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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Bard’

We were down by two before we came up to bat.  Doubront’s second pitch of the game was hit for a single.  He then hit a batter and issued a wild pitch and two consecutive walks, the latter of which obviously resulted in a run.  The sac fly he gave up after that also scored a run.  But here’s the thing about first innings.  They’re not always indicative of what’s going to happen later.

In Doubront’s case, that was a good thing.  And a correct observation.  He was almost impeccable for the rest of his start; his only other blemish occurred in the seventh.  He gave up a single made worse by a passed ball by Salty.  After securing a groundout, second base was stolen and, on another groundout, a run was scored.  Doubront gave up a single before being replaced by Tazawa, who got through the rest of the inning.  Bard came out for the eighth; he gave up two walks, and Wilson gave up a single that scored one.  Miller pitched the ninth.

No matter how well you’re pitching, it’s always nice to have run support.  Doubront gave up runs in the first but not consequently; similarly, the Astros didn’t give up runs in the first but, fortunately for us, not consequently.

By the time the second inning was out, the game was ours.  Carp grounded out to start it, and then Salty worked a walk.  Middlebrooks doubled, and Drew walked to load the bases.  Ellsbury’s subsequent single plated two.  Nava then grounded out, Pedroia walked to re-load the bases, and Papi’s subsequent double plated two.

The third inning was pretty quick for both teams; the Astros went down in order and, aside from Drew’s walk, so did we.  Nava led off the fourth and eventually scored on a sac fly by Papi.  And then there was the bottom of the seventh.  Houston may have thought that they made a dent when they got that third run off Doubront; in fact, they came close.  In reality, it wasn’t meant to be.  If we didn’t win the game in the second, we won it for sure in the seventh.

Houston made a pitching change, and after Gomes flied out, they probably thought it would go well.  It didn’t.  Salty doubled, Middlebrooks walked, Drew singled in Salty, Ellsbury struck out, Drew singled in Middlebrooks, and Pedroia singled in Drew.

We won, 8-4.  How’s that for a first-inning let-down.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps, 3-2, in sudden death.

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At two hours and fifty-nine minutes, this game was brief but intense, depending on whose perspective you take.  I suppose that it was intense for both teams.  It’s just that one team was happy about the intensity and the other wasn’t.  Guess which side we were on.

Buchholz was one out shy of pitching eight innings.  He gave up two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out a whopping ten batters.  He got his first one in the first on a cutter, the second in the second on a cutter, and three more in the third, all on four-seams.  He had another in the fourth on a curveball and one in the fifth on a cutter.  He had one in the sixth on a four-seam and two in the seventh, one on a four-seam and the other on a cutter.  A ridiculously high total of six of those ten strikeouts were looking, which shows that Houston just really had no idea what to do.

Buchholz gave up a double, a single, and a double play that scored one run in the second; all in all, a double play for a run is both an accepted and an acceptable trade.  In the third, he gave a double that turned into a triple thanks to a steal and finally a run thanks to a single.  Other than that, his start was phenomenal.  The sixth and seventh innings were particularly efficient.  Say hello to the first five-game winner in Major League Baseball.

Miller got the last out of the eighth, and Bard pitched the ninth.  So the Astros were held to just those two runs.  The list of our offensive accomplishments was thankfully much longer.

After Ellsbury led off the first with a groundout, Nava walked, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored on a single by Pedroia.  Pedroia stole second base and scored on a single by Papi, who moved to second thanks to a throwing error.  Napoli then struck out, and Carp hit a double that got deflected, scoring Papi.  And then Carp scored on a single by Salty.

And then we witnessed something truly great.  It can be described as nothing less than a sight for sore eyes.  The team has been playing extremely well, but there’s something that hadn’t happened in a while of which we really wanted a reminder.  In the third inning, we got it.  Papi stepped up to the plate.  He took a changeup for a ball.  And then he got an eighty-nine mile-per-hour fastball and just bashed it to one of the deepest parts of the park: center field.  It was his first home run of the season, and it was completed in classic Papi style from the moment the ball and bat made contact right to the end of the follow-through and all the way around the bases to home and back to the dugout.  It was a thing of beauty, and I look forward to seeing a lot more of it.

We didn’t score in the fourth, but we did again in the fifth.  Pedroia flied out, Papi singled en route to a three-for-four performance, Napoli struck out, Carp singled, Salty singled in one, and Middlebrooks doubled in another.  And that was it for the rest of the game.  The final score was 7-2.  This was the Astros’ first game at Fenway since 2003.  If I were them, I sure wouldn’t be in a rush to return.

