Game 41 vs. Texas Rangers: Doug Mirabelli

The 2015 Red Sox continue to struggle to find their footing and put everything together. The pitching is beginning to come around, and the hitters are getting on base...but they're still not quite figuring everything out yet. They're still struggling to get above .500 and get the victory machine rolling.

The Red Sox have stranded 24 runners on base through the first two games against the Rangers, including 8 in the final 4 innings of last night's game. Simply put, they're missing some umph. Umph isn't even a word, but it's what the Red Sox are missing. They are missing either their mojo, or the sense of urgency, or a simple mentality to get fired up. It's not just this Texas Rangers series, it's the 2015 season. The season of malaise continues.

This in a stark contrast from 10 years ago, when every minor details about the Red Sox roster was ripe with excitement. It peaked with Doug Mirabelli. Up until the point where he was a backup for the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers, there wasn't much to get excited about.

Then he became Tim Wakefield's binky. The man could catch the knuckler like no other, and prevent passed balls and wild pitches like a champ. He became a beloved member of the team by the fans, in a role that otherwise nobody ever notices. His single job became a backdrop for the greatest Day In The Life every created, which centered around Dougie's Going Deep Tonight!

The era of Doug Mirabelli reached its apex on May 1, 2006. The Red Sox had traded Mirabelli to the San Diego Padres for Mark Loretta, and Tim Wakefield struggled mightily without the knuckle whisperer.  On May 1st, Mirabelli was reacquired from the Padres, and Mirabelli received a police escort to Fenway Park in time for Tim Wakefield's start against the New York Yankees. Of course it was the Yankees! This truly was the crazy times of the Red Sox rivalry. The Red Sox won that day, and Mirabelli shored up Wakefield's 2006 season after starting the season with a 1-4 start. 

What does Doug Mirabelli have to do with the 2015 Red Sox? Nobody knows Sandy Leon, nor should they particularly care who Sandy Leon is. He's the backup catcher for the Red Sox, who lost their primary and backup catchers already. Sandy Leon is like the bullpen catcher as far as where he belongs in the depth chart.

The lack of interesting characters wouldn't really mean a lot if the Red Sox were winning. It's only because they're slogging through the season by winning in drips and drabs of victories that there is a focus on the question, "Who are these guys?". 

Their identity hasn't been sorted out yet, and perhaps Sandy Leon is a key to unlocking whatever victorious identity they will have...but currently that's a long shot. Perhaps that'll change. Maybe tonight, Sandy Leon's first start in almost a week, will be the night where things begin to shift.

Game 40 vs. Texas Rangers: Jeff Frye

The Red Sox are entering the first quarter turn of the 2015 season, and there are questions about which direction this team is going. Is David Ortiz old? Is Mike Napoli washed up? What's with this pitching staff? It's almost like they're like a patching staff instead. Patching a win here or there, just hanging on. They just wrapped up their longest road trip with five wins and five losses, and find themselves one victory under .500.

So, what's next? Is Napoli really toast? Is Ortiz just finally old? Napoli and Ortiz went deep last night, and this was after Napoli and Dustin Pedroia had a mid flight heart to heart where Pedroia told Napoli to focus on the stuff he can do, not the stuff he can't.

What was that conversation about? Maybe it was about Jeff Frye defying all odds. Jeff Frye, a guy who missed 2 full seasons and played only 8 seasons at the major league level. What's so special about Jeff Frye? Despite missing key seasons in his career, despite being bumped out of his role by Jose Offerman, despite only hitting 16 career home runs, Jeff Frye was a winner.

What kind of winner? Jeff Frye was at the end of his career when he hit for the cycle as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. A feat as rare as a no hitter, and Jeff Frye locked himself into a list of players that undoubtedly rests somewhere in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Hitting for the cycle is one thing. Hitting for the cycle when you have 16 career home runs in over 2,000 at bats. More than two thirds of Frye's hits were singles. He only had 11 career triples.  

On August 17, 2001, Jeff Frye made history when he hit for the cycle. He only played in six more games after his epic performance. His cycle featured his last major league career home run, double, and triple. He hit five more singles in his remaining games, but he came damn close to hitting for the cycle and dropping the mic. 

How does this all connect to David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, and the 2015 Red Sox? Jeff Frye probably saw that the end was near in 2001. His numbers had decreased, so he made the best of his time and made history on August 17. He was on his way out, but he made a statement that he wasn't done until he decided. 

