Bye Bye Bobby

Decorum is a strange thing in 2012. While rumors of Bobby’s personal assistant waiting outside of the player’s entrance to the clubhouse were rampant, the first real words came via Twitter. At 12:49 today, @RedSox account issued this: “BREAKING: Bobby Valentine will not return as #RedSox Manager in 2013. EVP/GM Ben Cherington to lead managerial search.”

The team quickly followed that up with this press release:

BOSTON, MA – The Boston Red Sox today announced, following a meeting among team leaders and Manager Bobby Valentine, that Bobby will not return in 2013. A search for a new manager will begin immediately.

“Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons,” said Executive Vice-President/General Manager Ben Cherington, who made the announcement and who will lead the search. “No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. We’ve been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club. With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”

The Red Sox used 56 players in 2012, the most in club history. Their 9-player blockbuster trade August 25 with the Los Angeles Dodgers was their largest in 40 years.

“This year’s won-loss record reflects a season of agony,” said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. “It begs for changes, some of which have already transpired. More will come. We are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade.

“Difficult as it is to judge a manager amid a season that had an epidemic of injuries, we feel we need to make changes. Bobby leaves the Red Sox’ manager’s office with our respect, gratitude, and affection. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well.”

Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner said, “This season was by far the worst we have experienced in over ten years here. Ultimately, we are all collectively responsible for the team’s performance. We are going to be working tirelessly to reconstruct the ballclub for 2013. We’ll be back.

“We thank Bobby for the many contributions he made and for the energy he brought each day. He is a baseball man through and through.”

Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry said, “In our meeting with Bobby today, he handled everything with dignity and class, and it is deeply appreciated. Ultimately, we as owners are responsible for arming our organization with the resources—intellectual, physical, and financial—to return to the levels of competitiveness to which we aspire and to which our fans are accustomed. Our commitment to winning is unwavering. It is a commitment to this team, to this city, and to these fans who have supported us through thick and thin.

“We have confidence in Ben Cherington and the kind of baseball organization he is determined to build.”

“I understand this decision,” said Valentine. “This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation.

“It was a privilege to be part of the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park and an honor to be in uniform with such great players and coaches. My best to the organization. I’m sure next year will be a turnaround year.”

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Red Sox Rocked 14-2 in Season Ender

For an inning things looked good for the Red Sox. For a moment there was hope that past glories would shine for one more moment, and that would be enough in this Jack and the beanstalk tale. Instead the Yankees provided a less mythical ending by trouncing the Red Sox 14-2. It was Daisuke Matsuzaka’s last start as a Red Sox and you could tell that despite putting all his effort into this mound appearance, his stuff just wasn’t good enough against New York’s power. His first inning was clean and easy, 1-2-3, but that stopped as soon as Robinson Cano led off the 2nd with a single. After a walk and a strikeout, Dice-K gave up a 3-run blast to Curtis Granderson. When Cano came up with one on and one out in the 3rd, he hit a 2-run homer of his own. A single to Nick Swisher marked the end of Dice-K’s stint, and Bobby came out and took the ball from the tearful pitcher and gave Clayton Mortensen a shot. Mortensen worked 2 good innings, but hit a wall after that in the 5th giving out a one-out double to ARod and then another home run to Cano. After walking the next 2 batters, Pedro Beato was called on to stop the bleeding. Beato got out of the 5th, but loaded the bases with only one out in the 6th before being replaced by Scott Atchison who gave up a 2-run single to Cano. Chris Carpenter came in to start the 7th and gave up a lead off homer to Granderson, then a 2-run double to Ichiro Suzuki, and watched both runners that he left on base score while Craig Breslow tried to get out of the mess. Junichi Tazawa actually earned player of the game accolades for working a 7-pitch 8th inning to put an end to it all.

