Posts Tagged ‘Ian Kinsler’

Another long post for exactly the same reason.  This is fantastic.

Beckett may have been a little inefficient, but his outing was golden.  He may have needed 110 pitches to complete six innings, but he threw sixty-seven of them for strikes and allowed only one run on only four hit while walking two and striking out four.  That run was the result of a solo shot with two out in the fourth on a cutter.  He began the at-bat with a four-seam, then went to a cuveball, and then threw five straight four-seams before going to a cutter that evidently didn’t do its job.  Four of his pitches, both fastballs and the cutter and curveball, were thrown for strikes about sixty percent of the time.  His changeup was a strike about sixty-seven percent of the time.  All in all, he pitched swimmingly.

He even helped his own cause by corralling a hard-hit ball off the bat of Ian Kinsler, which would have been headed for his head if he hadn’t.  Every time you see a ball hit that hard headed for anyone’s head, you pack a whole lot of worries into that few seconds between the hit and the catch.  Beckett did catch it.  Somehow he got his glove up there and caught it for the out and, more importantly, for his own health and personal safety.  I have no idea how he caught that.  I don’t think he was even trying to catch it; at that point, I think he got the glove up there to protect himself from the ball, and it just so happened that the position was exactly right and the ball found its way in there.  The view behind Beckett looked like he didn’t catch it at all; it looked like his glove was going to his face as if he were hurt, so you expected to see the ball come out the other side.  When the ball was nowhere in sight, Red Sox Nation sighed in relief as one.

So did Morales after the handoff for the seventh.  Albers gave up a run in the eighth via small ball.  Then Paps took care of the ninth in a decidedly non-save situation.

It’s almost like the team we saw batter Texas in the second and third games of this series is a completely different team than the one that was shut out in the opener; in a way, due to returns from injuries and the return of Gonzalez’s power stroke, it was.  For once, the lineup rallied behind Beckett and gave him more run support than he probably knew what to do with.  In ten of his last eleven starts before this game, we’d scored at most four runs in each.  Of all our starters, he has had the least run support.  Last night was probably the most relaxing game Beckett has pitched in all season long.

We didn’t waste time.  Ellsbury led off the game on a single.  Only Scutaro’s strikeout after that interrupted what would have been a line of four consecutive singles that brought in two.  Crawford’s double brought in two more, one of which was scored by Papi, who roared around third despite Tim Bogar’s stop sign because he saw that Mike Napoli had dropped the throw home.  Beckett was up by four before he even took the mound.

Pedroia singled in another run in the second.  We went down in order in the third.  Scutaro doubled in another run in the fourth.  Papi doubled to lead off the fifth, moved to third on a sac bunt by Lowrie, and scored on a sac fly by Crawford.

Then Ellsbury hit a moon shot in the sixth.  McDonald had led off the inning with a single, and Ellsbury uncorked on the first pitch he saw in the at-bat.  It was a fastball away, and he hooked it Pesky-style.

With Lowrie on first in the seventh, Crawford did the same.  He uncorked on the first pitch he saw in the at-bat and sent a fastball to center field.

With Scutaro on first in the eighth, Gonzalez did the same.  It was the fourth pitch of the at-bat, but it was also a fastball.  It was right down the pipe, and that’s what you do with a fastball right down the pipe.

The final score was 13-2.  We scored so many runs, I almost didn’t even notice that the Rangers scored two of their own.  We put up sixteen hits to their six.  We scored a run in all but two innings.  Every single member of the starting nine had at least one hit.  Gonzalez and McDonald both went two for four, Papi went two for five, Ellsbury went three for five, and Crawford, believe it or not, went two for three with five RBIs and is currently nursing a seven-game hitting streak.  I don’t know how long that will last.  But I do know that, as Jerry Remy said, we may be getting a taste this month of what we can expect from Crawford long-term.  And if that’s true, the outlook is pretty good.

