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Posts Tagged ‘Jensen Lewis’

I’m not going to ask how things could possibly get worse.  Anyone who has ever read even one comic strip knows that that’s just about the worst thing you can do.  If you ask how things could possibly get worse, they inevitably just get worse.  So I’m not going to ask that.  But I am going to think it, and I am going to think it very loudly.  Yesterday, we lost Youk for the rest of the season.  It turns out that this thumb wasn’t just jammed; he tore his adductor muscle, an injury very rare to ballplayers.  What are the chances? Anyway, he’ll need surgery on it, and that’s it.  He’s done until Spring Training.

Technically, this isn’t the end of the world.  Last night’s win shows that it can be done without him.  Of course, you could also say that the previous night’s mega-loss shows that it can’t be done without him.  Either way, we need to trust in the bench now.  On the bright side, due to our completely unprecedented amount of injuries this season, our bench has become quite, well, seasoned.  They’ve been given regular playing time to an extent they would only have dreamed off in another situation.  That means they’ve been able to develop a feel for the league, they’ve been able to get acquainted with the field, and they’ve been able to establish some offensive rhythm.  But the story is more complicated than that.  We’re talking about first base.  Nobody has seriously played at first regularly except Youk and V-Mart and sometimes Hall.  V-Mart and Hall are obviously needed elsewhere, so the only other logical choice for first is Lowell.  Who, and this is where the above thought comes in a second time, is ironically the only bench player who hasn’t had those opportunities because he’s also been on the DL.  That two-run homer was heartening, but look for Theo to make an emergency acquisition.  So technically we still can’t throw out this season.  We’ll just have to work that much harder to salvage it.  Much harder.  Much, much, much, much harder.

In the face of that, last night’s win was definitely a boost.  The final score was 6-1.  After the game got rolling when NESN remembered to turn off the lights in the booth, it was pretty fantastic.

Dice-K was exceptional.  He pitched eight full innings for the third time this year, gave up only one run on five hits, walked two, and struck out six.  Five of those K’s were swinging; the one looking strikeout was on a slider.  All on 109 pitches, seventy-four of which were strikes.  That’s a strike rate of sixty-eight percent.  That’s ridiculously high.  Other than the solo shot by Choo in the first, his third at-bat of the game, he made absolutely no mistakes.  His fastball was deadly; he worked it up to ninety-five miles per hour.  His cutter, curveball, and changeup were excellent.  And when he’s on like that, you really get a full sense of what a versatile pitcher he is.  He can throw almost any pitch in any count.  He needed at most twenty pitches in the third.  There are pitchers who’d be lucky to get through an inning with only twenty pitches; Dice-K historically has been one of them.  His efficiency was stellar.  He was just excellent.  And we needed that last night.  One of the things we learned in April and during that stretch when we almost reached first place is that good starts can make this team.  We got that last night, and we didn’t disappoint.

Then in the fourth, Scutaro singled and V-Mart and Drew both walked.  Then Beltre sent everyone home.  A grand slam into the Monster seats! Finally.  He’s done pretty much nothing with the bases loaded all season.  It’s the eighth of his career; he hit his last one all the way back on September 21, 2006.

At this rate, Beltre should win MVP this year.  He’s batting a hot .336 with twenty homers and seventy-five RBIs.  I don’t think anyone expected that.  I think everyone expected his defense to be his strength, and ironically his defense has been some of the worst we’ve ever seen.

Drew padded the lead in the eighth with a two-run single.  We turned out not to need them, but I will never be one to complain about scoring too many runs, especially not at a time like this.  Not needing insurance runs is a luxury we can’t afford not to enjoy.

Okajima gave up a run in the ninth and subsequently announced his sore right hamstring, which would explain the awfulness of his recent work.  All I’m saying is that it’s good he actually spoke up about it.  The last time he had some explaining to do, he ducked out of the clubhouse, and one thing we learned from the Manny Ramirez fiasco is that you need to explain your own mistakes, not expect your teammates to do it for you.

So he was taken out after recording the first out of the ninth, having done so after giving up a walk and two singles, and Paps came in, devoid of his day off.  With the tying run on deck, Paps made the save.

Cleveland’s third base coach, Steve Smith, who was also ejected at the time, will serve a two-game suspension, while Lewis, Beckett, Cameron, Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Youk were all fined for the brawl.

