Posts Tagged ‘Erik Bedard’

While Theo is busy taking kudos in Chicago, we still don’t have any news on his compensation, but life goes on.  Eight members of the team filed for free agency; none of the filings are surprising: Conor Jackson, Trever Miller, Bedard, Drew, Wake, Tek, Papi, and Paps.  Okay, maybe I was surprised that Drew chose to file instead of retire.  But everyone knew the rest of them were going to be filing.

Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about whether to keep Papi and Paps on board.  The difficulty with Papi is that he’ll want more money for more years, although his recent performance, certainly in the last season, suggests that that’s warranted.  Paps wants more money.  Like, a lot more money.  You might say we can afford to lose him because we have Bard, but I have a feeling that you won’t know how valuable it was having Bard as a closer-esque setup man packing that one-two punch with Paps unless Paps were to leave and then you’d be fishing around for an eighth inning guy as good as all that.  Trust me, it wouldn’t be Jenks, folks.

As far as Wake and Tek go, we don’t have much to lose by keeping them.  Their market value is relatively low as it is; it’s not like they can leverage high demand to induce a bigger deal from us.  Tek’s powers of leadership are here with this team; it’s unclear how valuable he’d be in another clubhouse since that was always his main contributor anyway, especially in recent years when his plate production has markedly decreased, although it is worth noting that he seemed to share in Tito’s experience of having his leadership be less effective this past year.  Either that or he pulled back on his leadership.  Either way, the results were the results; how much that had to do with Tek is unclear.  Regarding Wake, he’s still an effective pitcher, more so in the bullpen now than as a starter; I guess age does eventually take its toll even on a knuckleballer.  So Wake will have to figure out if he’d be satisfied as a reliever.  Ben, like Theo, will be unlikely to dish out coin if he’s not absolutely sure that he’s paying for the player’s worth alone; if Ben is interested in retaining Wake as a reliever but Wake wants to start and demands a starter’s salary, that could potentially be a problem.

Speaking of Ben, apparently he graduated from Lebanon High School in 1992, so the school has reportedly posted a sign out front that says, “Congratulations Ben Cherington Class of ’92 Free Tickets?” Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Jackson, Miller, and Bedard were late-season playoff fixes that we obviously didn’t end up needing.  The decision of whether to retain them doesn’t strike me as epically impactful, although given the fact that we’re technically short a starter now, Bedard may make sense if there’s no one better out there.

We picked up Scutaro’s option, probably as insurance until Jose Iglesias is ready to permanently assume the starter’s role.  We declined options on Wheeler and Atchison.

Congratulations to Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Pedroia on their Gold Gloves! And congratulations to Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Papi on their Silver Sluggers! All very well deserved; I can’t think of anyone who deserved them more.  Finally, congratulations to Luis Tiant for landing on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.  It’s about time!

Lackey had his Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.  Supposedly it went well.

This week, the managerial interviews began.  First up was Phillies hitting coach Pete Mackanin.  Then we had Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, our former third base coach.  We’ve got Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Cleveland bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr.  Of those four, Mackanin and Maddux would obviously be preferable, which is why Theo is interviewing them also.

Add to our growing list of vacancies a strength and conditioning coach and an assistant athletic trainer.  Apparently we fired Dave Page and Greg Barajas.

Also worth noting is the fact that the Mets will construct a few walls in Citi Field for the explicit purpose of decreasing the size of the field.  Among those walls will be an eight-foot installment in front of the sixteen-foot Great Wall of Flushing, between which will be built a new section of seats a la the Green Monster.  As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the most blatant agenda-pushing moves I’ve ever seen.  So they constructed an enormous ballpark that is forcing well-paid power hitters, like David Wright and, oh, yeah, Jason Bay, to struggle.  Big deal.  You don’t see any other ballclub undergoing offseason construction to shrink the field size just to increase home run production to make more money.  That is ridiculous, and I’m surprised that it’s being allowed.  Maybe Bud Selig is considering it yet another step forward toward making baseball even more popular; we all know how much he praises the home run as a tool to accomplish that.  But still.  I can’t believe this is flying under the radar.

In other news, the Pats lost to the Steelers, 25-17.  Before the season started, I think we all picked that one as a possible loss.  At least the score was respectable.  The Bruins scored a ton of goals this week.  We beat the Sens, 5-3, and then we absolutely buried the Leafs, 7-0.  Tyler Seguin posted his first-ever NHL hat trick en route.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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I did say almost, so here’s that story.

