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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Bailey’

Let’s get the small stuff out of the way first.  We non-tendered Bailey and Kalish.  Also, congratulations to Lackey on a well-deserved Tony Conigliaro Award.  Not that that’s a small achievement, but it’s not disturbing and alarming like the big news of the week.

This week, we’ve had to deal with some significant departures.  This is going to be rough.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is our first departure.  He is now a Florida Marlin, having signed a deal for three years and twenty-one million dollars.  We acquired him as a veteran, and now he leaves as a veteran having helped us win the World Series.

Last year, Salty batted .273 with fourteen homers and sixty-five RBIs.  He posted a fielding percentage of .994 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.88.  But as with all great catchers, he contributed innumerable qualities like leadership and work ethic and skill with calling games and managing pitchers.  Needless to say, the last three years, including October, would have looked very different without him, and he will certainly be missed.  Salty, we thank you, and we salute you.

We welcome AJ Pierzynski, who has signed a one-year deal pending a physical.  Last year, he batted .272 with seventeen homers and seventy RBIs.  He posted a fielding percentage of .998 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.63.  He’s gritty, and he’ll fit in just fine.  We also welcome Edward Mujica, the righty reliever, who signed a two-year deal for $9.5 million.

Our other departure is different.  This isn’t someone we brought in who has now decided to leave for a three-year contract.  We say goodbye to someone we raised, who spent his entire career thus far with us, and who didn’t go to just any team.  Jacoby Ellsbury is now a New York Yankee.  It’s basically the same old story.  They lured him over there with the type of contract that only the New York Yankees could provide: seven years and $153 million.  So the Evil Empire offers these contracts like it’s made of money, since it basically is, and no other team can compete with that.  I mean, it’s not like we haven’t seen this before.  A star center fielder who bats leadoff and makes spectacular catches and helped us win the World Series and who is a Boston icon leaving for the dark side; where have I seen that before?

It’s just awful.  Our job is to raise players in the farm so they can stay here.  Out job is not to raise players in the farm so they can win a ring and then just leave and give their services to the highest bidder.  That was never what baseball was supposed to be about.  But that’s the reality in which we and the game find ourselves now.

It’s not our fault that we choose to be a responsible team that conducts itself in a responsible way.  A contract worth that many years and that much money does not allow for much flexibility, which is what you need if you’re going to win.  Think about our performance over the course of the past decade. Think about our performance over the course of the past year, about the acquisitions we made last offseason and where they led us in October.  We should feel good about our success and about the business model and strategies that got us there.  Hindering our flexibility by committing almost a whole decade’s worth of years and millions of dollars in three digits has not, historically, been one of those strategies.  That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It means there’s something wrong with them.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate Ellsbury’s achievements in Boston.  He’s been hurt, but he has always powered through in true dirt-dog fashion, never shying away from making the tough plays no matter what mind kind of pain waited as a consequence.  In his career, he’s bagged .297 with sixty-five homers and 314 RBIs.  He has led the American League three times in steals.  And he made only three errors last year.  He helped us win not one but two World Series championships, making his presence  seen and felt in both.  I don’t think we’ll ever forget the way he patrolled Fenway’s center field with ease and made it look as easy as it really was for him to make catches that didn’t even seem to be humanly possible.

His seven years are up, and now he’s joined the darkness. Ellsbury, we thank you, and we salute you.  But we feel disappointed, insulted, and betrayed.

Fortunately, Napoli is coming back.  So there’s that sign of hope and optimism.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Habs, 2-1, but beat the Penguins, 3-2, and the Leafs, 5-2.  The Pats just barely, and I mean that in every sense of the phrase, eked out a win against the Browns, 27-26.  It really went down to the wire.  Seriously.

