Posts Tagged ‘JD Drew’

While Theo is busy taking kudos in Chicago, we still don’t have any news on his compensation, but life goes on.  Eight members of the team filed for free agency; none of the filings are surprising: Conor Jackson, Trever Miller, Bedard, Drew, Wake, Tek, Papi, and Paps.  Okay, maybe I was surprised that Drew chose to file instead of retire.  But everyone knew the rest of them were going to be filing.

Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about whether to keep Papi and Paps on board.  The difficulty with Papi is that he’ll want more money for more years, although his recent performance, certainly in the last season, suggests that that’s warranted.  Paps wants more money.  Like, a lot more money.  You might say we can afford to lose him because we have Bard, but I have a feeling that you won’t know how valuable it was having Bard as a closer-esque setup man packing that one-two punch with Paps unless Paps were to leave and then you’d be fishing around for an eighth inning guy as good as all that.  Trust me, it wouldn’t be Jenks, folks.

As far as Wake and Tek go, we don’t have much to lose by keeping them.  Their market value is relatively low as it is; it’s not like they can leverage high demand to induce a bigger deal from us.  Tek’s powers of leadership are here with this team; it’s unclear how valuable he’d be in another clubhouse since that was always his main contributor anyway, especially in recent years when his plate production has markedly decreased, although it is worth noting that he seemed to share in Tito’s experience of having his leadership be less effective this past year.  Either that or he pulled back on his leadership.  Either way, the results were the results; how much that had to do with Tek is unclear.  Regarding Wake, he’s still an effective pitcher, more so in the bullpen now than as a starter; I guess age does eventually take its toll even on a knuckleballer.  So Wake will have to figure out if he’d be satisfied as a reliever.  Ben, like Theo, will be unlikely to dish out coin if he’s not absolutely sure that he’s paying for the player’s worth alone; if Ben is interested in retaining Wake as a reliever but Wake wants to start and demands a starter’s salary, that could potentially be a problem.

Speaking of Ben, apparently he graduated from Lebanon High School in 1992, so the school has reportedly posted a sign out front that says, “Congratulations Ben Cherington Class of ’92 Free Tickets?” Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Jackson, Miller, and Bedard were late-season playoff fixes that we obviously didn’t end up needing.  The decision of whether to retain them doesn’t strike me as epically impactful, although given the fact that we’re technically short a starter now, Bedard may make sense if there’s no one better out there.

We picked up Scutaro’s option, probably as insurance until Jose Iglesias is ready to permanently assume the starter’s role.  We declined options on Wheeler and Atchison.

Congratulations to Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Pedroia on their Gold Gloves! And congratulations to Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Papi on their Silver Sluggers! All very well deserved; I can’t think of anyone who deserved them more.  Finally, congratulations to Luis Tiant for landing on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.  It’s about time!

Lackey had his Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.  Supposedly it went well.

This week, the managerial interviews began.  First up was Phillies hitting coach Pete Mackanin.  Then we had Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, our former third base coach.  We’ve got Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Cleveland bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr.  Of those four, Mackanin and Maddux would obviously be preferable, which is why Theo is interviewing them also.

Add to our growing list of vacancies a strength and conditioning coach and an assistant athletic trainer.  Apparently we fired Dave Page and Greg Barajas.

Also worth noting is the fact that the Mets will construct a few walls in Citi Field for the explicit purpose of decreasing the size of the field.  Among those walls will be an eight-foot installment in front of the sixteen-foot Great Wall of Flushing, between which will be built a new section of seats a la the Green Monster.  As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the most blatant agenda-pushing moves I’ve ever seen.  So they constructed an enormous ballpark that is forcing well-paid power hitters, like David Wright and, oh, yeah, Jason Bay, to struggle.  Big deal.  You don’t see any other ballclub undergoing offseason construction to shrink the field size just to increase home run production to make more money.  That is ridiculous, and I’m surprised that it’s being allowed.  Maybe Bud Selig is considering it yet another step forward toward making baseball even more popular; we all know how much he praises the home run as a tool to accomplish that.  But still.  I can’t believe this is flying under the radar.