Bedard’s night wasn’t great.  He gave up three runs on five hits while walking three and striking out six.  He gave up a two-run home run.  He lasted three and a third innings.  He threw eighty-four pitches, forty-eight of which were strikes.  He left the fourth after having allowed that homer, and on top of that Aceves came in with two on base.  He got through it without a hitch and stayed on to pitch three and two-thirds innings, giving up a solo shot to lead off the sixth in the process.

Baltimore struck first, but we answered mightily for a change.  Scutaro doubled in the third, and Ellsbury smacked a two-run shot on a changeup right down the middle.  He hit it to right center field and with one swing gave us a one-run lead.

Two singles into the fourth, Lavarnway did the same thing.  Tek had a sore right knee, and Salty had taken that foul ball on the collarbone on his throwing side on Monday night and had to leave in the eighth.  Thankfully, x-rays were negative.  But it was up to Lavarnway to do the catching.  May I say he did a truly phenomenal job, starting with a three-run shot on a fastball to left after already having thrown someone out at third.  Talk about playing well under pressure.  There was one out, a full count, and a Wild Card hanging in the balance.  And that was his first career home run right there.

He flied out to end the inning with the bases loaded in the fifth but made up for that by leading off the eighth with a solo shot on another fastball to left center field.  Meanwhile, Crawford had tripled in the sixth and scored on Scutaro’s two-run shot on a curveball, also to left center field.

So heading into the eighth we had a comfortable 8-4 lead.  I’ve been pretty frustrated lately so I have to say I was hoping that we’d just crush Baltimore.  But four runs isn’t bad; it’s twice as many as they’d scored, and Bard was getting the ball for the eighth.  Obviously there was a stretch during which there was no point in feeling good about that, but lately he’s been alright.

Bard had a relapse.  It wasn’t enough to give up the lead, but it was definitely enough to make us extremely nervous.  A couple of singles and a triple resulted in two runs.  The whole inning took twenty-five pitches, and suddenly our lead was cut in half.

When Paps took the ball for the ninth, we started breathing sighs of relief.  It turns out that they were substantially premature.  It took him a grand total of four pitches to allow two singles and eleven pitches to get his first out of the inning, a groundout.  Another groundout brought in a run.  So now we have two outs in the inning and we’re clinging to a one-run lead.  I know Paps likes excitement and adrenaline rushes and all, but honestly that was a bit much for us.  We’re barely in the playoffs at this point; it wasn’t funny.  A third and final groundout finally ended the inning, and then we could relax.  But I’m telling you, I was not amused.  The final score was 8-7.

And don’t forget Crawford’s spectacular catch in the left field stands for the second out of the first.  Nice read on an extremely high popup.  It was sweet.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Everything was a fail.  The hitting was a fail, and the pitching was a fail.  We didn’t make an error, so I guess the fielding wasn’t a fail.  But I just don’t understand why we can’t seem to do things right lately.  It’s like we’re right back where we started the season; scoring opportunities don’t come as consistently as they should, and we don’t take advantage of them when they do.  Meanwhile, we’re not matching good offense with good pitching in order to secure the likely wins.

On top of that, there’s more bad news on the injury front.  Bedard strained his left lat, Youk is back in Boston for an MRI on his hip, and Lackey had to come out of the game after three innings with a bruised left calf.  With the bases loaded and two out in the inning, he was hit by a hard liner by John Jaso.  He ended the inning by firing to first, but that was it.  On the bright side, Buchholz has quietly been making progress.

Even though Lackey’s pitching hasn’t been stellar to say the least, we don’t actually want him to be on the DL, especially not when Bedard is also on the DL.  Having too many pitchers is a good problem to have, and Tito will deal with it.  We don’t want injuries to make the managing decisions.

In those three innings, Lackey gave up five runs on five hits while walking three and striking out two.  He gave up a two-run home run to who but Jaso.  He threw sixty-nine pitches, forty-one of which were strikes.  Atchison, who was called up again, relieved him and gave up two more runs.  Doubront and Morales finished it off scorelessly.  Meanwhile, Wade Davis went the distance.

