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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Carpenter’

The good signs continue.  We’re battling some soreness and whatnot, but the performance is good.  Victorino’s got some extra-base hits, and the pitchers continue to make a strong showing.  Drew left camp to see a concussion specialist; he resumed baseball activities, but the timetable for his full return is unclear.  Papi made his return to the batting cages.  Congratulations to the Dominican Republic; Team DR won the World Baseball Classic.  And last but most certainly not least, we and the Yanks have decided to dedicate Opening Day by honoring the community and memory of Newtown, Connecticut.  It’s going to be a beautiful ceremony, and the two teams are really doing the right thing.

We lost to the Pirates on Monday, 4-3.  Buchholz ruled the day; in five innings, he made one mistake in the form of a solo shot while walking two and striking out four.  Carpenter took the blown save and the loss; he gave up two runs.  Nava went two for three, and Victorino tripled.  On Tuesday, we lost to Baltimore, 8-7.  Dempster went five innings, giving up three runs on six hits.  Tazawa turned in a scoreless inning, and Bard gave up three runs on two hits.  Middlebrooks went two for three with a double, and Victorino doubled as well.  Unfortunately the Yanks shut us out on Wednesday; better in Spring Training than in the regular season.  Doubront pitched four and one-third innings and gave up four runs on seven hits.  Bailey finished the rest of the inning.  Hanrahan and Mortensen each pitched a scoreless frame.  We beat the Phillies yesterday, 6-1.  Lackey looked pretty sharp; he tossed five innings and gave up only one run on four hits while walking none and striking out one.  Bailey pitched a scoreless frame and picked up the win.  Pedroia went two for two with a double; Middlebrooks doubled, and Victorino tripled.

In other news, the B’s lost to the Jets and beat the Sens.

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It’s the middle of March.  The roster is thinning down, and the team’s performance is moving up.  As Opening Day nears, the pitchers especially are the players to watch.  Wins and losses means nothing in Spring Training, when regulars routinely don’t complete games, but a game is a game, and you can watch a pitcher’s motion and see how comfortable he is with certain pitches and certain situations.  Also pay attention to defense and injury in the field.  These things won’t necessarily predict our performance this year, but at least we’ll be able to tell how ready this year’s team is to face the music when the season starts.  Honestly, I have to say, it looks pretty good.

Nava is surely going to win a spot on the bench now that he’s proven himself at first, where he’s seen playing time this spring.  Drew has been out with a concussion that he sustained after getting hit by a pitch.  Papi started running the bases a bit but, due to soreness in his right foot derived from his Achilles injury, he’s had to take it easy as well.  While he’s sat out, Farrell’s been rotating the DH spot.  Unfortunately, he may very well start the season on the disabled list.  So will Breslow, due to problems with his left shoulder, and Morales, due to problems with his lower back.  Napoli actually saw action in consecutive days and managed to survive, which was a very good sign.  Aceves returned to camp after Team Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.  Fortunately, he wasn’t injured in the significant brawl that broke out between Team Mexico and Team Canada when the former got upset because the latter bunted with the game practically won already.  Team Mexico didn’t know about the Classic’s tiebreakers, which use run differential, and thought it was bad form.  So several Canadian players ganged up on Aceves and dragged him to the ground.  Like I said, we’re pretty lucky he wasn’t injured.  Victorino will also be heading back to camp now that Team USA is out.  Steven Wright, the knuckleballer who may not be, since he’s having some trouble getting a handle on the pitch, got cut along with Deven Marrero, Drake Britton, Justin Henry, Alex Hassan, Mark Hamilton, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Juan Carlos Linares, Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Velazquez, Daniel Butler, and Alex Wilson.  Ryan Westmoreland, once considered one of our best farmboys, is retiring.  We traded cash to Baltimore for Mike Flacco, who plays first base.  Yes, he’s the brother of Joe Flacco.  Yaz made his annual visit to camp, making the rounds with current Sox and former teammates.

