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Posts Tagged ‘Danny Valencia’

We played a two-game series against the Rays and got swept.

Tuesday’s game began auspiciously with us paying tribute to the 2004 team.  But it didn’t end well.  Buchholz pitched as decently as any of our other starters this year, but in terms of the way he’s been pitching lately, his start was mediocre at best.  He gave up five runs, four earned, on eight hits over six innings while walking two and striking out five.  In the second, he gave up two walks followed by a home run that score three.  And in the sixth, he gave up two straight singles and then another single two batters later that scored two runs, one of which was made possible by Nava’s fielding error, hence the unearned run.  Atchison pitched the seventh and to one batter in the eighth, Miller pitched the rest of the eighth, and Padilla pitched the ninth.

We got on the board in the second; we started the inning with two back-to-back singles followed by a flyout, and Valencia batted in our first run with a single.  We started the third with a strikeout and then hit two back-to-back singles again.  This inning possibly did us in, because if we’d been able to take full advantage of our opportunity there, it’s possible that perhaps we could have won in the end.  But a caught-stealing at third basically put a damper on things.  Pedroia doubled after that, and we scored on a balk.  And that was it.  The final score was 2-5.

On Wednesday, Lester pitched six innings and allowed three runs on four hits while walking one and striking out five.  He was solid for most of it but unraveled at the end.  All three runs were scored via the home run.  He gave up a single in the fifth followed by two consecutive home runs.  Mortensen came on for the seventh and gave up a single, and then Hill came on and gave up another single; three at-bats later, Hill gave up an RBI double.  Melancon finished the seventh and pitched the eighth, and Breslow pitched the ninth.

We had actually scored first; Salty walked and scored on a single by Nava in the second.  And then Pedroia walked to lead off the sixth, stole second, moved to third on a single by Ross, and scored on a sac fly by Loney.  The final score was 2-4.

Wednesday’s game actually began auspiciously as well with us announcing the All-Fenway team comprised of our greats throughout our long and illustrious history, with plenty of old faces and plenty of new.  The starting lineup included Carlton Fisk, Jimmie Foxx, Pedroia, Wade Boggs, Nomar, Ted Williams, Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Jonathan Papelbon, Papi, and Terry Francona.  The first reserves included Jason Varitek, Mo Vaughn, Bobby Doerr, Mike Lowell, Johnny Pesky, Yaz, Dom DiMaggio, Trot Nixon, Roger Clemens, Luis Tiant, Tim Wakefield, Dennis Eckersley, Dick Radatz, and Joe Cronin.  The second reserves included Rich Gedman, George Scott, Jerry Remy, Frank Malzone, Rico Petrocelli, Jim Rice, Reggie Smith, Tony Conigliaro, Babe Ruth, Smoky Joe Wood, Curt Schilling, Bill Lee, Jim Lonborg, and Dick Williams.  And, last but not least, the pinch hitter was Bernie Carbo and the pinch runner was none other than Dave Roberts.

Why before Wednesday’s game? Because Wednesday’s game was our last home game of the year.  It would have been nice to win it.  Instead we will finish the season with our worst record at home since 1965 and our first losing record at home since 1997: 34-47.  Now Fenway will soon be covered with snow, silent in the long, cold winter that lies ahead with only the bitter memory of losing as an aftertaste.

Sports Then And Now

 

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Winning a close game in late innings is nice.  Winning a close game, period, is nicer.  But just plain winning at all is the nicest.  Especially against the Orioles with the way they’ve been playing this year.  By the way, let’s take a moment to ruminate on how strange and bizarre that really is.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that if you said during Spring Training that the Orioles would be in the elite of the AL East, it would have been absolutely impossible to believe.

And here we are sitting on top of one of the division’s best teams, for one game at least.  The whole thing was a pitcher’s duel right to the end.  Doubront, for his part, was absolutely stellar.  This was one of his best starts of the season.  He pitched seven innings, gave up one run on four hits, walked two, and struck out a career-high eleven batters. His command and control were phenomenal.  The end of the season is almost here, but he didn’t show it at all.  He looked like an old pro.  He went one-two-three in the first and fourth, and he issued one of his walks in the second and the other in the third.  He allowed his one run in the fifth and was actually fortunate to limit the damage; he opened the inning by allowing a single followed by a double and then an RBI single.  But he finished the inning strong with three straight outs.  He went one-two-three in the sixth and gave up a single in the seventh.

