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Posts Tagged ‘Jon Lester’

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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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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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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Soxtober has officially begun! And the beginning is good! We’ve got our first win very much in the bag; it was a slugfest.  That’s what I call starting the playoffs off right!

We got to play the Rays, and we really put them in their place.  Lester got the nod to start this one, as we knew he would, and he delivered an absolutely excellent performance.  He pitched seven and two-thirds innings and gave up two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out seven.  His two runs were the results of two mistakes; in other words, he gave up two solo shots, the first one with two out in the second and the second one leading off the fourth.  Other than that, he was a master.

Tazawa pitched the rest of the eighth, and Dempster pitched the ninth.

And that brings us to the offense.  Both of Lester’s home runs occurred before we got on the board, so I’m sure the Rays thought they had a real shot at winning this one.  Man, were they sadly, sadly mistaken.

We didn’t waste time; we scored our first runs, but certainly not our last, in the bottom of the fourth.  Pedroia singled, Papi doubled, and both scored on a double by Gomes.  After Salty struck out, Gomes scored on a single by Drew, who scored on a double by Middlebrooks, who scored on a single by Victorino.

With one out in the fifth, Napoli doubled, Gomes walked intentionally, and both scored on a double by Salty.  After Drew struck out, Middlebrooks walked intentionally, and Salty scored on a single by Ellsbury, with a little help from a deflection.

We put on the finishing touch in the eighth.  Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Victorino.  Then Pedroia singled and Papi walked to load the bases.  Then Napoli walked in a run.  Pedroia scored when Gomes grounded into a double play, and Papi scored on a single by Salty.

And that’s how we won our first playoff game, 12-2.  Done.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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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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This was a great game.  We played well and clean.  It just felt really right and natural to be scoring and pitching and winning.  It was just nice.

Pedroia doubled in the first and scored on a wild pitch.  With one out in the third, Nava doubled, and Papi and Napoli both walked.  When Carp drew a third straight walk, Nava came home.  Then we hit four straight singles in the seventh to score another run; Bradley, Pedroia, Nava, Papi, done.  And one double play later, another single by Carp scored two.  As one last statement of victory, Middlebrooks led off the eighth with a single and scored two outs later on a single by Pedroia.

Lester finally cracked in the fifth.  With two out, he gave up one run thanks to a single-single combination plus a two steals thrown in.  In the end, it was just the run in all seven glorious innings he pitched.  He gave up five hits and two walks, and he struck out eight.  And he was fantastic.

Tazawa came on for the seventh and gave up a double followed by a groundout.  Then he gave up a two-run home run.  And then Uehara came on.   And then the game ended and we won, 6-3.

So it was pretty ordinary as wins go, and we’ve been very fortunate this season to have had our fair share of those.  But winning, while awesome, wasn’t even the highlight.

The highlight was that we now officially own the AL East.  That’s right.  One day after clinching our playoff berth, we also clinched the division.  It’s our first division title since 2007, and it’s been a long time.  But if it has to do with 2007, I like it.  It’s ours.  Yes.  Let the champagne rain.  Now that’s what I call winning.  Let’s get this done!

Boston Globe Staff/Essdras M. Suarez

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We started our series against the Yankees on Friday, and we’ve won it.  That is, the least way we can describe it is having won it.  Because really, we swept it.  It was just one of the most beautiful things to see.  Sweeping the Yankees? Yes, please.

Friday’s game was a game of bookends, so to speak.  We won, 8-4, because we scored four runs in the first and four runs in the eighth and no runs in between.  In the first, Pedroia singled, Victorino flied out, Papi doubled, Pedroia scored on a groundout by Carp, Papi scored on a single by Nava, Salty walked, and Nava and Salty both scored on a double by Drew.  But the eighth, I have to say, was my favorite.  Victorino singled, Papi got hit, and Gomes walked to load the bases.  Nava struck out.  And then it was Salty’s turn.  He took a changeup for a strike.  And then he got a fastball that looked really good.  For him.  Not for the pitcher.  The pitcher didn’t stand a chance.  Salty uncorked a massive swing on that ball and sent it beyond the right field fence for a grand slam.  It was epic.  And it came against the Yankees.  That’s about as good as it gets.

