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Posts Tagged ‘Andy Pettitte’

We beat the Yankees! That sounds so nice, I’m going to say it again: We beat the Yankees! One more time; say it with me, everybody: We beat the Yankees!

It was fantastic.  Our magic number may be at three, and our chances of making the playoffs may be slim, and our team may be sorely depleted due to injuries, and our bullpen may almost have cost us the game, but we just showed everybody that we still got it, that this is still a great team very capable of inflicting some serious damage.

We just knocked New York right out of first place, people.  Feels good.  That wasn’t the point or the general goal of the win, but it was a nice bonus.  A real nice bonus.

We looked great out there.  We looked like we were on the hunt for a win and we weren’t going to stop until we got it.  Although the pitching staff made that view a bit complicated to maintain.  Leading us out was Josh Beckett, who pitched like we’ve been wanting him to pitch all year.  He turned it on last night, even though his line doesn’t show it.  He pitched six and two-thirds innings, gave up five runs on seven hits, walked two, and struck out five.  Oh, and he allowed four home runs.  Terrible.  Pathetic.  It was the fourth time in his career that he allowed that many homers in a game and the first time since August 23 of last year when the Yankees just had to take him deep five times.  He left balls up, and that’s what happens when you leave balls up.  Badness.  I don’t even want to look at a line like that, especially the home run part, especially when you consider that two of them were back-to-back.  But the thing is that he cruised right up until the sixth inning.  Up to that point, he allowed only three runs, and if that had stood, his start would’ve been considered short but quality.  His fastball and changeup were fantastic, and he was able to effectively add a good curveball and cutter.  He kept his inning pitch counts low, even during the bad ones.  He varied speeds nicely.  He loaded the bottom-left corner of the zone and pretty much stayed away from the upper right, he located almost everything, he moved every pitch, and he looked great.  Then the seventh inning started and he looked like a pitcher who was exhausted and needed to come out.  I knew in the bottom of the six when he made those back-to-back mistakes that he wasn’t going to last much longer.  Ultimately, he did get the win for the first time against New York this season, but it was a real struggle toward the end.

The bullpen took its cues from Beckett, and those cues were not good.  Atchison allowed two runs.  Bard didn’t allow any runs, but Paps allowed another run en route to a save.  It was absolutely nerve-wracking.  I didn’t feel safe and secure until that last strikeout was complete.  Luckily, this time, the offense bailed the bullpen out.

It was by far the worst outing of Pettitte’s season, and it was his worst start against us since September ’03.  Lowrie set the tone.  Lowrie smashed a three-run jack in the second.  It was a laser.  Fastball outside on the first pitch.  Five of his seven homers have now come against southpaws.  It was awesome.  I’m telling you, I’m still not quite sure where his power comes from, but it’s there.  I don’t think that technically was one of the tools we were expecting him to fulfill, but he is fulfilling it.  That would be his only RBI hit, but he would finish the night four for four for the first time in his career with three runs scored as well.

In the fourth, McDonald doubled in two, and Scutaro singled in two, and that was when Pettitte was duly removed.  In the top of the fifth, we had a big scare.  Granderson hit a ground ball that took one of the most bizarre hopes I’ve ever seen and hit Lowell in the right temple.  Ouch.  He went down.  He got up with help from the trainers and stayed in the game only to be taken out an inning later.  But I give him a lot of credit for not going out right then and there.  What a dirt dog.  Speaking of which, he’ll be honored with a ceremony on October 2, the day before his last game, to commemorate his illustrious career and all he did for us here in Boston.  His whole family will be there, so it’ll be a great day for him.  He definitely deserves it.

In the fifth, Hall smacked his own three-run jack.  He golfed it into the bullpen.  He was sitting on something down and middle-in, and he most definitely got it.  I also especially enjoyed Beltre’s catch of that foul in the eighth, where he literally half-dove into the stands to get the out.

