Posts Tagged ‘Julio Borbon’

It’s official: Lester is back to his old dominant self again.  He rolled right over the Texas lineup like it was his job.  Oh, wait; it is his job, and he did it extremely well.  Seeing Lester turn in an outing like the one he completed last night just makes you forget what he even looked like during his slump.  It’s almost like that was a completely different Lester.  Either way, he won, and he was awesome and tough as nails, so let’s talk about it.

He turned in eight full shutout innings.  He was rock-solid, he gave the bullpen a break, and he made the Texas Rangers of 2010 look like the Texas Rangers of 2009.  He allowed a grand total of five hits while striking out five and walking nobody.  So basically, take away those five hits and add on an extra inning and he’s got himself a perfect game.  And he did all of it with 109 pitches, sixty-six of which were strikes, twelve of which were swinging.  He also had a very nice pickoff.  His cut fastball was unhittable, all of his sinkers were thrown for strikes, and his changeup was fantastic.  He only got into trouble once and escaped completely unscathed.  In the seventh, when the score was 1-0 us, Cruz hit a triple with one out.  And it was perfectly clear that Murphy had to be gotten out.  That was non-negotiable.  So he got Murphy to ground out to first and Cantu to ground out to second.  And he finished that inning with eleven pitches, seven less than his highest inning total, which was eighteen.

And he made all of it look easy when in fact it wasn’t in the least.  First of all, the temperature outside was 102 degrees.  It was the second hottest night in seventeen years down there.  That’s obscene.  And he was battling nausea.  Nobody should be playing baseball under those circumstances.  Nobody should be able to play baseball under those circumstances.  But if anyone can do it, Lester most certainly can, and he most certainly did.

So he defeated two division leaders with two consecutive shutout starts.  And he celebrated by buying some cowboy boots; obviously Beckett and Lackey approved.  Lester absolutely earned and deserved that win.  His thirteen wins re-ties him with Buchholz for the team lead and places both of them behind three pitchers who are first in that category in the American League and one who’s second.

Meanwhile, Kalish led off the fifth with a single, moved to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a single by Scutaro, and scored on a single by Drew.  We didn’t score again until the ninth, snapping O’Day’s twenty-six-plus-inning shutout streak, when Hall hit an RBI single and Scutaro hit a sac fly that ended up landing him at first when Borbon dropped it.

Kalish finished the night two for three, and Hall finished the night two for four with a steal.  Lowell hit a double.  In total, we collected ten hits.  Nice.

Both Bard and Paps were unavailable, so Atchison got a hold and Doubront made a pretty creative save.  Atchison came out after recording an out and allowing a home run, bringing the score to 3-1.  Guerrero was dancing at first base, so Doubront let loose a fastball very quickly to V-Mart, who then caught Guerrero stealing.  Doubront then struck out Moreland looking, revealing remarkable composure beyond his years.  I’m telling you, that kid is destined for greatness.  That score then became final.  And we won.  Plain and simple.

And hopefuly we’ll do it again this afternoon.  Dice-K will start opposite Wilson.  Dice-K has definitely become more consistent lately, so technically we can breathe easily when we see him penciled in, which is always good.  Especially because we need to win this series.  So let’s do it.

AP Photo

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Does anyone remember the last time Lester lost at home? April 18 against the Rays, with an ugly final score of 7-1.  We haven’t lost a series at home since May.  Yesterday afternoon marked our six hundredth consecutive sellout at Fenway Park.  More than thirty-seven thousand people turned out to see what we all expected to be a sendoff for the Rangers in the form of a rousing defeat.  I mean, Lester hasn’t lost at home since April, right?

Wrong.  He lost yesterday afternoon.

