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Sports Then and Now



Lester, Ortiz Help Red Sox Close In On World Series Title 1

Posted on October 29, 2013 by Ryan Kuketz
Jon Lester's second masterful performance of the World Series has the Boston Red Sox needing just one win for their third title since 2004.

Jon Lester’s second masterful performance of the World Series has the Boston Red Sox needing just one win for their third title since 2004.

With the World Series tied at 2 games apiece, Jon Lester proved to the world that he is truly an ace, as the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in game five of the World Series, which gives Boston the 3-2 series lead.

Lester pitched 7 and two third innings, giving up just one run on four hits. The one run he let up was a home run to leftfielder Matt Holliday in the bottom of the 4th that tied the game at 1. Lester then retired 13 straight hitters before giving up a double to David Freese in the 8th inning, and was taken out after Pete Kozma flew out, and closer Koji Uehara shut the door with a 5 out save.

The Red Sox offense started early as they scored their first run in the first when Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had back to back doubles to take a 1-0 lead. With the game tied at 1, the Red Sox took the lead for good in the top of the 7th when David Ross hit a ground rule double that scored Xander Bogaerts.

Ross’s ground rule double, may have stayed in the yard at Fenway, and had it not bounced into the stands, Bogaerts would have easily scored from first base. After Jon Lester struck out on a bunt foul, Jacoby Ellsbury, who is most likely playing in his final games with Boston, hit a bloop single into centerfield which scored Bogaerts. Ross tried to score on the play but was thrown out at the plated by Shane Robinson. The tag at the plate was close, but Yadier Molina was just able to tag Ross out. Read the rest of this entry →

Previewing the 2013 World Series: Who Has the Edge? 2

Posted on October 23, 2013 by Ken Fenderson

The 2013 World Series is the 4th ever Fall Classic meeting between the Cardinals and Red Sox.

When the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals do battle in Game 1 of the 2013 World Series, it will be the first time since 1999 that the American League and National League champions were the teams with the best record in their respective leagues. The Sox and Redbirds both finished with 97 wins this season, sharing the best record in the majors. It’s not the first time that these franchises have met under the bright lights of October, either. St. Louis holds a 2-1 advantage over the Red Sox in their three previous World Series match-ups, although Boston swept the Cardinals in their last meeting back in 2004. The 2013 rendition of these squads appear to be dead even at first glance, so let’s do a little digging and find out who has the edge in this series.

Starting Rotation: Cardinals starters went 77-46 in 2013, with an ERA of 3.42, but the real story for this group has been the emergence of rookie sensation Michael Wacha. Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in his three starts this postseason. Opponents are hitting an abysmal .114 off of him, and he was named MVP of the NLCS for his efforts. Lost in the Wacha craze has been that the Cards still have a bonafide ace in Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has gone 2-1 in three postseason starts for St. Louis, holding opponents to a .207 batting average with an ERA of 1.57. The Red Sox will likely counter with Jon Lester and John Lackeyas their one-two punch. Lester has been the best starting pitcher in Boston’s rotation in the postseason, going 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA while holding opponents to a .229 average. Lackey was the winner in both of his starts to this point, going 2-0 with a perfectly square 3.00 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .244 off of the potential comeback player of the year. As is the case with most individual match-ups in this series, there isn’t much of a difference. But the one-two punch of Wainwright and Wacha push the Cards over the top. Edge Cardinals. Read the rest of this entry →

Red Sox WRECK: The Bobby V Experiment FAILED 1

Posted on October 04, 2012 by Nathan Farrell

Junichi Tazawa deserves a spot in the Red Sox bullpen in 2013.

Today the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine. That was a surprise to no one as the team has it’s worst season since 1966. Valentine may have been brought in as just a flashy name and pose as damage control. Well more drama happened this season than an episode of Jersey Shore. Between the players not liking Valentine, the coaches not acknowledging Valentine, and everything in between. Some of the stories that came out, you just could not make up. Between Gary Tuck not answering the phone in the bullpen to Bob McClure not telling Valentine what he said to the pitchers on the mound. Pedroia saying “that’s not how we do it around here.” Alfredo Aceves slamming the office door after not closing a game, in which the night before he gave up five runs. All of these were problems this season the team has to be happy it is finally over.

