Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Guthrie’

And sweep we clearly did not.  Although we obviously should have, being that it’s Baltimore and all, which makes it so much worse.  At least we split.  It was a day of opposites.

Kyle Weiland started and did not have anything close to resembling a good day.  He cruised through the first two innings with one of the better cutters I’ve seen from him and then all of a sudden everything went wrong both in the field and on the mound.  He threw eighty-five pitches through four and two-thirds innings.  Fifty-two of those were strikes; he walked two and struck out five.  He gave up six runs, five earned, on five hits.  Only two of the runs he gave up did not score via the home run.  Yup.  You read right.  He gave up three: a two-runner and two solo shots.  And you can thank McDonald’s sun-induced fielding error in the third for that unearned run.  Doubront and Aceves combined for a scoreless rest of the game after that.

We did our best to battle back.  I guess McDonald really felt bad about that error because he led off the bottom of the frame with a solo shot on the second pitch of the at-bat, a fastball that he promptly sent into the Monster seats.  We got another run back in the fourth on Salty’s RBI triple.  And we got two back in the fifth with the progression of Scutaro’s walk, Gonzalez’s RBI double, and Pedroia’s RBI triple.  Scutaro’s double and Gonzalez’s single combined to bring in another in the seventh for what would be our last run in a 6-5 loss.  Oh, and by the way, that foul ball that Papi hit in the fifth wasn’t foul at all.  It was fair.  It was fair by a mile.  The worst part is that it wasn’t a potential home run, so it couldn’t be reviewed.  But it was fair, and it made the difference.  He went on to fly out, although that ball was almost out too.  Did I mention that Jeremy Guthrie leads the American League in losses? There’s no way it should even have come to that.

Lackey started and did not have anything close to resembling a good day, either.  The difference was that the offense turned itself on in a big way.  Without that, the O’s would have embarrassed us completely.  Lackey lasted four and a third innings and gave up eight runs on eleven hits.  He walked two and struck out three.  He threw 105 pitches, seventy-five of which were strikes.  It was Atchison who relieved him and picked up the win.  Morales allowed another run, and then Albers and Bowden finished the game scoreless.

Let’s get to the good stuff.  The O’s may have put up a three-spot in the top of the first, but we answered with a four-spot in the bottom of the inning.  Pedroia brought in one on a groundout, and then Lowrie unleashed on the eighth straight four-seam he saw in his first at-bat for a three-run shot.  He also put it in the Monster seats.  It stayed just fair and got out of the park in a hurry.  We added two more in the second; Scutaro doubled in one (had McDonald not been out at home, it would have been two), and Pedroia stroked an RBI single.  We busted it open in the third with a five-spot.  McDonald started the scoring plays with an RBI single and a little help from a bad throw.  Ellsbury doubled him, and he scored on a single by Scutaro.  Pedroia and Papi brought in two more with back-to-back RBI singles.

But if you thought that that inning was big, it was nothing compared to the seventh, when we put up a seven-spot.  Seven runs in seven innings.  We scored more runs in that one inning alone than we have in some of our games recently.  The highlight was the first to occur.  Ellsbury led it off.  He took a fastball for a ball, fouled off another, and took a changeup for a ball.  Another changeup made the count 2-2.  And then it happened: a rare result of the perfect combination of hitting and speed, a manifestation of skill and luck.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit an inside-the-park home run.

It was the first on the team since Youk did it on May 28, 2007.  I saw it and I couldn’t believe it.  It was perfect.  It’s one of those things that you always imagine in your head, trying to draft the perfect conditions under which something like this would result and then hoping you’ll see it but assuming you won’t.  It’s the triple play of offense.  And he executed it without a flaw.

The ball sailed out to center field.  It bounced off of the top of the bullpen wall sharply at some sort of strange angle and ricocheted out to center field.  The outfielders couldn’t get to it in time; meanwhile, Ellsbury had his head down and put the pedal to the metal.  He was safe with some time to spare.

