MLB Regular Season Ends

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Don't Want To Get Off On A Rant Here But...

Just minutes before the start of last night's Red Sox-Mariners game, I was doing some channel surfing on my TV waiting for the game to start. I have Verizon FIOS, and I really like it (and recommend it).

I discovered that they recently added NESN to my service, and I was really excited, thinking that I would not have to watch any other teams ' feeds on MLB Extra Innings when the Red Sox are on the road. (Extra Innings always broadcasts NESN when the Red Sox are at home, and some times on the road.)

But to my chagrin, as the game was starting in Seattle, I was still seeing other programming on NESN. ("The Dennis and Callahan Show" from WEEI.) I decided to investigate this and wound up on NESN's web site, where I discovered that due to MLB's inane "rules", they can't show Red Sox games outside New England on my system.

From NESN's site:

NESN does not have the right to distribute many Red Sox and Bruins-related programs outside of
our home broadcast territory due to MLB and NHL broadcast regulations. This includes live game broadcasts, rebroadcasts of Red Sox games, classic Red Sox games and any non-news program which includes a significant amount of game highlights. When one of these programs is airing in NESN’s home broadcast territory, NESN National cable subscribers can watch other NESN programs during these times.


In the immortal words of Colonel Potter: what a load of horse hockey this is.

Not only can't I watch Red Sox games on "NESN National", but I can't watch anything even remotely connected to the Red Sox and their game highlights.

Then why bother adding NESN to my system at all?

Granted I can watch most NESN broadcasts, but it would have been really nice to eliminate many of those other teams feeds. Of course, I wouldn't have been able to do anything when the Sox play the Yankees except mute my TV.

(One good thing from NESN yesterday: Tim Wakefield will be added as an in-studio NESN analyst, beginning on Saturday night.)

I've heard from other bloggers about the problems of those Red Sox fans in Fairfield County, Connecticut that pulls the same crap, because it's considered "Yankee and Mets territory." It's not just a problem here, but all over the US. Here's an interesting article about how fans across the country are getting screwed by these arcane TV blackout rules.

Thanks for getting my hopes up for a few minutes last night, NESN. Humbug.

Mariners Get Cooked With Just 81 Pitches

As good as Franklin Morales was on Thursday night, Aaron Cook was even better on Friday.

Two spectacular performances on back-to-back nights from guys who weren't even in the rotation on Opening Day. (Don't hurry back, John Lackey. Oh yeah, remember him? I've done my best to forget him.)

Cook threw just 81 pitches in a two-hit performance against Seattle last night, going just one batter over the limit. (Dustin Pedroia turned a simply amazing double play in the eighth to wipe out the last man who reached base.) He struck out just two, and the Mariners were pounding balls into the ground all night. It was the fewest pitches anyone has thrown for a complete game this season, and the fewest since 2009.

At first the Red Sox were stymied by Hector Noesi for the first four innings. I was watching the game on the Mariners feed and Dave Sims mentioned that Noesi had dropped his last five decisions. "How are the Sox not pummeling this guy?" I wondered to myself. And almost on cue, Will Middle brooks blasted a home run to left that broke the scoreless tie. And then Cody Ross blasted one even further, to the second deck in left to make it 2-0. And before the inning was over, Daniel Nava hit the third home run of the inning to make it 3-0.

In the sixth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run shot to left to cap the scoring at 5-0.

Everyone but New York in the AL East won last night, so the Red Sox are still tied for third, 5 1/2 games back.

Josh Beckett makes his return from the DL tonight at Safeco.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pitching Ruled The Night

Felix Hernandez and Franklin Morales pitched the best the game the Red Sox have been involved in all year, but the Mariners came out on top, 1-0.

Morales was excellent again, pitching seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits. He struck out seven, and was involved in a scary situation in the fourth, when he tried to pick off Franklin Gutierrez on first base, but threw wide and it hit Gutierrez on the side of the face, and he had to leave the game. Can't say I've ever seen that happen before. Gutierrez was placed on the 7 day DL with a mild concussion.

Hernandez was even better, striking out 13 and allowing the Sox just five hits in going the distance. The best opportunity for the Red Sox was in the ninth, when Hernandez gave up a single and a walk with one out. Adrian Gonzalez hit a ball in the left center field alley that Michael Saunders ran down (I thought for sure that was falling in) and Will Middlebrooks popped up.

Seattle won it in the bottom of the ninth when John Jaso singled to right off Scott Atchison with first and second. Cody Ross made a strong throw to the plate, and it looked like Saunders was going to be out. But Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn't hold on to the ball, and the Sox lost.

Not only did the Red Sox lose, but everyone else in the AL East lost as well. So everybody stays where they are.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

7-2/21-21/399

The Red Sox ended their nine-game homestand in style, with a laugher against the Blue Jays, 10-4.

The Sox came out firing, scoring six runs in the first off a wild Ricky Romero. He could never get it together, and by the fourth inning, Romero was gone, having given up nine runs.

Jon Lester gave up a run in the first, but that was the last time the Blue Jays had the lead. Lester gave up a bomb of a home run to Jose Bautista in the fourth (it dented a guy's car roof in the lot across Lansdowne Street). He also allowed a two-run shot to Edwin Encarnacion in the 6th.

David Ortiz hit his 21st home run of the year, and number 399 of his career after he had walked in his three previous at-bats.

On the day, Adrian Gonzalez had 3 RBI, Mike Aviles 2, Cody Ross scored twice, and Big Papi scored all four times he was on base.

I thought that before this homestand started, the Sox needed to go at least 7-2 on the nine games, and that is exactly what they did. That would bring them back to .500 at home, at 21-21.

The win puts the Sox in a tie for third with the Rays, who lost today. The Sox are five over .500 for the first time this year.

Now the Sox hit the road for seven, at Seattle and Oakland, before returning to Fenway for their second series of the year with New York, who lost not one but two pitchers today, as C.C. Sabathia (groin injury) and Andy Pettitte (fractured ankle in today's game) were put on the DL, and will not pitch against the Sox next weekend.

Salty & Pedey Provide Late-Inning Heroics

It looked a repeat of Monday night at Fenway in the first inning last night, as the Blue Jays jumped on Daisuke Matsuzaka for one run, but it could have been more, like what happened to Felix Doubront the previous night.

Toronto had second and third and one out with one in, and Dice-K shut the door there, getting a foul out and a line drive right back to him. The Red Sox could do little with Aaron Laffey, who was making his first start in nearly two years. Laffey went six innings and allowed no runs on three hits.

The Sox struck in the seventh against the Jays' pen, getting three runs on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's solo shot to left and Dustin Pedroia's two-run double. The Sox added two more insurance runs in the eighth to make it a 5-1 final.

Dice-K went 5 2/3 innings, and pitched nicely after the shaky first. The bullpen once again turned in excellent work, as Scott Atchison, Andrew Miller (the winning pitcher), Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves allowed just one base runner after Dice-K departed.

New York's win kept the Red Sox 6 1/2 games back, but they are just a game behind slumping Tampa Bay for third place. The Red Sox are 6-2 on the homestand, and it concludes this afternoon with Jon Lester on the mound, and then the Sox head for the West Coast for the first time. They play the Mariners for four games starting Thursday night.

Trivia Q&A: June 26

We had 18 teams in on Tuesday night, which appeared to be a slow night at first, but by the time we got going, more people turned up and it was a busier night than I thought it would be.

The Current Events round had some of the lower numbers than I can remember in a long time, as I guess I may have made that a little too difficult. But they bounced back to better ones for the next three rounds.

IQ Trivia was interesting mix of final numbers. A lot of teams got either 4 or 5 correct, but an equal number got none right as well. It was almost all or nothing. The winning team was Like a Japanese Seaweed Salad  with 51 points. Congratulations again to my friends "the teachers."