We didn’t score again after the fifth, but it was enough.  To be honest with you, I was kind of disappointed; we had worked up to a 10-1 lead before the Yankees started to rally and I wanted so much for it to stand.  I wanted this win to be a completely lopsided slugfest that reminded everybody who we are and what we can do.  In the end, though, the important thing is that we won, period.  We can not afford to be picky.  And we definitely can celebrate about that and the fact that we go into this afternoon’s contest with some momentum and with Lester.  So we’re in a great position.  Get psyched.

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Our bats were completely silent for the entire game last night.  The entire game.  Except for one-half inning: the bottom of the ninth, when you make or break it.  We were about to make it.  We were about to tie it and then go on to win it for a winning streak and a sweep of the series and a move into third place.  Instead, we lost in the worst way for the worst reason.

Wake pitched well.  He allowed three runs on five hits, one of which was a two-run shot, over seven innings with a walk and five K’s.  He recorded his two thousandth strike out yesterday and is the fourth active player with that many, joining the likes of Jamie Moyer, Javier Vazquez, and (I hate to say it) Andy Pettitte.  He pitched seven innings.  He threw 103 pitches.  He used his usual lack of mix of pitches, throwing almost all knuckleballs with the occasional fastball and curveball mixed in.  All of his pitches were effective.  I always like to say that Wake has one of the most effective fastballs in the game, because he disguises it so well with his knuckleball that the batters never see it coming.  It’s all cunning. He threw between ten and twenty pitches every inning.  The sides of his strike zone were pretty clear; he was light on the top and heavy on the bottom.  So good for Wake for doing really well in that spot start.  Of all the types of pitchers, knuckleballers are best able to just jump into a starting situation without being regularly scheduled and do well.  That’s a tremendous asset to the staff.

Wake was matching Marcum pitch for pitch; it was fantastic.  But Marcum took the win, and technically Wake took the loss, but that really wasn’t fair. In theory he lost, but in practice the loss falls squarely on the shoulders of one Dale Scott.

So like I said, we didn’t do anything until the bottom of the ninth.  During the first eight innings, we had only three hits, two of them by Papi.  Then Youk singled, Drew doubled in Youk, and suddenly we could taste victory.  Papi, the tying run, stepped up to the plate.  He worked a full count.  You could cut the suspense with a knife.  The fourth pitch arrived and proved to be a ball.  Somehow, in some very bizarre universe, Dale Scott ruled strike three when watching it again clearly reveals that the ball was obviously half a foot off the plate, which in baseball terms is, like, a mile.

Papi couldn’t believe it and started seeing red.  Tito couldn’t believe it and came out to argue.  What’s interesting is that Scott, at that point, didn’t eject either of them, which was probably his way of admitting that he knew he made a mistake on that call.  Then Beltre came up and checked his swing on a slider, but he was handed the same call: a strike.  He asked Scott to check with the first-base umpire, and then Tito came out again to argue balls and strikes and got ejected.

Beltre eventually singled in Drew to put us within a run, but McDonald’s popup ended it.

Papi had the only multi-hit game in the lineup; he went two for four.  That’s his third multi-hit game in eight games this month.  Over those eight games, he’s nine for twenty-nine with three homers and seven RBIs.  Overall, this game lifted his batting average to .200.

Pedroia was hit by a pitch in the third.  Nice catch of that foul popup by V-Mart, and nice avoidance of a collision with Van Every by Hermida.

Basically what I’m saying is that Dale Scott lost us the game, and I can make that claim because the game did in fact come down to one run in the bottom of the ninth at home with our hottest hitter of the day at the plate.  There are just some games in a season where a bad call says it all.  Of course, in the long run, it happens to other teams you play as well so it evens out.  But that doesn’t make you any less frustrated when it happens.  If you look at a plot of his strike zone, you can see that it was inconsistently liberal on the sides.  If it were consistently liberal on the sides, it would be a different story; that would just be his strike zone, and we’d have to grin and bear it.  But a professional umpire can’t afford to be inconsistent.  He really can’t.  Consistency is kind of the whole point of being an umpire.  I’m just saying.  Next up, Buchholz takes on the Tigers.  Hopefully the umpire will know what’s up.

