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Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City Royals’

So we lost the series after all.  This was a tough one to lose, and not just because losing this game meant losing a four-game series.  It was a tough one to lose because of that but also because we really battled to hold on.  Lackey pulled it together, Britton kept it together, and the hitters did a nice job of putting us back in it.  I really thought we’d be able to turn it around, but for the last third of the game, we were pretty much silent.

Lackey pitched seven innings and gave up four runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out five.  His first run scored in the first, when he gave up two walks and a single.  He gave up two more in the second thanks to a double and two singles.  And he gave up a solo shot with one out in the third.  But he went one-two-three in the fourth, fifth, and seventh, and he faced five batters in the sixth.  So he did settle down.  It was just too late.  But I give him a lot of credit for reigning it in, gaining control, and grinding it out.  You could tell that this one didn’t come easily.  And I just wish we would have won, first of all because winning is a fun and important thing to do, and secondly because we should have been able to do so.  Britton came on for the eighth and kept the score as it was.

After all, we were the ones who scored first.  Victorino doubled and later scored on a throwing error.  The Royals scored all of their runs before we scored again.  In the sixth, Nava singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Lavarnway.

And we failed to get another rally going after that.  Ultimately, we lost, 4-3.

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I think the relief corps and Middlebrooks deserve some serious recognition, because without their super-solid performances, the best we could have hoped for was to avoid being swept in a four-game series.  Instead, we walked away yesterday with a well-earned win.  The relievers supplied the pitching we needed to preserve the lead that Middlebrooks had prominently helped to create.  It was just a great game all around, but I have to say that those two aspects of it were really impressive.

Doubront gave up three runs on six hits in four innings.  But really he gave up all of those runs in the fifth inning.  So he had one bad inning, or rather less than one bad inning, before he was pulled.  Before that, he was really great.  But in the fifth, he gave up a walk and two consecutive doubles and a single before Workman relieved him, and after striking out his first batter, he gave up an RBI single.

He and Breslow teamed up to pitch a one-two-three sixth.  Tazawa pitched the seventh and eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.  So if not for that one bad less-than-one inning, we would have shut out the Royals.  But the main point is that the pitching was better than the numbers suggested after the game was over.  The relief corps certainly did an excellent job of holding it together; in the process, Workman picked up a well-deserved win and Uehara pitched up a well-deserved save.

At the time, those three runs brought the Royals within one.  We had scored four runs in the fourth.  Carp walked to start the rally, and after Napoli struck out, Salty singled, Drew doubled in Carp with a little help from a deflection, Middlebrooks singled in Salty and Drew, and Ellsbury singled in Middlebrooks.  With two out in the sixth, it was again Middlebrooks who figured prominently offensively; he singled and scored on a double by Ellsbury to add some insurance.

So the final score, thanks in large part to the brilliance, both at the plate and on the basepaths, of Middlebrooks, was 5-3.  If we win today, we can split the series.

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Well, Britton certainly deserved the blown save as well as the loss he thoroughly earned.  He pitched absolutely horribly.  And though Peavy’s final line reported six runs on ten hits with two home runs over the course of five innings, a number of those runs actually scored on Britton’s watch.  So yes, they were inherited runners, and yes, if Peavy hadn’t let them get on base, then they wouldn’t have scored.  But it’s also true that we depend on our relief pitchers to enter difficult situations and get us out of them unscathed.  And Britton basically did the exact opposite of that.

We scored first.  In the first.  With one out, Victorino singled and eventually scored on a single by Nava.

Peavy gave up a solo shot to lead off the second, and he gave up another run thanks to a single-single combination.  We took back the lead in the third when homered to center in the third with one out, and then Napoli got hit and scored on a double by Salty.  But Peavy caused a tie at three in the bottom of the third when he gave up another solo shot.

And we took the lead back again when Pedroia and Papi hit back-to-back singles and scored on a double by Napoli.

And we gave it up again in the sixth.  To be more specific, Peavy gave it up again in the sixth.  He gave up three consecutive singles and a walk, and one run scored en route.  And then Britton came on.  He issued a walk and induced a popout and a sac fly and gave up a single, and three more runs scored.  Then Beato came on and gave up a double and a single, and two more runs scored.

And then no other runs scored.  Breslow relieved Beato for the eighth.  The damage had been done; the Royals scored six runs in the sixth inning alone.  And with a final score of 9-6, we lost.