Second place went to On a Scale of Casey Anthony to Jerry Sandusky, How Much Do You Like Kids? with 46 points. (It was also the winner of Best Team Name, as it got a predictably mixed response of laughter and outrage.) Third place went to Unfiltered with 44 points.

Current Events
1. A former chief financial officer for what American rock band was charged with 33 counts of theft for stealing at least $380,000 from the band?
2. Adrian Nastase, former prime minister of what European country in the early 2000s, failed in a suicide attempt last week when police tried to take him away to begin a two-year jail term for corruption?
3. The snack food Combos recently released its annual list of "America's Most Manliest Cities." Of the 50 ranked cities, what California city was ranked last?
4. Mohamed Morsi was declared the winner of what country's presidential election this past weekend?
5. What famous American's personal copies of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights was sold at auction last week at Christie's for a staggering $9.8 million?
6. Ashton Eaton set a new world record in what sport at the US Olympic Trials last Sunday?
7. What Middle Eastern country recently announced that women athletes from the country will compete in next month's Olympics for the first time?

June 26th Trivia
1. On this date in 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed in what American city?
2. In 1960, the African nation of Madagascar gained its independence from what European nation?
3. On this day in 1819, Abner Doubleday was born. In what US state is he alleged to have invented the game of baseball in 1839?
4. Paul Castellano, the NYC crime boss who was murdered outside Sparks Steak House in 1985, was born on this day in 1915. What crime family was he the head of?
5. In 2003, Senator Strom Thurmond died on this day. What state did he serve in the Senate for 46 years, a record?
6. On this day in 1948, the US and UK began delivering supplies by air to what European city after it was isolated by a Soviet blockade?
7. In 1976, the CN Tower, one of the world's largest free-standing structures, opened on this day in what city?

Did They Reach 30 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Princess Diana
2. John Belushi
3. Lee Harvey Oswald
4. Buddy Holly
5. Bruce Lee
6. Heath Ledger
7. John F. Kennedy Jr.
8. Jimi Hendrix
9. Sharon Tate
10. Anna Nicole Smith

General Knowledge
1. "Miracle On Ice" refers to the US gold medal in 1980 in what Olympic sport? ( 1 pt)
2. When shaken too violently, pinball machines traditionally flash what four-letter word? ( 1 pt)
3. What dance move, famously performed by Michael Jackson, is believed to be based on the pantomime of French actor Jean-Louis Barrault? ( 1 pt)
4. Who did Muhammad Ali fight in the famous "Rumble In The Jungle?" ( 2 pt)
5. Followers of what religion build and worship at stupas? ( 2 pt)
6. What Chinese game do players build suits from 13 or 16 tiles? ( 2 pt)
7. The British meal known as "bangers and mash" refers to mashed potatoes and what else? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Under which US president did two of his vice-presidents die while he was in office? ( 4 points)
2. The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 was fought in what modern-day country? ( 4 points)
3. What 1996 Tim Burton film was based on a series of bubble gum trading cards from 1962? ( 5 points)
4. Which US state has the shortest coastline, just 13 miles? ( 3 points)
5. What TV show's characters often repeated the slogan, "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose?" ( 4 points)

Answers
Current Events
1. Pearl Jam; 2. Romania; 3. San Diego; 4. Egypt; 5. George Washington; 6. decathlon; 7. Saudi Arabia.

June 26th Trivia
1. San Francisco; 2. France; 3. New York; 4. Gambino; 5. South Carolina; 6. Berlin; 7. Toronto.

Did They Reach 30 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. yes (36); 2. yes (33); 3. no (24); 4. no (22); 5. yes (32); 6. no (28); 7. yes (38); 8. no (27); 9. no (26); 10. yes (39).

General Knowledge
1. hockey; 2. tilt; 3. moonwalk; 4. George Foreman; 5. Buddhist; 6. mahjong; 7. sausages.

IQ Trivia
1. James Madison; 2. Belgium; 3. "Mars Attacks;" 4. New Hampshire; 5. "Friday Night Lights."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Papi Dongs Weren't Enough

Felix Doubront had nothing last night, and allowed seven runs in five innings to the Blue Jays, including four in the first inning.

The Sox came all the way back from 4-0 down to tie it, 5-5, by the fourth inning, as David Ortiz went deep for his 19th HR of 2012 in the first.

Doubront settled down but gave the lead back to 7-5 in the 5th. Matt Albers allowed a two-run shot to Jose Bautista in the 7th that made it 9-5, and then the rain came, and held the game up for two hours.

David Ortiz hit another blast in the 8th that made it 9-6, but that was as close as the Sox would come.

The Sox and Jays are once again tied for fourth place, 6 1/2 games behind New York.

Marlon Byrd, who the Red Sox released nearly three weeks ago and hasn't hooked up with any team, was given a 50-day suspension for using a banned substance.

Apparently, Mr. President was happy his hometown White Sox acquired Kevin Youkilis (who went 1-for-4 in his Chicago debut last night), but many in his Boston audience weren't happy (or were they chanting "Yooooouuuuuuk?"):



That's what usually happens when politicians try to mix politics and sports; they'll always end up saying "I'm sorry."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gone Before Their Time Trivia On Tuesday

Tuesday Night Trivia this week will feature "June 26th Trivia" as the Special Category, seven questions about the day in history, and the Q Train lightning round will feature "Did They Reach 30 Trivia." I will give you the names of ten famous people who died young, and you have to tell me if they lived to see their 30th birthday.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"When shaken too violently, pinball machines traditionally flash what four-letter word?"

We get going right around 9 PM on Tuesday night. BTW, you might be wondering why I have a picture of Kevin Youkilis in this post? No, he hasn't gone to meet his Maker, but he was traded yesterday by the Red Sox to the White Sox, and I will miss that guy. And I posted it because he IS a beast.

Tables continue to be grabbed earlier and earlier on Trivia Night, as the crowds are getting bigger once again. I would suggest getting in as soon as you can to secure one. Hope to see many of you tomorrow night.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Youk Leaves With Class & Style

The Greek God of Walks is on the move.

There was no surprise that the Red Sox traded Kevin Youkilis, and it happened after Sunday's win against the Braves. He was traded with cash considerations to the White Sox for utility infielder Brent Lillibridge and right handed pitcher Zach Stewart. (Stewart will go to AAA, and Lillibridge will report to the Red Sox.)

It was an emotional day at Fenway on Sunday, as the Fenway Faithful gave Youk two standing ovations, one at his first at-bat, which he acknowledged with a tip of his cap, and after his last at-bat in the 7th, when he tripled in a run. Bobby Valentine sent in Nick Punto to run for him, and Fenway went crazy. The Red Sox came out of the dugout to hug their teammate, and Youk had to come out of the dugout after he went in to thank the crowd for their ovation.

It was a tremendous day that really made me proud to be a Red Sox fan.

The Sox won, 9-4, with Aaron Cook pitching five decent innings, allowing three runs to the Braves. Cody Ross blasted two home runs, and drove in five.

The Red Sox have now won 9 of 11, and the Blue Jays come in for three.

But the story of the day was Kevin Youkilis. He spent nine seasons in a Red Sox uniform, and was an important part of the 2004 and 2007 World Series championship teams. But his time to move on had come, with the emergence of Will Middlebrooks.

That leaves David Ortiz as the last member of the 2004 champions still with the team.

Thanks for everything, Youk. All the best to you in ChiTown.

Middlebrooks, Morales Continue To Shine

As the Kevin Youkilis trade rumors continue to swirl, Will Middlebrooks continues to impress at the bat.

