Posts Tagged ‘Jorge Posada’

Things did not start out too well for either pitcher.  We threatened in the first; Ellsbury was hit by a pitch and Pedroia singled.  (Despite the fact that Ellsbury has taken some bumps and bruises lately, he’s still fine.) Then CC Sabathia put up three consecutive swinging strikes.  Similarly, Beckett allowed two consecutive singles before securing two swinging strikes and a groundout.

Both Sabathia and Beckett settled down after that; nobody scored until the fifth.  With the bases loaded, Ellsbury smacked a double that brought in two.  That was it until the seventh, when we put up a four-spot.  Cameron led off the inning with a walk and scored on a single by Tek.  Two batters later, Pedroia singled and Gonzalez walloped a massive three-run shot into the seats behind the bullpen in right field.  It was a high fastball, and he had that ball’s number right from the beginning.  It was a blast to watch, both literally and figuratively.  He assumed his stance earlier, so he had more space over the plate.  By doing so, he had more room on the inside, which mean that Sabathia couldn’t pitch inside, which he had been wont to do with lefties.  Gonzalez has now hit five home runs in four consecutive games.  His longest home run streak, which he two years ago today, is five.  Coincidence? I think not.  It was his ninth of the season and eighth this month.  Even with two out, that pitch never stood a chance.  He is just on fire.  Right now, I would say he’s probably the hitter to beat in all of Major League Baseball.  You would never have known it from his two at-bats before that, but he smoked that ball all the way.

And that was the final score right there.  6-0.  We win.  Ellsbury went two for four; Pedroia went three for four with a steal.  Joe Girardi was ejected, and Jorge Posada took a mental health day that may or may not have coincided with a bad back day yesterday.  He claimed it had nothing to do with the fact that he was dropped to the number nine spot.  Oh, the drama.

So obviously the other really awesome part of the game was that zero.  Beckett was phenomenal.  Six shutout innings.  Four hits, two walks, nine strikeouts.  (Incidentally, he also struck out nine during the complete game he pitched in the 2003 World Series, also against the Yankees.  Coincidence? I think not.) 105 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  He wasn’t able to use the two-seam as effectively as he wanted to, especially against lefties, but he worked a filthy changeup, and his cutter and four-seam were comparably unhittable.  He even threw in some nasty curveballs.  But that changeup and that cutter were just absolutely filthy.  He may have thrown twenty-one pitches in his first inning, but he threw only nine in his last.

As I said, he notched two K’s in the first, the last of which was a three-pitch strikeout of Robinson Cano put away with the changeup.  His second inning was one-two-three but he didn’t strike out anybody.  He notched two more swinging strikeouts in the third to open and end the inning, both ending with cutters.  The fourth was also one-two-three and featured back-to-back K’s, the first a swing and a miss on a cutter and the second a called strikeout on a cutter.  The fifth opened and ended with two five-pitch swinging strikeouts, the first on the curveball and the second on the changeup.  The sixth was one-two-three and began when A-Rod struck out on a cutter.  Beckett just mowed through the lineup.  He was dominant.  He was not somebody you wanted to mess with.  The Yankee lineup didn’t mess with him.  He got the win.  The only complaint anyone could possibly have with his outing is that he was slightly inefficient; had his work been more streamlined, he could have pitched at least another inning.  But in his two starts against New York this year, he has pitched fourteen shutout innings, given up only six hits, and struck out nineteen batters.  In general, he is currently nursing a shutout streak of eighteen and a third innings.  And his ERA is 1.75.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Albers pitched the seventh and eighth.  Hill pitched the ninth.  Done.

That was awesome.  It was just awesome.  We did everything the Yankees didn’t.  We manufactured runs.  We hit for power.  We also just out-pitched them completely.  So it’s pretty simple.  The worst we can do now is win the series.  But obviously what we really want to do is sweep.  The way the pitching matchups worked out, I’d say that’s a good possibility.

In other news, the Bruins dropped the first game of the series with the Lightning, 5-2.  Ouch.

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Okay.  We split the series.  We can be happy with that.  In terms of the division, we’re no worse than we were going into the  series, which is better than being worse off than we were going into the series, so I’ll take it.  In terms of the Wild Card, however, the Rays’ recent implosion means we’ve actually advanced without our own help.  So even though we didn’t help ourselves, the Rays helped us out, which is better than nothing.

