Posts Tagged ‘David Hernandez’

I’ve seen Lester better.  He had a quality start, which is awesome for any pitcher, but I’ve seen him better.  We all have.  He gave up three runs on ten hits over six innings, four strikeouts, no walks, and two home runs, both of which were lead-off solo shots.

Actually, when you look at his line, your first thoughts aren’t, “Good, another quality start,” or “Wow, he didn’t walk anybody,” or “I’m glad he threw only 102 pitches.” Rather, your first thoughts are, “Ten hits? Ten hits?! Since when does Jon Lester give up ten hits? And to the Orioles, no less!” and “His strikeout count was pretty low last night,” and “He gave up two home runs.  Interesting.  And not in a good way,” and “102 pitches only got him through six innings? Good move on Tito’s part to take him out after that batter in the seventh, because he could see some things weren’t quite right with this outing, one of them being efficiency, or lack thereof, if 102 pitches only got him through six innings.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s what I was thinking.  It’s not that I’m unappreciative of Lester’s effort last night, which was very good.  It’s just that, the better and better a player becomes, and the more consistent the player becomes in his improvement, the more you expect that player to perform at a certain level.  So when that player performs at a lower, albeit still good, level, it’s surprising.  For example, if Josh Beckett had that exact line in one of his games, it would probably be an even more serious cause for concern this close to the playoffs.

The relievers, with the exception of Delcarmen, were good.  They combined, with the exception of Delcarmen, to pitch three more no-hit innings, which again would have been perfect if it weren’t for Ramirez’s walk.  Delcarmen, in case you’re wondering, came on to take care of the ninth.  He didn’t do that.  He allowed back-to-back home runs, walked two men, and didn’t retire a single batter.  Exit Delcarmen, enter Ramirez, end ballgame.  Red Sox win.  But before we leave the subject of the bullpen, I have to say that this is exactly why Tito is a managerial genius.  Nobody knows players better as a team than their manager, and Tito clearly revealed this when he put Delcarmen in to pitch the ninth.  It’s no secret that Delcarmen struggles a bit at the end of the season, which is why Tito put him in to pitch the ninth inning of a ballgame that was locked.  Even after he allowed the two home runs, the final score was 11-5.  This may not seem like a big deal, but you’d be surprised as to how many managers don’t account for that.

Well, a final score like that needs a lot of runs, so we have a lot to talk about.  And we had a little bit of everything.  Pedroia went two for six with two runs and a steal.  Youk plated one.  Ortiz doubled twice and batted in a run.  Lowell had a great night, going three for four with two RBIs.  Josh Reddick hit a two-run shot off Hernandez with two out in the second, and it was a nice piece of hitting for a September call up.  And by nice I mean huge, because it cleared the flagpoles in right field.  And then, the eighth inning.  The crown jewel, if you will, of the night’s offensive accomplishments.  JD Drew is the man of the hour here.  He would finish the night three for five with a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  With two on, two out in the inning, and a full count, he sent a ball that was a little up in the zone to the left field seats.  One swing of the bat and three more Red Sox runs on the board.  Beautiful.  Just beautiful.  And as if that weren’t enough, Brian Anderson got in on the action by going back-to-back and hitting a solo shot beyond the center field wall in his first at-bat of the game.  That was the last RBI we’d record, but believe me, that was enough.

The defense was on as well.  Gonzalez, Pedroia, Youk, Lowrie, and Kotchman had three double plays between them.

A question that has recently come to the forefront is whether V-Mart will catch Beckett in the playoffs.  Since this question was posed, there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that Tek would be behind the dish for Beckett in October.  Tek is always behind the dish for Beckett.  The one time V-Mart caught Beckett, he allowed seven runs, which may or may not have to do with the fact that V-Mart was catching.  It is true, though, that a starter and catcher get into a groove faster when they’ve worked closely with each other for a long time.  While I do acknowledge that our lineup is more powerful with V-Mart starting at catcher, I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable with the battery.  I’d rather go without a few runs and have Beckett so on that we won’t need them than need the runs because Beckett’s wavering.

