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Posts Tagged ‘Gavin Floyd’

I know it’s the A’s, but I am so relieved that we didn’t let that one loss get us down.  As well as we played before that loss, and even though that loss technically wasn’t our fault because objectively speaking Gavin Floyd did pitch a great game, I still wanted to see that we could make it last, maybe not as an infinite winning streak, but as a way of being.  A way of being that ingrained itself in the team’s mentality, and a way of being that would be sustainable throughout the season.

That’s a lot to put on this one win against the A’s, but then again, if we didn’t win, we’d be that much farther away from achieving it.  You have to start somewhere, and this game during this stretch seems as good as any.

Buchholz didn’t end up having the most quality of starts, although it certainly started out that way.  He gave up six runs on seven hits while walking five in six and two-thirds innings, but five of those runs were allowed in those two-thirds of an inning in the seventh.

He gave up an RBI single in the second.  He retired the side in the third, fourth, and sixth.  And then he totally fell apart in the seventh.  He opened it by giving up a single, followed by a walk, followed by a lineout and then a force out, followed by another walk.  Then Coco Crisp of all people singled in two.  Then Josh Reddick of all people hit a three-run home run.  Reddick goes deep, and Bailey is on the DL.  Yeah.  That worked out real well.

Buchholz threw ninety-nine pitches, sixty-three of which were strikes.  His best pitch was his curveball, and he also used a very, very effective fastball, changeup, and cutter.  So he was absolutely fantastic until the seventh, when he threw twenty-seven pitches before he left.  Before that, he was very efficient and consistent; he needed a pre-seventh inning high of eighteen pitches in the fifth and a low of only six pitches in the third.  He needed only nine in the sixth, so he was great right down to the wire before he just snapped.

I’m telling you, if there’s one thing he’s been consistent about so far this year, it’s his inconsistency.  What will it take for him to get on the right track? If not for that seventh inning, this would have been his best start of the season, hands down.  He was pretty explicit in expressing his frustration that inning, and I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that so were we.

Very fortunately for Buchholz, the offense was able to set the table so well that the five runs were scored after we finished scoring all our runs, and it still made absolutely no difference in who won and who lost.

Papi got us on the board in the second by leading it off with a solo shot into the bullpen on a full-count fastball.  That baseball never stood a chance.  After Shoppach struck out, McDonald doubled and scored on a single by Byrd, who scored one out later on a single by Aviles, who moved to second on a single by Pedroia and scored when Gonzalez reached on a throwing error.

The very next inning started the same as the first, with Papi setting up the scoring.  He worked a walk and set the stage for McDonald’s homer to the center-field part of the Monster one out later on the first pitch of his at-bat.  The only question was whether it would require review, since it hit right at the top of the wall.  But that clearly was out.  The A’s didn’t even ask for a review.

We went down in order in the fourth, but Papi more than made up for that by yet again initiating the scoring with yet another solo shot, this one into the bullpen again, also on a fastball.  Reddick actually chased this one down so much that he flipped right over the bullpen wall.  I don’t even remember the last time I’d seen a ballplayer make a move like that.  It was hilarious.  The ball grazed his glove, and then he just flipped right over that wall.  One out later, McDonald singled and scored on a double by Byrd.  Then Punto walked on five pitches, and Aviles brought in two more with a massive three-run shot on a changeup middle in into the first row of the Monster seats.  It was indeed massive.

We went down in order in the sixth and seventh; Pedroia doubled and Gonzalez walked intentionally in the eighth, but like I said, the final score held at 11-6.  Which means that Tazawa, Padilla who received a hold, Atchison, Morales who received a hold, and Aceves all did their jobs and combined to pitch the rest of the game in shutout fashion.

Both teams ended up having posted eleven hits, but where two of Oakland’s were for extra bases, seven of ours were for extra bases, four of them home runs, all of which came against southpaws.  We went three for eight with runners in scoring position.  Aviles, Pedroia, Papi, and Byrd each collected two hits, while McDonald went three for four.

Let’s step back and look at Papi for a second.  Both of his hits were home runs last night, which makes thirty-six multi-homer games in his career.  And he has set the team record for hits in April, giving him an average this month of .405, which must be close to the, it not simply the, best in the American League.

Still, it was a really good team effort.  Everyone chipped in for this one, even the bullpen.  Only one member of the starting lineup failed to reach base: Ross.  But overall the team as a group pulled it together, which is exactly what you like to see after a tough loss.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene

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So the winning streak has been snapped.  We all knew it wouldn’t last forever.  The worst part is that we didn’t even put up much of a fight.  It wasn’t that Beckett didn’t pitch well; it was just that Gavin Floyd pitched better.  Much, much better.  That’s how good Floyd was, and consequently that’s how bad our bats were.

