Posts Tagged ‘JP Ricciardi’

Beckett’s outing was okay.  Not bad, not great.  He allowed two runs in the first and two in the second before settling down to pitch three shutout frames.  He allowed seven hits over those five innings with three walks and five strikeouts, and he threw 98 pitches.  So his runs, hits, and walks were up while his strikeout count was down and his pitch count showed inefficiency.  But I still don’t worry about him.  This whole situation with these last few games is very strange.  We win the Wild Card on someone else’s loss, we give the starters all sorts of rest, and we wait.  I feel like that has to take some sort of toll on the psyche of a competitive workhorse like Beckett.  Not to mention the fact that his timing was out of whack because of the extended rest.  But putting that aside, the reason why I’m thrilled with his performance is his health.  The fact that he settled down and got through it means he’ll be in good shape by the time postseason play begins.

Byrd allowed two runs on three hits in the next three innings, which is why he’s not on the postseason roster.  Richardson did fine.

Aside from Beckett, pitching is so not the point here, though.  The offense is the point, and with a final score of 11-6, there was a lot of it.  But before we talk about that, some words on the lineup.  This is one of the most interesting and creative lineups I’ve seen this season.  Pedroia led off, followed by Bay, followed by V-Mart and Youk, and then Ortiz, Lowrie, Kotchman, Anderson, and Gathright.  Ellsbury got the day off, Lowell has a sore right thumb, and Drew has a left shoulder issue.

So, without further ado.  With a full count, Pedroia led off the ballgame with a home run.  High inside fastball, meet the head of the bat, and the ball clears the Monster completely.  And then came the monumental second inning.

When I say monumental, I mean monumental.  There’s really no other way to describe scoring seven runs in a single frame in the manner in which we scored them.  It all started when Anderson singled in Ortiz, which moved Kotchman to second and Lowrie to third.  Aaron Laffey balked, so Lowrie scored, Anderson moved to second, and Kotchman moved to third.  Pedroia was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Then Bay singled in Kotchman, and everyone moved up to load the bases again.

Then Victor Martinez stepped into the batter’s box.  He worked a three and one count, perfect for hitting.  He hit a ball over center field that looked like it might have just enough to get it out.  And it did.  Into the bullpen.  Four runs with one swing of the bat, and all of a sudden we were leading 8-4 on the back of Victor Martinez’s first-ever Major League career grand slam! Against his former team! And all because Andy Marte couldn’t catch that popup in front of our dugout.  That’s what I call making him pay.

Anderson hit a towering home run to Lansdowne Street in the third to score himself and Kotchman, and Dusty Brown hit a home run of his own in the bottom of the eighth to tack on the final run.  Almost cleared the Monster.  The ball made it into the last row and was barely contained inside the park.  Not bad for a first career long ball.

Gonzalez’s x-rays came back negative.  Baldelli will have an MRI tomorrow.  John Farrell officially requested to be removed from consideration for Cleveland’s managerial position.  Speaking of open managerial positions, JP Ricciardi was fired yesterday.  And Manny Delcarmen, after enduring a car accident yesterday, is fine.  He was driving in the left lane and the driver in the middle lost control and swerved into Delcarmen’s car, which veered to the left and hit the wall.  He was taken to Mass General, but other than a sore back, he’s good to go.

Well, the end is in sight.  This afternoon, we play our last game of the regular season.  I have to say, it’s been one interesting run.  Lots of ups, lots of downs, lots of ins and outs and heres and theres, but we’ve come to a good place, I think.  Buchholz gets the nod against Tomo Ohka, so this’ll be his final tune-up before the playoffs.  But I still can’t believe the regular season is already over.  It seems like Opening Day was rained out just yesterday, doesn’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun though, and the fun continues even after we put this one away.

In other news, the Bruins played an absolutely fantastic game last night.  Last night’s game was everything we wanted Opening Night to be and more.  The final score was 7-2, and it was most definitely a team effort.  It was the first time we had seven different goal scorers since the lockout.  And there were plenty of fights to go around as well.  An all-around well-played game.  Lots of tape-to-tape passing (Patrice Bergeron’s picture is next to the definition of “stick position” in the hockey dictionary), obviously lots of scoring (two of the goals were netted just seconds apart) and fighting (Sean Thornton threw at least ten punches before the referees got involved), and of course lots of saving (I have come to the conclusion that Tim Thomas is an acrobat).  We play next on Thursday in Anaheim.

