Few are Red Sox fans who forget the Bobby Valentine nightmare of 2012. Hired as the Red Sox manager following the September 2011 debacle, Valentine’s divide-and-conquer style toxified an injury-wracked, confidence-impaired team.
Just when you thought there could be nothing more shocking, stupid, or staggering coming out of Fenway Park, the Red Sox and the Orioles had do go and do something completely unexpected Thursday night. They went out and played a baseball game. Just baseball. Nobody tried yet again to re-enact The Wild Ones.
The good news from Boston Wednesday: Manny Machado got to play a game against the Red Sox without one pitch sailing anywhere near him other than around the plate. The bad news: Orioles starter Kevin Gausman couldn’t resist opening the second inning by throwing the first pitch at Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts’s hind quarters.
Someone needs to read these Red Sox the riot act. Or, at least, Tuesday night starting pitcher Chris Sale. First, Sale joined Fenway Park fans in showing Adam Jones of the Orioles some respect his first time up, in the top of the first, after Monday’s disgrace. Then, when Manny Machado batted right after Jones, same inning, Sale tried to kneecap Machado with a pitch.
It’s safe to say people expected a little heat between the Red Sox and the Orioles at Fenway Park this week, considering the doings of two weekends ago. But I’m not sure what happened during Monday night’s skirmish—which the Orioles won, 5-2—was quite what they had in mind.
I wonder if anyone noticed something during the Red Sox-Orioles series ender Sunday. Not Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes trying to decapitate Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the eighth inning, but the way the Orioles handled the would-be brain scrambler.
They did nothing.
Machado, who isn’t exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to confronting pitchers he thinks get out of line with him, didn’t move a muscle toward Barnes.
Both American League Championship Series combatants get there by way of division series sweeps. For the Indians it had to be a little extra special to get there by sweeping the Red Sox.
Twelve years ago Indians manager Terry Francona managed an entirely different club of Red Sox to the Promised Land the franchise hadn’t seen since a kid named Ruth was in the starting rotation.
Attention, Buck Showalter. Pull up a chair, Mike Matheny. Join up, any other manager who thinks there’s no such thing as using your best relief pitchers in any situation other than closing it out when you take a lead to the ninth.
Class was in session in Cleveland’s Progressive Field Thursday night. Schoolmaster, Indians manager Terry Francona. Lecturers, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Special guest victims, the Red Sox.
Vin Scully ended his broadcasting career in the home ballpark of the Dodgers’ age-old rivals, receiving an affectionate pre-game visit from Willie Mays, awash in a sea of placards (THANK YOU VIN) and maybe the only known standing ovation ever afforded a Dodger in San Francisco. His final words were as gracious as you might have expected from this excessively modest man who always seemed to believe his gift from God was merely something on loan.
Thirty years ago, the Mets and the Red Sox locked in mortal baseball combat, in a World Series. It ended with the Mets on top of a baseball world that didn’t necessarily love that edition of the team, and the Red Sox having been kicked to the rocks below after having gotten close enough, yet again, to a Promised Land determined never to let them set foot upon it again, or so it seemed.