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Posts Tagged ‘David Huff’

Last night was just bad.  Really bad.  Really, really bad.

Let’s start with Lackey.  After those first three starts after the break, I was convinced this one was going to be even better.  It certainly started out that way; Lackey fanned six of his first eleven batters.  But things quickly unraveled starting in the fourth, his worst inning for pitch count with twenty-six.  He had two outs with nobody on base, and the entire game just got away from him with a single, another single, and an RBI double.  Thankfully Kalish ended it with an excellent and pinpoint throw to the plate.

After that, Lackey was terrible.  He lacked almost everything a dominant pitcher should have.  He was inefficient; he threw 107 pitches during his five and one-third innings.  He was not effective; he gave up six runs on nine hits while walking five.  He was mediocre: his best pitches were his slider and cutter, while his curveball, changeup, and fastball left much to be desired.  He did get his fastball up to ninety-four miles per hour, and he did strike out seven, but that’s not really helpful after presenting your team with a deficit that large.  By the time he came out of the game, he had allowed three runs to score in the sixth while recording only one out.

The relief corps was excellent.  Delcarmen, Richardson, Wakefield, and Bard pitched the rest of the game.  While Lackey was busy taking the loss, the four relievers were busy showing the world why it wasn’t technically all that necessary for Theo to go all out at the deadline for another reliever.

So that’s one high point.  That was the only high point.

Papi scored on Beltre’s sac fly in the second.  That was it for us until the seventh inning.  Again with the missed opportunities.  Scutaro was gunned down at the plate.  We had runners at the corners with nobody out in the fifth and failed to do something with it.

And of course there was the third, when Youk left the game.  He had jammed his right thumb in the first while lining to short and tried to play through it but ultimately couldn’t.  V-Mart moved to first, Cash moved behind the plate, and Red Sox Nation moved their hands to their mouths in complete and total disbelief.  I mean, seriously? Is this for real? We had a ton of very significant injuries, we were just starting to get healthy again, and now this happens? And to make matters worse, Cameron is back on the DL with abdominal issues.  Technically we should be happy about that.  He’s been playing the past few months in pain.  Not days.  Not weeks.  Months.  Nobody knows his status for the rest of the season.  So we recalled Nava.  But all of this begs the question of Ellsbury, who’s played in four minor league games and in his most recent one made an extremely difficult jumping catch over the fence in classic Ellsbury style.  Nobody but Ellsbury knows what he’s feeling, but if Cameron can see Major League action for months with a muscle tear, and Youk can stay in the game until the pain becomes unbearable, and V-Mart can return to action the split-second he’s feeling fine, I would expect Ellsbury to return to action very soon if he’s making catches like that.  Of course, a rib issue is more serious than other issues, but we need him.  We really need him.

Then in the seventh, Beltre homered into the Monster seats on an offspeed.  And then I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we all had a comeback on our minds.  We were losing, we entered the last third of the ballgame, and given our performance in recent games, we had every reason to expect something to happen.  Something did happen, but not what we had in mind.  Nava pinch-hit for Patterson and hit a single, so Kalish was waved around.  Santana was waiting with the ball.  They collided; Kalish was out, and so was Santana with an injury.  But the hit was completely clean.  Kalish was pretty shaken by it, as a rookie is wont to be.  Also, that was a bad decision on Bogar’s part.  We have one out in the inning and we’re losing by four runs, and he sends the runner on that hit? Not a good idea at all.

Still, Beltre raised our hopes even further with two out in the eighth, with his three-run blast, also into the Monster seats, also on an offspeed: a hanging slider.

Then it’s a one-run game heading into the ninth.  It’s crazy.  And now we’re really thinking we’re going to do something here.  We’re going to lock this up.  We’re going to start the series off right.  We’re going to show this team who’s boss.  It’s going to be epic.  It’s going to be the third walkoff in a row.  Isn’t it?

No.

Kalish went three for three, Papi went two for four, and Scutaro went two for five.  But Beltre alone batted in all of our runs, scoring two of them himself.  He finished the night two for three.  For one night, Adrian Beltre played Yaz carrying the entire team on his shoulders.  And we all know what happened in 1967: we were almost there, but we lost to the Cards in seven games in the World Series.  Similarly, last night we were almost able to overtake the Indians, but in the end we couldn’t do it.

We’re six and a half games behind the Rays and the Yankees, who are now tied for first.  There’s really not much to say.  We need wins.  We need them in abundance.  And we need them now.  Seriously.  Every game from this point on is a must-win.  Beckett takes the hill tonight opposite David Huff.  It must start tonight.  We must win.  Tonight.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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That’s it! I think he’s got it! I think Dice-K’s previous start really was the turning point we all hoped it would be! Technically, we should wait until his next start to be absolutely sure, but all signs point to goodness.  And the solution to his inconsistency was, more or less, as we suspected it might have been, under our noses all along.  A pitcher fires too many pitches because he’s inefficient, but why is he inefficient? In Dice-K’s case, he was inefficient because he was pitching around batters instead of to batters.  He was being too careful.  That meant that walks were coming back to haunt him, and he left games early.  We know this was his problem because every time he’d get himself into a jam, he’d be able to get himself right out.  So the stuff was there, and quality was never at issue.  During his previous time out, he had something to prove so he pounded the zone and achieved an excellent result.  This time out, he did the same thing.  And voila.

