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Posts Tagged ‘Joel Pineiro’

One thing has become incredibly clear this week: as go the pitchers, so go the Red Sox.  With a team based on run prevention, we should have expected this.  Because if you don’t have effective starting pitching, it doesn’t matter how many runs you score; the opposition will score more.  And it just seems like, somehow and for some reason, the offense is much more comfortable hitting behind a pitcher who’s on.  The cuts look more robust, the at-bats look healthier.  We’ll have to wait and see if that remains to be true, but for now at least we’ve performed noticeably better with good starting pitching behind us.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we should honor him who was honored: Nomar! The retirement ceremony for No. 5 took place before last night’s game, on May 5, 5/5.  I’m telling you, seeing him in that home jersey with that old No. 5 on the back was something else.  When he spoke with Don and Jerry in the booth, he said he cried after being traded; to tell you the truth, it seems in retrospect like he had no idea what he was doing when he wanted to be traded.  It seems like his resentment, the chip on his shoulder, the bad feelings, and the bitterness were the stuff of an immature player who acted on his momentary emotions.  Because I think he’s regretted it since.  You don’t go through all of these measures afterwards to return to the team you left if you didn’t wish you were with that team the whole time.

His former teammates turned out, which was good to see.  Obviously all the guys on the current team were there.  Trot Nixon was there, complete with a standing ovation, along with Brian Daubach and Lou Merloni.  The brass was there.  And of course his family was there.  He didn’t do the batting ritual, but he did the next-best thing: he rubbed some dirt on his hands at shortstop, stood at the third-base side of the mound, and made one of his signature off-balance, side-arm throws to Tek for the first pitch.  That brought back a lot of memories.  How about those two three-homer games, or when he came back from that wrist injury only to go deep and bring home the go-ahead run?

So here’s to you, Nomar.  You finally found what you were looking for:

You might say it’s closure to a playing career, but the door is open because I feel like I’m back home.

What a player.  What a career.

And then of course we proceeded to honor him further with a win.

The final score was 3-1, and Lackey did indeed show his former ballclub who’s boss.  Seven innings of one-run, two-hit baseball with four K’s and only two walks.  That one run was a homer for Wood in the fifth on a pitch that was down because Lackey didn’t locate it, but that was it.  He threw only 103 pitches.  So in four of his first six starts, he’s allowed at most two runs.  He had some trouble in the early innings, including the obligatory bases-loaded jam through which he fortunately emerged unscathed.  He threw forty-two pitches over the first two innings; he threw sixty-two over the last five.  For the entire game, the Angels left three men on base.  Having scored only one run, that means two things: one, that they weren’t given opportunities to score, and two, that they couldn’t make good on the opportunities they managed to find.

He obviously threw mostly cutters, but his mix of pitches was good and he had good movement and velocity on all of them.  His cutter was fantastic.  His quickest inning was the third, in which he threw just nine pitches, followed by the seventh, in which threw ten.  As opposed to the second, in which he threw almost three times as many.  His strike zone was nice and even.  He didn’t throw too high up and limited throwing too low down.  He had some on the left and more on the right.  All in all, a very dominant outing.

Bard followed that with an equally dominant hold, retiring two of his three batters.  And Paps capped it all off with an equally dominant save, enjoying a one-two-three ninth and throwing nine of his ten pitches for strikes.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you close a ballgame.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is Jonathan Papelbon.

The offense was short but sweet.  Beltre’s single glanced off third base, and Wood was charged with an error for failing to catch it while Drew scored.  Papi hit a towering opposite-field home run over the Monster in the fourth.  Pineiro left the pitch up.  After that home run, I don’t want to hear anymore about his supposed slump.  He’s out of it.  It’s done.  Finished.  Leave the man to his business; he’s obviously off to a better start this year than it is last year, so no use turning up the pressure.  Besides, his timing has looked great lately.  And Beltre went deep in the eighth, his second in three games after going twenty-four without.  And he was as good in the field as he was at the plate; amidst pieces of broken bat, Beltre initiated a double play unfazed.  And he fired that ridiculous hop by Kendrick to first on time.

So Scutaro doubled, Pedroia went two for three with a walk, Ortiz went two for three with a walk, and Beltre went three for four.  How ‘bout that.  How about that.

Tonight we go for the sweep and a chance to bring our record above .500, which we desperately need.  Dice-K’s on the mound, so I’m not making any predictions, because as we all know, all bets are off with him.  But still, this is awesome.  We are in a position to sweep the Angels at home in our first series with them this year.  We’ve played baseball during this series that I’d love to see played for the rest of the season.  And we have good momentum going into our series with the Yankees.  I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

We buried the Flyers, 4-1.  I seriously can’t believe the kind of hockey we’re playing.  It’s incredible.  I have no idea where this came from.  All season, we try to play like this, we barely make the playoffs, and all of a sudden it comes out.  Excellent.  Just excellent.

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Specifically, something extra from Youkilis, who provided the winning runs…finally. In the thirteenth inning, he blasted one off Mike Parisi. We won, 5-3. Youk also started the Boston rally with a solo homer in the seventh off Joel Pineiro. For someone who’s been quiet with the long ball, it’s nice to see him making good on his cuts. Lugo and Lowell also batted in runs, Pedroia the Destroyah stole a base and is now eight for eight in thefts, while Crisp was caught stealing and picked off. He took off for second right when Pineiro decided to try a pickoff move. It was pretty ugly.

And let’s not forget, of course, the spectacular defensive plays of the day that kept us in the hunt for a victory. Ellsbury made a spectacular diving and sliding catch in left in true Jacoby-esque fashion. Crisp actually jumped into the Green Monster to make a catch. And JD Drew, who hadn’t had a hit all day for the first time this month, recorded an assist in the thirteenth when he gunned down Chris Duncan at home with that excellent arm of his. The throw was right on target, and Tek caught it and braced himself for the collision with Duncan. That, my friends, is the way to play. When your team captain is a catcher who handles the staff and who isn’t afraid of a hit, you know you’re in good hands.

Lester’s inside cut fastball, arguably his best pitch, was working for him yet again. A little over seven innings of work and only two runs on nine hits, one walk, three strikeouts. 3.13 ERA. In fact, in his last eleven outings, Lester is 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA. How about that? Funny thing though; his WHIP remains deceptively high at around 1.30.

Needless to say, the bullpen will need a rest after that one. The bright side? Everyone was spic-and-span, even Okajima. Craig Hansen had a perfect inning, and Lopez picked up the win while Pap picked up his fourth blown save. In theory, we should complain, but at this point if he’s healthy and the blown save is a rarity, then I don’t know about you but I’m staying quiet. The one thing I will say is that, had he not blown the save, he would have saved the ‘pen a lot of work. So the fact that the ‘pen has been used and reused in a four-hour-and-25-minute contest is basically his responsibility. But it was made possible by Chris Smith, whose stuff in Saturday’s contest made an early entrance by the ‘pen unnecessarily and thus kept it ready for yesterday.

In other news, D-Backs pitcher Doug Davis says that he appreciates passion of Red Sox Nation and admires our ability to respect good baseball. See, now that’s class. On the other hand, Bernie Miklasz, journalist of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, published an article on June 19 titled “Why I’m Sick of Boston.” He says that he congratulated us after 2004 but that he’s now ready to move on:

Enough already with Boston area teams winning championships.

Not very mature or sportsmanlike, man. Besides, something tells me you wouldn’t really have that much of a problem if St. Louis were in our position. Not our fault you’re not. You can see the whole absurdity here.

Kevin Youkilis, 6/22/2008

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