Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Morrow’

In the biggest news of the day, Wake did not secure his two hundredth win.  Like we didn’t see that coming after all of the attempt’s he’s had before last night ended in the same way.

Except that this one was different.  Wake only lasted five innings; he gave up five runs, four earned, on three hits.  He was a victim of a steal of home.  He gave up a two-run home run.  He walked three and struck out three.  He threw ninety-two pitches, forty-seven of which were strikes.  So he was clearly inefficient, and by no means was the knuckleball the best I’d ever seen it, but it was good enough that maybe, just maybe, with enough run support, he could hold on.

That is exactly what happened.  Ellsbury and Pedroia led off the game with singles.  Gonzalez was hit, and the bases were loaded for Papi with nobody out.  Papi struck out.  Youk was hit by a pitch to bring in one.  Crawford struck out.  And Scutaro singled in two; the inning ended with Youk out at third.  Before Wake even took the mound, he had a three-run lead, and you knew from the way Brandon Morrow was pitching that his command wasn’t there and that it was going to be a rough night for the Jays.

We were down by two entering the fourth inning, but we took care of that deficit in a hurry.  Crawford doubled, Scutaro walked, Reddick brought in one with a double, and Ellsbury brought in three with a homer.  It was the first pitch of the at-bat, a fastball right down the middle at ninety-three miles per hour.  He used that textbook balance of his at the plate, read it, and cleaned it out to right center field into that first deck of seats.  Morrow was not happy.

Papi got in on the power action with a solo shot in the fifth on the second pitch of his at-bat, a fastball at ninety-two miles per hour to right field.  Almost exactly the same pitch at the same speed hit to the same location, except that Papi put a ton on his and the ball ended up in the second deck.

At that point the score was 8-5.  Morales replaced Wake in the sixth; Wheeler then came in in a two-on, one-out situation and handled the rest of the sixth as well as all of the seventh while allowing one run, which made the score 8-6.  After Wheeler allowed his run, Bard came in, at which point you pretty much figure that the game is over and Wake is finally going to get his two hundredth win.

I don’t think Bard ever received that memo.  Bard tanked again.  He began the eighth by hitting Brett Lawrie.  Then he gave up a single followed by a walk.  Just like us in the first, the Jays found themselves with the bases loaded and nobody out.  Bard quickly racked up two K’s, the first on only three pitches, but then proceeded to walk in two runs.  Not one.  Two.  One would have been bad enough; two is exceptionally humiliating.  What’s worse is that those two runs tied the game, and he wasn’t even done.  He gave up a bases-clearing double.  And then he posted a strikeout to end the inning.

I couldn’t believe it.  He totally imploded.  He completely lost control.  He gave up five runs that inning, a career high, and threw thirty-six pitches, the most since his debut in the Majors.  The score became 11-8.

The lineup did what it could to salvage the situation in the ninth.  Gonzalez led off with a solo shot to right on a splitter.  He put it in the lower deck.  Then Papi singled.  Then two outs.  Then Scutaro singled Papi in, and suddenly we only needed to score one more run and win it in extras.  Aviles had come in to pinch-run for Scutaro, and Reddick was at the plate.  And Aviles was caught stealing second base.  It was the first time an opposing runner was caught with Frank Francisco on the mound.  And we lost, 11-10.  This was the third time in Wake’s seven attempts to get his two hundredth win that he left with a lead, which the bullpen promptly ruined.  This one was crushing.  It was absolutely crushing.  Wake obviously took the blame for it, but make no mistake, my friends.  This one is on Bard.

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You know it’s not good when the first batter of the game doubles, steals third, and scores on a missed catch error.

Lackey was as completely terrible as Beckett was good.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a start this bad, but something tells me Lackey must have made that start too.  I’d put him on the DL with a hangnail if I could; he’s so bad that anyone who at this point would take his place would be better.  This wasn’t really how I pictured celebrating the Fourth of July.

