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Posts Tagged ‘Jered Weaver’

There are so many puns to be made.  Lackey lacked his best stuff.  The team suffered from a lack of win.  Actually, the more accurate pun would be that the team suffered with a lack of everything.

I’ll make this simple because, quite frankly, I am not excited about reliving it.  We lost, 11-0.  So not only were we shut out, but they lit up one of our best pitchers.  That eleven-run lead is the largest in a shutout loss in franchise history.  Great.

So, yes, Lackey lacked in every sense of the word.  He only lasted four innings.  In that time, he managed to give up eight runs on ten hits, one of which was a two-run shot.  He allowed at least eight runs once already this year; he is now one of only two pitchers in the last ninety seasons to give up at least eight earned runs twice in the first thirty-one games.  He walked three.  He struck out one.  He threw ninety-seven pitches, fifty-nine of which were strikes.  He didn’t have command.  He didn’t have control.  As a result, he didn’t have efficiency or effectiveness.  His release point wasn’t as consistent as usual, and he had a hard time finding the strike zone.  He even started losing velocity substantially on his fastball as the game went on.  Basically, think of everything that could possibly go wrong for a pitcher, and Lackey was a textbook example of all of it.  Lackey claims he wasn’t tired; he looked pretty tired to me.  Salty claims his curveball was to blame since Lackey couldn’t locate it.  That is very true.  When you’re throwing tons of curveballs that keep missing and your fastball loses velocity, you know you’re in a heap of trouble.

That comment of Salty’s was probably the only insightful thing he did all night.  Not only was he 0 for 3 with no walks, but he also, despite catching one thief, he allowed four others to steal.  He has allowed twenty-five stolen bases so far this season.  That’s the most by any catcher in the Major Leagues.

Lackey started out fine, though.  He allowed a single and a walk in the first inning, but he got his three outs.  And the Angels went down in order in the second on just eleven pitches.  That was why it was pretty surprising when everything started to go wrong in the third.  Between a hit-by-pitch, a single, a steal, two groundouts, a walk, and a double, he allowed three runs before a third groundout ended the inning.  He threw thirty-one pitches in that inning alone.  The fourth was even uglier.  He opened with a walk that was quickly erased thanks to a great throw by Salty during an attempted steal.  Then he secured a strikeout on three pitches using his curveball and slider.  Then he allowed five consecutive singles that resulted in three more runs.  He allowed his homer in the fifth and failed to record any outs in the inning before he was replaced by Scott Atchison, who pitched the next three and two-thirds innings and allowed three runs on seven hits.  One of those runs scored on a play that appeared to cause injury to the wrists of both Lowrie and Youk.  That’s bad news.  Lowrie stayed in the game, which is a good sign; we do not want him injuring his wrist again, certainly not when he’s hitting this well.  As far as Youk is concerned, he already fouled a ball off his hand on Wednesday night, so he’s bruised, but he appears to be okay as well.  Rich Hill pitched the rest of the game after that and didn’t allow any runs, but by then it was too late.

To give you an idea of how stark a departure this is from our recent trend, consider the following: until yesterday’s game, our staff had given up at most five runs in each of our last eighteen games going back to April 16.  During those eighteen games, our staff posted an ERA of 2.45, the lowest in all of Major League Baseball.

They collected eighteen hits; we collected seven.  Five of their hits were for extra bases; we hit only one, a double by Lowrie.  They went seven for eighteen with runners in scoring position; we went 0 for 5.  Papi went three for three, and Crawford is now in the middle of a five-game hitting streak.

Some notes: Dennys Reyes is on the restricted list because he’s attending to a personal matter, Pedroia got the day off because he’s in a slump which explains why Crawford batted second, and Jenks and Wheeler are both on the fifteen-day DL, Jenks with a right bicep cramp and Wheeler with some issue with his left calf.  That’s why Atchison and Hill came in.  And finally, Dice-K will not in fact pitch today; Wake will make the spot start.

