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Posts Tagged ‘Dusty Brown’

Whenever I talk about a truly great pitcher after a sub-par performance, I make the inevitable joke that I had no idea said pitcher was capable of allowing, say, five runs instead of the usual three or three runs instead of the usual one or one run instead of the usual shutout.  The degree of badness of a pitcher’s bad day is directly correlated with the degree of goodness of a pitcher’s good day.  That’s why a good pitcher’s bad day is a bad pitcher’s good day.

And that’s exactly why I can honestly say in all seriousness, joking aside, that I truly had absolutely no idea that Jon Lester was capable of bombing a start to the egregious extent that he did so last night.

Lester got shelled.  I haven’t seen a start this bad from any pitcher in a very, very long time.  At his worst, I don’t even think Dice-K was this bad.  This is going to be painful to talk about – it’s bad enough I had to watch the whole thing – but let’s do it.

Lester only lasted two innings.  He was finally and mercifully pulled in the third without having recorded an out.  And in those career-low two-plus innings, he somehow managed to give up a career-high nine runs on eight hits, two of which were homers, while walking three and striking out one.  We’re lucky he didn’t give up as many walks as he did runs, and we’re lucky he at least collected one K.  That’s how truly awful he was.  And he threw fifty-one pitches.  That’s half the usual total in less than half the time.  This was, without the shadow of a doubt, the absolute worst start he has ever made in his entire career.  This one start raised his ERA from 2.80 to 3.26.  And he knew it right from the first pitch.  He knew what was coming.  V-Mart knew it when he warmed him in the bullpen.

His command was utterly lacking.  His location was utterly lacking.  His movement was utterly lacking.  His cut fastball was totally lame.  His cutter and sinker were his only working pitches; too bad he threw a grand total of eight of them combined.

Both of those home runs were three-runners by Overbay on pitches that were up and right down the middle.  It was like watching a replay, and I’m thinking I already saw this once already; I don’t need to be reminded of it again.  Of course it would’ve been a replay if we were lucky.  And it was the second homer that chased Lester in the third, leaving us in a 9-zip hole that would only get deeper.

Usually this is where I say that every pitcher has his bad day and it’s particularly unfortunate and inconvenient for us that his bad day is coming now, when every game is a must-win, but I can’t say that here.  I can’t say that here because this is so incredibly beyond everything we know about the kind of bad day Lester usually has.  Usually, when Lester has a bad day, he gives up five runs.  If it’s a really bad day, he gives up six or seven.  But this I’ve never seen from him.  And I don’t really know what to make of it.

Of course that meant that the bullpen had to work overtime, and as is typical for days like this, they didn’t exactly stop the bleeding.  Atchison allowed two runs.  Bowden allowed three.  Delcarmen allowed one.  And Wake, though unearned, allowed one.

In the seventh, Dusty Brown batted in two runs with a double.  That was it for our offense for the entire game.  We lost to the Toronto Blue Jays by an incredibly painful and frustrating and disappointing and just plain miserable final score of 16-2.  It still hurts.

And as if last night couldn’t possibly have gotten any worse, Pedroia is back on the DL with soreness in his foot.  He was only back for two games.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Thankfully, the baseball gods had a world of mercy on us; the Yanks and Rays both lost last night.  The only other bright side was that the starters got a good rest.  And Yamaico Navarro, called up to take Pedroia’s roster spot, collected his first Major League hit, a pinch-hit single on a fastball down the middle for Scutaro in the fifth.  But other than that, there really wasn’t much to cheer about.  And as a result, I look forward to Lester’s next start, when he will undoubtedly unleash a world of dominance in order to make all of Red Sox Nation forget that last night even happened at all.

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Yesterday I said that Buchholz needed to step up and go deep.  He did the exact opposite.

He stepped down and left short.

