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Posts Tagged ‘Gabe Gross’

That wasn’t a ballgame; that was a circus.  I know what a ballgame looks like, and last night wasn’t it.  It was so bad, it got to the point of being almost funny.  Except for the fact that, by the time we got around to playing real ball, it was the tenth inning, it was too little too late, and we lost.

We scored four runs in the first two innings.  In the first, Scutaro scored on Youk’s double for our first run.  Papi tried to do the same but was thrown out at the plate.

In the second, with one out, Hall singled into right field, and Gross fired the ball home to keep Cameron from scoring.  But Hall rounded first base by a mile, and Suzuki wanted to throw him out, but the throw ended up in right field because Barton and Ellis had no idea who should catch it.  So, in the end, Cameron scored his run, and Hall was safe at second base.  Then Davis tried diving for Scutaro’s bloop single, which ended up being ruled a double, and a stand-up at that, because he failed miserably; Hall scored on the play.  Then Scutaro came around on McDonald’s double.

We continued hammering away at Braden in the fifth, loading the bases with two out, but Hall grounded out.  So we loaded the basis in the sixth with only one out, but Papi struck out and Beltre grounded out.

Those were huge opportunities.  I think we lost the game in those innings.  We wouldn’t score another run last night, and in baseball you never know which run will be the winning run so you have to score when you can.  It turned out that the game was decided by only one run.  So if we made good on those bases-loaded situations, it’s not unreasonable to say that we would’ve won.

Meanwhile, the A’s had tied it up in the third with four runs, only three of which were earned.  (Cust had moved to third on Cash’s passed ball before scoring.) He gave up only three hits during his six innings of work, walking two, striking out five, and tossing 115 pitches.  His knuckleball was perfectly fine.  It was dancing, it was in the zone, for the most part.  He just got roughed up.  We’ve seen one-inning badness from him before.  His pitch counts per inning were mostly around twenty; his pitch count in that third inning was thirty-four.  It was a double, a walk, a hit-by-pich, a double, and a sac fly.  Some of that, namely the walk and the hit-by-pitch, are just part of the nature of the knuckleball; with a pitch so unpredictable and difficult to control, those things happen sometimes, and it’s a tribute to Wake’s skill that he only walked two.  So he definitely got his work in, even if our offense didn’t.

After that, the relief corps held the fort perfectly.  Needless to say, we’re going to need a quality start from Buchholz tonight because we used six relievers: Delcarmen, Okajima, Bard, Ramirez, Richardson, and Bowden.  The first three cruised.  In fact, after that third inning, Wake and the bullpen combined to retire the next fifteen batters they faced.  But now we come to the other part of the story.  The circus part.  The morbidly comical tenth inning part.

The tenth inning started with Ramirez, who was somehow called for a balk that put Barton in scoring position.  That was ridiculous.  He didn’t balk.  He just didn’t.  And to be honest with you I’m getting exasperated with all these bad calls.  Richardson got an out after that.  But then Bowden, who just got called up, was thrown into the mix with the game on the line and left a pitch up.  It was a four-seam.  The at-bat lasted for five pitches; the first three were four-seams, followed by a curveball, followed by the mistake.  Kouzmanoff jumped on it for a single, scoring Barton for a walkoff.  Ramirez ended up taking the loss.

And finally, last but not least, the ejections.  Crisp was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.  He swung and missed, he actually walked away from the plate, and then he actually walked all the way back and started it up.  John Farrell was ejected for arguing that Rosales didn’t check his swing and did indeed strike out.  How the umpire missed that, I have absolutely no idea.  His bat was so far in front of the plate, it looked like he was swinging for the fences.  Then Tito came out, and he wasn’t happy either.  Thankfully he didn’t get ejected, but still.  If he strikes out, the game is still tied.

In other news, the brass wants to upgrade the video screens in Fenway and bring int a new jumbotron.  As in, high definition.  The plans have to pass the Boston Landmarks Commission first, though.  I’m just thankful that our brass isn’t interested in something like the Dallas Cowboys monstrosity.  After all, we go to Fenway to watch a ballgame live, not to watch it on TV.

