Today In History – Pedro Martinez Strikes Out Side On Nine Pitches

18 May 2002 – On this day ten years ago, Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez struck out the side on nine pitches in the first inning of a 4-1 win over the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  To date, he is the only pitcher to accomplish this remarkable feat in a Boston uniform. Continue reading “Today In History – Pedro Martinez Strikes Out Side On Nine Pitches”

Boston Red Sox Star Pitcher Josh Beckett, Local Stars & Athletes Throw Strikes for Children at Fifth Annual Beckett Bowl

Boston Red Sox star pitcher Josh Beckett will throw strikes of a different kind on August 29, when he trades in his cleats for bowling shoes at his fifth-annual Beckett Bowl, a celebrity-studded bowling tournament at Lucky Strike Lanes in Boston benefiting Children’s Hospital Boston, the nation’s top pediatric hospital.

BOSTON — Boston Red Sox star pitcher Josh Beckett will throw strikes of a different kind on August 29, when he trades in his cleats for bowling shoes at his fifth-annual Beckett Bowl, a celebrity-studded bowling tournament at Lucky Strike Lanes in Boston benefiting Children’s Hospital Boston, the nation’s top pediatric hospital.

Beckett Bowl features an impressive lineup of athletes and celebrities joining local corporations and individuals who will bowl to raise funds for children in need. The roster of VIPs will include current and past Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and New England Revolution players, along with actors, comedians, musicians and celebrity chefs with New England ties.

Local corporations and philanthropic individuals are invited to sponsor four-person bowling teams for the event. Each team will be joined by a celebrity teammate and will compete for unique prize packages. For information on sponsoring a team, please call 617.338.2766. A limited number of tickets to attend the event are available for $250 by emailing

Beckett Bowl has continuously attracted some of Boston’s top professional athletes and celebrities, including Beckett’s Red Sox teammates Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield; HBO’s Entourage star Adrian Grenier; performer Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of legendary hip-hop trio Run DMC; stand-up comedian, actor, stuntman and performer Verne Troyer (aka “Mini-Me”); country music stars Pat Green and Jason Aldean; Boston Celtics 2008 Finals MVP Paul Pierce and teammate Glen “Big Baby” Davis; Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins; current and former New England Patriots Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Adalius Thomas and Steve Gostkowski; New England Revolution stars Matt Reis and Taylor Twellman; and many more.

“We’re thrilled by the tremendous support we’ve received from the local sports and business community,” said Beckett. “As a result of everyone’s tireless efforts, we’ve raised funds that have made a positive impact on the lives of kids served by Children’s Hospital Boston. This is something that’s close to my heart and a cause I truly believe in. Any time you can touch other people’s lives, your life ends up being touched just the same.”

The annual fundraiser is organized by The Josh Beckett Foundation, which supports community-based programs that improve the health and well-being of children, especially those who are seriously ill, disabled, poor, or otherwise disadvantaged. Since its inception, the Josh Beckett Foundation has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Children’s Hospital Boston from the proceeds of the Beckett Bowl. Monies from these efforts facilitated the 2009 opening of The Josh Beckett Cancer Treatment Room at Children’s Hospital Boston which features a miniature Fenway Park scene, giving patients the opportunity to cherish a ballpark-like atmosphere.

“Thanks to the support and dedication of Josh Beckett and everyone at the Josh Beckett Foundation, Beckett Bowl has been throwing strikes for the nation’s top pediatric hospital since 2007,” said Children’s Hospital Boston CEO James Mandell, MD. “Support from generous individuals like Josh allows us to address the hospital’s most critical needs and essential programs including our cutting edge cancer care and research center.”

The Josh Beckett Foundation is also hosting the Beckett Bowl Ultimate Jeep Raffle presented by AFTER FX CUSTOMS, where fans will have a chance to win prizes including an authentic jersey autographed by Beckett and two “Monster Seat” tickets to the Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays game on September 17. One Grand Prize winner will drive away in a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4-Door, fully customized by AFTER FX CUSTOMS, including: full JL audio sound system with Alpine DVD/navigation head unit, 20-inch KMC wheels with Nitto tires, multiple exterior upgrades, and much more. Winners will be drawn at Beckett Bowl.

Computer World, After FX Customs, Liberty Bay Credit Union, Reebok, Cooley LLP, ProPrint, Improper Bostonian, NESN-TV, and WAAF-FM among others, are working with the Foundation in support of Beckett Bowl.