What bothers me about this win is that we earned all of our runs on two hits.  We’ve been hitting a lot of home runs lately, which is very good, but we haven’t manufactured many runs or played much small ball.  And that’s bad.  Because while it’s also a luxury to exploit a pitcher’s mistakes, you can’t simply wait for a pitcher to make a mistake to score your runs.  You have to score your own runs yourself.  Our first ten batters stepped up and then promptly stepped down.  However, the most important thing is that we won, period.  We need to think about the fact that we picked up the win and are going on the most important road trip to play the most important series of the season with some momentum.  We’re playing four in the Bronx, and it is absolutely imperative that we play extremely well this weekend.  This is crucial.  And it starts, hopefully on a high note, with Buchholz opposite Vazquez.  We’ve got work to do.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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That’s the only way I can describe last night.  I experienced pain when I watched that.  I honestly felt like I was in some strange alternate universe.  Garza was making a bid for a perfect game into the sixth.  It was a very surreal experience, like an especially bad nightmare, only worse, because it was real.  Awful.  Just awful.  Beckett took the loss, and rightly so.  Only 4.2 innings and he gives up seven runs on ten hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.  One home run, the first of Michel Hernandez’s Major League career, and an ERA of 7.22.  All I have to say to Hernandez is that he should enjoy it, because he won’t be hitting another homer off Beckett anytime soon.  But seriously.  He reached one hundred pitches in the fifth.  I don’t know who this guy is or what he’s doing wearing Number 19, but he isn’t Josh Beckett.  I know Josh Beckett.  Josh Beckett would never pitch this way.  Which brings me to my next point: I have no idea what’s going on with him.  We know he’s healthy.  That was his problem last year, that and the long balls, but this year he’s fine and in great shape.  So I don’t know.  He started the game fine, had a fourteen-pitch, one-two-three first inning, but it all went downhill from there.  But whatever it is, he needs to take care of it.  Now.  Right now.

But wait, it gets worse.  Hunter Jones gave up his first run of the year.  Fine.  It happens.  We knew the 0.00 ERA wouldn’t last for ever.  One bad pitch and Evan Longoria hit it out.  Saito had a perfect seventh.  So for all intents and purposes we cruised until the eighth, when Javy Lopez gave up five runs.  Five.  On four hits and a walk with no strikeouts.  He didn’t even finish the inning.  Then Jonathan Van Every came on to pitch the rest of the eighth and got us out of it.  Incidentally, he has a 0.00 ERA.  And now I get to explain why we, unlike the Yankees, have nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of.  It’s one thing to throw your outfielder on the mound when your starter has an ERA above 20.00 because your bullpen has an ERA above 5.00 and is the shallowest in the league.  It’s quite another to have multiple relievers with ERAs under 2.00, including two that’re still 0.00, who’ve been working long shifts lately and who need a rest.  Van Every got two outs.  That was it.  We’re not talking about an inning of work to bail out an abysmal starter.  We’re talking about giving the best relievers in the game a break during a blowout.  So, no, Van Every is not Nick Swisher, because our bullpen is actually functional, thank you very much.  (Technically, saying that our bullpen is “functional” is the understatement of the century, but you know what I mean.)

I’ll say this about being on the receiving end of a bid for a perfect game or no-hitter.  It makes losing less painful, because the only thing you’re focused on is ending that bid, is getting a walk and then a hit.  So it takes the edge off of losing, because as long as you end the bid, you’re happy, and everything else just seems like icing on the cake.  And for that, we thank Jacoby Ellsbury, who jammed a ball back to Garza, who couldn’t come up with it.  Jason Bartlett tried to throw him out at first, just like everyone else in the league, but as we know there’s no way he doesn’t beat that out.  So a masterful infield hit for Ellsbury, and a great hustle down the line to end it.  Two batters later, Ortiz was his first walk.  I mean we knew all along that Garza wouldn’t actually be able to fully contain a lineup like ours.  It just doesn’t happen.  Unfortunately we’ve been in this situation before, like last year with the Angels, but we always get out of it somehow.

By the way, Pedroia was safe.  Ortiz walked with nobody on base because the umpire ruled that Pedroia was the second out in a double play.  Let me tell you something.  Pedroia was safe by a mile.  It was so good to see Tito go out there, because it doesn’t matter what the score is.  If a guy hustles, he deserves a fair call.

