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Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Damon’

The Indians are nothing special.  The fact that they beat us doesn’t make them special.  It doesn’t even make them a good team.  These days, the sad and pathetic fact is that beating us doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  It just means that the opposition is a decent team that happened to catch us on one of our oh-so-frequent off nights.

Beckett is the latest supposed ace to falter.  He lasted only two and one-third innings, his shortest start since 2008, and in that time managed to give seven runs on seven hits, two of which were home runs, a two-run home run with two out in the second and a leadoff solo shot in the third.  He walked two, struck out two, and threw fifty-six pitches.  Needless to say, it was not even a decent performance.  It was simply horrible.

He threw a good four-seam and two-seam.  His changeup, curveball, and cutter were all mediocre.  He was off to a fairly good start; he allowed a double in the first but secured three solid outs.  In the second he allowed one run on a sac fly and the first home run; in the third he allowed the second home run followed a few batters later by two back-to-back RBI doubles.  Miller replaced him after that and secured two quick outs to end the inning.

Miller retired the side in the fourth.  Hill retired the side in the fifth.  Atchison allowed two singles in the sixth but got through it and retired the side in the seventh.  Morales allowed a single and a hit batsman in the eight but got through it.  And Aceves came on in the ninth.  He allowed a single and a hit batsman to start things off; after a lineout, he allowed a run on a sac fly.  Then he walked one and finally ended the inning on a groundout.

Ironically, Beckett’s nemesis on the mound last night for the Tribe was none other than Derek Lowe, who picked up the win.  Also worth noting is the fact that Johnny Damon was their leadoff man.

For our part, we went down in order in the first.  Gonzalez led off the second with a double and later scored on a single by Aviles for our first run.  We hit two singles in the third but didn’t convert either of them to runs.  We loaded the bases with two out for Sweeney, who grounded out to end the fourth.  Gonzalez and Middlebrooks hit back-to-back singles, and Gonzalez scored on a double by Daniel Nava for our second run in the fifth.  We went down in order in the sixth.  Pedroia hit a solo shot to right center field to lead off the seventh for our third and final run.  He hit it on the second pitch of his at-bat, and both pitches were four-seams clocked at ninety-one miles per hour.  The first was a strike.  The second, Pedroia crushed out of the park.

In the eighth, three walks loaded the bases with two out for Pedroia, who this time simply popped out.  And in a fitting end to what was an altogether sad, pathetic, and frustrating game, we went down in order in the ninth and lost, 8-3.  So it goes.

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Honestly, I can’t even believe this.  This is so much like our opening of the season that it seriously scares me to watch us play these days.  Remember in April when we’d lose strings of games, then have a ridiculously good game, and then lose more strings of games? Yeah.  Sounds a little too familiar, doesn’t it.

In the latest frustration, we lost, 9-2.  It didn’t matter that another great play at the plate was made to get Johnny Damon.  Honestly it’s never good to lose but I don’t think it would be as bad if we lost to a team that wasn’t the Rays (or the Yankees, but in this case we played the Rays).  Kyle Weiland started and took the loss.  He only lasted three innings.  He gave up four runs on three hits, thanks in part to a three-run home run with two out in the third.  The other run was scored right before the home run as a result of an RBI single.  So all four runs were given up in the third.  And it all started in the worst possible way: a piece of bat from that single went through Scutaro’s legs, which distracted him from the ball.  Before that, Weiland had faced the minimum in the game’s first two frames.  He walked two and struck out one.  By all accounts, he ended up being horrendous.

Obviously the bullpen wasn’t much better.  Trever Miller pitched a scoreless forth despite inheriting two baserunners.  Atchison pitched a scoreless fifth.  Morales gave up two runs in the sixth thanks to a two-run home run.  Then Albers gave up three runs, two of which were the result of a two-run home run.  Then Andrew Miller and Bowden finished off the game.