It’s not like he tanked.  He actually pitched well.  He tossed eight innings, gave up three earned runs on nine hits, walked three, and struck out six.  His pitch-count was decidedly Lackey-like at 118.  His change and curve were as effective as ever; his cut fastball wasn’t as effective as ever but was still effective.  He threw eight pitches in the first, but the game wasn’t fated to be that easy.  He threw at most twenty-one pitches in the fifth and around there for the rest of his innings.  He let go of only one pitch outside his release point.  His strike zone was excellent. He just, for some reason, didn’t have it.  He threw his usual tricks at them but they hit the ball anyway.  His walk total was appropriate, so command wasn’t an issue.  He didn’t give up any home runs, so it’s not like he was making all sorts of mistakes.  He just got read, that’s all.  It’s rare, I know.  Thankfully.  I didn’t even know it was possible for batters to read him at all.

Lester did have a fourth, unearned run to his credit, or rather to who but Beltre’s credit.  Cruz took a breaking ball for a double, and we tried to throw out Hamilton at the plate, and when that didn’t work, Dusty Brown fired to first to contain the runner, but Beltre couldn’t handle the throw, and the runner scored.

We also have the added embarrassment of the double steal in the fifth.  While Young was busy striking out, Andrus was busy stealing second and Borbon was busy stealing home.  You read right.  It was awful.

As if that weren’t frustrating enough, in the eighth, Andrus scored on a single and was tagged before he reached home plate even though home plate umpire Gary Darling ruled him out.  I was furious.  I’m still furious.  The tag was clearly applied before Andrus’s foot touched the plate.  If that run doesn’t score, Cameron’s long ball brings us within one.  Maybe we still don’t win, but at least it’s closer and the call was right.  Plays like this are exactly why the call that ruined Armando Galarraga’s potentially perfect game won’t be overturned.  Because if you overturn that one, you have to overturn all these other ones that aren’t correct, and I don’t think Major League Baseball is too keen on opening that Pandora’s box.

On the other side of the game, the offense tried to come back but didn’t.  Speaking of more humiliation, Wilson established a new career high of ten strikeouts for himself.  Youk, fresh off his impact on Saturday night, led off the second with a single and scored on Beltre’s subsequent double.

We had some nice plays in the field, too.  Scutaro repeated his nice pivot catch from yesterday in the fifth, and Hall tried it on in the sixth.

We had our opportunities.  In the sixth and seventh, we had two runners on with two outs, but those opportunities ended with a strikeout and a popup, respectively.

Cameron did lead off the ninth with a powerful homer on a letter-high fastball into the Monster seats, cutting their lead in half.  Kinsler bobbled a ball in the infield and Hall reached.  But then of course Scutaro had to line out to short.

We designated Molina and called up Bowden as a reliever.  And Beckett is officially starting Friday.  Hold on to your hats.

Our July is quickly becoming April, Version 2.0.  I hate to say that, but it’s hard to ignore.  What is this? We just can’t have decent starts out of the gate? The All-Star break threw everyone off? I don’t get it.  We start our ten-game road trip today, and usually I dread our trip out West, but we just lost at home, and I guess if we can’t do it at home, we need some sort of change of scenery.  That’s just sad, isn’t it?

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Wow.  I don’t even know where to start.  Just, wow.  Okay.  I should probably go in order so my simultaneous excitement and relief don’t take over completely.

As usual, I’ll start with pitching.  Wake gave up six runs on seven hits with five walks and three K’s over six innings.  He threw 117 pitches and told Tito that, if necessary, he could keep on going.  He basically ground it out to save the bullpen.  After the dismal shifts some of our starters have turned in recently, that was a huge breath of fresh air.  As was the outcome of the game, but like I said, we’ll get to that.  Wake’s pitch count was heavy on the knuckleball, which didn’t find the strike zone as often as it usually does; he had quite a few that were low or high and to the left.  Of course, horizontal and vertical movement was evenly distributed for most of his pitches, which gave them their traditional extra “umph,” if you will.  Anyway, the point is, he labored, and by the time he exited, we were down, 2-6.

The bullpen was fantastic.  Between Delcarmen, Okajima, and Paps, they allowed one hit and four walks with two K’s.  Okay, maybe the four walks weren’t fantastic; in fact, if they keep allowing walks, it’ll become downright disturbing, but at least they didn’t allow any runs, and at this point you have to pick your battles.