About The Josh Beckett Foundation

The Josh Beckett Foundation is a charitable organization established in 2007 by Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett to support community-based programs that strive to improve the health and well-being of children, especially children that are seriously ill, disabled, poor, or otherwise disadvantaged. The Foundation provides Beckett with an opportunity to have a direct and permanent impact on the lives of children throughout New England.

About Children’s Hospital Boston

Children’s Hospital Boston is the nation’s top pediatric hospital, ranked first in more specialties than any other, and the only one in the top three for all 10 areas rated (US News and World Report Best Children’s Hospitals 2011). We’re number one in: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, kidney disease, orthopedics, and urology. Learn more at

In 2009, Children’s Hospital Boston unveiled the Josh Beckett Cancer Treatment Room which features Boston Red Sox imagery including Beckett and his teammates, crowd scenes and the historic Fenway Park sign.


Keith Gainsboro, Elevate Communications, 617-861-3650,
Colleen White, Elevate Communications, 617-861-3679,
Katie Largay Dean, Children’s Hospital Trust, 857-218-3193,

Red Sox Set for Opening Day and the 2011 Season

With great anticipation, the Boston Red Sox will open the 2011 season this afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington against the 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers.

With great anticipation, the Boston Red Sox will open the 2011 season this afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington against the 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers.  The revamped Sox, who last season missed the playoffs for only the second time under manager Terry Francona, have the baseball world abuzz as they are considered the pre-season favorite by many, including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sportsline, FOX Sports, and The Hardball Times, to win the World Series this fall.

The Opening Day lineup includes two of the newest Red Sox players, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford, as well as several familiar faces, including second baseman Dustin Pedroia, third baseman Kevin Youkilis, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and designated hitter David Ortiz.  On the mound will be Jon Lester, who is another pre-season media favorite as the 2011 Cy Young Award winner.

Here is the complete Opening Day roster for Boston (asterisk denotes Opening Day starters):

Starting Pitchers: Lester*, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka

Relief Pitchers: Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks, Jonathan Papelbon, Dennys Reyes, Tim Wakefield, Dan Wheeler

Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia*, Jason Varitek

Infielders: Gonzalez*, Jed Lowrie, Pedroia*, Marco Scutaro*, Youkilis*

Outfielders: Mike Cameron*, Crawford*, J.D. Drew, Ellsbury*, Darnell McDonald

Designated Hitter: Ortiz*

Boston Red Sox Pitchers Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz 2011 Jimmy Fund Co-Captains

The Jimmy Fund announces today that Red Sox Pitchers Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz have signed on again as the 2011 Jimmy Fund Co-Captains. First up: Spokesplayers for the 2011 Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer. Pitch in against the fight against cancer and learn how to win a visit from one of the players at

BOSTON — Today, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund announce that Boston Red Sox pitchers Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz will continue as Jimmy Fund Co-Captains for the 2011 season. Their first assignment is to be this year’s Spokesplayers for the Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer.

Buchholz was the 2010 Rally Against Cancer spokesplayer in addition to being Jimmy Fund Co-Captain last year. Wakefield, a strong supporter of the Jimmy Fund for many years, was also a Co-Captain last year, and will be a Spokesplayer for the Rally Against Cancer for the first time this year. Wakefield and Buchholz join the ranks of past Rally Against Cancer Spokesplayers, including Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Trot Nixon.

As Jimmy Fund Co-Captains, the two pitchers will be ambassadors for the Jimmy Fund to raise awareness and build support for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They will also lend their support to Jimmy Fund events, visit adult and pediatric clinics, thank donors, and more.

Now in its sixth year, Rally Against Cancer encourages Red Sox fans to partner with their companies and schools, and encourage co-workers, classmates, and friends, to each contribute $5 or more to the Jimmy Fund. In exchange, they “Dress for Sox-cess” by wearing Boston Red Sox gear to work or school on Friday, 08 April, when the Sox take on the New York Yankees at Fenway Park for their home opener. The top fundraising company and school (K-12, college or university) are each eligible for a visit from Wakefield or Buchholz, if located within two-hour travel distance from Boston.