In terms of yesterday’s game, I honestly felt like I dodged one serious baseball bullet.  That was a nailbiter if I’ve ever seen one.  A win is a win, regardless of the number of runs you win by, but all I’m saying is that I was glad when Paps finally threw his last pitch.

Lester, for his part, was brilliant.  He picked up his first win since the All-Star break by tossing six and one-third shutout innings, giving up four hits, walking three, and striking out six.  He actually took a no-no bid into the fifth, which was broken up by Kearns singling up the middle.  But even then Lester cruised until the seventh.  His sinker and cut fastball were deadly, his changeup and curveball less so but still good.  He threw ninety-nine pitches total.  He threw at most sixteen pitches in an inning and did so three times.  He packed the strike zone, put movement on his pitches, and kept the Yankees guessing.  He was awesome.

Meanwhile, we scored both of our runs in the second.  Kalish singled, stole second, and ran to third on a heads-up play when he saw that Posada’s attempt to throw him out sent the ball into the outfield.  He then came around easily on Hall’s single past Jeter.  Hall came around on Drew’s subsequent fielder’s choice groundout.

Then in the seventh inning he ran into trouble.  A single, a double, and a hit batsman loaded the bases with nobody out.  Lester struck out Granderson on four pitches, the last of which was a nasty curveball.  Tito, in yet another show of managerial brilliance, took him out and put in Bard, who proceeded to strike out both Jeter and Swisher, each on three pitches, exclusively fastballs above ninety-eight miles-per-hour.  Threat neutralized.  Swisher looked like he had absolutely no idea what was going on.  As escapes go, and there have been many for Bard, this was probably the most important.

But that sense of security unfortunately wouldn’t last long.  Teixeira, who historically has been a problem for Bard, took him deep, which cut our lead in half.  And if you thought the game was a nailbiter before, it was really a nailbiter now.  After Bard ended up with runners on first and second with two out in the eighth, Tito lifted him in favor of Paps, who proceeded to take care of Kearns on one pitch by inducing a groundout.

But it still wasn’t over.  Jeter led off the ninth with a walk and a steal.  Finally, with the help of his ridiculous fastball and splitter, Paps struck out Swisher and Teixeira.  That’s what I call a save.  That was a save in every sense of the word.

And you can mark that down as a Win, with a capital W.  2-1.  Yes.

Also of note is the fact that Ellsbury finally recorded his first hit since coming off the DL.  He also walked.  And he also stole a career high four bases, which tied the franchise record originally set by Jerry Remy on June 14, 1980.  Add to that the steals of Drew and Kalish, and that’s six on the day.

We’re done with the Evil Empire until we go back to the Bronx at the end of September.  Like I said, we can be happy with the split.  The Rays look pretty bad these days, so all we need now is a hot streak and we’ll be alright.  Dice-K is leading us into the Rogers Centre tonight.  Toronto is going through its usual late-season surge a little early this year.  All we have to do is keep our head on and get this done.  We can handle Toronto.  Yesterday’s game proves it.  Oh, by the way: we just beat the New York Yankees.  Obviously.  But I just thought I’d mention it again.

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Last night was exactly what Girardi didn’t want and exactly what the Red Sox, Terry Francona, the front office, and Red Sox Nation did want.  AJ Burnett was horrible.  I hope the Yankees enjoy four and a half more years of his mediocrity.  His delivery was too fast, he looked like he was in a rush, and to be completely frank it looked like he let go of the ball and had no idea where it was going.  His ball-to-strike ratio was about fifty percent.  He threw more balls than strikes.  And he’s delusional if he thinks he’d ever be able to get away with that in Fenway Park.  He only lasted 2.2 innings, and with New York’s bullpen as bad as it is and Chien-Ming Wang throwing tomorrow, that’s the time to ask if it could possibly get worse.  Oh, wait.  It did.  During that time we scored five runs, three of them earned (thank you, A-Roid and Posada; so much for the Yankees’ errorless streak, which stopped at eighteen).  After that they had to use three pitchers: Brett Tomko, who gave up another run, Jose Veras, who gave up another run, and David Robertson, who was the only one to not allow any runs.