Now let’s talk action.  We beat the Rays on March 4, 5-1.  Doubront made his debut and tossed 1.2 shutout innings including a hit, two walks, and two K’s.  Carpenter also tossed a shutout frame to end the game.  Iglesias went two for two with two doubles; Salty also had a double to his credit, and Overbay tripled.  We were back in action Wednesday opposite the Pirates, who beat us, 9-3.  On the bright side, Lester looked especially sharp; he hurled four comforting and relief-inspiring innings, during which he allowed one hit on two runs while walking three and striking out three.  I wasn’t a fan of the three walks, but it’s more important that he slowly but steadily lengthens his starts without also augmenting his run total.  Wright took the loss and gave up five runs on five hits; Tazawa pitched a shutout inning to end it.  Ciriaco went two for four, and Gomes and Salty both doubled.  We beat the Twins on Thursday, 12-5.  For the first three innings, it was all Buchholz, who dominated with a shutout performance and issued two hits, no walks, and four K’s.  Hanrahan delivered a deflating fail of a third of an inning, during which he gave up four runs on four hits, but Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Meanwhile, Pedroia and Napoli each collected two hits; Pedroia doubled and Napoli smacked a home run that seemed like he could really get used to the power again.  The Twins bested us the next day, though, with a shutout performance.  Dempster took the loss and gave up the game’s only two runs.  We lost to the O’s on Saturday, 5-2.  Doubront gave up two runs on four hits over three innings with a walk and five strikeouts; Hanrahan and Bailey both delivered shutout frames.  Salty had himself two hits, and Overbay doubled.

We beat the Rays on Sunday, 6-2.  Lackey worked three and two-thirds inning and gave up two runs on four hits, one of them a homer, while walking two and striking out two.  It doesn’t seem like much, but that start was better than most of the ones we’ve seen from him in recent memory; granted, it doesn’t take much from him at this point to constitute a good sign, but you have to start rebuilding somewhere.  Overbay went two for three, and Ross had himself a three-run jack.  The Marlins beat us on Monday, 8-7; Lester delivered five beautiful innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.  Carpenter took the blown save and the loss, giving up two runs on two hits en route to recording the game’s last two outs.  Salty doubled, and Middlebrooks homered for the first time since getting injured! He looked mighty comfortable doing it, too.  Like he could do it again.  Repeatedly.  We beat the Jays on Tuesday, 5-3.  Buchholz kept up his strong performance with four shutout innings during which he issued one K and gave up three hits.  Bailey turned in a shutout inning of his own.  Nava, Napoli, and Sweeney each had two hits; Napoli, Sweeney, and Middlebrooks each hit doubles.

We had Wednesday off and bested the Twins on Thursday, 7-3.  Dempster picked up the win with four innings of one-run, three-hit ball; Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Ellsbury went two for three with a double; Iglesias smacked a double as well.  Friday’s game against Baltimore ended in a tie at three after ten; Mortensen started and tossed three shutout innings of two-hit ball, and no one had a multihit game.  We crushed Tampa Bay on Saturday, 9-2.  Aceves pitched four and one-third innings during which he gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and five K’s.  Iglesias and Gomez both had two hits; Iglesias tripled, and Gomez doubled.  We beat Tampa Bay again yesterday, 5-1, on the shoulders of a literally perfect performance by Lester.  Six innings.  No runs.  No hits.  No walks.  Six K’s, or an average of one per inning.  Even Hanrahan got in the spirit and delivered a shutout inning.  It was only Spring Training, but it was a glorious indication of things to come.  Expect him to start on Opening Day for sure.  Middlebrooks went two for three, and Gomes was perfect at the plate; both doubled.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps in sudden death but then beat the Leafs, Flyers, and Sens.  We lost to the Penguins and then beat the Panthers and Caps before losing to the Penguins again.

Boston Herald Staff/Christopher Evans

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I wanted to go out with a bang.  I really did.  I was really hoping that, since we were playing the Yankees for our last series and therefore our last game of the year, we would do something to remind the world that we may have had a worse-than-worst year this year but we’d be back with a vengeance next year.  I was hoping that we’d do something spectacular, like score a ton of runs or pitch exceptionally well, which for us, given the season we’ve had, would be nothing short of spectacular.  I was hoping we’d have a hand in deciding who would win the division.  At the most basic level, I was at least hoping that we’d walk away with our heads held high after a win over our archenemy.

Instead, we ended the season in a more appropriate fashion: with bad hitting, bad pitching, and a bad loss.  We got shelled.  And that’s much more indicative of our season this year than any win would have been.

