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Posts Tagged ‘Houston Astros’

It’s great to string wins together.  I remember a time when it felt like it was difficult to win after a slugfest, almost as if we’d used up all of our offensive production.  It certainly didn’t feel like that yesterday.  Yesterday it felt like we were just as much in control of the game as we were ever going to be.  In the ninth inning, that is.  That’s when Drew got it done.

In the second, Gomes walked and scored on a groundout by Holt.  After Victorino grounded out to lead off the third, Pedroia and Papi both singled, and Pedroia scored when Carp grounded into a double play to end the frame.  Pedroia and Papi led off with two consecutive lineouts in the seventh, and then Carp singled and Gomes hit a wallop of a home run on the second pitch of his at-bat to bring us within one run.

Dempster had smooth sailing in the first and second but ran into trouble in the third.  After securing the inning’s first out, he gave up a double followed by a home run.  He had smooth sailing again in the fourth and fifth but ran into more trouble in the sixth.  He gave up a double, a wild pitch, a strikeout, and then three consecutive scoring plays: a single, a double, and a sac fly.  And a deflection by Holt.  And those resulted in three runs.

We finally got a lead in the ninth, and we kept it.  Papi singled, and Britton came in to pinch-run.  Carp lined out, Gomes walked, and Drew smacked a three-run shot on a curveball.

Tazawa pitched the seventh and eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.  The final score was 7-5!

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Last night was ridiculous.  We scored as many runs as we collected hits: fifteen.  Six of those were for extra bases.  Three of those were home runs, and two of those belonged to Ellsbury, who also had two walks and three RBIs to his credit.  We also walked nine times.  Only one member of the starting nine, Carp, failed to reach base, and even he managed to at least bat in a run.  Only two of our seven batters who had hits had only one hit: Drew and Lavarnway.  Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Gomes each had two hits, Victorino had three, and Papi went a perfect four for four at the plate.  Yeah.  Huge.

Wright got the nod to start this one.  And he didn’t waste any time dropping the ball.  He issued a walk that turned into a triple after a steal and a passed ball.  Then he hit a batter, and then there was another passed ball.  And then there was yet another passed ball that actually scored a run this time.  Then he got a strikeout, and there was another RBI passed ball.  Then he gave up a single, issued another walk, gave a wild pitch to load the bases, and induced a groundout that also scored another run.  And then, finally, the inning was over.

Workman came on for the second, but his beginning didn’t really go much better.  The second began with a strikeout, and then he gave up a single and a two-run home run.  Two outs into the third, he gave up a solo shot.  He also gave up a run in the fourth thanks to a triple-single combination.  He also got into trouble in the sixth.  After securing the inning’s first out, he gave up four consecutive singles and a groundout that, taken together, resulted in two runs.

Workman was replaced by Britton just in time to end the inning with a strikeout.  He had a one-two-three seventh, and he gave up a solo shot in the eighth.  De La Rosa had a one-two-three ninth.

We went down in order in the first and second and got on the board in the third.  Drew singled, Lavarnway struck out, Holt grounded into a force out, and Ellsbury went hard on a fastball.  One more baserunner and it would have been a grand slam.  But it was quite the homer.  All the way to right center field.  Lots of power.

But we got ourselves a lead after scoring five runs in the fifth! Ellsbury walked and scored on a double by Victorino, plus a fielding error.  Then Pedroia doubled in Victorino.  Papi singled, Napoli struck out, Pedroia scored on a groundout by Carp, Papi moved to third on a wild pitch, Drew walked, and Lavarnway doubled in both Papi and Drew.  Five runs.  Done.

The sixth inning was a repeat performance.  We yet again went through the full nine, and we yet again scored five runs! In two innings alone, we scored more runs than we usually score in whole games! The sixth even started with a walk by Ellsbury, just like the fifth.  Then Victorino singled, Pedroia singled in Ellsbury, Papi singled in Victorino with a little help from a throwing error, Napoli was out on a fielder’s choice, and then Gomes hit the second pitch of his at-bat out to left field for a three-run shot.

Ellsbury, who was all over the map offensively last night, led off the seventh with a solo shot to right.  Victorino walked, Pedroia popped out, and then Papi and Napoli worked back-to-back walks.  And Victorino scored on a single by Gomes.

So the pitching was actually pretty messy, when everything was said and done.  Fortunately, our hitters had an enormously huge night.  The final score, if you can believe it, was 15-10.  So it’s bad that the Astros had a slugfest, but it’s good that we had an even bigger one on the same night.  I’m glad we won this one.  It was pretty awesome to watch us score runs in every conceivable way.

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I feel like we haven’t shut out our opposition as much as we’re getting shut out.  This shouldn’t be happening.

We were so evenly matched, it was scary.  Unfortunately, Lackey caved first.  He struck out his first batter of the fifth, but then he gave up a single, a walk and another single that resulted in one run.  He was pulled after he gave up a double and a single to lead off the seventh, but after striking out his first batter, Tazawa gave up a sac fly to score another run.  Breslow pitched the eighth.

Meanwhile, we collected a grand total of five hits and were shut out yet again.