All but two of the Jays’ total runs were scored under Lackey’s watch.  In less than three innings, he managed to bury the team in a seven-run hole.  That’s right, ladies and gentlemen.  At this point in time, John Lackey is an absolutely horrible starting pitcher.  This is the fourth time this year he’s given up at least seven runs.  There’s no sugar-coating it when the score is 7-0 after you leave.

In two and a third innings, he fired off sixty-five pitches, forty-one of which were strikes.  Before today, there had been three instances during his entire career during which he’d thrown less than sixty-five pitches.  He pitched two innings one October to get ready for the playoffs.  He was ejected after throwing two pitches because the umpire thought he was trying to drill the batter on purpose.  But it’s been eight years since he had an instance where he had an off day as extreme as yesterday.  He racked up a grand total of two strikeouts.  Those seven runs were scored on a grand total of nine hits, one of which was a solo shot.  He didn’t walk anybody, but he worked himself into heavy hitter’s counts so often I thought he made a mistake and thought that that was what he was supposed to be doing.  It was a truly terrible outing.

The offense did everything it could to climb out of the hole.  It really was a textbook example of chipping away, and the lineup deserves a pat on the back for a stellar effort.  Ultimately, though, it was to no avail.  We lost, 9-7.  It was supremely frustrating.  We scored four runs in the fifth and three in the eighth; what’s two more in the ninth? So close.  And yet so very far.

Probably the best part was that the Jays never saw it coming; up to that point, Brandon Morrow had made quick work of us.  But the fifth inning was all about us resurrecting who we were when we played the Astros.  After two week outs to start the inning, Drew singled and Scutaro walked.  Ellsbury brought both of them home with a towering triple, his first of the year.  Pedroia walked, and Ellsbury scored on a passed ball.  And Gonzalez brought home Pedroia with a double.

We went right back to being quick work until the eighth.  A single by Navarro and a double by Papi.  McDonald struck out swinging.  But then a towering triple off the Monster by Salty brought them both in, and a sac fly by Drew plated our seventh and final run.

Ellsbury singled to open the ninth, but Pedroia, Gonzalez, and Navarro went down in order.  Three consecutive swinging strikeouts.

I don’t even want to discuss the fact that Youk left the game in the fourth (he was drilled in the back) and that Navarro came in to replace him, only to let a ball through his legs that allowed a run to score.  The bullpen, of course, had to roll out, but they pitched really well.  They should have started the game in the first place; we probably would have won.  I also don’t even want to talk about the fact that Salty was out in the sixth.  That was a bad call.  He was obviously safe.

That game completely destroyed all the momentum we’d accumulated in Houston.  It made for a lousy return home, and like I said, it’s not a great way to celebrate Independence Day.  Not in the least.  It sheds some grim light indeed on Lackey’s fate for the rest of the year, and it doesn’t help our position in the standings at all.  Aside from the phenomenal performance by the bullpen, the valiant effort by the offense to make a comeback, the fact that Ellsbury went four for five to tie a career high, and last but certainly not least obviously the fact that Navy officer Bridget Lydon reunited with her family during the pre-game ceremonies, there was absolutely nothing good about the game at all.

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Whoa.  I don’t even know what that was.  I think that was our lineup trying to make up for our lack of offense during the Rays series in a single night.  Whatever it was, it definitely worked.  Although if you ask me, I would’ve liked to have borrowed some of the runs from last night and used them against the Rays.  We definitely had enough runs to go around.

Last night’s game as absolutely fantastic.  It was an absolute rout of a team that stood absolutely no chance.  It was a decisive, dominant defeat that absolutely snapped our four-game losing streak.  You don’t get much more absolute than that.

We continue to be undefeated at the Rogers Centre this year and have won thirteen of our last nineteen contests there.  We have a grand total of eighty-nine wins there, more than any other visitor.  Can we say Fenway North?