Dice-K got the nod to start, and speaking of lasts, this may have been the last time you see Dice-K wear our uniform.  If that’s true, this start was a similarly appropriate end for him because it was mediocre at the very best.  He gave up five runs on six hits while walking one and striking out two over the course of only two and one-third innings.  He threw forty-three pitches, twenty-seven of which were strikes.  He went one-two-three in the first using only six pitches.  But then he gave up a single and a walk to lead off the second before notching his second and final strikeout and giving up a three-run home run on his first pitch of the at-bat.  He induced a groundout to start the third but then gave up another single followed by another home run.  After giving up a single, Mortensen came on to finish the third inning.

Mortensen went one-two-three in the fourth and got the first out of the fifth, but then he gave up a double and a two-run home run of his own followed by two consecutive walks on five pitches each.  Beato then came in and finished the fifth.  To begin the sixth, he hit a batter, gave up a single, induced a groundout, and issued a five-pitch walk.  Atchison then came in and gave up a single that scored two runs.  He finished the sixth before Carpenter came on for the seventh and gave up a solo shot on his sixth pitch.  He then issued a four-pitch walk, induced a lineout, gave up a single and then a double that scored two runs, and issued another walk.  Breslow then came in and issued a four-pitch walk to load the bases and gave up a single and a sac fly that plated one run each before finally recording the last out.  Tazawa went one-two-three in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Ellsbury had singled on the second pitch of the game and scored on a single by Ross two outs later.  And with two out in the seventh, Ciriaco doubled and scored on a single by Iglesias.  That was all.  It was our last chance to score runs for half a year and we only came up with two.  Other than that, we hardly threatened at all.  Rare was the occasion when we got a runner past first base or multiple runners on base.  By the time the game was over, hardly any of the Yankees’ starters were left on the field.

The final score was a crushing and humiliating 14-2.  Only Ross and Ciriaco had multi-hit games; they each went two for three.  Pedroia and Lavarnyway were the only ones who walked; each walked once.  We pounded out a grand total of eight hits, only three of which were for extra bases, and all three of them were doubles.

And so ends the most disappointing season in recent memory.  There’s nothing new to say.  We’ve been losing so consistently and for such a long time that every possible way I could express the anger and confusion and frustration and embarrassment that we have steadily experienced this year has already been used to express it.  We end hte season on an eight game losing streak and have only won one of our last thirteen games.  We finish with a record of sixty-nine and ninety-three, our worst since 1965, which corresponds with a winning percentage of .426.  We also finish twenty-six games out of first place in our division.  We’re last in our division for the first time since 1992 and third-to-last in the league.  It was awful.  For an entire season we had to sit through injury after injury, loss after loss, and drama after drama.  It was just crushing and exhausting and frustrating and infuriating.  And strange; the Orioles are in the playoffs, and the Nationals have the best record in all of Major League Baseball? Who knew? But one thing’s for sure: we’ve got a lot of work to do this offseason.  A lot of work to do.  It’s going to be a long, cold winter, but hopefully it’ll be a busy one as the brass figures out how to fix this mess.  We only have our hope for next year now.

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Well, we put Zach Stewart on the mound again, and he disappointed again.  We lost.  Our runs were the result of only two scoring plays in the whole game.  We did not play well at all.

It started and basically ended with Stewart.  He gave up five runs on seven hits over the course of only two and two-thirds innings.  He walked none and struck out one.  His fourth pitch of the game was hit for a solo shot, and then he loaded the bases by giving up two singles and hitting a batter.  One run scored on a double play, and the other scored on a single.  He’s lucky he escaped with only those three runs.  He went one-two-three in the second but was back at it in the third; his sixth pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot, he got the inning’s first out, he gave up a single, he got the inning’s second out, and then he gave up an RBI single.  And that was when he was replaced by Mortensen.

Mortensen finished the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the fifth, which was Baltimore’s last run of the game and Mortensen’s only blemish.  Carpenter pitched the seventh, and Padilla pitched the eighth.

We didn’t score until the fourth, and when we did, we were already behind by five.  Ross led off the fourth by smacking a seventy-eight mile-per-hour changeup out to left field for a solo shot on the second pitch of the frame.  That was it until the seventh, when Lavarnway singled and Nava hit a home run of his own to left field, this one for two runs and on Nava’s first pitch, an eighty-eight mile-per-hour fastball.  Both home runs were expertly hit, both consisted of healthy swings, and both were great to watch except for the fact that, like I said, they were our only scoring plays.  If they had been part of a larger slugfest or something, they probably would have looked a lot better.