Chances are, Napoli and Ortiz and the 2015 Red Sox are not done. They have at least a cycle left in them. In ten days we might be laughing off the notion that this year's Red Sox are toast. Hopefully the laughing begins with another win tonight.

Game 39 vs. Texas Rangers: Mike Stanton

Sometimes a player is in the right place at the right time. Mike Stanton is just that player. He found himself on the New York Yankees in 1997, his fourth team in three years. At that point he hadn't quite put it together. Then suddenly everything clicked. It happened to occur at the same time the Yankees launches their epic World Series run between 1998-2000. 

It didn't start out that easy for Stanton. In 1995 he was traded to the Red Sox from the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. The Braves went on to win their only World Series title that season, while Stanton's Red Sox were swept out of the 1995 ALDS by the Cleveland Indians. Exactly one year later Stanton was traded to the Texas Rangers, a team that was charging towards their first postseason appearance. 

The Texas Rangers had the same fate as Stanton's Red Sox, except they managed to pull out a single victory against the 1996 Yankees in the ALDS series loss. 

It makes sense that Mike Stanton went on to join the Evil Empire. If you can't beat them, you might as well join them.

The Red Sox and Rangers are both struggling to pull themselves above the .500 mark. The Rangers are at least above .500 for the month of May. The Red Sox just reached .500 for the month with their last victory. Of course, the Red Sox did just go 5-5 on a road trip that took them north of the border and then to the west coast. 

Chances are the Red Sox need this series to turn out well for them, as approaching the quarter mark of the season with a middling .500 team isn't going to work out for a full season. At this point, the phrase Small Sample Size begins to wear off. There is some time left, but not a whole helluva lot.

 

Game 38 vs. Seattle Mariners: Robert Petagine

Roberto Petagine had 233 career home runs, three gold gloves, two batting titles, and an MVP award under his belt. He also managed to go almost seven years without a home run at the major league level.

You see, Petagine was a player who logged five mediocre years in MLB before taking his talents to Japan, where he became an offensive juggernaut over the course of six seasons. The Red Sox took a flyer on Petagine prior to the 2005 season, but between ability and injuries, he never duplicated the numbers he displayed in Japan.

Taking a look at Petagine's home run log, it's amazing to consider that he went 2,512 days between MLB home runs. 

Petagine didn't work out for the Red Sox, and he was let go before the 2006 season. The Seattle Mariners took a flyer on Petagine, much like the Sox did, and this time Petagine made sure he didn't go 2,512 days without another home run. His first home run came in his first at bat with Seattle. It was also his final homer with Seattle and at the major league level. 

Petagine returned to Japan for one more season and added 10 homers to his career numbers there. 

The Red Sox and Mariners are both currently under .500, but the Red Sox started the road trip off in last place. They're now in 3rd place. Sure, it doesn't mean a lot at Game #38, but it shows some promise. There is no Roberto Petagine-type player in either lineup today, but Daniel Nava is still searching for his first home run of the season. He's way off from the 2,512 days without a home run, but it'd be a nice thing if he ended his home run drought with a home run or two today.

 

Game 37 vs. Seattle Mariners: Jose Offerman

In November of 1998, the Red Sox officially kicked off the Jose Offerman Era. Mo Vaughn wouldn't re-sign, so the Red Sox went after Offerman. Offerman was great in his first season with the Red Sox. Then, it went downhill, fast.

By 2002 the Red Sox were able to ship Offerman off to the Seattle Mariners as part of a conditional deal. There's not a lot of information to explain what exactly a conditional deal is. It doesn't say the Mariners paid for Offerman. It doesn't say he was a player to be named in an earlier deal. There's nothing, anywhere, to suggest what a conditional deal is.

Maybe the Red Sox sent Offerman to Seattle as a peace offering. A 'sorry' for the bamboozle they pulled with regard to acquiring Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. 

Little did Seattle or Boston know that Offerman's most infamous moments were still ahead of him. Between his assault on another player in an independent league game in Connecticut, and his assault on an umpire in a Dominican Republic winter league game, Offerman has kept himself busy. He apparently has not been to the United States since his bat incident, and only recently had his lifetime ban from the DR winter leagues lifted. Interestingly enough, after his ban was lifted, he went on to be the manager of the DR winter league championship team for the 2013-2014 season.

Hopefully the Mariners and Red Sox can avoid any Offerman inspired violence!

