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Posts Tagged ‘David Krejci’

See? I knew it.  Once we got out of April, we’d start seeing some changes.  Starting with Buchholz.  That was as good an outing as we were going to get to open this month, and by all accounts, it wasn’t bad at all.  We’re accustomed to seeing him pitch a full even innings, but six and two-thirds isn’t bad, especially when you consider the fact that he was pulled after allowing a single and stolen base but securing two outs in the inning.  He had only thrown seven pitches.

He scared me quite a bit when he started out, though.  He allowed three consecutive hits to lead off the game.  Thankfully, Drew gunned down Maicer Izturis at second when he tried to stretch a single into a double.

Buchholz allowed eight hits, but other than that, it was two across the board: he allowed two runs, walked two, and struck out two.  He threw 107 pitches, sixty-six for strikes.  His fastball and changeup were both moving and really effective.  All but one of his cutters were thrown for strikes, but he only threw one curveball for a strike all night.  He mixed his pitches effectively and varied his speed; he mostly stayed between seventy-five and ninety-five miles per hour, but he threw a two-seam at ninety-six and at one point went down below fifty-five.  He attacked the zone and had a tight release point except for this one pitch that was released differently and ended up being fouled off.  Each of his runs were allowed in each of the innings when he threw his highest pitch totals: twenty-five in the third and a whopping thirty-one in the fifth, during which he allowed a hit as well as both of his walks.

The bottom line is that this was his first quality start in six starts.  Bard came in to secure the last out in the seventh.

Meanwhile, our lineup put on quite a show.  Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? We were the first to score when Ellsbury singled and came home on a single by Youk in the first.  That lasted us until the fifth, when Crawford walked, Ellsbury reached on a force out, and both scored on a single that Pedroia hit on the thirteenth pitch of his at-bat with two out in the inning.

That at-bat was epic.  You may have been able to cut the suspense with a knife, which was obviously incredibly frustrating because you were watching foul ball after foul ball after foul ball for what seemed like forever, but that was a textbook example of how we play our game.  Everyone involved in player coaching and development stresses patience at the plate, because eventually it does pay off.  And that right there was patience at the plate if I’ve ever seen it.  He took a changeup for a ball, fouled off a slider, took a four-seam for a ball, fouled off a changeup and two four-seams, took a cutter for a ball, fouled off two more sliders as well as a changeup and two cutters, and finally put a ninety-one-mile-per-hour four-seam in play.  To review, he worked the count full, hit five consecutive foul balls, and then hit the single that basically ignited the rest of our offense.  That’s what makes a hitter dangerous.  He’s patient, so he makes you work and waits and waits and waits until he gets his pitch to hit, and when he does, there’s nothing you can do about it except sit back, relax, and watch those runners cross the plate.

You could seriously tell that that hit was one huge momentum shift, obviously partly because it gave us a one-run lead, but also because it was just a real galvanizer.  Pedroia has that effect on people.

Torii Hunter led off the sixth with a double.  But when Alberto Callaspo grounded to first, Gonzalez, who is not shy about flashing the leather, fired to Youk at third to get Crawford.  It was a pinpoint throw, even though it was in the dirt, and Youk dug it out expertly.  I think the Rally Monkey went home after that.

The seventh was one long inning.  Crawford opened it with a groundout, and then Tek singled and Ellsbury doubled.  After a pitcher change, Pedroia walked.  Gonzalez cleared the bases with a double off the Monster.  That was the first time in his Boston career that he hit the wall, and trust me, the scoring play was very aggressive.  Ellsbury crashed into Jeff Mathis so hard he bruised his left knee and was out of the game for the last two innings, leaving his status for tonight unknown.  And Pedroia was just a few feet behind him.  I’m telling you, we raise some scrappy guys on our farms.  Then Gonzalez came home himself on a double by Youk also off the Monster.  Then Papi did what he does best: crush long balls.  He unleashed on a ninety-three-mile-per-hour fastball on the fourth pitch of the at-bat to end his homerless streak at eighty-eight at-bats.