So that’s it.  That’s the whole story.  Every mistake that can be made in a ballgame – defensive, offensive, pitching, fielding, arguing – was indeed made.  All told, we left twelve on base, half of which were left in scoring position with two outs.  We had twice as many hits as Oakland did, but baseball games aren’t won by hits; they’re won by runs, which makes that our ninth loss in thirteen games.  Like I said, we need Buchholz to step up big tonight.  Actually, I’m pretty psyched.  We’re starting to get healthy.

AP Photo

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Dice-K has been awful this season.  To put it bluntly, every single one of his outings was an epic fail.  It was like watching a wreck, rewinding it, and replaying it over and over and over again.  Everything that could have possibly gone wrong, did.  It was absolutely downright horrible.  Two DL stints later, Dice-K was down in Florida catching up on all the Spring Training he missed while winning MVP in the World Baseball Classic, but it took three times as long because of all the fatigue that had accumulated in his shoulder.  After he graduated from that, he went down to the farms and had some good and bad outings.  The whole thing was pretty much a mixed bag, so when we found out that Dice-K was returning to the Major League rotation, we didn’t know what we were going to get.

Hold on to your hats, was my advice.  Be prepared to be blown away, or be prepared to turn them inside-out because we may be in desperate need of a rally.  But his first Major League start after his epic fail of an eight-start first half wouldn’t be about just one game.  It would be about his entire 2009 season.  To properly vindicate himself, he would need one seriously dominant, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners outing.  An outing that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is back and back with a vengeance.  An outing that effectively proved that he went down to Florida, was a good soldier and trained properly, and is now the better for it.

Last night’s outing exceeded all expectations of whatever outstanding outing you could possibly imagine.  He pitched six impeccable shutout innings.  Three hits, three walks, and five strikeouts, including some very nice no-hit, one-two-three innings.  And all of it on ninety-three pitches, more than half of which were four-seams, and let me tell you: his fastball was on.  He added some sliders and cutters as well as other off-speeds to keep them guessing and topped out at ninety-three miles per hour and going down to about eighty.  His command was sound and he went after the hitters.  Given the circumstances in which this outing took place, I have absolutely nothing whatsoever to complain about.

Especially since Dice-K started against the Angels.  That’s a very important detail.  We’ll probably face the Angels in the ALDS.  We have facts on our side, namely the fact that the Angels can’t do anything against us in the ALDS, but it’s good to know that that’s still true.  Dice-K made a very strong case for his ability to sustain that tradition.  Not to mention the fact that this lightens the pressure on the staff considerably, now that there’s another starter in the mix.  Wakefield can relax a bit and let his back heal properly.

But for these same reasons, Dice-K’s next start may be even more important than this one, so he isn’t out of the woods yet.  For now, though, Red Sox Nation and I can let out a huge collective sigh of relief.

The final score was 4-1.  The relief corps was solid through Ramirez, Wagner, and Bard, who each got holds, but it hit a stumbling block when we got to Papelbon.  Only six of his twenty pitches weren’t strikes, but two hits and one run later, Dice-K’s shutout was ruined.  Again, not good.

Of course, you can’t win without offense.  Only three of the four runs were earned, but we can thank Bay and Ortiz for those.  And while we thank Ortiz, we can give him a standing ovation as well.  His two-run moon shot with two out in the eighth was his twenty-fourth of the season and the 270th of his career as a DH.  With that homer, he officially passed Frank Thomas in the record books.  David Ortiz has officially hit more home runs in his career than any other designated hitter in the history of the sport.  Congratulations! And the best part is that he’s not even finished.

Ellsbury went two for four and was caught stealing.  Ortiz finished two for four.  Drew tripled.

Youk was out of the lineup with lower back spasms that aren’t too serious.  V-Mart will be in Cleveland probably until tomorrow taking care of some personal matters, but he probably wouldn’t have played anyway after that collision with Gabe Gross at the plate.  Next season’s schedule has been released, and we’re opening and closing by hosting the Yanks at Fenway.  Excellent.  We start off by showing them who’s boss and end by reminding them in case they forgot.  We’re facing some of the National League’s elite during Interleague, which still shouldn’t be a problem because it’s still the National League.  I’m just not happy about the fact that we’re only at home for nine games in July next year.  That’ll be a challenge.

