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Posts Tagged ‘Interleague’

That, my friends, is just about as good as it gets.  We completed the sweep, we have our four-game (and counting) winning streak, Beckett completely bounced back from his rustiness, and we’re sending four to the All-Star Game.  Gonzalez is going for the fourth time but his first as a starter, Papi is going for the seventh time, Beckett is going for the third time, and Ellsbury has received his first career bid.  All four of them deserve every minute of that trip.  Let’s not forget, by the way, that the stakes are high.  We need to secure home field advantage for ourselves come October.

Speaking of Beckett and completely deserving a trip to the All-Star Game, yesterday’s start was all the proof you could possibly need that Beckett exudes all-star status.  The game was literally almost all Beckett.  He was the reason we won.  He pitched eight innings of one-run ball.  He gave up five hits and absolutely no walks.  He was supremely efficient; he threw 102 pitches, sixty-nine of which were strikes.  That’s a strike percentage of sixty-eight.  That’s high.  But my favorite part was the season-high eleven strikeouts.

His very first batter struck out swinging on a four-seam.  The second inning was the first of four one-two-three innings; the first two batters struck out swinging, the first on a cutter and the second on another four-seam.  He began the third with his only called strike, the result of four straight four-seams, and he ended the inning with another swinging strike on a four-seam.  He began the fourth with a strikeout on a cutter and ended it with a strikeout on a curveball.  Both strikeouts in the fifth were put away with curveballs; he also gave up his only run that inning, the result of the combination of a double and a single.  He followed that inning with a one-two-three sixth, during which he achieved another strikeout using four straight four-seams and a cutter.  He locked down his last strikeout in the seventh with a curveball (and hit his next batter, but still).

The outing really was a gem of purest form.  It was a thing of beauty.  And it was the reason why, to this day, we still wonder about last season.  Beckett was so dominant that, by the time Paps took the mound, the game was still tied at one.  We scored our first run in the fourth; the bases were loaded for Tek, but all he could muster was reaching on a force attempt, which led to an error.  He hit a grounder to first base, but Brett Wallace fired home very poorly indeed, so Youk scored.  Painfully.  Carlos Corporan came down on his right ankle, which as we all know is not in the best of shape these days.  We scored the winning run in the ninth; after a walk, a single, and an intentional walk, the bases were loaded for Youk.  Youk didn’t have to do much to bring in a run.  He didn’t.  But he brought in a run anyway.  He walked on five pitches.  Five straight cutters.  How embarrassing for the Astros.

So Beckett walked away with his third win in Houston, Paps walked away with his seventeenth save, and Tito walked away having bested our former pitching coach.  What’s up, Brad Mills; thanks for intentionally walking Gonzalez in the top of the ninth while first base was occupied, because that made so much sense and didn’t backfire at all.

All in all, the road trip wasn’t our best.  On the one hand, it was Interleague, so we should have been able to win easily.  On the other hand, we were playing in National League parks, which threw off our lineup.  But now we get to go home, and just in time for the Fourth of July.  Few things are better on America’s birthday than America’s national pastime.  It’ll be a great game.

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I guess the team didn’t get that particular memo that said that last night’s game has to be better, because it wasn’t.  We may have scored something, but we still lost.  It was terrible.

The good news is that Lackey wasn’t a complete and total disaster.  Actually, on the contrary.  He pitched just like an ace.  He was one out shy of eight full innings.  He gave up two runs on eight hits, walked only one, and struck out five.  He threw ninety pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  If it were any other pitcher, I would be concerned about the eight hits, but for Lackey, it’s business as usual.

Lackey’s keys to success? Two fastballs and a deadly slider.  He used changeups, cutters, and cuveballs too, but both fastballs and the slider were really what did the hitters in.  Despite the hits, he worked very efficiently; he actually needed only three pitches to secure two outs in the eighth inning, but he was taken out after allowing a triple that put runners at the corners.  Morales came in for the last out of the inning.

