Posts Tagged ‘Firsty-Year Player Draft’

That’s it! I think he’s got it! I think Dice-K’s previous start really was the turning point we all hoped it would be! Technically, we should wait until his next start to be absolutely sure, but all signs point to goodness.  And the solution to his inconsistency was, more or less, as we suspected it might have been, under our noses all along.  A pitcher fires too many pitches because he’s inefficient, but why is he inefficient? In Dice-K’s case, he was inefficient because he was pitching around batters instead of to batters.  He was being too careful.  That meant that walks were coming back to haunt him, and he left games early.  We know this was his problem because every time he’d get himself into a jam, he’d be able to get himself right out.  So the stuff was there, and quality was never at issue.  During his previous time out, he had something to prove so he pounded the zone and achieved an excellent result.  This time out, he did the same thing.  And voila.

Ironically, I remember that this was a topic of discussion during Dice-K’s first two seasons with us that sort of faded into the background when his injuries and the controversy over his training burst onto the scene.  His inefficiency specifically due to lack of aggression had been discussed, but I guess it took a back seat to everything else that was going on.  It took a completely horrendous display of careful pitching to remind him that batters will hit the ball anyway, so why not just go for it.

Last night marked Dice-K’s 150th career win, and he picked up the game ball for his daughter.  He pitched eight shutout innings, needing 112 pitches to do so.  His pitch count didn’t even reach one hundred until the eighth inning, when he walked one, induced a double play, and got a looking strikeout.  His pitch counts would regularly reach 140 when he played in Japan, so he was ready to get back out there and finish off what he started, but of course Tito sent Bard out, who ironically gave up a home run.

Dice-K gave up four hits and only two walks while striking out five, his first coming in the fifth.  His pitch of choice? The cut fastball, rather than the slider.  He threw the lowest amount of sliders last night since he started throwing them at all, thanks to V-Mart who got into rhythm with him and called for what was working.  His cutter was exceptional.  Front door, back door, you name it, he threw it for a strike.  And not just any strike; a first-pitch strike.  After seeing him throw so many balls, his strike zone last night was a thing of beauty.  He used all parts except the upper and lower right corners; when he did throw a ball, chances are it was around the upper left corner.  Other than that, he used all parts of it.  About sixty-three percent of his pitches were strikes in total.  He stayed ahead of the batters and kept counts low while keeping the pace of the game up.  He varied his speed, mixed his pitches (his two-seam was also thrown well), and maintained good movement on everything.  He did not throw more than nineteen pitches in any inning and needed as few as nine to finish the second.  Mostly he threw between ten and fifteen pitches in a given frame.

In short, he brought it.  He was on his game.  The Dice-K we saw last night is the Dice-K we’ve been waiting for.  And although all evidence points to this Dice-K being the Dice-K we see from now on, I would recommend at least waiting until his next start to see if he’s really found his groove.  I think he has.  He’s a pitcher; he’s tried so many different solutions and knows when one works.  And now that he works well with V-Mart, I think he could really get rolling here.

So the final score was 4-1.  If you ask me, it should have been way more lopsided than that.  We left ten men on base, seven against Carmona.  We had runners on base in every inning Carmona pitched.  Five of our eight hits were for extra bases, but none of them were timed well enough to lock it up completely.  We manufactured all four runs ourselves.  Combined with Dice-K’s stellar performance, it was enough to cause Carmona’s fourth consecutive loss.

Scutaro scored on Youk’s sac fly in the first.  Reddick scored on Papi’s fielder’s choice groundout in the third.  Scutaro scored on V-Mart’s sac fly in the seventh; the bases were loaded with nobody out and that was all he could manage, but it’s still a run and I’ll take it.  As Tito said, if you put up only one run in a frame, but repeatedly, it adds up to a win.  Something similar occurred in the eighth; Beltre led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch, scoring on Hall’s single.  But the rally stopped short when Scutaro grounded out and Pedroia struck out.

Scutaro went three for four with a career-high three doubles, extending his hitting streak to six games.  V-Mart went two for four with a double.  He even caught a theft in the fifth!

Apparently, the pitching staff is taking guitar lessons together just for fun.  That’s some good team bonding right there.  Bonser joined the bullpen yesterday because Paps has been placed on the bereavement/family medical leave list, which means he’ll be out for three games.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I offer him and his family condolences and best wishes for a speedy recovery.  Meanwhile, look for Bard in the closer’s role.  In the First-Year Player Draft, we selected second baseman Kolbrin Vitek twentieth overall, outfielder Bryce Brentz thirty-sixth overall, and pitcher Anthony Ranaudo at thirty-ninth overall.  Two big bats and a pitcher on the first day; not bad!

I didn’t think I’d be able to say this anytime soon, but I’m actually looking forward to Dice-K’s next start.  I’m anxious to see whether this turnaround and new pitching style is for real.  If it is, I would recommend that the league watch out because, as we have seen, when Dice-K is on, he’s good.  He’s really good.  So I really hope that the Dice-K we’ve seen in his previous two starts as well as his no-no bid is the Dice-K who’s here to stay.  Meanwhile, we have four starts we need to win, starting tonight with Wakefield at Huff, as Wakefield looks to redeem himself from his last two starts.

AP Photo

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