His third inning home run was among three hits he had against the Braves, and it was ninth on the season. He is now an amazing 10-for-his last-14. Dustin Pedroia appears to be busting out of his slump, as he had three hits and two RBI, and Daniel Nava had two RBI as the Red Sox coasted to an 8-4 win over the Braves.

Franklin Morales gave the Sox six good innings, struck out eight and walked one, allowing two earned runs. Alfredo Aceves pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to lock down the win.

The Sox have now won 8 of 10, but gained no ground on New York, who beat the Mets last night. The Sox remain 5 1/2 back, tied with Toronto for fourth.

Aaron Cook comes off the DL today to make the start in place of Clay Buchholz, who was placed on the DL with a gastrointestinal illness. Oh terrific, just what the Red Sox need, more pitchers/players occupying a DL slot.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Just Tip Your Cap To The Opposition

I wouldn't have predicted this.

The Red Sox went up against Braves starter Jair Jurrjens, who was having a miserable season. He was sent back to the minors earlier this season, and wasn't even pitching well there. He was an All-Star last season, but faded late in the year.

So what happens? He allows the Red Sox just one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings last night, and the Sox could manage just four base runners all night. The Braves snapped the Red Sox five-game winning streak, 4-1. Jurrjens flashed the promise of what he showed last year last night. Just tip your cap to him and move on.

It is mercifully the last interleague series for 2012, and the first meeting this year between the Braves and Sox. (Hey aren't the Braves the "natural rivals" for the Red Sox? Don't ask me. Interleague totally befuddles me, and we'll have that crap EVERY DAY in 2013. Ugh.)

Jon Lester struggled all night, allowed 10 hits and 3 runs in 7 innings. Mark Melancon allowed the fourth run in the ninth inning.

BTW, did you notice who NESN found in the Monster Seats during the game? It was none other than the Texas Con Man himself, Roger Clemens, fresh off his government-botched perjury trial. Had a bad feeling his presence on the premises didn't bode well for the Sox last night, despite all the governors of Red Sox Nation being on hand as well, including my boss, Governor Chris Wertz of New York.

The Mets did the Red Sox a favor by beating the Yankees at Citi Field, 6-4, so the Sox remain 5 1/2 games back in the AL East.

And some good news on the Daniel Bard front. Looks like when he returns from Pawtucket, he'll be returning to the bullpen, where he belongs.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Starting and Closing"

I recently read the new autobiography by John Smoltz, called "Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith and One More Year." It's an interesting tome of the future Hall of Fame pitcher, and it is centered on his comeback from shoulder surgery in 2009, which would be his final season in the majors.

Smoltz endured a lot to make his career a reality, from ingrown thumbnail surgery to Tommy John surgery. He was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers, the team he grew up rooting for in his native Michigan. He was rattled by the trade to the perennial last-place Braves in 1987, but it put his career on the fast-track, and he made his debut in the bigs in July of 1988.

He talks about the influence of Bobby Cox, the legendary Braves manager, had on his career, and how close he was with his Braves teammates, namely Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. (He tells some funny stories about their times on the golf course, and especially Maddux' fear of snakes.) I found his take on Braves GM John Schuerholz fascinating, especially when he talked about moving to the bullpen as a closer in 2001 and his contract negotiations. Sounds like he and the GM weren't exactly buddies.

Smoltz briefly talks about "The Steroid Era", but says he never witnessed anyone taking drugs in his presence.The most painful part of his career (outside the injuries) was the 1996 World Series loss to the Yankees, and how things would have been very different for the Braves had they won that series, and won just one in their 14-year dominance of their division.

Smoltz also talks about his life as a Christian, and how when he accepted Jesus Christ in 1995 it was the defining moment of his life.

But I found his take on making his comeback with the Red Sox in 2009 the most fascinating part. As a Sox fan, I wanted to get his take on his brief but unsuccessful stint with the Red Sox. (BTW, he calls blaming "chicken and beer" for the Red Sox 2011 collapse to be total nonsense.) He devotes two chapters in the book to it, and while he doesn't regret the experience, there are things he wishes he could have done differently, and it also sounds like he and the Red Sox management had different ways of how he should have rehabbed after he first signed with the club. He is complimentary of the team, the fans and the tradition, but is seems like Smoltz was a bit overwhelmed making his comeback in Boston. He joined the Cardinals later in 2009, and that was a much better fit for him.

I found "Starting and Closing" an interesting read from one of MLB's best pitchers from the 1990s and 2000s.

You Won't See This At Cooperstown

Courtesy of Mad Magazine, here is Roger Clemens' "Hall of Fame" plaque, and what it should really say.

Too good not to share.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Officially Hot

No, I'm not talking about the weather in New York City (it sure as hell is), but the Red Sox pulled out a nice come-from-behind win on Thursday night, 6-5, and a sweep of the Miami Marlins.

Daisuke Matsuzaka once again ran into first inning troubles (maybe he should start every game in the second inning?), allowing three runs to Miami. But to his credit, he settled in, and retired 14 hitters in a row, until his night came to an end when he allowed a sixth inning home run to Giancarlo (Don't Call Me Mike) Stanton.

The big hitting star tonight was Will Middlebrooks, who had three hits and drove in four. His two-run bomb to center in the 8th tied it up, then Daniel Nava singled in Ryan Kalish (who went from first to third on an infield ground out) to put the Sox ahead to stay. Nice to see "the kids" contributing in such a meaningful way.

Alfredo Aceves got his 18th save, 1-2-3 in the ninth. More splendid work from Scott Atchison, who pitched two flawless innings and got the win.

The Sox have now 5 straight, and 7 of 8, and are 5 1/2 games behind New York.

I would call that hot, wouldn't you?

Interleague comes to a merciful end on Sunday as the Sox play the Atlanta Braves at Fenway this weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kicking Fish and Taking Names

The Red Sox started off the summer with a bang on Wednesday night, as they took out some recent frustrations on the struggling Miami Marlins, and coasted to an easy 15-5 win.

Felix Doubront struggled early, allowing Miami single runs in the first and second innings. But the Sox bats came out firing, beginning with a three-run home run by Mike Aviles in the bottom of the second.

The Sox continued to hammer away on Ricky Nolasco, as Cody Ross doubled in three in third, making it 6-2. The Marlins added two in the fourth to cut the Sox lead to two, but then the boys from Boston put the game on ice, capped by a grand slam by David Ortiz (his 18th dinger), and a solo shot by Jarrod Saltalamacchia to dead center in the fourth. Will Middlebrooks came off the bench late to hit his 7th home run in the 8th inning.

Doubront went six innings, and allowed four runs on nine hits and struck out four (and walked none), for his eighth win of 2012.

It was the fourth straight win for the Red Sox. Toronto's loss means the Sox are now out of the cellar in fourth, and trail New York by six games, and Tampa Bay by three for third place. Daisuke Matsuzaka will try to get the Red Sox a sweep over the Marlins at Fenway on Thursday night.

3 HRs Aid Shaky Buch

It was a good night to do Trivia last night, as a huge crowd came in, and the Red Sox provided some entertainment too, as they blasted three home runs and outlasted the Miami Marlins, 7-5.

Clay Buchholz was shaky from the onset, as he allowed a two-run shot to Logan Morrison in the first inning. It looked like the Buchholz who was setting dubious pitching records earlier in the season was making a return.

But Big Papi got the Sox even again in the first, as he hit a two-run homer after Dustin Pedroia doubled. The Sox added two more in the second, but Miami wouldn't go away, and specifally Morrison, who doubled in a run in the third.

Kelly Shoppach made it 4-2 in the second with his fourth home run of the year. Cody Ross, back from his DL stint, hit a bomb over the Monster that made it 5-3 in the fourth. But that man Morrison was back in the fifth, as he doubled in two more that tied things again at 5.

