This Week in Boston Baseballing, April 11 – April 17

The Red Sox lost three of four in New York over the weekend as the offense continues to sputter. In Chicago, Boston dropped the opener before coming back for two last at-bat wins against the White Sox, including a 14-inning affair on Wednesday night. The team has now managed just 56 runs in 16 games but still sports a 7-9 record and a fairly neutral run differential (-4) thanks to strong efforts like Jon Lester’s one-run, eight-inning performance Thursday night.

The Replay Debate
On Sunday night, the deciding run for the Yankees scored as the end result of a review that overturned a potential inning-ending double play. The galling part of the reversal was that a play that was equally – if not more conclusive on replay – was not overturned the day before because reviewers seemed to be looking at different camera feeds. A frustrated John Farrell cast his vote on the matter.

In the immediate aftermath of Boston’s loss, Red Sox Nation, with thought-leaders like Boston.com’s Eric Wilbur showing the way, hasn’t come around on the whole replay thing.

Replay survey

If baseball weren’t mired in the dark ages in most things technology as they pertain to on-field play, flaws in the system could have been ironed out sometime less embarrassingly late like, say, during the flip-phone era. At some point this year, replay will aid in wininng a game for the Sox and the colors on the map above will look a little different.

Twitter: Giving Media Undeserved Fodder Since 2007
Poor Xander Bogaerts. He’s deleted his Twitter account because a woman sent a sexy photo of herself to him and he accidentally posted the private message to his feed. Dude’s a 21-year-old budding baseballing star and, as is won’t to happen, ladies respond to that kind of thing.

The photo, courtesy of Awful Announcing. (Indeed.)

bogaertslasttweet

The photo isn’t even particularly racy unless you’ve been in a coma since 1985. If so, welcome back. Also, 1984 first-round pick John Marzano never really panned out as hoped. Sorry you had to find out this way.

Red Sox Exercise Caution With Koji
Koji Uehara’s shoulder discomfort led to some extra caution for the team in New York. Uehara went back to Boston and was given a decent bill of health and rejoined the team in Chicago, picking up the save last night and reassuming his closer role. Good seeing him draped over David Ortiz’s shoulder in the duo’s signature celebratory pose.

Ortiz Coming Out of His Funk?
A lot of Boston’s offensive struggles in the early going of 2014 can be explained by David Ortiz’s sub .700 OPS. Papi is the lynchpin of the offense and two homers in 16 games is concerning. Chicago’s Adam Eaton took away a solid bid for a third last night. It may just be a matter of time…

 

Local Man’s Game Recap (Red Sox 6, White Sox 4)

CARVER, Mass. - Look, this ain’t all that easy to admit, but my pipes aren’t exactly what they were when I was a younger man. You know which pipes I mean. Sometimes I stand at the toilet just waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Then, finally, bam! Splashdown! (Two drops). And other times? It’s a cascade. Four cups of morning coffee just gushing out in a twisting stream of liquid relief.

The Sox batters have been working through one of those driblet kinda stretches right here. Frustrating. Demoralizing. Driblets. Every run is a drop in the bucket. Makes you do that thing where you shut your eye lids and roll your eyeballs up all the way into the back of your head until you’re basically crosseyed in unbridled relief.

Chicago’s bullpen tried to gift-wrapped the Sox this thing. That guy Cleto – he was one of Julius Caesar’s friends in one of Shakespeare’s plays or something, right? Philosopher I think. Yup, he was absolutely thinking a whole bunch. Three walks! Six from the pen overall. I’ll hit up Cleto next time I’m in an ethical dilemma for sure but maybe not the next time I wanna start rolling the credits on a tight lead in a baseball game.

Even after all that, I wasn’t POSITIVE that’d be enough, especially when Ortiz hit that fly ball to left.

But then Gomes chopped that pussy fart down the third base line. Better than a bunt. The Sox got the bases loaded and Sizemore hit the game-renewing sac fly.

Course, that little “burst” of late offense meant an extra five innings of baseball. I made it until about the 11th and once I saw Capuano warming I felt comfortable leaving it in his hands since he’s local. And Bradley Junior delivered. This is why we watch.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

Local Man’s Game Recap (White Sox 2, Red Sox 1)

CARVER, Mass. - Late game last night so didn’t get to sign in until this morning. Went out and grabbed a 26-ouncer from Honey Dew and gonna crank this out while I drink it.

I’ll cut to the chase since this is supposed to be a recapitulation of the ballgame. Alexander probably did us all a favor by rush-throwing that ball into the ground. It was getting late and the bats were silenter than a long cold winter’s night. Which it apparently was, judging by the frost coating on my cranberry bog this morning.

