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Posts Tagged ‘Josh Reddick’

It was another mediocre start for Lester.  I guess his final line wasn’t that bad, but to have actually watched him pitch was to have actually watched him fight and grind and wrestle.  He just didn’t really look like any of it came easily to him.  Even when there were moments where the real Jon Lester emerged, it didn’t look easy and effortless, which is what it looks like when he’s in top form.

He was golden through four and took care not to get himself into any jams of note.  But he gave up a solo shot with two out in the fifth, and he gave up another run in the sixth thanks to a walk-single-single combination, and he gave up a third run in the seventh thanks to a single-walk-single combination; the run was batted in by, of all people Coco Crisp after Tazawa came on.  The runner who scored, in case you were wondering, was Josh Reddick.

Tazawa pitched the eighth, and we didn’t score in the ninth.  Just like we didn’t score when at any other time in the whole game.

We had two on in the first and sixth and one on in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings.  We didn’t score at all.  So we lost, three-zip.

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It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score runs.  It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs.  It’s even worse to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs.  But one of the worst scenarios is when you allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs because the opposing pitcher is someone who used to pitch for you and is somehow having a great day.

There are various teams in the majors that tend to absorb our players when we allow them to walk or when we trade them away.  Oakland has apparently become one of those teams.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Green Sox.

Bartolo Colon held us to zero runs.  Meanwhile, Aceves lasted less than four innings; he recorded the first run in the fourth and was taken out in favor of Steven Wright, but both should share in the blame. Aceves had a one-two-three first.  It was his first good inning.  He gave up a single and a walk in the second but didn’t give up any runs.  It was his last good inning.  Then he imploded.

Aceves issued a four-pitch walk to open the third.  He gave up a single to Coco Crisp and another walk to load the bases.  He then walked in the first run of the game; it would be the first of six that inning alone.  Yes, walking in a run was embarrassing but, in the grand scheme of how the game turned out, not nearly as embarrassing as how it would end.  Aceves finally recorded the inning’s first out but then gave up a single that scored two.  Then he balked, which put two runners in scoring position; a sac fly scored one, and a single by Josh Reddick scored the other and put him at second thanks to a throwing error by Aceves himself.  Then he balked again, which moved Reddick to third, and he scored on a throwing error.  The inning finally ended with a groundout.

Crisp grounded out to open the fourth, and then Aceves went right back to it.  He gave up a double and then a home run.  Then Jed Lowrie singled, and Wright came in, ending the inning on a double play.

Wright didn’t let any of his inherited runners score.  He just put his own runners on base and let them score.  He gave up a single to lead off the fifth, struck out Reddick, and issued two consecutive walks.  He then gave up a double to Crisp, which scored two, followed by a single, which scored two.  Then there was a passed ball, a fielder’s choice, and finally a flyout.

Wright issued two consecutive walks yet again to begin the sixth.  He gave up a double to Reddick that scored one and then send the A’s down in order.  Wright gave up two singles in the seventh but didn’t allow any runs.

And that’s as far as we got.  Rain prevented the playing of the game’s last two innings.  I at least would have wanted to see the contest through, but perhaps we’ll be able to draw on the extra rest to win a sorely needed contest at some point.  Baseball works in mysterious ways sometimes, but the outcome of this one, at least, was decisive.  We lost, thirteen-zip.  We had three hits and only one walk; we were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and left four on base.  Pedroia, Salty, and Gomes were the ones who singled; nobody hit anything for extra bases.  Ellsbury was the one who walked.  Aceves took the loss.

In other news, the Flyers beat the Bruins, 5-2.

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Grandiose tends to refer to something that is absurdly exaggerated.  If we’re talking about goodness, then yes, I would say that there were enough aspects of yesterday’s performance that were sufficiently full of goodness so as to warrant the description of grandiose.

Doubront had himself another decent start.  He left two outs into the seventh after giving up three runs on three hits while walking five and striking out eight.  He threw 113 pitches, sixty-seven of which were strikes.

Unfortunately, he gave up some runs to some familiar faces.  Jed Lowrie walked to start the second, moved to third on a double, and scored on a wild pitch.  Josh Reddick was at bat at the time, and he ended up singling in another run.  In the fifth, Doubront loaded the bases thanks to two walks and a single; one of those walks was issued to Coco Crisp, who thankfully didn’t end up scoring.  The best part of  that inning was the fact that Doubront escaped that situation after allowing only one run, which scored on a sac fly.

