Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Zimmermann’

That was a tough loss.  A really tough loss.  Not only because we just got swept but also because we could have had it in the bag, and it should have been us celebrating a win.  Again, it was a situation where the two teams were remarkably evenly matched.  The fact that this other evenly matched time is Washington is still going to take some serious getting used to.  Meanwhile, we have nothing to content ourselves with but the hope that we’ll win our next game.

Lester pitched phenomenally well.  Unfortunately, so did Jordan Zimmermann.  Lester pitched seven innings; Zimmermann pitched seven innings.  Lester gave up three runs on six hits; Zimmermann gave up three runs on seven hits.  Lester walked two and struck out nine; Zimmermann walked two and struck out seven.  Lester threw 107 pitches; Zimmermann threw 105 pitches.  Lester threw sixty-seven pitches; Zimmermann threw seventy pitches.

Washington struck first; Lester’s second pitch of the game was hit for a double, which eventually turned into a run on a groundout.  Lester had a great one-two-three second inning and got a crucial called strikeout to end the third with the bases loaded.

We scored our first run in the third; Punto led it off with a walk, Podsednik singled him to third, and he scored on a force out by Pedroia.  Papi led off the fourth with a solo shot into the bullpen on a fastball.  It was a wallop of a swing in classic Papi fashion.  And at the time, it gave us a one-run lead.  Unfortunately it wouldn’t last.

Lester had a one-two-three fifth and sixth.  We had two on base in the fifth with whom we did nothing, and we went down in order in the sixth.  Lester gave up his last two runs in the seventh; he gave up two consecutive singles to start it and then obtained two quick outs before allowing a double that scored two.

We scored our third and final run in the seventh as well; Sweeney and Punto hit back-to-back singles, McDonald hit a sac bunt to move them over, and then Sweeney scored on a double by Podsednik.

Atchison replaced Lester and had himself a one-two-three eighth; so far, so good.  We had two on base in the eighth and did nothing with that opportunity.

And then everything was ruined in the ninth.  Aceves replaced Atchison and blew it completely; he took the loss.  He induced a flyout, a walk, a strikeout, and then a double that scored one.  The inning ended on a popout.  Aside from one walk in the ninth, we didn’t do anything to come back.  We lost, 4-3.  Podsednik went two for five, and Papi went three for four with the double and home run.  Lester received a no-decision, which is fine, because he didn’t deserve the loss.  Aceves deserved every bit of it.

I never thought I’d see the day when we’d be relieved to get on the road, but it wouldn’t be the first time this year.  Sad, sad, sad.

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So the big day came and went, and the high expectations went with it.  After all the hype, it was a disaster.  We lost, 9-3.  John Smoltz pitched five innings and gave up five runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts.  Four runs allowed in the first, one in the third, and the outing was over two innings later.  And  what made it worse was that we were in Washington.  Smoltz has spent his entire career in the National League, so he’s seen these guys before.  He’s had experience pitching in National League parks against National League hitters and batting, even.  Furthermore, he was facing the Nationals.  Worst team in the National League, and worst team in baseball.  This should’ve been cakewalk.  What better way to ease you back into the groove than to go head-to-head with the worst there is? But he couldn’t even do that.  After all the hype, it was a let-down.  There’s always the first-start argument to fall back on, though.  He’s playing for a new Major League team for the first time in his career, so fine, we’ll cut him some slack.  And if worst comes to worst, there’s always Justin Masterson and Clay Buchholz.  And Clay Buccholz is getting very restless down there in Pawtucket.  Trust me, he was ready for the Majors right after Spring Training.  And we know about Masterson.  So we have options if this doesn’t pan out.

Bard and Saito didn’t help the cause; each allowed two runs.  Bard made a fielding error.  Ramirez pitched a perfect eighth, but by then of course there was nothing to be done.

Terry Francona fiddled with the lineup again and made what I thought were some good moves.  At least in theory.  It’s always hard to tell what exactly causes a loss, whether it’s that the lineup was just that bad or the opposing pitcher was just that good (shocking as that may be, coming from someone in a Nats uniform).  Ortiz batted cleanup last night behind Bay.  He’s certainly earned it.  Bay, too.  Drew batted second with Lowell fifth, Tek sixth, Ellsbury seventh, Green eighth, and Smoltz obviously ninth.  I like the move of Drew to second in the order.  Zimmermann is a righty, and with Drew’s usual June boom, it made perfect sense.  Batting Ellsbury seventh gives some pop to the bottom of the order, and what that does is it lengthens your innings.  When you have a man late in the lineup who consistently gets on base, through hitting or walking, it lengthens your innings because there’s no surefire out, which is nightmarish for the man on the mound.  The last thing any opposing pitcher wants is to face a lineup with no breaks.  In other words, the last thing any opposing pitcher wants is to face us.

