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Posts Tagged ‘Cole Hamels’

See, that’s what we should have been doing the last few days, not just yesterday.  Winning.  Winning was what we should have been doing.  Okay, so we lost the series to the Phillies.  That’s not good.  But at least we weren’t swept.  Like I said, at this point, for some sad, strange reason, we’ll have to take what we can get and be happy with it, and right now I’m just happy we didn’t lose.  Yeah, that’s pathetic, but what can you do.  We’ll come around.  Meanwhile, at least we preserved some dignity.

We won, 5-2.  Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that we out-hit the Phillies, 13-4.  If only that were the final score, too.  But a win is a win, no matter how many runs you score.  I just would have really liked a slugfest in order to leave the Phillies with a taste in their mouths that’s extra-bad and easy to remember.

Lester was absolutely masterful.  He finally secured a well-earned tenth win.  He fired off seven shutout innings of two-hit ball like it was no big deal.  He sent down twelve of his first fourteen hitters.  He walked two, struck out five, and needed 120 pitches to do it.  Clearly he was massively inefficient.  His cut fastball was as sharp as ever, but his off-speed pitches were a bit lacking.  More affective than that was the fact that the Phillies made him work; it took him twenty-five pitches to get out of the seventh inning alone, and he never threw under ten pitches in a single frame.  He had to earn that win.  But he did.  And we needed it very badly.

Jenks was the one who allowed the runs.  Bard finished the eighth, and Jenks came on for the ninth.  He allowed two runs and left in favor of Paps, who found himself in a save situation and came through.

We didn’t get on the board until Cole Hamels was taken out due to an injury he sustained when Gonzalez hit a line drive off of Hamels’s right hand in the fourth.  Ouch.  Reddick tripled and scored on a single by Sutton, who scored on a single by Ellsbury.  That was it until Tek unleashed in the very next inning on a hanging slider, sending it out of the park and into the first few rows in right field.  But he was just getting started.  In the eighth, Pedroia and Tek hit back-to-back jacks.  These last two were hit on fastballs; all three were hit to the same location.  So of the team’s four extra-base hits, three were homers, and all four led directly to scoring.  We left eight on base and went two for eight with runners in scoring position.  But that’s the thing about home runs.  It doesn’t matter who’s in scoring position; you score anyway.  And the fact that the captain went yard twice made it all the better.

This was a much-needed win if I’ve ever seen one.  Every win of ours this days is much-needed.  It makes you wonder what might be in store as the trade deadline approaches, although we all know that thankfully Theo would never do anything rash.  It’s just like I said in the beginning of the season: we need to get on a permanent hot streak and then we’re set.  One good, long, continuous groove and it’s smooth sailing all the way to the World Series.  Hopefully that’ll start tomorrow with the Astros.

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I predicted about ten days ago that we might find ourselves in first place about ten days later.  I am so psyched to say that I was absolutely right.  The key word in that prediction of course being “might,” because we’re currently tied with the Rays for second, only half a game out! Unfortunately, New York currently occupies the top spot, the key word there of course being “currently.”

We played some excellent baseball all around.  We’ve played better and better baseball every day.  The pitchers and offense lit it up.  Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to point out to all the naysayers out there that they were so incredibly wrong, it’s not even funny.  In Boston, you really do have to keep the faith.  Because, one game at a time, it all works out.

Okay.  Let’s finish up the series with Cleveland and then start with the series against the Phillies.  We ended up splitting with the Tribe; the lack of win rests squarely on the shoulders of Bard.  With two out in the ninth, Beltre smacked a two-run shot, but Bard blew his save.  It was disgusting.  We had the W in the back, and he lost it completely.  As for the Phillies series, we won it.  We whipped them completely in the first two and barely lost the last game, kicking the three games off right by handing Jamie Moyer what was probably the absolute worst start of his entire Major League career.  It was glorious.  Moyer hasn’t recorded at most three outs since 1998; we got him for nine runs before he left in the second.  Fantastic.  It’s time that dude realizes he’s forty-seven years old.  A season high eight doubles, and Lackey was on the ball; a full seven innings of two-run, no-walk ball.  Lowell hit his second home run of the season in that 12-2 victory.  The second game featured the Major League debut of Daniel Nava, an undrafted prospect from an independent league.  He steps up to the plate and crushes the first pitch of his Major League career out of the park for a grand slam.  He’s the fourth player to hit a grand slam in his first at-bat and the second to do so on his first pitch.  That was one of the most beautiful swings I’ve ever seen.  Pure gold.  Right into the bullpen.  That kid deserved it.  It was one of those moments that galvanizes an entire team.  We all needed it.  So here’s to you, Nava; congratulations and more to come! The third game was lost in the fourth, when Wake gave up four runs.  I guess Fenway really is one of Hamels’s top three favorite ballparks.  I guess I can’t really blame him, though.

