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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Patterson’

The exciting part of free agency is now finished.  I guess that’s what happens when you move up every single important offseason deadline.  Cliff Lee is officially off the market as well.  But he didn’t sign with the Rangers.  He didn’t even sign with the Yankees.  He signed with the Phillies.  They made a late bid on Monday night and he took it.  Five years and one hundred million dollars.

You read right.  The Yankees offered him seven years for 142 million, and he turned it down.  He turned down more years and more money to go back to Philly.  Both deals pay him roughly the same amount per season, but it’s a big decision to turn down that much security.  A reasonable and rational one in this case, in my opinion, since it means he’s not going to New York.  The man has scruples.

So, to review, we now have Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, and the Yankees do not have Cliff Lee.  I repeat: the New York Yankees do not have Cliff Lee! Said another way, Cliff Lee just dropped the New York Yankees like nobody’s business and basically showed them that, no, not everything in life can be bought.  The shift in the balance of power in the AL East is now complete.  Order has been restored in the universe.  We are back on top, and there’s nothing New York can do about it.  As far as the Phillies are concerned, we’ll deal with them in Interleague and the World Series, if they get there.  Keep in mind that they’re beatable.  Their rotation is great, but so is ours.  The only problem is that there are lots of question marks attached to ours and less attached to theirs.  But if those question marks yield positive answers this season, we’ll be fine.  Especially when you consider the fact that our lineup is packed with lefties, so right-handed pitching stands no chance.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Meanwhile, life is great!

Life is so great that one of the hot debate topics in Red Sox Nation these days is who will lead off, Crawford or Ellsbury? Just think about that for a second.  This is a question that we were asking in our dreams not too long ago.  This is a question that managers of All-Star teams were asking themselves not too long ago.  And now this is a question that our manager gets to ask himself on a daily basis.  That’s how great life is.  Because, when you put this in perspective, you realize that choosing between Ellsbury and Crawford for the leadoff spot is not a problem.  Choosing between Hall and McDonald and Patterson and Cash and Nava for every single lineup spot, day in and day out, is a problem.  And in answer to that question, I think Ellsbury has to lead off.  Pedroia will bat second, and Crawford will bat third.  Tito is saying now that Ellsbury will probably lead off, Crawford will bat either second or third, and Pedroia will bat wherever Crawford doesn’t bat, but those three will take the first three spots.  Ultimately, though, I assume Tito will separate the two lefties with the righty to confound opposing pitching.

The Yankees ended up locking Russell Martin; they agreed to terms with him on a one-year deal.

On to the bullpen, which is the only part of our baseball lives that wasn’t so great.  We signed Lenny DiNardo to a one-year minor league split deal.  Welcome back.  I should mention that his best season to date occurred under the tutelage of one Curt Young.  We signed Matt Albers to a one-year deal.  We also signed Dan Wheeler to a one-year deal.  But the highlight of this week’s bullpen wheeling and dealing is undoubtedly Bobby Jenks, formerly the closer for the White Sox who was non-tendered.  Jenks has agreed to a two-year deal in principle.  He didn’t have a great season last year, so we probably won’t have to deal with any competition between him and Paps for the position of closer.  Paps didn’t have a great year last year either, but his bad year was better than Jenks’s bad year.  But Jenks is awesome – his fastball is red-hot, and he throws a lot of strikes – with him on board, our bullpen can go straight to the top again.

Jenks is four years younger than Paps, and he makes our bullpen one of the hardest-throwing in the Major Leagues.  But heat isn’t everything; it’ll give you a lot of strikeouts but doesn’t guarantee you the save.  Consider this, though: baseball operations has wanted some sort of variation in the late innings, because before this deal we had Bard and Paps, so hitters were guaranteed fastball after fastball after fastball.  Jenks is a fastball pitcher, so the change of pace could come from Paps.  Paps is obviously a power pitcher, but his splitter and slider, on which he worked really hard last year, are now excellent, yielding .190 and .171 opposing batting averages, respectively.  So Jenks could get him to rely less on his fastball and throw more of those.  Obviously, his fastball is still amazing, but this would make him more versatile.  And more battle-ready, since now he probably won’t see action besides the ninth or in consecutive games.  So Jenks might actually make Paps more effective.