Boston Globe Staff/Stan Grossfeld

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Wow.  Every time I think that we couldn’t be off to a start even more opposite than what I originally thought our start would be, it becomes even more opposite.  We just got swept by the Texas Rangers.  We haven’t been swept in our opening series since 1996, when we were swept by – you guessed it – the Texas Rangers.  Great.  Just great.

Everything we did, they did better.  They outpitched us.  They outscored us, 26-11.  They outslugged us with eleven home runs to our three.  It was the first time we’ve given up that many homers in a three-game opening series; the data supporting that statement only goes back to 1919, so it’s possible that, in the home run department, this was our worst start to a season ever.  Specifically in yesterday’s game, they outscored us, 5-1.  Everyone always says that the Rangers’ ballpark is a hitter’s ballpark.  From our perspective, I didn’t see it.  And I don’t even want to discuss the hugeness of Brian Runge’s strike zone.

Buchholz was the latest ace to fail.  Four runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts over six and a third innings.  He gave up four home runs.  That’s almost half his grand total for all of last season, which was nine.  As with Lackey, he was one home run shy of tying a career-high five given up to the Jays on September 29, 2009.  And guess what.  Kinsler hit one.  On a fastball that failed to locate.  Oh, yeah, like I didn’t see that one coming.

The only other hit he gave up was a single, so aside from the four homers, which represent four pitching mistakes, his outing actually wasn’t that bad.  To begin with, the pitch that David Murphy hit out wasn’t really all that bad of a pitch.  His highest inning pitch count was eighteen; his next-highest was sixteen, and below that fifteen.  The rest of his innings were reasonable, and he didn’t really find himself in any jams to speak of.  He threw eighty-six pitches, fifty-six for strikes and eight for swinging strikes.  He threw some curveballs and changeups but mostly about as many sliders as fastballs, and both were thrown well for strikes.  But that’s never the issue.  You could have a pitcher who throws ninety-nine of a hundred pitches for strikes, but if that hundredth pitch ends up in the stands, it could cost you the ballgame.  And there were way too many such pitches this afternoon.  Buchholz may have had the best outing of our three so far, but by our usual standards, I hope it’s one of the worst we’ll see from him all year.  Location, location, location.  Yesterday, comparatively speaking, he had none of it.  At one point, he just completely lost track of the strike zone.  It wasn’t pretty.  Although I quite enjoyed his two pickoffs as well as both of our double plays, which were stunning displays of defensive coordination.  Even Pedroia’s attempted tag of Hamilton when he stole second.  I couldn’t believe he was safe.

Reyes delivered two outs.  Paps pitched the eighth; he gave up a run on two hits but struck out three.  So the pitcher we were worried about, again comparatively speaking, did fine, and all the pitchers we weren’t worried about were horrible.

Unfortunately, bad pitching did not overshadow a strong performance by Adrian Gonzalez, being that he went 0 for 4 and struck out three times.  We notched a grand total of five hits in the game, all of them singles.  Papi and Crawford both went two for four, Crawford being credited with our lone RBI.  I was so relieved to finally see him get his first hit in a Red Sox uniform.  We’d had to drop him to seventh because he was trying too hard.  Hopefully now he’ll relax and find his groove.

When he stroked that single and drove in that run, it brought us within two runs.  McDonald walked after that to load the bases.  There were two outs.  Ellsbury was at the plate.  And all three of his swings were misses, the last on an eighty-eight mile-per-hour cutter.  Nothing about that at-bat was relaxed.  And that was as close as we would get to a win.

I was half-wrong about Tek coming in, by the way.  Obviously Salty remained in.  Tito wanted to start Tek but decided to let Salty finish the series in the hopes of allowing him to settle in offensively; he spoke to Tek about it, and Tek was fine with it.  Salty did not, in fact, settle in offensively.

We have a much-needed day off today before we play Cleveland on Tuesday, when Beckett will debut, followed by Dice-K.  We have full reason to expect both Beckett and Dice-K to deliver truly solid outings for several reasons: we want to win, we need to win, and it would add to the general theme of irony since our original expectations for them, compared to the other three starters, were kind of low.  More importantly, though, we want to win and we need to win.  So let’s just win.

