Posts Tagged ‘BJ Upton’

Now that’s more like it! What a great game! Everybody involved was essentially in top form, so the team played well as a team and therefore won as a team.  What a great feeling! Now what we need to do is do it again.

Beckett got the win and pitched six innings.  He gave up three runs on eight hits, so clearly it was a quality start, even though I would rather have seen much less hits.  He also walked two and struck out seven.  He threw a total of 104 pitches, so his inability to seal the deal with those hitters hiked up his count.  Still, he had a nasty changeup, cutter, and fastball, and his curveball wasn’t bad either.

He really got nailed in the first inning, which was when he gave up all of his runs and, not coincidentally, threw twenty-six pitches.  He gave up three straight singles that resulted in one run, then recorded two of his strikeouts, then hit a batter, and then gave up a single that brought in two more runs.  The Rays threatened again in the second, but it didn’t amount to anything.  The fifth was his only one-two-three inning, so it’s not like he breezed through his start.  He had to labor through it.  But the important thing is that he did just that and kept us very much in the game.  And that’s no small feat considering that he pitched through serious side effects of his flu medication.

Tazawa came on for the seventh and barely recorded the first out.  Melancon pitched the rest of the inning as well as the eighth, and Aceves came out to pitch the ninth, which was almost very ugly.  He loaded the bases exclusively with walks.  He walked one, and two outs later he walked two straight batters.  Fortunately a flyout ended it.

Also fortunately, we scored a very good number of runs, so we had a bit of a cushion.  (I’m glad it wasn’t necessary, though.) With one out in the first, Nava and Papi worked back-to-back walks, and Gonzalez singled in Nava.  With one out in the second, Middlebrooks singled and Aviles hit his tenth long ball of the year on his first pitch, an eighty-nine mile-per-hour slider that ended up in center field.  BJ Upton jumped into the wall to try to corral it, but then the ball just sailed right over the fence and the effort all looked so futile.

Wanting to get into the long ball action, Nava hit a solo shot on his fourth pitch to lead off the fifth.  It was a changeup down and in, and there was no chance of it staying inside the park.  It landed about halfway up the seats in right.  Then, two singles, a walk, and a groundout later, the bases were loaded for Middlebrooks, who singled in two more runs.  Ellsbury singled to lead off the sixth, and the bases were once again loaded, but with one out Ross only managed to score Ellsbury on a sac fly.

And that was it.  We went down in order in our last three innings, but the final score was a neat 7-3.  Gonzalez and Aviles both went two for four, Middlebrooks went three for four, and Ellsbury went three for five.  Just to give you an idea how awesome this is, the dynamic trio of Gonzalez and Ellsbury and Papi hasn’t appeared together in the same lineup since April.  The bad news is that, of our fourteen hits, only four were for extra bases, and we went four for twelve with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.  So as you can see, we had plenty of opportunities of which we did not take advantage and the score could have been even more lopsided in our favor.  It was enough yesterday, but we have to be prepared to handle those situations in which it might not be enough.  Anyway, defensive highlights include Ciriaco’s decidedly Pedroia-esque diving catch for the first out of the eighth.  He actually caught it in the air, so there was no firing to first, but it was a tricky play for a farm boy to have made, and he made it look easy.

We won our first series of the second half on the road and are back above .500.  Now we’re going home with a chance to keep it going.  So let’s do it.

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Again, the teams were fairly evenly matched.  Fortunately, we came out on top this time.  The final score was 5-3, but a lead is a lead, and whoever holds on gets the W.  I n this particular case, we almost didn’t, but in the end the day was ours.  It was another combined team effort, which are really the best efforts for any ballclub.

Doubront’s start was short.  He lasted only five and two-thirds innings because he was inefficient as usual; he threw ninety-seven pitches.  He gave up two runs, only one of them earned, on six hits, while walking four and striking out seven.  The first one was the unearned one; in the third, BJ Upton reached base on catcher interference and went on to score.  His other run was the result of a single-advancing groundout-single combination.  He was taken out in the fifth after securing the inning’s first two outs followed by giving up a single and a double.