Then the D-Backs came to town, and we swept them right out.  While the Drew brothers got reacquainted, Buchholz plowed through mediocrity to earn the win in the first game.  He notched eight K’s, tying his season high, but couldn’t finish the sixth inning.  It was his shortest outing since five innings against New York on May 8.  He was inefficient, firing 113 pitches, but at least he gave up only three runs.  You know you’ve got an elite pitcher on your hands when his bad day is the equal of other teams’ best pitcher’s good day.  His fastball wasn’t so great, but his offspeeds were right on.  We went on to win the second game, despite Lester’s struggle with his command.  He adjusted throughout the game, putting his adaptability on display.  He’s now on an eight-game winning streak.  His two HBPs tie a career high he’s achieved three other times, none coming since 2008.  The third game wasn’t easy for Lackey, either.  That’s three grinds in a row for our starting pitching.  As usual, it was the fastball on the glove side that gave him trouble.  But a win is a win, and a sweep is a sweep, and Buchholz, Lester, and Lackey are now the first three pitchers in the Majors to have won more than eight games this year.

We followed our sweep of the D-Backs with a sweep of the Dodgers, our way of avenging the Celtics.  Friday marked Manny’s first plate appearance at Fenway since his trade.  The response was mixed; he received ample cheers and ample boos.  Red Sox Nation always does it right; we know how to remember an integral part of two World Series championships, but we also know how to remember an unreasonable tantrum-thrower with a bad attitude.  The at-bat came in the second inning and resulted in a flyout to center field.  He did not acknowledge the crowd at all, and after Nomar’s numerous acknowledgements and obvious display of emotion during his first at-bat back with the A’s, that’s something that’s hard not to notice.  Although I have to admit that that wasn’t the highlight.  Felix Doubront started, his Major League debut, earning a win in five innings, giving up five runs (three earned) in six innings, walking two, and striking out two.  That also wasn’t the highlight.  The highlight was our seven-run fifth.  Now that’s a highlight.  The game featured homers by Beltre, Papi, and Drew, who strained his right hamstring after robbing Manny of a line drive and left the game, hopefully to return to the lineup tonight.  His homer, by the way, was a close call.  Inches determined that it fell into the Monster, not off of the monster, and a review was needed.  That was his eighth dinger of the season, the seventh use of replay since Major League Baseball allowed it, and Drew’s first at-bat since opting out of the Dodgers.  The middle game had “Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah” written all over it.  On a 1-2 count with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Pedroia sent a ninety-eight mile-per-hour fastball into right field for a walkoff single, his first career walkoff hit! Thanks to Bill Hall for starting the rally, thereby redeeming his two errors in right field.  And last but most certainly not least, the third and final win confirming the sweep.  Buchholz provided the prevention, with special appearances by Bard and Paps, who held down the fort with a hold and a save, respectively.  The final score was 2-0.  Pedroia hit a single to third base.  No, seriously.  He singled to first, stole second, and hustled to third because of Papi’s shift.

In his usual display of grit, it turns out Pedroia’s been playing with a right knee injury since May 15, which obviously jives with his slump.  Since that date, he’s batted roughly .190, his season average dropping by about forty points.  But an MRI shows he’s good to go, as his recent stunts have shown.  During this last homestand, he’s batted .484.  Youkilis exited a game with back spasms, only to return to get hit in the right elbow with a pitch and exit again.  He’s now good to go.  Scutaro got a day off due to a nerve-root injection, and he’s good to go.  Dice-K landed himself on the DL with a right forearm strain but has now been cleared to start Thursday against the Rockies.  Cameron is back to seeing time in center field.  Beckett is making great strides in his recovery from his back pain.  Hermida has five fractured left ribs and is not so good to go.  He’s on the DL.  That is one powerful right knee Beltre’s got.  Speaking of which, Ellsbury continues to serve time on the DL, now with a different fracture in his left ribs, which he probably sustained on May 23 with a diving catch.  No baseball activities for two weeks and then a slow but steady rehab.  Don’t expect to see him back before the All-Star break.  Wow.  Our outfield situation is now terrible.  Seriously.  This is why it pays to have an abundance of reserves.  Paps was reactivated from the bereavement list, just in time to prevent any more blown saves.  Nelson and Bonser were designated for assignment, Atchison was recalled, and Doubront was called up but then sent down in favor of Robert Manuel.

