Posts Tagged ‘CJ Wilson’

Papi and Gonzalez went head-to-head in the Home Run Derby, but neither of them walked away with the trophy.  Papi actually didn’t do so well; he hit five dingers in the first round and four in the semifinals, so he was eliminated and never made it to the finals.  Gonzalez hit nine dingers in the first round, eleven in the semifinals, and tied a derby record of eleven in the final round that Papi set last year when he won the derby with thirty-two total.  It looked like the stage was set for a victory.  Even the park was cooperating; Gonzalez has only hit more home runs at his former home park in San Diego.  But Robinson Cano hit eight, twelve, and set a new derby record with twelve in the final round and therefore managed to beat him by one.  One! That is frustrating.

As far as the All-Star Game is concerned, that didn’t have a great outcome either.  The American League lost, 5-1.  I mean, come on.  If we have to lose, at least put up a fight.  At least lose by only one run or, even better, tie it and force extras and rise to the occasion.  That’s what the National League has been doing for the past few All-Star Games.  The American league went two for five with runners in scoring position; the National League went three for eight.  The American League left six men on base; the National League left three.  The American League had six hits; the National League had nine.  The difference-maker was Prince Fielder’s three-run shot in the fourth; CJ Wilson gave that up.  After that, there was an RBI single in the fifth and an RBI double in the seventh.

We had nothing to do with that.  Beckett ended up pulling out due to soreness in his left knee.  He says it’s a minor thing and expects to start Sunday.  It takes a big man and an even bigger team player to pull out of the All-Star Game so he can make his scheduled start with his team.

In two at-bats, Ellsbury struck out twice.  In one at-bat, Youk singled.  In two at-bats, Papi struck out once.  Gonzalez was a different story.  Adrian Gonzalez is the reason why the American League wasn’t shut out.  He went yard off of Cliff Lee on the second pitch of his first at-bat of the game with two out in the fourth inning, a cut fastball.  It was a hugely powerful swing that ended up in the first few rows of seats in right center field.  It was the first home run hit in an All-Star Game since JD Drew’s blast in 2008.  It’s funny; that home run didn’t make the American League win the game, so if he’d hit it in the derby instead of in the game, he would’ve forced a tiebreaker with Cano and maybe carried home the trophy after all.

Well, it’s not like we didn’t try to secure home field advantage for ourselves.  It just goes to show you that, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.  I can’t speak for anyone else.  None of our pitchers played in the game so the National League’s runs were not our fault.  Did I expect our guys to make a bigger impact at the plate? Yes, but I also expected everyone else on the team to chip in.  After all, it is the All-Star Game.  All-stars appear in All-Star Games because they’re supposed to be the best of the best.  I guess that goes for both sides, but if it’s the American League versus the National League, the American League should at least be giving the National League a run for its money every time.  Well, I guess come October we’ll just have to boost our away game.  But you have to get there first.  Let’s see what happens in the second half.

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Opening Day is today! We made it! Finally! These next few hours of waiting are going to be tough, but after that long, cold, hard winter, baseball is finally here! Too bad we have to spend Opening Day in Texas, though.  We’ll be waiting another week for our home opener against the Yanks on April 8.  Meanwhile, we’ve got some decimating to do.  This season is going to be epic; I can feel it.  So we should start it on an appropriately epic note.  Lester has the ball.  Hopefully the start of his April badness will be sufficiently delayed so as to win us this one.  We’re facing Wilson.  Wilson is a southpaw, so Drew is sitting in favor of Cameron, and Youk and Gonzalez are switching places in the order.  So it’ll be Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Youk, Gonzalez, Papi, Cameron, Salty, and Scutaro.  That’s not the lineup we’ll be using for most of our games, but it’s one that’ll give us a good indication already of what we can expect.

