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Posts Tagged ‘Jason Loney’

Finally, we snap our losing streak.  We almost didn’t.  It’s fitting that, if we’re going to win, we barely eke it out.  Honestly I’m embarrassed to say that I almost forgot what winning felt like.  I have to say, it feels awesome.  It’s a shame we don’t just do it more often.

For his part, Lester had a decent start.  Technically it was a quality start; in reality it could have been much better.  He gave up three runs on nine hits over six innings while walking two and striking out four.  So the fact that he only gave up three runs is good; the fact that he gave up nine hits and only pitched six innings is obviously not great.  A pitcher who allows nine hits should feel really lucky that he managed to limit the damage to three runs and reach the six-inning mark.

Of course it didn’t help that most of his runs were scored via the long ball, and when I say most I mean two of three.  His fifth pitch of the game was hit for a single in the first; the runner then stole second on a strikeout, moved to third on a groundout, and then scored on another single.  Lester then got through the second but gave up two consecutive solo shots to open the third.  Three pitches, two solo shots; the first one was hit on the first pitch of the at-bat and the second on the second.  The sixth was his only one-two-three inning.

Breslow and Tazawa combined to pitch the seventh, Padilla pitched the eighth, and Bailey pitched the ninth.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.

In the end, Lester picked up the win; Breslow, Tazawa, and Padilla each got holds; and Bailey got the save.  Lester may have allowed three runs, but when Breslow took the ball in the seventh, Lester had already pitched the bottom of the sixth with a one-run lead.

We really procrastinated.  It was almost like we had to force ourselves to just win already.  Between the singles and doubles we sprinkled across the game’s first five and last three innings (except the third and the eighth, when we went down in order), we had our fair share of opportunities to get on the board and to pad our lead, but this year, since when has that stopped us before? So we didn’t score until the sixth.  Which was when we scored all of our runs.  So we didn’t score before, and we didn’t score after; we just crammed all four of them in there at once like we wanted to get it over with.  But it was a really fantastic inning.  It made you think of all those games we’ve been known to play in the past and hopefully in the future where multiple innings during multiple games are like that.

Pedroia and Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles, and then Ross strode to the plate and went yard on the first pitch he saw, a seventy-nine mile-per-hour curveball that he sent all the way out to left field.  It was awesome.  He read the ball from the minute it left the pitcher’s hand and had its number all the way through, and he just powered it out of the park.  And with one swing of the bat, we tied the game at three.  Loney and Salty provided back-to-back flyouts, and then Lavarnway, wanting to get in on the action, powered our way to victory with a solo shot on his second pitch.  Both pitches he saw in that at-bat were eighty-nine mile-per-hour fastballs.  The first was a two-seam that he took for a ball; the second was a four-seam that also ended up in left field.

And that’s the story of how we stopped our losing streak at seven and our road losing streak at eight using pure power.  Yeah.  It feels good.  It feels really good.

AP Photo

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From a pitching perspective, last night’s loss was similar to Tuesday’s loss, in which Buchholz had a less-than-stellar start but a start sufficiently decent enough that we should have been able to win.  Last night’s loss was not similar to Tuesday’s loss in that last night there was no blown save.  In fact, last night there was no relief appearance of any kind.

That was because Lester dug deep and went the distance.  It wasn’t easy; you could see that, while he too was having a less-than-stellar but but still okay-decent-mediocre start, it wasn’t coming easily and fluidly.  He had to work hard.  In eight innings, he threw 121 pitches, and they just didn’t come out of his hand as easily as they do when you can tell that he’s totally in the zone.  He walked three, struck out two, and allowed five runs on nine hits.

He began the game with a four-pitch walk, which should have been an indication of the type of outing that he was going to have; that walk turned into a run on a double.  He retired the side in the second and then gave up four consecutive singles in the third that brought in two more runs.  And then he began the fourth with a five-pitch walk followed by a single; the walk turned into a run on a double play.

So as you can see he did struggle in the first half of his innings and then turned it around pretty quickly.  Because after that he was lights out.  But unfortunately the damage had already been done, so I have to label that start as okay-decent-mediocre but, if you think about it, if Lester had pitched less innings and allowed less runs, the Angels probably would have scored five runs anyway because the bullpen probably would have allowed a couple.  So from a pitching perspective it was just your average start.  But kind of not since Lester went the distance, which is huge, since we haven’t seen that too often this year.