The Sox added single runs in the fifth and sixth on RBIs by Adrian Gonzalez and Will Middlebrooks to put them ahead to stay, 7-5.

Buchholz went six, gave up all five runs, and struck out three. Nothing terrific, but good enough for his 8th win. The bullpen, which has become the Red Sox strength, was stellar again, as Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves shut down Miami on one hit over the final three. Aceves gained his 17th save.

The Sox are back over .500 again, at 34-33. They trail Toronto, who won last night, by a half-game for fourth place.

Trivia Q&A: June 19

We had 23 teams in the bar on a rather rowdy night that saw the Red Sox win their third straight and the Miami Heat get one win away from the NBA title. Many folks paid attention to the games, but we had a great crowd on hand really into the Trivia.

The numbers for the special categories honoring Henry Hill and Paul McCartney were generally very good, but I think I made General Knowledge just a bit harder than I thought.

It was wide open going into IQ Trivia, but only two teams got as many as three of the five correct. The winning team came from fifth place to take it all, and that team, 1-800-54-GIANT, had just left the bar while I was grading the papers thinking they had not won! (That was definitely a first, and if they could drop me an email, I would appreciate it.) They wound up with 40 points, and won by two points.

We had a tie for second place between Dude, Where's Our Team? and Boneless Buh-Teer, with 38 points, and we broke the tie with, "What number Secretary of the Treasury is Timothy Geithner?"  The "Dudes" guessed 57, and were closest, and won second place. (He is number 75.)

Best Team Name: She Told Me It Was Razorburn

Current Events
1. What southern state last week rejected an application from the Ku Klux Klan to adopt a section of highway in that state?
2. Matt Cain threw the 22nd perfect game in MLB history last Wednesday night, and the first ever pitched for what NL team?
3. HBO apologized last week after it was revealed that the TV show "Game of Thrones" used a modeled head of what politician in a grisly decapitation scene?
4. The UN last Saturday suspended its monitoring mission in what troubled country due to the intensifying violence there?
5. What country made history last Saturday by sending there first female astronaut into space?
6. What Oscar-winning English actress was honored last week by being named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth?
7. One man was killed and three injured when a stage collapsed prior to a concert last Saturday in Toronto to be performed by what rock band?

Mob Movies Trivia
1. In which mob film did Al Pacino portray a low level mobster named Lefty Ruggiero?
2. Martin Scorsese won his first Oscar for directing what mob film?
3. Robert DeNiro played a bus driver trying to protect his young son from the influence of gangsters in what 1993 film?
4. "Kill the Irishman" was a 2011 gangster film about an Irish-American mob boss who rose to the top of the criminal underworld in the 1970s in what midwest city?
5. Robert DeNiro portrayed what legendary gangster in the 1987 film "The Untouchables?"
6. "American Gangster" is a 2007 film based on the criminal career of a NYC drug dealer named Frank Lucas. Who portrayed him in the film?
7. Who was the only actor to win an Oscar for their performance in "Goodfellas?"

Paul McCartney Songs Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Maybe I'm Amazed
2. All You Need Is Love
3. Silly Love Songs
4. Hello Goodbye
5. The Long and Winding Road
6. Live and Let Die
7. Get Back
8. My Love
9. Lady Madonna
10. Junior's Farm

General Knowledge
1. What color do you get if you mix red and white? ( 1 pt)
2. A traditional sonnet contains how many lines? ( 1 pt)
3. Puget Sound is located in what US state? ( 1 pt)
4. Colombo is the capital of what Asian country? ( 2 pt)
5. The guilder was the currency of what country in Europe before the introduction of the Euro? ( 2 pt)
6. Electricity is best conducted by what metal? ( 2 pt)
7. What country became the largest in Africa in total area after the Sudan split into two nations in 2011? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Between January 1841 and January 1851, the United States had how many men serve as president, the most in any ten-year period in history? ( 3 points)
2. Where on the human body would one find the glabella? ( 4 points)
3. What famous American author wrote a fictional biography of Joan of Arc under a French pen name? ( 4 points)
4. What small European country is the world's oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic? ( 5 points)
5. Squire John Trelawney, Dr. Livesey and Captain Alexander Smollett are all characters from what classic 19th century novel? ( 4 points)

Answers
Current Events
1. Georgia; 2. San Francisco Giants; 3. George W. Bush; 4. Syria; 5. China; 6. Kate Winslet; 7. Radiohead.

Mob Movies Trivia
1. "Donnie Brasco;" 2. "The Departed;" 3. "A Bronx Tale;" 4. Cleveland; 5. Al Capone; 6. Denzel Washington; 7. Joe Pesci.

Paul McCartney Songs Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. solo; 2. Beatles; 3. solo; 4. Beatles; 5. Beatles; 6. solo; 7. Beatles; 8. solo; 9. Beatles; 10. solo.

General Knowledge
1. pink; 2. fourteen; 3. Washington; 4. Sri Lanka; 5. Netherlands; 6. silver; 7. Algeria.

IQ Trivia
1. Six (Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore); 2. face (between the eyes); 3. Mark Twain; 4. San Marino; 5. "Treasure Island."

Monday, June 18, 2012

There Will Be No Roger Clemens Incarceration Day

Yes, The Texas Con Man was acquitted on all charges of lying to Congress today.

How he ever got off with that complete goofball of a lead defense attorney, I'll never know.

He may have dodged Uncle Sam, but Clemens won't be able to dodge the baseball writers when it comes to the Hall of Fame vote. He's up for the first time this coming January. There is still plenty of doubt among them, as Clemens ruined his reputation with this mess. I'm still betting the only way he ever gets into the Hall of Fame is if he buys a ticket to get in.

Honoring Henry & Paul On Tuesday

Tuesday Night Trivia will feature "Mob Movies Trivia" as the Special Category this week, in honor of the late mobster Henry Hill, who passed away last Tuesday. It will be seven questions about gangsters on celluloid.

And on the other end of the spectrum, the Q Train lightning round will feature "Paul McCartney Songs Trivia." Today is the legendary Beatle's 70th birthday, and to honor Paul, I will give you ten hit songs associated with Paul. You have to tell me whether the songs was originally done by the Beatles or by Paul as a solo artist. (Don't worry, all ten were hits. No deep catalog songs.)

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"A traditional sonnet contains how many lines?"

We will get started right after 9 PM. We had a huge crowd last Tuesday, and hopefully that will continue, so I would suggest getting in a bit earlier to get a prime table. Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

And since it's Paul's 70th, I have to play this clip, from a concert Paul did many years ago in Moscow:

Don't You Love a Guy Who Works Quickly & Throws Strikes?

And that would be Franklin Morales, who was terrific in his emergency start at Wrigley Field in place of Josh Beckett, as the Sox took the series from the lowly Cubs, 7-4.

Morales went five innings, struck out nine, threw 80 pitches, of which 65 were for strikes. Morales was originally a starter when he came up in Colorado.

The Sox scored two in the first, but the Cubs got one back off Morales. He left with a 3-2 lead in the sixth, but the Red Sox defense made two critical errors that led to a Chicago run that made sure Morales would get a no-decision.

But the awful Cubs bullpen got torched by the Red Sox in the seventh and eighth innings, which included RBIs by new boy Ryan Kalish and Will Middlebrooks. Daniel Nava laid down a perfect suicide squeeze that made it 6-3.

Alfredo Aceves gave up three straight hits to start the ninth, but got the last three hitters (which included a sac fly) to end the game.

