AP Photo/LM OteroRED SOX- After coming out of the All-Star break with a 5-2 record, including taking 3 out of 4 from the AL Central leading the White Sox, the Red Sox were in for a letdown during the weekend when Toronto swept the 3-game series at Fenway Park where both Jon Lester and Josh Beckett were roughhed up by the Blue Jays.
Things weren't going to get easier with this weeks road trip to Texas and the Bronx. Monday night's game didn't hold alot promise when the Rangers countered a Jarrod Saltalamacchia solo homer with a 4-run bottom of the 3rd and 5 run bottom of the 6th off of Felix Doubront and the Sox bullpen to open up a series with a 9-1 Rangers win.
Coming into Tuesday night's game, the Red Sox were hoping to break a 4-game slide in which they were outscored 37-12. However, Tuesday night's game didn't feature much in the way of offense.
Manager Bobby Valentine decided not to start, putting Kelly Shoppach into the game at catcher. Shoppach got the Sox on the board first after driving in OF Cody Ross home from first with an RBI double off of Rangers starter Martin Perez to make it 1-0 Boston.
However, as Monday night's nationally televised game had demonstrated, a 1-0 lead doesn't last very long in Arlington, TX. After Elvis Andrus hit a 1-out double off of Clay Buchholz in the top of the 6th, he advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch before coming home on a Josh Hamilton groundout to knot the contest up at 1-1.
Things got a little interesting in the bottom of the 8th when Padilla came out of the Sox bullpen in relief of Buccholz. Although Padilla struck out the first batter he faced, he then allowed a single to Elvis Andrus. Although Padilla got Josh Hamilton to strike out, a costly throwing error by Padilla put Andrus on third. Padilla than struck Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre in the helmet, giving Texas runners on first and third with two away [Yorvit Torrealba pinch-ran for Beltre while he underwent examination by the Rangers medical staff- NANESB!]. However, the inning ended for Texas on a Michael Young groundout to short.
In the top of the 9th, Rangers manager Ron Washington made the curious move of putting in closer Joe Nathan in a non-save situation. Although Nathan got the first two batters out, he walked Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was batting for Kelly Shoppach. Previously, Nathan had walked only five batters in 38⅓ innings of work this season. The Red Sox made those walks count when Mike Aviles hit a bloop RBI single to make it 2-1 Boston. Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a ball to deep center field for the 3rd out of the inning.
Alfredo Aceves came on for the bottom of the 9th and got two quick outs before walking Mike Napoli. However, the game ended when Adrian Gonzalez caught a pop foul in along the 1st base line, snapping Boston's 4 game skid. Despite the lopsided losses experienced by the Red Sox since Friday, this was very much a pitchers duel with solid outings by both Buccholz and Perez. Vincente Padilla was credited with the win and now has a 4-0 record.
Wednesday night's game will wrap up the 3-game series at Arlington and has Josh Beckett [5-8; 4.53 ERA] going up against the Rangers Derek Holland [6-5; 4.84 ERA]. The game gets underway at 8:05 ET and will be televised on NESN.
OTHER RED SOX NEWS- The Red Sox have traded infielder Brent Lillibridge to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor-league pitcher Jose De La Torre. Lillibridge came to Boston last month in part of the deal that sent Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox. Used primarily as a late inning defensive replacement, Lillibridge has appeared in 16 games for the Red Sox and was batting .125.
Between the Indians AA affiliate Akron Aeros and the AAA Columbus Clippers of the International League, De La Torre has an 8-1 record and a 2.91 ERA this season.
ELSEWHERE IN MLB- The Seattle Mariners traded outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees after the All Star outfielder waived his no-trade clause on Monday. In exchange for Ichiro, who has played for the Mariners since 2001 when he first came to the major leagues from his native Japan, Seattle recieves pitching prospects DJ Mitchell and Danny Farquahr.
The trade was prompted in part by a season ending injury to Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner after undergoing elbow surgery this month.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS- The Dodgers have reportedly acquired Miami Marlins infielder Hanley Ramierez and reliever Randy Choate in exchange for starter Nathan Eovaldi and pitching prospect Scott McGough.
The slumping Dodgers, who are now 2 and a half games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West standings, are hoping that the All Star shortstop can shake up LA's stagnant offense. Ramierez has been batting .246 with 14 homers and 48 RBI with Miami this season. Earlier this week, the Marlins had dealt starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez [5-7; 3.94 ERA] to the Detroit Tigers.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES- After weeks of reportedly shopping ace Cole Hammels before next week's MLB tade deadline, the starting pitcher and the Phillies have reportedly agreed to a long term contract extension.
