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Posts Tagged ‘Curtis Granderson’

Alright.  We may be way behind in the division standings.  We may be way behind in the Wild Card standings.  And we may even be behind .500.  But just like the Yanks are the absolute worst team in the world to lose to, they’re also the absolute best team in the world to beat.  Because when we beat the Yankees, there is a derivative satisfaction unparalleled by any other victory against any team ever, unless of course a particular game against another team is critically important in deciding our fate or something.  Other than that, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that beating the Yanks is one of our favorite things to do.  It’s really a ton of fun.

Especially when they help you do it.  Which they did.  It was awesome.  And lucky.  We scored a good amount of runs but spent too much time letting the Yankees get them back to have been able to have won without some help from them as well.  That’s the only thing I didn’t like about last night’s victory, even though the humiliation of having handed over the win to us was nice.

Last night, it wasn’t always clear that we were going to win.  First of all, it wasn’t even clear we were going to play; the game started two hours and four minutes late due to rain.  But when it did start, it started with us scoring three runs.  Not a bad way to start if you ask me.  After Ellsbury struck out, Ciriaco and Pedroia hit back-to-back singles, and Gonzalez doubled in one, while Middlebrooks doubled in two more one out later.  Then we turned it over to Lester, who had a one-two-three first.  Not a bad start to his start, either.  Both teams went down in order until the bottom of the third, when Lester gave up a solo shot with two out.  But we answered in a big way in the fifth.  With two out, Ciriaco singled, and Pedroia walked.  And then Gonzalez completely unleashed on the first pitch he saw in the at-bat, a slider.  It was going eighty-one miles per hour, but he saw it as clear as day all the way.  And he sent that ball all the way out to right center field.  And we doubled our run total with one swing of the bat, just like that.

Unfortunately, Lester let the Yanks answer back; he gave up a walk in the fifth followed by another home run.  Then he put two more runners on base and, after securing another out, secured the second out with a groundout that scored another run.

Neither team scored again until the bottom of the eighth; Albers had pitched the seventh, and Padilla came on as the setup man and allowed a single and then a home run with two out.  That tied the game at six, and clearly I was not happy.  We’d played solid ball and had a chance to beat them only to have a setup man erase our lead.  A setup man is not supposed to erase leads.  A setup man is supposed to preserve leads for the closer so we can win and get out of there.  Miller replaced Padilla after that.

Fortunately, the hitters bailed him out in the ninth.  After Sweeney flied out, Ellsbury walked and scored on a triple by Ciriaco, made possible by a bumbling Curtis Granderson who couldn’t field it.  If it had to be anyone on their team who messed up the play, I’m glad it was Granderson after Friday’s grand slam.  Ciriaco then scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  And Aceves picked up the save.

So Lester gave up four runs on four hits, two of them home runs, while walking two and striking out six.  He threw 101 pitches and didn’t get the win.  He was solid early and not late; mostly it was just a labor.  Albers got a hold, Padilla got a very well-deserved blown save, Miller got the win which is ironic because he pitched the least of all our staff who made appearances last night, and then, as I said, Aceves got the save.  Middlebrooks went two for three, and Ciriaco and Gonzalez went three for five.  We posted eleven hits to their six, and the final score was 8-6.  And that’s a wrap.  Isn’t it sweet?

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We’ve done much, much more than our fair share of losing.  We’ve lost to many teams this year.  I’d be surprised if, at some point or another, we haven’t lost at least once to every team we’ve played so far.  But of all the losses, and of all the teams to lose to, nothing compares to the pain and agony that is consistently ours when we lose to the Yanks.  It’s by far the worst.  Especially if the final score is lopsided because they were busy having a slugfest at our expense.  And that’s what happened last night.  Let’s just get this over with.

It all seemed so promising in the beginning.  Even when we were losing about halfway through the game, it seemed promising, as if we were sure to come back.  Alas, this did not occur.  Not in the slightest.