In short, this was the best stuff we’ve seen from Lackey in a long time, too long for a starter as good as he’s supposed to be.  And what does he have to show for it? A loss.  It’s just sad.  Although you have to admit that, even though we lost, at least we got to see him with good stuff.  He allowed his first run on a couple of drives; his second was a solo shot hit on a curveball.  In the spirit of justice and Interleague, he did his best to make up for it; he batted in our only run of the game.  In the fifth inning, Reddick singled and scored on a double by Lackey.  That double was one of only five total hits, and it was our only extra-base hit of the night.  Reddick actually had the best offensive night of the lineup; he went two for three.  Clearly, the move of Papi to first base and the resultant move of Gonzalez to right field for his first time in six years didn’t amount to anything.  We left five on base and were 0 for a whopping 1 with runners in scoring position.  We had a runner on first in the seventh with two out; Lackey stepped up to the plate but wasn’t so lucky.  Tito had no choice; he couldn’t pinch-hit for a pitcher only seventy-seven pitches into a great night.  He had no way of knowing that the Phillies would score their winning run a few minutes later and that that run would may as well have been a hundred.  We went on to lose, 2-1.

We’ve lost six of our last eight and four of our first five games on this road trip.  In the last five games, we have scored a grand total of only ten runs.  And I don’t need to remind you that this has disastrously disastrous effects on the standings.  It’s just pathetic to be reduced to hoping that you just don’t get swept.  But at this point, straits are pretty dire, and we’ll just have to take what we can get and like it.

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As of the conclusion of last night’s game, the American League has ninety Interleague wins to the National League’s eighty-four.  In my opinion, that’s way too close.  The American League needs to play better.  Starting with us.  Because being shut out is not the best way to play any game, regardless of whether it’s Interleague, and especially if it’s a series opener as well as the opener of the second series of a nine-game road trip to National League parks.  Those are nine games during which we will not have our DH.  I refuse to believe that this is the best we can do.  Putting aside the obvious fact that when we make it to the World Series, it’s entirely probable that we’ll have to face the Phillies, we just want to beat them generally because they’re good.  Like I said, a trip to October is based on winning in the first place.  And last night, that wasn’t what we did.

We lost, 5-0.  While Cliff Lee was busy pitching a two-hit, two-walk complete game, Beckett only lasted six innings and gave up five runs, one of which was the result of a sac fly by Lee, on five hits, two of which were home runs which accounted for all but one of the Phillies’ five runs.  Beckett walked one and struck out only one, a season low.  He threw eighty-four pitches, fifty-three of which were strikes.  He even made an error on a pickoff move.  Morales and Jenks were solid, but it didn’t really make that much of a difference.  Obviously a very far cry from the nearly perfect game he hurled his last time out.  I guess that enormous delay between starts wasn’t as helpful as we bargained for.  He needed the extra rest due to a nasty case of stomach flu; the rust showed.  On the bright side, we know it’s due to an illness and won’t last.

All five runs were given up on fastballs, but his fastballs were actually his best pitches.  They were decent.  It was the rest of his pitches that totally tanked.  His changeup, curveball, and cutter were profoundly sub-par.  As a result, he didn’t vary speeds well at all, and he fell behind in counts and was inefficient.  Many of his pitches ended up to the left of the zone.

However, we can take consolation in the fact that Yankee fans probably saw Lee’s performance and are now kicking themselves into oblivion.

Clearly, there was no offense to speak of.  Lee faced the minimum in seven of nine innings.  Our only extra-base hit was a double by McDonald in the eighth.  Aside from that hit, our only other hit of the night was a single by Scutaro in the sixth, our first hit of the game.  Aside from that, we gained bases twice more via the walk, one for Pedroia and one for Youk.  We left only two on base and had only three opportunities with runners in scoring position.

As you can see, this was a short post.  That’s because there wasn’t much to say because the team didn’t do much of anything at any point.  Today’s game has to be better.  It has to be.

