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Posts Tagged ‘Vicente Padilla’

The wait is finally over; Mike Napoli is officially ours, but for a lot less, in terms of both time and money.  The original deal was three years worth thirty-nine million dollars.  The new deal is one year worth five million plus incentives to thirteen million.  The problem, as I and probably anyone else suspected, was physical.  During a physical, our doctors noticed something with his hip that caused some concern.  Though a catcher by trade, he’ll be our first baseman.  That’s certainly a better fit for his hip anyway.  So now we can stop wondering and get on with the rest of our baseball lives.

As usual, we avoided arbitration with quite a few guys.  Salty signed a one-year contract with no guarantee.  Ellsbury signed a one-year deal worth nine million dollars, which is an extra-criminal steal.  He’ll be a free agent after this year, so this is probably the last time in his career that he’ll earn less than ten million dollars per year, and even that’s low.  Breslow signed a multi-year deal.

Vicente Padilla has signed a one-year deal to pitch in Japan.  Lastly, Terry Francona, who now manages the Cleveland Indians, will have a memoir coming out tomorrow about his time with us.  It’s called “Francona: The Red Sox Years” and was co-written with Dan Shaughnessy.  An excerpt published earlier painted a less-than-rosy picture of Francona’s relationship with the brass, which he now says is a misrepresentation of his book overall.  Oh, the drama.

In other news, our Super Bowl drought continues.  The Pats beat the Texans in the division playoff, 41-28, but lost the conference championship to the Ravens last night, 28-13.  So that’s it.  Our season is over.  Yet another example of the fact that our offense, outstanding as it is, was a bad match against Baltimore’s defense, and our defense a bad match against Baltimore’s offense.  It was agonizing to watch and painful to recall.  On the bright side, the Bruins have come to the rescue! We beat the Rangers, 3-1, on Saturday in the first game of the shortened season.

The Joy of Sox

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Well, we put Zach Stewart on the mound again, and he disappointed again.  We lost.  Our runs were the result of only two scoring plays in the whole game.  We did not play well at all.

It started and basically ended with Stewart.  He gave up five runs on seven hits over the course of only two and two-thirds innings.  He walked none and struck out one.  His fourth pitch of the game was hit for a solo shot, and then he loaded the bases by giving up two singles and hitting a batter.  One run scored on a double play, and the other scored on a single.  He’s lucky he escaped with only those three runs.  He went one-two-three in the second but was back at it in the third; his sixth pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot, he got the inning’s first out, he gave up a single, he got the inning’s second out, and then he gave up an RBI single.  And that was when he was replaced by Mortensen.

Mortensen finished the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the fifth, which was Baltimore’s last run of the game and Mortensen’s only blemish.  Carpenter pitched the seventh, and Padilla pitched the eighth.

We didn’t score until the fourth, and when we did, we were already behind by five.  Ross led off the fourth by smacking a seventy-eight mile-per-hour changeup out to left field for a solo shot on the second pitch of the frame.  That was it until the seventh, when Lavarnway singled and Nava hit a home run of his own to left field, this one for two runs and on Nava’s first pitch, an eighty-eight mile-per-hour fastball.  Both home runs were expertly hit, both consisted of healthy swings, and both were great to watch except for the fact that, like I said, they were our only scoring plays.  If they had been part of a larger slugfest or something, they probably would have looked a lot better.

With this 6-3 loss, we are now down to our last series of the season.  It’s against New York, and we should at least put up a strong showing to make it hard for them or something.  Anyway, while the Orioles were celebrating their first playoff berth since 1997, we were just swept right out of Baltimore and have lost ninety games in a season for the first time since 1966.

In other news, the Pats downed the Bills by the healthy score of 52-28.

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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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We lost again.  We shouldn’t have, but we did.  You could say that about most of our losses this year, but this time it’s especially true.  It’s not so much that the hitters pulled more than their own weight than it is that the relievers should have been able to work with what they had but didn’t.

