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Posts Tagged ‘John Lackey’

We started our series against the Yankees on Friday, and we’ve won it.  That is, the least way we can describe it is having won it.  Because really, we swept it.  It was just one of the most beautiful things to see.  Sweeping the Yankees? Yes, please.

Friday’s game was a game of bookends, so to speak.  We won, 8-4, because we scored four runs in the first and four runs in the eighth and no runs in between.  In the first, Pedroia singled, Victorino flied out, Papi doubled, Pedroia scored on a groundout by Carp, Papi scored on a single by Nava, Salty walked, and Nava and Salty both scored on a double by Drew.  But the eighth, I have to say, was my favorite.  Victorino singled, Papi got hit, and Gomes walked to load the bases.  Nava struck out.  And then it was Salty’s turn.  He took a changeup for a strike.  And then he got a fastball that looked really good.  For him.  Not for the pitcher.  The pitcher didn’t stand a chance.  Salty uncorked a massive swing on that ball and sent it beyond the right field fence for a grand slam.  It was epic.  And it came against the Yankees.  That’s about as good as it gets.

Meanwhile, Lackey gave up four runs on seven hits in six and one-third innings.  He gave up no walks and struck out three.  Lackey gave up a solo shot to lead off the third.  Then he gave up one run on a double-sac fly combination in the sixth.  He had the bases loaded with two out in the seventh thanks to two singles and a walk, and he gave up a two-run double that obviously could have been much worse.  Workman got the last out of the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.

Saturday’s win was more modest, but it was a win nonetheless.  5-1 is a pretty satisfying score.  And Lester was, without a doubt, the star of the show.  He pitched a full eight innings of one-run ball and gave up only three hits and two walks while striking out five.  He threw 116 pitches, eighty of which were strikes.  He went one-two-three in his first three innings and gave up his only run in the fourth because he gave up a triple to lead it off, and it turned into a run on a groundout.  So even in the inning during which the one blemish of his performance occurred, he still managed to derive an out from it.  He ended up facing five in the fourth due to a walk, and he faced four in the fifth and sixth.  He went one-two-three in the seventh and issued another walk in the eighth.  Yeah.  Master.  Morales pitched the ninth.

So it was really, really nice that we gave him run support.  Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a groundout by Middlebrooks.  Pedroia led off the third with a single and scored on a double by Papi, who scored on a single by Gomes.  Ross led off the fourth with a single and scored on a single by Victorino.  And Napoli led off the fifth with a walk and scored on a sac fly by Nava.  Clearly the leadoff was very good for us.

And last but not least, we won yesterday by a score of 9-2.  In a way, it was a fitting way to contribute to the roast of Mariano Rivera, which, if I may say so, was hilarious and seemed to be taken in the correct stride by all.  The Yanks probably thought they had Buchholz when they were the first to score.  It was only one run in the first, but scoring in the first inning can do a lot to boost your confidence.  But it was one of those earned unearned runs; Buchholz issued a walk and then himself made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, and then the runner scored on a groundout.  So it was Buchholz who made his own fielding error, so it’s kind of funny to call that unearned.  All told, he gave up just the one run on two hits in six innings, walking four and striking out three.  Thornton pitched the seventh, Breslow pitched the eighth, and Webster pitched the ninth, during which he gave up a run thanks to a walk-single combination that, in the grand scheme of things, really didn’t matter at all.