Mortensen came in for the rest of the seventh; although he did record the first out of the eighth, he also gave up a walk, hit a batter, and then gave up two consecutive doubles, the second to Lowrie, which scored three runs all told.  If Victorino hadn’t hauled in the second out out of the frame with a clutch catch, things may have ended differently.  Alex Wilson relieved Mortensen, walked a batter, and was replaced by Tazawa, who finished the inning.  Bailey pitched the ninth.

Thankfully, and I mean really thankfully, none of the interminable mess that was the pitching staff’s performance yesterday impacted us.  We scored so many runs that the six the A’s managed to eke out made absolutely no difference on the game’s outcome.

We went down in order and on twelve pitches in the first, which was by no means an indication of what was to follow.  Papi and Napoli hit back-to-back doubles which put us on the board, shrinking the deficit to one.  Ellsbury doubled in the third, but it didn’t amount to anything, and Oakland fans were probably getting comfortable.

After Papi struck out to lead off the fourth, Napoli got hit and Nava doubled.  Middlebrooks took both a curveball and a fastball for balls and made the hitter’s count, count.  He got a big mistake of a slider and rocketed the ball beyond the Monster on a straight shot out of the park.  The ball looked like it was in a big hurry; he crushed it.  And we were instantly up by two.

That sac fly in the top of the inning raised the deficit to three.  It would be our last stint behind.

Victorino opened the fifth with a single on his third pitch.  Pedroia reached on a force attempt on his fourth pitch.  Papi walked on five pitches to load the bases.  But Napoli needed only two pitches.  He took a curveball for a strike.  Then he got an eighty-nine mile-per-hour four-seam fastball that looked prime for one of his power displays.  And he delivered.  Over the Monster too, no less.

Except that you should probably remember that the bases were loaded at the time.  So, basically, Napoli hit a grand slam.

Let me repeat that.  Mike Napoli, with nobody out in the fifth inning, hit a grand slam on a four-seam fastball over the Green Monster in Fenway Park.  It was the fourth grand slam of his career and, as I always say with his mammoth power swings, it looked like it was a regular, run-of-the-mill swing while it was happening.  It was only after the ball began its far yet fast journey out of the park did you realize what had just happened.  It was awesomeness in one of its purest forms.  Oh, by the way, Napoli leads the American League in RBIs.

And we weren’t even done.  Nava reached on a fielding error, and then Middlebrooks popped right into a force out and scored on a double by Salty.  Then we were done.

The final score was 9-6.  It should have been nine to something much lower than six, preferably nine-zip.  The pitching staff, particularly the relievers, should not have given up all those runs or all those walks to begin with.  We were fortunate that we’d scored nine runs and could take it.  As we’ve seen recently, that’s not always the case.  But for now, at least, we can still celebrate.

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We lost again.  What else is new? Considering our season, what an appropriate way to usher in September.

Doubront only lasted three innings; he gave up five runs on six hits while walking two and striking out six.  His fourth pitch of the game was hit for a solo shot by Coco Crisp.  He got through the second inning alright but tanked in the third.  He gave up a single to Crisp and then a double, but Crisp was successfully thrown out at the plate, which was an awesome play to watch.  Then Doubront struck out Josh Reddick, but then he gave up an RBI single that may as well have been a triple because it was followed by two steals, and then he gave up a walk, and then he gave up a double that scored two and a single that scored one.

So Aceves came on for the fourth, fifth (when he gave up an RBI single), and sixth.  A note about Aceves: he and Pedroia had an argument in the dugout in the bottom of the fourth because Aceves got in Salty’s way of catching a popup and then dropped it and then made a bunch of pickoff attempts to second base, the last of which came when Pedroia wasn’t ready.  Third base coach Jerry Royster separated them.  Now, I wasn’t there, but I know that it’s nothing to be too shocked about.  The team is losing, the team is frustrated, and the team spends a lot of time together in the clubhouse.  Things like this are normal; it’s just surprising to outsiders because usually it happens behind closed doors.

