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Posts Tagged ‘Claude Julien’

What can I say? Camden Yards is basically our home away from home.  If you’re the Red Sox and you have to go on the road, you want to start the trip at Camden Yards with some wins and some encouragement from Red Sox Nation.  It’s sad that the Birds have fallen from glory.  It used to be that the Yankees’ big rivalry was with Baltimore and not with us because Baltimore was actually really good.  But that fall from glory isn’t as sad as their performance in this day and age.  Bottom of the pile in the American League East, can’t buy a win, and don’t even have the support of their own fan base when we’re in town because Red Sox fans flood the stands.  It’s like being at Fenway.  Good for us, but quite sad for the Orioles, I’d say.

That first paragraph would be very out-of-place without a win.  Turns out there was a win.  3-1, thanks to Buchholz, Kotchman, Bay, and Ellsbury.  Buchholz had a terrific night, working six innings and relinquishing just one run on five hits with three walks and a strike out.  That one run was Luke Scott’s long ball with two out in the second.  It happens.  But it’ll be interesting to see Buchholz’s strikeout count progress in the long run.  Right now he doesn’t record many strikeouts per game, because he relies heavily on off-speeds, which usually induce outs not of the K variety.  But as he gets older, he may discover more power on his fastball, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll use that and incorporate it into his already remarkable mix of pitches.

Bard, Okajima, and Papelbon got a hold, a hold, and a save, respectively.  No incidents to report.  Finally.  Three no-hit innings that would’ve been perfect if Bard didn’t allow that walk.  So aside from a very gratifying sense of satisfaction, nothing to say about an impeccable performance like that.  I will say that it was a breath of fresh air after what we’ve seen from the ‘pen over the past few days.

Kotchman singled to left to score Bay in the second.  Bay hit an absolutely fantastic home run to lead off the fourth (ever notice how a lot of our home runs lately are lead-offs?).  He was all over it.  Perfect swing, perfect trajectory, perfect result.  Perfect.  And Ellsbury singled to left to score Reddick in the sixth.

Ellsbury and V-Mart both went two for five; Kotchman went three for four.  Ellsbury stole second.  Pedroia almost scored in the third on a hard-hit double by V-Mart, but he was out at the plate.  A valiant effort, though.  I mean, he was hustling, and that’s really what we love about Dustin Pedroia the dirt dog.  Youk was back in the lineup last night.  He went hitless but ran in to gather up a grounder and fire to first to get Melvin Mora out in the fourth, which was good because you need to be pretty healthy to make a play like that, so it appears that Youk will be fine.

Wakefield is officially scheduled to pitch Monday! I hope all goes well.  I know the rest of the rotation is rooting for him; they could use the extra day off.  The Angels’ coaches will be fined for bad deportment following Wednesday’s win, which they view as controversial.

So as usual, we beat the O’s.  Also as usual, Clay Buchholz got that win.  And for the third and final “as usual,” we discuss the Red Sox’s annual rookie hazing ritual, which involves the rookies dressing up in altogether hilarious costumes.  This year’s theme? “The Wizard of Oz.” Junichi Tazawa was Dorothy, Josh Reddick was Glinda, Dusty Brown was the Scarecrow, Daniel Bard was the Cowardly Lion, Michael Bowden was the Tin Man, and Jed Lowrie was the Wicked Witch of the West.  (This is actually Lowrie’s second time around because he hasn’t completed a full Major League season yet; last year he dressed up as a character from “High School Musical.”) All in all, it was a great day.  Tonight should be even better.  Something tells me a Lester-at-David-Hernandez matchup will be a very good game to watch.

