Posts Tagged ‘David Price’

The definition of a quality start is a start that lasts for more than six innings, during which the starter gives up no more than three earned runs.  If we go by that definition, Josh Beckett’s outing barely made the cut.  He pitched six innings, gave up four earned runs on seven hits, didn’t walk anybody, and struck out nine.

But the definition of a Beckett-esque start is a start that lasts for more than seven innings, during which the starter gives up no more than two runs, earned or unearned.  And if we go by that definition, it’s hard to see whether Beckett made any improvements at all last night.  He didn’t walk anybody, but he allowed two home runs, both solo shots.  The four earned runs is double the amount the vintage Beckett usually allows, and the seven hits and three-run second inning have to go.

John Farrell made a point of saying that Beckett’s problems can be fixed in short order.  It’s now officially September .  The playoffs begin in thirty days.  That’s roughly six starts.  I have to believe Farrell can fix it before the start of October, but how many more starts will it take? Losses aren’t exactly helping us here.

To be fair, the bullpen didn’t exactly help our cause, even if it did help Beckett’s.  Ramirez pitched the seventh and two batters into the eighth (without recording an out) and gave up two runs.  Delcarmen pitched an out’s worth of the eighth and gave up one run on a two-run shot by Evan Longoria.  Saito pitched the rest of the eighth.  Ramirez, not Beckett, took the loss, because the Rays scored three more runs in the eighth.

The lineup performed less well than it has been recently.  That’s an obvious statement, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s true.  The final score was 8-5, so the runs had to come from somewhere, but only about half the starting nine got hits, let alone a multi-hit game.  V-Mart singled in a run and walked twice.  Youk went two for four with two doubles and a fielding error, and when Youk makes a fielding error, you know something’s gone wrong.  Bay hit an RBI triple.  Drew batted in a run.  Gonzalez doubled.  And that was it.  Ellsbury and Joey Gathright both stole second base.  And in the bottom of the sixth, with two out on a 3-2 count, Ellsbury made a diving catch to end the inning.  Yet another play of the game.  Basically as a rule if Ellsbury makes a catch, it’s the play of the game.

Congratulations to Youk for being nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award! Apparently, Curt Schilling has expressed some interest in Ted Kennedy’s senate seat.  Oh, boy.  Brad Penny, San Francisco’s newest Giant, threw eight shutout innings yesterday.  I’m telling you, there’s nothing like a move to the National League to get a struggling pitcher going.  Speaking of which, John Smoltz was tipping his pitches while he was here.  The Cardinals figured that out and brought it to his attention, and he stopped doing it and is now suddenly solid for St. Louis.  If only he’d realized that sooner.

That’s pretty much all, folks.  It wasn’t a great game pitching-wise, and I’ll take the five runs even though we’ve done better.  It’s not that five runs is such a small amount.  It’s more that we have it in us to score more, so if it’s necessary to score more, we should’ve scored more.  Conversely, you can also make the argument that five runs is enough and it’s the pitcher’s fault for not being able to work with that.  Ordinarily I would agree, but because of Beckett’s string of bad outings, I’ve essentially stopped depending on him to work with any amount because you never know just how bad the outing is going to be.  (There’s something I thought I’d never say.) Obviously baseball doesn’t always work like that and it’s not that simple, and obviously the lineup did its best, but I still would’ve liked to see more.  But it is what it is, and we lost.  It happens.  Besides, at this point I’m more concerned with Beckett’s performance than with the loss itself.  Tonight we’ll win.  Buchholz at David Price.

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This is not how you want to begin Rivalry Week, for a number of reasons.  First and most obviously, we lost.  You don’t want to begin Rivalry Week with a loss.  You don’t want to begin any series with the Rays with a loss.  Our playing relationship with the Rays has been strange ever since they were good last year.  Last year, it looked like nobody knew quiet how to play against them (except the Phillies).  It was as if everyone was in shock and nobody knew exactly how to deal with the fact that it was the Rays who were taking the AL East, the toughest division in baseball, by storm.  At the end of the year, the league finally got used to it, but this year, they’re back to their usual mediocrity.  Every team has teams against whom they just don’t play well against, for whatever reason.  For us, they’d be the A’s (that’s been getting better) and the September Jays.  The Rays don’t quite fit into that category because last year threw all of us for a loop and now we have to return to a solid groove.  We haven’t found that groove yet, so the first game of every series becomes extremely important in establishing the tone.  To lose the first game of this series is to engage in an uphill battle to then change the timbre of the set in the next game.  Not to mention the fact that it sets us back a game and a half since the Yankees won, and the Rays gained on us by a game.

