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Posts Tagged ‘Jackie Bradley Jr.’

And now we have home field advantage for the division series.  It’s nice how that works out.  You know, like when we tee off against Baltimore and make sure we’re spending our first Soxtober game in our house.  It’s pretty simple if you ask me, but it was big fun to watch.

First, there was the first inning, which is when we set the tone.  Ellsbury grounded out on the game’s second pitch, which probably provided a momentary false sense of security before Pedroia and Papi hit back-to-back singles, Pedroia scored on a double by Napoli, and everyone came home on a solo shot by Nava.  There was no hesitation; it was his first pitch of the game, a curveball, and he knew exactly where the bat had to go.  And then the ball launched beyond the right field fence.  Boom.  Then Gomes walked and scored on a triple by Drew.

So we scored five runs in the first inning alone.  In hindsight, had we stopped there, we still would have won.  But we were at it again in the third.  After Napoli struck out, Nava and Gomes hit back-to-back singles, Nava scored on what was ruled a double by Salty (being that the game turned out as it did, the outcome of the review, again in hindsight, didn’t really matter much), and Drew cleared the bases with a single.

With two out in the eighth, Bradley and Pedroia worked back to back walks, the Orioles made a pitching change, and Papi promptly welcomed their new arm with a massive home run to left on a fastball, his third of a four-pitch at-bat.  It was that classic Papi swing, and to see him hit that home run so easily was quite a relief.

And last but not least, Gomes unleashed on the first pitch of his at-bat in the ninth.  We really carried that down to the wire.

Buchholz delivered a very high-quality start.  He gave up only three runs on seven hits in seven innings with no walks and four K’s.  He was, yet again, a master.  He just made a few mistakes.  He gave up a single followed by a home run in the third and a solo shot in the sixth.  So, literally, a few mistakes.  Other than that, he just looked more and more comfortable as the game goes on.  That’s the norm for him, and it’s good that he’s finding his groove again.  Seriously, it’s getting hard to notice that he just came back; he looks like he hasn’t skipped a beat.

Breslow pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.  And we won, 12-3.  Oh, and home field advantage.  Did I mention home field advantage?

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At least this series wasn’t a total loss.  In fact, we ended up winning it.  It’s always nice to end a series and a weekend on a high note, especially going into an off day.  This is the third of four off days we have in this month alone, but it’s a nice schedule before heading into the playoffs.  We’ll need to save up a lot now that our season has been extended.

Doubront pitched fantastically, giving up only two runs on four hits in seven innings.  It was great.  He gave up a run in the second thanks to a walk and two singles, and he gave up a solo shot to lead off the fifth and that was it.  Other than that, he looked like he was in complete control of the situation.

Morales, however, did not.  He almost got himself into trouble.  Scratch that; he got himself into trouble and then managed to get himself out of it.  The same can not be said of Uehara, who came on for the ninth and didn’t get himself into trouble in the first place.

We actually were down by one going into the bottom of the second, which Carp led off with a flyout.  Then Nava singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Drew singled, Nava scored on a single by Lavarnway, and then everybody came home on a blast by Bradley on his second pitch of the game, one of two knuckleballs of the at-bat.  He took the first one for a ball and launched the second one beyond the right field fence.

That was it until the sixth, which Papi led off by doing almost the exact same thing.  He went yard on his first pitch, also a knuckleball, which he also deposited beyond the right field fence.

So the final score was 5-2.  Both teams collected six hits each, but you really have to be careful when throwing knuckleballs.  I believe that this game has officially illustrated the following fact: just because you’re a knuckleball pitcher doesn’t mean you’re Tim Wakefield.

By the way, I’m glad Yaz finally has a statue.  It’s about time.

In other news, the Pats absolutely crushed the Bucs, winning 23-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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The second was our big inning.  If by big, I mean three runs.  And I do.  Because we scored three runs.  And it was enough.  Salty doubled, Middlebrooks struck out, and Drew didn’t waste time turning on the power, going yard on his first pitch of the game a cutter clocked at ninety-two miles per hour, which he promptly deposited out of the park.  And then Bradley doubled and scored on a single by Pedroia.