Simply put, he was rusty.  He hadn’t pitched for a while, and it showed.  Nothing to be done about it.  I’d hoped the adrenaline would kick in and give him an extra boost, and perhaps it did but to a negative effect.  It’s hard to say.  The bottom line is that he didn’t pitch well and we lost as a result.

He only lasted four innings.  In that time, he gave up five runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts.  What’s unusual is that he also gave up two home runs in back-to-back innings, a solo shot in the second and a two-runner in the third, in addition to a wild pitch as well as a balk.  Without those three things, he’s just having your average bad day, but those three things tell you it was rust.  To put that in perspective, entering the game he had given up three home runs total for the entire season thus far.

He threw eighty-nine pitches, only fifty-six of which were strikes.  His fastball was excellent – he topped out at ninety-four miles per hour and sustained that through his four innings – but his offspeeds weren’t working, and when Buchholz’s offspeeds aren’t working, Buchholz isn’t working.  He didn’t control them.  They were up in the zone, and when he tried to lower them, they ended up in the dirt.  His first-pitch strike was practically nonexistent.  He threw twenty-four pitches and issued two of his walks in the first inning.  The count per inning went down from there, but he never really did settle in.  His strike zone was noticeably skewed to the left.  He threw pitches outside to the left of the zone as if it were actually part of the zone.

In that one start, his spectacular ERA of 2.45, which would have led the American League if he tossed enough innings, just blew up to 2.81.

The important thing to focus on here is that he felt fine.  Just keep that in mind.  He felt fine.  He may have been rusty and pitched horribly, but he still felt fine.

Buchholz left after giving up two consecutive singles in the fifth; Atchison then allowed both of those inherited runners to score as well as an unearned run.  Bowden took care of the rest.

Speaking of returning to action, Jed Lowrie is finally back.  After an incredibly long battle with mononucleosis, he started at short and batted second.  He scored the first run of the game on Beltre’s single in the first.  That was the only run we’d score that inning, even though seven of us went up and loaded the bases.  The next three innings were one-two-three.  Then Lowrie singled in a run of his own in the fifth.  He also drew two walks on the day.  He also delivered a horrible throw to first in the fourth inning that made Youk leave first uncovered to get it.  Youk actually ended up right in the line of the runner and a collision ensued.  Thankfully, he’s fine.  Then Beltre jacked a two-runner in the sixth on a low fastball.  He didn’t even need to kneel.  He would finish three for four with three RBIs.  Then Patterson made a spectacular diving catch in the seventh.  Then Cameron delivered an incredibly strong throw home to throw Crisp out at the plate in the eighth; praise for Brown who was exactly in position to receive it.  Then we lost, 4-6.

If I had to identify a theme for this series, it would probably be missed opportunities.  How many times over the course of the last few games have we done nothing with the bases loaded or not recorded an easy out or not converted a start or a relief appearance into a win or a hold? Those are all missed opportunities, and those hurt the team.  They hurt the team because they prevent runs from scoring, but they also hurt the team because they weaken the morale.  When you see a chance in front of you that you fail to take, it lowers your confidence, and that is not something we can afford right now.  We’ve lost three of our last four series, and we’ve averaged only three runs per game since the All-Star break while batting a collective .220.  Thankfully, we’re clearing out of the Bay Area.  We lost Pedroia, V-Mart, and Buchholz all during our road trip to the Bay Area at the end of June.  So I don’t really want to hang around too long.  Although the good news that balances all of this is that we’re finally getting healthy, as I said.  It started with Buchholz; Richardson, by the way, was sent down to make room for him.  It continued with Lowrie.  It continues again with Hermida, who returns today.  Unfortunately, that means we have to send Nava down.  Nava’s been great.  We promoted him and gave him some big responsibilities, and he most definitely came through.  He’s got a good thing going here, and hopefully he’ll keep it up.  Meanwhile, we’re off to Seattle.  Lackey starts the series opposite Rowland-Smith.  I really hope his start is good.

