Posts Tagged ‘Felix Hernandez’

A win, a loss, and it’s down to half a game. The final score was 4-2, we out-hit the Mariners 9-5, and we didn’t waste any time. JD Drew hit one deep with two outs in the first. He later collected another RBI, as did Lowell and Lowrie, who continues to make it very difficult to answer the question of why we ever bothered to put up with Lugo in the first place. Notice how Lowrie can field effectively with a significant lack of errors. He reminds me of Ellsbury last year, a rookie who comes up, adds a little something extra to the clubhouse, and rules the tools.

For his part, Dice-K did everything right as well. After Lester’s long one yesterday, it’s back-to-back seven-plus-inning starts. Dice-K allowed two runs on five hits, walked only three batters, and struck out six. Ladies and gentleman, Daisuke Matsuzaka is now sporting an ERA of 2.63. That ERA is so low you’d think it belongs to a star reliever or closer or something. At times like these, I can’t get over how totally stacked the rotation is.

But wait, there’s more. Okajima came in to finish up the eighth inning and was perfect. No runs, hits, walks, or K’s. ERA of 2.77. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his thirtieth save. ERA of 2.28. Okie in the eighth, Pap in the ninth, one-two-three, done, finished, over. Just like old times. Okie’s actually been more or less stable recently. Whatever it is, I hope it sticks.

Buchholz at Felix Hernandez this afternoon. To tell you the truth, it worries me. Dude was unhittable in Triple-A. He got command of his fastball. He comes back up here, and what does he do? He has a meltdown. He has to find whatever it was that helped him pitch the no-hitter before he ends up in the minors for the rest of the season. Actually, how about this? Why not make Buchholz a reliever and keep Masterson as a starter? That makes way more sense. Buchholz is a young pitcher trying to permanently break into the big leagues on mostly off-speed pitches. A young guy who throws mostly off-speed pitches is going to have a hard time keeping his endurance up because that stuff can burn your arm out in a snap. So if you decrease his workload, he should be able to pitch more effectively when he pitches, and he should be able to pitch more in the long run.

In Tampa Bay, Greg Smith will start against James Shields, and it’s Glen Perkins at Mike Mussina. The Yankees are going into this afternoon’s contest with a five-game winning streak, and they’re 3.5 games out of first. They still don’t worry me as much as the Rays, but I’d like to see them buried under a monstrous pile of games back that they couldn’t possibly climb out of. And if they happened to miss the playoff cut completely that would be good, too.

In other news, Manny was napped in Seattle for jaywalking. Manny Ramirez: you think you know, but you have no idea. Zoe Zaferiou and Jenny Samuelson, two teens from Melrose, Massachusetts, even wrote a song about it.

AP Photo

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That was a pure quality start from Josh Beckett. Two runs on five hits over eight innings pitched, two walks, eight strikeouts, no home runs. That was Beckett ’07. How do I know? Because in his last victory over the D-Backs a year ago, Beckett held them to two runs over eight innings. Unbelievable. When you see a start like that from him you can’t help feeling at peace with the universe. And Aardsma was his usual self and got the job done in the ninth. Unfortunately, Dan Haren was his usual self, too. Over seven innings, he allowed two hits, five strikeouts, one base on balls, and nothing else. Tony Pena gave up the run to Boston, and Brandon Lyons got the save.

The run resulted from a sac fly by JD Drew with the bases loaded. It’s good that he got the Sox on the board, and it’s fantastic that he’s mastered the right field corner. But there’s a nagging thought in the back of my mind that wishes he and the team could have done more in situations like that. We had our fair share of scoring chances; not many, but we had our fair share. The first hit of the night was actually a double by Tek, which snapped his hitless streak of twenty-plus at-bats. But we could do nothing with it. I guess you can chalk that up to Haren being Haren. He did start the All-Star Game for the American League last year.

The Red Sox have never defeated the D-Backs at home, and sadly they still haven’t…yet. And the really sad part is that we had a chance to tie it before Youkilis got hit below his right eye with a baseball being thrown around the horn between innings. He had to come out. With Sean Casey serving Game 1 of his three-game suspension (I refer you to the Rays brawl), Brandon Moss, who’s played some first base in Triple A, had to come in. But Moss isn’t a Major League-caliber first baseman, and he showed that pretty quickly when he controlled a line drive and bobbled it. He got the out at first, but a run scored because he couldn’t turn the customary double play. The bases were loaded at the time. So, the final score ended up being 2-1 instead of 1-1 by the time the ninth inning rolled around.

You always get that feeling of desperation in the bottom of the ninth when you’re losing by one run. And we’re a team that can turn it around pretty quickly. But we couldn’t do anything in last night’s ninth or in any other game-on-the-line ninth inning if we keep doing what we’re doing now, which is getting up there and hacking. We play a totally different offensive game in those situations. Sabermetrics, first place, and two World Series trophies will tell you that the key to success is being patient, taking your pitches, and working walks. The Red Sox farm system teaches prospects to be patient at the plate. It’s an integral part of Boston’s game…usually. The ninth inning comes, and it’s all out the window. Hacking in the ninth works for sluggers like Big Papi and Manny Ramirez, but all three batters can’t get up there and start taking cuts and expect to make something happen. When the Red Sox continue playing the Boston game in the ninth with the game on the line, we’ll win these types of contests.