We scored three runs.  All three were solo shots.  All three were given up by Phil Hughes.  There was Pedroia’s in the first with two out on a fastball, his seventh pitch, which he hit all the way out to left field.  (It was almost four home runs; Gonzalez singled after that and moved to third on Ross’s ground-rule double which was almost a home run.  Lo and behold, Gonzalez remained at third until the inning was over.) There was Crawford’s in the third with one out on a curveball, the first pitch of the at-bat, which he hit all the way out to right field.  And there was Salty’s in the fourth with one out on a fastball, the first pitch of the at-bat.  It really pains me to say this, but this game was a classic example of a starting pitcher having a great night but making some mistakes here and there.  Hughes made three mistakes.  We capitalized on those but nothing else.

Not so for the Yanks.  Cook gave up six runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out one over four innings.  He threw sixty-five pitches, too many of which, as you can see, were ineffective.  He gave up three runs in the first: a double, a single, a force out that scored one, and a home run that scored two.  He gave up a single and a sac fly in the third for one more.  And he gave up another two-run home run in the fourth for two more.

Morales pitched the fifth and sixth without incident.  Miller pitched the seventh without incident.  And then Melancon pitched the eighth and brought the pain.  Think of all the things you don’t want to have happen to you ever in a baseball game, and especially not at the hands of the Yanks.  Thinks like walking in the winning run or letting the winning run score on a passed ball or wild pitch or an error or giving up the winning run as a walkoff.  And of course the really embarrassing occurrence of the grand slam.  It’s embarrassing because it’s elusive; it’s so rare and yet makes an enormous impact every time, and in order for it to even be possible, the pitcher already had to have made all sorts of mistakes leading up to it.  Melancon gave up a double, hit a batter, induced a force out, had a fielder’s choice, and issued a walk.  And then he gave up the home run.  Curtis Granderson hit it.

And the final score was 10-3.  We are now eleven and a half games out of first place, behind the Yanks.  And we are five and a half games out of the Wild Card.  We are two games below .500 again.  And to make it even worse, the Yanks didn’t even need time to finish us off.  They did it in two hours and forty-one minutes, the shortest game we’ve ever played with them since 2005.  Slugfests are supposed to take long.  Clearly they didn’t have much trouble.

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This is fun.  I like this.  I like how playing in Yankee Stadium is no big deal anymore.  Actually, with the way we’ve been performing there recently, it feels kind of like Fenway.  I mean, except for the fact that Fenway is so much better in every conceivable way, of course.  I just mean we’re ruling it as if it were Fenway.  We have now swept the Evil Empire on their home turf in less than a month’s time.  In this series, we scored twenty-five runs to their ten.  Yankee fans must be in a world of hurt right now.  Cool.

Beckett totally dominated.  Seven full innings, two runs on four hits, two walks, six strikeouts.  104 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  Lethal cutter.  Lethal two-seam.  Excellent curveball.  The rest of his pitches on the whole weren’t at the level of those three, but they were still effective.  Beckett didn’t record his first strikeout until the third inning, when he rang up Mark Teixeira with a curveball.  He would record a second strikeout with his curveball later on.  Two other strikeouts were ultimately achieved using the changeup, and one each with the four-seam and the cutter.  The two runs he allowed came in the first; he drilled Derek Jeter, and then Curtis Granderson went yard.  But Beckett went on lockdown after that, and that was it.  It was his fifth win of the season, three of which have come opposite CC Sabathia.

May I say that I derived an immense amount of pleasure from observing the complete and total meltdown of the Sabathia’s entire baseball universe in the seventh inning.  Right through the seventh, the game was every bit a pitcher’s duel that the Yankees were in the process of winning by two runs, and we had yet to score.  Our best opportunity came in the second with two men on base.  The seventh inning erased all those zeroes that came before it.  In the seventh inning alone, we scored seven runs.

Papi singled to lead it off and scored on a triple by Lowrie.  Crawford grounded out for the first out of the frame.  Then Cameron promptly doubled to bring Lowrie home.  Tek singled, and Ellsbury singled to bring in Cameron.  Scutaro lined out for the second out of the frame.  Then Gonzalez singled and brought Tek home.  Then Sabathia left, and David Robertson came in.  Ellsbury scored on a single by Youk, and Gonzalez and Youk scored on a double by Papi.  Eight of our twelve total hits were made in that inning alone.