This year’s event adds a new twist: up for grabs are two Wild Card visits. Each team that raises $5,000 or more is eligible to win one of two visits from Wakefield or Buchholz (see full contest rules at

In five years, Rally Against Cancer has raised $1.9 million to support the fight against cancer at Dana-Farber. This year, the program hopes to raise $500,000. For more information about Rally, please visit

The Jimmy Fund supports Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, helping to raise funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research and improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world. It is an official charity of the Boston Red Sox, as well as the official charity of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, and the Variety Children’s Charity of New England. Since 1948, the generosity of millions of people has helped the Jimmy Fund ( save countless lives and reduce the burden of cancer.

Did You Know? – Tim Wakefield

Since 1995, there has been one consistent presence in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse: pitcher Tim Wakefield, who currently stands as the longest tenured player in the organization. Oddly enough, he might never have seen a big league diamond if it weren’t for his ability to throw the knuckleball, a pitch that has almost no spin in flight, which causes it to float erratically from the pitcher’s hand into the catcher’s mitt. Drafted as an infielder by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988, a scout pulled him aside and told him that he didn’t have what it took to be a positional player above Double-A ball. Determined to play in the majors, Wakefield eventually punched his ticket as a mound jockey, pitching the ball in the same manner as Hall-of-Fame pitchers Hoyt Wilhelm, Phil Niekro, and Jesse Haines. After enjoying moderate success with the Pirates, struggles on the mound eventually led to his release; less than a week later, just as the strike-shortened 1995 season began, he signed as a free agent with Boston, where he has remained for 14 seasons, now the longest tenure of any pitcher in franchise history.

Through his last start Friday night against Toronto, an eventual 7-0 win over the Blue Jays, Wakefield has a record of 163-144 with an ERA of 4.32 and 1681 strikeouts in 364 career starts and 501 total appearances as a pitcher in Boston. He also owns 22 saves, including 15 he collected in 1999 after then-closer Tom Gordon went down with an injury at mid-season and before Derek Lowe was moved to that role by manager Jimy Williams. His win total puts him third in franchise history behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young, both with 192, and his total appearances ranks him second behind Bob Stanley, who had 637 trips to the mound over 13 seasons with the club. He is also third in innings pitched (2568-1/3), second in strikeouts with 1786, and second in games started with 364. Unfortunately, he also owns some less-desirable marks with the club, including the most home runs allowed (342), walks allowed (961), losses (144), and wild pitches (95).

Today In History – Pedro Martinez Debuts with Win in Oakland

01 April 1998 – On this day ten years ago, Pedro Martinez makes his debut with the Boston Red Sox, strikes out 11 batters, and allows only three hits in a 2-0 win over the Athletics in Oakland. Martinez, who had pitched the previous four seasons in Montreal, had signed as a free agent with Boston over the off-season in a deal that guaranteed six years and $72.7 million, with a club option for a seventh season at $17.5 million. The previous season, he had posted 17 wins in 31 starts with a 1.90 ERA and 305 strikeouts, easily winning the National League Cy Young award. With the game starting late on the West Coast at 10:40 PM ET, Martinez set down the first eleven batters he faced before giving up a line-drive single to left field to Ben Grieve. The only real threat came in the seventh when back-to-back singles followed by a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out; however, facing his last two batters of the night, Martinez struck out catcher A.J. Hinch and center fielder Jason McDonald to keep Oakland off the board. Darren Bragg provided the only run the Red Sox would need in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Darren Lewis, and John Valentin added an insurance run in the seventh with a sac fly that plated Bragg.

Martinez would go on to finish second in the American League Cy Young vote that season behind former Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, posting a 19-7 record with a 2.89 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 33 starts. The following year, he joined Randy Johnson as the first pitchers to win a Cy Young award in both leagues, the first of two consecutive awards for the ace. In seven seasons with Boston, Martinez would win 117 games against 37 losses, post a 2.52 ERA, and strike out 1683 batters in nearly 1400 innings of work. He would also be part of the club in 2004 that won Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 years, winning Game Three of the series against the St. Louis Cardinals with seven scoreless innings of work. Through 2007, his won-loss percentage of .760 puts him first in franchise history, his win total puts him tied for sixth, and his strikeout total puts him second behind Clemens, though just three ahead of current Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield.

