Posts Tagged ‘Jason Berken’

I’ve seen Lester better.  He had a quality start, which is awesome for any pitcher, but I’ve seen him better.  We all have.  He gave up three runs on ten hits over six innings, four strikeouts, no walks, and two home runs, both of which were lead-off solo shots.

Actually, when you look at his line, your first thoughts aren’t, “Good, another quality start,” or “Wow, he didn’t walk anybody,” or “I’m glad he threw only 102 pitches.” Rather, your first thoughts are, “Ten hits? Ten hits?! Since when does Jon Lester give up ten hits? And to the Orioles, no less!” and “His strikeout count was pretty low last night,” and “He gave up two home runs.  Interesting.  And not in a good way,” and “102 pitches only got him through six innings? Good move on Tito’s part to take him out after that batter in the seventh, because he could see some things weren’t quite right with this outing, one of them being efficiency, or lack thereof, if 102 pitches only got him through six innings.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s what I was thinking.  It’s not that I’m unappreciative of Lester’s effort last night, which was very good.  It’s just that, the better and better a player becomes, and the more consistent the player becomes in his improvement, the more you expect that player to perform at a certain level.  So when that player performs at a lower, albeit still good, level, it’s surprising.  For example, if Josh Beckett had that exact line in one of his games, it would probably be an even more serious cause for concern this close to the playoffs.

The relievers, with the exception of Delcarmen, were good.  They combined, with the exception of Delcarmen, to pitch three more no-hit innings, which again would have been perfect if it weren’t for Ramirez’s walk.  Delcarmen, in case you’re wondering, came on to take care of the ninth.  He didn’t do that.  He allowed back-to-back home runs, walked two men, and didn’t retire a single batter.  Exit Delcarmen, enter Ramirez, end ballgame.  Red Sox win.  But before we leave the subject of the bullpen, I have to say that this is exactly why Tito is a managerial genius.  Nobody knows players better as a team than their manager, and Tito clearly revealed this when he put Delcarmen in to pitch the ninth.  It’s no secret that Delcarmen struggles a bit at the end of the season, which is why Tito put him in to pitch the ninth inning of a ballgame that was locked.  Even after he allowed the two home runs, the final score was 11-5.  This may not seem like a big deal, but you’d be surprised as to how many managers don’t account for that.

Well, a final score like that needs a lot of runs, so we have a lot to talk about.  And we had a little bit of everything.  Pedroia went two for six with two runs and a steal.  Youk plated one.  Ortiz doubled twice and batted in a run.  Lowell had a great night, going three for four with two RBIs.  Josh Reddick hit a two-run shot off Hernandez with two out in the second, and it was a nice piece of hitting for a September call up.  And by nice I mean huge, because it cleared the flagpoles in right field.  And then, the eighth inning.  The crown jewel, if you will, of the night’s offensive accomplishments.  JD Drew is the man of the hour here.  He would finish the night three for five with a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  With two on, two out in the inning, and a full count, he sent a ball that was a little up in the zone to the left field seats.  One swing of the bat and three more Red Sox runs on the board.  Beautiful.  Just beautiful.  And as if that weren’t enough, Brian Anderson got in on the action by going back-to-back and hitting a solo shot beyond the center field wall in his first at-bat of the game.  That was the last RBI we’d record, but believe me, that was enough.

The defense was on as well.  Gonzalez, Pedroia, Youk, Lowrie, and Kotchman had three double plays between them.

A question that has recently come to the forefront is whether V-Mart will catch Beckett in the playoffs.  Since this question was posed, there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that Tek would be behind the dish for Beckett in October.  Tek is always behind the dish for Beckett.  The one time V-Mart caught Beckett, he allowed seven runs, which may or may not have to do with the fact that V-Mart was catching.  It is true, though, that a starter and catcher get into a groove faster when they’ve worked closely with each other for a long time.  While I do acknowledge that our lineup is more powerful with V-Mart starting at catcher, I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable with the battery.  I’d rather go without a few runs and have Beckett so on that we won’t need them than need the runs because Beckett’s wavering.

