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Posts Tagged ‘Detroit Red Wings’

There haven’t really been any developments.  Showing interest and finalizing deals are two very different things, and we probably have a long way to go before things start heating up.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Penguins, 4-3, as well as the Rangers, 3-2, and Blue Jackets, 3-1, but lost to the Red Wings, 6-1.  And the Pats edged the Broncos, 34-31, in a real mess that eventually turned into a real awesome victory.  The first half of that game was an epic disaster.  I didn’t even know what team I was watching.  And as a result, I didn’t even know what team I was watching in the second half, either.  It was a situation of polar opposites, and the win was just unbelievable.

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Okay.  There’s no need to be scared or read into this.  Just because the last two times we’ve been to the World Series we’ve been able to sweep and get it done in four games doesn’t mean that we’ll lose the World Series just because we lost the second game.  It’s fine.  Honestly, we shouldn’t even have lost this one.  My point is that there is plenty of baseball still to be played.  True, we’re going away now, but that hasn’t stopped us before.  We’ll just have to get past it.

So Lackey did a great job while he was on the mound.  He pitched six and one-third innings and gave up five hits and two walks while striking out six.  He gave up a single in the first, a single in the second, and nothing in the third.  He cracked in the fourth when he gave up a triple to lead it off that turned into a run on a groundout.

That one run was a big deal because we had yet to score.  We went down in order in the first, and Napoli walked to provide our first baserunner in the second.  Ellsbury provided our first hit in the third with a single, and the bottom of the fourth looked promising.  Pedroia doubled and Papi walked, setting up Napoli.  Who then grounded into a double play.

Lackey went one-two-three in the fifth; Salty walked in the bottom of the inning, but that was it.  Lackey gave up a single in the sixth, and in the bottom of the inning, it looked like the game might be ours after all.

I’ve often said that, in a close game, one run feels like ten.  This one was no exception.  Because the longer you go without scoring runs, the more difficult it feels to score them.  After Victorino grounded out, Pedroia walked, and then it was Papi’s turn.  And I was busy thinking how great it would be if he just went yard, just like that, just because we really needed him to.

He took a fastball for a ball, fouled off a second fastball, and then received four straight changeups.  He took the first for a ball, the second for a strike, and the third in the dirt.

And he went yard on the fourth.  Hit that ball into the Monster seats.  Seriously.  Just like that.  Just because we needed him to.

It was huge.  It didn’t tie the game.  It gave us the lead.  In a close one.  In which scoring one run felt like scoring ten.  And as a result of that phenomenon, scoring two runs on one swing felt like a real jump out in front.

Unfortunately, the whole thing unraveled in the seventh.  That can not be overstated.  Literally the whole game was completely undone in the seventh inning alone.  It was one of the worst innings you can possibly imagine to occur during, of all things, the World Series.  Honestly, that kind of bad baseball is not even excusable during the regular season, let alone the postseason, let alone the pinnacle of the entire postseason.

Lackey led off the seventh with a strikeout.  Then he issued a walk and gave up a single, so John went with Breslow.  The Cards managed to execute a double steal, putting both runners in scoring position.  And Breslow walked his first batter to load the bases.

A double play would have ended it all.  But Breslow induced a sac fly.  Technically, that’s not so bad; you take the out in exchange for the run, which in this case would not be winning but rather tying.

But the whole thing went completely and epically awry.  I saw it with my own eyes, and I couldn’t believe it was happening.  I think that that had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really want to believe it was happening.

Not one but two runners scored on the sac fly, indeed providing the Cards with the winning run.  Salty missed the catch, Breslow made an error on the throw, and the whole thing turned into a huge mess as a result.  And then, to top it off, Breslow gave up an RBI single.  Thus, while Lackey was charged with three runs, he was also the victim of a situation in which some of them scored on someone else’s watch.

The final score was established right there.  We lost, 4-2.

Tazawa pitched the last out of the seventh, after which we went down in order.  Workman pitched the eighth, which for us looked like it had some potential.  Ellsbury reached on a fielding error, and Papi singled two outs later.  But Napoli popped out to end it.  Uehara pitched the ninth, after which we went down in order.

So at one point the game looked like it would be really good.  Then it was really, really bad.  All because of one play that was supposed to be routine but that instead cost us Game Two.  We need to pull it together.  Not only were those errors completely inappropriate for the World Series, but we also didn’t even have enough hits or runs to absorb that damage.  At the same time, I saw too many swing-and-misses and too many stare-at-strikes.  All of that needs to change immediately.  If we’re going to get this done, we need to take the proper steps.

