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Posts Tagged ‘Dustin Pedroia’

Yes.  Oh, yes.  We are off to a mighty good start.  This is exactly where we want to be: right out on top.  I can’t be the only one sensing some familiarity with this whole situation.  So much time has passed, and so much has happened since then.  We are a completely different team now in innumerable ways.  But we are good.  And we can do this.

So the first game of the World Series is in the bag.  Oh, yes, it is indeed good to be back.

We started out very solidly.  Ellsbury led off the first with a walk.  Victorino lined out, Pedroia singled, and Papi reached on a force attempt with a little help from a missed catch to load the bases.  And then Napoli hit a bases-clearing double.  That was the best outcome short of a grand slam.  Three runs on one swing, and he looked really comfortable executing that hit.  Excellent.

Drew and Ross hit back-to-back singles to lead off the second.  Then Ellsbury flied out and Victorino reached on a fielding error to load the bases.  Drew scored on a single by Pedroia.  That’s not exactly the big response to a bases-loaded situation I was hoping for, but it’s better than nothing, especially since that run increased our lead to four and since Papi followed it up with a sac fly that scored one more.

We took a long break before resuming our scoring in the seventh with some long ball.  The Cards made three pitching changes in that inning alone; they made the third one after Pedroia reached on a throwing error.  And then Papi welcomed the new pitcher by homering on his very first pitch.  He hit it all the way out to right center field.  It was a massive home run.  It was beautiful.  As was the insurance we added in the eighth, when Nava doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly by Bogaerts.

For Lester, it was a great performance.  He had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth but grounded into a double play.  That was the worst of it, and he didn’t even allow a single run.  He was quite the laborer; he was really committed to keeping his head down and grinding through.  This is the great thing about Lester.  Even when it’s not easy for him, he still manages to make it work.

He very nearly went the distance, too.  Two outs into the eighth, he was relieved by Tazawa, who ended the eighth.  Dempster pitched the ninth.  Together, our staff almost pitched a shoutout; Dempster proved to be the undoing when he gave up a solo shot on his fourth pitch.  But aside from allowing a single, he put the Cards away after that.

And that was a wrap.  Game one is done, 8-1.  We now lead the series.  I want it.  Let’s get it.

In other news, the Pats dropped a painfully close one to the Jets, 30-27.

AP Photo

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What we did not need for Game Two was a repeat performance of Game One.  What it looked like we were going to get was a Game Two performance even worse than our performance in Game One.  But what we got was something completely unexpected in all of its familiar glory.

We were no-hit through six innings.  And if Victorino hadn’t gotten hit, and if Ellsbury and Papi hadn’t walked, we would have had no baserunners at all.

The same can not be said of the Tigers, who were busy capitalizing on Buchholz’s mistakes.  Admittedly, there weren’t that many.  But when your offense is completely turned off, one run against you can feel like ten.

Buchholz went one-two-three in the first.  After striking out his first batter of the second, he gave up a single, a double, and an RBI single.  He went one-two-three in the third and contended with two baserunners in the fourth after he recorded the first two outs and then hit a batter, issued a wild pitch, and dealt with Drew’s fielding error.  Then he went one-two-three in the fifth and gave up more runs in the sixth.  He gave up a solo shot with one out, and then he gave up another run thanks to two consecutive doubles, and then after securing the inning’s second out he gave up a two-run home run.  Plenty of mistakes.

He gave up a single after that and was replaced by Workman, who issued a walk and induced a groundout.  Two outs into the seventh, Doubront came in and ended it and pitched a fine eighth.

Fortunately, we finally got on the board in the seventh when Victorino singled and scored on a double by Pedroia with two out.  So we broke both the no-hitter and the shutout bid.  But we didn’t follow that with a rally.  Instead, we went down in order in the seventh.  Drew opened the eighth with a groundout, and then Middlebrooks doubled, Ellsbury walked, Victorino struck out, and we were all bracing ourselves for some very unpleasant flashbacks.

Then Pedroia singled to load the bases, and then I don’t know.  I really don’t know.  I don’t know what it is.  It could be everything aligning perfectly at exactly the right moment.  It could be the ideal combination of a number of factors.  Or it could simply just be something in the air.  It’s just really hard to figure out.  But somehow we just have this thing.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just a thing that we do that happens at a certain time of year.  And I guess there are just some people who can tap into that, and then things just happen and it’s perfect.

So when David Ortiz stepped up to the plate, I started bracing myself for flashbacks of a different sort.  I didn’t even have time to feel it in the air.  It just happened.  It happened faster than any of us could recall the same kind of thing having happened in the past.  It was just David Ortiz at home, standing at the plate, connecting with the ball.  Simple.  Just like that.