The final score was a whopping 14-3.  That was our second-highest game run total this year, our highest being seventeen against the Angels on May 3.  (Buchholz picked up that win.) It featured a three-run second, a seven-run third, a three-run fourth, and a one-run sixth.  Four of those runs were unearned, but in the final score a run is a run, and it just goes to show you that Toronto’s pitching as well as its defense were terrible.

Cameron started us off with an RBI single, which Hall promptly followed with a two-run home run hit deep out to center, his seventh of the season.  Romero fed him a steady diet of up and away, and he finally got just enough bat on one to line it out to the opposite field.  But that was nothing compared to what we were about to unleash on Romero in the third.

Simply put, he got rocked.  Hard.  Here we go.

Youk hit a sac fly to start things off.  Then McDonald scored when Drew hit into a fielder’s choice.  Then Romero left with the bases loaded.  It’s the second straight start in which he’s been unable to get past the third.  Something I readily noticed: his changeup was horrible.  Then Cameron walked with the bases loaded.  Then Hall hit a sac fly.  Then Scutaro hit a two-RBI single, followed by an RBI single by McDonald.

So that was the seven-run third, which gave us a ten-run lead, but we weren’t about to stop there.  The three-run fourth was still to come.  If the third showed the power of small ball, the fourth was about to show pure power, period.

Youk and Beltre belted back-to-back jacks.  That was the third time this season they did that.  Youk’s ball cleared that left field wall in a hurry.  I’d like to see Nick Swisher do that! (Actually, I wouldn’t, but you know what I mean.) I can’t believe that Youk lost the Final Vote to Nick Swisher.  Nick Swisher! I don’t even understand how that’s possible! Of all the people on the list to lose to, it had to be Nick Swisher? Whatever.  Youk is over it, so I guess we should move on as well.

Anyway, then Drew grounded out, and Cameron added another jack.  His ball landed in left as well.  Three home runs is a lot for one inning.  It’s even a lot for one game, and we finished the game with four! The last time we hit at least three jacks in one frame was the fifth on May 20, 2009, when Tek, Papi, Bay, and Lowell all went deep against the Jays, appropriately enough, at Fenway.  I’m telling you, I watched those home runs and I thought they were showing replays.  That’s what it looks like when you watch jack after jack.  It was so awesome.

So all four home runs were lined out, lasers as Pedroia would say.  Hall finished the night three for four with the home run and two doubles as well, batting in a game-high four runs.  It was his first time hitting in Rogers Centre with the roof open; it’s amazing how much of a hitter’s park it becomes when it’s open.  Youk’s home run was his only hit, and we’ll take it.  Beltre finished two for three.  Cameron finished three for four; he’s had six hits in his last two games.  And Drew has also quietly been on a tear in his last six.

And last but most certainly not least, Jon Lester.  He wasn’t as economical as he usually is, but his outing was still excellent.  He tossed six frames, gave up two runs on four hits including a solo shot, walked two, and struck out six.  He threw ninety-six pitches total and picked up the win.  I agree with Hall; Lester should totally start the All-Star Game.

His cut fastball was sharp, as were his changeup, sinker, and curveball.  He threw his game high of twenty pitches in the second and game low of eleven in the third, and he was pretty consistent in his other four innings.  His release point was perfect.  He didn’t throw any balls around the upper left or bottom right corners of the zone, but his zone itself was nice and even.  His movement was spot-on.  So he mixed his pitches well, varied his speeds, and did everything he usually does.

Manuel allowed the third Jays run, and Richardson pitched the ninth.  Done.

Unfortunately, the prediction that V-Mart will return soon after the break was a bit too ambitious.  He’ll be out longer.  Ellsbury, on the other hand, is back with the team.  He’s in Toronto, working out with the team and seeing team doctors.  I can’t wait to see him back in the outfield again.

