Posts Tagged ‘Andy Sonnanstine’

That game was terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  Dice-K takes the rap for this one.  What else is new.

Did I say yesterday that a rematch was coming? We got a rematch, all right.  Dice-K and Garza were equally disgraceful.

Dice-K gave up five runs, four earned, on eight hits over five innings with four walks and four K’s.  Garza gave up four runs on seven hits over three innings with two walks and one K.  The sad thing here is that our pitching staff couldn’t hold the lead.

Okay.  One thing at a time.  Analysis now, frustration later.

Back to Dice-K.  He fired 113 pitches in those five innings.  Obviously his outing left much to be desired.  It was a microcosmic display of his usual inconsistency; he struggled in the beginning, was solid in the middle, and lost it at the end.  He threw thirty pitches in the first, managing somehow to escape with only one run, and his game low of eight in the second.  His cutter and fastball were quite good, but his other pitches were not good at all.  His release point was beautiful and strike zone was even; unfortunately, so was the area around the strike zone, which he peppered with balls.  His vertical movement was just right; his horizontal movement was way off the charts.  And now for the final blow.

The Rays had runners at first and second with nobody out in the sixth inning.  Bartlett tried to move them over with a sac bunt, which is fine with us because it means an out.  But guess what.  Dice-K didn’t record the out.  He couldn’t hear Cash and Beltre’s shouts of “One!” for first base and went for a play at third.  He didn’t even notice that Beltre wasn’t in position because he was also pursuing the bunted ball.  So the bag was completely uncovered, and once this finally dawned on Dice-K, he just stood there holding the ball, and the base were loaded.

I mean, really? Who does that? How do you not go to first for the out? Even if Beltre were in position, there’s no guarantee that the play would’ve been made.  The out at first is always a guarantee.  I have absolutely no idea what he was thinking, and I’m actually not sure I want to know.  I don’t even want to know if he was thinking.

Then the Rays tied it.  Obviously.  I am furious right now.  Dice-K got off with a no decision, but if you ask me he should’ve been saddled with the loss for that play alone.

Richardson recorded the first two outs of the sixth, and then Ramirez gave up the Rays’ winning run, a sac fly by who but Bartlett, and took the loss.  But not before another defensive snafu took place.  Pena hit into your average double play, but the shift left second uncovered because Scutaro and Hall both broke for the ball.  But I’m not going to blame Scutaro for leaving second on this one because, due to the shift, he had no reason to expect Hall to come up with it.  So that’s how you handle it: you cover all your bases, even if sometimes that means you leave one uncovered.

Bard took care of the last inning.

The final score was 6-5.  Honestly, in the beginning it looked like we were stealing the show.  Garza threw eighty-four pitches in his three innings.  We scored four runs in the third and one in the fourth.  It was awesome (while it lasted, of course).

Patterson hit his seventh career home run to right field to start the rally in the third.  He was working with a two-out, full-count breaking ball and his swing was perfect.  It’s almost like he needed that swing to remind himself he can do it, because after that his confidence, and that of the team, went through the roof.

That home run was the first of six straight batters reaching base.  Youk hit an RBI triple, and Beltre and Hall each hit RBI singles.  Youk did his best to redeem his teammates by gunning down Bartlett at the plate in the sixth.  Then Garza left, and Patterson welcomed Sonnanstine to the game with yet another long ball in the fourth, also to right.  Apparently, he likes balls down in the zone.  Who knew?

Then, in the top of the ninth, with two out and two strikes on him, Papi broke his bat hitting a single.  Youk worked the count full, and I couldn’t help thinking that if he put us on top in this game, he’d win that Final Vote for sure.  But he flied out to center, and that was the end of it.

We have the final verdict, and it’s not a good one: Buchholz is officially on the fifteen-day DL, retroactive to June 27, with a left hamstring strain.  Which means he’ll miss his first All-Star Game, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a real shame.  He really deserved this one.  He carried this starting rotation at a time when none of his colleagues even remembered how to throw strikes at all.  That’s a lot to ask of a young kid, but he stepped up, and that says a lot about him, both on and off the field.  Some better news on the same vein is that if Papi is asked to participate in the Home Run Derby, he’ll accept.  Finally.  I’d be psyched to watch that guy smack ball after ball out of the park.