Apparently unless you’re Jordan Zimmermann, in which case you just cruise.  That came entirely out of left field, no pun intended.  We were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and left six on base.  Drew went two for four with a run.  Bay, Kotsay, Lugo, and Ellsbury each had hits.  Lugo scored a run and made an error, and Ellsbury stole.  Baldelli hit a very nice two-run homer in the ninth, showing some pop of his own.  After clubbing his first road homer of the season on Wednesday, Ortiz’s bat was completely silent.

Smoltz is now 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA.  I know, I know, first start and all, but still.  The mighty veteran, who insisted he was ready for big-league action after Spring Training but who was given all the time in the world to get himself right, was totally wrong against a team with whom he quite honestly should have wiped the floor.  I’m disappointed, first start or no first start.  And by the way, we’re now back to four ahead of the Yanks.  Moving on, we’re going to Atlanta tonight for a three-game set, starting with Beckett at Jair Jurrjens.  I don’t even have to look at Jurrjens’s stats to know we’ll come out on top, if Beckett has anything to say about it.

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With last night’s win, we’re one step ahead of the Yankees, meaning that even if we don’t sweep this series, we’ll have won it.  But we will sweep it.  John Smoltz is on the mound tonight, and between his experience against the Nationals as a Brave and his stuff, which after all the rehab is supposedly still top-notch, he should be able to get it done.  Especially against the worst team in baseball.  We’re also one step ahead of the Nationals.  That doesn’t say much, especially since we only won by a two-run lead, but there were high points.

Jon Lester pitched six innings and gave up three runs on six hits with two walks and six K’s.  That’s decent.  It’s not horrible, it’s not outstanding.  Three runs is considered a great outing for many pitchers, but this is Lester we’re talking about and he was facing the baddest of bad teams.  And being that his career high, achieved this season, is upwards of ten K’s, six seems a little weak.  On the other hand, we’ve seen him pitch pretty badly this season, and by pretty badly I mean painful to watch.  So, as I said, getting there, but not there yet.  He gave up one in the second, two in the sixth, and got the win.  Masterson allowed the fourth Nats run in the seventh and got a hold.  Okajima got a hold, and Paps got his seventeenth save in eighteen chances.  And guess what? His ninth was one-two-three last night.  I don’t even remember the last time he had a one-two-three ninth inning.  Watching him demolish the opposition in his usual fashion just makes you wonder why he can’t do it that quickly all the time.  I mean, we’ve seen him do it consistently before.  He’s obviously capable; dude’s the best closer in the Majors.

Key members of the offense were also one step ahead.  Pedroia the Destroyah was one step ahead of this recent slump of his, going two for four with an RBI and a run from the leadoff spot.  I have to say I like him there.  Doesn’t draw huge amounts of walks, but he hits his way on, and that’s fine with me.  Big Papi was one step ahead of whatever it was that plagued his bat not too long ago.  With two men out and two men on in the fourth, he launched one over everything behind the center field wall.  It was a changeup that didn’t do much of anything, and Papi smoked it out of the yard.  That was one of the hardest hit balls I’ve seen from him all season.  Oh yeah, and did I mention he headed into this contest with 999 RBIs? Now he’s past one thousand.  And that home run was the 296th of his career, four shy of three hundred.  Give it a week or so, he’ll get there.  The captain is one step ahead of his age.  Watching him hit that two-run rocket out in the sixth, you’d never know he’s thirty-seven.  Landed in the upper deck in right center.  Catchers past their thirties aren’t supposed to do that.  Hey, sometimes catchers period aren’t supposed to do that.  But that’s why we resigned him.  We saw something there.

And finally, Nick Green was one step ahead, literally.  The Nats scored their first run on a grounder to short by Elijah Dukes.  The head of his bat went with it.  So Green had a choice: he could field the ball and suffer a concussion in the process, or he could avoid the broken bat and let the ball go into the outfield.  Thankfully, he chose the latter with the help of some fancy footwork.  The other end of the bat was so sharp, it stood straight up from the ground.  Just to give you an idea of what the man narrowly avoided.  Yeah.  That’s one serious step ahead.

Dice-K’s trip to the DL has apparently worked well as a wakeup call.  In the past, he’d be in denial.  In the second week of the season, he told the Red Sox his shoulder wasn’t quite right, then got lit up, then told the media he had no idea why he was pulled from the game because there was nothing wrong with him.  Now, he marched himself into Tito’s office and told him he’d be ready to do whatever it takes to fix it.  This stint on the DL will not be a short one.  But it could finally be the one that corrects the problem in the long run, being that Dice-K is finally kicking his stubbornness and arrogance to the curb.  It’s finally registering that this isn’t Japan.  This is Major League Baseball, where the lineups are tougher, the fans are grittier, and the season is longer.  And if he sticks to his commitment, it’s entirely possible that he’ll emerge from this as the pitcher everyone thought he would be.  On a lighter note, Jason Bay will officially become a citizen of the United States of America on July 2.  Congratulations!

So the big day is finally here.  John Smoltz will square off against Jordan Zimmermann.  I’m psyched.  Looks like he’s still got it.  And one more thing.  We’ve extended our first-place lead to five games.  Toronto is now tied with New York for second.  And we’ve still got one more game in Washington.  Life is good.

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