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Posts Tagged ‘Craig Breslow’

Everyone knows that revenge is a dish best served cold.  Well, it’s not as cold in St. Louis as it is in Boston, but winning by the same score by which we lost our first loss of the series while on the road will do just fine.  Now the series is even, but we’ve got to keep up the good work.  There can be no mistakes from now on.  Granted, there could be no mistakes from the first game on, but at least we have time to make up for it.

Now that those cautionary remarks are out of the way, we can get down to the business of feeling good about our win! Buchholz pitched an absolute gem.  It was a short gem but a gem nonetheless.  He pitched four innings and gave up one run that was unearned on three hits while walking three and striking out two.  He went one-two-three in the first and pitched around two baserunners in the second.  With one out in the third, he gave up a single, which would turn into the unearned run thanks to Ellsbury, whose deflection and missed catch put the runner in scoring position.  He again pitched around two baserunners in the fourth, and that was it for Buchholz.

Meanwhile, our hitters had gone down one-two-three in the first four innings.  We finally scored in the fifth, when Papi led off with a double and scored on a sac fly by Drew.  But when Doubront came on for the fifth, during which he went one-two-three, we were still down by one.

That changed in the sixth, when we scored our second, third, and fourth runs, what turned out to be our last three runs of the game.  Ellsbury and Nava provided two quick outs, but then Pedroia singled, Papi walked, the Cards made a pitching change, and Gomes received five straight sinkers.  He took the first for a ball, the second for a strike, and the third for a ball.  He fouled off the fourth.  And he homered on the fifth.  He rocketed that ball beyond the fence in left center field.  It was one of those moments where you really feel like you really need a home run and then you just get one, like it’s the easiest and most natural thing in the world.  And, because you need it, it is, but that alone makes it so unlikely.  Anyway, it was awesome, and it won the game for us right there.

Doubront had a one-two-three sixth and got the first two outs of the seventh before giving up a double.  Breslow continues to struggle, entering the game and giving up an RBI single.  After he issued a walk, it was Tazawa’s  turn.  Tazawa ended the inning and turned the ball over to Lackey for the eighth.  Uehara pitched the ninth, obtaining the game’s last out with a pickoff.

So it was Doubront who picked up the win; Breslow, Tazawa, Lackey, and Uehara all held down the fort.  And we won, 4-2.  Which is awesome and spectacular and really great and extremely essential and important.  But I would much prefer not having to come from behind.

In other news, the Pats walked away with the win, defeating the Dolphins, 27-17.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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It was very, very clear that the team did not get my memo.  I specifically said that we need to play better baseball, baseball that was more appropriate and commensurate to the stage on which we currently find ourselves, namely the World Series.  That means that we need to be at our absolute very best, and it was quite obvious from last night’s performance that we simply weren’t.

Let’s start with Peavy.  His outing was great but short.  He gave up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out four.  He threw sixty-four pitches.  And he only pitched four innings.

His first inning was his worst.  He gave up a single, a sac bunt, an RBI single, another single, and another RBI single.  Then he ended the inning on two quick outs, went one-two-three in the second and third, and pitched cleanly out of a nobody-out bases-loaded situation in the fourth.

Doubront relieved him, pitching around his own jam in the fifth and going one-two-three in the sixth.  Breslow took over in the seventh and continues to have issues.  I shouldn’t have to say that this is epically the wrong time for issues of any kind.

He gave up a single, hit a batter, and was relieved by Tazawa.  Although Tazawa should not have given up a double, it’s also true that he shouldn’t have had to inherit runners either, both of which scored.  The inning ended four batters later.

Workman pitched around two baserunners in the eighth, and then we lost the game in the ninth.

In order to understand the similarity in disappointment and frustration between Game Three and Game Two, we obviously have to talk about the offense.  While we only sent up the minimum through three, we showed signs of life in the fourth, when Ellsbury singled and Papi walked.  We finally scored in the fifth.  Bogaerts led it off with a triple and scored on a force out by Carp to reduce the deficit to one.