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Does anyone remember the last time Lester lost at home? April 18 against the Rays, with an ugly final score of 7-1.  We haven’t lost a series at home since May.  Yesterday afternoon marked our six hundredth consecutive sellout at Fenway Park.  More than thirty-seven thousand people turned out to see what we all expected to be a sendoff for the Rangers in the form of a rousing defeat.  I mean, Lester hasn’t lost at home since April, right?

Wrong.  He lost yesterday afternoon.

It’s not like he tanked.  He actually pitched well.  He tossed eight innings, gave up three earned runs on nine hits, walked three, and struck out six.  His pitch-count was decidedly Lackey-like at 118.  His change and curve were as effective as ever; his cut fastball wasn’t as effective as ever but was still effective.  He threw eight pitches in the first, but the game wasn’t fated to be that easy.  He threw at most twenty-one pitches in the fifth and around there for the rest of his innings.  He let go of only one pitch outside his release point.  His strike zone was excellent. He just, for some reason, didn’t have it.  He threw his usual tricks at them but they hit the ball anyway.  His walk total was appropriate, so command wasn’t an issue.  He didn’t give up any home runs, so it’s not like he was making all sorts of mistakes.  He just got read, that’s all.  It’s rare, I know.  Thankfully.  I didn’t even know it was possible for batters to read him at all.

Lester did have a fourth, unearned run to his credit, or rather to who but Beltre’s credit.  Cruz took a breaking ball for a double, and we tried to throw out Hamilton at the plate, and when that didn’t work, Dusty Brown fired to first to contain the runner, but Beltre couldn’t handle the throw, and the runner scored.

We also have the added embarrassment of the double steal in the fifth.  While Young was busy striking out, Andrus was busy stealing second and Borbon was busy stealing home.  You read right.  It was awful.

As if that weren’t frustrating enough, in the eighth, Andrus scored on a single and was tagged before he reached home plate even though home plate umpire Gary Darling ruled him out.  I was furious.  I’m still furious.  The tag was clearly applied before Andrus’s foot touched the plate.  If that run doesn’t score, Cameron’s long ball brings us within one.  Maybe we still don’t win, but at least it’s closer and the call was right.  Plays like this are exactly why the call that ruined Armando Galarraga’s potentially perfect game won’t be overturned.  Because if you overturn that one, you have to overturn all these other ones that aren’t correct, and I don’t think Major League Baseball is too keen on opening that Pandora’s box.

On the other side of the game, the offense tried to come back but didn’t.  Speaking of more humiliation, Wilson established a new career high of ten strikeouts for himself.  Youk, fresh off his impact on Saturday night, led off the second with a single and scored on Beltre’s subsequent double.

We had some nice plays in the field, too.  Scutaro repeated his nice pivot catch from yesterday in the fifth, and Hall tried it on in the sixth.

We had our opportunities.  In the sixth and seventh, we had two runners on with two outs, but those opportunities ended with a strikeout and a popup, respectively.

Cameron did lead off the ninth with a powerful homer on a letter-high fastball into the Monster seats, cutting their lead in half.  Kinsler bobbled a ball in the infield and Hall reached.  But then of course Scutaro had to line out to short.

We designated Molina and called up Bowden as a reliever.  And Beckett is officially starting Friday.  Hold on to your hats.

Our July is quickly becoming April, Version 2.0.  I hate to say that, but it’s hard to ignore.  What is this? We just can’t have decent starts out of the gate? The All-Star break threw everyone off? I don’t get it.  We start our ten-game road trip today, and usually I dread our trip out West, but we just lost at home, and I guess if we can’t do it at home, we need some sort of change of scenery.  That’s just sad, isn’t it?

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Well, that’s a wrap.  That’s the end of the road for 2009.  The regular season is over.  Done.  Finished.  And we made it! Bumps, bruises, trades, designations for assignment; you name it, we did it, and we made it through it.  We made it to the second season and beyond.  The way in which we got in was a little strange, but I’ll take it.  It doesn’t matter what your record was in the regular season, or how you played against a particular team, or who was injured in Spring Training.  Once you get to October, you start with a clean slate.  And if you’re right, you’re right, and you go all the way.  And we, ladies and gentlemen, are right.

