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Posts Tagged ‘National League’

We needed this win.  I don’t enjoy losing, and I especially don’t enjoy losing to the Yankees.  So when I saw us dominate yesterday, not only in terms of pitching but also in terms of hitting, I was very pleased indeed.  There’s nothing like an invigorating stint with a National League team to get your victory going.

Lester faced the minimum through three and gave up his first hit, a single, in the fourth.  He had a couple of baserunners in the fifth but held firm.

Salty led off the second with a single, Nava walked, and Drew singled to load the bases.  Just like that.  And of all of the reactions that Middlebrooks could have had to that situation at the plate, he hit a sac fly.  It scored one run, but come on.  When the bases are loaded with nobody out, there are so many other cooler, better, and more productive things to do than hit a sac fly.  It was better than nothing.  So was the balk that Lester ended up working, scoring yet another run.  That was pretty awesome.  And then Victorino singled in the inning’s third run before Pedroia flied out to end it.  So it wasn’t exactly a bases-clearing triple, and it wasn’t exactly flashy or what you’d expect with the bases loaded.  But by the end of the inning, we had the bases cleared.

We added insurance in the fifth; with two out, Nava singled and scored on a double by Drew.  Ellsbury singled to lead off the sixth, moved to second when Victorino got hit and third when Pedroia grounded into a double play, and scored on a wild pitch.  Even down to the wire, we hadn’t finished scoring; Pedroia tripled in the ninth and scored on a double by Salty.

In the end, Lester was just two outs shy of going the distance.  He dealt with two on in the sixth, one on in the seventh, and one on in the eighth.  After he induced a flyout to lead off the ninth, he gave up two consecutive singles and was replaced by Workman, who ended the game with two K’s.  But what a start! He was rewarded for his incredible effort with a well-deserved win; he pitched eight and one-third innings of shutout ball, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out three.  Meanwhile, our hit total was double that.  Against Lester the Giants’ batters never even had a chance.  Winning seven-zip was easy all the way through, and Lester looked like his old self again.

Getty Images

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Congratulations to the American League! We have officially secured home field advantage! Now it’s up to us to make sure that we’re the ones taking advantage of it.  Ultimately it was a pitcher’s duel, and the AL pitchers were absolutely masterful.  They held the fort the whole way through.    Pedroia and Papi both went 0 for 2, unfortunately.  The final score was three-zip, and it felt pretty good to put the National League in its place.

As far as last night is concerned, we did not waste time.  Ellsbury smashed the Yanks’ second pitch of the game for a solo shot to right.  Napoli led off the second with a walk, and Gomes followed that with a two-run shot toward the Monster.

Meanwhile, Doubront went one-two-three until the fourth, when the Yanks first got on the board.  He issued a walk that was followed by two steals and then a run thanks to a throwing error by Salty.  Doubront gave up another run in the fifth thanks to a double-double combination.  Doubront was relieved by Tazawa one out into the seventh after what I would call a fantastic start.

Those were the only two runs the Yanks scored.  We, meanwhile, added some insurance in the seventh.  Gomes led it off with a double and then scored on a single by Iglesias.

Breslow pitched the eighth, Uehara pitched the ninth, and we won, 4-2! Beating the Yanks is a great way to start the second half.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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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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Finally! Okay, now we’re in business.  I don’t want to necessarily say that the news is big news; I think a year or two ago it would have been really big news, but players age year to year, and last year’s phenom is this year’s solid, all-around acquisition who’s good but doesn’t necessarily have that wow factor anymore.  But given our needs and our situation, I’d say Ben’s moves during and after the Winter Meetings were good and much-needed ones.  He’s putting together a stable team while maintaining a healthy amount of financial flexibility, and John Farrell is happy with the developments.  All in all, I’d say we’re definitely going in a great direction.

Anyway, let’s get down to it.  We’ve signed Mike Napoli to a three-year contract worth thirty-nine million dollars.  Don’t let last season’s aggregate stats fool you.  He batted .227 with twenty-four home runs and fifty-six RBIs with an on-base percentage of .343, but look at his numbers in his new home: .307 batting average, nine home runs, twenty RBIs, and a 1.14 OBP.  Admittedly, the sample size of seventy-five at-bats is small, but numbers aside, he’s known for pulling the ball, and his swing will thrive in Fenway.  As for defense, he’s a catcher by trade, but don’t expect to see him behind the plate.  He’ll probably end up at first.