The Red Sox need to work faster this off season. Last off season they were in recovery mode after the collapse and took their time. With Valentine already fired they need to start interviewing candidates for the managerial position. All this talk about John Farrell I believe is ludicrous but the team seems to be going after him. First off he was here before. I believe the team needs some new blood in there. Get rid of the whole coaching staff and let the manager and Ben Cherrington decide on a staff instead of having Valentine and Francona leftovers. Second, I understand the AL East is not the easiest division to play in but the Blue Jays have not won under Farrell’s lead. Why will the Red Sox win under his lead? I believe the Red Sox need a culture change and that starts with a manager that may not be too familiar with the players in that clubhouse, but knows how to communicate.

Tim Bogar was passed on by the Houston Astros, there must have been a reason. DeMarlo Hale has to be a little upset he was passed on again but maybe he will come in for an interview as well. Terry Francona is projected to get the job with Cleveland so that may lead to an opening for Sandy Alomar Jr. This manager will be hired by Ben Cherrington this time around and not Larry Lucchino. Cherrington needs a manager in place by November 1st, which leaves him plenty of time. This manager will not be a one year stop gap like Valentine, so Cherrington needs to be allowed to make the right choice by ownership.

Now that the manager is gone from the 2012 team, which players will be back for the 2013 season? I break it down by position:

Starting Pitchers

Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey will almost certainly be back next season. Gone will be Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka and it won’t be a sad goodbye. To address the need for pitching the Red Sox will need an innings eater who is a number two starter at worst. Lester did not have a good year and Lackey will be an end of the rotation pitcher the rest of his career.

Infielders

Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks are the only locks are their positions for next season. Shortstop has been the question since the trade of Nomar Garciaparra and it will be no different this off season. Mike Aviles saw almost no playing time this September, as he watched Jose Iglesias make great defensive plays and have some horrible at bats. Iglesias’ bat can be tolerated if the Red Sox acquire a power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Aviles was disrespected by the team so he may want to play elsewhere and maybe they could get a relief pitcher for him. James Loney was in the Dodgers trade as fill in and maybe will be brought back on a short term deal. He wasn’t hitting all that great with the Dodgers and that continued in Boston. I think the Red Sox should look elsewhere. Pedro Ciriaco is not an everyday player but should be on this team next year as utility player who has plus speed.

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Knuckleball Specialist Tim Wakefield Calls it a Career 5

Posted on February 22, 2012 by Dan Flaherty

Tim Wakefield ended a great career in Boston last week.

The night was October 16, 2004 and a game, and another season was slipping away from the Boston Red Sox. Already trailing the New York Yankees two games to none in the American League Championship Series, the pitching in Game 3 was serving up batting practice fare to Yankee hitters. Tim Wakefield watched it unfold. He was scheduled to start Game 4, but stepped up and told manager Terry Francona that if need be, he (Wake) would give up his start and try and save the bullpen. Francona took him up on the offer.

Wakefield’s final line score showed that went 3 1/3 innings and gave up five runs in an 18-9 loss. A cynic might say his act of teamwork in giving up his start for a lost cause was pointless. But the innings he worked were the most of any Red Sox pitcher that night. It meant Francona got through the game without using Mike Timlin or Keith Foulke, while Alan Embree faced only a handful of batters. The core of the Sox bullpen was rested.

No one could have predicted what happened next. That not only would the Red Sox win the next four games in succession, but Games 4 & 5 would go a combined 26 innings, requiring every last bit of will from the bullpen and that Foulke would be needed again in Game 6, already running on fumes. But because Tim Wakefield put the interests of his team ahead of the interests of himself, even when it seemed like an act of futile martyrdom, the Red Sox were in position to pull off the miracle comeback. That’s why as he goes into retirement now, at age 45, that single act of selflessness should be his crowning memory.