Lester Named 2007 Tony Conigliaro Award Honoree

After overcoming a cancer diagnosis in 2006 to pitch for the Red Sox in 2007, southpaw Jon Lester was honored on Wednesday with the 2007 Tony Conigliaro Award. The honor is given to players who have overcome an obstacle and adversity and is named after the former Boston outfielder who was tragically struck by an errant pitch in 1967 but returned to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors in 1969. He played another full season for Boston before the effects of the pitch on his vision forced him to retire shortly into the 1971 season; however, he then made an abbreviated comeback with the Sox in 1975 and got a hit in his first at-bat on Opening Day at Fenway Park. Sadly, the East Boston native suffered a massive heart attack in early 1982 while interviewing for a broadcast position with the Sox and passed away eight years later at age 45 in 1990.

Lester, who was 4-0 in 12 starts this season and won the decisive Game Four of the World Series for the Sox, started 15 games in 2006 and posted a 7-2 record before doctors discovered a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late August 2006 during a physical that followed a minor car crash nearly two weeks earlier that month. Following treatment, CT scans a few months later showed that the cancer was in remission, and the young pitcher joined his teammates in Fort Myers the following spring. Lester then started the season for the Greenville Drive, a Red Sox Single-A affiliate, before moving to Triple-A Pawtucket in late April. In mid-June, Boston removed Lester from the disabled list but kept him in Pawtucket to continue his rehabilitation. Nearly a month later, with his parents watching on from the stands at Jacobs Field, he made his first major league start of 2007 on July 23 against the Indians in Cleveland, going six full innings and allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out six and picking up his first win in nearly a year.

In the post-season, Lester made two relief appearances in the American League Championship Series versus Cleveland and pitched a total of 3-2/3 innings, giving up two runs on three hits. Lester was then given the ball to start Game Four of the World Series against Colorado in place of veteran Tim Wakefield, who had been left off the series roster due to back problems. He responded by keeping the Rockies off the board in 5-2/3 innings while yielding just three hits and three walks and striking out three; he eventually earned the series-clinching win for Boston as the team celebrated its second championship in four seasons.

Lester is the second Boston player to be honored; former pitcher Bret Saberhagen, who came back from serious shoulder injuries to win 15 games for the Red Sox in 1998, received the award that same season. The following year, current Boston third baseman and 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell was honored after being treated for testicular cancer in spring training and returning to average .258 while collecting 12 home runs and 47 RBI for the Florida Marlins over the final four months of the 1999 season.

Start Me Up!

When the news broke that Red Sox pitchers Curt Schilling and David Wells, considered the number one and three starters in the rotation, respectively, would miss weeks due to injury, Boston had lost four-of-five and was falling far behind Baltimore and Toronto in the East. Never mind the fact that the Yankees who, with a rotation spearheaded by Randy Johnson that looked so good on paper to begin the season, had slipped nearly into last place alongside Tampa Bay; suddenly the Sox were scrambling to replace these two players and held hope that free agent acquisition Wade Miller, still a week away from joining the rotation after rotator cuff surgery last season, would be ready to immediately jump into the fire. With the odds stacked against them, would it be possible to stay afloat near the top of the standings, or would the Sox slowly sink down into the depths with New York while the division turned upside-down?

As they did last fall when the team was down to its last outs in the American League Championship Series in October, it was the unlikely of heroes who turned around the fortunes of the team. Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts, and Bill Mueller have morphed into Tim Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo, and Matt Clement with support from relative unknown Geremi Gonzalez, journeyman John Halama, and Miller. Since losing in Texas on 29 April to start a seven-game road tripe, the team has won ten-of-twelve, including five-of-six at home in the last week, and gone from an even .500 to a record of 23-15; on top of that, the rotation has won eight starts in that same span.

Wakefield, the longest-tenured member of the club, won two starts, including number 118 with the Sox on Monday; that put him in sole possession of fifth-place all time for wins in a Red Sox uniform. He allowed just three runs in each of his two starts and lasted better than six innings in both games; that improved his record to 4-1 while giving Boston enough opportunity to better Detroit and Oakland.

Arroyo, who many thought would be forced back to the bullpen once Miller joined the staff, was even better and is making a case to keep the number five spot. In three starts, he allowed just five runs, four earned, on 11 hits and six walks while striking out 17 in 21-2/3 innings of work. His record on the season is a perfect 4-0 and those three starts dropped his ERA more than a run to 2.91; even more impressive, Boston has not lost in his last 16 starts going back to last 15 August.