Sox needed a win tonight like no ones’ business after the weekend they had in New York. But the offense is still dorminant and couldn’t pick up Peavy tonight. Jack was fired up as usual and pitched a helluva six innings and it was all for not. Team’s in a hole now. Time to wake up and start playing like it’s a new season.

And Cahp? Well, Cahp took his eye off that ball. Coulda help Bogaehts out. If Nap doesn’t bend out his frigging ring finger on that crazy slide into second base, he’s in the game and Mikey isn’t playing first base. Too bad Mikey can’t play third. Herrara is faster than a white dude trying to get outta Brockton before dark, but just sayin’ it seems like the bats a bit light.

Last observation on my agenda. The Chicago fans musta been a bit confused tonight. Giving Pierzynski a standing ovation. Are they gonna erect a A.J. Pierzynski statute outside the park? Put it right next to Manny Mimosa’s? Very few cases where you ever give a guy wearing the gray laundry that much respect. Gotta wonder about that.

I’ll give the few souls that ventured to the White Sox stadium some respect. Looked cold there and it flurried. Remy said there was a blizzid there the night before?

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, April 4 – April 10

The Red Sox’s opening weekend at Fenway Park didn’t go so grand as the Brewers earned the first sweep for a road team in Boston since the Bobby Valentine regime. Boston took two of three against the Rangers thanks to David Ortiz’s heroics on Wednesday afternoon before losing 4-1 last night at in New York in Game 1 of 19 against the Yankees. Boston was 13-6 against the Yankees last season.

Michael Pineda Wasn’t In the Mood to Hide the Pine Tar
The Yankees righthander outdueled Clay Buchholz and rightly deserved to win as Boston’s offense was back to its mostly anemic ways Thursday night. However, all anyone will remember was that Pineda apparently submerged his hand in pine tar before spinning the gem.

The Internet and social media was all over it once NESN caught on in the third inning. A summary of images archived by Google in the last 24 hours for a search of “Michael Pineda”:

Pineda pinetar gallery

In the Herald, John Tomase wrote:

Publicly, most Red Sox hitters either feigned ignorance or said it had no impact on the game.

“Everybody uses pine tar in the league, it’s not a big deal,” slugger David Ortiz said. “What else?”

But privately, multiple players believed he crossed a line — one, for the sheer brazenness of apparently applying the substance with a trowel; and two, for throwing a slider they considered filthier during the first four innings than the final two, when he mysteriously cleaned up.

Oh John Tomase…you and your private conversations with unnamed sources.

JBJ Changes the Conversation In His Favor
Timely hitting and some smooth plays in the field has helped remind people that Jackie Bradley Jr. isn’t chopped liver. He would have begun the season in Pawtucket if not for Shane Victorino’s injury, but he is proving to be all-around solid so far, leaving his struggles in spring training behind. He has options left and isn’t likely to stay up the whole season, but the outfield minus JBJ’s glove is considerably worse.

Yeah, Just Swing Away A.J…
Leaving aside the inexplicable dislike that A.J. Pierzynski seems to stir up in most everybody, the guy is an odd fit for the Red Sox. Clearly, he is just bridge to Boston’s tandem of young prospects, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez. Boston can’t just play the 38-year-old David Ross every night. So we’re left with A.J. Fucking Pierzynski, who separates himself from Boston’s organization-wide philosophy of plate discipline by swinging at goddamn everything.

Jon Couture wrote of Pierzynski:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out his second-inning double-play came on a ball he went reaching for across the plate. He strikes me as the kind of guy who, even hitting .300, is going to drive me crazy. (Please note, he’s not going to hit .300.) But yes, it was the only time he was retired in the game. And he had a great Sox-style nine-pitch at-bat in the seventh that ended with an infield single.

Slowly trying to accept A.J. Slowly.

Beautiful follow-through, AJ. Beautiful!

Fan Attendance At Fenway Park
The Red Sox are having a hard time getting another “sellout streak” up and running in the early going of 2014. The ballpark was 99.1% full for Opening Day last Friday based on ESPN’s definition of “full capacity.” The team hasn’t come any closer to a full-fledged sellout since. Fenway drew a little over 33,000 fans for the 4:05 p.m. start against Texas on Wednesday. Overall, the park has been about 90-95% full at best at the start of each game.

Fans are leaving early in droves, which isn’t all that remarkable considering the weather has been crisp for just about every game so far. Still, there is a clear reason the team has begun deploying profit-generating measures such as dynamic/variable ticket pricing and, for the first time in years, holding various minor league-style kitschy promotions like Toga Night.

 

Local Man’s Game Recap (Yankees 4, Red Sox 1)

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass. – Look, I don’t wanna make accusatory statements against Miguel Pineda any more than the next guy. But something was up. Remy spotted it a mile away. And Johnny Farrell just sat on his hands while the game got outta control. I started getting some phone calls about it around the fourth inning. What’s that on his hand? Looks he’s been fisting a crank-shaft! Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

Then all of a sudden he comes out for the fifth and it’s gone?

