Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Ward’

That was the theme of the day yesterday.  Two very unlikely losses.  Baseball first, then hockey.  We kept going back and forth, back and fourth.  We’d score a run, and they’d score a run.  They’d score a run, and we’d score a run.  No home runs for either side, and it was a pitcher’s duel which, if you consider that we had Brad Penny on the mound, is a very good thing.  Ultimately we tied it, 4-4, and the tie wasn’t broken until the twelfth inning.  And it wasn’t broken in our favor.  The Angels scored a walk-off run in their inning to win it, 5-4.  So they take the series.  Fortunately, Toronto also lost, so it doesn’t affect the standings much.  Unfortunately, they lost to the Yankees, but hey, I guess you can’t have it all.

Penny was spectacular.  Just over six innings, four runs on seven hits, only one walk, and four strikeouts, but he pitched better than those numbers would suggest.  He threw ninety-seven pitches, so he was pretty efficient, and sixty-one of those were strikes.  Penny is still a power pitcher so the fastball is key, and he had it locked yesterday.  He couldn’t solve Torii Hunter, though, who batted in the Angels’ first three runs, all coming with two outs.  The bullpen did a good job for holding the fort; eventually something had to give, but why it was us and not them I’ll never know.  Okajima pitched very well; his OPP AVG is .180 and he has a 1.15 WHIP.  Fantastic.  Ramirez and Papelbon were spot-on as usual, and it was Manny Delcarmen who gave up the winning run and took the loss.  No, that’s not a mistake.  I wish it were.  Trust me, if you told me yesterday that Delcarmen would be the pitcher giving up the winning run, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Pedroia the Destroyah was back in the lineup yesterday.  He was pretty annoyed that Tito sat him two days ago, but a manager has to do what a manager has to do.  You love to see that competitive spirit from Pedroia, but you also have to think of what’s best for him down the stretch.  Pedroia had a phenomenal day, going four for six with a walk, a run, and an RBI that tied the game at four.  He’s batting .336.  It’s like the kid is perpetually on fire.  It just doesn’t stop.  Ellsbury went two for six with a walk and an RBI, so he extends his hitting streak to ten games.  And heading into yesterday, he was second in the American League in singles with thirty-six.  That tells you he’s using his bat but also his legs; he’s taking what should be bloops and sacrifices and turning them into infield hits.  And Julio Lugo did swimmingly, going five for six with a run, an RBI, and a steal.  He and Pedroia alone accounted for nine hits.  It was ridiculous.  I never thought I’d see the day.  Julio Lugo? Five for six? And he had a bit of smart base running too, staying in a rundown in the tenth long enough to allow Ellsbury to move into scoring position from first.  Maybe he’s finally turning that corner, after two-plus years here, after all those errors and strikeouts and flyouts and errors and groundouts and lineouts and errors.  It’s about time.  Bay batted in the fourth run with his ninth double of the season.

We went three for twenty-two with runners in scoring position and left seventeen men on base.  David Ortiz went 0 for 7 and struck out three times.  That’s not a mistake.  It’s something I never thought I’d say, but it’s not a mistake.  0 for 7.  That scares me big time.  Ortiz has played in thirty-four of our thirty-five games this year.  I think he could use a mental break.  And fast.

In the field, though, it was all outfield.  Jason Bay had some good plays in left  In the seventh he made a beautiful diving catch; he tracked the ball, he dove, he caught, he flipped, he rose, and he threw.  Beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful diving catch, even if the Angels did score their fourth run on it.  JD Drew was very busy as well in right field, and he flashed some serious leather.  In the fourth, he gunned down Juan Rivera at second when he tried to stretch his hit into a double.  The ball dropped, and Drew picked it up, turned, and threw with pinpoint precision.  Then in the eighth he saved the tie.  A ball falling fast and Drew made the call, catching it in shallow right field, and he fired to Tek to get Abreu out at the plate.  So he had two assists and participated in a double play.  Epic.

Tito was ejected for the first time this year in the tenth when he argued balls and strikes with home plate umpire Bill Miller.  But Tito was absolutely right.  Miller was inconsistent and he’d been making some very questionable calls all afternoon, and after a point enough is enough, and you have to come out and defend your players.

So our struggles with the Angels continue.  But at least we can be comforted by the fact that we own them in October, and that’s where it really counts.  Of course, first you have to get to October, but I don’t think that’s an issue for us.  We’ll be playing fall ball.  And hopefully we’ll face the Angels in the ALDS again this year.  We’re 13-4 overall against the Angels in postseason play, and we’re 9-1 against them in our last three ALDSs.  So ultimately I think we’re good.  We’re off to Seattle tonight, and it’ll be Lester at Chris Jakubauskas.  I’m hoping a trip home for Lester will help him get back on track.