We didn’t send more than the minimum to the plate until the fifth, when we sent four; Crawford singled.  We finally got on the board in the sixth, when we scored our only runs of the game.  Reddick singled to lead it off, Salty doubled, Ellsbury singled in Reddick, Scutaro scored Salty on a sac fly, and then Gonzalez lined out and Pedroia struck out.  Then we went down in order in the seventh, we sent up one above the minimum again in the eighth because Reddick singled, and then we went down in order in the ninth.

Thus, only Reddick had a multi-hit night; he went two for three.  Salty’s double was our only extra-base hit.  We left only three on base and went a perfect one for only one with runners in scoring position.  The final score was 7-2, and with the injuries I have to say it’s not looking good.

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Bedard finally picked up his first win in a Boston uniform! It certainly took long enough.  His start was decent.  He gave up three runs on five hits while walking four and striking out six in six innings.  He threw 101 pitches, fifty-nine for strikes.  His best pitches were his cutter, curveball, and changeup.  His fastball wasn’t so great.  He threw as many as twenty-five pitches (in the third) and as few as seven pitches (in the fourth) in a single inning.  He allowed his runs in the second and third; during the first three innings, the start looked like it might end in disaster.  It took him sixty-two pitches to get through them.  But he settled down after that.

Unfortunately, the bullpen did not.  Wheeler allowed three runs, and Morales allowed one.

Fortunately, the offense was there to save the day! Again it didn’t seem like it at first, but after the fourth inning, it was pretty clear.

In the beginning, it seemed like it was going to be a long night all around.  Not only was Bedard struggling, but the lineup was missing as many opportunities as it was creating.  We had the bases loaded in the first via walks.  Three walks loaded the bases with two out in the first, and Lowrie lined out to end the inning.  Reddick was standing on second with one out in the second inning; nothing happened.  Three singles brought in a run in the third, but we were still down by two and it was looking like it was going to be harder and harder to make that up.

Then the fourth inning literally changed everything.  The Rangers went down in order in the top of the frame in only seven pitches, and in the bottom of the frame our lineup turned the tables on them completely.

We put up an eight spot.  We sent thirteen batters to the plate in that inning to face a total of three different pitchers.  The Rangers had no chance.

It all started with a single by Reddick.  No big deal, right? Texas couldn’t have been more wrong.  Salty stepped up and hit a home run to the right of the bullpen on a cutter.  Salty is a big man; he swings with big power.  And he wasn’t even done.  Ironically enough, it was Ellsbury who provided the inning’s first out.  Then Pedroia singled, the Rangers made their first pitching change, Pedroia moved to second on a passed ball, Gonzalez was walked intentionally, Youk flied out, both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, Papi was walked intentionally, and Aviles came in to pinch-hit for Lowrie, who ended up leaving the game with a shoulder issue, and drove in one with a single.

And then it was Crawford’s turn.  And you didn’t know what Crawford was going to do.  He’s been performing better lately, but that’s small ball.  It’s been a slow but steady step in the right direction; all we were hoping for was a continuation of that.  Besides, he’d had stomach issues the night before.  If he drove in one run in that situation, we would have been happy.

Apparently, Crawford wanted more.  Apparently, Crawford wanted much more.  He took a fastball for a ball.  Then he got a changeup.  And somehow he looked like any other really good hitter.  He didn’t look like a hitter struggling to get his timing right and maintain some balance at the plate and regain an eye.  He looked like any other hitter when confronted with a changeup that misses.  He looked balanced and comfortable and punctual.  He did what absolutely none of us expected him to do.

He hit a grand slam.  I repeat: Carl Crawford hit a grand slam.  One swing.  Four runs.  Behind the bullpen.  Suddenly, the three runs that Bedard had allowed were a distant memory.

And we just kept right on going.  Reddick singled, Salty singled and stole a base for the first time in his career, and Ellsbury singled in Reddick.

We took a break and went down in order in the fifth.  But we came back in the sixth.  The bases were loaded for Pedroia, who cleared them in short order with a double.

That was it for us.  As I said, the Rangers did some damage against the bullpen, but it was nothing our heap of runs couldn’t dwarf.  The final score was 12-7.  Pedroia and Crawford both went two for five, Aviles went two for three, Reddick went four for four, Gonzalez turned two unassisted double plays in the first four innings of the game, we posted six extra-base hits and sixteen total, Morales picked off a runner to end the game.  No big deal.  We’re just an awesome, crushing force of comebacking resilience, that’s all.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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By the time the opener of yesterday’s doubleheader went on record, the game was essentially already won.  Oakland’s deficit was sufficiently substantial that, when the rain rolled in and halted play, I don’t think even Oakland would have objected if the game had been called.  9-2 is a pretty final score, if you ask me.  Play resumed, however, and the final score ended up being 9-3.  So I was right.