The Bruins lost, 2-1, last night so it all comes down to a Game Seven showdown on Friday.  The good news is we’re coming back home.  The bad news is that we’ve lost some momentum and need to recover that spark that’s brought us to this point.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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That was completely different from what was in my head when I pictured Lackey’s debut in a Boston uniform against the Yankees.  Completely different.  Because his debut, which was everything we expected it to be, was rewarded with a no-decision.  Not a win.  He was an Angel, and one good thing I can say about the Angels despite last October is that, historically, they’ve had New York’s number in just about every facet of the game.  And Lackey was a part of that, so between that, the first-pitch strike, the atmosphere which was perfect for someone who thrives on the pressure of competition, he had this locked.

He threw exactly one hundred pitches, which carried him through the sixth inning.  Fifty-eight of those hundred pitches were strikes, and only five were swinging strikes.  So New York had no idea what to do with him.  He threw basically the same number of four-seams as he did curveballs and cutters, and all three of them were thrown for roughly the same number of strikes, with the four-seam being a little less successful than the curve and cutter.  He allowed no runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts over his six innings.  All in all, I’d say had New York’s number all the way through.  Six shutout innings is no accident.  He owned New York.  His first pitch in a Boston uniform may have been a ball, but his first-pitch strike was on.  He thrived on the atmosphere.  He had it locked.  He was spectacular.  It was a sight.  And let me tell you something: if he pitches like this throughout the season, we’re set, no questions asked.

One other thing about Lackey: he works exceptionally fast.  We got through nine innings in less than three hours.  For a Sox-Yanks game, that’s warp-speed.

So where did the loss come from? What went wrong? The bullpen.  The theme of this series is officially that all of our strengths heading into the season failed.

In the bottom of the third, Pettitte gave Pedroia something in the inside of the strike zone, so naturally Pedroia sent it deep down the left field line, with his usual throwing his whole weight into the swing.  Then Papi came up to the plate, and over the course of his at-bat he gives a swing and a miss.  While all the sports writers across New England were focusing on the miss, I’d tell you to focus on the swing.  All of his power was behind that swing, and with a hitter as good as Papi has been throughout his career, if he’s still got his power, it’s only a matter of time before he starts hitting.  Sure enough, a few pitches later, he plated Pedroia.

Lackey held the score at 1-0 until he left.  Enter Schoeneweis and a tie game.  Schoeneweis leaves; enter Bard, who earns a blown save by letting the game tie (Swisher punched a changeup through the hole in right, and V-Mart couldn’t hold Drew’s throw), followed by Papelbon, who earns a loss, followed by Atchison.  The game went into the tenth.  Papelbon allowed a home run (who leaves a belt-high fastball right over the middle of the plate?) and a fielder’s choice.  Papelbon.  Brought back painful memories of October.  He’s positive about it so we know his confidence isn’t shaken, but ours is.  The one thing Red Sox Nation needed at the start of this season was a positive performance from him for a few games.  We didn’t get it, because that was the third contest of 2010, and already he has a loss to his credit.  The loss of this series is on him.  But at the same time, let’s not get carried away.  A solo home run is not two runs on three hits, for example; it indicates one mistake.  Just one.  Let’s see how he does next time.

Still, not what I envisioned to the start of his season, and not what I envisioned for Lackey’s debut.  I never thought Lackey’s efforts would be rewarded with a no-decision.  A win, sure, but not a no-decision.