The offensive report is clearly going to be short.  We had the bases loaded with one out in the third and scored once when Gonzalez grounded out.  We had runners at the corners with two out in the ninth, and a single by McDonald brought in our second and final run.  Other than those two innings, we either went down in order or something pretty close to it.  Papi and Scutaro with two hits each posted our only multi-hit games.

We have thirteen games left to play.  Beckett is starting the first of those today.  Let’s turn this around now.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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I’ve seen many truly great first innings of ballgames, and yesterday’s was not one of them.  A throwing error, four singles, a force out, and a double play later, we were already down by three.  (Officially, you can thank Scutaro for one of those, since he made a throwing error.  Unofficially, you can thank Scutaro for two, because one was the error and the other wasn’t technically an error; he just couldn’t come up with a clean play.  That first inning was not Scutaro’s finest hour.) That is not an auspicious start to a baseball game by any stretch of the imagination, and since it was Lackey on the mound, I was already thinking, “Here we go again.”

I am pleased to report that I was wrong.  Lackey only lasted five and two-thirds innings, but he really settled down after that twenty-seven-pitch first.  The turnaround was actually quite remarkable.  One might we’re writing off his start for good, and the next minute we’re cruising through the game’s first half.  Those three runs he gave up in the first and a solo shot he allowed later were the only runs he allowed.  Normally I wouldn’t be so thrilled with a starter who gave up four runs in less than six innings, but considering who the starter was and his circumstances, I can’t complain.  He walked one and gave up ten hits but struck out seven.  He threw 107 pitches, seventy-four for strikes.  So he was really inefficient, but he threw good pitches.  He rolled out all six of the pitches in his arsenal and used them all effectively.  Of all the pitches, his curveball had the lowest strike percentage, and that was about sixty.  (Technically, it would actually be his two-seam; he threw only one of them for a strike, but considering he threw only about two in total, that doesn’t exactly count.)

Lackey was removed in the sixth.  And then we saw a bit of a replay of what happened when he pitched for the Angels in the 2009 ALDS.  When he saw Tito come out of the dugout, he was not happy, and he said so.  On one hand, that’s what you want to see from every play on the team.  You want to see that fierce competitiveness.  That’s not something we’ve seen from Lackey in a long time.  I mean, he’s always a competitor with perseverance and work ethic, but the fact that he showed it in that way technically can be considered a good thing.  It means he had confidence that he could finish what he started and that he knew he rescued himself from an outing that could have tanked to an epic degree and was now on the right track.  And he didn’t want to let it go until he did everything he could to ensure that his start would be as top-notch as it was going to get.  But on the other hand, it’s not really compatible with the way Tito likes to manage.  Tito is a pretty quiet guy.  He would never call out a player in public, and what Lackey did was kind of like calling out the manager in public.  When Tito goes out of his way to be discreet, he deserves the same courtesy from his players.  If Lackey had a problem with being removed, he could have told Tito about it behind closed doors, just like Tito would have gone behind closed doors to tell Lackey he had a problem with him.  I’m sure they talked it out afterwards and everything’s all good.  I guess what I’m saying is that Lackey should feel free to be himself as a ballplayer but to also be mindful of the impact it has and not go out of line.

He was taken out in favor of Randy Williams; he left two outs and two baserunners (Damon reached on a fielding error by…Gonzalez? I didn’t really know he knew how to make fielding errors) in his wake.  Williams secured the last out of the inning as well as the first two in the seventh, and then we went to Bard, who finished off the seventh and allowed a double in the eighth that facilitated a steal of third but ultimately finished that inning too.

Paps came on for the ninth and allowed a triple followed by a single.  Luckily, that run didn’t matter.  But, like I always say, what if it did matter? It’s possible that that inning would have lost us the game in that case.  Closers can’t afford to pitch weakly under any circumstances whatsoever because you never know.

The reason why that run didn’t matter is because we totally dominated.  Salty walked in the second on five pitches, and Reddick sent a cutter to the very back of the first deck of seats in right field.  It was hugely huge; I’m sure his family, who was present at the game, really enjoyed seeing that.  It just goes to show you why walks will haunt.  We’ll make you pay every time.