Anyway, Bard gave up a solo shot on the fourth pitch of his appearance in the seventh.  Hill and Bailey combined to pitch the eighth.

Meanwhile, we were the victims of a bid for a perfect game through four.  Salty managed to finally eke out a single in the fifth.  It was a bunt single and the A’s fans were not happy, but you know what? That’s baseball.  Literally.  As in, players are trying to get on base.  And if the situation were reversed, we would be the unhappy ones and they would be saying that to us.

Then Lavarnway led off the sixth with a single but was out at second thanks to a force out by Ciriaco, who moved to second on a groundout by Ellsbury and scored on a single by Pedroia.  It was reasonable to hope that AJ Griffin would then unravel as so many do after losing perfect or no-no bids, but unfortunately he didn’t.  We went down in order in the seventh, Griffin’s last inning of th game, and in the eighth.  Ellsbury singled in the ninth but we went down in order after that.

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So…I mean…what? Did that actually happen? I mean, I saw it with my own eyes, myself, in real-time, and I still can not believe that it actually happened.  As it was happening, I couldn’t believe that it was happening.  It was the most absurd, embarrassing, humiliating, pathetic display of an excuse for baseball that I have seen in recent memory.  And given the season we’ve had, that says a ton.  I can’t believe it.  I really just can’t.  I don’t even want to talk about it, because I’m fully conscious of how incredibly awful and horrible and terrible and truly, extremely, exceptionally abysmal it was, and yet at the same time I just can’t believe it.

I’ll start with the offense, since unfortunately that provides the least to report.  Why couldn’t it have been a double slugfest so that at least we would have had something to show for the fact that we came to play?

We scored our first run in the fourth, when Salty hit a solo shot on his fourth pitch on a 1-2 count.  The first was a curveball, the second was a sinker, and then he got two cutters.  Both were around ninety miles per hour.  He fouled off the first one and then lit into the second one, pulverizing it into a home run out to right field.  We didn’t score again until the seventh, when with one out Ciriaco singled and Iglesias got hit; both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, and Ciriaco scored on a groundout by Gomez.

In the interest of painting the big picture, I’ll tell you what we did in all of the other innings: nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  We started the game with two back-to-back singles in the first, which amounted to nothing.  We hit two singles again in the second and in the sixth, which amounted to nothing.  We singled and walked in the eighth, which amounted to nothing.  And we went down in order in the third and the fifth and the ninth.

But our lack of offense was honestly the least of our problems yesterday, which can be summarized in one word: pitching.  Our pitching delivered a literally unspeakably horrifying performance.  Seriously, it was terrifying beyond words.  Our pitchers, who, the last time I checked, were indeed pitching in the Major Leagues, looked like a bunch of minor leaguers considering themselves lucky to throw pitches during batting practice.  That’s what it looked like.  It looked like the Oakland A’s were having themselves a fun and fruitful batting practice before an actual Major League game.  Honestly, I sincerely hope that our pitchers just lost the memo that said that it was actually a Major League game and not batting practice, because if that wasn’t the case, then the only other explanation for the painful and devastating humiliation we suffered last night would be that our pitchers are really just that bad.  And that’s a level of badness that, even with the kind of season we’ve been having, I really would never have actually thought we’d reach.

We sent out seven pitchers, so there goes the day off they had as a result of Lester’s complete game.  Only one of them did not allow any runs.  And only one of the six pitchers that did allow runs allowed only one run, and only one of the six pitchers that did allow runs did not allow a home run.

We’ll start with Cook, since he was the first one.  He took the loss, although technically the bullpen in its entirety deserved it more since collectively they gave up more than twice the amount of runs that he gave up.  He went one-two-three in the first, which at the time didn’t even provide that much false hope because it was easily observable that all three outs were hit well; still, even so, we could never have imagined at the conclusion of that inning the kind of implosion and devolution that was about to ensue.  He gave up a single to start the second and then allowed three straight scoring plays: an RBI double, an RBI single, and a two-run home run.  And then he ended the inning with three straight outs.  Cook began the third with a flyout and then allowed a double to Josh Reddick of all people.  He got another flyout and then gave up an RBI double which scored Reddick with a little help from a deflection by Iglesias, and then he gave up an RBI single.