Things looked so good for such a short moment. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single. Moved ahead a couple bases on a pair of ground outs and then scored the first run of the game on a Cody Ross single. The beginning of the end came when Ross was then caught stealing (likely a botched hit-and-run). The Red Sox put one runner on base each of the next 5 innings, highlighted by Dustin Pedroia making it to second in the 6th on a double. In the 7th, the Sox would add another run when Pedro Ciriaco doubled and then scored on an RBI single by Jose Iglesias. In the 8th, Daniel Nava would hit a lone double, but the Red Sox finished the season by striking out in order in the 9th to end all this misery. Not many players from tonight’s lineup will be in Boston for opening day next year, and it’s the promise of who could be in some of those lots in the batting order that makes the offseason so much more promising than what has just finished. The only problem with the offseason, I guess, is that that they don’t play games everyday.

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Today’s Pitcher (game 162): Daisuke Matsuzaka

There aren’t any metrics to look at to make Daisuke Matsuzaka look good this season, heck, you need to go back 4 years to find such numbers. Tonight’s season-ending game marks his 11th start of the year and facing his countryman Hiroki Kuroda. It’s a study in contrasts as Kuroda is 5 years his senior, but has been a model of consistency since coming to the Dodgers back in 2008, never posting an ERA above 3.76. Somehow Yankee Stadium is the right place for Dice-K’s farewell, with no guarantees that any team will give him a shot next spring. For the Red Sox, the only fitting about ending here is that that get a chance to resurrect themselves on this same turf to start the 2013 season next April. Oh, and if they can pull out a win, there’s a chance for them to still play spoiler and give the Orioles a chance at the division crown.

Today’s game: 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium vs. the New York Yankees, NESN
Opposing pitcher:
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (15-11, 3.34)
Last start:
Loss at Tampa Bay, 3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

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Red Sox Drop to Yanks 4-3 in 12

With a Red Sox lineup held together with sticks and twine, they reflected the hope of this season and the futility of it all in one game. While Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury both started despite rumors they were ailing and might be shut down for these last couple games, the Red Sox weren’t able to top the Yankees, falling 4-3 in 12 innings. Jon Lester started tonight and was knocked around the ballpark as much as a pitcher can be through 5 innings yet only allowing a single unearned run. Lester gave up 8 hits and a walk, with Curtis Granderson scoring in the 2nd after singling and taking second on an error, stealing third, and scoring on an infield single by Eduardo Nunez. The Sox then showed off the best part of their pitching staff – their middle relief – with Rich Hill, Junichi Tazawa, and Craig Breslow each knocking down an inning in order, holding a 2-1 lead. After some insurance in the top of the 9th, the Red Sox featured their other staff regularity – a closer implosion. Tonight, it was Andrew Bailey giving up a leadoff single in the 9th to Granderson, followed by a home run by Raul Ibanez to tie the score at 3. After an out he then allowed a double and a pair of walks to load the bases before Mark Melancon came and pulled the ripcord and got out of the inning in seven pitches. Melancon stuck around and worked the 10th and then gave way to Vincente Padilla for the 11th. Jacoby Ellsbury tracked a mammoth blast to save the game for another inning in that 11th after Padilla had given up a single to Nick Swisher off an eephus. After a quick two outs to start the bottom of the 12th, Andrew Miller then got wild walking two hitters and then giving up a walk off single to Ibanez.

The Red Sox had started things off the correct way. Ellsbury began the game with a single and then scored when Pedroia followed him with a double. Pedroia’s hustle earned him third on a ground ball and then he scored on a sac fly by Cody Ross, giving them a 2-0 lead before the Yankees even emerged to bat. The Sox then didn’t bring a 5th batter up to the plate again until James Loney led off the 9th with a solo home run and Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed that with a single that left him stranded. A walk to Daniel Nava and singles to Loney and Pedroia were sprinkled over the 3 extra innings, but the Red Sox weren’t able to score anymore on a night when they tallied only 8 hits in 12 innings of play. With one game left in the season, only the people of Baltimore are holding out hope that the Red Sox can finish on an up note, leaving the Orioles with a window so they can slip in and tie the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