Both Beckett and Floyd lasted six and two-thirds innings.  Both Beckett and Floyd threw in excess of one hundred pitches; Beckett threw 126, which tied a career high, while Floyd threw 111.  Both Beckett and Floyd threw in excess of sixty strikes; Beckett threw eighty-five, while Floyd threw seventy.  Both Beckett and Floyd posted about the same number of strikes; Beckett posted eight, while Floyd posted nine.  But Beckett gave up three runs on six hits, one of which was a two-run shot with one out in the fifth, and three walks, while Floyd gave up only one run on three hits and one walk.  Actually, all three of Beckett’s runs were given up in the bottom of the first alone: a single, a sac bunt, an RBI single, and then the home run on a fastball.  Not coincidentally, therefore, both Beckett and Floyd received a decision; Beckett got the loss, while Floyd got the win.

Beckett used all of his pitches effectively; he threw all of them for strikes at least sixty percent of the time.  His best pitches were his most and least abundant: his fastball and his cutter, respectively.

So it’s too bad that he received absolutely no run support whatsoever.  And when I say no run support, I mean no run support.  Floyd was actually no-hitting us into the seventh, which as you can imagine was positively excruciating to endure, so I don’t know about you, but I was seething.  It’s a world of embarrassment and humiliation to be on the receiving end of a no-hitter.  So when Pedroia singled in the seventh to get our first hit of the night, I was absolutely ecstatic, and I thought two things: maybe their pitchers will psychologically unravel, as is wont to occur in such situations, and we’ll go on to win it, but at the very least we averted certain disaster.

Here’s how it went down.  We went down in order in the first four innings.  We sent four to the plate in the fifth thanks to Ross earning Floyd’s only walk.  We went down in order again in the sixth, and then we scored our only run in the seventh: Sweeney struck out, Pedroia hit that single, Gonzalez struck out, Papi doubled, and Ross singled in Pedroia.  That double was our only extra-base hit, and it was one of only three hits that our entire team would collect.  We sent four up to the plate in the eighth thanks to Aviles earning our only other walk of the day.  And, finally, we went down in order in the ninth.

Atchison, Hill, and Tazawa pitched the rest of the game.  The final score was 4-1.  So we didn’t have our first undefeated road trip of at least seven games since the 1970s.  We still finished it six and one and can come home with our heads held high.  We needed those wins.  Badly.  But we need to get more.  Many more.

Reuters Photo

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It’s like any other milestone in baseball.  You just have to wait and wait and wait.  You have to watch every single time just in case it’s the one.  And if it isn’t, you hope you just watched a great game.  Sometimes you don’t.

Wake was pitching for his two hundredth win last night opposite the Other Sox.  He would be the eighty-ninth pitcher since 1901 to collect two hundred wins.  Did he get it? No.  Was it his fault? Absolutely not.

He pitched as strong a start as I’ve ever seen him pitch.  He seriously was on cruise control.  Seven innings, three runs on three hits, two walks, one strikeout.  He gave up a two-run home run in the seventh after issuing a walk.  He threw 101 pitches, sixty-six of them for strikes.  The knuckleball was fantastic.  It was dancing and moving all over the place in exactly the right way.  It was a truly excellent outing, a real gem.  It was prime victory material.

Unfortunately, Gavin Floyd was having a similarly on day, which means that the offense was correspondingly off.  We lost, 3-1.  We scored one run and one run only, and you can thank Salty for it.  He led off the third by taking the eighth pitch of his at-bat, a cutter that did nothing, out of the yard to right.  He came into the game one for eight opposite Floyd and at the time gave us a one-run lead.

Wake allowed the tying run in the sixth; a single, sac bunt, wild pitch, and sac fly.  The homer put them ahead for good.

Nobody in our entire lineup had a multi-hit game.  We managed three hits all night; Salty obviously had one, and Sutton and Scutaro had the other two.  Of those three hits, that home run was the only extra-base hit we posted.  Pedroia’s hitting streak is duly snapped at twenty-five.  And it didn’t help at all that Gonzalez was out with a stiff neck.

I’d love to say that there had been opportunities, but there really weren’t.  The only opportunities we squandered were opportunities at the plate, and we definitely squandered those.

Juan Pierre decided at obviously the worst time to take a page from Ellsbury’s book and take a base hit away from Youk in the second with a diving catch.  The bases were actually loaded for Youk in the sixth, but he struck out looking on five pitches.  Most of the time you just sat there watching the batters come up and then sit right back down.  It was pretty pathetic.