Yesterday’s game was good and bad.  The bad was Buchholz.  He gave up six runs on five hits in three innings with two walks and six strikeouts.  And when I say six runs in three innings, I mean one in the first and the rest in the third.  This was his second bad start in a row, and I don’t like where this is going.  The regular season ended just in time; he’ll get some extra rest before his next start.

The good was pretty much everything else.  Ramirez, Bard, Cabrera, and Paps didn’t allow any runs.  Bowden allowed a run but got the win.

The final score was 12-7, so very similar to Saturday, and in more ways than one.  Pedroia hit a two-run shot in the fifth.  Kottaras, who played third base, went two for two.  V-Mart, Varitek, and Dusty Brown each walked.  Ortiz batted in two.  Drew went two for three; two solo shots, one in the fourth and one in the sixth.  Drew is a pretty quiet guy, so it’s been hard for some fans to relate to him.  But one thing everyone can relate to in Boston is a dirt dog, and that’s exactly what Drew is.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but make no mistake about it.  “Dirt dog” is the only way to describe someone who was out of the lineup due to a shoulder issue and who comes roaring back, with exactly the same swing (and I mean exactly the same), and uses it to belt two out of the park.  Speaking of coming back from injuries, Gonzalez hit a home run in the second, so we know everything’s good there.

And last but not least, we had another grand slam yesterday! Jed Lowrie in the sixth inning.  He only finished the night one for three but when you plate four runs with one swing of the bat that’s okay.  The ball ended up in our bullpen, keeping his batting average with the bases loaded decently above .300, which is uncanny, especially for a young guy.  But speaking of injuries, he did grimace when he hit that ball, something not uncommon for him when batting from the left side of the plate.  So unfortunately, he’s not completely out of the woods health-wise, but you couldn’t help but cheer for him personally when he hit that slam.  It was a much-needed epic ending to a disappointing season.  That’s what I call going out with a bang.  By the way, before V-Mart’s slam on Saturday, our last grand slam was hit on April 25 against the Yankees by who but Jason Varitek.  Just sayin’.

In the fifth inning, Ellsbury reached base on a wild pitch even though he went around.  That puts his seventieth steal in context.  Jacoby Ellsbury is the fastest man in Major League Baseball.  No, really, he’s the leader in steals for 2009.  Carl Crawford didn’t even come close.  And he’s tied for fifth in triples.  (Stephen Drew, JD’s brother, is second.) Pedroia finishes the season second in the Majors in runs and tied for third in doubles.  Bay is tenth in walks, fifth in RBIs, and tied for ninth in home runs.  Youk is sixth in on-base percentage and OPS.  Drew is ninth in walks and tenth in both on-base percentage and OPS in the American League.

So those are our league leaders.  We have a pretty good amount of guys in the top ten of the Majors.  I think we’ll be in good shape against the Angels.  Regarding the schedule, there are two: start on Wednesday and get Thursday off or start on Thursday.  The Yankees have scheduling preference, and they technically don’t have to pick a schedule until after today’s playoff between the Twins and Tigers.  But they’d be crazy not to start on Wednesday since they’d be facing an opponent who had to play full-force the day before.

The playoff is in Minnesota.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we won’t be too sorry to see the Metrodome go, but apparently they want to keep playing baseball in it.  As of this season, home field advantage is given to the winner of the season series.  The change was made because, last year, the Twins lost a playoff to the White Sox in Chicago, 1-0, as a result of a coin toss.  That was a ridiculous rule.  So now the Twins can exact revenge.  We obviously have a substantial interest in this game, and nobody will be rooting for the Twins more than me.  I hate to say it, but the Twins are the hottest team in the AL right now, and if anyone is in a good position to steamroll over New York, it’s Minnesota.  And I’d be perfectly happy with the Thursday start.  I don’t think I’d want a day off in there.  Think about it.  If we win the  first game, we have momentum we want to sustain.  If we lose, we have a bad taste in our mouths we’d like to get rid of quickly.  So it works out.