Fortunately, we too scored in the first inning.  But we scored more.  Pedroia grounded out, and then Nava doubled and scored on a single by Papi, who moved to second on a wild pitch.  And then Napoli lit up the place with a two-run shot all the way to deep, deep center field.  And we added insurance in one of the coolest ways possible in the fourth.  Napoli walked to lead off but was out in a force by Salty.  Salty moved to second on a passed ball and third on a groundout by Drew, and then Bogaerts walked.  So we had runners at the corners.  And then it was Bradley’s turn to bat.  And suddenly, cool as ice, Salty just slides on into home.  Yes.  That’s right.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia stole home.  It was epically awesome.  It was so polished and clean, like he does it all the time.  I’m telling you, he timed it perfectly, and there was nothing the Yanks could do about it.  It was absolutely perfect.  He nailed it right on.  Wow.  It was awesome.  And we weren’t even done.  In the fifth, after Pedroia walked, Nava doubled, and Papi walked intentionally, Carp got hit by a pitch, and with nowhere to go, Pedroia just had to score.  In the sixth, Bogaerts doubled and Pedroia walked, and each scored on a single, the first by Nava and the second by Papi.  In the seventh, Bogaerts singled, Bradley got hit, and both scored on a single by Pedroia.

In other news, the Pats are really starting the regular season off right, having secured another win, albeit a close one, against the Jets, 13-10.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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This was an epic week.  It was an epic, epic week.

Last Saturday, we bested the Other Sox in a big way.  Peavy pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four; Breslow pitched the eighth, and Britton pitched the ninth.  Those two runs were the result of a single-force out combination in the third and a single-single combination in the fourth.  But we scored more.  In the first, Ellsbury singled and scored on a single by Napoli.  Napoli and Gomes hit back-to-back doubles in the third.  And two singles, a double, two groundouts, and another single yielded another three runs in the fourth.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Bogaerts in the fifth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the sixth, and a wild pitch brought in the game’s last run for a final score of 7-2.

We managed to walk away with a win last Sunday as well.  Doubront gave up four runs on seven hits in less than four innings of work, and the rest of the game was pitched by Workman, who got the win, as well as Morales, Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara, who got the save.  Workman and Breslow each allowed one run of their own, but fortunately, yet again we scored more.  Carp singled, Salty walked, and both scored on a single by Ellsbury in the second; Victorino and Pedroia both walked, and Ellsbury and Victorino scored on a double by Papi.  Drew hit a solo shot in the third.  And Ellsbury walked and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fourth with a little help from a throwing error.

We began our series with Detroit on Monday with a loss, which was unfortunate because Lackey pitched really well, giving up only three runs in over seven innings of work.  We lost because we got shut out.  Again.  It was just one of those days where good pitching happened to coincide with bad, or in this case nonexistent, hitting.

Tuesday’s game went a lot better; good pitching coincided with good pitching, and a lack of hitting coincided with a lack of hitting, but we did that much better to pull it off.  Specifically, we did one run better, winning by a final score of 2-1.  The game was literally won in the fifth inning, when Gomes singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Middlebrooks.  Lester gave up only one run in seven innings, and the relief corps, featuring appearances by four pitchers, held it together.

But I have to say that the highlight of this past week was unquestionably our epic victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, during which we scored a whopping twenty runs.  That’s right.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Let me repeat that.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Wow.  With that run total alone, we could have won every game for at least a week.  Dempster started that one and gave up those four runs in his six innings; Workman, Morales, and De La Rosa each pitched an inning after that.  But that offensive performance was supremely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  The only member of the starting lineup not to have gotten at least one hit was Pedroia, and even he managed to bat in a run.  We put twenty-five base runners on the field that day, and only five did not step on home plate.  The only inning in which we didn’t score was the first.  In the second, Nava singled and Drew homered.  In the third, Ellsbury homered.  Papi led off the fourth with a homer.  Victorino singled and scored on Pedroia’s sac fly in the fifth.  And then came the sixth, which was one of the biggest and most massive innings I have ever seen.  We scored eight runs in the sixth inning alone; that’s more than we’ve scored in some games and even over the course of several games combined.  It was absolutely amazing.  First, Nava walked, Napoli doubled, and Drew walked intentionally to load the bases with nobody out.  Then Carp came in to pinch-hit and ended up walking, which scored a run.  Then Detroit made a pitching change, and Middlebrooks proceeded to welcome the new pitcher to the game by going hard on the second pitch of the at-bat for a grand slam.  Yeah.  A grand slam.  Like I said, it was epic.  Then Ellsbury struck out, Victorino got hit, Pedroia struck out, Papi doubled in another run, and Nava’s homer accounted for another two.  Like I said, it was epic.  We followed our eight-run sixth with a five-run seventh.  Drew doubled, and then Middlebrooks was awarded the home run that he deserved after a review.  Then Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Quintin Berry, who came in to pinch-run for Victorino in the previous inning.  And then Papi homered for another two runs.  And then Napoli led off the eighth with a homer.  Those eight home runs in a single game, a feat previously achieved in 1977, tied a club record.  It was the first time any team had done it since 2010.  (Interestingly, we played the Blue Jays in that ’77 game, and it was the Blue Jays who did it in 2010.) It was also a banner day for Papi, who collected his two thousandth hit in the process and who deserved every second of the standing ovation that he received.  He also passed Billy Williams for forty-seventh on the all-time homer list.

