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Posts Tagged ‘Jacoby Ellsbury’

Oh, man.  Wow.  Wow, wow, wow.

We’ve done it again! I can’t believe it! I mean, I can believe it.  I saw it with my own eyes, and I can believe it, but it was absolutely awesome.  This time last year, we were getting ready for a long offseason.

This time this year, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to the World Series! Detroit is officially taken care of, and we are moving on to the world championship.  Oh, man.  It’s so great to be back.  And we’ll be playing the Cardinals.  Rematch? Yes, please.

This was yet another close one.  We were the first to score.  In the fifth.  With two out, Bogaerts doubled and scored on a single by Ellsbury.

Meanwhile, Buchholz wasn’t immaculate, but he was dominant.  It was great.  He maintained his command and control and just mowed right through.  Until the sixth.  He gave up a walk and a single, and then he was replaced by Morales.  His final line read five innings and two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.  Ordinarly, two runs would be a great result.  But we needed something even better.

Morales then gave up our lead.  He issued another walk to load the bases with nobody out, and then he gave up a single that scored two.  Workman couldn’t have come in at a better time; he induced a double play to end the inning.  The fielding on that play, by the way, was textbook.

Workman induced a flyout to lead off the seventh, but then he gave up two singles and loaded the bases when he made a fielding error.  Then it was Tazawa’s turn; he ended the inning on a groundout.

So the situation was really only stressful for the bottom of the sixth, when we didn’t score, and the top of the seventh, when we were waiting for another chance to score.  And we got it.  And we took advantage of it.  Majorly.

Gomes led it off with a double, Drew struck out, Bogaerts walked, Detroit made a pitching change, and Ellsbury reached on a force attempt thanks to a fielding error to load the bases.

And once again, I have to say, I don’t know.  I don’t know how it works.  It must be the air here.  I think it also had to do with the fact that we were back home.  Being home does that too.  And maybe also the fact that Bill Mueller threw out the first pitch.  And it just happened.  It’s like magic.  It’s the magic of good baseball players playing good baseball.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I really don’t.

Victorino stepped up to the plate.  He took a curveball for a strike and fouled off another one.  And then he got another one.  They were all the same pitch around the same speed.  But that third one, he read like a book.  Really.  He powered up big time and sent that ball all the way out toward the Monster.  Four runs on one swing.  It was absolutely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  With that grand slam, we got ourselves a three-run lead.

Breslow pitched a one-two-three eighth, and Uehara owned the ninth as usual.  Cue mob.  Uehara basically summed it up.  5-2.

Alright.  It’s not over yet.  We’ve still got plenty of work to do.  I’ve been hungry, and I’m ready.  I like being American League Champions, but I’m ready for the Cards and the World Series.  Let’s go get it.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Yet another close one.  But I took issue with this one because it didn’t have to be so close.  At one point, we had more than a one-run lead; it wasn’t much more, but in close games, every run counts.  This particular contest happened to end well, but it was not exactly a high point for our pitching staff.  We managed to just slide by, and now Detroit is facing elimination.

We got on the board early, which I was obviously very happy to see.  We scored three runs in the second.  Napoli hit the inning’s fifth pitch for a huge home run; the count was 3-1, and he got a four-seam and read it like a book, sending the ball all the way out to center field.  It was huge, and it started what was obviously a very important rally.  Gomes then reached on a fielding error, and Bogaerts doubled after Drew struck out; both ended up scoring, Gomes on a double by Ross and Bogaerts on a single by Ellsbury.

Then Napoli doubled in the third and scored on a wild pitch by Drew.

Meanwhile, Lester did a great job.  He had his share of baserunners, and he came close to squandering our lead.  He gave up a run thanks to a single-single combination in the fifth.  And another run thanks to a walk-single combination in the sixth.  Actually he gave up a walk and a single en route to recording the inning’s first out, the RBI single itself was given up by Tazawa.  And he gave up another run thanks to two singles and a double play in the seventh, which brought our lead down to one.  That was when Breslow came on.  He pitched through the first out of the eighth, and then Uehara took over.

So Lester’s outing wasn’t one of those breezy starts.  It was a grind.  You could tell that it was a grind.  Like I said, he had his share of baserunners, and he was really laboring through it.  And he wasn’t exactly backed up by an airtight relief corps this time around.  But we managed to hold on, so we reestablished our series lead after winning, 4-3.

AP Photo

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I guess Detroit got mad.  Like, really mad.  One of the reasons why the games have been so close is because we’ve sent out some seriously awesome pitching.  But we didn’t have it last night.  Last night, it was absolutely awful.

Peavy had them down for the first and then gave up five in the second inning alone.

