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Posts Tagged ‘Jason Vargas’

Who does Nick Green think he is? Julio Lugo? What was up with that? It’s bottom of the ninth, two out, nobody on, score tied at 2-2.  Ronny Cedeno hit a ball to Nick Green, who caught it and fired to Jeff Bailey at first.  Except that he threw high.  Really high.  Like at least five feet above Bailey’s head.  I mean the ball went out of the park and into the camera well.  So Cedeno ends up taking second base.  Then Franklin Gutierrez stroked a single through the gap in right field to plate Cedeno, and that was the end of it.  We lose, 2-3.  We had two errors on the day, both committed by Green.  There was that one and then a fielding error.  Unbelievable.  Just when Lugo actually starts to hit and look like maybe he can field after all, or at least start contributing runs to account for his own mistakes, he leaves the lineup and Green starts in with this.  That’s just what we need.  We could’ve just gone into extra innings and probably won it, but no, sir.  No, we had to lose this one in the bottom of the ninth and give up the series.  Well, that’s just wonderful.  Did I mention we’re now three games behind Toronto and only one and a half above New York? We have a three-game series against Toronto starting tomorrow night, and everyone better be in ship-shape, because that’ll be no time for any nonsense like this.

Varitek and Drew each had an RBI.  Tek hit a sac fly in the second.  Drew hit a solo shot, and when I say a shot I mean a shot.  Leading off the fourth inning, Vargas threw him a 2-0 fastball at the belt.  Why anyone would ever do that, I don’t know.  But I won’t complain, and neither will JD Drew.  The ball was gone.  I mean he clobbered it.  He buried it in the back of the lower tier center field seats, and that’s hard to do because Safeco Field is a pitcher’s park.  It’s not as hitter-friendly as it may look.  But Vargas had no chance.

In the sixth, Rob Johnson bunted a ball off his hand, and he and Wladimir Balentien thought it was foul.  Turns out it was fair but Johnson never ran to reach base so Tek threw him out.  Meanwhile, Balentien, assuming it was foul, began his stroll to second base, only to see Lowell fire to Green who tagged him out.  And that’s what happens when you play us and you sleep on the job.  And then, in the seventh, Pedroia made one of his signature spectacular plays yet again.  Ichiro hits a line drive on the ground between Pedroia and Bailey, so Pedroia runs over, slides around to make the catch, and fires to Bailey to record the out.  No hesitation.  All precision.  The man is a beast.  Only Pedroia could’ve made this play; anyone else, and it’s an infield hit.  What a play.

It’s a terrible, terrible shame that Masterson had to accept a no decision on this, because it really was an excellent start.  6.1 innings, two runs on nine hits, six strikeouts, a solo shot to Russell Branyan to lead off the second, but no walks.  No walks whatsoever.  Delcarmen and Okajima pitched perfectly; Delcarmen’s ERA is back under 1.00 now.  And Ramon Ramirez had to take the loss that really should’ve gone to Green.  But it was an earned run, so what can you do.

David Ortiz is coming back tomorrow but probably won’t bat third.  Youk is playing a game today and tomorrow with the PawSox and should return Wednesday.

On a lighter note, I’d like to congratulate Dave Roberts on his first fan sign.  It was a couple that just got engaged in the fourth inning.  Of course, we all want Jerry Remy to make a speedy recovery and return, but I also have to say that Dave Roberts is doing an excellent job.

So we have an off day today and then we’re back in action tomorrow against Toronto, like I said.  And everyone better be at their best, like I said.  We have the potential here to get into first place.  We need to make the most of this series; we can’t let this series make the most of us.  This is huge.  I never  thought I’d say this, but this first series with Toronto is probably the most important of the series so far.  And I never thought I’d say this, but we’re lucky because Wakefield will be pitching in the first game.  So hopefully we’ll start the series off on a high note and go from there.