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So, again, that was the opposite of what I had in mind when I thought of what the outcome of last night’s game would be.  Same as Opening Day: I was expecting a win because Lackey was on the mound, we returned to our regular lineup for the righty, and our team is amazing.  Again, no big deal.  Right? Wrong.  So incredibly, totally wrong.

Lackey’s line was utterly abysmal.  It was literally one of the worst starts of his career; his current career high for runs given up is ten, and he gave up nine.  Those ten runs were also given up to the Texas Rangers, on September 26, 2008.  Aside from that start, the only other time Lackey took a similar beating was when he gave up nine runs to us on August 5, 2003.

Nine runs on ten hits.  Seven of those ten hits were extra-base hits.  Two of those seven extra-base hits were home runs.  One of those home runs was a leadoff shot by Ian Kinsler, who is now the first player in history to hit two leadoff homers to start a season.  The other was a grand slam by none other than Adrian Beltre after an intentional walk of Josh Hamilton.  So for this afternoon, I’d say intentionally walk Kinsler during his first at-bat, but if you do that, you might end up with a grand slam later.  Lackey walked two, struck out three, and never made it to the end of the fourth inning.

Every single time we tried to get back in it, Lackey would just give up more runs.  Papi tied it in the fourth with a fielder’s choice, and Lackey sent down his first two batters of the fourth.  And then there was the badness: a double, a triple, a walk, a double.

Lackey threw eighty-six pitches, fifty for strikes.  They were mostly cut fastballs and curveballs.  Like Lester’s outing, it’s easy to explain a cut fastball pitcher’s bad outing: the cut fastball doesn’t cut.  When a batter makes contact with a lame cut fastball that tops out somewhere around ninety-three miles per hour, you can pretty much bet you’re in trouble.  His curveball got up to eighty-five miles per hour.  Unlike Lester, Lackey’s cut fastball, his most frequently used pitch, actually was his most effective one, so he did get some strikeouts with it.  Seven of his fifty strike pitches resulted in swings.

His release point was not tight.  There were some pitches were released completely out of it.  And when he missed, he missed to the upper left and lower right corners of the zone.

As on Opening Day, the relief corps was not helpful.  Wheeler gave up two runs, and Wake gave up a run.  After that, things settled down; Reyes and Jenks both turned in very solid innings.  Bard was unavailable because he threw thirty-two pitches on Friday.  I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Bad pitching again detracted from a very strong performance by Adrian Gonzalez, who is currently earning his contract like nobody’s business.  It’s a great feeling when your general manager does everything possible during the offseason to field a championship team and it actually seems to be working.  Three for five with a double and two runs.  Youk doubled.  Ellsbury blasted a two-run shot in the seventh on a ninety-two mile-per-hour fastball down and in, which is exactly the place you don’t want a fastball to end up if you’re facing lefties because they do things like hit home runs if it does.  The best part was that his swing looked totally natural, like all he does is just hit home runs all day.  Hopefully we’ll get some more of those from him this year.

And last, but of course certainly not least, Papi followed the fourth Opening Day home run of his career with his second of the season in the second inning! An eighty-nine mile-per-hour high fastball ended up in the first few rows of right field seats, good for two runs.  By the time the night was over, he made history.  He both tied, with number 1,003, and surpassed, with number 1,004, Edgar Martinez for most RBIs ever hit by a DH.  And in just two days, he already is showing more offensive prowess than he did during this entire month for the last two years combined.  During his last two Aprils, he batted .169 with one home run.  He’s currently batting .250 with two.  The monster year has begun.

The final score was a completely pathetic 12-5.  We are now 0-2 to begin the season for the first time since 2005.  Not exactly the auspicious start any of us were expecting or hoping for.  All I’m saying is that Lackey is pitching our home opener on Friday against the Yankees, and we better not have a repeat performance, because that would just be unacceptable.  Meanwhile, we’re getting our first look at Buchholz and Tek this afternoon; Salty will probably get the day off.  Maybe Buchholz should stay away from cut fastballs.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Thrashers by a goal.

