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Posts Tagged ‘Daisuke Matsuzaka’

Farrell was officially named manager on Sunday.  Then, Bogar was fired and Torey Lovullo was hired as our new bench coach.

In terms of moves, nothing big has happened yet, obviously.  Mike Aviles was traded to Toronto for Farrell, so we are in shortstop limbo yet again.  Ben met with Shohei Otani, an eighteen-year-old Japanese phenom who, if acquired, will hopefully pan out exponentially better than Dice-K did.  And last but not least, the brass is negotiating a deal with Ross and with Papi.  The deal with Papi is probably going to be a long one, one that would most likely allow him to retire with us if he chooses to do so at that point.

In other news, the Pats beat the Jets in yet another close one, 29-26.

Reuters Photo

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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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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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Ugh.  Another crushing loss.  You know it’s bad when you go home and can’t seem to dig yourself out of your slump and instead start a new losing streak.  As if we haven’t had the indication that it’s bad from the fact that it’s September and we’re in last place.

Dice-K did not do well.  As in, he really, really, really did not do well.  He gave up five runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two, and he only lasted one and one-third innings.

He issued his walk in the first but otherwise sailed right through it.  All five of his runs were scored in the second.  It was a complete transformation from good to bad that occurred immediately.  His first pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot, and his third pitch of the inning was hit for a single.  Then he hit a batter and gave up a double that scored one and a single that scored two.  The next runner that would score stole second, moved to third on Lavarnway’s throwing error, and came home on a sac fly.  Dice-K then allowed another single before being replaced by Aceves.

Aceves finished the second and got through the third and fourth in solid fashion.  Miller breezed through the fifth, and Melancon breezed through the sixth and seventh.

Meanwhile, the hitters were completely quiet.  They did nothing.  And they squandered the few opportunities that they did manage to create.  We went down in order in the first and third, but Lavarnway walked in the second, Ellsbury singled and Ross got hit in the fourth, and we didn’t convert those.  We finally did manage to get on the board in the fifth.  Lavarnway walked to lead it off, Aviles singled, Lavarnway scored on a single by Podsednik, Iglesias popped out and Podsednik got doubled off at first, and then Aviles scored on a single by Ciriaco.

It turns out that those two runs would be our only ones of the game.  That was the difference between us and the Jays last night.  Their one bad inning yielded two runs; our one bad inning yielded five and we weren’t even done.

Padilla came on for the eighth and allowed three straight singles, which brought in another run.  And Bailey came on for the ninth and gave up a single, a walk, and a three-run home run.  So after all the hype that Dice-K would bring an end to our slump and after all the rain delays, which lasted a grand total of 123 minutes, the final score, therefore, was 9-2.

Be mindful of this, folks: if Bobby V. chooses to shut Dice-K down for the remainder of the season, this may very well have been the last appearance he will make for us.  He’ll be a free agent this offseason, and something tells me that the brass may decide go to in a new direction.

ESPN Boston

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And the bad news just keeps on coming.  If we’re going to have a blockbuster September, it’s going to have to start today because it sure didn’t start yesterday or the day before.  We lost again.

Dice-K failed yet again.  So just to be clear, if it wasn’t clear enough already, Dice-K’s norm is being a fail, and when he has a good start, it’s a reason to celebrate.  So basically, in failing, Dice-K was normal.  That says something really sad, doesn’t it.

He began his start with a seven-pitch walk to Coco Crisp and followed that with a home run for two runs.  He then gave up a solo shot in the second.  He opened the third inning with another seven-pitch walk to Crisp, followed by a single and then a sac fly that brought in one run; one out later, he gave up a single and then a walk to load the bases.  Fortunately, he only gave up a single that scored one run in that situation.  Unfortunately, it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because, all else being equal, we would have lost anyway regardless of how many runs he allowed at that point.  The bases were loaded again in the fourth with one out, and again Dice-K limited but did not prevent the damage; he induced a groundout that scored one.

All told, he gave up six runs on seven hits over the course of three and two-thirds innings.  He walked four, struck out four, and took a well-deserved loss.

And then Miller replaced him and pitched the rest of the fourth as well as the fifth.  Breslow pitched a one-two-three sixth, Tazawa pitched a one-two-three seventh, and Melancon pitched the eighth.

Meanwhile, yet again, there is not much offense to report.  The only innings during which we had more than one runner on base were the innings during which we scored, and those were few and far between.  To be exact, there were only two of them.  That’s two innings during which we scored as well as a grand total of two runs scored; we spent more than half the game, five innings to be exact, going down in order.

Thanks two a walk and two back-to-back singles, it was our turn to load the bases with one out in the sixth.  Ross singled in Ciriaco from first, and Podsednik tried to score from second but was out at home.  And then Pedroia led off the ninth with a double, moved to third on a groundout by Ross, and scored on a sac fly by Gomez.

Pedroia had our only multihit game, and it was a great game at that.  He went three for four.  But it wasn’t enough.  The final score was 6-2.  So after being swept by the Angels, we also got swept by the A’s.  That means that we are nursing a six-game losing streak, the longest we’ve had all season long.  In those six games, we have only scored fifteen runs.

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I don’t know how Dice-K does it.  Most of the time he is just awful.  And then all of a sudden he executes a start like this that’s just awesome, and it makes you think that maybe you shouldn’t write him off juts yet.  Basically it’s so agonizing that he can’t just do this on a regular basis, and you can’t help thinking about what could possibly have gone wrong between Japan and where he is right now.