And those were the only three runs we scored in the entire game.  Good thing Lackey was on the ball.

But he wasn’t just on the ball.  He was amazingly epic.  He was insane.  He was ridiculous.

His first walk in the third and his second walk in the sixth were the only blemishes of his performance until he gave up a solo shot with one out in the seventh.

Just take a minute to let that sink in.  That means that those two walks were the only two things standing between him and a bid for a perfect game.  As it was, until that home run, he was well on his way to pitching a no-hitter.  He threw a cutter for a strike to start the at-bat, and then I saw that second cutter leave his hand on the release, and I saw it travel towards the plate, and I just didn’t know what was going to happen.  And then I saw the bat swing through, and I heard that sound.  It was the sound we’re so happy to hear when we’re the ones on the homering end.  But once the ball and the bat collide to make that sound, you know the ball is going out of the park.  And I knew it well before I saw it.  And it was awful, and devastating, and crushing, and unbelievable, even though I saw it play out in my mind before I saw it play out right in front of me.  It was just awful.

I’m proud of Lackey for keeping it together after that.  He didn’t unravel.  He gave up a single in the eighth, and he faced only three in the ninth.

In the end, we won, 3-1.  Lackey went the distance and gave up only one run on just those two hits while walking only two and striking out eight.  I’m proud of Lackey.  But I’m also crushed.  I really thought he had it in the bag.

And by the way, we are now officially in the playoffs.  It is an indisputable scientific fact.  So now it’s fun to look at the standings.  After certain recent seasons, I’ve been kind of wary of doing that, first of all because the standings fluctuate and secondly because, as we painfully know, being in first place at a certain time of the year doesn’t always deliver what it’s supposed to deliver.  But it’s later rather than earlier in September, and ladies and gentlemen, we are going to Soxtober!

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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This was an epic week.  It was an epic, epic week.

Last Saturday, we bested the Other Sox in a big way.  Peavy pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four; Breslow pitched the eighth, and Britton pitched the ninth.  Those two runs were the result of a single-force out combination in the third and a single-single combination in the fourth.  But we scored more.  In the first, Ellsbury singled and scored on a single by Napoli.  Napoli and Gomes hit back-to-back doubles in the third.  And two singles, a double, two groundouts, and another single yielded another three runs in the fourth.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Bogaerts in the fifth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the sixth, and a wild pitch brought in the game’s last run for a final score of 7-2.

We managed to walk away with a win last Sunday as well.  Doubront gave up four runs on seven hits in less than four innings of work, and the rest of the game was pitched by Workman, who got the win, as well as Morales, Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara, who got the save.  Workman and Breslow each allowed one run of their own, but fortunately, yet again we scored more.  Carp singled, Salty walked, and both scored on a single by Ellsbury in the second; Victorino and Pedroia both walked, and Ellsbury and Victorino scored on a double by Papi.  Drew hit a solo shot in the third.  And Ellsbury walked and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fourth with a little help from a throwing error.

We began our series with Detroit on Monday with a loss, which was unfortunate because Lackey pitched really well, giving up only three runs in over seven innings of work.  We lost because we got shut out.  Again.  It was just one of those days where good pitching happened to coincide with bad, or in this case nonexistent, hitting.

Tuesday’s game went a lot better; good pitching coincided with good pitching, and a lack of hitting coincided with a lack of hitting, but we did that much better to pull it off.  Specifically, we did one run better, winning by a final score of 2-1.  The game was literally won in the fifth inning, when Gomes singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Middlebrooks.  Lester gave up only one run in seven innings, and the relief corps, featuring appearances by four pitchers, held it together.