So Lowell tied the game, Youk batted in the go-ahead run, and after that we just kind of ran away with it.  It was pretty nice.  We’re playing the Orioles, so we know the game will have a positive outcome, so we can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, watching it for baseball’s sake and the love of the game.  When you know you’re going to win, it takes some of the edge and intensity off, and you can notice nuances and finer points of play.  It’s quite pleasant.  And lucky for us, the fun continues.  Today we have our last game in Camden Yards and our last against Baltimore this season.  Dice-K will take on Jason Berken and will look to build on the success of his previous outing.

In other news, Patriots at Jets this afternoon.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We knew Josh Beckett would come around.  We knew there would come a game that could be labeled the start of his turnaround for 2009.  We knew it, and we were ready for it, so I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that that’s part of what made yesterday’s loss so annoying.  That was, to put it simply, Beckett’s first good game since his last good game, but the lineup conspired to ensure that it wouldn’t be a win.

He pitched a full seven, gave up three runs on six hits, walked two, and struck out four.  Not very high on the strikeouts but low on the walks, nil on the home runs, and right on the money on the pitch count at ninety-six.  He used three pitches: the four-seam, which topped out at ninety-five miles per hour, the curveball, and the cutter, with very heavy emphasis on the four-seam and curve.  But hey, it worked; he threw sixty-two pitches for strikes.  And so I also tip my hat to Tek for calling this one so well.

Hideki Okajima didn’t help.  He let Carlos Quentin go yard with a man on and two out in the eighth.  Honestly, he couldn’t just get the other out? Okajima’s been very porous lately; he’s been allowing runs right and left.  He hasn’t been as porous as Michael Bowden was in that awful 20-11 blowout with the Yanks, but maybe we should start putting Bowden in, because this is just getting ridiculous.

The final score was 5-1.  Again.  We only managed one run for the entire game.  Ellsbury went two for four with a steal.  Pedroia doubled, finally.  V-Mart, Bay, Lowell, and Gonzalez each had hits.  Gonzalez threw Kotsay out at the plate in the third as he tried to score from first, which was an absolutely phenomenal play.  The ball rolled into the corner of left field, and Kotsay had a legitimate shot, but Bay fired to the infield, Gonzalez fired home, and Tek successfully applied the tag.  Play of the game.  Youk was responsible for the RBI.  Again, pathetic.

Wakefield will skip his Friday start.  That’s not good news.  Neither was the fact that Papi was benched because of the current slump he’s in.  I think it’ll do him good to return home.

This was Mark Buehrle’s first win since his perfect game on July 23.  That’s a long time to go without a win.  And that’s part of what makes it more painful.  We were the team that gave him his first win in that stretch.  We’re not supposed to be a team that provides solace for struggling pitchers.  We’re supposed to be the team that makes those struggles continue.  But in the long run, we’ll be so much the better for this game, because this was Beckett’s twenty-eighth start of the season.  That puts his twelve-million-dollar option for 2010 on the table.  So unless he finishes the year on the DL, it’ll be there for us to pick up.  I venture to guess we’ll be seeing Beckett pitch for Boston for a long, long time.  Meanwhile, we’re back at Fenway and David Hernandez will square off against Clay Buchholz.  I’m looking forward to this.

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First things first.  The game.  We won, 6-5.  Smoltz finally made his record two and four.  Barely.  Five runs on eight hits over six innings isn’t exactly what you’d hope for for someone you acquired specifically for the postseason, but it’s decent for a starter at the tail end of the rotation.  He didn’t walk anybody and struck out two.  Gave up two two-run shots though which was concerning at best.  Ramirez and Okajima each got holds.  Paps got a save.  Eighteen pitches; twice the number of pitches necessary to get all three batters out on strikes alone, so he’s still not where he needs to be.  On the bright side, he didn’t walk anybody, which has largely been the difference between this year and last year and which his why his ERA doesn’t always reflect how shaky he’s been.  And he didn’t give up a hit.  Two strikeouts.  Not bad for an eighteen-pitch save.  Not bad at all.

