Saturday, July 08, 2006

Live Blogging The Red Sox At White Sox

After my tape delay blogging experience last night/early this morning, I thought I'd give live blogging a try for today's Red Sox / White Sox game. I'll be able to go into a little more background today because last night I didn't dare look up too much information -- I didn't want to accidentally see how the game ended.

The game starts at 12:20 CDT. Here are the probable lineups [UPDATE: actual lineups]:

Kevin Youkilis 1b
Mark Loretta 2b
David Ortiz dh
Manny Ramirez lf
Trot Nixon rf
Mike Lowell 3b
Coco Crisp cf
Doug Mirabelli c
Alex Cora ss

Josh Beckett p
Scott Podsednik lf
Tadahito Iguchi 2b
Jim Thome dh
Paul Konerko 1b
Jermaine Dye rf
A.J. Pierzynski c
Joe Crede 3b
Rob Mackowiak cf
Alex Cintron ss

Freddy Garcia p

Beckett's done well in his last couple games. Garcia's given up just a couple more runs in his last two starts than Beckett has, but he's given up 20 hits (!) in 12 innings. This isn't real encouraging against a team with the third highest OPS in the majors. Of course, the White Sox have the second highest, so maybe it won't matter.

It's a warm day in Chicago; the sun is very hot and the skies are mostly clear. Not much wind. I'll be back when the game starts.

About to get the first pitch from Garcia to Youkilis and...'s a ball inside.

Youkilis I remember from a few years ago, when people first started talking a lot about sabermetrics. As a prospect, Youkilis was the poster boy for walks as an indicator of future hitting potential. Now he's leading off because of his on base percentage, and Joe Buck calls it "surprising." Maybe Joe needs to read more.

Youlilis strikes out and Loretta grounds out to short. No Ortiz is up. He pops a ball up to left and Podsednik, who was playing Ortiz deep left-center, puts on the afterburners to catch the ball before it drops in for a cheap hit. 1-2-3 for Garcia in the first.

Bottom of the first, and let me just say that I really don't care who the host is for Fox's NFL show. And frankly, I'm a little disturbed that Donovan McNabb et. al. seem to care as much as they do.

Podsednik takes a strike to start the White Sox half of the first. He eventually pops up to short left and Alex Cora grabs it from over his shoulder. Alex Cora is still that good? Remarkable, considering he's what, 74-years-old? [UPDATE: I'm an idiot; it's a good line, but the wrong Cora.]

I kid. I kid. I kid because I love.

After Iguchi grounds out 6-3, Thome fires a double to the right field corner, just barely fair. Now Konerko is up...

...and he gets enough to put a scare into Red Sox fans, but it's just a long fly ball to left. 0-0 after 1 inning.

Ad note: "Do they normally catch on fire like that?" Love that line.

Manny's up. He's not going to the All Star game after Red Sox manager Terry Francona argued successfully that Manny's knees should keep him out of the game.

Bad knees notwithstanding, he doubles to left. There might have been a play at second, but Pods bobbled the ball and Manny trots in standing up.

Now Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are debating the merits of letting Manny call in sick to the All Star game. I'll need an espresso to keep my eyes open if they keep this up.

Garcia comes back and strikes out Nixon for the first out.

The consensus is that "Manny being Manny" is not enough, and that he's disrespecting the fans by not even attending the game. Seriously, those guys are doing nothing for my hangover.

Lowell takes Garcia to a full count and drives the ball to deep right. Dye makes a great catch, but it's deep enough to move Manny Bad Knees to third.

Crisp is up and Garcia misses badly on a couple pitches before getting the first strike. Crisp eventually pops up to center. Top of the second over, still no score.

Dye blasts a home run to deep center on the first pitch he sees. He's been responsible for every RBI against the Red Sox [in the last two games]. 1-0 Chicago.

A.J. looks at one ball, then blasts a ball himself to deep left-center. Crisp makes a good catch, but he hit it hard. It would be a homer in parks not as spacious as the Cell.