So the only inning during which the O’s had more than one runner on base on Doubront’s watch was the fifth when they scored.  And of his strikeouts, five were swinging, five were called, and one came on a foul tip.  His fastball, changeup, and curveball were the best I’ve ever seen them from him and were absolutely on fire; they were moving when they were supposed to and not when they weren’t.  He was a master.  In short, he was absolutely fantastic.

Tazawa took the ball in the eighth and sent down his three batters.  Bailey came in for the ninth and got into, and then fortunately out of, trouble.  He induced a groundout to start the inning but then gave up a single and a double before issuing an intentional walk, which loaded the bases.  But the inning ended up ending without incident thanks to a force out and a strikeout.

Meanwhile, we actually had scored first, so Baltimore’s run actually tied the game.  We had two on in the first, one on in the second, and none on in the third.  But Ross singled to lead off the fourth, Loney walked, Salty flied out, and Valencia grounded into a force out which scored Ross.  Loney was out at second, Valencia ended up reaching first on a throwing error, and Nava singled after that, but the inning ended with Iglesias flying out.

We went down in order in the fifth and we had one on in the sixth and seventh.  We scored our winning run and the last run of the game in the eighth.  Pedroia and Ross hit back-to-back doubles to lead it off, and that was that.  Literally, because the inning ended with three straight flyouts.

Unfortunately, Doubront wasn’t in line for the win, so Tazawa got it, and Bailey picked up the save.  The final score, obviously, was 2-1.  And it was sweet.

Last but not least, Fenway Park opened after the game for a special and well-deserved tribute to Johnny Pesky.  Sox greats through the ages gathered to celebrate the man, the myth, and the legend.  Pesky was a great man, and there was a lot to celebrate.  And I have to think that Pesky would really have enjoyed Ross’s catch in the first of a ball that looked very much like a Pesky-esque home run for the Orioles.  The catch looked so unlikely, and yet Ross did it right at the Pesky Pole.  I think Pesky would really, really have enjoyed that.

In other news, the Pats dropped an exasperatingly close one to the Ravens, losing by the brutal score of 31-30.

Boston Globe Staff/Yoon S. Byun

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On last night’s loss menu, we served up the gut-wrenching extra-innings blow.  Or rather that’s what we were served.

In the first, Cook gave up a run thanks to a walk-steal-groundout-groundout combination.  We tied it up that same inning when Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway.  Neither team scored in the second or third.  The O’s went ahead in the fourth when Cook’s third pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot.  We put ourselves back on top that same inning when Aviles singled to lead off the bottom half and Danny Valencia hit a two-run shot on his second pitch, a curveball.  Not an easy pitch to homer on, so it was nice to see the kid have a keen eye.  Neither team scored in the fifth.  After securing the first out of the sixth on a strikeout, Cook gave up a single and a double and was then replaced by Hill.  Hill gave up a bases-clearing triple before securing the inning’s second out, at which point he was replaced by Mortensen.  Mortensen gave up a solo shot on his first pitch of the seventh.  Fortunately, we mounted a comeback effort in the bottom of the inning.  Podsednik doubled, Ciriaco walked, and Pedroia singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, we did just about the most pathetic thing you can do with the bases loaded and still score runs.  Ross and Lavarnway grounded out back-to-back, which brought in two runs.  At that point, we were within one, Breslow had pitched the top of the eighth, and we tied it up at six the bottom of the inning; with two out, Nava doubled and scored on a double by Podsednik.

Tazawa pitched the ninth, and we went down in order.  Bailey pitched the tenth, and we had men on first and second with two out but did nothing.  Melancon pitched the eleventh, and we went down in order.

And then the twelfth inning arrived.  Aceves came in.  He gave up a double on his second pitch, a fine indication of things to come.  He induced a flyout for the first out of the inning and then gave up another double, which put us down by one.  Then he got a strikeout and gave up an RBI single, which put us down by two.  Then Carpenter came in and gave up another RBI single, which put us down by three.  In the bottom of the twelfth Gomez’s single was the extent of our offensive production.

We lost, 9-6.  Of the eleven games we’ve played in extras this year, we’ve won only two.  Neither of those have come at home.

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Alright.  That’s the way to play.  We jumped out early and never looked back, and I mean never looked back.  Even in the fifth, which was our hugely colossal inning at the plate, the game had already essentially been blown open.  It was just amazing to watch.  We were so dominant that we looked like a completely different team than the one that loses in every way, on every day of the week, with every hitter, behind every pitcher, and by every final score that you could possibly imagine.  That team didn’t show up to the field yesterday.  Yesterday we were different.  In a good way.  We need to see much more of that.