Hill ensured that the inning ended without incident.  Atchison came on for the seventh and was replaced after the first out by Miller, who was replaced after the second out by Padilla, who ended the inning.  He began the eighth with a strikeout but then allowed a double and hit a batter.  He then got a force out and was taken out in favor of Aceves, who allowed a single that brought home one of his inherited runners.  Fortunately, he got through the ninth unscathed and picked up a save, while Doubront was given the win.

We loaded the bases in the first with two singles and a hit batsman; Ross drew a walk to plate our first run.  Byrd led off the second with a solo shot on a ninety-six mile-per-hour fastball on a full count to left field.  It was his first home run since September, and he flew around the bases like he was in a hurry to get back to the dugout.  Seriously, I don’t recall seeing anyone race around the bases after a home run knowing that it was a home run.  Not wanting to be left out of the home run action, Ross hit a solo shot of his own to center field with two out in the third on the third pitch of the at-bat.  It was Ross who provided the runs we needed to win in the eighth; Pedroia singled, Papi walked, and two outs later, Ross singled in both of them.

And now for a little drama.  Aviles was ejected after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Dan Bellino following his called strikeout to end the seventh.  It was one of the more aggressive balls-and-strikes arguments I’ve seen in a long time.  I mean, Aviles was really in his face and verbally going at it.  It wasn’t pretty.

We collected seven hits, only two of which, the homers, were for extra bases.  Predictably, Ross batted in all but one of our runs and had one of two multi-hit performances, the other belonging to Pedroia.  And believe it or not, in all its appearances in the last five games, which have amounted to fourteen and one-third innings, the bullpen has allowed only one run.  If the bullpen keeps this up, we might actually go somewhere!

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It seems like everyone’s focus this spring is on the question of who will be our fifth starter.  Obviously that’s a worthy focus because the identity of the fifth starter is important, and I think it says a lot about who’s managing this team that we don’t even have a sliver of a clue as to who it would be.  But we should also keep in mind that there are other things to watch for, like making sure that Papi and Youk get on a roll early, that Ellsbury’s season last year was the norm rather than the exception, that the catchers are handling the staff properly, and that the starters whose identities we do know are healthy and effective.

We beat the Orioles on Tuesday, 5-4.  Bard made his first start of spring and was awarded a no-decision.  He pitched two scoreless innings.  Aceves also fired two innings, striking out two and walking none.

Our game against the Jays on Wednesday ended in a tie at three.  Lester stayed behind and pitched two and two-thirds innings in a B game against the Twins; he walked two, struck out one, and gave up a hit.

The Cards bested us, 9-3, on Thursday.  Beckett pitched three scoreless innings; he walked none, struck out none, and allowed two hits, a single and a double.  Jose Iglesias whacked a triple with the bases loaded and looks more like a starter with every passing game.

Buchholz took Friday’s 7-4 loss to the Pirates.  He gave up two runs on three hits, struck out one, and walked none.  He threw some really beautiful changeups.  Papi hit his second homer of spring on a 2-1 count.

We shut out the Rays, five-zip, on Saturday.  Bard delivered three scoreless innings; he struck out one, walked two, and gave up two hits.  Thirty of his forty-nine pitches were strikes.  He relied heavily on his changeup.  It was his first three-inning stint in a single game since 2007, then a starting pitcher in the minors.  Supposedly, though, it technically hasn’t officially been decided that he’ll be starting; I guess they want to ensure that his stamina and arsenal are sufficient.  Aceves also delivered three scoreless innings; he struck out two, walked none, and gave up two hits.  Salty coaxed a walk with the bases loaded in the first, BJ Upton’s error on Iglesias’s fly ball brought in another two runs, and Youk smacked an RBI double.

McClure says that Dice-K looks great.  I just want to see if he pitches great.

Even after Papelbon is traded, it seems we can’t escape the drama that naturally seems to emanate from his person.  He claims that Red Sox Nation is more hysterical, while Phillies fans are more knowledgeable about the game because the Phillies are in the National League.  That’s ridiculous.  First of all, it’s possible to be hysterical and knowledgeable at the same time; just because we love our guys, a fact from which he was all too happy to benefit when it suited him just fine, doesn’t mean we also don’t know what we’re talking about.  We do indeed most definitely know exactly what we’re talking about.  And the fact that the Phillies are in the National League means absolutely nothing and is completely irrelevant.  I’m just saying.

