Thanks to Rupert Murdoch and the jerkoffs at Fox, game forty-four of the season was my first “miss” of the year. And as a result, I didn’t get to watch Jason Varitek almost catch his fifth career no-hitter. But no harm done as Dice got broken in the eighth and history narrowly averted becoming a casualty of Fox’s ridiculous and impenetrable blackout rule.
Can’t say I saw this one coming. Given what Dice did on Monday at Yankee Stadium, you couldn’t feel real confident that he would come out and stuff what is probably a better Philly offense. But “stuffing” was on the menu as Dice reportedly had it all going. To read the post-game words from Varitek and Francona, it sounds as if Dice was looking like the Dice who shut down Toronto on May 11th, with plenty of late movement on his fastball and slider. Moreover, it looks like Philly was waiting for Dice to get wild and it never happened, as evidenced by the fact that Dice rang up 26 called strikes. That tells me Philly’s gameplan was to let Dice work himself into jams and instead, he took advantage by getting ahead.
So all in all, it was an excellent night for Dice. It’s still far too early to put Dice in the “safe” category, but he has thrown two gems in his last three starts and he will be running against easier competition his next time out against KC. He puts up Zeros against the Royals and perhaps the Sox can start thinking about Dice being a solid contributor this season and not an albatross whose future is a giant question mark.
Other thoughts from last night ….
* It’s bad enough that Fox blacks out games every Satruday afternoon. But yesterday, they had to go out and ruin Saturday night so they could broadcast the Champions League final during the afternoon? I didn’t get the memo …. Fox now cares about Soccer? Or did they simply want to goose their putrid ratings by moving the New York game to the night? Message to Fox ….. nobody watches these games anyways so why don’t you give some thought to lifting these silly blackout rules.
* Dustin Pedroia has fallen off a cliff and has just four hits in his last thirty-one at bats. Makes you wonder if that knee bruise, which cost him a start last Sunday, isn’t bothering him just a bit. Oddly, Dustin is hitting much better than normal on the road this year but he is doing NOTHING against left-handers. The upcoming schedule features four road games and four right-handers, so that should bode well except for the fact that two of those righties are named Halladay and Garza.
* Is there any coincidence that Varitek was behind the plate last night and Dice was dealing? Remember, there seemed to be a little issue on Monday between Matsusaka and Martinez. Moreover, Varitek has caught both of Dice’s good games this year. With Beckett out for now, my guess is Tek’s automatic games will come when Dice is on the mound.
* Almost as impressive as Dice’s performance was the fact that the Sox scored five runs without the help of any long balls. And most of last night’s damage came with two outs in the fifth when the Sox strung together three run scoring hits. Drew, Ortiz and Beltre get hat tips for that nice work.
* I’m a bit surprised that Ortiz is not back in the lineup today, with Youkilis at third and Beltre on the bench. Ortiz has decent numbers against Halladay (and Beltre does not) but I guess this says that Youkilis is no longer really in the picture at 3b.
* The Sox are the biggest underdog on the sheet today. +190 against Halladay. Yep bigger than the Astros against David Price. Reverse Lock, anyone?
*FARM REPORT: It wasn’t a great night on the farm as Boof Bonser got crushed before Pawtucket got suspended, Portland dropped two to the Trenton Yanks and Greenville lost a game in 15 innings. But on the bright side, Ryan Kalish had three hits and a bomb, Anthony Rizzo collected a couple of hits for Portland and Oscar Tejeda continued his excellent year with three hits for Salem. But the big star was Salem pitcher Brock Huntzinger, a 2007 draftee, who has now pitched six games in a row without giving up more than two earned runs. Brock’s strikeout numbers aren’t that impressive but he has given up just one home run this season and he seems to be developing nicely.