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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Davis’

Whoever was concerned that it took us thirteen innings just to lose a ballgame need fear no more.  Yesterday, the team showed us that it does not, in fact, need thirteen innings just to lose a ballgame.

The team needs seventeen.

You read right.  We played a seventeen-inning game yesterday that we eventually lost.  Think about that.  That’s basically like playing two baseball games in a row, like a doubleheader without a break in between, except that it’s only one game that you’re trying to hang on to by the skin of your teeth.  The whole thing lasted six hours and seven minutes.  It was the longest game we played since 2006.

So it was demoralizing enough that we couldn’t get the job done ourselves, that both our starter and our offense delivered performances sufficiently mediocre so as to put us in a situation that the game wasn’t won by the time nine innings ended.  And it was bad enough that we had to play extra innings at all, just two days after playing another extra-inning game, a game that we lost.  And perhaps it was even bad enough that the number of extra innings we had to play was truly astronomical to the point where, as I said, it amounted to a whole other ballgame in and of itself.  But on top of all of that, as if all of that weren’t bad enough, we had to go and lose it.

We just lost a seventeen-inning ballgame.  If we had any morale going into it, and honestly it didn’t really seem like there was much there to begin with, you can pretty much rest assured that we don’t have any anymore.

Just to put the outcome in perspective, it really is true that, if you’re going to identify a point at which the game was definitively lost, it isn’t really fair to say that the reliever that allowed the winning run lost it for us.  Because the reliever who allowed the winning run, and who therefore took the loss, was not a reliever.  It was Darnell McDonald.  If you’re going to play a seventeen-inning game, you’re going to run out of pitchers no matter who your manager is.  And at that point, Bobby V. was just looking for an arm to send out there regardless of who it belonged to.  There was nothing he could do.

As a result, acknowledgement must be given to the team’s ability to last that long.  I can’t believe we just played a seventeen-inning game; that’s beyond ridiculous.  I didn’t think I’d see something like that.  It was a marathon in every sense of the word.  Everyone was tired and exhausted beyond all capacity to deliver, and yet somehow we hung in there for one more inning, and the next inning, and then the next and the next and the next until something had to give, and that something was the roster of our bullpen.  That is to say, the bullpen itself was not at fault.  Rather, the bullpen was the only aspect of the team yesterday that shone; it and it alone was responsible for preserving the tie as long as it did.  It wasn’t its fault that, by the time its roster was exhausted, the offense still hadn’t done anything to win the game.

Now down to the technicalities of it.  As I said, if the point of loss is to be identified, it should be identified as the early goings, in which Buchholz yet again provided a sub-par showing.  He only lasted three and two-thirds innings and gave up five runs on seven hits, three of which were home runs, while walking four and striking out four.  In those innings alone, he somehow managed to throw eight-one pitches, forty-six of which were strikes.

Buchholz allowed a solo shot on the first, hit by the second batter he faced, JJ Hardy, on the fifth pitch he fired in total to start the game.  He had a seamless second featuring one walk and three strikeouts, which provided a teasingly good reason to believe that perhaps he was going to settle down.  But he returned to his disappointing self in the third, when he gave up another solo shot to Hardy.  He then gave up a three-run home run in the fourth and was taken out after he allowed two straight singles after that.  He is the first pitcher since Red Ruffing did it in 1925 to give up at least five earned runs in six straight starts.

The offense woke up in the bottom of the fourth, when Aviles doubled and scored on a single by Sweeney.  At that point we had only to score three more runs to tie it.  Instead, in the bottom of the fifth, we scored four.  Papi singled.  Ross singled.  Salty walked.  And then Middlebrooks, the call-up in response to Youk’s ailing back, absolutely smashed the first pitch he received in that at-bat.  It was a curveball.  It sailed over the Green Monster seats.  Not into the Green Monster seats.  Over the Green Monster seats, into Lansdowne Street.  Now that’s power.  Not only did Middlebrooks hit his first Major League home run, but he hit his first career grand slam.