That was when he was replaced by Tazawa, the one pitcher who didn’t allow any runs.  Tazawa got the final out of the third and pitched a beautiful one-two-three fourth.  Based on that performance alone as compared with what everyone else had to show for themselves, Tazawa should have been allowed not only to stay in the game but to pitch the entire game.  But no.  Aceves came on for the fifth; with two out, he hit a batter and then gave up a home run that plated two.  Bard came on for the sixth and gave up a solo shot with one out; he then gave up a single but managed to get out of the inning, so he’s the one, out of the pitchers who gave up runs, who gave up only one run.

Breslow came on for the seventh; he got Reddick to pop out but then gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases.  A fielding error by Gomez allowed a run to score by allowing a runner to reach on a force attempt.  And then Breslow allowed a single that plated two.  He was then replaced by Melancon, who allowed a double that plated one.  He then walked Coco Crisp of all people and then gave up an RBI single followed by one of the worst indignities a pitcher could ever suffer, a scoring play so devastating and complete that it broadcasts to the world not only the mistake that a pitcher made on that one pitch that started the scoring play but also all the mistakes that led to its being possible at all, a play so rare and elusive that we can only hope and dream for it when we need it most because it never really seems to come our way at the right time, a play so devastating that it causes nothing but shame and anger on the part of the pitcher who facilitated it: the grand slam.  Hit by – you guessed it – Reddick.

And then Padilla came on for the eighth; he opened the inning with a popout but then gave up a double followed by a home run.

All told, our pitching staff gave up only two walks but nineteen hits last night, five of which were doubles and five of which were home runs.  Cook gave up six runs, Tazawa gave up no runs, Aceves gave up two runs, Bard gave up one run, Breslow gave up five runs, Melancon gave up four runs, and Padilla gave up two runs.  So Cook gave up six runs, and the bullpen collectively gave up fourteen.

You read right.  That makes the final score a humiliating, embarrassing, painful, devastating, abysmal, horrible, terrible, unspeakable, unbelievable 20-2.  A fitting end for a month we finish with a record of nine and twenty-one.  And that’s all I have to say about it.

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Well, we’ve made it through the first half, but I can’t say I’m pleased with where we are.  The only thing I could say is that I’m glad it’s not worse than it is, but that really, really doesn’t say much.  We’re suffering from inconsistency, injuries, and just a general lack of that spark we’ve tended to see in our winning teams in recent years.  These are underlying, pervasive problems that can’t just be fixed by a trade or a snap of the fingers.  Changes have to come from within, but it’s hard to pinpoint a solution when the sources of the problems are hard to pinpoint themselves.  Either way, we know what we have to do to improve: win consistently.

As I do every year, I’ve graded the entire team at the halfway point:

Kelly Shoppach: B

As backup catchers go, Shoppach is pretty good.  In thirty-one games, he’s made only two errors and four passed balls.  His catcher’s ERA is 3.76, which anyone on our pitching staff these days would be lucky to have.  He has also hit ten doubles and four home runs, and his batting average is .269, which isn’t bad for a backup catcher, either.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: B

Salty is working out much better than we expected power-wise.  He ranks first among all Major League catchers in home runs with seventeen, which I don’t think is something many people predicted.  But all but one of those were hit from the left side, which is something he needs to work on.  He also needs to work on his fielding, which is supposed to be one of a catcher’s strong suits.  His fielding percentage is .987, which is high but, in my opinion, not high enough.  He’s made six errors and passed five balls; I’m looking for something closer to zero errors and zero passed balls.  His catcher’s ERA is 4.45, which is decent, and he’s come a long way as far as forging relationships with the pitchers and calling good games is concerned.

Adrian Gonzalez: C

I am not afraid to say that Gonzalez so far has been a huge disappointment.  He is nowhere near the powerhouse he was last season, and I was fully expecting this season to exceed last season.  He is second among Major League first basemen in doubles with twenty-seven and eighth in RBIs with forty-five, but he’s not even in the top twenty in home runs.  With only six, he’s actually last among all first basemen in the American League.  His fielding, however, is as solid as ever.  He’s made only one error, so his fielding percentage is .999.  But offensively we need much, much more from him.  The team is struggling, but he was not supposed to be one of the reasons why.