The six year deal is worth $144 million and includes a limited no-trade provision. The struggling Phillies remain in last place this season, but Hammels currently enjoys a record of 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA.
HOUSTON ASTROS- The Astros sent starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night in exchange for left-handed pitchers Rudy Owens and Cotton Cain as well as outfielder Robbie Grossman- all three from the Pirates AAA affiliate in Indianapolis.
The Pirates will also reportedly get $17.7 million in cash to offset Rodriguez's annual salary which could top $30 million this year with incentives.
Rodriguez currently has a 7-9 record with an ERA of 3.79. The long-suffering Pirates, who haven't appeared in the postseason since 1992, are in the somewhat unusual position of being buyers this season as they're currently only a game and a half out of 1st place in the NL Central.
Last week, the Astros acquired closer Fransisco Cordero and outfielder Ben Fransisco in a 10-player deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Besides the two major leaguers, Houston gets prospects Asher Wojciechowski, Joe Musgrove, David Rollins, Carlos Perez and a player to be named later.
Toronto gets lefty JA Happ, righty David Carpenter and reliever Brandon Lyon from the Astros in that deal.
Karen Warren Houston Chronicle photoOTHER ASTROS NEWS- Houston announcer and Ford C Frick award winner Milo Hamilton announced that this would be his last year calling games for the Astros.
Born in 1927 in the small town of Fairfield, IA, Hamilton first started broadcasting with the Armed Forces Radio when he joined the US Navy during WWII. Like former president Ronald Reagan, Hamilton also briefly called football and basketball games for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Hamilton got his start calling MLB games for the St Louis Browns in 1953, their final year in St Louis before they moved to Baltimore. For the next few years, Hamilton bounced around landing work with the Cardinals, Cubs and White Sox before joining the Atlanta Braves when they moved to Fulton County stadium from Milwaukee in the 1966 season.
As a broadcaster, Hamilton is best known for this call:
Amazingly, of the three broadcasters calling the game for Henry Arron's 715th HR on that April 1974 evening, two of them are still calling games in 2012- Hamilton and the Dodger's Vin Scully. NBC Sports and former Red Sox broadcaster Curt Gowdy passed away in 2006.
Hamilton returned to the Cubs in 1980 but was fired by the Cubs parent company Tribune Company after expressing a preference for Harry Caray. Hamilton made mention of bad blood between him and Caray dating back to their days in St Louis in his 2006 autobiography.
After suffering a mild heart attack in 2007, Hamilton announced that he wouldn't be travelling for the Astros road games- although he reportedly was on hand for the opening of the new Busch Stadium in St Louis as well as the Mets' Citi Field and Nationals Park.
TRACK AND FIELD- A 19 year old Aussie hurdler became an almost overnight internet sensation when video of her warming up at the IAAF World U-20 Championships in Barcelona Spain earlier this month went viral.
Michelle Jenneke's warm-ups by the starting gate caught the attention of the camera crew and announcers covering the event in Barcelona.
Somebody thoughtfully dubbed questionable 1980s synth-pop music [and this is coming from somebody who likes some of they synth-pop music from the 80s- NANESB!] over the energetic Sheila's pre-race dance and warm-up routine. The full video can be seen here [full disclosure, it's kind of an earworm and not the good kind NANESB!]
Unfortunately, Jenneke's newfound fans worldwide won't be seeing her in the 2012 Summer games in London, since she did not qualify. I suspect that with a body and warm-up dance like Jeneke's, she'd have a devoted internet following even if she fell flat on her face right out of the starting gate. However, Jenneke isn't just another pretty face- the bouncy Aussie took gold in the 100m hurdles in Barcelona and five seconds of searching yielded this video of Jenneke winning silver at the 2010 Youth Games in Singapore.
Althought not set to music, the 2010 video shows a Jenneke as enthusiastic and bouncy as the 2012 version while her success so far in international competition means fans can aren't being unrealistic when they expect to see more of her at the 2016 games in Rio.
OTHER TRACK AND FIELD NEWS- 23 year old Greek Triple Jumper Voula Papachristou has been barred from the upcoming Olympic games in London when she sent out a tweet about African immigrants in Greece.