Beckett gets Crede to strikout before giving up a single Mackowiak, who later steals second. It doesn't matter because Cintron strikes out.

Apparently, Beckett gives up a lot of home runs on the road -- 5 times as many as at home, according to McCarver.

Garcia plunks Mirabelli -- in fact, Mirabelli pretty much leaned into it. Hey, a base is a base, but Garcia got a little pissy about it. Cora grounds into a fielder's choice to second -- he hit it so slowly they couldn't turn the double play. Some White Sox fans disagreed with the call at first.

The trivia question is what two White Sox players led the league in home runs. I'm guessing Thomas and I have no idea who else.

Cora steals second; no play because A.J. lost hold of the ball trying to make the throw. Garcia paints a slider low and ouside to strike out Youkilis, who took Garcia to a full count. Loretta skies a ball behind second base for the third out. 1-0 White Sox.

Beckett has an easy third. He gets Pods to strikeout, Iguchi on a gorunder to short, and Thome on a high pup up to short left.

Every time I see a slugger like Thome hit a high pop up I think of something an old time baseball player once said about Babe Ruth. This guy said it's not Ruth's homers he remembered, but the pop ups. He said they went higher by far than anyone else's.

The answer to the trivia question was Beltin' Bill Melton and Dick Allen. I was going to guess Melton. Really, I was.

Garcia gets Ortiz for his fourth strikeout, but Manny gets his second stand up double.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon is miked for the game. They caught him babbling about who sang "Sweet Home Chicago", but with the season he's having he probably won't care.

Trot Nixon drops a high pop up into short left. None of the White Sox were close enough to make a play. Manny has to wait to see if it'll drop, but eventually is able to get to third.

Garcia got upset with the play, and now McCarver, defender of all that is just and right, is saying he shouldn't show up his fielders and that if Garcia makes a mistake and gives up a homer, the fielders should show him up the same way.

But Garcia doesn't make a mistake, at least not on the next pitch, driving a strike inside to Lowell.

1st and 3rd with one out, and Lowell drives a double to deep center on a 1-2 pitch, driving in both runners. 2-1 Boston, and the pitching coach is out to settle Garcia down. The Chicago fielders aren't showing up their pitcher. McCarver should have sent a memo; I don't think they're watching TV down there.

Coco Crisp, America's favorite breakfast cereal (I kid. I kid. I kid because I love.), line drives a single to center. Lowell gets to third, and Crisp later steals second. It's really not hard to steal on Garcia. Mirabelli chops a ball past the mound and is out 6-3, but Lowell makes it home and Crisp gets to third.

Remember when Billy Hatcher played for Boston and stole home? I'd love to see that right now.

Alas, not to be: Cora pops up to left. 3-1 Boston.

Ad note: In the Burger King meat stacker ad, is there some reason why all the workers have to be little people? Is that really necessary?

Between innings, Garcia takes out his frustration on a Gatorade cup. Konerko lines a single to left, to bring up Dye. They're showing Dye's stats, and they're really good. His OPS is over 1.000. I didn't realize it was that high.

Dye homers again! Tie game and now Dye is reponsible for all 5 RBIs against Boston.

A.J is up. Just before Dye's homer they quoted Gullen on A.J. -- "When you play against him you hate him; when you play with him you hate hime less."

McCarver credits the homer to Dye wearing Beckett down. They're talking about Beckett's troubles on the road -- his road ERA is over 6.00. Yikes.

A.J. strikes out and they play a comment from him thanking fans for voting him into the ALl Star game as the final player.

Crede rolls a single to center. Still only one out.

They also mention Nomar getting voted in. Nomar's doing very well after what Joe Buck calls "a couple lost years with the Cubs." I thought it was only prospects that left the Cubs to go on to stardom soemwhere else? Learn something new every day.

Cintron fists a pop up to short right and Nixon comes diving in to make the catch. Awesome play. 3-3 tie.