In a rare occurrence, both the hitters and the pitchers deserve the spotlight, but I’ll start with the hitters first since they began the game for us because we were away.  Ellsbury grounded out, which should not at all have been an indication to the Indians of how yesterday’s game was about to go down.  Crawford doubled after that and scored on a double by Pedroia, who scored on a home run by Gonzalez, which he smashed to right field like it was the easiest and most natural thing in the world, like he gets up there and does it in every single at-bat, like it was no big deal and anyone who isn’t doing it has something wrong with him.

Lester began his start by giving up two straight singles, one of which turned into a run one out later on a sac fly.  But we got it back and more in the second, when Aviles and Ellsbury both singled and scored on a double by Crawford.  Neither team scored from the bottom of the second through the bottom of the third.  Aviles led off the fourth by getting hit, and then he scored on a single by Shoppach.  That was when the Indians thought that, maybe if they made a pitching change, their fate for yesterday’s game, which I assume they had begun to sense, would change.

It most certainly did not.  Lester went one-two-three in the bottom of the fourth, and then we scored eight runs in the fifth.  You read right.  That’s eight runs in the fifth inning alone.  We scored more runs in that inning than we often have scored throughout whole games this year.  We scored more runs in that inning than we often have scored throughout several games this year during particularly bad stretches.  And just like that we scored eight runs.  Like it was the easiest and most natural thing in the world, like we get up there and do this in every game, like it was no big deal and any team that isn’t doing it has something wrong with it.

Pedroia singled, Gonzalez walked, Pedroia scored on a single by Ross, Gonzalez scored on a single by Salty, Aviles walked, Ross scored on a sac fly by Danny Valencia, Shoppach struck out for the first out of the inning by which point we had already scored three runs, Salty and Aviles both scored on a double by Ellsbury, Ellsbury scored on a double by Crawford, the Indians made a pitching change that made absolutely no difference, Pedroia walked, Crawford and Pedroia both scored on a double by Gonzalez, Ross walked, Gonzalez and Ross both moved up a base thanks to a passed ball, and then the inning ended when Salty flied out.

Neither team scored for the rest of the game.  It was like we were sated and they were stunned and had absolutely no idea what to do and couldn’t make any sort of move whatsoever.  Lester, for his part, was brilliant.  He pitched six innings and gave up just the one run on three hits while walking two and striking out a grand total of twelve! No pitcher in our uniform has struck out that many since the last time Lester struck out twelve, and that was back in 2010.  I’m telling you, it’s so good to see that double-digit number in his K column again.  That’s been way too rare a sight this season.  Eight of the strikeouts were swinging, and four were called.  You better believe that his cut fastball was as nasty as I’ve ever seen it and was playing tricks on the hitters all afternoon long.  It was glorious.  It was vintage Lester and reminded me of all the goodness to which we unfortunately haven’t been privy this season.

Tazawa pitched the seventh, Mortensen pitched the eighth, and Aceves pitched the ninth.  Lester picked up the win.

All told, we put up sixteen hits.  Half of those were for extra bases.  Five members of our starting nine had multi-hit performances, and only one went hitless: Valencia, who still brought in a run with a sac fly.  Ellsbury went two for five, Pedroia and Gonzalez went two for three, Crawford went three for four with three doubles, and Aviles had a perfect day at the plate with a three-for-three performance.

The final score? 14-1.  They had nothing on us all day long.

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Dice-K gave up three runs in the first inning, and I’m thinking that making this start on eight days’ rest wasn’t such a good idea; maybe he needed more, maybe he needed less, but the eight days’ rest probably did something because he was as unpredictable as ever.  He threw thirty-four pitches in that first inning alone.  That’s unheard of, and it could have been a really bad situation.  Wake and Aceves weren’t available, and Lackey was seen in the bullpen.  That would have been disastrous for our rotation.

When the Twins went down in order in the top of the second and we scored our first run in the bottom – Youk doubled and scored on Drew’s groundout – I started to remember that, lately, it’s been possible to relax when Dice-K is on the mound.

When we put up a four-spot in the third, that’s when things really started to be fun.  Crawford led off the inning with a triple, his first of the season, and scored on Tek’s groundout.  Ellsbury then singled and stole second, and Pedroia walked.  Ellsbury scored on Gonzalez’s single.  Pedroia scored when Youk grounded into a force out.  And Youk scored on a single by Drew.  Drew was the sixth consecutive batter in that sequence to reach base safely.

