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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’

Yes.  Exactly.  This was just one of those wins where you really feel like this is exactly how baseball should always be played.  Good pitching, good hitting, and good fielding.  And good winning.

Peavy went one-two-three in the first and second.  He gave up a walk in the third and a solo shot in the fourth.  He gave up a single in the fifth and sixth.  He went one-two-three in the seventh, eighth, and ninth.  So, yeah, he basically just made one mistake all night.  Literally.  Since he went the distance and all.

The same can not be said for the Dodgers’ pitchers, who made several repeatedly.  Ellsbury led off the game with a strikeout, but then Victorino doubled and scored on a double by Napoli.  We went down in order in the second.  Ellsbury led off the third with a single and scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  Middlebrooks singled and scored on a double by Bogaerts.  We went down in order in the fifth.  Napoli walked to lead off the sixth, and two outs later, Salty uncorked the power on a 1-1 count.  The ball rocketed out of the park to left field.  Massive.  And two outs into the seventh, we had a repeat performance.  Victorino hit a massive solo shot on a 2-0 count.  The eighth was the only inning in which we didn’t score during which we didn’t also go down in order.  Two outs into the ninth, Pedroia doubled, and then it was Napoli’s turn.  The at-bat was eight pitches long, and the count was full.  And the ball ended up beyond the left field fence.

And that’s how we won, 8-1.

EPA Photo

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It was nice not to get shut out, it was nicer to win, and it was really nice to see Lester back to his old self again.  I don’t know what the next start will bring, but I think the positive trend he’s been on lately is really a sight for sore eyes.  He looks comfortable and at ease, which is a very good sign.  Here’s to hoping he keeps it up.

Lester was winning yesterday, both literally and figuratively.  He pitched seven and a third innings and gave up only one run on only three hits while walking only four.  And striking out six.  And he got the win, obviously.  He went one-two-three in the first and second.  He probably would have gone one-two-three in the third had Napoli not made a throwing error.  He gave up a hit and a walk in the fourth and went one-two-three in the fifth and sixth.  He gave up another hit and a walk in the seventh

Meanwhile, our big inning was the first.  It was awesome.  We were batting first, of course, so it meant that we won the game before the Dodgers even sent their first batter to the plate.  Yeah, we’re that good.

Ellsbury led off the game by grounding out, but then Victorino got hit, Pedroia singled, Victorino scored on a single by Napoli, and Gomes hit an absolutely huge home run on his first pitch of the game.  Seriously.  It was a ninety-mile-per-hour fastball, and he just clocked it all the way to left center field.  Ultimately, that ball stood no chance of staying inside the park.  In short, it was awesome.

And then we spent the rest of the game doing nothing.  To be honest, it’s a good thing Lester was as good as he was yesterday, because on another day our four runs may not have been enough to get the job done.

Our next rally came all the way in the eighth, when Victorino grounded out, Pedroia doubled, Napoli singled, Gomes popped out, and Drew walked to load the bases.  But Middlebrooks ended the threat when he struck out looking.

The eighth inning was also when Lester got into trouble, if you could call it that.  He was relieved after he secured the inning’s first out and issued a walk.  The problem was that our relievers allowed inherited runners to score.  Tazawa came on after that and gave up a single before securing the inning’s second out.  And then Breslow came on and gave up a two-run double.  So, yes, Lester was credited with a run, and so was Tazawa.  But looking at the situation beyond the numbers, I’d say it was really Breslow’s fault.

Uehara pitched the rest of the eighth and picked up a save after his stellar ninth.  The final score was a winning 4-2.

Reuters Photo

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This one’s going to be short.  Usually you don’t have much to say because it’s a close pitcher’s duel.  But even when you don’t have much to say, it can be really great or really bad.  In this case, I don’t know that it was really bad because it was a great game.  I mean, it was bad because we lost.  It’s just unfortunate that their pitching had it just as on as ours did.  We caved first.

In total, only one above the minimum came to the plate through three between the two teams.  We were the proud owner of a four-batter first, but neither team scored until the fourth, and I am sorry to say that it wasn’t us.  Lackey gave up a single to lead off the fourth, and two outs later, he gave up a home run.