We left three on base and went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.  We’ve now lost our last seven games in Chicago.  It’s not like this is a tough team, people.  And we’re actually doing well on the road this year.  I just can’t believe the lineup was held to one run.  No two hundredth win for Wake, and no save for Aceves (he pitched the eighth).

The only bright side that anyone could possibly extrapolate from this whole situation, other than the fact that Wake pitched really well, is that the next time he’ll be going for two hundred wins, he’ll be at Fenway and, if he gets it, would be able to celebrate at home.  That would be something.

AP Photo

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We’ve seen this way too often to not be familiar with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less frustrating when it happens.  For some reason nobody has quite been able to figure out, we never come up with enough run support for Tim Wakefield.  Last season it was brutal; he couldn’t buy a win.  This year it’s been less pronounced because he’s done an uncannily phenomenal job of limiting the opposition.  But all it takes is a loss like yesterday’s to remind you that that’s the case.

The final score was 5-1, but Wakefield only gave up four of those runs.  Four runs on six hits over six innings pitched with tree walks, four strikeouts, and one mistake to Mark Kotsay that again, ironically, ended up out of the park.  Really, he didn’t pitch badly.  He was one run shy of a quality start.  And given the fact that he’s forty-three, he’s got a torn labrum in his shoulder and a back issue that makes his legs numb and weak, and he threw ninety-three pitches, I’d say he didn’t do too badly yesterday.

I have to think the offense shoulders the responsibility for that one.  Gavin Floyd was bidding for a perfect game two outs into the sixth inning.  And it is just so painful and humiliating to be on the receiving end of one of those that you’re watching it and trying to implement every jinx known to man.  But I’ll say this: it’s ridiculous how many perfect innings White Sox pitchers have thrown, between Mark Buehrle and now Floyd.  Anyway, Nick Green took care of that with a very decisive single to center field.  Unfortunately, as often occurs, the White Sox did not completely fall apart after that and lose in slugfest fashion.

Our sole RBI came courtesy of Bay going yard to lead off the eighth inning.  His thirty-first of the season deposited all eighty-nine miles per hour of that ball a few rows up the left center stands.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Theo Epstein needs to resign Jason Bay in the offseason.  Period.

Other than that, V-Mart doubled.  So Floyd and Bobby Jenks just three-hit us.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are not happy.  I certainly am not happy.  We went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position and left three men on base.  Pathetic.

Ramirez finally had a decent appearance in the seventh.  No runs, no hits, no walks, ten pitches, seven of them strikes.  But Okajima let Paul Konerko hit one out for the fifth run of the night.

Congratulations to Mikey Lowell, who was nominated for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award by his teammates! Dice-K might make one more rehab start before he returns, but for that to happen, Salem and Greenville, two of the Red Sox’ single-A affiliates, would need to have a playoff game on Wednesday to fit Dice-K’s schedule and Tim Wakefield’s back would have to give out again.  I’m okay with the former but definitely don’t want the latter to occur.

Eyes on the prize.  The Rangers lost yesterday, so our lead atop the Wild Card standings remains at two.  The bad news is that the Yanks’ lead atop the division stands at eight and a half.  That’s really bad.  And we were doing so well for a stretch about a week ago, when we were scoring runs right and left while the pitching staff was making some strides in finding its footing.  At this point, I’d say the best way to remedy the situation is to play better.  It’s simple, it’s obvious, but it just might work.  What else can you hope for? It just doesn’t seem like there’s one thing wrong with us.  When we score a lot of runs, the pitchers erase the effort.  When the pitchers pitch well, we don’t score anything.  We need to play better by scoring runs and pitching well at the same time.  And we need to do it consistently.  It’s the beginning of September, so we still have time, and I have a feeling that in a week or two the second wind of autumn and the adrenaline rush of the approach of October will work its magic and help us out, because getting to October won’t do much unless we can make it count.  In the meantime, Lester at John Danks.  That’s one step in the right direction.

AP Photo

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Paul Byrd has had two starts this year.  One was pure gold, and the other was just so much scrap.  So which one was the real Paul Byrd and which is the fluke? It’s hard to tell with only two outings.  On the one hand, maybe that initial adrenaline rush made him pitch better than usual.  On the other hand, maybe anxiety made him pitch worse than usual.  Either way, he’s got some serious apologizing to do to the bullpen after leaving the game only two and a third innings into it.  But he had to get out.  There was no way he was staying in.  Seven runs on ten hits with no walks, three K’s, and an extremely ironic two-run shot by Mark Kotsay later, Junichi Tazawa found himself on the mound preparing for a long night.