But either way, October is here at last, and Lester has officially gotten the nod to start Game 1.  And Don Orsillo is calling the series on TBS.  Get psyched!

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Beckett’s outing was okay.  Not bad, not great.  He allowed two runs in the first and two in the second before settling down to pitch three shutout frames.  He allowed seven hits over those five innings with three walks and five strikeouts, and he threw 98 pitches.  So his runs, hits, and walks were up while his strikeout count was down and his pitch count showed inefficiency.  But I still don’t worry about him.  This whole situation with these last few games is very strange.  We win the Wild Card on someone else’s loss, we give the starters all sorts of rest, and we wait.  I feel like that has to take some sort of toll on the psyche of a competitive workhorse like Beckett.  Not to mention the fact that his timing was out of whack because of the extended rest.  But putting that aside, the reason why I’m thrilled with his performance is his health.  The fact that he settled down and got through it means he’ll be in good shape by the time postseason play begins.

Byrd allowed two runs on three hits in the next three innings, which is why he’s not on the postseason roster.  Richardson did fine.

Aside from Beckett, pitching is so not the point here, though.  The offense is the point, and with a final score of 11-6, there was a lot of it.  But before we talk about that, some words on the lineup.  This is one of the most interesting and creative lineups I’ve seen this season.  Pedroia led off, followed by Bay, followed by V-Mart and Youk, and then Ortiz, Lowrie, Kotchman, Anderson, and Gathright.  Ellsbury got the day off, Lowell has a sore right thumb, and Drew has a left shoulder issue.

So, without further ado.  With a full count, Pedroia led off the ballgame with a home run.  High inside fastball, meet the head of the bat, and the ball clears the Monster completely.  And then came the monumental second inning.

When I say monumental, I mean monumental.  There’s really no other way to describe scoring seven runs in a single frame in the manner in which we scored them.  It all started when Anderson singled in Ortiz, which moved Kotchman to second and Lowrie to third.  Aaron Laffey balked, so Lowrie scored, Anderson moved to second, and Kotchman moved to third.  Pedroia was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Then Bay singled in Kotchman, and everyone moved up to load the bases again.

Then Victor Martinez stepped into the batter’s box.  He worked a three and one count, perfect for hitting.  He hit a ball over center field that looked like it might have just enough to get it out.  And it did.  Into the bullpen.  Four runs with one swing of the bat, and all of a sudden we were leading 8-4 on the back of Victor Martinez’s first-ever Major League career grand slam! Against his former team! And all because Andy Marte couldn’t catch that popup in front of our dugout.  That’s what I call making him pay.

Anderson hit a towering home run to Lansdowne Street in the third to score himself and Kotchman, and Dusty Brown hit a home run of his own in the bottom of the eighth to tack on the final run.  Almost cleared the Monster.  The ball made it into the last row and was barely contained inside the park.  Not bad for a first career long ball.

Gonzalez’s x-rays came back negative.  Baldelli will have an MRI tomorrow.  John Farrell officially requested to be removed from consideration for Cleveland’s managerial position.  Speaking of open managerial positions, JP Ricciardi was fired yesterday.  And Manny Delcarmen, after enduring a car accident yesterday, is fine.  He was driving in the left lane and the driver in the middle lost control and swerved into Delcarmen’s car, which veered to the left and hit the wall.  He was taken to Mass General, but other than a sore back, he’s good to go.

Well, the end is in sight.  This afternoon, we play our last game of the regular season.  I have to say, it’s been one interesting run.  Lots of ups, lots of downs, lots of ins and outs and heres and theres, but we’ve come to a good place, I think.  Buchholz gets the nod against Tomo Ohka, so this’ll be his final tune-up before the playoffs.  But I still can’t believe the regular season is already over.  It seems like Opening Day was rained out just yesterday, doesn’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun though, and the fun continues even after we put this one away.