Dustin Pedroia: C

It’s always tough to grade a player who’s been plagued with injuries because you have to assume that the injuries weren’t his fault, and you have to try to compare his performance given the injuries with what you expect his ideal performance to be given the injuries.  The truth is that Pedroia is struggling across the board offensively.  Doubles, home runs, walks, on-base percentage; you name it, he’s not performing as well as he could be in it, even given the injuries.  His fielding, like Gonzalez, is as solid as ever with a percentage of .997.  But like Gonzalez, Pedroia was not supposed to be one of the reasons why the team is struggling.  He’s a phenomenal leader both on and off the field, but we also need him to lead the charge offensively and help the team win on a more consistent basis.

Mike Aviles: B

Our woes at shortstop for the most part continue.  Why we can’t get a shortstop in there who can hit as well as he fields is completely beyond me.  Aviles is making a valiant effort, but it’s not enough.  First of all, his fielding percentage is .982.  He has made seven errors.  I understand that shortstop is the most difficult position defensively, but that’s also why you need an amazing fielder to man it.  Aviles is a great fielder.  He is not an amazing fielder.  He’s not an amazing hitter, either.  He has a .260 average and .283 on-base percentage.  He’s hit twenty-two doubles, no triples, and nine home runs with forty-four RBIs and twelve walks.  Not the best shortstop material.

Will Middlebrooks: B

Middlebrooks has some big shoes to fill, so he has to go through a process of proving himself.  I will say that he’s off to a fantastic start offensively.  His performance at the plate has been phenomenal, and it’s been truly wonderful to witness the fruits of our labor on the farm in growing a power hitter ourselves.  In forty-eight games, he has fifty-one hits, eleven of which are doubles and ten of which are home runs.  He has a .298 average and a .335 on-base percentage thanks to nine walks, so he could walk more.  His performance in the field, not so much.  He has a fielding percentage of .935 and has made seven errors.  Third base is a tough place to play as well, and he needs to work on it to round out his game.

Nick Punto: B

Think about what Punto is for.  Punto is a utility infielder.  He’s supposed to be able to play any position decently well and to hit decently well.  He is not supposed to be truly outstanding at everything infield, and we’re lucky if he’s outstanding at one thing infield.  So the criteria he’d have to meet for an A is lower than it is for a starter.  Still, as utility infielders go, it’s not like he’s been that great.  His average is .212; only six of his twenty-one hits were for extra bases, and he has only eight RBIs.  And he’s played forty-nine games, which is about more than a quarter of the whole season, so it’s not like he’s had hardly any playing time.  His performance in the field is much stronger than his performance at the plate, but it still could be better.

Ryan Sweeney: C

I was on the fence about a C or a D.  But then I realized that I was only going to give him a D because Josh Reddick would have been so much better, and that wouldn’t be fair.  It’s not Sweeney’s fault that he’s in right field and not Reddick; that’s Ben’s fault, and we’ll get to that later.  Anyway, Sweeney’s .283 average is respectable.  His seventeen doubles, two triples, and zero home runs are not.  Neither are his nine walks.  His two errors in right are alright, but errors made in the outfield tend to be costly because the ball is farther away from the infield, so those two errors could probably count for more.

Cody Ross: B

Ross has been good but not great.  His thirteen home runs from the right side of the plate are a much-needed edition to our lineup, and his twenty-four walks show patience at the plate.  He also has fourteen doubles and forty RBIs to his credit, and he has yet to make an error in the field.  I’d say he’s been better than expected, but he could be better still; his .264 average and .345 on-base percentage leave much to be desired.

Daniel Nava: A

If you told me during Spring Training that Nava would play fifty-two games by the All-Star break and bat.275 with an on-base percentage of .388, I would have been extremely skeptical.  But that’s what happened.  And he has forty-seven hits to his credit, seventeen of which are doubles and three of which are homers.  He has also walked twenty-six times and has made only one error.  For a utility outfielder that has suddenly found himself in the limelight thanks to injuries, he’s been handling himself very well.

Ryan Kalish: C

In short, he’s still a kid and he needs work, in the sense that he needs to be worked, in terms of playing time, and to be worked on, in terms of training time.  He’s played eighteen games this year and has hit only two extra-base hits, both of them doubles.  He has walked only twice and batted in only five runs.  And he has made two errors, and between the fact that that’s over the course of only eighteen games and the fact that outfield errors are costly, that’s a lot.

