Final Interleague Showdown at Fenway

The Red Sox will host the San Francisco Giants in the final interleague showdown at Fenway Park. The last time the Red Sox played the Giants was back in 2016, in which the Red Sox won both games at Fenway Park. Now, the Giants are back, and are looking to take the series in Boston.

After taking both games from Philly, the Red Sox look to continue that momentum startingfinal interleague showdown Tuesday night. Game one ended with a 2-1 victory for Boston, while game two had some offensive power with a 6-3 win. With Mookie Betts out of the line up, Christan Vazquez showed some power, hitting a grand slam and a solo home run in the second game.

This Series Will Be One to Remember

For some of the Giants, this will be a series to remember. Lexington, MA native and former Boston College player, Chris Shaw, will probably be in the line up at some point in the series. The left fielder made his MLB debut in August 2018. Another name to remember is Tyler Beede. The starting pitcher isn’t scheduled to start, but the Worcester, MA native will definitely have butterflies as he comes out of the visitors dugout. Like Shaw, Beede made his debut in 2018.

Two former Red Sox prospects are also members of the Giants. Mauricio Dubon and Shaun Anderson will be getting some playing time as well against the Red Sox. Both Dubon and Anderson made their MLB debuts this season.

Many Red Sox fans will remember this reliever. Fernando Abad will be returning to Fenway Park as a member of the Giants. Abad pitched for Boston in 2016 and 2017, going 2-3 in 66 games.

Final Interleague Showdown Matchup

In the final interleague showdown of the 2019 season, the Red Sox will be sending Nathan Eovaldi to face Logan Webb. Last time out for Eovaldi was against Toronto on September 10th. He went 4.1 innings, allowing three runs off of six hits. In twenty games this season, he is 1-0 with a 5.81 ERA through 52.2 innings. Webb will be making his sixth MLB start on Tuesday night. He made his MLB debut on August 17th against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Webb is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts.

Jhoulys Chacin will have the ball in game two against Jeff Samardzija. Last time Chacin pitched against the Giants was back on July 14th when he was with the Brewers. He went five innings, allowing one earned run off of four hits, while strikig out five. He is looking to earn his fourth win of 2019. Samardzjia is looking for his eleventh win of 2019. Last time out for him was on September 12th against the Pirates. He took the loss, going 6.1 innings, allowing four runs off of eight hits.

The afternoon game of the final interleague showdown features two aces. Eduardo Rodriguez will be going up against Madison Bumgarner. Eduardo Rodriguez is lookign for win number eighteen. Last time out resulted in a no decision against the Phillies. He went 6.2 innings, allowing four hits and one run, while striking out twelve batters. Bumgarner is looking for his tenth win of the season against the Red Sox. Last time out against the Marlins, he went seven innings, allowing two runs off of four hits in the no decision.

Tribute to Bruce Bochy

At the end of the 2019 season, Giants manager Bruce Bochy will retire. the 64 year old from France has managed the Giants since 2007, winning three World Series Championships. He was also named Manager of the Year in 1996 with the Padres. Prior to the Giants, he was the manager of the San Diego Padres from 1995 – 2006. He played at the Major League level from 1978-1987 for the Houston Astros, New York Mets, and the San Diego Padres. Lifetime, he has a batting average of .239, with 26 home runs and 93 RBI’s in his career. As a manager, he is 1,997-2,022 going into Tuesday’s game.

Born on a U.S. military base in France, Bochy moved a lot as a child, eventually graduating high school in Melbourne, Florida. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1975, but chose to attend Brevard Community College. In the 1975 Supplemental draft, Bochy was drafted in the first round by the Houston Astros. From there, the legacy of Bruce Bochy began.

In May 2011, Bochy was honored with the Ronald L Jensen Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was also honored by his former Community College, who named their baseball field after him in 2011. The final interleague showdown will be the last one for Bochy, and like the other teams the Giants faced in 2019, I’m sure the Red Sox have something planned for him.

Another Yaz in the Outfield

Saving the best for last. Yes, the name Yastrzemski will be heard at Fenway this coming series. No, Carl didn’t decide to come out of retirement to play some ball. His grandson, rookie outfielder Mike Yastrzemski will be in town with the Giants. The 29 year old rookie was traded to the Giants prior to the start of the season by the Baltimore Orioles. He made his MLB debut on May 25th against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Since then, Yaz is having a great season.

In 96 games, Mike has 87 hits, 19 home runs, with 51 RBI’s so far. He has a batting average of .265 in 328 at-bats. Now, he is set to face his childhood baseball team. Unlike his grandfather, he wears the number 5. Bruce Bochy revealed in a press conference that Yaz will be starting in all three games for the Giants, which will allow Red Sox fans to see the younger Yaz play the same position his Hall of Fame grandfather played at Fenway Park.

