Phillies’ Raul Ibanez Beats Lackey, Red Sox

Raul Ibanez watches his 7th inning home run leave the park against the Boston Red Sox during Wednesday's game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Red Sox starter John Lackey figured out eight of the Phillies’ starting nine Wednesday night in Philadelphia; he just couldn’t solve the ninth.

Left fielder Raul Ibanez went 3-3 against Lackey, driving in both runs in a 2-1 Phillies victory over the Red Sox. It was Boston’s sixth loss in their last eight games.

Ibanez Remains Lackey’s Nemesis

Ibanez entered Wednesday’s game a career .352 hitter against Lackey with six RBIs. After center fielder Shane Victorino doubled to lead off the second, Ibanez dropped the very next pitch into center field to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.

Ibanez followed up his single with a two-out double in the fourth, then struck again in the seventh. With the game tied 1-1, Ibanez golfed an 0-1 curveball over the right field fence to take the lead for good. His three-hit night raised his career average against Lackey to .386.

Lackey’s inability to stop Ibanez cost Boston the win, but his overall pitching performance was his best since April. He pitched 7.2 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out five, throwing over 70 percent of his pitches for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 30 batters he faced. His fastball painted the corners, getting 18 called strikes, and his curveball broke with a sharp 12-6 motion that Phillies hitters swung over without contact.

Lackey may have picked up his seventh loss of the year, but he took over half a run off his ERA. The Red Sox have to be encouraged by this outing.

Red Sox Bats Quiet Yet Again

Phillies pitching stymied the once-unstoppable Red Sox offense for a second straight night. The Red Sox managed just five hits off Phillies starter Vance Worley, who struck out five and walked two in seven innings.

Josh Reddick singled twice for Boston, including with one out in the fifth inning with the Red Sox down 1-0. Worley retired Marco Scutaro (2-17 on this road trip) to get to Lackey, who Worley quickly got down 0-2. Lackey worked the count full, then slammed a down-and-in fastball to the gap in left-center for a double. Reddick scored from first to tie the game 1-1. It was Lackey’s fourth career hit.

Worley dominated the Red Sox for his other six innings, allowing just two lead-off baserunners: Reddick in the third, who was stranded when Worley retired the next three Red Sox, and Dustin Pedroia in the fourth, who was retired on a double-play. He threw a career-high 116 pitches, then gave way to Michael Stutes and closer Antonio Bastardo, who pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings for the hold and save.

Ibanez’s home run in the bottom of the seventh gave Worley the “vulture win,” his third win of the season. For the third straight start, Worley allowed fewer than two runs.

Ortiz’s Addition Causes no Errors but Adds no Oomph

Needing to do something to reignite Boston’s offense, Terry Francona risked bad defense and possible injury by playing David Ortiz at first and Adrian Gonzalez in right. The decision did not hurt the team defensively: Ortiz fielded the only ball hit to him Wednesday and caught all 11 balls thrown to him by the infield, including two for double plays.

Gonzalez did not have to make a catch in right field, but cleanly fielded two singles hit through the infield. He leaped for a deep Chase Utley (2-3) flyball with two outs in the eighth, but it bounced off the top of the right-field fence, well above the reach of any outfielder. Utley made it to third base, chasing Lackey, but did not score.

The addition of Ortiz may not have hurt the team defensively, but neither did it help the team offensively. Gonzalez went 1-4 and grounded into a double play. Ortiz went 0-4.

Buchholz’s Return Means Miller Back to Pawtucket

Andrew Miller might have done well in two spot starts, but Clay Buchholz's return should send him back to Pawtucket. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Sound the trumpets. Beat the drums. Bang the gongs. Do something with some other instrument. Clay Buchholz will soon be back with the Red Sox. The man with the 6-3 record and 3.48 ERA will finally stabilize a pitching rotation that has been ravaged by stomach illnesses and spot starts. The 1-2-3 punch necessary for playoff success will finally be re-established.

Although Boston Globe Red Sox writer Peter Abraham thinks the Red Sox will go six-man rotation until the All-Star Break, Buchholz’s return will ultimately mean a change for Boston’s back three of John Lackey, Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller. So who goes?

