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Posts Tagged ‘Dustin PEdoria’

It was very, very clear that the team did not get my memo.  I specifically said that we need to play better baseball, baseball that was more appropriate and commensurate to the stage on which we currently find ourselves, namely the World Series.  That means that we need to be at our absolute very best, and it was quite obvious from last night’s performance that we simply weren’t.

Let’s start with Peavy.  His outing was great but short.  He gave up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out four.  He threw sixty-four pitches.  And he only pitched four innings.

His first inning was his worst.  He gave up a single, a sac bunt, an RBI single, another single, and another RBI single.  Then he ended the inning on two quick outs, went one-two-three in the second and third, and pitched cleanly out of a nobody-out bases-loaded situation in the fourth.

Doubront relieved him, pitching around his own jam in the fifth and going one-two-three in the sixth.  Breslow took over in the seventh and continues to have issues.  I shouldn’t have to say that this is epically the wrong time for issues of any kind.

He gave up a single, hit a batter, and was relieved by Tazawa.  Although Tazawa should not have given up a double, it’s also true that he shouldn’t have had to inherit runners either, both of which scored.  The inning ended four batters later.

Workman pitched around two baserunners in the eighth, and then we lost the game in the ninth.

In order to understand the similarity in disappointment and frustration between Game Three and Game Two, we obviously have to talk about the offense.  While we only sent up the minimum through three, we showed signs of life in the fourth, when Ellsbury singled and Papi walked.  We finally scored in the fifth.  Bogaerts led it off with a triple and scored on a force out by Carp to reduce the deficit to one.

Victorino led off the sixth with a walk and scored on a single by Nava to tie the game at two.  After the Cards’ two run double in the seventh, the score was 4-2, and I was really hoping that we weren’t about to lose by the same score we used to lose Game Two.

Fortunately, we managed to tie the game at four in the eighth.  Ellsbury singled, Victorino got hit, Pedroia grounded out and moved both runners into scoring position, and Papi walked intentionally to load the bases.  Nava grounded into a force out to score Ellsbury, and Bogaerts singled to score Victorino.  That was very small ball in a bases-loaded situation; that wasn’t exactly the blow-this-game-wide-open scoring play that I was hoping for.  But it allowed us to pull even, and we took what we could get.

That brings us back to the ninth.  We went down in order in the top of the inning and were hoping to force the game into extras.  Workman recorded the first out of the inning and gave up a single, and Uehara came in.  Uehara, as we all know, has been exceptional in the closer’s role.  Exceptional.  So it was not unreasonable to expect him to take us into extras, where we’d figure out a way to win, big hits or no big hits.

He gave up a double.  By itself, a double is no big deal.  And giving up a double in that situation, since there was only one other baserunner, was not, by itself, a problem.

It became a problem because Middlebrooks committed interference at third.  Uehara’s next batter had reached on a fielder’s choice.  The first runner was successfully thrown out at home, thanks to one of Pedroia’s signature diving catches.  Salty then threw the ball to third because he saw the runner trying to get back there.  But it was a bad throw, and in Middlebrooks fell down trying to make the catch.  He didn’t end up making the catch, but apparently he did end up impeding the runner’s path home.  So Middlebrooks got caught up with the baserunner, and soon he was just running toward home.  Fortunately, it looked like it wouldn’t matter because Nava made an excellent throw home.  But third base umpire Jim Joyce ruled Middlebrooks’s actions an obstruction.  And we lost, 5-4.

It’s always possible that that call was debatable.  In my opinion, umpires have to be very, very careful not to affect what is supposed to be a game’s natural outcome.  And while there are rules on the books that explain and determine what is and is not obstruction, one also has to consider the fact that it’s also possible that Middlebrooks did the only thing he could do given the circumstances.  Salty threw the ball; it wasn’t a great throw, but Middbelrooks still had to catch it.  And he did the only way he could do; he can’t be expected to simply not try to catch a ball, and there was no way out of that situation.  The whole thing was a complete mess.  I don’t recall having seen a play so messy and confusing, especially not during a postseason or a World Series.  I was too devastated after I understood that it had cost us the game to register what had happened, but after I saw it on replay a few times I was able to add some fury and outrage to that devastation.  Losing because it’s blatantly all your fault is a really hard thing to accept.  Losing based on a called play that can be questioned, especially during the World Series, is undeniably infuriating.  Of course, Joyce explained later that rules are rules, whether or not there was no alternative for Middlebrooks.  But to have the entire game decided on a play like that is just really, really hard for me to get on board with.

It’s bad enough that we lost.  It’s even worse that we lost during the World Series, on a walkoff on the road no less, and worse still that this has created a 2-1 series deficit.  But I also am really uncomfortable with the fact that we lost our second home game and have now lost our first away game.  We’re supposed to be the team that doesn’t let things like that get to us.  We’re supposed to be the team that can reestablish our momentum anywhere and carry it with us anywhere at any time.  I don’t care that now we’re stuck on the road.  We have no choice but to pick up, and fast, in St. Louis.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Devils, 4-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
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Now that was fun.  We buried the Angels.  We literally scored twice as many runs as they did.  I mean, if the Angels had only scored one run, then I could have said that we scored ten times as many runs as they did.  But double will work too.