That, in turn, could have significant ramifications for next year’s offseason, when Paps becomes a free agent.  If he mounts a stellar campaign this year, he’ll be in a position to demand a stellar amount of cash.  But Heath Bell will also be a free agent at that time, and it’s unclear how well Paps will be able to compete with him in the market.  So this deal with Jenks gives us a lot of options and a lot of leverage for negotiations.  Bell will probably steal the show, and Paps would be demoted to a backup interest for most teams.  And let’s not forget the possibility that we could just decide to make Jenks the set-up man and Bard the closer, something of which I am sure Paps is well aware.  Honestly, I hope that doesn’t happen.  I hope we retain Paps, and I suspect we will, but there’s no way to know.  The bottom line for now is this: Jenks, Bard, Paps.  Done.  Game over.

Last but not least, the player to be named later in the Gonzalez deal is Eric Patterson.  He had some big heroics in Fenway, and he’ll be missed.

Red Sox Nation sends its condolences to the family of Walt Dropo, the AL Rookie of the Year in 1950 with us, who passed away on Friday.  He beat out Whitey Ford for the award.  He was one of our greatest of that era.  And he will be missed.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Sabres by a goal.  Ryder scored a power play goal to put us on top in the third period, but Drew Stafford put the finishing touches on a hat trick in the third as well, and Buffalo won out.  We also suffered a brutal loss to the Habs by a goal.  The final score was 3-4.  It was crushing.  And then we turned around and crushed the Caps.  Barely.  The final score was 3-2.  Thomas made twenty-five saves in the third period alone; if it weren’t for him, I’m not convinced we would have picked up the W, because that third period was awful.  And Tom Brady delivered a sound thrashing to Chicago’s pass defense, yielding a final score of 36-7.  It was excellent.

I’ll be taking a break for about a week.  I think it’s safe to say that most of the big name wheeling and dealing’s been done.  But you never know.  Theo will probably use this week to finalize the bullpen situation and take care of any other necessary business.  But at this point, I think we’re set!

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The first game of the series was finally rained out on Friday after a prolonged delay.  So we had a doubleheader yesterday.  I’m pretty sure that long delay on Friday had something to do with the fact that the Yankees did not want to have to play a doubleheader when they’re trying to keep themselves in top form for the postseason.  Yet another confirmation that Red Sox Nation has friends in very high places.

The first game was preceded by Thanks, Mike Night, a ceremony honoring Mikey Lowell, one of the classiest men the game has ever seen, ever.  Standing ovations, signs, a message printed on the Green Monster.  He had his family, his current and former teammates, and the Red Sox brass on hand.  He received a cooler of stone crabs from the Marlins, a hundred-thousand-dollar check from the Sox to his foundation, his very own third base from the field, and a number twenty-five Fenway seat.  And this is what he had to say to us:

You know, I’m kind of at a loss for words to kind of explain the emotions I’ve felt over the last five years with respect to the support and the positive responses I’ve gotten from Red Sox fans.  I think it’s your passion and your knowledge for baseball that I’ll truly miss, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget.  So I just want to thank God for allowing me the privilege and the opportunity to wear this jersey, to play in this ballpark, to represent the city of Boston and to share so many memories with all of you.  Thank you very much.

He really appreciated his time here.  He did a lot for us, and we’ll never forget that.  He wanted a home run, but he was perfectly content to end it with a base hit and tip his cap on his own terms, as Tito said.  And that’s exactly what he did.  At thirty-six years old, he retires with a .278 career batting average, 223 home runs, 952 RBIs, and 1,601 games played.  And from winning the 2007 World Series MVP Award to not complaining when he was demoted to the bench, he never complained.  We’ll miss you, buddy.

When the game did get underway, it was Wake with the ball.  Wake will most likely retire after next season.  Those are two class acts right there.  The only thing that both Lowell and Wakefield have ever done is do whatever was asked of them for this team, no matter what it was or how different it was from their expectations of what their roles would be like.  Wake’s retirement is going to be hard to take.  It seems like he’s been here forever, and it seemed like he would never leave.