Meanwhile, Lackey gave up four runs on seven hits in six and one-third innings.  He gave up no walks and struck out three.  Lackey gave up a solo shot to lead off the third.  Then he gave up one run on a double-sac fly combination in the sixth.  He had the bases loaded with two out in the seventh thanks to two singles and a walk, and he gave up a two-run double that obviously could have been much worse.  Workman got the last out of the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.

Saturday’s win was more modest, but it was a win nonetheless.  5-1 is a pretty satisfying score.  And Lester was, without a doubt, the star of the show.  He pitched a full eight innings of one-run ball and gave up only three hits and two walks while striking out five.  He threw 116 pitches, eighty of which were strikes.  He went one-two-three in his first three innings and gave up his only run in the fourth because he gave up a triple to lead it off, and it turned into a run on a groundout.  So even in the inning during which the one blemish of his performance occurred, he still managed to derive an out from it.  He ended up facing five in the fourth due to a walk, and he faced four in the fifth and sixth.  He went one-two-three in the seventh and issued another walk in the eighth.  Yeah.  Master.  Morales pitched the ninth.

So it was really, really nice that we gave him run support.  Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a groundout by Middlebrooks.  Pedroia led off the third with a single and scored on a double by Papi, who scored on a single by Gomes.  Ross led off the fourth with a single and scored on a single by Victorino.  And Napoli led off the fifth with a walk and scored on a sac fly by Nava.  Clearly the leadoff was very good for us.

And last but not least, we won yesterday by a score of 9-2.  In a way, it was a fitting way to contribute to the roast of Mariano Rivera, which, if I may say so, was hilarious and seemed to be taken in the correct stride by all.  The Yanks probably thought they had Buchholz when they were the first to score.  It was only one run in the first, but scoring in the first inning can do a lot to boost your confidence.  But it was one of those earned unearned runs; Buchholz issued a walk and then himself made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, and then the runner scored on a groundout.  So it was Buchholz who made his own fielding error, so it’s kind of funny to call that unearned.  All told, he gave up just the one run on two hits in six innings, walking four and striking out three.  Thornton pitched the seventh, Breslow pitched the eighth, and Webster pitched the ninth, during which he gave up a run thanks to a walk-single combination that, in the grand scheme of things, really didn’t matter at all.

Fortunately, we too scored in the first inning.  But we scored more.  Pedroia grounded out, and then Nava doubled and scored on a single by Papi, who moved to second on a wild pitch.  And then Napoli lit up the place with a two-run shot all the way to deep, deep center field.  And we added insurance in one of the coolest ways possible in the fourth.  Napoli walked to lead off but was out in a force by Salty.  Salty moved to second on a passed ball and third on a groundout by Drew, and then Bogaerts walked.  So we had runners at the corners.  And then it was Bradley’s turn to bat.  And suddenly, cool as ice, Salty just slides on into home.  Yes.  That’s right.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia stole home.  It was epically awesome.  It was so polished and clean, like he does it all the time.  I’m telling you, he timed it perfectly, and there was nothing the Yanks could do about it.  It was absolutely perfect.  He nailed it right on.  Wow.  It was awesome.  And we weren’t even done.  In the fifth, after Pedroia walked, Nava doubled, and Papi walked intentionally, Carp got hit by a pitch, and with nowhere to go, Pedroia just had to score.  In the sixth, Bogaerts doubled and Pedroia walked, and each scored on a single, the first by Nava and the second by Papi.  In the seventh, Bogaerts singled, Bradley got hit, and both scored on a single by Pedroia.

In other news, the Pats are really starting the regular season off right, having secured another win, albeit a close one, against the Jets, 13-10.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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