Scutaro doubled and scored on a double by Gonzalez in the top of the ninth; the Yanks got that run back in the bottom of the inning.  But we won, 8-3.  No home runs.  Nothing too flashy.  Just hit after hit after hit in an incredibly huge inning.  That one bad inning is pretty bitter medicine, isn’t it.

We are the first team this year to beat the Yanks in six consecutive games, something we haven’t done on the road since 1912.  And we did it even with a rain delay of three hours and twenty-seven minutes.  In other words, by the time the game could have been over already, which is a fair statement to make considering the fact that the game itself lasted three hours and eleven minutes, we were just getting started.  But it was worth the wait.  I’ll be taking a break for about two weeks; we’re two games in first, and I expect that, within that time, our first-place lead will widen considerably.  If we keep playing like we played during this series, that’s as good as guaranteed.

In other news, from a Bruins perspective, no other time to take a break could possibly be worse.

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Last night’s game could not have been a more quintessential example of Sox-Yanks.  It was long (all told, the whole game lasted three hours and forty-one minutes and spanned two days), it was suspenseful (both pitchers were struggling so the teams were going back and forth), it was powerful (five home runs were hit between the two teams), and it was close (the final score was 7-5).

And it had a winner and a loser.  The Yankees lost.  (I can only imagine John Sterling having to announce that on the air.) We won.  We swept the Yankees, and for the first time this season, we are now at .500! Forty games in, we are twenty and twenty.  Finally! The key of course will be staying at .500 and getting significantly above .500, but one step at a time.

It turns out that all this realigning of the rotation was done specifically to ensure that our top three starters would take on New York.  But that wasn’t why we won last night.  It may have been Lester up against Freddy Garcia, but he sure didn’t pitch like it.  Lester struggled early.  He hit Derek Jeter, who scored on a single by Mark Teixeira in the first.  He allowed two home runs in the second for a total of three runs.  Clearly his cut fastball wasn’t cutting or doing much of anything.  When he threw only nine pitches in the third, his only one-two-three inning of the night, I thought it would be smooth sailing from there, but his turnaround wasn’t quite that complete.  He didn’t allow any more runs, but he did walk four over the course of his six innings.  He allowed those four runs on five hits and struck out seven.  Not his best night, but not his worst either.  If those two cut fastballs actually cut or did something, he would only have allowed one run.  Still, overall, his pitches weren’t quite as effective as they usually are.  In the sixth, he threw twenty-two pitches, only nine of which were strikes.  He’s won five consecutive decisions, but in his last two starts, he’s walked nine.

Aceves came on to pitch the seventh and allowed New York’s fifth run; Curtis Granderson walked and scored on a double by A-Rod that should have been caught by Crawford, who instead made his first error in a Boston uniform.  Bard came in after that for the eighth, Paps took care of the ninth for his second save in three days, and finally the game was over.

Our lineup kept pace through the first three innings.  The Yankees scored first in the first; we got that run back in the second.  Youk struck out but reached on a passed ball.  A single and a walk later, the bases were loaded for Lowrie; all he could manage was a sac fly to bring home Youk and tied the game at one.  Papi tried to put us ahead; Crawford reached on a fielder’s choice, and Papi tried to come home but was out at the plate.

The Yankees put up a three-spot in the second with home runs; we put up a three-spot in the third, and we needed only one homer.  Ellsbury led off the inning with a double.  Two batters later, Gonzalez walked on five pitches.  And then, with the count full, Youk blasted one into the seats in left.  I mean, come on.  It was a fastball right down the middle.  It was eighty-nine miles-per-hour, which is obviously slow for a fastball, but it was right down the middle, and I don’t think anybody should have been surprised at what happened to it.