To be absolutely clear, that was a six-spot we put up in the seventh.  We scored six runs in a single inning.  Obviously, that’s a season high.  Most of last month was one giant stretch of us scoring less than that amount over multiple games in total.  So when Wheeler allowed two runs in the eighth and Okajima allowed his inherited runner to score in the ninth, that, ladies and gentlemen, was also something that did not matter.  (Does it matter long-term that our relievers allowed three runs in the last two innings of the game? Of course.  It’s not good.  But like last night, we should be able to score a sufficient number of runs such that it doesn’t matter.)

Crawford, Papi, Youk, and Ellsbury all went two for four.  Ellsbury stole two bases.  We left only five on base and went five for eight with runners in scoring position.  Almost half of our eleven hits were for extra bases.  As for Pedroia, he’s now six for twenty-nine opposite Jered Weaver.  But he came through in the clutch, so it’s all good.

Beckett will start on Wednesday after six days of rest, so it’ll be Lester tonight.  Meanwhile, we won, 9-5, and I’m going to enjoy this.  We should play the Angels more often.

In other news, the Bruins won Game Two! Thomas made fifty-two saves, and Krejci netted the winning goal in sudden death for the 3-2 win!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
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Last night’s game was even worse, not because specific bad things happened, but because good things didn’t happen.  We lost, 2-0, so the only good thing that happened was pitching, but without hitting, you lose, and it doesn’t matter.  To clarify, though, when I say that things don’t matter, I mean it in the sense that a win is a win and a loss is a loss, whether it involved good or bad pitching or good or bad hitting.  Wins and losses aren’t the only things that matter, but what matters for wins and losses is the final score only.  But things of that nature matter a lot for the long-term welfare of the team, although you could argue that wins and losses are just as important for the long-term welfare of the team.

Lackey pitched six innings.  He gave up only two runs on seven hits.  He walked four and struck out three.  No pitcher should ever deliver more walks than strikeouts.  No wonder he threw 113 pitches in six innings.  Sixty-three of them were strikes.  That number is not as high as it should have been; if it were as high as it should have been, Lackey would have stayed in the game for more than six innings with the same pitch total but less walks and less hits.  Almost half of his pitches were curveballs, which were thrown well.  He locked down two of his three strikeouts with the curveball; both were called back-to-back strikes in the first on the sixth pitch of each at-bat.  He locked down his third strikeout with a changeup in the second, which induced a swing and a miss.  So as you can see, the wind went right out of his strikeout sails early on.  His other pitches weren’t so great.  His changeup, cutter, slider, and especially his four-seam weren’t locating as precisely as usual, although all but one of the two-seams he threw were strikes.  Too bad he only threw about a handful of them all night.

He threw twenty-eight pitches in the third, when he gave up his first run.  He threw only eight pitches in the fifth.  That’s a disparity of twenty pitches, which is the total he more or less threw during each of his other innings.  But he kept us in it.  Any pitcher who keeps us in a ballgame during an off day deserves a hefty round of applause.  Even if the sad fact is that we lost and that as a result, that pitcher’s record now matches that of his opponent.  Doug Fister, who pitches, need I remind you, for the Seattle Mariners, also has a record of two and three.

The first inning was a microcosm of the entire game. Ellsbury led off the game with a walk.  Pedroia grounded into a force out.  Gonzalez singled.  Youk walked.  So we had the bases loaded with one out.  And what do Papi and Drew do? Strike out swinging and fly out, respectively.

We went down in order in the second.  In the third and fourth, with the exception of a double in each inning, we failed to threaten.  Then Salty led off the fifth with a double, and Ellsbury and Pedroia both walked.  Again the bases loaded, this time with nobody out.  And what do Gonzalez and Youk do? Hit into a double play and pop out, respectively.

In the sixth and seventh, we put two men on base in each inning via a walk and a double but did nothing else.  We went down in order in the eighth and ninth.

Salty had the only multi-hit game; he went two for four.  Gonzalez currently has a seven-game hitting streak; Ellsbury’s hitting streak stands at nine games.  Papi’s hitting streak stopped at six games.

We lost, 2-0.  We’ve been shut out three times this year.  We left eleven men on base, eight of whom were in scoring position.  That’s the largest number of runners we’ve left in scoring position in a shutout since 2005.   We went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.  We have the worst batting average with runners in scoring position in all of Major League Baseball.  Yeah, we’re definitely back to our old selves now.  I don’t understand this.  We sweep the Angels in four games on the road, but we can’t even score runs against the Orioles and the Mariners at home? Our starting pitching sparkled just a few days ago, and now we’ve lost four of our last five games.  Yup.  Back to our old selves we go.