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We did not open this series on a positive note.  We managed to avoid the shutout but the fact remains that we ultimately lost.  I was very excited about Lester’s start.  He gave up three runs, only one earned, on four hits while walking two and striking out four over seven innings.  He threw 121 pitches.  So obviously it was an excellent start, one that’s reminiscent of his old self.  To get there, obviously he’ll have to turn up the strikeouts and turn down the number of pitches, but still.

Lester had a bad first and was right solid for the entire rest of his start.  He gave up a double followed by a groundout, and he issued a walk, and then he allowed a sac fly.  But then Gomes made a fielding error, and a run scored, and a batter popped up, and he gave up another walk, and he gave up a single that resulted in two more runs scoring.  So he only gave up one earned run.  So technically it shouldn’t have been as bad as all that.  And even if it had to be as bad as all that, it wasn’t actually that bad.  He gave up three runs.  We should have been able to power through that without a problem.  Especially because he righted himself almost immediately.  It was surreal how well he pitched after the first.  Only in the fifth and seventh did he face more than the minimum.

Unfortunately, our hitters were lucky just to collect three hits.  Fortunately, we managed to save a little dignity by avoiding yet another shutout.  In the ninth inning, the same inning that was our salvation on Wednesday, Gomes doubled and scored on a single by Drew.  So it wasn’t a home run.  And even if it was, two runs wouldn’t have helped if we didn’t follow it up with at least four more.

Because, to make matters worse, De La Rosa came on in the eighth and made matters worse.  His first pitch of the game was hit for a solo shot.  Two outs later, he gave up another solo shot.

So the final score was 5-1 and we lost.

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It’s good to be back.  It’s so good to be back.  We really needed the team to be at home, and we needed the healing effects of the pre-game ceremony which, as usual, was perfect.  There was a video tribute to the marathon and the victims of the tragedy as well as the photographs of the brave law enforcement officials who did all that they could for them and for this city.  And then there were photos of how it all ended.  Victims of the tragic events as well as law enforcement threw the ceremonial first pitch.  The American flag flew, the national anthem played, Neil Diamond led the singing of “Sweet Caroline,” Papi made a very heart-felt announcement, and Bailey even took a page from Jonathan Papelbon’s book, taking the mound for the ninth to the tune of “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys.  It was truly an event of healing, of contemplation, and of class.  And it served as yet another reminder of what a remarkable place this city is and how strong our community is.  We are and will always be Boston strong.

And then it was time for the healing power of escape, facilitated by this game and this team we all know and love.

Buchholz, who repeatedly looked up to watch the moving video during his warmup, pitched eight full innings of two-run ball.  He gave up eight hits, walked one, and struck out six.  He threw 104 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  That is ridiculously efficient; we consider pitchers efficient if they get through seven innings with one hundred pitches, and most pitchers on most teams consider themselves lucky if they get through five or six innings with one hundred pitches.

Buchholz had a one-two-three inning in the first, third, and fourth.  He gave up a single in the second and his first run in the fifth as a result of a double-flyout-single combination.  He gave up a double to lead off the sixth and a double that turned into a run thanks to a triple in the seventh.  He gave up a single and his only walk of the game in the eighth.

Bailey’s ninth was quite a close call.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the inning and gave up a single and a walk over the course of the rest of it while recording the three outs he needed to close the deal.  If we didn’t have a two-run lead at the time, that home run would have tied it up.

We were one run behind by the time we finally scored; we didn’t get on the board until the sixth.  Pedroia walked in the first, and Napoli walked in the second, which was erased thanks to a double play.  We went down in order in the third, and Papi, fresh off the DL, singled in the fourth (his at-bat in the first ended with a flyout).  Nava walked and Drew singled in the fifth, our biggest thus far, if you could call it that.

Finally, the sixth rolled around.  Ellsbury led it off with a single, moved to second on a sac fly by Victorino and then third on a groundout by Pedroia, and scored on another single by Papi.  We’d tied the game with that run but entered the seventh down by one yet again.  Nava got hit but was picked off trying to steal second; Middlebrooks singled, Drew reached on a force attempt, and if Nava hadn’t been picked off, the bases would have been loaded for Salty, who popped out.