So that readily identifies the fact that the reason why we lost wasn’t that Lester had a bad day; the reason why we lost was that the hitters had a bad day.  We scored a grand total of two runs to their five.  Loney led off the second with a single, and then Ross lined out and then Salty and Lavarnway worked back-to-back walks to load the bases.  And Aviles stepped up to the plate literally but not figuratively, because all he could muster was a sac fly that plated one.  That’s better than nothing, but it wasn’t enough.  Similarly, Ciriaco struck out to end the threat.  It turned out to be our best opportunity all game to do any damage whatsoever.  And we wasted it.

We didn’t score again until the sixth, which began with Ellsbury striking out.  Then, Loney hit his first home run in a Boston uniform, a solo shot that ended up beyond the right field fence.  He hit it on an 0-2 count; he had taken two curveballs for strikes.  He then received an eighty-two mile-per-hour slider and clobbered it.

Other than that, we went down in order in the first and fifth, Pedroia doubled in the third as the inning’s only baserunner, and same with Ross’s single in the fourth and Aviles’s singles in the seventh and ninth.  The eighth inning was the only inning during which we didn’t score in which we had more than one baserunner; Pedroia walked and Loney singled.

So this is the second time in the last two weeks that the Angels have swept us.  You can’t help thinking that, all else being equal, if only Lester’s first four innings were like his last four, we would have won with those two runs we scored.  Well, at least the bullpen got a rest.  By the way, we are eight games under .500 and eleven games away from the Wild Card, in case you were wondering.

The Kansas City Star

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Ugh.  That was a very difficult loss to take.  Not that we haven’t seen plenty like that already.  Then again, that’s part of what makes it so difficult to take.  In addition to the fact that you just don’t ever actually want to lose, I’m just so tired of losing all these games that we could just as easily win.  If we could just as easily win as lose, we should just win and be done with it.  We shouldn’t have had to lose this game.

I will say that Buchholz wasn’t stellar.  But he wasn’t terrible either.  He gave up four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out five over seven innings.  The second pitch he fired was hit for a solo shot, and then he gave up a walk and a single before getting a strikeout and then allowing a run on a sac fly.  He didn’t cause any further damage until the sixth, when he gave up another solo shot and another walk that turned into a run on a double.

In short, Buchholz was decent.  He wasn’t bad, and he wasn’t good.  He simply had a mediocre outing.  And the reason why it’s mediocre is because lately he’s been pitching so incredibly well.  If he had continued to pitch like he had when he was struggling during the first half, we might be labeling this a stellar start.  But it’s all relative.  For some pitchers this is stellar, and for some it isn’t.  Ideally, it shouldn’t be stellar for anyone on our staff; if this is what our pitchers’ off days were to look like, we’d be in great shape.

Anyway, it looked like Buchholz was receiving just enough support to get by.  After two quick groundouts in the second, Salty provided an answer for one of the Angels’ two runs.  The count was full, and he received a seventy-three mile-per-hour curveball that he clobbered out of the park toward right field.  He was all power, and he used that cannon of a swing of his and that ball was history.

Not so the Angels’ lead quite yet.  We tied it up and went ahead in the fourth.  Perdroia and Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles, and Lavarnway walked to load the bases.  Loney then singled in Pedroia, Salty singled in Ellsbury, and Kalish grounded into a double play that plated Loney.  So it wasn’t exactly a grand slam, but we manufactured our own runs and ended up clearing the originally loaded bases.  Lavarnway added some insurance in the sixth when he hit a sac fly that brought in Ellsbury, who had singled to start the inning.  Then, of course, Buchholz allowed more runs in the bottom of the sixth, but even with those runs we were still on top by one.  So the entity that would decide our fate in this one was the relief corps, specifically Aceves, who was reinstated and given the ball in the eighth.

He went one-two-three in the eighth.  One inning down, one to go, and we didn’t score in the top of the ninth, so it was all him.  And what did he do? He blew it.  He blew the save.  He induced a flyout but then hit a batter who stole second, issued a walk, and then gave up a single – it was barely a hit; it only just barely got past Pedroia’s dive – that scored one to tie it and then a sac fly that sealed the deal.

