Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Pena’

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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Every time Masterson starts, he wins.  Or if he doesn’t win, he gets saddled with an undeserved no decision.  But he doesn’t lose.  We talk all the time about how young the kid is and how he pitches well beyond his years, and how he looks like a veteran on the mound every start.  No so last night.  Last night he looked like some kid from Pawtucket called up to make an emergency start.  I mean, fine, he couldn’t go on like that forever and every pitcher has a bad day, but I think I would’ve been much happier if he’d had his bad day not during the second game a four-game series with the Rays, because now we’ve lost two and Toronto’s jumped out in front.  So we’re officially on a losing streak and in second place.  Wonderful.

One thing’s for sure.  When I envisioned what a Masterson bad day would look like, I wasn’t really seeing back-to-back home runs, the first of which was a grand slam.  That was definitely not part of the plan.  Masterson pitched six, gave up six runs on six hits, walked three, struck out six, and relinquished those two home runs in the fifth inning.  Evan Longoria hit the grand slam, followed by Carlos Pena’s solo shot.  Both were hit with two outs.  As we know, Masterson wouldn’t last much longer.  But there were some high points.  Because the bullpen’s been working overtime lately, we needed Masterson to go deep.  Because Masterson is so young, deep for him is somewhere around five or six innings.  So he did that.  He did his job.  It wasn’t his best work, not by any means, but he did his job.  And if we have to take this loss because it was important for the bullpen to get that extra rest, so be it.  In the long run I think it’ll be worth it.  I’d rather not have any more pitchers put on the DL with arm fatigue so early in the season, and if that means we have to take a loss while our starter is left in the game a little longer than usual, ultimately that has to be fine with me.  And it’ll be good for his endurance too, because eventually six innings will become the norm for him.  Delcarmen and Ramirez aced.  Still 0.00 ERAs for both of them.  That’s something I hope will last.

Unfortunately the offense didn’t do much.  We ended up losing by a score of 6-2.  In the third, Jason Bay walked with the bases loaded to bring Pedroia home, so that’s scored as an RBI, and the man still leads the American League in walks.  How about that? Even when he doesn’t get a hit, he still manages to plate somebody.  And the other RBI goes to Drew.  Pedroia and Youk both had great nights, going three for five and two for three with a walk, respectively.  Youk’s still batting above .400.  It’s very early in the season, but I suspect he and Pedroia will battle it out for MVP again this year.  Lugo got a hit, which I didn’t believe until I saw a replay of it later.  We did out-hit the Rays, though, 9-7.  In theory, the team with the most hits should win, the key phrase there being “in theory.” The Twins out-hit us even though we beat them, 7-3, so technically I can’t complain about that.  But still.  It would’ve been nice if more of those hits came with runners in scoring position.

So we’ve dropped the first two to Tampa Bay.  The key at this point is to not get swept.  I never thought I’d say this, but I’m so thankful that it’s Wakefield on the mound tonight.  He always does well at the Trop.  Maybe he can put a lid on this before it gets out of hand.

In other news, the Bruins finished off the Hurricanes in Game One of Round Two the same way they finished off the Canadiens in Game Four of Round One: by a score of 4-1.  Timmy Thomas, folks.  Timmy Thomas is winning the Vezina Trophy this year, and last night he showed why.  There were some beautiful saves and definitely some beautiful goals.  Great physical hockey.  I have to admit, I was a little worried about the fact that we hadn’t seen action on the ice in quite some time, and you never know how a long rest period is going to affect you, but by the second period we were all good.  And it was nice to see Sergei Samsonov again, even if he was playing for Carolina.  Actually, he and Axelsson are the only players involved in this series who were also present in the 1999 Bruins-Hurricans Stanley Cup quarterfinal, except that back then Samsonov was also wearing black and gold.  Also, congratulations to Zdeno Chara on becoming a father and to Claude Julien on becoming a finalist for the Jack Adams Award.  But the point is we buried them and we have good momentum going into Game Two, which is at home on Sunday at 7:30PM.