Let Clay Buchholz greaseball himself up like that and I can’t even imagine what he’d of done with it. Probably a no-hittar. Definitely a shutout and about 17 strikeouts just like Pedro back in 1999 in Yankee Stadium.

Just to be clear…I’m mainly insulted because “Pin-head-a” there had no sense of true espionage. Classless, brainless, but worst of all completely imaginationless.

So before you get your undergarments up into a big needless bunch of fabric, I’ll acknowledge the fact that yeah I’m sure some Sox pitchers have dabbled in the ol’ pinetar on the fararm bit before. Alls I’m asking for as a fan is some semblance of an effort to cover it up. That’s it. Otherwise, let’s just make it legal and stop with puttin on all these airs. You know what I mean?

Georgie Brett isn’t coming charging out of any dugouts these days. Nobody gives a damn. So let’s ALL bathe ourselves in pinetar and stick to everything and let the game be the game again.

Because let’s be honest with ourselves here. Buchholz lost it after the third inning. He didn’t have his A game. And Grady Sizemore’s chicken arm cost the team another run in the fifth inning. Jeter would have been gunned down by a mile with two outs on that single otherwise if he were tested by anything resembling a real throw.

But really, it didn’t matter. Pineda was better than Clay tonight. With substance or without (but, obviously with, OK?). So his wrist is all slippery and disgusting for no real good reason now. I ain’t all that sore about it honestly. Dan Nava hit a homer after a tough start to the season – I’ll take the moral victory where they come.

Next time out, let’s see what gives when we let both guys sprinkle his magic pixie dust on the ball and see how it plays out. That’s alls I’m saying from this neck of the woods.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

Local Man’s Game Recap (Red Sox 4, Rangers 2)

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass. – David Ortiz, you old seadog, you. Papi’s still got it. All these years later. Just amazing.

I knocked off work on the bog in time to catch most of this one. As a little reward to myself, I drank about half of my week’s pay for these recaps, chased it with a bit of whiskey, told the old lady to stay off the landline for a minute and cranked up the modem so I could write this website.

Being directly frank and truthful, I can’t say whether that ball Ortiz hit today was fair or foul. But it doesn’t really matter. The umpires had no idea. Neither did Jerry Remy, he wouldn’t even say. But damn, that thing was high and deep and there’s gotta be some sort of benefit of the doubt given for hitting a baseball into the first stratosphere of space or piercing the o-zone layer or whatever part of heaven it was that David touched with that dinger.

I got to thinking and maybe it was the double-digit beers going through, but I started wondering, what if Mo Vaughn woulda done what Papi’s doing? If he’d been smart enough not to chase the money out in California’s LA land. Take Boston’s money instead. I can’t think of many guys who’ve thrived (except fa Ruth…) after they left town.

Here in Beantown, loyalty is rewarded. And that goes both ways. Ortiz is living proof when he hits these late-game bombs…just a gargantuan shot last night. Too bad guys like Mo leave town instead of staying here and basking in the glory that my man David’s getting now.

Oh well, no reason to think about old shit though. Why even bring it up, ya know?

The Sox got their first series win of the season. Now it’s time for New York. Ellsbury – you coulda been here for this…just like Mo.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

Local Man’s Game Recap (Rangers 10, Red Sox 7)

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass – Well, that was ugly. Not exactly an open and shut beatdown since the Sox scored six runs in the last three innings. But that was close enough to an ass-reddening spanking irregardless.

Can’t make excuses. But tough conjuring together a solid lineup right now with Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks hurt. Yeah, it was real nice hearing all about this new guy Roberts and his hundreds of tattoos. Fantastic. How about tattooing a pitch or three next time Pierzynski gets on three times in front of ya? You know, the walks are good too and all but ya know it’s hard to look like much of a badass pipsqueaking your way down to first base after ball four.

Maybe a curtsy or incorporating the bat into some kind of baton routine would help out next time? I don’t know call me old-fashioned but if you’re new you should hit one off the wall in your Fenway debut. Always helps.

Finally. Someone’s gonna have to explain these NESN text polls that the broadcasters just insist on doing every game. I realize baseball’s having its moment with the hipsters right now. But this real-time “text your answer” shit is real-time stupid if ya catch my drift. The whole gimmick is about as lame as the day is long.

I recognize the fact that I’m in a grumpy mood because Doubront got shellacked tonight. But gimme a break. Wake me up when everyone’s close to finished being impressed with themselves for having a cell phone. In the meantime, I’m gonna tack on a little postscript to my nightly prayers asking for a pitcher’s duel in tomorrow’s rubber game.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.