Posts Tagged ‘Boston Marathon’

First of all, let me address yesterday’s tragic events.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that we hope for the safety and wellbeing of all who were affected by the tragedy at the finish line of the marathon yesterday.  Our minds and hearts are with you.

Patriots’ Day is always a fun day for baseball in Boston.  Jackie Robinson Day is always a fun day for baseball everywhere.  So when they coincide, it’s a great day to celebrate greatness in the game.  Thankfully, neither the weather nor the team disappointed.

First there was the incredible start from Dempster, easily his best start so far this year.  Seven innings, one run, two hits, two walks, ten strikeouts.  In fact, Dempster, really only made one mistake, which resulted in a solo shot with two out in the fourth.  That was about it.  And he managed to do it with only four pitches: both fastballs plus a deadly slider and a formidable splitter.  This was another quick game: three hours and three minutes.  Actually, it was yet another pitcher’s duel.  Uehara got a hold for his holding of our lead in the eighth, and Bailey, who was extremely lucky, picked up both the blown save and the win.  If you ask me, Dempster should have gotten the win on principle, but obviously that’s not how it works.

We scored first.  Ellsbury received eight straight fastballs during his first at-bat and tripled on the last one; he scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Both teams went down in order in the second and third.  Then the solo shot that Dempster relinquished tied it at one in the fourth.  But Salty put us back on top with a solo shot to lead off the fifth.  It came on the third pitch of his at-bat, a fastball at eighty-nine miles per hour, which promptly ended up beyond the right  field fence.  I suppose Dempster and his opponent really were matching each other pitch for pitch; Dempster gives up a solo shot, and then we hit one.

Both teams went down in order in the seventh, and the eighth proceeded without incident.  All indications pointed to us winning the game by a score of 2-1 until Bailey blew his save.  He gave up a single that may as well have been a double thanks to a steal; sure enough, that turned into the tying run when he gave up another single.  Fortunately, giving up the tying run is not the same as giving up the winning run.  But a porous reliever is still not what you want, especially when this guy was supposed to have been our closer.  Now we have two relievers on our staff who are closers by trade and who apparently can’t close.

Bailey was extremely fortunate that Pedroia walked and scored on a double off the Monster by Napoli in the ninth for yet another walkoff victory in just three days; the final score was 3-2, and we officially swept the Rays.  Without that quick fix, it is entirely possible that we may have lost the whole contest, and it would have been all Bailey’s fault.  That, plus the fact that Dempster’s start was as good as it gets, is why Dempster should have gotten the win.

Boston Globe Staff

Read Full Post »

Don’t look now, but technically we’re on a winning streak.  We’ve won two games in a row.  That’s the bare minimum for a winning streak, and it came against the Jays, but it’s still a winning streak, and I will most definitely take it.  At this point, the worst that could happen is we split the series.

We won, 8-1! That’s more like it! That’s the type of score I envisioned us having after every game.  Okay, so that was wishful thinking, but I still say that such outcomes shouldn’t be rarities for us.  Yesterday afternoon, it looked like a walk in the park.  Pun intended.

Wow.  Lester.  Lester fired his third quality start and finally got a win to show for it, but he was not as efficient as the final score would make it seem.  He did give up only one run on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts, and he did break three bats, but he only lasted six innings and, in that time, threw 110 pitches, sixty-five of which were strikes.  He threw fifty-three pitches through the first three innings alone.  Thankfully, he was backed by two double plays, one in the second and one in the third.  He actually pitched to two batters in the seventh before he was pulled in favor of Bard, who finished out the inning, and very well, I might add; he walked a batter but between a double play and a strikeout, he was out of it in no time.  If not for that double play and thanks to Lowrie’s fielding error, Lester would have been credited with an additional run, although unearned.

Lester brought his fastball up to ninety-five miles per hour, and it was really good, but he kept missing with his offspeeds.  He mixed in sinkers, changeups, and curveballs, and he definitely settled down as the game went on, but his lack of control made him inefficient.  He clearly labored.  At times he was extremely wild.  He threw at most twenty pitches in an inning twice.  Not counting the ten pitches he fired in the seventh before he was pulled, his lowest count was twelve in the fourth.

You would think that such a performance would necessitate a heap of runs.  Not for Lester.  Lester lacked control, but he maintained just enough to keep us in it.  He and the bullpen.  The bullpen wasn’t spectacular, but it was pretty scrappy and got the job done.  Well, Doubront had some trouble in the eighth; he opened the inning with a walk.  He induced a flyout but issued another walk.  Then there was a pickoff at third after a steal of second.  Good thing, because Doubront gave up a single after that.  He was pulled in favor of Jenks, who did his job and got a strikeout.  Wheeler then brought us home.  Three up, three down.  Game over.  But not before we scored – wait for it – eight runs!

The Jays may have scored first, in the top of the second inning, but man, did we avenge that run.  We responded with a four-spot in the bottom of the fourth.  Lowrie singled, Drew singled, Salty singled in Lowrie, and then Ellsbury stepped to the plate.  He took a cutter for a ball.  He took a slider for a ball.   And then he took a sinker around the Pesky Pole for a cool three-run shot.  How’s that for clutch.  Yeah.  That’s clutch.

We didn’t score again until the sixth, an inning that started out looking like we wouldn’t be scoring again then either.  After a flyout and a strikeout, Papi singled, Lowrie reached on a fielding error, Drew walked, and Salty came through yet again with another single, this one for not one but two runs.  It would have been three had Drew been safe at the plate.

As if to make double amends for his fielding error, Lowrie reached and went to second on another fielding error in the eighth, which also brought Gonzalez and Youk home after a double and hit-by-pitch, respectively.

So there you go.  Eight runs, mostly on offspeeds.  Clearly it wasn’t a good day for anyone for offspeeds; we were just better at reading them.  The final score? 8-1.  Some manufactured chances, some power.  Nothing but goodness.  Gonzalez and Salty both finished two for four, Gonzalez with a double.  We left only four on base and went three for eight with runners in scoring position.  That’s a .375 average! I wish our batters had averages like that.  Lowrie is currently batting .462 and Pedroia is batting .315; those are the only averages we’ve got above .300.  We came into the game with three members of the lineup batting under .200.  Two of them, Ellsbury and Salty, ended up bearing the brunt of the offensive load.  The third one, Crawford, continued to do absolutely nothing.  He went 0 for 4.  He couldn’t even manage a walk.

Salty, by the way, needs to work on throwing batters out.  It couldn’t hurt to have the pitchers work on their pickoff moves, too.  The Jays have been running very aggressively on us so far in this series and it must stop.  Like, immediately.

If you can believe it, it only took two days for us to double our win total.  That’s a luxury we won’t have after the month of April, so we need to keep it going.  We’ve got a morning game today on Patriots Day; the game will start at 11:00AM.  And the Boston Marathon is happening as well.  And we could extend our winning streak.  And we could win a series for the second time this year.  All Dice-K has to do is provide just a decent performance.  Just go at least five innings and give up at most three runs.  That seriously shouldn’t be too much to ask of any pitcher.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

Read Full Post »