The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy

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Well.  That did not go very well.  And sometimes it takes only one inning to turn sour.  I don’t know what went wrong with Lester in the fifth inning last night, but whatever it is, I don’t want to know about it.  He gave up four runs in the bottom of the fifth.  And that, my friends, may as well have been the ballgame.  Not that we can’t come back from that.  We can.  But we didn’t.  We had our opportunities; we left nine on base and went two for nine as a team with runners in scoring position.  I just really hope this isn’t an introduction of what’s to come later on in the season, because if it is, we’re in trouble.

So the full breakdown for Lester is five runs on eight hits with two walks and five K’s in five innings pitched.  I mean that’s a little misleading.  Really he seemed to be cruising along until the fifth; he allowed a run in the third but otherwise posted zeroes through four, and he collected all his strikeouts in the first two.  But then we had the two-run home run by Carlos Pena and it all went downhill from there.  It’s his first loss at home in about a year.  Before last night he’d won sixteen home games, the second-longest streak in the Majors.  And Gabe Kapler certainly didn’t help the situation.  Delcarmen came on in the sixth, followed by a perfect Ramon Ramirez in the seventh, followed by Takashi Saito in the eighth who allowed a home run and Javier Lopez in the ninth who allowed a run on four hits.  And that doesn’t sound like him either.  I hope last year wasn’t a blip on the radar as far as his consistency was concerned, because he was solid day in and day out, something that historically had been a problem for him.

RBIs for Youk and Bay for the two in the 7-2 loss.  Youk actually had a great game offensively, going three for four, the only multi-hitter in the lineup.  But a not so great game defensively.  He committed an error.  A throwing error.  Kevin Youkilis made an error.  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t even know he knew how to make an error.

So we move to a record of 1-1 after our first two for the fourth year in a row.  The important thing here is to remember that, for the next two weeks or so, we’ll be dealing with a lot of firsts.  This was Lester’s first outing.  I don’t have to be happy about the result but I do have to consider the kind of pitcher he is and the fact that he will, without a doubt, bounce back from this.  Would I like to have swept the Rays? Absolutely.  But I’ll accept a series win because Lester still has to get his feet under him.  As for Youk’s error, which I still can’t believe, there goes another errorless season, but I guess I’d be okay with a one-error season, too.  We just need to establish our rhythm.  Last year the trip to Japan made that a little more complicated than usual and we still almost made it to the World Series (again, who doesn’t swing in the ninth on a 2-2 pitch?).  So I don’t think we have to worry just yet.  I’m annoyed.  I’m very annoyed.  But as far as the long run is concerned, I’m not worried.  Garza at Dice-K this afternoon.

In other news, Dave Roberts may be retiring.  It’s not official yet, but he’ll broadcasting the Padres on the radio and has accepted a job with Comcast in San Francisco.  I’ll tell you something.  We will never forget this man.  We have a lot to thank him for.  That had to be, without a doubt, the most famous, the most memorable, the most important, the most daring, the most ridiculous stolen base ever.  Thanks, Dave, for a great 2004!

AP Photo

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Every once in a while, playing extra innings is good.  It reminds you why you fight so hard during the average nine-inning contest, and it puts the bullpen to work, so everyone gets some work in and you see what you’re working with.  And last night’s game was a great game for us.  It wasn’t like some ridiculous pitcher’s mistake forced us into extras and then we lost.  We went into extras for all the right reasons, and that’s good for the team every once in a while.  It strengthens the resolve to complete the mission.  As for the loss part, as soon as Mike Timlin stepped on the mound we all knew it was coming.  Why Tito didn’t just go with Chris Smith from the get-go instead of having him warm in the ‘pen behind Timlin is something I’ll never know.

A long game means a lot to talk about.  Let’s start with Beckett, who’s so back it’s not even funny.  I’m serious.  It’s gotten back to that point where you watch the game, you see that No. 19,  and you know you’re in good hands and you can lock it up as a win.  I can say that despite last night because even though we lost last night he did his job, and he did it well.  He’s been on a short leash lately with his pitch count because of his stint on the DL, which I think is smart, but even pitching six innings, which is a bit of a short outing for Beckett, he pitched his usual.  One run on six hits, walking two and fanning seven.  He got off to a great start, using five pitches in a one-two-three first inning, and he didn’t even give up his first walk until the fifth.