In other news, the B’s silenced the Bolts, two-zip.

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It’s the middle of March.  The roster is thinning down, and the team’s performance is moving up.  As Opening Day nears, the pitchers especially are the players to watch.  Wins and losses means nothing in Spring Training, when regulars routinely don’t complete games, but a game is a game, and you can watch a pitcher’s motion and see how comfortable he is with certain pitches and certain situations.  Also pay attention to defense and injury in the field.  These things won’t necessarily predict our performance this year, but at least we’ll be able to tell how ready this year’s team is to face the music when the season starts.  Honestly, I have to say, it looks pretty good.

Nava is surely going to win a spot on the bench now that he’s proven himself at first, where he’s seen playing time this spring.  Drew has been out with a concussion that he sustained after getting hit by a pitch.  Papi started running the bases a bit but, due to soreness in his right foot derived from his Achilles injury, he’s had to take it easy as well.  While he’s sat out, Farrell’s been rotating the DH spot.  Unfortunately, he may very well start the season on the disabled list.  So will Breslow, due to problems with his left shoulder, and Morales, due to problems with his lower back.  Napoli actually saw action in consecutive days and managed to survive, which was a very good sign.  Aceves returned to camp after Team Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.  Fortunately, he wasn’t injured in the significant brawl that broke out between Team Mexico and Team Canada when the former got upset because the latter bunted with the game practically won already.  Team Mexico didn’t know about the Classic’s tiebreakers, which use run differential, and thought it was bad form.  So several Canadian players ganged up on Aceves and dragged him to the ground.  Like I said, we’re pretty lucky he wasn’t injured.  Victorino will also be heading back to camp now that Team USA is out.  Steven Wright, the knuckleballer who may not be, since he’s having some trouble getting a handle on the pitch, got cut along with Deven Marrero, Drake Britton, Justin Henry, Alex Hassan, Mark Hamilton, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Juan Carlos Linares, Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Velazquez, Daniel Butler, and Alex Wilson.  Ryan Westmoreland, once considered one of our best farmboys, is retiring.  We traded cash to Baltimore for Mike Flacco, who plays first base.  Yes, he’s the brother of Joe Flacco.  Yaz made his annual visit to camp, making the rounds with current Sox and former teammates.

Now let’s talk action.  We beat the Rays on March 4, 5-1.  Doubront made his debut and tossed 1.2 shutout innings including a hit, two walks, and two K’s.  Carpenter also tossed a shutout frame to end the game.  Iglesias went two for two with two doubles; Salty also had a double to his credit, and Overbay tripled.  We were back in action Wednesday opposite the Pirates, who beat us, 9-3.  On the bright side, Lester looked especially sharp; he hurled four comforting and relief-inspiring innings, during which he allowed one hit on two runs while walking three and striking out three.  I wasn’t a fan of the three walks, but it’s more important that he slowly but steadily lengthens his starts without also augmenting his run total.  Wright took the loss and gave up five runs on five hits; Tazawa pitched a shutout inning to end it.  Ciriaco went two for four, and Gomes and Salty both doubled.  We beat the Twins on Thursday, 12-5.  For the first three innings, it was all Buchholz, who dominated with a shutout performance and issued two hits, no walks, and four K’s.  Hanrahan delivered a deflating fail of a third of an inning, during which he gave up four runs on four hits, but Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Meanwhile, Pedroia and Napoli each collected two hits; Pedroia doubled and Napoli smacked a home run that seemed like he could really get used to the power again.  The Twins bested us the next day, though, with a shutout performance.  Dempster took the loss and gave up the game’s only two runs.  We lost to the O’s on Saturday, 5-2.  Doubront gave up two runs on four hits over three innings with a walk and five strikeouts; Hanrahan and Bailey both delivered shutout frames.  Salty had himself two hits, and Overbay doubled.

We beat the Rays on Sunday, 6-2.  Lackey worked three and two-thirds inning and gave up two runs on four hits, one of them a homer, while walking two and striking out two.  It doesn’t seem like much, but that start was better than most of the ones we’ve seen from him in recent memory; granted, it doesn’t take much from him at this point to constitute a good sign, but you have to start rebuilding somewhere.  Overbay went two for three, and Ross had himself a three-run jack.  The Marlins beat us on Monday, 8-7; Lester delivered five beautiful innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.  Carpenter took the blown save and the loss, giving up two runs on two hits en route to recording the game’s last two outs.  Salty doubled, and Middlebrooks homered for the first time since getting injured! He looked mighty comfortable doing it, too.  Like he could do it again.  Repeatedly.  We beat the Jays on Tuesday, 5-3.  Buchholz kept up his strong performance with four shutout innings during which he issued one K and gave up three hits.  Bailey turned in a shutout inning of his own.  Nava, Napoli, and Sweeney each had two hits; Napoli, Sweeney, and Middlebrooks each hit doubles.