Pro Sports Extra

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Make no mistake, folks.  We did not just play the Oakland A’s.  We played the Green Sox.  I know I’ve said this before, but every once in a while I just wonder at how true it is.  Every so often, we notice that there’s a particular team that absorbs several guys who used to play for us.  There was a time in the recent past when the Dodgers could be thought of as the Blue Sox.  The A’s now fit that bill.

This was kind of a quiet one.  No big heroics.  No extra-inning comebacks.  Just grinding through.  We seem to be doing a lot of that lately.

We scored first and put the A’s in an early two-run hole.  Napoli singled and moved to second on a throwing error.  Nava got hit.  Salty’s flyout put both runners in scoring position.  Iglesias flied out.  And both runners scored on Holt’s single; the associated throwing error was a nice touch.

Unfortunately, there weren’t that many scoring chances after that, and the ones we did have weren’t maximized.  Which is unfortunate because Lackey, who sailed pretty smoothly through four, allowed the A’s to score in the fifth and tie it in the sixth.  First he gave up a run thanks to a single-double combination.  Then he gave up a leadoff solo shot to, of all people, Jed Lowrie.

The rest of the time, as usual of late Lackey was fantastic.  He was weaving right through the batting order with no major trouble at all.  Those two runs were the only ones he relinquished, 

He left the game honored with the win.  We put it away in the eighth inning.  Iglesias singled, two outs later Victorino got hit, and both scored on a single by Pedroia.  Bailey pitched the eighth, Uehara pitched the ninth, and the final score was 4-2.

AP Photo

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Never believing that you’re out of a game is a very valuable skill.  It makes you able to make sure hat you’re never out of a game.  It would have been easier last night for us to just assume that we wouldn’t be able to score enough runs to keep a lead going.  But then we wouldn’t have won big.

Allen Webster had a terrible night.  And when I say terrible,  I mean terrible.  It was, well, terrible.  In the first, he gave up a single and then a two-run shot.  In the second, he loaded the bases with a single and two walks and then cleared them with a double.  In the third he gave up a solo shot, a single, and a lineout before being replaced by Aceves, who gave up a triple that allowed his inherited runner to score.

So Webster gave up seven runs in less than three innings.  Ouch.  At the time, he was exceedingly fortunate that he had excellent run support.  Somehow, we managed to survive his implosion by scoring enough runs to generate a one-run lead.

Papi led off the second with a solo shot, but the really big inning was the third, during which we scored five runs.  Nava lined out, Victorino singled, and Pedroia smacked a two-run shot.  Papi doubled, and Napoli smacked a two-run shot.  Salty doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch during Iglesias’s at-bat, and scored on Holt’s sac fly.  Nava got hit in the fourth and scored on a single by Pedroia, and Bradley hit a solo shot in the fifth.

Breslow came on for the fourth and stayed for the fifth and an out and a double in the sixth.  Then it was Bailey’s turn.  He finished the sixth and pitched through the seventh.  Tazawa gave up a single that turned into a run on a groundout in the eighth.

That run would have tied the game at eight had it not been for some clutch hitting in the top of the frame.  Victorino appropriately led it off with a solo shot.  Then Pedroia lined out, Papi singled, Napoli struck out, Salty walked intentionally, and then Iglesias and Holt each singled in a run.  And Uehara pitched the ninth.

So, in total, that’s sixteen hits, three doubles, and a whopping five home runs! The score, thanks to our resilient attitude, was 11-8.

AP Photo

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Congratulations to Papi, Pedroia, and Buchholz, who are all going to the All-Star Game! Obviously they’ve earned it.  I know they’ll do what they can to help the American League bring it home this year.  And I hope that we’ll be the ones reaping the benefits in several months.  And I hope that we’ll pitch better than we did last night so we can get there.  Specifically, I hope the relief corps doesn’t make a habit of blowing four-run leads.