The message on the microblogging and social netorking site that got her in trouble was dated Sunday and read "So many Africans in #Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food"
Tweeting under the handle @papaxristoutj, Papachristou also linked to websites and videos linked to the formerly-fringe Golden Dawn Party who hold 18 seats in the Greek Parliament. Those messages have since been deleted.
Although Papachristou had apologized via Facebook and Twitter, the Greek Olympic committee announced that she will not be joining the team for "statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement".
Personally, while I think what Papachristou said was stupid and childish, I don't think that should prevent her from competing in the Summer Olympics. I suspect what she said publicly is rather tame compared to whats being said both publicly and privately in Arabic about Israeli athletes [or Israeli soldiers, or Israeli civilians, or Israeli schoolchildren, or Israeli grannies...you get the idea- NANESB!].
There's also the opportunity for a sort of Jesse Owens moment here. Now that the world has known what Papachristou has said about Africans, just think of the schadenfreude for spectators if and when she loses her event to a competitor from Kenya or Ethiopia. But it's all hypothetical now.
British soldiers walking past a sign welcoming visitors to the 2012 Olympics. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters Photo
SUMMER OLYMPICS- The British Home Secretary has ordered as many as 3500 additional troops deployed to London to bolster security for the games after the CEO of the private firm contracted to conduct security for the Summer Olympiad in London admitted that they were unable to recruit enough qualified personnel before a parliamentary inquiry last week.
With 675,000 employees, the Crawley-based private security firm G4s [LSE: GFS] provides security guards and montiors for CCTV and alarms as well as cash and armoured vans for its 'Cash logistics' division. The company also runs adult and juevenile detention facilities and does prisoner transport via government contracts.
Amid some reports that G4S guards cheated on written exams regarding the operation of X-Ray devices, local officials in Liverpool said that they were replacing G4S security personnel with 500 local security guards to provide security for upcoming Olympic soccer matches in St James Park.
Although a major shareholder of the comapny has backed embattled CEO Nick Buckles, the fiasco has hurt the reputation of G4S which in turn may make it more difficult for them to secure contracts in the future.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that an additional 1200 British soldiers are on standby, ready to deploy on 48 hours notice. No word on whether or not Katrina Hodge is among the soldiers currently assigned to any security detail at the London Games.
OTHER OLYMPIC NEWS- Fans hoping to see bikini clad contestants in the Beach Volleyball event at the Summer Games may be in for a letdown as tournament organizers allowed participants to wear shorts and long sleeve tops in the event of inclement weather.
According to a statement from the FIVB press director, clothing worn by players must be of consistent length, color, style, manufacturer and display the same sponsors. Should the temperature drop below 15 degrees celcius during the event, long sleeves and pants are authorized.
This may become an issue since the weather in the weeks leading up to the ceremony have been overcast, rainy and grey- apparently meeting the criteria required for wearing shorts and long sleeves during the event. However, with a few days to go before the Olympic opening ceremonies, the weather in London has warmed up considerably this week.
Interestingly, the beach volleyball event will take place inland- in the Horse Guards Parade located in the Whitehall section of London, to be specific. A 15,000 seat temporary stadium has been erected on the grounds- just blocks from 10 Downing Street.
BOSTON BRUINS-Bruins RW Nathan Horton has been cleared for contact and should be ready to return to the ice in time for the beginning of the Bruins training camp.
GM Peter Chiarelli told reporters that the winger had been cleared for contact by the team's medical staff. Through 45 games, Horton had 17 goals and 15 assists last season before sustaining a concussion in a collision ith Philadelphia's Tom Sestito back in January.
Photo/Joe HowellNASHVILLE PREDATORS- The Nashville Predators signed defenseman Shea Weber to a 14 year $110 million contract extension on Wedensday, making it the most lucrative contract in the history of the Nashville franchise and the 2nd largest in the NHL.
The Philadelphia Flyers had expressed an interest in the 27 year old All Star and were willing to offer him a comprable contract, but Weber was preortedly more interested in remaining in Nashville.
Weber had 19 goals and 30 assists in the 2012 season, including two goals and an assist during the postseason series against Detroit and Phoenix.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS- The Columbus Blue Jackets dealt forward Rick Nash to the NY Rangers in exchange for forwards Brandon Dubinski and Artem Ansimov along with defenseman Tim Erixon.
Although Columbus had never advanced deep intot he Stanley Cup playoff, Nash remained a prolific scorer for them, making his NHL debut with them back in 2002. In his nine season with the Blue Jackets, he has accumulated 289 goals and 258 assists with 30 goals and 29 assists in the 2011 season.