Lackey Too Pricey For Bullpen

The Red Sox painted themselves into a corner with Lackey. Theo Epstein signed him not because of his actual ability, but as a show of strength. Epstein was still smarting a year after the New Yankees stole Mark Teixeira at the last minute (not unlike what happened five years prior with Alex Rodriguez), and he needed to show the Red Sox could go out and get the best player on the market. Lackey was the highest-profile free agent available, and Epstein paid him way to much.

Since joining the Red Sox, Lackey is 19-17 with an ERA approaching 5.40. He lacks both the talent and the personality to succeed in Boston. The Red Sox cut their losses after the 2005 season when they realized Edgar Renteria wouldn’t work out, and in all likelihood they’d like to do it again. Problem is, Renteria had $32 million left on his deal, and Lackey has over $46 million. Much tougher sell.

Lackey stinks as a starter, but he’s too pricey to make a bullpen player. That’s not even really an option, because Lackey has pitched in exactly one game as a reliever, pitching a scoreless inning in 2004 in which he struck out one, gave up a hit and then got out of it with a double play.

There’s nothing the Red Sox can do with Lackey short of trading him. That’s risky, because if Miler doesn’t work out, suddenly you need a new starter, and you have no idea what a waiver-wire pitcher will give you. Moving Lackey, bad as he is, is just not an option.

Wakefield Proven and Miller Unproven as Fifth Starter

If Lackey’s price tag assures him a spot in the rotation, then Buchholz’s return means either Wakefield goes back to the bullpen or Miller goes back to Pawtucket. Wakefield is the far more proven commodity. In nine starts this year, Wakefield has given Boston four quality starts, and been an out away from a fifth (in a game the Red Sox but not Wakefield won).

Putting aside whether or not the Red Sox ought to keep Wakefield in the rotation to pay him back for jerking him around the last few seasons, Wakefield is a workhorse who when healthy can eat up innings and save the bullpen. When he’s on – which you can usually tell in the first inning – he gives the Red Sox an excellent chance to win. When he’s off, he gives up a lot of runs, but the team usually pulls him fast enough to make a comeback at least possible.

In two starts, Miller has shown some definite potential. But that’s all he’s shown: potential. Two quality starts against the last-place Padres and third-place Pirates does not a Hall-of-Fame career make. Miller’s change-up looks good against righties and he can pound the strike zone, but 12 innings is not enough on which to judge a kid’s readiness.

Miller hasn’t been tested against the big hitting teams yet. He hasn’t faced the Tigers. He hasn’t faced the Rangers. He hasn’t faced the Yankees. Wakefield has faced just about every hitter in the American League and knows how to use his skills to win those battles.

Miller won’t truly be able to show his value to the Red Sox without more major league innings, but the Red Sox can’t afford a second inconsistent pitcher on top of Lackey. The AL East is going to be a dog-fight between the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, and whether the Indians or the Tigers win the AL Central, the other team will contend for the Wild Card all the way through September. The Red Sox will need consistent production from their fifth starter to stay in both races, and unfortunately Miller hasn’t done enough to show that just yet.

When Buchholz returns, Miller will eventually move back to Pawtucket. But he’ll probably be back in September.

Which Super Heroes Would Make Super Athletes?

In light of finally seeing “Green Lantern” (which did a competent job of meeting the exceedingly low expectations I set for it, so… yay?), I’ve decided to answer an all-important question: would having superpowers make you a better athlete? If so, which sport, and at what position?

Considering sports and comic books are easily my two greatest areas of knowledge, let’s set some ground rules (otherwise this blog post could easily top 2,000 words). For consideration, the hero:

  1. Must be a DC comics character (sorry, Marvel, but I prefer my heroes archetypal).
  2. Must have at one point been in the Justice League of America (otherwise we’re talking dozens of characters).

OK, rules are all set, let’s give a new meaning to the phrase “fantasy sports.”

Sure, the JLA are great superheroes. But would they be great professional athletes?

Superman: Hockey center

The problem with all-around heroes like Superman is that they really can play anywhere. I could think of 10 positions that Superman would excel at across all sports, but the NHL needs a high-profile player to help it steal some ratings from the other three major sports. Who would do that more effectively than the most iconic hero of all time? A center has to do a little of everything on the ice: lead the team, fight for faceoffs, pass and shoot. Clark Kent’s bulk would make him hard to push around on the ice, plus he could literally fly down the ice on break-aways. Perfect NHL center.