It was just terrible.  There literally was no offense and no pitching.  Scutaro even made a throwing error.  Something officially went wrong in every aspect of the game: pitching, hitting, and fielding.  We hit the trifecta.  Okay.  The team that lost today was not the team that handed Jered Weaver his first loss of the season.  We just need to play better.  That’s all there is to it.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki
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See? I knew it.  Once we got out of April, we’d start seeing some changes.  Starting with Buchholz.  That was as good an outing as we were going to get to open this month, and by all accounts, it wasn’t bad at all.  We’re accustomed to seeing him pitch a full even innings, but six and two-thirds isn’t bad, especially when you consider the fact that he was pulled after allowing a single and stolen base but securing two outs in the inning.  He had only thrown seven pitches.

He scared me quite a bit when he started out, though.  He allowed three consecutive hits to lead off the game.  Thankfully, Drew gunned down Maicer Izturis at second when he tried to stretch a single into a double.

Buchholz allowed eight hits, but other than that, it was two across the board: he allowed two runs, walked two, and struck out two.  He threw 107 pitches, sixty-six for strikes.  His fastball and changeup were both moving and really effective.  All but one of his cutters were thrown for strikes, but he only threw one curveball for a strike all night.  He mixed his pitches effectively and varied his speed; he mostly stayed between seventy-five and ninety-five miles per hour, but he threw a two-seam at ninety-six and at one point went down below fifty-five.  He attacked the zone and had a tight release point except for this one pitch that was released differently and ended up being fouled off.  Each of his runs were allowed in each of the innings when he threw his highest pitch totals: twenty-five in the third and a whopping thirty-one in the fifth, during which he allowed a hit as well as both of his walks.

The bottom line is that this was his first quality start in six starts.  Bard came in to secure the last out in the seventh.

Meanwhile, our lineup put on quite a show.  Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? We were the first to score when Ellsbury singled and came home on a single by Youk in the first.  That lasted us until the fifth, when Crawford walked, Ellsbury reached on a force out, and both scored on a single that Pedroia hit on the thirteenth pitch of his at-bat with two out in the inning.

That at-bat was epic.  You may have been able to cut the suspense with a knife, which was obviously incredibly frustrating because you were watching foul ball after foul ball after foul ball for what seemed like forever, but that was a textbook example of how we play our game.  Everyone involved in player coaching and development stresses patience at the plate, because eventually it does pay off.  And that right there was patience at the plate if I’ve ever seen it.  He took a changeup for a ball, fouled off a slider, took a four-seam for a ball, fouled off a changeup and two four-seams, took a cutter for a ball, fouled off two more sliders as well as a changeup and two cutters, and finally put a ninety-one-mile-per-hour four-seam in play.  To review, he worked the count full, hit five consecutive foul balls, and then hit the single that basically ignited the rest of our offense.  That’s what makes a hitter dangerous.  He’s patient, so he makes you work and waits and waits and waits until he gets his pitch to hit, and when he does, there’s nothing you can do about it except sit back, relax, and watch those runners cross the plate.

You could seriously tell that that hit was one huge momentum shift, obviously partly because it gave us a one-run lead, but also because it was just a real galvanizer.  Pedroia has that effect on people.

Torii Hunter led off the sixth with a double.  But when Alberto Callaspo grounded to first, Gonzalez, who is not shy about flashing the leather, fired to Youk at third to get Crawford.  It was a pinpoint throw, even though it was in the dirt, and Youk dug it out expertly.  I think the Rally Monkey went home after that.

The seventh was one long inning.  Crawford opened it with a groundout, and then Tek singled and Ellsbury doubled.  After a pitcher change, Pedroia walked.  Gonzalez cleared the bases with a double off the Monster.  That was the first time in his Boston career that he hit the wall, and trust me, the scoring play was very aggressive.  Ellsbury crashed into Jeff Mathis so hard he bruised his left knee and was out of the game for the last two innings, leaving his status for tonight unknown.  And Pedroia was just a few feet behind him.  I’m telling you, we raise some scrappy guys on our farms.  Then Gonzalez came home himself on a double by Youk also off the Monster.  Then Papi did what he does best: crush long balls.  He unleashed on a ninety-three-mile-per-hour fastball on the fourth pitch of the at-bat to end his homerless streak at eighty-eight at-bats.