Let’s compare that to our pitching, shall we? Josh Beckett started.  And dominated.  And won.  He one-hit the Yankees through six and no-hit them into the fourth.  To be frank, yes, I was thinking no-hitter.  But then the bid was broken up by Robinson Cano, who hit a line drive on the ground to the left of Youk.  Pedroia ran that down beautifully and caught the ball but couldn’t make the throw.  So you could make the argument that Beckett had back-to-back bids.  Scary.  Two walks, eight strikeouts, no runs.  He’s won all of his last five decisions.  Delcarmen, Ramirez, and Bard held the fort in a similar fashion. Since May 10 and heading into last night, our bullpen had an ERA of 1.84.  I don’t even want to think about how low it is now.  The final score was 7-0.  A shutout in which New York had absolutely no chance.  I love it.  It was fantastic.  One other thing: Boston pitching gave up four walks.  Four.  New York pitching gave up seven.  We’re second in the American League in walks.  Not a good combination for New York.  So that’s pretty much the compare and contrast.  Speaks for itself, no?

As for the offense, we can compare and contrast that too.  It was a shutout, so offense for the Yanks was nonexistant.  We, however, were a different story.  Pedroia went hitless but walked.  Drew hit a nice two-run double.  Youk went two for four, walked, and scored.  Bay hit, walked, and took a pitch in the ribs.  Ouch.  I don’t know how Bay likes his ribs, but I’m sure he doesn’t like them bruised and sore.  Lowell hit, walked twice, scored, and batted in two.  Tek walked and scored.  And now we get to the fun part.  David Ortiz.  Always been a Yankee killer.  And you’d think his slump would affect that.  Not so, my friends, not so.  In his first at-bat of the game, he hit his third home run of the year.  Huge.  Two-run shot with Lowell on base after walking.  And this was the best and most powerfully hit of the three.  It sailed right into the center field bleachers, a few feet from the center field wall.  No “inches from the pole” or “inches from the field.” This was out by a good margin.  The problems causing the slump do not include bat speed.  Ortiz has plenty of bat speed.  He’s just setting up late.  But there was no lateness on that swing.  None whatsoever.  So he’s showing progress.  And against the Yankees.  Awesome.  Nick Green followed that with a home run of his own.  A solo shot in the seventh for our last run of the game.  Youk stole, and Lowell got caught by a mile.

The draft started yesterday, and with their first overall pick the Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg, a right-handed pitcher from San Diego State University.  His fastball reaches 103 miles per hour.  I don’t even want to know what that looks like.  And his breaking ball is very sharp.  Tossed a no-hitter in his last home start and played for the U.S. in the Olympics in Beijing.  Congratulations, kid! You were passed over in high school but went to college, stuck with it, wanted that Number One selection, and got it.  We look forward to seeing you pitch in the Majors, as long as you don’t pitch against us if you’re good.  We drafted twenty-eighth, and we selected Reymond Fuentes, an outfielder from Fernando Callejo High School in Puerto Rico.  He’s mostly played center field, is very quick, and has a very healthy swing.  He’s actually Carlos Beltran’s cousin.  I agree with that; I think Theo and scouting director Jason McLeod chose wisely.  We could use another bat in the lineup, and a solid outfielder is always helpful.  We already know Theo is a baseball genius; I’m sure in some years down the road we’ll see this choice come through.  Before the day was done, we also drafted pitcher Alex Wilson and shortstop-pitcher David Renfoe.  Not bad.

So we take game one of the three-game set, tying us with New York in first place.  Wakefield is pitching tonight and has the advantage of the contrast between Beckett’s fastball and his knuckleball.  He’s pitching against Wang, as I said, who’ll be making his second start since coming off the DL.  Needless to say, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we’re looking forward to this one.  Joe Girardi went on record on Mondays saying that this series, despite being early in the season, is crucial and that the Yankees have to take at least two out of three to prove to us that they’re better.  Yeah, right.  Since last year, we’ve won seven straight against the Yankees.  And that streak isn’t going to end with Chien-Ming Wang.

