Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Kellogg’

Alright.  So.  With the last two games of the Toronto series done, we find the season halfway done as well.  That’s a pretty scary thought.  It seems like only yesterday we were in the dead of winter, itching to get going, and frustrated with our first month.  Now, we’ve finished the first three and are rooting for Papi in the Home Run Derby tonight.  Time flies when you’re having fun!

Our last two games were pretty much opposites of each other.  They perfectly captured our entire first half, actually.  Simply put, we lost on Saturday in a big way and won yesterday in a not-so-big but equally significant way.

Saturday’s final score was 9-5, and unfortunately it definitely wasn’t the first time we’ve lost a day game this season.  Drew walked with the bases loaded in the first, Nava and Papi doubled in three runs in the second, and Scutaro hit an RBI single in the third.  It was extremely frustrating, mostly because he entire game was one huge manifestation of the worst luck ever.  Cameron got called out on strikes in the seventh and was so frustrated he got himself ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg.  It’s just as well; he got plunked on the wrist with a ninety-mile-per-hour fastball in the third.  (Hey, if he had to get plunked, his timing was excellent.  He sat out yesterday’s game but has the break.  He should be back in action when we start the second half.) Tito followed suit.  We struck out a grand total of twelve times, seven looking and five swinging.  Even though we went into the game second-highest in the AL in walks, we only walked twice.  Lackey didn’t help much.  He was absolutely terrible.  He left with two outs in the fifth inning, when Lewis tried to check his swing and ended up batting in two.  He gave up seven runs on eight hits in that brief appearance.  He walked six while pitching to a team that, heading into the game, struck out 663 times.  He struck out only two.  He fired 106 pitches.  He picked up the loss, and very rightly so.  He was extraordinarily hittable and inefficient.  So the top third of the lineup did all the offensive work, the bottom two-thirds spent most of their time hitting balls right to guys, and somehow the Jays hit pitches that were supposed to be some of Lackey’s best of the day.

We somewhat avenged ourselves yesterday afternoon, when we won, 3-2, thanks to a strong showing from Dice-K.  He gave up two runs on six hits in six innings, which for him is apparently a long outing, with no walks as a nice change of pace and five K’s.  He threw eighty-eight pitches, sixty-two of which were strikes, and picked up the win.  Even more impressive was that he barely had a cushion at all; the final score was 3-2, and we scored all of our runs in the sixth inning, all three via the long ball.  McDonald snapped the lack of score by sending a ball way deep into left field with Scutaro on base.  He has certainly proven himself to be one of the most significant members of our lineup during this first half.  Seriously.  We have fourteen guys on the fifteen-day disabled list right now, and without contributions from players like McDonald, I don’t even want to think about what the standings would look like.  Papi then went back-to-back with a homer of his own in preparation for tonight’s theatrics.  One of two things I didn’t appreciate was the fact that the roof of the Rogers Centre broke.  You read right.  It broke, and it only happened halfway, which created some conditions for the hitters and pitchers that were interesting at best and incredibly annoying at least.  McDonald said he’d never played in such conditions before, and Papi claimed he just closed his eyes and swung the bat.  Either way, it worked out.  Then Bard got the old and Paps got the save.  Boom.  Done.  The other thing I didn’t appreciate was that Beltre left in the sixth with a left hamstring issue.  He wanted to stay in the game, but Tito, being ever-cautious when basically our entire team is just finding ways to get itself on the DL, took him out.  He thinks he’ll be able to play in the All-Star Game but isn’t sure yet.  If he does play, that better not impede his ability to come back strong for the second half.

So we’re still three games behind the Rays and five behind the Yankees, but I don’t think any of us would’ve believed that we’d end the first half in such a solid position if you asked us in April.  We enter the break fifty-one and thirty-seven.  So we can at least be happy about that, and we can also be happy about an entire second half of baseball to be played! We start the second half against the Rangers.  Wake will open the series, followed by Buchholz, Lackey, Lester, and Dice-K.  I like the idea of Wake pitching on eight days of rest.  And that’s pretty much a wrap of the first half.  Wow.  Time really does fly.  See you on the other side.

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Jon Lester was this close to throwing a perfect game.  He carried the bid into the seventh inning.  The seventh inning! Six-plus literally perfect innings! I don’t even want to think about how hard it is for a pitcher to throw something like that.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s absolutely insane.  And it was Lester! Yeah, he’s back.  I think by now that’s the understatement of the century.  If the kid can throw six-plus perfect innings, he’s so back it’s not even funny.  I mean he was on.  He was so on it was scary.  Batter up, batter down.  Plain and simple.  Perfection.  But then with one out in the seventh, Michael Young doubled to left center, and that was the end of it.  It was devastating.  Like I always say, at least it was clean.  But at the time you don’t think about that.  At the time you’re just really, really, really frustrated and disappointed.  But it just goes to show you that a perfect game for Lester isn’t a pipe dream.  The kid just pitched a no-hitter, and he went for perfection last night.  It was a serious possibility.  And even after the bid was broken, the result most definitely wasn’t too shabby.  A complete game (a big thank-you from the bullpen), a run on two hits, two walks, and a new career high of eleven strikeouts.  Eleven.  Did I mention he’s back?

And so was the offense.  We won, 8-1.  It was awesome.  Plenty of everything: runs, RBIs, walks, hits, homers; you name it, we did it.  Let’s start with Lowell, who hit, walked, scored, and plated one via the long ball, but not without some commiseration on the part of the umpires.  The ball hit the upper part of that ledge on the Green Monster a few feet from the foul pole in left field, and Jeff Kellogg initially ruled that the ball stayed inside the park.  But we’ve been down this road before, and the call for that scenario is always that it’s out.  The umpires used instant replay, and sure enough the call was reversed to give Lowell his ninth of the year in the second inning, a solo shot that proved to be what started it all, because after that the slugfest continued.  Pedroia went two for five with two runs, and two RBIs.  Ellsbury walked.  Youk had a hit and an RBI.  Bay had a hit and two RBIs.  Tek and Baldelli both hit, walked, and scored.  Green scored.  And let’s end with Big Papi, who hit home run number two! Sixth inning, nobody on, nobody out, high changeup, and it hits the Pesky Pole.  Nicely done.

James Wright, president of Dartmouth College, threw out the first pitch last night.  He’s retiring after eleven years of the presidency and forty years of service to the college, so that was a nice touch.  Smoltz tossed six innings with the PawSox.  It was his fourth rehab start, but his first with the PawSox and his longest so far.  The PawSox won, 2-1, and he threw 51 of 74 pitches for strikes.  Not bad.  And this week is draft week.  I’m psyched.  True, we’re far from a first pick, but that’s the price you pay when you’re good.  And knowing Theo and Jason McLeod, our scouting director, they’ll still be able to work wonders.

Wow.  So we had no-no bids by Wake and Beckett and now a perfect game bid by Lester.  You’d think Dice-K would be next in line, followed by Penny at the rate our starting rotation is going.  Congratulations to Wake, Beckett, and Lester for more-than-solid efforts and for almost getting it done.  To be completely honest, eventually they probably will.  And when that happens, believe me, we’ll have some things to talk about.  Meanwhile, we’re back in first place by half a game, and Dice-K is pitching opposite Vicente Padilla this afternoon.  Hopefully, the Rangers will have been thoroughly demoralized by Lester’s performance and Dice-K’s job will be that much easier.

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