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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago White Sox’

This was an epic week.  It was an epic, epic week.

Last Saturday, we bested the Other Sox in a big way.  Peavy pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four; Breslow pitched the eighth, and Britton pitched the ninth.  Those two runs were the result of a single-force out combination in the third and a single-single combination in the fourth.  But we scored more.  In the first, Ellsbury singled and scored on a single by Napoli.  Napoli and Gomes hit back-to-back doubles in the third.  And two singles, a double, two groundouts, and another single yielded another three runs in the fourth.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Bogaerts in the fifth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the sixth, and a wild pitch brought in the game’s last run for a final score of 7-2.

We managed to walk away with a win last Sunday as well.  Doubront gave up four runs on seven hits in less than four innings of work, and the rest of the game was pitched by Workman, who got the win, as well as Morales, Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara, who got the save.  Workman and Breslow each allowed one run of their own, but fortunately, yet again we scored more.  Carp singled, Salty walked, and both scored on a single by Ellsbury in the second; Victorino and Pedroia both walked, and Ellsbury and Victorino scored on a double by Papi.  Drew hit a solo shot in the third.  And Ellsbury walked and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fourth with a little help from a throwing error.

We began our series with Detroit on Monday with a loss, which was unfortunate because Lackey pitched really well, giving up only three runs in over seven innings of work.  We lost because we got shut out.  Again.  It was just one of those days where good pitching happened to coincide with bad, or in this case nonexistent, hitting.

Tuesday’s game went a lot better; good pitching coincided with good pitching, and a lack of hitting coincided with a lack of hitting, but we did that much better to pull it off.  Specifically, we did one run better, winning by a final score of 2-1.  The game was literally won in the fifth inning, when Gomes singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Middlebrooks.  Lester gave up only one run in seven innings, and the relief corps, featuring appearances by four pitchers, held it together.

But I have to say that the highlight of this past week was unquestionably our epic victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, during which we scored a whopping twenty runs.  That’s right.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Let me repeat that.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Wow.  With that run total alone, we could have won every game for at least a week.  Dempster started that one and gave up those four runs in his six innings; Workman, Morales, and De La Rosa each pitched an inning after that.  But that offensive performance was supremely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  The only member of the starting lineup not to have gotten at least one hit was Pedroia, and even he managed to bat in a run.  We put twenty-five base runners on the field that day, and only five did not step on home plate.  The only inning in which we didn’t score was the first.  In the second, Nava singled and Drew homered.  In the third, Ellsbury homered.  Papi led off the fourth with a homer.  Victorino singled and scored on Pedroia’s sac fly in the fifth.  And then came the sixth, which was one of the biggest and most massive innings I have ever seen.  We scored eight runs in the sixth inning alone; that’s more than we’ve scored in some games and even over the course of several games combined.  It was absolutely amazing.  First, Nava walked, Napoli doubled, and Drew walked intentionally to load the bases with nobody out.  Then Carp came in to pinch-hit and ended up walking, which scored a run.  Then Detroit made a pitching change, and Middlebrooks proceeded to welcome the new pitcher to the game by going hard on the second pitch of the at-bat for a grand slam.  Yeah.  A grand slam.  Like I said, it was epic.  Then Ellsbury struck out, Victorino got hit, Pedroia struck out, Papi doubled in another run, and Nava’s homer accounted for another two.  Like I said, it was epic.  We followed our eight-run sixth with a five-run seventh.  Drew doubled, and then Middlebrooks was awarded the home run that he deserved after a review.  Then Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Quintin Berry, who came in to pinch-run for Victorino in the previous inning.  And then Papi homered for another two runs.  And then Napoli led off the eighth with a homer.  Those eight home runs in a single game, a feat previously achieved in 1977, tied a club record.  It was the first time any team had done it since 2010.  (Interestingly, we played the Blue Jays in that ’77 game, and it was the Blue Jays who did it in 2010.) It was also a banner day for Papi, who collected his two thousandth hit in the process and who deserved every second of the standing ovation that he received.  He also passed Billy Williams for forty-seventh on the all-time homer list.

