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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Carter’

That went horribly.  That went horribly, and October is not the time for “horribly.” Lester took the loss.  He gave up three runs on four hits in six innings with four runs and five strikeouts.  I should mention that those three runs scored courtesy of a Torii Hunter home run.  By the way, Lester threw one hundred pitches.  In only six innings.  In October, one hundred pitches should be getting you through the seventh inning.

But wait, it gets worse.  Ramon Ramirez, Mr. Struggle-in-September, came to the mound and proceeded to pitch to three batters and allow two more runs without recording an out.  Saito and Bard were both solid.  Make no mistake: our bullpen is a huge advantage over any opponent we face.

The lineup did nothing.  We got four hits all night, none of which were for extra bases.  The final score was 5-0.  We need Ellsbury to give us something.

We made three errors.  Gonzalez, Bay, and Lowell, all throwing.  It reminds me of that game in October 2004 when we made more errors than we could count.  (On the bright side, October 2004 was, to make the understatement of the century, a really good October.)

And now let’s talk about the umpire, shall we? Let’s start with first-base umpire CB Bucknor.  As the similarity between his last name and a certain someone else’s during the 1986 World Series doesn’t make me uneasy enough.  Both of these calls involved Howie Kendrick at first.  And you can watch replays of both and see that Howie Kendrick was about as out as you can possibly be.  Question mark number one: with two out in the fourth, Kendrick hit a grounder up the middle, which Gonzalez fielded very schnazzily (it was a sliding catch; very nicely done) and fired to Youk at first.  But the throw was wide, so it pulled Youk off the bag.  So Youk applied the tag, but Bucknor called Kendrick safe.  Question mark number two: in the sixth, Kendrick grounded to Lowell, who fired high to first.  Youk jumped up to catch it but came back down on the bag about four feet before Kendrick got there.  And yet somehow Kendrick was safe? Tito had some words for Bucknor, and rightfully so.  Fortunately, neither of those plays cost us runs, the first one because Lester struck out Jeff Mathis to end the inning and the second because Jacoby Ellsbury made an absolutely spectacular diving catch of Chone Figgins’ fly to end the inning.  But that’s not the point.  I don’t want any more of this going forward.

Speaking of defense, it was awesome.  Everyone was spot-on, which was a sight for sore eyes, given all of our recent health concerns.  JD Drew got in on the action and gunned down Kendry Morales at the plate in the seventh.

Byrd is on the roster, and Delcarmen is off because of, you guessed it, the car accident.  Baldelli is also off, replaced by Brian Anderson and Joey Gathright.  The Billy Wagner trade is finally complete; the Mets picked up Chris Carter and first base prospect Eddie Lora.  Don Orsillo did a fantastic job, as always.

Believe it or not, there are some silver linings to last night’s horror show.  First of all, we shouldn’t worry about Lester.  It’s the first game of the playoffs, we were away, he’s got some nerves.  Secondly, the outcome of last night might play directly into our hands.  To borrow some logic from hockey, Andy Brickley said yesterday on NESN that the Bruins’ bad loss to Washington was a necessity for us to remember who we are and how we play, and it facilitated our running wild all over the Hurricanes.  (Brickley said that before we lost to Anaheim, 6-1, which is eerily similar to our good score against Carolina and last night’s outcome against the Angels, but again, that’s not the point.) So last night, in many important ways, was a wake-up call.  It reminded us that October is not all fun and games.  You can’t just waltz into the playoffs and expect the series win to be handed to you on a silver platter.  You have to earn it the hard way, and sometimes, that means you won’t sweep.  So, okay.  The first game is over, the jitters are gone, we’re comfortable in the Angels’ park now.  The Angels is throwing Jered Weaver tonight, but forget that.  Tonight, Josh Beckett makes his first postseason start of 2009.  He threw a bit the other day and says he feels great.  This is what I was talking about when I said I liked the Thursday schedule.  We lost yesterday, but we’ve got another chance right away to remember who we are.  And there’s no pitcher out there who can make you remember faster in the postseason than Josh Beckett.

