By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com
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 CSNNE.com feel honored.