We carried that offensive momentum with us right into our next win.  We started our series with the Evil Empire on Thursday, and the final score was 9-8.  Peavy gave up four runs in six innings, Thornton gave up another two, and Tazawa blew his save by giving up another two.  Then Breslow was awarded the win, and Uehara was awarded the save.  We needed ten innings to get it done, but the fact that we got it done was the greatest part.  Lavarnway and Middlebrooks led off the third with a pair of singles, and Lavarnway scored on a double by Ellsbury while Middlebrooks scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Middlebrooks homered in the fourth.  Victorino led off the fifth with a homer; then, Pedroia, Papi, and Nava loaded the bases with nobody out with two singles and a walk.  Pedroia scored on a single by Napoli, and Papi scored on a force out by Lavarnway.  Nava doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway in the seventh.  The bottom of the seventh was an enormous mess, during which the blown save occurred; fortunately, with two out in the ninth, Napoli singled and scored on a single by Drew.  With one out in the tenth, Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Victorino.

The same good things can be said about Friday’s game, which, thanks in large part to the Yankees’ bullpen, we won, 9-8.  Doubront himself actually gave up six runs on six walks and three hits, one of which was a home run.  But our bullpen held it together.  Meanwhile, Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a single by David Ross.  Napoli led off the fourth with a double and scored on a groundout by Drew.  Middlebrooks led off the fifth with a solo shot.  And then we scored another five runs in the seventh inning alone, during which the Yanks went through three pitching changes.  Ross singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Victorino singled, and Carp walked to load the bases.  Pedroia singled in Ross, which kept the bases loaded, and after Papi struck out, Napoli worked the count full after receiving seven pitches but went yard in a huge way on the eighth pitch, delivering an enormously massive grand slam.  I can’t even describe the awesomeness of it all.  And we weren’t even done.  With one out in the eighth, Middlebrooks singled and then Victorino homered them both in.  Carp singled, Pedroia grounded out, and Papi and Napoli each walked.  Nava walked in one run, and Drew singled in another.

Yesterday, we enjoyed yet another high scoring performance, winning 13-9.  Lackey lasted less than six innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits, and then Britton, one of four relievers that we had to sent out, allowed two runs of his own.  But, in keeping with the week’s theme, we scored more.  Papi led off the second with a double, and Napoli followed with a home run.  Bogaerts led off the third with a double, Victorino got hit, and then it was Gomes who homered.  We had four straight scoring plays in the fourth, after Middlebrooks and Bradley led it off with two singles: Lavarnway doubled, Bogaerts grounded out, Victorino doubled, and Gomes singled.  And then Pedroia doubled and Papi hit a sac fly.  Each of those scoring plays accounted for one run.  Bradley walked in the fifth, and one out later, Bogaerts hit a two-run shot.  And then Napoli homered in the ninth.

We played very well yesterday also, but it wasn’t good enough.  This one was evenly matched, but the wrong team came out on top.  Lester turned in a quality start, giving up only three runs over the course of eight innings.  But they just scored one more run than we did.  Papi and Carp led off the second with back-to-back doubles that accounted for our first run, and Papi doubled and scored on Salty’s groundout in the sixth.  And then Middlebrooks delivered in a big way, smacking a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth.  But Workman’s not-so-excellent work in the bottom of the inning did us in.  He looked great at first, but between the first two outs of the frame, he allowed a single, which became important when he issued a wild pitch that brought the runner in.  And so we lost, 4-3.

