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Posts Tagged ‘James Loney’

Not much has happened since our slog of a season ended, but what did happen should be surprising to anybody.

Our first order of business was dismissing Bobby Valentine, which we did last Thursday.  This is something that was entirely predictable, appropriate, and correct.  We all know that he shouldn’t even have been hired in the first place.  It was awful.  He just wasn’t a good fit for our clubhouse, and the whole situation with him at the helm was completely dysfunctional.  There’s no need to go into specifics, but suffice it to say that there is a certain degree of professionalism that I think players and fans alike expect from a manager and that Bobby Valentine’s conception of that degree differed from ours.  Anyway, look for John Farrell and Tim Bogar to be on the brass’s radar.  Other possibilities include Torey Lovullo, former Pawtucket manager and current Jays first base coach; Joe McEwing, Other Sox bench coach; Tim Wallach, Dodgers third base coach; Brad Ausmus; and last but not least, our very own Jason Varitek.  Onward and forward!

Our blockbuster deal with the Dodgers is finally done.  For Nick Punto, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, we took on Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands in addition to previously acquired James Loney, Ivan De Jesus, and Allen Webster.

Pedroia was nominated for the Hank Aaron Award.

In other news, the Pats beat the Broncos, 31-21, last week.

Boston Globe Staff/Aram Boghosian

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Last night was one of those extra-brutal losses because we played extras, with which we have had absolutely no luck this year.  It was awful.  All that baseball played for naught, basically, because the whole thing was decided by one walkoff run.

Lester pitched well, but his outing was abbreviated thanks to back spasms.  He gave up one unearned run on eight hits while walking one and striking out one over five innings.  In the second, Lester gave up a single that turned into a double thanks to a throwing error by Ciriaco.  A steal and another single later, the Yanks had scored their first run of the night.

At the time, we were still in the lead.  We had scored two runs in the first.  Ellsbury hit the second pitch of the game for a single and scored on a double by Pedroia, who was playing with a finger fracture and scored on a sac fly by Ross.  So when Lester left, the score was 2-1 in our favor.  Hill pitched the sixth, Tazawa pitched the seventh, and Breslow pitched the eighth.  Loney hit the fourth pitch of the ninth inning for a solo shot; it would be the last run we’d score.  It was a ninety-one mile-per-hour four-seam fastball, and he launched it all the way out to right field.

Unfortunately our two-run lead was not to be.  Bailey took over for the ninth and did the one thing a closer is not supposed to do: blow a save.  He gave up a single followed by a home run to tie the game at three.  He then induced a groundout for the first out of the inning before loading the bases with a double and two consecutive walks, one intentional and one unintentional; thankfully, Melancon took the ball from him and got out of the ninth with no further damage caused.

Melancon also pitched the tenth.  Padilla pitched the eleventh.  All that time, we didn’t score.  We didn’t even threaten that much.  It was Miller who took the ball for the twelfth. He got the first two outs but then issued two consecutive walks and then gave up the RBI single that ended the game with a final score of 4-3.  When Ellsbury made that spectacular catch that only he could have made to turn a possible walkoff home run into an inning-out in the eleventh, I was convinced that it was still possible for us to win this thing.

And as a final dose of cruelty, with last night’s loss, we have officially clinched last place for the first time since 1992.

AP Photo

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We played a two-game series against the Rays and got swept.

Tuesday’s game began auspiciously with us paying tribute to the 2004 team.  But it didn’t end well.  Buchholz pitched as decently as any of our other starters this year, but in terms of the way he’s been pitching lately, his start was mediocre at best.  He gave up five runs, four earned, on eight hits over six innings while walking two and striking out five.  In the second, he gave up two walks followed by a home run that score three.  And in the sixth, he gave up two straight singles and then another single two batters later that scored two runs, one of which was made possible by Nava’s fielding error, hence the unearned run.  Atchison pitched the seventh and to one batter in the eighth, Miller pitched the rest of the eighth, and Padilla pitched the ninth.

We got on the board in the second; we started the inning with two back-to-back singles followed by a flyout, and Valencia batted in our first run with a single.  We started the third with a strikeout and then hit two back-to-back singles again.  This inning possibly did us in, because if we’d been able to take full advantage of our opportunity there, it’s possible that perhaps we could have won in the end.  But a caught-stealing at third basically put a damper on things.  Pedroia doubled after that, and we scored on a balk.  And that was it.  The final score was 2-5.

