June 24, 2006


Beckett stellar as Sox roll on: Boston's starter is perfect for 5 1/3 innings while Manny Ramirez clouts two homers and drives in five runs. (JOE McDONALD, June 24, 2006, Providence Journal)

It was obvious from the get-go that Josh Beckett and the Red Sox were going to have an extraordinary night.

In fact, it was only a matter of time before Beckett proved why the club acquired the right-hander last November as part of a seven-player deal. Even though he entered last night's interleague game against the Philadelphia Phillies with an 8-3 record in 14 starts, it was time for him to emerge from relative hibernation and unleash a pitching fury.

The result was a near-perfect game, but Beckett had to settle for a three-hitter in eight innings en route to a 10-2 victory last night at Fenway Park that ran the Sox winning streak to seven games. He retired the first 16 Philadelphia batters and had a perfect game going until David Bell hit a weak ground ball up the middle to erase the possibility of perfection.

Beckett was relieved after throwing 104 pitches, allowing two runs in recording his ninth victory of the season

Glove affair for Gonzalez (Jeff Horrigan, 6/24/06, Boston Herald)
Pokey Reese earned the reputation of being arguably the best defensive infielder ever to wear a Red Sox uniform during his sole season in Boston in 2004, but Terry Francona said he might want to recast his vote.

After watching Alex Gonzalez during the first three months of the season, the Sox manager said his shortstop may be even better than the dynamic Reese, who is now out of baseball.

“Alex Gonzalez is one of the best defensive players I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Pokey was pretty special, but I’ve never seen some of the things that this guy has done. You’re talking about two of the best defensive guys we’ve ever seen. Either way, you’re splitting hairs.”

Gonzalez and his teammates established a club record in last night’s 10-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies by completing their 11th consecutive errorless game. The previous high of 10 was set from Sept. 26-Oct. 5, 1986. [...]

Gonzalez entered last night’s rain-delayed game with a league-leading .995 fielding percentage, having committed only one error in 211 total chances. He has gone 51 consecutive games since being charged with his only error on April 9, establishing a Red Sox record for shortstops.

Actually, it was a pretty ordinary effort for Beckett, Manny & the defense but, thankfully, the Phillies started Ryan Madson, their best bullpen guy the past few years, and not Scott Matthieson, their best pitching prospect, who looked tremendous.

Kids contribute to an era of good feelings (Tony Massarotti, 6/24/06, Boston Herald)

These are truly the very best of times at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are winning now and planning for later, and the turnstiles at the oldest ballpark in baseball continue to spin like pinwheels.

Extending their romp through the subterranean floors of the National League East, the Red Sox pasted the Philadelphia Phillies last night, 10-2. The Sox now have won seven straight and remain two games ahead of the New York Yankees, and the hometowners are doing it all with a host of baby-faced, diaper-laden young men who think Boston is just another place to play baseball.

Welcome to hardball nirvana. [...]

Ultimately, of course, this all goes back to the championship. The Sox and their fans were an impatient, desperate lot before the Sox changed history in 2004, and the ripple effects are still being felt now. Without that world title, the Sox might not have been able to nurture Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester; Kevin Youkilis and Manny Delcarmen. Certainly, they would not be able to turn to those players now, with the Sox in the hunt and the season approaching its dog days. [...]

Now the Red Sox have Papelbon and Lester; Youkilis, Delcarmen and the highly touted Craig Hansen. With the exception of Youkilis, who had 287 career at-bats entering this season, all of them are rookies. It is difficult to remember a time when the Red Sox had this many young players, on the pitching staff or otherwise, without having sacrificed the chance to play in at least one October.

Seriously, how does it get any better than this?

In fact, one of the few significant mistakes they've made this year was sending Adam Stern down to AAA, "To get a chance to play everyday," when they couyld have just had him replace the injured Coco Crisp and play every day. Stern isn't a major league starter in the long-run--and Jacoby Ellsbury will be in CF next year--but he was hot and an excellent defender and a better option than Pena/Harris for a few weeks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 24, 2006 9:24 AM

Gotta disagree about Stern, getting Wily Mo playing time was the best thing they could have done. It took them too long to put him in CF, where he should have been as soon as Coco went down. Wily Mo is out of options, so they have to get him playing time in Boston.

Stern is .232/.279/.362 in Pawtucket. Wily Mo is .321/.370/.482 in the majors.

And Wily Mo is two years younger than Stern, with a much higher ceiling.

Posted by: pj at June 24, 2006 10:56 AM

Eventually Wily Mo will be in a corner, not center. Stern's numbers are typical for guys who get sent down for no reason. But it's his defense that should have kept him up.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 11:05 AM

Stern's numbers in the majors: .150/.190/.200.

Eventually Wily Mo will be a corner, but right now he's backing up all three positions, and he's most comfortable in center where they had the first injury. He needs time on all aspects of the game.

Posted by: pj at June 24, 2006 11:54 AM

20 at-bats after being buried on the bench to open the season--he's have been fine, not Coco, but much better than Willie Harris on offense and than Wily Mo on defense.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 12:18 PM

If history has taught us anything, it's that Canadian Jewish former Nebraska players certainly haven't been failures at the big league level.

(Or successes, either, but who's keeping track?)

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 24, 2006 3:03 PM

Matt: who else is in that set?

Oj: now you're coming along to my way of thinking. I believe I posted that same thought in re Mr. Stern when he was sent down. Next thing you'll be saying Mann'ys in decline!

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 24, 2006 7:48 PM

Of course Manny's in decline--he's 34 years old. But he's declining from being the best right-handed hitter of his generation, if not all time. That leaves him at an awfully high level.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 7:54 PM

The problem with being a Yankee fan isn't just that they're not a playoff team but that there are only about 4 guys who'll be part of the next great Yankee run. The Sox have as many as 9 who could be part of a team that wins for a decade--though you'd think Ortiz wouldn't last until the end of that run.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 7:55 PM

Who are the 9? Youks, Pamplemousse, Lester the Molester, WilyMo, CocoChanel? Hansen? and . . .

The next generation of Yanks is either in the majors -- Cano, Melky, Wang, Beam -- or single A -- Vechionacci, Jackson, Tabata (all still in their teens, and Tabata, who might well be the next Manny, is only 17) -- while Cox, Hughes, Duncan, and Gardner are in Double A.

They might not be major leaguers, but its still fun following them. The beauty of the Yanks is that by the time the contracts of Matsui and Damon and Arod are winding down there's mucho talent to replace them. And that talent will only be 21-22 yrs old. (Of course, we'll have to get rid of Torre by then, otherwise he'll still be playing Cairo and Bernie instead of the kids).

You know, oj, you're love of baseball becomes you, if only you'd accept that the only sport in the world that comes in a close second to baseball is soccer.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 24, 2006 9:55 PM

Arod and Jeter are certain--Melky, Cano & Wang are pretty iffy. There's no one else unless they bring Hughes up.

You can't take seriously a sport where you're as good as the pros, like soccer.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 11:04 PM

Four years from now the rotation could feature: Beckett, Lester, Papelbon.

Hansen closing with Delcarmen throwing the 8th.

Coco and Wily Mo in the outfield corners

Youkilis at 3b

And Ortiz DHing.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 11:35 PM