So that’s pretty much it for last night.  As you  can imagine, the box score is really boring.  Very one-sided.  All these stats for Tampa Bay and for us, nothing.  I’m telling you, it was painful.  Lowell’s hitting streak stopped at thirteen games.  Dave Roberts will be joining NESN, which I’m psyched about.  Jerry Remy was sick yesterday so Buck Martinez filled in, which was interesting.  Turns out that, not only did Van Every hit his first career home run off his former team, but he hit it off his former roommate.  Apparently he received congratulatory text messages from the Tribe but wants to give Jensen Lewis some time to cool off a little bit.  I’d say that’s wise, because that was a monster of a home run.  And last but not least, A-Rod was probably on steroids as early as high school and HGH in 2004 with the Yankees.  And he tipped his friends on opposing teams to pitches.  It’s sad that these things don’t surprise me anymore.  Seems like A-Rod always manages to come up with a new low.

We need a win.  A win would be nice.  We’re tied for first, but I think we could use a little something to break that tie.  And to maintain our good record.  And to improve.  And to make sure we don’t fall behind.  Yes, I think a win would be very nice indeed.

In other news, it’s go time at the TD Banknorth Garden tonight.  Round Two, Game 1, 7:30PM.  Let’s do it.

AP Photo

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There was no question about who stole the show last night.  Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan Van Every! Talk about making the most of your opportunities.  Drew is day-to-day because of a tight left quad, so Van Every started, and let me tell you: he did it all.  Fielding.  Hitting.  You name it, he was all over it.

Lester did not by any means have his best outing last night.  Five runs on seven hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.  So he’s keeping his strikeout count high, which is good.  In each of his last few outings, he’s consistently teased his career high of ten.  But he gave up two home runs, a solo shot in the second for Mark DeRosa and a two-run shot in the fourth for Kelly Shoppach, who DHed last night.  The spread was two runs in the first, one in the second, and two in the fourth.  He finished strong though, retiring the Tribe in order in his last two frames.  So good on the strikeouts but otherwise not Lester’s best work.  He made an error put completed two pickoffs.  We were perfect in relief, as usual.  Delcarmen and Okajima each walked two, but Delcarmen still has an ERA of 0.00.  So that’s three relievers who haven’t given up any earned runs whatsoever.  And Lopez made up for last night.

We won in ten.  Okajima picked up the win, and Paps picked up a save.  We had to battle back from a 5-0 deficit, which we did, just like we always do.  Two in the sixth, three in the eighth, and one in the tenth for a final score of 6-5.  Ellsbury went three for five with an RBI, Lowell and Tek each went two for four with an RBI, and Drew, who’s limited to pinch-hitting at this point, grounded into a force out for an RBI.  But wait, there’s more.  In the eighth inning, we were trailing by three with one out and Jonathan Van Every at the plate with the bases loaded.  A double-play ball comes DeRosa’s way.  And guess what.  He makes an error and has no play at all.  Van Every’s safe with his first RBI of the night.  This, I enjoyed.  First of all, you’ve got a guy who’s spent most of his career in the farms, and he comes up, starts, and really makes the most of it.  That’s what you want to see.  You want to see a guy from your B team do whatever he can to help you win.  Second of all, the Tribe got a taste of their own medicine.  Anyway, DeRosa can’t come up with an out, the inning continues, and we go on to tie it.  Then in the top of the tenth, Van Every’s at the plate again with two outs and the count one and one, and he takes a high changeup from Jensen Lewis and crushes it over the center field wall.  Grady Sizemore gave chase but after a while just had to watch it go.  A moonshot of a solo home run for Jonathan Van Every in the tenth inning, Papelbon holds it together, and we come away with our twelfth win in our last thirteen games.  So he finished the night two for four with a walk, a run, and two RBIs.  And that, my friends, is how you get it done.  Quietly waiting for his opportunity to start and show what he can do, he gets it, and lo and behold.  Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan Van Every.  And I didn’t even talk about that spectacular catch he made.  He dove, went into the slide in foul territory, and got the out.  Apparently, the man can do it all.

Dice-K had a bullpen session and says it went well, Smoltz’s rehab will be pushed back a week, and Drew as I said is day-to-day.  Bailey started last night because Youk was out; that pitch that hit him in the back in the first inning on Tuesday caused him some soreness, but it’s nothing serious.

We’re in a good position now.  We’ve had some trouble from our starters, but we’ve been using all of our tools to win games.  We’ve had some steals, some home runs, some manufactured runs.  That’s why we’re so dangerous.  We adapt remarkably quickly to the situation at hand, and we use that situation to our advance.  And as always, that’s going to be very useful come October.

AP Photo

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