Neither team scored through five, and we got on the board first.  Iglesias singled on the first pitch of the sixth, Ellsbury struck out, Pedroia flew out, Ieglesias moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Ross, who scored on a single by Lavarnway with help from a deflection.  Neither team scored in the seventh, and we added a run in the eighth; Lavarnway doubled and scored on a triple by Gomez.  We scored our last run in the ninth on a solo shot by Iglesias.  It was the first home run of his Major League career.  The count was 0-2 and he got an eighty-eight mile-per-hour sinker as his fourth pitch, and he just completely unleashed.  He clobbered the ball beyond the left field fence.

Meanwhile, Buchholz pitched yet another gem.  The Rays didn’t score their first run until the eighth.  That was after Buchholz left.  Buchholz pitched seven shutout innings; he was as solid as he’s ever been.  He induced three straight groundouts in the first, pitched around runners on second and third in the second and a runner on second in the third, induced a groundout and two popouts in the fourth, pitched around runners at the corners in the fifth, induced two groundouts and a strikeout in the sixth, and pitched around a runner on third in the seventh.  And in fairness to him, both doubles he allowed were the result of the fact that Ciriaco was starting in center for the first time ever and had his fair share of trouble.

Tazawa came on in the eighth.  He gave up a double that eventually turned into a run on a sac fly.  If that had been all, it would have been fine because, at the time, that run shrunk our lead to tow, but at least we still had a lead to speak of.

Bailey came on in the ninth, and that was when we lots the game.  Think about that.  We played an entire game’s worth of baseball, and it meant nothing because of the last inning alone.  Granted, the offense didn’t do much for most of it, but the fact is that we were in line to win in the end.  We were in line to win right up until the ninth inning started.  We were even in line to win three batters into the ninth inning.  Even five batters into it, we were winning by less, but we were still winning.  But when the teams walked off the field, we had lost.

Bailey had taken over.  He gave up two consecutive singles, and both runners advanced on a groundout.  He gave up a third single that scored the Rays’ first run of the inning.  Thanks to a steal and a walk, Bailey had runners on first and second again, and he gave up another single that scored the second and third runs of the inning.

Technically, all that did was tie the game.  So it was still conceivable that we could have won given the opportunity to play extras.  But we never got the chance.  Padilla came on and gave up a three-run home run and that was that.  It was the fourth pitch of his only at-bat.  All four pitches were four-seam fastballs.  All four pitchers were almost exactly the same speed.  But it was the last one that did us in.

So we lost, 7-4, and it was all the bullpen’s fault.  They did exactly what they were not supposed to do: lose the game.  Relievers are called relievers for a reason.  They’re supposed to provide relief.  That means that they’re supposed to walk in and leave the opponent’s scoreboard exactly the way they found it.  And that’s not what happened last night.  Not even remotely.  The Rays scored six runs in the ninth inning.  It doesn’t matter that we only scored four; apparently four runs was good enough for Buchholz.  A reliever is supposed to take what he can get and work with it.  Tazawa got a hold, and Baily got an incredibly well-deserved blown save as well as a fitting and appropriate loss.

And that’s why it hurts.  The relievers didn’t provide relief.  They provided loss.

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That’s what I’m talking about! Even if we are eliminated from the playoffs, we may as well go out with a bang, with our heads held high, and with our dignity still intact.  And keeping the Rays out of it would be a fantastic bonus.

Doubront gave up three runs on one hit while walking five and striking out five over six innings.  He didn’t give up any home runs, so it was the walks that caught up with him.  His first two innings were fine.  But after opening the third with a strikeout, he issued three consecutive walks to load the bases and eventually cleared them thanks to a single and a sac fly.  After that he went right back to cruising.

Doubront put us in a hole three runs deep but left the game with a lead.  Ross doubled to open the forth and scored on a single by Loney.  We  tied it up in the fifth; Iglesias singled, Ciriaco walked, and Ellsbury singled and Pedroia hit a sac fly that scored each of them, respectively.  Salty opened the sixth by striking out, but Lavarnway and Podsednik hit back-to-back singles.  Iglesias grounded out, and then Ciriaco reached on a throwing error induced by his speed (rushing to the point of error is obviously never a good thing), Lavarnway scored, and Podsednik was out at the plate.  And with two out in the seventh, Ross and Loney worked back-to-back walks, Salty singled in Ross, and Lavarnway doubled in both Loney and Salty.