John Lackey really challenged us, I’ll admit.  Most of the game was a very close pitcher’s duel, and for a while the only difference between Lackey and Dice-K was a pair of hits Lackey allowed while Dice-K still hadn’t allowed any.  It was a great contest.  Anytime you see good pitchers get crafty and try to best each other in a battle of wits, so to speak, you witness not just the science but also the art of the game, and those are special.  The important thing is that Dice-K had himself a phenomenal outing; technically, the win was just icing on the cake.  But I’ll take it.  Believe me, I’ll take it.  Especially against the Angels less than a month away from October.  We were in good shape all along, but if Dice-K holds it together, things look even more promising.  Tonight it’s Joe Saunders at Paul Byrd.  That, I’m not so sure about.

In other news, the Patriots had themselves quite the comeback against the Bills on Monday, winning 25-24.  Obviously that probably wasn’t exactly what Tom Brady or Bill Belichick had in mind, but winning is never a bad way to start the season.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Doubleheaders are rare these days.  I don’t even think they schedule doubleheaders anymore; they’re a result of rain or other unforeseen circumstances.  So when you find yourself presented with two ballgames in one day, you treasure it.  But you also appreciate how difficult it is for the team.  That’s at least six hours of work.  Terry Francona slept in his office last night because he saw no point in going home, only to return a few hours later.  It’s tough.  So for the fan, having a doubleheader is really awesome.  But having your team sweep a doubleheader is monumental.

Which makes yesterday’s all-out domination that much more special.

Buchholz cruised in the opener.  Seriously.  This is exactly why Roy Halladay still pitches for the Jays.  Seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball with three walks and five K’s.  But the Rays tied it at one on his watch, so he was removed from the decision.  Okajima got the win and Paps picked up the save when we won it, 3-1, and it was all because of Dustin Pedroia.  V-Mart singled him in in the sixth, and he took care of himself and Gathright in the eighth when he sent the ball out of the park to deep right.  One down, one to go.

Tito got creative with the lineup again, but that’s what doubleheaders are all about.  For the opener, he had Bay DH while Kotchman played first, Rocco played right, Reddick played left, and Green started at short.  And it was good that Kotchman was on his toes; he may have fumbled the ball a bit, but he fired to home in time to prevent Gabe Gross from breaking the tie in the seventh.  Later, Drew was back in right, Bay was back in left, Ortiz DHed, Lowell played third, and Gonzalez started at short.

Lester was one inning, two hits, and three walks shy of a perfect game.  Add seven strikeouts and it really doesn’t get much better than that.  And let’s not forget about his efficiency.  He finished those almost-perfect eight innings having thrown 105 pitches.  But one of the most remarkable things about him is that he does all of it quietly.  He doesn’t attract the attention of a Johan Santana or a CC Sabathia, and yet right now many would say he’s better than both.  Billy Wagner ran into some trouble; he allowed two hits but ended up getting out of it two strikeouts and eighteen pitches later.  No save though, because we won that one, 4-0.  I love shutouts.  I really do.  One RBI for Lowell, two for Varitek, and an absolutely towering home run for Bay to lead off the eighth.  Lowell was solid at third base.  Cut fastballs produce a lot of ground balls to third, and he was all over them.  No incidents of note.  You’d think he never had any hip issue at all.  Pat Burrell was ejected in the eighth inning for using some choice words to argue balls and strikes.  I don’t even know why he bothered; he so blatantly went around that he had no argument.

Well, that’s a wrap! Yesterday was just a really great day.  Six hours of quality baseball.  And not only did we kill one of our division rivals, but we killed them twice.  With long balls in the eighth innings.  Really a fantastic show.  This puts us four games ahead of Texas in the Wild Card race, if you can even call it a race.  We ran away with it the minute we set our sights on it.  We have another off day today, and just in time, too.  I’m telling you, our good luck with timing regarding days off is incredible.  This is just what the doctor ordered after a doubleheader.  And then tomorrow we welcome Dice-K back to the rotation.  Like I said, hopefully this goes well.  Hold on to your hats.

In other news, football season starts today for New England! The Patriots take on the Bills tonight.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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