Danny Valencia led off the fourth with a home run that bounced off the Fisk Pole and stood through review, and I’m thinking this better not be the start of something bad.  Naturally, I wasn’t pleased when Michael Cuddyer threw Ellsbury out at second in the bottom of the inning.  Thankfully, Gonzalez decided to celebrate his twenty-ninth birthday with a solo shot of his own in the fifth, which he also hit on the second pitch of his at-bat, a sinker down and away.  He just sent that ball to the Monster like it was no big deal.  Youk and Papi followed that with two consecutive singles; Youk scored on a groundout by Drew thanks to a throwing error.

Dice-K’s final line was six innings, four runs on five hits, one home run, two walks, and four strikeouts.  He threw 102 pitches, sixty-two of which were strikes.  All of his pitches were excellent except his slider, of which he maybe threw one all night, and his curveball and cutter, which weren’t as effective as some of his other pitches.  Really, it was that first inning that did him in.  He probably would have stayed in the game longer had he not thrown at least two innings’ worth of pitches in that single frame.  He seemed healthy and picked up the win.  Albers came on.

By the time Jason Kubel singled in a run in the eighth, Lowrie had doubled in two more in the previous inning.  Bard closed out the ninth, and the final score was 9-5.  We won, obviously.

Ellsbury and Gonzalez both went three for five; Ellsbury has a seventeen-game hitting streak, and Gonzalez has hit safely in fourteen of his last fifteen games.  Youk and Papi went two for four.

When this series ends after our game tomorrow, our longest homestand of the year will have ended.  Currently we’re five and five during the homestand; I want a winning record.  Let’s head out on a high note.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene

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Simply put, a knuckleball pitcher either has it or doesn’t have it.  Yesterday, Wake didn’t have it.

That’s a pretty simple statement, but when you lose to the Twins for the first time at Fenway since 2007, what can you say? For the second straight night, we basically had nothing.

He took the loss.  He allowed eight runs, six earned, on nine hits.  Wake walked four and struck out only one.  He gave up a solo home run in the first inning.

The second inning was quite the interesting one.  Michael Cuddyer led off with a walk, Danny Valencia singled, and Ben Revere singled to load the bases.  Then Drew Butera flew out and Alexi Casilla struck out swinging.  Right when it looked like we were about to get out of the inning, Denard Span singled in two runs.  Then home plate umpire Angel Hernandez called a balk on Wake that allowed another run to score.  He called the balk because he thought that Wake didn’t finish his move to third; he stepped toward third in order to fake a throw but threw to first instead; in that situation, you would have to actually make the fake throw to third and have the third baseman fire to first.  Wake, meanwhile, thought that it was just a routine pickoff at first.  Tito came out to argue the call; naturally he was ejected.  Then third base umpire Joe West intervened, and then Tito got really angry.  Joe West will probably get in trouble for putting his hands on Tito.  Good, because first of all he put his hands on Tito, and secondly that balk scored a run and started what would end up being a three-run rally.

Wake was pulled after giving up two runs on a double in the fifth after having recorded one out.

He was replaced by Aceves, who replaced Atchison, who was sent down.  Upon entering the inning, Aceves allowed both of his inherited runners to score on a fielding error by Lowrie, the first of two errors he’d make on the day.  He also allowed a runner of his own to score.  At least he got through the rest of the game.  By the time the sixth inning rolled around, the two teams had already posted the final score: 9-2.

Our two runs were scored via the solo shot.  First it was Drew in the second inning with one out.  He’d been fed a steady diet of sinkers in that at-bat and worked the count full; he took the first one for a ball, then a strike, then a ball, then a strike, then a ball, then a shot behind the Pesky Pole.  Then it was Gonzalez in the fourth inning with none out.  He took a sinker for a ball and fouled off another before sending a slider into the Monster seats.  Together, those two home runs brought us within two.  We were right in it.  And then we gave all the momentum back to the Twins, and they put up a four-spot in the fifth and one more in the sixth for good measure.

Ellsbury went two for four; that was it for multi-hit games.  We collected seven hits, left four on base, and went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.

I can not believe the Twins used us to break their winning streak.  That’s really bad.  I mean, when I said we need to play better, I was serious.  We need to play better.  Immediately.  We need to win this series, and we should be able to do it.  With Jenks on the DL with a right bicep cramp that apparently started a week ago (figures), our relievers can actually be expected to get the job done.  And Dice-K, whose elbow has been okayed, will start on Sunday.  (Beckett will pitch on Monday to allow Lester to pitch Tuesday on extra rest.) Our starter needs to deliver.  Our offense needs to deliver.  And our defense needs to deliver.  Seriously.  We can’t keep playing like this.

In other news, the Bruins have made quick work of the Flyers.  We won last night, 5-1! A sweep! We scored once in the first and four more in the third.  Milan Lucic scored twice.  On to the Lightning.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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