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Well, we’re more or less right back to where we started.  We’re only half a game out of first place.  This past two-week stretch didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped; I thought that Interleague would power us way past the Yanks for good.  Apparently not.  But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s recap.

After we swept the Yankees, we played the Jays, who we also swept before heading into a day off.  We won the first game by a score of 5-1; Buchholz pitched a stellar outing and the first third of the lineup delivered in a big way.  We absolutely crushed them the following day, 16-4; Lackey’s mediocrity didn’t matter in the face of eighteen hits, five of which were for extra bases and two of which were three-run homers, one each for Tek and Papi.  The 14-1 series closer was just as decisive; Lester pitched eight innings of one-run ball, and we hit six doubles and four homers.

We completely failed to carry any of that momentum into our series opener with the Rays; if only we could have transferred some runs from those games to that one.  We were shut out, four-zip.  Beckett returned the following day to pitch a complete-game shutout, his finest performance of the season, hands down.  In fact, take away a ridiculous and nonsensical hit down the third-base line that was barely a hit at all, and he’d have had a perfect game.  Not a no-hitter.  A perfect game.  He did not issue a single walk during those nine innings.  He was absolutely remarkably brilliant.  It was the first one-hitter of his career, and in retrospect, that was one of the most infuriating hits I have ever witnessed in my entire baseball-watching life.  I really can’t stress that enough.  We ended up winning the series; Buchholz pitched a short but ultimately sweet five innings, and our four runs were enough to handle the Rays’ two.

We then went home to take on the Brewers.  We crushed, 10-4; Lackey, Gonzalez, and Papi delivered solid performances.  We lost the next day, 4-2; Lester just didn’t have it.  But we crushed in the rubber game, scoring four times as many runs to win it, 12-3; Wake pitched masterfully for eight innings.

Then the Padres came by and we crushed again, 14-5.  Andrew Miller started that one; he didn’t pick up the win, but he did have some flashes of brilliance.  We lost the series by dropping the last two.  First, we lost, 5-4; Aceves didn’t have it.  Then, we lost, 5-1; Lackey really didn’t have it.  He didn’t even make it through the fourth.

Then we had another off day, and we are now in Pittsburgh playing the Pirates.  On Friday, we lost again, 3-1.  Lester didn’t have it, and the lineup was obviously out of whack due to the fact that we were in a National League park, so the pitchers had to hit.  On Saturday, we lost again, 6-4, despite three long balls.  Thankfully we preserved a shred of dignity on Sunday with a win, 4-2, to close out the series.  Miller pitched decently, and we only had one extra-base hit; naturally it helped that the Pirates made four errors, since all but one of our runs were unearned.

Youk and Beckett got sick.  Drew has a bruised left eye.  Lowrie, Crawford, and Buchholz hit the DL.  Jenks is still on it.  Paps was given a two-game suspension as the resolution of the brawl earlier this month.  Gonzalez tallied his one thousandth career hit, a triple against the Brewers.  Ellsbury garnered American League Player of the Week honors.  Our nine-game hitting streak that ended with our series opener with the Rays was the longest winning streak in the Major Leagues to date.

When we won, we played really, really well.  It’s just that we shouldn’t have lost to those Interleague teams.  The health issues are concerning, but the best you can do is hope they’ll end quickly so that everything can return to normal and we can get back to steamrolling over the opposition.  Right now, we’re in a good place.  I don’t think we’ll be phased by any amount of health issues after what happened last year.  Would I have liked to head into Interleague firing on all cylinders? Obviously.  But at least we’d been playing easier teams.  Now, though, we’ve got the Phillies.  That series will obviously be pitched as a World Series preview.  More importantly, we’re just going to have to keep our heads down and play our game.  You have to win first in order to get to October.