But I have to say that the highlight of this past week was unquestionably our epic victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, during which we scored a whopping twenty runs.  That’s right.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Let me repeat that.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Wow.  With that run total alone, we could have won every game for at least a week.  Dempster started that one and gave up those four runs in his six innings; Workman, Morales, and De La Rosa each pitched an inning after that.  But that offensive performance was supremely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  The only member of the starting lineup not to have gotten at least one hit was Pedroia, and even he managed to bat in a run.  We put twenty-five base runners on the field that day, and only five did not step on home plate.  The only inning in which we didn’t score was the first.  In the second, Nava singled and Drew homered.  In the third, Ellsbury homered.  Papi led off the fourth with a homer.  Victorino singled and scored on Pedroia’s sac fly in the fifth.  And then came the sixth, which was one of the biggest and most massive innings I have ever seen.  We scored eight runs in the sixth inning alone; that’s more than we’ve scored in some games and even over the course of several games combined.  It was absolutely amazing.  First, Nava walked, Napoli doubled, and Drew walked intentionally to load the bases with nobody out.  Then Carp came in to pinch-hit and ended up walking, which scored a run.  Then Detroit made a pitching change, and Middlebrooks proceeded to welcome the new pitcher to the game by going hard on the second pitch of the at-bat for a grand slam.  Yeah.  A grand slam.  Like I said, it was epic.  Then Ellsbury struck out, Victorino got hit, Pedroia struck out, Papi doubled in another run, and Nava’s homer accounted for another two.  Like I said, it was epic.  We followed our eight-run sixth with a five-run seventh.  Drew doubled, and then Middlebrooks was awarded the home run that he deserved after a review.  Then Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Quintin Berry, who came in to pinch-run for Victorino in the previous inning.  And then Papi homered for another two runs.  And then Napoli led off the eighth with a homer.  Those eight home runs in a single game, a feat previously achieved in 1977, tied a club record.  It was the first time any team had done it since 2010.  (Interestingly, we played the Blue Jays in that ’77 game, and it was the Blue Jays who did it in 2010.) It was also a banner day for Papi, who collected his two thousandth hit in the process and who deserved every second of the standing ovation that he received.  He also passed Billy Williams for forty-seventh on the all-time homer list.

We carried that offensive momentum with us right into our next win.  We started our series with the Evil Empire on Thursday, and the final score was 9-8.  Peavy gave up four runs in six innings, Thornton gave up another two, and Tazawa blew his save by giving up another two.  Then Breslow was awarded the win, and Uehara was awarded the save.  We needed ten innings to get it done, but the fact that we got it done was the greatest part.  Lavarnway and Middlebrooks led off the third with a pair of singles, and Lavarnway scored on a double by Ellsbury while Middlebrooks scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Middlebrooks homered in the fourth.  Victorino led off the fifth with a homer; then, Pedroia, Papi, and Nava loaded the bases with nobody out with two singles and a walk.  Pedroia scored on a single by Napoli, and Papi scored on a force out by Lavarnway.  Nava doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway in the seventh.  The bottom of the seventh was an enormous mess, during which the blown save occurred; fortunately, with two out in the ninth, Napoli singled and scored on a single by Drew.  With one out in the tenth, Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Victorino.

The same good things can be said about Friday’s game, which, thanks in large part to the Yankees’ bullpen, we won, 9-8.  Doubront himself actually gave up six runs on six walks and three hits, one of which was a home run.  But our bullpen held it together.  Meanwhile, Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a single by David Ross.  Napoli led off the fourth with a double and scored on a groundout by Drew.  Middlebrooks led off the fifth with a solo shot.  And then we scored another five runs in the seventh inning alone, during which the Yanks went through three pitching changes.  Ross singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Victorino singled, and Carp walked to load the bases.  Pedroia singled in Ross, which kept the bases loaded, and after Papi struck out, Napoli worked the count full after receiving seven pitches but went yard in a huge way on the eighth pitch, delivering an enormously massive grand slam.  I can’t even describe the awesomeness of it all.  And we weren’t even done.  With one out in the eighth, Middlebrooks singled and then Victorino homered them both in.  Carp singled, Pedroia grounded out, and Papi and Napoli each walked.  Nava walked in one run, and Drew singled in another.