We blew it as open as it was ever going to be in the eighth, when we were down by two.  Gomes led it off with a double, Pedroia walked, and Papi grounded into a double play.  But then Napoli walked, and Nava took a four-seam for a strike and another four-seam for a ball.  Then he got all of an eighty-eight mile-per-hour changeup that he sent beyond the right field fence.  The ball needed the encouragement of Nava yelling, “Stretch!” in order to get out.  Maybe it was Nava really wanted to make up for getting picked off, maybe it was baseball physics, or maybe it really was the will of everyone there who really wanted to win this one.  Either way, one swing.  Three runs.  Done.  The final score was 4-3.  We needed this one.  This one was for us.

The Bruins were also back in action, unfortunately losing to the Penguins, 3-2.

USA Today Staff

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Honestly, it doesn’t get much more infuriating than that.  I’m just going to jump right in because it’s really tough to deal with it all.

Cook pitched decently.  He only lasted five innings, and he gave up three runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out two.  He went one-two-three in the first and second, and gave up a double in the third.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the fourth followed by a single and then a two-run home run.  Following  two quick outs, he gave up a single, and then a fielding error put another runner on, but the inning ended there.  He allowed a single in the fifth and a double to lead off the sixth, at which point he was replaced by Hill, who was replaced by Aceves after three batters.

Meanwhile, we reduced our deficit from three runs to two; in the bottom of the fourth, Pedroia doubled with one out and scored on a single by Loney.

Aceves came out for the seventh and gave up a single followed by a two-run home run of his own, which made the score 5-1.  Two outs later, he gave up a double and was replaced by Carpenter, who ended the inning.  In the bottom of the seventh, we made another dent in the score.  Ross began the inning by striking out, but then Salty and Nava hit back-to-back doubles.  The Yanks sent out their third pitcher of the inning, and then Salty scored on a groundout by Gomez and Nava scored on a double by Aviles.  5-3.

Carpenter handled the eighth without incident baseball-wise but with incident drama-wise; when Bobby V. came out to the mound and Aceves saw Carpenter coming in, he walked to the other side of the mound to avoid Bobby V. when he left the field.  In terms of the bottom of the inning, we failed to score.  But it was not without further drama.

Ross ended the inning on a called strike; the at-bat featured seven pitches, all but one of them sliders, and the count had been full.  Ross and everyone else who had a pair of decently functioning eyes could see that that last supposed strike was actually a ball because it was low, and he let home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez know it immediately. So Marquez rejected him; it was only the second rejection in Ross’s career.  Several minutes later, Bobby V., who had separated Ross and Marquez, went back out there to have a talk with him that obviously got heated pretty quickly and was ejected for the sixth time this year, which sets the record for the most single-season ejections by any manager we’ve ever had in our long, illustrious history.  And at some point even third base coach Jerry Royster was ejected for some reason, so bench coach Tim Bogar was managing and coaching third at the same time at the end of it all.  The whole situation was just absurd and could have been neatly avoided had Marquez just done his job and saw reality.

Anyway, Miller and Padilla teamed up to shut out the Yanks in the top of the ninth, and the stage was set for another possible walkoff.  Salty’s leadoff at-bat was exactly the kind of at-bat you hope for most in those situations.  The count was full and he got an eighty-three mile-per-hour slide as his sixth pitch.  He’s a big guy, and he unleashed his formidable power on it and sent it out of the park to right field for a solo shot that only he could have powered out of the park.  We were now one run away with nobody out, and between Salty having made it look so easy and our last-minute heroics of the previous night, we were daring to believe that we could potentially pull it off again.

But we didn’t.  Nava flied out, Gomez grounded out, and Aviles reached on a fielding error.  Ellsbury could have put the whole thing away right then and there.  But he grounded out instead.

So we lost, 5-4.  But no one can say we didn’t put up a fight.  Because we did, both literally and figuratively.  We manufactured our own runs and pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps in the face of a deficit and dared to call a ball, a ball.  We just kept going at it all night long, but we came up just short in the end.  It’s just so infuriating.  I mean, I have to think that we’ve lost this way to plenty of other teams this year since clearly we’re in the business of losing every way to every other team this year, but to do it against the Yankees is particularly brutal.  We were almost there; we just needed one more run to tie it, and we could take care of them in extras.  And we couldn’t get it done.  It’s the story of our 2012 baseball lives.

