Posts Tagged ‘Juan Samuel’

I don’t think it’s physically possible for Jon Lester to lose to the Baltimore Orioles.  And not just because Lester is an elite pitcher and the Orioles are playing some of the worst baseball I’ve ever seen.  Also because he’s never lost to the Orioles.  Ever.  Meanwhile, the Orioles are now on a ten-game losing streak.  Ouch.

Lester pitched six and a third shutout innings, giving up four hits and three walks while striking out four.  He fired 102 pitches in that time; we’ve seen him be much more economical, and he would’ve had himself a nice seven-inning start if it weren’t for his sudden but ultimately harmless implosion in the seventh.  All three of his walks were consecutive, after he recorded the first out in the seventh, which was why he was removed.  So he didn’t walk a single batter until right before he left, and then he walked all of the batters he faced after that point.  He walked Jones and Atkins on five pitches each, and he walked Lugo on four.  It was mostly because he stopped throwing his fastball and cutter for strikes.  Luckily, Bard induced two popups and bailed him out of possible bases-loaded damage.  He used ninety-nine mile-per-hour fastballs and ninety-one mile-per-hour changeups.  Ridiculous.  Kid doesn’t mess around.

If those three walks were the only problem he had, I’ll take it.  For the majority of his start, his cutter and fastball were located perfectly, as usual.  His sinker, slider, and curveball were fantastic.  He was low on the changeups.  He mixed them well, and he put good movement on them.  He used all parts of the strike zone and didn’t throw below it.  His best inning was the fourth, in which he threw only eight pitches.  But he needed between twelve and seventeen pitches to complete his other frames.  He fired twenty-one before he was taken out in the seventh.  The batters just made him throw and created opportunities; they left nine on base but only went one for nine with runners in scoring position.

Nobody scored any runs until that frame.  Then, Youk led off the seventh by clobbering the first pitch of his at-bat for a 378-foot home run, his twelfth of the year, after Pedroia broke Guthrie’s streak of fifteen consecutive retirements in the sixth.  It was a fastball he left up, and he just lined that ball out.  He’s now batting .320.  Incidentally, Youk started at third for the first time this year, while V-Mart started at first and Tek caught.  In the first, V-Mart showed he still got it with a fantastic diving catch in mid-air that robbed Patterson of a base hit.  Honestly, I saw that play and I thought it was Youk out there making that grab, because he’s the only one who can make those plays.  Apparently not.  It was awesome.

In the eighth, Reddick tripled and scored on Scutaro’s single.  Atchison was optioned, and Reddick was called up because Hermida was out for the day.  And in the ninth, McDonald ripped a double to bring in two.  Hall and Youk both followed suit.

Scutaro went two for five, but Youk went three for five with two doubles, that home run, and a grand total of three RBIs.  Collectively, the offense went five for eleven with runners in scoring position, collecting a total of nine hits while leaving only six on base.

The final score was 8-2; it was Nelson who allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in the ninth, the first two runs of Samuel’s career as interim manager of the Baltimore Orioles.  Ramirez pitched the final two outs of the game perfectly.

Despite Beltre’s pleading, Tito sat him yesterday to be extra cautious about his soreness from the collision.

I’d like to commend Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce on their composure and professionalism.  Especially Jim Joyce.  Rarely do you see an umpire both admit a mistake and lament it.  Cue another instant replay debate.

Thus, we continue to climb! We’re only three and a half games out of first now, still tied with Toronto for third but only one and a half games out of second and coming on strong.  I bet we’ll see some shifts in the standings before the All-Star break.  Ah, the thrill of the chase.  It’s pretty exciting stuff! We turn to Lackey this afternoon to make it happen.

The Boston Globe

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So the Orioles fired Dave Trembley, hired Juan Samuel for the interim, and asked us to welcome him last night in his first game as skipper of this sorely misguided team.  We gave him a welcome, alright.  A nice slugfest blowout of a welcome.  Note to all other Major League Baseball teams: don’t play us if you want to ensure that a debut goes well, because if you play us, it won’t.