And, as if our awesome performances were not awesome enough, we find ourselves in first place in the AL East, eight and a half games above Tampa Bay.  (The Yankees, might I add, are eleven games out of first, which is good for fourth in our division, and at this moment, they are not even in the running for the Wild Card.) We also have the best winning percentage in the entire Major Leagues.  And that’s a great place to be.

In other news, the Patriots played the first regular-season game of the year yesterday! We beat the Bills, 23-21, in a real nailbiter that went right down to the wire.  We went 3-1 in preseason, beating the Eagles, 31-22, and then the Buccaneers, 25-21, and after losing to the Lions, 40-9, which was especially scathing, we beat the Giants, 28-20.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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That’s the thing about this game.  You never really know how it’s going to turn out.  We started out behind, but then we tied it up and scored an insurance run.  And that insurance run was actually the winning run, as it turns out.  All it took was one extra run and a solid pitching performance, and there you go.

Lackey turned in his latest solid start: three runs on seven hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over seven and a third innings.  Fortunately, we managed to tie it up and then take the lead.

He secured the game’s first out but then gave up the game’s first run thanks to a single-double combination.  He issued a walk to lead off the third, and one out later, he gave up a home run.  He also gave up a solo shot to lead off the sixth.  After inducing a popout to lead off the eighth, Breslow came in and completed the eighth.  Uehara got a save for his work in the ninth.

We got on the board in the third.  Drew led off with a walk and scored on a single by Victorino.  Drew led off the seventh with a single, Bogaerts lined out, Ellsbury singled, Victorino lined out, and Drew and Ellsbury both scored on a single by Pedroia.  Two outs into the eighth, Salty doubled and scored on a single by Carp.  

It was just a single.  And Carp wasn’t even starting.  He came in to pinch-hit.  He came in to pinch-hit and laid down a perfect single at the perfect time.  It’s funny how that works out.  So we ended up winning, 4-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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This one’s going to be short.  Usually you don’t have much to say because it’s a close pitcher’s duel.  But even when you don’t have much to say, it can be really great or really bad.  In this case, I don’t know that it was really bad because it was a great game.  I mean, it was bad because we lost.  It’s just unfortunate that their pitching had it just as on as ours did.  We caved first.

In total, only one above the minimum came to the plate through three between the two teams.  We were the proud owner of a four-batter first, but neither team scored until the fourth, and I am sorry to say that it wasn’t us.  Lackey gave up a single to lead off the fourth, and two outs later, he gave up a home run.

And that was it.  We got shut out, and Lackey broke first.  The teams were so evenly matched, and we didn’t even put together a rally to speak of.  We managed two hits all night.  Meanwhile, Lackey went the distance.  He gave up just those two runs, but he lost because we didn’t put anything together to back him up.  It was awful.  No pitcher in that situation should ever have to receive a loss.

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So we lost the series after all.  This was a tough one to lose, and not just because losing this game meant losing a four-game series.  It was a tough one to lose because of that but also because we really battled to hold on.  Lackey pulled it together, Britton kept it together, and the hitters did a nice job of putting us back in it.  I really thought we’d be able to turn it around, but for the last third of the game, we were pretty much silent.

Lackey pitched seven innings and gave up four runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out five.  His first run scored in the first, when he gave up two walks and a single.  He gave up two more in the second thanks to a double and two singles.  And he gave up a solo shot with one out in the third.  But he went one-two-three in the fourth, fifth, and seventh, and he faced five batters in the sixth.  So he did settle down.  It was just too late.  But I give him a lot of credit for reigning it in, gaining control, and grinding it out.  You could tell that this one didn’t come easily.  And I just wish we would have won, first of all because winning is a fun and important thing to do, and secondly because we should have been able to do so.  Britton came on for the eighth and kept the score as it was.