And he worked the magic.  It was an eighty-six mile-per-hour changeup.  It was the first pitch thrown by Detroit’s latest reliever.  And it ended up beyond the right field fence into the bullpen.

With one swing of the bat all the way in the eighth inning, David Ortiz tied the game and paved the way for us to tie the series.  David Ortiz hit a grand slam.

And then Uehara pitched the ninth.  And then Gomes singled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Salty.  It was a walkoff.  Just like old times.  We won, 6-5.

In other news, the Pats eked out a win against the Saints, 30-27.

Boston Globe Staff/Stan Grossfeld

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Okay.  It’s no big deal.  I mean, it better not turn into a big deal.  Just because the Rays managed to stave off elimination doesn’t mean that this whole thing is going to be a disaster.  Granted, I really would have liked to wrap this up already, but the extra playing time can’t hurt.  Still, I want to get this done.

This was just a close game all around.  We scored first; Ellsbury led off the game with a single and came home when Pedroia batted into a force out.  Then both teams went one-two-three in the second and third, and both teams had opportunities to score in the fourth, of which they did not take advantage.  Ellsbury doubled in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch to make it two-zip.

Buchholz gave up his first run in the bottom of the fifth; en route to securing the inning’s first two outs, he gave up a single and a double, and then he made a mistake that resulted in a three-run home run.  In total, Buchholz gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings while walking three and striking out five.  So that was really the only blemish of his performance, and it tied the game at three.

Neither team scored again until the eighth.  The sixth had been Buchholz’s last inning; Breslow and Tazawa pitched the seventh, and Morales and Workman pitched the eighth, during which the Rays edged ahead by one run.  This should not have been the case, because we had plenty of opportunities ourselves to score, but Morales opened the inning with a walk that turned into a run two singles and a popout later on a groundout.

Things were looking up in the ninth, when Pedroia managed to tie the game at four; Middlebrooks led off the inning with a walk, and Bogaerts came in to pinch-run.  Bogaerts scored when Pedroia grounded out, which at the time was critically important.

I thought we would hold out and settle it in extras.  Instead, Uehara came on for the ninth, and with the Rays two strikes away from playoff elimination, they came back to win it with a walkoff solo shot.  It was absolutely awful.  It was really crushing.  I mean, we were so close.  We were so close to putting them away, or at least to setting the stage for us putting them away.  The Rays are still down to elimination, but it was just really awful to see them come back like that.  The final score was 5-4.

In other news, the Pats dropped one to the Bengals, 13-6.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Cue win number two! We’ve cornered the Rays to elimination already! I must say that this series is proceeding quite swimmingly thus far.  We are taking the field and dominating every aspect of the game, and that is a wonderful site to see.  It’s good to be back.

Lackey’s performance was probably the downside of Game Two.  He lasted only five and one-third innings and gave up four runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out six.  Lots of hits and lots of runs.  That would have been really bad news had the offense not stepped it up.

He gave up a walk that turned into a run after a single and sac fly in the second.  En route to securing the first two outs of the fifth, he gave up a double and hit a batter, and both turned into runs on another double.  And he gave up his last run in the sixth on a single-single combination before he was lifted.

We scored first.  Ellsbury singled in the first, stole second, advanced to third on the throw, and scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  And then Papi went yard on his second pitch of the game to right center field.  No big deal.  Just Papi doing what Papi does during the playoffs.  Yeah.  Back indeed.

Ross and Ellsbury hit back-to-back doubles to lead off the third, thereby scoring a run.  Then Victorino singled, and Ellsbury scored on a force out by Pedroia.  Napoli walked to lead off the fourth and scored on a triple by Drew.  Ellsbury led off the fifth with a single and scored on a double by Pedroia.

And then Papi did in the eighth what he did in the second: he homered on the second pitch of his at-bat, this one straight up to right field.  Yes.

Breslow finished the sixth and pitched the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Uehara took care of the ninth.  And then we won, 7-4.  Let’s get this done.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Soxtober has officially begun! And the beginning is good! We’ve got our first win very much in the bag; it was a slugfest.  That’s what I call starting the playoffs off right!

We got to play the Rays, and we really put them in their place.  Lester got the nod to start this one, as we knew he would, and he delivered an absolutely excellent performance.  He pitched seven and two-thirds innings and gave up two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out seven.  His two runs were the results of two mistakes; in other words, he gave up two solo shots, the first one with two out in the second and the second one leading off the fourth.  Other than that, he was a master.

Tazawa pitched the rest of the eighth, and Dempster pitched the ninth.

And that brings us to the offense.  Both of Lester’s home runs occurred before we got on the board, so I’m sure the Rays thought they had a real shot at winning this one.  Man, were they sadly, sadly mistaken.