The festivities continued in the third.  Gonzalez led off the inning with another five-pitch walk, and Youk followed with a single. Papi brought them both home with a double and scored himself on a double by Drew.

Ellsbury led off the fourth with a home run.  It was a slider, the ninth pitch he saw overall and the first of that at-bat.  It ended up in the first few rows of seats in right field.  It was his second dinger in as many games.  Ironically enough, hitting home runs is not something he was ever supposed to do.  Nobody ever thought of him as a power hitter.  Not that I’m complaining.  The more tools, the merrier.

We took a break for a while and didn’t score again until the seventh, when Pedroia smacked a fastball into the stands in right.  For the first time in his career, it was his third home run in as many games, and he’s hit seven home runs in his last four teen games.  This one was another hugely powerful swing.  Here’s another guy who was never supposed to hit home runs.  It really is so much fun to watch Pedroia hit home runs.  You think he’s such a small guy, but then he just uncorks this massive swing on an unsuspecting baseball and it goes way deep.

Even in the ninth, we were still piling it on.  Scutaro opened the inning with a single.  Ellsbury then reached on interference by the catcher.  He swung late, and Jose Lobaton reached out too soon for the pitch, so his glove got in the way.  Then Pedroia singled to load the bases, and Gonzalez of all people proved to be the first out of the inning.  Youk walked, and Ellsbury scored on Papi’s groundout.

And then we were done.  The final score was 9-5.  It was awesome.  I can’t say Friday’s game was avenged because every game counts in the grand scheme of things, but it was heartening to see that the team’s still got it, and the All-Star break may have done more good than bad as far as players’ rhythms and our momentum is concerned.

Bobby Jenks is back on the DL for the third time this season.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s good news.  I haven’t seen anything from him that I’m in a rush to see again.  In contrast, Beckett is pitching today in the series finale.  Remember that his absence from the All-Star Game was a precautionary move.  So we expect good things.

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That start was lousy as lousy gets.  Now when you look back to the game that started the second half, you’re saddled with a memory like this.  It provides no momentum, no morale, and no message to any other team that says, “Here we come.” Instead it just sort of says, “There we went.”

Miller gave up seven runs on five hits while walking five and striking out zero in two and two-thirds innings.  As is often the case, you can learn everything you need to know about why his outing was bad from the kinds of scoring plays that occurred because they’re manifestations of the issues that were plaguing him all night.  Or all two and two-thirds innings, anyway.  The game began with such promise; Johnny Damon hit a ball that would have fallen in if not for Scutaro’s Ellsbury-like running, diving catch.  Things quickly unraveled after that.  The first run, scored in the first inning, resulted from two walks followed by a single; this tells his that his command, control, and efficiency were lacking.  The next four runs, scored in the second inning, were the result of a single, a walk, a sac bunt (the runner ended up at first), a force out at home (a perfectly executed play by Pedroia and Salty, by the way), and a home run.  In theory, it was supposed to be a changeup.  In practice, it was a grand slam.  This tells us that his location and execution were also lacking.  The fifth run, scored in the third inning, was again the result of singles and walks.  After he walked Damon on four pitches to load the bases, Aceves replaced him and walked in an inherited runner.

Clearly, we had some catch-up to play, and we did our best to play it.  McDonald got us on the board in the second with a solo shot to left.  Heat doesn’t scare him, so it was really fun to watch him get up there and swing away at this ninety-six-mile-per-hour fastball.

An inning later, Ellsbury also homered on the exact same pitch at the exact same speed but to right field, which brought in his fiftieth RBI of the year.

We didn’t do anything else until the sixth, which Pedroia led off with a solo shot on the exact same pitch at almost the exact same speed to left center field.  You knew as soon as the ball left the bat that it was going out.  You knew it.  His swing was just massively powerful.

Wheeler came in for Aceves in the sixth and gave up a two-run home run, which set us back.  In the seventh, Navarro worked a seven-pitch walk and Scutaro smacked a two-run shot on the exact same pitch but a little slower, about ninety miles per hour.  It was a big lob out to left.