You have to love this resurgence of the offense.  It comes at just the right time, too.  You like to see your team flourish in August because many squads can get bogged down between the pressure of an imminent October run and the weight of the heat outside.  August is a tough month any way you spin it, and it’s good to see us start it off so well, especially given our recent struggles.  Ellsbury went three for five with one of his best catches of the season to end the fifth.  He reached over the center field wall to rob Luke Scott of a home run.  And then he led off the bottom of the inning with a home run of his own.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  Jacoby Ellsbury, ladies and gentlemen.  And I think him finally finding his groove in the leadoff spot has really helped the bats wake up.  Youk went three for four with a two-run shot with two out in the seventh.  The ball was clobbered to left field.  Clobbered.  And Ortiz went two for four with a two-run shot in the third.  How ’bout that.

So we were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and still managed to score six runs.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: you can score all the runs you want, but unless your pitcher keeps you in the game, the runs won’t help.  Every once in a while, though, runs alone will pull it out.  This brings us to within one and a half games of the Yankees.  We’ve won our last two and started this series on the right foot.

Okay, we’ve covered the game.  Now for the trade deadline.  Jarrod Washburn is with the Tigers, Cliff Lee is with the Phillies, Jake Peavy is with the White Sox, and in an anticlimactic result of epic proportions, Roy Halladay is still with the Blue Jays.  No surprise there.  JP Ricciardi basically said, “Sure, go ahead and take Halladay for a season and a half, and why don’t I just hold on to your entire farm system for you.” Like that was ever going to happen.  We definitely weren’t going to mortgage our future.  But Theo did wheel and deal, and he pulled off a brilliant blockbuster, and at an exceptionally reasonable price, too.  Welcome to Boston, Victor Martinez! As both a catcher and first baseman, he’s very versatile and skilled in the field; the .992 fielding percentage proves it.  And as a .284 switch-hitter, with a .297 career average, he’s the bat we were looking for.  Of course, that begs the question of where he’ll fit in.  With Wakefield on the DL, Tek hasn’t been getting his usual day off every fifth day.  George Kottaras was just placed on the disabled list, probably to make way for Martinez behind the plate.  And since he also plays first base, he can man that bag while Youk moves to third and Lowell takes the day off.  And he’s a DH, so he can give Papi the day off.  Basically, the possibilities are endless.

To get him, we had to give up Justin Masterson and two pitching prospects, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price.  I have mixed feelings about seeing Masterson go.  The Red Sox never gave him a fair shake as a starter.  The starts we’ve seen from him have been outstanding; he’s held the opposition to about two runs while going deep for a young guy.  And he’s done it consistently.  I hope Cleveland will give him the chance to start consistently.  In other words, we’ll miss the kid, and I wish him the best.

We also traded Adam LaRoche to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman.  LaRoche first came up with Atlanta and he’ll also be going back to the National League, so I like that fit.  As far as Casey Kotchman is concerned, it surprised me a little to learn we swapped a first baseman for a first baseman when we just made a blockbuster deal for another first baseman, but Theo explained it and it makes sense.  Apparently, with LaRoche’s style at the plate, he needs to play regularly to be productive.  While he was here, for all of about a week, he did play pretty regularly and was productive, but perhaps in the long run if he were benched more often, he wouldn’t be.  On the other hand, Kotchman’s different approach would allow him to come off the bench more easily, and with a .282 average so far this season, I hate to say it, but he’s definitely an upgrade from LaRoche.  And he’s an awesome defender, too.

The Yankees acquired Jerry Hairston, Jr. for a catching prospect.  That’s it.  I’m serious.  I tried really hard not to laugh but wasn’t very successful.  I’m not saying the standings situation for the rest of the season will be easy.  I’m saying it just got a whole lot easier.

So in my opinion those were fantastic deadline moves.  Fantastic moves.  Congratulations again to Theo on a successful deadline.  We didn’t overpay for Martinez at all, and the LaRoche-for-Kotchman swap was a straight-up improvement in numbers; you sort of had this sense all along that LaRoche was a chip anyway.  Sad but, as Kotchman said, it’s a business.  Luckily LaRoche is comfortable in Atlanta, and it’s a win-win.  Speaking of win-win, it’s Beckett at David Hernandez tonight,and Martinez will bat third and play first.  I’m pumped.