Unfortunately, now back to bad news.  That loss put us back in third by half a game.  Obviously that’s not the end of the world; we’ve battled back from so much worse that theoretically this should seem excellent.  Besides, it’s only half a game; we could erase that deficit and be back in second place tonight.  Which brings me to the fact that Doubront is starting only his second Major League game instead of Buchholz.  I believe he can do it.  I believe he can win.  I also believe that we need this win, so let’s go get it.

AP Photo

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Well, that went well…not.  That was pathetic.  That was utterly and completely pathetic.  Our ace got lit up at home.  At home! This game was a lock! It was Jon Lester starting the first game in Boston.  What could go wrong? Apparently, everything.  One thing’s for sure: this is not where we want to be.  We’re now going to have to rely on Tim Wakefield to win tonight, and while that’s certainly possible, it’s certainly not a guarantee.  Don’t get me wrong; I still believe.  I just think I speak for Red Sox Nation when I say that we’re all a little on edge, that’s all.

Lester only lasted about five innings.  He gave up five runs on eight hits, including two home runs.  The Rays had a four-run third inning.  He settled down some after that, but four runs is four runs.  After he ended the first with only four pitches I never saw that coming.  I was totally blindsided.  It was not fun.  Paul Byrd pitched the remainder of the game and didn’t do much to stop the damage; he allowed four runs on five hits, also including two home runs.  On the bright side, we gave our relief pitchers a rest, something they sorely needed after Game 2.

We lost by the embarrassing score of 9-1.  Ellsbury batted in the run.  Pedroia was perfect at the plate, going two for three with a walk.  And Kotsay went two for four.  No steals, no errors.

So, what can you say after something like that? We didn’t play good ball at all.  And we need a win.  Badly.  Obviously we’ve been in worse situations, but we should really make the most of these three games in Boston so that we give ourselves some wiggle room when we go back to St. Pete.  We don’t want to have this series boil down to a game at the Trop.  If that happened, we could win it, and I think we would win it, but all the same I think we’d just rather not go there.

So tonight it’s Sonnanstine at Wakefield.  I hope Wakefield brings his A-game, because we’re gonna need this one.

Stan Grossfeld/Boston Globe Staff

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Sometimes you have to lay down the law.  Sometimes you have to go up there and bring everything you’ve got.  Sometimes you have to look at yourself in the mirror and realize where you were supposed to be all along.  Sometimes you have to destroy every ounce of confidence the opposition had.

Last night was definitely one of those times.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially tied for first place! And we did it on their turf! How about that? Say hello to the long-anticipated Rays fade.  Their time has come; our time is now.  All we have to do is take it.

It was a slugfest.  I felt like I was watching last year’s Rays.  You know, the ones with absolutely no pitching to speak of that only existed to give other teams a boost in the standings? The final score was 13-5.  I kid you not.  With all our road issues this year, and with all our troubles against the Rays, we won, and we won big.  Until last night we hadn’t won a single game in the Trop this year.  It was fantastic.  Definitely one of the highlights of the season.  A good, old-fashioned Boston beat-down.

Dice-K went his usual five innings, but they were a good five innings.  One run on three hits with two walks and seven K’s.  The run was a product of his only mistake to Iwamura in the third, who hit a solo shot out.  Other than that, Dice-K was gold.  It did take 101 pitches for him to reach that point, but who’s complaining? If that’s what it takes for him to protect a lead and if the relief can hold on to it, who are we to judge? And the relief, for the most part, did hold on to it.  Only Chris Smith wasn’t perfect; in two innings he allowed four runs on four hits, two of which were home runs.  But Timlin and Pauley held the fort through the eighth and ninth.  And that, my friends, was the ballgame.

But wait; it gets better.  The offense excelled like nobody’s business.  Scott Kazmir made his exit after three innings.  The spread was four RBIs for Ortiz, three for Youk, two for Tek, and one each for Lowell, Bay, Pedroia, and Ellsbury.  But it should be mentioned here that the way most of these runs were batted in was the long ball.  We hit six (count ’em: six!) home runs in that game.  Six.  That’s unbelievable.  Ortiz went two for four with a three-run shot.  Youk went two for four with a two-run shot.  Tek hit a two-run shot.  Lowell hit a solo shot.  Bay hit a solo shot.  And Ellsbury went two for five with a solo shot.  No outs, one out, two outs, it didn’t matter what the situation was.  If there was a baseball it was out of the park.  I felt like I was drowning in offensive production.

Rare moments of ineptitude featured Ellsbury recording a CS and getting picked off.  Yes, in the same game.  No, seriously.  I know; it threw me for a loop, too.