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Why Bobby Valentine Will Ultimately Fail With the Red Sox 19

Posted on December 06, 2011 by Brendan Tyman

Bobby Valentine is not a great fit as the Boston Red Sox manager.

Bobby Valentine talked about reputation when he was introduced as the new Manager of the Boston Red Sox last Thursday. This is ironic since Valentine’s reputation with his past players and front office personnel are abysmal. While Valentine may win more games than he loses in his stint with the Red Sox, Valentine will ultimately fail in Boston.

Valentine’s position is even more tenuous because the Red Sox players got too comfortable under former manager Terry Francona and they collapsed in September (7-20 record) to finish in third place for the second straight season. Francona was a lame-duck manager in September because the owners failed to pick up his options for the next two seasons. After Francona graciously exited the stage, the owners decided to rip him by addressing his alleged problems with prescription pills and his crumbling marriage as possible black clouds adding to the downward spiral of the Sox during the 2011 season.

Valentine will not win titles in Boston because he will not be afraid to criticize players through the media and berate them publicly. How will the stubborn Josh Beckett pitch after he hears that his manager is willing to call him out in press conferences instead of through personal conversations? While the Red Sox players did this to themselves and they should not be treated as victims, they could still run mutiny on Valentine’s ship just like the New York Mets did in 2002. Valentine will be judged on his record as the manager.

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25 Years Ago: Angels Can’t Close Out Red Sox in ALCS 7

Posted on October 15, 2011 by Dan Flaherty

The Red Sox & Angels staged a historic battle for the AL pennant 25 years ago this October.

It’s League Championship Series time right now in major league baseball, a time the people of Boston were able to get very used to in recent years, with four appearances in six years from 2003-08. The Sox also made this round in 1999 and prior to that the legendary (or infamous, depending on your point of view) team of 1986 played for the pennant. With this being the 25th anniversary of the ’86 Sox, let’s take a look back on the epic seven-game war they waged with the then-California Angels for the American League flag.

Boston and California had each put away their division titles without drama (from 1969-93 the leagues were split into just two divisions with only the winners advancing straight into the LCS) and the Game 1 showdown of Roger Clemens and California’s Mike Witt was highly anticipated. Clemens had just completed a regular season that would win him the Cy Young and MVP award and Witt was easily the ace of the Angel staff. The series got off to a less than auspicious beginning as the Halos got four runs in the second inning. First baseman Wally Joyner, who’d already greeted Clemens with a double to right in the first, got up again in the second and doubled the other way to pick up two of the runs. Staked to a 4-0 lead, Witt never looked back and the Angels cruised to an 8-1 win. It gave California their goal of just taking one game at Fenway. The Red So were able to bounce back with a 9-2 win in Game 2. This game was closer than the score made it look, as Boston held a 3-2 lead after six and Fenway had to be a very jittery place, particularly when Bill Buckner missed a chance to put the game away early when he grounded into a bases-loaded double play. Ultimately though, three runs apiece in both the seventh and eighth opened the game up and sent the series west knotted at a game apiece.

The three games in Anaheim were all outstanding games, gradually building to the one that would ultimately give this ALCS a storied place in baseball lore. Boston’s Oil Can Boyd pitched very well in Game 3 and the Red So were holding a 1-0 lead, but this was another case where it could have been more. Second baseman Marty Barrett, dominant throughout the series with a record 14 hits (a record that still stands) missed a chance here and popped to first with the bases loaded. Thus when Joyner drew a walk and was moved to second, he was in position to score when Reggie Jackson singled him in to tie up the score for the Angels. Boyd finally lost it in the seventh and in the most maddening way—light-hitting shortstop Dick Schofield went deep, as did leadoff man Gary Pettis, generally a pure contact hitter. A three-run inning keyed California’s ultimate 4-3 win.

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