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Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Moyer’

I predicted about ten days ago that we might find ourselves in first place about ten days later.  I am so psyched to say that I was absolutely right.  The key word in that prediction of course being “might,” because we’re currently tied with the Rays for second, only half a game out! Unfortunately, New York currently occupies the top spot, the key word there of course being “currently.”

We played some excellent baseball all around.  We’ve played better and better baseball every day.  The pitchers and offense lit it up.  Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to point out to all the naysayers out there that they were so incredibly wrong, it’s not even funny.  In Boston, you really do have to keep the faith.  Because, one game at a time, it all works out.

Okay.  Let’s finish up the series with Cleveland and then start with the series against the Phillies.  We ended up splitting with the Tribe; the lack of win rests squarely on the shoulders of Bard.  With two out in the ninth, Beltre smacked a two-run shot, but Bard blew his save.  It was disgusting.  We had the W in the back, and he lost it completely.  As for the Phillies series, we won it.  We whipped them completely in the first two and barely lost the last game, kicking the three games off right by handing Jamie Moyer what was probably the absolute worst start of his entire Major League career.  It was glorious.  Moyer hasn’t recorded at most three outs since 1998; we got him for nine runs before he left in the second.  Fantastic.  It’s time that dude realizes he’s forty-seven years old.  A season high eight doubles, and Lackey was on the ball; a full seven innings of two-run, no-walk ball.  Lowell hit his second home run of the season in that 12-2 victory.  The second game featured the Major League debut of Daniel Nava, an undrafted prospect from an independent league.  He steps up to the plate and crushes the first pitch of his Major League career out of the park for a grand slam.  He’s the fourth player to hit a grand slam in his first at-bat and the second to do so on his first pitch.  That was one of the most beautiful swings I’ve ever seen.  Pure gold.  Right into the bullpen.  That kid deserved it.  It was one of those moments that galvanizes an entire team.  We all needed it.  So here’s to you, Nava; congratulations and more to come! The third game was lost in the fourth, when Wake gave up four runs.  I guess Fenway really is one of Hamels’s top three favorite ballparks.  I guess I can’t really blame him, though.

Then the D-Backs came to town, and we swept them right out.  While the Drew brothers got reacquainted, Buchholz plowed through mediocrity to earn the win in the first game.  He notched eight K’s, tying his season high, but couldn’t finish the sixth inning.  It was his shortest outing since five innings against New York on May 8.  He was inefficient, firing 113 pitches, but at least he gave up only three runs.  You know you’ve got an elite pitcher on your hands when his bad day is the equal of other teams’ best pitcher’s good day.  His fastball wasn’t so great, but his offspeeds were right on.  We went on to win the second game, despite Lester’s struggle with his command.  He adjusted throughout the game, putting his adaptability on display.  He’s now on an eight-game winning streak.  His two HBPs tie a career high he’s achieved three other times, none coming since 2008.  The third game wasn’t easy for Lackey, either.  That’s three grinds in a row for our starting pitching.  As usual, it was the fastball on the glove side that gave him trouble.  But a win is a win, and a sweep is a sweep, and Buchholz, Lester, and Lackey are now the first three pitchers in the Majors to have won more than eight games this year.

We followed our sweep of the D-Backs with a sweep of the Dodgers, our way of avenging the Celtics.  Friday marked Manny’s first plate appearance at Fenway since his trade.  The response was mixed; he received ample cheers and ample boos.  Red Sox Nation always does it right; we know how to remember an integral part of two World Series championships, but we also know how to remember an unreasonable tantrum-thrower with a bad attitude.  The at-bat came in the second inning and resulted in a flyout to center field.  He did not acknowledge the crowd at all, and after Nomar’s numerous acknowledgements and obvious display of emotion during his first at-bat back with the A’s, that’s something that’s hard not to notice.  Although I have to admit that that wasn’t the highlight.  Felix Doubront started, his Major League debut, earning a win in five innings, giving up five runs (three earned) in six innings, walking two, and striking out two.  That also wasn’t the highlight.  The highlight was our seven-run fifth.  Now that’s a highlight.  The game featured homers by Beltre, Papi, and Drew, who strained his right hamstring after robbing Manny of a line drive and left the game, hopefully to return to the lineup tonight.  His homer, by the way, was a close call.  Inches determined that it fell into the Monster, not off of the monster, and a review was needed.  That was his eighth dinger of the season, the seventh use of replay since Major League Baseball allowed it, and Drew’s first at-bat since opting out of the Dodgers.  The middle game had “Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah” written all over it.  On a 1-2 count with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Pedroia sent a ninety-eight mile-per-hour fastball into right field for a walkoff single, his first career walkoff hit! Thanks to Bill Hall for starting the rally, thereby redeeming his two errors in right field.  And last but most certainly not least, the third and final win confirming the sweep.  Buchholz provided the prevention, with special appearances by Bard and Paps, who held down the fort with a hold and a save, respectively.  The final score was 2-0.  Pedroia hit a single to third base.  No, seriously.  He singled to first, stole second, and hustled to third because of Papi’s shift.