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First things first.  The game.  We won, 6-5.  Smoltz finally made his record two and four.  Barely.  Five runs on eight hits over six innings isn’t exactly what you’d hope for for someone you acquired specifically for the postseason, but it’s decent for a starter at the tail end of the rotation.  He didn’t walk anybody and struck out two.  Gave up two two-run shots though which was concerning at best.  Ramirez and Okajima each got holds.  Paps got a save.  Eighteen pitches; twice the number of pitches necessary to get all three batters out on strikes alone, so he’s still not where he needs to be.  On the bright side, he didn’t walk anybody, which has largely been the difference between this year and last year and which his why his ERA doesn’t always reflect how shaky he’s been.  And he didn’t give up a hit.  Two strikeouts.  Not bad for an eighteen-pitch save.  Not bad at all.

You have to love this resurgence of the offense.  It comes at just the right time, too.  You like to see your team flourish in August because many squads can get bogged down between the pressure of an imminent October run and the weight of the heat outside.  August is a tough month any way you spin it, and it’s good to see us start it off so well, especially given our recent struggles.  Ellsbury went three for five with one of his best catches of the season to end the fifth.  He reached over the center field wall to rob Luke Scott of a home run.  And then he led off the bottom of the inning with a home run of his own.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  Jacoby Ellsbury, ladies and gentlemen.  And I think him finally finding his groove in the leadoff spot has really helped the bats wake up.  Youk went three for four with a two-run shot with two out in the seventh.  The ball was clobbered to left field.  Clobbered.  And Ortiz went two for four with a two-run shot in the third.  How ’bout that.

So we were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and still managed to score six runs.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: you can score all the runs you want, but unless your pitcher keeps you in the game, the runs won’t help.  Every once in a while, though, runs alone will pull it out.  This brings us to within one and a half games of the Yankees.  We’ve won our last two and started this series on the right foot.

Okay, we’ve covered the game.  Now for the trade deadline.  Jarrod Washburn is with the Tigers, Cliff Lee is with the Phillies, Jake Peavy is with the White Sox, and in an anticlimactic result of epic proportions, Roy Halladay is still with the Blue Jays.  No surprise there.  JP Ricciardi basically said, “Sure, go ahead and take Halladay for a season and a half, and why don’t I just hold on to your entire farm system for you.” Like that was ever going to happen.  We definitely weren’t going to mortgage our future.  But Theo did wheel and deal, and he pulled off a brilliant blockbuster, and at an exceptionally reasonable price, too.  Welcome to Boston, Victor Martinez! As both a catcher and first baseman, he’s very versatile and skilled in the field; the .992 fielding percentage proves it.  And as a .284 switch-hitter, with a .297 career average, he’s the bat we were looking for.  Of course, that begs the question of where he’ll fit in.  With Wakefield on the DL, Tek hasn’t been getting his usual day off every fifth day.  George Kottaras was just placed on the disabled list, probably to make way for Martinez behind the plate.  And since he also plays first base, he can man that bag while Youk moves to third and Lowell takes the day off.  And he’s a DH, so he can give Papi the day off.  Basically, the possibilities are endless.

To get him, we had to give up Justin Masterson and two pitching prospects, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price.  I have mixed feelings about seeing Masterson go.  The Red Sox never gave him a fair shake as a starter.  The starts we’ve seen from him have been outstanding; he’s held the opposition to about two runs while going deep for a young guy.  And he’s done it consistently.  I hope Cleveland will give him the chance to start consistently.  In other words, we’ll miss the kid, and I wish him the best.

We also traded Adam LaRoche to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman.  LaRoche first came up with Atlanta and he’ll also be going back to the National League, so I like that fit.  As far as Casey Kotchman is concerned, it surprised me a little to learn we swapped a first baseman for a first baseman when we just made a blockbuster deal for another first baseman, but Theo explained it and it makes sense.  Apparently, with LaRoche’s style at the plate, he needs to play regularly to be productive.  While he was here, for all of about a week, he did play pretty regularly and was productive, but perhaps in the long run if he were benched more often, he wouldn’t be.  On the other hand, Kotchman’s different approach would allow him to come off the bench more easily, and with a .282 average so far this season, I hate to say it, but he’s definitely an upgrade from LaRoche.  And he’s an awesome defender, too.

The Yankees acquired Jerry Hairston, Jr. for a catching prospect.  That’s it.  I’m serious.  I tried really hard not to laugh but wasn’t very successful.  I’m not saying the standings situation for the rest of the season will be easy.  I’m saying it just got a whole lot easier.