In other news, hockey is back in Boston as the Bruins began their new season this month.  So far, we’ve beaten the Lightning, Red Wings, Panthers, Lightning again, Sabres, and Sharks, and we’ve lost to the Avalanche and Red Wings.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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Alomar is officially out.  Technically Lovullo is still in contention, but a second interview has yet to be scheduled, and that appears unlikely since Lamont is coming back for a second interview.  And of course we have Valentine to deal with.  Something of note is that Ben and the front office introduced Sveum to the brass.  Ben and the front office did not introduce Valentine to the brass.  The brass introduced Valentine to Ben and the front office.  Obviously that says something about who’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to Valentine.

Ben made some internal promotions, although obviously none to manager quite yet.  Mike Hazen, who’s run our farm system since 2006, is now Ben’s assistant GM.  Brian O’Halloran, a veteran of the organization, was promoted to Assistant VP of Baseball Operations last spring and is now the other assistant GM.  There were also several promotions in the departments of player personnel, Major League operations, player development, and scouting.

Ben also offered arbitration to Papi and Wheeler.

Justin Verlander stole Ellsbury’s MVP award.  Make no mistake.  Verlander may have the hardware, but Ellsbury was really the Most Valuable Player in every sense of the phrase.  He was absolutely brilliant.  I don’t care if the writers voted him in second place.  He finished the season with a .321 average, thirty-two home runs, 105 RBIs, fifty-two walks, thirty-nine steals, and a perfect fielding percentage of 1.  In fact, he hasn’t made an error since 2009.  That sounds like an MVP to me.  At least he was the top position player on the ballot.

Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association have signed a five-year deal.  It includes mandatory HGH testing, an even fifteen teams in both leagues by the 2013 season, more Wild Card teams and playoff rounds, expanded instant replay, and a worldwide draft by the 2014 season.  Everything seems good to me except the playoff and Wild Card expansions, which seem iffy.  The playoffs are already enormous, and the playoffs are supposed to mean something.  Do I wish that we made the playoffs every single year? Absolutely.  But I don’t want to increase our probability of losing and exhaustion if we do.  Plus, aren’t the playoffs supposed to mean something?

In other news, the Pats absolutely buried the Chiefs under their copious badness, 34-3.  It was a cakewalk.  The B’s had to eke out all of their wins this week.  We squeaked past the Habs, 1-0, and we bested the Sabres, 4-3, in a shootout.  The Red Wings snapped our winning streak at ten in a shootout, but we ended on a high note by besting the Jets.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Truck Day came and went on Tuesday.  Pitchers and catchers are reporting this Tuesday.  And we have about a week until everyone else heads down.  Spring, and by definition baseball, is in the air! So is our potential.  We are going to be so good this season, it’s not even funny.  It doesn’t matter what the lineup looks like, or who is on the bench, or who starts at short, or which month has the toughest schedule.  We’re going to rock.  Also of interest is the fact that in 2006, the majority of the club was riddled with injuries for more than half a season, and we came roaring back to win the division, post the best record in the Majors, and sweep the World Series in 2007.  Our injury situation was even worse last year.  So I can only imagine the kind of ownage and absolute glory awaits us this year.  I am extremely psyched, which is obviously an understatement.

We do, unfortunately, have one slight reality check.  JD Drew has a sore hamstring.  Already, if you can believe that, and the sad part is that it’s all too easy to believe it.  He won’t be firing on all cylinders by the time he reports.  As long as he’s healthy by the time the season starts, we’ll be fine.  Only a minor setback on our path to greatness.

Especially when you consider the fact that Josh Beckett is raring to go.  He, Lackey, and Dice-K all reported early on Thursday.  Beckett has lost weight, and his mobility appears to have increased.  This is good.  He appears to be poised to make significant improvements.  This is great.  If he actually returns to form this year, that would pretty much clinch the World Series before the season even starts.  And that’s fantastic.

In other news, we beat the Habs.  It was fantastic.  The final score was 6-4; between the two teams, eight goals were scored in the second period alone.  I would have preferred something closer to 6-0, but it’s a win, so I’ll take it.  Especially since we lost to the Red Wings on Friday and this afternoon.