In other news, for the first time since 1972, the Boston Bruins have brought the Stanley Cup to what with this championship has truly become, in every sense and on every front, Title Town.  On June 15, 2011, down to Game Seven, the Boston Bruins became the champions of the entire National Hockey League.  The final score was 4-0.  A thirty-seven-save shutout by Tim Thomas, winner of the 2011 Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies.  Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored two goals, the last of which was an empty-netter.  There was a victory parade.  There was an appearance on the Today Show and at Fenway Park.  But it really started to sink in when Zdeno Chara, winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award, hoisted the cup.  He picked it up like it weighed nothing, and you knew every single Boston fan could see it, and not because he’s so tall.  To see that cup being held by a Bruin in Vancouver was just incredible.  It was at once unbelievable and thoroughly believable.  The glory-basking is epic.  It was one of the greatest moments in any Boston sports fan’s Boston sports life.  Congratulations to the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins! Welcome home to Title Town!

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So Aceves started, and it actually wasn’t that bad.  He only lasted five innings and in that time threw eighty-six pitches and hit two batters, one of which was really ugly; in the second, he hit Marlon Byrd just under the left eye.  Byrd walked off the field but was hospitalized and remained so overnight.  But he allowed only one run on three hits while walking two and striking out two.  And fifty-six of his pitches were strikes.  In terms of pitch count, he actually did better than Carlos Zambrano, who needed 122 pitches for five and two-thirds innings, and he’s a consistent starter.  Considering that Aceves really hasn’t been a consistent starter ever, his outing was actually pretty good.  It was his first start since making only one start in 2009.  So really not bad.  Not bad at all.  Quite admirable, actually.

Aceves allowed his only run in the third between two walks, a steal, and a double.  We recovered it in the fourth and put ourselves ahead on one swing.  Youk led off the inning with a single, extending his hitting streak to nine games, and Papi crushed his three hundredth home run in a Boston uniform.  It was a ninety-three-mile-per-hour fastball that ended up in the first row of the Monster seats.  And just like that, we were ahead, 2-1.  (I should mention that Youk was hit by a pitch in the fifth and that, after that, home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez warned both benches.  That was the seventy-second time he was hit in his career, which broke a franchise record previously held by Mo Vaughn.)

Wheeler, fresh off the DL, replaced Aceves for the sixth.  He had a one-two-three inning in the sixth and secured the first out in the seventh before Hill came on to finish it off.  Meanwhile, we added to our lead in the sixth when Crawford singled, moved to second on a walk by Tek, and scored on a single by Ellsbury.

So by the time the eighth inning rolled around, we were up by two, which was pretty impressive considering that Aceves was our starter, although I was surprised we didn’t do more with Zambrano.  Indeed, we left eleven on base and went one for ten with runners in scoring position.  We only went down in order twice, once in the third and once in the ninth, so we had opportunities.  We just didn’t use them.  And it came back to haunt us big time.

Bard was unavailable, so Albers came on for the eighth inning, and that right there was basically when everything fell apart.

Let me paint a picture for you.  Coming into this game, we had a chance not only to start Interleague off right and win the series but also to extend our winning streak to eight games and finally vault ourselves into first place after being in fifth just two weeks ago.  The Rays had already lost yesterday, so it was sure-fire.  All we needed to do was secure six outs and we would erase the abysmal start to our season.  That’s what this game meant.  That’s what this game could have accomplished.

So enter Albers.  He gave up two consecutive singles followed by a ten-pitch walk.  So the bases were loaded with nobody out.  Then he walked in a run on his twenty-eighth pitch of the inning.  He allowed two more when he gave up a double.  At that point the Cubs were ahead by one, so it was already pretty bad that our reliever just put us back in a hole.  But it would have been merciful if it had stopped there.  Alfonso Soriano hit an epically routine popup to shallow left field.  Lowrie went out to catch it.  He caught it.  Then he dropped it, so another run scored.