But we’ll worry about that next year.  In the present, he did not pitch well at all.  He only lasted five innings, he gave up five runs on seven hits, he walked three, and he struck out six.  He threw ninety-four pitches, sixty-four of which were strikes.  All three of his pitches – the knuckleball, curveball, and fastball – were effectively thrown for strikes, and his zone was packed, but he just didn’t have it.  It’s hard to explain the cause of a knuckleballer’s bad day because nobody really knows anything that goes on with a knuckleball, but there are days when he’s on and days when he’s off, and yesterday he was off.  He was set to throw the sixth, but Tito took him out before the inning started so everyone could salute him.  He definitely deserved that after what he’s been through this year.

Meanwhile, Lowell smacked a double off the Monster to bat in two runs in his very first at-bat of the game, which was obviously incredibly appropriate.  Lowell scored on Nava’s single in the third and hit a single of his own in the fifth in what would be his last Major League at-bat.  He finished his final game two for two with a double, a single, and a walk.  And I’m telling you, when he walked off that field, Major League Baseball lost a prince among men.

In the seventh, Anderson, who replaced Lowell, scored on a wild pitch.  In the eighth, Patterson scored on another wild pitch.  And at that point it was tied at five.  The bullpen had done an excellent job holding the fort.  Tito pretty much used everybody: Hill, Bowden, Richardson, Coello, Bard, and then Paps.  And that’s where it got ugly.

Paps took the loss by allowing an unearned run in the tenth, only because you can’t give a loss to a position player.  It wasn’t at all his fault.  It was Hall’s fault.  Paps had cornered Jeter into hitting a dribbler to the right of the mound.  When Paps went for it, it went past him.  No big deal.  That’s why you have infielders to cover you.  The problem was that Hall tried and failed miserably to barehand it.  He reached for it, and it just wasn’t there.  It looked like he was reaching for air.  Gardner scored, and that was the end of it.

But make no mistake; just desserts would be coming in the nightcap.  Dice-K had the ball, but it wasn’t his best night either.  He also only lasted five innings.  He gave up four runs, only two of which were earned, on three hits while walking five and striking out six with 104 pitches, only fifty-seven of which were strikes.  His two-seam and curveball were missing something.  His cutter, changeup, four-seam, and slider were good.  But his command wasn’t there, and he threw thirty pitches in the first inning alone, so you knew it was going to be a short, or should I say long, night for him.  He finishes the 2010 season, his fourth with us, nine and six with a 4.69 ERA in twenty-five starts.

Atchison allowed two more runs after that, and Okajima and Manuel pitched well, with Manuel getting the win.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

All the regulars had the night off.  Anderson hit an RBI single in the first.  Lopez homered in the third.  Nava scored on Burnett’s fielding error in the fourth.  Kalish scored on Navarro’s sac fly in the sixth.  Nava hit an RBI single and Kalish scored on a bases-loaded walk in the eighth.  (It was Cash on eleven pitches for his first RBI since being reacquired on July 1.) And we were all tied up again at six.

At that point I’m thinking we need to win this one.  That’s all there is to it.  We just need to win.

In the bottom of the tenth, Hall clubbed a double off the Monster.  He moved to third on Cash’s sac bunt.  Then Patterson singled to center field with one out.  Hall scored.  It was a walkoff.  There was chasing and mobbing and general celebrating because we beat the Evil Empire and made it that much harder for them to win the division.  But more importantly, we won.  We won this one for ourselves.  And you know what? It felt good.

On the injury front, we have more of them.  Honestly, at this point it’s just rubbing salt in it.  Scutaro is out for the rest of the season, which at this point consists of one game and one game only, due to an inflamed right rotator cuff.  Buchholz is also out for the rest of the season with lower back stiffness.  Beltre has been out of the series completely, but that’s because he went home to California for the birth of his third child.  Congratulations to the Beltre family! Beltre, by the way, has a ten-million-dollar player option, but I would be extremely surprised if he exercises that.  He’s not going to.  He’s going to become a free agent.

So we split the day.  We worked a lot; the last time we played two extra-inning games on the same day was July 17, 1966 against the Kansas City Athletics.  There was no way we were going to spend eight hours and eighteen minutes playing baseball in one day and not win in the end.