Boston Globe Staff/Sopan Deb

 

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Again, with the no decision for the starter who pitched a masterful outing because a consistently good reliever turned spotty of late gave up a very inconveniently timed and placed home run.  Really, it’s just infuriating.  Lester pitched seven innings, gave up a run on two hits, walked two, and struck out eleven.  But according to the records, he has nothing to show for it.  The kid has officially found his form.  He’s pitching like he’s always pitched, he’s found his rhythm, and ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got another ace.  Okajima came in in relief; nothing wrong there.  In fact, Okajima got a hold.  Then, Ramon Ramirez came in to pitch the ninth.  You know, the one we traded Coco Crisp for? The one who’s always been lights out? The one who’s only given up six runs this season? Well, make it seven, because Ryan Howard hit one out to tie it.  Masterson, Saito, and Bard held the fort through thirteen until we won it.  Bard earned his first Major League save.

If you ask me, it shouldn’t have had to come to that, but when you’re facing an American League pitcher and you’re in a National League ballpark, you won’t exactly end up scoring and slugging left and right.  Makes for a pretty interesting contest.  But putting that aside, it could’ve been worse.  We could’ve been the Phillies, who played their third consecutive extra-inning game last night.  So their bullpen was shot to begin with, and they still had to use five relievers just to lose.  Meanwhile, our bullpen came into last night with a 2.88 ERA, good for the best in baseball.  No relief from our relievers for the opposition.  I like it.  And during the game you could see Jonathan Papelbon sitting in the bullpen trying to take it all in.  He’s happy-go-lucky but make no mistake, he’s a competitor, and there are few things more painful to a competitive athlete than to have to sit idly by and watch a train wreck in progress while not being able to do anything about it.  Okay, it wasn’t exactly a train wreck, but anytime Ramon Ramirez gives up a run of any sort, stop the presses.  But all in all, like I said, it was a very interesting game, and it was one of those games that helped to show us what we’re made of.  Because we were in a National League park, the usual defensive changes had to be made, which means key bats had to be benched to make room for others.  On top of that, there were day-off issues.  So everyone had more or less to stretch beyond their comfort zones a little bit to fill some strange roles, but at the end of the night, we did it, and that says something about the versatility dirt-doggedness of our guys.

We ended up winning, 5-2. We had two home runs on the night, both to opposite fields.  Youk hit a solo shot to right center to lead off the fourth and extends his hitting streak to six games, and Drew hit a solo shot to left center with two out in the fifth.  Then Ellsbury (single with the bases loaded), Green (sac fly), and Lowell (RBI single to left field) put together a three-run rally in the thirteenth to end it, and that also was a textbook display of staying with the pitcher, studying his motions, adapting, and manufacturing runs.  Bay went two for five with a walk and a run.  Ellsbury finished his night two for six, and it was good to see him swinging the bat good as new.  He played the whole game.  All thirteen innings in center field.  That’s a great sign.  Not surprisingly, none of our pitches got a hit.

Dice-K’s at Antonio Bastardo tonight, and he’s going to have to do some deep pitching and give the ‘pen a rest.  Speaking of starting pitching, we seem to have too much.  John Smoltz is almost done with rehab.  Clay Buchholz has been waiting in the wings since Spring Training.  Justin Masterson is technically a starter.  And Brad Penny’s already said that he won’t be satisfied with a bullpen role.  Why would he? He’s still got plenty of starter material.  So Theo and Tito have some decisions to make, and this should be interesting.

In other news, in the interest of sportsmanship I tip my cap to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Congratulations on forcing a Game Seven with Detroit.  Congratulations on getting it done without Marian Hossa, who thought he’d have a better chance at lifting the cup in a Red Wings jersey.  Congratulations on your Stanley Cup victory.

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One more week of Spring Training and then it’s go time.  It’s going to be a good season for us.  I can feel it.  And this year our home opener is also our Opening Day.  Against the Rays.  It’s going to be epic.  I’m psyched.  Seriously.  We don’t have starters yet, but I venture to guess Josh Beckett will get the call.  We’ll see.  Anyway, a lot’s happened this past week.  First of all, on Monday Curt Schilling announced his retirement.  I read that and the first thing I experienced was relief.  I think he knew it was time for him to hang up his spikes, and I’m glad he retired with dignity.  The second thing I experienced was gratitude.  We owe him a lot.  He was one of the most dominant pitchers of our time, especially in the postseason, and we know that first-hand.  We continue to celebrate his achievements in October, and we’ll be forever thankful for what he did with our team in 2004 and 2007.  I don’t think we could’ve done it without him.  So here’s to you, Curt, for all your hard work and bloody socks and playoff gems.  Thanks from a city that’ll never forget, and we look forward to seeing you in the Hall of Fame!