The Red Sox are once again back to .500, at 33-33, and play the Miami Marlins (beginning tomorrow) and Atlanta Braves at home as the scourge of interleague comes to an end this week for 2012.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Salty Cleans Up

I usually miss any Red Sox games scheduled at 7 PM on Saturday nights, as I play softball with friends in Manhattan. But I would have missed it anyway due to Fox and their inane rules (Fox Ruins Baseball, as we all know), as the Red Sox-Cubs was blacked out in New York due to the Mets-Reds game.

So it was the iPhone to the rescue. Jon Lester was superb for six innings, but ran out of gas in the 7th, as with a 4-0 lead he gave up a three-run home run to Luis Valbuena.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, batting cleanup for the first time, was the offensive hero, as he hit a two-run homer, and Will Middlebrooks and Scott Podsednik both had RBI singles.

The bullpen did excellent work after Lester left. Scott Atchison, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves faced the minimum of seven batters, with a round-the-horn double play giving the Red Sox a much needed 4-3 win.

The Red Sox put Josh Beckett on the DL last night due to the shoulder inflammation in right arm, but the feeling is is that it won't be a long DL stint. Franklin Morales gets the start in tonight's finale. Clayton Mortensen was brought up from Pawtucket to take Beckett's place on the roster. The Sox will also put Ryan Sweeney on the DL today with a foot injury, and will bring up Ryan Kalish to the big club from Pawtucket.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A's Release Manny Ramirez

It looks like the Manny Ramirez Era has now finally come to a close, as he asked the Oakland A's for his release, and the club granted it today.

No word as to whether he will hook up with another club. But you have to think this is finally the end of the road for the 2004 World Series MVP.

However, his AAA numbers in his last nine games weren't bad: 13-for-35 (.371), 3 2B, 11 RBIs, 2 BB, 10 Ks. But his power looked to be down, and the A's could give him no assurances he'd be brought up soon. Not sure where he's going to go next, as he's left very few unburned bridges behind him.

He leaves an unbelievably mixed legacy.

Thanks for the memories, Manny.

Evil Dice-K Costs The Sox In ChiTown

Yet another loss to a crap team on Friday.

The Red Sox lost to the lowly Cubs, 3-0, on Friday. The Cubs were 21-42, baseball worst record, and 14 1/2 games behind the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds. And they could manage no runs, on a measly five hits.

Granted, the Cubs' Ryan Dempster is having a superb year, and extended his scoreless streak to 22 innings today. But if the Red Sox really entertain any notion about being a playoff contender, they have to beat teams like the Cubs. They are now 17-14 in 2012 against teams under .500.

The Evil Dice-K made an appearance in the first inning today: he walked the bases loaded, as he was doing that nibbling crap he's noted for, and it really cost him. He then allowed a two-run double to Steve Clevenger, and that's all the Cubs would need. They added another in the second inning. Matsuzaka did settle down and went six innings.

The Cubs have one of the worst offenses in MLB, and probably the worst pen in baseball, too.

And the Sox couldn't beat them.

Times ain't good, folks.

And if all this isn't bad enough, Josh Beckett will miss his start on Sunday night due to shoulder inflammation. He'll be replaced by Franklin Morales. Bloody hell.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just Win, Felix

Felix Doubront flirted with a no-hitter last night against the Miami Marlins, and I was glad when it was gone.

Doubront had a 4-0 lead into the sixth and hadn't allowed a hit, when he gave up a home run to Jose Reyes. No-hitter and shutout gone in one fell swoop. I was glad the no-no disappeared, as all I wanted to see was a well-pitched game and a win, as Doubront had never gone beyond seven innings in his young career. Anything else would have been gravy.

Doubront struggled starting the 8th, giving up a single and double. The Marlins scored one run, but Felix gutted it out and got the Sox to the 8th with a 4-2 lead. He wound up with 9 strikeouts and just one walk.

The Red Sox blew it wide open in the 8th, as they scored six times. David Ortiz hit his 15th home run of the season earlier in the game, Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and two RBI, Scott Podsednik had two hits and scored two runs, and Nick Punto had two hits and two RBI as a pinch-hitter in the 8th.

Doubront won his seventh game of 2012, and the Red Sox are now 31-32, and tied with Toronto for 4th place. They are off today, and head for Wrigley to face old friend Theo Epstein and his lowly Cubs this weekend.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Buchholz Is The Stopper

I was busy with Trivia on Tuesday night, but I caught a good part of the Red Sox-Marlins game. It was quite a pitchers duel between Clay Buchholz and Mark Buehrle.

The Red Sox finally got through on Buehrle in the seventh, scoring two runs on Kelly Shoppach's RBI double and an RBI single by Mike Aviles, who could have been out earlier except catcher John Buck dropped a foul pop up earlier in the at-bat.

Buchholz was terrific again, going 7 innings, and allowing just a solo dinger to Logan Morrison in the bottom of the 7th. In all, Buchholz, who has been superb his last three outings, struck out nine and walked two. He gave up a leadoff triple to Jose Reyes in the first, and then struck out the side to strand him there.

It was just the second Red Sox win in 9 games, and Buchholz has them both.

The Sox lineup continues to struggle mightily. The top five went 1-for-18 last night, and for the month of June, five Sox hitters have OBP under .280: Kevin Youkilis (.263), Adrian Gonzalez (.263), Mike Aviles (.244), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.242), and the really struggling Dustin Pedroia (.222). I'm betting that thumb injury is throwing Pedey off terribly, and you have to wonder if the DL might have been a better idea right now.

Fortunately, the news on Rich Hill is not as bad as what could have been. He has a strained muscle in his elbow, the one that had Tommy John surgery last year. He will rest for two weeks, but maybe out as long as six weeks.

The Red Sox will try to win the series in Miami tonight with Felix Doubront pitching.

Trivia Q&A: June 12

We had a very successful return to Trivia Night on Tuesday night after a layoff from last week. 23 teams turned out on a very rainy night. It was great to see so many of you again.

The scores were pretty good throughout the evening, as we had some perfect scores in each category except Current Events. It was very close going into IQ Trivia, with the top five teams separated by six points. But the team of Buh-teer held on and won by just two points, with 49 in total. They led all evening and congratulations to them on their victory.

We had a tie for second place between Light at the End of the Tunnel and Bi-Coastal MFers, both with 47 points. We broke the tie with "What number Secretary of State is Hillary Clinton?" It was 67, and Light was closest, having guessed 64 (Bi-Coastal guessed 58).

Best Team Name: Two Girls, One Stanley Cup

Current Events
1. What American rock star was robbed after a concert in Paris last week of three diamond necklaces worth over $200,000?
2. Charles Taylor, former president of what African nation, was sentenced to 50 years in prison recently for war crimes?
3. DC Comics revealed last week that which of its comic superheroes is gay in its next issue?
4. What American rock legend was among 13 people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom last week?
5. In a recent New York Post poll, what woman was selected as "The Most Hated Person In America?"
6. What country recently has become the world's largest market for art and antiques, ending decades of American domination?
7. What politician was offered the presidency of the World Bank recently, according to New York magazine, but declined the offer?

Fathers Trivia
1. What actor played the father on the 1950s sitcom "Father Knows Best?"
2. What actor/director was the director of the 2006 film "Flags of Our Fathers?"
3. Which one of the Founding Fathers was the founder of the New York Post in 1801?
4. Which Oscar-winning actor portrayed Father Flanagan in the 1938 film "Boys Town?"
5. In the US, the third Sunday in June is Father's Day. What day is it celebrated in the UK?
6. Who played the father of the bride in the 1991 film of the same name?
7. "Dance With My Father" was a 2003 song and the last top 40 hit song for what late R&B singer?

