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Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore Orioles’

Well, that’s a wrap! That, my friends, is officially a wrap.  The 2013 regular baseball season is now over.  That’s it.  We finish with a record of ninety-seven and sixty-five.  That’s good for a winning percentage of .599, which is the best in the American League and tied with the Cards for the best in the Majors.

Look at how far we’ve come.  New manager, new players, new team.  And new record.  Better record.  Look at how far we’ve come.  Look at all the changes we’ve made and the transitions we’ve gone through.  And we made it on the other side.  Not to say I told you so, but I knew good things were in store for us from the very beginning.  And in this particular case I’m so psyched I’m right.

We ended the season, unfortunately, with a loss.  But the pitching staff got some last-minute work in while Lackey got the day off, which is good.  Webster pitched three shutout innings to start us off.  Doubront took over in the fourth but got into trouble in the fifth.  He gave up two singles followed by a strikeout and a walk to load the bases.  A double, a single, a walk, and a single ended up scoring five runs.

Then it was De La Rosa’s turn.  He ended the inning and gave up a single in the sixth.  Dempster took over and gave up a double, a wild pitch that scored a run, and a groundout.  Dempster came on and, while ending the inning, also gave up an RBI double.  Breslow pitched the seventh, and Uehara pitched the eighth.

The game started very nicely with a solo shot on the fourth pitch, courtesy of Ellsbury.  It was his third cutter of the at-bat, and all four pitches were about the same speed.  But he hit this one beyond the fence in right center field.  And he looked comfortable doing it, too.  It’s his third leadoff shot this year and tenth of his career, which is a new club record!

After Bogaerts struck out, Papi singled and then scored on a groundout by Carp.  With one out in the second, John McDonald singled, and Quintin Berry went yard on a changeup to right.  So the pitchers were taking this opportunity to get their work in, and so was the bench.  Which, as we all know, is very important.  Salty singled and scored on a single by Ellsbury in the fourth.  And Papi singled and scored on a single by Napoli in the ninth.

So we lost, 7-6.  But that’s so opposite of everything we’ve accomplished this year.  I’m so proud of us.  Now, this moment is really all about us.  But I want to say one thing.  The New York Yankees will be missing the playoffs this year.  Wow.  Life is good.

Okay.  So.  The whole team gets the day off on Monday, when the Rays and Rangers play for the final Wild Card spot.  Whoever wins will play Cleveland.  Then the division series will start on Friday.  The first two games will be at home, followed by a day off, then two games away, and then the last game would be back at home.

Oh, man, it’s good to be back.  Let’s get this done.

In other news, the Pats bested the Falcons, 30-23.

AP Photo

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Congratulations, Red Sox Nation! We are officially fans of 2013’s best American League baseball team.  Oakland lost, so now our enjoyment of home field advantage is very much perpetuated.  Oh, it’s great.  It’s just so insanely great.

Lester started out strong but ended up having a mediocre night.  It was a real grind.  Ultimately, he gave up four runs on nine hits in five innings while walking two and striking out four.  On average, that’s about two baserunners per inning, which also means a lot of pitches: ninety-seven, to be exact, which is about the number of pitches we usually expected him to need to get through at least two more innings.

With two out in the second, he gave up a run thanks to a single-double combination.  He gave up a solo shot on his very first pitch of the third, a sinker gone wrong.  Then he gave up four singles in the fifth, three of which were consecutive, to bring in his final two runs.

So yeah, it was a struggle.  There are nights when it comes easily, and there are nights when it just doesn’t.  It could have been much worse.  At least he kept us in the game.

We didn’t score in the first three innings, but we scored in each of the next four.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Ross in the fourth.  Drew doubled and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fifth.  Nava singled and scored on a double by Ross in the sixth.  And Drew and Pedroia led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, and after Napoli popped out, each scored on a single, the first by Gomes and the second by Nava with a little help from a fielding error, even Gomes was thrown out at third.

Thornton went in for the sixth, and Tazawa went in for the seventh.  Two singles in to the eighth, Morales relieved him.  Unfortunately, after he registered the first out of the inning, he gave up a two-run double that put Baltimore on top.  And that was when Workman came in.  But we failed to score in the eighth and ninth, so we ended up losing, 6-5.