Wonder Woman: Rugby hooker

Rugby is unfortunately the only sport available to women (and I’m not yet counting women’s tackle football, though it exists) that utilizes force and physicality. Although the position has a crappy name, the hooker is ideal for Diana of Themyscira. Hookers have to block like forwards and run like backs. In the scrum, the hooker must support the entire weight of the scrum-half while still rolling the ball back to a teammate (called “hooking,” after the shape the leg makes). The position requires strength, speed and stamina. Look, it’s either this or rodeo-shows with that lasso, so what do you want?

Batman: Football coach

This one is the easiest. Batman is absolutely the Bill Belichick of the DC Universe: brilliant, cold, conniving, distanced. Batman knows how to use what he has to do the maximum good, be it his own abilities or JLA personnel. Bruce Wayne would make an excellent coach, and no sport requires the pre-planning like football.

The Flash: Running back

Yeah, yeah, track and field, blah blah blah. Look, people go into sports to make money. No one gets rich running track, even if you can run so fast you can beat people who travel instantaneously across time and space (this actually happened in 1998). Flash’s speed and reaction time would make him lethal in an NFL backfield, and he could vibrate through tackles. Barry Sanders, meet Wally West.

Martian Manhunter: Designated hitter

J’onn J’onzz’s telepathy would make him a fantastic hitter because he would know pitch selection and location ahead of time. He’s quick, but maybe not quick enough to make a good position player. And not that I would accuse of him of doing something dishonest, but telepathy would also let him steal signs when he gets to second and tell other hitters without anyone noticing.

Green Arrow: quarterback

Pinpoint accuracy, arm strength and trajectory perception would make Oliver Queen an ideal QB. Technically, his protege Red Arrow is more accurate with anything not a bow and arrow, but Roy Harper’s a heroin junkie, and the NFL doesn’t need another drug addict sullying its image. As a backup, go with Booster Gold: he used to actually be a quarterback!

Green Lantern: point guard

This is a bit of a stretch, but there aren’t any rules yet banning contact between players and green energy constructs in the NBA. Kyle Rayner (or Hal Jordan, or John Stewart if you want to be un-PC) could use his ring to push people off rebounds, elevate the ball over defenders on fade-aways, or create one-man double- or triple-teams on defense. No sport requires endurance like basketball, and endurance is all about willpower… I guess.

Plastic Man: shortstop

Eel O’Brian’s elasticity would make it very hard for grounders to get by him into the outfield. He would also be able to get his foot to second base quicker than an average SS to start a double play, or stretch his glove over the base for pick-off attempts.

Aquaman: water boy

Because Aquaman sucks at everything. Fine, how about competitive fishing? That way I never have to watch him.

As a bonus, I’ll give you two super-villains. Lex Luthor would be the perfect NFL owner: very rich, and completely unconcerned with the welfare of his employees. The Joker would make an excellent Cincinnati Bengal: you never know what he’s going to do, but somebody’s probably going to die.

Medford Maddogs Rock Somerville Alibrandis’ Chris Warren For Nine First-Inning Runs in Yawkey Baseball Divisional Game

(written, shot, edited and narrated for Somerville Patch)

The Medford Maddogs and Somerville Alibrandis of the Yawkey Baseball League entered Tuesday’s game at Trum Field heading in two different directions.  The Maddogs had won their last six; the Alibrandis (named for sponsor Alibrandi’s Barber Shop) had lost their previous two. The differences showed almost immediately.

The Maddogs scored nine runs in the top of the first off Alibrandis starter Chris Warren, and Medford starter Tyler Middleton limited Somerville to two unearned runs in six innings, beating the Alibrandis, 10-2.

Warren struggled out of the gate, allowing two singles and two walks – one with the bases loaded – before recording an out. He finally got Medford first baseman Buddy Hanley to fly out to right, still deep enough to score leadoff hitter Peter Byron (4-5, RBI) to make it 2-0.

Warren reloaded the bases after a strikeout, then second baseman Josh Rodriguez hit a grounder to the right of Somerville shortstop David Scioli.