He gave up a single and two consecutive walks to load the bases with nobody out.  Then he induced a flyout and allowed the game’s first run using one of the more humiliating methods: the bases-loaded walk.  He then induced a force out that scored another run, and he gave up a two-run double and an RBI single.  It was pretty ugly.

And it got worse in the fourth.  He gave up a double followed by an RBI single.  Then Workman came on, ending a bizarrely horrid outing by Peavy.  I was not expecting this.  Peavy has been very impressive, and all of a sudden he just wasn’t himself.

Anyway, Workman recorded the inning’s first two outs and then gave up another RBI single.

Meanwhile, our offense was coming up short.  We had baserunners, so it’s not like we had no opportunities.  We just couldn’t come up with any timely hits.

Until the sixth.  Papi flied out to lead it off, and then Napoli, Nava, and Salty hit three straight singles that scored one run.  Then Ellsbury led off the seventh with a single and scored on a double by Victorino.  And then Bogaerts doubled to lead off the ninth and scored on a triple by Ellsbury.

Needless to say, it wasn’t enough.  We were away, so we’d have had to at least tie it, and we most definitely did not.  The relief corps did a great job; Dempster pitched the sixth, and Morales pitched the seventh.  Doubront pitched the eighth.  And we lost, 7-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Oh, yes.  Bitter medicine indeed.  For Detroit.  For us it was absolutely awesome.  These have been some seriously close games, too close for comfort too often.  But someone has to win, and it’s so awesome when it’s us.  Especially when you’re basically beating your opposition at their own game (pun not intended).

Lackey delivered a stellar performance.  He pitched six and two-thirds innings of shutout ball; it’s hard to get much better than that.  He gave up four hits and no walks, and he struck out eight.  So yes, if he’d pitched the rest of the game without having given up those four hits, he would have had a perfect game.

He gave up two singles in the first, a double in the fifth, and a single in the seventh.  And that was it.  The rest of his performance was blemish-free.  He just mowed right through.

But even though he didn’t last longer, our relief corps was just as solid.  Breslow ended the seventh, and he, Tazawa, and Uehara teamed up for the eighth.  Uehara went on to own the ninth, recording a four-out save.

As I said, the games have been close, and this one was by no means an exception.  Papi led off the second with a walk to become our first baserunner of the night.  We didn’t have another one until Gomes singled in the fifth.  Then Ellsbury singled in the sixth, and the game was won in the seventh with one out.  Napoli went up to bat and took a four-seam for a strike.  He took another four-seam for a ball and then two sliders for balls.  Then Napoli got another four-seam.  Big mistake.  You can’t make mistakes with Napoli.  You just can’t.  It was Justin Verlander’s hundredth pitch, and Mike Napoli made Verlander pay.  He powered way up and launched the ball out of the park out to left center field.  It was huge.  It was epic.  And it was the only run that either team scored.

The game was delayed due to a power outage in Detroit.  I’ll bet the Tigers wished that would have extended to everyone else.  Like Napoli.  No power outage there.  And that’s how we won by a final score of one-zip.

Boston Globe Staff/Stan Grossfeld

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What we did not need for Game Two was a repeat performance of Game One.  What it looked like we were going to get was a Game Two performance even worse than our performance in Game One.  But what we got was something completely unexpected in all of its familiar glory.

We were no-hit through six innings.  And if Victorino hadn’t gotten hit, and if Ellsbury and Papi hadn’t walked, we would have had no baserunners at all.

The same can not be said of the Tigers, who were busy capitalizing on Buchholz’s mistakes.  Admittedly, there weren’t that many.  But when your offense is completely turned off, one run against you can feel like ten.

Buchholz went one-two-three in the first.  After striking out his first batter of the second, he gave up a single, a double, and an RBI single.  He went one-two-three in the third and contended with two baserunners in the fourth after he recorded the first two outs and then hit a batter, issued a wild pitch, and dealt with Drew’s fielding error.  Then he went one-two-three in the fifth and gave up more runs in the sixth.  He gave up a solo shot with one out, and then he gave up another run thanks to two consecutive doubles, and then after securing the inning’s second out he gave up a two-run home run.  Plenty of mistakes.

He gave up a single after that and was replaced by Workman, who issued a walk and induced a groundout.  Two outs into the seventh, Doubront came in and ended it and pitched a fine eighth.

Fortunately, we finally got on the board in the seventh when Victorino singled and scored on a double by Pedroia with two out.  So we broke both the no-hitter and the shutout bid.  But we didn’t follow that with a rally.  Instead, we went down in order in the seventh.  Drew opened the eighth with a groundout, and then Middlebrooks doubled, Ellsbury walked, Victorino struck out, and we were all bracing ourselves for some very unpleasant flashbacks.