To be absolutely clear, that was a six-spot we put up in the seventh.  We scored six runs in a single inning.  Obviously, that’s a season high.  Most of last month was one giant stretch of us scoring less than that amount over multiple games in total.  So when Wheeler allowed two runs in the eighth and Okajima allowed his inherited runner to score in the ninth, that, ladies and gentlemen, was also something that did not matter.  (Does it matter long-term that our relievers allowed three runs in the last two innings of the game? Of course.  It’s not good.  But like last night, we should be able to score a sufficient number of runs such that it doesn’t matter.)

Crawford, Papi, Youk, and Ellsbury all went two for four.  Ellsbury stole two bases.  We left only five on base and went five for eight with runners in scoring position.  Almost half of our eleven hits were for extra bases.  As for Pedroia, he’s now six for twenty-nine opposite Jered Weaver.  But he came through in the clutch, so it’s all good.

Beckett will start on Wednesday after six days of rest, so it’ll be Lester tonight.  Meanwhile, we won, 9-5, and I’m going to enjoy this.  We should play the Angels more often.

In other news, the Bruins won Game Two! Thomas made fifty-two saves, and Krejci netted the winning goal in sudden death for the 3-2 win!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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That is about as good a win as you can get.  We had a nice day off, we went home, we got our second baseman back, we crushed, and I think it’s safe to say that we have reestablished supremacy over the Angels.  Ironically, it doesn’t seem to matter this year.  They probably won’t make the playoffs.  Still, they’re no easy team to beat.  Except for us, of course.

There’s something so satisfying about scoring a whole bunch of runs when the other team doesn’t score any.  When you have good run production to go with good pitching performance, it’s like the universe aligns.  That, my friends, is the beauty of baseball.

Clay Buchholz’s line was very impressive.  He gave us a scare in the first after he and Izturis raced to first, but he went on to toss seven shutout frames.  So I think he’s okay.  Five hits, two walks, three K’s.  No runs.  113 pitches, sixty-four for strikes.  And he ratcheted his four-seam all the way up to ninety-seven miles per hour.  Wow.  The kid can do it all.  He can toss salads, and apparently he could close if he really wanted to.  And every time Buchholz wins, it’s also a win for Theo, who refused to trade him at all costs.  I’m just saying.

His record is now fourteen and five, his ERA is now 2.36, and it’s now the twelfth time this season, more than half his total starts, he’s limited opponents to at most two runs.  And to tell you the truth, he didn’t even have his best stuff going last night.  His command wasn’t there.  Buchholz threw eight pitches in the first, but his count per inning went up from there, peaking at thirty pitches in the sixth.  His offspeeds weren’t hitting their spots, so he was more aggressive and pounded the zone with his fastball more often.  So, basically, on an off day, Buchholz blanks.  What? Who does that? Obviously, Clay Buchholz.  I saw him pitch, and I saw he didn’t have his best stuff, and I knew he didn’t have his best stuff, and yet somehow he was shutting out the Angels.  And when it comes to the Cy Young, he’s right in that mix.

Doubront and Bowden held it down.

And the final score was 6-zip, so here we go.

Weaver held us hitless through the first two frames, thanks to Hunter who robbed Beltre of a homer in the second, but with two out in the third, McDonald made a statement.  He launched an absolutely monstrous solo home run on an inside fastball that sailed right over the Green Monster and through a car’s rear windshield.

We kept it up with two out in the fourth.  With Papi already on base, Drew and Lowell worked back-to-back walks and Kalish promptly cleared everything with a grand slam! It was beautiful.  He stayed back on that changeup like a pro.  That’s his first career grand slam and his first homer at Fenway.  And if you thought Pedroia’s standing ovation was loud, and trust me, it was loud, you would have needed earplugs for this.  With one swing, Ryan Kalish broke the Angels.