We carried that offensive momentum with us right into our next win.  We started our series with the Evil Empire on Thursday, and the final score was 9-8.  Peavy gave up four runs in six innings, Thornton gave up another two, and Tazawa blew his save by giving up another two.  Then Breslow was awarded the win, and Uehara was awarded the save.  We needed ten innings to get it done, but the fact that we got it done was the greatest part.  Lavarnway and Middlebrooks led off the third with a pair of singles, and Lavarnway scored on a double by Ellsbury while Middlebrooks scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Middlebrooks homered in the fourth.  Victorino led off the fifth with a homer; then, Pedroia, Papi, and Nava loaded the bases with nobody out with two singles and a walk.  Pedroia scored on a single by Napoli, and Papi scored on a force out by Lavarnway.  Nava doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway in the seventh.  The bottom of the seventh was an enormous mess, during which the blown save occurred; fortunately, with two out in the ninth, Napoli singled and scored on a single by Drew.  With one out in the tenth, Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Victorino.

The same good things can be said about Friday’s game, which, thanks in large part to the Yankees’ bullpen, we won, 9-8.  Doubront himself actually gave up six runs on six walks and three hits, one of which was a home run.  But our bullpen held it together.  Meanwhile, Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a single by David Ross.  Napoli led off the fourth with a double and scored on a groundout by Drew.  Middlebrooks led off the fifth with a solo shot.  And then we scored another five runs in the seventh inning alone, during which the Yanks went through three pitching changes.  Ross singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Victorino singled, and Carp walked to load the bases.  Pedroia singled in Ross, which kept the bases loaded, and after Papi struck out, Napoli worked the count full after receiving seven pitches but went yard in a huge way on the eighth pitch, delivering an enormously massive grand slam.  I can’t even describe the awesomeness of it all.  And we weren’t even done.  With one out in the eighth, Middlebrooks singled and then Victorino homered them both in.  Carp singled, Pedroia grounded out, and Papi and Napoli each walked.  Nava walked in one run, and Drew singled in another.

Yesterday, we enjoyed yet another high scoring performance, winning 13-9.  Lackey lasted less than six innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits, and then Britton, one of four relievers that we had to sent out, allowed two runs of his own.  But, in keeping with the week’s theme, we scored more.  Papi led off the second with a double, and Napoli followed with a home run.  Bogaerts led off the third with a double, Victorino got hit, and then it was Gomes who homered.  We had four straight scoring plays in the fourth, after Middlebrooks and Bradley led it off with two singles: Lavarnway doubled, Bogaerts grounded out, Victorino doubled, and Gomes singled.  And then Pedroia doubled and Papi hit a sac fly.  Each of those scoring plays accounted for one run.  Bradley walked in the fifth, and one out later, Bogaerts hit a two-run shot.  And then Napoli homered in the ninth.

We played very well yesterday also, but it wasn’t good enough.  This one was evenly matched, but the wrong team came out on top.  Lester turned in a quality start, giving up only three runs over the course of eight innings.  But they just scored one more run than we did.  Papi and Carp led off the second with back-to-back doubles that accounted for our first run, and Papi doubled and scored on Salty’s groundout in the sixth.  And then Middlebrooks delivered in a big way, smacking a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth.  But Workman’s not-so-excellent work in the bottom of the inning did us in.  He looked great at first, but between the first two outs of the frame, he allowed a single, which became important when he issued a wild pitch that brought the runner in.  And so we lost, 4-3.

And, as if our awesome performances were not awesome enough, we find ourselves in first place in the AL East, eight and a half games above Tampa Bay.  (The Yankees, might I add, are eleven games out of first, which is good for fourth in our division, and at this moment, they are not even in the running for the Wild Card.) We also have the best winning percentage in the entire Major Leagues.  And that’s a great place to be.

In other news, the Patriots played the first regular-season game of the year yesterday! We beat the Bills, 23-21, in a real nailbiter that went right down to the wire.  We went 3-1 in preseason, beating the Eagles, 31-22, and then the Buccaneers, 25-21, and after losing to the Lions, 40-9, which was especially scathing, we beat the Giants, 28-20.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Dempster pitched phenomenally well.  He even had a no-no bid going through four.  Eventually he gave up two runs in over six innings of work, but all in all I’d say he turned in a fantastic effort.  Our pitching staff really deserves recognition for maintaining our position, because the seventh inning, which was when Chicago started to rally, could have gone a lot worse without a solid relief performance.