Victorino led off the sixth with a walk and scored on a single by Nava to tie the game at two.  After the Cards’ two run double in the seventh, the score was 4-2, and I was really hoping that we weren’t about to lose by the same score we used to lose Game Two.

Fortunately, we managed to tie the game at four in the eighth.  Ellsbury singled, Victorino got hit, Pedroia grounded out and moved both runners into scoring position, and Papi walked intentionally to load the bases.  Nava grounded into a force out to score Ellsbury, and Bogaerts singled to score Victorino.  That was very small ball in a bases-loaded situation; that wasn’t exactly the blow-this-game-wide-open scoring play that I was hoping for.  But it allowed us to pull even, and we took what we could get.

That brings us back to the ninth.  We went down in order in the top of the inning and were hoping to force the game into extras.  Workman recorded the first out of the inning and gave up a single, and Uehara came in.  Uehara, as we all know, has been exceptional in the closer’s role.  Exceptional.  So it was not unreasonable to expect him to take us into extras, where we’d figure out a way to win, big hits or no big hits.

He gave up a double.  By itself, a double is no big deal.  And giving up a double in that situation, since there was only one other baserunner, was not, by itself, a problem.

It became a problem because Middlebrooks committed interference at third.  Uehara’s next batter had reached on a fielder’s choice.  The first runner was successfully thrown out at home, thanks to one of Pedroia’s signature diving catches.  Salty then threw the ball to third because he saw the runner trying to get back there.  But it was a bad throw, and in Middlebrooks fell down trying to make the catch.  He didn’t end up making the catch, but apparently he did end up impeding the runner’s path home.  So Middlebrooks got caught up with the baserunner, and soon he was just running toward home.  Fortunately, it looked like it wouldn’t matter because Nava made an excellent throw home.  But third base umpire Jim Joyce ruled Middlebrooks’s actions an obstruction.  And we lost, 5-4.

It’s always possible that that call was debatable.  In my opinion, umpires have to be very, very careful not to affect what is supposed to be a game’s natural outcome.  And while there are rules on the books that explain and determine what is and is not obstruction, one also has to consider the fact that it’s also possible that Middlebrooks did the only thing he could do given the circumstances.  Salty threw the ball; it wasn’t a great throw, but Middbelrooks still had to catch it.  And he did the only way he could do; he can’t be expected to simply not try to catch a ball, and there was no way out of that situation.  The whole thing was a complete mess.  I don’t recall having seen a play so messy and confusing, especially not during a postseason or a World Series.  I was too devastated after I understood that it had cost us the game to register what had happened, but after I saw it on replay a few times I was able to add some fury and outrage to that devastation.  Losing because it’s blatantly all your fault is a really hard thing to accept.  Losing based on a called play that can be questioned, especially during the World Series, is undeniably infuriating.  Of course, Joyce explained later that rules are rules, whether or not there was no alternative for Middlebrooks.  But to have the entire game decided on a play like that is just really, really hard for me to get on board with.

It’s bad enough that we lost.  It’s even worse that we lost during the World Series, on a walkoff on the road no less, and worse still that this has created a 2-1 series deficit.  But I also am really uncomfortable with the fact that we lost our second home game and have now lost our first away game.  We’re supposed to be the team that doesn’t let things like that get to us.  We’re supposed to be the team that can reestablish our momentum anywhere and carry it with us anywhere at any time.  I don’t care that now we’re stuck on the road.  We have no choice but to pick up, and fast, in St. Louis.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Devils, 4-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Okay.  There’s no need to be scared or read into this.  Just because the last two times we’ve been to the World Series we’ve been able to sweep and get it done in four games doesn’t mean that we’ll lose the World Series just because we lost the second game.  It’s fine.  Honestly, we shouldn’t even have lost this one.  My point is that there is plenty of baseball still to be played.  True, we’re going away now, but that hasn’t stopped us before.  We’ll just have to get past it.

