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Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Indians’

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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I sure do love a good drama.  And what’s more dramatic than a come-from-behind win? Which, by the way, we totally beasted yesterday.  It was epic.  It was a classic spend-the-whole-game-thinking-that-you’re-going-to-lose-and-wouldn’t-it-be-great-if-we-won-in-the-end-and-then-we-just-do-it kind of contest.  Love it.  So much insanity.

Like I always say, it’s best to always be in a winning position.  But if you’re in a losing position, it’s better in the end to win somehow.

We were down by two before we even got to the plate.  Doubront gave up a single, which turned into a double thanks to a steal.  Then Ellsbury made a fielding error that allowed another runner to reach.  Doubront finally recorded the inning’s first out, gave up a single, recorded the second out, and gave up a single of sorts that scored two.  Aside from Pedroia’s walk in the bottom of the first, we didn’t do much of anything.

Neither team scored in the second, despite the fact that Doubront issued two consecutive walks.  Doubront had a one-two-three third, while Drew led off the bottom of the inning with a double, Iglesias got hit, and after Ellsbury grounded into a double play, Nava singled in Drew and was thrown out at second.

Both teams went down in order in the fourth, and Doubront gave up a solo shot with two out in the fifth and another one leading off the sixth.

That was it for Doubront.  All told, he pitched six innings and gave up four runs, only two earned, on five hits while walking two and striking out eight.  He threw 112 pitches, seventy-three of which were strikes.

Wilson pitched the seventh, and Breslow gave up a double, a single, and a successful sac fly in the eighth.  Drew led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple and scored on a sac fly by Iglesias, making the score 5-2.

Breslow’s ninth was pretty nasty.  Three up, three down on twelve pitches, and it only took him one pitch to secure the second out.

Fortunately, our bottom of the ninth was equally nasty, if not more so.  It began innocently enough with a walk by Pedroia.  Then Papi doubled, and Pedroia scored on a groundout by Napoli.  Papi stole third base, which was fun, and scored on a groundout by Salty; taken together, that was some very intelligent hitting, running, and scoring.  Those are the type of runs that nobody else gives you; you have to give them to yourself, and only real dirt dogs can do it.

Anyway, Gomes walked after that, and Drew singled to put runners at the corners.  Drew then stole second base, and Iglesias walked to load the bases.

That was when Cleveland made a pitching change.  Huge mistake.  They needed a pitcher who could enter a bases-loaded situation and end the threat.  Apparently they didn’t have one.  On a 2-1 count, after receiving a steady diet of four-seams, Ellsbury got a sinker and smacked a rocket of a double to center field.  It was quite the line drive.  It left the bat in a hurry.  More importantly, it brought two runs in.

In the ninth inning alone, we scored more runs than we had during the entire rest of the game.  Four, to be exact.  The final score was 6-5.

It was amazing.  It was the biggest walkoff frame since the Mother’s Day Miracle of ’07.  We hadn’t even had a lead until the ninth inning rolled around, and all of a sudden we won.  Ellsbury was rightly mobbed.  Now, that is what I call a walk-off win.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Lester had another questionable start.  Sometimes he goes through these phases where he’s really incredibly amazing, and then sometimes he goes through these interruptions where he’s mediocre.  Yesterday’s start was a prime example of the latter.  He gave up four runs on ten hits while walking only one and striking out eight over the course of seven innings.  So that means that he knew how to find the strike zone, but the hitters kept figuring him out.  His inability to efficiently deal with the Tribe led him to throw a total of 124 pitches.

He recorded the game’s first two outs before giving up a single followed by a steal of second and an RBI double.  He issued a walk in the third, allowing the runner to advance on a groundout and giving up another RBI double.  He then gave up another single, followed by a brilliant throw home by Gomes to save a run and gain an out.  But then he hit a batter and gave up an RBI single.

Giving up three runs in a single inning is pretty disappointing, to which Lester himself can attest, seeing as he was visibly angry about it.  But I have to say that one of his best qualities on the field is his composure, which allowed him to bounce back during the second half of his start, rallying to make quite an effort to keep the lid on the Indians.

The sixth inning was by far his best: fifteen pitches, three up, three down, all via strikeouts.  The first two were looking on cutters; the last was swinging on a sinker.  He recorded the first out in the seventh, gave up two consecutive singles, and induced a lineup.  Second base was then stolen, and Lester issued a wild pitch that allowed Mike Aviles of all people to score.

Tazawa pitched an immaculate eighth, and Bailey pitched a decent ninth.

But none of that would have mattered had it not been for our absolutely crucial rally in the eighth.  Until the bottom of the eighth, we were trailing by one.  We scored our first run in the second with two out, when Iglesias singled, moved to second on a balk, and scored on a single by Ciriaco.  Nava led off the fourth with a walk and scored on a double by Iglesias; the Tribe’s fielding error was a nice touch.  With one out in the sixth, Iglesias singled, and then Ciriaco singled as well; it was a ground ball of sorts, but thanks to a throwing error, both Iglesias and Ciriaco ended up in scoring position.  Ellsbury walked intentionally to load the bases, and unfortunately the only scoring play we could muster was a sac fly by Gomes that brought Iglesias home.

At the time, that sac fly tied the game, but like I said, Lester gave up another run in the seventh.  All we needed to do was score two more runs and hold on for the win, but we ended up scoring one more than the entire run total we’d scored to that point in the game.

The bottom of the eighth began with an out.  Then Ciriaco doubled, and Ellsbury struck out.  Carp came in to pinch-hit for Gomes and doubled in Ciriaco to tie the game back up.  Pedroia’s back-to-back double gave us the go-ahead.  The ball bounced off the Monster, and we were on top.  Anything after that, provided that Bailey held the lead in the next half-inning, was icing on the cake.  Then Papi walked intentionally, Napoli walked unintentionally to load the bases, and Nava singled in both Pedroia and Papi.