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The sound of ET walking in the 1982 movie was made by someone squashing their hands in jello.
2. The World Series is the oldest continuing annual sporting event held in the US.
3. Alaska was bought by the US from Russia for about $2 an acre.
4. The fingerprints of  koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from humans.
5. All but one of the planets in our solar system rotate counterclockwise, and that one is Earth.
6. The maiden name of the mother of Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, was actually Moon.
7. An octopus can squeeze through a hole the size of a ten cent coin.
8. Porcupines cannot float.
9. A single human blood cell can make a complete circuit of the body in 60 seconds.
10. South Africa is the largest country in Africa in terms of land mass.

General Knowledge
1. In 64 AD, which emperor sat idle as Rome burned? ( 1 pt)
2. What designer founded the fashion company known as DKNY? ( 1 pt)
3. The ball cock is a floating mechanism found in what household fixture?( 1 pt)
4. An omelet made with ham, onions and green peppers is named for what US city? ( 2 pt)
5. What feline appears and disappears throughout the novel "Alice In Wonderland?" ( 2 pt)
6. What is the official language of the nation of Belize? ( 2 pt)
7. Which US president was the first to have solar panels installed at the White House? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Which controversial novel was the subject of an obscenity trial in England in 1960? ( 4 points)
2. Name 1 of the 2 cities where the European Parliament is based at. ( 5 points plus one bonus point for both correct)
3. What Academy Award-winning actress appeared on the cover of Life magazine more than anyone else? ( 4 points)
4. What series of detective novels have been penned by numerous writers under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene since 1930? ( 4 points)
5. With only five people per square mile, what Asian country is the least densely populated country in the world? ( 3 points)

Answers
Current Events
1. Axl Rose; 2. Liberia; 3. The Green Lantern; 4. Bob Dylan; 5. Casey Anthony; 6. China; 7. Michael Bloomberg.

Fathers Trivia
1. Robert Young; 2. Clint Eastwood; 3. Alexander Hamilton; 4. Spencer Tracy; 5. The same day; 6. Steve Martin; 7. Luther Vandross.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. true; 2. false, Kentucky Derby; 3. false, 2 cents an acre; 4. true; 5. false, Venus; 6. true; 7. true; 8. false; 9. true; 10. false, Algeria.

General Knowledge
1. Nero; 2. Donna Karan; 3. toilet; 4. Denver; 5. Cheshire Cat; 6. English; 7. Jimmy Carter.

IQ Trivia
1. "Lady Chatterley's Lover;" 2. Strasbourg, France and Brussels, Belgium; 3. Elizabeth Taylor; 4. Nancy Drew; 5. Mongolia.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why My Optimism Is Waning

My friend Adam sent me a couple of interesting emails about the Red Sox and their current problems, and I have to agree with him that they are facing an uphill battle to make it to the postseason. Here's what he had to say:

Pitching problems aside, the Sox' offense hasn't been good.  Over the first 30 games, they averaged 5.30 runs per game.  In the 31 games since then, they're averaging 4.77 R/G.  While that's better than league average, if you remove one 12-run outburst, they're pretty much an average offense. 

As for the injuries, Ross is a platoon player; no one knows what to expect from Crawford; and Ellsbury's ETA is sketchy.  This is from
Peter Abraham:

Folks keep asking about when the injured players will come back. These are just guesses based on what little information is provided: Cody Ross (late June), Carl Crawford (around the break), Andrew Bailey (after the break) and Jacoby Ellsbury (after the break, maybe).
Ross hopes to start a rehab when the team gets back home. Crawford may be a week or two later as he builds up arm strength. Bailey is close to getting back on the mound. All three of those guys have said they feel good physically and are close to doing what they would normally do.

Ellsbury
is much harder to gauge because he hasn't been on the field as much.

The one injury no one is talking about is Pedey's.  He hasn't hit well since returning.  Food for thought, here's a comparison of Pedroia and Nick Punto since the injury:
 
Pedey – 8 GS (30 AB) .167 AVG/.257 OBP/.200 SLG
Punto – 7 GS (27 AB) .259 AVG/.333 OBP/.407 SLG

While those numbers are small sample, you have to question how long the Sox will let Pedroia play with a bad thumb.  Youk lost a third of a season with a thumb injury.  And thumb/wrist issues generally don't get better the more you play.  Pedey was hitting .295 AVG/.350 OBP/.450 SLG/.800 OPS before the injury.  Without DL time, the likelihood is Pedey will have a significantly worse season this year. 

Strangely enough, Adrian Gonzalez has an ever lower OBP than Pedey since May 28th.  Gonzo has been pretty bad all year.  With 38% of the season played, Gonzo has yet to have a month with an OBP over .337 or SLG over .436 (his total so far in June).  Although Gonzo's overall numbers were very good last year, 28% of his total HR hit as a member of the Red Sox were hit in May 2011.  Right now, the Sox are paying $21.5 million for a .263 AVG/.313 OBP/.416 SLG hitter.

Looking at the remaining schedule before the ASB, only 10 of their remaining 27 games are against sub-par teams.  They play three at Wrigley this weekend and have a West Coast swing for 7 games against Seattle and Oakland (the Sox don't generally play well in either place).  Atter they come back East, they play 4 games v. the MFY at Fenway before the ASB.  After the Break, the play 3 in TB, and are home for 4 v. the Chisox and 3. the Jays, before playing 3 in Texas and 3 in the Bronx Bedpan.  After this stretch, there will be two days until the Trade Deadline. 

If they break out or catch fire, they'll have to do it against some of the better teams in baseball.  Because if they're 52-52 at the Trade Deadline, they're pretty much done. 

This year's team isn't very good.  They have a shot because of the expanded playoffs.  But they are very flawed and aren't likely to acquire players through trades that will help.  They aren't going to get much for YoukMiddlebrooks and (maybe) Kalish are the only help available from the organization (there's no place to play Lavarnway).  I see them as an 85-88 win team max.  It'd be quite an accomplishment for this team to win 90 games.  If they win 95 games, it'd be one of the great turnarounds in baseball history. 

Personally, I think the best thing that could happen in the long run is for the Sox to do poorly this year, jettison their manager and retool.  I think they should move Ellsbury, once he's healthy, as he'd likely bring some useful players back.  I'd love to see Crawford tear it up when he gets back (which is unlikely), so the Sox have a shot at moving him and his ridiculous contract. 

One other thing to remember: while the Sox clearly miss Ellsbury's production (he was great last year), this year's team is getting far more production from LF than they got last year.  So far, Boston's cobbled together OF has produced the 3rd most productive LF in the AL (118 wRC+).  Last year's Sox LF was middle of the pack (88 wRC+).  Daniel Nava alone has been worth 1.1 WAR more than Crawford last year.  Furthermore, even assuming Crawford bounces back to become a 4 WAR player (probably his max away from the Trop), he'd max out at 1.3 WAR over the final two months of the season.  That's roughly Daniel Nava right now.  That's why I'm not breathlessly awaiting the return of Crawford.

As This Season Continues To Go Down The Crapper

Another Red Sox game I missed last night, as my background acting work had me busy all day and night on Monday.

I'm glad I missed it, too.

Josh Beckett got rocked early but settled down.

The Red Sox offense didn't bother to show up against Josh Johnson.

And Bobby Valentine is still complaining about umpires. (With thanks to Joy of Sox for the link to the article.)

An uninspiring 4-1 loss to the Marlins, who had lost six straight. The Red Sox have now lost four straight, and seven of eight.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Back On Tuesday Night, Where We Belong

Unfortunately, the Boston Celtics will not be going to the NBA Finals after their Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday night. But Trivia will be back on Tuesday nights to stay beginning this Tuesday night, June 12th at 9 PM.

Good to return to Tuesday, as all the moving to Monday and the uncertainty of it plays havoc with my Trivia and the regulars. I thank you all for your patience and loyalty.