We put ourselves ahead by one in the fifth.  With two out, Papi broke his bat hitting a solo shot to right field.  (I also appreciated his dance performance during Tito’s in-game interview.) But the way the game had been going, we knew a one-run lead wouldn’t be good enough.  In the seventh, Pedroia walked, stole second base, and scored when Youk seemingly grounded to third.  But the ball rolled – wait for it – between A-Rod’s legs and Pedroia came home.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that.  Oh, how the tables are turned.

Then the Yankees got that one back in the bottom of the seventh, so we were back to a one-run lead.  Joba Chamberlain came on to pitch the eighth and got Crawford to ground out on his first pitch.  He had two strikes on Salty before throwing two balls.  With the count even at two, Chamberlain threw a slider that didn’t slide.  Salty was all over it.  He hit his first home run since August 2, 2009 and the first this year for our catchers.  He sent it to the first few rows of seats in right.  It was barely out.  In fact, it hit the top of the wall.  But it was still awesome.  And that was it for scoring last night.

To recap, we swept the Yankees.  In New York.  To get to .500.  We’ve won five of six games against the Yankees this year.  During this three-game set, their number three, four, and five hitters went six for thirty-four.  In 1996, it took us 128 games to get to .500; in 2011, it’s taken us 40.  This past weekend was one of the best weekends in our entire 2011 baseball lives.

But we’ve still got work to do.  Onward and upward.  We start a seven-game homestand today when we take on the Orioles.  This is a perfect opportunity to actually do something with the momentum we’ve created.  We’re at .500.  We need to pass that.  We need to keep on winning.  It’s Dice-K today, but as a team, we should be able to do something with the Orioles.

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The phrase “that’s more like it” came to mind last night in every baseball sense with the exception of one.  We all know what that one was; more on that later.  Meanwhile, there were plenty of positives to go around before we got there.

Let’s start with Buchholz.  Buchholz delivered his best start of the season when it mattered most.  He kept us in it and started this series right.  He used every one of his pitches.  Okay, so his curveball wasn’t as effective as you’d think it would be for such a good outing.  But although his fastballs were thrown for strikes only about half the time, they were thrown for strikes nonetheless and had plenty of good movement on them.  And his cutter actually had some life to it, which is way more than we could say about his previous starts.  His cutter and changeup were extremely, extremely effective.  No matter how effective or how ineffective a particular pitch was overall, in true Buchholz fashion he wasn’t afraid to go to any pitch in any count and throw it for a strike.  This is the third consecutive start he’s won, but that’s really how you know he’s back.

Essentially, he cruised.  All told, he pitched through seven innings.  He allowed two runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out a season high seven.  He threw 110 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  And finally, the paradoxical mark of a fantastic outing: those two runs were both allowed on a homer by Russell Martin in the fifth inning on the first pitch of the at-bat, one of the few cutters that didn’t cut.  Otherwise, everything was totally fine.

Buchholz enjoyed a one-two-three inning in the first that included two back-to-back strikeouts; first, Derek Jeter swung and missed on a fastball, and then Curtis Granderson swung and missed on a curveball.  Buchholz opened the second by striking out A-Rod, who swung and missed on a cutter.  He struck out Granderson on three pitches to end the third, featuring a changeup followed by a cutter and then another changeup that induced a swing and a miss.  (The third inning should have been one-two-three, but Jeter reached on a fielding error by Youk before that K.  The ball looked like it would be a routine grounder to third, but it bounced off Youk’s hand.  Luckily, he’s okay.) Nick Swisher struck out by swinging and missing on a cutter to end the fourth.  Mark Teixeira struck out by swinging and missing on a changeup to end the fifth, Buchholz’s longest inning at twenty pitches.  The sixth was the only frame in which Buccholz did not notch a single K.  Buchholz ended his outing with another one-two-three inning that started with his only called strike of the night, which he achieved using a changeup with which Martin could do absolutely nothing.

Martin’s home run actually tied the game at two.  In the fourth, Gonzalez led off with a solo shot.  First he took a ninety-one-mile-per-hour four-seam up and away for a ball; then he took a ninety-one-mile-per-hour four-seam up and straight down the middle out of the yard and into the first few rows of the second deck of seats in right field.  So was I annoyed when they intentionally walked him in the ninth to get to Youk? Obviously.  Speaking of Youk, he walked later in the inning and scored on a groundout by Crawford.