Clement, the new kid on the block, is looking like another gamble by general manager Theo Epstein that’s paid off in dividends. He’s won two of his last three starts and would have earned his fifth win on Wednesday to lead the staff in that department were it not for a ninth-inning meltdown by closer Keith Foulke. In 20 innings, Clement’s efforts have been nearly identical to Arroyo’s; he’s allowed five runs, four earned, on 14 hits and six walks while striking out 14. With a record of 4-0, his ERA has also dropped a run in that span to 3.06.

Of course, the efforts of the other starters cannot be overlooked, either. Gonzalez, who was plucked from the minors after Schilling went down, has pitched no less than five innings in two starts, allowed just six runs on ten hits and three walks while striking out 13 batters, and has one win to his credit. Halama, in his one start, allowed just two runs on four hits in five innings of work while striking out two for the win. Miller, who started Sunday against Seattle in the second game of a double-header, allowed just two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out six in a no-decision.

Look at it another way: in those twelve games, the starters have pitched 70-1/3 innings, an average of just under six innings of work, and allowed just 23 earned runs for a 2.94 ERA. When you count just Wakefield, Arroyo, and Clement, the averaged just under seven innings of work and 2.30 runs in each start. Without looking through the numbers, I’m sure that there are several teams in both leagues that would love to have three starters in their rotation matching those figures.

That’s not to say that the Red Sox aren’t looking forward to when Schilling and Wells both return from the disabled list. Schilling, who was brought to Boston before last season to make good on the promise to bring a long-awaited championship to this club, is the anchor of the staff and should be a key ingredient to another run. Wells, who may return sooner than expected from his sprained right ankle, has proven already that he still has what it takes to win ball games. It’s hard to imagine that this run of quality starts by Red Sox pitchers would carry through the season without these two returning to the rotation. Still, if Boston is to return to post-season play, fans will look back on the season and remember this key stretch at a time when the odds seemed out-of-favor for the Red Sox.

A Season By The Book

As the final out was recorded the other night in Minnesota, eliminating the Twins from post-season contention, another chapter in the book written by the baseball gods ended. Then, the page was turned to discover a chapter that seemed just like the one that began around the same time last October. To the surprise of no one who has followed the drama of another storied season, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will square off, beginning Tuesday night, in a seven-game series that will determine who will raise the championship pennant and represent the American League in the World Series. This stage is ready, the house lights have been dimmed, the orchestra has taken its cue, and two baseball titans are ready to clash; in the end, one will emerge bloodied but victorious, having disposed of a hated rival in a battle that may even surpass what was witnessed only a season ago.

Last year, it was New York third baseman Aaron Boone, a third-generation ball player, who strolled to the plate in the bottom of the eleventh at Yankee Stadium and, with one swing of the bat, launched a pitch from Tim Wakefield deep into the night. That one moment sent the storied House That Ruth Built into a frenzy, Yankee fan and ballplayer alike, while the sullen Boston nine slowly made their way back into the clubhouse, realizing just how close they came to crowning a dream season. Only three innings before, they had the game cinched with a 5-2 lead and five outs to go; all of that changed when ex-skipper Grady Little, in a moment that will vilify him through the end of his days, allowed Pedro Martinez to stay out on that pitcher’s mound when he was clearly out of gas and surrender the lead in the blink of an eye.

Since that fateful day nearly 51 weeks ago, much has been written in regards to the respect and the hatred that these two teams demonstrate for each other. There has been plenty to fill up the notepad of every beat writer and to converse about on the sports radio and television shows. Whether it was key trades made to bolster what were already powerful lineups, angry exchanges between the front offices, or on-field action that rode like a roller coaster at Six Flags, there was enough drama and excitement created by the teams and the media that fans couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement. It seemed that, no matter how the chapters unfolded during the season, it was as if these two teams were meant from the beginning to be where they stand today, ready to take on the other in a climatic battle.

Now, those nineteen meetings in the regular season are but a distant memory. Regardless whether one team bettered the other, all of that gets thrown out the window and the season begins anew. In comparison, the divisional series were a cakewalk that needed to be made in order to reach this point, with no disrespect meant towards the Twins and the Anaheim Angels, who must now watch from the sidelines like every other AL team. The play on the field now rises to a different level, as both teams know that tomorrow only comes with continued success. A single play might mean the difference on the scoreboard. Every managerial decision, right or wrong, will come under intense scrutiny. All the want, the desire, and the aspirations of a championship must now be decided in the confines of two storied stadiums that house two storied franchises; this has all the makings of a classic saga that was destined by the fates.