Albers was duly removed after that.  He threw thirty-one pitches and failed to record an out.  His ERA jumped from 1.56 all the way up to 4.15.  Less than one inning, and he inflated his ERA by 2.59.  That difference by itself would be an ERA he’d be lucky to have right now.  He took a blown save as well as the loss.

He was removed in favor of Franklin Morales, who ironically was just as bad.  He allowed another run by giving up a double to Jeff Baker on his first pitch of the game.  At that point the Cubs had twice as many runs as we did, but a three-run deficit is still manageable.  But again, it would have been merciful even if it had stopped there.  In an all-too-brief flash of brilliance, Morales struck out Koyie Hill on three pitches but went right back to his old form after that when he allowed a walk.  Then it got even more ugly, if that were possible.  Darwin Barney flied out to Drew, who fired the ball back into the infield.  Salty caught the ball but the Cubs were a mess.  Soriano, who’d been on third, and Baker, who’d been on second, were both running.  So they were both doubled up.  Salty threw to third to start the rundown at the plate, but his throw went just over Youk’s glove.  Soriano scored easily.  Crawford came in and corralled the ball and fired to Morales, who had moved next to home plate, but it was off target.  Baker scored as well.  And just to add insult to injury, Morales allowed another double, which brought in another run.

The only other member of the bullpen available after Albers was used was Paps.  Tito didn’t go to Paps.  He went to Morales.  He’s the manager of the team and he made that decision.  Obviously Morales would have to make his debut at some point, but it wasn’t a situation where we were leading by ten runs or something.  Even in Interleague, it was a close game.  He probably didn’t go to Paps because he figured that, if we managed to tie the game after Albers came out, all he’d have for the extra innings was Morales and nobody behind him.  And Paps is the one you really want in those situations.  So, again, he had no choice, really.  But it was ugly.  It  was ugly, ugly, ugly, and we have a lot of work to do to make up for it today.

Twelve batters were sent up in that frame alone.  That’s the entire lineup plus another third of it.  An eight-run eighth inning.  Only five of those runs were earned.  Of course Morales had a one-two-three ninth inning.  That was a total disaster.  It was one of the ugliest losses I’d ever seen.  It was thoroughly disgusting, and I can’t believe it came at the hands of the Cubs, of all teams.  Talk about your one ruinous bad inning.  That was the mother of ruinous bad innings.  No repetition of our 1918 glory, not even with the throwback uniforms.  No pitching.  No fielding.  No winning.  No first place, no winning streak, no sweep.  We lost, 9-3.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Lightning, 5-3.

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Last night was another “wow” contest.  That’s two in a row! Can you believe it? We are now officially on a three-game winning streak, and even though the season is winding down, we’re starting to climb back up. We’re now seven games out of first place.  Hey, it’s an improvement over nine.  All I’m saying is that you never know.

If the standings situation is a long shot, we made a statement to the contrary last night via the long ball.  We won, 9-6, so it wasn’t a true slugfest because the score wasn’t that lopsided, but scoring nine runs in a single game is a big deal for us.  We’ve struggled throughout the season to string hits as well as wins together; last night we did both.

It all started in the second when Lowrie clobbered a home run to left with Papi on base.  It was a changeup inside on a 2-1 count to make up for Beltre being thrown out at the plate.  The ball left the field in a hurry.  But Lowrie was just getting warmed up.  You look at the kid and power isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but this season he just added the art and science of home-run hitting to his arsenal of talent.

V-Mart hit an RBI single in the third, and Lowrie hit a solo shot to the same place in the third, but this time it was a fastball down the middle in a pitcher’s count.  This was his first multi-homer game ever.  I’m telling you, I don’t really know where that power comes from, but if you got it, rock it.

We didn’t score again until the eighth, but when we did, it was huge.  Big Papi, ladies and gentlemen! It was a far cry from the sixth, when he snapped his bat over his knee because he turned a prime pitch into a weak popup.  With two out and two on, he absolutely avenged himself on a ninety-six mile-per-hour fastball to the point where you knew the ball was out just by the sound of the ball-bat contact.  Ichiro just watched it.  That was his thirtieth home run of the year, making 2010 his sixth thirty-homer season with us, his first since 2007, tying him with Manny Ramirez on the franchise all-time list.  Ted Williams obviously leads with eight thirty-plus seasons.  It was ridiculous.  It was almost like the ball left the park of its own free will.