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Justin Masterson was masterful.  That’s the first thing I’ll say about last night.  Five and a third, a run on six hits, a walk, four strikeouts, an ERA of 2.70.  The kid is amazing.  You don’t have an ERA like that just to sit in the bullpen.  No, you don’t.  This kid needs to start.  He’s a starter by trade and he’s the future of our starting rotation.  And when Dice-K comes back, if Brad Penny feels even the slightest soreness and John Smoltz isn’t quite ready yet, I really don’t think I’ll complain if Masterson’s put in there.  Because you see Masterson’s name as the starting pitcher and you can mark that as a win before the ball even leaves his hand.  Phenomenal.

So he gets the win.  The final score was 4-1.  Hunter Jones and Michael Bowden were perfect, as was Saito for once.  So Jones and Bowden each get holds and Saito gets a save, his second of the season.

As far as the offense goes, it wasn’t as exciting as the previous two games, but as long as we score I’m happy.  Sometimes you don’t need exciting, sometimes you just put your nose to the grindstone and manufacture some runs.  Youkilis, who’s first in the Majors in batting average, only went one for three, and Lowell, who’s second in the Majors in RBIs (three behind Pujols), didn’t bat one in.  And Papi’s in the middle of his longest homerless streak in nine years.  But I’m glad to report that Big Papi was responsible for batting in two of our four.  Drew batted in the other.  I’ll say this for Drew.  In the fifth they intentionally walked Youkilis because Drew was on deck, but with Papi starting to heat up and Youk already red-hot, once Drew finds his stroke there’ll be nowhere for opposing pitchers to go, nobody to walk intentionally to get out of a jam.  We will have effectively eliminated all weaknesses from the middle of the lineup.  And that, my friends, would really be something.  So Drew batted with the bases loaded.  Which brings me to the man of the hour, the story of the night, the theme of the day.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jacoby Ellsbury! Bases loaded, JD Drew at the plate, and the kid steals home.  He got a huge jump off third base and that was pretty much the end of it.  The battery never stood a chance.  Pettitte is a lefty, so he was set up with his back to third base, so it was Posada’s responsibility to watch out for that.  But Ellsbury was already a third of the way over by the time Pettitte delivered, and lefties take notoriously long to deliver, so when he got to home Posada was a mile off the plate.  And there were no excuses, either, because Drew is a left-handed hitter, so it’s not like Posada had a blocked view of third.  Nope, they were just as incompetent as Ellsbury was fast and ridiculous and phenomenal.  It was epic.  It was our first steal of home in a full decade.  Ellsbury waltzed right in there, stole a run, and received a very long, very well-deserved standing ovation.  Got his high-fives, came out, took a bow.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was watching it, and they don’t show you the steal so all you hear is the broadcaster announcing it.  It was uncanny.  It was ridiculous.  It was, quite simply, the stuff of legend.  Genius baserunning.  Without a doubt some of the best I’ve ever seen.  And only he could have pulled that off.  Ladies and gentlemen, Jacoby Ellsbury.  Fastest man in the universe.

That was actually his second steal of the day; he stole second base in the third and was unquestionably safe.  And taht was a perfect example of what can happen when you have a good leadoff man who’s fast and who gets going and gets on base.  He got on, stole, legged his way to third, and eventually scored to tie it, 1-1.  Jason Bay also stole second, Green was caught stealing, and Pedroia was picked off.  Unfortunate, because even though Pedroia doesn’t steal that many by Ellsbury standards (actually nobody steals that many by Ellsbury standards), he’s very accurate.  Last year he stole twenty of twenty-one.  This year he’s stolen two of five.  I’m not worried.  He needs to get in his groove, that’s all.  Lowell had a throwing error.  He’d had some trouble on two plays early in the game, a grounder that stayed low and a funky hopper.

One more thing: the Yankees have the worst ERA in all of baseball.  6.29.  They spent exorbitant amounts of money on very lengthy deals for two pitchers who’ve just been bad.  Basically, they hired CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett to lose ballgames.  This just keeps getting better and better.  And don’t even get me started on their bullpen.  Their bullpen’s ERA is over 6.50.  Their only saving grace at this point seems to be Nick Swisher.

So Masterson gives us an impeccable start, but I have to say Ellsbury stole the show, pun intended.  And rightly so.  He stole home! I’m telling you, fastest man in the universe.  So we extend our winning streak to ten games, we sweep New York right out of Boston, and we sweep the entire nine-game homestand.  Now it’s off to Cleveland with Wakefield at Lee.  But what a way to go.

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