This Tuesday night, we will have "Fathers Trivia", seven questions about fathers of all types, as the Special Category. The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What feline appears and disappears throughout the novel 'Alice In Wonderland?'"

We get going around 9 PM on Tuesday night. After a two-week layoff, I'm looking forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday!

Falling Fast

Swept at home. Again.

I missed the entire game at Fenway on Sunday, so once again, I had to rely on my iPhone. The new and vastly improved Washington Nationals came from behind to beat the Red Sox, 4-3. Bobby Valentine was tossed in the 9th inning over a call that he felt should have ended the inning with the game tied. Roger Bernadina should have been struck out on an 0-2 pitch, but with another life and doubled in the go-ahead run off Alfredo Aceves.

Jon Lester went seven innings, struck out 9, walked 2, and gave up three earned runs. Better than his last time out, but still gets a no-decision.

More bad injury news before the game. Rich Hill has a sore elbow and went on the DL. He had Tommy John surgery on it last season. Mark Melancon, who was an outright disaster to start the year, was brough up after posting some terrific numbers at Pawtucket. In 21 innings, he had an 0.83 ERA, striking out 27 and walking just 3, and allowing only 15 hits.

Going into this past week, I thought the Sox needed to win 4 of the 6 games against the Orioles and Nationals, so vastly improved clubs. The Red Sox managed just one. ONE.

Take nothing away from both teams. They both played well and deserved the wins.

The Red Sox are now 29-31, 6 games back and falling fast. They've lost 6 of 7. More and more, we maybe looking forward to 2013.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Trivia Will Be This Tuesday Night

The Celtics lost Game 7 in Miami tonight, so Trivia Night at Professor Thom's will return to its normal night and time, this coming Tuesday night, June 12th, at 9 PM.

We will be back on Tuesday night for good, with no changes in the foreseeable future.

The Celtics gave it a good run, and they should be congratulated for that.

But I am glad to return back to our regular Tuesday night of Trivia. The Sneak Peek and special categories will be posted here on the blog on Monday.

Hope to see many of you this coming Tuesday at 9 PM.

Not a Bad Comeback For Dice-K

The Red Sox dropped yet another series at home on Saturday, 4-2, to the first-place Nationals. But I was encouraged by what I saw with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Despite giving up four runs in five innings, Dice-K worked quickly, and went after the Washington hitters. None of that nibbling crap. He didn't walk the ballpark, and issued just one free pass (which unfortunately scored and started a three-run rally in the fourth). He gave up a solo home run to Adam LaRoche, and struck out eight.

The bullpen was stellar after Dice-K left, with Franklin Morales and Matt Albers retiring the last 12 hitters of the game.

The Sox were shut down by Gio Gonzalez, one of the NL's best pitchers so far this year. They just can't seem to win at home, and are now below .500 again, at 29-30, and with Tampa Bay's win, are 5 games back.

Jon Lester will try to salvage yet another series at home tomorrow.

Dice-K Part II Begins Today

Friday was one of those rare nights I missed the Red Sox game, as I was out with some friends at a bar in Brooklyn, one that did not have a TV. So I relied on the iPhone.

The news was rotten all night. Too much Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals, who struck out 13. Bryce Harper had three hits including a home run. And Felix Doubront got roughed up early, giving up 6 of the 7 Washington runs.

Adrian Gonzalez had a double and a home run. Daniel Nava had two hits after striking out three times.

Tampa Bay's win over Miami puts the Red Sox four back in the AL East. The Sox are now 29-29, their worst start through 58 games since 1997, when they went 23-35. They will have to go 61-43, a .587 winning percentage, to reach 90 wins. That would logically put the Sox in a position to make the playoffs.

Daniel Bard had an awful return to AAA last night, as he pitched one inning (as was planned), and wasn't much better than his last start in Toronto. He gave up three runs, and hit two batters. He maybe down at Pawtucket for a while.

And today marks the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka, a year to the day he had Tommy John surgery. The Sox DFA'd Marlon Byrd after last night's game to make room for Dice-K.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Orioles Couldn't Pass The Buch Last Night

Clay Buchholz was excellent last night as the Red Sox broke a three-game losing streak and finally beat the Orioles at Fenway, 7-0.

Buchholz went all the way, and it was his first complete game in two years. He struck out six and walked just one.

The Sox scored two runs in each of the first three innings, and added another in the eighth for good measure.

Big nights for Daniel Nava (2 hits, 2 walks and 2 RBI), Adrian Gonzalez (3 hits and 2 RBI) and Kevin Youkilis (two hits and an RBI double).

The win moves the Red Sox three games behind Tampa Bay, who beat New York last night. The Rays are tied with Baltimore atop the AL East.

The unnecessary evil that is interleague returns tonight, as the Red Sox take on the Washington Nationals at Fenway, with Stephen Strasburg taking on Felix Doubront.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Next Week's Trivia Night Still TBD

The Celtics were blown out by Miami in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight, so as of right now, we still don't know which day we will be doing Trivia Night next week.

Right now, it's very simple: if the Celtics win on Saturday night, we will do Trivia on Monday night, June 11th at 9 PM. If the Heat win, we do Trivia on Tuesday night, June 12th at 9 PM. Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be next Tuesday night.

I will be posting the Sneak Peek and special categories on Facebook right after Game 7 concludes on Saturday night, no matter who wins. I will post the Sneak Peek here on the blog on Sunday if the Celtics win, and on Monday if the Heat win.

Hope to see many of you next week, no matter which day it is.

Here We Go With Another Losing Streak

Josh Beckett certainly deserved a better fate last night against the Orioles.

He pitched eight solid innings, but had just one bad one: the sixth, where he gave up three straight hits, and Baltimore went on to a 2-1 win. Beckett struck out five and walked none, as he continues to pitch well since the Cleveland debacle.

The Orioles had only two runners get past first base all night, and they both scored.

The Sox scored their only run in the third, on a sacrifice fly by Mike Aviles. They had opportunities late in the game, especially in the 7th, but after bunting runners over to second and third, Marlon Byrd struck out and Aviles popped up. The Sox could do little with Wei-Yin Chen, the rookie lefty who had gotten hit hard his last two times out but has had an overall impressive rookie season.

The Red Sox have now dropped three straight, seven in a row to the Orioles at home going back to last season. They are 27-27, and four back of Baltimore.

It's up to Clay Buchholz tonight to try to salvage the series and end a few losing skids.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Bard Gone, Pedey Back, Sox Lose In Extras

Interesting night last night.

Daniel Bard was sent back to Pawtucket, and Darnell McDonald was activated from the DL. The Sox still clearly see Bard as a starter, and he'll have to work out the bugs at AAA. This means that Daisuke Matsuzaka, who made the start last night at Pawtucket, will make his MLB debut for 2012 this Saturday against Washington at Fenway.

Dustin Pedroia made his return after a week sitting on the bench with a thumb injury. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and sacrifice fly.

The Sox played a topsy-turvy game with the Orioles last night, falling behind early, then tying it, losing the lead again, getting the lead for the first time, and then falling behind yet again. Jon Lester pitched 6+ so-so innings, leaving with a 4-3 lead. The pen had a rare rough night, as Scott Atchison, who has been brilliant, gave up two runs and the lead in the 7th.

But Jarrod Saltalamacchia looked like he was going to be the late-inning hero again, as with the Sox down to their last strike, launched a two-run shot to the Monster seats to tie it at 6. (Umps looked at the replay but the ball, which was touched by a fan, clearly went over the wall.)

Alfredo Aceves was sharp in the ninth, but was hardly that in the 10th, walking the first batter and allowing Baltimore two runs, and that held up for an 8-6 loss.

