Nation STATion: Homes away from home


Nation STATion: Homes away from home

By Bill Chuck
Special to

First, let me get this out of the way: even first-place teams lose games. Red Sox Nation has gotten so used to Ws that its important to remember that there are pitchers like Justin Verlander out there ready to shut down even the hottest hitting team.
FYI Sox shutouts:The Sox have been shut out five times this season. Last year they were shut out four times, the fewest blankings in the majors. In 2009, 2008, and 2007, they were shut out seven times each year, and in 2006, they were held scoreless eight times.

There is lots of digital ink being used today about David Ortizs big pinch-homer that won Game 1 of the day-nighter yesterday in Detroit. As we have discussed here at the STATion previously, this was Big Papis first Sox pinch-homer since his very first Sox homer on April 27, 2003 in the 14th inning.

BTW Who did Papi pinch-hit for?Feel free to ask your friends if they know whom Ortiz pinch-hit for that afternoon. Then you can feel smart by informing them that it was Jeremy Giambi.
FYI Sox pinch-hit homers:As you already know, the Sox had two pinch-hit homers last season off the bats of Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall. They didnt have any in 2009, but in 2008 they had a pair from pinch-hitting catchers, Kevin Cash and Jason Varitek. And they didnt have any in 2007 or 2006, but another pinch-hitting catcher, Doug Mirabelli, hit one in 2005.

What I found most interesting about the Ortiz homer however was its location, and I dont mean right-centerfield. Papi loves Comerica Park. In 151 at bats there Ortiz has 16 homers. The same number he has hit at US Cellular in Chicago and Texas Arlington Stadium, but in about 35 fewer at bats than each location. And on top of that hes hitting around .290 at Comerica.

So, it got me thinking (always something dangerous) as to what are some of the other favorite ballparks for Sox hitters, in essence, homes away from home.

While Jacoby Ellsbury has a .405 average at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, I would go with Baltimores Camden Yards as his favorite alternative hitting venue. He has a .402 lifetime average there with three homers and a dozen RBI, but outside of Fenway, its his favorite ballpark to steal bases; hes 18 of 19 in steal attempts there.

In my mind Dustin Pedroia, likes to play everywhere, anywhere, and at any time. When I look at these numbers, I leave out the aberration of interleague play, which in my mind dilutes stats, the season, and quality of play (but thats a rant for another day). I do have to point out that Pedey is 9-for-14 (.643) at Minute Maid Field in Houston and 6-for-12 (.500), with three homers, at Coors Field in Colorado. So, because the 6-for-12 sample at Target Field in Minnesota is so small, Im going with Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City as Pedroias top road ballpark. He is 21-44 and thats good for a .477 average.

FYI Adrian Gonzalez in the NLWe are skipping A-Gone as we go through the batting order simply because he is too new to the AL, but I can tell you that he will miss Miller Park in Milwaukee where he hit .425 with seven homers and 19 RBI and had a 1.302 OPS.

Kevin Youkilis prefers home cooking. Youk is a lifetime .306 hitter at Fenway and a .280 hitter on the road. But there are two road parks Kevvie particularly likes: Seattles Safeco Field where he has hit .338 and Camden Yards where he is a .330 hitter with nine homers and 35 RBI (and 35 walks).

Its hard to tell whether J.D. Drew enjoys playing anywhere (yes, I know I read your mind), but the AL ballpark (remember that he has spent nine years in the NL) he has had the most success is Camden Yards where he has hit .342 with eight homers and 23 RBI, with a 1.088 OPS.

Carl Crawford has also had good games at Safeco Field, where he has hit .360. But I think his favorite road stop is Chicagos US Cellular where he has hit .356 and has four homers and nine RBI, plus he is 15-for-18 in steal attempts there.

Jed Lowrie is still experiencing his first extended regular play in the bigs, so its too early know where else he enjoys success, I just think hes happy to be on the field.
BTW Marco ScutaroMarco has done well at Camden Yards where he has hit .324 with three homers and 12 RBI.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is like Lowrie in that he is new to playing regularly, so I thought I would point out that the Captain, Jason Varitek, has always hit well in Cleveland. At the Jake, or for those of who prefer Progressive Field, Tek has hit .293 with seven homers and 18 RBI.

So thats a quick (okay, its quick for me) look at Sox batters away from the Fens and on another day well look at how Boston pitchers fare on other hills.

BTW Send a salami to your boy in the armyFinally, dont just wait for Memorial Day to think about those in uniform who are also away from their homes doing things we cant describe in numbers. Theres a great delicatessen in New York (where else?) called Katzs Deli. Since its founding in 1888, it has sold tons of corned beef, hot dogs and pastrami. During WW II they posted a sign that encouraged parents of GIs to send a salami to your boy in the army.To this day, they maintain special international shipping only for U.S. military addresses. So if you want to send a gift package to the troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, simply call 1-800-4HOTDOG to make the arrangements.

Or, if your favorite soldier is watching his or her cholesterol, just send a copy of Nation STATion, I know it would make all of us at feel honored.

Cubs reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs reach first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.