Our next name is Shane Victorino, the Flyin’ Hawaiian.  It’s another three-year, thirty-nine-million-dollar deal.  Last year, he batted .255 with eleven homers, fifty-five RBIs, and a .321 OBP.  Don’t forget that he bats switch, though, and while he batted .229 as a leftie, he batted .320 as a rightie.  But he had vastly more at-bats from the left than the right, so again, the sample size must be considered.  Still, versatility has never been frowned upon in our organization.  As for defense, like Napoli, Victorino will not field in familiar territory.  All trade rumors concerning Ellsbury are patently false, and Victorino will not be playing center.  He’ll be playing right for sure.  And it’ll be a welcome relief.  Fenway’s right field can break any veteran, but Shane has the stuff to handle it.  He has three Gold Gloves and a center fielder’s speed and arm, and that combination in right, once he learns the fatal angles out there, will be formidable.  It’ll be nice breathing easy with a steady patrol out there.

It’s worth noting that Ben and John met in person with Josh Hamilton, but don’t get too excited.  We already have Ellsbury, and Hamilton wants either Texas or a long-term deal, neither of which we will provide.

And we signed Ryan Dempster to a two-year deal worth $26.5 million.  Granted, he has spent almost all of his time in the National League aside from a few handfuls of games last season, which he started for Texas.  But his ERA was 3.38 last season, and his WHIP was 1.20; not too shabby.  Just as important, if not more important, to why we were interested in him in the first place is the fact that, before last season, his last for seasons totaled at least two hundred innings, and last season he clocked 173 innings which isn’t too far behind.  That means three things: durability, durability, durability.  On the other hand, durability doesn’t mean much unless you’re good, and his brief stint in the American League didn’t go well at all, so I’m concerned as to how he’ll make out in the AL East, which, as we all know, is the toughest division there is, basically.  So I’d say we can approach this one with cautious expectations.  But at least we got some sort of starting pitcher, which is a step in the right direction.  We also added Koji Uehara, who signed a one-year deal.  In thirty-six innings last year, he posted a 1.75 ERA and an 0.64 WHIP.  That means good late-inning work for us.

We finished the Zach Stewart trade by acquiring Kyle Kaminska from the Pirates and assigned him to the PawSox.  We also claimed Sandy Rosario from the A’s, and he has since been claimed by the Cubs.  Gary DiSarcina, formerly the Angels’ minor league field coordinator, is now the PawSox manager.

So we had gaps and voids, we identified them, and we set about filling them with solid, stable choices who will fit in both on the field and in the clubhouse.  We now have some powerful hitters and defenders in the lineup whose numbers admittedly were not great last year but who stand, given the right circumstances, to do great things, and we have some great additions to the clubhouse as well.  We also have a starter who’s spent hardly any time in the AL and whose time he did spend in the AL was nothing to write home about but who has considerable potential.  We still have a lot of work to do; we need more and better starting pitching, for one thing.  That’s a big one.  But slowly but surely we’re getting it done.  We don’t need to make the world’s biggest splash to put a team together that can go the distance.

In other news, the Pats beat the Dophins, 23-16, and the Texans, 42-14.

AP Photo

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Prince Fielder won the derby with twenty-eight total home runs, four of which were the longest hit by any batter.  He and Ken Griffey, Jr. are the only players to have won multiple derbies.  Robinson Cano failed to hit any, which I enjoyed.

The National League somehow managed to win its third straight All-Star Game by a most embarrassing and humiliating score of eight-zip.  How that was even possible, I have no idea.  The American League seriously needs to step it up.  Fortunately it wasn’t the biggest run difference in the history of the All-Star Game.  The American League earned that when it beat the National League, 12-0, in 1946 at Fenway, of course.

They scored five runs in the first thanks to a two-run home run, a bases-clearing triple hit with the bases loaded, and an RBI single.  You can thank Justin Verlander for those; each of the American League pitchers pitched only one inning, but clearly his inning was by far the worst, ironically enough.  Why couldn’t he pitch like that when we’ve had to face him? He’s the third pitcher to give up at least five runs in at most one inning and the first to do it since 1983.  The last time an inning like this happened was in 2004, that most illustrious year, when the AL lit up the NL for six runs in the first.

They scored another three runs in the fourth thanks to an RBI single and another two-run home run.  You can thank Matt Harrison for those.

The AL posted six hits to the NL’s ten, none of which were for extra bases.  The AL also went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.  Nobody had a multi-hit performance, but at least Papi didn’t go hitless; he went one for two.  The entire team worked only three walks.  Melky Cabrera won the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award, and Ron Washington is the second manager to lose two straight World Series as well as two straight All-Star Games at the same time with the same teams.

Lastly, let it be stated here that the 2012 All-Star Game should have been held in the only ballpark that should have been the only logical choice in the first place: America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.  Fenway Park turned one hundred years old this year and deserved to celebrate by hosting the All-Star Game.  It’s been long enough since we last hosted one, and the fact that the ballpark is small shouldn’t have entered into it.  The team, the brass, the city, and the fans deserved it.  What’s done is done, but I’m just saying.

SBNation.com

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