In other news, the Pats lost to the Steelers, 25-17.  Before the season started, I think we all picked that one as a possible loss.  At least the score was respectable.  The Bruins scored a ton of goals this week.  We beat the Sens, 5-3, and then we absolutely buried the Leafs, 7-0.  Tyler Seguin posted his first-ever NHL hat trick en route.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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I had high hopes for this game.  Very high hopes.  After all, it is the Orioles, and we are throwing Beckett.  Oh, wait.

Beckett lasted six innings.  He gave up six runs on seven hits, two of which were home runs, the first a solo shot with one out in the second and the second a three-runner with two out in the sixth.  That three-run home run was an inside-the-park home run.  Ellsbury looked like he was about to make a particularly Ellsbury-esque catch, the kind of catch that only Ellsbury could make.  Instead, he collided with the wall and lost the ball.  It was the first inside-the-park homer the Orioles have hit at home and the first we’ve allowed since 2006.  Thankfully, Ellsbury is okay.  The game’s result, not so much.

Beckett walked four and struck out five.  He threw 108 pitches, seventy-one of which were strikes.  What can I say? He didn’t have it.  We’d just played fourteen innings against New York and some terrible games overall this month.  We needed a big night.  He didn’t deliver.

We actually struck first.  The bases were loaded with two out in the first, but Lowrie flied out.  What a waste of an opportunity.  We plated one in the second; Drew led off the inning in the first and was out on a force by Scutaro, who scored on a double by Ellsbury with a little help from some bad fielding.  Lowrie must have felt really bad about that because he homered to lead off the fourth on the second pitch of the at-bat, a changeup he walloped to right field.

We didn’t have many opportunities after that until the eighth, when the bases were loaded with one out and Salty and Scutaro both blew it.  Then Ellsbury was hit in the ninth and scored on a single by Pedroia.

And that was it.  Aceves and Weiland pitched the last two innings.  And they were scoreless.  Not that that counts for anything at all whatsoever, since we lost, 6-3.

To recap our predicament, we are now officially tied for the Wild Card with the Rays with two games left to play in the regular season.  In the month of September, our record is six and nineteen with a nine-game drop in the standings, and exactly one month ago today was the last time we had even a two-game winning streak.  On August 17, our Wild Card lead was ten games.  If we don’t right this ship, like, immediately, we will be the first team in the history of the existence of the Wild Card to blow a double-digit lead.  We’re Boston fans.  We believe.  We’ll always believe.  But words can not describe the anger, frustration, denial, and fear that Red Sox Nation is currently experiencing.

We have to win today.  At the very least, Johnny Pesky deserves a happy ninety-second birthday.

In other news, the Pats lost a close one to the Bills, 34-31.  It should never have come to that.

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I hope it doesn’t take Wake as long to get win number 201 as it did for him to get win number two hundred.  We lost the opener.  Wake gave up five runs, three earned, on five hits, including a two run shot with one out in the third.  There was a missed catch and a wild pitch in the first and a fielding error in the fifth.  He walked five, struck out four, lasted four innings, and threw eighty-two pitches, forty-seven of which were strikes.  Albers gave up another run before Atchison and Andrew Miller finished the game scoreless, Atchison having had to leave with a groin problem.

Ellsbury led off the fourth with a homer on a fastball to right center field.  It was a power blast.  He homered again in the sixth with one out on a sinker into the second deck in right field.  He is now the first player ever to achieve thirty-thirty in a single season.  That was the extent of our offense.  Ellsbury was our offense.  He went three for four; those three hits from him matched the total for the rest of the team combined.  But as we know, a team can not live on one man alone, which was proven by the final score of 6-2.

The nightcap lasted fourteen innings.  If we didn’t win it, it would have crushed me.  The very last thing we would have needed when we’re down and out with pitching, fielding, hitting, injuries, and standings was to play fourteen innings only to lose at the very end to the Yankees.  Thanks to Ellsbury, crisis averted.