Will Carl be at Fenway to see his grandson play at the big league level? Yes, but Carl told the Boston Globe in an interview that he will be there for the game on Wednesday night. In the interview, he stated that he wants Mike to have his own career, and he tries not to get too involved, since the game has changed a lot since he played. Either way, it’ll be a great series for both Carl and Mike. Who knows, maybe the younger Yaz will play in Boston one day.

Weekend Series in Philadelphia Begins Now

The Red Sox will face the Philadelphia Phillies in a rare two game weekend series at Citizens Bank Park. Prior to the Red Sox’s arrival, Philly hosted the first place Atlanta Braves. Like the Red Sox, Philly’s season hasn’t been too great. A favorite to win their division, they’re in fourth place in the NL East. At 76-70, the Phillies are two games back of the National League Wild Card.

Last time Boston faced Philadelphia was last month. Philly took both games from Bostonweekend series at Fenway Park, and they look to do it again during this weekend series. After a rough trip to Toronto, the Red Sox look to take both games at Citizens Bank Park. This weekend series will either make or break the Red Sox. Only time can tell how it will turn out.

The Weekend Series Matchup

The first game begins Saturday night, with Eduardo Rodriguez going up against Aaron Nola. This will be Rodriguez’s first time facing the Phillies this season. Last time out for him resulted in a loss to the Yankees. Rodriguez went six innings, allowing five hits and one run. When the Philles came to Boston, Nola started the first game. He got the win, going seven innings, allowing two runs off of four hits. The Red Sox look to have better success against Nola in game one of the weekend series.

The final game of the weekend series has Rick Porcello taking on Jason Vargas in a Sunday afternoon matchup. Porcello was the starter in game two when Philly came to Boston last month. He took the loss, going five innings, and allowing three runs off of three hits. This will be Vargas’ first time facing the Red Sox this season.

On A Positive Note…

Despite going 1-2 against the Toronto Blue Jays, a Red Sox favorite achieved a major milestone. On Thursday night, Xander Bogaerts became the second shortstop in MLB history to hit 50 doubles and 30 home runs in a season. The last shortstop to accomplish that feat was Alex Rodriguez during the 1996 season as a member of the Seattle Mariners. The last Red Sox player to have 50 doubles and 30 home runs was David Ortiz in 2007. Rafael Devers is one home run shy of having a 50-30 season as well.

The nominations for the Roberto Clemente Award came out on Thursday as well. Red Sox utility player, Brock Holt, was nominated for the award for the fourth time.  The Roberto Clemente Award is to recognize a player who represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions. Holt was nominated for the award based on his work with the Jimmy Fund. Fans can vote for Holt on MLB’s website here.

Looking Ahead

Following their weekend series, the Red Sox host the San Francisco Giants. The series begins on Tuesday, and Red Sox Nation will be looking at a different Yastrzemski in left field. Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson, Mike, will be making his Fenway debut in a Giants uniform. For Red Sox fans looking to see Pablo Sandoval back at Fenway, they’re going to have to wait. The third baseman recently underwent Tommy John surgery. Sandoval was a member of the Red Sox from 2015-2017. He signed a five year deal with Boston during the 2014 offseason after winning his third World Series as a member of the Giants.

Is Benintendi the Next Yastrzemski?

Only those who saw Carl Yastrzemski play in the 1960s and 70s can really say whether anyone on the current roster can field and hit as well as the legendary Red Sox left fielder. Yaz’s status in Boston is only second to Ted Williams (and I would argue is well above David Ortiz). While Mookie Betts and Chris Sale certainly take the cake when it comes to the team’s top stars, this writer would argue that Benintendi is just starting what could become one of the greatest careers in Boston. Does that mean Benintendi is the next Yastrzemski?

Benintendi and Yastrzemski Side by Side

It’s hard NOT to compare the two. They both play in left field. Both came along shortlynext yastrzemski after the departure of legendary Red Sox hitters (Williams and Ortiz). They are both roughly the same size (5’11, 175 and 5’10, 170, respectively). They both posted solid numbers in their first full season in the majors with Benintendi hitting .271 with 20 HRs, and 90 RBIs while Yaz hit .266 with 11 HRs, and 80 RBIs. Statistically speaking, their first few years in the big leagues are not too different from one another. Does that mean Benintendi is the next Yastrzemski though? Hardly.