At the time, it was exactly what we needed.  Not only did it give us a tie, but it also was a major shot in the arm regarding that oh-so-elusive morale we’ve been trying to find ever since the season started.  I mean, not only was it a kid’s first home run, but it was a grand slam! It seemed like the perfect thing to rejuvenate us.

Buchholz had been replaced by Miller, who finished the fourth and pitched a one-two-three, all-strikeout fifth.  Miller was replaced by Albers, who pitched the sixth and seventh.  Albers was replaced by Padilla, who allowed an RBI double in the eighth, which gave Baltimore a one-run lead.  We tied it back up that very same inning when Papi led it off with a double and scored on a sac fly by Salty.  It was the last run we’d score all night, and the game remained tied at six for eight more innings.

Padilla was replaced by Aceves, who pitched the ninth and tenth.  After allowing a single to start the eleventh, Aceves was replaced by Morales, who finished the eleventh and pitched the twelfth.  After allowing a single to start the thirteenth, Morales was replaced by Hill, who finished the thirteenth and pitched the fourteenth.  After allowing a walk to start the fifteenth, Hill was replaced by Atchison, who finished the fifteenth and pitched the sixteenth.

McDonald came on for the seventeenth and opened it with a walk to Wilson Betemit that was promptly erased when Salty caught him stealing second base.  But he then allowed a double and a walk followed by a home run of his own.

There were a few chances along the way for us to put it away that we didn’t convert.  With one out in the ninth, Aviles singled and tried to steal second, but the scenario couldn’t have played out any worse: Aviles was caught stealing right after Sweeney struck out.  Our best chance to put ourselves out of our misery was probably the sixteenth; with two out, Byrd reached on a fielding error and tried to score on a double by Aviles but was thrown out at home for what was an incredibly crushing moment, full of such promise one minute and the next minute evocative of what was to come the next inning.

Sweeney opened the bottom of the seventeenth with a single, and Pedroia followed with a walk.  So it was not inconceivable that we could have rallied.  Except for the fact that Gonzalez struck out and McDonald grounded into a double play.

So there you have it.  We played seventeen innings and hit sixteen hits, five of which were for extra bases.  We put up four multi-hit performances; Middlebrooks and Papi had two hits each, while Aviles had three and Sweeney had four.  Three members of the starting lineup, Aviles, Sweeney, and Gonzalez, had a game high of eight at-bats each.  We went two for nine with runners in scoring position.  We were caught stealing twice, turned six double plays, and made three errors (Salty made two of them, a fielding and a throwing error, and Middlebrooks made a throwing error).  We trotted out nine different pitchers, one of whom is not even a pitcher.  (To be fair, Baltimore’s winning pitcher was Chris Davis, who spiked Aaron Cook and who is not a pitcher either.)  For the first time ever, we had a cleanup hitter go 0 for 8 (in case you can’t guess, it was Gonzalez, who apparently offered Bobby V. to pitch if necessary). We lost, 9-6, and were swept by the Baltimore Orioles of all teams for the first time since 1994.  We finished our homestand with a record of one and five.

The most important thing that Doubront can possibly do today in Kansas City is eat up innings so that the bullpen doesn’t have to come out.  Considering that he has yet to pitch through the seventh inning in eight career starts, the bullpen is hoping he’ll step up and deliver.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew Lee
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After Sunday’s game, during which he tied a career high of 126 pitches thrown in a game, Beckett felt sore in his right lat.  Nobody said anything this week, and now everyone is blaming everyone else; Beckett is blaming himself, and Bobby V. is blaming McClure and the trainers.  Either way, this situation resulted in Aaron Cook starting yesterday afternoon.  To add to the intrigue, the only reason why Aaron Cook was even in one of our uniforms heading into yesterday’s game was because he did not exercise his opt-out clause, which was because, due to the Beckett situation, there indeed seemed to be a place for him on the roster.

In total, Cook gave up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits over only two and two-thirds innings.  His start was absolutely horrible in every conceivable way.