The story of last night’s theatrics starts and ends with Buchholz, literally.  He pitched a complete game (third in his career) shutout (second in his career) and got the win, giving up five hits and only one walk while striking out two.  That was his career-high eighth win and the ninth in his winning streak on the road.  It’s the first time in his career that he’s won five straight.  That’s the second-longest streak in the history of the franchise, right behind Clemens’s twelve from September 20, 1987 through July 4, 1988.  He joins heady company; only four pitchers in the history of the franchise have won at least eight consecutive starts on the road: Buchholz, Clemens, Lefty Grove, and Babe Ruth, and Buchholz and Clemens are tied for second.  For now.

His ERA is now 2.39.  His ERA during his eight road wins is 1.22.  That’s ridiculous.  I can’t believe that.  It just keeps getting lower and lower.  I know I’ve said this before, but that’s a closer’s ERA.  This kid just continues to amaze.  He’s so confident.  He’s so dominant.  He throws any pitch in any count.  It’s remarkable.  Watching that game made me think back to his no-hitter, also against the Orioles.  You know you were thinking about it too.  Maybe he just has this team’s number.  Or maybe he’s just that good.  I have a feeling it’s a good mixture of both.

He was extremely stingy, throwing only 101 pitches.  A big part of that was his use of the double play (last night we turned two), his incredibly low walk total, and his profuse use of the first-pitch strike.  Last night, Buchholz recorded eight first-pitch outs.  After Izturis singled in the third, he retired twelve consecutive batters.

His changeup was absolutely nasty.  Really, all of his pitches were thrown well; his slider and fastball were spectacular, while his curveball continues to improve.  He needed a game high of nineteen pitches to clear the first.  He needed a game low of only six pitches to clear both the fourth and sixth.  Six pitches.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a pitcher complete a frame with only six pitches.  That’s absurd.

He threw 66 strikes, and his strike zone was beautiful.  He threw to all parts of it.  If he threw a ball, chances were it was to the left or at the upper left corner, but there really weren’t many of those.  Speed variation? Check.  Tossed salad? Check.  Movement? Check.

Wow factor? Check.  Absolutely.

The final score was 11-0, and as Buchholz said, having a lead that huge gives a pitcher the opportunity to pound the zone, be aggressive and creative, and experiment to get batters out.  So the offense most certainly did its part.

Tillman started the game by loading the bases with nobody out by giving up a single to Scutaro and walking Pedroia and Papi back-to-back.  Scutaro scored on a groundout by V-Mart, and with two outs Drew doubled in two.  Hermida led off the second with a double, moved ahead on a single by Hall, and scored on a single by Pedroia.  Thus, Samuel made his first call to the bullpen as the manager of a Major League Baseball team; he removed his starter after he gave up four runs in less than two innings.  Welcome to the big show.

We were just getting started.  Cue the long balls; we had three of them.  In the fourth, Hall struck out by reached on a passed ball, Scutaro singled, and with two out Youk went yard high and long to send everyone home for the eleventh time this year.  He buried a 1-0 fastball up into the seats out in left field.  Not wanting to feel left out, Beltre did the same with nobody on base an inning later on a breaking ball.  Complete with that really compact swing of his where he puts his whole back into it such that he ends up kneeling on his back leg during the follow-through.  Not wanting to feel left out either, Scutaro did the same to lead off the eighth on an inside hanging breaking ball.  In the ninth, Beltre doubled in V-Mart, and then Drew scored on McDonald’s groundout.

Pedroia went two for four.  Beltre, Drew, and Youk went two for five.  V-Mart went three for four.  Scutaro went three for six.  We recorded sixteen hits.  We scored five of our runs with two outs.  In short, we delivered a good, old-fashioned Boston beatdown.  We had a brief scare when Hermida collided with Beltre on Markakis’s popup (thankfully, Scutaro pulled out of the chase early), but they’re okay.  Hermida left with a left forearm contusion, and Beltre has a bruised left knee, but that’s all.  Thankfully.  The last thing we need is yet another outfielder on the DL as a result of a collision.

Tonight’s the second game of the series; Lester will take on Guthrie to secure at least the series win.  I’m looking forward to this.  Hopefully, Lester will turn in a performance just as dominant but from the other side of the mound.  We’re currently four and a half games out of first and continue to surge.  Life is good.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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