I’m at Fenway Park on this gorgeous Tuesday evening to live-blog tonight’s game between the Red Sox and Indians. With a few former Spinners on the team, there’s sure to be plenty to discuss. Stay tuned…
6:50 p.m. – It’s Mentoring Night at Fenway. With a huge banner draped over the Green Monster, you can’t miss their presence in the ballpark. Did you know: the CEO of Boston’s Mass Mentoring Partnership is the brother of Indians GM Mark Shapiro. Watch for an off-day mentoring Mass Mentoring event at LeLacheur Park this summer (July 10).
6:51 p.m. – Hideki Okajima was just announced as AL Rookie of the Month for the month April. That’s almost according to plan, but I’m sure most people had that other Japanese import pegged as the immediate eye-opener. Oki’s April? One earned run in 12.1 IP with 17 strikeouts and only 3 walks. And remember, that only run came on a homerun against his first batter in America.
6:53 p.m. – Our boy, 2003 Spinner Jonathan Papelbon was just honored on the field as the 2006 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year. I don’t have to tell you why.
6:54 p.m. – Lineups announced. Trot’s reception is almost as loud as Pap’s.
6:59 p.m. – Had a few moments with all-time-favorite Dwight Evans in the dugout before the game. He was staking out old friend Trot Nixon, who was shagging flies in the outfield. Dewey’s a quiet guy.
7:07 p.m. – First pitch strike from Josh Beckett, fresh off the DL with an avulsion on his pitching hand. Will the blister-type injury inhibit his desire to throw his nasty curveball? So far, his one curve was in the dirt, but he struck out Sizemore to start the game.
7:10 p.m. – Speaking of Beckett, 2005 Spinner RHP Clay Buchholz just bested one of Beckett’s franchise records at Double-A Portland. With 8 K’s in 5.2 innings on Sunday, Buchholz broke Josh Beckett’s record of consecutive 7-strikeout games and moved into the Eastern League lead with 69 strikeouts on the season.
7:14 p.m. – Jhonny Peralta, who singled down the line, was doubled off on a weak fly ball to centerfield. Peralta either misjudged the ball or misjudged Coco’s speed because he was at second base when the Crisp made the play just about 30 feet away from him.
7:17 p.m. – There are a few things Julio Lugo does well. Bunting for a base hit is one of them. He starts the Sox off with with a perfect bunt off down the thirdbase line. Coco, batting second, attempts a bunt towards first on his first pitch, but it rolls foul.
7:21 p.m. – 2001 Spinner Kevin Youkilis steps to the plate to loud applause. Youk has multiple hits in eight straight games for the first time in Sox history since 1978. Did you know the “Youk” chant originated at LeLacheur Park in 2001? He still holds multiple Spinners franchise records, including walks in a season, OBP, and consecutive games with a walk.
Guess what… Youk doubles off the wall, driving home the first run of the game. He’s now hit in 21 straight games. It’s not my favored strategy, but I guess sometimes it pays to lay down that no-out bunt.
7:25 p.m. – Manny is intentionally walked to face Drew. Where’s Papi? Still icing his hamstrings for the third straight game… Drew could really change some minds with some RBI’s here.
7:28 p.m. – Alas, he grounds into a fielder’s choice, and another Spinners favorite, Mike Lowell, flies to center. But the Sox are on the board, thanks to the Youk-man himself.
7:34 p.m. – Trot gets another huge ovation, easily the biggest of the night. With the benefit of NESN’s coverage, you can tell he’s touched by the support. Looks like he’s trying not to smile, but he must miss Beantown.
7:35 p.m. – It’s official. No Roger Clemens this weekend. The Rocket is not scheduled to appear against the Red Sox, according to the Press Box announcement. Coco’s been busy. That’s four straight fly outs to center for Beckett and the Sox.
7:43 p.m. – What a catch! Outstanding centerfielder Grady Sizemore takes multiple bases away from Wily Mo Pena with an outstanding grab moving straight back towards the centerfield wall.