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Does anyone remember the last time Lester lost at home? April 18 against the Rays, with an ugly final score of 7-1.  We haven’t lost a series at home since May.  Yesterday afternoon marked our six hundredth consecutive sellout at Fenway Park.  More than thirty-seven thousand people turned out to see what we all expected to be a sendoff for the Rangers in the form of a rousing defeat.  I mean, Lester hasn’t lost at home since April, right?

Wrong.  He lost yesterday afternoon.

It’s not like he tanked.  He actually pitched well.  He tossed eight innings, gave up three earned runs on nine hits, walked three, and struck out six.  His pitch-count was decidedly Lackey-like at 118.  His change and curve were as effective as ever; his cut fastball wasn’t as effective as ever but was still effective.  He threw eight pitches in the first, but the game wasn’t fated to be that easy.  He threw at most twenty-one pitches in the fifth and around there for the rest of his innings.  He let go of only one pitch outside his release point.  His strike zone was excellent. He just, for some reason, didn’t have it.  He threw his usual tricks at them but they hit the ball anyway.  His walk total was appropriate, so command wasn’t an issue.  He didn’t give up any home runs, so it’s not like he was making all sorts of mistakes.  He just got read, that’s all.  It’s rare, I know.  Thankfully.  I didn’t even know it was possible for batters to read him at all.

Lester did have a fourth, unearned run to his credit, or rather to who but Beltre’s credit.  Cruz took a breaking ball for a double, and we tried to throw out Hamilton at the plate, and when that didn’t work, Dusty Brown fired to first to contain the runner, but Beltre couldn’t handle the throw, and the runner scored.

We also have the added embarrassment of the double steal in the fifth.  While Young was busy striking out, Andrus was busy stealing second and Borbon was busy stealing home.  You read right.  It was awful.

As if that weren’t frustrating enough, in the eighth, Andrus scored on a single and was tagged before he reached home plate even though home plate umpire Gary Darling ruled him out.  I was furious.  I’m still furious.  The tag was clearly applied before Andrus’s foot touched the plate.  If that run doesn’t score, Cameron’s long ball brings us within one.  Maybe we still don’t win, but at least it’s closer and the call was right.  Plays like this are exactly why the call that ruined Armando Galarraga’s potentially perfect game won’t be overturned.  Because if you overturn that one, you have to overturn all these other ones that aren’t correct, and I don’t think Major League Baseball is too keen on opening that Pandora’s box.

On the other side of the game, the offense tried to come back but didn’t.  Speaking of more humiliation, Wilson established a new career high of ten strikeouts for himself.  Youk, fresh off his impact on Saturday night, led off the second with a single and scored on Beltre’s subsequent double.

We had some nice plays in the field, too.  Scutaro repeated his nice pivot catch from yesterday in the fifth, and Hall tried it on in the sixth.

We had our opportunities.  In the sixth and seventh, we had two runners on with two outs, but those opportunities ended with a strikeout and a popup, respectively.

Cameron did lead off the ninth with a powerful homer on a letter-high fastball into the Monster seats, cutting their lead in half.  Kinsler bobbled a ball in the infield and Hall reached.  But then of course Scutaro had to line out to short.

We designated Molina and called up Bowden as a reliever.  And Beckett is officially starting Friday.  Hold on to your hats.

Our July is quickly becoming April, Version 2.0.  I hate to say that, but it’s hard to ignore.  What is this? We just can’t have decent starts out of the gate? The All-Star break threw everyone off? I don’t get it.  We start our ten-game road trip today, and usually I dread our trip out West, but we just lost at home, and I guess if we can’t do it at home, we need some sort of change of scenery.  That’s just sad, isn’t it?