And that was it.  We got shut out, and Lackey broke first.  The teams were so evenly matched, and we didn’t even put together a rally to speak of.  We managed two hits all night.  Meanwhile, Lackey went the distance.  He gave up just those two runs, but he lost because we didn’t put anything together to back him up.  It was awful.  No pitcher in that situation should ever have to receive a loss.

AP Photo

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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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Honestly, it doesn’t get much more infuriating than that.  I’m just going to jump right in because it’s really tough to deal with it all.

Cook pitched decently.  He only lasted five innings, and he gave up three runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out two.  He went one-two-three in the first and second, and gave up a double in the third.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the fourth followed by a single and then a two-run home run.  Following  two quick outs, he gave up a single, and then a fielding error put another runner on, but the inning ended there.  He allowed a single in the fifth and a double to lead off the sixth, at which point he was replaced by Hill, who was replaced by Aceves after three batters.

Meanwhile, we reduced our deficit from three runs to two; in the bottom of the fourth, Pedroia doubled with one out and scored on a single by Loney.

Aceves came out for the seventh and gave up a single followed by a two-run home run of his own, which made the score 5-1.  Two outs later, he gave up a double and was replaced by Carpenter, who ended the inning.  In the bottom of the seventh, we made another dent in the score.  Ross began the inning by striking out, but then Salty and Nava hit back-to-back doubles.  The Yanks sent out their third pitcher of the inning, and then Salty scored on a groundout by Gomez and Nava scored on a double by Aviles.  5-3.

Carpenter handled the eighth without incident baseball-wise but with incident drama-wise; when Bobby V. came out to the mound and Aceves saw Carpenter coming in, he walked to the other side of the mound to avoid Bobby V. when he left the field.  In terms of the bottom of the inning, we failed to score.  But it was not without further drama.

Ross ended the inning on a called strike; the at-bat featured seven pitches, all but one of them sliders, and the count had been full.  Ross and everyone else who had a pair of decently functioning eyes could see that that last supposed strike was actually a ball because it was low, and he let home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez know it immediately. So Marquez rejected him; it was only the second rejection in Ross’s career.  Several minutes later, Bobby V., who had separated Ross and Marquez, went back out there to have a talk with him that obviously got heated pretty quickly and was ejected for the sixth time this year, which sets the record for the most single-season ejections by any manager we’ve ever had in our long, illustrious history.  And at some point even third base coach Jerry Royster was ejected for some reason, so bench coach Tim Bogar was managing and coaching third at the same time at the end of it all.  The whole situation was just absurd and could have been neatly avoided had Marquez just done his job and saw reality.

Anyway, Miller and Padilla teamed up to shut out the Yanks in the top of the ninth, and the stage was set for another possible walkoff.  Salty’s leadoff at-bat was exactly the kind of at-bat you hope for most in those situations.  The count was full and he got an eighty-three mile-per-hour slide as his sixth pitch.  He’s a big guy, and he unleashed his formidable power on it and sent it out of the park to right field for a solo shot that only he could have powered out of the park.  We were now one run away with nobody out, and between Salty having made it look so easy and our last-minute heroics of the previous night, we were daring to believe that we could potentially pull it off again.

But we didn’t.  Nava flied out, Gomez grounded out, and Aviles reached on a fielding error.  Ellsbury could have put the whole thing away right then and there.  But he grounded out instead.

So we lost, 5-4.  But no one can say we didn’t put up a fight.  Because we did, both literally and figuratively.  We manufactured our own runs and pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps in the face of a deficit and dared to call a ball, a ball.  We just kept going at it all night long, but we came up just short in the end.  It’s just so infuriating.  I mean, I have to think that we’ve lost this way to plenty of other teams this year since clearly we’re in the business of losing every way to every other team this year, but to do it against the Yankees is particularly brutal.  We were almost there; we just needed one more run to tie it, and we could take care of them in extras.  And we couldn’t get it done.  It’s the story of our 2012 baseball lives.