7:44 p.m. – Role reversal? After a lengthy 8-pitch at-bat for Wily Mo Pena (three balls, the fouls, and one smash to center that was caught), Dustin Pedroia fouls out in two pitches. Pedroia has really turned it on in May, batting .444 (12-for-27) in his last eight games. Credit the Sox for sticking with him through a tough April (.182, 10-for-55).
7:52 p.m. – Remember the trade that sent Edgar Renteria to Atlanta for top thirdbase prospect Andy Marte? The Sox quickly flipped him to Cleveland for Coco Crisp. This is notable only because Mike Rouse is the Indians starting thirdbaseman tonight. Where’s Marte? On the bench after starting the season with a meager .180 batting average and only one home run.
7:57 p.m. – When will the Red Sox get to Cleveland starter Jeremy Sowers? Not surprisingly, 12 Red Sox batters have yet to strike out. Sowers has now struck out an astounding 13 batters in 51.2 IP this year. Starting pitchers that walk (16) more than they strike out generally don’t succeed for too long. This is exactly the type of pitcher that Boston should tee off on. It’s been 8-up, 8-down since Manny was intentionally walked in the first.
8:00 p.m. – Beckett seems to be showing no signs of any type of setback from his DL stint — the curveball is back in full effect. He strikes out Sizemore on a nasty curveball.
8:10 p.m. – Our buddy Mike Lowell steps to the plate again. Get your tickets to the July 30 return engagement of the Mike Lowell Spinners. The Spinners will officially change their name to the Mike Lowell Spinners for the game, just as they did for the first time last June 26. And the first 1,500 in the ballpark receive Mike Lowell Spinners bobblehead dolls!
8:17 p.m. – Beckett has four strikeouts, all swinging, through 5.1 IP. It’s nice to see that Beckett’s K/9 is back up in the 8’s, rather than the 6.95 mark he hit last year, by far a career low.
8:24 p.m. – That’s more like it. Varitek takes Sowers deep — really deep — into the Monster seats in left field. That’s Tek’s 5th home run, and the 6th allowed by Sowers this year. Sox up 2-0.
8:27 p.m. – I don’t think it’s possible to get this point across enough. Dustin Pedroia just singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He’s now hitting .429 with six doubles and two home runs since May 3. He’s worked his OBP up to .385 coming into today’s game. Think he’ll make an appearance at the top of the Sox order before the season’s over?
Not too surprisingly, Lugo and Crisp ground out 6-4, which begs the question: why are Lugo and Crisp 1-2 in the Sox lineup when they’re having the most trouble getting on-base among Boston’s regulars? With OBP marks of .292 and .304 coming into the game, respectively, Lugo and Crisp are ahead of only Eric Hinske and Doug Mirabelli.
8:39 p.m. – Beckett’s cruising. 76 pitches through six innings, and he just sandwiched a strikeout between two fly outs to centerfield. Crisp has made seven put outs in the field, including his first-inning double play. Drew has played one ball in left field while Manny hasn’t had to move.
8:42 p.m. – This is unreal. Youk crushes the ball to left, hitting his 8th home run of the year. Can he be stopped? Two more hits so far today, both for extra bases. Wow, everything he hits is going a long way.
8:47 p.m. – Pass me a Mike Lowell double-cheeseburger! Lowell hits a two-bagger down the line. Hopefully he’ll have enough by Mike Lowell Spinners bobblehead night to put them back on the menu.
Boston’s finally getting to Sowers. The last nine hitters have four hits and two home runs, including one from the next man up, Jason Varitek. In comes Cleveland reliever Fernando Cabrera.