And Papi and V-Mart’s back-to-back doubles were the finishing touches.

Papi went two for four for the lineup’s only multi-hit game.  Pedroia, an absolute rarity that I didn’t even know was possible, went hitless and made an error in the same game.  That’s definitely called rust.  He turned twenty-seven yesterday, and even though he didn’t have any lasers to his credit, he still made some good plays in the field and, most importantly, returned to action, period.  More good and bad news: Youk might be able to return for the playoffs, Patterson is on the DL with a strained neck, and Ellsbury could potentially be out for the rest of the season.  That last bit is not by any means certain, but we know he’s got a rib fracture, so it’s a possibility.  I mean, this is serious.  In baseball, a wrist injury or a thumb injury has significant ramifications, so a rib injury is not to be taken lightly.  It’s a game of precision.  And anything that hinders precision is a big problem.  If he’s out for the rest of the season, it won’t be the end of the world.  It’s obviously much easier to win with him, but we’ve shown that with hard work we can win without him.

So that’s it, but it was good.  It was really good.  We opened our homestand with a very decisive win featuring dominance from pretty much everybody, and it doesn’t get much better than that.  Also, we’re being liberal with the grand slams lately, which is a good skill to hone.  It’s not easy to be productive with the bases loaded.  But whether it’s with long ball or small ball, as long as we keep winning, we’ll be alright.  But that was a great ballgame.  Really.  It was great.  Let’s do it again.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Yesterday’s game was one of those games where we lost but there were enough good things that happened for us to not get too down about it.  That’s always strange.  You would think that if enough good things happened in a game, we’d just win it, and we almost did, but then we didn’t.  In short, the good was Dice-K, and the bad were the bullpen and CJ Wilson.

Dice-K was absolutely excellent.  He lasted six and two-thirds innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, walked none, and struck out eight, but he wasn’t really as bad as all that.  He needed 115 pitches to do it, seventy-four of which were strikes.  In fact, he earned the five hundredth strikeout of his career in the fifth when Blanco swung through.  Blanco’s strikeout was actually the middle of three consecutive K’s.  Six of his strikeouts were swinging; two were looking.  All of his pitches were excellent, his movement was excellent, his strike zone was excellent, and I’ve never seen him get rid of the ball faster.  He was feeling the one-hundred-plus-degree heat and wanted to get out.  It was unbearable.  It was so hot that some fans opened their umbrellas.  So maybe Dice-K should just work this quickly from now on.  And this might surprise you, but this is actually Dice-K’s first loss in eight starts since he lost to the Rays on June 30.  During those eight starts, he was 3-0 with a 3.53 ERA and constantly improving.  It was the fourth time this season he didn’t walk anybody.

Salty also gets points for his work behind the dish.  In the beginning of the game, Dice-K’s fastball and cutter were absolutely terrible.  But his slider was good, so Salty picked up on that quickly and called for it.

Dice-K finally hit serious trouble in the seventh.  He opened the inning by allowing an RBI single and left with two out and two on.  It was Delcarmen who gave up a three-run homer, allowing his inherited runners to score and giving Dice-K what looks like a mediocre line.

Meanwhile, the offense was busy not doing much of anything.  We didn’t score a single run until the eighth, when we rallied and scored three on three consecutive hits.  Scutaro doubled in Patterson and McDonald sent himself and Scutaro home with a long ball to right.  But Richardson and Bowden each allowed two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, and we couldn’t come back from that, so the final score was 7-3, and that was it.

We were five and five on this road trip.  We’re six games out of first and five games out of the Wild Card with forty-three games left to play.  And just in time, we’re getting Pedroia back on Tuesday.  Win or lose, every game that goes by makes the next one more important because we’re running out of time.  We can get there.  Our rotation is excellent and our lineup, when on, is absolutely no slouch.  So we can do it.  We just need to get on a roll and not have the roll stop if we lose one game.  We’re going home to take on the Angels, which should help.  Buchholz will start the series opposite Jered Weaver.  I’m looking forward to this.

