After a rough 2-7 road trip, the Tampa Bay Rays returned home to sweep the Oakland Athletics’s and continued their winning streak against the New York Yankees.
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Ryan Roberts 2B
- Ben Zobrist RF
- Evan Longoria 3B
- Sean Rodriquez 1B
- Yunel Escobar
- Shelley Duncan DH
- Jose Lobaton C
- Sam Fuld LF
- Matt Moore P
- Brett Gardener CF
- Ben Francisco DH
- Robinson Cano 2B
- Vernon Wells LF
- Francisco Cervelli C
- Brennan Boesch RF
- Eduardo Nunez SS
- Lyle Overbay 1B
Kevin Youkilis* Jayson Nix 3B
- CC Sabathia P
*While Alex Rodriquez is recovering from steroid allegations and surgery, Kevin Youkilis is the new third baseman; but he was scratched from today’s game due to back pain. Youkilis had missed Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays for the same reason.
While Rays and Yankees fans are used to seeing David Price and CC Sabathia match-ups, the match-up between Matt Moore and Sabathia was just as entertaining. Moore walked lead-off hitter Brett Gardner in the 1st inning, but quickly got the next three batters out. When the Rays were at-bat, Ryan Roberts (the one with all the tattoos) hit a homerun to left field. With two outs, Evan Longoria singled and then scored when Sean Rodriquez hit a triple. Yunel Escobar then hit a homerun, making it 4-0 at the end of the 1st inning.
In the 3rd inning, Roberts once again hit a homerun to left field (seriously, who does this against Sabathia?) The Yankees scored at the top of the 4th when Robinson Cano hit a homerun, but they never scored another run in the game. The Yankees had a threat in the 6th when Moore walked Gardner and Cano reached first base due to an error by Escobar – Gardener moved up to third base on this same error. Moore was able to get the next two batters out to end the threat. The rest of the game quickly went by – total game time was only 2:29.
Matt Moore became the first Rays pitcher in history to win his first four starts: he pitched 8 innings, struck out 9, and pitched a total of 117 pitches.
The attendance was 15,331 – meaning that the New York Yankees fans aren’t coming to the Rays games anymore. Gone are the days when Rays vs. Yankees brought 80% Yankees fans and 20% Rays fans. Is it because the Rays have won 12 of its last 14 home games against the Yankees dating back to July 2011?
Also, Robinson Cano is being investigated for steroid use. A Biogenesis client roster lists the spokeswoman for Robinson Cano’s foundation, plus the fact that he’s friends with A-Roid and Melky Cabrera. Hmm…he did hit a homerun today. But seriously, stop taking steroids and doing illegal drugs.
Around the League
- Cy Younger Winner R.A. Dickey having back/neck problems, but will pitch against the Baltimore Orioles.
- Felix Hernandez got win 100 today – pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros.
- Albert Pujols will be the Los Angeles Angels’ DH for a while due to foot pain.
Spring Training has started and already several players (and one team) is making news. Here are the top five baseball news stories of the day.
- Carl Crawford: Crawford is currently in the Los Angeles Dodger’s rehab facility for his elbow., where he is recovering from elbow surgery. Crawford is happy with the Dodgers, but admits how awful his two years with the Red Sox were. Crawford says “I knew with the struggles I was having, it would never get better for me. I just didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. It puts you in kind of a depression stage. You just don’t see a way out.” Crawford also said he regretted signing with the Red Sox “ a lot of times” and how he thought his career was over since he did not believe any team would take over his expensive contract. Can’t believe a team organization nearly drove a player into depression.
- Kevin Youkilis: Mr. Red Sox is now with the New York Yankees, due to Alex Rodriquez missing half the season due to surgery. The Red Sox traded Youkilis away due to disagreements with Coach Bobby Valentine. Youkilis’ message to the Yankees fans “I’ll always be a Red Sock.” Though Youkilis met all his fellow teammates, he and Joba Chamberlain had yet to talk face-to-face due due to a previous feud in 2007 when Chamerlain threw two pitches over the head of Youkilis. Chamberlain was ejected for the first time in his career and suspended for two games. The “feud” is being overblown by the media, but Youkilis being a Yankee should make an interesting year.
- Grant Balfour: Oakland Athletics closer had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus. The recovery time is 4-6 weeks, meaning Balfour will just probably just miss Spring Training.
- The Red Sox 793-game sellout streak at Fenway will likely come to an end, said the team president Larry Lucchino. No one, but Red Sox fans, take the streak seriously since the Red Sox organization would actually buy and give away free tickets just to keep the streak alive. Also, judging by the amount of empty seats at the stadium toward the end of the 2012 season, it seems as though not every game was a sell-out. Anyways, the fact that the team president believes he can’t count on Red Sox fans to attend games shows how the Red Sox will start off another “great” year.