NESN.com

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And hold it together he did.  Josh Beckett, ladies and gentlemen! That was his first Beckett-esque start since Opening Day, and he was all over it.  Easily his best work since then.  He was top-notch, precise, efficient, hit all his spots.  He was on, and he was bringing it.  And he kept the ball down.  Many of his issues stem from the fact that he was allowing the ball to hang a little high, but that was not a problem last night.  He went deep, working seven innings, and threw 120 pitches, 81 of which were strikes.  That’s about a 68% strike rate.  Very nice.  And over those seven innings, he gave up only four hits and only two earned runs.  Three walks.  Twelve groundouts, four flyouts, and five strikeouts.  And only one home run this time.  (He really shouldn’t give up any long balls, but at this point after a start like that I won’t complain.) Okajima, Ramirez, and Paps pitched the final three innings.  Ramirez’s ERA is down to 0.44, and Paps’s ERA is down to 1.06, the seventh-lowest in the American League for a pitcher who’s worked at least ten frames.  All three relievers got a hold, Paps recorded his tenth save (he’s now ten for ten, and may I say we’re undefeated when leading after six innings), and Beckett, my friends, got a very well-deserved win.  He lowers his ERA to 5.85 and improves to 4-2.

What’s interesting is that Beckett’s workload has been massive, and I’m curious to see how that’ll be handled as the season progresses.  One could argue that Beckett’s last few starts have been better than most this season, but through eight starts he’s thrown 876 pitches.  That’s second-most in the Major Leagues, only two pitches behind CC Sabathia.  In four of his outings, he’s thrown at least 113 pitches, the purpose of most of those being to get him out of jams.  So we’ll have to see how this impacts his schedule down the stretch.  The last thing we want is for him to be burned out come October, so we may have to rest him later on in the year.  And I’d much rather rest him than have him strain or fatigue something and be placed on the DL.

We won by a score of 5-3.  All of our runs were scored exclusively by home runs.  First it was Bay in the first, launching a two-run homer with two outs.  It was his first pitch of the game, and there was no way on Earth that ball was staying inside the park.  I mean it just flew off his bat past left field into the back of the bullpen.  What a rocket.  That was one of the most powerfully hit long balls I’ve seen from him this season.  And that’s why you don’t throw fastballs to Jason Bay, who bats clean-up for a reason.  I’m telling you, he’s quietly established himself as one of the game’s best outfielders, hitters, and sluggers.  You want to have a conversation about power, from now on that conversation includes Jason Bay.  So at that point we were up, 2-0.  Enter Jason Varitek in the second with a man on and a man on first.  And he buries a ball in the bullpen in left field as well.  That’ll be the fifth of the season for the captain.  And it was smart hitting, too.  The pitch was a little up and away, but Tek was standing close to the plate and man, did he pull that.  Absolutely outstanding.  In the bottom of that frame, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a two-run homer of his own off Beckett, not surprisingly on a 95 mile-per-hour above-the-belt fastball, and heading into the fifth it was 4-3.  But Jeff Bailey quickly took care of that with a leadoff first-pitch solo shot to the left of the bullpen in left field.  So all three home runs landed in roughly the same place, and all three had to have been hard-hit to get there.  Sweet!

Julio Lugo made a throwing error and left the game with a groin strain.  I never thought I’d say this, but I hope it’s nothing serious because he’s been doing really well lately.  In the bottom of the first, Jacoby Ellsbury made a phenomenal sliding catch to rob Ichiro Suzuki of a base hit.  The kid does it all.

Dice-K could be back as early as Friday.  Youk is set to start rehabbing with the PawSox soon.  Ortiz will probably be out until Tuesday at the earliest.  That’s fine.  He can take all the time he needs to get himself back on track, because when he does it’ll be worth it.

So all in all that was one awesome ballgame.  It had great pitching, great hitting, and great fielding.  And it was a win.  Basically, it had it all.  I think that was the first ballgame I watched in a while during which I wasn’t worrying about something, either the pitching or someone slumping or whatever the case may be.  Everything was spic-and-span, and I felt like we were really ourselves: awesome.  We’re two games out of first, but if we continue playing like we did last night, that’s the smallest first-place lead Toronto could possibly have.  They won’t be able to hold onto that for long.  It’s Masterson at Vargas tonight.  Keep it going.

AP Photo

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