Game 36 vs. Seattle Mariners: Thanks For The Help

Let's just run down a few key acquisitions made by the Red Sox that had some dealings with the Seattle Mariners.

July 31, 1997: Seattle Mariners trade Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb. 

August 6, 2003: Boston Red Sox pick Mike Myers up off waivers from Seattle Mariners

February 20, 2013: Boston Red Sox purchase Mike Carp from Seattle Mariners

Lowe and Varitek undoubtedly helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. Mike Myers and Mike Carp were more bit players, but I will consider them as additional gifts from the Seattle Mariners.

Sure, the Red Sox sent Jamie Moyer to Seattle in return for Darren Bragg, but the Mariners didn't win a World Series with Jamie Moyer, so arguably the Red Sox have made it out on top of the trade history between the two teams.

Today's a short post, but that's the way it goes!

Game 35 vs. Seattle Mariners: Larry Andersen / David Ortiz

Since the introduction of the unbalanced schedule and interleague play, the Red Sox and Mariners have only played each other a half dozen times or so over each of the last few years. Back in the 1970's, these teams faced off 10-12 times a year. The Red Sox trip to Seattle this weekend is their only trip. The Mariners will visit Fenway for a three game set in mid-August.

Looking at the players that have worn the uniform of both teams, there are a ton of players with memorable connections to one or both of these franchises. Larry Andersen played two seasons with the Mariners, but he is remembered far more often for being part of the infamous trade that sent Red Sox minor league prospect Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros in 1990. Andersen was great down the stretch for the 1990 Red Sox, but he left as a free agent at the end of the season, while Bagwell went on to hit 449 home runs while winning Rookie of the Year honors and picking up a NL MVP award along the way.

The Seattle Mariners have their own Bagwellian blunder, because they traded David Ortiz to the Twins in 1996 as part of a deal that sent Dave Hollins to the Mariners. Hollins played in just 28 games for the Mariners and left as a free agent. Everybody pokes fun at the Minnesota Twins for letting Big Papi walk, but nobody mentions the fact that Seattle had him to begin with!

Perhaps Big Papi will launch a few more home runs to remind the Mariners of the talent they gave up so easily almost 20 years ago.

Game 34 vs. Oakland Athletics: Scott Hatteberg

Over the last couple of days, Josh Reddick has done a great job making late night Red Sox fans scratch their heads and ask, "This guy is great! Why can't we get guys like that--oh wait. We had him". 

Ah yes. Another one of those players that leaves Boston and flourishes with their new teams. Of course, Josh Reddick was traded years ago. Nobody could have predicted that he would hit 32 bombs in his first year! He hasn't duplicated his first season as a member of the A's, but he's doing his best to do so in 2015. 

It seems the Athletics and Red Sox have a had a bunch of players change sides to the benefit of the team they're joining. Josh Reddick joins a line of players that have helped improve the team they joined, but haven't yet reached the top of the baseball world. Scott Hatteberg is another ballplayer who helped turn things around for the Athletics after starting his career off with the Red Sox.

Hatteberg is an interesting case, because in his last season with the Red Sox he ruptured a tendon in is elbow and effectively couldn't throw a ball. When he joined the Athletics he became a first baseman to limit the throwing he needed to do. His shift to first resulted in a career resurgence, and becoming the poster boy for A's GM Billy Beane's Moneyball focus on sabermetrics. In particular, Hatteberg's ability to get on base was praised greatly. 

So, over four seasons with the A's Hatteberg got on base, hit some home runs, and helped get the A's continue their postseason resurgence in the early 2000's. Unfortunately for Hatteberg and the Athletics, the team failed to get beyond the Divisional Series for four straight years. By the time the A's reached the ALCS, Hatteberg had taken his talents to Cincinnati. 

Hatteberg and Reddick are similar in another way. Both players watched their former teams go on their way to a World Series win in the same season their own team failed to make it very far despite being members of teams built using the Moneyball focus.

The hope here is the Red Sox can finally win a series tonight. Something that seemingly has become elusive.

Game 33 vs. Oakland Athletics: Orlando Cabrera

Did you hear? Nomar was traded!

Wait, what? The Cubs, Expos,  and Twins were involved? Who is the new shortstop?

By the time the dust settled on the eight player, four team July 31 deadline deal, Nomar Garciaparra was a member of the Chicago Cubs, Orlando Cabrera was the new shortstop, and the guy from the Twins with the last name that nobody could spell was now on the team.