In other news, the Bruins won, 7-3, in their first game of the series with the Flyers.  David Krejci scored four points.  Nothing overtime about it, folks.

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Wow.  Just, wow.  Hugeness this week.  Trust me, there is epicness to discuss.

Beltre and Felipe Lopez both declined arbitration, but there is still hope for the former.  We all know that the A’s are offering Beltre a sweet deal, but he’s taking his equally sweet time in signing it.  He stated publicly that he wants to return to Boston, so he’s waiting to see what Theo’s got.

It turns out that what Theo’s got is a seriously awesome replacement.  Adrian Gonzalez, welcome to Boston! Finally! He went to Boston yesterday for a physical to make sure his right shoulder is on track after his surgery, and he passed.  We’ll be sending Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, outfielder Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later to the Padres, which fortunately shouldn’t hurt our farm system too much because last year’s draft was so successful.  Although it’ll be rough to see them all go.  The important thing to keep in mind about prospects is that you never know.  They could be awesome like Hanley Ramirez.  Or they could be terrible like Craig Hansen.  We already know what Adrian Gonzalez is capable of at the Major League level.

There’s room for a contract extension; Gonzalez is entering the last year of his current deal and we already acquired permission from Major League Baseball to hammer out a new one by this afternoon.  That didn’t happen, so Theo might wait to watch his shoulder in the spring, and of course there are the luxury tax implications.  But he won’t be giving up all those top prospects if he weren’t assured that an extension could be worked out, which would give us stability at all three bags.  Given Gonzalez’s age, anything from five to eight years can be considered feasible.  We offered six, but he wanted eight.  So there you go.

But one thing’s for sure: celebration is indeed in order.  Gonzalez will succeed in Boston.  His lefty swing was practically built exclusively for Fenway Park, and he was able to excel in a quintessential pitcher’s park.  Seriously.  Most of his fly balls in Petco would’ve been out in Fenway.  That’s why I’m convinced that he’ll get over his National League-ness in a hurry.  By the way, he’s got two Gold Gloves at first.  And he started almost every single game for about the last five years.  Without DHing once.  So here’s to you, Theo.  Two years later, you finally closed the deal.  And the fact that the Padres’ general manager and assistant general manager of scouting and player development both used to work with Theo is the icing on the cake that didn’t necessarily work to our advantage since they basically knew our farm system inside-out.  Gonzalez will play first and replace V-Mart’s bat, we’ll move Youk to third, and Beltre, who’s older anyway, will now probably sign with the A’s.  The deal is done on principle.  All they need to do is announce it on Monday at Fenway and that’s it.  The Adrian Gonzalez Era in Boston has begun!

One more thing.  Fundamentally this deal was not about New York; it’s about us, our team, our organization, and our hunger.  But while we’re on the subject, I would just like to point out that, not only is Adrian Gonzalez the answer to Mark Teixeira, but we now have a young infield that’s locked and entering its prime while the Yanks have guys on the downward slope of their careers.  I’m just saying.  I would advise New York to be afraid.  Very afraid.

Tek signed a one-year deal with two million dollars plus incentives; those rumors about him going to the Dodgers couldn’t have been more wrong.  They started circulating because the Dodgers had to decide whether to tender Russell Martin, who’s awesome except for injuries.  We didn’t tender Okajima, given his poor performance last season, but we already tendered Paps and will be making offers to Ellsbury and Taylor Buchholz.  Rumor has it that we made an offer to Mariano Rivera before he signed a two-year deal with the Yanks.  The Yanks seem to be avenging this action by showing interest in Carl Crawford to drive up his price.  I honestly don’t think the offer to Rivera was serious.  And I honestly don’t think New York’s interest in Crawford is serious.  Unless they don’t get Cliff Lee.  If Lee stays in Texas, New York might seriously start looking at Crawford because they could always deal Brett Gardner for a starter.

Pedroia’s foot is almost at one hundred percent.  He’s been cleared to jog and will be ready for Spring Training.  We have officially met with both Crawford and Werth, who, according to Dwight Evans, is the best right fielder in baseball and similar to himself.  This is Dwight Evans, people.  That’s seriously high praise.