It was also bad because we lost in thirteen innings and took six relievers to do so.  Terry Francona literally emptied the bullpen.  He emptied it completely.  Masterson was traded, so there really was nobody left.  What could he do? At that point you have no way to stem any damage that may result because you don’t have another guy to turn to.  And sure enough, it was Takashi Saito, our last pitcher, who gave up the walk-off, two-run homer to Evan Longoria with two outs in the bottom of the thirteenth inning.  But again, Terry Francona’s hands were tied.  Once you empty your bullpen, you’re at a point of no return.  I was hoping that we’d be able to preserve the rest obtained from the off day until at least a few weeks from now, as in I was hoping not to have a game like this until we’d been able to enjoy a refreshed, rejuvenated, and revitalized bullpen, but so much for that.  And to make matters worse, this happened the night before Brad Penny’s start, which means the ‘pen’s going to have to get ready to work overtime again.  Perfect timing.

Speaking of the pitching, here’s how it went down.  Lester pitched the first six and a batter.  He was absolutely brilliant.  He gave up a run on three hits with two walks and ten strikeouts.  It really doesn’t get any better than that.  The man was dealing.  Okajma got a hold.  And then Bard got a blown save when he allowed Longoria to lead off the eighth with a home run.  And he made a throwing error.  He was just on a roll, wasn’t he.  Actually, the go-ahead run could’ve scored on that error, but after the umpires realized that the ball actually lodged itself in this bag of balls that sits by the Rays’ bullpen in right field, they ruled that no runs would score.  I’m telling you, Tropicana Field is just a strange place to play.  Delcarmen, Ramirez, and Papelbon gave up four hits and three walks while striking out three between them but didn’t allow any runs.  Paps threw ten of fifteen pitches for strikes.  Not bad.  And then Saito came in and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s a question: do you walk Longoria to get to Zobrist or do you pitch to Longoria, as Tito opted to do? Longoria himself said he was surprised when Saito went after him.  Walking Longoria to get to Zobrist would’ve put runners at the corners.  Zobrist bats .259 with runners on and .276 with runners in scoring position.  Longoria bats .298 with runners on and .294 with runners in scoring position.  Saito was already at twenty-nine pitches by the time Longoria came to the plate, but we all know Tito wasn’t taking him out of there.  If the game went past the thirteenth inning, his only alternative would’ve been to send Buchholz to the mound to start the fourteenth, and with Buchholz starting on Saturday, he wasn’t about to do that.  So he was probably going to stick with Saito no matter what.  Now, if it were me, I’d walk Longoria and put the pressure on Zobrist who would’ve been less likely, at least by the numbers, to deliver, and I’d have the lineup work its magic in the top of the fourteenth.  Perhaps because Tito knew he would’ve had to stick with Saito, he figured someone would get to Saito eventually so why risk injury or fatigue by prolonging the inevitable.  That logic makes sense but I still would’ve rather given our lineup at least another half-inning to get the job done.

We scored our two runs exclusively via the long ball.  Youk led off the second and Pedroia led off the sixth, and that was that.  Pedroia and Martinez each went two for six on the night.  Youk obviously got a hit, and the only other people who made constructive contact were Ellsbury and Reddick.  We went one for four with runners in scoring position.  The one isn’t the problem.  It’s the four.  We only managed four situations with runners in scoring position during the entire game.  That’s not good.

JD Drew is back in the lineup after dealing with a left groin strain.  For the first time this year, Bay sat for two successive games with a cramped left hamstring.  He’ll probably be back tonight when Drew will get the night off because David Price, Tampa Bay’s starter, is a southpaw.  Wake will throw a side session before tonight’s game.  At this point his back is better.  The problem is that there’s been weakness in his left leg; specifically he says his calf has “shut down.” They think it’s a nerve issue resulting from the lower back strain.  So at this point, it’s not that he can’t pitch, it’s that he can’t field from the mound.  So that’s what he’s been working on recently.  Dice-K will probably throw a side session next week.

It wasn’t a great night, is the point.  Hopefully tonight will be better, but given the struggles he’s had recently, Brad Penny’ll have to lock and load if he wants to win this one.  Luckily, Price really isn’t that great, so it’s very doable, but I’ll be psyched if Penny can save the bullpen some work.

Lowell Sun

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