We had Wednesday off and bested the Twins on Thursday, 7-3.  Dempster picked up the win with four innings of one-run, three-hit ball; Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Ellsbury went two for three with a double; Iglesias smacked a double as well.  Friday’s game against Baltimore ended in a tie at three after ten; Mortensen started and tossed three shutout innings of two-hit ball, and no one had a multihit game.  We crushed Tampa Bay on Saturday, 9-2.  Aceves pitched four and one-third innings during which he gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and five K’s.  Iglesias and Gomez both had two hits; Iglesias tripled, and Gomez doubled.  We beat Tampa Bay again yesterday, 5-1, on the shoulders of a literally perfect performance by Lester.  Six innings.  No runs.  No hits.  No walks.  Six K’s, or an average of one per inning.  Even Hanrahan got in the spirit and delivered a shutout inning.  It was only Spring Training, but it was a glorious indication of things to come.  Expect him to start on Opening Day for sure.  Middlebrooks went two for three, and Gomes was perfect at the plate; both doubled.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps in sudden death but then beat the Leafs, Flyers, and Sens.  We lost to the Penguins and then beat the Panthers and Caps before losing to the Penguins again.

Boston Herald Staff/Christopher Evans

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Now that Spring Training is thoroughly underway, it’s high time for a status report.

Pitchers and catchers had physicals on February 11 and their first official team workout the following day.  Naturally, Buchholz just had to strain his right hamstring about ten minutes into the first pitchers’ fielding practice of the spring, but it turned out to be minor and he was back out there that Wednesday and had proceeded to long toss by that Friday and a forty-five-pitch side session that Monday.  Lackey lost a whopping seventeen pounds and is looking lean.  Don’t expect to see fireworks right away from Breslow or Doubront, who have been assigned to a more cautious training program.  Tim Wakefield was back at camp basically tutoring Steven Wright, the knuckleball’s next generation, and as we knew they would be, Pedro Martinez and Tek are also using their veteran skill to help out.  Mike Lowell is another surprise veteran guest.  And for some bizarre reason, when Aceves started throwing live batting practice, he insisted on lobbing the ball; I don’t really know what that was about.  Needless to say, he cleaned up his act.  Nieves and Farrell didn’t seem to know what was going on either, but Farrell sure was annoyed; as were we all.

The rest of the team reported on February 14.  Look for Victorino and Ellsbury to get a lot of practice in this spring.  Fenway’s right field is probably the most formidable in all of baseball, so it’ll be good for the two of them to nail down a routine.  Also look for Farrell to exercise considerable caution with Napoli, who started defensive drills at first on February 17; his hip MRI had come back clean, so he was given the green light.  Papi is not baserunning or conditioning with the team; he’s on his own specific running program that will slowly but steadily increase in intensity.  Middlebrooks’s broken wrist is officially history, as is Drew’s fractured ankle.  We acquired Mike Carp from Seattle for either a player to be named later or cash considerations.

We played our first exhibition on January 21; it was a double-header, first against Northeastern and then against Boston College, and we won, 3-0 and 11-1.  Only the relievers pitched; each got one inning, and Hanrahan debuted, successfully getting around two baserunners.  The regulars batted in the first game, while the minor leaguers got a turn in the second.

Grapefruit League play officially began on Saturday against the Rays.  We lost by one, and Lackey pitched only one inning, giving up a walk, a hit, a strikeout, and a run, but he looked pretty comfortable.  We played the Cards next, winning by two; Lester pitched two solid innings, Nava and Gomez both had multi-hit games, and Ciriaco batted in two runs.  Then we had a double-header with the Rays and Jays, splitting the day.  Aceves gave up two runs, two hits, and two walks over two innings, but Bard issued a walk and a strikeout in his scoreless inning, and Pedroia hit a solo shot.  The staff issued a solid performance in the afternoon, with a good amount of the offensive support not coming from the regulars.  Our following game against the Cards ended in the worst way: with a 15-4 loss.  Dempster pitched two solid innings, but the same can not be said of the remainder of the staff; Mortensen took the loss.  Ciriaco went two for two, and Iglesias hit a double.  We lost to Baltimore by two after that; Morales pitched his inning well, Hanrahan struck out two but walked one and allowed a run, and Tazawa was awarded a blown save as well as the loss.  Gomes hit a solo shot, and Ciriaco had himself another two hits, including a triple.  Middlebrooks had to leave the game with soreness in his wrist, but it turned out to be nothing, and he feels fine and returned.  Thank goodness, because I don’t know what we’d do if he were down for the count.  We’re not exactly deep at the corner there.  For his part, Gomes got personal with a wall and had to get stitches in his left knee as a result; this game really was not good to us.