In other news, we traded Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs for two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick in 2010 and a first-round pick in 2011.  Can’t say I didn’t see it coming, and to be honest with you, at this point I don’t think I’d want him in a Bruins uniform this season.  His head wouldn’t be in the right place after all that’s happened, and so it wouldn’t be fair to him or the team.  He didn’t even want to come back; he didn’t particularly like Claude Julien’s approach.  Besides, the Leafs gave him $27 million for five years.  For us to match that, we probably would’ve had to either send down or trade Michael Ryder and Andrew Ference.  So good luck to him in Toronto.  I know he’ll be great there.  He’d be great anywhere.  That’s the unfortunate part.  If only it had worked out, right? But that’s the downside of a salary cap.  Kessel was asking for a lot of money, so Peter Chiarelli had a choice: he could sign him, or he could sign all of our other young guys who were free agents, not to mention all of the guys who’ll be free agents after this season.  He chose the latter, which was wise I think, because having one Phil Kessel won’t do much for you if you don’t also have a David Krejci and a Matt Hunwick, for example, to support him.  But he’s got his own work to do.  He may be great in Toronto, but it’ll have to be without Milan Lucic creating space and without Marc Savard sending him pinpoint passes.

AP Photo
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Paul Byrd has had two starts this year.  One was pure gold, and the other was just so much scrap.  So which one was the real Paul Byrd and which is the fluke? It’s hard to tell with only two outings.  On the one hand, maybe that initial adrenaline rush made him pitch better than usual.  On the other hand, maybe anxiety made him pitch worse than usual.  Either way, he’s got some serious apologizing to do to the bullpen after leaving the game only two and a third innings into it.  But he had to get out.  There was no way he was staying in.  Seven runs on ten hits with no walks, three K’s, and an extremely ironic two-run shot by Mark Kotsay later, Junichi Tazawa found himself on the mound preparing for a long night.

And when I say long I mean long, because Tazawa didn’t do much to limit the damage.  In three and two-thirds innings, he gave up five runs on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout.  Delcarmen needed twenty-nine pitches to take care of the seventh, and Saito needed nineteen.  It wasn’t a good night.  At all.

Incidentally, I wonder what our winning percentage is for games during which the starter leaves before the fifth inning.  We have the best bullpen in the Major Leagues, so it has to be higher than most teams, but it’s very difficult to win those.  We should be very thankful for Tazawa, though.  Yes, we lost and he was a reason why, but he also ate up innings.  This loss would have been so much worse in the long run had we gone to the bullpen proper instead of to a starter-by-trade.  For example, if Justin Masterson were still here, this is exactly the kind of situation in which we’d use him.

The offense, essentially, did absolutely nothing.  It was ridiculous.  Every member of the starting nine, with the exception of Alex Gonzalez, was gone by the time the game was over.  They were all replaced by the B team and callups.  Pedroia, Green, V-Mart, Youk, Ortiz, Gathright, Drew, Kottaras, and Gonzalez each had hits.  With the exception of Kottaras’s, which was a double, none of them were for extra bases.  We batted .333 with runners in scoring position, but that was because we only had three such chances and made good on one of them.  Youk singled to center field to plate Pedroia, and Kottaras doubled in Gathright.  End of story.  Oh, and Green made a throwing error.

Ozzie Guillen had a lot of praise for Youk and Pedroia.  Ironic this praize came after we lost.  But then, it’s Ozzie Guillen.  You never know.  Mikey Lowell says it’s hard not playing everyday, and I believe him.  He’s a starter by trade.  He wants to be out there, but he can’t so often anymore because of his hip.  Still, since the All-Star break he’s hitting .339 with six home runs and twenty-six RBIs, coupled with a .389 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging percentage.  Since Tazawa is unavailable, we’re calling up Michael Bowden for today’s start, just in case Wakefield has to make an early exit.

The final score was 12-2.  So we scored once in the fourth and once in the ninth.  They scored twice in the second, five times in the third, and five times in the fourth.  This loss was infuriating but not as worrisome as its ramifications.  And when I say ramifications, I’m referring to its impact on the bullpen, its effects on the starting rotation, its alterations of both the Wild Card and division standings, and its impact on the team’s morale.  Any way you look at them, lopsided scores are never good.  There’s never a silver lining.  There may be a silver lining to how you deal with them at the time, like putting a pitcher in to eat innings in an effort to save arms and substituting for your starters to give them some rest, but there’s never a bright side to the outcome.  With the possible exception of identifying areas of improvement, but that happens after every game.  The only thing we can do after a game like this is move on and hope the team does the same.  Tim Wakefield will be leading that charge this afternoon opposite Gavin Floyd.  And I really hope this goes right.