Not that that’s going to help anyone.  Not even Werth himself.  Werth is now officially out of the picture and off the deep end.  He signed a deal for seven years and 126 million dollars.  With the Washington Nationals.  I’m not kidding.  That tells me two things: one, he’s not hungry, and two, he’s essentially a fool.  He’s not going to win a ring with the Nats, and seven years from now, when his contract is up, he won’t be starter material, which is obviously something that the Nationals don’t care about.  So his ring with the Phillies will be the last of his career as a starter.  If he wanted security, he sure got it.  He knows where he’ll be for the majority of the next decade, and he’s getting a whole heap of money for it.  To be honest with you, he would have been great in a Boston uniform, but I wouldn’t want someone only interested in money and years to play for us.  Especially not someone who would ever seriously consider both money and years with the Nationals.  I mean, they’re the Nationals.  Not only are they National League, they’re the worst in the National League; in fact, they’re the worst in the Major Leagues.

But wait; it gets better.  He says he’s been considering signing with the Nats since hiring Scott Boras as his agent last season.  Let me get this straight: he hired Scott Boras to get him a deal with the Washington Nationals.  That’s ridiculous.  Why would you hire Scott Boras to cut a deal with the Nationals? Jayson Werth doesn’t need an agent to negotiate a deal with the Washington Nationals; Jayson Werth can walk up to the Washington Nationals, write down a year amount and a dollar amount on a piece of paper, hand it to whoever is spearheading the process, and receive a “yes” to everything in five seconds flat.  He says he’s impressed with the Nats’ acquisition of young talent? Give me a break.  Nobody expects all that young talent to stay there; as soon as they’re able, they’re writing one-way tickets into free agency and out of town.  And then he went on this tangent in which he basically implied that he only signed with the Nationals because they assured him that they’d continue to acquire the talent necessary to compete and win, because that is very important to him.  Oh, sure.  If it’s that important to him, he would not have signed with the Nationals.  So they present their future plans to him and he asks questions about the team.  Great.  Now let’s see the Nationals follow that plan, the young talent stay put, and Werth stay in shape long enough to merit his salary at the end of his contract.  I don’t think so.

We signed starter Brandon Duckworth to a minor league deal.  He was part of the Billy Wagner trade.  We are supposedly interested in reliever Matt Guerrier.

Oh, and I fully expect Mike Cameron to morph into some sort of hitting specialist against lefties, being that many of the AL East’s elite pitchers are lefties and some of our middle bats struggled against lefties last season.  The only potential hindrance to that expectation is playing time.  Cameron has the potential to get rolling, but he can’t get rolling if he never gets going.

The Spring Training schedule is out.  We’re opening with an exhibition doubleheader with Boston College followed by Northeastern.  March features competition with Minnesota, Atlanta, Philly, both New York teams, Florida, Baltimore, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Toronto, and Houston.

On Saturday, Sox Pax and tickets for twenty-one games in April and May will go on sale.

Get psyched.  The Winter Meetings are starting on Monday, and they’re going to be very interesting.  And by interesting I also mean hectic, since most of the important offseason deadlines have moved up.  Theo has his work cut out for him; we have a bat to replace V-Mart, but we’ll need another, preferably a righty, to replace Beltre since he’ll sign elsewhere, and relievers.  Good ones.  We’ve already made a splash; the key is to fill the club’s needs without removing all of our flexibility for next year.

In other news, the Bruins dropped Sunday’s game to the Thrashers, 1-4.  But then we shut out the Flyers, three-zip, and completely decimated the Lightning, 8-1.  Krejci and Ryder each racked up three points.  It was awesome.  If this were baseball, that would be considered a slugfest.  Then we lost in a shootout to the Leafs, but at least we get a point.  The Pats take on the Jets tomorrow.

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We celebrated another anniversary this week, also epic, also on a Wednesday.  Six years ago this past Wednesday, we won Game Four of the 2004 World Series.  We swept the Cardinals right out of St. Louis, broke the Curse of the Bambino, vindicated one Nation under Sox, and ushered in a new era of dominance by Boston baseball.  The ALCS victory was the greatest comeback in sports history, but the World Series was the greatest win in sports history, period.  Never gets tired, never gets old, and never gets forgotten.  I still get chills when I think about Foulke to Mientkiewicz.