Just so you know, according to official Major League rules, the game could not be called because it was the first of a doubleheader, and the second game could not be started until the first one concluded.  The total time spent on rain delays was three hours.  Three hours.  Another baseball could have been played by the time the rain delays were over.

Lester pitched very well.  Two runs, only one earned, on three hits.  Two walks, four strikeouts, six innings.  Eighty-seven pitches, fifty-three of which were strikes.  His cut fastball, sinker, and changeup were inspired.  His curveball was terrible.  He didn’t come back out after the first rain delay.  Wheeler and Bowden pitched as far as they could until the rain came in, and then Bowden finished it off.

Meanwhile, the lineup was pretty busy.  It’s almost like they sensed the urgency due to the weather and all, so they didn’t waste any time making sure that we won beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Pedroia singled in our first run in the first.  Tek hit a two-run shot on a fastball away in the second into the bullpen.  You could tell from the moment the bat made contact with the ball that it was going to be out.  And then Ellsbury doubled in another run.  Papi doubled in two in the third, Scutaro singled in one in the fourth, and Tek singled in another in the fifth.   Gonzalez and Scutaro had two hits each, Papi went two for four with two RBIs, and Tek and Aviles both had huge nights at the plate.  Tek went two for four with three RBIs, and Aviles went three for four.

We ended up sweeping.  We won the nightcap, 4-0.  Bedard only pitched four innings – there was an hour-long rain delay, and he didn’t come back out – but they were scoreless.  He gave up two hits while walking four and striking out five.  He threw eighty-six pitches, fifty-four of which were strikes.  His changeup, curveball, cutter, and fastball were all good.  Aceves relieved him for three scoreless innings and earned the win.  Bard and Paps finished it.

The lineup supported the shutout; it wasn’t a second slugfest, but it was enough. Papi hit a two-run shot in the second.  He smashed a fastball into the Monster seats.  Then the bases were loaded for Crawford in the fourth; he popped out, and Salty brought one in with a groundout.  Salty brought in our fourth and final run with a double in the sixth and a little help from Brandon Allen, who deflected the ball.

And that was that.  It takes more than rain to throw us off our game.  And we have two days off before facing the Yanks.  We’re in a good place.

AP Photo

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This is going to be a long post.  A long post means one of two things: either we were so terrible that an especially enormous rant is necessary, or we had a slugfest and I need the time and space to talk about all the runs we scored.  It’s the latter.  It’s most definitely the latter.

Let’s start with Lackey, who picked up the win.  His line was very similar to Bedard’s on Monday.  Lackey gave up four runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out five.  He gave up a solo shot with two out in the fifth.  He threw 106 pitches, sixty-four of which were strikes; for him, that’s pretty economical.

Not coincidentally, he gave up his first three runs in the inning during which he threw the most pitches: twenty-sixth in the third.  Three straight singles, a bases-loaded walk, and two sac flies.  The home run was on a cutter.  His best pitches were his least and most frequently thrown: his fastball and his cutter, respectively.  His slider and curveball were obviously decent enough.  He used only seven pitches in the fifth, fifteen in the sixth, and eleven in the seventh before he was pulled with two out in the inning in favor of Morales.  Morales secured that one out, and then Aceves pitched a scoreless eighth.  Wheeler allowed a solo shot in the ninth, which was not an epic disaster because, like I said, we were slugging.

Here’s the fun part.

It started with Ellsbury, who singled on the second pitch of the game.  He stole second and moved to third on a sac bunt by Scutaro.  Tito was clearly happy about his health:

He’s back about six seconds, and he’s standing on third.

Then Gonzalez stepped up, both literally and figuratively, and blasted one out of the park.  It was a slider that he put in the second deck in right field.  He came into the game with an eighty-four-at-bat power drought and had hit only one home run in his last 155 at-bats going all the way back to July 8.  Not any more.  And he just looked more confident and more at ease at the plate.  He looked more Adrian Gonzalez-like.  And he was just getting started.