So Pedroia and Cameron both doubled, and Papi batted in the only Red Sox run of the night.  As far as the defense is concerned, thankfully we didn’t commit any errors.  In the top of the third, Beltre missed a possible out; Jeter was running to first, and Beltre could only make the throw if he barehanded the ball.  Fine, I’ll grant that Jeter probably would’ve beat it out, but that’s not the point.  Beltre failed to barehand the ball, and that was my problem.  A third baseman of his caliber should make that play.  I guess that’s what the first week of the season is for, although I’d have preferred that not have happened against New York.  Although perhaps the throw would’ve been high and Jeter would’ve been able to advance, so maybe it’s a good thing.  You never know.  And Drew made a nifty catch in the sixth; he chased down a ball and caught it without batting an eyelash.  Seems routine, but consider the amount of territory he has to cover out there, and consider the unique challenges presented by Fenway’s right field.  Everyone’s so busy harping on the fact that his offense doesn’t measure up to his contract, but his fielding skills are pretty underrated.  Besides, heading into last night, he’s hit .361 against Pettitte with three homers.  Not that that was evident at the plate but still.

And now let’s talk about the hit batsmen.  Pettitte hit Youk in the helmet in the fifth inning.  That’s epically not okay.  That ball is traveling goodness knows how fast, and you hit someone in the head with it? You could kill someone that way! To be fair, I don’t think Pettitte was actually concertedly trying to hit him, but it was still very unsettling.  Lackey then hit Jeter in the elbow in the next inning.  The home umpire warned both benches.  Although Lackey said he wasn’t trying to hit Jeter either, and I believe him.  It was a one-run game against the Yankees; Lackey wasn’t born yesterday.  It was just a weird couple of incidents.

We welcome Jimmy Piersall, Tommy Harper, and Don Zimmer to the Red Sox Hall of Fame.  The J. Geils Band and Aerosmith will share a bill for a concert at Fenway in August; should be awesome.

So the first series of the season is officially over, and we lost it.  To New York.  Again, most definitely not what I had in mind.  But you can’t afford to read into it much since it’s too early to tell which negatives are there to stay and which are just temporary.  Moving forward, we’re taking a road trip to the Midwest; Wake pitches in Kansas City tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to that.  Wake’s still got it, and Kansas City doesn’t, so it should be a good opportunity to score some runs and get a win.  After that it’s Buchholz, and the starters will have completed one rotation and the first week of the season.  Folks, we’re underway!

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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I think we’re not on Opening Day anymore.  Although if we had to lose one game in this series, I’m glad it wasn’t that one.  But it would’ve been good to put the Evil Empire in their place early so they don’t walk around thinking they can waltz into first place just because their laundry says “New York.”

Am I annoyed that we lost? Clearly.  We lost by two; I was gunning for a sweep.  We all were.  We can still take the series, though, which will put us ahead of them anyway.  Although it’s important to remember to fight the urge to look at the standings until at least seven games into the season.  The only reason why I’m annoyed and not fuming that we lost to the Yankees is because it’s the second game of the season, and as much as I absolutely can not stand conceding anything to New York, I have to take a step back and wait for us to officially get our footing for 2010.

Youk hit a sac fly in the first to score Ellsbury, who undoubtedly was still smarting from his nonexistent performance on Sunday.  He went 0 for 5 on Opening Day, and that probably festered in his mind during the day off yesterday.  Not a great way to head into an off day, unless it riles you up, which it appears to have done, somewhat.  He went two for five with a double and a steal last night and looked like a pro in left field.  Seems to like a shallow left, which is a relief; many visitors play deep because they don’t know the angles well.

Victor Martinez homered in the third inning.  The ball just flew off his bat and eventually bounced into the bullpen.  Brought two runs in.  Say hello to the first of many in 2010! I’m pretty sure he’s our hittingest catcher since Carlton Fisk.  He also doubled in the fifth for another RBI, which proves my point.  That double was off the wall.  Pedroia was on first at the time and was watching it as he approached second base; before you know it, he was running across home for another run.  Home field advantage said he knew that ball was off the wall halfway through its trajectory, so he went for it.  So that made V-Mart two for three with three RBIs on the night.  Not bad for the second game of the season.

Beltre went two for four with a steal.  He is on an absolute tear.  Naysayers lose even more points.

I would like to point out that Teixeira was not safe in the top of the fifth.  He was out.  Youk kept his foot on the bag and the ball was in his glove before Tex even got there.