With this 6-3 loss, we are now down to our last series of the season.  It’s against New York, and we should at least put up a strong showing to make it hard for them or something.  Anyway, while the Orioles were celebrating their first playoff berth since 1997, we were just swept right out of Baltimore and have lost ninety games in a season for the first time since 1966.

In other news, the Pats downed the Bills by the healthy score of 52-28.

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On last night’s loss menu, we served up the gut-wrenching extra-innings blow.  Or rather that’s what we were served.

In the first, Cook gave up a run thanks to a walk-steal-groundout-groundout combination.  We tied it up that same inning when Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway.  Neither team scored in the second or third.  The O’s went ahead in the fourth when Cook’s third pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot.  We put ourselves back on top that same inning when Aviles singled to lead off the bottom half and Danny Valencia hit a two-run shot on his second pitch, a curveball.  Not an easy pitch to homer on, so it was nice to see the kid have a keen eye.  Neither team scored in the fifth.  After securing the first out of the sixth on a strikeout, Cook gave up a single and a double and was then replaced by Hill.  Hill gave up a bases-clearing triple before securing the inning’s second out, at which point he was replaced by Mortensen.  Mortensen gave up a solo shot on his first pitch of the seventh.  Fortunately, we mounted a comeback effort in the bottom of the inning.  Podsednik doubled, Ciriaco walked, and Pedroia singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, we did just about the most pathetic thing you can do with the bases loaded and still score runs.  Ross and Lavarnway grounded out back-to-back, which brought in two runs.  At that point, we were within one, Breslow had pitched the top of the eighth, and we tied it up at six the bottom of the inning; with two out, Nava doubled and scored on a double by Podsednik.

Tazawa pitched the ninth, and we went down in order.  Bailey pitched the tenth, and we had men on first and second with two out but did nothing.  Melancon pitched the eleventh, and we went down in order.

And then the twelfth inning arrived.  Aceves came in.  He gave up a double on his second pitch, a fine indication of things to come.  He induced a flyout for the first out of the inning and then gave up another double, which put us down by one.  Then he got a strikeout and gave up an RBI single, which put us down by two.  Then Carpenter came in and gave up another RBI single, which put us down by three.  In the bottom of the twelfth Gomez’s single was the extent of our offensive production.

We lost, 9-6.  Of the eleven games we’ve played in extras this year, we’ve won only two.  Neither of those have come at home.

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The badness keeps on coming and coming.  It just doesn’t stop.  Just when you think we somehow finally pulled it together with hardly any games left to play so that at least we can go out with our heads held high, we reach a new low.

I don’t even know where to start.  I’ll start with the hitters, because there’s less to discuss, which was obviously a big part of the problem.  We actually scored first; Ciriaco hit the fourth pitch of the game for a single, stole second, and scored on a single by Ellsbury.  We were still leading after three; Iglesias worked a five-pitch walk to start the third, Ciriaco singled, and then Ellsbury singled and Pedroia grounded into a force out to bring both of them in.  That was the last time we led because those were the last runs we scored.  Of the rest of our innings, four were spent going down in order, and in the two remaining innings we only had one runner on at one time in each, none of whom went past first.

The Rays were not so unlucky because our pitchers were awful.  They were just embarrassingly, pathetically awful.  It all started with Dice-K, who went one-two-three in the first, which was not at all an indication of what was to come.  In the second, he allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases and then walked in a run, all without recording an out.  In the third, he gave up a single, which turned into a double thanks to a steal and then into a run one out later thanks to another single.  He gave up a solo shot on his third pitch of the fourth followed by a single and another home run followed by a double.

That was when Aceves came in.  Aceves got out of the fourth and even pitched through the fifth.  But he got into trouble in the sixth.  To start the inning, he issued a five-pitch walk.  Then he gave up single, and both runners advanced thanks to his throwing error.  Then he gave up a bases-clearing triple that may as well have been a home run because the hitter scored also on a missed catch by Ciriaco.  Then Aceves gave up a double.

That was when Bard came in.  Bard did not get out of the sixth.  It only took him nine pitches to issue two consecutive walks.  He then gave up a sac fly that scored one run and a single that scored another.  He then issued another five-pitch walk to load the bases.

That was when Miller came in.  Miller didn’t get out of the sixth, either.  He also issued two consecutive walks, which both walked in runs since the bases were loaded and reloaded.

