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Posts Tagged ‘Luke Hochevar’

That’s better.  Much better.  See, this is how games with Kansas City are supposed to result.  What should have been a sweep will now be a series split if we’re lucky, but at least they can’t sweep us.  That would have been terrible.  Beckett pitched last night.  Luke Hochevar had no chance.

V-Mart caught Beckett for the second time, and I have to say it went pretty well.  Not the best, but it went well.  Beckett pitched six, gave up two runs on twelve hits, walked one, and struck out seven.  The twelve hits is what concerns me, and I think a number like that does reflect, at least a little bit, the catcher’s role in the game.  Somebody is calling those pitches.  The pitcher can shake him off, but not for every call, and I still don’t know if I’m one hundred percent sure that V-Mart’s bat is worth it.  Knowing Beckett, when he gets into playoff mode, there’s very little chance that we’ll actually need those few extra runs.

On the other hand, Beckett did only relinquish two runs, so who knows? Between now and the start of the playoffs, maybe they’ll really work it out.  Here’s the breakdown of the twelve hits.  Two were infield.  Six were grounders through holes.  One was a pop-up that dropped.  One was lined softly.  And two were really hard-hit: Yuniesky Betancourt’s triple and Billy Butler’s single in the fourth.  So we’re mostly talking about soft contacts that got lucky, and those decrease with time and experience.

With yesterday’s game, Beckett further passed the two-hundred-inning mark for the third time in four seasons.  This season alone, he’s pitched just over 207 innings, surpassing his personal best of 204 in 2006, his first year here.

Okajima, Wagner, and Papelbon were solid.  Between the three of them, three shutout innings with two walks and three strikesouts.  This was Paps’s first outing since September 18, and it looks like the extra rest was just what the doctor ordered.

And now, the 9 in the final score of 9-2.  It was absolutely fantastic; a complete and total onslaught of all that is the Kansas City Royals.  The best part? This wasn’t us one-upping them, or two-upping them, or three-upping them.  No.  This was dominance.  We seven-upped the Royals, sent a message, and exacted revenge for the first two losses, especially for that five-run first with our six-run fifth.  Maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but it was still really fun to watch.

Ellsbury tripled in two runs.  Pedroia went two for three with two runs and an RBI, and he is having himself quite the September.  Since September 7, he’s batted .357 with four doubles, three home runs, ten runs, and seven RBIs to go with a .419 on-base percentage.  During that stretch, he’s also had a fourteen-game hitting streak and six multi-hit games.  He usually does well in September, batting .290 in the month in his career, so it looks like he’s right on schedule.  By the way, he’s fourth in the Majors and second in the American League in runs scored.  Bay batted in two and walked twice.  Big Papi went two for four with four (count ’em: four!) RBIs! Three of which came on an extremely Papi-esque swing for the fences that ended up putting the ball somewhere beyond the left center field fence.  Drew went two for three with two walks.  And Gonzalez went two for five with a double.

Wakefield will start Tuesday after extended rest.  Nick Green won’t come with us to the Bronx but will rather stay in Boston with a back issue.  Hunter Jones was called up.

One more in Kansas City, and then it’s off to the Bronx.  I’m really psyched for this weekend.  I think we can make some major progress here, and not just in terms of the division.  In terms of the playoffs.  If we play a strong series against the Yanks this weekend, we’ll be more confident in October and have more momentum.  Either way, should a Sox-Yanks ALCS matchup result, we’ll be ready.  But we have to get through tonight first.  It’ll be Buchholz at Anthony Lerew, so it should go well.

AP Photo

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And we do indeed win the series against the A’s.  Shouldn’t have been that tough, but if John Smoltz says he’s coming along, he in theory is coming along.  I don’t know; I personally would very much like to see how Clay Buchholz’s year in Triple-A has made him improve.  But Smoltz isn’t the man of the hour here; Wakefield is.  In his first outing after learning he’s an All-Star, he pitched like it.  Six innings, three runs on ten hits, with a walk and eight K’s.  Eight.  At forty-two years of age.  It’s remarkable.  It’s like he gets better with age.  I mean I know knuckleball pitchers can still bring it well into their thirties, but this is just getting ridiculous.  So far, this is one of his best season.  I mean, he’s a first-time All-Star.  And he deserves it.  At forty-two.  When you stop and think about it, it’s just amazing.  And he’s tenured; no front office business.  That’s very unusual.  But hey, he deserves that too.  In the long run he’s consistent, he’s the ultimate teammate, and he loves it here.  The way he seems to be pitching, retirement is a long way off for him.  And that, my friends, is most definitely something to smile about.  Wakefield improves to eleven and three and becomes the only American League pitcher with eleven wins!

Delcarmen and Okajima each got holds.  Paps got a save.  Barely.  He allowed a run on two hits and a walk.  It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know if I feel that same sense of security when he takes the hill.  Last year, you hear “I’m Shippin’ Up To Boston,” you know Paps is coming out, and you exhale in relief.  Now, you hear “I’m Shippin’ Up To Boston,” you know Paps is coming out, but you don’t quite know what you’re going to get.  And it’s very uncomfortable to feel that way about your closer.  Don’t get me wrong; he’s still an All-Star, as well he should be, and there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s still the best closer in baseball (which we have to remind ourselves from time to time when he converts sloppy saves), but he’s just not as invincible as he was.  I figure he’ll solve the problem by October, but until then we might be looking at a lot of breath-holding along the way.

We won, 5-4, and if the A’s had it their way, we would’ve been headed for extras.  If you want my opinion, we should’ve won with at least a three-run lead, but a win is a win is a win and I’ll take it.  Drew led off a four-run rally in the sixth with a solo home run into the A’s bullpen on a three and one count.  That’s like the ultimate hitter’s at-bat.  You work a deep hitter’s count, and then you go yard.  He would also walk and score another run.  Pedroia went three for four.  Youk walked twice.  And both scored when Ortiz stepped up to the plate with them on base and nobody out and hit one of the most Papi-esque home runs I’ve seen this season.  A three-run monster of a shot down the 380 feet line in right field.  Very gone, as Don said.  Talk about going yard.  And he hit it from two and one, another great hitter’s count, in the cleanup spot.  Just like old times, but we never doubted he still had plenty left in the tank.  Big Papi, ladies and gentlemen! So those were our four runs in the sixth, and Ortiz batted in another in the seventh.  Bay, Ellsbury, and Kotsay all stole second.  I had no idea Kotsay could do that.

Unfortunately the Yankees won too, so our lead over them remains at one.  The Twins aren’t doing a very good job of helping us out.  Fine.  We’ll do it ourselves.  If you want something done right, do it yourself, as they say, and I’ve always felt that the best way to beat the Yankees is at Fenway Park in a Red Sox jersey.  Now we start our four-game set with the Royals, which should be a blast.  It’s our last series before the All-Star break, and I would love to sweep it.  We’re facing Luke Hochevar tonight.  I’m telling you, our luck with pitchers has been incredible this year.  We faced Detroit and narrowly missed Justin Verlander, and now in this set with the Royals, the only pitcher we won’t see is Zack Greinke.  How awesome is that.  This, we got.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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