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Well, that’s a wrap! That, my friends, is officially a wrap.  The 2013 regular baseball season is now over.  That’s it.  We finish with a record of ninety-seven and sixty-five.  That’s good for a winning percentage of .599, which is the best in the American League and tied with the Cards for the best in the Majors.

Look at how far we’ve come.  New manager, new players, new team.  And new record.  Better record.  Look at how far we’ve come.  Look at all the changes we’ve made and the transitions we’ve gone through.  And we made it on the other side.  Not to say I told you so, but I knew good things were in store for us from the very beginning.  And in this particular case I’m so psyched I’m right.

We ended the season, unfortunately, with a loss.  But the pitching staff got some last-minute work in while Lackey got the day off, which is good.  Webster pitched three shutout innings to start us off.  Doubront took over in the fourth but got into trouble in the fifth.  He gave up two singles followed by a strikeout and a walk to load the bases.  A double, a single, a walk, and a single ended up scoring five runs.

Then it was De La Rosa’s turn.  He ended the inning and gave up a single in the sixth.  Dempster took over and gave up a double, a wild pitch that scored a run, and a groundout.  Dempster came on and, while ending the inning, also gave up an RBI double.  Breslow pitched the seventh, and Uehara pitched the eighth.

The game started very nicely with a solo shot on the fourth pitch, courtesy of Ellsbury.  It was his third cutter of the at-bat, and all four pitches were about the same speed.  But he hit this one beyond the fence in right center field.  And he looked comfortable doing it, too.  It’s his third leadoff shot this year and tenth of his career, which is a new club record!

After Bogaerts struck out, Papi singled and then scored on a groundout by Carp.  With one out in the second, John McDonald singled, and Quintin Berry went yard on a changeup to right.  So the pitchers were taking this opportunity to get their work in, and so was the bench.  Which, as we all know, is very important.  Salty singled and scored on a single by Ellsbury in the fourth.  And Papi singled and scored on a single by Napoli in the ninth.

So we lost, 7-6.  But that’s so opposite of everything we’ve accomplished this year.  I’m so proud of us.  Now, this moment is really all about us.  But I want to say one thing.  The New York Yankees will be missing the playoffs this year.  Wow.  Life is good.

Okay.  So.  The whole team gets the day off on Monday, when the Rays and Rangers play for the final Wild Card spot.  Whoever wins will play Cleveland.  Then the division series will start on Friday.  The first two games will be at home, followed by a day off, then two games away, and then the last game would be back at home.

Oh, man, it’s good to be back.  Let’s get this done.

In other news, the Pats bested the Falcons, 30-23.

AP Photo

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What was that, deja vu? Through five and a half, we were right back where we were on Wednesday.  The score was 3-2, and not in our favor.  Needless to say, things weren’t looking so good most of the time.  But ultimately it doesn’t matter how or when you win as long as you do in the end.

Lester gave up a double to lead off the second followed by a home run.  He threw three straight balls and two straight strikes, and then there were two straight fouls and a big mistake.  He made another big mistake in the third, a solo shot being the result.

Our big inning, if you could call it that, was the third.  Iglesias walked, Ciriaco struck out, Ellsbury singled, Gomes lined out, and Pedroia cleared the bases with a double.

I am glad to report, however, that we did deviate from Wednesday’s performance by tying the game at three in the seventh.  Ellsbury led it off with a double, and then Gomes singled, Pedroia struck out, and Papi walked to load the bases.  It was a golden opportunity to put the game away.  Especially with Napoli at the plate.  And let’s face it; the entire offense has been so quite that everyone was due.  But all Napoli came up with was a groundout.  Still, it was just enough to tie things up.

Lester’s night was six innings long.  He gave up three runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out four.  If not for those two home runs, he’d be looking at a shutout performance.  Tazawa pitched the seventh, and Uehara pitched the eighth, holding the tie intact.  And Bailey pitched the ninth.

In the end, it was Bailey who picked up the win.  It turns out that it wasn’t quite deja vu after all because we pulled out that good, old resilience that we’ve proven so many times so far this year.  Napoli’s groundout with the bases loaded was extremely anticlimactic, but the same, as it happens, can’t be said for the way the game ended.

Gomes doubled to lead it off.  Then Pedroia walked intentionally.  Then Papi stepped up to the plate.  There was a sinker.  It was the first pitch of the at-bat.  It was also the last pitch of the game.  Because Papi, as we’ve seen him do so many times before, uncorked massive power on that ball.  It was a straight shot beyond the right field fence.  And because we were at home, after the mob we walked off the field.  The final score was 6-3.  How’s that for a walkoff?