This was just one of the many thoughts running through the minds of Red Sox fans at the trade deadline in July, 2004. Nomar's departure was imminent, but at the same time no one really expected one of the faces of the franchise to be traded off. At the same time, nobody could have predicted what the haul that was brought back would offer the Red Sox down the stretch. 

Though Cabrera had a bunch of errors, his range improved the shortstop position, and Doug Mientkiewicz shored up defense at first base. More importantly, Orlando Cabrera became a fan favorite and solid offensive contributor as well. Despite not having any prior playoff experience, Cabrera had 11 hits in 29 at bats during the 2004 ALCS. Put simply, the trade from that July changed everything for the Red Sox. The team won 42 games and lost 19 during the rest of the season following the trade. 

Orlando Cabrera was involved in a trade where it was sort of like catching lightning in a bottle. After just 58 games with the Red Sox he signed a four year deal with the LA Angels of Anaheim. Over the next eight seasons there were several teams that acquired or signed Cabrera with hopes of catching lightning in bottle again. Cabrera's clubs went on to reach the postseason in five different seasons, but neither he nor the teams that employed him were able to come close to the success that the Red Sox had when they acquired OCab from the Montreal Expos.

The Red Sox unloaded Edward Mujica on the Oakland Athletics for cash considerations or a player to be named later. It's doubtful that a future player to be named later will be the next Orlando Cabrera, or even the next Bobby Kielty. However, you never know. Nobody knew that Cabrera or Kielty would play the roles they did when they first arrived on the scene. Perhaps the Red Sox will luck out once again, and lightning will strike!

Game 32 vs. Oakland Athletics: Bobby Kielty

You know the old baseball saying, that sometimes a player needs a change of scenery to jumpstart their careers or clear their heads or just get things right. The Red Sox optioned Allen Craig and Robbie Ross to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox after both players continued their woes. This came after firing the pitching coach and releasing the worst pitcher in the bullpen. The Red Sox are in the midst of trying to find actions or events to spark a team that has lost much more often than it has won recently.

Chances are, we haven't seen the last of Ross or Craig, but there's always the chance these guys regain their ability and the Red Sox ship them out via trade. Bobby Kielty's career with the Oakland Athletics seemed to ebb and flow, sometimes due to injury, other times due to his increasingly wavering abilities as a ballplayer.

By the time the Red Sox signed Bobby Kielty, he was coming off a lost season of only 13 games with the 2007 Athletics. Things didn't improve drastically for Kielty, as he his .231 in 20 games at the tail end of the World Series bound 2007 Red Sox season. The thing is, Bobby Kielty's career ended at the near peak that any player can imagine.

Perhaps the Red Sox knew what they had in Bobby Kielty when they picked him up off the scrap heap in August of that year, but Kielty became a huge component of the 2007 postseason team. Despite his role as a fourth outfielder, Kielty absolutely owned CC Sabathia in their career matchup. In 34 career at bats, he had 11 hits off Sabathia including two home runs. Kielty had 2 hits and a walk against Sabathia in the ALCS, knocking in 2 runs. He saved his biggest hit for the World Series, though.

Kielty pinch hit for Mike Timlin in Game 4 of the World Series vs. the Colorado Rockies. He faced off against Brian Fuentes. In his first and last World Series at bat, and also his last at bat as a major league ballplayer, Kielty cranked a home run in the top of the 8th inning. His home run proved to be the game winning shot as the Sox won 4-3. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steven Wright were called up to replace Ross and Craig, but there's no sure bet that either will draw upon the mystique and aura of a Kielty-ian summer. Perhaps I'll be wrong. Perhaps they'll both contribute to a turnaround that begins tonight in Oakland.

Game 31 vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Off Day Blues(Part 3)

Frank Viola and Darren Oliver  were a bit opposite in the directions they were coming from and going to. At the crux of it, neither were defining players with the Red Sox or Blue Jays. Neither of their arrivals or departures made a lick of difference. They were just there, and then they weren't. 

The same can't be said for David Wells. David Wells never went anywhere quietly. Maybe this was because he saw the rise of success and then saw it abruptly ripped away from him more than once. The first time he won a World Series with the Blue Jays, the team released him in the spring the following year. He joined the Tigers and spent parts of three years with the middling AL Central team. The Reds picked him up for their stretch run in 1995, though the team fell short in the NLCS. The following year he found himself on the Baltimore Orioles and in the thick of a playoff run once again. Failing once again, his O's were knocked out of the ALCS by the New York Yankees.

