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Posts Tagged ‘Ervin Santana’

I don’t really understand what went on last night.  I saw it with my own eyes while it was unfolding, and I’m still not quite sure how the whole thing happened.  It was bizarre.

Beckett took the mound and just cruised along for five full innings.  He held complete sway over the Angels lineup for half a game.  Angels would step up to the plate, and he would send them down.  He was throwing all of his pitches and hitting all of his spots.  He was ahead in the count constantly.  He was on fire.  During those five innings, he gave up no runs on two hits.  And that was it.

And with Beckett looking like that, we had no reason to believe that the solo shot Papi hit in the fourth was all we would need to win.  That shot was fantastic.  Santana’s changeup stayed up and cleared the bullpen and ended up in the right field seats.

Then all of a sudden in the sixth inning, the entire game got away from Beckett.  It was like he was holding the game in his hands and then let it slip through his fingers.  When his fall first began, it was painful because you had no idea when or if it would end.  Eventually it ended, but by then it was too late.

In the sixth, back-to-back doubles tied it.  Okay.  At that point you’re thinking it’s only a tie, just like a game starting out 0-0.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s only one run.  Then Hunter’s grounder bounced off Beltre’s glove, and you’re thinking there are two men on base but if we can just escape this inning with the one run of damage, we’ll be alright.  Then Beckett wanted to throw a fastball down and away from Matsui, but it ended up low right over the plate, and he hit a home run.  Ninety-four miles per hour on that fastball, and it broke Beckett.

Unfortunately there was more.  There was a glimmer of hope when Beckett opened the seventh with a strikeout, but he followed that with a walk and a single.  Then he was finally lifted.  And it’s just the next episode in a continuing trend of frustration, exasperation, and failure that has been the 2010 season for Josh Beckett.  He’s spent almost his entire career as an ace.  All of a sudden in 2010 he’s three and three with a 6.67 ERA.  He spent two-plus months on the DL with various back issues and then came roaring back.  His first three starts after he returned from the DL were essentially spotless, and you were thinking this is it, the ace is back, and we’re good to go.  But over his last three starts he dropped the ball, literally and figuratively, posting a record of 0-2 with a 10.69 ERA.  I’m not a fan of this trend.  Neither is Beckett.  But the competitive spirit that prompts him to beat himself up after he drops a start doesn’t change the fact that we still lost.  His final line came out to six runs on seven hits in six and one-third innings with four walks and only one K.  That’s as mediocre as you can get.

Tito replaced him with Delcarmen, who allowed both of his inherited runners to score.  Delcarmen opened his appearance with a walk.  A successful sac bunt followed, then back-to-back walks, the latter of which resulted in a run scoring.  I can’t stand that.  That is the absolute worst way for a pitcher to allow a run.  And you could see that something just wasn’t right.  His arm seemed slow.  His delivery was obviously off.

So Tito replaced him with Atchison, who allowed his inherited runner to score when Scutaro’s throw to first for the out wasn’t in time.

Wakefield pitched the last two innings of the game and provided the out only clean pitching performance of the night.  But this was also too late.  We hadn’t scored since Papi’s blast in the fourth.  But we seemed to have something on our hands in the eighth.  We loaded the bases with nobody out.  And you’re thinking there’s no way we don’t score here.  We have to score.  Anything that puts the ball in play would score at least one.  So Beltre stepped up to the plate and hit a sac fly.  We scored a run.  That was it.  Seriously.  The bases loaded with nobody out and we only managed to score one run.  We lost the game, 7-2.  And when I say we lost the game, I mean we lost it in every sense of the word.  Beckett pitched well and then he lost it.  I don’t think the offense ever had a handle on it.  Scutaro went two for five with the only multi-hit game, although Papi and Beltre both walked twice in addition to their lone hits.  Lowrie’s double and Papi’s homer were the only two extra-base hits we collected.  And the relief corps, with the exception of Wake, was epically not helpful.  We did have some flashes of brilliance on D, like Drew’s running and diving catch and Lowell’s diving catch in the third and Lowrie’s throw on the spin in the eighth.

Pedroia was scratched due to soreness in his foot, probably from stealing that base.  Salty is on the DL with some sort of infection in his right lower leg.  I seriously can not believe this.  What is happening here?

That’s the first time we’ve lost to the Angels this season.  Had we swept, we would have made the season series a perfect 10-0.  And to be honest with you, I was rather enjoying our revenge after last October.  And I don’t even want to talk about the ramifications this has for the standings.  Seriously.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  We needed that win.  I mean, we need every single win we can get our hands on, and we potentially could’ve had that one with only one or two runs.  But no.  One of our aces imploded and we lost.  So we’ll try another ace.  Toronto is coming to town tonight and we’re throwing Lester.  Lester will get it done.  Believe that.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki
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Revenge, with a capital R, was what last night’s game was.  It would’ve been much more effective had the Angels not scored almost half the runs that we did, but with the way we’ve been playing lately, we’ll have to take what we can get and like it.