More importantly than the margin by which we won is the fact that we won.  And we couldn’t have won without solid performances from both the pitching staff and the hitting staff.  The Angels were batting first, so as our starter, Dempster was the one who would set the tone.  In the end, he tossed a quality start; he gave up three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out six over the course of six innings.  In addition to giving up two solo shots (one in the first with two out and the other in the fourth with nobody out), he gave up a run thanks to a double-single combination in the fifth.

It was just really wonderful to see him get such strong run support and be able to walk away with the win.  He earned it.  He really, really earned it, and it was great to see that kind of performance from him.

Breslow pitched the seventh, and Uehara came out for the eighth.  While recording the inning’s first two outs, he got wild; he hit a batter and issued two walks.  One single later, the Angels’ run total stood at five.  Miller finished the inning and pitched the ninth.

But as I said, it’s not enough to have strong pitching.  To win a ballgame, one must have strong, or at the very least, sufficiently present hitting.  Our hitters were both strong and sufficiently present.

Iglesias led off the third with a single but was out in a force by Ellsbury, who stole second and scored on a single by Nava.  Then Pedroia singled, and it was the Angels’ turn to make a mistake.  In this particular case, it was a changeup that missed.  To Big Papi.  I mean, few hitters would have missed that opportunity.  But Big Papi? Please.  That ball stood absolutely no chance of remaining inside the ballpark.

Carp began the fourth by reaching on a throwing error; he moved to third on a wild pitch and scored two outs later on a triple by Ellsbury.  And then the sixth began.  And to start with, you had to do a double-take just to make sure you weren’t looking at a replay of a home run.  But that was nothing compared to the fact that, on a combined total of four pitches, Salty and Carp smacked back-to-back jacks.  It was epic.

One out into the seventh, Papi and Napoli worked back-to-back walks, and Salty had himself a multi-homer game! That, my friends, was most definitely not a replay.

And that’s how we beat the Angels, 10-5, in all our slugging glory.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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We went from a win to a loss, from slugging to almost nothing.  We could have spread out Tuesday’s run total, sharing the wealth between Tuesday and yesterday, and we would have won easily last night.  That’s the nature of the game, I guess.

Lackey gave up a solo shot in the fourth.  We tied it up at one when Pedroia smashed a solo shot toward the Monster with two out in the sixth.  It was huge.  I am continually amazed by how much power he’s got when he unleashes.

Lackey’s night ended after six.  But they were six glorious innings.  He gave up only one run on five hits; it was just the one mistake.  He didn’t even walk anybody.  Unfortunately, things fell apart when he left the mound.  Breslow came on, allowed a double, picked up the inning’s first out, and issued a walk.  Then he was pulled in favor of Uehara, who gave up a bases-clearing double.

Tazawa came out for the eighth.  In the bottom of the frame, Napoli walked with two out and scored on a double by Salty to trim the lead to one.  Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.  And we came up just short, 3-2.

In other news, the Bruins finally beat the Penguins, 2-1, in sudden death!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Well, that’s fun.  It’s nice to win the day after you’re statistically eliminated from playoff contention.  It’s not like we needed all the wins we could get before that.

If I sound bitter and annoyed, it’s because I am.  Who wants to be eliminated from the playoffs? Still, I guess if the choice on any given day is winning or losing, I’ll take winning whenever I can get it.

Cook pitched a gem.  It was a short gem, since I usually picture gems as being great starts that last long, but it was a gem nonetheless.  He allowed one run on five hits over six innings while walking one and striking out one.  He gave up a single in the first and fourth; his one bad inning was the fifth, but if every single one of our pitchers had a bad inning that looked like this one, we’d be in fantastic shape.  With one out and two on, he gave up a sac bunt that scored one.  Then we caught a thief in the act, so Cook’s only walk didn’t load the bases.  And he ended the inning after that.  He went one-two-three in the sixth to finish up.

Hill pitched the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Melancon pitched the ninth.  Melancon allowed the second and final Rays run, so he’s extremely lucky that we had already put ourselves in a position to win.  Otherwise that would have been crushing.  He gave up a single that could have been a triple thanks to defensive indifference and a wild pitch.  And then he gave up a groundout that brought the runner in.

Meanwhile, we were being no-hit through five.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for Salty’s walk in the second, we would have been the victims of a bid for a perfect game.  But as is often the case, when a pitcher pitching that well suddenly falters, the gates open and there is an opportunity to make him pay dearly for having almost humiliated you tremendously.  In our case last night, we didn’t exactly go off on a slugging rampage, but we scored enough runs to get the job done.

The sixth began innocently enough for the Rays with Podsednik striking out.  But then Iglesias got hit and moved to second on a groundout by Ciriaco and then third on a wild pitch.  But it turned out that he didn’t need to go all the way around.  All he’d had to do was get on base and wait.  Because Ellsbury went yard.  The count was 3-1, and it was a four-seam fastball.  And he was all over it.  He sent it beyond the right field fence.  And just like that, we had a one-run lead.  But it was about to get bigger.