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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We went from a win to a loss, from slugging to almost nothing.  We could have spread out Tuesday’s run total, sharing the wealth between Tuesday and yesterday, and we would have won easily last night.  That’s the nature of the game, I guess.

Lackey gave up a solo shot in the fourth.  We tied it up at one when Pedroia smashed a solo shot toward the Monster with two out in the sixth.  It was huge.  I am continually amazed by how much power he’s got when he unleashes.

Lackey’s night ended after six.  But they were six glorious innings.  He gave up only one run on five hits; it was just the one mistake.  He didn’t even walk anybody.  Unfortunately, things fell apart when he left the mound.  Breslow came on, allowed a double, picked up the inning’s first out, and issued a walk.  Then he was pulled in favor of Uehara, who gave up a bases-clearing double.

Tazawa came out for the eighth.  In the bottom of the frame, Napoli walked with two out and scored on a double by Salty to trim the lead to one.  Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.  And we came up just short, 3-2.

In other news, the Bruins finally beat the Penguins, 2-1, in sudden death!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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The Rangers didn’t stand a chance in this one.  Seriously.  No chance.  I thought our run total against the Yanks was epic, but it turns out that I had another thing coming.  And in this case, I am most definitely happy about that.  We scored so many runs last night that if you cut our run total in half, not only would we still have won, but that total alone would have been considered a ton of runs in most situations.

We did not waste time putting ourselves on top in this one.  Really, we didn’t.  From the very first, both literally and figuratively, we were winning and never looked back.  Nava led off the bottom of the first with a walk, followed by a single by Carp.  Then Pedroia struck out, and Papi hit an RBI double.  Then Napoli walked to load the bases, and Carp scored on a groundout by Salty.  Not exactly the response to a bases-loaded situation that we were looking for, but in the long run, we had absolutely nothing to worry about.

Iglesias led off the second with a double, and Bradley promptly followed that with a homer to right on a 2-1 count.  After that came a single by Nava, a walk by Carp, a flyout by Pedroia, a bases-clearing triple by Papi, and a successful sac fly by Napoli.  Then Salty doubled and scored on a double by Drew.  End our six-run second.

Nava doubled with one out in the third and scored on a single by Carp.  And Drew homered to right center field to lead off the fourth; Carp repeated that performance in the fifth.

Then Salty led off the sixth with a solo shot.  Drew singled, Iglesias reached on a throwing error, and both runners ended up in scoring position.  Drew scored on a groundout by Bradley, and Nava hit a successful sac fly but ended up on third thanks to a fielding error, and he himself scored on a sac fly by Carp.  A single by Salty, a double by Drew, and a bases-clearing single by Iglesias resulted in yet two more runs.

While the offense was getting busy at the plate, Dempster was mighty busy on the mound.  This, I have to say, was a quality start.  The numbers don’t lie.  He gave up a double and consequently a two-run home run in the fourth as well as a solo shot to lead off the sixth.  All told, he pitched a nice, long seven innings.  He gave up just the three runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out six.  Easily one of the best starts we’ve seen from him this year.

Mortensen came on for the eighth; he gave up a single and subsequently a two-run home run of his own.  After that he gave up two singles and a walk and was subsequently replaced by Miller, who ended the inning.  He aced the ninth.

Well, we finally won by a score of 17-5.  There was only one inning during which we did not score: the eighth.  Obviously there was no need to play the bottom of  the ninth.  In the end we racked up nineteen hits.  Thirteen of them were for extra bases: eight doubles, one triple, and four homers.  And that, my friends, is how you play baseball.

In other news, the Bruins completely knocked down the Penguins, 6-1.

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We really are in the middle of quite the slump.  This team looks completely different from the one that had the best record in the Majors.  Our record is now 22-16; if we continue at our current rate, we’ll have to start winning just to stay at .500, and we all remember what that feels like.  We got swept by the Rangers; at least, at the time, we felt like the Rangers were a good match.  But Minnesota’s pitching staff has one of the lowest strikeout counts in the Majors, and Toronto’s pitchers are mediocre at best and their hitters swing at almost anything.  We are losing games we should not be losing.  Not that there’s ever a game that we should lose, but still.  Speaking of the Jays specifically, it would have been very nice to escape the series without allowing them to hit a slew of home runs.  Sure, we hadn’t been able to win by doing that, but at least we, for the most part, eliminated their chief mode of attack.