In the ninth, we added two for insurance; Patterson scored on a fielder’s choice and Reddick hit an RBI single.  Figgins hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, but it did not matter.  We had it locked.

V-Mart, Papi, and Lowrie all went two for four; Beltre went three for four.  Patterson and Kalish each stole bases.  And this was the first time since June 30 that our starting lineup included our captain.  Tek went 0 for 3 with a walk, but he threw out Figgins twice.  It’s so good to have him back.  And I don’t think it’s necessarily a coincidence that the team has been playing well of light right when the captain has returned.

When I saw we had it locked, I’m referring exclusively to the offense.  Dice-K most definitely did not have anything locked.  He left the game so unlocked, he practically invited a theft of the win.  Luckily, the offense provided ample insurance just in case, but it’s like I always say: that kind of thing should not be necessary.  If the offense scores a lot of runs, the game should end with a lopsided score because a good starting pitcher should always be able to win a game with three runs or less.  Dice-K didn’t do that.  He lasted six innings, gave up five runs on eight hits, walked four, and struck out three.  He helped Seattle snap their streak of scoring at most three runs in their last sixteen home games.  He gave up at least four earned runs for the sixth consecutive start.  He threw 105 pitches.  He relied on a great cutter, curveball, and fastball.  He mixed in a decent changeup and slider.  He ran into all kinds of trouble in half of his innings.  His best inning by far was the fourth, during which he only fired nine pitches.  But then he went right back and allowed two runs an inning later.  His release point was tight and his strike zone was packed, but he couldn’t hold the lead.

The bullpen also was not helpful.  Tito replaced Dice-K in the seventh with Okajima with Bowden with Hill, and you only stopped hanging onto the edge of your seat when Bard came on.  Hill got the win, Bard got a hold, and Paps gave us a scare when he allowed that run in the ninth but finally the game was over and we walked off with the W intact.  But this is what I mean.  None of that should have been necessary.  There should be absolutely no reason whatsoever for anyone to be concerned when your team scores nine runs.  That should be a blowout, and if it’s not, the pitchers need a talking-to.

Drew will probably be back on Wednesday.

We got the win.  We inched up in the standings.  We believe.  And we look forward to the future.  Like tonight, when Buchholz is undoubtedly going to unleash a world of dominance for the sweep.  And like next year.  Next year’s schedule is out! We’re starting the season on April 1, unfortunately with a six-game road trip.  But the home opener is on a Friday, April 8, against the Yanks, followed by Tampa Bay, so that should be a blast.  We’ve got three days off in April before heading into a grueling May, which is mostly at home but with only one day off.  June will include our second trip to the Bronx with five days off as well as some good Interleague action; the Brewers and Padres will come to town, and we’ll visit the Pirates and Phillies.  We finish Interleague in Houston in July before a homestand leads us into the All-Star break, the game being in Phoenix this year.  We start things up again with a road trip followed by an easy homestand against Seattle and Kansas City.  In August, the Yankees will come to town twice and Tampa Bay once.  In September, we’ll face Tampa Bay away and at home, we’ll go to New York one more time, and we’ll finish the season on the road in Baltimore, the last game on September 28.  So some easy, some not so easy, but all in all it looks like a really good schedule.  We’ll see a lot of action in the AL East, so we’ll have chances to make dents directly.  We definitely have something to look forward to here.  In 2006, half the team fell apart, we didn’t even make the playoffs, we suffered through a winter during which everyone wondered when we’d next win the World Series, and lo and behold the very next year we were the best team in baseball.  So you have to figure that if the injuries this year were even worse than in 2006, next year we’ll be even stronger than we were in 2007.