Well, that’s a wrap.  If we thought we were in a good place before, we’re in an even better place now.  We’re poised to take the AL East by storm.  At this point, one win is all it takes.  Lester faces the Rockies tonight at Coors Field.  Let’s do it.

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Last night was yet another off night for Lackey.  He’s turning out to be a substantial disappointment.  I was ready for him to come in here and take the AL East and pretty much everyone else by storm.  That hasn’t happened.  At all.  His ERA is a mediocre 5.07 and his WHIP is a shabby 1.56.  His OPP AVG is a high .284.  Last night’s loss moves his record to four and three.  Not a good direction for him to be moving in.  Although I would like to point out that I don’t think this will continue beyond this year.  We’ve seen this before, especially with pitchers; a lot of guys just don’t do that well in their first year with us, but they pick it up during their sophomore season in a Boston uniform.  Boston is a tough place to play, but the reasons why it’s a tough place to play are reasons why Lackey will thrive year long term.  The key, of course, is being able to wait.  Right now, we just don’t have time to do that.

The final score was 5-1.  Four of those runs were allowed on Lackey’s watch.  He only lasted five innings, during which he allowed six hits, two of which were dingers, and five walks.  He struck out three.  He fired 107 pitches.

That means several things.  First of all, it means that his efficiency was nonexistent.  It actually just didn’t exist.  He didn’t have any.  Lester threw less pitches over a complete game than Lackey did in half a game.  Secondly, his command was nonexistent.  He issued an average of one walk in each of his innings.  Most of his pitches were curveballs, four-seams, and two-seams and they weren’t effective.  He didn’t vary his speeds much, either.  His two best pitches were his cutter and his slider, and he didn’t throw either of them very often.  He only threw one changeup, and that was for a ball.  He threw at least nineteen pitches in all five of his innings with a game high of thirty-two in the fourth.  Most of his pitches were thrown to the left half of the strike zone and beyond.  He threw so many pitches to the left and bottom of the zone that those areas may as well have been part of the zone for all Lackey cared.  He had a steady trend of speed increasing with vertical movement, and many of the pitches he threw had some good vertical movement on them, but if they end up being balls, that really doesn’t help anybody.  So between a lack of efficiency and lack of command, Lackey is really living up to his last name.

The offense didn’t do much to help things out.  V-Mart slammed a fantastic homer in the first and went two for four.  We can at least take heart in the fact that his bat seems to finally be heating up.  Beltre doubled.  That was it.  We left six on base, which seems better than Philly’s nine, except for the fact that they got nine hits and we only got four.  Yeah.  It hurt.

Papi got benched, as I suspected he would be.  Youk doesn’t need to play third this season because Lowell is waiting in the wings as a backup anyway.  Besides, Hamels is a lefty, and there’s no need to put Papi at risk of injury by making him play a position in a National League park.  So there you go.

Drew made a fantastic catch in the eight, jumping at the warning track to snag what easily could’ve been at least a double, more probably a triple.

And of course there’s also the sting of opening Interleague with a loss.  I don’t like losing to National League teams.  With Philly, we may have a plausible excuse in the fact that some of their players are products of the American League and are therefore more respectable victors, but still.  I don’t like losing to the National League.

Make no mistake: we’ve got a long way to go.  The season may be only one-fourth over, but yes, I am talking about the playoffs.  It’s never too early to talk about the playoffs, especially with a record like ours.  We can still make it.  There’s no doubt about it.  But it’s going to take some heroics, some theatrics, and some serious stepping up to the plate of, well, everybody.  Thankfully, we’re above .500 right now, but barely.  We’re at .512.  So that’s a start.  But we need to build on it.  In our entire history, and this is a ballclub with a lot of history, we’ve only been below .500 this late in the season and still gone to the playoffs twice.  Both were legendary seasons: the Impossible Dream and Morgan Magic.  That’s it.  Lately, the future of the 2010 Red Sox has looked brighter and brighter by the day, but we need to sustain that trend.

Dice-K is starting tonight with Wake tomorrow.  Pitchers are very black and white; they can be one of two things: on or off.  If they’re on and the offense pulls its weight, chances are you’ll walk away with a W.  If they’re off, it doesn’t matter whether the offense pulls its weight; you’ll be saddled with the L.  So hopefully they’ll both be on and the offense will do some damage and we can keep winning ballgames and vault ourselves over .500 for good.  We’re adding a spark to the lineup tonight: Jacoby Ellsbury returns!

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