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Today’s Pitcher (game 161): Jon Lester

Jon Lester isn’t going to look back fondly on the 2012 season. His downs have been awful and his ups have been just as much of a mess. Last time out he was throwing a no-hitter in the 5th and three batters later he was down 3-0 having given up two monster shots. His biggest problem has been compounding his problems by getting frustrated by other teams’ successes and umpires calls and then not able to throw the way that he wants because he’s so worked up. With no chance left to knock the Yankees from the playoffs, this one is just about pride.

Today’s game: 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium vs. the New York Yankees, NESN
Opposing pitcher:
RHP David Phelps (4-4, 3.34)
Last start:
Loss vs Tampa Bay, 6 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

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Yankees Power Their Way to a 10-2 Win Over Sox

The Red Sox tailspin has been pretty fully realized since David Ortiz went down for good, with lineups full of straw men supporting pitchers with spaghetti arms. It didn’t take long for the Yankees to imprint their dominance on the Sox, beating Boston 10-2 tonight to retake first place from the faltering Orioles. Clay Buchholz started tonight and somehow found a way to his worst start of the season, giving up 8 runs and not escaping the 2nd inning. After a 1-2-3 1st inning, no one would suspect that 10 batters wouldn’t be enough to make it through the 2nd, but the Yankees looked like they were still taking batting practice picking up 2 singles, 2 walks, a double, and 3 home runs. Alfredo Aceves gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, scoring the last of the runners that Buchholz had left on base and giving the Yankees a 9-0 lead. Aceves stuck around for the 3rd and 4th and allowed just another hit and walk and was replaced by Pedro Beato. Beato stuck around until he surrendered his firsts hit with one out in the 7th, with Andrew Miller working out of the inning. Andrew Bailey came in to pitch the 8th and gave up the 10th run on the first major league hit by Melky Mesa.

that's when pitchers and catchers report

Watching your opponent bring 13 batters to the plate in an inning makes any offense look a bit impotent, though even without the direct comparison, any lineup with 4 batters hitting below the Mendoza line is going to have problems generating much. Tonight the Red Sox were able to work only 4 hits off of Yankee pitching while the Bombers had 4 home runs. After Mauro Gomez had a lone double in the 2nd, the Red Sox were finally able to score in the 4th when Daniel Nava led off with a home run. The team went the opposite approach for their other run, manufacturing it out of almost nothing: in the 7th, Mauro Gomez led off with a walk, took 2nd on a wild pitch, moved to 3rd on a ground ball, and then scored on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia sac fly. While Che-Hsuan Lin added a pair of singles on the night, this was all Boston could muster in the Bronx. With two games left to play, the only question is whether the Sox will tumble into the offseason without another win or not.

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Today’s Pitcher (game 160): Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz is up for his last turn of the season. It has certainly been a bumpy path, but it also seems as though in general he found his course through this bad year and has put himself in a position where he and Jon Lester are the only key members of the staff going forward. Next year is bound to be filled with new faces, but Buchholz has got his eye on the prize, and I don’t think it matters where you slot him in a staff – sure he could be a pretty great #2, but imagine how good the rotation would be if they picked up enough pieces that he could be pitching against other teams #4 and #5s. Tonight, the Red Sox set off to spoil the Yankees playoff bid after giving the Orioles a boost this weekend.