In other news, Don Orsillo suffered a contusion in the broadcast booth when he was hit by a foul ball, distant fireworks kept going off in the right field direction, the Red Sox presented their employees with their World Series rings, and Randy Johnson is 44 years old and looks horrible. Oh, and Seattle was playing the Mets at Shea yesterday. It was Felix Hernandez against Johan Santana. Lo and behold, Hernandez hits a grand slam but has to leave the game with an ankle injury. Finally, another anti-Red Sox Nation article appeared in print. The disturbing part was that it was written by Daniel Rubin, a now-former Sox fan who claims he’s done with Red Sox Nation. The thrust of the article is basically that Red Sox Nation has lost something because the team is successful. It implies that Red Sox fans are now bandwagon fans. I’d say I’ve never heard anything more inaccurate in my life, but because of the sudden popularity of these articles I must say I have. It’s very sad. It’s almost like the new fashion is to condemn Boston fans because their teams are successful. Why shouldn’t we be happy when our teams win? Any true Red Sox fan knows that the personality of the fan base was not, as Rubin suggests, based on losing. All along it was based on bearing the team’s season whatever the outcome, win or lose. It was based on dedicating yourself to the team, not the team’s record. It was never about whining because we lost or whining because we won or whining because the outcome isn’t what you want it to be, which is what Rubin is doing, because he thinks that Sox fans aren’t Sox fans unless the Sox are losing. Newsflash: being a Red Sox fan is so much more than winning or losing, but Dan Rubin can’t seem to get past those. You don’t have the team in their blood if you focus on winning or losing so much that you forget yourself when confronted with either. If you can’t see that, we’re glad to see you go, buddy.

Josh Beckett, 6/23/2008

AP Photo

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The Mariners shut us out. Facing Felix Hernandez, Sean Green, and Ryan Rowland-Smith, the Red Sox were able to come up with seven hits and no runs. We lost, 8-0. That’s pretty unusual. When we lose, we don’t usually lose by eight runs in a shutout. Colon allowed six of the runs on eight hits over five innings, and Aardsma allowed the other two on two hits in one inning. Javier Lopez was absolutely perfect, going three innings with one hit and one walk. 2.70 ERA from our resident lefty sidewinder. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Bartolo Colon is now 3-1 on the season. He made two errors, on a throw and a pickoff, and only three of the six runs were earned. He walked one, struck out two, and managed to inflate his ERA to 3.91 and his WHIP to 1.39. Last night’s loss ended a thirteen-game winning streak at home.

With Ortiz and Dice-K on the DL, Ellsbury listed as day-to-day, and Crisp with a seven-game suspension, I’m not very comfortable with the fact that Colon allowed three unearned runs and made two errors. Everyone has a bad day, of course, but does the bad day have to result in a shutout loss by eight runs, more than a third of which were unearned? The fact that only three were earned confirms the fact that Colon still has a great arm with great stuff. The fact that these two errors were his first two of the season confirms the fact that Colon can get around the mound. But the fact that half the runs he allowed were unearned reveals that he isn’t necessarily that great at fielding his position. Pitchers make errors, sure, but three runs is a bit much.

Colon wasn’t alone, though. Mikey Lowell had a throwing error on the game. That’s what I call unusual. Lowell won the Gold Glove at third base in 2005. Yesterday’s error was only his fifth of the season.

All in all, a disappointing night for Boston. But we’re still in first place, the Yanks are still in last place, and Wake will start against Miguel Batista this afternoon. Batista is 3-6 with a 5.99 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP. Wakefield should be able to handle him. We’ll see.

Javier Lopez

Getty Images

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And just like that, the skid is done. Over. Finished. Let’s hope it stays that way. But guess who brought the heat? Bartolo Colon. Now, this is what I call an “I told you so” moment. Bartolo is back, all right. In his second major league start, he pitched a full seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits. After his two starts, his ERA is 2.25. It’s too early to tell, but I don’t think anybody thought he’d be this good, even after just two Major League starts. I have a feeling he’ll come in very handy as the season progresses.

Ironically, I’m more concerned about Pap. Don’t get me wrong; he’s the best closer in the game. But he allowed two runs on two hits in the ninth inning. That doesn’t seem like the lock-it-up, one-hundred-percent Papelbon we all know and love. Especially not after he blew two saves in a row earlier in the season. So far, ’08 has brought surprises to Boston in pitching. Josh Beckett isn’t as dominating as he usually is, but Dice-K is undefeated. Bartolo Colon has developed solidly and is in the middle of what appears now to be a solid comeback, but Papelbon, while still being the lights-out pitcher he always was, makes you just a little nervous in the back of your mind sometimes. Strange.

The good news? The offense woke up, and against Felix Hernandez. That’s definitely something to smile about. The highly touted Hernandez gave up five runs on seven hits in just over seven innings of work, including a home run by none other than David Ortiz (slump? What slump?). We’re still half a game behind Tampa Bay, but I’m sticking to my original prediction that the Rays won’t be able to keep this up.

On a more developmental note, I think sending Clay Buchholz to AAA was a good move. He’s a great pitcher, but he needs to get his stuff together. After pitching a no-hitter so early in his career, it’s good for him to remember that he can’t rush and become an ace overnight. He throws some of the most effective off-speed pitches I’ve ever seen, and his confidence on the mound is astounding. But that doesn’t mean anything unless he learns how to control it for an entire game’s worth of work.

Bartolo Colon, 5/26/2008

AP Photo

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