Posts Tagged ‘Jack Cust’

That wasn’t a ballgame; that was a circus.  I know what a ballgame looks like, and last night wasn’t it.  It was so bad, it got to the point of being almost funny.  Except for the fact that, by the time we got around to playing real ball, it was the tenth inning, it was too little too late, and we lost.

We scored four runs in the first two innings.  In the first, Scutaro scored on Youk’s double for our first run.  Papi tried to do the same but was thrown out at the plate.

In the second, with one out, Hall singled into right field, and Gross fired the ball home to keep Cameron from scoring.  But Hall rounded first base by a mile, and Suzuki wanted to throw him out, but the throw ended up in right field because Barton and Ellis had no idea who should catch it.  So, in the end, Cameron scored his run, and Hall was safe at second base.  Then Davis tried diving for Scutaro’s bloop single, which ended up being ruled a double, and a stand-up at that, because he failed miserably; Hall scored on the play.  Then Scutaro came around on McDonald’s double.

We continued hammering away at Braden in the fifth, loading the bases with two out, but Hall grounded out.  So we loaded the basis in the sixth with only one out, but Papi struck out and Beltre grounded out.

Those were huge opportunities.  I think we lost the game in those innings.  We wouldn’t score another run last night, and in baseball you never know which run will be the winning run so you have to score when you can.  It turned out that the game was decided by only one run.  So if we made good on those bases-loaded situations, it’s not unreasonable to say that we would’ve won.

Meanwhile, the A’s had tied it up in the third with four runs, only three of which were earned.  (Cust had moved to third on Cash’s passed ball before scoring.) He gave up only three hits during his six innings of work, walking two, striking out five, and tossing 115 pitches.  His knuckleball was perfectly fine.  It was dancing, it was in the zone, for the most part.  He just got roughed up.  We’ve seen one-inning badness from him before.  His pitch counts per inning were mostly around twenty; his pitch count in that third inning was thirty-four.  It was a double, a walk, a hit-by-pich, a double, and a sac fly.  Some of that, namely the walk and the hit-by-pitch, are just part of the nature of the knuckleball; with a pitch so unpredictable and difficult to control, those things happen sometimes, and it’s a tribute to Wake’s skill that he only walked two.  So he definitely got his work in, even if our offense didn’t.

After that, the relief corps held the fort perfectly.  Needless to say, we’re going to need a quality start from Buchholz tonight because we used six relievers: Delcarmen, Okajima, Bard, Ramirez, Richardson, and Bowden.  The first three cruised.  In fact, after that third inning, Wake and the bullpen combined to retire the next fifteen batters they faced.  But now we come to the other part of the story.  The circus part.  The morbidly comical tenth inning part.

The tenth inning started with Ramirez, who was somehow called for a balk that put Barton in scoring position.  That was ridiculous.  He didn’t balk.  He just didn’t.  And to be honest with you I’m getting exasperated with all these bad calls.  Richardson got an out after that.  But then Bowden, who just got called up, was thrown into the mix with the game on the line and left a pitch up.  It was a four-seam.  The at-bat lasted for five pitches; the first three were four-seams, followed by a curveball, followed by the mistake.  Kouzmanoff jumped on it for a single, scoring Barton for a walkoff.  Ramirez ended up taking the loss.

And finally, last but not least, the ejections.  Crisp was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.  He swung and missed, he actually walked away from the plate, and then he actually walked all the way back and started it up.  John Farrell was ejected for arguing that Rosales didn’t check his swing and did indeed strike out.  How the umpire missed that, I have absolutely no idea.  His bat was so far in front of the plate, it looked like he was swinging for the fences.  Then Tito came out, and he wasn’t happy either.  Thankfully he didn’t get ejected, but still.  If he strikes out, the game is still tied.

In other news, the brass wants to upgrade the video screens in Fenway and bring int a new jumbotron.  As in, high definition.  The plans have to pass the Boston Landmarks Commission first, though.  I’m just thankful that our brass isn’t interested in something like the Dallas Cowboys monstrosity.  After all, we go to Fenway to watch a ballgame live, not to watch it on TV.

So that’s it.  That’s the whole story.  Every mistake that can be made in a ballgame – defensive, offensive, pitching, fielding, arguing – was indeed made.  All told, we left twelve on base, half of which were left in scoring position with two outs.  We had twice as many hits as Oakland did, but baseball games aren’t won by hits; they’re won by runs, which makes that our ninth loss in thirteen games.  Like I said, we need Buchholz to step up big tonight.  Actually, I’m pretty psyched.  We’re starting to get healthy.