And then Lowrie hit an RBI single.  And then Conor Jackson hit a grand slam on a fastball, which he also put into the Monster seats.  It was the first time we’ve ever had an inside-the-park home run and a grand slam in the same game.  And then we were done.  No big deal.  The final score was 18-9.

As a result, the whole doubleheader was a surreal experience.  I felt like I was watching two different teams in the two different games.

In other news, the Pats made the Chargers look like amateurs.  The final score was 35-21.  This is going to be a truly fantastic season.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Jon Lester is the man.

He is now 12-0 against the Orioles.  Undefeated.  That’s the longest winning streak by any active pitcher against any team.  And it wasn’t some wishy-washy win, either.  That was a Win.  With a capital W.

Seven innings, one run on five hits, one walk, seven K’s, one hundred pitches, even.  That one run in the fifth snapped his streak of sixteen and two-thirds scoreless innings against Baltimore.  His cut fastball was ridiculous.  You could tell that nobody was going to hit that.  His curveball was curving.  His sinker was sinking.  His changeup was changing and, by Cash’s observation, has improved a lot.  Cash hadn’t caught Lester since ’08, so he can really see how much Lester has improved.  Apparently, his changeup has most definitely improved.  He used everything, mixed everything, and threw everything for strikes, sixty-seven percent of the time.  A game-high of twenty-two pitches in the first and fifth; a game-low of nine pitches in the fourth and seventh.  He loaded the bases in the first with one out, but he followed it with a double play that featured a very long stretch by Youk to touch the bag.  After that, he settled down really quickly.  He gave up only three hits from the second to the seventh.  Efficiency.  Evenly distributed strike zone.  Movement.  Tight and precise release and location.

He’s now ten and three on the season, racking up wins in the double digits for the third consecutive year.   And he’s got a 2.76 ERA to go with it, and every time he starts, it just keeps going down.  If he doesn’t go to the All-Star Game, there is no justice.  No justice whatsoever.

Ramirez came on in relief and pitched well.  Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Robert Manuel.  He was recently recalled, and it most definitely showed.  The score would’ve been 9-1, but instead it was 9-3 because he gave up a two-run homer that required review.  We did, however, end the game on a high note pitching-wise by getting a flyout from Lugo.

And speaking of those nine runs, here’s how we scored them.  We tagged Guthrie for four in the first inning alone.  That’s almost half our run production in the first.  What a great way to start a game! (For us, not for Guthrie.) Youk hit an RBI double.  Then Drew hit a two-RBI double.  Then Nava hit an RBI double.  In the fifth, Youk hit a two-run shot, and when I say a shot, I mean a shot.  A hanging breaking ball that stayed up.  It sailed over the Green Monster in a hurry, bouncing right off the Sports Authority sign.  Complete with a bow from The K-Men.  I bet Guthrie saw that coming as soon as he released the ball.  You can’t hang a breaking ball and not expect it to be hit for extra basis with our lineup.  We tagged the Orioles’ ‘pen for three more runs in the eighth; Cameron hit an RBI double and scored on Wigginton’s throwing error, and Papi hit an RBI double.

Patterson started at second base admirably.  He started that double play; his throw was a little off, but he did have to hurry.  He made no errors.  Which is more than I can say for Wigginton, who plays regularly.

So, doubles for everyone! Two doubles for Papi, one for Youk, one for Drew, one for Nava, and one for Cameron.  A home run that scored double runs for Youk.  A double play.  Double, double-out RBIs.  That was the theme of the game, ladies and gentlemen, and I have to say, I like it.  I like it a lot.  Unfortunately, the win didn’t change the standings.  The Rays are still two games out (yet another double!), but we’re still half a game out of first place.  Today, Lackey looks to celebrate the Fourth of July with a win at home for Boston.  What better way to celebrate?

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Daniel Nava, ladies and gentlemen! What an at-bat! The kid comes up here because of all the injuries we’ve got, he’s never played in the Majors before, and he just makes an impact right away.  Seriously.  He just won us a ballgame, folks.  Daniel Nava.  How ‘bout that.

That was his first pinch at-bat.  And it was a huge success.  Barely.

Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? Tim Wakefield.  Tim Wakefield goes eight innings, gives up two runs on seven hits, one on a home run and one on a single, and walks one and strikes out four.  Those were the only two runs that Baltimore would score.  He threw ninety-seven pitches.  Ninety-seven pitches in eight innings.  That’s pretty much the pinnacle of efficiency.  You can’t get much stingier than that.  His knuckleball was as lively as I’ve ever seen it.  He needed a game high of nineteen pitches to get through the fourth inning, but he needed only eight to get through the first, setting the tone that this won’t be easy for the O’s, and sixth, maintaining his movement and concentration throughout his appearance.  In that first inning, six of the eight pitches were strikes.  In the sixth, all eight were strikes.  Sixty-eight percent of his total pitches were strikes.  And it shows on his strike zone; the zone was packed with not much outside it.  It was a completely dominant outing.  Tim Wakefield made the Baltimore Orioles look like the worst team in baseball.  (Oh, wait.) It was his first win at home this year, and it made history.  He’s been doing that a lot lately.  Wake has now made more starts at Fenway Park than any other pitcher in history with 201.  In fact, it’s the most starts in one ballpark by any pitcher, period.  It would’ve been a complete game, too, had Nava not stepped in.

And now we move to the offense.  (The Nava hit is coming, trust me.) It’s good to have JD Drew back in action.  He opened the scoring with a home run just over the Green Monster.  He did it again three innings later to tie the score.  Those were beautiful swings.  Just beautiful.  When you see a hitter like that yank the ball into left field with some punch, it’s absolutely stunning.  Those were his ninth and tenth long balls of the year and the seventeenth multihomer game of his career and second of the year, the first coming also against the Orioles but in Fenway South on April 30. With so many guys out, he’s come up big.  He’s hit three long balls in his last four starts, and he’s batted .353 with five long balls in his last thirteen games.  We needed that.  We continue to need that.

Okay.  The moment has arrived.  With the score tied and two out with Scutaro on second in the eighth inning, Nava stood in for Patterson.  With the count 2-1, he managed to get his bat on the ball and bloop it into right field for a single.  It was a fastball, and he just made contact and that was it.  It snuck into fair territory; somehow it found some space and fell in there a few inches from the third base line.  Scutaro flew home.  Paps closed out the ninth, and we won, 3-2!

It wasn’t the prettiest pinch at-bat I’ve ever seen, but few pinch at-bats can rightly be called pretty.  The important thing is that he got the job done.  In fact, given his age and inexperience, this type of at-bat, where he got something he just couldn’t work with but managed to do something with it anyway, says a lot about his instincts as a ballplayer.  He’s a good kid to have around.

One last thing: Kevin Cash caught Wake.  We acquired him from the Astros on Thursday.  Why? Because the injury list lengthens yet again.  At this point it’s just morbidly comical.  On Wednesday, a foul tip by Carl Crawford caught Tek’s right foot.  It’s broken.  So he’s out with almost the same injury Pedroia has.  So we called in Cash.  Not only did he catch Wakefield really well, but he also gunned down Adam Jones on the run to second.  It was like he never left.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the injury report.  Cameron was out yesterday with abdominal soreness; it’s unclear how serious it is.  I can’t tell you how relieved I was to see McDonald avoid that collision with Patterson in the first.  We can’t afford to lose any more outfielders.  And Delcarmen, surprise surprise, is on the fifteen-day DL for a strained right forearm.  That’s fine with me.  He’s a pitcher, so even if he weren’t on the DL, I wouldn’t want him in there if he weren’t one hundred percent.

And with all of that, we still manage to win ballgames, and we still manage to keep afloat in the standings, which is yet another understatement, because as of now, we’re only half a game out of first! Tonight, we have Lester on the mound facing Jeremy Guthrie.  Think about it.  Lester’s starting.  We can get it done tonight.  After everything we’ve been through this season, we can hoist ourselves up to first place tonight.  I’m psyched.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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I don’t think it’s physically possible for Jon Lester to lose to the Baltimore Orioles.  And not just because Lester is an elite pitcher and the Orioles are playing some of the worst baseball I’ve ever seen.  Also because he’s never lost to the Orioles.  Ever.  Meanwhile, the Orioles are now on a ten-game losing streak.  Ouch.