Here’s the last of Spring Training.  The Orioles beat us on Sunday, 4-3.  Drew hit a two-run shot, Matt Albers allowed a run, and Papi was hit in the foot but appears to be fine.  Meanwhile, Lester made his final start of spring in a game against our minor leaguers.  He gave up five runs, four earned, on nine hits while walking none and striking out five over five innings.  Fifty of his seventy-seven pitches were strikes.  And that is absolutely no indication whatsoever of how this afternoon will go.

Lackey pitched a simulated game of sorts on Monday with Salty; the weather was iffy, so Tito didn’t bring him along to play the Jays.  The game was played, though, and we won, 3-2.

Our last game ever at City of Palms Park was totally anticlimactic.  We tied the Rays, 1-1, on Tuesday courtesy of Adrian Gonzalez’s solo shot.  Buchholz allowed one run on one hit over four innings with two walks and three strikeouts.  Forty-four of his seventy-eight pitches were strikes.  It was our fifteenth sellout in sixteen games this spring and the conclusion of our nineteenth Spring Training in that park.  You could say that many of our future stars and both of our championships were made there.  So here’s to City of Palms Park, the Fenway of spring.

The bullpen competition is officially over: Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes are in, and Alfredo Aceves and Okajima are out.  They’ve been optioned to Pawtucket.  Interestingly, that wouldn’t have been an option for Albers or Reyes; they don’t have options and would have had to clear waivers, which probably would have meant that we wouldn’t have been able to keep them.  Either way, it’ll be strange having Okajima in the organization but not on the roster.  Although of the other two are better, the other two are better, and that’s that.  So the twenty-five-man roster is officially set.  Lowrie is our infield utility man, and Cameron is our outfield utility man; those were really the only other question marks, and I don’t think the answers are that surprising.  Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got ourselves a ball club!

So that’s it.  There’s nothing more we can do to prepare.  We’re ready.  We’re set.  And we’re going all the way to Soxtober this year.  It’s going to be epic.  Other than that, there’s nothing more to say.  I repeat: Opening Day has finally arrived! I’m so psyched, I can’t even believe it.  For all intents and purposes, we are about to witness the start of a championship season.  I am so ready.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Flyers, shut out the Blackhawks, and lost to the Leafs in overtime.  Oh, and we clinched a playoff spot.  No big deal.  All in a day’s work for us this year.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene

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Yesterday’s game was one of those games where we lost but there were enough good things that happened for us to not get too down about it.  That’s always strange.  You would think that if enough good things happened in a game, we’d just win it, and we almost did, but then we didn’t.  In short, the good was Dice-K, and the bad were the bullpen and CJ Wilson.

Dice-K was absolutely excellent.  He lasted six and two-thirds innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, walked none, and struck out eight, but he wasn’t really as bad as all that.  He needed 115 pitches to do it, seventy-four of which were strikes.  In fact, he earned the five hundredth strikeout of his career in the fifth when Blanco swung through.  Blanco’s strikeout was actually the middle of three consecutive K’s.  Six of his strikeouts were swinging; two were looking.  All of his pitches were excellent, his movement was excellent, his strike zone was excellent, and I’ve never seen him get rid of the ball faster.  He was feeling the one-hundred-plus-degree heat and wanted to get out.  It was unbearable.  It was so hot that some fans opened their umbrellas.  So maybe Dice-K should just work this quickly from now on.  And this might surprise you, but this is actually Dice-K’s first loss in eight starts since he lost to the Rays on June 30.  During those eight starts, he was 3-0 with a 3.53 ERA and constantly improving.  It was the fourth time this season he didn’t walk anybody.

Salty also gets points for his work behind the dish.  In the beginning of the game, Dice-K’s fastball and cutter were absolutely terrible.  But his slider was good, so Salty picked up on that quickly and called for it.

Dice-K finally hit serious trouble in the seventh.  He opened the inning by allowing an RBI single and left with two out and two on.  It was Delcarmen who gave up a three-run homer, allowing his inherited runners to score and giving Dice-K what looks like a mediocre line.