Our pitching this season is looking pretty good.  Theo did a masterful job during the offseason.  In fact, it’s possible that our pitching staff is too deep.  We have five starting spots and the usual handful in the bullpen, so we might not have a regular place for everybody.  But that’s fine too; if someone gets hurt, we’ve got a man waiting in the wings.  Brad Penny made his Grapefruit League debut on Monday against the Tigers.  He pitched three innings; no hits, no runs, one walk, three K’s.  On Wednesday, Clay Buchholz pitched six innings against the Reds; one unearned run, only three hits, three K’s.  He even retired twelve batters in a row at one point.  I’m telling you, with every outing this spring he’s looking more and more like he did in ’07.  And let’s not forget that Masterson is still very much in the mix.  Last year he was primarily a reliever but, like I always say, that’s a waste because he’s starter material.  This season his fate seems to be closely tied to that of Penny.  If Penny isn’t ready to start, it’ll probably be Masterson who fills in.  So we know that we have one of the deepest staffs in the league.  We also know that we need another man in the rotation.  We’ll first need a fifth starter for the Angels game on April 12, and we have three pitchers who could conceivably fill that role well.  This should be interesting.

Dice-K returned to camp on Wednesday after having been named the Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic again.  So definitely congratulations to him.  And after his return, he got right back to throwing and didn’t miss a beat, which is a good sign.  What I’d like to see is him retaining his composure with runners in scoring position while improving his efficiency by cutting down on balls and walks.  As for the World Baseball Classic, it’s finally over.  The USA lost to Japan, 9-4, on Sunday, courtesy of Derek Jeter, whose fielding error cost us three runs.  Figures.  Anyway, Japan went on to win the finals.  And by the way, Jeter finished the night one for five.

Perhaps most uplifting, we’re getting healthy.  Dustin Pedroia played his second game since his left abdominal strain on Sunday and went two for three with a double.  Mikey Lowell hit his second home run of Spring Training in the first inning of that game, a powerful two-run shot.  Big Papi hit a double and scored a run on Lowell’s homer.  Even Chris Carter got in on the action, belting one out in the eighth.  Then on Monday, Youk played four innings in the field and had two at-bats, walking once.  Lowell was also in the lineup, marking his first set of consecutive games since his hip surgery.  In fact, he, Jason Bay, Chris Carter, and Ivan Ochoa homered consecutively.  It was beautiful.  Brought back memories of April 22, 2007, when we tied the Yankees at four the same way.  Of course, we went on to win that game, 7-6.  Dice-K started and got the win, and it was the third and final game of that series.  Our first sweep of the Yanks since the 1990s.  That was a great game.  Anyway, point being that Pedroia, Youk, Lowell, and Papi all looked smooth and comfortable, which is a great sign.  We just need JD Drew to find his rhythm and we’re in business.

The only downside to this health trend is that it includes Julio Lugo.  It’s been a little more than ten days since his knee surgery, so he’ll be returning to the lineup soon.  Not that I want him to stay injured.  I just want to see Lowrie start.  Or I want to see Lugo’s offense and defense undergo a drastic overhaul.  I don’t think we can afford to carry Lugo in the lineup, at least not for his speed, because we have Ellsbury.

Lastly, it seems that Mark Teixeira would like to be the “bad guy” in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.  That’s fine with me.  In fact, I say bring it.  The Yankees’ bad guys haven’t been doing a very good job.  Jeter hasn’t been making much of a dent in the scoreboard lately, A-Rod hasn’t been hitting in the clutch, and Johnny Damon’s average is dropping steadily.  Besides, we have more pitching than we know what to do with, and our lineup is coming together.  So I doubt that, in the long run, Mark Teixeira will prove to be much of a threat.  Besides, we have an offense of our own.  The Yankees may try to throw us a bad guy, but we come to the Yankees with a lineup full of bad guys.