We didn’t waste time; we scored our first runs, but certainly not our last, in the bottom of the fourth.  Pedroia singled, Papi doubled, and both scored on a double by Gomes.  After Salty struck out, Gomes scored on a single by Drew, who scored on a double by Middlebrooks, who scored on a single by Victorino.

With one out in the fifth, Napoli doubled, Gomes walked intentionally, and both scored on a double by Salty.  After Drew struck out, Middlebrooks walked intentionally, and Salty scored on a single by Ellsbury, with a little help from a deflection.

We put on the finishing touch in the eighth.  Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Victorino.  Then Pedroia singled and Papi walked to load the bases.  Then Napoli walked in a run.  Pedroia scored when Gomes grounded into a double play, and Papi scored on a single by Salty.

And that’s how we won our first playoff game, 12-2.  Done.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Congratulations, Red Sox Nation! We are officially fans of 2013’s best American League baseball team.  Oakland lost, so now our enjoyment of home field advantage is very much perpetuated.  Oh, it’s great.  It’s just so insanely great.

Lester started out strong but ended up having a mediocre night.  It was a real grind.  Ultimately, he gave up four runs on nine hits in five innings while walking two and striking out four.  On average, that’s about two baserunners per inning, which also means a lot of pitches: ninety-seven, to be exact, which is about the number of pitches we usually expected him to need to get through at least two more innings.

With two out in the second, he gave up a run thanks to a single-double combination.  He gave up a solo shot on his very first pitch of the third, a sinker gone wrong.  Then he gave up four singles in the fifth, three of which were consecutive, to bring in his final two runs.

So yeah, it was a struggle.  There are nights when it comes easily, and there are nights when it just doesn’t.  It could have been much worse.  At least he kept us in the game.

We didn’t score in the first three innings, but we scored in each of the next four.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Ross in the fourth.  Drew doubled and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fifth.  Nava singled and scored on a double by Ross in the sixth.  And Drew and Pedroia led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, and after Napoli popped out, each scored on a single, the first by Gomes and the second by Nava with a little help from a fielding error, even Gomes was thrown out at third.

Thornton went in for the sixth, and Tazawa went in for the seventh.  Two singles in to the eighth, Morales relieved him.  Unfortunately, after he registered the first out of the inning, he gave up a two-run double that put Baltimore on top.  And that was when Workman came in.  But we failed to score in the eighth and ninth, so we ended up losing, 6-5.

But let’s not forget about that home field advantage.  Now throughout Soxtober.  Loss aside, that’s a pretty big consolation prize.  I’m going to enjoy this.

AP Photo

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And now we have home field advantage for the division series.  It’s nice how that works out.  You know, like when we tee off against Baltimore and make sure we’re spending our first Soxtober game in our house.  It’s pretty simple if you ask me, but it was big fun to watch.

First, there was the first inning, which is when we set the tone.  Ellsbury grounded out on the game’s second pitch, which probably provided a momentary false sense of security before Pedroia and Papi hit back-to-back singles, Pedroia scored on a double by Napoli, and everyone came home on a solo shot by Nava.  There was no hesitation; it was his first pitch of the game, a curveball, and he knew exactly where the bat had to go.  And then the ball launched beyond the right field fence.  Boom.  Then Gomes walked and scored on a triple by Drew.

So we scored five runs in the first inning alone.  In hindsight, had we stopped there, we still would have won.  But we were at it again in the third.  After Napoli struck out, Nava and Gomes hit back-to-back singles, Nava scored on what was ruled a double by Salty (being that the game turned out as it did, the outcome of the review, again in hindsight, didn’t really matter much), and Drew cleared the bases with a single.

With two out in the eighth, Bradley and Pedroia worked back to back walks, the Orioles made a pitching change, and Papi promptly welcomed their new arm with a massive home run to left on a fastball, his third of a four-pitch at-bat.  It was that classic Papi swing, and to see him hit that home run so easily was quite a relief.

And last but not least, Gomes unleashed on the first pitch of his at-bat in the ninth.  We really carried that down to the wire.

Buchholz delivered a very high-quality start.  He gave up only three runs on seven hits in seven innings with no walks and four K’s.  He was, yet again, a master.  He just made a few mistakes.  He gave up a single followed by a home run in the third and a solo shot in the sixth.  So, literally, a few mistakes.  Other than that, he just looked more and more comfortable as the game goes on.  That’s the norm for him, and it’s good that he’s finding his groove again.  Seriously, it’s getting hard to notice that he just came back; he looks like he hasn’t skipped a beat.

Breslow pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.  And we won, 12-3.  Oh, and home field advantage.  Did I mention home field advantage?

AP Photo

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