First of all, it wasn’t just the numbers that Yaz posted in his career that made him so legendary. He all but single-handedly carried the Red Sox to the World Series on his bat in the last two weeks of the 1967 season by hitting .491 (27/55) with five homers and 18 RBIs in the last fifteen games of the season. In his career, Yastrzemski won the 1967 Triple Crown and MVP, was an 18x All-Star, and a 7x Gold Glove Winner. Playing his entire career in Boston from 1961 to 1983 only cemented his status in Boston as one of the all-time greats. Benintendi, however, is only entering his third full season in the majors, but he’s already made strong impressions.

Benintendi’s Making Marks of His Own

Anyone who was watching Game 2 of the 2018 World Series will never forget the amazing catch Benintendi made to snuff out the Dodgers’ Brian Dozer’s hopes of getting a base hit. This catch came days after Benintendi made a game-saving robbery of a hit from the Astros’ Alex Bregman in the ALCS. Both catches factored significantly in Red Sox victories in those series. They also boosted Benintendi’s status as a strong left fielder. His abilities leave no doubt that Benintendi has the chance to be the next Yastrzemski of Boston.

So Is Benintendi the Next Yastrzemski?

It’s too early to tell right now. It’s rare for players to stay with one team for their entire careers anymore. If Benintendi stays in Boston though, it will surprise no one if twenty years from now we see his jersey number 16 retired alongside Yaz’s.

The Idleness of Clemens’ Number 21

As I cover college baseball games this weekend in Waco, Texas, my attention is drawn Roger Clemensaway from the 10 players on the field. The Texas Longhorns are in town, which means, for the only time all season, I am more focused on the parents section. I’m looking for a certain number 21.

Penciled in the Longhorn lineup at both DH and First Base is a familiar name: Clemens. With the potential to meet their dad, Roger, this weekend, it got me thinking about one of the most tumultuous careers in baseball history. Roger Clemens will always go down as a Red Sox legend, but would you guess that his number is retired?

No, you wouldn’t. Nestled on the facade in Fenway Park’s right field lies 10 retired numbers, but not number 21. What you might not know, however, is that 30 Red Sox wore that number before the Rocket, but none since. Are the Red Sox hiding behind their own tradition?

For over a decade, Clemens was revered in Boston. From 1984-1996, the Rocket racked up 192 wins, tying him for the franchise record. Whom is he tied with? A guy by the name of Cy Young—you may have heard of him. Clemens knows him well, winning the Cy Young award three times in Boston as well as an American League MVP award in 1986. He was the unequivocal ace who led the Red Sox to the World Series that year as well. Before he came to Boston, no one had struck out 20 batters in a game. By the time he left, he had done it twice. It wasn’t Clemens’ time in Boston that made him a villain, it was his time away.

After Dan Duquette’s prognostication of his demise, Clemens went to division rival Toronto. It was his time north of the border where things became fishy. After injuries wore down his final few sub-par years in Boston, Clemens began to defy logic. Even as he aged, he was recovering even faster from these injuries and was pitching as well as ever. In two seasons with Toronto, he won the Cy Young Award both years and earned the elusive pitching Triple Crown each season.

To further push the buttons of Red Sox fans, Clemens traded in his Jays uniform for pinstripes. As a Yankee, he won four AL Pennants, two World Series titles, and the Cy Young yet again in 2001. After a combined record of 27-18 in his first two seasons in New York, he went 20-3 in 2001. Coincidentally enough, it was revealed his trainer Brian McNamee was injecting him with anabolic steroids at the time. Now, it’s no wonder Clemens was always butt hurt.

Why The Fans Don’t Want To See The Number 21

The final middle finger to Red Sox Nation came in the winter of 2005. Upon Curt Schilling’s endorsement, the Red Sox were in the sweepstakes to sign Clemens as a free agent. In a little-known attempt to bring him back, a third grade class in Rockland, MA, made a video for the Clemens family. In it, the kids begged him to “come home, Roger”, apparently bringing his wife to tears. At the end of the video, a number 21 was glowing on that right field facade, if the Rocket were to re-enter Boston’s atmosphere. Instead, Clemens re-signed with Houston and in 2007, ended his career with a return to New York.

Once revered in Boston, Clemens is now reviled. His number 21 is retired only at Disch-Faulk Field at the University of Texas. While there, Clemens was the ace for their 1983 National Championship team. No, I think it’s gonna be a long, long time till we see Clemens’ number up there with Williams and Yastrzemski. It won’t take touchdown to bring us round again to find he most certainly is the man he is at home. Sir Elton John will not be doing any serenading over the Fenway speakers any time soon. For all the things Clemens has done to Boston fans on and off the field has certainly made the Rocket public enemy number 21.