2004 Mid-Season Review

Well, you certainly cannot look back on the first half of the season and wonder if it would have been the Yankees that were seven games back at the break and thinking wild card had the Red Sox had the lineup that was drawn on paper by Theo Epstein during the off-season. However, even as it stands, Boston enjoyed what, for many teams, would have been a successful first half: ten games above .500 and poised to make a run at a playoff spot in October. There are 76 games left to play in the 2004 season; as we enjoy the All-Star break, we look back on the studs and duds of the first 86 games.

Team MVP: Manny Ramirez
First runner-up: Curt Schilling

Even though this is his fourth season in Boston, it almost seems like we are meeting Ramirez for the first time, and the faithful are enjoying his company. The suddenly easygoing left fielder is enjoying a banner year: his .344 batting average, 26 home runs, and 77 RBI are tops on his team and have him at or near the top of the American League leader board. Not only is he a legitimate AL MVP at this point, he has a chance to become the first batting Triple Crown winner in nearly forty years. It’s hard to imagine that he was nearly sent packing over the winter; never have the cheers been louder when he comes to the plate or he makes a sensational catch in left field.

Team Goat: Derek Lowe
First runner-up: Kevin Millar

Perhaps he feels that he is being picked on, but Lowe has certainly not carried himself well enough on the field to be worthy of a multiyear deal that his agent, Scott Boras, is looking to get him this off-season in the $11 million per year range. His ERA of 5.57 is one and a half runs per nine innings higher that Tim Wakefield‘s as a starter. His seven wins do not look good next to eight losses in seventeen starts. It’s true that his defense has not always been there to support him; the 21 unearned runs scored against him are the most on the team. Still, he should be doing better than this and he knows it; hopefully we will see him turn things around in the second half.

Biggest Surprise: Pokey Reese
First runner-up: Johnny Damon

When Boston signed this two-time Gold Glove winner, they knew that they should expect greatness in the field and he has not disappointed. If you went through a reel highlighting the ten best plays of the first half by the Red Sox defense, we’re certain that he would be in better than half of those. With a career .250 batting average, you would not expect him to contribute much at the plate, but he has driven in 26 and scored 50 runs. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we will see him anywhere but in the number nine spot in the lineup and, with Nomar Garciaparra back from injury, his playing time will be limited, but everyone knows how valuable he’s been to this team; those cheers for him whenever he comes to bat are backed with respect for his efforts.

Biggest Disappointment: Cesar Crespo
First runner-up: Byung-Hyun Kim

He was given ample opportunity to prove his worth and, by his own admittance, he blew it. In 79 plate appearances, Crespo batted .165 while driving in just two runs, never walked, and struck out 20 times. Perhaps you can argue that, given his limited playing time, he never had a chance to find his groove. Explain then how Doug Mirabelli, with seven less plate appearances, hit .306 with seven home runs and plated 17 runners. Sorry, but when you wear a major league uniform, you have to player like you belong.

Second Half Outlook
Let the good times roll!

It’s well known by anyone who had followed Boston this season that, after a 15-6 start, the Red Sox barely maintained a .500 pace (33-32) while New York surged from 4-1/2 games back at one point to seven games ahead in first place. The second half is not going to be any easier as Boston will play 24 games in 25 days following the All-Star break. This includes a trip out west, then three games in two days at Fenway against that pesky Baltimore, followed by a weekend home series against the rival Yankees, then ended with two weeks on the road against Baltimore, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Detroit.

At the moment, they also stand one game ahead of Oakland in the wild card race. Knowing that, it doesn’t mean that Boston could not pile on the wins in the second half and surge past New York into first place in the AL East. However, the point is to make it to October and perhaps the collective energy of the Red Sox is better spent trying to stay ahead of the wild card rivals. They have enough strength in the starting lineup and depth in the bench that they should be able make a run for that elusive World Series title.

As a side note, don’t forget that this might be the last chance to see Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, two recent Red Sox legends, playing in a Boston uniform. Without a doubt, one or both of these fine players will be gone at the end of the season. Say what you will about them, but they have enjoyed some sensational years here and are have contributed mightily to the recent success of the Red Sox. We don’t know yet just how much we will miss either of them.