So all in all we flexed our offensive muscles, we embarrassed a division rival on their home turf, we tied for first place, and we let our A team take a load off in the second half and get ready for tomorrow while the B team enjoyed some playing time with a sizeable lead.  It was a great game and lots of fun to watch.

In other news, Mikey Lowell’s hip is more seriously injured than we thought.  Turns out he’s got a partially torn labrum in his right hip and he’s been playing in pain for two months.  But he says he’s staying in there anyway.  That, my friends, is a dirt dog.  The Brewers fired Ned Yost and hired Dale Sveum as manager.  Yesterday was Mike Timlin’s 1050th appearance, which breaks Kent Tekulve’s record for most appearances by a right-handed reliever.  And unlike his 1000th appearance, I am happy to report that this one actually went well.

The fate of this glorious opportunity falls in the capable hands of Josh Beckett, who’ll be starting tonight opposite Andy Sonnanstine.  I’m so psyched.  Folks, this could be it.

AP Photo

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I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in Jonathan Papelbon.  This was his fifth blown save of the season, and what a blown save it was, too.  A win last night would’ve put us on top of the AL East, a position we should’ve held all season long.  And let’s face it: the only reason why the Rays have been in first is their pitching.  The top half of their order strikes out a lot, and they don’t sacrifice.  So that has to be it.  And last night pitching proved to be the end of us.  Dice-K pitched his usual five, giving up three runs on eight hits with four walks and five Ks.  Lopez was perfect.  Delcarmen was perfect.  Okajima, who’s been getting back to his old form, was perfect.  But Papelbon; Papelbon, to say the least, was far from perfect.

We did everything we could.  After Pedroia scored the game’s first run, Mikey Lowell hit a solo home run in the fourth and was the only member of the lineup to have a multi-hit game (he went two for four).  We were still losing by a run when Jason Bay came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with one man on and two men out.  And he crushed that ball out of the park for a two-run shot that gave us a one-run lead.  They don’t call it the Bay State for nothing.  He came through despite his bad numbers against Dan Wheeler, and right after Don Orsillo mentioned he might hit a homer, too.  Bay’s hit three home runs in his last three games and a total of seven for Boston, but this third one was by far the most important.

Now, you would think that with a one-run lead and Pap coming to the mound it’d be locked up.  But no.  Prior to this latest appearance, he hadn’t given up an earned run in his last eighteen games, even though he’s had some problems with his splitter.  Well, Dan Johnson steps up and hits a solo shot with none out, but the damage didn’t stop there.  All in all Pap gave up two runs on three hits in the ninth.  We lost by a score of 5-4, even though in the bottom of the ninth Ellsbury pinch-ran for Kotsay and made it to third base on a steal and an errant throw.  That was probably the most painful and most crucial loss of the season thus far.  It’s possible that this game could cost us the home field advantage, if you know what I mean.  And given the difference in our records on the road and at home, that could be a problem.

Maybe I’m overreacting.  Everything is different in the postseason; it’s a whole other season with its own special brand of challenges and issues, and we usually thrive under the pressure.  Everyone just turns it up to a level reserved for October, especially the pitchers.  Pap let us down here, but he’s never been known to let us down when it really counts.  Of course, first we have to get to where it really counts, and that will be difficult if your closer is suddenly porous and inefficient.  What more can I say?

In other news, Papi’s day off yesterday, while inconveniently timed because it’s obvious we could’ve used his bat, has absolutely nothing to do with his wrist.  Dustin Pedroia, our resident MVP, is first in the American League in batting average, runs, and hits, and he’s first in the Major Leagues in runs and hits.  Finally, Warren Buffett threw out the first pitch last night, and as it turns out he’s a Red Sox fan.

Well, we’ve got a tough road ahead of us.  The Blue Jays haven’t been shy about spoiling other clubs’ attempts to make it to October.  We should know; we had a run-in with them last September that almost cost us the division.  And it’s been their staff that’s been responsible for their recent surge, so our pitching will have to be spot-on for that series.  In the meantime, we’ve still got one more with the Rays, and it’ll be Josh Beckett against Sonnanstine.  Beckett’s last start was outstanding, but this isn’t the Rangers we’re talking about.  This, in some strange twist of fate, is the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, so whatever worked for him in Texas has to work here for us to at least come away from here poised for a division win.

AP Photo

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