So last night was a spectacular night for everybody.  Tito won his nine hundredth Major League game, the starters got to rest because of the big lead, we received a big boost to our morale, and we won! This afternoon, we hope to give Lackey a similar offensive cushion – that wasn’t even a cushion, that was a mattress or something huge – as he takes on Morrow.  Most importantly, we look to build some momentum going into the break so we can start the second half on good footing.

Wow.  That was powerful.  Absolutely.

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Toronto is shaping up to be a sight for sore bats, as it were.  Score one, or should I say seven, for sustaining momentum.  It was the offense that carried the night, but barely so, which is right in line with the idea that starting pitching has the ability to make or break us.

Lackey got the win, but he didn’t do so well.  He gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings, the most runs since relinquishing eight to the Rays on April 19 and his shortest start since that contest, when left after three and a third.  He walked three and struck out six, which ties his season high.  He threw ninety-five pitches.  So basically he was bad.  All of his off-speeds were excellent, including his cutter, which he threw about as often as he threw his four-seam.  His strike zone was messy, as is wont to be the case when he delivers a mediocre performance, and his only easy inning was the sixth, when he threw seven pitches, all of which were strikes.  His pitch count in every other inning was above ten.  He threw thirty-three in the second, which was largely responsible for his early exit in terms of pitch count.  Of course, it was also just a bad inning; he allowed six consecutive baserunners on the paths on four hits and two walks; the Jays sent nine batters up.  In the fifth, he gave up a two-run shot to Bautista.  Thankfully, that was all.

All in all, that’s all I’ve got.  It was just a mediocre performance.  Not good but not especially horrific.  And you can take that as an indication of the fact that we’ve seen some horrific starts, so we know what they look like, and this was not one of them, which speaks to its own issue but that’s a different story.  He had good movement on all of his pitches, but then he always does.  The fact that he can maintain that movement even when he’s off is part of what makes him the good pitcher he is.  But all I’m saying is that he may have gotten the win, but his loss column would’ve gotten a lot more attention had the offense not picked him up.

And by offense, I of course include Jays pitching.  After all, we must give credit where credit is due.  The first two innings of the game alone lasted for more than an hour, but if there was one person in Fenway Park who wasn’t about to complain, it was John Lackey.

In the first, V-Mart singled in Scutaro and Pedroia, but most of the action happened in the second.  Beating the Jays at their own game, both literally and figuratively, we came up ten times and scored four runs on only one hit but six walks.  Morrow was out before the inning was over.  Roenicke came on in relief and proceeded to walk Beltre on four pitches.  That’s what I call a lack of command.  Six walks.  For all you Moneyball fans out there, this proves Michael Lewis’s point, no? Six walks in a single inning.  How ‘bout that.

As for the scoring plays themselves, Hermida scored on a bases-loaded walk to Perdroia.  Van Every scored when V-Mart grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Scutaro scored on Hill’s fielding error.  Papi singled in V-Mart.  Pedroia singled in Van Every in the third.

Scutaro walked twice.  Pedroia went two for four with a double and a walk.  Youk walked.  Beltre walked.  Hermida walked.  Van Every, of course, walked, and he made a spectacular catch, nabbing Buck’s foul popup literally against the wall in shallow right.  He was in because Drew was out with vertigo.

Okajima, Bard, and Papelbon combined for three hitless innings.  They threw seven, fourteen, and thirteen pitches, respectively, to finish their innings.  Yes, Okajima threw only seven pitches.  Seven for three groundouts.  It was a gem of an appearance, really.  Probably his best inning all season.  Reminded me of how lights-out he was in 2007, actually.  Bard faced four batters (he walked one).  Paps struck out leadoff man Lewis en route to a one-two-three ninth.  He’s converted all of his save opportunities so far this year.

Also of note: Gonzalez’s fly off the Monster in the second was at first ruled a double.  Then it was reviewed, the first time that’s happened this season.  The call still stood, though, so it was pretty anticlimactic as play reviews go.

