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Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Inge’

We followed Saturday night’s loss with a similar one yesterday afternoon, except that yesterday afternoon’s loss wasn’t the bullpen’s fault.  It was the starter’s fault.

The scary part is that this is very reminiscent of the losing streak we had at the beginning of the season.  We were starting to actually play well up to this point.  We moved within five and a half games of first place, and we were coming on strong.  Only to suffer losses like this, where one aspect of the team is on while the others are off.  You’ll lose ballgames every time you play an incomplete style of game.  It would be a different story had the opposing pitcher been dominant or our starting pitcher turn in a good performance.  But these were failures of a nature that makes it hard to determine whether we would in fact have come out on top.  I suspect we would have, especially on Saturday, as I said.

Lackey takes the loss and all the blame that that entails in this one.  Baseball theoretically shouldn’t be discussed in terms of faults and blame, but every once in a while you know who’s responsible, and that makes a difference in how you interpret the loss.  Had Lackey been as dominant as we’ve seen him be, our lack of offense either would’ve resulted in a loss anyway, which would’ve been more respectable and healthy for the team as a whole because we would’ve been playing our whole game but got beat by a team that happened to be better at that particular moment, or our lack of offense wouldn’t have mattered.  Maybe Lackey would’ve allowed no runs, or maybe he would’ve allowed one and we would’ve gone into extras.  It’s hard to say.  But it’s not hard to say with the performance he actually gave yesterday.

The final score was 5-1 in favor of Detroit, and all of those runs were given up by Lackey, who stayed in the game for seven innings because our bullpen was entirely shot.  He gave up five runs on nine hits with four strikeouts and four walks.  All four walks occurred in the first two innings, and the third was the result of a twelve-pitch at-bat that loaded the bases.  Then a minor leaguer making his Major League debut broke his bat on a dribbler that he beat out because Lackey missed the bag with his foot.  The fourth walk was yet another bases-loaded walk awarded to Johnny Damon, of all people, but if you ask me that was yet another umpiring mistake.  Lackey, Tek, and Tito agree with me; Tito spent two whole minutes “discussing it” with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale.  (Tek also made a very strong throw and caught Damon stealing second.  It was great.) The final blow was a two-run shot in the fourth on a curveball that didn’t curve.

I’ll say this for him: eight of the nine hits he allowed were soft singles, so it wasn’t like Detroit truly had his number all the way.  But sometimes those are hard to deal with as well; you need to be in exactly the right position defensively to convert those into outs.  Boesch snuck one by Youk somehow.  Then, Scutaro flashed leather in the third when he dove for Inge’s ball; he fired well to first but wasn’t in time.  So those can be tricky.

He threw mostly curveballs and cutters, which weren’t outstandingly effective.  His two-seam was, but he only threw eight of them.  He needed only eight pitches to finish off the sixth, but fired at least thirteen in every other frame, using at most thirty-eight in the second.  He varied speeds well and kept his release point together, and his strike zone was more concise than Barksdale would have you believe; it just included some extra area on each side.  It was at least heartening that not many of his balls were way off the plate, but there were pitches thrown outside the zone on all sides.  Eventually he did recover some semblance of command, retiring ten of his last twelve batters.  But not before we were firmly in a position to lose.

That also has to do with the fact that somehow Galaraga was on.  We collected seven hits on the day but left ten men on base.  Again with the squandering of opportunities.  Van Every doubled to lead off the third; Hermida doubled him home two batters later.  That was our only run.  We loaded the bases in the seventh, but Drew struck out, which has been a theme over the course of the past few games of which I’m really not a fan.  Youk went two for four, and McDonald went two for two.  I venture to guess that it didn’t help that Beltre, V-Mart, and Pedroia all had the day off, Pedroia for the first time this year.  Pedroia may have had a sore knee and should be back in the lineup tonight.  Hall took his place at second, which was interesting to say the least.