On Wednesday, Lester pitched six innings and allowed three runs on four hits while walking one and striking out five.  He was solid for most of it but unraveled at the end.  All three runs were scored via the home run.  He gave up a single in the fifth followed by two consecutive home runs.  Mortensen came on for the seventh and gave up a single, and then Hill came on and gave up another single; three at-bats later, Hill gave up an RBI double.  Melancon finished the seventh and pitched the eighth, and Breslow pitched the ninth.

We had actually scored first; Salty walked and scored on a single by Nava in the second.  And then Pedroia walked to lead off the sixth, stole second, moved to third on a single by Ross, and scored on a sac fly by Loney.  The final score was 2-4.

Wednesday’s game actually began auspiciously as well with us announcing the All-Fenway team comprised of our greats throughout our long and illustrious history, with plenty of old faces and plenty of new.  The starting lineup included Carlton Fisk, Jimmie Foxx, Pedroia, Wade Boggs, Nomar, Ted Williams, Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Jonathan Papelbon, Papi, and Terry Francona.  The first reserves included Jason Varitek, Mo Vaughn, Bobby Doerr, Mike Lowell, Johnny Pesky, Yaz, Dom DiMaggio, Trot Nixon, Roger Clemens, Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield, Dennis Eckersley, Dick Radatz, and Joe Cronin.  The second reserves included Rich Gedman, George Scott, Jerry Remy, Frank Malzone, Rico Petrocelli, Jim Rice, Reggie Smith, Tony Conigliaro, Babe Ruth, Smoky Joe Wood, Curt Schilling, Bill Lee, Jim Lonborg, and Dick Williams.  And, last but not least, the pinch hitter was Bernie Carbo and the pinch runner was none other than Dave Roberts.

Why before Wednesday’s game? Because Wednesday’s game was our last home game of the year.  It would have been nice to win it.  Instead we will finish the season with our worst record at home since 1965 and our first losing record at home since 1997: 34-47.  Now Fenway will soon be covered with snow, silent in the long, cold winter that lies ahead with only the bitter memory of losing as an aftertaste.

Sports Then And Now

 

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Winning a close game in late innings is nice.  Winning a close game, period, is nicer.  But just plain winning at all is the nicest.  Especially against the Orioles with the way they’ve been playing this year.  By the way, let’s take a moment to ruminate on how strange and bizarre that really is.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that if you said during Spring Training that the Orioles would be in the elite of the AL East, it would have been absolutely impossible to believe.

And here we are sitting on top of one of the division’s best teams, for one game at least.  The whole thing was a pitcher’s duel right to the end.  Doubront, for his part, was absolutely stellar.  This was one of his best starts of the season.  He pitched seven innings, gave up one run on four hits, walked two, and struck out a career-high eleven batters. His command and control were phenomenal.  The end of the season is almost here, but he didn’t show it at all.  He looked like an old pro.  He went one-two-three in the first and fourth, and he issued one of his walks in the second and the other in the third.  He allowed his one run in the fifth and was actually fortunate to limit the damage; he opened the inning by allowing a single followed by a double and then an RBI single.  But he finished the inning strong with three straight outs.  He went one-two-three in the sixth and gave up a single in the seventh.

So the only inning during which the O’s had more than one runner on base on Doubront’s watch was the fifth when they scored.  And of his strikeouts, five were swinging, five were called, and one came on a foul tip.  His fastball, changeup, and curveball were the best I’ve ever seen them from him and were absolutely on fire; they were moving when they were supposed to and not when they weren’t.  He was a master.  In short, he was absolutely fantastic.

Tazawa took the ball in the eighth and sent down his three batters.  Bailey came in for the ninth and got into, and then fortunately out of, trouble.  He induced a groundout to start the inning but then gave up a single and a double before issuing an intentional walk, which loaded the bases.  But the inning ended up ending without incident thanks to a force out and a strikeout.

Meanwhile, we actually had scored first, so Baltimore’s run actually tied the game.  We had two on in the first, one on in the second, and none on in the third.  But Ross singled to lead off the fourth, Loney walked, Salty flied out, and Valencia grounded into a force out which scored Ross.  Loney was out at second, Valencia ended up reaching first on a throwing error, and Nava singled after that, but the inning ended with Iglesias flying out.

We went down in order in the fifth and we had one on in the sixth and seventh.  We scored our winning run and the last run of the game in the eighth.  Pedroia and Ross hit back-to-back doubles to lead it off, and that was that.  Literally, because the inning ended with three straight flyouts.

