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Posts Tagged ‘Kohi Uehara’

You know, it actually got to the point where I kind of forgot what it felt like.  I forgot what it felt like to be completely shut down by another team over the course of multiple games played on multiple days.  It’s like when we all forgot what sweeping other teams felt like when we were mired in the abysmal dross that was last season.  Now I remember.  Getting swept is not fun.

This time, it was Lester who didn’t deliver.  Actually, to be fair, he did deliver.  He gave a quality start.  He gave up three runs on five hits over six innings.  He walked three and struck out seven; needless to say, his cut fastball wasn’t as formidable as usual.  It didn’t have the same nasty bite on it that it usually does when he’s really on.  He had a spectacular first and second during which he sent the Rangers down in order.  Even his third inning, during which he gave up a solo shot, was otherwise great.  He made a mistake on a cutter, and the batter figured it out, but other than that, he was spotless.

He gave up a double and a walk in the fourth.  He gave up a walk and a single in the fifth.  And he gave up a single and a home run in the sixth, this one on a sinker.  So as you can see, it became increasingly laborious for him as the game went on.  He ended up throwing 115 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  It was just one of those days.  His starts usually comprise less than three walks, less than six hits, less than three runs, more than seven strikeouts, and more than six innings.  Not yesterday.  Lester’s ERA is now 3.30.

But seriously, it wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t even bad at all.  Lester gave up three runs.  If that had been the extent of the damage that the Rangers had been able to inflict, then the game could have potentially had a very different outcome.  Even if the Rangers scored more, the game still could have had a different outcome if we had been able to score more than we did.

By the time the Rangers scored their first run in the third, we were already up by three.  So by all accounts, it seemed like we could have at least ended the series with the dignity of not having been swept right out of Arlington.  With two out, Pedroia singled, and Papi unleashed on a 3-1 fastball.  The ball ended up beyond the right field fence, and we ended up with two runs just like that.  His hitting streak is now at twenty-five.

In the very next frame, after Carp struck out, Ross hit his second pitch of the game for a solo shot.  Both pitches were sliders around the same speed.  He took the first one for a ball; he sent the second one beyond the left field foul pole.  It was awesome.  You had the veteran slugger slugging, and you had the comebacker slugging as well.  Better still, you had the comebacker becoming the fourth player in the history of Rangers Ballpark to smash one into the club tier.  Things had looked good.

After we went down in order in the third and the Rangers scored their first run, things still looked good.  Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth.  We went down in order in the top of the sixth; for the most part, the two pitchers were involved in a duel of sorts.  Both ended up giving up three runs; Lester’s two-run home run tied the game at three.  And that’s the way it stayed through the seventh, which Uehara pitched.  It’s the way it stayed through the eighth, despite the fact that we walked twice and that it took the services of both Tazawa and Miller to get through the bottom of the frame.  And that’s the way it stayed through the top of the ninth, when Ross walked, Drew singled, and one out quickly turned into three.

But that is not the way it stayed through the bottom of the ninth.  Mortensen came out and was all business.  He struck out his first two batters and looked solid.  Then he gave up a single and issued a wild pitch, which is something that can happen when a sinkerballer sinks too low.  In and of itself, that wouldn’t have done anything to shake the tie.  Mortensen then intentionally walked Lance Berkman.  Still, the tie was intact.  It was the single he gave up to Adrian Beltre of all people that did us in.  He threw five straight sliders to Beltre; when he singled, the count was 1-2.

The final score was 4-3.  It was the first time we got swept this year, and we now have to share the best record in the Majors with the team that swept us.

AP Photo

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After our spectacular slugging performance on Tuesday, I was very glad to see that we had some runs left in store.  It certainly was an adjustment to go from seeing runs being scored with remarkable frequency and then see barely any runs score at all.  But quality always trumps quantity, meaning that if you play quality baseball, you should be able to win with any run total greater than zero.

Taking a hint from Buchholz, the American League’s Pitcher of the Month, Dempster turned in a fabulous start.  Six innings seems to be about his usual, I guess.  Still, he gave up only one run on four hits while walking four and striking out three.  He threw exactly one hundred pitches.  His third pitch of the game was hit for a solo shot; that was essentially his only mistake.

Miller and Tazawa pitched the seventh, but barely.  Miller gave up a single, bestowing a runner upon Tazawa.  Tazawa gave up two walks, loading the bases with only one out.  Thankfully, the inning ended with a strikeout.  Uehara pitched the eighth, and Hanrahan actually succeeded in converting the save in the ninth.  It was nice to see him actually doing his job correctly.