Ellsbury singled on the second pitch of the game and proceeded to lay out a textbook example of what manufacturing a run means.  Two outs later, he moved to second on a single by Papi and then stole third, thereby inducing a throwing error that allowed him to score.  Jacoby Ellsbury is the quintessential baserunner: smart, adaptive, quick-thinking, attentive, and of course as fast as it gets.  Nava singled to lead off the second and scored on a sac fly by Brock Holt.

Dempster tied the game at two in the second.  He gave up a solo shot to lead it off and then induced a flyout.  But then he gave up a single that he turned into a double by making a throwing error, and then let it turn into a run on another single.  He gave up another solo shot to lead off the third.

But fortunately we had an answer to that.  Make that a tying answer, a go-ahead answer, and an answer to spare.  Napoli walked to lead off the inning, Nava doubled, and Salty cleared the bases with a double.  Holt reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners, and Salty scored on a single by Iglesias.  With one out in the sixth, Ellsbury tripled and scored on a single by Pedroia.  And Pedroia led off the eighth with a single and scored on a double by Nava.

Heading into the ninth inning, the score was 7-3.  Dempster had given up just the three runs and was replaced by Miller a walk and a strikeout into the seventh.  Miller gave up a single and was replaced by Bailey, who actually induced a double play and managed to get through the eighth inning without incident.  Ironically, the trouble with the relief corps started only after Bailey was taken out.

Wilson was put on for the ninth.  He got the first out with a strikeout, gave up a single, got the second out with a flyout, gave up another single, and hit a batter to load the bases.  Uehara came on, and obviously what we needed in that situation was an out.  We would have done well with an out of any kind.  The bases were loaded, but there were already two out.  All we needed was one more.

Eventually, Uehara did strike out a batter to end the inning.  But not before he allowed multiple scoring plays.  He gave up two consecutive singles that scored a combined total of three runs.  Then Snyder made a throwing error on a force attempt, which let the tying run score.  So I guess technically if the damage had stopped with those two RBI singles, we still could have won the game within nine innings by one run.

We ended up playing eleven and didn’t have much of a fight to show for it.  We went down in order in the tenth with three strikeouts and the eleventh with two groundouts and a popout.  Breslow pitched a solid tenth, but after securing the first out in the eleventh, he gave up a single followed by a home run.  It was the first and last pitch of the at-bat, a bad slider.  So after all that baseball, which started late to begin with, the Angels won, 9-7.

Reuters Photo

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There are few better ways to celebrate the Fourth of July than kicking back, relaxing, and taking in a textbook specimen of the national pastime.  I especially appreciated the victory, because losing would have really put a damper on the festive spirit.  I love baseball on the Fourth of July.  It would have been even better to have seen the national pastime played in America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, but the schedule is the schedule.  It was a great game anyway.

Webster got the nod to start and did a great job.  He gave up two runs on five hits over six innings with four walks and as many strikeouts.  He walked Pedro Ciriaco of all people to lead off the third, and he eventually scored on a sac fly.  He gave up his other run in the fifth thanks to a double-single combination.  And he ended his start on a fantastic one-two-three note.

Just as great as Webster’s start was the collective performance of our relievers, who pitched four shutout innings to hold the Padres at two runs.  Bailey got the seventh and miraculously sent down the three hitters he faced.  Wilson pitched the eighth and got the first out of the ninth before Breslow took over.

In the meantime, we didn’t waste time putting ourselves on top.  Ellsbury singled to lead off the first, and then Victorino and Pedroia hit back-to-back doubles, the latter of which scored two.  With one out in the second, Snyder hit a solo shot to right center field.  Napoli led off the fourth with a single and scored on a double by Iglesias.  Pedroia led off the fifth with a single but got caught stealing second; Napoli doubled and scored on a single by Gomes.  Lavarnway, Iglesias, and Ellsbury led off the sixth with back-to-back-to-back singles.  Two outs later, Iglesias and Ellsbury scored on a single by Papi.  And last but not least, Ellsbury led off the eighth with a solo shot to right.

The final score was 8-2.  And that’s the sweep!

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

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