A guy behind home plate is wearing a t-shirt that says "I [clover] Boston" It's one of the few signs I see of Red Sox nation. And at Wrigley last week, when the White Sox played the Cubs, the Sox fans seemed to utnumber Cubs fans. You didn't used to see that; White Sox fans used to be outnumbered in situations like that. That's what comes from winning a World Series.

After Youkilis flies out to right to cap a 7-pitch at-bat, Loretta rolls a single up the middle. Next, Ortiz blasts a homer to center, his eigth home run in eight games. 23 of his 86 RBIs this year have given the Red Sox a lead, according to Joe Buck. 5-3 Boston. The fielders don't show up Garcia.

Manny gets a single for his third hit, and the White Sox have David Riske up in the bullpen. But Garcia gets the next two outs and Manny is stranded at first.

Ad note: Sam Waterson somberly plugs T.D. Ameritrade, and every time he does so I expect him to start talking about robot insurance for old people, because, as is well known, robots steal old people's medicine for food. "Why do the scientists build them?!?"

Pods hits a line drive off the glove of Cora. A base hit -- it was hit too hard for Cora to have gotten it.

With Iguchi up, they're trying to hold Pods close to first. It doesn't work: Pods shoots to second for a stolen base. McCarver criticizes Cora's tagging technique. Shut up, Tim.

Pods gets to third when Iguchi pushes the ball to the right side on a ground out. Thome's up, but the damage comes from a passed ball that allows Pods to get home, barely.

The passed ball doesn't mean anything, because Thome hits a homer to center. Tie game. That's Dye, Thome, and Ortiz with homers to center, Dye has a second homer, Manny has two doubles and three hits, and Pods and Crisp have stolen bases. Awesome game. Who needs the All Star game?

Konerko skies a ball to right for the second out, and Dye comes up to a loud ovation. Cora makes a diving stop and throws out Dye. Nixon and Cora's defense can be added to the highlights list above.

Made myself a sandwich: smoked ham with Russian mayonnaise and Danish havarti cheese -- a pound of Danish cheese a week keeps the Islamofascists away. On toasted rye from Gorski, a local bakery. I love bread from these local places: nothing in it but what's supposed to be in it. With mass-produced bread you're basically eating a science project. Yuck.

Catching up, Riske is in for Garcia in the top of the sixth. His name is pronounced "risky", which seems like a bad name for a reliever, like a brain surgeon with a last name pronounced "shaky". Garcia's line is not impressive, 5 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, all earned.

After getting two outs, Riske gives up the game's first walk to Cora, who easily steals second when A.J. bobbles a pitch.

Walks kill: Youkilis singles to left and Cora scores. Pods, who doesn't throw well, tries to get Cora at home, but the throw is off and Youkilis gets to second. Riske gives up a second walk, to Loretta, and with Papi coming up gets himself pulled.

Riske turns out to have been a bad risk.

Riske pitched 9 innings for Boston earlier this year, but was traded to Chicago. Bad deal today, but his ERA and Walks/Hits per inning are good.

Lefty Neal Cotts comes in and strikes out Oritz. Cotts does that to a lot of lefties.

Ad note: that new Chevy ad is kind of cute -- the one with the song that goes "baseball, hot dos, apple pie, and Chevrolet", then the song updates to include free agency and fantasy leagues. But think about what they're saying about us: first, they say we used to be kind of hokey and lame, and then they say we've turned into a bunch of pretentious, greedy, free agent loving, goat-cheese-pizza-eating dorks locked in our rooms playing fantasy baseball. It's pretty insulting if you think about it. F-U-2, Chevrolet!

A. J. starts the inning off with a single and Beckett looks like he'll give back the lead. Again.

Crede tries to check his swing, but the first base ump calls it a strike. The crowd boos. On the next pitch Crede hits into a 5-4-3 double play. The lead is safe for now.

Mackowiak pops up to center. Through 6 innings and the Red Sox lead 6-5.