Medford third baseman Matt Mahoney beat the throw to second, and a run scored to make it 3-0.

A hit batter and Byron’s second hit of the inning made it 5-0 Medford with the bases still loaded, then right fielder Greg Wilson (3-5, 3 RBI, SB) crushed a pitch to center field to clear the bases.

A double by Matt Delaney (2-4, 2 RBI, BB) to right scored Wilson to make it 9-0 Medford, who sent 13 hitters to the plate in the first inning.

“They’re good hitters, “said Medford manager David Hanley. “When the top of our lineup hits like that, and we roll it over, and we get them up four, five times in a game, we score some runs.”

Staked to a nine-run lead, Middleton retired the first three Alibrandis in order, and did not allow a hit until Somerville’s eighth batter, when in the second inning third basemen Yondo Nyadjroh doubled to the gap in right-center to score two before being thrown out trying for third.

“I went down two strikes, so I shortened up,” Nyadjroh said. “I just wanted to get the ball into play, just keep the inning going. … He threw a fastball right down the middle, I just went with it, went the other way.”

According to manager Hanley, Tyler said after “it was a fastball supposed to be a foot off the plate, and it tailed back in.”

Because Nyadjroh’s double came after catcher Chad Conner reached on an error, neither run was earned.

Middleton limited the Alibrandis to single base runners in three of his final four innings. Somerville’s last scoring chance against him came in the fourth, when Nyadjroh again came to the plate with two men on and two outs. This time, Middleton won the battle, striking Nyadjroh out on three pitches.

Middleton went six innings, giving up just the two unearned runs on three hits, two walks, seven strikeouts and two hit batters. His manager said it was Middleton’s 10th win in a row.

The Maddogs added a run in the fifth, when Delaney doubled off reliever Dick Dumas (3 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, BB, SO). The Alibrandis put two men on in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Talal Saleh, but Scioli (0-4) grounded out to end the game.

Nyadjroh and Somerville manager Cam Lynch attributed the loss to a lack of batting practice due to another game at Trum beforehand and a lack of rhythm from six off-days followed by two straight games. Sometimes, though, nothing can be done.

“You don’t get nine runs in one inning,” Lynch said. “It just fell out of the sky. … Nothing you can do.”

David Ortiz Should Sit, Not Move Adrian Gonzalez to Outfield, on NL Road Trip

The Red Sox do not need David Ortiz to win during this nine-game NL road trip, so why risk team defense by moving Adrian Gonzalez to third? (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Terry Francona has a problem: without a DH for the upcoming nine-game NL road trip, should he play David Ortiz (.313 BA, 17 homers, .977 OPS) at first and move Adrian Gonzalez (.359, 15, 1.019) to right field, or keep Gonzalez at first and use Ortiz primarily as a pinch hitter? Moving Gonzalez preserves the core of the best offense in the majors; sitting Ortiz preserves the third-best defense.

So far, all Francona has done is acknowledge the issue; he has given no indication of which way he’s leaning. But taking into account both his recent struggles and who the Red Sox will play on this road trip, the smart move is to sit Ortiz.

Ortiz and Gonzalez Heading in Opposite Directions

Based on his last 10 games, Ortiz is sliding a little bit. He’s gone hitless in five of those games, including all three at Tampa Bay (Boston’s last away series), and has homered just once. His batting average has dropped 12 points. Gonzalez, meanwhile, is inexplicably getting even stronger. He notched multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games, homering three times and raising his batting average by 18.

Ortiz might be starting to press at a plate. We saw it in Wednesday’s loss to the Padres, where three times he hit weakly into the shift. He’s played in all but two games this year, and he could use a rest.

Now’s a great time to let him step back and collect himself. Ortiz has shown a vulnerability to pressure in the last few seasons, especially when it leads to increasingly accusatory questions from the media. Instead of letting that tension affect Ortiz’s mood, Francona should just give him a few games off.

Upcoming Opponents Won’t Require Gonzalez and Ortiz to Defeat (or Won’t Allow It)

Of the three teams Boston will face – Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros – only the Phillies pose a real challenge. All three teams have below-average offenses. The Pirates rank in the 20s in batting average, runs, on-base percentage and slugging. To make it even harder for Pittsburgh, they will have to face Boston’s three best pitchers: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield.

