Posts Tagged ‘Alex Wilson’

We’ve had our fair share of good outcomes after playing extra innings lately, even after some really long games.  And every time we win in extras, the longer the game is, the more I think about how devastating and crushing it would have been to have lost after all that baseball.

Last night, I found out.

We finally got on the board in the fourth, and in a big way at that.  Papi and Carp smacked back-to-back jacks.  Papi’s count was 1-1, and he got a fastball and powered it to right center field.  Carp’s count was 2-2, and he got a forkball, if you can believe it, and powered it to center field.  It was an interesting pitch that was obviously not done correctly.  Had it been done correctly, it obviously would have been more difficult to hit it out of the park.  Then again, Carp has shown his keen eye at the plate on more than one occasion.  Suffice it to say that the Orioles tried to close the deal and failed miserably.

Doubront turned in a decent effort that would have been stellar had it not been for his terrible third.  He started it by giving up a solo shot.  Then he gave up a double followed by a sac bunt that moved the runner to third.  He gave up an RBI single, another single a force out, and another RBI single.  Aside from that, he was solid.  But he never presided over a lead.  The Orioles had scored first, and they augmented their total in the fifth, when Doubront hit a batter who went on to score on a single.  One walk later, Doubront’s night was over.

Morales was the first up.  He ended the fifth and pitched through the sixth.  Miller, who took the mound for the seventh, didn’t preside over a lead either, but he was our first pitcher since the second inning to at least preside over a tie.  In the top of the frame, Nava, Salty, and Middlebrooks hit back-to-back-to-back singles.  Drew’s sac fly scored one, and Ellsbury’s force out scored another.  And then Ellsbury got caught stealing, because apparently he is human after all, and that ended that.  Clearly it was not the best-case outcome after a bases-loaded situation.  But it did tie the game at four.

Miller held that tie through the eighth.  Tazawa held it through the ninth and the first out of the tenth.  Breslow held it through the tenth.  Wilson held it through the eleventh and twelfth.

But not the thirteenth.  With two out, he issued a walk and gave up two consecutive singles, the latter of which scored the winning run.  We didn’t score in the top of the inning, and we were in Baltimore, so that was pretty much it.  After thirteen innings, we lost, 5-4.

AP Photo

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I sure do love a good drama.  And what’s more dramatic than a come-from-behind win? Which, by the way, we totally beasted yesterday.  It was epic.  It was a classic spend-the-whole-game-thinking-that-you’re-going-to-lose-and-wouldn’t-it-be-great-if-we-won-in-the-end-and-then-we-just-do-it kind of contest.  Love it.  So much insanity.

Like I always say, it’s best to always be in a winning position.  But if you’re in a losing position, it’s better in the end to win somehow.

We were down by two before we even got to the plate.  Doubront gave up a single, which turned into a double thanks to a steal.  Then Ellsbury made a fielding error that allowed another runner to reach.  Doubront finally recorded the inning’s first out, gave up a single, recorded the second out, and gave up a single of sorts that scored two.  Aside from Pedroia’s walk in the bottom of the first, we didn’t do much of anything.

Neither team scored in the second, despite the fact that Doubront issued two consecutive walks.  Doubront had a one-two-three third, while Drew led off the bottom of the inning with a double, Iglesias got hit, and after Ellsbury grounded into a double play, Nava singled in Drew and was thrown out at second.

Both teams went down in order in the fourth, and Doubront gave up a solo shot with two out in the fifth and another one leading off the sixth.

That was it for Doubront.  All told, he pitched six innings and gave up four runs, only two earned, on five hits while walking two and striking out eight.  He threw 112 pitches, seventy-three of which were strikes.

Wilson pitched the seventh, and Breslow gave up a double, a single, and a successful sac fly in the eighth.  Drew led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple and scored on a sac fly by Iglesias, making the score 5-2.

Breslow’s ninth was pretty nasty.  Three up, three down on twelve pitches, and it only took him one pitch to secure the second out.