Now we’re down to it.  The last game of the season.  This afternoon at 1:30PM.  Our last stand.  Our last chance to make an impression, go out with a bang, exit with dignity, and leave our mark on 2010.  Lackey’s got the ball.  Let’s finish this right.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Last night was another “wow” contest.  That’s two in a row! Can you believe it? We are now officially on a three-game winning streak, and even though the season is winding down, we’re starting to climb back up. We’re now seven games out of first place.  Hey, it’s an improvement over nine.  All I’m saying is that you never know.

If the standings situation is a long shot, we made a statement to the contrary last night via the long ball.  We won, 9-6, so it wasn’t a true slugfest because the score wasn’t that lopsided, but scoring nine runs in a single game is a big deal for us.  We’ve struggled throughout the season to string hits as well as wins together; last night we did both.

It all started in the second when Lowrie clobbered a home run to left with Papi on base.  It was a changeup inside on a 2-1 count to make up for Beltre being thrown out at the plate.  The ball left the field in a hurry.  But Lowrie was just getting warmed up.  You look at the kid and power isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but this season he just added the art and science of home-run hitting to his arsenal of talent.

V-Mart hit an RBI single in the third, and Lowrie hit a solo shot to the same place in the third, but this time it was a fastball down the middle in a pitcher’s count.  This was his first multi-homer game ever.  I’m telling you, I don’t really know where that power comes from, but if you got it, rock it.

We didn’t score again until the eighth, but when we did, it was huge.  Big Papi, ladies and gentlemen! It was a far cry from the sixth, when he snapped his bat over his knee because he turned a prime pitch into a weak popup.  With two out and two on, he absolutely avenged himself on a ninety-six mile-per-hour fastball to the point where you knew the ball was out just by the sound of the ball-bat contact.  Ichiro just watched it.  That was his thirtieth home run of the year, making 2010 his sixth thirty-homer season with us, his first since 2007, tying him with Manny Ramirez on the franchise all-time list.  Ted Williams obviously leads with eight thirty-plus seasons.  It was ridiculous.  It was almost like the ball left the park of its own free will.

In the ninth, we added two for insurance; Patterson scored on a fielder’s choice and Reddick hit an RBI single.  Figgins hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, but it did not matter.  We had it locked.

V-Mart, Papi, and Lowrie all went two for four; Beltre went three for four.  Patterson and Kalish each stole bases.  And this was the first time since June 30 that our starting lineup included our captain.  Tek went 0 for 3 with a walk, but he threw out Figgins twice.  It’s so good to have him back.  And I don’t think it’s necessarily a coincidence that the team has been playing well of light right when the captain has returned.

When I saw we had it locked, I’m referring exclusively to the offense.  Dice-K most definitely did not have anything locked.  He left the game so unlocked, he practically invited a theft of the win.  Luckily, the offense provided ample insurance just in case, but it’s like I always say: that kind of thing should not be necessary.  If the offense scores a lot of runs, the game should end with a lopsided score because a good starting pitcher should always be able to win a game with three runs or less.  Dice-K didn’t do that.  He lasted six innings, gave up five runs on eight hits, walked four, and struck out three.  He helped Seattle snap their streak of scoring at most three runs in their last sixteen home games.  He gave up at least four earned runs for the sixth consecutive start.  He threw 105 pitches.  He relied on a great cutter, curveball, and fastball.  He mixed in a decent changeup and slider.  He ran into all kinds of trouble in half of his innings.  His best inning by far was the fourth, during which he only fired nine pitches.  But then he went right back and allowed two runs an inning later.  His release point was tight and his strike zone was packed, but he couldn’t hold the lead.

The bullpen also was not helpful.  Tito replaced Dice-K in the seventh with Okajima with Bowden with Hill, and you only stopped hanging onto the edge of your seat when Bard came on.  Hill got the win, Bard got a hold, and Paps gave us a scare when he allowed that run in the ninth but finally the game was over and we walked off with the W intact.  But this is what I mean.  None of that should have been necessary.  There should be absolutely no reason whatsoever for anyone to be concerned when your team scores nine runs.  That should be a blowout, and if it’s not, the pitchers need a talking-to.

Drew will probably be back on Wednesday.

