This Week in Boston Baseballing, Aug. 30 – Sept. 5

Boston swept its three-game set against the Chicago White Sox last weekend and then took two of three from Detroit. The Sox capped off the week by handing the Yankees a demoralizing defeat in the first game of its four-game series in the Bronx. New York battled back from a 7-2 deficit to take a 8-7 lead before Mariano Rivera, who looks like he could pitch another 10 years, had a rare blown save.

Thanks to Tampa Bay’s struggles in Anaheim and Oakland, the Red Sox were able to increase their lead in the AL East to 6 ½ games. Boston’s lead over Detroit for the AL’s best record stands at three games. Despite the loss to Boston last night, the Yankees have seen their playoff odds increase 6.0 percentage points to 10% during the past week while Tampa’s West Coast slide has dropped its odds from about 86% to 74%, based on the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds page.

Boston Wins in 10 Innings In New York
The Red Sox appeared to be on their way to a fairly comfortable win Thursday night before the Yankees exploded for six runs in the 7th inning. If this game had been played a week ago, Boston may have lost. The Sox scratched out a run in the ninth off Rivera thanks to a two-out single from Mike Napoli, who was lifted for pinch-runner Quintin Berry, a speed-first guy who is a luxury that can only be afforded on a 40-man roster. Berry promptly stole second and moved to third after the throw short-hopped Captain Jetes and wound up in shallow left field.*

quintin berry takes 3rd

*Dennis Eckersley did his best John Madden in Super Bowl XXXVI impression by initially questioning why Berry would be stealing second base with two outs in the 9th inning. You can almost hear the instant NESN producers were in his ear and good old Eck quickly did the right thing by mentioning Dave Roberts.

The Yankees provided to final two blunders of the night: Alfonso Soriano insisted on stealing every base possible against Craig Breslow, leading to his pickoff trying to steal third with one out in the ninth. And with the game in the balance, Joe Girardi brought Joba Chamberlain in for the 10th inning. If Joe Girardi promises to continue using one of his worst relievers in high-leverage, late-innings spots, Boston fans ought to start routing for New York to sneak into the playoffs.

girardi is disappointed

Boston Peppers the Fenway Stands During Eight-HR Night
The Sox hit dingers all over the park on Wednesday night. Daniel Nava’s two-run home run in the 6th inning, one of eight home runs hit by the team, chose a hefty fan’s face as its landing pad. Sure, this poor woman getting a face-full of beer thanks to the jackass sitting next to her got all the attention. But the fallout for this guy over the past couple of days has probably been a lot worse…

David Ortiz Collects His 2,000th Hit
Big Papi doubled off Al Alburquerque on Wednesday night during a 6th inning in which the Red Sox batted around and scored eight runs to turn the rubber game against Detroit into a blowout. Ortiz would later hit a homer in the 8th inning to pace the Red Sox’s 20-4 victory.

Boston Makes Some Roster Moves
During a season in which the Red Sox have remained relatively healthy as a team throughout, the September roster moves were exactly what a fan hopes for – marginal acquisitions and call-ups that add depth rather than address serious holes. The Red Sox acquired utility infielder John McDonald from Philadelphia in one of those “ depth” moves that probably spells doom if the player actually sees any at-bats in October. As part of September roster expansion, the Sox also recalled youngsters Rubby de la Rosa and Ryan Lavarnway. Matt Thornton and Brandon Snyder were also activated off the disabled list.

Lester Outduels Scherzer
Jon Lester faced off against Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer on Tuesday night and came away victorious, 2-1. Lester allowed one run, struck out nine batters and walked none while Scherzer walked three Red Sox and gave up two runs. The game will undoubtedly be pointed to later this month by advocates of Lester as Boston’s Game 1 playoff starter (if the Sox have the luxury to align the rotation). The whole decision could hinge on who has the best Angry Face on the team:

lester angry

Boston Herald Photo

lackey angry espn

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Buchholz Sets A Return Date?
Clay Buchholz made his last rehab start on Thursday night, throwing 71 pitches and striking out five batters in 3 2/3 innings. Clay could be back on the mound for Boston as soon as Tuesday night, assuming the Red Sox are keeping him on a relatively normal throwing schedule.

Theo Decides to Give Daniel Bard Another Whirl
Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein claimed Daniel Bard off waivers Wednesday after Boston designated the embattled right-handed reliever for assignment.

USA Today Names A ‘Minor League Player of the Year’?
They do. And this year’s winner was Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts joins some fairly lofty company – Andruw Jones (twice!), Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton as well as former Red Sox Gabe Kapler (1998) and Josh Beckett (2001).

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