So Lowell tied the game, Youk batted in the go-ahead run, and after that we just kind of ran away with it.  It was pretty nice.  We’re playing the Orioles, so we know the game will have a positive outcome, so we can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, watching it for baseball’s sake and the love of the game.  When you know you’re going to win, it takes some of the edge and intensity off, and you can notice nuances and finer points of play.  It’s quite pleasant.  And lucky for us, the fun continues.  Today we have our last game in Camden Yards and our last against Baltimore this season.  Dice-K will take on Jason Berken and will look to build on the success of his previous outing.

In other news, Patriots at Jets this afternoon.


Read Full Post »

I don’t even know where to start.  That was some of the most fun I’ve had watching baseball all season long (beatdowns of the Yankees notwithstanding).  Last night’s game was exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it.  If you can call it a game.  It wasn’t so much a game as it was a very decisive assertion of dominance.  To be honest with you, the Orioles should have seen this coming.

So last night’s affair wasn’t so much an exhibition of Baltimore’s mediocrity as it was a celebration of our supremacy.  That’s pretty much the only way I can describe it.  Every single player in a Boston uniform was on fire last night, including the pitchers and excluding Kotchman and most of the B team.

The final score was 10-0.  The 10 is first, so we’ll start with offense.  We hit six home runs last night.  Six.  That’s a season high.  Six in one game.  I saw it, and I still can’t quite believe it.  It was like running a replay over and over six times, and then you realize it’s a different batter, a different swing, and a different run scoring.  And we scored in every inning except the fourth, fifth, and eighth.  We scored three times in the first.  Dustin Pedroia started the night off with a two-run shot that bounced off the AAA sign above the Green Monster.  Dustin Pedroia.  Slumping Dustin Pedroia swung for the fences and hit it out.  I knew we didn’t have long to wait.  And indeed we didn’t, because two innings later, he led off the third with another rocket into the Monster.  First a fastball, then a changeup.  Nothing like a return home against a team you’re comfortable with to get back in your groove.

But back to the first inning.  Pedroia did his thing, followed by Youkilis, who smashed one over the AAA sign, clearing the Monster completely.  In the second inning, it was Gonzalez’s turn, and with two out he smashed one of his own over the AAA sign, also clearing the Monster.  I didn’t even know he had that much power.  Then came the third inning, and with it Pedroia the Destroyah’s second long ball followed by JD Drew, who made a mark on the score with a three-run shot with two out in the frame that ended up in our bullpen.  (He probably figured hitting one over the Monster would’ve been a little boring at that point.) So that’s his twentieth of the season so far, which is already one more than his total for all of last year, and something tells me he’s not quite finished.

In the sixth, V-Mart kept it interesting by grounding out to first while Gonzalez scored, but by the bottom of the seventh we were back to normal as Big Papi swung for the fences and knocked a leadoff solo blast into the center field seats.  That was his twenty-third of the season and the 269th of his career, tying Frank Thomas for the most home runs ever hit by a designated hitter.  And that, much to the relief of the seven Oriole pitchers who were on duty last night, was the ballgame.

But not before Clay Buchholz had his way with the Birds, which is where the 0 in 10-0 comes in.  He pitched seven beautiful shutout innings.  No runs on three hits with a single walk and five K’s.  This kid has to be one of the most interesting pitchers to watch in all of Major League Baseball.  It’s rare to have someone so young who has such a command with off-speeds.  And let me tell you, his command wasn’t there last year but it is now.  You watch him and he just exudes confidence.  This is the Clay Buchholz we’d been waiting for.  Ladies and gentlemen, he has arrived!

Michael Bowden did well.  Two innings of two-hit shutout ball.  No walks, one strikeout.  Nice and clean and simple.  I like it.