Unfortunately, Doubront wasn’t in line for the win, so Tazawa got it, and Bailey picked up the save.  The final score, obviously, was 2-1.  And it was sweet.

Last but not least, Fenway Park opened after the game for a special and well-deserved tribute to Johnny Pesky.  Sox greats through the ages gathered to celebrate the man, the myth, and the legend.  Pesky was a great man, and there was a lot to celebrate.  And I have to think that Pesky would really have enjoyed Ross’s catch in the first of a ball that looked very much like a Pesky-esque home run for the Orioles.  The catch looked so unlikely, and yet Ross did it right at the Pesky Pole.  I think Pesky would really, really have enjoyed that.

In other news, the Pats dropped an exasperatingly close one to the Ravens, losing by the brutal score of 31-30.

Boston Globe Staff/Yoon S. Byun

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That’s what I’m talking about! Even if we are eliminated from the playoffs, we may as well go out with a bang, with our heads held high, and with our dignity still intact.  And keeping the Rays out of it would be a fantastic bonus.

Doubront gave up three runs on one hit while walking five and striking out five over six innings.  He didn’t give up any home runs, so it was the walks that caught up with him.  His first two innings were fine.  But after opening the third with a strikeout, he issued three consecutive walks to load the bases and eventually cleared them thanks to a single and a sac fly.  After that he went right back to cruising.

Doubront put us in a hole three runs deep but left the game with a lead.  Ross doubled to open the forth and scored on a single by Loney.  We  tied it up in the fifth; Iglesias singled, Ciriaco walked, and Ellsbury singled and Pedroia hit a sac fly that scored each of them, respectively.  Salty opened the sixth by striking out, but Lavarnway and Podsednik hit back-to-back singles.  Iglesias grounded out, and then Ciriaco reached on a throwing error induced by his speed (rushing to the point of error is obviously never a good thing), Lavarnway scored, and Podsednik was out at the plate.  And with two out in the seventh, Ross and Loney worked back-to-back walks, Salty singled in Ross, and Lavarnway doubled in both Loney and Salty.

Mortensen came on in the seventh and loaded the bases after securing the first two outs by hitting a batter and walking two.  Then Tazawa came on and allowed a single that scored two.  Those were the last runs that either team would score.  Padilla and Breslow pitched the eighth, Bailey pitched the ninth, and we won, 7-5.  And the Rays look more and more like they won’t be tasting postseason glory.

Presswire Photo

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Well, that’s fun.  It’s nice to win the day after you’re statistically eliminated from playoff contention.  It’s not like we needed all the wins we could get before that.

If I sound bitter and annoyed, it’s because I am.  Who wants to be eliminated from the playoffs? Still, I guess if the choice on any given day is winning or losing, I’ll take winning whenever I can get it.

Cook pitched a gem.  It was a short gem, since I usually picture gems as being great starts that last long, but it was a gem nonetheless.  He allowed one run on five hits over six innings while walking one and striking out one.  He gave up a single in the first and fourth; his one bad inning was the fifth, but if every single one of our pitchers had a bad inning that looked like this one, we’d be in fantastic shape.  With one out and two on, he gave up a sac bunt that scored one.  Then we caught a thief in the act, so Cook’s only walk didn’t load the bases.  And he ended the inning after that.  He went one-two-three in the sixth to finish up.

Hill pitched the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Melancon pitched the ninth.  Melancon allowed the second and final Rays run, so he’s extremely lucky that we had already put ourselves in a position to win.  Otherwise that would have been crushing.  He gave up a single that could have been a triple thanks to defensive indifference and a wild pitch.  And then he gave up a groundout that brought the runner in.

Meanwhile, we were being no-hit through five.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for Salty’s walk in the second, we would have been the victims of a bid for a perfect game.  But as is often the case, when a pitcher pitching that well suddenly falters, the gates open and there is an opportunity to make him pay dearly for having almost humiliated you tremendously.  In our case last night, we didn’t exactly go off on a slugging rampage, but we scored enough runs to get the job done.

The sixth began innocently enough for the Rays with Podsednik striking out.  But then Iglesias got hit and moved to second on a groundout by Ciriaco and then third on a wild pitch.  But it turned out that he didn’t need to go all the way around.  All he’d had to do was get on base and wait.  Because Ellsbury went yard.  The count was 3-1, and it was a four-seam fastball.  And he was all over it.  He sent it beyond the right field fence.  And just like that, we had a one-run lead.  But it was about to get bigger.

