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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Nava’

Yet another close one.  Why can’t we just win one decisively and without worry and suspense? I guess that’s too much to ask.  Whatever.  As long as we’re winning, we’ll deal with it.

At least we scored first this time.  Ellsbury led off the game by striking out, but then Pedroia and Papi hit back-to-back doubles, and we were up, one-zip.

And it was supported by a spectacular outing by Lester.  Really, he was spectacular.  He went one-two-three in the first and second.  He gave up a single in the third.  But that one run really caught up with us in the fourth, both literally and figuratively.  He gave up a solo shot in the fourth, which was basically his only mistake of the night.  And a mistake it was, too.  That run tied the game.  And then he just went right back to being solid, going one-two-three in the fifth, sixth, and seventh.

All in all, I think this outing was really fantastic.  It’s about everything we could have hoped for.  It’s not his fault we only scored one run at the time.

That one run seemed like even less of a blemish when we regained our lead in the seventh.  As in the first, it began with a strikeout, this time by Nava.  Then Bogaerts singled, Drew walked, and both ended up scoring, Bogaerts on a double by Ross and Drew on a single by Ellsbury after Lester grounded out.

Two outs and one double into the eighth, Uehara got the call.  In total, Lester pitched seven and two-thirds innings and gave up just the one run on four hits while walking none and striking out seven.  That’s a solid outing if I’ve ever seen one.  It’s certainly one of the best I’ve seen this month, and that says a lot.  And it was long, too.  So Lester pitched phenomenally for a long time.  That’s really all you want from your starter anyway.

So the final score was 3-1, and now we’re coming back home.  We have momentum and math on our side; the Cards are facing elimination, and we only have to win one more game in order for the championship to be ours.  So we’ll just have to keep our heads down and get it done.

Boston Globe Staff/Mike Napoli

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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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Yes.  Oh, yes.  We are off to a mighty good start.  This is exactly where we want to be: right out on top.  I can’t be the only one sensing some familiarity with this whole situation.  So much time has passed, and so much has happened since then.  We are a completely different team now in innumerable ways.  But we are good.  And we can do this.

So the first game of the World Series is in the bag.  Oh, yes, it is indeed good to be back.

We started out very solidly.  Ellsbury led off the first with a walk.  Victorino lined out, Pedroia singled, and Papi reached on a force attempt with a little help from a missed catch to load the bases.  And then Napoli hit a bases-clearing double.  That was the best outcome short of a grand slam.  Three runs on one swing, and he looked really comfortable executing that hit.  Excellent.

Drew and Ross hit back-to-back singles to lead off the second.  Then Ellsbury flied out and Victorino reached on a fielding error to load the bases.  Drew scored on a single by Pedroia.  That’s not exactly the big response to a bases-loaded situation I was hoping for, but it’s better than nothing, especially since that run increased our lead to four and since Papi followed it up with a sac fly that scored one more.

We took a long break before resuming our scoring in the seventh with some long ball.  The Cards made three pitching changes in that inning alone; they made the third one after Pedroia reached on a throwing error.  And then Papi welcomed the new pitcher by homering on his very first pitch.  He hit it all the way out to right center field.  It was a massive home run.  It was beautiful.  As was the insurance we added in the eighth, when Nava doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly by Bogaerts.

For Lester, it was a great performance.  He had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth but grounded into a double play.  That was the worst of it, and he didn’t even allow a single run.  He was quite the laborer; he was really committed to keeping his head down and grinding through.  This is the great thing about Lester.  Even when it’s not easy for him, he still manages to make it work.

He very nearly went the distance, too.  Two outs into the eighth, he was relieved by Tazawa, who ended the eighth.  Dempster pitched the ninth.  Together, our staff almost pitched a shoutout; Dempster proved to be the undoing when he gave up a solo shot on his fourth pitch.  But aside from allowing a single, he put the Cards away after that.

And that was a wrap.  Game one is done, 8-1.  We now lead the series.  I want it.  Let’s get it.

In other news, the Pats dropped a painfully close one to the Jets, 30-27.

AP Photo

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I guess Detroit got mad.  Like, really mad.  One of the reasons why the games have been so close is because we’ve sent out some seriously awesome pitching.  But we didn’t have it last night.  Last night, it was absolutely awful.

Peavy had them down for the first and then gave up five in the second inning alone.

He gave up a single and two consecutive walks to load the bases with nobody out.  Then he induced a flyout and allowed the game’s first run using one of the more humiliating methods: the bases-loaded walk.  He then induced a force out that scored another run, and he gave up a two-run double and an RBI single.  It was pretty ugly.

And it got worse in the fourth.  He gave up a double followed by an RBI single.  Then Workman came on, ending a bizarrely horrid outing by Peavy.  I was not expecting this.  Peavy has been very impressive, and all of a sudden he just wasn’t himself.

Anyway, Workman recorded the inning’s first two outs and then gave up another RBI single.

Meanwhile, our offense was coming up short.  We had baserunners, so it’s not like we had no opportunities.  We just couldn’t come up with any timely hits.

