. It bounces into right field for a single. Abreu easily takes third.
Beckett is in some trouble now. The Angels haven’t been fooled by him the second time through the lineup. If Lowell didn’t make that catch, they’d already have taken the lead and would have no one out.
Instead, Kendry Morales is up with runners on the corners. Morales belts a fly to deep right. Drew has room to make the catch, but Abreu tags and figuratively waltzes home with the tying run.
Juan Rivera hits a sharp grounder in the hole between short and third. Gonzalez ranges over to grab it, and makes a strong throw from deep in the hole to get Rivera and end the inning. 1-1 tie after 4.
Jason “Thunder” Bay will leads off the inning. He gets ahead 3-0, then ignores the Gentleman’s Called Strike One. He takes another strike, then drills a high shot to deep center. Hunter drifts back, onto the warning track, then makes the catch right in front of the wall. Almost a bomb for Bay, but instead it’s just an out.
Lowell must have early dinner reservatons, because again he lunges to pop out weakly on the second pitch. That’s two at-bats, four pitches and two weak, lunging popouts for Lowell tonight.
Drew is next. He takes a few pitches, fouls one off. He watches a full count curve ball drop low for ball four. Solid at-bat there by Drew.
Sigourney is up to 72 pitches now as Alex Gonzalez steps in. He gets ahead 3-1, then hacks at ball four, a high and inside fastball, filling the count. Then he swings through another high fastball, totally striking himself out to end the inning. I’m sure Weaver appreciates the help some of these guys are giving him. Still 1-1 in the 5th.
Mouser Izturis leads off and Beckett whiffs him on three pitches, the last one a sinking 95-mph heater called strike three.
Mikey Naples follows with a high flyout to Ellsbury in right center. Aybar bounces out routinely to Pedroia to end the quick inning. 1-1 after 5.
Ellsbury leads off the inning for the Sox. On a 2-2 count, he tries to check his swing on a curve in the dirt, but it’s ruled a swing by the 3rd base ump Tom Gorman. Where was your two cents of hlp for Bucknor last night, huh Gorman?
Pedroia up with no one on and one out. Weaver gets ahead 1-2. Pedroia swings at the next pitch and hits a bouncer back to the mound. Weaver grabs it and tosses it to first for the easy out.
Martinez is next. On a 2-2 count, he watches a belt-high fastball sail over the outside part of the plate for called strike three. Another easy inning for Weaver, who is dominating the feeble Red Sox offense. 1-1 in the 6th.
These playoffs have sucked so far. What the hell, baseball?
The Red Sox offense on the road has been horrible for quite a while now. And unless someone can sneak down onto the field and quickly build a giant green wall in shallow left field, and get everyone to sing “Sweet Caroline” in the 8th, and let the Sox have last ups, it’s probably going to continue to suck tonight.
So, the top of the Angels order, featuring Shawon Figgins, will start this inning. Beckett paints the outside corner with a 95-mph fastball for called strike three and the first out of the inning.
That brings up Abreu, who has been on base pretty much the entire series. Not this time though, as he bounces out to Youkils for the second out.
Torri Hunter is next, and Beckett gets him to fly out to Drew to end the inning. Still 1-1 after 6.
Kevin Youkilis is the next batter. He bounces a grounder up the middle that clangs off of Weaver’s glove. but Weaver stays with it, grabs it, and throws out Youkilis.
Ortiz follows by hitting the first pitch on the ground right to shortstop Izturis, who is playing in shallow right field. Izturis throws him out. That’s two outs on 5 pitches for this horrible offense.
Jason Bay takes a couple pitches, out of necessity, and the count is 1-1. He swings and misses at a hanging changeup that he should have hit 400 feet, then takes a couple of balls to fill the count. Sigourney’s changeup is low, and Bay works a walk. Bunk Martinez throws a hissy fit, claiming that it was a strike, but it looks low to me.
That brings up Lowell. This time Lowell doesn’t waste any time and quickly flies out to center on the first pitch he sees. Another crappy at-bat from Lowell. The Sox have a total of two hits tonight, and 6 in the 16 postseason innings they’ve played. The tally remains 1-1 in the 7th.
Vlad is the first hitter for the Angels. Beckett falls behind 3-0, then after the customary Gentleman’s Called Strike, walks him on the next pitch. Walking Vlad is a tough thing to do, he will usually swing at anything. But not this time. Howie Kendrick comes out to pinch run for Guererro.
Man on and no one out for Morales. Beckett falls behind HIM 3-0, suddenly losing all command. His next pitch is actually outside, but Completely Blind Bucknor calls it a strike. Morales fouls off the next pitch, filling the count. Then he fouls off a bunch more, before finally flying out to Bay for the first out.