It was Lackey of all people who broke the cycle and gave us our first quality start in a while.  Lackey gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits.  You can thank Tek and his throwing error in the first for that unearned run, which helped the Yanks put up a three-spot.  Lackey walked three and struck out four.  He threw eighty-six pitches, fifty-seven of which were strikes.  He was replaced by Aceves after allowing a single to start the seventh.  May I say that this is probably the most efficient I’ve ever seen him.  Most of the time, he’s thrown at least a hundred pitches by the time the seventh inning rolls around.  He kept his hit count down, which obviously helped a lot.  And the offense should have easily scored at least four runs.

We didn’t get on the board until the fifth, when Lowrie tripled and scored on a single by Drew, who’s back in action.  Crawford led off the sixth with a single and scored on a groundout by Gonzalez.  Lowrie led off the seventh with a double, and then back-to-back hits, a double for Scutaro and single for Tek, brought in two and gave us a one-run lead.

Aceves received a blown save for allowing his inherited runner to score and tie the game at four.  Then Bard, who issued two intentional walks in the ninth but ended the inning on a strikeout, and Paps, who threw twenty-two of twenty-nine pitches for strikes, held the fort for three-plus innings.  Morales pitched two scoreless frames and picked up the win; Doubront got the save.

We had one on in the eighth and two on in the ninth.  We had one on in the tenth and went down in order in the eleventh.  We had one on in the twelfth and thirteenth.  Let’s not forget that, also in the thirteenth, Pedroia picked a ball and fired from his knees to first for the first out of the inning, if he didn’t do that, we could have had a different outcome.

Aviles led off the fourteenth with a flyout.  McDonald came in to pinch-hit for Drew and singled.  Scutaro worked a seven- pitch walk.  Salty flied out.  Then Ellsbury took a curveball for a ball.

And then he smacked a three-run shot on a fastball into the bullpen.  It was exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it.  That was the final score right there.  7-4  What a relief.

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I don’t believe this.  Really.  I am having a lot of trouble accepting the outcome of this game.  This is not okay by any stretch of the imagination.  It is so completely opposite of what should have transpired.  I can’t fathom it.

It is inconceivable for several reasons.  First of all, we lost.  We lost to the Royals.  Not even the Orioles should be losing to the Royals.  We are the best offensive team in Major League Baseball.  This game should have been a blowout by the fifth inning.

Instead, not only did we lose to the Royals, but it took us fourteen innings to do it, and it was close.  The final score was 3-1.

See? Inconceivable.  Completely inconceivable.

Lester made his return and looked good.  This had nothing to do with him.  He pitched five and a third innings and gave up only one run on seven hits while walking two and striking out six.  He threw eighty-nine pitches, fifty-five of which were strikes.  Considering his target for the night was eighty-five pitches, that’s good to see.  He allowed a leadoff single in the sixth, followed by an RBI double, followed by a five-pitch walk, but he was pulled more because he’d surpassed his pitch count limit for the day.

His stuff was pretty good.  He gave up more way more hits than he usually would, and normally his strikeout total would be higher.  So he was a clearly a little rusty from his time off, and I don’t think the two-hour, twenty-one-minute rain delay helped either.  His sinker was as potent as ever, his cut fastball was almost as potent as ever, and his off-speed pitches were not great.  His best inning was far and away the third; it was one-two-three, ending in two consecutive swinging strikeouts.  He threw sixteen pitches.  His best inning pitch count-wise was the fourth; two singles followed by three consecutive outs, all on ten pitches.

Ultimately, he received a no-decision because the run he allowed tied the game.  With Drew on the DL with a left shoulder impingement (how timely), Reddick started in right again.  Papi walked and was out on a force by Crawford, who stole second base during Reddick’s at-bat; when Reddick doubled, he scored.

That’s right, folks.  The Royals’ one run tied the game, because we scored one run in the second inning, and that was all we scored through six.