Fortunately, our bottom of the ninth was equally nasty, if not more so.  It began innocently enough with a walk by Pedroia.  Then Papi doubled, and Pedroia scored on a groundout by Napoli.  Papi stole third base, which was fun, and scored on a groundout by Salty; taken together, that was some very intelligent hitting, running, and scoring.  Those are the type of runs that nobody else gives you; you have to give them to yourself, and only real dirt dogs can do it.

Anyway, Gomes walked after that, and Drew singled to put runners at the corners.  Drew then stole second base, and Iglesias walked to load the bases.

That was when Cleveland made a pitching change.  Huge mistake.  They needed a pitcher who could enter a bases-loaded situation and end the threat.  Apparently they didn’t have one.  On a 2-1 count, after receiving a steady diet of four-seams, Ellsbury got a sinker and smacked a rocket of a double to center field.  It was quite the line drive.  It left the bat in a hurry.  More importantly, it brought two runs in.

In the ninth inning alone, we scored more runs than we had during the entire rest of the game.  Four, to be exact.  The final score was 6-5.

It was amazing.  It was the biggest walkoff frame since the Mother’s Day Miracle of ’07.  We hadn’t even had a lead until the ninth inning rolled around, and all of a sudden we won.  Ellsbury was rightly mobbed.  Now, that is what I call a walk-off win.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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That was close.  That was way too close for comfort.  We were no-hit through seven innings.  I mean, we walked a few times.  But we were no hit through seven full innings.  It was awful.  It was awfully, awfully awful.  If Big Papi didn’t start the rally that never was in the seventh, who knows what would have happened? I don’t even want to think about it.

This was, by far, Doubront’s best start of the year.  It was certainly one of the best starts he’s had in recent memory.  Unfortunately, it was Doubront who caved first.  With two out in the fifth, he gave up a single followed by a two-run home run.  It was the first pitch of the at-bat: a fastball that missed.  He then gave up a double but then ended the inning, luckily.

He gave up two runs on five hits while walking only two and striking out three.  That home run was a sign of a bad pitch; it was one mistake.  Sure, he pitched only six innings, and we usually think of a stellar start as lasting at least seven.  But he only threw eighty-five pitches in total; at that rate, he could have easily tossed the seventh and perhaps even come out for the eighth.

As for us, we didn’t really have much in the way of opportunities until the seventh.  And that was when we had the opportunity.  Pedroia popped up to lead it off, but then Papi, Napoli, and Nava hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases.  But Middlebrooks and Drew provided the last two outs of the frame.

Wilson pitched the bottom of the seventh and held the fort.  We did manage to cut the deficit in half in the eighth; Salty walked, Ellsbury singled, Carp flied out, and a home run would have put us on top.  Instead, a wild pitch moved the runners along, and it was a fielding error that allowed Pedroia to reach and Salty scored.  (I particularly enjoyed the fact that the ball rolled through the shortstop’s legs.) Papi grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Wilson allowed the Other Sox to restore their earlier lead; with two out, he gave up a run via a single-double combination.  After issuing a walk, Miller came on and ended the inning.  We went down in the ninth and lost, 3-1.

In other news, the Bruins are now up three-zip on the series, having taken last night’s game, 3-1.

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Confidence is the key.  Feeling confident and channeling that confidence into finding a groove is how to get out of a slump.  We’re not necessarily out of the woods yet, but we’re taking positive steps to get there.  We’ve had some nailbiter wins recently; it’s nice to to back to coming out on top and then staying on top.  It felt easy and effortless last night, like we started the season that way and never stopped.  Here’s to keeping that going.

Ellsbury singled on the game’s third; one out later, Pedroia walked, and Papi worked the count 2-2 thanks to two balls and two fouls.  He got a curveball he could hit, and he hit it.  He sent the ball beyond the fence in right center field for a three-run shot, just like that.

We went down in order in the second; Middlebrooks singled, but it didn’t matter thanks to Lavarnway’s double play.  Gomes walked in the third and scored on a single by Papi.  Middlebrooks’s walk was our only damage in the fourth.