The final score was two-zip, and Lackey took a very undeserved loss.

Boston Globe Staff/Bob Levey

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Let’s not deny it.  When it became apparent that Lackey was returning to the DL, I bet that it initiated quite the storm of I-told-you-soing from those who were absolutely convinced that he would never return to what he once ways.  As it turns out, we can’t yet say that he has.  But we can say that his return from the DL was an unmitigated success.  Commencing initial sighs of relief.

He pitched six innings and gave up one run on five hits while walking two and striking out four.  He threw only eighty-one pitches, fifty-six of which were strikes.  The first inning was scary; after securing the first two outs, he gave up two consecutive walks and a single that scored the game’s first run.  But he obviously settled right down after that.  A single was his only blemish in the second, and his next three innings were one-two-three.  He gave another big scare in the sixth by giving up three consecutive singles with one out but managed to escape the jam unscathed.  Needless to say, I think that that was John’s cue to bring Mortensen, then Uehara, then Bailey for the next three frames, respectively.

While the Astros were busy getting frustrated by Lackey, we were busy getting busy at the plate.  Ellsbury grounded out to lead off the first but then Nava doubled and scored on a single by Papi.  We were silent in the second and third, but we started the fourth with two back-to-back singles, both of which turned into runs on a triple by Drew.  Nava reached on a fielding error to begin the fifth and scored on a double by Pedroia, who scored on a double by Carp two outs later.  We went down in order in the sixth, and then Nava and Papi were at it again; Nava singled to lead off the seventh and scored on a double by Papi.

All told, we walked twice and picked up eleven hits, five of which were for extra bases.  Nava, Papi, and Carp all had multi-hit games.  And though the Astros got seven hits by the time the game was over, they didn’t get the win.  That went to us with a final score of 6-1.  We are now eighteen and seven on the season, comparable to our incredible start in 2002.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are the proud owners of the best record in all of Major League Baseball.

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We were down by two before we came up to bat.  Doubront’s second pitch of the game was hit for a single.  He then hit a batter and issued a wild pitch and two consecutive walks, the latter of which obviously resulted in a run.  The sac fly he gave up after that also scored a run.  But here’s the thing about first innings.  They’re not always indicative of what’s going to happen later.

In Doubront’s case, that was a good thing.  And a correct observation.  He was almost impeccable for the rest of his start; his only other blemish occurred in the seventh.  He gave up a single made worse by a passed ball by Salty.  After securing a groundout, second base was stolen and, on another groundout, a run was scored.  Doubront gave up a single before being replaced by Tazawa, who got through the rest of the inning.  Bard came out for the eighth; he gave up two walks, and Wilson gave up a single that scored one.  Miller pitched the ninth.

No matter how well you’re pitching, it’s always nice to have run support.  Doubront gave up runs in the first but not consequently; similarly, the Astros didn’t give up runs in the first but, fortunately for us, not consequently.

By the time the second inning was out, the game was ours.  Carp grounded out to start it, and then Salty worked a walk.  Middlebrooks doubled, and Drew walked to load the bases.  Ellsbury’s subsequent single plated two.  Nava then grounded out, Pedroia walked to re-load the bases, and Papi’s subsequent double plated two.

The third inning was pretty quick for both teams; the Astros went down in order and, aside from Drew’s walk, so did we.  Nava led off the fourth and eventually scored on a sac fly by Papi.  And then there was the bottom of the seventh.  Houston may have thought that they made a dent when they got that third run off Doubront; in fact, they came close.  In reality, it wasn’t meant to be.  If we didn’t win the game in the second, we won it for sure in the seventh.

Houston made a pitching change, and after Gomes flied out, they probably thought it would go well.  It didn’t.  Salty doubled, Middlebrooks walked, Drew singled in Salty, Ellsbury struck out, Drew singled in Middlebrooks, and Pedroia singled in Drew.

We won, 8-4.  How’s that for a first-inning let-down.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps, 3-2, in sudden death.

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Quite literally, it was an evening of milestones and breakout performances.  It’s funny how there are players on our roster who we don’t really get to know as well as some others until that one big game when we remember how much of an asset they are.  I would say that David Ross is such a player.  We acquired him due to his awesome skills as a backup catcher.  But offense-wise, there were probably many people who, around Spring Training, were thinking of him as just the other Ross.  I’m pretty sure that that will no longer be a problem.

We scored in each of the first five innings.  Ellsbury hit a deflected single to open the first and scored on a double by Pedroia.  With two out in the second, Ross went way deep.  Like, beyond the Monster deep.  Get-a-ninety-two-mile-per-hour-two-seam-and-crush-it deep.  Put-us-on-top-by-two deep.

Pedroia doubled off the Monster and scored on a double by Napoli in the third.  And then the fourth happened, and it was awesome.  Middlebrooks and Ross smacked back-to-back jacks.  Middlebrooks’s at-bat was a real battle.  He took his first three pitches for balls, took the fourth for a strike, and then fouled off the others until he got one he liked.  A lot.  It was a changeup, and it found its way beyond the Monster in no time.  And then Ross took two balls and gave a repeat performance.  It was epic.  You see something like that, and you do a complete double-take.  Actually, in this particular instance, you do two double-takes.  First you think you might be seeing a replay of Middlebrooks’s home run.  Then you realize it’s Ross at the bat, so you think you might be seeing a replay of Ross’s earlier home run.  And by the time he’s taking his own sweet time to round first, you realize that it’s the real deal and you just scored two runs on two swings.