Boston’s offense is more than capable of outscoring Pittsburgh’s without Ortiz, who is a rather average .279 hitter as a first basemen. The Phillies are another poor-hitting team, they just have patience, often drawing walks (or getting hit by pitches).

Philadelphia’s pitching is the best in the majors, which lets them overcome an offense that doesn’t have a lot of power (20th in slugging) and can’t score (20th in total runs). However, it’s unlikely Ortiz would play first base much in Philadelphia either, because the Red Sox will face lefty Cliff Lee (against whom Ortiz bats .240) Tuesday night. They get a righty on Wednesday, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel may opt to skip minor-leaguer Vance Worley for 9-3 lefty Cole Hamels (against whom Ortiz is hitless in three appearances) on Thursday.

Given two lefties, it doesn’t make sense to start Ortiz any Phillies game other than Wednesday’s. Unless Gonzalez goes on an absolute tear in Pittsburgh, forcing Francona to play him at all costs, Wednesday will probably be his first day off of the season.

Boston’s final road opponent, the Astros, are the opposite of the Phillies: good hitters with terrible discipline. They strike out all the time and barely ever walk. Although the rotation for the games isn’t set, the Astros will most likely face some combination of Beckett, Lester and Wakefield again. Beckett and Lester are both strikeout machines. Wakefield isn’t, but hitting his knuckleball takes patience more than anything else, and the Astros don’t have it.

The Red Sox pitchers can keep the Astros off the board, and Houston’s pitching is ranked 28th in the majors in both ERA and opponent batting average. Boston can tee off on these guys. This is another series in which Francona doesn’t need to sacrifice team defense – which when good goes unnoticed, but when bad absolutely costs your team games – by playing both of his best hitters.

The Red Sox don’t need both Gonzalez and Ortiz to beat the Pirates or Astros, and playing Ortiz against lefties in Philadelphia makes no sense. Ortiz has batted 40 points weaker on the road this season, and has started to scuffle a bit in his last 10 games. Now is a great opportunity to let him sit back and collect himself before he slips further.

Ortiz can get his confidence back when the Red Sox return to Fenway for seven games against AL East cellar-dwellers Toronto and Baltimore.

Lackey Lacks Control in Rain-Lengthened-then-Shortened Loss

Will Venable connects for a leadoff home run in the first inning of Wednesday's game at Fenway Park. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The rain bothered San Diego Padre and Boston Red Sox alike Wednesday afternoon in Fenway, but no one was affected more than John Lackey.

Lackey’s lack of control allowed the Padres to score four times in the fourth inning, and the game was called in the middle of the eighth with the Padres up 5-1. It was Boston’s first series loss since getting swept at home by the Chicago White Sox three weeks ago.

Lackey Can’t Find His Grip

After allowing a leadoff home run to right fielder Will Venable (his first of the season), Lackey held the Padres to just a walk and a single through the third inning. His command seemed undisturbed by a rain that shifted constantly from drizzle to downpour and all but emptied Fenway Park.

In the fourth, however, Lackey lost all control. A four-pitch walk, a hit batter and a bunt single by center fielder Cameron Maybin loaded the bases, and one out later Venable drew a walk to make it 2-0 Padres. Lackey next faced shortstop Jason Bartlett, and his 2-2 pitch plunked Bartlett square in the back to force in another run.

Lackey lost his grip again while facing third baseman Chase Healey, with his 1-2 pitch slipping out of his hands, sailing over Jason Varitek’s outstretched glove, and rolling to the backstop for a run-scoring wild pitch. Healey then singled the next pitch to right to make it 5-0 Padres.

Lackey was lifted for Michael Bowden with one out and two men on, and Bowden stranded both base runners. He pitched a scoreless fifth, Matt Albers followed him with two innings of one-hit baseball, and Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect eighth before the game was called.

Lackey finished the game giving up five earned runs on four hits, four walks, four strikeouts, two hit batters and a wild pitch. He picked up his sixth loss, raising his ERA to 7.36.