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There’s the reminder of good pitching that we’ve been looking for! You can always count on Lester for one of those.  I mean, that wasn’t just good pitching.  That was great pitching.  That was outstanding pitching.  That was you-have-absolutely-no-chance pitching.

Dude went the distance for the second time this season and sixth time in his career.  That’s what I call taking one for the bullpen, although for him it really wasn’t that hard.  He had, as he is wont to have, the right stuff.  103 pitches in nine innings.  One run on five hits.  One run. Nine strikeouts.  His ERA is now down to 2.86.  Ridiculous.

His cut fastball was a thing of beauty.  He topped it out at ninety-three miles per hour.  His sinker, changeup, and curveball were excellent.  With the exception of the slider, of which he only threw one, the vast majority of all his pitches were thrown for strikes.  Really, he had a seventy-four percent strike rate for his pitch total.  That’s obscenely high.  Three-quarters of his pitches were thrown for strikes.  No wonder he was so efficient.

He threw a game-high of sixteen pitches in the sixth.  For a lot of pitchers in the Majors, that’s the least number of pitches they throw in a game.  He packed up the ninth in only six pitches.  Only six! That’s what I call taking care of business.

Beyond that, he pretty much had everything going.  The tight release point, the mix of pitches, the speed variation, the excellent movement.  He used every pitch in any count.  He was fearless.  You name it, he had it.  Including the win, of course.  He totally stole the show from Lincecum.  By the time Lester finished the ninth, Lincecum had been watching from the dugout for six innings.  You read right.  Tim Lincecum, the gem of the National League, the winner of the Cy Young Award, was removed after the third after throwing seventy-nine pitches.  If Lincecum thought he’d be able to go out there and hold his own opposite Lester, he had quite another thing coming.

The final score was 5-1, and we scored four of our runs against Lincecum alone.  Starting with Papi’s home run in the first.  I’ve heard it called a water shot, because essentially that’s what it was.  It was arguably the farthest, most powerful home run that David Ortiz has ever hit in his career.  It sailed over the infield, over the outfield, and right into McCovey Cove, the body of water behind the right field stands.  Two outs, full count, an eighty-six mile-per-hour split-fingered fastball up in the zone and he gave a kayaker a nice memnto.  It was the seventy-second time someone hit a ball in there in the history of AT&T Park, the twentieth time by a visitor.  It was Papi’s sixteenth long ball of the season, and man, was it long.  Right field is 365 feet, and then you have the stands, and then the water.  So yeah.  That was a long home run.

In the second, Lester helped his own cause by scoring V-Mart on a well-hit sac fly, followed by an RBI single by Scutaro.  Speaking of V-Mart, as if our injury list couldn’t possibly get any worse, guess who’s out for the count? He fractured his left thumb and left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Great.  Just great.  This just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it.  Well, then.  We’ll have to step it up even more, won’t we.

In the third, Youk singled, Drew walked, Hall singled in Youk, and Lincecum left.  And Beltre ended the run-scoring in the ninth the way Papi started it, with a long ball of his own, this one hit deep to left field.  This one barely cleared the fence, but like I said, in these expansive parks even that takes some power.  And he only came into the game for defense.  Nicely done.

So that’s what I was talking about.  If our pitching staff ramps up the run prevention and the lineup contributes, we can still win without the guys on the DL.  Although of course we wish them all a speedy recovery.  Like, a really speedy recovery.  Meanwhile, we can celebrate.  Not only did we win the game, but we won the series, we finished Interleague thirteen and five, and we snapped our tie with the Rays! Ladies and gentlemen, we now officially own second place and are two games out of first.  Tomorrow night, the fun begins; we take on the Rays and widen the gap in a two-game set at Fenway.  It’ll be Shields and Lackey followed by Dice-K and Garza.  We have a chance here to put ourselves out in front in the standings.  Let’s make the most of it.

AP Photo

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