On a more cheerful note, we have next year’s schedule, so assuming that we’re optimistic, it’s a reminder of something to look forward to.  The season starts for us on April 1 in the Bronx; we follow Opening Day with a day off and then conclude the three-game series.  We then head off to Toronto for three games, and then we head home for our home opener against Baltimore, which is followed by another day off.  We then finish our series with Baltimore and play the Rays before spending three games in Cleveland and going back home to face the Royals, A’s, and newly-AL Astros.  Then we have a day off and we go back to Toronto and then to Arlington, our first full series of May.  The Twins and Jays comprise another homestand, followed by a day off and another road trip against the Rays, Twins, and Other Sox.  Then back home we’ve got the Tribe and the Phillies, followed by a series at Philadelphia and then the Bronx, followed by a day off.  That takes us to June, our first full series of which is at home against the Rangers and then the Angels.  Then we head off to Toronto and Baltimore before another day off and coming home to face the Rays.  Then we head off to Detriot before another day off and another homestand featuring the Rockies, the Jays, a day off, and the Padres in July.  Then it’s off to the West Coast for the Angels, Mariners, and A’s before the All-Star break.  When play resumes, we host the Yanks and Rays before a trip to Baltimore and a day off.  The west then comes to us as we host the Mariners and D-Backs at home, which brings us to August.  We then travel to Houston and Kansas City before taking a day off and traveling to Toronto.  We host the Yanks at home after that, followed by a trip to San Francisco, a day off, a trip to Los Angeles for the Blue Sox, another day off, and then a homestand featuring the Orioles, Other Sox, and Tigers, which brings us to September.  We go to the Bronx after that, take a day off, go to Tampa Bay, and return home for the Yanks, a day off, the Orioles, the Jays, and another day off.  Then we go to Colorado for two games, take a day off, and go to Baltimore for the last series of the season.  So we’ve got at least three days off every month except one: May, our most packed month, when we only have one day off.  But it’s a good schedule.  It’s interesting that Interleague is sort of spread out this year instead of being clustered in June.  It’s often a tough schedule, and we have to play some worthy opponents, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to hold our own next year.

AP Photo

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Well, it’s been to the headlines and back by now, and anyone familiar with how baseball works would know that there was no chance in the world that this was going to stay quiet until the formalities were taken care of.  So let’s talk about it.

We just sent most of our core to the Dodgers, in keeping with their doubling as the Los Angeles Blue Sox.  And when I say that it was most of our core, I mean that literally.  Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto.  They all involved waivers.  All but one of those were starters for us, and Punto did see more than his fair share of playing time as a utility man off the bench.  In return, we will receive four prospects (right-hander Allen Webster, infielder Ryan De Jesus, and two more to be named), a first baseman (Jason Loney), and financial flexibility.  There is no question about the fact that this is one of the largest waiver deals ever and certainly the largest in recent baseball history.

Obviously this is a huge deal, both literally and figuratively.  Beckett has obviously struggled this year, as have Crawford and Gonzalez and Punto, although much less than Beckett.  So if Ben wanted to make some sort of wave by getting rid of somebody big, he could have just gotten rid of Beckett and have been done with it.  That would have been the obvious action, if there were one at all.  But to ship out all four of these guys, especially Gonzalez? Was that really necessary? Regardless of who these prospects might be and what this flexibility might look like, is this really the best thing for our future? Or is it a short-term quick fix to show the Nation that the brass is at least doing something and that this really was a bridge year? Furthermore, does this mean that the brass has sided with Bobby V. rather than the players regarding the issue of his managerial style, or does this have nothing to do with that at all because it’s based strictly on performance, or lack thereof? But if it does have to do with that, how certain are the brass that the solution indeed involved the players rather than the manager and coaches?

Punto finishes his lone season with us, which wasn’t even a whole season, with a batting average of .200, an on-base percentage of .301, and a slugging percentage of .272.  He has had 125 at-bats in sixty-five games; he has twenty-five hits to his credit as well as ten RBIs and fourteen runs.  He has walked nineteen times and stolen five bases.  He has played every infield position this year and has made only two errors.