It was a pretty quiet game all around, I’d say.  The Jays were held to one run, and we were held to three.  We went down in order in the first but got on the board in the second.  Napoli doubled and scored on a single by Carp.  That double was Napoli’s twenty-second extra-base hit this year, a number that leads the Majors.  Middlebrooks had walked, and he scored on a sac fly by Drew.  We had great scoring opportunities in the third, fourth, and fifth, but we didn’t take advantage of them.  It’s worth mentioning that we walked four times in the fourth, but the Jays were saved embarrassment thanks to a double play and a groundout.  We scored the game’s final run in the sixth; Ross walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Ellsbury.

Every game can’t be a slugfest.  Between yesterday and Tuesday, we showed that we can win with any lead, both big and small.  That skills is going to come in very handy.

AP Photo

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Let’s not deny it.  When it became apparent that Lackey was returning to the DL, I bet that it initiated quite the storm of I-told-you-soing from those who were absolutely convinced that he would never return to what he once ways.  As it turns out, we can’t yet say that he has.  But we can say that his return from the DL was an unmitigated success.  Commencing initial sighs of relief.

He pitched six innings and gave up one run on five hits while walking two and striking out four.  He threw only eighty-one pitches, fifty-six of which were strikes.  The first inning was scary; after securing the first two outs, he gave up two consecutive walks and a single that scored the game’s first run.  But he obviously settled right down after that.  A single was his only blemish in the second, and his next three innings were one-two-three.  He gave another big scare in the sixth by giving up three consecutive singles with one out but managed to escape the jam unscathed.  Needless to say, I think that that was John’s cue to bring Mortensen, then Uehara, then Bailey for the next three frames, respectively.

While the Astros were busy getting frustrated by Lackey, we were busy getting busy at the plate.  Ellsbury grounded out to lead off the first but then Nava doubled and scored on a single by Papi.  We were silent in the second and third, but we started the fourth with two back-to-back singles, both of which turned into runs on a triple by Drew.  Nava reached on a fielding error to begin the fifth and scored on a double by Pedroia, who scored on a double by Carp two outs later.  We went down in order in the sixth, and then Nava and Papi were at it again; Nava singled to lead off the seventh and scored on a double by Papi.

All told, we walked twice and picked up eleven hits, five of which were for extra bases.  Nava, Papi, and Carp all had multi-hit games.  And though the Astros got seven hits by the time the game was over, they didn’t get the win.  That went to us with a final score of 6-1.  We are now eighteen and seven on the season, comparable to our incredible start in 2002.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are the proud owners of the best record in all of Major League Baseball.

Getty Images

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First of all, let me address yesterday’s tragic events.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that we hope for the safety and wellbeing of all who were affected by the tragedy at the finish line of the marathon yesterday.  Our minds and hearts are with you.

Patriots’ Day is always a fun day for baseball in Boston.  Jackie Robinson Day is always a fun day for baseball everywhere.  So when they coincide, it’s a great day to celebrate greatness in the game.  Thankfully, neither the weather nor the team disappointed.

First there was the incredible start from Dempster, easily his best start so far this year.  Seven innings, one run, two hits, two walks, ten strikeouts.  In fact, Dempster, really only made one mistake, which resulted in a solo shot with two out in the fourth.  That was about it.  And he managed to do it with only four pitches: both fastballs plus a deadly slider and a formidable splitter.  This was another quick game: three hours and three minutes.  Actually, it was yet another pitcher’s duel.  Uehara got a hold for his holding of our lead in the eighth, and Bailey, who was extremely lucky, picked up both the blown save and the win.  If you ask me, Dempster should have gotten the win on principle, but obviously that’s not how it works.

We scored first.  Ellsbury received eight straight fastballs during his first at-bat and tripled on the last one; he scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Both teams went down in order in the second and third.  Then the solo shot that Dempster relinquished tied it at one in the fourth.  But Salty put us back on top with a solo shot to lead off the fifth.  It came on the third pitch of his at-bat, a fastball at eighty-nine miles per hour, which promptly ended up beyond the right  field fence.  I suppose Dempster and his opponent really were matching each other pitch for pitch; Dempster gives up a solo shot, and then we hit one.

Both teams went down in order in the seventh, and the eighth proceeded without incident.  All indications pointed to us winning the game by a score of 2-1 until Bailey blew his save.  He gave up a single that may as well have been a double thanks to a steal; sure enough, that turned into the tying run when he gave up another single.  Fortunately, giving up the tying run is not the same as giving up the winning run.  But a porous reliever is still not what you want, especially when this guy was supposed to have been our closer.  Now we have two relievers on our staff who are closers by trade and who apparently can’t close.

Bailey was extremely fortunate that Pedroia walked and scored on a double off the Monster by Napoli in the ninth for yet another walkoff victory in just three days; the final score was 3-2, and we officially swept the Rays.  Without that quick fix, it is entirely possible that we may have lost the whole contest, and it would have been all Bailey’s fault.  That, plus the fact that Dempster’s start was as good as it gets, is why Dempster should have gotten the win.

Boston Globe Staff

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