- Alex Rodriguez: Last week a report came out that Rodriquez was doping in Miami, just in time for spring training. Rodriquez was due to miss half the season due to hip surgery, but the allegations that he is using steroids made sure that his name will continue to be in the news. Now some baseball fans, mainly non-Yankee fans, are wondering if A-Roid is the only Yankee player using steroids. Due to years of steroid abuse, I believe Rodriquez no longer has testicles. Quite possible that he also has man-boobs since that is also an effect of steroids. Stay away from drugs kids!
When the 2012 baseball season started, hardly anyone knew who Jeff Keppinger was but after a very successful year with the Tampa Bay Rays, all of that has changed. Since being drafted in 2001 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Keppinger has spent the past decade with the New York Mets, the Kansas City Royals, the Cincinnati Reds, the Houston Astros, and San Francisco Giants – spending most of his time in the minors. In January 2012, the Rays signed Keppinger for a one-year, $1.525 million contract as a utility player. Due to several Rays’ players (Evan Longoria and Luke Scott) spending time on the disabled list, Keppinger became a reliable hitter on the roster. In 2012, Keppinger batted .325 and hit 40 RBIs (Sox sign Keppinger). When Longoria returned to the line-up, other Rays players would rotate their positions with Keppinger since he was always able to put the ball into play. Keppinger would be one of the reasons why the Rays were able to compete without Longoria.
After the season ended, there was talk that the Rays would go after Keppinger once again, even when Keppinger fell down his stairs at his home, breaking his fibula. But to the surprise of many, including me, there was also talk that other teams were seeking Keppinger. After the New York Yankees found out that their third baseman Alex Rodriquez would miss half the upcoming baseball season due to hip surgery, they contacted Keppinger’s agent since Keppinger had experience playing third base. This would drive up Keppinger’s price, decreasing the chance that the Rays would be able to retain him. Then on December 5, it was announced that the Chicago White Sox signed Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million deal (Jeff Keppinger to White Sox). The White Sox had lost third baseman Kevin Youkilis to free agency this off-season and needed someone to replace him.
I am disappointed that the Rays did not go after Keppinger since he was able to hit against left-handed pitchers and has been the second-toughest hitter to strike out over the past three seasons; meanwhile the Rays have had trouble with lefties
and have high strikeout rates. Keppinger also has a career batting average of .288 while the Rays’ team average is .240. The Rays currently do not have a DH and Keppinger could have filled that position for $4 million a year, not a bad deal since the Rays have wasted millions on hitters that have not worked out. The Rays also had trouble playing against the White Sox in 2012 and Keppinger’s offense will make it even harder for the Rays to beat the White Sox. I hope the Rays will be able to find a dependable hitter to replace Keppinger and wish Keppinger the best of luck with the White Sox.
On April 20th, 2012 the Boston Red Sox celebrated Fenway Park’s 100th birthday. Over 200 former players, players, coaches, managers returned to Fenway Park to celebrate this special occasion; but after the game, no one except for the New York Yankees was smiling. After all, the Yankees just beat the Red Sox 6-2 on Fenway’s birthday. This was a much different outcome from what happened 100 years ago when the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees). But that was 100 years ago; the Titanic sunk 100 years and things have changed a lot since then. Though in reality, most of the changes to the Red Sox happened within the past year.
A little more than a year ago, the Red Sox were predicted to win the A.L. East and the World Series after signing 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez (7-year, $154 million) and outfielder Carl Crawford (7-year, $142 million). But due to injuries, pitching woes, lack of hitting, and the fact that money can’t buy everything, the Red Sox failed to live up to the expectations. Everyone knows how the Red Sox were 9 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the beginning of September and failed to make it to the playoffs. Everyone knows how Red Sox manager Terry Francona was blamed for the loss and after being embarrassed by talks of family problems and pain medication addiction (leaked from someone within the Red Sox organization), he retired from coaching. And everyone knows that the Red Sox pitchers ate fried chicken and drank beer during games that they were not pitching. But no one knew what was going to happen to the Red Sox in 2012. Would they be able to rebuild Red Sox Nation or burn it even farther into the ground?
Well so far, Red Sox Nation is still not in business. The Red Sox started the season with a few injuries, including Crawford (recovering from left wrist surgery and inflammation in the left shoulder), and pitchers John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Then in the 2nd week of the season, Jacoby Ellsbury slid into Rays’ player Reid Brignac in an attempt to break up a double-play. He might be out with a shoulder injury until June. Besides the injuries, the Red Sox have not been off to a great start on the road. In the first series against the Detroit Tigers, the Red Sox lost all the games, including a 10-0 lost and a 13-12 lost in extra innings. In Toronto, the Red Sox lost 2 games to the Blue Jays and in Texas, the Red Sox lost 18-3 against the Rangers. Thus, it was not surprising when the Red Sox returned home that some of the Red Sox were actually booed by their fans (new manager Bobby Valentine and pitcher Josh Beckett).