Dempster gave up five runs on eight hits while walking six and striking out two over the course of four and two-thirds innings.  So, on average, he gave up more than one walk, one hit, and one run every inning.  That is not what I call a good start.

He issued two consecutive walks to lead off the second; both runners advanced on a groundout, and a force out was successfully converted at home.  But he gave up a single that scored his first run right after that.  He was able to pitch himself out of a bases-loaded situation in the third.  He gave up another run thanks to a double-single combination.

He ran into real trouble in the fifth.  He gave up a double that turned into a run two groundouts later.  He issued a walk that turned into a double thanks to a steal, and the runner scored on a single.  That first base-steal-single-run sequence then repeated itself.  And that was when Mortensen came in, gave up a single, and ended the inning.

Dempster was lucky that we scored three runs of our own in the top of the frame.  Gomes and Pedroia hit back-to-back doubles, scoring one run.  Papi grounded out, which moved Pedroia to third, and Napoli’s walk put runners at the corners.  Nava’s sac fly brought Pedroia home, Middlebrooks’s single moved Napoli to second, and he scored on a single by Lavarnway, who was thrown out at third.

So each team had scored three runs in the fifth inning alone.  Even if we hadn’t scored again for the rest of the game, and provided that the Twins didn’t either, we would have won.  Each team had scored in two other innings before the fifth; the Twins had scored two prior runs, but we had scored four, so we were already on top.  It stayed that way in the sixth; neither team scored, thanks in the bottom of the inning to the combined efforts of Mortensen and Breslow.

We blew the game wide open in the seventh.  Pedroia walked to lead it off, and after working the count 2-1, Papi had himself a multi-homer game! He hit the ball again beyond the fence in right center field, again with at least one man on base.  It was a fine piece of hitting.  And it was made even better when Nava went back-to-back.  The Twins made a pitching change that did no good; Nava hit a solo shot in the very next at-bat.  His ball also ended up beyond the fence in right center field.  I love back-to-back jacks; it’s so much fun reveling in the fact that, at first, you think it’s just a replay until you realize that we actually powered our way through.

So that was another four runs right there, and Breslow kept the lid on the Twins in the bottom of the inning.  We went down in order in the eighth, and Wilson did a fine job.  It looked like we might get yet another rally going in the ninth when Papi and Napoli worked back-to-back walks and Nava singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Middlebrooks struck out, and Papi did score on a sac fly by Lavarnway; I guess we weren’t finished quite yet.  The bottom of the inning was pretty uneventful.

So we ended up winning, 12-5.  It was a slugfest, all right, and we buried the Twins with our massive power.  Both teams had an almost equivalent number of hits and walks, but our hitters were better at taking advantage of our opportunities, and our pitchers were better at closing the deal; we’ve seen recently the effects that that can have first-hand.  That’s basically all there is to it.

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We are recently masters of the difficult win.  We come from behind, we come back at the last minute, we barely eke it out.  But I’m proud of our slow-but-steady-and-successful showing of late; it’s the kind of confidence-building that we need to get ourselves back on track.  So this is a good sign; eventually we’ll be back to winning freely and easily.

Nava singled in the first and scored on a single by Papi.  We walked in each of the following three innings; in the fourth, the walk came after a single, but we didn’t capitalize on that opportunity.

Buchholz made a mistake in the third.  I suppose that he made two mistakes.  He gave up a double to lead off the inning and, one out later, he threw a bad curveball that missed.  How often this year have you seen Buchholz fire off a bad curveball and miss his spot? It’s a rare sight indeed.  I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw it.  But it was hit for a two-run home run.  He then issued two consecutive walks in the fourth but didn’t give up any runs; still, the sight of him issuing any walks, much less two in a row, was quite foreign.

As if that weren’t enough, he gave up two singles and a walk in the fifth, loading the bases with one out.  He pitched himself out of it thanks to a strikeout and a flyout.  But I can’t remember the last time he was in a bases-loaded situation.