Shift Shuts Down Ortiz

San Diego’s defensive shift completely contained David Ortiz Wednesday, and in the process seriously limited Boston’s scoring potential. Ortiz came up with one out and the bases loaded, but Padres starter Clayton Richard got him to ground into the shift for the inning-ending double play. Ortiz batted in the third with two men on and two outs, but this time lined out softly into the shift.

After Adrian Gonzalez’s single in the fifth scored Jacoby Ellsbury from second to make it 5-1 Padres with two Red Sox on base, Ortiz again grounded into the shift to kill an opportunity to get back in the game.

The only opportunity Ortiz didn’t kill was in the seventh, when Dustin Pedroia (2-3, BB) and Gonzalez (4-4, RBI) singled off Padres reliever Ernesto Frieri with one out. Ortiz didn’t get the chance to strand those base runners, because Kevin Youkilis (2-4) grounded into an inning-ending double play ahead of him.

Richard didn’t exactly dominate the Red Sox, allowing eight hits and two walks while striking out just two, but he prevented the Red Sox from ever getting the one big hit they needed to get back in the game. He held Bostons Nos. 5-9 hitters to two hits in 14 at-bats, picking up his first win since May 16 and lowering his ERA to 4.21.

Wednesday’s game took two hours and 49 minutes, but it was broken up by two hours and 25 minutes in rain delays. Stoppages longer than 30 minutes before the first inning and midway through the third and the fifth slowed the game’s pace to a crawl, and likely prevented either team from finding any real rhythm at the plate.

It fell to the pitchers to carry their teams, and Richard carried his team just a little higher than Lackey.

Giants’ David Tyree: Anti-Gay Marriage, Pro-Idiocy

David Tyree did not deserve to make this catch if all he would do with it is spout a message of hate. (Andy Mills/The Star-Ledger, NJ)

Even as former New York Giant Michael Strahan and team owner Steve Tisch have publicly supported legalizing gay marriage in New York, another former Giant isn’t climbing on board: wide receiver David Tyree, most famous for his 32-yard helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII that helped the Giants derail the New England Patriots’ perfect season.

Tyree hasn’t done much since that play, and is now trying to reclaim the limelight using vile, homophobic, hate-filled language.

Tyree the Tyrant’s crusade began Wednesday, when he told the National Organization for Marriage that gay marriage would lead to “anarchy.” How exactly a law allowing a new group of people to live together and build stable homes would lead to anarchy was never clearly explained.

Tyree also asked rhetorically, “how can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all the sudden because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or agenda … and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country?”

Tyree’s ambiguous comments about the non-American origins of marriage notwithstanding, marriage hasn’t been an unchallenged institution for thousands of years: it has been an oppressive and repressive force for thousands of years.

Homosexuality isn’t new; it’s been here since forever. We know that ancient Greeks and Romans engaged in both what we would call homosexuality and pedophilia. We can assume from the Bible that homosexuality must have been pervasive in the Middle East, because otherwise the authors wouldn’t have needed to ban it. There are historical records of homosexuality in ancient China, Japan (which may have gotten it from China), Africa, and even the Americas.

Homosexuality can be found all over the globe, and chances are homosexuals felt the same feelings of exclusion and alienation in heterosexual-dominated society back then that they do now. Approving same-sex marriage isn’t about helping out a minority that’s gained political clout in the last couple of decades – it’s about finally making up for millenia of oppression.

Tyree justified his bigotry with religion on Monday, saying, “Being the fact that I firmly believe that God created and ordained marriage between a man and a woman, I believe that that’s something that should be fought for at all costs.”

Ah, religion. Can’t win an argument with logic? Say an invisible super-powered space alien told you to do it. But wait, you can’t call it that. That sounds crazy! We need a new word for the source of our hatred. How about “God?” Short, simple, way less crazy sounding. Let’s run with it!

Tyree says he believes God commanded men and women only to marry. Well, I was an honest-to-Space-Monster religion major in college, and I went to religious school from age 5 to age 18. I’m pretty sure I read something about God creating man and woman in His (I could write another 750 words on the problems of that pronoun, by the way) image. Let me look it up.

Here we go! Genesis 1:27 (King James version): “So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Anyone see the word “straight” in that sentence? No? Then doesn’t it make sense that homosexuals were also created in God’s image? If there is a divine being who created us and gave us a code of behaviors, it would seem that homosexuality is a divinely legitimate part of humanity’s sexual spectrum. Oppressing it, therefore, goes against God’s wishes.