The home opener brought hope to the Red Sox after they beat the Rays 3 out of 4 games, only losing the game on Patriot’s Day. Their 3-game winning spree was overshadowed by Valentine’s comments about Kevin Youkilis. On Sunday, Valentine said that Youkilis was not as emotionally or physically into the game as he used to be. Youkilis confronted the new manager, who apologized, and fellow teammate Dustin Pedroia told the media that he and the team has Youkilis’ back. Already, Valentine was creating enemies with the fans and players.
On Fenway Park’s 100th birthday, the Red Sox lost to the Yankees 6-2. Though it was embarrassing for the Red Sox, it only got worse on Saturday. The day after the big celebration, the Red Sox were seeking revenge against the Yankees. After 5 innings of baseball, the Red Sox were winning 9-0. After a single homerun by Mark Teixeira in the 6th, the Red Sox were still winning 9-1 when the Yankees entered the 7th inning. Red Sox relief pitcher Vicente Padilla managed to load the bases and gave up a grand slam to Nick Swisher. The next relief pitcher Matt Albers gave up a 3-run homer to Teixeria. After the 7th inning, the Yankees had scored 7 runs and now the Red Sox only led 9-8. In the 8th inning, the Yankees managed to score 7 more runs. Somehow, the Red Sox bullpen managed to give up 14 runs in 2 innings!
So what is going to happened to the Boston Red Sox? Well since September of last year, they have lost 28 out of 39 games. They are currently in last place in the A.L. East and the only team worse than them in the A.L. is the Kansas City Royals. Youkilis left today’s game with some kind of soreness, further adding to the injury problems for Boston. The Red Sox starters currently have a 6.15 ERA, one of the worst in baseball. Let’s just say no one in Boston will be singing “Sweet Caroline” for a while.
The Boston Red Sox should be celebrating; after all, they ended an early season disaster by winning 3 out of 4 games against A.L. East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, they are questioning the odd comments from their new manager, Bobby Valentine. On Sunday morning at his weekly interview at WHDH-TV’s Sports Xtra, Valentine was asked about Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis is off to another slow start after having his worst career year in 2011, one that was plagued by injuries. Youkilis is currently batting .200 with 8 strike outs, 3 RBIs, and 6 hits. Valentine said “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. But (on Saturday) it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.” It was strange of Valentine to question Youkilis’ emotions since at time he seems to be too emotionally involved in the game; practically dancing at his at-bats and throwing helmets in anger. Also, the interview did not help Valentine gain new fans. Valentine was already booed on opening day at Fenway Park due to the Red Sox’s slow start. When the interview aired Sunday night, baseball fans all over the country began to question why a new manager would bad mouth one of the Red Sox’s star players.
On Monday morning, Youkilis confronted Valentine about his comments. This actually surprised Valentine, he was just expecting Youkilis to update him about his groin injury (Youkilis would miss Monday’s game because of a minor groin injury). What exactly was said we may never know, but Valentine claims he apologized, though he does not know if Youkilis accepted his apology. Valentine attempted to explain his bizarre comment before Monday’s game, saying “I should have been more specific. Physical is about your swing, emotional is about not being happy when he doesn’t hit a ball off the wall,” but no one is buying it. Some have theorized that Valentine is attempting to unite the Red Sox as a family. Dustin Pedroia stated that he is confused by Valentine’s comments, but he and the rest of the team have Youkilis’ back. It is no secret that the Red Sox clubhouse has had an adverse feeling since there was at least one rat in the bunch telling secrets to the media last fall. Valentine could also have been attempting to motivate Youkilis, but the real reason why Valentine would throw Youkilis under the bus is still a mystery. Criticizing a player is a strange way to build a family.
On Monday, Terry Francona, former Red Sox manager and current ESPN analyst, was asked about his experience with Youkilis. Francona says at first, the Red Sox organization thought Youkilis was too emotional and they tried to calm him down, but they realized that was just who he was. Though he sometimes went back to the dugout and threw a helmet down in anger, he quickly moved on from his bad at-bat. Francona also commented that each manager is different and has his own way of handling things. I bet the Red Sox players are regretting all the chicken they ate and all the beer they drank since their poor sportsmanship helped kick Francona out of Boston. Valentine is no Francona as the Red Sox players are realizing. The Red Sox players were already worried that Bobby Valentine would make “it all about Bobby,” since he is known for making odd comments. Now they have to worry which player will be publicly criticized. Though Valentine tried to do damage control by explaining he just meant to talk about Youkilis’ batting, he pretty much lost all the Red Sox fans that he gained by beating the Rays. Valentine could either help unite the Red Sox by leading them to the playoffs, or he could tear Red Sox nation down either further by creating a hostile environment.
Quotes are from Sports Illustrated