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Don’t look now, but we just won two in a row! At the very least, we win the series, but from the way we’ve played over the last two games, a sweep is well within our grasp.  After a 7-2 victory, I have to say I’m feeling it.  Seven runs scored in a single game is the way it should be, and we haven’t seen that in a while.  More like seven runs scored in a single week.  But it looks like we’re slowly but steadily getting back on track.  Just ask the Yankees.  Their winning streak has been duly snapped.  By the A’s.  That is not something to be proud of.  And in a fantastic display of carpe diem, we shrunk their first-place lead to one and a half games.  Onward to first.  Give it a few days.

Lester was brilliant as usual; no surprises there.  With 109 pitches, he gave us quality through seven and a third, gave up two runs on eight hits, walked two, and struck out nine.  Best lefty in the game right here.  Fine, one of the best, as everyone else would say.  We know he’s the best in the game.  Eventually it’ll occur to everyone else and they’ll figure it out.  Probably just around the time Lester rolls into town to dismantle their lineup.  Bard was solid.  Ramirez took twenty-two pitches to finish the ninth.

And now for the offense.  It’s been too long since we had a proper spread to discuss, so I’m looking forward to this.  Ellsbury went two for five with two RBIs on two doubles, a theft of third, and a pickoff on second.  From the leadoff spot.  He’s finally getting used to it up there; all that time in the bottom of the lineup let him focus more on improving himself and less on the pressure of living up to his spot.  And he’s looking good in Number 1; every time he bats there, he looks better and better.  If he stays comfortable he’ll be even more of a tremendous asset.  Pedroia walked and scored.  Drew hit and made a throwing error.  Bay, ladies and gentlemen, went two for three with a walk and a run.  It’s about time.  Lowell, Tek, and Green all hit and scored.

And now for the grand finale.  Or rather grand finales.  We had two long balls.  Both for multiple runs.  Papi hit what amounted to an absolute bomb off the photographer well in center field.  With runners at the corners.  In the first inning.  So in the first inning, Big Papi hits a three-run home run.  Wow.  Just wow.  That one speaks for itself, no? So does the next one.  Two-run shot in the eighth ended up in the Monster seats for Adam LaRoche.  Welcome to Boston.  I think you’ll like it here.  What is it about these guys from the Pirates who come over to the contender of all contenders and suddenly their best comes out? I have no idea, but I hope it continues.  Theo Epstein must be very pleased.  One thing LaRoche has to learn if he keeps going yard: you have to take your helmet off when you enter the dugout.  If you don’t, everyone will start pounding it.  Hard.  Repeatedly.  It’s quite funny.  But other than that, LaRoche can keep on doing what he’s doing so far.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done.  One thing I will say is that the O’s went two for twelve with runners in scoring position, and we went two for six with the same amount of hits: ten each.  Which means that the O’s had more opportunities to score than we did.  That’s the pitchers’ responsibilities, so there’s an area of improvement right there if John Farrell needs something to work on.

The Cards acquired Matt Holliday, who went four for five in his St. Louis debut, tying his career high of hits in a single game and racking up the fifteenth four-hitter of his career.  This completely overshadowed the fact that Julio Lugo, also debuting for St. Louis, went two for five with a triple and a home run.  Good for him.  I think the National League pitching will help him out.

Jim Rice is being inducted into the Hall of Fame today.  Congratulations! Like I said, it’s definitely about time.  After twenty-five years and fifteen tries, you’ve earned it.  You’ve most certainly earned it.

David Hernandez at Smoltz.  I think the best thing for Smoltz to do here would be to not lose.  Rather to win and keep the momentum going.  We’re at home and facing a less-than-intimidating opponent, so the matchup should be a good one for Smoltz.  That’s not to say he can’t handle a bigger stage, that’s just saying it should be relatively easy for him to win this one.  Then again, I thought it would be easy for him to beat the Nationals and I was wrong.  Still, like I said, we’re at home, we’re in our division, it’s the second half, the postseason is in sight.  It’s a different atmosphere, so maybe we’ll see a different, and hopefully better, side of Smoltz.

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