No, Papi didn’t get any hits last night, but at least he still prompts pitcher-catcher conferences.  Everyone needs to just relax.  He’s 0 for 7, not 0 for 107.

Lester exited after five.  Four runs on five hits with three walks and four K’s, and he was done.  Ninety-four pitches, fifty-three of them for strikes.  As usual, about half were four-seams, topping out at ninety-eight miles per hour.  He didn’t throw any two-seams but relied on his sinker and curve instead, with some changes and cutters and one slider thrown in.  Definitely not his best outing.  We’ve seen much better.  What’s interesting is that only seven of his pitches were thrown for swinging strikes.  It’s not that unusual for a reliever to have few of those, but for a starter, that seems pretty low.  I would guess it’s because he puts a lot of movement on most of his pitches, but also the speed of his pitches.  He cuts most of his fastballs, which he still throws in the high nineties.  I mean, Beckett on Sunday threw only one swinging strike.  At this point, though, I’d say that’s a function of the fact that we’re only two games into the season and the batters have yet to assume their usual bravado at the plate.  It’ll be interesting to see if that continues.  Lester doesn’t usually have a good April anyway.  Although as usual I was hoping he’d break that trend.

Delcarmen did not allow a run, barely.  Neither did Bard.  Okajima allowed one unearned and took the loss.  He was about to work himself out of the inning when, with two on and two out, Jeter grounded to short and Scutaro made a throwing error to first and loaded the bases.  Johnson worked a bases-loaded walk.  And that was the beginning of the end because it was the end of the tie.  We acquired Scutaro specifically to avoid those exact situations.  Oh, the irony.  Atchison let Cano take him yard.  And that was the ballgame.

Ladies and gentlemen, Beckett is officially locked through 2014.  At four years and $68 million, that’s a sweet deal.  Beckett isn’t one for free agency; he just wants to play where he’s happy, and he’s happy here, so what does it matter if he could’ve made a few extra million dollars? This isn’t the first time he’s signed an extension with us.  He’s loyal, he has a crazy work ethic, and he’s perfect for this town.  It’s good for the game to have people like that.

So our pitching was down, our hitting was comparatively down, and our defense was apparently down.  All three of our strengths, the three strengths that all baseball teams are supposed to have, were down.  When I put it like that, of course we lost.  I guess technically we can’t actually win ‘em all (although that would be incredible as well as history-making and record-breaking).  Again, let’s remember that it’s only the second game of the season.  Let the entire rotation get at least two games under its belt, and then the real parsing can begin.  For now, we’ll settle for a series win.  Tonight is important, because tonight, ladies and gentlemen, is when Lackey toes the Fenway rubber for the first time in his Boston career.  He starts opposite Pettitte.  This is most definitely not a game you want to miss.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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What can you say when you’re swept by the Yankees? Again? For the second time in a row? This series could’ve handed us the division on a silver platter, and instead the Yankees clinched the division and secured home field advantage at our expense.  And let me tell you something right now: there is nothing worse than the Yankees celebrating at our expense.  Absolutely nothing worse.  That is the pinnacle of baseball indecency.  I’d rather not talk about it.

But you have to admit that this series just sort of felt different.  It didn’t even feel like we were going after the division at all.  It felt like we knew we were sticking with the Wild Card, so why not use the opportunity for self-exploration and mettle-testing before October.  And that’s all well and good, but the division would’ve been nice.  It would’ve been really, really nice.  And clinching a playoff sport on New York soil would’ve also been really, really nice.  But we were swept, so not only do we have to postpone our clinching, but since we’re now eight and a half games behind the Yankees, it’s now impossible for us to end our season on top of the AL East.  Great.  Just great.  I’d rather not talk about it.