 

Retired Red Sox Stars Find Ways To Give Back

I recently started work on an article about Carl Yastrzemski and his days with the Red Sox. As part of my research I’ve interviewed some of Yaz’s teammates including Bill Lee, Fred Lynn, and Jim Lonborg, among others. In exchange for their time, I offered to make a donation to a charity of their choice. While many asked for donations to The Jimmy Fund, I thought Lynn and Lonborg’s requests were unique. These charities have a personal meaning to these retired Red Sox players.

Last February 1967 Cy Young winner Jim Lonborg invited me to his home to talk about Yaz. Afterwards, heretired Red Sox told me about a charity his wife, Rosemary, co-founded and directs called Learn, Live, Love. This charity focuses on providing different kinds of assistance to female cancer patients and their families in Massachusetts. In addition to her efforts with the charity, she works at Fragile Footprints Pediatric Palliative Care, Plymouth, MA. Jim also works for the charity as the treasurer. You can learn more about Learn, Live, Love at learnlivelove.org.

Fred Lynn, the 1975 AL MVP, and I met at the Hotel Commonwealth on Good Friday and spent about an hour discussing Red Sox history. I asked Lynn about a week before our meeting which charity he’d like me to donate to. Lynn texted me the info for a charity called The Face Foundation in San Diego, CA. “We have saved over 1,600 animals in about 5 years,” Lynn added. The website states that “The FACE Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides financial assistance for San Diego animal owners who are unable to afford the cost of their pets’ emergency veterinary care.” If you’d like to learn more about The Face Foundation, check out their website at face4pets.org.

Retired Red Sox Players Aren’t The Only Ones Who Give Back

In addition to retired Red Sox players, I also spoke to former Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Denny McLain, the last pitcher to win 30 games in a season. He asked me to donate to the Michigan Parkinson Foundation for his wife, Sharon, who is fighting the disease. Former Red Sox players Jim Gosger and Ted Lepcio both asked me to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Rico Petrocello and Bill Lee asked for donations to The Jimmy Fund while Galen Cisco asked for a donation to the St. Mary’s Foundation in Ohio.

These players were tremendously helpful to me as I did my research on Carl Yastrzemski. The very least that could be done in exchange for their time was to make a donation. While some of them told me it wasn’t necessary, they all expressed their sincere thanks. I’m the one, however, who owes them all the thanks.

No One Will Ever Replace Ortiz

Who will replace David Ortiz? It’s a burning question fans in Red Sox Nation have been asking since “Big Papi” officially retired last October. Ortiz gave so much to the Red Sox over the course of his career, including three World Series Championships. Perhaps more importantly, he gave the city hope in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Since the early 2000s, Ortiz was a staple in the Red Sox lineup. But it’s time for those who are searching for his replacement to face facts: No one is going to replace Ortiz.

It is true that the Red Sox now have a tremendous amount of young potential. Mookiereplace ortiz Betts nabbed himself a Gold Glove. Xander Bogaerts proved himself as an offensive and defensive asset. Jackie Bradley Jr. finally found his stride at the plate. Andrew Benintendi is poised to take over left field, a position once held by Red Sox legend Ted Williams. There’s no doubt they will soon be a part of another World Series team. None of these players, however, will replace Ortiz.

Ortiz’s love for Boston is what makes him so famous and beloved. Ortiz is not pompous. He never let his teammates slack off. He is a source of pride for all of Boston. Many Hall of Famers can’t claim that status. In fact, Ortiz stands alongside Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski not only as Red Sox legends, but as legends of the game. They weren’t just players who hit .300, accumulated home runs, and led their own teams to the World Series. Like these men, Ortiz came through in clutch situations to win. Who can forget the 2013 ALCS when he smacked that home run into the bullpen?

When Ortiz stood before the Fenway faithful and declared “This is out f–king city!” in the wake of the marathon bombings, he became a beacon of hope, a symbol of endurance in a time of uncertainty. Ortiz’s words gave Bostonians, as well as Americans, the shot in the arm that it needed in the wake of such tragedy.

Like Williams and Yastrzemski Before Him, No One Will Replace Ortiz

I spoke to former Red Sox second baseman Rico Petrocelli last month for an article I’m writing about Carl Yastrzemski. He discussed the pressure Yastrzemski faced when he took Ted Williams’ place in left field. Despite this task, Yaz went on to have a distinguished career of his own. Yaz carved out his own legendary place in Red Sox history and no one can replace him. The same principle applies to David Ortiz.

So stop looking at the upcoming trade deadlines for Ortiz’s replacement. He’s not coming. Like Williams and Yastrzemski before him, no one can replace Ortiz.