But let’s not forget about that home field advantage.  Now throughout Soxtober.  Loss aside, that’s a pretty big consolation prize.  I’m going to enjoy this.

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And now we have home field advantage for the division series.  It’s nice how that works out.  You know, like when we tee off against Baltimore and make sure we’re spending our first Soxtober game in our house.  It’s pretty simple if you ask me, but it was big fun to watch.

First, there was the first inning, which is when we set the tone.  Ellsbury grounded out on the game’s second pitch, which probably provided a momentary false sense of security before Pedroia and Papi hit back-to-back singles, Pedroia scored on a double by Napoli, and everyone came home on a solo shot by Nava.  There was no hesitation; it was his first pitch of the game, a curveball, and he knew exactly where the bat had to go.  And then the ball launched beyond the right field fence.  Boom.  Then Gomes walked and scored on a triple by Drew.

So we scored five runs in the first inning alone.  In hindsight, had we stopped there, we still would have won.  But we were at it again in the third.  After Napoli struck out, Nava and Gomes hit back-to-back singles, Nava scored on what was ruled a double by Salty (being that the game turned out as it did, the outcome of the review, again in hindsight, didn’t really matter much), and Drew cleared the bases with a single.

With two out in the eighth, Bradley and Pedroia worked back to back walks, the Orioles made a pitching change, and Papi promptly welcomed their new arm with a massive home run to left on a fastball, his third of a four-pitch at-bat.  It was that classic Papi swing, and to see him hit that home run so easily was quite a relief.

And last but not least, Gomes unleashed on the first pitch of his at-bat in the ninth.  We really carried that down to the wire.

Buchholz delivered a very high-quality start.  He gave up only three runs on seven hits in seven innings with no walks and four K’s.  He was, yet again, a master.  He just made a few mistakes.  He gave up a single followed by a home run in the third and a solo shot in the sixth.  So, literally, a few mistakes.  Other than that, he just looked more and more comfortable as the game goes on.  That’s the norm for him, and it’s good that he’s finding his groove again.  Seriously, it’s getting hard to notice that he just came back; he looks like he hasn’t skipped a beat.

Breslow pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.  And we won, 12-3.  Oh, and home field advantage.  Did I mention home field advantage?

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The second was our big inning.  If by big, I mean three runs.  And I do.  Because we scored three runs.  And it was enough.  Salty doubled, Middlebrooks struck out, and Drew didn’t waste time turning on the power, going yard on his first pitch of the game a cutter clocked at ninety-two miles per hour, which he promptly deposited out of the park.  And then Bradley doubled and scored on a single by Pedroia.

And those were the only three runs we scored in the entire game.  Good thing Lackey was on the ball.

But he wasn’t just on the ball.  He was amazingly epic.  He was insane.  He was ridiculous.

His first walk in the third and his second walk in the sixth were the only blemishes of his performance until he gave up a solo shot with one out in the seventh.

Just take a minute to let that sink in.  That means that those two walks were the only two things standing between him and a bid for a perfect game.  As it was, until that home run, he was well on his way to pitching a no-hitter.  He threw a cutter for a strike to start the at-bat, and then I saw that second cutter leave his hand on the release, and I saw it travel towards the plate, and I just didn’t know what was going to happen.  And then I saw the bat swing through, and I heard that sound.  It was the sound we’re so happy to hear when we’re the ones on the homering end.  But once the ball and the bat collide to make that sound, you know the ball is going out of the park.  And I knew it well before I saw it.  And it was awful, and devastating, and crushing, and unbelievable, even though I saw it play out in my mind before I saw it play out right in front of me.  It was just awful.

I’m proud of Lackey for keeping it together after that.  He didn’t unravel.  He gave up a single in the eighth, and he faced only three in the ninth.

In the end, we won, 3-1.  Lackey went the distance and gave up only one run on just those two hits while walking only two and striking out eight.  I’m proud of Lackey.  But I’m also crushed.  I really thought he had it in the bag.