Pedroia walked after that, stole second, and moved to third on a passed ball, but Ross ended the inning with a strikeout.  Thankfully, we managed to continue our rally in the seventh.  We didn’t waste any time, either.  Loney singled, Salty walked, and Lavarnway reached on a force attempt combined with a fielding error to load the bases.  Gomez pinch-hit for Podsednik and singled in two runs.  Nava pinch-ran for Gomez, and he and Lavarnway both moved over on a sac bunt by Iglesias.  Ciriaco intentionally walked to reload the bases.  And then Ellsbury singled in one more run.

And that was the end for us, so the final score was 5-2.  Am I annoyed that we couldn’t have done more with the bases loaded? Absolutely.  But a win is a win no matter how you get it, and we should at least be thankful for that.  We can be thankful for Ellsbury firmly finding his stride at the plate again, even though it’s a little late, and we can be thankful for contributing to keeping the Rays out of October.  In our position, we’ve got to find silver linings somewhere.

AP Photo

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We barely squeaked by in this one.  Still, we completed the sweep, and we, the team, and our record can all certainly feel mighty good about that.  Also, pretty much the entire bullpen was rolled out to secure the victory; we’ll get to their performance later.

Buchholz didn’t pitch that well, even though he got the W.  He allowed five runs on ten hits in five and one-third innings while walking three and striking out two.  He threw four pitches; most of them were four-seams, but he threw a substantial number of curveballs and cutters.  He threw only a handful of changeups; he himself admitted to lacking confidence in that particular pitch.  In total, it came to 107 pitches, sixty-nine for strikes.  It was obviously not his best work in the least.  But thanks to the offense and the bullpen, it was enough.

Ironically, he faced the minimum in the fifth, the inning right before most of his problems started.  See, he had allowed only one run previously; the other four were inherited runners that Atchison, Thomas, and Albers allowed to score.  You read right.  There were four pitches in that inning alone.  What is it with the starters and their bad innings lately?

The inning began with a strikeout that was followed by two consecutive singles, an RBI double, and a walk.  Then Atchison came on and allowed a two-RBI single.  Then Thomas came on and allowed an RBI double and hit a batter.  Then Albers came on and allowed an RBI single.  And then, and only then, did he manage to induce a double play to end it.  Padilla then pitched the seventh, Morales pitched the eighth, and Aceves pitched the ninth.  Albers, Padilla, and Morales received holds, with Aceves obviously receiving the save.

So here’s the problem, and it’s a problem I’ve often spoken of in the past.  You can’t afford to take the attitude that, since this one time they only allowed the maximum number of runs that they could possibly allow and still keep a lead intact, the bullpen was successful.  The bullpen was not successful.  Making a mess that your offense has to clean up is not success.  Making a mess that your offense has to clean up is failure.  We were fortunate that we scored one more run than they did in the end, but what if we didn’t? It’s not like the bullpen made a conscious decision to not allow one more run.  If the offense hadn’t scored seven runs, we may have lost.  It doesn’t matter if runs scored by inherited runners are charged to the starter; when a reliever inherits a bases-loaded situation, damage should not be expected, and we should not have to be surprised if the reliever is indeed lights-out.  I’m just saying.

Anyway, the offense didn’t waste much time getting on the board.  Papi opened the second with a walk, and then Youk singled, Salty struck out, Ross hit an RBI single, Byrd lined out, and Aviles smacked a three-run shot to left on a slider, the second pitch of the at-bat.  With that one swing, we had a four-run lead.  He crushed that ball.  He is absolutely on fire.

The very next inning, Salty hit a two-RBI single.  Pedroia led off the fifth with a triple and scored on a single by Gonzalez.  We went down in order in the last four innings of the game.  Fortunately, we’d already scored all the runs we’d need.

The final score was 7-6, and we posted ten hits.  Only three of those were for extra bases, and two of them, a double and a triple, were hit by Pedroia, who went three for four and was one homer shy of the cycle.  That was our only multi-hit performance.  So we were fortunate that, last night, it was enough.  Although the absolute last thing that we needed was Ross leaving in the sixth due to soreness in his left knee.  He better not be out for long.

In other news, the season, the playoffs, and the aspirations of the Bruins were officially ended by a positively heart-wrenching Game Seven.  We lost, 2-1, in sudden death overtime at 2:57.  Tyler Seguin scored our only goal, and Tim Thomas made twenty-six saves.  For the first time in the history of the playoffs of the National Hockey League, an entire seven-game series was ecided by one goal.  The three Game Sevens that we played in order to win the Stanley Cup last year was a record; since I was hoping for a repeat, I was hoping that this Game Seven would prove to be just as joyous as the others.  Clearly I was sorely and sadly mistaken.  Well, it’s been both frustrating and fun.  It’s a painful, painful way to go out, but as we’re used to saying in Boston, there’s always next year.

AP Photo

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