Today’s game: 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium vs. the New York Yankees, NESN
Opposing pitcher:
LHP C.C. Sabathia (14-6, 3.42)
Last start:
Loss vs Tampa Bay, 6 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

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Orioles Sweep Their Way to the Top, Beat Boston 6-3

When the season started everyone seemed to think that they were so overloaded with pitching that there was no way that Tim Wakefield had room left on the roster and the team persuaded him to retire. Looking back at how the year transpired, it might have been nice to have that stabilizing force to eat innings while everyone else was erratic. Instead, the team deems to give Zach Stewart another chance, and then watches him get torched as the Orioles beat the Red Sox 6-3. Stewart had been roughed up for 9 runs in 3 innings his first start for Boston, and he continued that pace in the 1st inning today as he allowed 3 a quick runs. Nate McLouth led off with a home run, and then Stweart loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a hit by pitch. A double play drove in a run, and Jim Thome singled in another before the inning was done. Three ground ball outs in three batters was great in the 2nd, but J.J. Hardy led off the 3rd with another home run. Adam Jones singled and stole second and then was driven in by another Thome single, and despite getting two outs along the way, Bobby came out and turned the ball over to Clayton Mortensen. After a 1-2-3 4th inning, he gave up a solo home run to Chris Davis in the 5th. After a clean 6th, he gave way to Chris Carpenter to start the bottom of the 7th. Though Carpenter put runners on, he induced double plays in both the 7th and 8th to prevent any more Baltimore scoring.

Unlike yesterday when the Sox took the early lead before getting obliterated, they were down 5-0 before they even tried to retaliate tonight. With only stray doubles to Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias in the fisrt 3 innings, Cody Ross hit a solo home run to lead off the 4th. While Ciriaco had a double to nowhere in the 5th, it was Daniel Nava’s 2-run home run in the 7th, driving in Lavarnway who’d singled, that capped the Sox scoring. Dustin Pedroia tried to make a go of it in the 8th, but he was caught stealing and wiped from the bases. While they matched the Orioles with 9 hits, the Os bunched theirs together and doubled the Sox run production today.

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Today’s Pitcher (game 159): Zach Stewart

Zach Stewart got shelled the first time the Red Sox gave him a shot, which is why his ERA with the team stands at 27.00. He’s the last vestige of Kevin Youkilis as the other part of the trade was long ago shucked, but it’s not as though anyone is hoping for a lot here… 5 innings would be a treat. Stewart is bound to knock that ERA down a bit and not give up 3 runs per inning, but I don’t know what signs of life will land him back in Boston next year.

Today’s game: 1:35 p.m. at Camden Yards vs. the Baltimore Orioles, NESN
Opposing pitcher:
LHP Joe Saunders (2-3, 3.62)
Last start:
Loss at Los Angeles, 3 innings, 10 hits, 9 runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts

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Sox Stymied By Orioles, Lose 4-3

Thanks to the Red Sox, the Orioles were able to pull into a tie with the Yankees at the end of the night. Of course that means the Sox lost 4-3 in Baltimore, and they took over sole possession of last place in the division. Felix Doubront started for the Sox and had another strong showing against the Orioles, striking out 10 in his 7 innings of work, but he was responsible for all of the runs that scored and picked up a loss so he ends the season at 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA. The Orioles scored their first run in the 2nd when Doubront hit Chris Davis with a pitch, and he went on to score after a stolen base and a pair of singles. In the 4th, Adam Jones reached on an error and then Davis hit a 2-run homer. With the scored locked up in the 7th, all it took was a lead off home run by Manny Machado to break the tie. It took Junichi Tazawa 11 pitches to earn a strikeout and retire the side in the 8th to finish the game.

For the Sox offense, well, maybe they can use that losing games so that the Yankees slip out of first place thing as an excuse for their performance in Baltimore. Being the lone bad team left at the end while the contenders battle it out is a tough position to be in for certain. Down 3-0, Mauro Gomez walked to lead off the 5th, and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his 25th home run of the season, closing the gap. In the 6th Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single, moved to second via walk, third by a grounder, and then scored on a Cody Ross sac fly to knot the score at 4. The Sox were lucky to milk 3 runs from the 5 hits they had in the game (+3 walks, -1 for Ross caught stealing). One more game in Baltimore and then the Red Sox can try to knock the Yankees all the way out of the playoffs.

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