That was when Atchison came in.  Atchison got out of the sixth and even pitched through the seventh.  Carpenter came on for the eighth and gave up a double.  He got the first out on a flyout, but then the runner advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a single.  Two walks and one out later, the bases were loaded again, but Carpenter managed to close the door this time.

So, after all was said and done, the final score was 13-3.  We made two errors and passed one ball, but all of the runs we allowed were earned.  In total, our pitchers struck out five but walked ten and allowed fifteen hits.  That’s right.  We walked twice as many batters and allowed three times as many hits as strikeouts.  Dice-K took the loss.  The only pitcher under whose watch no runner crossed the plate was Atchison.  That’s one pitcher out of six.  It was so bad that, after the Rays, who are supposedly in a slump right now, scored seven runs in the sixth, there was a massive exit of most of the starters to start the seventh inning.

And just like that, we’ve clinched our first losing season since 1997.

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Why couldn’t we have played this way against the Yankees? We did during that first game, our crowning achievement of the series.  And, as I said, it all went down hill from there.  I would have loved to have snuck at least one more win in there.  Then again, if we snuck in one more win every single time we wanted to sneak in one more win, we would not be in our current situation, which is fighting just to get out of the basement with the team we’re currently playing.

Dice-K got the nod and, not surprisingly at all, didn’t pitch well.  He gave up four runs on three hits while walking three and striking out five over five and one-third innings.  It was the third inning that did him in.  He began the inning by hitting a batter and walking another.  After getting a strikeout, he walked another batter.  And then two consecutive wild pitches resulted in two runs plus another walk, and a groundout brought in the final run of the inning.  So if you think about it, he allowed those three runs without allowing a single hit.  It’s the first time one of our pitchers has done that since the 1970s.

He began the sixth with a groundout and then allowed a triple.  Mortensen came on and allowed his inherited runner to score on a single.  During all of Dice-K’s other innings, though, he was basically solid.  He was great.  In fact, there were times when he looked dialed-in and on cruise control.  But we’ve seen this kind of thing before where his real downfall is not being able to sustain that across all of his innings equally, and you have the one or two or three or more bad innings that determine the fate of his start.

Fortunately, he was taken out before he could allow further damage.  And it turns out that, between the third and the sixth, we’d been doing some scoring ourselves.  Ross led off the fourth with a four-pitch walk, Gomez singled, Lavarnway fouled off a slow fastball for a strike, and then he received almost the exact same pitch in terms of type and speed.  But he got of it the second time around.  He launched it to left, and it exited the park with ease.  One swing.  Three runs.  Tie game.

Then we had the bases loaded with two out in the fifth, and Nava came up.  Obviously that situation your default hope is a grand slam, and if not a grand slam then at least some sort of extra-base hit.  Nava singled.  But it still brought in two more runs, which gave us a two-run lead at the time.  Which, by the way, would not have been possible without some fine baserunning by Aviles.  Aviles had singled and was the first runner to get on base.  He moved to second on a groundout by Ross before Gomez reached on a fielder’s choice.  Brett Lawrie thought he could tag Aviles for the out, but in a fine display of athleticism and acumen, Aviles neatly avoided the tag and slid back to the bag.  Nice.

Then, of course, they scored their run in the sixth, which reduced our lead to one, a lead that Tazawa preserved in the seventh.  But Padilla, who came on for the eighth, began the inning with a single-double combination that tied the game at five.

It turned out that that run would be the last that the Jays would score.  Carpenter replaced Padilla, and all was well in the rest of the eighth.  Not so for the Jays in the ninth.  Ellsbury led it off with a single, after which the Jays made a pitching change that was not helpful.  Aviles flied out, which probably provided some measure of false hope, but then Ross singled, Gomez smacked a bases-clearing triple, and Lavarnway brought him home on a sac fly.

Which means, of course, that for once, we won! The final score was 8-5.  It feels good to win and to win by a respectable margin at that.  So, as I said, Dice-K received a no-decision, Mortensen and Tazawa each got holds, Padilla got a blown save, Carpenter got the win, and Baily got the save for pitching the bottom of the ninth.  And let’s not forget Nava’s spectacular, Ellsbury-esque diving catch for the first out of the eighth! Adam Lind thought he was about to put his team ahead for good, but Nava read the ball all the way, stayed on it, ran exactly the right distance, dove exactly the right time, and hauled it in.  It was an inspired piece of fielding.  Between all of that and the fact that we won, it was a great game full of gems.

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