Schoeneweis pitched a quality eighth.

Ellsbury begins rehabbing in the minors today, which means he’s on the final stretch back to the Majors.

So that’s that.  We’re going to the Bronx tonight without momentum.  And to make matters even more uncertain, Dice-K is starting.

AP Photo

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We’ll start with the home run derby.  Prince Fielder won it with twenty-three long balls, averaging 439 feet.  His longest and second-longest were the longest and second-longest of the competition, measuring at 503 and 497 feet, respectively.  Nelson Cruz placed second with twenty-one long balls.  Then Ryan Howard with fifteen, and Albert Pujols with eleven.  Joe Mauer and Carlos Pena both hit five, all in the first round, and Adrian Gonzalez hit two, both in the first round.  Brandon Inge didn’t hit any.  Ouch.  If you’ve noticed, hometown heroes rarely do well in the home run derby, so Pujols would’ve been the tempting but unlikely choice for champion.  He came close, though.  Congratulations to Prince Fielder! The Prince of home runs.  Corny but it had to be done.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the game.  As expected, the American League extended its hitting streak over the National League to thirteen All-Star Games.  This doesn’t surprise me.  We all saw this coming.  It happens every year.  But the All-Star Game is just as much about the festivities as it is about the game, so we’ll start with the first pitch thrown by President Obama wearing a White Sox jacket.  It came out of his hand as sort of a lob at Pujols, who picked it out of the dirt.  Not bad.  As far as the game is concerned, I was very pleased to see that this one only lasted nine innings.  Halladay started.  He pitched two innings and gave up three runs on four hits, only two earned.  Those were the only runs the National League would score.  The American League’s eight pitchers struck out five, walked only one, and gave up only five hits (Joe Nathan gave up the other one).  Papelbon, thank you very much, got the win.  Joe Nathan got a hold.  Mariano Rivera got a save, obviously because he wasn’t trying to close a game against us.

But that’s not the point.  Papelbon came into the game in the seventh inning, when the score was tied 3-3, and Brad Hawpe rocketed his first pitch over the outfield wall.  Luckily, Carl Crawford caught it over the wall for the first out of the frame.  For that play alone, Carl Crawford was awarded the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.  Then, Miguel Tejada flied out to Adam Jones, and Paps struck out Jayson Werth after eight pitches to end a ten-pitch outing.  Another one-two-three inning.  So Paps, who’s been an All-Star all four seasons he’s closed for us, gets the All-Star win he deserves.  Before the break, he actually insisted that Mariano Rivera close, probably due to all of the irrelevant and completely unnecessary flak he received after last year’s perfectly normal comment that he, as any competitive closer would, wanted to close an All-Star Game.  Honestly.  Yankee fans.  Nuff ced.

Wakefield did not pitch.  Not once.  Not even a third of an inning.  Not even to one batter.  To me, that’s cold.  Joe Maddon could’ve put him in somewhere if he really wanted to.

We won, 4-3, and we out-hit the National League, 8-5.  One error each.  RBIs for Joe Mauer, Adam Jones, and Josh Hamilton.  Bay and Youk both had hits.  In the eighth inning, Curtis Granderson tripled and then scored on Jones’s sac fly to break the tie.  Hamilton made a throwing error.

So basically what this whole thing comes down to, what this whole home run derby and All-Star Game and MVP Award and four-day break mean, is that we have secured home field advantage for October.  Technically it means that the American League team has home field advantage, but let’s not kid ourselves.  We all know who that American League team is going to be.  We also really needed this break; we’ll come back after these four days rested, rejuvenated, and ready to go claim that spot as “the” American League team.  The home run derby was a mildly interesting event and the All-Star Game was entertaining, but really it determines something very important.  And something tells me we’ll be very thankful for this victory come the postseason.  Congratulations to the American League All-Stars on your thirteenth straight victory.  You earned it, and we thank you.  Seriously.

AP Photo

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