Fourth straight loss at home to the Orioles.

The Red Sox find themselves back in fifth, three behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay, who are tied for first.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Just a Reminder

Once again, Trivia Night is taking this week off, and will return next week.

But as of right now, we don't know which day next week it will be. If the Celtics don't make it to the NBA Finals, we will have Trivia on Tuesday, June 12th at 9 PM. And we won't have to move Trivia Night again.

However, should the Celtics advance to the Finals, we will be doing Trivia the next two Monday nights, June 11th and 18th, at 9 PM both nights. The NBA is scheduling Games 1 and 4 on Tuesdays, and should it go to Game 7, we will do Trivia a third straight Monday night, June 25th, as that final game would be the following night.

Sorry for all the inconvenience, and thank all of you for your loyalty.

See you next week!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Historically Bad Day For Bard

I think Daniel Bard belongs back in the bullpen.

He was historically awful on Sunday, walking six batters and hitting two others, as he allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Bard had absolutely no command, allowed a three-run home run to Jose Bautista, and hit both Yunel Escobar and Edwin Encarnacion in the arm in the second inning. Bard threw 55 pitches and allowed just one hit.

And five runs scored.

Bard became the first starting pitcher since 1918 to allow at least six walks and two hit batters in less than 2 innings. Thankfully, Bobby Valentine yanked Bard before any more damage could be done, to the Red Sox or the Blue Jays.

More and more, it looks like Bard should return to his 8th inning role, especially when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns (and that should be shortly). 

The bullpen was again stellar, especially Franklin Morales, who went 4 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out four.

The lone Red Sox run was on a solo home run by Kelly Shoppach.

The Sox could do little with Drew Hutchison, who actually hit two batters in the game: Shoppach and Kevin Youkilis, who was not pleased when he got hit on the left shoulder. Nothing happened, but both benches were warned.

The Red Sox drop to three games back, as Tampa Bay won. They are off on Monday, and play Baltimore at Fenway for three starting Tuesday night.

A Sure Sign Of The Apocalypse

The title of this post was in an email sent to me by my friend Adam yesterday. And it was in regard to the day Nick Punto had in Toronto on Saturday.

He went 3-for-4 yesterday, with a home run he hit into the second deck of Rogers Centre to ice the Red Sox 7-4 victory. Punto was just a triple short of the cycle, and was hitting about .130 going into the game.

Go figure baseball.

It was another workman-like performance from Felix Doubront, who went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs. He got out of a bases loaded jam in the third inning, and struck out 7, while walking one.

The Sox scored four in the second and were on their way. Colby Rasmus totally butchered a fly ball hit by Daniel Nava that the official scorer ruled a hit (for whatever reason) that scored the last two runs.

Alfredo Aceves pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save.

The Sox are now in fourth place, passing Toronto. They are two games out of first (Tampa Bay and Baltimore are tied), and half-game behind the Evil Empire, who lost in Detroit. The Red Sox also have the best record in baseball since April 24, which was 3 days after the meltdown against New York at Fenway.

Daniel Bard will try to help get the Sox a sweep in the weekend series in Toronto this afternoon.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Trivia Night Is Postponed For Next Week

An important notice for all of Professor Thom's Trivia Night players: Trivia will NOT be happening this coming week. I will not be available on Monday night, due to one of my background acting commitments. I was called on to "Boardwalk Empire" for this Monday, and I can't guarantee what time the shoot will conclude, so we decided to postpone Trivia for next week.

The Celtics will have Game 5 this coming Tuesday, and the bar has their Bingo Night on Wednesday, so we were left with no alternative but to give Trivia a pass this coming week.

Trivia Night will return on Tuesday night, June 12th at 9 PM. That is, unless the Celtics make it to the NBA Finals and have a game that night, then it will be on Monday, June 11th at 9 PM.

See you all then.

Good Start North Of The Border

Clay Buchholz looked like the Clay Buchholz of old last night, spinning a beauty at the Blue Jays in Toronto.

He allowed just two solo home runs in eight innings of work. (I missed the end of the game, as I got caught up in all the excitement of Johan Santana's no-hitter in New York.)

Daniel Nava was among the offensive heroes for the Sox, getting four hits, three of them doubles. David Ortiz continued his torrent hitting. In the second inning, he fouled a pitch off his foot and seemed to be in some discomfort (oh no, not more foot injuries!), but concluded the at-bat by blasting his 13th home run of the year, an opposite field shot.

It was a close game, at 3-1, going to the seventh, when the Sox put it on ice. They scored four runs with two outs, on RBI hits by Nava, Adrian Gonzalez and Big Papi.

The win ties the Red Sox with the Blue Jays for fourth place, and they stand at 27-25, just three games behind first-place Tampa Bay.

The Sox continue at Rogers Centre today at 1 PM with Felix Doubront taking the mound for the Sox.

Friday, June 01, 2012

It Only Took 8,020 Games

It finally happened.

Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history at Citi Field tonight, an 8-0 win over the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. (It was also the first time the defending champs were no-hit since former Met Nolan Ryan did it to the Oakland A's in 1990.)

It took 134 pitches for Santana to do it. Kudos to manager Terry Collins for letting Santana, who was coming off shoulder surgery last season, go after history.

David Freese will long be remembered in Mets history. Last year's NLCS and World Series MVP was the final out, as Santana struck him out swinging to end it. Mike Baxter made a sensational catch in left in the 7th to preserve it, but had to leave the game with a shoulder injury. (Santana owes him big time!) Third base ump Adrian Johnson blew a call in the 6th inning that should have been a Cardinal hit, when Carlos Beltran hit a ball that hit the chalk of the third base foul line, and it was called a foul ball.

No matter. It's still a no-hitter.

I REALLY wanted to see this happen. I turned the Red Sox game in Toronto off and watched just the Mets game. My heart was pounding the entire ninth inning. I remember as a 7-year-old seeing Tom Seaver lose his perfect game in the ninth inning against the Cubs when a scrub outfielder named Jimmy Qualls broke it up with a single. I also remember when Seaver lost another in the ninth against the Padres on July 4, 1972.

The long nightmare is over for Mets fans. The Mets have had pitchers come so close, but leave the team and throw one: Seaver, Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Hideo Nomo, David Cone, Mike Scott, and Philip Humber are the ex-Mets who have tossed no-nos since leaving Queens.

And the San Diego Padres are now the only MLB team without a pitcher throwing a no-hitter.

Congratulations, Johan.

The Brooms Stay In The Closet

Josh Beckett reverted to his earlier season form on Thursday night, as he allowed four earned runs to the Tigers and the Red Sox lost, 7-3.

The Sox staked him to a 2-0 lead in the second, which included Jarrod Saltalamacchia's 10th home run of 2012. But Beckett gave it back in the third, as Detroit scored three runs. (The Tigers had second and third in the second inning with one out, but Ryan Sweeney nailed Delmon Young at the plate on a short fly to right.)

The Sox tied in the third on Kevin Youkilis' double, and an RBI single by the red hot Salty.

Detroit grabbed the lead for good in the fifth, and Max Scherzer settled in, and he and the Tiger bullpen shut down the Sox the rest of the way, allowing just a walk to Nick Punto in the seventh. He was the last man to reach for the Red Sox after the third inning.

The Tigers put the game away with two in the ninth off Rich Hill, and it included Prince Fielder's first triple in over one year.

This was the second time the Sox had a chance at a four-game sweep and didn't get it. They were beaten by Tampa Bay on Patriot's Day going for a four-game sweep, and proceeded to drop five straight.

The Red Sox play in Toronto this weekend, before returning back to Fenway next Tuesday for six games with Baltimore and Washington.