And when I say long I mean long, because Tazawa didn’t do much to limit the damage.  In three and two-thirds innings, he gave up five runs on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout.  Delcarmen needed twenty-nine pitches to take care of the seventh, and Saito needed nineteen.  It wasn’t a good night.  At all.

Incidentally, I wonder what our winning percentage is for games during which the starter leaves before the fifth inning.  We have the best bullpen in the Major Leagues, so it has to be higher than most teams, but it’s very difficult to win those.  We should be very thankful for Tazawa, though.  Yes, we lost and he was a reason why, but he also ate up innings.  This loss would have been so much worse in the long run had we gone to the bullpen proper instead of to a starter-by-trade.  For example, if Justin Masterson were still here, this is exactly the kind of situation in which we’d use him.

The offense, essentially, did absolutely nothing.  It was ridiculous.  Every member of the starting nine, with the exception of Alex Gonzalez, was gone by the time the game was over.  They were all replaced by the B team and callups.  Pedroia, Green, V-Mart, Youk, Ortiz, Gathright, Drew, Kottaras, and Gonzalez each had hits.  With the exception of Kottaras’s, which was a double, none of them were for extra bases.  We batted .333 with runners in scoring position, but that was because we only had three such chances and made good on one of them.  Youk singled to center field to plate Pedroia, and Kottaras doubled in Gathright.  End of story.  Oh, and Green made a throwing error.

Ozzie Guillen had a lot of praise for Youk and Pedroia.  Ironic this praize came after we lost.  But then, it’s Ozzie Guillen.  You never know.  Mikey Lowell says it’s hard not playing everyday, and I believe him.  He’s a starter by trade.  He wants to be out there, but he can’t so often anymore because of his hip.  Still, since the All-Star break he’s hitting .339 with six home runs and twenty-six RBIs, coupled with a .389 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging percentage.  Since Tazawa is unavailable, we’re calling up Michael Bowden for today’s start, just in case Wakefield has to make an early exit.

The final score was 12-2.  So we scored once in the fourth and once in the ninth.  They scored twice in the second, five times in the third, and five times in the fourth.  This loss was infuriating but not as worrisome as its ramifications.  And when I say ramifications, I’m referring to its impact on the bullpen, its effects on the starting rotation, its alterations of both the Wild Card and division standings, and its impact on the team’s morale.  Any way you look at them, lopsided scores are never good.  There’s never a silver lining.  There may be a silver lining to how you deal with them at the time, like putting a pitcher in to eat innings in an effort to save arms and substituting for your starters to give them some rest, but there’s never a bright side to the outcome.  With the possible exception of identifying areas of improvement, but that happens after every game.  The only thing we can do after a game like this is move on and hope the team does the same.  Tim Wakefield will be leading that charge this afternoon opposite Gavin Floyd.  And I really hope this goes right.

In other news, Peter Chiarelli announced an extension of Claude Julien’s contract.  Well done.  In his first two season as head coach, Julien took us from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to the top, with playoff appearances after both season.  Last year was our first Eastern Conference Semifinal appearance since 1999.  That says something.  All we have to do is lock up Kessel, and we’ll be all set!

AP Photo

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All in all, that was a very strange game.  How we came out of it with only one error is completely beyond me, because we displayed just about every blooper you could possibly imagine.  It was a full nine innings of weirdness, let me tell you, but if we win I don’t care how weird it is.  It’s the third win in four days.  Keep ’em coming.

Basically, heading into the eighth inning, we were tied at three.  Jon Lester had exited with two outs in the seventh and gave up three runs on four hits with two walks, six K’s, and a long ball by Jayson Nix to lead off the third.  And he was just about to record that final out, with two men on and an 0-2 count on Alexei Ramirez, when his curveball bounced off Tek and one of the runners scored.  Then Nix struck again, literally and figuratively, as he hit a line drive that hit Lowell’s glove and that batted in their third run.  Even with those two runs, Lester delivered his eighteenth quality start of the season, putting him ahead of Josh Beckett and in the lead of the entire pitching staff.  So he may have gotten a no-decision, but at least he didn’t lose (Delcarmen got the win, and Paps got the save, which was completely clean.  Sixteen pitches in the inning, thirteen of them strikes, a hit but no walks and two K’s.).