In other news, the Bruins played an absolutely fantastic game last night.  Last night’s game was everything we wanted Opening Night to be and more.  The final score was 7-2, and it was most definitely a team effort.  It was the first time we had seven different goal scorers since the lockout.  And there were plenty of fights to go around as well.  An all-around well-played game.  Lots of tape-to-tape passing (Patrice Bergeron’s picture is next to the definition of “stick position” in the hockey dictionary), obviously lots of scoring (two of the goals were netted just seconds apart) and fighting (Sean Thornton threw at least ten punches before the referees got involved), and of course lots of saving (I have come to the conclusion that Tim Thomas is an acrobat).  We play next on Thursday in Anaheim.

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I can’t really be upset about the outcome of last night’s game because it was basically Futures at Fenway Part 2, but without fair competition.  All of our starters, with the exception of Big Papi and Gonzalez, got the night off, but Toronto put in its best.  We sent the entire reserve out there to face who but Roy Halladay, and we got shelled.  Show me someone who’s surprised by this outcome, and I’ll show you someone who has no conception of the disparity between skill levels present in Major League Baseball.  Unless something had gone horribly wrong for Roy Halladay, there’s no way a reserve would have bested him.

This game was absolutely necessary.  It was a stroke of genius, and it spoke to our commitment to winning the World Series.  What’s the best way to ensure that your reserve is the best it can be? Give it playing time.  And what’s the best way to do that? Hand it an entire game against one of the best active pitchers in the game.  They may not have done well, but at least they “did.” At least they played.

Halladay pitched a complete game three-hitter.  Gathright hit two of those three, and Baldelli hit the third with a steal.

Wakefield gave up five runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts over three innings pitched.  Three of those five runs were attained via the long ball.  So something’s still not right with him, which is probably why he started.  In all likelihood, his health will keep him off the playoff roster, which means the season will be over for him soon enough and he’ll have all that time to recuperate fully.  So that’s why he started last night.  Fernando Cabrera gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in an inning and pitched to three batters in the next without recording an out.  Dustin Richardson was able to extricate himself from that jam in just eighteen pitches.  Delcarmen’s struggles continued as he gave up two runs on three hits in an inning, allowing Randy Ruiz to hit his second home run of the night.  Hunter Jones did okay.  Hideki Okajima gave up a solo shot.  And Dusty Brown, catcher, gave up a run on two hits in the ninth inning, with a strikeout to his credit.

So while watching this game, all I had to do was remind myself that bench players and minor leaguers were going up against Roy Halladay, and then I’d sit back, relax, and take it in for what it was: a chance to get a glimpse of what we might be seeing this October from the bench and what we might be seeing from our farm system in the future.  Although with Halladay on the mound, the view was somewhat skewed.  Case in point: the final score.  Unhealthy starter plus unseasoned and struggling relievers plus unseasoned hitters equals a final score of 12-0.  I am proud to say that we didn’t make a single fielding error, which is impressive given all of Fenway’s quirks.

If you’re wondering why Tito wasn’t present at the Wild Card celebration, it was because he flew to Virginia for his son Nick’s graduation.

That completes a three-game sweep for Toronto, and now we square off against Cleveland for a four-game set.  This is the final audition for our four playoff starters.  Lester will pitch tonight for the first time since taking Melky Cabrera’s line drive just above the knee, and Beckett will start Saturday after having received a cortisone injection in his back to help with the spasms.  Cleveland isn’t too intimidating, so it’s perfect for getting back in the groove.  Then the regular season ends, schedules are finalized, and the playoffs begin!

In other news, it’s the first day of hockey season today! We open at home against the Washington Capitals at 7:00PM!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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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.

AP Photo

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