Meanwhile, the offense was busy not doing much of anything.  We didn’t score a single run until the eighth, when we rallied and scored three on three consecutive hits.  Scutaro doubled in Patterson and McDonald sent himself and Scutaro home with a long ball to right.  But Richardson and Bowden each allowed two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, and we couldn’t come back from that, so the final score was 7-3, and that was it.

We were five and five on this road trip.  We’re six games out of first and five games out of the Wild Card with forty-three games left to play.  And just in time, we’re getting Pedroia back on Tuesday.  Win or lose, every game that goes by makes the next one more important because we’re running out of time.  We can get there.  Our rotation is excellent and our lineup, when on, is absolutely no slouch.  So we can do it.  We just need to get on a roll and not have the roll stop if we lose one game.  We’re going home to take on the Angels, which should help.  Buchholz will start the series opposite Jered Weaver.  I’m looking forward to this.

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It’s official: Lester is back to his old dominant self again.  He rolled right over the Texas lineup like it was his job.  Oh, wait; it is his job, and he did it extremely well.  Seeing Lester turn in an outing like the one he completed last night just makes you forget what he even looked like during his slump.  It’s almost like that was a completely different Lester.  Either way, he won, and he was awesome and tough as nails, so let’s talk about it.

He turned in eight full shutout innings.  He was rock-solid, he gave the bullpen a break, and he made the Texas Rangers of 2010 look like the Texas Rangers of 2009.  He allowed a grand total of five hits while striking out five and walking nobody.  So basically, take away those five hits and add on an extra inning and he’s got himself a perfect game.  And he did all of it with 109 pitches, sixty-six of which were strikes, twelve of which were swinging.  He also had a very nice pickoff.  His cut fastball was unhittable, all of his sinkers were thrown for strikes, and his changeup was fantastic.  He only got into trouble once and escaped completely unscathed.  In the seventh, when the score was 1-0 us, Cruz hit a triple with one out.  And it was perfectly clear that Murphy had to be gotten out.  That was non-negotiable.  So he got Murphy to ground out to first and Cantu to ground out to second.  And he finished that inning with eleven pitches, seven less than his highest inning total, which was eighteen.

And he made all of it look easy when in fact it wasn’t in the least.  First of all, the temperature outside was 102 degrees.  It was the second hottest night in seventeen years down there.  That’s obscene.  And he was battling nausea.  Nobody should be playing baseball under those circumstances.  Nobody should be able to play baseball under those circumstances.  But if anyone can do it, Lester most certainly can, and he most certainly did.

So he defeated two division leaders with two consecutive shutout starts.  And he celebrated by buying some cowboy boots; obviously Beckett and Lackey approved.  Lester absolutely earned and deserved that win.  His thirteen wins re-ties him with Buchholz for the team lead and places both of them behind three pitchers who are first in that category in the American League and one who’s second.

Meanwhile, Kalish led off the fifth with a single, moved to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a single by Scutaro, and scored on a single by Drew.  We didn’t score again until the ninth, snapping O’Day’s twenty-six-plus-inning shutout streak, when Hall hit an RBI single and Scutaro hit a sac fly that ended up landing him at first when Borbon dropped it.

Kalish finished the night two for three, and Hall finished the night two for four with a steal.  Lowell hit a double.  In total, we collected ten hits.  Nice.

Both Bard and Paps were unavailable, so Atchison got a hold and Doubront made a pretty creative save.  Atchison came out after recording an out and allowing a home run, bringing the score to 3-1.  Guerrero was dancing at first base, so Doubront let loose a fastball very quickly to V-Mart, who then caught Guerrero stealing.  Doubront then struck out Moreland looking, revealing remarkable composure beyond his years.  I’m telling you, that kid is destined for greatness.  That score then became final.  And we won.  Plain and simple.

And hopefuly we’ll do it again this afternoon.  Dice-K will start opposite Wilson.  Dice-K has definitely become more consistent lately, so technically we can breathe easily when we see him penciled in, which is always good.  Especially because we need to win this series.  So let’s do it.