On a more cheerful note, we have next year’s schedule, so assuming that we’re optimistic, it’s a reminder of something to look forward to.  The season starts for us on April 1 in the Bronx; we follow Opening Day with a day off and then conclude the three-game series.  We then head off to Toronto for three games, and then we head home for our home opener against Baltimore, which is followed by another day off.  We then finish our series with Baltimore and play the Rays before spending three games in Cleveland and going back home to face the Royals, A’s, and newly-AL Astros.  Then we have a day off and we go back to Toronto and then to Arlington, our first full series of May.  The Twins and Jays comprise another homestand, followed by a day off and another road trip against the Rays, Twins, and Other Sox.  Then back home we’ve got the Tribe and the Phillies, followed by a series at Philadelphia and then the Bronx, followed by a day off.  That takes us to June, our first full series of which is at home against the Rangers and then the Angels.  Then we head off to Toronto and Baltimore before another day off and coming home to face the Rays.  Then we head off to Detriot before another day off and another homestand featuring the Rockies, the Jays, a day off, and the Padres in July.  Then it’s off to the West Coast for the Angels, Mariners, and A’s before the All-Star break.  When play resumes, we host the Yanks and Rays before a trip to Baltimore and a day off.  The west then comes to us as we host the Mariners and D-Backs at home, which brings us to August.  We then travel to Houston and Kansas City before taking a day off and traveling to Toronto.  We host the Yanks at home after that, followed by a trip to San Francisco, a day off, a trip to Los Angeles for the Blue Sox, another day off, and then a homestand featuring the Orioles, Other Sox, and Tigers, which brings us to September.  We go to the Bronx after that, take a day off, go to Tampa Bay, and return home for the Yanks, a day off, the Orioles, the Jays, and another day off.  Then we go to Colorado for two games, take a day off, and go to Baltimore for the last series of the season.  So we’ve got at least three days off every month except one: May, our most packed month, when we only have one day off.  But it’s a good schedule.  It’s interesting that Interleague is sort of spread out this year instead of being clustered in June.  It’s often a tough schedule, and we have to play some worthy opponents, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to hold our own next year.

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I don’t know how Dice-K does it.  Most of the time he is just awful.  And then all of a sudden he executes a start like this that’s just awesome, and it makes you think that maybe you shouldn’t write him off juts yet.  Basically it’s so agonizing that he can’t just do this on a regular basis, and you can’t help thinking about what could possibly have gone wrong between Japan and where he is right now.

He pitched seven innings and gave up one run, which wasn’t even earned, on five hits while walking two and striking out six.  He threw 101 pitches, seventy-one of which were strikes, and by his standards that’s extremely efficient.  The lone run scored in the first; he started the game by allowing the first of his walks, which eventually turned into a run on a sac fly thanks en route to a missed catch by Pedroia, which allowed the runner to advance.

Dice-K had plenty of good relief behind him to keep the pitching momentum going.  Mortensen and Padilla combined for the eighth, and Bailey handled the ninth.  I guess this is him giving us a glimpse of what we should expect next season, when we hope he’ll be healthy at the start of it.

Although we only outhit the Royals by one, we outscored them by four.  Ellsbury single-handedly answered their run in the bottom of the first with a solo shot on his fourth pitch, the fourth straight four-seam he saw in that at-bat.  All four pitches were the exact same speed, too: ninety-two miles per hour.  He took the first two for balls, fouled the third, and went yard to right on the last.  And with Ellsbury’s second home run of the year, the game was tied at one.

But not for long.  We took the lead in the third and never looked back.  Podsednik and Pedroia hit back-to-back singles, and Ross singled them both in.  Ellsbury and Ross hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth that scored one, and Loney followed it with a second consecutive scoring play, a single that plated Ross.

And that’s a wrap! Literally nobody in the last four spots of the order produced a hit, a run, or an RBI.  Only one, Gomez, managed to reach base all night, and that was because he walked.  Meanwhile, three of the top five, Podsednik, Ellsbury, and Ross, went two for four.  Ross bounced both of his hits off the Monster, and his double just barely missed making it into the seats for a home run.  And with this win, Dice-K becomes one of only four Japanese pitchers to win fifty games.  Not bad for someone who hasn’t seen Major League action in about two months.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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