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The wait is over.  Done.  Finished.  The winter has ended, the last game of Spring Training has been played, and ladies and gentlemen, we’re ready.  Tomorrow, say hello to your 2009 Boston Red Sox! Do I think we’ll win the World Series this year? Absolutely.  Did I also say that last year? Absolutely.  Hey, it’s all about believing.  And about swinging on a 2-2 pitch in the ninth inning of a championship series.  But let’s not get into that.  More importantly, Opening Day is our home opener against the Rays.  Josh Beckett will indeed be starting opposite James Shields, and we’re looking at Lester-Kazmir and Dice-K-Garza for the rest of the series.  As far as the lineup is concerned, we think it’ll be Ellsbury leading off, followed by Pedroia, followed by Papi.  Youk will most likely hit clean-up, followed by Drew, followed by Lowell and Bay, with Tek batting eighth and Jed Lowrie batting ninth.  It’s definitely a creative lineup, and I’m interested to see how it’ll work out.  I maybe would’ve had Pedroia lead off with Youk batting second, Drew batting third, and Papi batting cleanup, because we know from last year when Papi was sidelined by his wrist that Drew hit cleanup behind Manny and his numbers went through the roof.  Then I’d have Ellsbury bat fifth and Lowell bat sixth, keep Bay batting seventh, and have Lowrie bat eighth and Tek bat ninth.  We know from 2007 that Lowell’s got power, and when Ellsbury’s a good hitter with tons of speed, so we want to put him on and score him.  And we know he’s had trouble in the lead-off spot.  And if we put him on in addition to Bay and Lowell, Lowrie and his unusually high batting average with runners in scoring position will come to the plate and do damage.  And Tek ninth, because of all the usual reasons why you’d put someone in the Number 9 spot.  But either way, it’s a ridiculously potent lineup and we’ll be sure to wreak a lot of havoc.

Yes, Jed Lowrie will be starting at shortstop! Julio Lugo was placed on the fifteen-day DL, retroactive to March 27.  Same with John Smoltz and Mark Kotsay, whose roster spot is being filled by Chris Carter.  Not a bad substitute, if you ask me.

We have a verdict on our fifth starter: Brad Penny.  Clay Buchholz was roughed up on Tuesday against the Rays.  We went on to win it, but in about five innings of work he allowed six runs on nine hits, two of them home runs, with a walk.  So he’ll start the year in Pawtucket with only one minor league option left.  Justin Masterson will work in the bullpen this year as expected.  I still think it’s a waste, and I’ll probably keep saying that until he’s back to a starting role, but what can you do.  That’s where we need him most I guess.  He and Manny Delcarmen will be our multiple-inning guys, and since we don’t really have a designated “long man,” they’ll mostly likely work overtime to fill that void.

Fenway Park is ready to go for the new season.  All the renovations have been completed, and the park looks fantastic as usual.  I’m telling you, this ownership group has done wonders for Fenway.  Probably the most important improvement to the park is, you guessed it, the addition of more seats which, when it’s Fenway you’re talking about, is always something to smile about.  Fenway also gets a new frank; we partnered with Kayem Foods in a multi-year sponsorship and licensing agreement, and Kayem Foods will manufacture and sell its revamped Fenway Franks.  Let’s hope they get it right.

Finally, a word about the home stretch.  At the end of September we’re looking at one of the roughest schedules in the league.  We’ll be going into the playoffs after twenty consecutive games without a day off.  And those games are no walk in the park, either.  We’re talking Angels, Yankees, Jays, and Indians.  But that’s a long way off.  And we’re going to the playoffs, no doubt about that.  For now, I’m just psyched that the season’s finally here.  Can’t wait.  Seriously can’t wait.  Tomorrow will be the start of something huge.

