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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Melancon’

Thankfully, Andrew Bailey is no longer our closer.  He is now some sort of setup man whose prominence in the bullpen has yet to be determined.  We completed a six-player trade with the Pirates in order to land Joel Hanrahan.  They’re getting Mark Melancon and three prospects (Stolmy Pimentel, Ivan De Jesus, and Jerry Sands), and in addition to Hanrahan we’re getting Brock Holt, an infielder.  Hanrahan is a righty whose ERA last season was 2.72; his WHIP was 1.27, and he recorded sixty-seven strikeouts and a total of thirty-six saves with four blown.  His lifetime strikeout rate per nine innings is about ten, and he’s been an All-Star more than once.  I am absolutely not happy about his walks, which is obviously a significant downside for a closer of all pitchers.  He’s also never pitched in Fenway ever, and he’s only been to Boston once.  So we’ve got a National League closer who walks and has never pitched in Boston.  Still, though, he’s obviously a significant improvement over the alternative.  Technically that doesn’t say much, but I have to believe that his stuff will shine through.

In other news, the Pats closed out the season with back-to-back wins over the Jaguars, 23-16, and Dolphins, twenty-eight-zip.  It’s playoff time! We’ve got a first-round bye, which should provide some extra rest.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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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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On last night’s loss menu, we served up the gut-wrenching extra-innings blow.  Or rather that’s what we were served.

In the first, Cook gave up a run thanks to a walk-steal-groundout-groundout combination.  We tied it up that same inning when Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway.  Neither team scored in the second or third.  The O’s went ahead in the fourth when Cook’s third pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot.  We put ourselves back on top that same inning when Aviles singled to lead off the bottom half and Danny Valencia hit a two-run shot on his second pitch, a curveball.  Not an easy pitch to homer on, so it was nice to see the kid have a keen eye.  Neither team scored in the fifth.  After securing the first out of the sixth on a strikeout, Cook gave up a single and a double and was then replaced by Hill.  Hill gave up a bases-clearing triple before securing the inning’s second out, at which point he was replaced by Mortensen.  Mortensen gave up a solo shot on his first pitch of the seventh.  Fortunately, we mounted a comeback effort in the bottom of the inning.  Podsednik doubled, Ciriaco walked, and Pedroia singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, we did just about the most pathetic thing you can do with the bases loaded and still score runs.  Ross and Lavarnway grounded out back-to-back, which brought in two runs.  At that point, we were within one, Breslow had pitched the top of the eighth, and we tied it up at six the bottom of the inning; with two out, Nava doubled and scored on a double by Podsednik.

Tazawa pitched the ninth, and we went down in order.  Bailey pitched the tenth, and we had men on first and second with two out but did nothing.  Melancon pitched the eleventh, and we went down in order.

And then the twelfth inning arrived.  Aceves came in.  He gave up a double on his second pitch, a fine indication of things to come.  He induced a flyout for the first out of the inning and then gave up another double, which put us down by one.  Then he got a strikeout and gave up an RBI single, which put us down by two.  Then Carpenter came in and gave up another RBI single, which put us down by three.  In the bottom of the twelfth Gomez’s single was the extent of our offensive production.

We lost, 9-6.  Of the eleven games we’ve played in extras this year, we’ve won only two.  Neither of those have come at home.

Getty Images

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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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The whole series with the Yanks, as it turned out, was a downhill slide.  The first game was our crowning moment of glory and achievement, and if we bothered to remember what the rest of the season before that has been like, we wouldn’t be so disappointed now.  Except that it’s the Yankees, so it’s always disappointing to not at least put up a fight against them.  On Wednesday we did put up a fight, but yesterday we just rolled over.  We even had good pitching, and we couldn’t do anything.  So we started the series grandly, and then we just dropped off by degrees.

Doubront took an undeserved loss.  He lasted six and one-third innings and gave up two runs on four hits while walking five and striking out five.  He threw 105 pitches, fifty-six of which were strikes.  He gave up a single in the first, a walk in the second, nothing in the third, a single and two walks and a sac fly that brought in a run in the fourth, a double in the fifth, a walk in the sixth, and a walk and a single in the seventh before Tazawa replaced him and allowed one of his inherited runners to score by giving up a single.

Tazawa finished the seventh, Breslow pitched the eighth, and Melancon pitched the ninth.

So Doubront’s two runs were the only runs the Yankees scored all game.  Between Doubront’s walks and hits and the fact that he only stayed in the game for about six innings, on average the Yanks had at least one man on base during each of his innings.  Anytime a pitcher has an outing like that, he’s lucky to escape after having allowed only two runs.

The amazing thing is that those two runs were also the only runs that either team scored all game.  That’s right.  Our pitching staff held the Evil Empire to two runs over nine innings, and what did we do? Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  They just as well could not have been there at all.

We went down in order in each of the first three innings.  Thanks to a walk and a single, we had runners at the corners with two out in the fourth, but Nava grounded out to end the threat.  We went down in order in the fifth and had runners on first and second with two out thanks to two singles in the sixth, but Ross flied out to end the threat.  We went down in order in the seventh and had a runner on third with two out thanks to a double and a flyout in the eighth, but Lavarnway flied out to end the threat.  Lastly, we had a runner on second with two out thanks to a single and defensive indifference in the ninth, but Salty grounded out to end the threat and the game.

The final score was 2-0.  Not one member of our lineup had a multi-hit performance.  Of our six hits, only one was for extra bases: that double, which was hit by Ciriaco.  And that walk, which was worked by Podsednik, was obviously our only walk.  That’s all Doubront got after having been so good during the first half, so mediocre during the second half, and then so good again last night.  The performance, in sum, was pathetic.

Lastly, to conclude on something of a positive note, congratulations to the Pedroia family, who welcomed their second son on Wednesday! That’s why Pedroia left the game after the sixth inning and why he didn’t play yesterday.  I have to say, if you’re going to leave a baseball game for a non-baseball-related reason, that’s as good as it gets.

Boston Globe Staff

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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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