Until the sixth.  Papi flied out to lead it off, and then Napoli, Nava, and Salty hit three straight singles that scored one run.  Then Ellsbury led off the seventh with a single and scored on a double by Victorino.  And then Bogaerts doubled to lead off the ninth and scored on a triple by Ellsbury.

Needless to say, it wasn’t enough.  We were away, so we’d have had to at least tie it, and we most definitely did not.  The relief corps did a great job; Dempster pitched the sixth, and Morales pitched the seventh.  Doubront pitched the eighth.  And we lost, 7-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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That was not exactly the series start that I had in mind.  Not even remotely.  That was one of the closest games I’ve ever seen in October.  Uncomfortably close.  And, because we lost, crushingly close.  Seriously.  Our offense was completely silenced to an embarrassing, unacceptable, and baffling degree.

Lester delivered a great start.  Really, our whole pitching staff pulled it together and delivered the best start they could deliver under these conditions, namely, no run support whatsoever.  Lester pitched six and one-third innings and gave up six hits, one walk, and one run.  He struck out four.

He faced the minimum in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings.  He gave up two singles in the first and his one run in the sixth.  He induced a groundout to start it off and then issued a walk, hit a batter, recorded a force out, and then gave up an RBI single.  The runner had been able to move to third on the force out, so at least we got an out out of it.  I always say that if you have to give up a run, you may as well try your best to get something out of the situation as well.  He was lifted after he induced a lineout and hit a batter in the seventh.

Tazawa pitched the last two outs of the seventh, Breslow pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.

Meanwhile, and this is the really painful part, not only were we completely shut out, but we were also almost no-hit.  That’s right.  We managed only one hit all night.  That hit belonged to Nava.

We had two on in the first thanks to a wild pitch and a walk.  We walked twice in the second.  We went down in order in the third, fourth, and fifth.  We walked three times in the sixth and had the bases loaded with two out.  We went down in order in the seventh and eighth.  And Nava broke up the no-hitter in the ninth when he singled with one out.

If Bogaerts had come up with the right type of hit after that, we could have walked away winners.  All he managed was a popout on a full count.

Needless to say, when Nava recorded that hit, I was immensely relieved.  It’s bad enough to lose.  It’s worse to lose in the playoffs and even worse to lose the first game of the ALCS, especially if it’s at home, which is your prime opportunity to get wins in.  And it’s worse to provide no run support whatsoever, although we can at least feel good about the fact that our pitchers did a ridiculously awesome job of keeping us in the game the whole time.  I mean, it’s not easy to hold the opposition to only one run for an entire game.  Then again, it’s even harder to hold the opposition to no runs for an entire game, which is what Detroit managed to accomplish.

But let the record show that we were not no-hit.  No, we most definitely were not.  We didn’t get our hit until the ninth inning, but we got it in the end.  This was the first time a postseason no-hitter was destroyed in the ninth inning since 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers did it against the Yanks.  Unlike us, however, the Dodgers ended up winning that game.  Anyway, between the fact that we thwarted their bid and the fact that we ourselves held them to only one run, we can retain our dignity with our heads held high.  It should also be noted that it wasn’t just one pitcher working against us; the Tigers trotted out a good number.

We did walk six times.  But we went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.  With a final score like 1-0, it could have been anyone’s game.  Unfortunately, Lester happened to crack first.  It’s obviously true that it could have been possible for him not to crack first or not to crack at all.  But it’s hard to do much better than that.

AP Photo

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Congratulations, Red Sox Nation! We are officially fans of 2013’s best American League baseball team.  Oakland lost, so now our enjoyment of home field advantage is very much perpetuated.  Oh, it’s great.  It’s just so insanely great.

Lester started out strong but ended up having a mediocre night.  It was a real grind.  Ultimately, he gave up four runs on nine hits in five innings while walking two and striking out four.  On average, that’s about two baserunners per inning, which also means a lot of pitches: ninety-seven, to be exact, which is about the number of pitches we usually expected him to need to get through at least two more innings.

With two out in the second, he gave up a run thanks to a single-double combination.  He gave up a solo shot on his very first pitch of the third, a sinker gone wrong.  Then he gave up four singles in the fifth, three of which were consecutive, to bring in his final two runs.

So yeah, it was a struggle.  There are nights when it comes easily, and there are nights when it just doesn’t.  It could have been much worse.  At least he kept us in the game.

We didn’t score in the first three innings, but we scored in each of the next four.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Ross in the fourth.  Drew doubled and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fifth.  Nava singled and scored on a double by Ross in the sixth.  And Drew and Pedroia led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, and after Napoli popped out, each scored on a single, the first by Gomes and the second by Nava with a little help from a fielding error, even Gomes was thrown out at third.

Thornton went in for the sixth, and Tazawa went in for the seventh.  Two singles in to the eighth, Morales relieved him.  Unfortunately, after he registered the first out of the inning, he gave up a two-run double that put Baltimore on top.  And that was when Workman came in.  But we failed to score in the eighth and ninth, so we ended up losing, 6-5.

But let’s not forget about that home field advantage.  Now throughout Soxtober.  Loss aside, that’s a pretty big consolation prize.  I’m going to enjoy this.

AP Photo

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