The White Sox have Jon Garland warming up in the bull pen, I suppose because it's nearing the All Star break and they can uses him in relief today if he's needed. Weird, but the White Sox need to keep up with Detroit, who may yet fade back into medriocrity, but who have so far shown no signs of doing so.

Manny grounds out to short and lefty Trot Nixon strikes out looking. As I said, Cotts does that to a lot of lefties. Lowell sends a soft line drive to center for a single, and McCarver thought the hit sounded like an aluminum bat.

Now Crisp fists a single into left center, and Guillen is calling in Garland. An odd move with weak hitting catcher Mirabelli coming up, but Mirabelli's a righty, like Garland.

I'm so releieved this is such a tense game, because it has kept McCarver and Buck from babbling continuously about the All Star game and Manny Bad Knees.

Unfortunately, I may not be able to see the whole game through. I have to leave soon to pick up my wife at work, after which we're going out to dinner and to see some artsy Johnny Depp flick called Pirates of the Caribbean, which I think is about the effect of 18th century capitalism on indigineous American peoples. With any luck it'll have a hot chick like Keira Knightly in it, or at least some stuff blowing up.

Ozzie's move doesn't work: Mirabelli chops a slow grounder up the middle and Lowell scores from second. That was the third straight two-out hit, and it puts runners on first and third for Cora. Boston is now up 7-5.

Make that four straight two out hits. Cora lines a ball off of Konerko's glove and Crisp scores. Still two outs, still runners at first and third. Red Sox up 8-5.

Youkilis popped up to short left to end the top half of the seventh. Beckett's still in the game, but he gives up a walk to leadoff hitter Cintron. Next Podsednik singles and Iguchi, the tying run, comes to the plate.

Beckett walks Iguchi to load the bases. With Thome coming up, Francona pulls Beckett for Javier Lopez, a lefty pitcher to face the lefty Thome.

Lopez is a side-armer, and I can't help but think that as good as Thome is, it's going to be hard for him to get his eyes on the ball.

I was right: Thome strikes out swinging for the first out. Now Lopez leaves for righty Craig Hansen, who'll come in to face Konerko.

Konerko skies a high pop up that lands just outside fair territory halfway down the right field line. Nixon makes the catch, but he Loretta, and Youkilis fall all over each other in doing so. It could have been a disaster.

Now two outs for Dye, with Hansen still on the mound. He gets Dye to a 1-2 count, who then hits a soft liner to short, which Cora picks up off his shoetops for the third out.

Lopez and Hansen pitch out of Beckett's jam. Great job by both.

Loretta bleeds a single past shortstop Cintron, and that's it for Garland. Lefty Matt Thornton comes in against Ortiz and gives up a single on the first pitch, then a walk to Manny.

I'd hoped to be able to see the game through, but there were too many runs and too many pitching changes. Oh well. It was a great game but the outcome is not too much in doubt. The two out singles in the seventh pretty much ended it.

And the Red Sox get their ninth run on a sac fly to center by Nixon. For posterity sake I'll record the rest of the game and finish this up later, leaving now with one out in the top of the eighth and Boston ahead 9-5.

3:45 (approx)
So I'm in my car to go pick up my wife and put the game on the radio. Between getting dressed and getting to my car I missed maybe 10 minutes of the game, and the first thing I hear is, paraphrasing, that Iguchi, the current batter, could tie it up with a homer. I dreaded something like that happening: leaving the game nearing the end only to find out the White Sox pull out a win, coming from behind to tie Boston then win in extra innings.

But though they scored a run in the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox brought in Papelbon and he recorded the final out of the inning. The Red Sox went on to win 9-6.

The story of the game was the offense, an obvious conclusion the final score. But more than just good hitting, or even particularly bad pitching, was the fact the hitters and baserunners were tenacious. It seemed every at bat was a battle, especially when the stars were up -- Ortiz, Ramirez, Thome, Konerko. And every base runner seemed to press every advantage.

The press promised a playoff atmosphere, and the players delivered. A great game to live blog.

PREVIOUSLY: Tape Delay Blogging The White Sox / Red Sox Game

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