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That went horribly.  That went horribly, and October is not the time for “horribly.” Lester took the loss.  He gave up three runs on four hits in six innings with four runs and five strikeouts.  I should mention that those three runs scored courtesy of a Torii Hunter home run.  By the way, Lester threw one hundred pitches.  In only six innings.  In October, one hundred pitches should be getting you through the seventh inning.

But wait, it gets worse.  Ramon Ramirez, Mr. Struggle-in-September, came to the mound and proceeded to pitch to three batters and allow two more runs without recording an out.  Saito and Bard were both solid.  Make no mistake: our bullpen is a huge advantage over any opponent we face.

The lineup did nothing.  We got four hits all night, none of which were for extra bases.  The final score was 5-0.  We need Ellsbury to give us something.

We made three errors.  Gonzalez, Bay, and Lowell, all throwing.  It reminds me of that game in October 2004 when we made more errors than we could count.  (On the bright side, October 2004 was, to make the understatement of the century, a really good October.)

And now let’s talk about the umpire, shall we? Let’s start with first-base umpire CB Bucknor.  As the similarity between his last name and a certain someone else’s during the 1986 World Series doesn’t make me uneasy enough.  Both of these calls involved Howie Kendrick at first.  And you can watch replays of both and see that Howie Kendrick was about as out as you can possibly be.  Question mark number one: with two out in the fourth, Kendrick hit a grounder up the middle, which Gonzalez fielded very schnazzily (it was a sliding catch; very nicely done) and fired to Youk at first.  But the throw was wide, so it pulled Youk off the bag.  So Youk applied the tag, but Bucknor called Kendrick safe.  Question mark number two: in the sixth, Kendrick grounded to Lowell, who fired high to first.  Youk jumped up to catch it but came back down on the bag about four feet before Kendrick got there.  And yet somehow Kendrick was safe? Tito had some words for Bucknor, and rightfully so.  Fortunately, neither of those plays cost us runs, the first one because Lester struck out Jeff Mathis to end the inning and the second because Jacoby Ellsbury made an absolutely spectacular diving catch of Chone Figgins’ fly to end the inning.  But that’s not the point.  I don’t want any more of this going forward.

Speaking of defense, it was awesome.  Everyone was spot-on, which was a sight for sore eyes, given all of our recent health concerns.  JD Drew got in on the action and gunned down Kendry Morales at the plate in the seventh.

Byrd is on the roster, and Delcarmen is off because of, you guessed it, the car accident.  Baldelli is also off, replaced by Brian Anderson and Joey Gathright.  The Billy Wagner trade is finally complete; the Mets picked up Chris Carter and first base prospect Eddie Lora.  Don Orsillo did a fantastic job, as always.

Believe it or not, there are some silver linings to last night’s horror show.  First of all, we shouldn’t worry about Lester.  It’s the first game of the playoffs, we were away, he’s got some nerves.  Secondly, the outcome of last night might play directly into our hands.  To borrow some logic from hockey, Andy Brickley said yesterday on NESN that the Bruins’ bad loss to Washington was a necessity for us to remember who we are and how we play, and it facilitated our running wild all over the Hurricanes.  (Brickley said that before we lost to Anaheim, 6-1, which is eerily similar to our good score against Carolina and last night’s outcome against the Angels, but again, that’s not the point.) So last night, in many important ways, was a wake-up call.  It reminded us that October is not all fun and games.  You can’t just waltz into the playoffs and expect the series win to be handed to you on a silver platter.  You have to earn it the hard way, and sometimes, that means you won’t sweep.  So, okay.  The first game is over, the jitters are gone, we’re comfortable in the Angels’ park now.  The Angels is throwing Jered Weaver tonight, but forget that.  Tonight, Josh Beckett makes his first postseason start of 2009.  He threw a bit the other day and says he feels great.  This is what I was talking about when I said I liked the Thursday schedule.  We lost yesterday, but we’ve got another chance right away to remember who we are.  And there’s no pitcher out there who can make you remember faster in the postseason than Josh Beckett.