In other news, Peter Chiarelli announced an extension of Claude Julien’s contract.  Well done.  In his first two season as head coach, Julien took us from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to the top, with playoff appearances after both season.  Last year was our first Eastern Conference Semifinal appearance since 1999.  That says something.  All we have to do is lock up Kessel, and we’ll be all set!

AP Photo

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That was the most infuriating regular season loss I have ever experienced.  It was completely unjust.  It was completely unfair.  And I will even be so bold as to make the claim that it was completely improbably; the Marlins just got excruciatingly lucky.  Lucky that Nolasco was on and that then we didn’t get a chance to demolish their bullpen.  After five and a half innings of play, the score of 2-1 in favor of the Marlins became official, and rain stopped play for the rest of the night.  They called the game.  Baseball is the only sport where you don’t have to finish a game for the score to be set down in the record books.  That makes sense when we’re slaughtering the Twins, 10-1.  That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever when we’re playing a bad National League team at home and we’re losing by a run at the halfway mark.  In what alternate universe could that possibly be presented in a logical light? I have no idea, and quite frankly I have no desire to find out.

Lester pitched five, gave up two runs on eight hits, walked none, and struck out four.  The two runs came on two long balls, one to Uggla and one to Ronny Paulino.  He just didn’t keep the ball down in the zone on those pitches.  His strength is that deadly cut fastball, and those fastballs didn’t do much of anything.

Youk hit a huge solo shot in the first.  Landed in the Monster.  I’m telling you, it’s impossible to throw a fastball by this man.  He may be in a bit of a slump now but he’ll come out of it.  Besides, he still walks, so even though his average may be taking a bit of a dip, his on-base percentage is still through the roof.  That’s all we were able to do before we were rudely interrupted by the rain and subsequently told to take a loss we probably didn’t deserve.  I firmly believe that, given more time, we had a very legitimate chance of limiting the Marlins to two runs while scoring more ourselves.

Dustin Pedroia lost an RBI from Chien-Ming Wang’s start in the Yankees series.  Major League Baseball decided to make it an error on Swisher instead of a ground-rule double.  Speaking of Pedroia, his slump is over.  Not that it was actually going to last.  And David Ortiz moved up from sixth to fifth in the batting order.  That’s a good sign.  That’s a very good sign.

So, yeah.  We lost the series finale to the Marlins.  Whatever.  It’s done, it’s over, onward and forward to the Braves.  Kenshin Kawakami at countryman Dice-K.  If Dice-K can just keep us in it, we’ll find a way to win this one.  Besides, it’s about time he had himself another win.  The man is one and four.  Our second starter is one and four.  That needs to change.  He hasn’t been solid, but once he finds his groove and establishes a rhythm for the season, we’ll be good to go.  But I’ll say this.  No matter how badly we play, and no matter how we lose, why we lose, or who we lose to, we can take comfort in the fact that we are not the New York Yankees, who just dropped two games to the Washington Nationals, worst team in baseball.  Although, technically, for just this series, that is now no longer true.  At least for this series, the Yankees are, technically and by the numbers, the worst team in baseball.  And that is most definitely something to smile about.

In other news, the Bruins cleaned up at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas last night.  Tim Thomas won the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the best goaltender.  Zdeno Chara, with the fourth most goals and twelfth most points among defenders, won the Norris Trophy, awarded to the best defenseman.  Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez both won the William Jennings Trophy for each having played a minimum of twenty-five games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it.  And finally, last but most certainly not least, Claude Julien won the Jack Adams Award, given to the coach of the year.  Congratulations to the boys in black ‘n’ gold! They most definitely earned it.  Why they couldn’t add the Stanley Cup to that list is completely beyond me.  Just sayin’.  They’re obviously capable, but in Boston if there’s one thing we know, it’s that sometimes these things just happen.

Tubsolution

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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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