In other news, the B’s lost to the Caps but beat the Leafs and Sabres.  We have eighty-three points so far this season, two above the Sens in our division and tied with the Devils if, as division leaders, we were not automatically seeded second.

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After Lester’s shellacking, I said that we could all look forward to his next start, when he would surely be so dominant and so in control of everything that that egregious excuse of an outing would be a mere blip on the radar.  Lester most certainly delivered, confirming that in a do-or-die situation, he’s the one you want with the ball.  Or Buchholz.  But you know what I mean.

It was awesome.  Lester manhandled the Rays.  He had their number all the way through.  He tossed seven innings, gave up no earned runs on only two hits, walked five, and struck out ten.  He no-hit the Rays through the first three.  You can thank Scutaro and his throwing error for the unearned run.  Overall, the outing was spectacular and I will most definitely take it, but what was interesting was his walk total.  He threw 106 pitches, but his strike rate was just above fifty percent.  That’s pretty low.  But his pitch, strikeout, and hit count would all indicate efficiency.  So he had some bumps along the way, but he adapted perfectly and used what was working.  He worked his fastball up to ninety-four miles per hour and made it cut like none other.  His offspeeds weren’t there as much.  But you could tell from the first pitch he threw that he wasn’t about to let this one get away.  This was the first of a series of three with the Rays, and he wasn’t about to disappoint.  Adaptability is the mark of a great mature pitcher.  Lester has come a long way and the best part is that he’s still going.  Shellacking? What shellacking?

But last night was really a two-man show, the other being Lester’s batterymate.  V-Mart provided two-thirds of our offense.  He blasted a solo shot to left in the first and again in the seventh.  Both were rockets.  Both were deep.  Both were off Price.  Both were on fastballs up.  Thus, he continues to own Price specifically and southpaws generally.

V-Mart was as stellar behind the plate as he was at the plate.  In the sixth, Bartlett hit a base hit into center field.  Upton started from second and rounded third.  McDonald fired home.  And V-Mart positioned himself exactly right and was waiting for Upton with the ball.  Out at the plate.  That was huge.  It was McDonald’s seventh assist of the season.  Honestly, there was no way Upton was going to score.  He hesitated before he took off and wasn’t prepared for the wave home.  I don’t even know why they decided to send him home with nobody out.  That was an error.  Whatever.  More goodness for us.  It was a perfect play.  If you look up “plate-blocking” in the dictionary, you will see a freeze-frame of this play.

The blasts bookended Lowrie’s RBI single in the fourth.  And Lester’s characteristically strong outing was punctuated by equally strong performances by Bard in the eighth for the hold and Paps in the ninth for the save.  Paps gave us a scare, as unfortunately he occasionally does; the Rays had two on with two out.  But it was all good.  Jaso struck out looking, and we won, 3-1.

So the battery got it done.  Lester handled the Rays, and V-Mart handled both Lester and the Rays.  It was fantastic.  It was the absolute right way to start off this series.  With this win we are now four and a half games behind the Rays and Yanks.  That’s the closest we’ve been to first since July 7.  It doesn’t sound like much, but at least it’s something.  One step at a time.  We’ve won seven of our last ten, and we need to build on that.  It won’t be easy; Pedroia is probably done for the season because he’ll probably need surgery, which means that we’ll have to proceed with about half our starting lineup out for the season.  On the bright side, the bench has plenty of experience covering for him because he’s been out for so long.  We have already shown that w can win as we are.  I’m telling you, if there’s any team that could pull that off, it’s this one.  Nobody has a deeper or more experienced bench that’s been playing ball as good as starters out there than we do.  I wouldn’t count us out.  We have a long way to go, but we can get there.  Buchholz will take on Garza tonight.  This is going to be great.  Buchholz will so have it.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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What a night to be a Boston fan.  First the Bruins won to stave off elimination and live to play another day, and then the Red Sox break a tie late in the ballgame to come away with the win and take the series.  So we win the battle and the war.  Nice.  And for a while it looked like we were even going to have another Beckett-esque start.  Turns out it wasn’t quite as Beckett-esque as we’d hoped, but at this point I think we have to take what we can get.  Sad but true.  Beckett pitched six innings, gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, and struck out five.  Considering the way his starts have been going lately, that feels like a shutout to me.  Not bad.  Besides, for my Number One starter, I’ll take Beckett on his worst day over almost all other Number One starters on their best days, because you have to think long term, and that includes October, and come October there’s only one man you want out there starting a series for you, and that’s Josh Beckett.  No question about it.