I can safely say that, just as I was never more disappointed in Pap than on Tuesday night, I’ve never been more proud of the bullpen than I was last night.  Last night’s relief was nothing short of spectacular.  Every reliever, with the exception of Mike Timlin who lost it a long time ago, brought his A-game.  Okajima pitched a perfect inning, and it’s safe to say he’s back.  Masterson pitched two innings and got himself out of a real situation, one out with bases loaded, and he got the two outs he needed, no problem.  It was just awesome.  Delcarmen pitched two perfect innings, and it was nice to see him do that, given the consistency problems that he had in the first half of the season and part of the second.  And Lopez; what to say about Lopez? He’s been our greatest this year.  He’s had everything: consistency, confusing delivery, good command, and the ability to continually throw strikes.  And his 2.1 innings were perfect.  Enter Mike Timlin, who gave up a three-run shot to Carlos Pena in the top of the fourteenth.  He picked up the loss.  What a surprise.  And as it turned out a Rays fan caught the ball.  How about that? A Rays fan in Fenway Park.  Now I’ve seen it all.

Pedroia batted in our first run in the third to tie the game, and Youkilis batted in our second in the bottom of the fourteenth.  We lost, 2-4, but we didn’t go down easily.  In the late innings we had our chances to score, which unfortunately we couldn’t convert, so it wasn’t only Timlin’s fault.  And even in our half of the fourteenth inning we had the bases loaded and we were ready to strike, but as they say the rest is history.  Even with all that playing time, only two members of the lineup had multi-hit games: Pedroia went two for four with a walk, and Lowrie went two for five with a walk.  Pedroia’s like nitro-glycerin; if you’re the opposition, you don’t want to be around when that kind of power is unleashed.  Watching him uncork that swing of his is beautiful baseball.  And he can do some running, too; in the third, Ortiz popped foul but Pedroia already went from second to the plate, so he just cut across the grass to get back to second.  Other highlights include Ellsbury’s spectacular diving catch in center field, and this was it, I mean I saw that ball and thought there was no play.  The kid’s a miracle worker out there.  And I think it should be mentioned that he was blatantly safe at first in the ninth inning.  If the umpires made the right call, the bases would’ve been loaded, and there probably would’ve been a walk off.  Just saying.  Ortiz actually hit a sac bunt in the twelfth inning for the first time since April 14, 2001; I kid you not.  Bay was held hitless, snapping a five-game hitting streak and a three-game home run streak.  And as for Lowell, he was the victim of what I perceived as blatant unfairness.  Lowell pops foul down the third base line, Dan Johnson goes into the slide to catch it, a fan reaches over and catches it instead, and the umpires call fan interference.  As if Johnson would’ve been able to make that play; Lowell clearly was not out.  Varitek was successful in a hit-and-run, and I loved watching that because I remember a few weeks ago when if you put Tek in a hit-and-run the runner would be out.  Cash came in in the later innings and showed off his arm; he gunned down Bartlett at second when Iwamura failed to make contact on his own hit-and-run.  Finally, Chris Carter came through with a pinch-hit single.  He’s now three for four in the majors, with all three of those hits coming against Tampa Bay.

In other news, Raymond Bourke was in the crowd last night, the Angels clinched the AL West last night (we all knew that was coming, too), and Pap showed a lot of maturity during this series.  After the Crisp-Bartlett brawl, he dished out a lot of talk of unfinished business, but he handled himself, which I think was wise because we need him to be available, not suspended, this time of year.

So, as for the series of the whole, we weren’t swept which is good, we’re only 2.5 games out which is good, and we have the day off today which is great.  And Jerry Remy made a good point: Tuesday’s loss was a bigger win for the Rays than it was a loss for us.  We can bounce back from that and from this series.  Look at our season; we’ve been doing nothing but.  The injuries, the trades, it’s all required a superhuman amount of resilience, but we’ve been able to weather it and actually be the better for it.  Toronto lost last night to the White Sox which takes some of the wind out of their sails, because up until that point they’d been enjoying a September surge.  Their pitching is largely responsible for that surge so we’ll have to hit all our spots when we start things off with them tomorrow.  Even though I would’ve loved nothing more than to sweep the Rays and show them who’s boss, there will be plenty of time for that in October.  We’re going to have a good run.

Getty Images

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