So in my opinion those were fantastic deadline moves.  Fantastic moves.  Congratulations again to Theo on a successful deadline.  We didn’t overpay for Martinez at all, and the LaRoche-for-Kotchman swap was a straight-up improvement in numbers; you sort of had this sense all along that LaRoche was a chip anyway.  Sad but, as Kotchman said, it’s a business.  Luckily LaRoche is comfortable in Atlanta, and it’s a win-win.  Speaking of win-win, it’s Beckett at David Hernandez tonight,and Martinez will bat third and play first.  I’m pumped.

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I mean, I guess you could call that a duel.  The final score was 1-3, so I’d say that barely qualifies.  One more run and it wouldn’t have been.  We lost, though.  To his credit, Lester kept us in it.  It’s not his fault we couldn’t score more than one run.  But I’ll tell you who’s most pleased by this: JP Ricciardi.  No doubt about that.  His biggest trade bait just pitched a one-run complete game.  He just showed the baseball world that, yes, Halladay is worth everybody else’s top prospects plus cash plus draft picks.  Not ours, but everybody else’s, sure.

For his part, Lester pitched seven.  He gave up three runs on five hits, walked four, and struck out six.  Delcarmen took care of the eighth.  So like I said, he kept us in it.  Three runs for us is nothing.  Giving up three runs or less is a quality start and a start the pitcher has a legitimate chance of winning.  So this is not Lester’s fault.  Actually, this isn’t even the lineup’s fault.  This one is Roy Halladay’s fault all the way.  Think about it.  If the lineup can only score one run against Roy Halladay, can you blame them?

Pedroia and Youk both went two for four.  With runners on second and third, Ortiz hit a sac fly to plate our only run in the first inning.  Lowell and Lowrie were not in the lineup.  Kotsay stole second.  Lester made a throwing error.  We’re only ahead of the Yanks by one game.  Life is…not as great as it could be.  Life could be better on the baseball front.

I don’t have to appreciate the fact that Roy Halladay beat us, but the man can pitch.  Obviously.  And I credit Lester for holding his own.  That was a good game to watch if you like pitching, unfortunately especially if you like losing pitching, even though as I said this loss had nothing to do with Lester.  Moving forward, we’re off to Texas.  Who is no longer ahead of the Angels; they’re now behind by three games, so things are gradually returning to normal.  All we need now is for the Dodgers to fall off completely, and we’ll have the best record in the Majors, as it should be.  Or we could win a few more games while they lose a few; that works too.  At any rate, Smoltz will take on Kevin Millwood.  Given the current situation of the AL East, we should probably win this one.

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Brad Penny got lit up.  Period.  That’s something we haven’t seen since the first month of the season.  The final score was 6-2, and Penny allowed all six runs.  Six runs on eight hits with a walk and three K’s in five innings.  A two-run home run for Adam Lind in the fifth.  It was ugly.  Ironically, it was also efficient; it only took him eighty-two pitches to drop this one.  Every starter has a bad day, which was proven by Josh Beckett’s bad first month, so I wouldn’t mind this so much if it weren’t for the fact that it decreased our first-place lead to two games.  Like I say, it’s only temporary, but obviously I still would’ve liked to win this one and keep it at three.

So the game had highs and lows.  That was a low.  Masterson’s excellent two-inning performance and Ramirez’s good pitching in the ninth were highs.  The offense was a low; we only scored two runs.  The high was that, while one of them was courtesy of Baldelli, whom we already know can bat around, the other was courtesy of Jed Lowrie, who in his return to the field and the lineup after missing most of the first half after slumping a bit, hit a ridiculous home run in the seventh inning.  The first pitch he saw from Jesse Carlson ended up not in the ballpark.  And the swing was full, it was powerful, the kid looked great.  No wrist or knee issues whatsoever.  And his fielding looked great, except for one incident, and that incident was the only incident all day that was any indication of the fact that he hadn’t made a start in about three months.  And that was his collision with Mikey Lowell in the eighth while trying to catch a pop fly.  They droppd the ball, and Lowrie was charged with a fielding error.  That was the only evidence of inexperience and being rusty all afternoon, so I can live with that.  I’m telling you, I am so psyched to have this kid back.  He should have a great second half, get some experience under his belt, and he’s already proven that he’s a Major League starter, so we’re looking at our final answer to the shortstop position right here.  And if that’s the case, we’re in great shape, because this kid has all five tools.