8:53 p.m. – Tek walks, bringing Wily Mo to the plate. The monstrous #22 is so large there were no jerseys for a man his stature on the Spinners roster. Little known fact: when he rehabbed in Lowell, his jersey was a replica 2XL with ironed-on numbers. Two straight walks, and that pesky little Dustin Pedroia comes to the plate. He’s an OBP guy, and Cabrera’s walked two straight to load the bases. Let’s see what happens…
8:58 p.m. – With the crowd at its feet, Dustin walks a run in. Another quality at-bat (6-pitches) for Pedroia. His batting average has eclipsed .300 for the first time this season. I think he can keep it above or around .300 for the rest of the year…
9:03 p.m. – Lugo refuses to swing and strikes out looking on a full count. After three walks, can you really blame him…?
The Killers’ “All These Things You Have Done” plays between innings.
9:05 p.m. – Beckett, back for the 7th inning, strikes Sizemore out for the third time, this time looking. At 80 pitches, can Beckett go the rest of the game?
9:09 p.m. – I spoke too soon. Two consecutive hits to right-field, a single and triple, have the Indians on the board. Javier Lopez and Brendan Donnelly are warming.
Victor Martinez grounds the ball to first, scoring Hafner. It had been all Red Sox until this inning. After a quick out, to start the seventh inning, it’s now 4-2.
9:13 p.m. – Beckett strikes out Trot to get out of the jam, keeping Nixon hitless today. He’s still only at 91 pitches…
9:24 p.m. – Coco K’s and Youk flies out to right field (he’s now seen 20 pitches in 5 at-bats), Manny rips a double to straight-away center, just a few feet from going over the wall. As much as I enjoy touting Pedroia, Manny’s turned it on big-time. He’s 12-for-32 (.375) with seven extra base hits since the May 21 series against the Yankees began.
9:32 p.m. – Donnelly enters the game and promptly hits the first batter he faces. That’s his fourth of the season, tying his career high. After a pop out and fly out, pinch hitter Casey Blake rips a single to left. Two out, two on — it’s time for Javier Lopez.
9:37 p.m. – Predictably, Sizemore grounds out to end the inning. Sizemore comes into the game batting .239 against left-handers this year. Sizemore destroys right-handed pitching, but his .225/.301/.376 line against southpaws once again leaves him vulnerable to late-inning match-ups.
9:44 p.m. – That’s got to hurt… After a foul off off his foot and a visit from the trainer, Lowell strikes out to start the inning. Tek grounder to short, and 2XL WMP digs in…and K’s.
9:50 p.m. – It’s Oki-time as the Rookie of the Month toes the rubber, getting the opportunity to for his fourth save with ’03 Spinner Papelbon having pitched in three of the last four games.
Speaking of Paps, the next great former Spinners pitching prospect, Double-A Portland’s Clay Buchholz, was recently featured by Boston Herald columnist Rob Bradford. It’s a must read. Clay’s finally getting his due as a top tier prospect with a very high ceiling.
9:56 p.m. – A lengthy at-bat by Jhonny Peralta leads to a ground-out to first. Hafner works the count full before walking. This is already Okajima’s 23rd appearance of the season. Is he tiring? Are advanced scouting reports removing some of Oki-Dokey’s mystique?
10:00 p.m. – I wouldn’t go that far. H-OK strikes out Victor Martinez. Fittingly, it’s all up to Trot, who has yet to reach base since his first ’07 Fenway at-bat yesterday. This is a tough task for Trot against the tough lefty.
10:03 p.m. – Trot strikes out swinging, and Okajima has his fourth save. Beckett’s the winner, and here’s a little tidbit, courtesy of Steve Buckley and the Herald’s baseball blog:
Beckett just became the 10th Sox pitcher in team history to win eight straight to start the season. Quoting Buckley: “The last to do it was Rich Garces in 2000. The last starter to do so was Roger Clemens, who got off to a 14-0 start in ‘86.”
10:08 p.m. – Not a bad game for our former Spinner Kevin Youkilis, who went 2-for -4 with a home run — his second in as many days — a double, and two RBI. We’ll see you at LeLacheur for some Spinners action starting June 19. Thanks for reading tonight’s live blog of the Red Sox game from Fenway Park.