The final score was 4-2, but we really almost won.  We were leading, 2-1, into the sixth inning, and both of those runs were the result of the Bay-Lowell two-man show.  Bay scored when Lowell singled to Andy Pettitte in the first, and Bay scored when Lowell grounded into a double play in the third.  And it looked like Byrd would sustain that lead; he allowed a leadoff homer in the third but other than that was cruising.  He left the game one out shy of pitching six full innings.  No walks, one strikeouts, and three runs on seven hits.

Takashi Saito came on and recorded a blown save.  Although the run was Byrd’s responsibility, he allowed the hit that scored it.  Ramirez did fine, Mark Teixeira led off the eighth by hitting a home run off Bard, and that was the ballgame.  Bay and Drew both finished two for four.  We were only one for six with runners in scoring position.  We basically matched them hits-wise though, posting eight to their ten.  At least we weren’t the ones with a fielding error.  Tek ended the second inning very nicely; he caught Robinson Cano trying to steal second base.  Let me reiterate that: Jason Varitek threw out a stealer.  See, it’s possible.

So that’s it.  That’s it for the division, that’s it for New York.  Hopefully they won’t even get to the ALCS.  Somehow I feel like they won’t, but maybe that’s just hope talking.  We’re going home, thankfully.  We’re playing the Blue Jays.  Scott Richmond at Beckett.  This is a big game for Beckett.  He could pitch really badly to get the kinks out before the playoffs or he could pitch really well to remind everyone who he is in October.  Either way, I want this win.

In other news, the Patriots defeated the Falcons, 26-10.

Reuters Photo

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Some people are calling last night a win within a loss.  I think I agree with this.  Games this late in the season are less about wins and losses and more about playoff ramifications, and I have to say that last night, though a loss, was like one huge expression of reassurance for Red Sox Nation.  And that huge expression of reassurance’s name was Dice-K.

We’ll go through the outing step-by-step, because each aspect of it is a separate piece of good news.  Dice-K pitched seven innings.  It was his longest outing of the year, and it came exactly when we needed it: after the bullpen worked overtime, as I said.  So we know he can go deep, we know he can go deep in a timely fashion, and we know he can go deep and be good.  That’s where the one run on six hits comes in.  The one run was a fastball Robinson Cano cranked to the opposite field for a home run.  Can’t be helped.  It’s really hard to be upset that one pitch out of 115 thrown ended up in the seats.  Of course, something like that is what decides a pitcher’s duel, but could go either way; sometimes you’ll get the win, sometimes not.  Dice-K walked five and struck out three.  Less walks and more strikeouts would be nice, but if it works, it works.  And finally, last night’s start was the third in a positive trend.  Dice-K is currently two and one with a 1.69 ERA since coming off the DL.  With every start, he’s proving he can handle the October stage.  And with all the questions about the configuration of our starting rotation for the playoffs, that’s definitely what I call one huge expression of reassurance for Red Sox Nation.

Billy Wagner, not so much.  He let Johnny Damon single with the bases loaded, which drove in two runs.  Bard got the final out of the game.  If I could, I’d give the loss to Wagner.  Maybe it was nerves; after all, this was his introduction to Sox-Yanks, and in the Bronx, no less.

The final score was 3-0.  V-Mart and Lowell were the only guys who got hits.  (Lowell actually stole a base; how ’bout that.) We had a total of three baserunners in scoring position and five baserunners total all night.  Chris Woodward missed a catch that would’ve ended an inning on a rundown.  It actually looked like we were on our way to a rally in the ninth inning.  Mariano Rivera allowed a hit and a walk, and Lowell represented the tying run at the plate.  But no.  Although we can take heart in the fact that Rivera is still horrible against us.

By the way, John Sterling said on his radio broadcast that Mariano Rivera is the greatest reliever in the history of baseball.  And this is supposed to give him credibility? That could not be farther from the truth.  I heard about that, and I just laughed out loud.

V-Mart started behind the dish.  This was his first time catching Dice-K, and now he’s caught each of our starters.  He had his work cut out for him last night, that’s for sure.  Dice-K isn’t easy to handle.  He has a large repertoire of pitches, has good movement on all of them, and isn’t the most conventional in his approach.  Then Billy Wagner came in, and he’s not easy to catch at all.  But V-Mart hung in there and had a great defensive night.  Case in point: he beat Derek Jeter to the plate in the fifth on a fielder’s choice to get out of a bases-loaded, potential run-scoring jam.