Mortensen came on in the seventh and loaded the bases after securing the first two outs by hitting a batter and walking two.  Then Tazawa came on and allowed a single that scored two.  Those were the last runs that either team would score.  Padilla and Breslow pitched the eighth, Bailey pitched the ninth, and we won, 7-5.  And the Rays look more and more like they won’t be tasting postseason glory.

Presswire Photo

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Why couldn’t we have played this way against the Yankees? We did during that first game, our crowning achievement of the series.  And, as I said, it all went down hill from there.  I would have loved to have snuck at least one more win in there.  Then again, if we snuck in one more win every single time we wanted to sneak in one more win, we would not be in our current situation, which is fighting just to get out of the basement with the team we’re currently playing.

Dice-K got the nod and, not surprisingly at all, didn’t pitch well.  He gave up four runs on three hits while walking three and striking out five over five and one-third innings.  It was the third inning that did him in.  He began the inning by hitting a batter and walking another.  After getting a strikeout, he walked another batter.  And then two consecutive wild pitches resulted in two runs plus another walk, and a groundout brought in the final run of the inning.  So if you think about it, he allowed those three runs without allowing a single hit.  It’s the first time one of our pitchers has done that since the 1970s.

He began the sixth with a groundout and then allowed a triple.  Mortensen came on and allowed his inherited runner to score on a single.  During all of Dice-K’s other innings, though, he was basically solid.  He was great.  In fact, there were times when he looked dialed-in and on cruise control.  But we’ve seen this kind of thing before where his real downfall is not being able to sustain that across all of his innings equally, and you have the one or two or three or more bad innings that determine the fate of his start.

Fortunately, he was taken out before he could allow further damage.  And it turns out that, between the third and the sixth, we’d been doing some scoring ourselves.  Ross led off the fourth with a four-pitch walk, Gomez singled, Lavarnway fouled off a slow fastball for a strike, and then he received almost the exact same pitch in terms of type and speed.  But he got of it the second time around.  He launched it to left, and it exited the park with ease.  One swing.  Three runs.  Tie game.

Then we had the bases loaded with two out in the fifth, and Nava came up.  Obviously that situation your default hope is a grand slam, and if not a grand slam then at least some sort of extra-base hit.  Nava singled.  But it still brought in two more runs, which gave us a two-run lead at the time.  Which, by the way, would not have been possible without some fine baserunning by Aviles.  Aviles had singled and was the first runner to get on base.  He moved to second on a groundout by Ross before Gomez reached on a fielder’s choice.  Brett Lawrie thought he could tag Aviles for the out, but in a fine display of athleticism and acumen, Aviles neatly avoided the tag and slid back to the bag.  Nice.

Then, of course, they scored their run in the sixth, which reduced our lead to one, a lead that Tazawa preserved in the seventh.  But Padilla, who came on for the eighth, began the inning with a single-double combination that tied the game at five.

It turned out that that run would be the last that the Jays would score.  Carpenter replaced Padilla, and all was well in the rest of the eighth.  Not so for the Jays in the ninth.  Ellsbury led it off with a single, after which the Jays made a pitching change that was not helpful.  Aviles flied out, which probably provided some measure of false hope, but then Ross singled, Gomez smacked a bases-clearing triple, and Lavarnway brought him home on a sac fly.

Which means, of course, that for once, we won! The final score was 8-5.  It feels good to win and to win by a respectable margin at that.  So, as I said, Dice-K received a no-decision, Mortensen and Tazawa each got holds, Padilla got a blown save, Carpenter got the win, and Baily got the save for pitching the bottom of the ninth.  And let’s not forget Nava’s spectacular, Ellsbury-esque diving catch for the first out of the eighth! Adam Lind thought he was about to put his team ahead for good, but Nava read the ball all the way, stayed on it, ran exactly the right distance, dove exactly the right time, and hauled it in.  It was an inspired piece of fielding.  Between all of that and the fact that we won, it was a great game full of gems.

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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.

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