Dice-K will start for single-A Salem tonight, and that should be it for his rehab.  Meanwhile, Wakefield will receive another cortisone shot tomorrow or Friday for his back.  We called up catcher Dusty Brown and Jed Lowrie yesterday.

In conclusion, that makes one small spread for Baltimore and one big blowout for Bostonkind.  I don’t really know how else to say this: Baltimore stood no chance.  We were winning that one all the way.  We were on the road for a while, we were tired, we lost games we probably shouldn’t have lost and it was sometimes difficult for us to win when it should have been easy.  But for better or for worse, we came back home, we faced a team we love to face, and we made it count.  Man, did we make it count.  Dave Trembley has work to do.  A lot of work to do.  But not as much smiling as we citizens of Red Sox Nation have to do.  I’m just saying.  And after all that, we were only three for seven with runners in scoring position.  But hey, that’s what happens when you score nine of ten runs with long balls.  You don’t wait for guys to get on base.  You just hit it out and make the round trip yourself.  Trust me.  I can live with that.  Byrd will close out the two-game set with Jason Berken.  After last night’s performance, I’m feeling pretty good.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis and Getty Images

Read Full Post »

We’re within half a game.  Only half a game.  This time tomorrow could see us standing alone atop the AL East.  Can’t say I didn’t see it coming.  Terry Francona’s Red Sox always start the second half cold and then heat up to a blaze that matches the August heat and surpasses pretty much everybody.  I love this time of year.

Before the Orioles’ largest crowd of the year, Josh Beckett became Major League Baseball’s first thirteen-game winner yesterday with a shutout.  Seven innings, zero runs on six hits, two walks, five strikeouts.  Way to be.  His ERA is now 3.27 and just keeps dropping.  I don’t even remember when he last lost.  Okajima pitched the eighth, and Bard took care of the ninth.  With nine pitches.  It took Papelbon twice as many to do that two nights ago, and sure, it was a three-up, three-down inning, but there’s a difference between nine and eighteen pitches when you’re talking about a closer who’s supposed to be unhittable.  Whatever.  A win is a win and a save is a save.  Of course, Bard didn’t get a save because we won, 4-0.

Ellsbury went two for five with another swipe of third base, and if you think baseball isn’t a contact sport, I suggest you check out Ellsbury’s slide and think again.  That had to have been one of the most aggressive slides into a base I’ve ever seen.  He hit the ground hard, dirt all over himself; the trainer had to come out and administer eye drops so the man could see.  Pedroia hit a solo home run in the first inning, his sixth of the year.  Just a note: he’s batting about .370 with runners in scoring position, which easily makes the top ten in the American League.  In his Red Sox debut, Victor Martinez hit an RBI single, and it was a little strange seeing him bat in a Red Sox uniform.  Memories of the 2007 ALCS started surfacing, but then you see the Boston letters and it’s just very confusing.  But it looks like we’re destined to always have a Ramirez-Martinez duo on the team.  Manny and Pedro have since been gone, but Ramon and Victor are doing quite well, if you ask me.

Kevin Youkilis is having a fantastic series.  He was perfect at the plate yesterday.  Four for four with a solo shot in the fifth that was out by inches.  And he walked.  That’s probably his best offensive display all season long.  And Josh Reddick made his Major League debut, going two for four with two doubles and a walk.  The Red Sox took him to Spring Training this year, where he batted .420.  And they even took him to the exhibition series with the Mets.  Just to give you an idea of what we have here, Josh Reddick was voted to have the best arm of any outfielder in the entire Red Sox system.  And he has all five tools: he hits for both average and power, he runs, he fields, and obviously he throws.

Just something interesting: the next time Tek is on base, look at his hands.  You’ll see that he holds his batting gloves in his hands as if he’s wrapping two fists around two baseballs.  This is very old-school.  Way back when, some guys used to hold fistfuls of dirt.  The reason is that it prevents thumb injuries on the slide by providing some extra cushioning.