Lester pitched six and a third shutout innings, giving up four hits and three walks while striking out four.  He fired 102 pitches in that time; we’ve seen him be much more economical, and he would’ve had himself a nice seven-inning start if it weren’t for his sudden but ultimately harmless implosion in the seventh.  All three of his walks were consecutive, after he recorded the first out in the seventh, which was why he was removed.  So he didn’t walk a single batter until right before he left, and then he walked all of the batters he faced after that point.  He walked Jones and Atkins on five pitches each, and he walked Lugo on four.  It was mostly because he stopped throwing his fastball and cutter for strikes.  Luckily, Bard induced two popups and bailed him out of possible bases-loaded damage.  He used ninety-nine mile-per-hour fastballs and ninety-one mile-per-hour changeups.  Ridiculous.  Kid doesn’t mess around.

If those three walks were the only problem he had, I’ll take it.  For the majority of his start, his cutter and fastball were located perfectly, as usual.  His sinker, slider, and curveball were fantastic.  He was low on the changeups.  He mixed them well, and he put good movement on them.  He used all parts of the strike zone and didn’t throw below it.  His best inning was the fourth, in which he threw only eight pitches.  But he needed between twelve and seventeen pitches to complete his other frames.  He fired twenty-one before he was taken out in the seventh.  The batters just made him throw and created opportunities; they left nine on base but only went one for nine with runners in scoring position.

Nobody scored any runs until that frame.  Then, Youk led off the seventh by clobbering the first pitch of his at-bat for a 378-foot home run, his twelfth of the year, after Pedroia broke Guthrie’s streak of fifteen consecutive retirements in the sixth.  It was a fastball he left up, and he just lined that ball out.  He’s now batting .320.  Incidentally, Youk started at third for the first time this year, while V-Mart started at first and Tek caught.  In the first, V-Mart showed he still got it with a fantastic diving catch in mid-air that robbed Patterson of a base hit.  Honestly, I saw that play and I thought it was Youk out there making that grab, because he’s the only one who can make those plays.  Apparently not.  It was awesome.

In the eighth, Reddick tripled and scored on Scutaro’s single.  Atchison was optioned, and Reddick was called up because Hermida was out for the day.  And in the ninth, McDonald ripped a double to bring in two.  Hall and Youk both followed suit.

Scutaro went two for five, but Youk went three for five with two doubles, that home run, and a grand total of three RBIs.  Collectively, the offense went five for eleven with runners in scoring position, collecting a total of nine hits while leaving only six on base.

The final score was 8-2; it was Nelson who allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in the ninth, the first two runs of Samuel’s career as interim manager of the Baltimore Orioles.  Ramirez pitched the final two outs of the game perfectly.

Despite Beltre’s pleading, Tito sat him yesterday to be extra cautious about his soreness from the collision.

I’d like to commend Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce on their composure and professionalism.  Especially Jim Joyce.  Rarely do you see an umpire both admit a mistake and lament it.  Cue another instant replay debate.

Thus, we continue to climb! We’re only three and a half games out of first now, still tied with Toronto for third but only one and a half games out of second and coming on strong.  I bet we’ll see some shifts in the standings before the All-Star break.  Ah, the thrill of the chase.  It’s pretty exciting stuff! We turn to Lackey this afternoon to make it happen.

The Boston Globe

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So the Orioles fired Dave Trembley, hired Juan Samuel for the interim, and asked us to welcome him last night in his first game as skipper of this sorely misguided team.  We gave him a welcome, alright.  A nice slugfest blowout of a welcome.  Note to all other Major League Baseball teams: don’t play us if you want to ensure that a debut goes well, because if you play us, it won’t.