But still.  The final score was 17-8.  And that’s what you call a good, old-fashioned Boston beat-down.

Mr. Clay Buchholz led the charge.  He was one out shy of pitching a full six innings.  He gave up four runs on eight hits, walked three, and struck out two while throwing 109 pitches.  So he kept his pitch count relatively low, although if you ask me he should’ve gone deeper and given up less runs.  He obviously wasn’t on.  He topped out at ninety-seven miles per hour on his fastball, but it just wasn’t as effective as usual.  The overwhelming majority of his pitches were fastballs, followed by sliders and changeups with the occasional curveball.  He threw the first three pitches for more or less the same strike rate, which wasn’t very high.  He had a good time of it during the first and third innings, but otherwise he was just mediocre.  And his strike zone more or less even, but there was some spillover out of there.  So the movement on his pitches could’ve been better, and his command could’ve stood some improvement.  To be fair, he battled and picked up the win, and if he had his way, the Angels would’ve finished with the four runs and that would have been it.

Delcarmen got a hold, and he and Ramirez pitched perfectly.  It was Schoeneweis who had other ideas; dude gave up four runs in the top of the ninth.  And with the way we’ve been playing recently, you can’t not be furious about that.  Why? Because had this been a close game, Schoeneweis probably would’ve lost it for us right there.  You just don’t give up four runs in the top of a ninth inning.  You just don’t.  Because that likely means you’re done.  Four runs on four hits with two walks.  That’s completely uncalled four.  Luckily, we had runs to waste.

Which brings me to the fun part: how we got the seventeen runs, and I can assure you it was an absolute blast to watch.  Pun most definitely intended.

So, to start things off, Youk belted a home run in the bottom of the second.  His first at-bat in the lineup and he smashes a fastball up the middle completely over the Monster.  And all Mike Scoscia could do was just watch that go.  He did well batting clean-up, finishing two for three with a double and two walks.

Three batters later, Hall stepped up with Beltre on base and belted one of his own.  His first home run in a Boston uniform was kept within the Monster seats by inches.  Inches, folks.  It was a changeup down in the zone and he just made that look easy.  He just got up there, took his cut like it was the easiest thing in the world, and just like that two more runs were on the board.  He had to reach way down for that and kind of just poke it out of there.  He finished two for four with a walk.

Then, in the third, Lowell doubled in two.  In the fourth, Drew singled in two.  And that brings us to our seven-run sixth.

Drew singled in Youk.  Lowell doubled in Drew.  Beltre smacked a two-run shot for his first homer of the year.  That landed in the back of the Monster, and let me tell you: he was swinging for the fences.  Cue the usual dugout ritual for first home runs.  And finally, the big one that cemented this game as out of reach for the Angels: Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah’s not one, not two, but three-run monster shot into that same-named wall.  The first row.  That swing was huge.  He uncorked massive power on that ball.  Why pitchers continue to even think that they might be able to get an inside fastball by Pedroia is completely beyond me.  To this day, I have absolutely no idea why they still think they can do that.  No idea.

So all the home runs landed in our outside of the Green Monster.  That’s a lot of power in those swings.  It’s not easy to launch balls over there.

We added three more runs in the seventh just to make sure they got the message.  Lowell and Beltre each doubled in a run, and Beltre scored when McDonald grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Every single member of the starting lineup got a hit.  All but two had multi-hit games; Scutaro just hit a single, and Pedroia we’ll forgive for not hitting more because, come on, three runs scored on his one swing.  V-Mart went two for six with a double, Beltre went two for five (and made an error), and McDonald went two for four.  But guess what.  Drew went four for five.  I’m not kidding.  And Lowell went four for four with three doubles.  Three! Man, talk about hot hitting! On Sunday, he struck out twice and hit two dribbling nothings in front of the plate.  But Lowell just gave Tito something to think about lineup-wise.  And, of course, Drew’s April blues are officially over, if that wasn’t established already.

Seventeen runs on twenty hits.  How ‘bout that.

And that, my friends, is how you open a ten-game homestand against two of, I hate to say it, the toughest teams in baseball.  Goodbye, three-game losing streak; hello, one-game winning streak that will hopefully expand.  And, you see? That’s what happens when everyone plays to their full potential; we can afford to be gutsy and take some risks because we’ve got plenty of insurance.  We won by nine runs; that’s the first time we won by more than two since we beat the Twins, 6-3, on April 14.  I would just like to put that bad baseball behind us once and for all; maybe this is the homestand to do it.  If we do really well against tough teams, it might be just the thing we need to find our groove.  Last night’s performance was certainly heartening for exactly that reason.  And let’s remember that we don’t have to deal with Lackey anymore.  Lester’s taking on Santana tonight.  Let’s keep this going.