I don’t know about you, but even though we lost, I feel a lot better now about the shape we’re in heading into October.  We needed to see Dice-K test his mettle, start in a pressured situation and go deep, and go deep well.  And he did just that.  So we and the bullpen can be very happy about that.  As far as this afternoon is concerned, it’s Byrd at Pettitte.  The least we can do at this point is not be swept, so I think the division has become dramatically less of an option, but as I said, I’m feeling pretty good about October right now.  And this late in the season, that’s really what matters.

AP Photo

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If feels good to sweep, doesn’t it? I don’t even remember when we last swept, just to give you an idea of how much we needed that.  It was awesome.  And when you complete the sweep with a seven-run lead, you know you’re not playing games.  (Well, technically you are, but you know what I mean.) You’re sending messages.

What a great game.  Probably Jon Lester’s best outing of the season.  His performance was impeccable.  In 105 pitches, he completed eight innings, gave up only one run on three hits, walked only two, and struck out five.  He allowed the run in the first inning, but it was smooth sailing after that.  Sailing so smooth I actually forgot to worry about the standings situation.  Seriously.  With a lefty and a lineup like that on the roster, the standings don’t fool anybody.  Trust me.  Nobody is rushing to face us in October.

Tek was out again today, which meant that Martinez was behind the plate.  Very different performance for him last night than two nights ago, when Beckett allowed those seven runs on nine hits.  Lester shook him off more than he would have Varitek, but there’s a learning curve for both catcher and starters here.  So far, Martinez seems to be rising to the challenge, which is coming in quite handy at this point.

Believe it or not, we were one for ten with runners in scoring position even though the final score was 8-1.  It’s because we went to extremes; everyone walked, singled, or homered.  Not one double or triple the whole night.  Eight runs and one constructive contact with runners in scoring position is strange but you take runs any way you can get them.  I should mention that only five of those were earned.  Toronto made three errors.  That’s just sad.  Anyway, Ellsbury went two for five.  Pedroia batted one in.  Youk and Bay both walked and scored.  V-Mart hit one out of the park to lead off the seventh inning.  But the man of the hour is, without a doubt, JD Drew.  He batted eighth but lit it up like nobody’s business.  Perfect at the plate: four for four with two runs and three RBIs.  And two of those four hits went out: a solo shot to lead off the third and a two-run shot the next inning.  The man was absolutely on fire.  Both went to right field.  The first time, it just looked like he was warming up because the second time, I thought he was trying to take the cover off the ball.  He should seriously think about doing that more often.

Today we begin our rematch.  As I’ve said, this series is absolutely crucial, and not only because Ellsbury is one steal away from breaking Tommy Harper’s single-season franchise record and because Jerry Remy is finally returning to the booth.  Looks like it’ll be Penny, Tazawa, and Beckett versus Pettitte, Burnett, and Sabathia.  That third matchup is the only one with which I feel comfortable.  Penny has his work cut out for him, that’s for sure.  The name of the game is to maintain control and stay in the game, and if he’s going to lose and give up a lot of runs, he should at least do it over the course of more than six innings to keep the bullpen fresh for tomorrow.  He can win, but it’ll take work.  And let’s not forget that we’re at home this time around.  After this sweep of the Jays, we improve to .484 on the road, but that’s nothing compared to our .679 at home.  And the best part is that we have more home games remaining in the season than any other American League team.  We’ve played fifty-six and have twenty-five left, as opposed to just seventeen on the road.  The Rays, who’re .667 at home and .417 on the road, have twenty-one home and twenty-one road games left, while the Rangers, who’re .631 at home and .491 on the road, have sixteen home and twenty-six road.  So the schedule is on our side; we just have to make the most of it.

AP Photo

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