Unfortunately, he got a no decision because that third run he allowed was the tying run.  Okajima pitched just under two perfect innings, Ramirez finished off the seventh, and Papelbon made the ninth interesting but ultimately got the save.  He gave up a walk and a hit, made a pickoff error, and has a steal in the background before he did any damage at all.  Then he proceeded to strike out Pena, Upton, and Crawford in order.  Why he couldn’t just start the inning that way, I don’t know.  But the bottom line is that Ramirez got the win and Paps got the save.  You might say it’s good for Paps to keep everyone on their toes, but the way this season’s going I’m on my toes enough, thank you.  Paps can go ahead and have a clean, straight save if he wants to.  But he’s still the best closer in the game.  That’s his eight save of the season.  Eight saves in eight save opportunities.  One hundred percent.  And usually that lasts for a long, long time.

We won the game, 4-3.  The Rays tied it in the sixth and we scored the winning run in the eighth, batted in by who but Jason Bay.  I think the man was born to hit in the clutch late.  A ballgame is never over, not even in the late innings, until Jason Bay’s had his final say.  And usually that amounts to him hitting for at least one bag, very commonly four bags.  Yesterday it was two bags.  Bay went two for four, and both of those hits were doubles, the latter of which coming in the eighth to plate David Ortiz and give us a permanent lead.  He also scored once.  So basically the man is awesome on all counts.  He might be in the mix for AL MVP.  Incidentally, that would be something, if Boston dominated the voting and we had three guys in the first three places.  Wow.  Anyway, Drew, Bailey, and Green batted in the other runs.  Green also had a good night, finishing two for three.

Lowell made an error.  Youk’s still out.  Dice-K pitched four shutout innings in Pawtucket.  Lopez was thankfully designated for assignment as we finally bought Daniel Bard’s contract from Pawtucket.  Let me tell you something about Daniel Bard: he’s considered our best relief prospect for a reason, and a very significant part of that reason is his fastball.  Trust me.  This is going to be fun.

So as I said we take two out of three against the Rays.  Good.  We’re gradually building up to a sweep.  We get the day off today and then it’s off to the west coast again for a series with the Angels.  First it’ll be Masterson at Weaaver.  I hope his struggles of late aren’t a permanent turn for the worse.  Either way, the sooner we’re done with the west coast, the better; this is actually our last trip out there, which is nice.  So let’s make it count.

In other news, the Bruins won.  To say they pulled out a win or that they hung on by the skin of their teeth would be one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever heard.  Because we absolutely dominated.  Even if you didn’t know the score, there is no question in your mind who won that hockey game.  The score, by the way, was 4-0.  It was Timmy Thomas’s first career playoff shutout.  Kessel scored two of those goals; would’ve been sweet if he’d had himself a hat trick but technically anything besides simply winning is icing on the cake.  Recchi also had himself a goal, and he’s the oldest Bruin ever to score in the playoffs.  Milan Lucic accounted for the fourth goal.  I have to say I was terrified when I saw Chara go down in the second period; Jussi Jokinen delivered a stick to his left shin and he stayed down for a few minutes.  And he’s not one to fool around.  He skated off on his own but didn’t start the third.  But with 19:12 left, he began his first shift of the period.  What a relief.  Then Scott Walker drew a seven-minute penalty.  No, that’s correct; a seven-minute penalty.  Two minutes for misconduct and five for fighting because Aaron Ward never dropped his gloves.  Unfortunately there were only two minutes left in the game at that point so we really couldn’t take full advantage of it, but still.  First of all it was a classless move, and second of all any penalty against the opposition lasting longer than two minutes is awesome.  Game Six on Tuesday at 7:00PM.  Let’s keep it going.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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