He retired the Orioles in order in the first, and after two straight singles in a second, Baltimore’s first run scored on a passed ball.

Now, that might not seem so bad, but trust me, it was awful.  Salty ran back to get the ball, so Cook came in to cover home.  Chris Davis was the baserunner coming in to score, and he and Cook slid into home plate at the same time, such that Cook’s knee landed right on one of Davis’s sole.  Cook took a spike to the knee.  The cut was so deep and so gross that Salty said he could actually see the interior of Cook’s leg.  I mean, the skin of his leg was just hanging there.  It really was ugly.

But here’s the amazing part.  Not only did Cook attempt to follow through with the play at home, but he showed hardly any outward signs of pain despite the fact that it must have been considerable (he was standing up freely while he was being checked out at home plate), and he even had it tied up so he could continue pitching.  Cook walked off the field freely and Mortensen was trotting out to the mound, but Bobby V. called him to the dugout.  Cook’s knee was tied so tightly that he couldn’t feel his leg, and it clearly interfered with his ability to provide work that was productive and effective (the medical staff cleared him to pitch, and Bobby V. left it up to him), and even though that’s what cost us the ballgame, I’d say he deserves a massive amount of points for being a dirt dog and a teammate and hanging in there.  He obviously did it, and even said this himself, because he wanted to give the bullpen a break after they worked overtime the previous night.  I can’t even begin to imagine what that takes.  That is a true competitor right there.  He waited so long to get back to the big show and he wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip through his fingers.  It was truly unbelievable.

Still, he had nothing after that.  Without the power of his leg, he had to rely almost exclusively on his arm.  He lost all control in the third inning, during which the Orioles sent ten batters to the plate and scored a grand total of seven runs.  The Orioles – yes, the Orioles – scored seven runs in a single inning.  That’s more than we’ve scored in whole games this year.

So here’s a breakdown of the whole ugly thing: a lineout, a single, a five-pitch walk, an RBI single, a two-run home run on a curveball, a double, another single, another RBI single, and a pitching change.  Mortensen relieved Cook and then gave up a three-run home run on the sixth pitch he fired.

Mortensen got out of the third and pitched the next three innings in shutout fashion; Atchison pitched the next three after that.  Meanwhile, the offense was in a sorry state because they were doing a whole lot of nothing yet again.  We put two runners on in the first but sent only the minimum to the plate in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.  We finally got on the board in the seventh; Papi led it off with a groundout, and then Gonzalez singled.  After a flyout by Aviles, Gonzalez came home on a double by Sweeney, who advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a single by Ross.  Salty then doubled to keep the rally going, but Byrd killed it by striking out swinging.  We put two runners on in the eighth for what looked like another rally that went on to be killed, and then we went down in order in the ninth, a fitting end to what was an utter failure by the offense to even come close to producing the necessary run support.  Believe me, it would have been possible to beat Baltimore even though they’ve scored eight runs.  We know that because we’ve all seen it happen.

But no.  Baltimore won, 8-2.  We posted eight hits, half of which were for extra bases, all of which were doubles.  Pedroia went two for four, and Gonzalez went three for four.  Punto, Papi, and Byrd all went hitless, although Papi did walk once, our only base on balls of the whole night.  Speaking of Punto, he lost his grip on his bat in the sixth, and it went into the stands and hit a young fan, who was taken to the hospital.  Obviously I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I wish Cook and the fan very speedy recoveries.

Reuters Photo

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Not really what I had in mind when I pictured the start of the second half.  To be honest, I pictured some sort of decisive slugfest, something that would resemble the start we wanted to the first half but didn’t get.  Instead, we lost by five runs.