We had runners at the corners in the fifth; nothing.  Same thing in the bottom of the ninth, prime for a walkoff; nothing (Crawford supposedly struck out on swing that he supposedly did not successfully check.  That is false.) We had two base runners in the eleventh via a single and an intentional walk; nothing.  Two singles in the twelfth; nothing.  A walk and a single in the thirteenth; nothing.

Three of those two-runner opportunities in extra innings came with less than two outs.  The twelfth was particularly maddening.  Reddick singled, Salty flied out, and Scutaro stepped up to bat.  A throwing error on a pickoff attempt of Reddick moved him to third.  Tim Bogar then signed for a suicide squeeze, so Reddick started going home.  Scutaro missed the sign.  He missed it.  He just missed it.  And he let the pitch go by, and Reddick was caught in a rundown.  Then Scutaro was out trying to stretch a single into a double.

Meanwhile, we’d gone through Albers, Bard, Paps, Morales, Wheeler, and finally Randy Williams, who ultimately took the loss because, in the top of the fourteenth, he allowed a double, a single, a successful sac bunt (the ball went in the air, so Gonzalez had no play because he was charging already), another single, and a successful sac fly.

Reddick doubled in the bottom of the fourteenth.  We did not come back.

This is profoundly enraging.  They collected twelve hits to our thirteen.  We both had eleven opportunities with runners in scoring position; they took advantage of three of them; we only took advantage of one.  They left nine on base; we left eleven on base.  They won; we lost.

Gonzalez went two for six, Papi went two for four, and Reddick went three for six.  Pedroia extended his hitting streak to twenty-two games.  Youk won’t play today due to a tight right hamstring he sustained while running out a ground ball in the sixth; he left the game in the seventh.  He gets points for hustling.  Apparently, though we need him in the lineup, because apparently we need all the help we can get against the Royals.

The bullpen obviously gets points for pitching almost a full game’s worth of shutout innings.  Salty gets points for throwing out two runners.  Reddick gets points for possibly saving the game in the tenth with a forward diving catch.  Crawford does not get points for striking out four times for the second time in his career.

We missed all sorts of scoring opportunities.  Scutaro missed a sign.  Ultimately, you could say the entire game was one huge miss.  It’s thoroughly embarrassing.  It’s inconceivable.  I have nothing more to say.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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This one, I obviously saw coming.  Seeing Beckett start after Lackey is sometimes really funny.  You have a model of consistency following a guy who’s become in Dice-K’s absence the model of inconsistency on this team.  Beckett is back to his old self again.  You see him going out there, and you know the team is going to win.

Beckett made quick work of the Mariners, but his hit count and pitch count were a little high.  In seven innings, he allowed one walk and one run on one solo shot.  It actually led off his last inning; it was a cutter, and it was the only mistake he made all night.  It was a full count, and Tek wanted the cutter away, but it went inside.

He struck out seven.  He allowed seven hits on 118 pitches, eighty-one of which were strikes.  That means that about sixty-nine of his pitches were strikes.  That’s ridiculously high.  So the high pitch count doesn’t bother me as much since the ratio of strikes to pitches is the same.  Also worth noting is that, aside from the home run, he gave up only one other extra-base hit: a double.  The rest were singles.

His only pitch that wasn’t totally amazing was his curveball, and he still threw it for strikes a little more than half the time.  Both of his fastballs as well as his cutter were indeed totally amazing.  His best pitch was his changeup.  About three quarters of the changeups he threw were strikes.

Let’s break down his strikeouts.  His first one came in the first inning on a cutter.  His second ended the second inning on a changeup.  His third was one-two-three; he didn’t post any K’s but induced three consecutive flyouts.  His fifth was one-two-three with two K’s; the first led off the inning and ended in a two-seam, and the second ended the inning on a four-seam.