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Not really what I had in mind when I pictured the start of the second half.  To be honest, I pictured some sort of decisive slugfest, something that would resemble the start we wanted to the first half but didn’t get.  Instead, we lost by five runs.

Wakefield allowed seven of those runs, only six of which were earned, on eight hits in the grand total of two innings for which he lasted.  Six in the first on nine hits – three straight hits scored the first run and then six straight hits, culminating in a home run into the Monster ended it – and one in the third without recording an out.  No walks, two K’s, and a loss.  This was his shortest start since giving up seven runs in one and two-thirds in September 2008, also against the Rangers, interestingly enough.  And he was efficient.  He managed to allow all that damage with just thirty-four pitches, about thirty of which were knuckleballs.  He threw twenty-four of them in the first inning alone.  His release point wasn’t a point at all; it was more like a line, and he’d release somewhere on this line.  His horizontal and vertical movement were both off the charts.  It was clear that he didn’t have his usual control over the knuckleball; he left a few of them up.  Usually batters like to swing at the first pitch without really seeing it well, they make some sort of contact and put something on the ground for an easy out.  But somehow last night, as they did in September 2008, the Rangers not only swung at the first pitch but kept on swinging and put some hits together and got something going.  That was really the problem.  Wake didn’t issue any free passes; the ball was in the zone, and to be honest with you when the game started but before all the runs started scoring, it looked like he’d have it locked.  But it was strictly the hits that got him in trouble.  It’s rare to see that be a problem when he gets aggressive with the strike zone.

By the way, I would just like to say that I agree with Tito completely: Young struck out.  That was not a foul tip.  And we know this because after Young swung, he ran, which is what you do when you swing through a ball in that situation.  If he really fouled it, he wouldn’t have started running.  So it wasn’t a foul tip.  It was a strikeout.  A strikeout that would’ve ended the inning before another five runs scored.  A strikeout that may have resulted in a victory of 2-1.  I’m just saying.

The final score was 7-2.  The natural deduction from that is that the offense didn’t have it, either.  And that deduction would be correct.  Drew went deep in the fourth completely into the first row of the Monster seats.  It was awesome.  Of his now eleven home runs on the year, he’s now hit ten off of righties.  He unleashed a world of power on that ball and sent it to the opposite field.  High inside fastball.  Perfect timing, beautiful swing, the works.  He’d finish the night two for four, the only multihit game in the lineup.  Then Nava bounced a single off Kinsler’s glove, Cameron got hit by a pitch, and it looked like we were going somewhere.  Naturally, Hall had to fly to center and Cash had to fly to right after that, and the rally died.  In a valiant attempt to redeem himself, Hall clubbed a homer of his own completely over the Monster in his next at-bat in the seventh.  It barely stayed fair.  Also an inside fastball.  Also perfect timing, a beautiful swing, the works.  Also the only event of that half of the inning.

That was Hall’s theme of the night: make a mistake and then make up for it.  He made an error in the third when he failed to handle Hamilton’s grounder, but then he made a fantastic diving catch in the fifth to rob Molina of a line drive.  He’s historically been most comfortable at third, but this was his first start there this year.  Beltre sat out as a precautionary measure.  He’ll likely start tonight.  By the way, Hall has now gone deep when starting the entire outfield and half the infield: second and third.

Speaking of diving catches, Cameron had a nice one in center in the first to rob Davis of a base hit.

Meanwhile, the bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings.  It’s almost like they were collectively the starter, and Wake was the rogue reliever who ruined everything.  How the tables have turned.  Manuel, Richardson, Atchison, and Ramirez.  Four hits, four walks, two K’s.  What an effort.  This was one of the better outings of the bullpen this year.  What a shame.

Neither the Yankees nor Tampa Bay played yesterday, so we extend our deficit by half a game.  Again, not what I had in mind.  At all.  In order to get a good taste in our mouths and start this second half off right, we must win tonight.  That means the offense will have to ramp it up and give Doubront some run support.  And Doubront will have to ramp it up and give us a quality start.  All possible.  We just need to execute.