AP Photo

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I will tell you right now what John Lackey needs to do.  John Lackey needs to go up to every member of last night’s starting lineup, shake his hand, and thank him profusely for providing heaps of insurance.  Especially V-Mart, but we’ll get to that later, because that was the highlight yesterday.  It sure wasn’t Lackey.  John Lackey allowed a season-high twelve hits in six innings last night.  I give credit where credit is due, so I’ll admit that it was impressive that somehow only four runs scored on those twelve hits, so Lackey may have gotten the win, but that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for some big bats.

In addition to those four runs on twelve hits, he walked two and struck out four.  The offensive bailout has been a theme.  He’s six and three with a 4.95 ERA, which means that he’s allowing runs but somehow he’s getting those wins.

In the fourth, the A’s loaded the bases with nobody out, but Lackey got out of it.  But that valiant effort was sandwiched between a two-run homer in the third and another two runs in the fifth.  Not surprisingly, he needed twenty-two and twenty-six pitches to get through those bookend innings and then another game-high twenty six to get through his last.  He started off promising with an efficient, ten-pitch first, but ended up firing a grand total of 116, mostly cutters and fastballs.  His fastball and slider were outstanding, his curveball was decent, his changeup was mediocre, and his cutter, not coincidentally his pitch of choice last night, was really just not that great.  He only threw it for strikes half the time.  His whole strike zone shifted to the left.  His release point, which was pretty loose, didn’t help either.

I think I’m going to write this season off.  We’ve seen this plenty of times before.  It’s a commonly known fact that a player in a Boston uniform is only as good as his sophomore season in said uniform.  I think we should wait until we see what he’s got next year before judging the signing.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t expect him to pitch well this year.  I very much expect him to pitch well this year.  I’m just saying that we don’t have to worry about him here in the long run because I have a feeling he’ll right himself eventually.  Is the meantime a cause for concern? Yes.  But that’s a separate issue, one that the offense, luckily, is currently taking care of.

And speaking of the offense, let’s delve into that, shall we? The final score was 9-4, so we scored more than twice their runs with only one more hit.  Beltre got us on the board with two out in the fifth with a three-run shot into the Monster seats.  And when I say a shot, I mean a shot.  That was what Pedroia might call a laser.  That, ladies and gentlemen, was a hard-hit ball.  A lesson to all the pitchers out there: don’t hang your curveballs.  In his last thirteen games, Beltre is batting a hot .451 with four dingers and sixteen RBIs.  He loves two-strike counts.  He’s going all out with the power.  It’s awesome.

In the sixth, Pedroia got warmed up by grounding into a double play, allowing Hall to score and McDonald to move to third.  Then V-Mart came up and smacked a ground-rule double, the first of many, to score him.  In the seventh, Drew scored on Hall’s triple.

Then we have the eighth.  V-Mart hit another ground-rule double to score Pedroia, and Youk singled him in and then promptly scored on Drew’s single.

Pedroia’s double in the eighth snapped his hitless streak at seventeen at-bats.  Plus, he snared Cust’s potential line drive in the second with a backhanded diving stop.  Only Pedroia makes plays like that.  Youk went two for four.  Beltre went three for five.

But Victor Martinez went five for five! Perfect at the plate with four doubles! A single right up the middle to center field.  Then a double off the scoreboard.  Another double off the wall with a swing so powerful he almost tripped over it.  A third double into the triangle out in center.  And his fourth down the right field line, just fair by inches.  That was one of his best performances at the plate, ever.  When V-Mart told Lackey before he tossed his final pitch that he should hang in there because he’d take care of him, he wasn’t kidding.  If there was a hole, V-Mart found it.  If there was a good swing to be made, he made it.  And he made history, too.  He was the first Major League catcher to hit four doubles in one game since Sandy Alomar did it for the Indians on June 6, 1997, also at Fenway.  And he was the first in a Boston uniform to do it since Rick Miller on May 11, 1981 in Toronto.  He’s had sixteen hits in his last thirty-one at-bats, improving his average to .279.  If he continues at this rate, it won’t be long before he hits that .300 mark.

Delcarmen and Bard each got a hold.  Nelson didn’t get a save.  Too much of a blowout.

Cameron was out with soreness.  Hopefully his performance on Sunday didn’t take too much out of him.

For the team, that would be our eleventh hit in fourteen games.  And it was a good one.  If there is a team in this league that’s on a roll, it’s us.  We’re five games out of first, but by taking it one game at a time and building on our momentum, we’ll be at the top soon enough.  Dice-K will hopefully help us get there when he takes on Sheets tonight.  But with him, you really never know.  I’ve never meant that statement about a pitcher more than I do when I make it about him.  When he takes the hill, you really just don’t know what you’re going to get.  Hopefully, we’ll get the Dice-K who almost threw a no-no.  But you never know.  Hold on to your hats.