So we’ve got a week left until the season starts.  I love this time of year.  The speculations, the predictions, the optimism, the clean slate, the opening of Fenway, the team’s return.  Eight more days until Opening Day, my friends.  Eight more days.  As always, it’s been a long winter, but the season is just around the corner.  And we’re ready.

In other news, the Bruins played two games this past week and won both.  We beat the Devils, 4-1, on Sunday and the Leafs, 7-5, yesterday.  So we enjoyed a nice break between those, and we’ll need the rest heading into the playoffs.  We have 104 points, third behind the Sharks’ 109 and the Red Wings’ 107.  We clinched our division.  We have eight games left in the season.  All we have to do is play steadily, conserve our energy, and go into the playoffs with some momentum.  This could be it.  I’ve said it all along, but seriously, this could be it.  This could be the year we win.

Deadspin

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It never stops.  It’s remarkable.  Just when you think we’re going to barely escape the World Baseball Classic without another injury, Youk drops out with a left ankle sprain and Achilles’ tendinitis in his left foot.  Yes, both of those were diagnosed as mild, but still.  The man was in a boot.  He took batting practice without the boot yesterday and looked fine, and he should have the boot off for good today, but that’s not the point.  It’s unbelievable.  It’s absolutely infuriating.  We send our guys to play for their countries and they come back to us with injuries right before the season starts.  The World Baseball Classic occurs during Spring Training.  Not before.  Not after.  During.  Not only do participants miss Spring Training, but if they’re injured they’re laid out through the beginning of the season, and that’s a pretty crucial time, especially for a team that started its pennant race yesterday.  The only one of us left in the Classic is Dice-K, and he’ll be done tonight after the semifinal Japan-USA game.  (Incidentally, it should be an epic contest, especially because after all the injuries we don’t have anyone left.  Even David Wright is playing through pain at this point.) Dice-K will have missed almost all of Spring Training, having spent his time up to now with Team Japan.  On the upside, he’ll enter tonight’s start with a 2-0 record and a 1.80 ERA in the Classic; he allowed only nine hits and two walks while striking out nine.  So at least we know he’s ready.  But still.  World Baseball Classic? Not a fan.  Definitely not a fan.

And speaking of injuries, as unfortunately we’re doing quite often these days, JD Drew was hit by a pitch on his right hand.  Luckily the X-rays came back negative and it’s only a contusion and he’s not expected to miss playing time, but he dodged a major bullet there.  Breaking a bone in a hand can lay a batter out.  Proof: Big Papi last year, and Drew was the one who picked up the slack.  While we’re on the subject, I’d just like to say that Drew should bat clean-up.  His numbers were insane from the No. 4 spot last year.  Anyway, Tito says Drew is day-to-day and should have no lasting effects of the injury.

Pedroia returned to the field and the lineup against the Pirates on Friday; he played second for three innings and went one for two.  Nice.  Also nice was that Tek launched a three-run homer into the street behind right field in that game.  He ended up with four RBIs.  But the most impressive aspect of our win over the Pirates was Clay Buchholz’s five-inning outing, during which he threw seventy pitches, gave up only four hits and one walk, and struck out three.  The run incurred during those five innings was unearned.  I’m telling you, if he can keep this up, he’ll start for sure.  Seems like last season was just a blip on the radar.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Some more good news: during our game against the Twins (which we won also), Jason Bay jacked a moon shot over the 410-foot center field wall.  Cleared it completely.  The ball is estimated to have traveled 450 feet.  Wow.  That, my friends, is power.

We sent down six and waived one.  First baseman Lars Anderson and outfielders Josh Reddick and Zach Daeges were assigned, pitchers Hunter Jones and Felix Doubront and catcher Mark Wagner were optioned, and Josh Bard was placed on unconditional release waivers to make room for George Kottaras.  I’m telling you, the dude just can’t seem to stick.

In other news, the Bruins only played two games this past week, and we lost them both: 4-6 to the Penguins and an overtime loss to the Kings.  Yes, the Kings.  I’d rather not talk about it.  On the upside, we’ve finally reached 100 points, we’re still on top of the Eastern Conference by a wide margin, and we’ve clinched a playoff spot! On the downside, we’re now third in the league, behind the surging Red Wings and the ever-present Sharks.  And the only silver lining to that is that, in recent years, the top team in the league hasn’t necessarily done well in the playoffs.  Whatever.  We’ll be fine.  The Stanley Cup is coming to Boston; we’ll be fine.

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