It was the Angels who walked away with the win, not us, and they did it in walkoff fashion.  Aceves was rewarded with a well-deserved blown save as well as a well-deserved loss.  The irony was that he was suspended because he marched into Bobby V.’s office and was angry that he wasn’t given the ball in Friday’s save situation.  But it’s pretty difficult to give him sympathy after last night’s performance, that’s for sure.

Tuscon Citizen

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Well, it’s been to the headlines and back by now, and anyone familiar with how baseball works would know that there was no chance in the world that this was going to stay quiet until the formalities were taken care of.  So let’s talk about it.

We just sent most of our core to the Dodgers, in keeping with their doubling as the Los Angeles Blue Sox.  And when I say that it was most of our core, I mean that literally.  Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto.  They all involved waivers.  All but one of those were starters for us, and Punto did see more than his fair share of playing time as a utility man off the bench.  In return, we will receive four prospects (right-hander Allen Webster, infielder Ryan De Jesus, and two more to be named), a first baseman (Jason Loney), and financial flexibility.  There is no question about the fact that this is one of the largest waiver deals ever and certainly the largest in recent baseball history.

Obviously this is a huge deal, both literally and figuratively.  Beckett has obviously struggled this year, as have Crawford and Gonzalez and Punto, although much less than Beckett.  So if Ben wanted to make some sort of wave by getting rid of somebody big, he could have just gotten rid of Beckett and have been done with it.  That would have been the obvious action, if there were one at all.  But to ship out all four of these guys, especially Gonzalez? Was that really necessary? Regardless of who these prospects might be and what this flexibility might look like, is this really the best thing for our future? Or is it a short-term quick fix to show the Nation that the brass is at least doing something and that this really was a bridge year? Furthermore, does this mean that the brass has sided with Bobby V. rather than the players regarding the issue of his managerial style, or does this have nothing to do with that at all because it’s based strictly on performance, or lack thereof? But if it does have to do with that, how certain are the brass that the solution indeed involved the players rather than the manager and coaches?

Punto finishes his lone season with us, which wasn’t even a whole season, with a batting average of .200, an on-base percentage of .301, and a slugging percentage of .272.  He has had 125 at-bats in sixty-five games; he has twenty-five hits to his credit as well as ten RBIs and fourteen runs.  He has walked nineteen times and stolen five bases.  He has played every infield position this year and has made only two errors.

Crawford departs after having played almost two season here.  Last season was better in terms of playing time, while this season was better in terms of performance.  He finishes this season with us with a batting average of .282, an on-base percentage of .306, and a slugging percentage of .479.  He has had 117 at-bats in thirty-one games; he has thirty-three hits to his credit as well as nineteen RBIs and twenty-three runs.  He has walked three times and stolen five bases.  He has made only one error in the field.

Gonzalez also departs after having played almost two seasons here, but it feels like so much more because he has so easily become a fixture on this team.  He historically has been known for his great leadership and team presence, both in the clubhouse and on the field.  He always seemed to be really enthusiastic about playing here, and he usually let his production do the talking.  And it talked a lot.  His average last year was a cool .338, and it was hard to imagine him not getting up there and whacking some ball for extra bases every time.  He certainly did struggle at the beginning of the season but has since started to bounce back quite nicely.  His average is now at .300, and he has an on-base percentage of .343 and slugging percentage of .469.  He’s had 484 at-bats in 123 games; he has 145 hits to his credit as well as eighty-six RBIs and sixty-three runs.  He has walked thirty-one times and stolen no bases, but that’s alright because his job, unlike Crawford’s, is not even partially to steal bases.  His job is to hit for extra bases, and that he can do.  He hasn’t hit any triples, but he’s hit thirty-seven doubles and fifteen home runs.  And in addition to first base he has also played right field this year because he’s a team player, and when the team needed him, he didn’t ask questions; he just slid right in there, and he did an impressive job at that.  He made four errors this year, two in right and two at first.