We secured some insurance in the seventh.  Ellsbury singled, stole second, moved to third on a single by Pedroia, and scored on a sac fly by Gonzalez.  With Pedroia on base and two out, Youk unleashed on a fourth-pitch fastball at ninety-eight and also sent it to right field.

Clearly, everyone felt pretty good going into the eighth, especially with Bard coming up.  Wrong.  It seems like, when you feel most at ease and most secure with the lead and you feel most confident in Bard to protect it, he lets you down.  He hadn’t pitched in three days; he needed the time off, but even when you need time off, sometimes it still messes with you.  Granderson led off the inning with a triple.  Then Teixeira popped out, and after that Bard lost all sense of the strike zone.  Granderson scored on a wild pitch to bring the Yankees within two.  Then A-Rod walked, Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch, and finally the inning was over with a strikeout and a groundout.

Crisis averted but not yet defeated.  Paps came on in the ninth; by that time, Bard had already put me on edge, so I wasn’t as surprised when, after Martin struck out swinging and Brett Gardner grounded out, Jeter singled, took second on defensive indifference, and scored on a single by Granderson to bring the Yankees within one.  Finally, Teixeira popped up on his first and only pitch of the at-bat.  Paps recorded his first save since April 22, ending the longest stretch of his career without one at twenty days.  The game was over, 5-4.

That was immensely satisfying.  Not only did we beat the Yankees, but we beat them by not only besting their starting pitching and hitting but also by putting down two late-inning comebacks.  Just a few days ago we came back three times and lost. We know how crushing that is.  It’s bitter medicine indeed.  So, yes, I was furious with Bard and Paps that they even put us in that position.  But you also have to admit it was nice to crush those rallies.

So the offense took care of business, Buchholz reigned supreme, and the relievers who are supposed to be the best of the best of the bullpen almost lost the game for us.  If you think about it, we haven’t had that many games this season where everything, the hitting and starting pitching and relief and fielding, went right.  But even with the rocky relief, I’ll take a win over New York any day.  A win today wins us the series, so let’s do it again.

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That wasn’t good.  And that was an understatement.  I was afraid this would happen.  First, I was afraid that we would do all kinds of goodness during our first win on our home opener only to pretty much forget all of it and do none of it the game after.  That didn’t exactly happen.  Instead, we repeated the only badness we had on Friday: starting pitching.  Our starters have a collective ERA of 7.09 and have allowed a grand total of nineteen home runs.  Both stats are the worst in the Major Leagues.

I knew it was going to be a long day as soon as I saw Buchholz missing his spots.  It’s not that hard to figure out.  When a starting pitcher misses his spots, you’re going to have a long day.  That’s pretty much a hard and fast rule.

He only lasted three and two-thirds innings, and by all accounts, even that was too long.  This Buchholz didn’t look like the Buchholz who won seventeen games last year.  This Buchholz looked like the Buchholz of 2008, a year so bad for him that I’m embarrassed to repeat these numbers: in fifteen starts, he pitched only seventy-six innings and fifty-seven earned runs on ninety-three hits, eleven of them homers; he went two and nine with a 6.75 ERA and 1.76 WHIP.  Not exactly a year to revisit.

He gave up four earned runs, five in total (you can thank Lowrie for that one, who made an error on a grounder that was as routine as they come), on eight hits, one of which was a three-run home run by Russell Martin.  He walked three.  He struck out two.  He threw ninety-two pitches, fifty-five for strikes, four for swinging strikes.

It all started with two runs in the second: the error, a double, a fielder’s choice groundout, and another double.  No big deal, right? I mean, they scored two runs first on Friday as well, and we came back.  The problem was that Buchholz was so much worse than Lackey.  Buchholz made Lackey look like an ace.  The Yankees scored three more runs in the fourth.