Crawford departs after having played almost two season here.  Last season was better in terms of playing time, while this season was better in terms of performance.  He finishes this season with us with a batting average of .282, an on-base percentage of .306, and a slugging percentage of .479.  He has had 117 at-bats in thirty-one games; he has thirty-three hits to his credit as well as nineteen RBIs and twenty-three runs.  He has walked three times and stolen five bases.  He has made only one error in the field.

Gonzalez also departs after having played almost two seasons here, but it feels like so much more because he has so easily become a fixture on this team.  He historically has been known for his great leadership and team presence, both in the clubhouse and on the field.  He always seemed to be really enthusiastic about playing here, and he usually let his production do the talking.  And it talked a lot.  His average last year was a cool .338, and it was hard to imagine him not getting up there and whacking some ball for extra bases every time.  He certainly did struggle at the beginning of the season but has since started to bounce back quite nicely.  His average is now at .300, and he has an on-base percentage of .343 and slugging percentage of .469.  He’s had 484 at-bats in 123 games; he has 145 hits to his credit as well as eighty-six RBIs and sixty-three runs.  He has walked thirty-one times and stolen no bases, but that’s alright because his job, unlike Crawford’s, is not even partially to steal bases.  His job is to hit for extra bases, and that he can do.  He hasn’t hit any triples, but he’s hit thirty-seven doubles and fifteen home runs.  And in addition to first base he has also played right field this year because he’s a team player, and when the team needed him, he didn’t ask questions; he just slid right in there, and he did an impressive job at that.  He made four errors this year, two in right and two at first.

Beckett, of course, is the most storied of the four.  He’s certainly been here the longest, so he’s given us more memories, some good and some bad but all unique.  He came here in 2006 and had a subpar season.  In 2007 he went twenty and seven, and everyone but those in the position to award the Cy Young knew that he was the one who deserved it, regardless of the fact that he was a huge reason why we won the World Series that year.  His start in Game One was phenomenal.  It was a real gem.  He retired nine batters, including his first four, and gave up only one run.  2008 was another mediocre year, but 2009 saw him largely back to his old self, finishing the season with a record of seventeen and six.  2010 was an abysmal year, and of course last year was decent; his record was thirteen and seven, so he won almost twice as many games as he lost.  And then we have this year.  This year he’s five and eleven with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.  He’s pitched 127.1 innings and given up seventy-four earned runs on 131 hits, sixteen of which were home runs; incidentally, he’s only allowed one unearned run.  He has given up thirty-eight walks as well.  So, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not like every single season he’s been here except for this one has been an unabashed success.  Far from it.  But when he’s been successful, he’s been really, really, really successful.  And of course there’s his personality.  Rumor had it that he was partly if not completely responsible for the deterioration of our clubhouse and has been widely associated with the instigation of beer-drinking and whatnot within it.  As I said at the time when all of this was news, none of us were actually there, and we can’t know what really went on.  All we know is that, despite his mile-wide competitive streak and work ethic, Beckett has not been performing well at all on the mound.

On the eve of the departures of these players, we salute their commitment to this team and the accomplishments that they achieved during their stay here.  In the spirit of the tribute, therefore, Punto, Crawford, and of course Gonzalez as well as Beckett, we’ll miss you and we salute you.  Now, as far as the implications of the deal and what it all means, there are things I said and there are things I didn’t necessarily overtly say.  But in reality I said a lot.  Ultimately, our task now is to see what we end up doing during our offseason.