We continue to be undefeated against the Jays.  The final score was 7-6; we won three of those four games by one run, the other by two.  Dice-K is starting tomorrow, so I’m hoping he can rise to the occasion and allow us to continue that trend.  After that, Wake is returning to the rotation for a start opposite Marcum.  Apparently, this would’ve been the case anyway because Tito intended to rest Beckett no matter what, but it just so happens that this becomes oh so convenient due to the fact that Beckett tweaked his back while taking cuts in preparation for Interleague.  And thus, the age-old debate surfaces yet again.  I love Interleague because it’s an easy boost through the standings, but I don’t want my pitchers using muscles they didn’t even know they had and getting hurt in the process.  We’ll just have to hope for the best, I guess.

The Bruins tanked absolutely, getting shut out by and losing by four to the Flyers.  Next game on Wednesday.  We’ve come this far; let’s go farther.

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Last night’s start certainly had its fair share of expectations riding on it, and Beckett delivered.  What a performance.  Straight off the DL he showed us why we expected anything of him in the first place.  Five flawless innings, four hits, zero runs, zero walks, seven strikeouts.  Masterful.  Just masterful.  And to think we’ve been doing so well without him in the rotation.  Imagine how we would’ve done if he were in there on a regular basis.  That’s a scary thought.  And this goes right up there with Beckett’s competitiveness.  He’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever seen, and he likes to not only go out but also come in with a bang.

Delcarmen, who struck out all three of his batters, and Masterson pitched three hitless innings, followed by Okajima, who gave up a run on two hits in the ninth.  But all in all the pitching was excellent, and we look poised to do some major damage in October.  When your rotation looks sturdy and your bullpen looks like new, you know you’ll be covered for that many more games.

It was a blowout to back Josh Beckett.  The final score was 8-1, and we out-hit the Rangers by a ratio of 2:1.  Ellsbury batted in one, and Crisp, who these days amazes me, batted in three and went three for five.  I think this is the Crisp we were supposed to see when he came over from Cleveland.  Mikey Lowell, also fresh off the DL, batted in four and went three for five with a solo home run.  What a relief.  I was really hoping he’d break out offensively once and for all this season.  Hopefully this is the start of something good.

In other news, the Rays lost again last night, decreasing their first-place lead to 2.5 games and making our series with them even more important.  This first one starts Monday and is at home, so this is where we want to make the biggest splash.  And we can, too.  The Rays are not invincible.  And if this team has come this far and has been able to weather all the injuries we’ve had to Big Papi, Dice-K, Mikey Lowell, Josh Beckett, JD Drew, and Sean Casey and the trading of Manny Ramirez, there’s no way we’re not putting up a fight.

In other news, the Yankees were almost no-hit yesterday but a Mariner young’un named Brandon Morrow.  He’s 24 years old, and last night was his first Major League start, and let me tell you he had some stuff.  Fastball, off-speed, you name it he threw it for strikes.  He was bringing heat, and he was managing to do it all without needing much defensive assistance.  Through eight, he walked only three batters and at one point struck out A-Rod on three pitches, which was very satisfying.  Then, with two outs, in walks Wilson Betemit off the bench and ruins it.  Morrow was taken out after that to save his arm.  But a valiant effort and very embarrassing for New York.  Kevin Youkilis’s great work in the community has led to a nomination for the Roberto Clemente award.  Nice going!

And now for a final assessment of Dustin Pedroia’s homestand.  During those six games, Pedey raised his average from .317 to .333, which is almost impossible in such a short time and at this time of year.  He hit four doubles and two homers, scored nine runs, batted in eight, and received four bases on balls and absolutely no strikeouts whatsoever.  Oh yeah, and his OBP was .724.

Wakefield will be starting tonight opposite Matt Harrison, and it’ll be his 500th for the Red Sox.  Can you believe that? After throwing out the first pitch tonight he’ll have done so 500 times in a Red Sox uniform.  But that’s why he’s so good; he’s dependable, and he gives us quality innings.  Hopefully tonight won’t be any different.

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