Buchholz threw mostly fastballs, with just as many sliders as changeups thrown in as well as a couple of handfuls of curveballs.  His fastball got all the way up to ninety-five miles per hour.  His curveball was his most effective pitch as well as his least frequently thrown pitch, which is something we’ve seen more than usual lately; the bad starts have tended so far to be paired with the starter not using his most effective pitch very often.  It may have been his most effective strike-wise, but it wasn’t perfect.  He threw three pitches on which the Yankees scored runs; one was a fastball, one a changeup, and one a curveball.  He varied his speeds, he kept his release point tight, and he definitely threw some good pitches.  But not enough.  What can I say? If he didn’t hit his spots, he didn’t hit his spots, and that’s the end of it.

During the first inning, it looked like he was going to be okay.  It looked like he was having a rough first inning that would prove to be the end of his troubles.  In the first, it looked like he had potential to settle down.  He threw eighteen pitches, ten for strikes, and it looked like things would only improve from there.  Not so much.  His pitch count climbed, and he threw thirty-two pitches in the fourth before he was removed.  If only that were the end of our misery.

Doubront came on and gave up a home run of his own, this one for two runs.  Not wanting to be left out, Aceves gave up two solo shots.   Wake was the only pitcher to go out there and deliver.  Two shutout innings with one strike out.  Too bad he was only out there for two innings.

It didn’t matter that Lowrie went three for four.  It didn’t matter that we scored three runs in a single inning in the fourth to answer their three-spot in the top of that frame.  It didn’t matter that that three-spot brought us within only one run.  Or that Youk made an incredibly precise and well-placed throw home to prevent Granderson from scoring in the second.  Or that Gonzalez left the bag to make a spinning catch and fire to first in time for the second out of the third.

It didn’t matter that Pedroia was again the man of the hour.  Or that didn’t just go three for four; he went three for four with three doubles and a walk.  Or that it was his second consecutive three-hit performance.  Or that he batted in two RBIs on one of those doubles, an extremely hard-hit, ninety-three mile-per-hour four-seam that bounced off the center field wall a few feet to the right of the 379-foot marker with two out in the fourth.  Or that he robbed Teixeira of a line drive in the sixth with a spectacular diving grab.

It didn’t matter that, all told, we stroked ten hits, our second double-digit hit total in as many days, which signifies that, slowly but surely, this team is figuring out how to deliver, produce, and win collectively.  It didn’t even matter that Kevin Millar, the great galvanizer of 2004, was in the stands.  None of that mattered even one iota.  All that mattered was that we left ten men on base, went an obscenely pathetic one for seventeen with runners in scoring position, and therefore scored only four runs.  We lost, 9-4.  To the Yankees.  Because we couldn’t pay our pitching staff to not give up runs (oh, wait) and because our lineup looked like it had no idea what having runners in scoring position meant.  It was crushing in every sense.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are frustrated beyond words at this point.

So we had our seventh non-quality start in eight games.  We’re one and seven.  And the best we can do now is win the series.  Let’s at least just do that.  Our starters are into their second rotation now.  They’ve seen action.  We’re at home.  This should bring goodness.  Until today, it has.  Beckett has the ball tomorrow, and he needs to deliver.  There’s no getting around it now.  First, we had to deal with everything going wrong: bad pitching coupled with bad hitting coupled with bad baserunning.  At this point, we seem to have gotten the baserunning and hitting parts down, or at least they’re better than they were.  What we need to do now is pair good starting pitching with good hitting.  No baseball team can win with just one or the other.  You need both.  We have both on paper.  We need both in practice.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Sens, and we clinched our division! We now fill the third seed with 103 points; Philly fills the fourth with 104.  The Caps have clinched the conference.  We have one game left to play in the regular season – this afternoon against the Devils – and then it’s go time.

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We beat the Yankees! That sounds so nice, I’m going to say it again: We beat the Yankees! One more time; say it with me, everybody: We beat the Yankees!

It was fantastic.  Our magic number may be at three, and our chances of making the playoffs may be slim, and our team may be sorely depleted due to injuries, and our bullpen may almost have cost us the game, but we just showed everybody that we still got it, that this is still a great team very capable of inflicting some serious damage.