Yesterday, we enjoyed yet another high scoring performance, winning 13-9.  Lackey lasted less than six innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits, and then Britton, one of four relievers that we had to sent out, allowed two runs of his own.  But, in keeping with the week’s theme, we scored more.  Papi led off the second with a double, and Napoli followed with a home run.  Bogaerts led off the third with a double, Victorino got hit, and then it was Gomes who homered.  We had four straight scoring plays in the fourth, after Middlebrooks and Bradley led it off with two singles: Lavarnway doubled, Bogaerts grounded out, Victorino doubled, and Gomes singled.  And then Pedroia doubled and Papi hit a sac fly.  Each of those scoring plays accounted for one run.  Bradley walked in the fifth, and one out later, Bogaerts hit a two-run shot.  And then Napoli homered in the ninth.

We played very well yesterday also, but it wasn’t good enough.  This one was evenly matched, but the wrong team came out on top.  Lester turned in a quality start, giving up only three runs over the course of eight innings.  But they just scored one more run than we did.  Papi and Carp led off the second with back-to-back doubles that accounted for our first run, and Papi doubled and scored on Salty’s groundout in the sixth.  And then Middlebrooks delivered in a big way, smacking a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth.  But Workman’s not-so-excellent work in the bottom of the inning did us in.  He looked great at first, but between the first two outs of the frame, he allowed a single, which became important when he issued a wild pitch that brought the runner in.  And so we lost, 4-3.

And, as if our awesome performances were not awesome enough, we find ourselves in first place in the AL East, eight and a half games above Tampa Bay.  (The Yankees, might I add, are eleven games out of first, which is good for fourth in our division, and at this moment, they are not even in the running for the Wild Card.) We also have the best winning percentage in the entire Major Leagues.  And that’s a great place to be.

In other news, the Patriots played the first regular-season game of the year yesterday! We beat the Bills, 23-21, in a real nailbiter that went right down to the wire.  We went 3-1 in preseason, beating the Eagles, 31-22, and then the Buccaneers, 25-21, and after losing to the Lions, 40-9, which was especially scathing, we beat the Giants, 28-20.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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That was a great game.  We didn’t keep it to nine, but we did trade run for run with the Mariners.  I would have loved to watch us win decisively, but I give us a lot of credit for keeping ourselves in it.  There’s something really satisfying about keeping your head down and grinding through it.  Because, at the end of the day, you know that you made this one happen.

Ellsbury led off the game with a solo shot.  Papi walked to lead off the fourth, and Carp got hit.  Holt, Iglesias, and Ellsbury hit back-to-back-to-back singles in the fourth, scoring three.  Pedroia singled, Papi walked, and Gomes singled to load the bases with nobody out in the fifth, and a sac fly and two singles scored three.

Dempster gave up a solo shot to lead off the second.  Two flyouts, a single, a wild pitch, a fielding error, a double, and a single later, two more runs scored.  He gave up another run on a walk-single combination in the third.  He gave up four singles over the course of the fourth, resulting in two runs.  The latter was a runner inherited by Steven Wright, who came on for relief.  But he ended up pitching the rest of the game phenomenally well.

The game started with a bang but ended pretty casually.  Lavarnway led off the tenth with a walk, and we made the Mariners pay.  Bradley came on to pinch-run, moved to second on a sac fly by Holt, and later scored on a single by Nava.  And Uehara pitched a one-two-three ninth.

And that’s a wrap.  We won, 8-7, in ten but we used only two pitches.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

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Never believing that you’re out of a game is a very valuable skill.  It makes you able to make sure hat you’re never out of a game.  It would have been easier last night for us to just assume that we wouldn’t be able to score enough runs to keep a lead going.  But then we wouldn’t have won big.

Allen Webster had a terrible night.  And when I say terrible,  I mean terrible.  It was, well, terrible.  In the first, he gave up a single and then a two-run shot.  In the second, he loaded the bases with a single and two walks and then cleared them with a double.  In the third he gave up a solo shot, a single, and a lineout before being replaced by Aceves, who gave up a triple that allowed his inherited runner to score.