Dempster was hitless through four.  He was amazing.  Chicago couldn’t touch him.  He just knew exactly what to do, exactly when to do it.  His execution was absolutely ideal.  He finally cracked in the fifth, but even that wasn’t bad.  His first hit, a double, was given up on the first pitch of the inning.  And one single and one fielder’s choice later, another single brought the runner to the plate.

We got on the board first, in the third.  After Ellsbury led it off with a groundout, Victorino singled, Pedroia popped out, Papi walked, and Gomes got hit, which loaded the bases.  And then we got to sit back, relax, and watch the Other Sox get humiliated after walking in the game’s first run.  Considering that the batter walking was Napoli, however, I can understand how the Other Sox may have felt some relief that it was, after all, just a walk.  Because if Napoli actually turned on the power, things could have been much worse for Chicago.

Drew struck out to lead off the fourth, but then Middlebrooks walked, stole second, moved to third on a groundout by Ellsbury, and scored on a single by Victorino.  Then Pedroia doubled, and he and Victorino both scored on a single by Papi.  It wasn’t an extra-base hit, but we’ll take what we can get from him right now, until he gets going again.

Dempster gave up a solo shot to lead off the seventh, and one groundout and one triple later, Tazawa induced a flyout and gave up another triple, bringing Chicago to within only one run.  But even though we didn’t score again, we won, 4-3.  Tazawa, Morales, and Uehara pitched the eighth, and Uehara owned the ninth.

I’ll be taking a break for about a week, and after that we’ll be into September! This is the home stretch; let’s make it count.

Getty Images

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Clay Buchholz, ladies and gentlemen.  The man never ceases to amaze me.  His ERA is still under 2.00; his 1.73 leads the league.  Watching him work is like watching the quintessential example of everything that pitching is supposed to be, in all its expert and masterful glory.  He just keeps getting better and better.

We got on the board first and established a lead early.  Granted, it was only a one-run lead, but when you have the right pitchers, that’s really all you need.

We really didn’t waste any time.  Ellsbury grounded out on the game’s third pitch, but after that, Gomes got hit, Pedroia doubled, and both scored on Papi’s single.  Napoli then walked, but Nava and Middlebrooks both struck out to end the frame.  Although Papi did steal third in the process.  You don’t get to see Papi steal a base very often.  It’s always fun to watch, even if ultimately it doesn’t amount to anything.

Our offensive production was all very nonexistent after that.  Ellsbury singled in the second.  Napoli walked in the third.  Ellsbury walked in the fifth.  That was it through six.  Salty and Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles in the seventh with two out, but it amounted to nothing.

We had a truly excellent scoring opportunity in the eighth; the best there is, really.  Pedroia lined out to start it off, but then Papi and Napoli hit back-to-back singles and Nava walked to load the bases.  We didn’t do anything major, but we did enough to provide some insurance, and in a game in which a one-run lead held until the eighth, scoring one other run alone would have been like scoring ten.  Middlebrooks hit a sac fly, bringing Papi home.  Drew walked to re-load the bases, and Napoli scored on a passed ball.  The inning ended with Salty’s strikeout, but we managed to double our run total and triple our lead.

If there are two pitchers on this staff that you can feel absolutely one hundred percent confident in when it comes to a one-run lead, they’re Lester and Buchholz.  Last night, it was Buchholz.  Watching him pitch with a one-run lead is like watching him pitch with a ten-run lead: easy and efficient.  His fastball and his off-speed pitches don’t miss.  They mix up the hitters and get the outs.  And he isn’t afraid to take the risks that allow him to keep batters on edge and win ballgames.

His second pitch of the game was actually hit for a single; fortunately, the runner was caught stealing second base.  He then issued two consecutive walks, but he got out of the inning unscathed.  He had a one-two-three second; his only blemish came in the third.  He gave up a single, issued a walk, and induced a force out that resulted in runners at the corners.  Then one run scored on a groundout, and the inning ended with a strikeout.  That’s what I would call a smart run; it’s usually advisable to trade the run for the out, especially if it’s only one run.  You should always be able to count on your lineup to score more than one run.

He gave up a single in the fourth, but thanks to a double play, he faced the minimum.  He gave up a single in the fifth and sixth, which ended with another caught-stealing.  The seventh inning was a thing of beauty: nine pitches, three up, three down.  All told, he pitched seven innings, gave up one run on five hits, walked three, and struck out four.  It was absolutely beautiful.