It’s possible God created all people, but then wanted some to oppress others. If that’s the case, that’s a pretty mean-spirited, petty God you’re worshiping. I prefer to believe in a God that wants us to make each other’s lives better, not worse.

David Tyree is a hateful, ignorant human being whose understanding of both history and religion are deeply, deeply flawed. He fell in love with celebrity after his catch, and when his career floundered he decided this was the means to reclaim it.

“Perhaps God orchestrated that play to give me a platform for what I’m doing here today: To urge political leaders all over our nation to reject same-sex marriage.”

No, David. God didn’t give you that play so you could spew hate. He gave you that play so you could have a moment of joy in your otherwise meaningless career. If you really want to give that play back, God and all of New England would accept it.

But we’d approve gay marriage just the same.

Ten-Run Seventh Inning Blasts Red Sox Past Padres

Adrian Gonzalez connects for a one-run double against the San Diego Padres at Fenway Park on Monday, June 20. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With no member of the Boston Red Sox ever having faced him before, San Diego Padres starter Wade LeBlanc stood an excellent chance of derailing Boston’s explosive offense. But LeBlanc could not stop Boston’s scoring Monday night at Fenway; all he could do was delay it.

The Red Sox scored 11 runs – 10 in one inning – off the Padres bullpen, powering Boston to a 14-5 victory over San Diego. It was Boston’s 14th win in 17 games this month.

Red Sox Score 10 in Seventh Inning

The Red Sox entered the seventh inning tied 3-3. Reliever Cory Luebke gave up a lead-off walk, then got Dustin Pedroia to ground into a fielder’s choice. Adrian Gonzalez followed that up with a double off the Green Monster to score Pedroia and give Boston a 4-3 lead.

Gonzalez’s double was the first hit in 3+ innings against Luebke, who at one point struck out five batters in a row. Luebke was lifted for Ernesto Frieri, who struggled badly. Two walks – one intentional – loaded the bases, and Frieri then hit both Marco Scutaro and Jason Varitek to make it 6-3 Boston.

That was all for Frieri, but replacement Evan Scribner fared little better. Pinch hitter Josh Reddick dropped an 0-1 fastball into right-center to plate two more.

After loading the bases again, Scribner walked Pedroia to bring in a run, and Gonzalez’s liner to right plated his second and third RBIs of the inning to make it 11-3. Gonzalez finished his first game against his old team with three hits, three RBIs and two runs.

Kevin Youkilis finished the scoring with a two-RBI double off the Green Monster.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first on a bases-loaded single by David Ortiz that culminated a 14-pitch battle, then went up 2-0 on a first-pitch double by Ortiz that scored Youkilis from first. The Red Sox scored again in the fourth when Luebke got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground into a bases-loaded double-play to make it 3-0 Boston.

The Red Sox also scored on a bases-loaded walk to Ellsbury in the eighth to make it 14-4.

Miller Strong Through Five, Coughs Up Lead in Sixth

Pawtucket call-up Andrew Miller made his first major league start for the Red Sox Monday, and through five innings he looked strong. He struck out his first batter on three pitches that right fielder Chris Denorfia never swung at, and through five innings gave just four hits and two walks. He stranded a leadoff triple to designated hitter Jesus Guzman in the fourth and pitched a 1-2-3 fifth. He commanded his fastball, confused hitters with his curveball, and buried righties inside with his change-up.

Miller controlled the pace of the game for the first five innings, but in the sixth the game sped up on him. Third baseman Chase Headley (4-5 with two runs) led off with a single, then left fielder Ryan Ludwick walked on five pitches. Miller struck out Guzman for the first out in the sixth, then up came second baseman Orlando Hudson, who planted the first pitch he saw in the Green Monster seats to tie the game 3-3. Hudson finished the game 3-5 with three RBIs and two runs.

Miller recorded one more out before being lifted for Matt Albers, who finished the inning and then pitched a scoreless seventh to record the win. Boston’s mop-up pitchers gave up a run each in the eighth and ninth, on an infield single by Denorfia and single to center by Guzman.