In other news, the Bruins seem to be back on track with a six-game winning streak.  We have four games left in the regular season against the Senators, Habs, Sabres, and Islanders.  Let’s make them count, go into the playoffs with some momentum.  We’ve finally clinched the conference and are right back in the running for the Presidents’ trophy with 112 points, only one below the Sharks’ 113.  I’m just relieved to see that we’ve emerged from our bad spell, and we seem to be the better for it.  There’s only one thing left to do to finish a season as good as the one we’re having: Stanley Cup.  Bring it back.

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One more week of Spring Training and then it’s go time.  It’s going to be a good season for us.  I can feel it.  And this year our home opener is also our Opening Day.  Against the Rays.  It’s going to be epic.  I’m psyched.  Seriously.  We don’t have starters yet, but I venture to guess Josh Beckett will get the call.  We’ll see.  Anyway, a lot’s happened this past week.  First of all, on Monday Curt Schilling announced his retirement.  I read that and the first thing I experienced was relief.  I think he knew it was time for him to hang up his spikes, and I’m glad he retired with dignity.  The second thing I experienced was gratitude.  We owe him a lot.  He was one of the most dominant pitchers of our time, especially in the postseason, and we know that first-hand.  We continue to celebrate his achievements in October, and we’ll be forever thankful for what he did with our team in 2004 and 2007.  I don’t think we could’ve done it without him.  So here’s to you, Curt, for all your hard work and bloody socks and playoff gems.  Thanks from a city that’ll never forget, and we look forward to seeing you in the Hall of Fame!

Our pitching this season is looking pretty good.  Theo did a masterful job during the offseason.  In fact, it’s possible that our pitching staff is too deep.  We have five starting spots and the usual handful in the bullpen, so we might not have a regular place for everybody.  But that’s fine too; if someone gets hurt, we’ve got a man waiting in the wings.  Brad Penny made his Grapefruit League debut on Monday against the Tigers.  He pitched three innings; no hits, no runs, one walk, three K’s.  On Wednesday, Clay Buchholz pitched six innings against the Reds; one unearned run, only three hits, three K’s.  He even retired twelve batters in a row at one point.  I’m telling you, with every outing this spring he’s looking more and more like he did in ’07.  And let’s not forget that Masterson is still very much in the mix.  Last year he was primarily a reliever but, like I always say, that’s a waste because he’s starter material.  This season his fate seems to be closely tied to that of Penny.  If Penny isn’t ready to start, it’ll probably be Masterson who fills in.  So we know that we have one of the deepest staffs in the league.  We also know that we need another man in the rotation.  We’ll first need a fifth starter for the Angels game on April 12, and we have three pitchers who could conceivably fill that role well.  This should be interesting.

Dice-K returned to camp on Wednesday after having been named the Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic again.  So definitely congratulations to him.  And after his return, he got right back to throwing and didn’t miss a beat, which is a good sign.  What I’d like to see is him retaining his composure with runners in scoring position while improving his efficiency by cutting down on balls and walks.  As for the World Baseball Classic, it’s finally over.  The USA lost to Japan, 9-4, on Sunday, courtesy of Derek Jeter, whose fielding error cost us three runs.  Figures.  Anyway, Japan went on to win the finals.  And by the way, Jeter finished the night one for five.

Perhaps most uplifting, we’re getting healthy.  Dustin Pedroia played his second game since his left abdominal strain on Sunday and went two for three with a double.  Mikey Lowell hit his second home run of Spring Training in the first inning of that game, a powerful two-run shot.  Big Papi hit a double and scored a run on Lowell’s homer.  Even Chris Carter got in on the action, belting one out in the eighth.  Then on Monday, Youk played four innings in the field and had two at-bats, walking once.  Lowell was also in the lineup, marking his first set of consecutive games since his hip surgery.  In fact, he, Jason Bay, Chris Carter, and Ivan Ochoa homered consecutively.  It was beautiful.  Brought back memories of April 22, 2007, when we tied the Yankees at four the same way.  Of course, we went on to win that game, 7-6.  Dice-K started and got the win, and it was the third and final game of that series.  Our first sweep of the Yanks since the 1990s.  That was a great game.  Anyway, point being that Pedroia, Youk, Lowell, and Papi all looked smooth and comfortable, which is a great sign.  We just need JD Drew to find his rhythm and we’re in business.