Beckett, of course, is the most storied of the four.  He’s certainly been here the longest, so he’s given us more memories, some good and some bad but all unique.  He came here in 2006 and had a subpar season.  In 2007 he went twenty and seven, and everyone but those in the position to award the Cy Young knew that he was the one who deserved it, regardless of the fact that he was a huge reason why we won the World Series that year.  His start in Game One was phenomenal.  It was a real gem.  He retired nine batters, including his first four, and gave up only one run.  2008 was another mediocre year, but 2009 saw him largely back to his old self, finishing the season with a record of seventeen and six.  2010 was an abysmal year, and of course last year was decent; his record was thirteen and seven, so he won almost twice as many games as he lost.  And then we have this year.  This year he’s five and eleven with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.  He’s pitched 127.1 innings and given up seventy-four earned runs on 131 hits, sixteen of which were home runs; incidentally, he’s only allowed one unearned run.  He has given up thirty-eight walks as well.  So, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not like every single season he’s been here except for this one has been an unabashed success.  Far from it.  But when he’s been successful, he’s been really, really, really successful.  And of course there’s his personality.  Rumor had it that he was partly if not completely responsible for the deterioration of our clubhouse and has been widely associated with the instigation of beer-drinking and whatnot within it.  As I said at the time when all of this was news, none of us were actually there, and we can’t know what really went on.  All we know is that, despite his mile-wide competitive streak and work ethic, Beckett has not been performing well at all on the mound.

On the eve of the departures of these players, we salute their commitment to this team and the accomplishments that they achieved during their stay here.  In the spirit of the tribute, therefore, Punto, Crawford, and of course Gonzalez as well as Beckett, we’ll miss you and we salute you.  Now, as far as the implications of the deal and what it all means, there are things I said and there are things I didn’t necessarily overtly say.  But in reality I said a lot.  Ultimately, our task now is to see what we end up doing during our offseason.

We lost to the Royals in extras last night, but it really wasn’t Cook’s fault.  Cook, for his part, did an extremely admirable job, especially when you consider the fact that he made this start on three days’ rest.  He gave up three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out none over six innings.  He gave up all three runs in the first thanks to a double that brought in two and then a single that brought in one.  He then cruised for the remainder of his outing.  Meanwhile, our hitters put us on top.  The Royals may have scored three runs, but we answered with four in the second.  Gomez hit a solo shot, the first homer of his Major League career, and then Salty and Lavarnway hit back-to-back singles to set the table for Aviles, who went yard on the first pitch he saw, sending the ball out toward the Monster.  And the third inning only served to solidify the fact that we were in control.  Pedroia doubled, Ellsbury walked, and Ross singled to load the bases; thanks to a single by Gomez as well as a Royals error, we scored another two runs plus a third thanks to a sac fly by Salty.  We just kept piling it on in the fourth; Ciriaco walked, and Ellsbury singled two outs later.  Ross and Gomez added their consecutive singles to Ellsbury’s to go back-to-back-to-back and plate two more runs.

So by the time Cook’s appearance came to an end, we were leading, 9-3.  And I have to say, I was feeling pretty comfortable with how I expected this game to turn out.  I mean, we just scored nine runs, and we did it with everything: long ball, small ball; you name it, we did it.  And we had a six-run lead to boot.  But I should have expected that no lead would possibly have been safe.

Because then the seventh inning happened, and the seventh inning was when our entire relief corps ruined it completely, imploded totally, and embodied the epitome of an epic fail.  First, it was Miller, who allowed a groundout, a single, a strikeout, two consecutive walks, and an RBI single that scored two.  Then Melancon came on and gave up an RBI double and an RBI single.  Then Breslow came on and gave up a triple that scored two and then managed to finish the inning with an intentional walk followed by a groundout.

Breslow pitched the eighth, Bailey pitched the ninth, Padilla pitched the tenth, and Tazawa pitched the eleventh and most of the twelfth.  He gave up a walk, a double, and finally the single that scored the winning run.  Mortensen replaced him after that and ended the inning.  And we threatened a bit in the eighth, when Ellsbury got himself to third with two out, and in the tenth, when Ciriaco was thrown out at home.  But we didn’t score since the fourth, so we allowed our lead to be completely squandered and lost, 10-9, even though we outhit them, 20-14.

And as an added reflection of the badness of our entire situation, Aceves reportedly slammed the door on his way into Bobby V.’s office after Friday’s game and has been suspended for three games for conduct detrimental to the team.

AP Photo

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