Then Pedroia singled to load the bases, and then I don’t know.  I really don’t know.  I don’t know what it is.  It could be everything aligning perfectly at exactly the right moment.  It could be the ideal combination of a number of factors.  Or it could simply just be something in the air.  It’s just really hard to figure out.  But somehow we just have this thing.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just a thing that we do that happens at a certain time of year.  And I guess there are just some people who can tap into that, and then things just happen and it’s perfect.

So when David Ortiz stepped up to the plate, I started bracing myself for flashbacks of a different sort.  I didn’t even have time to feel it in the air.  It just happened.  It happened faster than any of us could recall the same kind of thing having happened in the past.  It was just David Ortiz at home, standing at the plate, connecting with the ball.  Simple.  Just like that.

And he worked the magic.  It was an eighty-six mile-per-hour changeup.  It was the first pitch thrown by Detroit’s latest reliever.  And it ended up beyond the right field fence into the bullpen.

With one swing of the bat all the way in the eighth inning, David Ortiz tied the game and paved the way for us to tie the series.  David Ortiz hit a grand slam.

And then Uehara pitched the ninth.  And then Gomes singled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Salty.  It was a walkoff.  Just like old times.  We won, 6-5.

In other news, the Pats eked out a win against the Saints, 30-27.

Boston Globe Staff/Stan Grossfeld

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Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially American League Division Champions! One series down, two more to go! We are a strong team.  We are a really strong team, and we should feel very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.  But I have to say, I’m still hungry, so I’m psyched to keep it going.

Peavy was an absolute master.  The game was tied at zero until the sixth inning.  Peavy was just mowing right through the Rays’ lineup like they were minor leaguers.  It was awesome.

Except for the fact that it was Peavy who cracked first.  It was a double-single combination.  And we didn’t have answer for it.  I just can’t believe we actually lost a playoff game with a final score of 1-0.  That’s rough.  And the series could have been tied.

Breslow came on for the inning’s last out. If it were not for the seventh inning, during which Gomes flied out, Bogaerts walked, Middlebrooks struck out, Ellsbury singled, and between a steal, a wild pitch, and a single, Bogaerts and Ellsbury both scored.  And we took the lead.  Just like that.

Tazawa replaced Breslow one out and one single into the eighth.  We added insurance in the ninth thanks to two walks, a hit batsman, and a sac fly.

And so the final score was 3-1.  Think about how close we were to having the series tied at two.  And then think about how the relief corps and the offense rallied to keep that from happening.  Now the Rays are eliminated and we’re moving on to the ALCS.  Life is good.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Okay.  It’s no big deal.  I mean, it better not turn into a big deal.  Just because the Rays managed to stave off elimination doesn’t mean that this whole thing is going to be a disaster.  Granted, I really would have liked to wrap this up already, but the extra playing time can’t hurt.  Still, I want to get this done.

This was just a close game all around.  We scored first; Ellsbury led off the game with a single and came home when Pedroia batted into a force out.  Then both teams went one-two-three in the second and third, and both teams had opportunities to score in the fourth, of which they did not take advantage.  Ellsbury doubled in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch to make it two-zip.

Buchholz gave up his first run in the bottom of the fifth; en route to securing the inning’s first two outs, he gave up a single and a double, and then he made a mistake that resulted in a three-run home run.  In total, Buchholz gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings while walking three and striking out five.  So that was really the only blemish of his performance, and it tied the game at three.

Neither team scored again until the eighth.  The sixth had been Buchholz’s last inning; Breslow and Tazawa pitched the seventh, and Morales and Workman pitched the eighth, during which the Rays edged ahead by one run.  This should not have been the case, because we had plenty of opportunities ourselves to score, but Morales opened the inning with a walk that turned into a run two singles and a popout later on a groundout.

Things were looking up in the ninth, when Pedroia managed to tie the game at four; Middlebrooks led off the inning with a walk, and Bogaerts came in to pinch-run.  Bogaerts scored when Pedroia grounded out, which at the time was critically important.

I thought we would hold out and settle it in extras.  Instead, Uehara came on for the ninth, and with the Rays two strikes away from playoff elimination, they came back to win it with a walkoff solo shot.  It was absolutely awful.  It was really crushing.  I mean, we were so close.  We were so close to putting them away, or at least to setting the stage for us putting them away.  The Rays are still down to elimination, but it was just really awful to see them come back like that.  The final score was 5-4.

In other news, the Pats dropped one to the Bengals, 13-6.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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