The only downside to this health trend is that it includes Julio Lugo.  It’s been a little more than ten days since his knee surgery, so he’ll be returning to the lineup soon.  Not that I want him to stay injured.  I just want to see Lowrie start.  Or I want to see Lugo’s offense and defense undergo a drastic overhaul.  I don’t think we can afford to carry Lugo in the lineup, at least not for his speed, because we have Ellsbury.

Lastly, it seems that Mark Teixeira would like to be the “bad guy” in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.  That’s fine with me.  In fact, I say bring it.  The Yankees’ bad guys haven’t been doing a very good job.  Jeter hasn’t been making much of a dent in the scoreboard lately, A-Rod hasn’t been hitting in the clutch, and Johnny Damon’s average is dropping steadily.  Besides, we have more pitching than we know what to do with, and our lineup is coming together.  So I doubt that, in the long run, Mark Teixeira will prove to be much of a threat.  Besides, we have an offense of our own.  The Yankees may try to throw us a bad guy, but we come to the Yankees with a lineup full of bad guys.

So we’ve got a week left until the season starts.  I love this time of year.  The speculations, the predictions, the optimism, the clean slate, the opening of Fenway, the team’s return.  Eight more days until Opening Day, my friends.  Eight more days.  As always, it’s been a long winter, but the season is just around the corner.  And we’re ready.

In other news, the Bruins played two games this past week and won both.  We beat the Devils, 4-1, on Sunday and the Leafs, 7-5, yesterday.  So we enjoyed a nice break between those, and we’ll need the rest heading into the playoffs.  We have 104 points, third behind the Sharks’ 109 and the Red Wings’ 107.  We clinched our division.  We have eight games left in the season.  All we have to do is play steadily, conserve our energy, and go into the playoffs with some momentum.  This could be it.  I’ve said it all along, but seriously, this could be it.  This could be the year we win.

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That’s all, folks.  The regular season is over for the Boston Red Sox.  After all the injuries and trades and predictions and speculations, the second season is finally here.  And we’re in.  Granted, we’re not as solidly in as we’d like to be.  We had to get in with the Wild Card and the Yankees just took two of three from us, but nonetheless we’re in.  And we’re playing the Angels in the ALDS, something we’re very comfortable with.  So I say bring it on.  I want to see us turn it up and show the league what we’ve got.

We lost the first game of the double-header.  It was probably the only time this season that Dice-K’s Houdini routine backfired.  As usual he walked more than his fair share of batters but for some reason the Yankees finally figured out how to act with runners in scoring position.  But that was the least of our problems.  Jonathan Papelbon gave up three runs on four hits in the top of the ninth.  This is now how the best closer in the league should act.  And certainly not right before the playoffs.  That’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.  We’re going to need him in top form in October, and make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, that what we saw yesterday afternoon was not by any means his top form.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, I guess.  Anyway, the rest is history.  The final score was 6-2.

The nightcap was much more interesting.  Wakefield pitched five two-hit shutout innings, walked none, and struck out three.  Not a long outing, but definitely one of his more solid outings.  The problem lay in the relief.  Masterson came in and allowed a run on three hits.  Timlin actually pitched a perfect inning for once.  Aardsma came in and allowed two runs on three hits, strengthening the argument that he should be considered a last resort.  A glorified Craig Hansen, if you will.  And Hansack redeemed himself from his last outing with a perfect tenth inning.

RBIs for Carter and Van Every.  Two for Casey.  The only member of the lineup who had a multi-hit night was Alex Cora, who went two for four.  It was a real nailbiter.  It was tied at one until Sean Casey hit a single with the bases loaded in the eighth to score two runs.  Then the Yanks tied it back up in the top of the ninth, but we all know how it turned out.  The final score was 4-3, and it ended with a run in our half of the tenth inning.