We just knocked New York right out of first place, people.  Feels good.  That wasn’t the point or the general goal of the win, but it was a nice bonus.  A real nice bonus.

We looked great out there.  We looked like we were on the hunt for a win and we weren’t going to stop until we got it.  Although the pitching staff made that view a bit complicated to maintain.  Leading us out was Josh Beckett, who pitched like we’ve been wanting him to pitch all year.  He turned it on last night, even though his line doesn’t show it.  He pitched six and two-thirds innings, gave up five runs on seven hits, walked two, and struck out five.  Oh, and he allowed four home runs.  Terrible.  Pathetic.  It was the fourth time in his career that he allowed that many homers in a game and the first time since August 23 of last year when the Yankees just had to take him deep five times.  He left balls up, and that’s what happens when you leave balls up.  Badness.  I don’t even want to look at a line like that, especially the home run part, especially when you consider that two of them were back-to-back.  But the thing is that he cruised right up until the sixth inning.  Up to that point, he allowed only three runs, and if that had stood, his start would’ve been considered short but quality.  His fastball and changeup were fantastic, and he was able to effectively add a good curveball and cutter.  He kept his inning pitch counts low, even during the bad ones.  He varied speeds nicely.  He loaded the bottom-left corner of the zone and pretty much stayed away from the upper right, he located almost everything, he moved every pitch, and he looked great.  Then the seventh inning started and he looked like a pitcher who was exhausted and needed to come out.  I knew in the bottom of the six when he made those back-to-back mistakes that he wasn’t going to last much longer.  Ultimately, he did get the win for the first time against New York this season, but it was a real struggle toward the end.

The bullpen took its cues from Beckett, and those cues were not good.  Atchison allowed two runs.  Bard didn’t allow any runs, but Paps allowed another run en route to a save.  It was absolutely nerve-wracking.  I didn’t feel safe and secure until that last strikeout was complete.  Luckily, this time, the offense bailed the bullpen out.

It was by far the worst outing of Pettitte’s season, and it was his worst start against us since September ’03.  Lowrie set the tone.  Lowrie smashed a three-run jack in the second.  It was a laser.  Fastball outside on the first pitch.  Five of his seven homers have now come against southpaws.  It was awesome.  I’m telling you, I’m still not quite sure where his power comes from, but it’s there.  I don’t think that technically was one of the tools we were expecting him to fulfill, but he is fulfilling it.  That would be his only RBI hit, but he would finish the night four for four for the first time in his career with three runs scored as well.

In the fourth, McDonald doubled in two, and Scutaro singled in two, and that was when Pettitte was duly removed.  In the top of the fifth, we had a big scare.  Granderson hit a ground ball that took one of the most bizarre hopes I’ve ever seen and hit Lowell in the right temple.  Ouch.  He went down.  He got up with help from the trainers and stayed in the game only to be taken out an inning later.  But I give him a lot of credit for not going out right then and there.  What a dirt dog.  Speaking of which, he’ll be honored with a ceremony on October 2, the day before his last game, to commemorate his illustrious career and all he did for us here in Boston.  His whole family will be there, so it’ll be a great day for him.  He definitely deserves it.

In the fifth, Hall smacked his own three-run jack.  He golfed it into the bullpen.  He was sitting on something down and middle-in, and he most definitely got it.  I also especially enjoyed Beltre’s catch of that foul in the eighth, where he literally half-dove into the stands to get the out.

We didn’t score again after the fifth, but it was enough.  To be honest with you, I was kind of disappointed; we had worked up to a 10-1 lead before the Yankees started to rally and I wanted so much for it to stand.  I wanted this win to be a completely lopsided slugfest that reminded everybody who we are and what we can do.  In the end, though, the important thing is that we won, period.  We can not afford to be picky.  And we definitely can celebrate about that and the fact that we go into this afternoon’s contest with some momentum and with Lester.  So we’re in a great position.  Get psyched.

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