So Lackey did a great job while he was on the mound.  He pitched six and one-third innings and gave up five hits and two walks while striking out six.  He gave up a single in the first, a single in the second, and nothing in the third.  He cracked in the fourth when he gave up a triple to lead it off that turned into a run on a groundout.

That one run was a big deal because we had yet to score.  We went down in order in the first, and Napoli walked to provide our first baserunner in the second.  Ellsbury provided our first hit in the third with a single, and the bottom of the fourth looked promising.  Pedroia doubled and Papi walked, setting up Napoli.  Who then grounded into a double play.

Lackey went one-two-three in the fifth; Salty walked in the bottom of the inning, but that was it.  Lackey gave up a single in the sixth, and in the bottom of the inning, it looked like the game might be ours after all.

I’ve often said that, in a close game, one run feels like ten.  This one was no exception.  Because the longer you go without scoring runs, the more difficult it feels to score them.  After Victorino grounded out, Pedroia walked, and then it was Papi’s turn.  And I was busy thinking how great it would be if he just went yard, just like that, just because we really needed him to.

He took a fastball for a ball, fouled off a second fastball, and then received four straight changeups.  He took the first for a ball, the second for a strike, and the third in the dirt.

And he went yard on the fourth.  Hit that ball into the Monster seats.  Seriously.  Just like that.  Just because we needed him to.

It was huge.  It didn’t tie the game.  It gave us the lead.  In a close one.  In which scoring one run felt like scoring ten.  And as a result of that phenomenon, scoring two runs on one swing felt like a real jump out in front.

Unfortunately, the whole thing unraveled in the seventh.  That can not be overstated.  Literally the whole game was completely undone in the seventh inning alone.  It was one of the worst innings you can possibly imagine to occur during, of all things, the World Series.  Honestly, that kind of bad baseball is not even excusable during the regular season, let alone the postseason, let alone the pinnacle of the entire postseason.

Lackey led off the seventh with a strikeout.  Then he issued a walk and gave up a single, so John went with Breslow.  The Cards managed to execute a double steal, putting both runners in scoring position.  And Breslow walked his first batter to load the bases.

A double play would have ended it all.  But Breslow induced a sac fly.  Technically, that’s not so bad; you take the out in exchange for the run, which in this case would not be winning but rather tying.

But the whole thing went completely and epically awry.  I saw it with my own eyes, and I couldn’t believe it was happening.  I think that that had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really want to believe it was happening.

Not one but two runners scored on the sac fly, indeed providing the Cards with the winning run.  Salty missed the catch, Breslow made an error on the throw, and the whole thing turned into a huge mess as a result.  And then, to top it off, Breslow gave up an RBI single.  Thus, while Lackey was charged with three runs, he was also the victim of a situation in which some of them scored on someone else’s watch.

The final score was established right there.  We lost, 4-2.

Tazawa pitched the last out of the seventh, after which we went down in order.  Workman pitched the eighth, which for us looked like it had some potential.  Ellsbury reached on a fielding error, and Papi singled two outs later.  But Napoli popped out to end it.  Uehara pitched the ninth, after which we went down in order.

So at one point the game looked like it would be really good.  Then it was really, really bad.  All because of one play that was supposed to be routine but that instead cost us Game Two.  We need to pull it together.  Not only were those errors completely inappropriate for the World Series, but we also didn’t even have enough hits or runs to absorb that damage.  At the same time, I saw too many swing-and-misses and too many stare-at-strikes.  All of that needs to change immediately.  If we’re going to get this done, we need to take the proper steps.

In other news, hockey is back in Boston as the Bruins began their new season this month.  So far, we’ve beaten the Lightning, Red Wings, Panthers, Lightning again, Sabres, and Sharks, and we’ve lost to the Avalanche and Red Wings.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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Oh, man.  Wow.  Wow, wow, wow.

We’ve done it again! I can’t believe it! I mean, I can believe it.  I saw it with my own eyes, and I can believe it, but it was absolutely awesome.  This time last year, we were getting ready for a long offseason.