We got the win.  We inched up in the standings.  We believe.  And we look forward to the future.  Like tonight, when Buchholz is undoubtedly going to unleash a world of dominance for the sweep.  And like next year.  Next year’s schedule is out! We’re starting the season on April 1, unfortunately with a six-game road trip.  But the home opener is on a Friday, April 8, against the Yanks, followed by Tampa Bay, so that should be a blast.  We’ve got three days off in April before heading into a grueling May, which is mostly at home but with only one day off.  June will include our second trip to the Bronx with five days off as well as some good Interleague action; the Brewers and Padres will come to town, and we’ll visit the Pirates and Phillies.  We finish Interleague in Houston in July before a homestand leads us into the All-Star break, the game being in Phoenix this year.  We start things up again with a road trip followed by an easy homestand against Seattle and Kansas City.  In August, the Yankees will come to town twice and Tampa Bay once.  In September, we’ll face Tampa Bay away and at home, we’ll go to New York one more time, and we’ll finish the season on the road in Baltimore, the last game on September 28.  So some easy, some not so easy, but all in all it looks like a really good schedule.  We’ll see a lot of action in the AL East, so we’ll have chances to make dents directly.  We definitely have something to look forward to here.  In 2006, half the team fell apart, we didn’t even make the playoffs, we suffered through a winter during which everyone wondered when we’d next win the World Series, and lo and behold the very next year we were the best team in baseball.  So you have to figure that if the injuries this year were even worse than in 2006, next year we’ll be even stronger than we were in 2007.

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Yesterday’s game was one of those games where we lost but there were enough good things that happened for us to not get too down about it.  That’s always strange.  You would think that if enough good things happened in a game, we’d just win it, and we almost did, but then we didn’t.  In short, the good was Dice-K, and the bad were the bullpen and CJ Wilson.

Dice-K was absolutely excellent.  He lasted six and two-thirds innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, walked none, and struck out eight, but he wasn’t really as bad as all that.  He needed 115 pitches to do it, seventy-four of which were strikes.  In fact, he earned the five hundredth strikeout of his career in the fifth when Blanco swung through.  Blanco’s strikeout was actually the middle of three consecutive K’s.  Six of his strikeouts were swinging; two were looking.  All of his pitches were excellent, his movement was excellent, his strike zone was excellent, and I’ve never seen him get rid of the ball faster.  He was feeling the one-hundred-plus-degree heat and wanted to get out.  It was unbearable.  It was so hot that some fans opened their umbrellas.  So maybe Dice-K should just work this quickly from now on.  And this might surprise you, but this is actually Dice-K’s first loss in eight starts since he lost to the Rays on June 30.  During those eight starts, he was 3-0 with a 3.53 ERA and constantly improving.  It was the fourth time this season he didn’t walk anybody.

Salty also gets points for his work behind the dish.  In the beginning of the game, Dice-K’s fastball and cutter were absolutely terrible.  But his slider was good, so Salty picked up on that quickly and called for it.

Dice-K finally hit serious trouble in the seventh.  He opened the inning by allowing an RBI single and left with two out and two on.  It was Delcarmen who gave up a three-run homer, allowing his inherited runners to score and giving Dice-K what looks like a mediocre line.

Meanwhile, the offense was busy not doing much of anything.  We didn’t score a single run until the eighth, when we rallied and scored three on three consecutive hits.  Scutaro doubled in Patterson and McDonald sent himself and Scutaro home with a long ball to right.  But Richardson and Bowden each allowed two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, and we couldn’t come back from that, so the final score was 7-3, and that was it.

We were five and five on this road trip.  We’re six games out of first and five games out of the Wild Card with forty-three games left to play.  And just in time, we’re getting Pedroia back on Tuesday.  Win or lose, every game that goes by makes the next one more important because we’re running out of time.  We can get there.  Our rotation is excellent and our lineup, when on, is absolutely no slouch.  So we can do it.  We just need to get on a roll and not have the roll stop if we lose one game.  We’re going home to take on the Angels, which should help.  Buchholz will start the series opposite Jered Weaver.  I’m looking forward to this.

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And if you thought Saturday’s game reminded you of a game in 2004, yesterday’s game reminded you of that whole series! Three ninth-inning rallies in as many games to win the set! I mean, what? You’re not supposed to have two walkoffs for two straight wins.  That’s unbelievable.  Unless you’re the Boston Red Sox, of course.  Then it’s entirely believable.