Also in the seventh, Scott Rolen robbed JD Drew of a line drive in a ridiculous play that happens maybe once a year.  I couldn’t believe it.  He ran a few steps and then leaped towards second base and snagged the ball in the air.  That does not happen.

Today is probably the season’s showdown of all showdowns thus far, what with the trade deadline coming up.  Lester will pitch opposite Roy Halladay, and if JP Ricciardi is serious about trading Halladay, he’ll have to be brilliant.  I mean this should be an epic battle.  Some of the best pitching in the Major Leagues right here.  I’d prepare myself for a close score.  The lineup will have to be tight, making the most of every opportunity that comes up because with Halladay on the mound, there won’t be that many.

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Honestly, we played the Royals last night, and Zack Greinke was not on the mound.  We should’ve won.  By a lot.  Instead we lost by a final score of 8-6.  And it had nothing to do with Brad Penny.  He hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning once this year, and yesterday he only pitched through five, but that’s okay with me if he holds the opposition to three runs.  Incidentally, that’s why his ERA is so high even though he’s been consistently solid.  He doesn’t allow many runs but his outings are short.  Anyway, we should be able to score more than three runs, and we have the best bullpen in the Majors, which can handle four innings of work with a lead.  Right? Apparently not.

Manny Delcarmen came in and only stayed for two-thirds of the sixth, allowing two runs in the process.  Somehow he was rewarded with a hold.  Masterson earned a blown save and a loss when he allowed two more runs while trying to finish the inning.  Ramirez allowed one run.  Bard didn’t allow any.  Papelbon didn’t even make an appearance.  So now we’re tied with the Evil Empire for first place, which is not a predicament I particularly enjoy.  Seriously.  And we have the Twins to thank for that one, who allowed themselves to be swept at home.  By the way, did you know Twins fans refer to their team as the Twinkies? Basically, that means a bunch of pre-packaged, pre-processed, and preserved cream-filled desserts were just swept by a bunch of greedy multimillionaires in striped pants.  And we have to pay for it.  Where is the justice.  And as if that weren’t enough, we lost the best home record in the AL.  Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone anywhere could ever have a better home record than us.  Granted, both are temporary, but it’s all just very uncomfortable.

The silver lining to this whole thing is, without a doubt, the 300th career home run hit by one David Ortiz! Big Papi, ladies and gentlemen! First inning, Youk on first, one out, and a ball down and away.  And I thought he was trying to take the skin off the ball.  It just ended up in the Monster seats.  He was all over it, as Eck likes to say.  I mean he had it.  And it cleared the yard for the 300th home run of his illustrious career.  Congratulations! And many more to come.  How impressive has he been lately.  Think about what it was like watching him bat in the beginning of the season, and think of what it’s like now.  He’s come a very long way in a very short time; already he’s been able to accumulate eleven home runs and forty-four RBIs.  And I’d say he’s most definitely got a whole lot left in the tank.  He’s on pace to have one ridiculous second half.

Speaking of home runs, Pedroia the Destroyah got in on the action as well.  His three-for-five night included a towering home run also into the Monster seats on a high fastball in the fifth.  He’s had only two home runs for a while, and then all of a sudden he’s hit two in the past week to make it four.  He just smacked it out of there.  Bay hit an RBI single, Youk went two for five with an RBI, and Kotsay had an RBI, which makes six.  Green was caught stealing and picked off, and Tek made a throwing error.

Last but not least, we should probably address all of this Roy Halladay nonsense.  We do not need another pitcher.  We need another hitter.  We will win the World Series with our current pitching staff, which eventually can include Clay Buchholz and Dice-K, if he gets his act together.  Besides, in order for JP Ricciardi to seriously consider forking him over, we’d have to present quite the package.  Which would have to include the likes of Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Lars Anderson, and Casey Kelly.  At least.  And trading those guys away would literally be trading away our future.  Theo would never fall for that.  Not for a pitcher who’s already more than thirty years old, and not at a time when our weakness is offense, not defense.  In Theo we trust.  He’s got a good head on his shoulders.

Lester will face Brian Bannister tonight, and we have to win this one.  We have to.  Falling into second place just before the All-Star break is not a good idea.  Obviously it won’t be the end of the world, but it’s not a good idea at all.  We’ll need Lester to be on his game.  The sad part is that Bannister and Lester have similar records and ERAs, Lester’s being a little bit worse.  But come on, these are the Royals.  We can do this.

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