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Posts Tagged ‘Howard Ehmke’

I am going to resist all temptation to make various announcements of corner-turning, groove-setting, and definitive down-settling.  Clearly we have learned that there is no point in that when it comes to Dice-K.  Claiming that Dice-K has turned a corner is currently as futile as claiming the Sox are doomed due to our poor start to the season.  We thought the entire season of 2007, his most consistent since coming over from Japan, was one enormous episode of corner-turning.  And he went right back to his inconsistency the following season.  So while it is true that, sine coming over from Japan, even including all of 2007, these last two starts have probably been the best consecutive starts he’s ever had here, I’m not going to analyze long-term implications of these two consecutive quality starts.  I’m just going to analyze this one particularly awesome start, which was even better than his last.

I don’t know where he found the stuff he used last night, but he dug deep.  He dug real deep.  Like I said, if you thought his previous start was good, last night was even better.  Granted, it was probably only better by an inning; his previous start lasted seven, and this one lasted eight.  Either way, he’s only allowed two hits in the last fifteen innings he’s pitched.  In fact, he is the first Red Sox pitcher to complete consecutive outings of at least seven innings with only one hit allowed in each since Pedro Martinez did it in 2002, the first to do it since Howard Ehmke did it in 1923.  Dice-K is the last pitcher to do it in the Major Leagues since Vicente Padilla in 2009.  (Incidentally, Padilla uses the Eephus pitch and can get it down to about fifty miles per hour.) That’s some heady company.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Dice-K fired off eight one-hit shutout innings.  That one hit was the result of a ball that bounced off his glove for an infield single in the second inning; take that away, he stays in to pitch the ninth for a no-hitter.  (Although you never know; maybe having that one hit out of the way lifted the pressure and allowed him to pitch as well as he did.  But after watching him, game after game, pitch himself out of all manner of jams with runners in scoring position like it’s no big deal, I’m rather inclined to believe that he performs exceptionally well under pressure.) He walked three and struck out nine.  Paps got the day off, so Tito went to Bard for the ninth, who ended the game with thirteen pitches.

Dice-K threw 115 pitches, seventy-eight for strikes.  That means that sixty-eight percent of his pitches were strikes.  That’s a really high percentage.  Of his nine strikeouts, seven were  swinging; only two were looking.  Two were finally put away with four-seams, two with two-seams, three with changeups, one with a slider, and one with a cutter.  All were achieved with at most seven pitches and as few as three pitches.  He put away the fifth inning with strikeouts alone.

His best pitches were also those he threw most frequently: the two-seam, the cutter, the four-seam, and the changeup.  He threw in some curveballs and sliders that weren’t working too well but added variety.  His highest pitch count in an inning was seventeen in the second; he issued a walk and the infield single in that inning; that was the extent of any jam in which he would find himself.  His lowest was eleven in the eighth.  He varied his speed, his release point was tight, and he aggressively attacked the strike zone without leaving anything out over the middle.  He was more consistent during those eight innings than he has been during his entire Major League career.  As in his previous start, it just seemed like he had life in his arm.

In the second, Lowrie doubled and came home on a single by Crawford.  In the third, Ellsbury singled, stole second, advanced to third on Pedroia’s flyout, and came home on a single by Gonzalez.  In the fifth, Ellsbury singled and came home with Youk, who was back in the lineup yesterday, on a ninety-three mile-per-hour four-seam, the fourth pitch of his at-bat, that he crushed to the opposite field.  That would be his fourth home run of the year, and it was big.  In the sixth, Crawford doubled and came home on a double by who but Jason Varitek that actually missed being a home run by inches.

So we won, five-zip.  We collected four extra-base hits en route to a hit total of eleven, left seven men on base, and went four for fourteen with runners in scoring position.  Ellsbury went two for five and is officially becoming our official leadoff man.  Lowrie and Crawford both went two for four.

All in all, that was a fine display of good baseball.  Some power, some run manufacturing, and a whole heap of excellent pitching.  It’s just nice to see starts like this from Dice-K, even if it’s only every once in a while.  It’s frustrating to know that he can pitch like this but doesn’t on a regular basis for whatever reason, but at least we know it’s in him and he’s got it.  Crawford finally has a multi-hit game to his credit, which is a step in the right direction, especially since he was dropped to eighth in the order.  It’s all coming together really nicely.  The standings may not show it yet, but we’re rolling right along.

In other news, after a harrowing and excruciatingly suspenseful game, the Bruins finally won, 2-1, in double overtime.  Tim Thomas was nominated for the Vezina Trophy and completely deserves to win it.

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