Fortunately, it was smooth sailing after that, and Buchholz was back to his old self.  Also fortunately, we were able to tie the game at two in the seventh; Gomes walked, and when Ellsbury singled, it was deflected, and Gomes scored.

Drew doubled and Gomes walked in the eighth, but we didn’t score; Miller came in and held down the fort.  We went down in order in the ninth; Miller and Wilson combined to preserve the tie.

And then something wonderful happened.  For the third time in as many games, we were patient and resilient, and we came from behind.  And it was sweet.  We didn’t play well at all the last time we faced the Twins, but revenge is a dish best served cold, even in the month of May.  Pedroia singled, Papi walked, and Ciriaco came in to pinch-run for him.  Both runners advanced on Middlebrooks’s sac fly, and Drew loaded the bases thanks to an intentional walk.

The stage was set for another grand slam, or even another bases-clearing double.  But it seems like each come-from-behind win is more humble than the last.  Gomes was at the plate; he took a slider in the dirt and fouled off a fastball.  Then he got another slider, and he lofted it to center field.  It was obviously going to be an out.  But it was hit deep enough that Pedroia was able to come home.  One run on a sac fly in the tenth inning decided the game.

Uehara had a one-two-three tenth, and the final score was 3-2.  Buchholz’s final line featured seven innings, two runs on four hits, three walks, and nine K’s.  We totaled ten hits and walked a whopping seven times.  But Drew’s double was our only extra-base hit, and we went two for ten with runners in scoring position and left eleven on base.  In contrast, Minnesota was held to only four hits.  Throughout the game, we had one on base here, one or two on base there.  We just failed to close the deal and score; had we made good on all of our opportunities, we would have won the game long before the ninth inning rolled around.  Either way, though, we won; at least we’re getting on base again.

Boston Globe Staff

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It is an unfortunate sight indeed when a pitcher falls victim to the ugly specter of the one bad inning.  In the beginning, it looked as if Tampa Bay would be no stranger to this phenomenon.  In the end, however, they had the last laugh.  Their one bad inning was our one good inning; our one worse inning was their one better inning.

The game began on such a high note.  Ellsbury got hit by a pitch.  That, in and of itself, was obviously not the high note.  That was an unfortunate accident.  His getting on base was the high note.

Victorino then struck out, Pedroia singled, and then it was Papi’s turn.  He got two fastballs.  The first, a two-seam, he took for a ball.  The second, a four-seam, he sent beyond the right field fence.  It was a straight-shot rocket; if it had stayed in the park, it would have been one of those hard-hit line drives.  The ball couldn’t wait to get out of the park.  With that one swing, we scored three runs in the first inning alone.

It was the first and last time we scored.

We went down in order in the first, second, and third.  Drew doubled and Ellsbury walked in the fourth, giving us runners at the corners with two out, but all hope for a rally died out when Victorino flied out.  Pedroia walked to lead off the sixth, and Drew and Ellsbury both walked in the seventh.  But we didn’t turn those opportunities into rallies.  We went down in order in the eighth and the ninth.

Tampa Bay’s experience was about the same.  The only difference was that they scored two more runs than we did.

The Rays went down in order in the first and second.  Lackey gave up a single, a double, and a walk to load the bases with two out but bore down to end the inning on a groundout.  Lackey’s poison of choice was the fourth inning.  He gave up two consecutive singles and an RBI double before recording the inning’s first out with a strikeout.  But he was right back at it with a two-run single followed by another single, a flyout, and a second two-run single.  The fourth ended almost exactly as the third had: with Ben Zobrist grounding out on an off-speed pitch at the end of a five-pitch at-bat.

I’ll say something else about that second two-run single.  Pedroia and Napoli both had their eyes on it, but Napoli had that ball.  At least, he should have had it.  He should have had it, the game should have tied at three, and we should have forced it into extras if necessary and eventually won.  The fact that Napoli missed that catch and let the ball drop is egregious.  Make no mistake, folks.  It happened because of the roof.  That white roof is a criminal backdrop against which to try to pick out and track a baseball.  It’s awful.  This is not the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last.  But it should not be an issue.  Players, not ballparks, play ballgames.  And I do not fault Pedroia’s decision not to touch it; if it rolled foul, it’s possible that we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.  He had no way to know that the ball would stay fair.  In the end, however, he made a good effort, but there was nothing that could have been done at that point.