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You might be inclined to say that we knew it couldn’t last forever, but the truth of the matter is that we didn’t know that.  The beauty of winning streaks is that you have no idea how long they’ll keep up, and we were most definitely hoping that this one would be more than two games long.  Although winning the series isn’t bad, and in the face of what we’ve been going through, we’ll take that too.  Think about it: if a team were to win every single series through the entire season, it would be in fantastic shape.  My concern about this particular loss is its potential to slide us back into our rut.  So you can imagine the comfort I experienced when I realized that we’re hosting Baltimore next.  I mean, they’re two and fourteen.  Nothing like a beat-down of bad team to get your confidence back and your juices flowing.

The final score was 0-3; Buchholz turned in a solid outing.  It’s a real shame that the offense handed him a loss.  He was one out shy of a full seven and gave up three runs on six hits with one walk and ten K’s.  Ten.  You don’t think of him as a strikeout pitcher, but ten, my friends, is the most strikeouts we’ve had in a game from a starter so far this year, and that excludes Schoeneweis’s strikeout.  (He and Ramirez turned in good work.) For him, that’s definitely a career high.  He also threw 114 pitches, which is up there for him.  About sixty-seven percent of those pitches were strikes.  He chiefly used his four-seam, his changeup, and his slider; he threw seven curveballs, which was his least effective pitch, but he still threw about half of them for strikes.  He was on.  He topped out at ninety-seven miles per hour, and all of his breaks were sharp.  And what’s even more impressive is that his strike zone was more or less even.  He stayed away from the upper right and lower left corners, but other than that his locations were evenly distributed, which shows that he mixed his pitches effectively and executed them precisely.  I’m telling you, it’s a pleasure to watch an artful off-speed pitcher work, and last night effectively proved that he is going to be one serious master.

So Buchholz had a stellar outing; CJ Wilson just had a better one.  He was matching Wilson, scoreless inning for scoreless inning through six.  Then came the seventh, and a single, double, and bunt single later, we were down by three and wouldn’t come back up.  On the bright side, they scored their runs via small ball, so even then it wasn’t like he was easy to hit.

We almost answered in the bottom of that inning; V-Mart and Beltre both singled before McDonald stepped up to the plate, and from what we’ve seen of him so far, we had every right to expect that he would deliver and tie it up.  He didn’t.  Should Tito have gone to a lefty? Not when the righty is hotter.

Now we have the full picture on Ellsbury: he’s got a hairline fracture in four of his left ribs.  Ouch, and thankfully it’s not worse.   So now it’s not so likely he’ll be back by Tuesday.  The important thing is that, when he comes back, he’s healthy.

Even though we lost, there was something different about this one than about the others.  In the other losses, you could clearly fault our offense for not generating good at-bats.  Last night, you could clearly fault Wilson.  Of course, you want your team to do well against any pitcher, but there’s a difference between simply not hitting and not hitting because the pitcher is on.  If it’s just you, it’s just you, but when a pitcher is on, any time would not hit.  I mean, we had no extra-base hits whatsoever.  We had two fielding errors, one by Beltre and one by Buchholz, but that was it.  The only multi-hit game in the lineup belonged to V-Mart, who went two for three with a walk.

Lester takes the hill tonight, and if there’s any game he’s wanted to win so far this season, it’s this one.  Because we’re playing Baltimore and for most pitchers it would be virtually impossible to lose.  Of course, Guthrie’s starting so the offense will have to hold up its end of the bargain, which is why, as I said, this is the game that will really tell us whether we’re officially out of our rut.  If we swing the bats well, it means the loss hasn’t phased us and we’re on more solid footing.  If we don’t swing the bats well (and not because Guthrie happens to be having the outing of his life), it means it’s going to be a longer April than we thought.  Let’s all hope for the former.  I myself am optimistic.  Let’s get this done.

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