The only run we did not score via the long ball was the result of Pedroia’s double to lead off the eighth followed by Youk’s single to bring him in.

Morales and Albers went in to pitch the late innings, and then it was over.  It was a truly valiant effort of course, but we lost, 9-6.

Oh, and Papi was suspended for four games for the brawl, which he is appealing.  So between the loss and the suspension, that is not even remotely how you want to start the second half.  No, sir.

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Wow.  Carl Crawford.  His third of the year.  If he continues like this, he wouldn’t even need to make every single hit.  He’d just need to make the right ones.  He may not be on a hot streak at the plate, but he’s pretty hot as far as walkoffs are concerned.  So maybe his average is still pretty bad, but he’s been making those right hits, and for now I think that’s pretty good and a sign that things are improving, slowly but surely.

Beckett delivered another stellar start.  One run on five hits, two walks, and three K’s over six innings.  He threw eighty-three pitches, fifty-two for strikes.  So he had at least another solid inning in him for sure.  He came out of the game because he had a stiff neck.  After the game he said his neck wasn’t loose at all that night.  He’s not injured, but since two of our starters are already on the DL, Tito wanted to play it safe.

But those were some awesome six innings.  About half his curveballs were thrown for strikes, and he was working with a two-seam, a four-seam, a cutter, and a changeup that were just deadly.  They were unhittable.  Beckett led off the game with a one-two-three first that began with a strikeout on four pitches ending in the four-seam at ninety-four miles per hour.  He allowed his run in the second; he opened the inning with a walk and then allowed two consecutive singles.  In fact, after obtaining the inning’s first out, Beckett allowed another single to load the bases.  Fortunately, the inning’s last two outs followed, and his next two innings were both one-two-three; he threw eight pitches in the third and only five in the fourth.  That’s the thing about non-strikeout outs; they’re usually more efficient.  He notched his final two strikeouts in the sixth, back-to-back K’s to end it.  Both were five pitches long, and both ended with a fastball.  Last night, he procured his outs by other means like groundouts, flyouts, lineouts, and popups.  Obviously what’s important here is that nobody on the Tigers was able to make constructive contact with his pitches.  Not one of the hits he allowed were for extra bases.

Meanwhile, we recovered that run in the bottom of the second.  Youk and Papi both singled, and Youk came home on Drew’s sac fly.  The tie at one held until the fourth, when, with two out, Drew launched a home run into the first few rows of seats in right field.  It was a fastball that should have been away but wasn’t.  And that’s pretty much what happens all the time when you don’t locate a fastball.

So Beckett exited with a 2-1 lead, and Albers came on and pitched a scoreless seventh.  Papi added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot to lead it off, a towering blast into the first few rows of seats behind the bullpen.  A changeup up in the zone.  See, this is why location is so important.

At that point, we were feeling pretty good.  A pitcher’s duel is always a game in which one run seems like five, so a two run lead felt pretty solid.  Obviously with Daniel Bard coming up, it would have to be, right? No.  Not really.  And the number of times we’ve said that this year is pretty scary.

He came on for the eighth and allowed two consecutive solo shots.  The first was on a changeup, the second on a slider.  It was the second time in his career that he’d given up two home runs in one appearance.  (Unfortunately, the first time was on August 9, 2009 when we were playing the Yankees in New York and he gave up consecutive homers to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira, of all people.) So he tied the game and was rewarded with a well-deserved blown save.  Unbelievable.  Again, the importance of location; obviously it goes both ways.  If he keeps on doing this, there’s no way he’ll be fit to be a closer in the near future.  He finished that inning, and we went down in order in the bottom of the frame.  Paps pitched us through a ninth inning that could have gone just as badly, if not worse, run-wise.  After inducing a groundout, he allowed two consecutive singles and a walk to load the bases.  Thankfully, he followed that with a strikeout on three pitches and a strikeout on a foul tip of the third and fourth hitters in Detroit’s lineup.  Red Sox Nation exhaled as one.