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What a night to be a Boston fan.  First the Bruins won to stave off elimination and live to play another day, and then the Red Sox break a tie late in the ballgame to come away with the win and take the series.  So we win the battle and the war.  Nice.  And for a while it looked like we were even going to have another Beckett-esque start.  Turns out it wasn’t quite as Beckett-esque as we’d hoped, but at this point I think we have to take what we can get.  Sad but true.  Beckett pitched six innings, gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, and struck out five.  Considering the way his starts have been going lately, that feels like a shutout to me.  Not bad.  Besides, for my Number One starter, I’ll take Beckett on his worst day over almost all other Number One starters on their best days, because you have to think long term, and that includes October, and come October there’s only one man you want out there starting a series for you, and that’s Josh Beckett.  No question about it.

Unfortunately, he got a no decision because that third run he allowed was the tying run.  Okajima pitched just under two perfect innings, Ramirez finished off the seventh, and Papelbon made the ninth interesting but ultimately got the save.  He gave up a walk and a hit, made a pickoff error, and has a steal in the background before he did any damage at all.  Then he proceeded to strike out Pena, Upton, and Crawford in order.  Why he couldn’t just start the inning that way, I don’t know.  But the bottom line is that Ramirez got the win and Paps got the save.  You might say it’s good for Paps to keep everyone on their toes, but the way this season’s going I’m on my toes enough, thank you.  Paps can go ahead and have a clean, straight save if he wants to.  But he’s still the best closer in the game.  That’s his eight save of the season.  Eight saves in eight save opportunities.  One hundred percent.  And usually that lasts for a long, long time.

We won the game, 4-3.  The Rays tied it in the sixth and we scored the winning run in the eighth, batted in by who but Jason Bay.  I think the man was born to hit in the clutch late.  A ballgame is never over, not even in the late innings, until Jason Bay’s had his final say.  And usually that amounts to him hitting for at least one bag, very commonly four bags.  Yesterday it was two bags.  Bay went two for four, and both of those hits were doubles, the latter of which coming in the eighth to plate David Ortiz and give us a permanent lead.  He also scored once.  So basically the man is awesome on all counts.  He might be in the mix for AL MVP.  Incidentally, that would be something, if Boston dominated the voting and we had three guys in the first three places.  Wow.  Anyway, Drew, Bailey, and Green batted in the other runs.  Green also had a good night, finishing two for three.

Lowell made an error.  Youk’s still out.  Dice-K pitched four shutout innings in Pawtucket.  Lopez was thankfully designated for assignment as we finally bought Daniel Bard’s contract from Pawtucket.  Let me tell you something about Daniel Bard: he’s considered our best relief prospect for a reason, and a very significant part of that reason is his fastball.  Trust me.  This is going to be fun.

So as I said we take two out of three against the Rays.  Good.  We’re gradually building up to a sweep.  We get the day off today and then it’s off to the west coast again for a series with the Angels.  First it’ll be Masterson at Weaaver.  I hope his struggles of late aren’t a permanent turn for the worse.  Either way, the sooner we’re done with the west coast, the better; this is actually our last trip out there, which is nice.  So let’s make it count.