David Ortiz: A

Nobody on this team deserves an A more than Big Papi.  He ranks tenth in the Majors in doubles with twenty-five, fifth in slugging percentage with .607, and is tied for seventh in homers with twenty-two.  Among DHs, he ranks first, first, and third in those categories.  Simply put, the man’s job is to hit for extra bases.  That’s what he does.  He’s been doing it from day one this year, and he has continued to do it consistently.  He’s just hit the four hundredth home run of his career, and he looks like he’s in line to hit many, many more.  This season, the team seems to have two constants: inconsistency and Big Papi.

Offense Overall: B

As a team, we are sixth in the Majors in average with .268, eighth in on-base percentage with .329, and fourth in slugging percentage with .441.  We are second in runs with 432, third in hits with 302, first in doubles with 208, eighth in home runs with 99, and third with RBIs with 409.  And yet somehow we fail to win consistently.  It’s because we don’t score runs consistently.  Sometimes we score a little, and sometimes we score a lot.  And of course it also has to do with the pitching, which we’ll get to later.  But like I always say, just like the pitching staff’s job is to make sure that we win regardless of what the offense does or doesn’t do, so it is the offense’s job to make sure we win regardless of what the pitching staff does or doesn’t do.

Defense Overall: B

We are sixth in the Majors in fielding with a percentage of .986.  It could be much, much better.  I guess we can chalk it up to several players in key defensive positions having had to get used to Fenway, but that shouldn’t have taken the entire first half of the season.

Jon Lester: C

Lester has not pitched well at all.  In fact, his numbers are unfortunately similar to Beckett’s.  Why must our aces struggle at the same time? Why must our aces struggle at all? These are some of the big questions for which the team does not seem to have any answers whatsoever.  He has a 4.49 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.  In eighteen starts, he is 5-6 with fifty-six earned runs, thirty walks, and eleven home runs.  Those numbers put him in the basement of the American League, which is not where a pitcher like Lester is expected to be.

Josh Beckett: C

Like Lester, Beckett has not pitched well at all.  In fact, his numbers are unfortunately similar to Lester’s.  He has a 4.43 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.  In fourteen starts, he is 4-7  with forty-four earned runs, twenty-two walks, and nine home runs.  He also has the lowest average strikeout total per nine innings of his career at 6.5.  And this is the mighty Josh Beckett that should have won the Cy Young in 2007? He’s like a completely different pitcher now.

Clay Buchholz: C

Buchholz has actually been terrible this year.  He has started fourteen games and is eight and two, but he has a 5.53 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP with fifty-three earned runs, fifteen home runs, and thirty-four walks.  In 86.1 innings pitched, he has given up ninety-nine hits.  It’s a miracle that he has more wins than losses, and how he managed to rack up so many wins is a mystery.  Yet another disappointment.

Daniel Bard: D

I’m honestly sorry to give Bard a D, but it’s the grade he deserves.  He was made a starter partly because his superiors wanted him to be a starter and partly also because he wanted to be a starter.  But the truth of the matter is that he has no business being a starter.  If something isn’t broken, nobody should try to fix it, and Bard was on the road to a fantastic career as a closer.  We needed him as a closer.  And instead he became this mediocre pitcher stripped of his dignity.  He started ten games and had an ERA of 5.24 and a WHIP of 1.62.  In fifty-five innings pitched, he gave up fifty-two hits, thirty-two earned runs, six homers, and thirty-seven walks.  His record was 5-6.  Let it be stated here that Bard is much more effective as a setup man or closer.  And the fact that that actually has to be stated is an embarrassment.  It should have been evident.

Felix Doubront: B

I don’t think anyone predicted in Spring Training that Doubront would become our best starter.  Then again, as we have seen, this season has been full of surprises, most of them unpleasant, so Doubront was a breath of fresh air.  Not that that says much.  In any other season, if Lester and Beckett and Buchholz pitched to their abilities, Doubront would be at the middle or bottom of the rotation at best.  Anyway, his ERA is currently 4.41, and his WHIP is 1.38.  He has started seventeen games and has a record of 9-4.  In ninety-six innings pitched, he’s given up forty-seven earned runs, fifteen homers, and thirty-five walks.