He allowed only four runners on base through his first five innings.  He saw his worst jam in the sixth: two singles meant two runners on base in the same inning, who advanced a base on a groundout.  He posted one more strikeout after that with a changeup, followed by a flyout to end the inning.  His last K, the first out in the seventh right after the solo shot he gave up, was his last K of the day and his only called K.  It ended in a two-seam.  None of his strikeouts were achieved with only three pitches.

Incidentally, Beckett can thank Youk for the last out of that inning.  Beckett induced a ground ball, and Youk had to dive for it and had just enough time to make an off-balance throw to first that was still in time.

Actually, believe it or not, Beckett almost lost.  Since the solo shot occurred in the top of the seventh, he left down by one because we had failed to score up to that point.  If it weren’t for that solo shot, not only would the game have been a shutout through seven, but as always in baseball, there’s no guarantee that we would have pulled it together in the bottom of the frame.  Who knows? Maybe we would have had another supremely long scoreless marathon.

Crawford struck out swinging to start the bottom of the inning.  Clearly that was not promising.  Reddick flew out to left, and already two outs were on the board.

A quick note about Reddick.  He’s clearly ready to assume the role of a starter.  Since Drew is another model of consistency on the team, meaning of course that he’s consistently underproductive in every conceivable aspect of the game with the obvious exception of defense, it’s good to see Reddick get some regular playing time.  That will increase his sample size, and if he can earn a starting job during the second half of the season in the middle of a run to the playoffs, I’d say he’s got it.  Everyone knows it.  Theo knows it, Tito knows it, and Drew knows it.  One thing you have to admire about Drew, in addition to his defense, is that he’s a quiet guy.  He doesn’t get cranky and complain after every single failed at-bat, which would be really bad for the clubhouse.  If you had to have a guy on your team as consistently underproductive as Drew, Drew’s demeanor is perfectly suited for that role.  Of course, it’s ironic to say that about Reddick after he went 0 for 4 last night, but of course that’s just one game.  He almost got us on the board in the fourth; Papi doubled and moved to third on a single by Crawford, but Reddick’s fly ball wasn’t deep enough to allow him to score.  He tagged up but was thrown out at home.

Anyway, with two out in the inning, Tek singled.  Scutaro doubled, which could have scored Tek had a fan not reached out and taken the ball out of play.  In the end it didn’t matter because Ellsbury singled them both in.  But still.  You never know, so you should never do anything to affect the outcome of the ballgame (unless you’re on the team, and preferably unless it’s to affect it for the better).

Then Seattle made a pitching change, and Pedroia singled to extend his hitting streak to twenty games.  Then Seattle made a pitching change, and Gonzalez stepped up to bat.  Pedroia stole second, Ellsbury scored on a wild pitch, and Pedroia moved to third on a throwing error.  And Gonzalez ended up walking anyway.  Youk ended the inning by grounding into a force out.

Bard took the ball from Beckett and did not have a very good eighth.  He loaded the bases with nobody out.  He gave up a single and a four-pitch walk, and then a sac bunt turned into an infield hit.  Luckily he was able to get the three outs after that, on one of which he was extremely lucky, because he missed his location on the deciding pitch of a strikeout.  He ended up getting the strikeout, but as Beckett showed, we all know what happens when pitchers make mistakes.  Paps’s ninth was much better: a single and steal followed by three outs.

The final score was 3-1, and Beckett walked away a winner after all.  An interesting stat to let you know why we shouldn’t be surprised: we have now outscored the opposition 93-33 in the seventh inning.  I mean, it makes perfect sense.  Either you’ve got a starter out there who’s exhausted or a reliever who hasn’t had a chance to find his rhythm yet.  The Mariners shouldn’t be surprised either; they’ve now lost their last fourteen games, which sets a new club record.

Last but most certainly not least, we doff our caps to Tito, who with last night’s game earned his 715th win as our manager and the thousandth win of his managerial career! Here’s to you, Tito.  You gave us our first championship in eighty-six years in your first year here.  You gave us another one in 2007.  You made it through Manny Ramirez and other characters.  And you’ve done it all with the utmost class.  You’re one of the best ever.  Congratulations!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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