In other news, the Bruins won.  To say they pulled out a win or that they hung on by the skin of their teeth would be one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever heard.  Because we absolutely dominated.  Even if you didn’t know the score, there is no question in your mind who won that hockey game.  The score, by the way, was 4-0.  It was Timmy Thomas’s first career playoff shutout.  Kessel scored two of those goals; would’ve been sweet if he’d had himself a hat trick but technically anything besides simply winning is icing on the cake.  Recchi also had himself a goal, and he’s the oldest Bruin ever to score in the playoffs.  Milan Lucic accounted for the fourth goal.  I have to say I was terrified when I saw Chara go down in the second period; Jussi Jokinen delivered a stick to his left shin and he stayed down for a few minutes.  And he’s not one to fool around.  He skated off on his own but didn’t start the third.  But with 19:12 left, he began his first shift of the period.  What a relief.  Then Scott Walker drew a seven-minute penalty.  No, that’s correct; a seven-minute penalty.  Two minutes for misconduct and five for fighting because Aaron Ward never dropped his gloves.  Unfortunately there were only two minutes left in the game at that point so we really couldn’t take full advantage of it, but still.  First of all it was a classless move, and second of all any penalty against the opposition lasting longer than two minutes is awesome.  Game Six on Tuesday at 7:00PM.  Let’s keep it going.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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All of Dice-K’s pitches were off.  We can ask ourselves, was it the World Baseball Classic, was it not the World Baseball Classic? Only time will tell.  But one thing’s for sure: last season he was perpetually on.  It’s a commonly known fact that a player’s first year in Boston is not necessarily his best, and last year Dice-K resolved many of the issues he had in 2007.  The last thing we need now is for new issues to crop up and give him trouble.  Yesterday it was the long ball that did him in; four runs on nine hits, three of them homers, in just over five innings pitched.  Joyce, Longoria, and Riggans.  Four runs on three mistakes.  Dice-K will take the loss.

The bullpen did okay yesterday.  Delcarmen, Ramirez, and Masterson all did fine; all still have ERAs of 0.00.  Hideki Okajima is another story.  He posted another shaky outing.  He got out of it, but not before allowing a hit and two walks.  Something’s up, and it’s not just his ERA.  I know, I know, it’s only the second game, but really? Is he ever coming around? Because if he isn’t, I’d like to know sooner rather than later.

Offense.  There’s a bit of an interesting story.  This game had walk-off home run written all over it.  After Papi walked, that responsibility fell to Youkilis who, sadly, did not deliver.  He did, however, have a very good day at the plate; three for four with a walk and two runs.  The only multi-hit performance in the lineup.  An RBI for Bay, coming on a triple in the sixth inning.  You don’t see triples too often, especially not “true triples,” the ones you don’t have to leg out.  He got to third easily.  Too bad we stranded him.  Also an RBI for Lowell, who robbed Iwamura of extra bases in the eighth by making a spectacular catch.  He dove to his left and picked the ball out of thin air.  That was a play he would never have been able to make before the surgery, and with every game he’s becoming more and more comfortable in the field.  Speaking of spectacular catches, in the ninth Jacoby Ellsbury kept us in the game by hauling in a well-hit ball by Gabe Kapler with the bases loaded.  If it falls it’s three runs for sure.  And sometimes a play like that is worth the RBIs Ellsbury could’ve or should’ve batted in himself.  And who comes to the plate in the ninth but Jason Varitek, who proceeds to hit a long ball of his own to bring us within one! Two home runs for the captain, and it’s only our first series.  I’m telling you, comeback year.  But, alas, at the end of the day we lost, 4-3, dropping our opening series for the first time since 1988.

But I did notice a crack in the Rays’ pitching staff: Troy Percival.  He pitched the ninth and gave up the homer to Tek and a walk to Papi.  If Longoria hadn’t taken a base hit away from Pedroia, we probably would’ve won.  So this wasn’t exactly his best outing.  Reports have it that, since last year, his endurance is down, and it’s a big question for the Rays whether he’ll be able to fill the closer’s role, or any role, effectively for an entire season.  And when he starts to fall, we’ll be ready.

It’ll be Wakefield at Weaver in the late start tonight, something I’m not looking forward to if we continue to play like we did in our last two games.  On the bright side, this is one of only two road trips to the West Coast this year, so we’ll be done with those by May.

In other news, the Bruins edged the Habs in overtime, 5-4.  Only the Sabres and Islanders left.

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