We ended up winning, 7-4.  We totaled eleven hits, five of which were for extra bases.  All of them were doubles, and two of them belonged to Pedroia, who finished the game two for four with a walk.  Iglesias and Ciriaco each went three for four.  Nava, Papi, and Ellsbury each walked twice, the three of them therefore accounting for almost all of our eight total walks.  Ultimately, it was a great game; you always want to be in a position to win from the beginning, but it’s nice to know that you can’t count us out even when we’re not.

In other news, the Rangers are done.  Finished.  Knocked out.  That didn’t take long at all.  Yesterday the Bruins won, 3-1. Quick work indeed.

AP Photo

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That was extremely satisfying.  Winning is always satisfying, but doing it against a team that’s had the better of you in a bad way recently is really quite a thrill.  Now it’s us who has the lopsided slugfest under our belts.  Revenge is a dish best served cold, but I’m pretty sure I’ll take this win any day.

Especially if Lackey is the one who got the W in the end.  I mean, a win is a win no matter who gets it, but it’s just so nice and so refreshing to see him in vintage form.  This is basically what he was like when he was with the Angels.  This is the John Lackey we signed.  Now, this is the John Lackey we get to see.

The fact that we went down in order in first provided considerable false hope for the Tribe, I’m sure.  The second, in which Papi walked, Napoli singled, and Carp homered to right on a slider was much more like it.  It was awesome.  Carp has shown that he can bring the power, and he did yesterday for sure.  We went down in order in the next three innings.  We had a beautiful opportunity in the sixth; with one out, thanks to a hit batsman and two back-to-back singles, we had the bases loaded.  And we had only one run score on Napoli’s force out.

But we blew the game open in the seventh, when we went through the lineup in its entirety.  Salty doubled to lead it off.  Gomes came in for Carp and got hit.  Drew struck out, Iglesias singled to load the bases, and Ellsbury singled in two runs.  Nava popped out, Ellsbury stole second, and Pedroia’s single cleared the bases for another two runs.  And we went down in order in the eighth.

Lackey went up against who but Justin Masterson.  Obviously Lackey carried the day.  But that would have been true no matter who he happened to pitch against yesterday, all else being equal.  He mowed right through the Tribe, pitching like it was the easiest thing in the world to just stand there and completely befuddle all the hitters he faced.  He had a one-two-three first and second.  His only blemish occurred in the third; he gave up two consecutive singles, recorded two consecutive outs, and absorbed the one run’s worth of damage wrought by Salty’s throwing error.  It was bad in every conceivable way.  Not only was the throw way off target, sending the ball into the outfield, but it came on a double steal attempt.

He had a one-two-three fourth and fifth; the only inning during which he did not face the minimum besides the third was the sixth, during which he issued a walk without also inducing a double play.

Uehara and Aceves pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively.

So the offense was huge, and so was Lackey’s start.  He pitched seven innings of one-run ball, and that run wasn’t even earned.  He gave up two hits, walked three, and struck out eighth.  The final score was a fantastic 8-1.

AP Photo

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I loathe being on the losing end of lopsided slugfests.  They take long, and there’s no silver lining; the pitchers don’t pitch well, and the hitters don’t hit well.  They’re full of what coaches would call learning opportunities, and they’d be right.  Lopsided slugfests are full of examples of exactly what not to do.

Nava doubled in the first.  Napoli singled and Salty walked in the second.  Nava walked in the sixth.  Nava singled and Lavarnway, in for Papi, doubled in the eighth.

Our one moment of offensive glory occurred in the third.  Ellsbury singled, Nava walked, Pedroia single, Ellsbury tried to score but was thrown out at home, and finally, Papi homered.  If only Ellsbury had been patient.  It was the first pitch of the at-bat, a ninety-two mile-per-hour fastball.  The ball ended up beyond the right field fence.  It was awesome.  It would have been even better had it been a grand slam, but we took what we could get.  Last night, we were in no position to be greedy.  It’s nice that a mistake was made and we were able to even score at all.  I can see why Ellsbury wanted to try to make it home; there was no way to know that Papi would have hit a home run.  Indeed, even if it had been a grand slam, if all else remained equal, then it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

Meanwhile, our entire pitching staff was one enormously epic fail.  We would have needed to score an exorbitant amount of runs to compensate for the load of damage that they allowed.  But no pitcher should ever be so bad that he has to count on the hitters scoring that many runs.  It was so humiliating.

Dempster gave up a single in the first; it was all downhill from there.  He gave up a single and issued a walk in the second.  He got the inning’s first two outs and then gave up a double that was deflected by Pedroia; one run scored.  He got the first out of the third and then gave up a single and issued two consecutive walks to load the bases.  He gave up a single that scored two runs, issued another walk to re-load the bases, and got the inning’s second out via a force out that scored another run.

So that was Dempster’s outing.  Mortensen came out for the fourth.  He gave up a double, issued a popout, and gave up an RBI single.  He gave up another run thanks to a single-single combination in the fifth.  Thanks to two walks and a single, he loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth; Wilson came on and promptly gave up a single that scored one run.  Napoli dropped a popup in foul territory, and then Wilson gave up a two-run double, induced a popout, and gave up a two-run triple and a one-run single.

Breslow came on for the seventh and, thankfully, did not give up any runs.  Same for Tazawa in the eighth and Miller in the ninth.  So those last three were the only ones who didn’t let runs score on their watches.  We lost, 12-3.

In other news, the Rangers picked up their first win of the series, beating us, 4-3, in sudden death.

Boston Herald Staff/Matt Stone

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