Unfortunately, we’ve got some very bad and serious news: Dave Roberts has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  He was diagnosed during Spring Training.  Apparently, the prognosis is good because they caught it early.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we wish you nothing but the best of luck in your fight against cancer and a very speedy recovery.

And the B’s just keep rolling right along! One goal in each period, and we won 3-2 in regulation! Milan Lucic, ladies and gentlemen! Next game on Wednesday.  There’s still a lot of hockey to be played yet, but all I’m saying is that this is by far the best hockey we’ve played all season.

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How do we know which Wakefield is the real Wakefield? The Wakefield who, up until yesterday, was pretty much lights out, looking younger with every pitch, giving the opposition a run for its money, keeping his ERA under 3.00? Or the Wakefield of yesterday, who pitched a little under five innings and in that time gave up seven runs on eleven hits with three walks and two strikes to put his ERA over 4.00? Did he have a really good start to the season only to have it come to an end in usual-Wakefield fashion? Or is last night the anomaly and he’s seriously going to pitch that well all season long? It’s hard to tell.  Wakefield is one of the most unpredictable pitchers in the short term that I’ve ever seen.  Start to start, you don’t know if he’ll make a bid for a no-hitter or if he’ll hand the other team a slugfest on a silver platter.  So the only thing we can do is wait it out and see what happens.  Usually, when we look back on the season, we see that overall Wakefield gives us quality innings when we need them and usually puts us in some sort of position to win.  And that’s what he’s here for.  But the better that position we’re in, the more likely we are to win, so we have a reason to be miffed when he allows seven runs.

Hunter Jones, by the way, allowed the eighth.  He only finished up the eighth inning.  Then who but Daniel Bard made his Major League debut and pitched the sixth and seventh, and Angel Stadium is not an easy place to debut.  A hit, a walk, and a strike.  No runs.  He’s twenty-three years old.  He was our minor league pitcher of the year last year.  He has a slider and a changeup.  And he has an unhittable fastball.  Unhittable.  Literally.  The kid comfortably throws between 94 and 98 miles per hour but can throw 100 on a great day.  He struck out his first Major League batter on three straight fastballs, the last of which was 98.  This, my friends, is our future.  And let me tell you: our future is bright.  Daniel Bard, ladies and gentlemen.  Saito pitched a good eighth inning.

We lost the game, 8-4.  Wakefield took the loss.  We had an early four-run lead.  Jason Bay hit his tenth homer of the year with a man on and two out in the first inning.  He smoked that ball all the way into the right field stands.  It’s beautiful to watch him hit home runs.  He’s got such a sure swing, he’s discriminating at the plate, which we know because he draws all those walks (with twenty-eight, he’s second in the Majors behind Marco Scutaro’s thirty-one), and that’s a great combination.  So you know that when he launches one, he launches one, and chances are it’ll be out.  Bay is also second in the Majors in RBIs with thirty-seven, seventh in the Majors in home runs, and fifth in runs scored (Pedroia is eighth).  He has a batting average of .319 and an OPS of 1.120.  That’s ridiculous.  I mean that’s a monstrous start to the season.  I talk about MVPs all the time; if he keeps this up, he will most definitely be the AL MVP.  I mean, just look at those numbers! And it’s not just the offense.  He has a fielding percentage of one.  One.  No errors, even with the Green Monster in left field, and we all know how difficult it is to play it.  He has a range factor of 2.23, which isn’t bad, and a zone rating of 11.459.  Basically, if he continues at this rate, he’ll be locking up all sorts of awards and personal bests.  Can’t wait.

Ellsbury and Green also batted in RBIs.  Ellsbury was caught stealing.  And unfortunately that was it.  We were held to just five hits.  We were one for three with runners in scoring position.  So not only did we not bat around in that situation, but we hardly ever had that situation to bat around in.  Drew, Lowell, and Lugo failed to reach base at all last night.

So yeah.  Not necessarily our best work.  Not in the least.  But it could’ve been much worse, and there were high points.  But we lost.  We’re still a game behind Toronto, and you would think that by now Toronto would sink back into oblivion with us taking over.  Apparently neither they nor us got that memo.  But it’ll happen soon enough.  We have Penny at Santana tonight, and we’re looking for another good start from him so we can take the series.  Taking this series would be awesome, mostly because of the problems we had against the Angels last year.  But it’s a new season and in many ways we’re a better team.  It’s time to act like it.