The O's didn't retain Wells, but he found himself with the team of his all time favorite player, Babe Ruth. Despite finishing third in Cy Young balloting in 1998 and the ALCS MVP that year, the Yankees traded Wells to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens. Wells won another ring with the Yanks, but just as quickly, he was dispatched to oblivion. By 1999 the Blue Jays were medioce again. Wells won 37 games over 2 seasons for the third place Blue Jays, before being shipped out again. He ended up on the Yankees once again in 2002, but by then the dynasty that won 4 titles in 5 years had begun to become unglued. 

Wells went on to change teams a few more times, including his 2005 stint with the unsuccessful run by the reigning World Series Champion Red Sox. That was one of the weirdest sights. David Wells, wearing number three on the mound at Fenway. It seemed he ended up on teams right after their recent success, or he was being jettisoned soon after that success.

Maybe Juan Nieves and Edward Mujica will have successful tenures elsewhere. Maybe the Red Sox are about to acquire the next David Wells(1997-2000 era!) and straighten the Red Sox Pitching Staff Ship. One can only hope!

Game 30 vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Off Day Blues(Part 2)

On Thursday the Red Sox front office sent a message when they fired Juan Nieves. Perhaps it was a message that they're sick and tired of watching the pitching staff get beat around like a bunch of indy league players. Perhaps they were just trying to save a failing experiment.

One thing is for sure, they were sending a message. Proof is in the fact that Edward Mujica was sent packing along with Juan Nieves. Since it was an off day, and the Sox were heading to Toronto for a series with the Blue Jays, do you think Mujica and Nieves were at least relieved that they didn't have to go through customs? It's unclear if Mujica's 4.61 ERA would set off any alarms as he passed through the border. 

At the time of his release, Mujica was, numbers-wise, the worst performing member of the 2015 Red Sox bullpen. No one else came close that had any regular playing time. The closest to the worst, Robbie Ross, has a sub 4.00 ERA. However, releasing Mujica sends a clear message to Red Sox players. Sure, the coach is taking some blame, but sucking isn't going to work for long. The message is pretty clear. Suck less. Do better. Play like you're not a recovering last place team. 

There will probably be players looking over their shoulders. Clay Buchholz, tomorrow's starter, better hope the Red Sox don't decide to leave him in Toronto if he throws another stinker. The positional players are probably safe. Mike Napoli and Allen Craig aren't doing so well, but they're also not crippling the Red Sox chances every time they hit the field. Okay, that might be up for debate.

Frank Viola played for the Red Sox and Blue Jays. By the time he joined the Red Sox he was a bit removed from his Cy Young winning, World Series MVP days of the Minnesota Twins, but he also wasn't too bad. He logged over 200 innings, and won 24 games over his first two seasons. Still, if you look at Viola's Wikipedia page, his Red Sox days fall under 'Later Career'. The only highlight was a shared no hitter and ending his third season with the Red Sox by requiring Tommy John surgery. It took Viola into his 'Later Years' to reach Mujica Status. I just made that up. There isn't a real Mujica Status, but it's a real thing. It's that time when a team has decided a player is not quite good enough. That they're actually better off without the player being around. Viola was a World Champion! 

After becoming a free agent is the off season of his final year with the Red Sox, Viola joined the Blue Jays in 1995, though he never played for the team that went on to lose 88 games. The Jays released him from their AAA team, and the Cincinnati Reds game Viola a chance in the late summer reclamation project along the way to the NLCS. Due to giving up 20 hits in 14.1 innings, Viola didn't make the postseason roster and didn't stick with Cincinnati either. His last stop was a second engagement with the Blue Jays. Viola was inserted into the rotation in late April, and was released at the end of May that year. Despite his best efforts, Viola didn't save the 1996 Blues Jays from avoiding another 88 loss season. Viola was essentially Mujica'd. That team didn't seem to learn anything from the dumping of a inadequate player, but then again that team had eleven different pitcher start at least 1 game during the season.

So what's the point here? That players come and go, but whether or not it has any indication as to whether a team is any good for the rest of the season is much murkier. I'm freakin' hoping the Red Sox don't have a Toronto season ahead of them.

Game 29 vs. Toronto Blue Jays: Off Day Blues

Yesterday was supposed to be a regular off day. A day to reflect on the current status of the Red Sox. A day for relaxation. Perhaps a day to think about the New England Patriots and deflated balls.