Bay left the game in the sixth inning because his right hamstring cramped, so he probably won’t be in the game today.  But with the night Reddick had yesterday, I think we’ll be covered.  I just hope Bay doesn’t find his way to the DL.  And Victor Martinez will be starting at catcher today for Clay Buchholz.

A third of the lineup is batting around, at, or above .300 now, but that’s just the beginning.  Kevin Youkilis is second in the American League in on-base percentage at .419, third in slugging percentage at .575, and (as a result) second in OPS at .994.  Pedroia the Destroyah is fourth in runs at seventy-three, tenth in hits at 122, and tied for fifth in doubles at thirty-one.  Ellsbury is tied for eighth in triples with five and is now tied for first (with Carl Crawford) for steals with forty-eight.  Probably after this afternoon he’ll be in the lead.  Jason Bay is tied for fourth in RBIs with seventy-four, and Victor Martinez is tied for ninth with sixty-eight.  Bay leads the entire league in walks with seventy-one.  Buchholz at Jason Berken.  This could put us over the top.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »

That’s a hard loss for Penny to swallow, but hey, you make two mistakes, and even the guys on a bad team will make you pay.  A solo home run for Chipper Jones with two out in the first, followed by a solo home run for Garret Anderson the lead off the fourth, and that was all Atlanta needed.  Varitek went two for three and did manage to plate Youk in the ninth, but the final score stayed at 2-1.  Penny pitched six solid innings with no walks and two strikeouts, but if you get the outs, you get the outs, no matter how you get the outs.  And Penny just seems to get better and better as the season goes on.  He did have a control issue when he hit Francoeur in the helmet.  Yeah.  In the helmet.  But everyone, including Francoeur knew it wasn’t intentional.  He’d fallen down but got right back up with a little help from Varitek and stayed in the game.  He’s fine.

Saito and Bard pitched well in the seventh and eighth.  As far as the offensive spread is concerned, the only other guys who made constructive contact at all were Youk and Papi, who each had a hit.  Youk fouled a pitch off his shin, which kills.  Trust me.  He spent a few minutes walking it off and stayed in the game.  Papi made a fielding error, but we’ll forgive him citing inexperience at first.  This was the last Interleague weekend of the season, so he’ll be back to DHing tonight in Baltimore.  He’s been putting up great numbers lately, too.  Since June 6, he’s batting around .335 with seven home runs.  It’s not only that; he’s also been working deep counts, something he hadn’t been doing during his slump.  I’m telling you, it’s so refreshing to see him get back to his old self again.

Mikey Lowell’s still out, and he’ll be receiving an injection in his right hip to lubricate the joint.  For some guys, it works wonders; for others, it doesn’t do much and extra steps are necessary.  But it’ll probably help Lowell, because he’s not injured.  It just hurts.  John Henry got married on Saturday.  Congratulations! The event was packed with notables, everyone from Larry David to Carl Edwards.  The ceremony was held on his yacht, the”Iroquois,” with the reception at Fenway Park.  Now there’s a venue.  I don’t care what the occasion is; how awesome would it be to host an event at Fenway.

And so concludes another exciting Interleague.  We’ve put together a record of 11 and 7 over those eighteen games.  Could’ve done better, but not too shabby in the least.  Dustin Pedroia tore it up as usual.  But, again, a bad National League team barely avoids a sweep by the American League’s best.  I don’t really know how that happens.  First Washington, now Atlanta.  We could’ve won those third games easily.  But hey, you win some, you lose some, as they say.  And it would just be that easy to walk it off except that now our lead over the Yanks is down to three games.  I much preferred it when it was five.  But we’ll increase it.  We continue with our great schedule: three games in Baltimore, then we come home to face Seattle, followed by Oakland and Kansas City.  Not bad.  Lester at Jason Berken.  And don’t look now, but we’re gaining on the Dodgers for best record in the league.  They’re at .632, we’re at .613.  A few wins here, a few losses there, and we’ll be on top.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »