Posts Tagged ‘Arlington’

You know, it actually got to the point where I kind of forgot what it felt like.  I forgot what it felt like to be completely shut down by another team over the course of multiple games played on multiple days.  It’s like when we all forgot what sweeping other teams felt like when we were mired in the abysmal dross that was last season.  Now I remember.  Getting swept is not fun.

This time, it was Lester who didn’t deliver.  Actually, to be fair, he did deliver.  He gave a quality start.  He gave up three runs on five hits over six innings.  He walked three and struck out seven; needless to say, his cut fastball wasn’t as formidable as usual.  It didn’t have the same nasty bite on it that it usually does when he’s really on.  He had a spectacular first and second during which he sent the Rangers down in order.  Even his third inning, during which he gave up a solo shot, was otherwise great.  He made a mistake on a cutter, and the batter figured it out, but other than that, he was spotless.

He gave up a double and a walk in the fourth.  He gave up a walk and a single in the fifth.  And he gave up a single and a home run in the sixth, this one on a sinker.  So as you can see, it became increasingly laborious for him as the game went on.  He ended up throwing 115 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  It was just one of those days.  His starts usually comprise less than three walks, less than six hits, less than three runs, more than seven strikeouts, and more than six innings.  Not yesterday.  Lester’s ERA is now 3.30.

But seriously, it wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t even bad at all.  Lester gave up three runs.  If that had been the extent of the damage that the Rangers had been able to inflict, then the game could have potentially had a very different outcome.  Even if the Rangers scored more, the game still could have had a different outcome if we had been able to score more than we did.

By the time the Rangers scored their first run in the third, we were already up by three.  So by all accounts, it seemed like we could have at least ended the series with the dignity of not having been swept right out of Arlington.  With two out, Pedroia singled, and Papi unleashed on a 3-1 fastball.  The ball ended up beyond the right field fence, and we ended up with two runs just like that.  His hitting streak is now at twenty-five.

In the very next frame, after Carp struck out, Ross hit his second pitch of the game for a solo shot.  Both pitches were sliders around the same speed.  He took the first one for a ball; he sent the second one beyond the left field foul pole.  It was awesome.  You had the veteran slugger slugging, and you had the comebacker slugging as well.  Better still, you had the comebacker becoming the fourth player in the history of Rangers Ballpark to smash one into the club tier.  Things had looked good.

After we went down in order in the third and the Rangers scored their first run, things still looked good.  Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth.  We went down in order in the top of the sixth; for the most part, the two pitchers were involved in a duel of sorts.  Both ended up giving up three runs; Lester’s two-run home run tied the game at three.  And that’s the way it stayed through the seventh, which Uehara pitched.  It’s the way it stayed through the eighth, despite the fact that we walked twice and that it took the services of both Tazawa and Miller to get through the bottom of the frame.  And that’s the way it stayed through the top of the ninth, when Ross walked, Drew singled, and one out quickly turned into three.

But that is not the way it stayed through the bottom of the ninth.  Mortensen came out and was all business.  He struck out his first two batters and looked solid.  Then he gave up a single and issued a wild pitch, which is something that can happen when a sinkerballer sinks too low.  In and of itself, that wouldn’t have done anything to shake the tie.  Mortensen then intentionally walked Lance Berkman.  Still, the tie was intact.  It was the single he gave up to Adrian Beltre of all people that did us in.  He threw five straight sliders to Beltre; when he singled, the count was 1-2.

The final score was 4-3.  It was the first time we got swept this year, and we now have to share the best record in the Majors with the team that swept us.

AP Photo

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Alas, a fresh start did not come in Arlington.  Well, technically, it did.  It was a different series in a different city against a different team.  So it depends on what you mean by “fresh.” If “fresh” is a technical designation for something different in terms of logistics, then we had a fresh start.  If “fresh” means something different in every way, then we did not have a fresh start by any means because we lost again.  And we’ve been losing way too often for it to be considered fresh.

Doubront had no answers.  He gave up six runs on eight hits while walking three and striking out six over five innings.  He took the loss.  He had two bad innings; he gave up a four-spot in the third, and he gave up two more runs in the sixth.  Salty hit a towering solo shot in the in the second, which was huge and powerful and awesome but nowhere near enough.  It would not have been enough had Doubront’s runs been the only runs the Rangers would have scored, and it was not enough given the fact that the bullpen completely failed.

So, the Rangers erased our fragile one-run lead the next inning with the four-spot.  Doubront allowed a single, a walk, a double steal, an RBI single that ended up scoring two thanks to an error by Pedroia, an RBI double, a flyout for the inning’s first out, and finally another RBI single.  Other than that, he was lights-out through five.  And then he gave up a walk followed by a home run in the sixth.

And that was when Doubront was replaced by Morales, who gave up a double, an RBI single, another single, and an unearned run thanks to an error by Crawford because apparently he thought that that would be more fun than stopping the bleeding like he was supposed to.  And then he got a strikeout, and then he gave up a sac fly that scored another run.

Morales was left in to pitch the seventh and got through it in order by some miracle.  Melancon pitched the eighth.  And we lost, 9-1.  Ellsbury, Salty, and Middlebrooks all went two for four, and Pedroia went three for four.  We posted ten hits to their eleven and three extra-base hits to their five.  We went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position; they went three for ten.  We also didn’t walk at all.  (Doubront’s walks were their only three walks, in case you were curious.)

Just like that, we’re back below .500.  Fresh start? I think not.

AP Photo

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Wow.  Just, wow.  All of Red Sox Nation just went on a power overdose.  That was epic.  It was just epic.

Miller actually didn’t do a bad job.  Besides, considering the circumstances surrounding our rotation lately, even if he did do a bad job we are in no position to complain.

Five innings, three runs on six hits, four walks, no strikeouts.  He made a throwing error.  He allowed ten baserunners.  He threw ninety-seven pitches, so he was extremely inefficient.  It could have been better.  Then again, it could have been worse.  I think the bullpen is just going to have to commit to working overtime on a regular basis from now on.

They did so admirably.  Aceves, Atchison, and Jenks combined to pitch four scoreless innings.

In the beginning, it seemed like, surprisingly enough, Baltimore would give us a run for our money.  By the time the bottom of the third inning rolled around, they were actually leading us by two.  With one swing of the bat, all that changed.  Scutaro walked on four pitches.  Ellsbury walked on seven pitches.  And on a 3-1 count, Pedroia put a fastball over the Monster.  Not off it.  Not to it.  Not in it.  Over it and into the parking lot in Lansdowne Street.  High inside fastball.  That ball stood no chance.

In the fourth, Reddick reached on a missed catch, advanced on a single by Salty, and came around to score on a sac fly by Drew.  In the fifth, Gonzalez hit a solo shot to the bleaches in center.  The swing was enormous.  The blast was equally enormous.  The ball landed right at the 379-foot mark.  It was his first career dinger opposite Baltimore; I’m sure it will be the first of many.  The key to this one was patience.  The pitch was a changeup, and he had its number all the way.  He waited and stayed back and uncorked the perfect swing at exactly the right time.

In the sixth, Scutaro singled and Ellsbury hit a home run into the seats in right.  It was huge.  It kept rising and rising and rising.  At times it looked like it had enough to make it into the upper deck before it dropped down.  It was a slider, so another phenomenal display of hitting acumen.  He crushed it completely.  So between that and his spectacular running catch in the fifth, I’ll forgive him for getting caught trying to go from first to third in the first inning.

But then came the seventh.  If you thought you’d seen power up to this point, you were about to think again.  We put up a three-spot in the seventh.  But not just any three-spot.  Papi, Reddick, and Salty went back-to-back-to-back.  Three consecutive home runs for the first time since August 13, 2010 against the Rangers in Arlington.  A rocket of a straight shot to center field, a towering lob over the bullpen in right field, and a wallop to the Monster seats in left field.  Fastball, fastball, fastball.  Full count, full count, 0-2.  Huge, huge, and huge.  Three home runs on ten pitches alone.  I felt like I was watching replays.  That’s always the effect that going back-to-back has.  The best part is remembering that it’s not a replay.  It’s a completely separate play and an additional run and a progression of the opposing pitcher from bad to worse.  It was epically epic.

And that’s how, despite the fact that entering the game we were thirteen and twenty-five after the opponent scores first, we used the long ball to bury the Orioles, 10-4.  Let me put this in perspective.  The team collected thirteen hits.  Of those, eight were for extra bases.  Of those, six were home runs.  So almost half of our total hits were home runs.  We’ve won seven of our last eight games.  And, oh, by the way, we are now in sole possession of first place for the first time since June 24.  This game was legendary.

Last but of course certainly not least, I’d like to extend condolences to the family and friends of Dick Williams.  He was a legendary manager, figured prominently several postseasons including our Impossible Dream, and is one of only two managers to win ninety games in a single season with four different teams and to deliver three teams to the World Series.  He managed for twenty-one seasons.  He was a real character.  And he will be missed.  Dick Williams, we salute you.

Getty Images, AP Photos, Compilation by Boston Dirt Dogs

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