Juan Nieves, pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox, was fired yesterday, mixing up an otherwise ordinary day. From various corners of the internet there are folks saying Nieves is a scapegoat, that the bigger issue is a bad pitching staff. John Farrell has said that it had to do with leadership more than anything else. 

I don't believe the idea that Juan Nieves is to entirely to blame for the pitching woes of the Red Sox, but I do believe it makes sense to make a statement to the team and mix things up by getting rid of one area that may not be performing at its best. The team can't really fire players(well, they can, but I'll get to that tomorrow), so firing a coach is the best next thing.

The Red Sox pitching staff is adrift. Clay Buchholz has had two starts of greatness, and four starts that cause people to long for the days of Darren Oliver, who mowed down each of the AL East opponents over the course of five starts in 2002. Sure, Oliver's season ERA that year ended at 4.64, but for a brief period he was an AL East Slayer for the Red Sox. Oliver ended his career with two strong seasons as a middle reliver for the Blue Jays. Buchholz's season is nothing like Oliver's one year wonder. Soon after Oliver left Boston, he was converted to a reliever and extended his career by about a decade. Some wonder if Buchholz would benefit from a new scene.

I could go into the rest of the starting rotation, but their numbers speak for themselves. For one off day, it seems it wasn't an off day at all. The Red Sox front office has decided they've seen enough baseball to consider the season has exceeded Short Sample Size stage. Now they're onto the stage of determining whether to shit or get off the pot. 

I don't expect a sudden resurgence with the three game set versus the Blue Jays, but boy it would be nice!

Game 28 vs. Tampa Bay Rays: 1975

Last night the Boston Red Sox celebrated the 1975 AL Champion Red Sox with a Carlton Fisk bobblehead. Throughout the game music from '75 blasted over the speakers throughout Fenway. More than 25 members of the 1975 team were on hand. It's part of a season long celebration of the 40th anniversary of that season.

Fortunately it also marked the end of a Red Sox losing streak. Thanks to Mookie Betts and his two solo home runs, the Red Sox finally stopped the bleeding.  Interestingly enough, Betts is the youngest Red Sox player to hit 2 homers in the same game since Jim Rice did it in 1975. Mookie Betts plays like his hair is on fire. He scampers around the bases like Fred Lynn in his early Red Sox days. Lynn didn't have a lot of speed, but he swiped a bag when he could. 

When I started writing this blog entry, I was going to tie Mookie Betts to Fred Lynn, the 1975 Rookie of The Year. Both center fielders, both fan favorites, both using all of their talents. Then I saw that Mookie Betts was the youngest to slug 2 homers in a game since Rice. Then I wanted to compare him to the Hall of Fame right fielder. Then I didn't think that was fair, as Rice went on to hit 382 home runs. So I considered comparing Betts to Dwight Evans. That's not really fair either. A Should-Be Hall of Famer?

So I decided to link Mookie Betts to 1975. There's a little bit of Lynn, Evans, and Rice in Mookie Betts. Perhaps less Rice, but that remains to be seen. This isn't the first entry to center around Mookie Betts, and I suspect it won't be the last for the 2015 season. Look at the stats of the 1975 team. Wouldn't it be amazing if Mookie Betts turned into even a fraction of the triple headed outfield monster that was the 1975 Red Sox outfield? 

It's only one game, and Betts has only had a few games to look amazing, The 1975 Red Sox didn't have a great April, May, or June. The team turned up late in June and ran with it the rest of the way. The 2015 pitching staff is questionable, but so was the 1975 pitching staff. On the season, no started that year had an ERA below 3.95. 

It provides some hope that the early stumble isn't the precursor of a long drawn out summer of bad baseball. Especially if Mookie Betts has anything to say about it.

Game 27 vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs in the ugly Tampa Bay Devil Rays jersey is almost as jarring as Wade Boggs atop a horse celebrating a New York Yankees World Series title. 

For some Red Sox fans, watching another player wear #26 is jarring each and every time. Brock Holt is the latest in a long line of 26 wearers. In total thirteen other players have worn #26 for the Red Sox since Wade Boggs left town. 

The belief that a number belongs to a certain player after a certain level of fame is reached is strong. Perhaps none stronger than the New York Yankees belief that everybody should have a retired number.  It seems there's some difference in belief, depending on the terms of which a player leaves. Nomar Garciaparra, for instance, wore number 5, which remained unused for five full seasons, and put on mothballs for another three years after Rocco Baldelli's brief time as the wearer of number 5. 