And by the way, we are now officially in the playoffs.  It is an indisputable scientific fact.  So now it’s fun to look at the standings.  After certain recent seasons, I’ve been kind of wary of doing that, first of all because the standings fluctuate and secondly because, as we painfully know, being in first place at a certain time of the year doesn’t always deliver what it’s supposed to deliver.  But it’s later rather than earlier in September, and ladies and gentlemen, we are going to Soxtober!

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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Twelve innings, and all we have to show for it is a loss.  Amazing.  Okay, so actually, it’s not like we played horribly, and we’ve certainly played games during which we’ve scored so many runs that five for the opposition wouldn’t even have made a dent.  But yesterday’s game was not one of those games, and we didn’t do anything about it.  So while it’s true that there were moments during which we actually played some great baseball, overall it’s pretty hard not to be pretty disappointed that twelve innings just went by and, unfortunately, we just couldn’t come up with a rally.

We didn’t waste much time getting an early lead.  Pedroia flied out to lead off the first, but then Victorino singles, and Papi went yard on his first pitch of the game, a fastball that he took deep to right.  Watching him hit that home run was like a breath of fresh air.

And then the lead disappeared in the fifth.  Peavy was crusing until he gave up a single, a double, a groundout, and another double that tied the game.  Two singles and a double in the sixth gave Baltimore a one-run lead.

Fortunately, Napoli tied it back up in the sixth in dramatic fashion: with a solo shot all the way to center field.  It was epic.

And it stayed tied at three.  Breslow relieved Peavy in the eighth, and it was tied at three.  Tazawa came on for the last out of the eighth, and of course it was tied at three.  Uehara came out for the ninth, and it was tied at three.

Morales came out for the eleventh, and it was tied at three.  And he came out for the twelfth, and it was tied at three.  He got the first out of the twelfth; still tied at three.  He gave up two singles, a wild pitch, and an intentional walk, and somehow it was still tied at three.  He got the second out of the inning, still with a tie of three.

And then he gave up a single.  And then it wasn’t tied at three anymore.  Then, we lost, 5-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Man, that’s crushing.  That’s awful.  This game was so close.  We were neck-and-neck through it.  In the end, we just didn’t come up with enough runs.  I thought we could rally in the bottom of the ninth, tie it up at three, and then maybe win it in extras if we couldn’t get it done in nine.  But it didn’t happen.

We scored first when Pedroia hit a solo shot on the fifth pitch in the bottom of the first.  We made it two-zip in the fourth; Carp led it off with a flyout, but then Salty reached on a fielding error, Drew walked, they both executed a double steal, and between a sac fly by Bogaerts and a fielding error, Salty scored.

Dempster let the Orioles pull within one in the fifth thanks to a walk-groundout combination.  Then he let the Orioles tie it up when he gave up a solo shot to lead off the sixth.  In the end, he gave up two runs on three hits over the course of six innings.  Workman pitched the seventh and gave up two hits in the eighth, Breslow pitched the eighth through three outs, and Uehara pitched the ninth and promptly blew his save.  He gave up a triple, and then the runner scored on a sac fly.  And we lost, 3-2.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

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There was no perfectly placed, perfectly timed pinch-hit single last night.  Last night, it was just the usual.  There were no special moments and no heroics.  And ultimately we lost because we didn’t play the ordinary game as well as Baltimore played it.  As evenly matched as we were, we were outscored.  And that’s how games are won, or rather, in this case, lost.

Neither team scored in the first, but we were the first to get on the board when Nava led off the second with a double and scored two outs later on a single by Drew.  Lester, however, gave our one-run lead to Baltimore by allowing two runs in the third.  He gave up a double that at least set the runner back at first on a fielder’s choice after the next at-bat.  Then he issued a walk followed by a bases-clearing double.  He made it worse when he gave up a walk followed by an RBI double in the fifth.

Victorino single-handedly brought Baltimore’s lead back down to one by smacking a solo shot toward the Monster to lead off the sixth.  That was huge.  In a low-scoring game, that run counted for a lot.

Lester’s start stopped at six innings; Thornton came on for the seventh, put two on base, and managed not to allow any runs.  Workman pitched the eighth, and he and Breslow shared the ninth.  As for the offense, that second run proved to be our last, and we lost, 3-2.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

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