But I’ll tell you about another let-down.  The Boston Globe posted a poll asking whether we’ll make the playoffs, and most voters said no.  That’s just terrible.  The Royal Rooters would be very displeased.  Not only are we Red Sox Nation and therefore must believe and keep the faith, but we also need to keep in mind that once the regulars return to the lineup, we’ll be able to inflict untold damage on the rest of the league.  We saw proof of that when we battled our way to within a game of first.  It’s possible.  We can do it.  We’ve seen it.  The second half just started only last night; let’s wait and see what happens when it really gets underway.

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We lost by a final score of 1-3.  This one took us five pitchers; Texas only took two.  Buchholz lasted only four innings and in a massive display of inefficiency threw ninety pitches in that time.  Three runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.  Ian Kinsler led off the third with a home run.  Delcarmen, Bard, Okajima, and Papelbon were, for all intents and purposes, spot-on.  Especially Papelbon.  Eight pitches in the eighth inning.  And it’s becoming more and more the norm.

Nick Green hit a home run of his own to lead off the third.  Other than that, we went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.  What a riveting performance.

So that was a little bit longer of a recap, but that was because we addressed the bullpen.  The point is that we’re on a streak, all right.  We’re on a fantastic streak.  We’re on a streak lasting five games already.  It’s a losing streak.  And we’re two games behind the Yankees.  I can not put into words how not good this is.  That wasn’t a great start for Buchholz, but that should have been a win anyway.  Since when do the Boston Red Sox fail to make contact with runners in scoring position or fail to score runs generally? Apparently, since now.   I’m not a fan.  I am most definitely not a fan.

JD Drew is currently on the second-longest hitless streak of his career.  He’s 0 for 22.  He’s on pace to surpass the longest, an 0-for-25 stretch to start his 2005 season with the Dodgers.  This is something you just love to find out when your team can’t even buy a hit.

We traded two prospects to the Pirates for Adam LaRoche.  He’s a first baseman by trade, so I see him coming off the bench every so often to give Lowell a day off; Youk would move to third.  Or he could DH and give Papi the day off.  But he’s a .269 hitter and batting only .247 on this season, and while he’s a career .486 slugger, he’s currently slugging .441, on top of being very inconsistent, so he’s not exactly the big bat many of us were hoping for.  Ready for the sad part? We can’t even technically complain about that because that average is higher than the averages of three of last night’s starters.  It’s just so painful.  And he’s a lefty, and any left-handed hitter is an asset.  One thing I will say: it’s unfortunate that, in leaving the Pirates, he leaves his younger brother, Andy LaRoche, their third baseman.  Two brothers on the same team is pretty neat.  I’ll tell you who it would be awesome to get: Jermaine Dye.  There’s a guy I’d love to see in a Red Sox uniform.  Flirting with .300 right now.

I would just like to say thank you to the Pirates, and also that you’ll be feeling it later.  The Pirates clearly have no front office to speak of.  They keep trading away their best players for mediocre prospects.  Everyone knows they’re desperate, so it’s not like they can command the pride of anyone’s farm system.  Soon they won’t have any players left to trade away, and by then they’ll have a farm system that’s second-rate.  And they’ll be right back where they started: not quite at the bottom of the National League, but with a losing record and falling fast.

We also traded Julio Lugo to the Cards for Chris Duncan, a left fielder who bats .257 career and .227 this season.  Only five home runs on the entire season.  Whatever; he’s at Pawtucket anyway.  We gave them cash considerations in return for either cash or a player to be named later.

This could be Theo positioning himself to make a move at the trade deadline.  Either he’s simply adding depth to the bench, or he’s adding more trade bait.  Either way, in Theo we trust, and we have to wait and see what happens.  But as the deadline approaches, the suspense is definitely growing.  You never know what he might have up his sleeve.

Big day on Sunday for Jim Rice, when he’ll finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame! It’s about time.  Really.  And make some room on the right field roof deck beacause his Number 14 will be retired by the Red Sox.  Yes, sir.  Jim Rice finally gets his due.  It’ll be a great day.