AP Photo

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I’ve been writing some lengthy posts lately, so I’ll keep this brief.

Do I miss Manny? Absolutely. Am I glad Manny was traded? Absolutely. Watching the game last night I could literally feel a load being lifted off the whole organization, especially the team itself.

There are moments that reveal the character and quality of Red Sox fans. Moments that distinguish Red Sox fans from other fan bases. Moments that make you proud to be a part of Red Sox Nation. Watching Jason Bay receive a massive standing ovation before his first at-bat was definitely one of those moments.

And the management did so much to make him comfortable, like emphasizing that he was here to help the team, not to replace anybody, and like batting him fifth instead of in clean-up. He went on to have a great night. His first two at-bats consisted of a walk, which turned into a run courtesy of Jed Lowrie, and a hit-by-pitch. He made a spectacular sliding catch in left field, committed no errors, and played the wall well. His final at-bat consisted of a triple in the twelfth inning, which turned into the game’s winning run, again courtesy of Jed Lowrie. And he looked pretty comfortable flying around the bases. Youk also did some damage, going three for six and extending his hitting streak to eight games, and Cash continued his gunning down of runners with a called-strike, throw-to-second double play.

Wakefield pitched just over six shutout innings and allowed only four hits while striking out four and walking three, but he was removed from the decision when Okie gave up a solo homer to Jack Cust. That’s pretty upsetting. For most of this season, Wakefield’s consistently given long quality starts. But because of bullpen snafus or a lack of run support, he can’t pick up many wins. I’m telling you, someone who sustains that level of performance with such uncertainty of collecting a win has to have a strong constitution. Keep it up, Wake. The rest of the relief was perfect, and who but Mike Timlin got the win. Talk about surprises.

Smile, Red Sox Nation; we won! We defeated a team that’s given us some trouble in the past, and we did it all with a new guy in left. Welcome to Boston, Jason Bay!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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I hate to say, “I told you so.” I really do. Especially when being right means losing. The A’s swept us today. Yesterday, Duchscherer throws the best game of his entire career. It was close to being perfect and even closer to being a no-hitter. Thankfully, Big Papi broke that up with a single in the seventh inning. Believe it or not, it was only the sixth time since 2000 that the Red Sox have been on the wrong end of a one-hit game. On the whole, that’s pretty impressive, but when it happens it’s pretty infuriating.

And today, Lester takes us within one run of the A’s, only to have Craig Hansen allow Jack Cust to hit a two-run shot to increase his team’s lead to three runs. Bummer. Huge bummer. We’re currently half a game behind the Rays in second, but Lester, unfortunately, has bigger problems. It turns out that his father was diagnosed with lymphoma about a month ago. Luckily, his form of the cancer is different from his son’s; his is slow-growing, so he won’t die from it. However, it’s been tough on the kid. He’s only 24, and he’s already seen the best and worst of life. He handles everything with such grace and poise. Just makes his no-hitter seem that much more significant. His father certainly thought so. The Sox are headed to Seattle next, and the Lesters, who reside in Washington, will attend. John Lester, who has already started to lose his hair, will be able to see his son pitch.

Some good things to keep in mind. We clearly have issues with the A’s. Maybe this sweep has less to do with the road trip and more to do with the fact that it’s the A’s. If that’s true, maybe we don’t have woes of the road after all; maybe we just have woes from the A’s, which isn’t great, but it’s not as bad. I mean, the A’s swept us last year, too. In the long run, it didn’t make much of a difference.

Tek’s average is in the high .200s. This is a more solid offensive start than he’s had in a while. He definitely has power; I’ve seen him put the ball over the Green Monster enough to know it’s there. It’s nice to see him using it and mixing it with his defensive abilities and his insight into his pitchers.

After having a day off, Manny has taken his shoulder in, thereby cleaning up his stance and allowing himself to hit more for average than for power. The result? A very offensively productive game. He’s still at 498, but I think the power will come once he starts hitting, period. What’s the point of having an exclusively hitting-for-power stance when you’re getting no hits, either for average or for power? Manny is such a good hitter that, for him, hitting the two home runs isn’t a matter of weeks or even days. It’s a matter of at-bats. You never know when he’s just going to crush one into the stands.

Let’s also keep John Lester in our minds, and in our hearts, too. Red Sox Nation sends its love and support to the Lester family.

Boston Globe

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