Dempster was not so fortunate.  He didn’t keep the ball down.  His heat is more lukewarm than anything else, so you can see why location would have been the key to a successful performance on his part.  He lasted only five innings and gave up six runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out three.  And he allowed three home runs.

It started in the second.  He gave up a single, a double, and a three-run home run with two out.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the third, and he issued a walk and then allowed a two-run home run in the fourth.  It would have been worse had Victorino gotten hurt trying to haul the ball in for an out.  He tried to catch it right at the bullpen fence but fell flat-out; he left the game in the seventh with some stiffness.  Dempster gave up another solo shot in the fifth.  On a splitter.  If Dempster is anything, he’s a splitter pitcher, so the fact that he missed his spot with a splitter says something.  Dempster, overall, has been pitching very well, at least for him.  But, yes, all of his runs scored via the long ball, which is exactly how the Jays like it.

Miller came on for the sixth and gave up a solo shot on his third pitch.  After recording the inning’s first out, he gave up a single, issued a walk, and was replaced by Mortensen.  Mortensen gave up a successful sac fly followed by a two-run home run.  He had a one-two-three seventh, and Breslow had a one-two-three eighth, making him our only pitcher to not allow any runs in the game.  Jose De La Torre came in for the ninth and gave up a double, a walk, an RBI single, and an RBI double play.

All in all, that’s twelve runs.  By the time we got on the board in the fourth, we were already down by five.  Napoli answered the Jays’ power with his own, smashing a solo shot on the second pitch of his leadoff at-bat in the fourth.  And he hit it to one of the deepest parts of the park.  It was a nice piece of hitting; if only such a phenomenon were more common for us.

We didn’t score again until the sixth, when Pedroia singled and scored on a sac fly by Nava.  We went down in order in the seventh, and then Ciriaco hit a home run.  It was also a solo shot, and he also led off an inning.  It was the second pitch of his at-bat, also a fastball.  But he hit his beyond the Monster.  Either way, it was still also a nice piece of hitting that we also could have used more of.

Then Pedroia flied out, and Napoli singled, Nava walked, and Gomes got hit.  Just like that, the bases were loaded.  It was Salty’s turn to bat, but a force out was all he could muster; Napoli scored our last run of the game.  Napoli went three for four; the only other person to have a multi-hit game was Pedroia, who went two for five.  Napoli alone scored half of our runs.

So the Jays finally got what they wanted: a win via the long ball.  Dempster, a single pitcher, accounted for half the runs they scored, while the relief corps divided the other half among themselves.  The final score was 12-4; we scored less than half the number of runs that Toronto scored.  We left eight on base and were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, so our dismal streak of being completely ineffective in situations when we need effectiveness most continues.  Dempster took the loss, but it was a team effort.

In other news, the Bruins got shut out by the Leafs, two-zip.  So it all comes down to tonight.

Boston Globe Staff

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You know, it actually got to the point where I kind of forgot what it felt like.  I forgot what it felt like to be completely shut down by another team over the course of multiple games played on multiple days.  It’s like when we all forgot what sweeping other teams felt like when we were mired in the abysmal dross that was last season.  Now I remember.  Getting swept is not fun.

This time, it was Lester who didn’t deliver.  Actually, to be fair, he did deliver.  He gave a quality start.  He gave up three runs on five hits over six innings.  He walked three and struck out seven; needless to say, his cut fastball wasn’t as formidable as usual.  It didn’t have the same nasty bite on it that it usually does when he’s really on.  He had a spectacular first and second during which he sent the Rangers down in order.  Even his third inning, during which he gave up a solo shot, was otherwise great.  He made a mistake on a cutter, and the batter figured it out, but other than that, he was spotless.

He gave up a double and a walk in the fourth.  He gave up a walk and a single in the fifth.  And he gave up a single and a home run in the sixth, this one on a sinker.  So as you can see, it became increasingly laborious for him as the game went on.  He ended up throwing 115 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  It was just one of those days.  His starts usually comprise less than three walks, less than six hits, less than three runs, more than seven strikeouts, and more than six innings.  Not yesterday.  Lester’s ERA is now 3.30.