One out and one double into the fifth, Miller relieved Lackey; the frame ended with a strikeout and a caught thief.  After he allowed a single to lead off the sixth, Mortensen came in and gave up a walk but nothing else.  Two flyouts into the seventh, Breslow came on and ended that inning, recorded the first two of the next, and gave up a double.  Wilson came in and ended the eighth.

The final score was 5-3.  We spent three and a half innings under the assumption that it was us who would be celebrating the deleterious effects of the one bad inning.  We could not have been more wrong.  This game was essentially a pitcher’s duel.  The question not only was who would crack first but also who would crack worse.  We scored first but lost.

In other news, in one of the most suspenseful nailbiters I’ve seen on the ice lately, we have emerged victorious! We vanquished the Leafs, 5-4, and are moving on to the Rangers! Both teams each scored a goal in the first period.  The Leafs took the lead by one in the second and scored two in the third, but we scored three to tie it up, and Toronto fell in sudden death.  Wow.  I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to make quick work of the Rangers, that’s for sure.

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The game lasted three hours and one minute.  When a game is short, it’s either really good and really bad.  Usually, it’s really good for one team and really bad for the other team.

Dempster gave a great start.  He was the victim of some errors, but overall he made a great start.  He pitched seven innings, which is longer than usual for him.  He gave up four runs, only two of which were earned, on five hits.  He walked only one and struck out eight.  Disregarding the unearned runs and accounting for the number of innings, the lack of walks, and the abundant strikeouts, it was one of his best starts this year.

He had a one-two-three first.  A single was his only blemish in the second.  He had a one-two-three third.  He gave up a single and issued a walk in the fourth.  The trouble started in the fifth.  He gave up a double and then balked.  He induced a popout that was more trouble than it was worth; Middlebrooks caught it in foul territory, but he collided with Ross en route.  It was so bad that the two of them had to leave the game; Ross had an injured leg, and Middlebrooks had an injured side.  It was truly, truly painful to watch too.  But what a catch.  Seriously, what a catch.  And Dempster allowed a single that Drew deflected and that scored a run.

He had a one-two-three sixth, and he gave up a solo shot in the seventh.  It was reviewed but ended up standing.  But it was close.  Really, really close.

Dempster had two baserunners reach in the eighth on errors.  Both were fielding errors by Ciriaco.  That was when Dempster was replaced by Breslow, who gave up a double, a walk, and two singles.  The latter two singles were both responsible for loading the bases.  Four runs scored on Breslow’s watch; the first two were attributed to Dempster because they were scored by inherited runners, and those were the ones that were unearned, although one of Wilson’s own runs was also unearned.  Wilson replaced Breslow and induced a force out; the runner was out at home, but that didn’t stop another runner from scoring.  Salty tried to make it a double play by firing to first, but supposedly the ball hit the runner.  John came out to argue; he wasn’t ejected, but his argument wasn’t accepted.  Wilson ended the inning shortly thereafter.  Other than a walk issued in the ninth, Wilson was right on.

Meanwhile, our hitters were doing absolutely nothing.  It was like all their strength was sapped by the walkoff win, and they had nothing left.  We mustered a grand total of four hits all night.  Ellsbury singled to lead off the first, Papi singled to lead off the second, Drew singled to lead off the third, and Salty homered beyond the Monster.  Ellsbury and Pedroia both walked in the ninth.  So all of that means a few things.  First of all, without those four hits, we would have been no-hit.  Secondly, without Salty’s homer, we would have been shut out.  Thirdly, because Ellsbury walked after Salty’s home run and because Pedroia walked after Ellsbury was thrown out in a double play, at no point during the entire game did we have a single baserunner in scoring position.

Lastly, it means that we lost, 6-1.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

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