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Posts Tagged ‘Andy Brickley’

That went horribly.  That went horribly, and October is not the time for “horribly.” Lester took the loss.  He gave up three runs on four hits in six innings with four runs and five strikeouts.  I should mention that those three runs scored courtesy of a Torii Hunter home run.  By the way, Lester threw one hundred pitches.  In only six innings.  In October, one hundred pitches should be getting you through the seventh inning.

But wait, it gets worse.  Ramon Ramirez, Mr. Struggle-in-September, came to the mound and proceeded to pitch to three batters and allow two more runs without recording an out.  Saito and Bard were both solid.  Make no mistake: our bullpen is a huge advantage over any opponent we face.

The lineup did nothing.  We got four hits all night, none of which were for extra bases.  The final score was 5-0.  We need Ellsbury to give us something.

We made three errors.  Gonzalez, Bay, and Lowell, all throwing.  It reminds me of that game in October 2004 when we made more errors than we could count.  (On the bright side, October 2004 was, to make the understatement of the century, a really good October.)

And now let’s talk about the umpire, shall we? Let’s start with first-base umpire CB Bucknor.  As the similarity between his last name and a certain someone else’s during the 1986 World Series doesn’t make me uneasy enough.  Both of these calls involved Howie Kendrick at first.  And you can watch replays of both and see that Howie Kendrick was about as out as you can possibly be.  Question mark number one: with two out in the fourth, Kendrick hit a grounder up the middle, which Gonzalez fielded very schnazzily (it was a sliding catch; very nicely done) and fired to Youk at first.  But the throw was wide, so it pulled Youk off the bag.  So Youk applied the tag, but Bucknor called Kendrick safe.  Question mark number two: in the sixth, Kendrick grounded to Lowell, who fired high to first.  Youk jumped up to catch it but came back down on the bag about four feet before Kendrick got there.  And yet somehow Kendrick was safe? Tito had some words for Bucknor, and rightfully so.  Fortunately, neither of those plays cost us runs, the first one because Lester struck out Jeff Mathis to end the inning and the second because Jacoby Ellsbury made an absolutely spectacular diving catch of Chone Figgins’ fly to end the inning.  But that’s not the point.  I don’t want any more of this going forward.

Speaking of defense, it was awesome.  Everyone was spot-on, which was a sight for sore eyes, given all of our recent health concerns.  JD Drew got in on the action and gunned down Kendry Morales at the plate in the seventh.

Byrd is on the roster, and Delcarmen is off because of, you guessed it, the car accident.  Baldelli is also off, replaced by Brian Anderson and Joey Gathright.  The Billy Wagner trade is finally complete; the Mets picked up Chris Carter and first base prospect Eddie Lora.  Don Orsillo did a fantastic job, as always.

Believe it or not, there are some silver linings to last night’s horror show.  First of all, we shouldn’t worry about Lester.  It’s the first game of the playoffs, we were away, he’s got some nerves.  Secondly, the outcome of last night might play directly into our hands.  To borrow some logic from hockey, Andy Brickley said yesterday on NESN that the Bruins’ bad loss to Washington was a necessity for us to remember who we are and how we play, and it facilitated our running wild all over the Hurricanes.  (Brickley said that before we lost to Anaheim, 6-1, which is eerily similar to our good score against Carolina and last night’s outcome against the Angels, but again, that’s not the point.) So last night, in many important ways, was a wake-up call.  It reminded us that October is not all fun and games.  You can’t just waltz into the playoffs and expect the series win to be handed to you on a silver platter.  You have to earn it the hard way, and sometimes, that means you won’t sweep.  So, okay.  The first game is over, the jitters are gone, we’re comfortable in the Angels’ park now.  The Angels is throwing Jered Weaver tonight, but forget that.  Tonight, Josh Beckett makes his first postseason start of 2009.  He threw a bit the other day and says he feels great.  This is what I was talking about when I said I liked the Thursday schedule.  We lost yesterday, but we’ve got another chance right away to remember who we are.  And there’s no pitcher out there who can make you remember faster in the postseason than Josh Beckett.