Wakefield allowed seven of those runs, only six of which were earned, on eight hits in the grand total of two innings for which he lasted.  Six in the first on nine hits – three straight hits scored the first run and then six straight hits, culminating in a home run into the Monster ended it – and one in the third without recording an out.  No walks, two K’s, and a loss.  This was his shortest start since giving up seven runs in one and two-thirds in September 2008, also against the Rangers, interestingly enough.  And he was efficient.  He managed to allow all that damage with just thirty-four pitches, about thirty of which were knuckleballs.  He threw twenty-four of them in the first inning alone.  His release point wasn’t a point at all; it was more like a line, and he’d release somewhere on this line.  His horizontal and vertical movement were both off the charts.  It was clear that he didn’t have his usual control over the knuckleball; he left a few of them up.  Usually batters like to swing at the first pitch without really seeing it well, they make some sort of contact and put something on the ground for an easy out.  But somehow last night, as they did in September 2008, the Rangers not only swung at the first pitch but kept on swinging and put some hits together and got something going.  That was really the problem.  Wake didn’t issue any free passes; the ball was in the zone, and to be honest with you when the game started but before all the runs started scoring, it looked like he’d have it locked.  But it was strictly the hits that got him in trouble.  It’s rare to see that be a problem when he gets aggressive with the strike zone.

By the way, I would just like to say that I agree with Tito completely: Young struck out.  That was not a foul tip.  And we know this because after Young swung, he ran, which is what you do when you swing through a ball in that situation.  If he really fouled it, he wouldn’t have started running.  So it wasn’t a foul tip.  It was a strikeout.  A strikeout that would’ve ended the inning before another five runs scored.  A strikeout that may have resulted in a victory of 2-1.  I’m just saying.

The final score was 7-2.  The natural deduction from that is that the offense didn’t have it, either.  And that deduction would be correct.  Drew went deep in the fourth completely into the first row of the Monster seats.  It was awesome.  Of his now eleven home runs on the year, he’s now hit ten off of righties.  He unleashed a world of power on that ball and sent it to the opposite field.  High inside fastball.  Perfect timing, beautiful swing, the works.  He’d finish the night two for four, the only multihit game in the lineup.  Then Nava bounced a single off Kinsler’s glove, Cameron got hit by a pitch, and it looked like we were going somewhere.  Naturally, Hall had to fly to center and Cash had to fly to right after that, and the rally died.  In a valiant attempt to redeem himself, Hall clubbed a homer of his own completely over the Monster in his next at-bat in the seventh.  It barely stayed fair.  Also an inside fastball.  Also perfect timing, a beautiful swing, the works.  Also the only event of that half of the inning.

That was Hall’s theme of the night: make a mistake and then make up for it.  He made an error in the third when he failed to handle Hamilton’s grounder, but then he made a fantastic diving catch in the fifth to rob Molina of a line drive.  He’s historically been most comfortable at third, but this was his first start there this year.  Beltre sat out as a precautionary measure.  He’ll likely start tonight.  By the way, Hall has now gone deep when starting the entire outfield and half the infield: second and third.

Speaking of diving catches, Cameron had a nice one in center in the first to rob Davis of a base hit.

Meanwhile, the bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings.  It’s almost like they were collectively the starter, and Wake was the rogue reliever who ruined everything.  How the tables have turned.  Manuel, Richardson, Atchison, and Ramirez.  Four hits, four walks, two K’s.  What an effort.  This was one of the better outings of the bullpen this year.  What a shame.

Neither the Yankees nor Tampa Bay played yesterday, so we extend our deficit by half a game.  Again, not what I had in mind.  At all.  In order to get a good taste in our mouths and start this second half off right, we must win tonight.  That means the offense will have to ramp it up and give Doubront some run support.  And Doubront will have to ramp it up and give us a quality start.  All possible.  We just need to execute.

But I’ll tell you about another let-down.  The Boston Globe posted a poll asking whether we’ll make the playoffs, and most voters said no.  That’s just terrible.  The Royal Rooters would be very displeased.  Not only are we Red Sox Nation and therefore must believe and keep the faith, but we also need to keep in mind that once the regulars return to the lineup, we’ll be able to inflict untold damage on the rest of the league.  We saw proof of that when we battled our way to within a game of first.  It’s possible.  We can do it.  We’ve seen it.  The second half just started only last night; let’s wait and see what happens when it really gets underway.

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