In other news, hockey season is over as of last night.  We dropped Game Seven to the Hurricanes in a very tense sudden death overtime, 3-2.  It was horrible.  And it felt just like October 2008, when the Red Sox were down 3-1, battled back to make it 3-3, and lost Game Seven as well.  So Cam Ward still hasn’t lost a playoff series.  High points for us were that Marc Savard was back in the game yesterday despite hurting his knee previously, Tim Thomas made some very difficult and very athletic saves, and that play by Aaron Ward to pull the puck literally off our own goal line and preserve our tie was just outstanding.  The game- and series-winning goal was scored by Scott Walker, who really shouldn’t have been in the game in the first place because he should’ve been suspended for going after Aaron Ward even though he never dropped his gloves.  So all in all it was a very tense, very well-played, and very unfair loss.  Just sayin’.  But no one can say we didn’t go down without a fight.  Thanks for a great season, and we’re looking forward to bringing the Stanely Cup to Boston next year.

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What a night to be a Boston fan.  First the Bruins won to stave off elimination and live to play another day, and then the Red Sox break a tie late in the ballgame to come away with the win and take the series.  So we win the battle and the war.  Nice.  And for a while it looked like we were even going to have another Beckett-esque start.  Turns out it wasn’t quite as Beckett-esque as we’d hoped, but at this point I think we have to take what we can get.  Sad but true.  Beckett pitched six innings, gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, and struck out five.  Considering the way his starts have been going lately, that feels like a shutout to me.  Not bad.  Besides, for my Number One starter, I’ll take Beckett on his worst day over almost all other Number One starters on their best days, because you have to think long term, and that includes October, and come October there’s only one man you want out there starting a series for you, and that’s Josh Beckett.  No question about it.

Unfortunately, he got a no decision because that third run he allowed was the tying run.  Okajima pitched just under two perfect innings, Ramirez finished off the seventh, and Papelbon made the ninth interesting but ultimately got the save.  He gave up a walk and a hit, made a pickoff error, and has a steal in the background before he did any damage at all.  Then he proceeded to strike out Pena, Upton, and Crawford in order.  Why he couldn’t just start the inning that way, I don’t know.  But the bottom line is that Ramirez got the win and Paps got the save.  You might say it’s good for Paps to keep everyone on their toes, but the way this season’s going I’m on my toes enough, thank you.  Paps can go ahead and have a clean, straight save if he wants to.  But he’s still the best closer in the game.  That’s his eight save of the season.  Eight saves in eight save opportunities.  One hundred percent.  And usually that lasts for a long, long time.

We won the game, 4-3.  The Rays tied it in the sixth and we scored the winning run in the eighth, batted in by who but Jason Bay.  I think the man was born to hit in the clutch late.  A ballgame is never over, not even in the late innings, until Jason Bay’s had his final say.  And usually that amounts to him hitting for at least one bag, very commonly four bags.  Yesterday it was two bags.  Bay went two for four, and both of those hits were doubles, the latter of which coming in the eighth to plate David Ortiz and give us a permanent lead.  He also scored once.  So basically the man is awesome on all counts.  He might be in the mix for AL MVP.  Incidentally, that would be something, if Boston dominated the voting and we had three guys in the first three places.  Wow.  Anyway, Drew, Bailey, and Green batted in the other runs.  Green also had a good night, finishing two for three.

Lowell made an error.  Youk’s still out.  Dice-K pitched four shutout innings in Pawtucket.  Lopez was thankfully designated for assignment as we finally bought Daniel Bard’s contract from Pawtucket.  Let me tell you something about Daniel Bard: he’s considered our best relief prospect for a reason, and a very significant part of that reason is his fastball.  Trust me.  This is going to be fun.

So as I said we take two out of three against the Rays.  Good.  We’re gradually building up to a sweep.  We get the day off today and then it’s off to the west coast again for a series with the Angels.  First it’ll be Masterson at Weaaver.  I hope his struggles of late aren’t a permanent turn for the worse.  Either way, the sooner we’re done with the west coast, the better; this is actually our last trip out there, which is nice.  So let’s make it count.

In other news, the Bruins won.  To say they pulled out a win or that they hung on by the skin of their teeth would be one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever heard.  Because we absolutely dominated.  Even if you didn’t know the score, there is no question in your mind who won that hockey game.  The score, by the way, was 4-0.  It was Timmy Thomas’s first career playoff shutout.  Kessel scored two of those goals; would’ve been sweet if he’d had himself a hat trick but technically anything besides simply winning is icing on the cake.  Recchi also had himself a goal, and he’s the oldest Bruin ever to score in the playoffs.  Milan Lucic accounted for the fourth goal.  I have to say I was terrified when I saw Chara go down in the second period; Jussi Jokinen delivered a stick to his left shin and he stayed down for a few minutes.  And he’s not one to fool around.  He skated off on his own but didn’t start the third.  But with 19:12 left, he began his first shift of the period.  What a relief.  Then Scott Walker drew a seven-minute penalty.  No, that’s correct; a seven-minute penalty.  Two minutes for misconduct and five for fighting because Aaron Ward never dropped his gloves.  Unfortunately there were only two minutes left in the game at that point so we really couldn’t take full advantage of it, but still.  First of all it was a classless move, and second of all any penalty against the opposition lasting longer than two minutes is awesome.  Game Six on Tuesday at 7:00PM.  Let’s keep it going.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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