He pitched seven innings and gave up one run, which wasn’t even earned, on five hits while walking two and striking out six.  He threw 101 pitches, seventy-one of which were strikes, and by his standards that’s extremely efficient.  The lone run scored in the first; he started the game by allowing the first of his walks, which eventually turned into a run on a sac fly thanks en route to a missed catch by Pedroia, which allowed the runner to advance.

Dice-K had plenty of good relief behind him to keep the pitching momentum going.  Mortensen and Padilla combined for the eighth, and Bailey handled the ninth.  I guess this is him giving us a glimpse of what we should expect next season, when we hope he’ll be healthy at the start of it.

Although we only outhit the Royals by one, we outscored them by four.  Ellsbury single-handedly answered their run in the bottom of the first with a solo shot on his fourth pitch, the fourth straight four-seam he saw in that at-bat.  All four pitches were the exact same speed, too: ninety-two miles per hour.  He took the first two for balls, fouled the third, and went yard to right on the last.  And with Ellsbury’s second home run of the year, the game was tied at one.

But not for long.  We took the lead in the third and never looked back.  Podsednik and Pedroia hit back-to-back singles, and Ross singled them both in.  Ellsbury and Ross hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth that scored one, and Loney followed it with a second consecutive scoring play, a single that plated Ross.

And that’s a wrap! Literally nobody in the last four spots of the order produced a hit, a run, or an RBI.  Only one, Gomez, managed to reach base all night, and that was because he walked.  Meanwhile, three of the top five, Podsednik, Ellsbury, and Ross, went two for four.  Ross bounced both of his hits off the Monster, and his double just barely missed making it into the seats for a home run.  And with this win, Dice-K becomes one of only four Japanese pitchers to win fifty games.  Not bad for someone who hasn’t seen Major League action in about two months.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Man, oh, man, we just got seriously one-upped in pretty much every way.  I mean, Lester got absolutely shelled.  He’s had much more than his fair share of bad starts this year, but he got shelled.  It wasn’t pretty.  He didn’t really do much of anything right.  You know it’s bad when your run total is amply enough for the team to win and yet somehow you still lose.  It was ugly, ugly, ugly.

Lester gave up eleven runs on nine hits over the course of only four innings.  No pitcher from this team has given up eleven earned runs in a single start since Doug Bird did it in 1983.  Seriously.  Not even Dice-K on his worst day.  Lester walked five and struck out two; clearly there is something fundamentally wrong with that ratio.  He gave up four home runs.

There was a solo shot to lead off the game (literally, because it was on the first pitch Lester fired, which was a sinker), and then a walk and a single and a double that scored one, a groundout that scored another, and a double that scored another.  Then there was a strikeout, and then there was a sac bunt that scored one.  So that’s a grand total of five runs in the first inning alone.

We got three of them back in the bottom of the inning using a similar strategy.  Ellsbury singled, Nava grounded out and moved him to second, and then Pedroia singled to put runners at the corners.  Ultimately it didn’t matter where the runners were standing because Gonzalez fouled two fastballs off before hitting the third out to right center field for a three-run shot, thereby reducing our deficit to two runs with one swing of the bat.

So at the time it was easy to think that maybe Lester just had a really, really, really bad first inning but would settle down after that.  But it turned out that if you thought that, you couldn’t have been more wrong.  Lester opened the second with a five-pitch walk, secured the inning’s first two outs, then allowed another walk and then another home run, this one on a changeup.  And it was followed, of course, by a solo shot on a cut fastball that clearly didn’t really cut, which was more or less the theme of the day for Lester.  He had a one-two-three inning in the third and allowed a single and a walk in the fourth but managed to conclude it without further damage.  In the bottom of the inning, with one out and the bases loaded thanks to two singles and a walk, the only thing that Aviles came up with was a sac fly that brought in one.

Lester came out to pitch the fifth, and in so doing allowed a walk followed by his fourth and final home run on another completely ineffective cut fastball.  Ellsbury led off the fifth with a solo shot on his fourth pitch, also a fastball.

Basically he had no command, no control, no effective pitches, no good grasp of the strike zone, no efficiency, and no ability to not make mistakes and to shut the door.  After the epic embarrassment and humiliation that was Lester’s start, Tazawa came on and got us through the rest of the fifth as well as the sixth and seventh.

With two out in the bottom of the sixth, Sweeney doubled and scored on a double by Aviles, who scored on a single by Punto.  Those were the last runs we scored yesterday.  Unfortunately, the Jays still were not finished.  Melancon came on to pitch the eighth and gave up four straight singles, if you can believe it, the last one scoring two runs.  Then he gave up a sac fly that scored one more.  Then he gave up two more singles followed by another sac fly.

So the final score was 15-7.  They scored more than twice as many runs as we did, and they had exactly twice as many hits as we did (they had eighteen, and we had nine).  They had three times the multi-hit games that we did (they had six, and we had two), not to mention twice the home runs.

There is absolutely no doubt that this was the worst start of Lester’s entire career thus far, and I sincerely hope that this is the worst it’s ever going to get so that the only place he can go from here is up.  It was painful, it was crushing, it was humiliating, and it was completely undignified.  It was horrible.  And we are now at .500 yet again.  This one’s on Lester.  There should be no reason in the world why a team that scores seven runs should lose, especially not by a deficit more than that total.  I don’t even know what to think about this.

AP Photo

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