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Penny had an excellent start yesterday.  Outstanding.  Top-notch.  Probably his best of the season so far. It’s interesting; every other start Penny’s made has been six innings long, alternating with two horrendous starts.  But this one was without a doubt a cut above the rest.  He pitched six innings, gave up only three runs on six hits, walked only two, and struck out eight.  He threw 110 pitches total.  He increased the speed of his fastball as the game went on, starting off at 89 to 90 miles per hour and working his way up to around 93.  He was focused, he was precise, he was efficient, he went deep, and he put us in a position to win.  What more can you ask for, especially from a fifth starter? Nothing, really.  But after a start like that, you can ask something of your offense, and it’s just incredibly frustrating when your offense doesn’t answer, especially when the deficit is small.

The final score was 5-3, so we lost by only two runs, and we did go three for eight with runners in scoring position.  Ellsbury went two for five, Pedroia went one for four, Youkilis went two for four with two RBIs, and Drew went three for four with an RBI and is really starting to turn it on.  And that was it.  So it was very one-sided, featuring only the top half of the order, with the exception of David Ortiz.  And if you ask me, I think Terry Francona should give him a day off.  I think he needs a mental break, because what we don’t want is the slump to start getting into his head.  Then it’ll be an uphill battle that’s twice as difficult.  So perhaps a bit of a rest is in order.  Tek made a throwing error.  Ellsbury got caught, but Pedroia stole second successfully.

For a while it looked like we might be able to pull out a win.  Those two RBIs by Youkilis came on a two-run homer he hit in the eight to bring us within one.  But then in the Rays’ half of the inning, between Bartlett’s bat and legs he ended up at third with two out and a ball came straight at Lugo.  He had to make a rushed throw, and the ball skipped off Youk’s glove.  It was scored as a hit and an RBI.  So Bartlett scored the insurance run and that was the ballgame.  Whether that was more Lugo’s fault or Youk’s fault is difficult to say.  A shortstop needs to make an accurate throw, even in a hurry, and a first baseman needs to catch balls, even in a hurry.

Delcarmen’s 0.00 ERA is gone.  Now it’s 0.63.  And Jones allowed a run as well.  But Ramirez is still perfect and pitched a great two-thirds.

Some other points.  In the ninth, Longoria reached into the stands to catch a foul ball and got annoyed because he thought he was interfered with by a Rays fan wearing a Longoria shirt.  So Longoria took the ball away from Longoria.  Also, the steals.  The Rays recorded eight stolen bases on the day.  Eight.  That’s a club record.  The Rays now lead the Major Leagues in steals as a team with a total of forty.  Carl Crawford alone stole six of those eight (Hernandez and Bartlett stole the other two).  That ties a modern-day Major League record for most bases stolen by one guy in a single game.  He’s the fourth player since 1900 to do it, and the most recent performance of the feat was Eric Young for the Rockies on June 30, 1996.  So in the interest of sportsmanship I tip my cap.  But I’m not happy about it.  Why would anybody be? We of all people should know that stolen bases can turn into runs really quickly.  If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t have a problem with the steals.  It would be a sort of quirk in Tek’s game, kind of like Dice-K pitching his best with runners in scoring position or the bases loaded.  Yes, it’s unnecessary and I’d be happier if that weren’t the case, but if it’s not hurting anybody, why be concerned? But stolen bases do turn into runs, so it is a cause for concern.  Tek’s not bad at gunning down thieves.  It’s just not one of his fortes.  So definitely something to work on.

So with a record of 15-10, we’re playing .600 ball and are two games behind Toronto in the standings with a two-game series with New York in the Bronx.  Lester at Hughes.  I hope we sweep this one, too.  We sure could use the wins, and if we give the Yankees a good old-fashioned Boston beat-down in the process I won’t complain.

In other news, the Bruins dropped Game Two to Carolina yesterday, 3-0.  Cam Ward shut us out. We allowed two goals in the second period, the first time this postseason we’ve allowed more than one in that time.  (The third goal was an empty-netter.) But it was very well-played.  It was fast-paced, it was clean, it was physical.  It was just a great game to watch anyway, and having Andy Brickley do the color commentary on Versus made it feel like home.  Would’ve been better with a win for the B’s but it’s early in the series.  We need to get a feel for Carolina, and the more we play them, the more we can use our depth to our advantage by adapting to their strengths and exploiting their weaknesses.  Game Three on Wednesday at 7:30PM.  Our first away game of the series.  This is when we need to bear down (no pun intended).

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