I have to hand it to the Fenway Park grounds grew.  They worked really hard this weekend to keep everything in order and make sure the field is dry, so they definitely deserve a hearty “Thank you” for all of their good work.  Keep it up!

In other news, Mikey Lowell might not be playing in Game 1 of the ALDS, an oblique strain has moved Josh Beckett’s start to Game 3 in favor of Lester for Game 1, and JD Drew will be appearing in the postseason.  Dustin Pedroia will finish the season with a .326 bagging average, good for second in the American League.  But MVP is based on more than just stats, and he’s definitely the MVP in my book.  Johnny Pesky’s number was retired, making him the sixth Red Sox player to receive that honor.  His No. 6 now sits between Joe Cronin’s No. 2 and Yaz’s No. 8.  Congratulations to Mr. Red Sox!

Let’s face it: we’re always different in October.  In October, we get a second wind, and it’s all we need.  It’s almost like there’s some kind of reserve that we tap into in the postseason that makes our team have All-Star quality.  Even if we had a horrible season and only managed to snag the Wild Card by the skin of our teeth, we’d still be a formidable opponent because in October something just clicks.  That’s why it’s called Soxtober.  We own it.

The party starts on Wednesday at 10:00PM when Jon Lester takes on John Lackey on the West Coast.  Let’s go Red Sox!

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Our regular season is far from over.  The Red Sox aren’t the Angels.  We can’t just shut it down because we clinched.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the division or the Wild Card.  Either way, momentum is key.  Momentum is most definitely key.  The regular season is almost over, and we need to build on what we’ve done, get our rotation and the bullpen up to snuff, and get our guys healthy.  Otherwise it’ll be that much harder to get it done.

But last night’s win wasn’t a bad start for the work we’ve got to do.  We won it, 5-4, courtesy of Mark Kotsay, who doubled in the eighth inning to score Jeff Bailey.  That was actually Kotsay’s second RBI of the night, and he finished the night two for four.  Ortiz, Tek, and Chris Carter each batted in one, giving Carter his first career Major League RBI.  I’m surprised a talented kid like that took this long to get it.  MVP Dustin Pedroia had a fantastic night, going two for four with a run and a stolen base, his twentieth theft this season.  That means he’s now 20 for 21 in steals this season.  That’s unheard-of.  The MVP votes just cast themselves.

Drew was back in it last night.  He batted fifth, went one for two with a run, and made a fielding error.  Hey, at least he’s playing again.  We’re going to need his bat very soon.

The relief did an excellent job.  Timlin, Aardsma, and Delcarmen combined for four shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk and striking out two.  It’s good to see Aardsma have a decent outing.  Probably the only key player last night who didn’t perform especially well was the starter, Paul Byrd.  In five innings he managed to give up four runs on eleven hits.  On the bright side, he only walked one batter, didn’t give up any home runs, and fanned four, but giving up four runs on eleven hits isn’t going to cut it.  This isn’t Dice-K we’re talking about, who’s often at his best with runners in scoring position.  This isn’t Beckett or Lester, who’re usually guaranteed to get out of a jam.  And this isn’t Wakefield, who’s unpredictable enough as it is.  We acquired Byrd to provide the rotation with a reliable veteran who could give us quality innings.  Last night he gave us the innings but the quality wasn’t really there.  I’m telling you, right now he’s making it very easy to deny him a spot in the rotation in October.  October is the no-holds-barred second season, and I don’t think four runs on eleven hits qualifies as no-holds-barred.

In other news, the Rays are one win away from clinching the division.  I never thought I’d see this day.  And what gets me is that one of the only reasons why they’re so good this year is because they figured out how to get good pitching for less money.  So mostly it’s the pitchers.  And all through the season it just felt like the rest of the league was staring in disbelief and couldn’t quite figure them out.  And for us, a team that prides itself on its ability to adjust to pitchers, it should have been easier than for most.  But October really is the second season, and if there’s a time of year when we shine it’s definitely October.  Let’s make it ours.

AP Photo, Jim Davis/Boston Globe Staff

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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.

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