Pedroia walked after that, stole second, and moved to third on a passed ball, but Ross ended the inning with a strikeout.  Thankfully, we managed to continue our rally in the seventh.  We didn’t waste any time, either.  Loney singled, Salty walked, and Lavarnway reached on a force attempt combined with a fielding error to load the bases.  Gomez pinch-hit for Podsednik and singled in two runs.  Nava pinch-ran for Gomez, and he and Lavarnway both moved over on a sac bunt by Iglesias.  Ciriaco intentionally walked to reload the bases.  And then Ellsbury singled in one more run.

And that was the end for us, so the final score was 5-2.  Am I annoyed that we couldn’t have done more with the bases loaded? Absolutely.  But a win is a win no matter how you get it, and we should at least be thankful for that.  We can be thankful for Ellsbury firmly finding his stride at the plate again, even though it’s a little late, and we can be thankful for contributing to keeping the Rays out of October.  In our position, we’ve got to find silver linings somewhere.

AP Photo

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It doesn’t matter who we play.  A win like the one we pulled off last night will always be a thrill.  We made it happen for ourselves.

Buchholz, yet again, was absolutely stellar.  He found himself involved in a pitcher’s duel but was exceedingly up to the challenge.  He allowed only two runs.  The first one scored in the first and was the only one of the two that was earned.  After two quick outs, Buchholz issued a walk and gave up a double followed by an RBI single; the inning ended with a throw home.  Another walk and single in the second put two runners on base, but he pitched around it.  He pitched around a walk in the third and went one-two-three in the fourth.  The unearned run scored in the fifth.  Buchholz gave up a single to start it off, and the runner then stole second base.  Ciriaco made a fielding error which allowed another runner to reach, and a sac bunt put both runners in scoring position.  An intentional walk then loaded the bases.  A sac fly brought in the second run, and a throwing error by Ellsbury caused one of the runners to advance to third, but fortunately Buchholz induced a groundout to end the threat.  And he went one-two-three in the sixth and pitched around a walk in the seventh.

All told, he gave up just those two runs, one earned, on four hits, only one of which was an extra-base hit.  He also walked five, tying a season high, and struck out five.  He threw 111 pitches, sixty-seven of which were strikes.  And obviously he lasted seven innings.  So his control could have been better; he’s lucky to have limited the damage to only two runs.  But that’s because he limited solid contact.  So all in all it was, of course, a fantastic start.

When he left the game, it was tied at two.  We went down in order in the first, and Ross hit the fourth pitch of the second inning out of the park in left center field to tie the game at one.  The count was 2-1, and the pitch was an eighty-eight mile-per-hour two-seam fastball.  That pitch was a big mistake, and Ross capitalized on it.  We went down in order in the third again, and we tied the game at two in the fourth; with two out, Ross walked and scored on a single by Salty.  We went down in order in the fifth and sixth; Loney led off the seventh with a single, but it didn’t materialize into anything.

The eighth inning seemed very auspicious.  Ciriaco and Ellsbury worked back-to-back walks, and both moved to scoring position on a sac bunt by Nava.  Then Pedroia walked to load the bases.  As I’ve said, obviously in that situation you hope for a grand slam or an extra-base hit or even a single, something that will score multiple runs.  But if we couldn’t have those things, it would have been nice to score the run via the base on balls, just to have had walks all around.  Unfortunately the inning ended without a run scoring any way at all.  That was rough.  That would have been the perfect opportunity to score the winning run.  After having blown that opportunity, it just seemed like it would be really tough for us to get another one going.  Meanwhile, Breslow went one-two three in the bottom of the eighth.

Salty led off the ninth with a double and moved to third two at-bats later on a sac fly.  This was it.  If we were going to score, it would have to have been then or never the way the game was going.  He fou

So we chose to score then.  More specifically, Ciriaco chose to bring home the winning run then.  He doubled, and it was a short trot home for Salty.  Ellsbury then walked, but Nava struck out to end the inning.

And it turned out that Bailey didn’t need any insurance.  He pitched around a single and picked up the save.  The final score was 3-2, and Breslow was the winning pitcher.  So, at the end of the day, it was rough not to have scored with the bases loaded, especially when that entire scenario was achieved simply by allowing opposing pitchers to make mistakes.  They handed us that situation and we failed to take advantage of it.  So the least we could have done was to have manufactured our own opportunity to win.  The best part, of course, is that we actually did.

The Boston Herald

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