It didn’t end there.  In the top of the eighth, Carlos Quentin popped up just behind the mound, and despite Okajima’s best efforts at a catch, the ball landed behind him.  Later in the frame, V-Mart botched the routine throw back to the mound, and the ball ended up in center field, moving Quentin to second.  Paul Konerko singled to put runners at the corners, Jermaine Dye popped to short, AJ Pierzynski struck out, and that was the end of the night for Okajima.  Delcarmen came in and got Alex Rios to pop to second to end the top half of the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, the game was pretty much over.  We scored three runs and basically won it, 6-3, right then and there.  Jason Bay hit a solo shot with one out.  His twenty-eighth of the season, and what a blast it was.  Probably one of his most important home runs of the year.  Definitely one of his farthest.  It didn’t even touch the Monster.  Huge.  And hit with two strikes, too.  After that the White Sox had no chance.  Period.  End of story.

Other RBIs came courtesy of Youk, Pedroia, Martinez (perfect at the plate, going two for two with a double and two RBIs), and Jacoby Ellsbury, who went three for five with a double, an RBI, and a stolen base, thereby officially leading the franchise in single-season stolen bases! Congratulations, kid.  Can’t say I didn’t see it coming.

Turns out that Billy Wagner will, in fact, be pitching in Boston.  He ended up waiving his no-trade clause to win a World Series.  And you hear something like that and it makes you marvel at how far we’ve come.  Until about five years ago we were a temporary stop, not a destination, for baseball’s best, because the expectation was obviously that a World Series wasn’t coming to Boston any time soon.  How the tables have turned.  We’ve come so far from that it’s ridiculous, and I have to say it feels pretty good.  Papelbon is psyched, by the way.  If you take his comments literally, what he said was simply that the bullpen has clearly defined roles and he just wasn’t sure how Wagner’s role would fit in from a purely organizational standpoint.  But he’s psyched.  And if Wagner works out, that would be one seriously formidable one-two punch.

Wakfield returns to the mound tonight opposite Gavin Floyd, but this game is important for reasons other than Wakefield’s return and its status as a must-win (as is basically every game from this point on).  It’s important because Victor Martinez is catching.  He’s been practicing with a pitching machine rigged to throw knuckleballs and was even using in on our last road trip.  This game, with its relatively low-pressure opponent, will be a good introductory diagnostic of V-Mart’s abilities in that vein.  On the bright side, when it comes to catching knuckleballs, he couldn’t possibly be worse than Tek.

AP Photo

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In his Major League debut, Michael Bowden picked up the win and did a mighty fine job.  Ozzie Guillen, who in his own way has something to say about everything, said that Bowden didn’t impress him.  That’s okay by me.  Maybe Bowden didn’t impress Guillen, but he impressed Guillen’s lineup.  He pitched five solid innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits with a walk and three K’s.  And the relief was on, too: Lopez, Delcarmen, Masterson, and Okie pitched four perfect innings.  The final score was 8-2.  The White Sox had nine hits; we had fifteen.

Three RBIs for Kotsay, two each for Bay and Lowrie, and one for Bailey.  Kotsay went three for five.  He’s gotten a little lost in the shuffle I think, but he’s another guy who didn’t have much going in the way of a postseason appearance and then suddenly found himself in the middle of a pennant race.  His adjustment is going very well, and like Jason Bay he’s already had a positive impact on the team.  Score another one for Theo; acquiring Kotsay was definitely a good move.  Ellsbury also went three for five and scored his fair share of runs, but the offensive story again centers on Dustin Pedroia, possibly the best second baseman in the league.  Dustin Pedroia went four for four again last night, walked once, scored twice, and made an outstanding jumping catch in the seventh inning.  He’s now hitting .327 and slugging .490.  The dude is unstoppable.  Opposing pitchers just don’t know what to do with him.  He really is, as he says, the “strongest 160-pound man in baseball.” By the way, did I mention he did all of that from the clean-up spot? Youk is sick and Lowell and Drew are still out, so look who got to bat behind David Ortiz.  Apparently Tito called Pedey to Ortiz’s locker before the game to show Ortiz who’d be hitting behind him.  Pedey said it was about time; Ortiz said he was retiring.  He’s a real character.  The team razzes him and he razzes back, but he always gets the job done.  I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again: Rookie of the Year to starting All-Star to MVP.

In other news, Robinson Cano’s throwing error pretty much lost last night’s game with the Jays for the Yankees.  They’re now seven games behind us.  Julio Lugo has been moved from the fifteen-day to the sixty-day DL, and I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that that is definitely a good thing, and Sean Casey’s been put on the fifteen-day DL with a neck strain.  That doesn’t bother me, because we have Jeff Bailey to pick up the slack.  This afternoon it’s Wakefield against Gavin Floyd for the sweep.  I have to say, so far I’m liking August.

AP Photo

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