But seriously, it wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t even bad at all.  Lester gave up three runs.  If that had been the extent of the damage that the Rangers had been able to inflict, then the game could have potentially had a very different outcome.  Even if the Rangers scored more, the game still could have had a different outcome if we had been able to score more than we did.

By the time the Rangers scored their first run in the third, we were already up by three.  So by all accounts, it seemed like we could have at least ended the series with the dignity of not having been swept right out of Arlington.  With two out, Pedroia singled, and Papi unleashed on a 3-1 fastball.  The ball ended up beyond the right field fence, and we ended up with two runs just like that.  His hitting streak is now at twenty-five.

In the very next frame, after Carp struck out, Ross hit his second pitch of the game for a solo shot.  Both pitches were sliders around the same speed.  He took the first one for a ball; he sent the second one beyond the left field foul pole.  It was awesome.  You had the veteran slugger slugging, and you had the comebacker slugging as well.  Better still, you had the comebacker becoming the fourth player in the history of Rangers Ballpark to smash one into the club tier.  Things had looked good.

After we went down in order in the third and the Rangers scored their first run, things still looked good.  Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth.  We went down in order in the top of the sixth; for the most part, the two pitchers were involved in a duel of sorts.  Both ended up giving up three runs; Lester’s two-run home run tied the game at three.  And that’s the way it stayed through the seventh, which Uehara pitched.  It’s the way it stayed through the eighth, despite the fact that we walked twice and that it took the services of both Tazawa and Miller to get through the bottom of the frame.  And that’s the way it stayed through the top of the ninth, when Ross walked, Drew singled, and one out quickly turned into three.

But that is not the way it stayed through the bottom of the ninth.  Mortensen came out and was all business.  He struck out his first two batters and looked solid.  Then he gave up a single and issued a wild pitch, which is something that can happen when a sinkerballer sinks too low.  In and of itself, that wouldn’t have done anything to shake the tie.  Mortensen then intentionally walked Lance Berkman.  Still, the tie was intact.  It was the single he gave up to Adrian Beltre of all people that did us in.  He threw five straight sliders to Beltre; when he singled, the count was 1-2.

The final score was 4-3.  It was the first time we got swept this year, and we now have to share the best record in the Majors with the team that swept us.

AP Photo

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This is the first time this year that we lost the first two games of a series.  We’ve never been able to play that well against the Rangers.  We still have the best record in the Majors, but I don’t want to be in the position of dreading playing a particular team.  We should have strong showings against everyone we face.

We went down in order in the first.  We had two on in the third with only one out but didn’t score.  Salty doubled in the fourth, but we didn’t score.  We went down in order in the fifth despite a walk by Drew thanks to a double play.  We had two on with two out in the sixth but didn’t score.  We had two runners in scoring position with two out in the seventh but didn’t score.  Napoli got hit in the eighth, but we didn’t score.

I assume that, by now, you’ve guessed the pattern.

Papi led off the second with a double and scored on a single by Nava.  That was our one and only offensive highlight.  We were held to that one run and that one run only.  That was it.  Just the one run.  It’s more than zero; at least we scored something and we weren’t shut out two games in a row.  But that’s not that much of a silver lining, if you ask me.

Lackey’s start, technically speaking, was not a quality start.  It was a real grind.  Especially if his very first pitch was any indication.  It was hit for a solo shot.  That’s an inauspicious beginning if I’ve ever seen one.  He seemed to settle down, sending the Rangers down in order in the second and third.  But he got himself into a jam in the fourth and couldn’t completely pitch around it.  Thanks to a single and two walks, he had the bases loaded with two out.  He gave up a single that plated two runs and put a runner on third, thanks to a throwing error by Middlebrooks.  He gave up another walk, but fortunately the damage ended there.

He gave up two singles in the fifth and one in the sixth.  Unfortunately, our damage had already ended in the second.  It was a classic case of insufficient run support.  Lackey’s start was short, and those five innings were not shutout innings.  However, we should have been able to score a sufficient amount of runs so as to bury the total of three that the Rangers had accumulated.

Thus, Lackey was one inning short of a quality start.  He gave up three runs on six hits while walking three and striking out four over the course of five innings, not the required six.  Miller pitched the sixth, and Tazawa pitched the seventh with the help of three K’s.  Uehara pitched the eighth and wasn’t so on.  He got a strikeout to start the frame but then allowed a single followed by a home run.  Big mistake.  So instead of losing by 3-1, we lost by 5-1.

In other news, the Bruins dropped one to the Leafs, 4-2.

AP Photo

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