Thefts need to be talked about.  The running must be stopped.  It must be stopped.  Wake took responsibility, V-Mart took responsibility, but it doesn’t matter who takes responsibility; responsibility shouldn’t have to be taken because this shouldn’t be happening.  If you look at a box score for this game, you’ll see Youk’s double play under our column and a gigantic paragraph of nothing but steals under their column.  They stole nine bases against us.  Nine! Newsflash: this is not a track and field event! Opposing baserunners should not be capable of swiping nine bags! Andrus and Cruz stole three each, Borbon stole one, and Guerrero, even with his age and knees, stole two.  That’s just rubbing salt in it.  This is a legitimate problem.  Tito has already made it a high priority for improvement.  Indeed, it’s something we were focusing on during Spring Training; we just very apparently have yet to see results.  We of all fan bases should know that a stolen base can turn into a deciding run real quickly.

Okay.  Now for the good stuff: the offense.  V-Mart singled Drew home in the first.  Hermida hit a solo shot to deep right in the fourth, thereby continuing to impress.  Seriously, I don’t think any one of us thought he’d be hitting balls out at this rate.  I’m not even sure people thought he’d be hitting balls out at all.  But he is, and it’s great to have that much depth on the bench.  And that, as we will soon see, is exactly my point.  So, at that time we were down by four.  Reddick plated two on a fielding error in the sixth.  (Reddick and McDonald were both called up for outfield depth; Ellsbury and Cameron were both placed on the DL.  Thankfully, Ellsbury’s stint is retroactive.)

And now, the penultimate moment you’ve all been waiting for.  Darnell McDonald hit a two-run homer to tie it in the eighth.  That home run was hit to left center, one of the deepest parts of the park.  And that home run was phenomenal for two reasons: it tied the game, like I said, and it was evidence of the power coming down the pipe in the future.  And the best part was that he was pinch-hitting.  By the way, the last in a Boston uniform to hit one out during his first plate appearance was Orlando Cabrera on August 1, 2004.  Gives you chills, doesn’t it?

Anyway, that brings us to the ninth.  Youk singled.  Hall sacrificed him to third.  Lowell was walked intentionally.  Tek walked.  Beltre popped out.  And McDonald stepped up to the plate.  He singled.  Youk came home.  McDonald was mobbed.  Game over.  7-6.  And that, my friends, is how you get it done.  That is a Win right there.  A Win with a capital W.  When you need a win, you do what needs to be done to get it.  (Which is why Tito felt he had to pinch-hit Lowell for Papi.) Our losing streak is officially snapped.  Twelve years in the minor leagues for McDonald; he deserves this one.  This is the first time since the run batted in became an official statistic in 1920 that we’ve had a game-ending RBI hit from a debut.  This, ladies and gentlemen, was huge.  It may come to pass that this might have been one of the most important games in the entire 2010 season.  We needed it, and we got it.  Red Sox Nation sighs in relief as one.

To be honest, I saw glimmers of our old selves across the board.  Youk went two for four with a walk (they fed him breaking balls almost the entire night), V-Mart went three for four, and Hermida went two for three.  Pedroia, Reddick, and Tek all hit doubles.  Pedroia flied out twice before hitting his double, so he may not have made constructive contact during every at-bat but he was reading the ball well just the same.  And of course McDonald went two for two.  We’re still waiting on Beltre, Scutaro, Papi, and Drew.  They didn’t shift Drew, which was interesting.  They did pitch him away, though, which is exactly how the Rays like to handle him.  But it’s a start.  It’s definitely more of a start than we’ve seen so far.  Here’s hoping it continues and only keeps getting better.

But it’s much, much more than that.  The type of win that was, a walkoff courtesy of an unlikely hero, is exactly the kind of win that historically makes us rise to the occasion.  I mean, you could cut the relief and emotion on that field last night with a knife.  That was an extremely much-needed and much-wanted and much-deserved win.  That’s one serious understatement, but it’s all I can say.  One win won’t solve everything, but it’s reminded us who we are and what we can do.  Beckett takes the hill tonight.  Let’s make this last.

SB Nation

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