In his usual display of grit, it turns out Pedroia’s been playing with a right knee injury since May 15, which obviously jives with his slump.  Since that date, he’s batted roughly .190, his season average dropping by about forty points.  But an MRI shows he’s good to go, as his recent stunts have shown.  During this last homestand, he’s batted .484.  Youkilis exited a game with back spasms, only to return to get hit in the right elbow with a pitch and exit again.  He’s now good to go.  Scutaro got a day off due to a nerve-root injection, and he’s good to go.  Dice-K landed himself on the DL with a right forearm strain but has now been cleared to start Thursday against the Rockies.  Cameron is back to seeing time in center field.  Beckett is making great strides in his recovery from his back pain.  Hermida has five fractured left ribs and is not so good to go.  He’s on the DL.  That is one powerful right knee Beltre’s got.  Speaking of which, Ellsbury continues to serve time on the DL, now with a different fracture in his left ribs, which he probably sustained on May 23 with a diving catch.  No baseball activities for two weeks and then a slow but steady rehab.  Don’t expect to see him back before the All-Star break.  Wow.  Our outfield situation is now terrible.  Seriously.  This is why it pays to have an abundance of reserves.  Paps was reactivated from the bereavement list, just in time to prevent any more blown saves.  Nelson and Bonser were designated for assignment, Atchison was recalled, and Doubront was called up but then sent down in favor of Robert Manuel.

Well, that’s a wrap.  If we thought we were in a good place before, we’re in an even better place now.  We’re poised to take the AL East by storm.  At this point, one win is all it takes.  Lester faces the Rockies tonight at Coors Field.  Let’s do it.

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Our bats were completely silent for the entire game last night.  The entire game.  Except for one-half inning: the bottom of the ninth, when you make or break it.  We were about to make it.  We were about to tie it and then go on to win it for a winning streak and a sweep of the series and a move into third place.  Instead, we lost in the worst way for the worst reason.

Wake pitched well.  He allowed three runs on five hits, one of which was a two-run shot, over seven innings with a walk and five K’s.  He recorded his two thousandth strike out yesterday and is the fourth active player with that many, joining the likes of Jamie Moyer, Javier Vazquez, and (I hate to say it) Andy Pettitte.  He pitched seven innings.  He threw 103 pitches.  He used his usual lack of mix of pitches, throwing almost all knuckleballs with the occasional fastball and curveball mixed in.  All of his pitches were effective.  I always like to say that Wake has one of the most effective fastballs in the game, because he disguises it so well with his knuckleball that the batters never see it coming.  It’s all cunning. He threw between ten and twenty pitches every inning.  The sides of his strike zone were pretty clear; he was light on the top and heavy on the bottom.  So good for Wake for doing really well in that spot start.  Of all the types of pitchers, knuckleballers are best able to just jump into a starting situation without being regularly scheduled and do well.  That’s a tremendous asset to the staff.

Wake was matching Marcum pitch for pitch; it was fantastic.  But Marcum took the win, and technically Wake took the loss, but that really wasn’t fair. In theory he lost, but in practice the loss falls squarely on the shoulders of one Dale Scott.

So like I said, we didn’t do anything until the bottom of the ninth.  During the first eight innings, we had only three hits, two of them by Papi.  Then Youk singled, Drew doubled in Youk, and suddenly we could taste victory.  Papi, the tying run, stepped up to the plate.  He worked a full count.  You could cut the suspense with a knife.  The fourth pitch arrived and proved to be a ball.  Somehow, in some very bizarre universe, Dale Scott ruled strike three when watching it again clearly reveals that the ball was obviously half a foot off the plate, which in baseball terms is, like, a mile.

Papi couldn’t believe it and started seeing red.  Tito couldn’t believe it and came out to argue.  What’s interesting is that Scott, at that point, didn’t eject either of them, which was probably his way of admitting that he knew he made a mistake on that call.  Then Beltre came up and checked his swing on a slider, but he was handed the same call: a strike.  He asked Scott to check with the first-base umpire, and then Tito came out again to argue balls and strikes and got ejected.

Beltre eventually singled in Drew to put us within a run, but McDonald’s popup ended it.

Papi had the only multi-hit game in the lineup; he went two for four.  That’s his third multi-hit game in eight games this month.  Over those eight games, he’s nine for twenty-nine with three homers and seven RBIs.  Overall, this game lifted his batting average to .200.

Pedroia was hit by a pitch in the third.  Nice catch of that foul popup by V-Mart, and nice avoidance of a collision with Van Every by Hermida.

Basically what I’m saying is that Dale Scott lost us the game, and I can make that claim because the game did in fact come down to one run in the bottom of the ninth at home with our hottest hitter of the day at the plate.  There are just some games in a season where a bad call says it all.  Of course, in the long run, it happens to other teams you play as well so it evens out.  But that doesn’t make you any less frustrated when it happens.  If you look at a plot of his strike zone, you can see that it was inconsistently liberal on the sides.  If it were consistently liberal on the sides, it would be a different story; that would just be his strike zone, and we’d have to grin and bear it.  But a professional umpire can’t afford to be inconsistent.  He really can’t.  Consistency is kind of the whole point of being an umpire.  I’m just saying.  Next up, Buchholz takes on the Tigers.  Hopefully the umpire will know what’s up.

The Bruins lost, 2-1, last night so it all comes down to a Game Seven showdown on Friday.  The good news is we’re coming back home.  The bad news is that we’ve lost some momentum and need to recover that spark that’s brought us to this point.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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