Juan Rivera is next. On a 1-0 pitch, Howie takes off for second, and slides in safely. The go-ahead run is in scoring position for Rivera. He cracks a sharp grounder to Lowell, who grabs it on a bad hop, looks the runner back and throws to first. The throw is low, but Youkilis makes the scoop for the out. Looks like Lowell took that one off his sore thumb. So hey Mike, if your hand is so sore, how about not swinging the bat at every pitch you see? Maybe take a walk next time, instead of another two-pitch out?
I digress. Mouser Izturis comes up, the go-ahead run still on second. And Izturis grounds one up the middle, well past the diving Pedroia for a hit. Kendrick scores easily, and the Angels lead. The season is now officially in big danger, as it might take the Red Sox about two more days before they can score another run.
Napoli is next. He’s got power and hits Beckett well, so Josh had better not lose concentration here. Izturis promptly steals second, the throw from Martinez coming in way high and late.
So the hit-and-run single set up the first run, and the pinch runner’s stolen base set up the second run. The Angels are playing small ball, while the Red Sox are playing no ball. We’re looking at losing back to back games started by Lester and Beckett, because the offense has been horrible.
Now Napoli leans into an inside curve ball, letting it hit him, which pisses off Beckett. But it’s still a hit-by-pitch and another baserunner.
Two on and two out for Aybar. Beckett seems to be losing his cool a bit here. He’s thrown a lot of pitches this inning, now over 100 on the night. Aybar will be his last hitter, no matter what.
Aybar figuratively jumps all over a fastball and creams it to deep center. Ellsbury races back, but he can’t get it, and it bounces around as both runners score and Aybar cruises to third with the for-all-intents-and-purposes game-ending, back-breaking, season-ruining triple.
Francona’s out to yank Beckett, maybe one batter too late, as the game has instantly been ruined. Pitching change.
Billy Wagner in now to protect this three-run deficit. He gets ahead of Shawne Figgins 0-2, then wastes a pitch, then misses again, evening the count.
Wagner blows a low fastball past him to finally end the awful inning. 4-1 Angels. They have been the much better team so far in this series, and if nothing major changes, this season will be over in 11 more innings.
Drew starts the 8th by taking a called third strike. The Sox look weak and beaten. Now Scioscia is out to remove Weaver– I guess he wanted him to strike out Drew even more than he did. Weaver gets a huge ovation as he leaves. Pitching change.
Darren Oliver comes in to pitch, and Jed Lowrie comes up to strike out on three pitches, which he does. Ellsbury grounds one in the hole between third and short. Aybar slides over and grabs it, but his throw is too late to get Ellsbury, who is safe on the infield hit.
Here comes Scioscia, to make another pitching change.
Kevin Jepsen is in to face Pedroia, who like most of the lineup, has shown little offensively in this series. He lunges at a 2-2 pitch and barely fouls it off. Then he lunges again at the next pitch and hits a weak squib in front of the plate. Jepsen grabs it easily and throws him out to end the inning. Pedroia foolishly hacking at what would’ve been ball three and then ball four kind of symbolizes this offense. Red Sox losing 4-1 in the 8th.
Abreu starts the 8th with a flared single to shallow left. Francona’s out to make another pitching change, and to stop the Titanic from sinking by rearranging the deck chairs.
Francona’s scorecard must be missing a page, because he’s brought Papelbon in to face Torii Hunter, trailing by 3 runs. After Abreu steals second, Hunter will have a runner in scoring position to try to knock in.
But before he can steal, Hunter flies out to center for the first out.
Howie Kendrick is next. On the first pitch, Abreu takes off for second, but it’s a pitchout, and even Martinez is able to throw out the runner! So now there’s two out and no one on for Howie. And Papelbon fans him to end the inning. 4-1 bad guys after 8.
The Angels will let George Jepsen start the 9th against Victor Martinez. And V-Mart quickly flies to Hunter for the first out, bringing up Youkilis.
Youks cracks a hit well over the head of the shortstop into the gap. Hunter cuts it off, but Youilis lumbers into second with the double. And Scioscia is out to make the final pitching change of the night.
Brian Fuentes is in for the Angles to face OR’-teez, who has looked about 76 years old in this series. Make that an even 80 years old, as he pops weakly to shallow left for the second out.
Jason Bay is the last hope for this game. He battles to a full count, then takes ball four.
Well, two on, two out, down three in a playoff game. Quick, send up Bernie Carbo to pinch hit!
No, it won’t be Carbo, it’ll be Mike Lowell, who’s made three outs on five pitches so far.
This time, he actually takes a pitch, then fouls one off, then hits a fly ball right to Torii Hunter. Unfortunately, he doesn’t Holliday it, and the game is over.
California leads 2 games to zero, and the season is quickly slipping away. So far this is the most desultory postseason ever.
Game over. The final: 4-1 Angels.