We have a very-much-needed day off today, followed by a return home against the Orioles.  Brad Bergesen at Penny.  This is exactly what the doctor ordered.  We get swept by the Rangers, which again is just painful to acknowledge, but we’re coming back to our house against a weak division team.  The Penny part, I probably could do with out, but with Buchholz and Smoltz largely failing, I’ll take what I can get.  Which hopefully will be a win.  Because right now, every game is starting to feel like a must-win.

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We won that one.  Thankfully.  Our lead over the Yankees stays at one but like I say, give it a few days and we’ll be back on top.  Lester had a fantastic start.  A fantastic start.  Six and two-thirds innings of work, three walks, nine strikeouts, and only one earned run on six hits.  The other three runs were unearned thanks to…Pedroia? He was at second waiting for the throw from Youk but missed the catch.  Three runs on a single missed catch error.  Wow.  Seriously.  Wow.  Pedroia is really lucky we won this one.  Otherwise, it probably would’ve ended up being largely his fault.  Three runs on a single error by one of the best defensive second basemen in the game.  There’s something you don’t see too often.  Masterson got the win and, because the final score was 8-4, Okajima got nothing.

But Pedroia, Papi, and Ellsbury each got long balls.  Pedroia hit his second pitch of the game into the Monster seats.  Powerfully hit ball.  He’d finish three for five.  Two batters later, Ortiz powered it into the right field seats.  He finished two for four with another RBI.  And Ellsbury smacked one right behind the Mariners bullpen in the sixth.  And he would add another RBI in the seventh by walking with the bases loaded which, for a pitcher, has to be one of the most humiliating mistakes you can make.  I’ve seen Eric Gagne do it enough to know.  Kostay stroked a two-run single to contribute his share.  So thanks to that error by Pedroia, we were losing up until the bottom of the seventh, when we promptly proceeded to score five runs.  Seattle has never swept us at home in their franchise history and they never will for exactly that reason.  Our series-winning streak stopped at seven.  In that bottom of the seventh, we sent nine to bat and scored five times on three walks and three hits.  And you have to be happy with that.

The big news of the day, though, are the resident All-Stars.  We’re sending three starters, six in total.  Congratulations to Jason Bay, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon, and, yes, Tim Wakefield! Jason Bay led all American League outfielders in votes, and he’ll start.  Pedroia edged out Ian Kinsler and will start.  In some strange twist of fate that could only be attributable to the Evil Empire, Mark Teixeira was given the starting job over Kevin Youkilis, which is something I really don’t understand.  But he was hand-picked by Joe Maddon so I guess it’s all good.  But I’ll be really really annoyed if Teixeira makes a mistake and somehow deprives us of home field advantage in October.  Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon were voted in by the players, and Tim Wakefield was also hand-picked by Maddon.  And for Wakefield, this is his first All-Star nod at forty-two years of age.  He’s the oldest since Satchel Paige in 1952, who was forty-six at the time.  And Wakefield, my friends, has earned it.  Without question.  We gave him a huge standing ovation at Fenway yesterday when the announcement was made, and rightly so.  In sixteen starts he’s ten and three with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.  For him those are good numbers.  And he’s been nothing but consistent for the most part this year.  Here’s to you, Wake; it took you seventeen seasons, but it was worth it.  So on the whole that’s great representation.  Six guys.  Full force.  We’ll earn our home field advantage, and it’ll be that much better when we win.  After last year’s marathon of an All-Star Game, you hope we’ll have enough pitchers, but Wake will help with that.

But we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.  John Smoltz will make his Fenway debut opposite Brett Anderson.  And because it’s the A’s, Nomar will be returning to Fenway for the first time since he was traded back in ’04.  He’s been in the National League the entire time, and quite frankly he hasn’t been the same since the trade.  Call it age, call it injuries, or call it not playing in Boston, but comparatively speaking the man’s numbers are just awful.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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