The story of last night’s theatrics starts and ends with Buchholz, literally.  He pitched a complete game (third in his career) shutout (second in his career) and got the win, giving up five hits and only one walk while striking out two.  That was his career-high eighth win and the ninth in his winning streak on the road.  It’s the first time in his career that he’s won five straight.  That’s the second-longest streak in the history of the franchise, right behind Clemens’s twelve from September 20, 1987 through July 4, 1988.  He joins heady company; only four pitchers in the history of the franchise have won at least eight consecutive starts on the road: Buchholz, Clemens, Lefty Grove, and Babe Ruth, and Buchholz and Clemens are tied for second.  For now.

His ERA is now 2.39.  His ERA during his eight road wins is 1.22.  That’s ridiculous.  I can’t believe that.  It just keeps getting lower and lower.  I know I’ve said this before, but that’s a closer’s ERA.  This kid just continues to amaze.  He’s so confident.  He’s so dominant.  He throws any pitch in any count.  It’s remarkable.  Watching that game made me think back to his no-hitter, also against the Orioles.  You know you were thinking about it too.  Maybe he just has this team’s number.  Or maybe he’s just that good.  I have a feeling it’s a good mixture of both.

He was extremely stingy, throwing only 101 pitches.  A big part of that was his use of the double play (last night we turned two), his incredibly low walk total, and his profuse use of the first-pitch strike.  Last night, Buchholz recorded eight first-pitch outs.  After Izturis singled in the third, he retired twelve consecutive batters.

His changeup was absolutely nasty.  Really, all of his pitches were thrown well; his slider and fastball were spectacular, while his curveball continues to improve.  He needed a game high of nineteen pitches to clear the first.  He needed a game low of only six pitches to clear both the fourth and sixth.  Six pitches.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a pitcher complete a frame with only six pitches.  That’s absurd.

He threw 66 strikes, and his strike zone was beautiful.  He threw to all parts of it.  If he threw a ball, chances were it was to the left or at the upper left corner, but there really weren’t many of those.  Speed variation? Check.  Tossed salad? Check.  Movement? Check.

Wow factor? Check.  Absolutely.

The final score was 11-0, and as Buchholz said, having a lead that huge gives a pitcher the opportunity to pound the zone, be aggressive and creative, and experiment to get batters out.  So the offense most certainly did its part.

Tillman started the game by loading the bases with nobody out by giving up a single to Scutaro and walking Pedroia and Papi back-to-back.  Scutaro scored on a groundout by V-Mart, and with two outs Drew doubled in two.  Hermida led off the second with a double, moved ahead on a single by Hall, and scored on a single by Pedroia.  Thus, Samuel made his first call to the bullpen as the manager of a Major League Baseball team; he removed his starter after he gave up four runs in less than two innings.  Welcome to the big show.

We were just getting started.  Cue the long balls; we had three of them.  In the fourth, Hall struck out by reached on a passed ball, Scutaro singled, and with two out Youk went yard high and long to send everyone home for the eleventh time this year.  He buried a 1-0 fastball up into the seats out in left field.  Not wanting to feel left out, Beltre did the same with nobody on base an inning later on a breaking ball.  Complete with that really compact swing of his where he puts his whole back into it such that he ends up kneeling on his back leg during the follow-through.  Not wanting to feel left out either, Scutaro did the same to lead off the eighth on an inside hanging breaking ball.  In the ninth, Beltre doubled in V-Mart, and then Drew scored on McDonald’s groundout.

Pedroia went two for four.  Beltre, Drew, and Youk went two for five.  V-Mart went three for four.  Scutaro went three for six.  We recorded sixteen hits.  We scored five of our runs with two outs.  In short, we delivered a good, old-fashioned Boston beatdown.  We had a brief scare when Hermida collided with Beltre on Markakis’s popup (thankfully, Scutaro pulled out of the chase early), but they’re okay.  Hermida left with a left forearm contusion, and Beltre has a bruised left knee, but that’s all.  Thankfully.  The last thing we need is yet another outfielder on the DL as a result of a collision.

Tonight’s the second game of the series; Lester will take on Guthrie to secure at least the series win.  I’m looking forward to this.  Hopefully, Lester will turn in a performance just as dominant but from the other side of the mound.  We’re currently four and a half games out of first and continue to surge.  Life is good.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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