This time this year, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to the World Series! Detroit is officially taken care of, and we are moving on to the world championship.  Oh, man.  It’s so great to be back.  And we’ll be playing the Cardinals.  Rematch? Yes, please.

This was yet another close one.  We were the first to score.  In the fifth.  With two out, Bogaerts doubled and scored on a single by Ellsbury.

Meanwhile, Buchholz wasn’t immaculate, but he was dominant.  It was great.  He maintained his command and control and just mowed right through.  Until the sixth.  He gave up a walk and a single, and then he was replaced by Morales.  His final line read five innings and two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.  Ordinarly, two runs would be a great result.  But we needed something even better.

Morales then gave up our lead.  He issued another walk to load the bases with nobody out, and then he gave up a single that scored two.  Workman couldn’t have come in at a better time; he induced a double play to end the inning.  The fielding on that play, by the way, was textbook.

Workman induced a flyout to lead off the seventh, but then he gave up two singles and loaded the bases when he made a fielding error.  Then it was Tazawa’s turn; he ended the inning on a groundout.

So the situation was really only stressful for the bottom of the sixth, when we didn’t score, and the top of the seventh, when we were waiting for another chance to score.  And we got it.  And we took advantage of it.  Majorly.

Gomes led it off with a double, Drew struck out, Bogaerts walked, Detroit made a pitching change, and Ellsbury reached on a force attempt thanks to a fielding error to load the bases.

And once again, I have to say, I don’t know.  I don’t know how it works.  It must be the air here.  I think it also had to do with the fact that we were back home.  Being home does that too.  And maybe also the fact that Bill Mueller threw out the first pitch.  And it just happened.  It’s like magic.  It’s the magic of good baseball players playing good baseball.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I really don’t.

Victorino stepped up to the plate.  He took a curveball for a strike and fouled off another one.  And then he got another one.  They were all the same pitch around the same speed.  But that third one, he read like a book.  Really.  He powered up big time and sent that ball all the way out toward the Monster.  Four runs on one swing.  It was absolutely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  With that grand slam, we got ourselves a three-run lead.

Breslow pitched a one-two-three eighth, and Uehara owned the ninth as usual.  Cue mob.  Uehara basically summed it up.  5-2.

Alright.  It’s not over yet.  We’ve still got plenty of work to do.  I’ve been hungry, and I’m ready.  I like being American League Champions, but I’m ready for the Cards and the World Series.  Let’s go get it.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Yet another close one.  But I took issue with this one because it didn’t have to be so close.  At one point, we had more than a one-run lead; it wasn’t much more, but in close games, every run counts.  This particular contest happened to end well, but it was not exactly a high point for our pitching staff.  We managed to just slide by, and now Detroit is facing elimination.

We got on the board early, which I was obviously very happy to see.  We scored three runs in the second.  Napoli hit the inning’s fifth pitch for a huge home run; the count was 3-1, and he got a four-seam and read it like a book, sending the ball all the way out to center field.  It was huge, and it started what was obviously a very important rally.  Gomes then reached on a fielding error, and Bogaerts doubled after Drew struck out; both ended up scoring, Gomes on a double by Ross and Bogaerts on a single by Ellsbury.

Then Napoli doubled in the third and scored on a wild pitch by Drew.

Meanwhile, Lester did a great job.  He had his share of baserunners, and he came close to squandering our lead.  He gave up a run thanks to a single-single combination in the fifth.  And another run thanks to a walk-single combination in the sixth.  Actually he gave up a walk and a single en route to recording the inning’s first out, the RBI single itself was given up by Tazawa.  And he gave up another run thanks to two singles and a double play in the seventh, which brought our lead down to one.  That was when Breslow came on.  He pitched through the first out of the eighth, and then Uehara took over.

So Lester’s outing wasn’t one of those breezy starts.  It was a grind.  You could tell that it was a grind.  Like I said, he had his share of baserunners, and he was really laboring through it.  And he wasn’t exactly backed up by an airtight relief corps this time around.  But we managed to hold on, so we reestablished our series lead after winning, 4-3.

AP Photo

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