Ironically, I remember that this was a topic of discussion during Dice-K’s first two seasons with us that sort of faded into the background when his injuries and the controversy over his training burst onto the scene.  His inefficiency specifically due to lack of aggression had been discussed, but I guess it took a back seat to everything else that was going on.  It took a completely horrendous display of careful pitching to remind him that batters will hit the ball anyway, so why not just go for it.

Last night marked Dice-K’s 150th career win, and he picked up the game ball for his daughter.  He pitched eight shutout innings, needing 112 pitches to do so.  His pitch count didn’t even reach one hundred until the eighth inning, when he walked one, induced a double play, and got a looking strikeout.  His pitch counts would regularly reach 140 when he played in Japan, so he was ready to get back out there and finish off what he started, but of course Tito sent Bard out, who ironically gave up a home run.

Dice-K gave up four hits and only two walks while striking out five, his first coming in the fifth.  His pitch of choice? The cut fastball, rather than the slider.  He threw the lowest amount of sliders last night since he started throwing them at all, thanks to V-Mart who got into rhythm with him and called for what was working.  His cutter was exceptional.  Front door, back door, you name it, he threw it for a strike.  And not just any strike; a first-pitch strike.  After seeing him throw so many balls, his strike zone last night was a thing of beauty.  He used all parts except the upper and lower right corners; when he did throw a ball, chances are it was around the upper left corner.  Other than that, he used all parts of it.  About sixty-three percent of his pitches were strikes in total.  He stayed ahead of the batters and kept counts low while keeping the pace of the game up.  He varied his speed, mixed his pitches (his two-seam was also thrown well), and maintained good movement on everything.  He did not throw more than nineteen pitches in any inning and needed as few as nine to finish the second.  Mostly he threw between ten and fifteen pitches in a given frame.

In short, he brought it.  He was on his game.  The Dice-K we saw last night is the Dice-K we’ve been waiting for.  And although all evidence points to this Dice-K being the Dice-K we see from now on, I would recommend at least waiting until his next start to see if he’s really found his groove.  I think he has.  He’s a pitcher; he’s tried so many different solutions and knows when one works.  And now that he works well with V-Mart, I think he could really get rolling here.

So the final score was 4-1.  If you ask me, it should have been way more lopsided than that.  We left ten men on base, seven against Carmona.  We had runners on base in every inning Carmona pitched.  Five of our eight hits were for extra bases, but none of them were timed well enough to lock it up completely.  We manufactured all four runs ourselves.  Combined with Dice-K’s stellar performance, it was enough to cause Carmona’s fourth consecutive loss.

Scutaro scored on Youk’s sac fly in the first.  Reddick scored on Papi’s fielder’s choice groundout in the third.  Scutaro scored on V-Mart’s sac fly in the seventh; the bases were loaded with nobody out and that was all he could manage, but it’s still a run and I’ll take it.  As Tito said, if you put up only one run in a frame, but repeatedly, it adds up to a win.  Something similar occurred in the eighth; Beltre led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch, scoring on Hall’s single.  But the rally stopped short when Scutaro grounded out and Pedroia struck out.

Scutaro went three for four with a career-high three doubles, extending his hitting streak to six games.  V-Mart went two for four with a double.  He even caught a theft in the fifth!

Apparently, the pitching staff is taking guitar lessons together just for fun.  That’s some good team bonding right there.  Bonser joined the bullpen yesterday because Paps has been placed on the bereavement/family medical leave list, which means he’ll be out for three games.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I offer him and his family condolences and best wishes for a speedy recovery.  Meanwhile, look for Bard in the closer’s role.  In the First-Year Player Draft, we selected second baseman Kolbrin Vitek twentieth overall, outfielder Bryce Brentz thirty-sixth overall, and pitcher Anthony Ranaudo at thirty-ninth overall.  Two big bats and a pitcher on the first day; not bad!

I didn’t think I’d be able to say this anytime soon, but I’m actually looking forward to Dice-K’s next start.  I’m anxious to see whether this turnaround and new pitching style is for real.  If it is, I would recommend that the league watch out because, as we have seen, when Dice-K is on, he’s good.  He’s really good.  So I really hope that the Dice-K we’ve seen in his previous two starts as well as his no-no bid is the Dice-K who’s here to stay.  Meanwhile, we have four starts we need to win, starting tonight with Wakefield at Huff, as Wakefield looks to redeem himself from his last two starts.

AP Photo

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