So we were tied at three in the bottom of the ninth.  Youk worked an eight-pitch walk, and Iglesias came in to pinch-run.  Papi singled.  Drew was intentionally walked (I know, it’s pretty strange, but hey, the man earned it) to load the bases.  Lowrie hit what looked like it would be a routine fly ball.  But it dropped in very shallow left field.  Iglesias was coming around from third.  The crowd was going wild.  We were all expecting walkoff.

And then he was out at the plate in the fielder’s choice.  Talk about anticlimactic.  And then of course you’re thinking, how many chances at a walkoff are you going to get?

Enter Crawford.  He took a four-seam for a ball and a slider for a strike.  And then, on the third pitch of the at-bat, one a ninety-three-mile-per-hour fastball, he hit a single.  It was just a single.  But it was well-placed, and it was all he needed.  McDonald had come in to pinch-run for Papi, and he scored from third easily.  And with one swing of the bat, we were done, and we didn’t even have to go into extra innings, either.  4-3.  Carl Crawford, ladies and gentlemen!

Hideki Okajima was designated for assignment so that another lefty specialist, Franklin Morales, recently acquired from the Rockies for cash or a player to be named later, can join the roster.  Iglesias and Bowden are both going back to the minors.

Our winning streak is now at six games.  The last three of them were won in our last offensive chance of the game.  And we are about to enter a truly exciting weekend the likes of which we haven’t seen in almost a century, literally.  For the first time since we beat them in the World Series all the way back in 1918, the Chicago Cubs are coming to Fenway for three games starting tonight.  A lot has happened in those ninety-three years.  A lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of ugly.  On Saturday, both teams will be wearing throwback uniforms.  I’m psyched.  It’s going to be a blast.

In other news, the Bruins took a 2-1 series lead over the Lightning last night with a 2-0 shutout, courtesy of Tim Thomas.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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That was rough.  Lester pitched beautifully.  Well, I should qualify that.  He pitched a full seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts.  It’s not that that’s a bad outing.  It’s a good outing.  For most pitchers, that would be a great outing.  It’s just that we’re used to seeing even better from Lester.  Like no runs on three hits with no walks and ten strikeouts over eight innings.  For him, that’s good, but it doesn’t seem customary because, last night, it wasn’t good enough.

He threw 109 pitches, sixty-seven for strikes.  He threw really great cut fastballs for strikes, and he worked them up to ninety-five miles per hour.  His other pitches weren’t working as well.  He varied his speed; he mixed in some changeups, curveballs, and sinkers, but they weren’t thrown for strikes as often.

He threw fifteen pitches in the first inning.  He threw his highest total, twenty-two, in the third inning.  He had absolutely nothing to worry about until the fifth inning, when he got into trouble that he failed to escape.  It started with a groundout.  But then he gave up three straight singles to the bottom third of the order.  One run scored on a fielder’s choice, and two more scored on another single by – you guessed it – Johnny Damon of all people.  The inning finally ended with a groundout.  It took him twenty pitches to give up those three runs.

And then he just went right back to cruising like nothing happened, which is really the best way to go about it.  You don’t want to have a bad inning and then have another bad inning just because you had a bad inning.  He pitched two more innings before he was lifted, and they were pretty routine.  Maybe a single here, a walk there, a steal attempt there, and that goes back to the fact that, with Lester, we’re just used to not seeing any of that, so if any of it is there at all, we think it’s a sign of a bad outing.  For him it might be, but comparatively speaking it wasn’t so bad.  He fired seven pitches, five of them strikes, during his final inning.

So the one bad inning, as we’ve seen all too often, again rears its ugly head.  But we’re still talking about only three runs.  The bullpen held it together; the Rays didn’t score after that.  Bard pitched a solid, scoreless eighth, and Jenks pitched a solid, scoreless ninth.  So it’s a tribute to Lester that we consider that a bad inning, but our offense should have been able to handle it.  So the real unfortunate part is not that Lester gave up three runs.  It’s that we couldn’t score at least four.