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I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, because that’s one of the worst things anyone can do in the postseason, but that was a great game.  I mean, that was just a great, great game.  Jed Lowrie made that error, his third since joining the team, and I could hear the groans across the Nation.  Then Jason Bay didn’t charge in enough and I thought, “Oh, no.” So that error resulted in the first run of the game, and only Lester’s fourth earned run this year.

But, as with any game in the postseason, you always have to keep in mind that you never know.  You never, never know.  That’s why fall ball is so much fun.  The intensity, the mystery, the possibilities; you just don’t get that during the regular season.  As always, Lester smoothed himself out as the game went on.  His cut fastball was on, and with Tek’s experience behind the plate the battery was firing on all cylinders.  Almost no outs were recording in the air.  Most were groundouts or strikeouts.  Through seven innings he retired all leadoff men, and In the sixth he struck out the side.  His ERA in September was 2.14, the second lowest in the American League (right behind AJ Burnett).  So in total last night he pitched seven innings, gave up one run on six hits, walked one, and fanned seven.  Absolutely no home runs allowed; he only allowed fourteen during the regular season anyway.  And he’s only 24 years old.

Masterson pitched a perfect eighth, and Papelbon recorded a save in the ninth, allowing one hit but fanning three.  I knew he’d be back to form in the postseason.  Like I said, in October something just clicks with this team.  For us, October is home.

RBIs for Ellsbury and Ortiz, and two for Bay.  Ellsbury went three for five with two steals.  Bay went two for two and turned the game around completely with that monstrous shot of a home run in the sixth inning.  One on, two out, and he just powered it out.  I’m telling you, for someone who’s never made a playoff appearance before and who’d never faced John Lackey before, he sure looked comfortable.  Pedroia was held hitless but still got on with two walks.  I’m telling you, you just can’t keep that kid off the basepaths.

It was good to see Mikey Lowell and Drew back in it.  They were both held hitless but they looked great.  No signs of pain.  Drew hasn’t played for a while, so it’s understandable that his timing would be a little off, but I suspect he’ll heat up soon.  And if he doesn’t, we’ve got Kotsay, who’s alright with me.  As for Beckett, he had a long toss before the game and said he didn’t feel any discomfort, so he should be ready to go in Game 3.

So let’s think about this for a minute.  We just won our playoff opener! 4-1! And the one run the Angels scored was unearned, which means this game is eerily similar to last year’s Game 1, which we won, 4-0.  Just sayin’.  In the larger scheme of things, this loss is horrible for the Angels.  After winning 100 games for the first time in franchise history, they just spent all of September playing meaningless baseball, so they’ve got what I like to call Angels syndrome.  They get to a situation where all of a sudden they have to turn it on, but baseball doesn’t work that way.  You can’t just flick a light switch and be October material.  Not to mention the fact that it’s completely disheartening to lose your first playoff game to a team you’ve lost the ALDS to nine times on your home turf.  Part of that was definitely Vlad Guerrero’s baserunning snafu in the eighth, when he tried to go from first to third on those bad knees of his.  Needless to say, the ball was waiting for him at third.  We’ll see if it has the same affect as Jeff Suppan’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” episode in the 2004 World Series.  Now, Guerrero is supposed to be the Angels’ David Ortiz, but think about this.  He came into this game with a postseason average of .183.  This whole thing is not good for the Angels at all.  But it’s phenomenal for us.  We haven’t been at our best on the road this year, and this is a huge confidence boost.  Plus, it throws the momentum our way.  We’ve got the crown jewels of our pitching staff lined up, so in a series that’s best-three-of-five we’re covered.

In other news, I came across yet another article claiming that the Red Sox are the new Yankees, that Red Sox Nation is becoming the Evil Empire, and that there’s nothing to love about the Red Sox anymore.  I’m sick and tired of having to defend our success for these people.  When we were cursed, we hoped and prayed for success.  Now, we still hope and pray for success.  Are you seriously telling me that it’s wrong for us to hope and pray for success? Give me a break.  It’s said that the gift is in the struggle.  We’ve had the struggle, and we’re now accepting the gift.  The struggle will always be a part of the Nation, because when we look back it’ll be right there, ready for us to pass on to generation after generation.  What is so wrong about embracing success anyway? I don’t see you getting upset that your article about our success has brought you success.  Furthermore, any true Red Sox fan will recognize that there is a difference between buying championships and earning championships.  The Yankees are experts at the former.  We are experts at the latter.  There is definitely a huge difference, and people who try to pass these judgments are basically a new type of bandwagon fan.  The anti-bandwagon fan, if you will.  Bandwagon fans jump on when the team gets good, and anti-bandwagon fans jump off when the team gets good.  True fans stay on no matter what.  Think about that before you write your next article.

On Friday it’s Dice-K at Santana.  Let’s do it!

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