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Posts Tagged ‘Adrian onzalez’

I’ve seen many truly great first innings of ballgames, and yesterday’s was not one of them.  A throwing error, four singles, a force out, and a double play later, we were already down by three.  (Officially, you can thank Scutaro for one of those, since he made a throwing error.  Unofficially, you can thank Scutaro for two, because one was the error and the other wasn’t technically an error; he just couldn’t come up with a clean play.  That first inning was not Scutaro’s finest hour.) That is not an auspicious start to a baseball game by any stretch of the imagination, and since it was Lackey on the mound, I was already thinking, “Here we go again.”

I am pleased to report that I was wrong.  Lackey only lasted five and two-thirds innings, but he really settled down after that twenty-seven-pitch first.  The turnaround was actually quite remarkable.  One might we’re writing off his start for good, and the next minute we’re cruising through the game’s first half.  Those three runs he gave up in the first and a solo shot he allowed later were the only runs he allowed.  Normally I wouldn’t be so thrilled with a starter who gave up four runs in less than six innings, but considering who the starter was and his circumstances, I can’t complain.  He walked one and gave up ten hits but struck out seven.  He threw 107 pitches, seventy-four for strikes.  So he was really inefficient, but he threw good pitches.  He rolled out all six of the pitches in his arsenal and used them all effectively.  Of all the pitches, his curveball had the lowest strike percentage, and that was about sixty.  (Technically, it would actually be his two-seam; he threw only one of them for a strike, but considering he threw only about two in total, that doesn’t exactly count.)

Lackey was removed in the sixth.  And then we saw a bit of a replay of what happened when he pitched for the Angels in the 2009 ALDS.  When he saw Tito come out of the dugout, he was not happy, and he said so.  On one hand, that’s what you want to see from every play on the team.  You want to see that fierce competitiveness.  That’s not something we’ve seen from Lackey in a long time.  I mean, he’s always a competitor with perseverance and work ethic, but the fact that he showed it in that way technically can be considered a good thing.  It means he had confidence that he could finish what he started and that he knew he rescued himself from an outing that could have tanked to an epic degree and was now on the right track.  And he didn’t want to let it go until he did everything he could to ensure that his start would be as top-notch as it was going to get.  But on the other hand, it’s not really compatible with the way Tito likes to manage.  Tito is a pretty quiet guy.  He would never call out a player in public, and what Lackey did was kind of like calling out the manager in public.  When Tito goes out of his way to be discreet, he deserves the same courtesy from his players.  If Lackey had a problem with being removed, he could have told Tito about it behind closed doors, just like Tito would have gone behind closed doors to tell Lackey he had a problem with him.  I’m sure they talked it out afterwards and everything’s all good.  I guess what I’m saying is that Lackey should feel free to be himself as a ballplayer but to also be mindful of the impact it has and not go out of line.

He was taken out in favor of Randy Williams; he left two outs and two baserunners (Damon reached on a fielding error by…Gonzalez? I didn’t really know he knew how to make fielding errors) in his wake.  Williams secured the last out of the inning as well as the first two in the seventh, and then we went to Bard, who finished off the seventh and allowed a double in the eighth that facilitated a steal of third but ultimately finished that inning too.

Paps came on for the ninth and allowed a triple followed by a single.  Luckily, that run didn’t matter.  But, like I always say, what if it did matter? It’s possible that that inning would have lost us the game in that case.  Closers can’t afford to pitch weakly under any circumstances whatsoever because you never know.

The reason why that run didn’t matter is because we totally dominated.  Salty walked in the second on five pitches, and Reddick sent a cutter to the very back of the first deck of seats in right field.  It was hugely huge; I’m sure his family, who was present at the game, really enjoyed seeing that.  It just goes to show you why walks will haunt.  We’ll make you pay every time.

The festivities continued in the third.  Gonzalez led off the inning with another five-pitch walk, and Youk followed with a single. Papi brought them both home with a double and scored himself on a double by Drew.

Ellsbury led off the fourth with a home run.  It was a slider, the ninth pitch he saw overall and the first of that at-bat.  It ended up in the first few rows of seats in right field.  It was his second dinger in as many games.  Ironically enough, hitting home runs is not something he was ever supposed to do.  Nobody ever thought of him as a power hitter.  Not that I’m complaining.  The more tools, the merrier.

We took a break for a while and didn’t score again until the seventh, when Pedroia smacked a fastball into the stands in right.  For the first time in his career, it was his third home run in as many games, and he’s hit seven home runs in his last four teen games.  This one was another hugely powerful swing.  Here’s another guy who was never supposed to hit home runs.  It really is so much fun to watch Pedroia hit home runs.  You think he’s such a small guy, but then he just uncorks this massive swing on an unsuspecting baseball and it goes way deep.

Even in the ninth, we were still piling it on.  Scutaro opened the inning with a single.  Ellsbury then reached on interference by the catcher.  He swung late, and Jose Lobaton reached out too soon for the pitch, so his glove got in the way.  Then Pedroia singled to load the bases, and Gonzalez of all people proved to be the first out of the inning.  Youk walked, and Ellsbury scored on Papi’s groundout.

And then we were done.  The final score was 9-5.  It was awesome.  I can’t say Friday’s game was avenged because every game counts in the grand scheme of things, but it was heartening to see that the team’s still got it, and the All-Star break may have done more good than bad as far as players’ rhythms and our momentum is concerned.

Bobby Jenks is back on the DL for the third time this season.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s good news.  I haven’t seen anything from him that I’m in a rush to see again.  In contrast, Beckett is pitching today in the series finale.  Remember that his absence from the All-Star Game was a precautionary move.  So we expect good things.

AP Photo
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