I guess that’s the team’s way of telling us that the standings may look bad but we’ll be alright.

Buchholz delivered a most excellent start.  He tossed a full eight, gave up two runs on three hits, walked four, and struck out five on 109 pitches.  He walked more than usual, but because his outing was so long, he made it work.  Four walks over eight innings is about one walk every two innings.  You’d rather not have him walk anybody, but that’s not terrible by any means.

He threw a good fastball, and his changeup and slider were decent.  He only allowed two runners to move into scoring position during his entire outing.  His worst inning for pitch count was the fifth when he threw seventeen; his best was the eighth with seven.  Which is why he came out to pitch the ninth.

Those two runs he gave up were scored by his runners, but they weren’t given up on his watch.  Heading into the ninth inning, Buchholz had pitched fourteen and one-third scoreless frames.  But he opened the ninth by giving up a single and a walk.  That’s when he was relieved by Paps.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the order had built a three-zip lead.  Patterson hit an RBI single in the second, and in the third after two walks we added two with Beltre’s RBI single and Kalish’s sac fly.  Verlander threw thirty-one pitches in the second and seventy-five through his first three innings.

Special thanks to Youk for preserving that lead with a perfect lunging grab of a line drive in the fifth that probably would have scored the runner from second.

And you would think that a three-run lead would be safe with a closer.  Usually it is.  Yesterday it wasn’t.  Paps allowed both of his inherited runners and one of his own to score, tying it up.  Which was infuriating.  You’re not supposed to rely on the walkoff because the walkoff is unreliable.  It’s there if you absolutely need it, but it’s better to not need it at all.  Paps eventually picked up the win, which is terrible because there’s no way he deserved it over Buchholz and there’s definitely no way Buchholz deserved a no decision, but he also picked up a blown save, his fifth of the season, which he earned one hundred and ten percent.  He blew it big time.  Regardless of the outcome of the game, he blew it.

Luckily, the Tigers didn’t want to win too badly after all.  Lowrie reached on an infield single to start things off and came out for McDonald to run.  Patterson walked.  Scutaro laid down a bunt, and Weinhardt picked it up but threw it down the first base line.  McDonald scored on the error.

There are few things better in baseball than watching your team, tired and dirty from hustle and grit, mobbing after a hard-earned win.  And I’m thinking we’ve pretty much got to be the best comeback team ever.  First 2004, then 2007, then almost in 2008, then the last game of the ALDS in 2009, and don’t forget all these regular season contests.  I watched that bunt go down, I saw Weinhardt pick it up, and I said to myself that’s it.  We’re done.  The game is over.  Because what are the chances he’d actually miss that throw and give us the win? It just goes to show you that you always have to believe.  It was wild.  And it was awesome.

It was our first walkoff on an error since we beat the Orioles on September 3, 2008.  I’m telling you, the Tigers gift-wrapped the ninth all three of these games.  We didn’t open the first one, but we sure did open the last two.

Beltre finished the night two for four.  That’s his thirty-ninth multihit game this season, a team high.  Lowrie went two for three; it’s like he never left.  And Scutaro went two for five and is currently creeping his batting average up to .300.

So we no longer have to talk about scoring at most four runs in however many games.  Now we can say we scored eight runs in the ninth innings alone of our last three! It doesn’t get much better than that.  Those kinds of wins are great for morale and the win column.  What could be better? It’s good to know you’ve got a team on your hands with a lot of character and a lot of resilience.  We of all people should know how useful the walkoff skill is in the playoffs.  All we have to do now is get there.  And I have a feeling that these two series will play a very important part in that.  What a great way to start the month of August.  Yup, it’s August already; only two months until October.  Speaking of 2007, Cleveland is coming to town tonight.  So let’s get cracking.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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There’s an old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  But if the horse is really, really thirsty, you don’t have to make him drink.  He just drinks.

It’s the same with a baseball team.  You can give a team a scoring opportunity, but you can’t make the team score.  Either the team scores or it doesn’t score.  But if the team hasn’t scored in a long enough while, chances are they’re going to score because they’re thirsty for runs and wins.