Meanwhile, we have a problem.  It’s a huge problem.  Congratulations to John Farrell, the new manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.  He’ll be missed.  He’ll be sorely missed.  That’s our problem.  Let’s temporarily forget about the fact that Jays pitching is known to give us trouble in September.  More importantly and urgently, we now need a new pitching coach.  Let’s not kid ourselves; Farrell was awesome.  He was great.  He was one of the best pitching coaches you could possibly have asked for.  He knew the staff inside-out, and he’d worked previously with V-Mart.

We’re looking inside and outside.  So far, we’ve interviewed former A’s pitching coach Curt Young.  We’re going to interview Ralph Truel, our minor league pitching coordinator, and Major League advance scout Mike Cather this week.  We also might be looking at Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson, who worked with Tito when he was in Oakland.  At this point, whether the guy comes from the outside or the inside is not the issue.  The guy just has to be good.  Only two of our starters are home-grown, so it’s not like Truel would have that much of an edge over the other three.  The guy also has to be hired as soon as possible so he can start, because he’s got a lot of work to do.

The front office will also be busy, and not just because the stove is about to get hot.  A new agreement between the players’ union and the owners has shortened the free agent exclusivity period from fifteen to five days after the conclusion of the World Series.  That moves up the deadline for teams to offer arbitration by about a week, and so has the deadline for players to accept.  The tender deadline has moved up by at least a week.  I have faith that Theo is totally on top of his game.  I’m just saying that, with our own, we’re going to have to act fast.  Five days.  That’s, like, no time at all.  So we need to get moving.  We’re also going to have to be very shrewd in managing our payroll so it doesn’t get out of hand.

Congratulations to Wakefield, who won the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award for his community service.  He does it all, from local hospitals to the Jimmy Fund to Wakefield’s Warriors, where he invites children from the Franciscan Hospital and the Jimmy Fund to Tuesday home games to meet him and watch batting practice.  If you ask me, he’s been due for a long time now.  This was his eighth nomination.  But, ultimately, he gets exactly what he deserves.  Nobody deserves that award more than he does because, not only does he do a lot in the community, he does all of it quietly and without any thought about recognition for it.

Peter Gammons is convinced it’s going to be Carl Crawford, not Jayson Werth.  Papi wants an extension rather than just an option pick-up; no surprise there.

Good news: ticket prices will basically stay the same for 2011.  Bad news: it doesn’t matter much since most of us don’t purchase our tickets at face value anyway.

Other news: we shut out the Leafs on Thursday, two-zip.  Thomas made twenty saves.  Then we shut out the Sens yesterday, four-zip.  Krejci had a goal and an assist, and Thomas made twenty-nine saves.  Love it.  And the Pats beat the Chargers with the same final score we used to beat the Ravens: 23-20.  It was close, but it was still a win.  We’ve got the Vikings today.

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Well.  That was a win.  Barely.  With the emphasis on the “barely.” Of course, I’ll take the win, but that’s not the way I want to do it.  I don’t think this can continue for very long.

We just managed to hold on for the W, beating the Jays, 13-12.  We used seven pitchers over nine innings.  Starting with Beckett.  Who was awful.  He had to leave after three innings.  He gave up eight runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts.  A three-run home run.  Six runs in the third and two in the fourth without recording an out.  He threw eighty-three pitches.  It was just disgusting.  I actually felt mildly insulted that I was expected to watch his outing and believe that that was actually Josh Beckett pitching up there.  Of course, it was really Josh Beckett, which makes the whole thing substantially worse.  I mean, where did that come from? As far as I know, unlike Lester he hasn’t been known throughout his career as having bad Aprils.  But I think that this is a recent trend.  Last April, he tossed 530 pitches over 28.2 innings and gave up thirty-six hits and twenty-four runs, struck out thirty-one, and walked sixteen with a .303 OPP AVG, an ERA of 7.22, a record of two and two, and a team record of three and two in his starts.  He went fifteen and four with a 3.33 ERA the rest of the season.  This April, he’s tossed 502 pitches over 28.2 innings and given up thirty-six hits and twenty-four runs, struck out twenty, and walked thirteen with a .316 OPP AVG, an ERA of 7.22, a record of 1-0, and a team record of four and one in his starts.  So luckily, April is over in a few days.  It actually hurt to watch those three innings.