On Thursday against the Bucs, Lackey upped the ante with two innings of work.  He gave up three runs with a walk, a strikeout, and a homer, but it seems like the more he goes out there, the more comfortable he seems.  And there’s no question about the fact that he’s throwing the ball well.  It was a 16-6 win, so the offense was also a highlight; the regulars were pretty quiet, and there were no extra-base hits, but we made a strong showing nonetheless.  It’s nice to know that the next generation can play some strong small ball.  Lester took a turn on Friday, pitching three innings of one-hit ball against the Orioles.  Pedroia went two for two and Drew hit a double en route to the win.  We eked out a victory against the Twins next; during 1.1 innings, Buchholz walked two, struck out two, and gave up one hit.  Aceves was awarded both a blown save and a win, and Sweeney went two for four.

Last but not least, we played the Evil Empire yesterday, losing, 5-2.  But hey, it’s Spring Training; the final score is never as important as the baseball being played.  Dempster pitched three one-hit innings with two strikeouts; Hanrahan blew his save and took the loss.  No one had a multi-hit game, but Salty doubled and Napoli hit a solo shot, which was quite the sight to see.  He cleared the sign in right center field 420 feet away.  It was huge.  I saw that, and it was so nice to really observe the reason why he’s here.

Bard will throw twenty or so pitches in a simulated game on Monday.  Papi has been running the bases a little bit but has felt sore.  Finally, Lucchino thinks our sellout streak will end soon; he cites April 10 as a possible end date.  I know there’s always a debate surrounding what the sellout streak has meant and whether it really means anything at all, but for a franchise like this with a fan base like ours, such a streak really shouldn’t be ending anytime soon.  That’s all I have to say about it.  And I’ll end with the beginning: Farrell’s opening address on February 15.  This was basically his opportunity to introduce himself and his philosophy to the team.  Even though many on the team know him and are familiar with the way he works, the gesture shows humility, collaboration, and the kind of professionalism that he urged members of the team to adopt.  The great thing is that, in many ways, Farrell is a product and holdover from the Francona era, but he’s still a fresh perspective, much-needed indeed after the debacle that was last season.  Farrell was compelling and inspiring.  He’s the man we should have had at the helm all along.  It just feels right, and it’s going to be a good year.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Jets, Bolts, Panthers, Isles, Sens, and Bolts again! Sadly, our winning streak came to an end with a 4-3 loss to the Habs.

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Last night’s game was awful, and the sad part is that it was over before it even practically got started.  Their first inning was as good as ours was bad, and that’s all the O’s needed to win.  It’s a sad, sad day when the outcome of an entire game is decided right out of the gate.

Obviously we batted first, and we scored one run.  Podsednik singled on the second pitch of the game, moved to second on a throwing error and third on a sac fly by Ciriaco, and scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  It was a great example of manufacturing a run.  All we needed to have done was do it more.

Then Cook took the mound for the bottom of the first, and it didn’t take long to get a sense of how his start was going to go.  His very first pitch was hit  for a single.  Then he induced a groundout and gave up a two-run home run.  Then he induced another groundout and gave up a single, a walk, and another single to load the bases.  And then he allowed that most embarrassing scoring play: a grand slam.  A grand total of six runs were scored on a grand total of two swings.  We were down by five runs before the first inning was over.

After issuing two consecutive walks to start the second, Cook was replaced by Aceves, who pitched just fine until the fifth.  After getting the inning’s first two outs, Aceves gave up three consecutive doubles followed by a single, which resulted in three more runs scoring.  Pedro Beato then took the ball and pitched extremely well; both of his full innings were one-two-three.  Then Bard pitched the eighth which, except for a walk, was blemish-free.

Meanwhile, we didn’t score again for the rest of the game.  We didn’t even threaten for the rest of the game.  Seriously.  Podsednik’s single was our only hit.  That’s right; we were one single away from being no-hit by the Baltimore Orioles.  We haven’t been one-hit since 2009.  And we walked only twice; one belonged to Pedroia and the other to Nava.  The final score was 9-1.

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