We lost to the Royals in extras last night, but it really wasn’t Cook’s fault.  Cook, for his part, did an extremely admirable job, especially when you consider the fact that he made this start on three days’ rest.  He gave up three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out none over six innings.  He gave up all three runs in the first thanks to a double that brought in two and then a single that brought in one.  He then cruised for the remainder of his outing.  Meanwhile, our hitters put us on top.  The Royals may have scored three runs, but we answered with four in the second.  Gomez hit a solo shot, the first homer of his Major League career, and then Salty and Lavarnway hit back-to-back singles to set the table for Aviles, who went yard on the first pitch he saw, sending the ball out toward the Monster.  And the third inning only served to solidify the fact that we were in control.  Pedroia doubled, Ellsbury walked, and Ross singled to load the bases; thanks to a single by Gomez as well as a Royals error, we scored another two runs plus a third thanks to a sac fly by Salty.  We just kept piling it on in the fourth; Ciriaco walked, and Ellsbury singled two outs later.  Ross and Gomez added their consecutive singles to Ellsbury’s to go back-to-back-to-back and plate two more runs.

So by the time Cook’s appearance came to an end, we were leading, 9-3.  And I have to say, I was feeling pretty comfortable with how I expected this game to turn out.  I mean, we just scored nine runs, and we did it with everything: long ball, small ball; you name it, we did it.  And we had a six-run lead to boot.  But I should have expected that no lead would possibly have been safe.

Because then the seventh inning happened, and the seventh inning was when our entire relief corps ruined it completely, imploded totally, and embodied the epitome of an epic fail.  First, it was Miller, who allowed a groundout, a single, a strikeout, two consecutive walks, and an RBI single that scored two.  Then Melancon came on and gave up an RBI double and an RBI single.  Then Breslow came on and gave up a triple that scored two and then managed to finish the inning with an intentional walk followed by a groundout.

Breslow pitched the eighth, Bailey pitched the ninth, Padilla pitched the tenth, and Tazawa pitched the eleventh and most of the twelfth.  He gave up a walk, a double, and finally the single that scored the winning run.  Mortensen replaced him after that and ended the inning.  And we threatened a bit in the eighth, when Ellsbury got himself to third with two out, and in the tenth, when Ciriaco was thrown out at home.  But we didn’t score since the fourth, so we allowed our lead to be completely squandered and lost, 10-9, even though we outhit them, 20-14.

And as an added reflection of the badness of our entire situation, Aceves reportedly slammed the door on his way into Bobby V.’s office after Friday’s game and has been suspended for three games for conduct detrimental to the team.

AP Photo

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Miller pitched five and two-thirds innings.  He gave up three runs on ten hits while walking one and striking out eight.  (Notice that the latter two points are identical to those of Lester from his outing on Saturday.  Also notice, thanks to Theo, his next start could potentially be the last time you’ll see him start for a while.)

In the second, McDonald worked an eight-pitch walk, and Tek homered on a changeup to left center field to bring in two.  He just smacked the ball out of the park.  At the time, it gave us a two-run lead.

After the fourth, we were down by one.  In the seventh, two singles and a passed ball meant two runners in scoring position for Pedroia.  He singled, which scored both runners and put us ahead for good, and moved to second on the throw back into the infield.  Pedroia moved to third on a groundout by Gonzalez, and Youk intentionally walked, putting runners on the corners with two out for Papi.  But Papi struck out swinging on a slider.

In the ninth, Ellsbury singled, stole second base, and scored on a double by Gonzalez.

The game was rife with opportunities of which we did not take advantage.  We left ten on base and went two for nine with runners in scoring position.  Luckily, the relief corps of Aceves, Bard, and Paps held down the fort.  Aceves got the win, Bard got a hold, and Paps got the save.  The final score was 5-3.  Bard has not allowed a run in a career-high twenty-six and a third innings.  Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Gonzalez, the top third of the lineup, had two hits each.  Smile, Red Sox Nation; we have won seven straight on the road, a franchise record, and we finish July with a record of twenty and six, the best record in July this franchise has ever had.

The big news of the day is that we have indeed acquired a starting pitcher.  It’s not Rich Harden.  It’s Erik Bedard.  The deal was made minutes before the trading deadline, and considering that it was a three-team deal, that’s no small accomplishment.  We sent a catching and two pitching prospects to the Dodgers for an outfielder, who we then dealt with an outfield prospect of our own to the Mariners for Bedard and relief prospect Josh Fields.  Ironically, Bedard has also been plagued by injuries recently, so we’ll see how this plays out.  In Theo we trust.

Getty Images

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