Both Miller and LeBlanc wound up with no decisions, each pitching six innings of seven-hit, three-run ball. Miller walked three and struck out six, while LeBlanc walked two and struck out one. Luebke took the loss.

The box score will show Luebke pitched 3.1 innings, giving up two earned runs on a hit, two walks and six strikeouts. The reality is that he dominated the Red Sox until his final inning, and it was the pitchers who came after Luebke that truly cost the Padres the game.

Bruins’ Investment in Rookies Seguin and Marchand Pays Dividends in Stanley Cup Run

With the Bruins' speedy rookie duo of Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, this might not be the last time they get to carry the Stanley Cup. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

When Bruins fans speak years from now of the 2011 Stanley Cup, they will tell stories of a champion team of veterans. Their voices will rise in pitch when they speak of 34-year-old Zdeno Chara, who anchored a defense that neutralized the supposedly unstoppable Canucks offense. They will giggle as they mention how Mark Recchi at 43 still scored twice as many points as players almost half his age. A dramatic pause will follow the name Tim Thomas, the 37-year-old goalie who put the team on his shoulders and simply refused to lose.

All these names deserve the reverence that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Still, there are two rookies who left their own indelible marks on this playoff run: Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand.

Seguin’s Flash of Brilliance

Seguin contributed very little in the Stanley Cup finals, notching just one assist and averaging just over seven minutes of ice time in six games. Seguin was far more important to the Bruins during the Eastern Conference finals, scoring three goals and assisting on three more in Games 1 and 2. He averaged closer to 12 minutes per game against the Lightning, including an electrifying stretch in the second period in which he scored four points, which tied a team postseason record.

Seguin, just 19, sometimes played with the speed and energy of youth. At other times he looked awkward, unbalanced, out of control. Claude Julien never seemed sure how best to use Seguin, how to get him playoff minutes without risking his team’s effectiveness.

Seguin’s situation is a classic “chicken or egg:” did Seguin’s inconsistent play lead to reduced minutes, or did reducing his minutes keep Seguin from playing with consistency? We may never know.

Seguin showed tremendous potential all season, but in his rookie year he never quite turned it into production on the ice. With just 22 regular-season points, he was not nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy (the NHL’s Rookie of the Year).

However, Seguin’s potential cannot be overlooked. When in control, Seguin was often the fastest skater on the ice. That made him extremely dangerous on 2-on-1’s and breakaways. His speed can neutralize offenses as quick Vancouver’s and force teams built around neutral-zone control (such as Tampa Bay) to rethink their strategies. He is not afraid to shoot (11 goals), but he is also happy to pass if someone else has a better shot (11 assists).

Not every rookie soars out of the gate. Seguin did not have the greatest first year possible, but neither was he a liability to the team. His place with the Bruins still seems nebulous, but as he develops consistency he will no doubt find his way to a permanent spot on one of Boston’s lines.

Marchand’s Steady Production

Whereas Seguin did not do enough to earn a fixed spot on any line, Marchand did nothing to suggest he doesn’t deserve his spot on the second line:

  • Eleven postseason goals, including five in the Stanley Cup finals
  • Eight assists, including two in the finals
  • A Bruins win in every game Marchand scored
  • Two goals in Game 7 of the finals.

Marchand was simply a postseason force, and he may have single-handedly turned the tide of the series in Game 3.

The Bruins were up 2-0 midway through the second when the Canucks were awarded a power play. Having already scored a power play goal in Game 2, Vancouver had to be feeling confident that they could score and make it a one-goal game with 30 minutes left. One minute later, Marchand stole the puck near center-ice, bounced it off the boards at the Vancouver blue line, then sped through three Canucks before scoring a short-handed goal.

Vancouver’s power play was ranked no. 1 in the NHL, and Marchand broke their spirits by cramming it back down their throats. When he was done doing that, he tried to cram his hand down there, too.

Marchand brought nearly as much speed as Seguin did, but he balanced that speed with a high hockey IQ, always knowing where to position himself to score or where his teammates were to pass.

With both Seguin and Marchand so young, Bruins fans should see a bright future for the team.

Marchand is already where he needs to be to stay in the NHL. Seguin still needs to get there, but someday he will. When that day comes, other teams will need to stop blinking.

If they blink, they might miss the Bruins flying by.