Aaron Cook: B

Compared to how we thought he was going to work out, Cook was actually a pleasant surprise as well.  Again, that doesn’t say much, but given his health when he joined the team, it does say a lot about his determination and commitment.  Plus he pitched that absolute gem a few starts ago, which can not be overlooked, especially since he’s made only four starts this season so far.  He has a 4.37 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, which is decent under his circumstances.  And we need the extra starter anyway.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: D

I’ve been thinking that Dice-K is a problem with no solution.

Matt Albers: B

Albers has not been outstanding, but he has been pretty great.  He certainly has made a valiant effort to turn it around from last season and has a nice 2.38 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP.  In thirty-four innings, he’s given up thirteen runs on twenty-six hits with twenty strikeouts.  He’s pitched in thirty-two games and has blown only three saves.  It should be zero, but this is not the team with which to be picky.

Andrew Miller: B

Again, not outstanding but pretty great.  2.75 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 19.2 innings pitched.  Six runs on thirteen hits and no blown saves.  If he continues pitching as well as he has so far, he will have the best season of his career numbers-wise.  Granted, he spent most of his career as a starter, but he’s found this new role in which he has a chance to be really successful for a team that really needs him.

Scott Atchison: A

Here’s someone who’s outstanding.  Atchison is probably our best reliever so far.  His ERA is a low 1.79, and his WHIP is a low .99, and that’s over 45.1 innings pitched.  He’s given up only nine runs on thirty-six hits while walking nine and striking out thirty-three.  He has also given up only two home runs.  Outstanding.

Vicente Padilla: C

As a setup man, he hasn’t done as well as I would have liked.  His 3.94 ERA and 1.38 WHIP are actually terrible for a setup man, but somehow he gets through it.  In thirty-two innings, he’s given up fourteen earned runs on thirty-five hits while striking out only nine.  He’s blown two saves.  Now, a setup man is a setup man; he’s supposed to put the closer in a position where the closer can close, and he’s supposed to keep the team in a position where the team can win.  That means not blowing any saves and not giving up any runs, and if you do give up runs, giving up the bare minimum of runs.  I don’t feel he’s done that.

Franklin Morales: B

Another thing that I don’t think anyone predicted at Spring Training was Morales’s versatility.  He is both a reliever and a starter, and he is effective in both roles.  He is 1-2 with eight holds and no blown saves, and he has an ERA of 3.50 and a WHIP of 1.17.  He has made four starts and pitched 46.1 innings total, and he has given up eighteen earned runs on forty-one hits while walking thirteen.  Between all the injuries we’ve had, without Morales to fill in and start, we’d be in a very bad place.

Mark Melancon: D

Melancon doesn’t do much.  Somehow it’s happened that he and Mortensen tend to appear in games together, but he hasn’t really made much of an impact.  And that’s probably because he can’t be trusted, so he doesn’t get that much playing time.  He has a 7.04 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP and has pitched 15.1 innings.  He’s given up twelve earned runs on eighteen hits.

Alfredo Aceves: C

Let’s not forget that Aceves began the season abysmally, and we were all wondering how in the world we would be expected to continue the season with a closer like that.  Well, we didn’t, because Aceves pulled it together and turned it around.  And now his ERA is 4.33 and his WHIP is 1.19.  I mean, that’s actually terrible for a closer, especially in light of what we’ve been used to in recent years, but it could have been a lot worse.  Still, objectively speaking, we need him to be better.  He’s pitched 43.2 innings and has given up twenty-one earned runs on thirty-eight hits.  He also has four blown saves.

Pitching Overall: D

It should come as no surprise to anyone that our team ERA of 4.22 is one of the worst in the Major Leagues.  So is our strikeout total, our batting average against, our earned run total, and our loss total.  Our pitching staff is absolutely terrible this year and must somehow be fixed.  However, a distinction must be made between the rotation and the relief corps.  The latter is performing much better than the former.  On the one hand, we expect our relievers to ideally not allow any runs.  On the other hand, this is baseball, and runs are allowed, and the relief corps can not be expected to constantly clean up the messes made by the starters.  It drags the relief corps down when they give up runs that end up costing the team games because the offense doesn’t hit or score and the starters don’t limit the damage.