Two consecutive singles and a strikeout opened the second.  Salty brought in one with a double, Ellsbury was intentionally walked, and a sac fly by Scutaro brought in another.

A groundout opened the third, followed by two consecutive singles.  Crawford brought in one with a sac fly, and Lavarnway brought in another with a double.

Heading into the bottom of the third, the Rangers were in a six-run hole.  That was when they scored their three runs.  In the long run, those three runs barely even made a dent.

Gonzalez came roaring back in the fourth with another home run.  It was the third pitch of the at-bat; all three were cutters.  It ended up in the seats in left center field.  It barely got out.  But out is out.

As if his offensive production weren’t enough proof that he’s healthy, Ellsbury made one of his signature running, leaping catches for the first out in the inning.  Coming off the bat, you were thinking that that ball was going to land in the gap, which is why you knew that somehow Ellsbury was going to find some way to haul it in.  Lackey even tipped his cap, a very nice gesture indeed.

We didn’t score at all until the eighth, when we added on four more.  A flyout, a single, a double, a groundout, a double – the ball bounced off the top of the padding on the wall in left; Tito thought it was a homer but the call withstood review – that brought in two, a hard-earned intentional walk to Gonzalez, and a double that brought in two more.

All nine starters collected at least one hit en route to the 11-5 crush.  Lowrie, Lavarnway, and Salty all went two for five.  But it was Gonzalez who stole the show.  He went three for four with a walk, three runs, and three RBIs.  He hit home run numbers nineteen and twenty for the twelfth multi-homer game of his career; the two home runs traveled a grand total of 806 feet.  He is now batting .346 with ninety-seven RBIs.  So Ellsbury’s back, Gonzalez seems to be back, and Papi will be back today.  It’s all just coming back together.

AP Photo

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It’s going to be another short post.  A short post means one of two things: either we won by a slim margin, or we lost by a slim margin.  Last night, I guess you could say we lost by a slim margin, although we didn’t really do anything to create any sort of a margin either way.

We got shut out.  The entire team managed four hits.  None of them were for extra bases.  Gonzalez, Pedroia, Crawford, and Lowrie each singled.  Gonzalez and Pedroia each walked once, and Lavarnway walked twice.  We went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base.

Meanwhile, Bedard continues to improve with every start.  He gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings while walking one and striking out four.  But, as usual, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

The first run was the result of a walk, single, and single progression in the third.  That last single should never have happened.  With one out in the inning, Ian Kinsler hit a fly ball right at Reddick.  He dropped to his knees and made essentially a basket catch in his glove.  The catch was clean.  You can watch any replay of your choice, and you will see that it was blatantly obvious that the catch was clean.  I mean, if the catch was not clean, why would Reddick fire to first base? But for some bizarre reason that I can’t even begin to fathom, first base umpire Doug Eddings ruled that it was a trap, not a catch, and awarded Kinsler first base.  Eddings was wrong.  There are no two ways about it.  He was just flat-out wrong.  I don’t know what play Eddings was looking at, but he couldn’t have been looking at Reddick’s because that was a clean, spotless catch.  And that supposed single moved the runner to scoring position, and one single later, Texas was up by one.  Tito came out to argue, of course, but it didn’t help.

The rest of the runs were a result of a single, single, strikeout, and home run progression in the sixth on a two-seam with two out.  That one pitch ruined everything.  Take away the umpire’s completely false ruling, and make that pitch a little bit better, and for all we know we could have ended up winning in extras or something.

Overall, Bedard’s two-seam was much worse strikes-wise than his four-seam; his changeup was excellent, and his curveball wasn’t too far behind.  He threw 108 pitches, sixty-nine of which were strikes.  His highest count was twenty-eight in the sixth; he brought that down to twelve in the fourth and his lowest at only seven in the fifth.  He took the loss.  Albers and Morales combined for two scoreless relief innings.

We’re 0-4 in Arlington this year and two and eleven in Arlington since the start of the ’09 season.  Clearly, the playoff implications of that are not good.  We can take heart in the fact that, by the time October rolls around, we’ll have Youk, Ellsbury, and Papi back.  Honestly, those numbers look bad, but as far as the playoffs are concerned, I’m not worried.  It’s a whole different ballgame (pun intended).  I’m just really frustrated about Reddick’s catch.  That was ridiculous.

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