McDonald picked up his first homer of the season in the third, a solo shot to lead off the inning.  It was the second pitch of the at-bat.  He received an eighty mile-per-hour changeup first but swung and missed.  Then he got a seventy-five mile-per-hour curveball, David Price’s first of the game, and was all over it.  He sent that into the Monster seats, and that actually gave us a one-run, short-lived lead.  After doubling to lead off the sixth, Pedroia came around to score on a double by Lowrie, who posted the lineup’s only multi-hit game.  He went two for four with two doubles.

The bottom of the ninth was our last chance.  Ellsbury pinch-hit for Cameron but struck out swinging on three pitches.  Drew pinch-hit for Tek but struck out swinging on six pitches.  Papi pinch-hit for McDonald but flied out to right on two pitches.  You know, Papi has hit at least one triple every season since 2000; he’s the only American League batter to do so for twelve straight seasons.  He actually legs out quite a few of them.  It sounds funny, but he’s capable of hustling and he does when he needs to.  So when he flied out to right, I was hoping that it would be in there for a triple.  He has one already; why not make it two on the year? And that ball just sailed right into that glove.  Game over.

To clarify, Papi was pinch-hitting because originally he was penciled out of the lineup since Tito wanted to increase the number of righties in the order against the southpaw.  Lowrie played third base, and Youk, for the first time in his career, started a game as the designated hitter.  He singled.  He struck out.  He didn’t do much else.

Congratulations to Crawford, who received both a Gold Glove award and a Silver Slugger award before the game for his work last season.  And then he got picked off in the first? Price made this quick move of his to first and caught Crawford several steps off the bag just standing there.  And Ben Zobrist makes that catch in right field in the fifth? That ball came off Tek’s bat and he was headed for extra bases for sure had it not been for that catch.

We lost, 3-2, and that’s the second straight pitcher’s duel that Lester has lost by one run.  We left six on base and went one for seven with runners in scoring position.  At least we didn’t have that many runners in scoring position, so we didn’t strand a whole heap of runners.  And that’s what I call a dysfunctional statement.  We should never have to find ourselves in a position where we’re glad we didn’t have that many runners in scoring position just so that we wouldn’t have to deal with squandering those opportunities.  But that’s because we only totaled five hits.  On the bright side, four of those five were for extra bases.  At least we scored a couple of runs, so it’s not like last time when Lester lost, 1-0, because we couldn’t plate a single man.  But it’s still a loss we shouldn’t have had to take.  Three pinch-hitters in the ninth, and we couldn’t get it done.

Well, Lackey is pitching tomorrow in the last game of the series.  We just have to keep moving right along.  Eventually, things will just click.  Until then, hold onto your hats.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Wow.  Just, wow.  I mean, what? But in the worst of ways.

Not so nonsensical now, is it? Dice-K’s start was as bad as Beckett’s was brilliant.  Dice-K was an absolute fail.  One hundred Major League starts under his belt, and nobody knows what’s going on.  In those starts, he’s forty-six and twenty-nine with a 4.28 ERA.  Let’s just get this over with.

The game began with such promise for Dice-K.  He threw ten pitches, all of them strikes.  Of course, Johnny Damon of all people just had to hit a home run, but there was a flyout, a strikeout, and a groundout.  So he made a mistake when he pitched to Damon.  Excellent pitchers en route to a solid outing may give up a home run early since they result when a pitch doesn’t move properly.  One mistake, one run.  Nothing to worry about.

The second inning is when the entire Boston baseball world imploded.  A double; bad way to start the inning, but he could bounce back.  A walk; clearly he’s having a problem locating the strike zone but he could settle down with the very next pitch.  A single; he’s not settling down today is he.  Then a two-run double, a two-run single, and a two-run homer.  Then another single.  And finally two groundouts and a strikeout.  Nope.  Not settling down.  Not even remotely.