Uehara had a one-two-three eighth.  And we padded our lead even more in the ninth.  Ellsbury walked, Nava singled, and two outs later, Napoli walked to load the bases yet again.  And yet again, it was nothing big, but it was a single that scored another two runs.  Middlebrooks ended the rally with a groundout.

Bailey came on for the ninth; it was less than flawless.  He got the first two outs fine, then made a mistake and allowed a solo shot, and then ended the inning with a strikeout.  Fortunately, the score wasn’t still 2-1 at the time.  We won, 4-1.  We avoided the sweep and won the road trip.  Simple enough.

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That was close.  That was way too close for comfort.  We were no-hit through seven innings.  I mean, we walked a few times.  But we were no hit through seven full innings.  It was awful.  It was awfully, awfully awful.  If Big Papi didn’t start the rally that never was in the seventh, who knows what would have happened? I don’t even want to think about it.

This was, by far, Doubront’s best start of the year.  It was certainly one of the best starts he’s had in recent memory.  Unfortunately, it was Doubront who caved first.  With two out in the fifth, he gave up a single followed by a two-run home run.  It was the first pitch of the at-bat: a fastball that missed.  He then gave up a double but then ended the inning, luckily.

He gave up two runs on five hits while walking only two and striking out three.  That home run was a sign of a bad pitch; it was one mistake.  Sure, he pitched only six innings, and we usually think of a stellar start as lasting at least seven.  But he only threw eighty-five pitches in total; at that rate, he could have easily tossed the seventh and perhaps even come out for the eighth.

As for us, we didn’t really have much in the way of opportunities until the seventh.  And that was when we had the opportunity.  Pedroia popped up to lead it off, but then Papi, Napoli, and Nava hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases.  But Middlebrooks and Drew provided the last two outs of the frame.

Wilson pitched the bottom of the seventh and held the fort.  We did manage to cut the deficit in half in the eighth; Salty walked, Ellsbury singled, Carp flied out, and a home run would have put us on top.  Instead, a wild pitch moved the runners along, and it was a fielding error that allowed Pedroia to reach and Salty scored.  (I particularly enjoyed the fact that the ball rolled through the shortstop’s legs.) Papi grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Wilson allowed the Other Sox to restore their earlier lead; with two out, he gave up a run via a single-double combination.  After issuing a walk, Miller came on and ended the inning.  We went down in the ninth and lost, 3-1.

In other news, the Bruins are now up three-zip on the series, having taken last night’s game, 3-1.

AP Photo

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I suppose that it was bound to happen eventually.  I would have preferred that it didn’t.  If Lester wanted to keep winning forever, that would have been fine with me.  But I guess the fact that he lost his first start of the year makes him human or something.  I don’t know; I just feel like I didn’t really need him to lose to prove that.

With two out in the first, he gave up a single, a walk, and a three-run home run.  With two out in the second, he gave up three consecutive doubles that resulted in another two runs.  He was fine in the third and fourth, but he was back at it in the fifth.  His first batter of the inning reached on a throwing error by Middlebrooks and stole second.  Lester then issued a walk and benefitted from a subsequent double play.  But then he issued another walk, and a run scored on a single.  He had a one-two-three sixth.

All told, he allowed six runs, five earned, on seven hits while walking three and striking out two.  He threw 109 pitches.  So he was inefficient.  He got himself into too many jams.  He couldn’t close the deal and got himself in trouble too often.  He had no command, no control, and no knowledge of the strike zone when it counted.  Worst of all, his cut fastball was just lame.  That’s the best adjective I can think of.  It was just lame.  They didn’t move or dance or do any of the things that they’re supposed to do.

Truth be told, six runs isn’t a horrendous start.  We’ve had games where we’ve scored more than double that.  Unfortunately for Lester, yesterday’s game wasn’t one of them.

Drew walked and Salty went yard for two runs in the third.  Papi and Napoli worked back-to-back walks to lead off the seventh, and Middlebrooks hit a bases-clearing double.  And that was it for us.  Mortensen pitched the seventh, and Breslow pitched the eighth.

So the final score was 6-4.  Our winning streak stopped at five.  All because Jon Lester couldn’t get the third out way too many times.

Boston Globe Staff

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