The bullpen failed to stop the bleeding.  Atchison and Schoeneweis each allowed a run.  (Beckett walked two in the fourth before leaving; Schoeneweis let Alex Gonzalez hit the triple that brought them home.  Yeah.  Remember him?) Okajima allowed two and is currently the Beckett of the bullpen.  Bard got a hold and Paps got a save; they and Manny Delcarmen were our only saving graces.  The three of them combined for four hitless, scoreless innings.  Delcarmen retired all the Jays he faced.  I hope Beckett and the rest of the bullpen thanked them profusely afterwards for bailing them out.  Again.  Somehow, Schoeneweis got the win even though he allowed hits for the two lefties he faced.

The whole ugly affair lasted four hours and thirteen minutes.  Ugh.

So it was Delcarmen, Bard, and Paps who made it possible for the offense to carry us through.  Drew singled in Scutaro in the first.  (Then, Youk was thrown out at home.) Tek singled and Beltre doubled in the third, each plating two.  Scutaro scored on a wild pitch in the fourth, followed by another two-RBI single by Tek.  Youk singled in Pedroia in the fifth.  In the sixth, McDonald doubled and Scutaro singled, each plating a run, and Pedroia doubled in two.  The starting lineup had five multi-hit games; all five were three-hitters.  Scutaro, Beltre, and Tek (yes, Jason Varitek) all went three for five, Pedroia went three for six, and Youk went three for four.  Pedroia stole himself two bases.

So, to emphasize: Jason Varitek has been tearing it up.  He has the best slugging percentage of any American League catcher, is currently batting .357, and has gone seven for twenty against righties.  I mean, what? Hey, if you’re hot, you’re hot, so I say leave him in.

Dice-K threw a simulated game in sixty-nine pitches.  He’s starting on Saturday.  Maybe that’s what this club needs to get the rotation going.

So, yes, that was pretty ugly.  We won, but it was ugly.  We’re still digging ourselves out of our hole in the standings, so we still technically can’t complain, but trust me, after we climb out we’ll have a lot to say about the starters’ performance this month.  So far, our aces in practice this month have been Wake and Buchholz.  Not Lester.  Not Beckett.  Not even Lackey.  Wake and Buchholz.  That says something.  The rotation needs to take care of itself.  It’s allowed 137 hits and seventy-eight runs, more than any group in baseball and the American League, respectively.  Although we can be extremely happy about the offensive production and hitting with runners in scoring position that we’ve seen recently.  Tonight Buchholz takes on Shaun Marcum.  Let’s try to have the starting pitching and the offense on at the same time.

In other news, the Bruins advance to the next round of the playoffs! Krejci racked up three points in our 4-3 defeat of the Sabres last night.  I’m telling you, I saw better hockey from the B’s this series than I’d seen all season long.

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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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That was the theme of the past two days.  The game on Tuesday was rained out and postponed to yesterday, making yesterday a double-header against the Twins.  And since the series was only two games to begin with, we basically crammed the whole series into twenty-four hours.  And we didn’t even finish the first game; it was called after seven innings due to the weather.  I mean from Minnesota’s standpoint there really wasn’t a point in finishing it because we were up, 10-1, at that point, but still.  If we were meant to score five more runs in that game, I would’ve liked to see those five runs.  But the nightcap stayed dry after being delayed an hour, and all in all it was a phenomenal day.  We swept the doubleheader and showed the Twins who’s boss, and the Bruins knocked the Canadiens completely out of the playoffs.  A four-game sweep and a burial in Montreal yesterday by a final score of 4-1.