Bobby Valentine: C

There are those who say that Bobby V. is not effective here because the brass won’t let him be himself.  There are those who say that Bobby V. is not effective here because the brass lets him be too much of himself.  And there are those who say that Bobby V. is not the problem and that the team is the problem.  Well, I’m not in the clubhouse or the front office, so I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.  But I do know that Bobby V. is in a class by himself.  His managerial style is not one that Boston has had in a long time, certainly not in recent years.  It is a style that our players and many of our new guys are not familiar with.  It is a style that is not always the most adaptable and that probably expects more adaptation than it itself makes.  And it is a style that takes some getting used to.  This style affects his conduct both on and off the field; it affects how he makes strategic decisions before, during, and after games and it affects how he interacts with the players and the media.  And based on what I have seen, based on the decisions that he has made and the things that he has said, I don’t think that that getting-used-to process is over.

Ben Cherington: C

Let’s see.  Andrew Bailey is still on the DL, Reddick is having a pretty good year, and Bard is not a starter.  Whether the Youkilis trade was warranted remains to be seen.  I trust Ben because Theo Epstein trained him and because in the past he’s shown that he has a very intelligent and strategic mind when it comes to sabermetrics and the ins and outs of being a good general manager for a team like ours.  And he’s had only one off season and one half of a season so far at the helm, so the sample size is small.  So I clearly will be giving him the benefit of the doubt.  But I just hope that his long-term vision for the team is not compromised by any sort of impulse from anywhere to find quick fixes that may help us in the short run but will damage our future.

Team Overall: D

I don’t really know what else to say.  If I sound crushed and exasperated and frustrated, it’s because I am.  And I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we all are.  At the All-Star break, we’re at .500, tied for fourth (or last) place with Toronto and nine and a half games out of first place, which is where the Yanks are.  We can’t win as a team, we can’t win consistently, we can’t score runs consistently, we can’t pitch well consistently.  We can’t do much of anything consistently.  We have all these problems and no solutions.  We need to pull it together in an enormously huge way and have a truly phenomenal second half if we want to avoid the consequences of having a second half just like our first half.

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I would like to see two things, even if just once, but preferably on a consistent bases.  First of all, I would like to see one of our wins be the start of a real winning streak.  Not that five or six games isn’t a winning streak.  But I want to see a long winning streak, like ten or eleven or twelve games.  And secondly, I would like to see Dice-K deliver a start the likes of which is what we expected from him on a startly basis when he was first signed.

Since that’s what’s on my mind, you can deduce that we lost yesterday and that Dice-K pitched terribly.  The final score was 6-1, and Dice-K was horrific.  He lasted only one inning; he sent down only three hitters for the third time in his career.  The last time, ironically enough, was also against the A’s in 2009.  He gave up five runs on four hits, two of which were home runs.  Josh Reddick of all people hit a solo shot with two out in the first, and then Brandon Moss hit a three-run shot with no out in the second.  Dice-K walked two, struck out none, threw twenty-eight pitches (a new career low, both literally and figuratively) and only sixteen strikes, and was replaced by Mortensen not after that three-run home run but rather after two more at-bats, both of which resulted in men on base.  Mortensen loaded the bases with a walk, induced a popup, and then allowed one of his inherited runners to score on a sac fly.

It turns out that Dice-K had a sore neck.  He was in pain before his start, which is why he didn’t through a side session.  But he thought he could pitch through it.  It turns out that he was obviously and horribly wrong.  I’m pretty comfortable in predicting that he’s headed back to the DL.

Mortensen then pitched the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.  Some innings were better than others, but he didn’t give up any of his own runs.  Melancon replaced him for the eighth and ninth, which proceeded without incident.

Unfortunately, so did most of our opportunities at the plate.  Our only run was scored in the first.  Nava hit the third pitch of the game for a double, and Pedroia singled him in.  That was it.  There’s nothing like a falsely auspicious start to a game to get your hopes up for naught.

Both teams put up six hits.  That double was our only one for extra bases, and Pedroia went two for four for the team’s only multi-hit performance.  Not a great way to start a series.  Not a great way to continue the road trip.  Certainly not a great way to make progress in our momentum, our morale, or the standings.

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