Pedroia grounded out to start off the fifth.  And then Papi wanted in.  On a 2-2 count, he got a four-seam clocked at ninety-four that was basically a straight shot to the plate.  Big mistake.  Yet again, he let the ball find the deepest part of the park.  It was his second homer in as many days.  This one just barely got out, but out is out.  And even though we didn’t score in the sixth, it’s of course worth mentioning that Ellsbury stole his two hundredth base.  That total puts him in heady Sox company; he’s the third since Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker did it, and he’s leading the Majors with eleven so far.

And just in case we needed a little extra, we added some insurance in the eighth.  Middlebrooks, Ross, and Ciriaco hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, Ellsbury lined into a double play, but Ross did score on a single by Gomes.  Napoli has set two club records for this month, which by the way isn’t even over yet; his seventeen extra-base hits and twelve doubles are both monster stats for April.  Ross was officially the man of the hour with the two homers as well as the first four-hit performance of his career.

Dempster, who’s been an unfortunate stranger to run support until yesterday, held down the fort from the mound.  Two runs on four hits while walking three and, taking a page from Buchholz’s book, striking out ten over six innings.  He gave up a double to lead off the third, which turned into a run on a groundout.  He gave up another double to lead off the fifth, which turned into a run on a sac fly, which itself could have been trouble had it not been for Gomes’s phenomenal diving catch in the classic Ellsbury style.

Anyway, let’s talk about his K’s.  There were the two swinging strikes in the first, one ending with a four-seam and the other ending with a slider.  Then there were the two that began the second, both ending with sliders.  There were the two in the fourth, one swinging on a splitter and the other looking on a four-seam.  There was the one in the fifth, ending with a swing on a splitter.  And last but not least, there were the two in the sixth, one swinging on a slider and the other looking on a slider and requiring all of three pitches.

Mortensen came in for the seventh.  He hit a batter and gave up a single made worse when Napoli missed a catch.  He finally recorded the first out of the inning, but Tazawa came in after that.  He gave up a sac fly that allowed one of his inherited runners to score.  And then he gave up a single of his own before ending the inning.  Uehara pitched the eighth, and Wilson pitched the ninth.  The final score was 7-3.  All in all, I’d say it went well.

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At two hours and fifty-nine minutes, this game was brief but intense, depending on whose perspective you take.  I suppose that it was intense for both teams.  It’s just that one team was happy about the intensity and the other wasn’t.  Guess which side we were on.

Buchholz was one out shy of pitching eight innings.  He gave up two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out a whopping ten batters.  He got his first one in the first on a cutter, the second in the second on a cutter, and three more in the third, all on four-seams.  He had another in the fourth on a curveball and one in the fifth on a cutter.  He had one in the sixth on a four-seam and two in the seventh, one on a four-seam and the other on a cutter.  A ridiculously high total of six of those ten strikeouts were looking, which shows that Houston just really had no idea what to do.

Buchholz gave up a double, a single, and a double play that scored one run in the second; all in all, a double play for a run is both an accepted and an acceptable trade.  In the third, he gave a double that turned into a triple thanks to a steal and finally a run thanks to a single.  Other than that, his start was phenomenal.  The sixth and seventh innings were particularly efficient.  Say hello to the first five-game winner in Major League Baseball.

Miller got the last out of the eighth, and Bard pitched the ninth.  So the Astros were held to just those two runs.  The list of our offensive accomplishments was thankfully much longer.

After Ellsbury led off the first with a groundout, Nava walked, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored on a single by Pedroia.  Pedroia stole second base and scored on a single by Papi, who moved to second thanks to a throwing error.  Napoli then struck out, and Carp hit a double that got deflected, scoring Papi.  And then Carp scored on a single by Salty.

And then we witnessed something truly great.  It can be described as nothing less than a sight for sore eyes.  The team has been playing extremely well, but there’s something that hadn’t happened in a while of which we really wanted a reminder.  In the third inning, we got it.  Papi stepped up to the plate.  He took a changeup for a ball.  And then he got an eighty-nine mile-per-hour fastball and just bashed it to one of the deepest parts of the park: center field.  It was his first home run of the season, and it was completed in classic Papi style from the moment the ball and bat made contact right to the end of the follow-through and all the way around the bases to home and back to the dugout.  It was a thing of beauty, and I look forward to seeing a lot more of it.

We didn’t score in the fourth, but we did again in the fifth.  Pedroia flied out, Papi singled en route to a three-for-four performance, Napoli struck out, Carp singled, Salty singled in one, and Middlebrooks doubled in another.  And that was it for the rest of the game.  The final score was 7-2.  This was the Astros’ first game at Fenway since 2003.  If I were them, I sure wouldn’t be in a rush to return.

In other news, the B’s silenced the Bolts, two-zip.

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