Yesterday, we were mighty thirsty.  There was so much goodness packed into those awesome nine innings that I don’t even know where to start.

Let’s start with pitching.  Josh Beckett picked up his first win since April 10, only his second of the season.  But you have to start somewhere.  He tossed a full seven solid frames.  Three runs on five hits, one walk, five K’s, 112 pitches, sixty-nine strikes.  Had some trouble that wasn’t his fault: Hermida’s failure to make a difficult but doable play in left, and Hall turning a popup into a double because he lost the ball in the sun.  But other than that, Beckett was his old self again.  That fastball was smoking by hitters, he regained all of his intensity, and really he just made you excited about the race down the stretch.

And that’s not even the best part.  The offense was the best part.

The final score was 7-3.  We scored all of our runs on four long balls: two in the second, one in the seventh, and one in the eighth.

Beltre started things off with his seventeenth homer of the season, burying a two-seam that was supposed to be away but stayed inside in the first few rows of the left field bleachers.  Hermida’s out provided a brief interlude before Hall stepped up and smashed a Pesky-style home run around the left field foul pole, actually cracking his bat in the process.

Then the Angels rallied for a tie that held through the first half of the fifth.  Then they took the lead by one.  Then in the seventh, Youk re-tied it with a fastball that was supposed to be inside but hung over the middle.  That’s a deadly mistake every time.

So the game stayed tied until the very next inning, and this is really the grand finale right here.  And the man of the hour is Marco Scutaro.

Actually the man of the series is Marco Scutaro.  He batted .500 over these last three games, walked twice, scored four runs, and batted in four runs.  Both of those walks and all four of those RBIs came yesterday, the RBIs all on one swing.  Alright.  Here we go.

Before stepping up to the plate in the eighth inning, Scutaro had already been on base four times that day, twice via hits and twice via walks.  He’d struck out once.  Hermida and Hall led off the inning with back-to-back walks.  Patterson went for a sac bunt that was located flawlessly and ended up beating the throw to first.  So the bases were loaded with nobody out.  Which didn’t necessarily mean anything, because how many times had we had scoring opportunities like this, with multiple runners in scoring position and even the bases loaded with no outs or one out or even two outs and failed to do anything with it? It’s not even like this game was that different; we stranded nine baserunners through the first seven frames.  And it wasn’t like Papi or Youk or Beltre or some other guy with massive power that was coming to the plate.  It was Scutaro, who’s the guy who rolls out the carpet for the power guys.  But things had been a little different since we arrived in Angel Stadium, and we were about to give ourselves a right proper send off.

Scutaro fell behind in the count, 0-2.  After taking a ball, he took the sixth pitch of his at-bat, a changeup, and sent it into left field also in Pesky fashion.  That would be the second grand slam of his career.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, would be the end of the game.  That was awesome.  I couldn’t believe it.  You know a guy like Scutaro has it in him, but you never know when you’ll see it or if you’ll see it.  And he just uncorked a whole world of power on that ball.  That was amazing.  So awesome.  Seriously.  So unbelievably awesome.  A grand slam!

Bard and Paps had the day off, and the Angels had runners on first and second with two out against Delcarmen in the eighth, but Hall quickly took care of that with a tremendous flash of leather.  It was a bloop that was on the outfield grass, too close to the infield for Patterson and supposedly out of Hall’s reach.  Not so.  He jumped, caught it, and fell.  That was a huge out.  Ramirez held down the ninth.

V-Mart went two for five.  He wasn’t even supposed to play.  He literally just talked his way into it.  He told Tito he really really wanted to play after Tuedsay’s game.  He told him again yesterday morning.  Drew was out, so Tito agreed.  And he went two for five.  How ‘bout that.  By the way, Drew’s hamstring issue isn’t serious.  Red Sox Nation sighs in relief as one.

Let’s look back over the road trip, shall we? Our first stop was Oakland, where we lost the series.  Then we went to Seattle, where we split.  And now, we just swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  A sweep.  How sweep it is.  We finished the road trip six and four, which isn’t amazing but it’s absolutely decent and I’ll take it.  That sweep was a whole lot of goodness.  That was just what the doctor ordered.  Time to go home and do something with this momentum.  We’ve got a set with the Tigers, who’ve had injury problems themselves, so this might actually be a good matchup.