After all, we were the ones who scored first.  Victorino doubled and later scored on a throwing error.  The Royals scored all of their runs before we scored again.  In the sixth, Nava singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Lavarnway.

And we failed to get another rally going after that.  Ultimately, we lost, 4-3.

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I feel like we haven’t shut out our opposition as much as we’re getting shut out.  This shouldn’t be happening.

We were so evenly matched, it was scary.  Unfortunately, Lackey caved first.  He struck out his first batter of the fifth, but then he gave up a single, a walk and another single that resulted in one run.  He was pulled after he gave up a double and a single to lead off the seventh, but after striking out his first batter, Tazawa gave up a sac fly to score another run.  Breslow pitched the eighth.

Meanwhile, we collected a grand total of five hits and were shut out yet again.

The final score was two-zip, and Lackey took a very undeserved loss.

Boston Globe Staff/Bob Levey

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Fifteen innings.  Wow.  How exhausting was that? The game exceeded five hours.  We’ve gone into extras during a decent number of games this year, but fifteen innings? We had the lead during the regular nine, and it was really awesome to finish the night that way.  But even more awesome was winning a game that lasted for fifteen innings.  Can you imagine if we’d lost this one? It would have been completely and totally devastating.  We didn’t have a lot to do to win; all we had to do was score one run.  It’s exciting to win, it’s awesome to win, it’s exhilarating to win, but especially in this particular situation, it’s also a huge relief to win.

That would be a quality start from Lackey.  Three runs on eight hits while walking only one and striking out six over seven innings.  That is a strong, lengthy, efficient start; he threw ninety-five pitches, seventy-one of which were strikes.  He faced the minimum through three and then a single, a steal, and a double led to Seattle’s first run in the fourth.  En route to securing the first out of the sixth, he loaded the bases thanks to two singles and a walk.  That opportunity produced two runs thanks to a sac fly, which at least provided another out, and a single.  The seventh inning was the only one during which Seattle did not sure, during which Lackey did not also face the minimum.

Thanks to three straight singles in the bottom of the first, we had the bases loaded with nobody out.  But Papi grounded into a double play.  Then Napoli walked, and Salty ended the inning by lining out.  It was a complete disappointment.  But we took a one-run lead when we scored twice in the fifth.  Brock Holt doubled, Ellsbury reached on a fielding error, and Victorino reached and Holt scored on another fielding error.  Ellsbury was able to score on Pedroia’s grounder.

When the Mariners scored twice in the sixth, they took a one-run lead of their own, which we promptly countered by scoring another two runs in the seventh, both of which came courtesy of Pedroia, who unleashed on a sinker.  He was thrown six pitches in that at-bat; the fourth one was a slider, which he took for a ball, and the rest were sinkers.  The count was full.  And he turned on the laser show yet again.  After Victorino had already singled, that is.  So we scored two runs on one swing.

Tazawa came on for the eighth and gave up a solo shot with one out.  That was the tying run.  It was awful.  We had a one-run lead, which was obviously more fragile than we thought.  I mean, you’re supposed to bring in the reliever to preserve a lead, not to squander it.

Uehara pitched the ninth and tenth.  Thornton pitched the eleventh.  Breslow pitched the twelfth and thirteenth.  Britton pitched the fourteenth and fifteenth.

Yes.  Fifteen innings.  It ended as humbly as it started.  Pedroia walked and moved to second on a groundout by Papi.  Napoli was walked intentionally, Salty struck out, and Gomes walked.  So we had the bases loaded with two out.  And it was the best score we had in, well, hours.

Drew was up.  He took a slider for a ball, a sinker for a strike, and a slider for a ball.  And then he got another sinker.  The Mariners had not always had good luck with sinkers last night.  And Drew got one, and all he did was single.  He just hit a single.  That’s all.  But the bases were loaded.  Pedroia scored.  Cue mob.  End game.  5-4.

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