I’m getting ahead of myself here.  First, let’s talk about Wakefield and the gem he pitched in the first game.  He went the whole seven innings, allowed one run on five hits with a walk and four K’s.  He became the oldest pitcher in baseball history to pitch back-to-back complete games.  I’m telling you, the man’s still got it.  Year in and year out we question how much he has left, and he never ceases to amaze us.  His ERA is 2.45.  Tim Wakefield’s ERA is 2.45.  That’s ridiculous.  Somehow, he just keeps getting better and better.  And the offense had an absolute field day.  Youk hit a two-run shot into the right field seats in the first, Green hit a two-run shot into the Monster in the second, and Lowell hit a two-run shot also into the Monster in the third.  Ellsbury went two for four, extending his hitting streak to eight games.  Papi went two for four, including a double.  Drew went three for three with a walk.  Lowell would finish the night three for four, and Green two for four.  So all in all we teed off.  Ellsbury stole, got caught, and was picked off.  Green made an error.  And because it was such a masterful event, I’m going to repeat that the final score was 10-1.  So as you can see the Twins were pretty much done.  “Blame It On the Rain,” as Milli Vanilli says, but if I were in a Minnesota uniform I’d be loathing Tim Wakefield all the way back to Minneapolis.

And those were just the afternoon festivities.  We rocked the nightcap, too.  For starters, Dave Roberts threw out the first pitch.  I’m telling you, whenever I remember that moment I start to lose it.  It all started with that one stolen base.  Pickoff attempt, pickoff attempt, pickoff attempt, he runs, he’s safe, we win seven straight, the curse is broken.  Just like that.  And it all started with that one stolen base.  Penny was on, a relief after his previous start against Baltimore.  Two earned runs on six hits with a walk and two K’s in six innings (the third run was the courtesy of another error by Green).  Justin Morneau hit a solo shot in the fourth.  After that, the relief came in and was perfect as usual.  Ramon Ramirez still has an ERA of 0.00 after pitching just over nine impeccable innings, Okajima was solid with a strikeout, and Paps came out to get some work in, because with all the runs we’ve been scoring he’s gotten a little bored lately.  And he was perfect, of course.  As far as the offense was concerned, it wasn’t so much teeing off as it was walking and making Francisco Liriano pay for it.  Liriano gave up seven runs in four frames.  And many of those were the result of walks.  If there’s one thing opposing pitchers know about us, it’s that if you walk our batters, chances are we’ll score some runs.  So that was not an outing you’d want out of your Number One starter.  Which is why he doesn’t pitch for Boston.  Jeff Bailey was added to the roster after Baldelli was placed on the fifteen-day DL with a left hamstring strain, and Lowell had the game off, so Youk moved to third and Bailey played first, and Bailey’s only hit of the night and first at-bat of the year was a three-run homer that probably had the skin taken off the ball.  Papi doubled again, and it seems like he’s hitting for extra bases consistently now, a trend I’d love to see continue.  Green had the only multi-hit performance, finishing his night at two for three.  Ellsbury, Drew, Bailey, and Bay, who leads the American League in walks, each logged a base on balls.  Pedroia was caught and picked off.

Did I mention that yesterday was Terry Francona’s fiftieth birthday? I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I wish a very happy birthday to one of the greatest managers in the game!

So we extend our winning streak to seven games, tying New York for second only one and a half games out of first.  That won’t last long.  We get the day off today and are facing New York tomorrow night at home.  It’s going to be Chamberlain at Lester, and quite frankly if Lester stays vintage we should make quick work of the Yankees.  I’m so psyched.

And last but most certainly not least, in other news the Bruins swept Montreal in four games.  We win the Stanley Cup quarterfinal for the first time in ten years.  We fell to the Habs last year, in 2004, and in 2002, but not this year.  This year we completely dominated them.  They stood no chance whatsoever.  Sweeps are hard to come by in hockey but we basically just finished a textbook model for how to do it.  Michael Ryder, former Canadien, scored twice and assisted David Krejci.  Phil Kessel shot out of the penalty box in the second period, got the puck, and put it in the net pretty much immediately.  Timmy Thomas made twenty-six saves.  It was awesome, unbelievable, and very satisfying.  But we’ve still got work to do.  Round Two coming up.  How sweep it is.

So just to recap, in a single day we sweep a series and a doubleheader, get two solid starts out of our Number Four and Five guys, let the offense go to town, welcome back the man whose stolen base started it all in 2004, extend our winning streak to seven days, advance in the standings, celebrate the birthday of our brilliant manager, sweep the Stanley Cup quarterfinal, bury our arch-rivals underneath a mountain of goals, eliminate them from the playoffs completely in their house, and advance to Round Two with all the momentum in the world.  I would say that that is one seriously good day.  All in a day’s work in Boston.  Even in the rain.

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