He threw thirty-one pitches that inning.  He gave up a single and a walk in the third on six pitches in the third before he was finally lifted.  He threw a grand total of forty-seven pitches, thirty-two of them strikes.  His speed variation was fine.  His cutter was brilliant; eight of them were strikes.  Too bad he only threw nine of them.  He threw as many two-seams as curveballs: fourteen each.  His two-seam was pretty good.  His curveball, not so much.  Not so much his changeup and certainly not so much his four-seam, either.  His release point was all over the place, and he got wild with his off-speeds.  I don’t really know.  I think we’re all beyond trying to explain his problems.  If it’s not his command one day, it’s his control the next.  If it’s neither his command nor control, it’s his between-starts routine or his pre-start ritual or his post-start cool-down or any number of other things.  There’s just no end to it.  Call it epic frustration, but I’m through fishing for excuses.  He failed.  That’s all there is to it.

Dice-K put us in a hole seven runs deep.  If only that depth had held.  A seven-run deficit is as close as we’d come to winning.  Wake came on, and his knuckleball didn’t exactly work wonders.  When a knuckleballer is on, he is on, and there’s no way you can possibly see that ball well enough to hit it.  But when a knuckleballer is off, it can get ugly.  A pickoff and a double play, and we were out of the inning.  It looked like the former.

But not for long.  The fourth started with a groundout; a good start.  Then there was a double; he could settle down on the very next pitch.  Of course, Johnny Damon of all people just had to hit a single that brought in another run.  Then a lineout and a flyout; one run is bad considering the seven we already had to deal with, but it could have been worse.  Next inning, a groundout.  Then a fielding error.  Then a flyout.  Then an RBI double.  And then a lineout.  Clearly he was making it slow and painful.

Then the sixth got ugly.  A triple, a walk, an RBI passed ball, a single, a foulout, a two-RBI double, and Wake was finally taken out.  Aceves came up and induced a popup and a groundout.  After that, it was smooth sailing for our pitching staff, but honestly, the damage had obviously been done.  Reliving it now is way more painful than I thought.  Not the way you want to start a series.

And then there was Wheeler, who delivered the final blow.  He allowed four runs on five hits in the ninth.

Like our loss to the Yankees, we paired bad pitching with bad fielding and bad hitting.  We obtained our first run in the third; Pedroia walked with two outs and Gonzalez tripled him in.  I was so glad to see him in the lineup, healthy and hitting.  We scored again in the fourth; Papi hit a towering triple off the center field wall and came home on Drew’s single.  In the seventh, Crawford singled, advanced two bases after two walks, and came home on Papi’s single.  In the eighth, Ellsbury hooked a solo homer that cleared the bullpens in right.  (And he made a spectacular front diving catch in the fourth.  He amazes me every time.  Every single time a ball is hit to the periphery of center field, he somehow manages to be under it.) In the ninth, Lowrie singled, advanced on a double by Youk, and scored on a sac fly by Papi.  That was all we managed in our last stand.

Ellsbury and Papi both went two for four.  Crawford finished two for five with a double, but nobody was paying attention to the fact that this was his first game against his former team.  Everyone was way too busy trying to figure out how in the world this was again happening to us.

Each individual scoring play was an excellent manifestation of the lineup’s ability.  We mixed power with line drives with walks.  We created some chances and made the most of them.  It just wasn’t epically enough.  Not even close.  The theme of the night really was a very slow and very painful loss; first Dice-K gave up a torrent of runs, and then Wake made it worse run by run.  And the lineup put up zero after zero.  This is what I was talking about yesterday; not making the most of chances with runners in scoring position doesn’t hurt you when your ace is throwing fire and making it dance, but it comes under pretty sharp focus when your starter leaves before a third of the game is over, your bullpen wipes away the day off it had, and your batters don’t really do much of anything in the clutch.  As Gonzalez said after the game, we lost as a team.  We left eleven men on base and were only two for twelve with runners in scoring position.  I’m all too used to it.

We’ve got Lester today.  Lester will give us a quality start.  Lester is an ace.  Lester will change things.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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