AP Photo

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That was a very strange game.

Jon Lester is the absolute man.  He’s basically the best lefty in the game.  He’s totally an ace.  At twenty-six years old, he’s accomplished more than some people do in their entire lifetimes.  As a pitcher, he already has a no-hitter to his credit.  It only made sense that a perfect game would follow, with a Cy Young after that.

And he almost had one.  He was bidding very actively for a perfect game into the sixth inning.  I’ve watched him pitch countless times, but this without a doubt was the best I’ve ever seen him pitch, ever.  It would have to be if he were bidding for perfection.

He took the hill and proceeded to retire his first sixteen batters.  His cut fastball was absolutely nasty.  Nobody was going to hit that.  Nobody was going to hit his curveball or changeup either.  He was incredibly crafty and had hitters completely fooled; eleven of the strikes he threw were swinging.  He threw thirteen pitches in the first and eight in the fifth.  He concentrated on the bottom half of the zone, controlled his movement, and was literally just owning all the action.  If Lester didn’t want it to happen in the game, it seemed like it just wasn’t going to happen.

Eric Patterson changed everything.  With one out in the sixth, Wilson hit your average fly ball.  Patterson had a long way to go to make the play, but he was absolutely one hundred percent in position to make the play.  And for some unexplainable reason that I’m sure is completely inadequate, Patterson dropped it.  He just dropped it.  An elite pitcher had a perfect game on the line and he just dropped it.  And Wilson took second base.  We know from experience that if you’re a pitcher in the middle of making history like this and you don’t have good D behind you, chances are you won’t make it after all.  Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz can tell you all about that.  And Patterson ruined the whole thing completely.  Seriously.  The entire game went downhill after that one colossal snafu.  I don’t even think I can describe the fury I experienced with actual words.

So that ruled out perfection.  The no-hitter and the lead were both destroyed in the very next at-bat, when Saunders hit a hanging breaking ball out of the park.  That wasn’t a great pitch to call in that situation, so while it’s true that Lester didn’t locate the pitch well, Cash probably shouldn’t have called for it and Lester.  They had been feeding Saunders a steady diet of fastballs, so naturally he would have been lying in wait for something off-speed.

Suddenly we were…losing?

It would only get even worse.  Lester stayed in almost through the eighth inning, which was our final blow.  A sacrifice, a double, and a hit batsman scored three.  He issued his lone walk of the night in that inning as well.  We lost, 5-1, the one run courtesy of a homer by Papi in the fourth.  Delcarmen recorded the final out.

He gave up all of Seattle’s runs on four hits.  He walked one and striking out a whopping thirteen batters, a new career high and the most in a game by a Boston southpaw since Bruce Hurst K’ed fourteen Athletics on May 5, 1987.  He threw a grand total of 124 pitches, eighty of which were strikes.  That’s a ton.  Among Major League lefties, he’s sixth in ERA, third in innings pitched, tied for second in wins, second in WHIP, and first in strikeouts.  And he ended up with the loss.  I ask you: where is the justice? There is absolutely no justice in that whatsoever.  Eric Patterson should take the loss, but there is no way on this Earth that Jon Lester deserves a loss after a start like that.  Absolutely no way.  I can understand if a pitcher can’t quite eke out a perfect game.  I can understand if a pitcher gives up a hit at the last minute.  But I can’t understand how a pitcher nursing both bids can end up losing.

And it just goes to show you how valuable Pedroia, V-Mart, and Ellsbury really are.  The offense has not been performing well lately.  We’ve either squandered all of our opportunities or we haven’t even given ourselves opportunities to squander.  It’s terrible.  And last night’s contest highlights it in the extreme; we were down by four and couldn’t even muster five runs to earn the win for a pitcher who deserved it and more.  That’s bad.  That’s really bad.  Luckily, V-Mart could return as early as Monday, but still I’d rather be cautious and have him healthy for the long haul than bring him back early and have him fail down the stretch as a result.  On the bright side, we have a chance to win this series with Dice-K on the mound.  Hopefully he’ll continue his positive trend and earn a win if he pitches well.

Reuters Photo

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