Dwight Evans's #24 went unused for six seasons, and eventually was given to Manny Ramirez. If I were deciding retired numbers, I'd retire #24 in honor of both Dewey and Manny. Number 21 has not been worn by anyone since Roger Clemens following the 1996 season. 

So how did Wade Boggs, arguably one of the top five hitters in Red Sox franchise history, end up with a uniform number so easily discarded to Aaron Sele and Rob Stanifer? Even with an ownership change, Scott Podsednik donned the Boggsian number. Boggs was a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for two seasons, and his number 12 has been retired. What gives?

What Gives? That's the same question we can ask about the 2015 Red Sox. Through 26 games, the man currently wearing Wade Boggs's Red Sox number is tearing up the American League, while playing all over the field. Brock Holt is averaging more than a hit per start, just like his numbersake. Meanwhile, the lowest ERA for the starting rotation is 4.71. The highest is 7.15. Add in the rest of the pitching staff and the team has a 5.04 ERA. 

Yes, it's a small sample size. However, most teams begin establishing whether they need to upgrade their team or downgrade their realistic season expectations by the time June rolls around. This means the team has a few more weeks to work out some kinks, but after five turns through the rotation, signs of worry abound.

The exception is within the scope of #26. Everybody knows Brock Holt is a super star(Brock Star) in the making, Maybe the next Ben Zobrist, even. Just like Wade Boggs. Everybody knew Boggs would smash at the big league level, whether it was during the regular season or the post season. It's too bad Brock Holt hasn't given pitching a shot yet. Wade Boggs did, twice in fact, in 1997 with the Yanks and 1999 with the Devil Rays. Sure, both times he came in for mop-up duty, but he has 2 career strikeouts under his belt. 

If Boggs is any indication, maybe Brock Holt pitching and the magic of 26 holds the answer to winning a ball game!

Game 26 vs. Tampa Bay Rays: Hideo Nomo

It used to be that the Red Sox, coming off the heels of a three game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, could seek respite in the arms of the Tampa Bay Rays after such a weekend. It was a guarantee that the Red Sox would score mightily and the pitching staff would look like a team of All Stars. 

This is no longer the case. The Rays may not be the upstart team they were recently, but they're also not the doormat of a team from yesteryear. Hideo Nomo is not walking through that door.

This is probably partly the Baseball Gods being angry with my lackluster weekend posting performance for the Yankees series. 

When Hideo Nomo came to the Boston Red Sox, he was already well beyond his Rookie of The Year honors in 1995. However, when his first start in a Red Sox uniform was a no hitter followed by another shutout 6 weeks later, it was as if the Red Sox had struck gold. It turns out they were partly right, as Nomo rejoined the Dodgers in 2002 and went on to have consecutive seasons of winning 16 games. 

By 2005, Nomo was back in the AL East, this time with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This time, he was not the man he was with the Red Sox or during either tenure with the LA Dodgers. He was a shell of his former self. Two of his first four starts in 2005 were against the Red Sox, and he was torched for 12 runs on 12 hits in just 8 innings. Nomo also allowed 8 walks. 

The Red Sox need the ghost of Hideo Nomo's Tampa Bay Past to ride into Fenway Park and provide some much needed confidence building for Red Sox hitters. If the Ghost of Hideo Nomo's No Hitting Boston Past wants to help out the current Red Sox pitching staff, I don't think anyone will object. 

Game 25 vs. New York Yankees: Johnny Damon / Jacoby Ellsbury

Beginning in 2003, Johnny Damon became a superstar playing for the Boston Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury exploded onto the scene during the 2007 World Series. In both cases, these guys were larger than life. In both cases, when they joined the New York Yankees, they were assimilated and essentially disappeared. For Johnny Damon, this was largely due to the overshadowing of Derek Jeter, ARod, Robinson Cano, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Jason Giambi. Tough acts to follow. Jacoby Ellsbury's disappearing act was less obvious. Overshadowed by Derek Jeter's Farewell Tour, he also fell behind Brett Gardner and a few others in the realm of popularity, despite being one of the best performers on the team. Perhaps it's also too early to determine if Ellsbury will grow a fan base in NYC. 

The hope here is Jacoby Ellsbury waits another day to do anything to bring the Yankee fans on board, as it'd be nice for the Sox to get away with a Sunday night win.