So Webster gave up seven runs in less than three innings.  Ouch.  At the time, he was exceedingly fortunate that he had excellent run support.  Somehow, we managed to survive his implosion by scoring enough runs to generate a one-run lead.

Papi led off the second with a solo shot, but the really big inning was the third, during which we scored five runs.  Nava lined out, Victorino singled, and Pedroia smacked a two-run shot.  Papi doubled, and Napoli smacked a two-run shot.  Salty doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch during Iglesias’s at-bat, and scored on Holt’s sac fly.  Nava got hit in the fourth and scored on a single by Pedroia, and Bradley hit a solo shot in the fifth.

Breslow came on for the fourth and stayed for the fifth and an out and a double in the sixth.  Then it was Bailey’s turn.  He finished the sixth and pitched through the seventh.  Tazawa gave up a single that turned into a run on a groundout in the eighth.

That run would have tied the game at eight had it not been for some clutch hitting in the top of the frame.  Victorino appropriately led it off with a solo shot.  Then Pedroia lined out, Papi singled, Napoli struck out, Salty walked intentionally, and then Iglesias and Holt each singled in a run.  And Uehara pitched the ninth.

So, in total, that’s sixteen hits, three doubles, and a whopping five home runs! The score, thanks to our resilient attitude, was 11-8.

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The Rangers didn’t stand a chance in this one.  Seriously.  No chance.  I thought our run total against the Yanks was epic, but it turns out that I had another thing coming.  And in this case, I am most definitely happy about that.  We scored so many runs last night that if you cut our run total in half, not only would we still have won, but that total alone would have been considered a ton of runs in most situations.

We did not waste time putting ourselves on top in this one.  Really, we didn’t.  From the very first, both literally and figuratively, we were winning and never looked back.  Nava led off the bottom of the first with a walk, followed by a single by Carp.  Then Pedroia struck out, and Papi hit an RBI double.  Then Napoli walked to load the bases, and Carp scored on a groundout by Salty.  Not exactly the response to a bases-loaded situation that we were looking for, but in the long run, we had absolutely nothing to worry about.

Iglesias led off the second with a double, and Bradley promptly followed that with a homer to right on a 2-1 count.  After that came a single by Nava, a walk by Carp, a flyout by Pedroia, a bases-clearing triple by Papi, and a successful sac fly by Napoli.  Then Salty doubled and scored on a double by Drew.  End our six-run second.

Nava doubled with one out in the third and scored on a single by Carp.  And Drew homered to right center field to lead off the fourth; Carp repeated that performance in the fifth.

Then Salty led off the sixth with a solo shot.  Drew singled, Iglesias reached on a throwing error, and both runners ended up in scoring position.  Drew scored on a groundout by Bradley, and Nava hit a successful sac fly but ended up on third thanks to a fielding error, and he himself scored on a sac fly by Carp.  A single by Salty, a double by Drew, and a bases-clearing single by Iglesias resulted in yet two more runs.

While the offense was getting busy at the plate, Dempster was mighty busy on the mound.  This, I have to say, was a quality start.  The numbers don’t lie.  He gave up a double and consequently a two-run home run in the fourth as well as a solo shot to lead off the sixth.  All told, he pitched a nice, long seven innings.  He gave up just the three runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out six.  Easily one of the best starts we’ve seen from him this year.

Mortensen came on for the eighth; he gave up a single and subsequently a two-run home run of his own.  After that he gave up two singles and a walk and was subsequently replaced by Miller, who ended the inning.  He aced the ninth.

Well, we finally won by a score of 17-5.  There was only one inning during which we did not score: the eighth.  Obviously there was no need to play the bottom of  the ninth.  In the end we racked up nineteen hits.  Thirteen of them were for extra bases: eight doubles, one triple, and four homers.  And that, my friends, is how you play baseball.

In other news, the Bruins completely knocked down the Penguins, 6-1.

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